Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Augustus came to my attention as it's one of the nominees for the SdJ this year. I am always on the lookout for a good mid weight game that I can play after a weighty game or something I can play with my kids.

Augustus fits the bill nicely. Its been nicknamed the Roman Bingo game and its easy to see why. The base mechanic of the game is Bingo, but instead of crossing off numbers on a grid you are sending your roman legions to take control of provinces or gain favour with the senators.

Opening up the box you get a score pad, a large stack of cards that show the provinces or senators, a bag of red centurion meeples and a number of tokens that fit into a cloth bag.

Setup is easy, every player gets 7 centurions and 6 random cards. From these 6 cards they must each choose 3 to put into play and the rest are discarded. Picking which cards to keep takes a little bit of thought but as the game is quite light and pretty quick its not a great loss if you make a mistake. 5 cards are then drawn to make a pool in the center of the table.

Each of these cards is broken down into different areas. On the left is a number of symbols, these match the tokens that are drawn from the bag. To score the card you will need to have a centurion on each of these symbols. Some are more common than others, for example there is only 1 yellow dagger in the bag compared to 6 crossed swords. On the right there maybe an icon that tells the players what happens when they score the card. This can range from adding gaining extra centurions to removing centurions from other players cards. Finally at the bottom of the card there is the number of victory points the card will score at the end of the game.

So you can see, its nice to have a balance of cards and maybe pick ones that work together.

The tokens are then put in the bag and someone starts drawing. Each time a token is drawn its type is announced, each player may then put a single centurion onto a card each time they have a symbol that matches. Once a card is filled they shout out "Ave Cesar" or "Bingo" and they remove the centurions and activate the cards effect.
There are 2 joker tokens in the bag, each player can determine what it represents to them, then all drawn tiles are put back into the bag and shuffled. So the bag is re seeded several times during the game.

They then get to draw another card to replace the one they have just scored. Now, there are a number of bonus tiles that users can score. These are scored when certain conditions are met, such as 3 green provinces or one of each colour. There are also some bonus tiles that you can only grab when you have scored that number of cards, if you miss it you can't go back. So there is a little bit of a push your luck while you are holding out for the higher scoring bonus tiles.

Play continues until someone scores 7 cards. Victory points are totaled up and the winner is announced.

Augustus is a light game, you have to think about the cards you are trying to score and making sure you grab the bonus tiles when you can. A game normally takes 30 minutes, so you can get a couple of plays in quite easily.

So far its been enjoyed by family and gamers, I think its got a good chance of winning the Sdj this year. If its not this then it will be Hanabi which is another of my favorites.

Friday, January 18, 2013


There are some themes that always seem popular, Zombies, Ninja's and Pirates seem to top the list. By adding one of these to your games you are more than likely to sell a few extra copies but it doesn't mean its going to be a good game.

Luckily Libertalia is a great pirate game that works its theme into the mechanics very well.

The aim of the game is to amass the most booty after 3 weeks of sailing the high seas. You do this by playing character cards each with there own power and initiative value. Powers are played out and booty is picked up. At the end of each week the booty is counted and any other effects dealt with. It all sounds very straight forward and it is, which makes it a good gateway game that non gamers should be able to get to grips with.

Setup is very straight forward, players each take there deck of 30 pirate cards. Every deck is the same so its how you use your cards that matters. The ship board is put on the table along side the scoring track.
The youngest player then shuffles his cards and deals out 9. The rest of the players then take those same matching 9 cards from their decks. Then the main board is seeded with booty tiles. There are spaces for 6 sets of tiles, each set is equal to the number of players. These are drawn from a bag and placed face up so everyone can see what booty is on the horizon.
6 rounds are then played out, one for each day of the week except for Sunday.
In each round players secretly pick their pirate and place them face down on their own player board. The cards are shown and placed on the main board in numerical order. The lowest being the ships parrot and the highest a Spanish officer. Card powers are then dealt with in order as long as they have a dawn symbol on them. Ties are broken with a second number.
Once all of the cars have been resolved, you go backwards through the cards with players picking a booty tile from that days area. Any card with a dusk icon also gets to use its power. Cards are then moves to the players pirate den.

The powers are varied, ranging from moving your booty to other players, discarding other players cards or just earning booty coins if they are still alive. Knowing what to play when and how the cards interact is part of the fun.

