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.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

UK Games Expo

This weekend its time to drive up North to Birmingham for the yearly UK Games Expo. I haven't been to many expos, but the one in Birmingham is always a good day out. There is plenty to see and games to play as well as a few bargains to pick up.

Thankfully its the last time its going to be in its current location, the last couple of years its become more popular and more crowded. I don't feel like I have missed out on anything but it would be nice to have a bit more space. Especially at the demo tables.

I have a few games lined up, Mage Knight is back in print and I have ordered a copy. This one looks really good, with some nice bits. The rule book looks a bit in depth but I am sure I can cope with it.
The second is Kingdom Builder, I tried to buy a copy around Christmas but it soon sold out. It's back now and looks like it might win the SdJ this year. I also think it might be one that I can play with teh kids, well that's a good enough excuse to get it on the shelf.

Gaming wise its been pretty busy, I have played Helvetia a few times and really like this euro. The bits are lovely and the game is interesting without being too complicated. Our Risk Legacy game has stalled, mainly because we haven't managed to get all 5 of us together at the same time. Hopefully this will remedy itself soon.

I am off camping in a couple of weeks, so any suggestions of games that I can take would be welcome. Something small, light weight and can be played with 10 year olds.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Risk Legacy

Games are sometimes put into categories with the biggest two being Eurogames and Ameritrash. To me Risk Legacy is the definition of Ameritrash.

It got lots of theme and lots of pieces and the rules are a bit on the simple side. Although with the way Risk Legacies change this last point may change. You see, with Risk Legacies the game is going to change and evolve as you play it. Not just the once, each time you finish one of the first 15 games the board and rules can and will change.
Risk Legacy is doing something brave in the world of gaming. Its taking a game and allowing the players to change it with stickers, permanent markers and the rubbish bin. Throw in some unlock able expansions in the box and you have an interesting mix.
But and its a big one, its still Risk and after those 15 plays realistically how many times are you going to play it?
I played a lot of Risk when I was a kid and enjoyed it but I didn't really have much to compare it to then. I have also played an awful lot of Risk and variations online on the Conquer Club web site. So I know how to play Risk and its good and bad points.
Legacy is a fun game, its also pretty quick. We played the first 3 games in one evening session. Although in 2 of those games I only actually took 2 turns. Yep, 2 turns before we had a winner. So it feels like its gone from one extreme to the other. Risk used to take hours to play, now its condensed into much less. This may change as the game and board evolve, we have no idea what is in those sealed sections.
Altering the board is fun, and making sure that everyone can do something at the end of the game is great. If it were only the winner who could add cities or adjust the resources that would soon start to grate. But they have split the alterations into two sections. One for the winner while everyone else who survived can do a minor modification. These in themselves so far haven't adjusted the game in any major way but again, I am sure there are things lurking in those sealed that may change things.

So far I am enjoying the game, I just think that after you have put the stickers on the board and named a continent after your dog the game is going to spend more time on the shelf than on the table. But if the idea of really amending a game as your playing it appeals give it a go, your not going to be disappointed.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Thunderstone Advance

I am a bit fan of Thunderstone, out of all of the current deck building games to me it has the best theme and enough variety to keep me interested. I also really like the fact that most of the cards will fit into a single box which makes getting the game played easier.
As much as I love Dominion, its a pain to take anywhere because of the large boxes of cards and unless I setup some decks before hand we generally just use the base set and an expansion. With Thunderstone I am happy to put more cards in the box and just randomize things.

My issues with Thunderstone have been teaching the game. The cards have a few icons on them and the light penalty takes a few plays. But mainly its the battle effects. When are they applied? Before, after or during combat. It just seems a little messy. For the first few games we were adding disease cards to the battle itself. Needless to say the first few games took a while to play.

Dragonspire was released and with the help of its board and a few rules tweaks things have improved. But now Thunderstone Advance is about to hit the shops and it looks like Alderac have revamped everything and from what I can see all for the better.

The cards have had a revamp with