Night powers are then resolved if you have any pirates alive in your den. These usually allow you to earn more booty depending on what pirates you have in the den.

This set of actions runs through 6 times, with players using their pirates to hopefully get the best pick of the booty tiles. Finally Sunday is a day of rest. Booty is counted and scored and any pirate with an anchor symbol on display is resolved. All booty is then returned to the bag, pirate cards are returned to the box and the youngest draws another 6 cards.

Now things get interesting as players will have a mix of old and new cards, and again its what they choose and when will determine what booty they score.

After running through this 3 times for 3 separate weeks the final scores are tallied and the winner is the pirate with the most booty.

The mechanics are very simple, its using the pirates at the right time that's the key. Some of the booty tiles are good, some are bad so being able to move the cursed ones to another player helps. Also some of the booty tiles will kill off your pirate or even a pirate in an adjacent pirate den.

Libertalia supports up to 6 players and a game should take about an hour to play. Its more than a filler game and less than the main event of a gaming evening. But its a very good game with some lovely artwork and components. It's quite possibly my favorite pirate themed game.

Monday, December 31, 2012


So the end of 2012 is nearly upon us and its been a very good year of gaming. Yet again I have bought too many games and felt like i needed to play them more often but juggling work, family and the xbox is a fine balancing act.

Games of the year for me have been

A fantasy 4x space game, great components and a rules set that works very well make for a great game. Nothing is overly complicated and there are more than enough strategies and options available that keep you entertained and wanting more.
An expansion has been released which takes it up to 9 players, that would be an epic game but maybe not for the faint hearted.

Castles of Burgundy
Probably my favorite euro game of the year. Lots of action choices but all depending of the dice you roll. Another game with variable player boards means that there are lots of choices and options available to the players.

My favorite filler game, its a co-op game delivered by a deck of cards. Players are trying to get the perfect firework display by playing cards in the correct order. The twist being you can't see your own hand, only the other players. Such a simple game has brought many evening to an end.

Disappointment of the year for me has been the King of Tokyo Power up expansion . I love King of Tokyo, its a simple game to explain but the expansion doesn't add much to it. Some super powers for each monster and a new giant Panda. I am not sure what I was expecting, but this one fell a little flat for me.

What does 2013 bring, hopefully more gaming but along with it I think I need to cull my collection a little. Space is a premium and I have several unplayed games that just seem to gather dust.

Project wise, I am painting the pieces for my copy of Mice and Mystics. The idea being that I can play it with the kids as a precursor to Descent. But so far the rules are unread as I am enjoying painting the figures. I will probably ass dome pics when they are finished.

I have a couple of game ideas that need fleshing out and prototypes built. I think most gamers have a dream of getting a game published, but it seems like a long road. I am sure if I put some time into them they will turn out ok.

So Happy New Year everyone, enjoy the fireworks!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I was a bit late to catch on to Kickstarter, it sounded like a good idea but I was worried about the end results and whether or not things would actually be produced.

A few games came and went, notably Eminent Domain, Flashpoint and Alien Frontiers. Games I have played, enjoyed and own although I bought them from retail and not from Kickstarter. I felt like I was missing out on teh buzz generated by Kickstarter and as more and more games were being plugged decided to take the plunge.

I have since helped fund, For the Win, Flashpoint Urban Structure, Day of the Dead, Farmageddon and Zombies at your heels. Most of these are card games, mainly due to the cost. I have no problem in throwing in $10-20 for a game including shipping. But when its going to cost $40 for the game, plus shipping and then the possibility of being hit by a customs charge I just have to say No.
My first experience was For the Win, its not a bad game. It's like Hive but with Ninjas, Pirates, Aliens and other pop culture items. I ordered 6 copies with the view of selling them to cover the cost of one copy. The trouble was I was stung by customs for about half the price of the games. Not ideal, but you live and learn.
Since then its been mainly card games, where the international delivery is more reasonable. These haven't disapointed. Zombies at the Heels is quite a fun Zombire race game. Trying to get your band of survivors to teh bunker before they are "Nom'd" by the hoard. I have played it a few times now and am happy with it, plus some of the money raised went to charity which is always a good thing.
Farmageddon looks great and its another fun card game to play. I haven't given it enough plays yet but am happy with the end result.

Day of the Dead came in a nice tin, unfortunately I think the postal services had used the box for some football practice. The tin has taken a beating, but the components inside are fine. The card stock is a little thinner than I would have expected but I bought this mainly for the artwork. I am yet to play this as its a 2 player game.

Flashpoint Urban Structures hasn't arrived yet, this is probably the biggest purchase and I expect to be hit by customs again. I bought 3 copies but they are all accounted for, with the costs being split so I am happy with that. Neither has Avalon, the Resistance remake which looks really nice.

So, Kickstarter has been a mixed bag for me. Some hits and some misses but the experience has been a ride. I wouldn't dismiss Kickstarter and I think its going to be here for quite a while. It has its good points and bad. It's good that designers can get there games made, but sometimes you have to wonder if Kickstarting is the last resort. If your design has been turned down should it really be made?
I also think think that existing publishers are using it to gauge the reaction to some games, Queen games seem to be using Kickstarter to fund designs when I am sure they could just publish them themselves. How much of a hit do they take in Kickstarter fees?

Friday, August 31, 2012


I love dice in most games, except RISK. I hate the dice in RISK, they always seem to be against me and working for everyone else. I am currently at game 10 of our RISK Legacy  game and its been a painful and traumatic experience. At times the ride has been fun, causing nuclear destruction in Egypt was a masterpiece but every time I think the odds are stacked in my favor the dice are against me.

Still, only 5 more games than it can be put to rest.

Other dice games have been played a lot recently. I have introduced Quarriors to my youngest and he loves it. It's his current favorite game and I can see why he enjoys playing it. He is getting the creatures and monsters part and enjoys rolling the dice and looking to see what he can afford to buy. He is pestering me for the Quarmageddon expansion and I am tempted.
I was initially unsure how he would get on, I was looking at the shelves for some kind of miniatures game, I have Heroquest but the setup and tear down just takes too long. Other than that most of my other games seemed too complicated for him or would take too long.
Quarriors just hits the sweet spot, it takes 20 minutes to play and has a good helping of wizards and monsters. The Green slime/frog is his current favorite. Not because of its powers just because it looks good.

On another front (The Western one) I have been playing quite a bit of D-Day dice. Currently all solo plays, but hopefully I can try it with more soon. The aim of the game is to get your troops over the beach and storm the bunker. It reminds me of Roll through the Ages, but after each round you loose troops to German fire. You also need to have specific items or specialists to be able to progress up the beach.
It's all about rolling the dice for resources and trying to plan what resources you are going to need to cross the beach and storm the bunker. It comes with 8 different beaches, so far I have only managed to win the Exercise Tiger map. Omaha beach has been close and the rest just look horrific.

Its a quick game, taking about 15 minutes to play and has little setup. So when you fail its easy to just reset the board and give it another go. It's my current go to solo game for that reason.

The game front is looking rosy at the moment, there are quite a few games being released that I am desperate to get my hands on. Netrunner being top of the list, with Smash up, Alcatraz, Smash up and the Star Wars Xwing game close behind. Luckily my birthday and Christmas are on there way.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Multiple Plays

Sometimes you get a game, give it a play and it just doesn't click. Sometimes its now what your expecting, sometimes it seems more trouble than its worth. When I first heard about Kingdom Builder I was quite excited. I loved Dominion, to me its one of the greats, bringing deck building back into the forefront at a reasonable cost. Initial reviews were a bit mixed, but I think that expectations might have been a bit high.

I missed out on the first print run, I was tempted but there just wasn't a copy around. I added it to my wish list and waited.

I managed to grab a copy at the UK Games Expo, by this time the reviews had evened out and it was getting a more positive response. I also thought it might be a good game to play with the kids.
Reading the rules I was a little confused, not because there was lots to read. Far from it, the rules are barely there. I just couldn't get my head around them. I think I was trying to read too much into them.
First play with the kids went well, the game flowed although we didn't really go for the special tiles that effect placement of your pieces.

I thin played with some of my game group and it played a bit better, the pieces started to fall into place and strategies were forming.

Last night we played it again, this was my 5th game and my reservations have now been ignored. Last night was a great game, I lost by 1 point. But the different scoring strategies made more sense.

Kingdom Builder is never going to be in my top 10 games, but after a few plays its now deffinately going to stay on the game shelf.

Friday, June 22, 2012

There is a new Con in town, this one is local to me and is being put together by our game group.
If you are free and fancy a day of gaming come along.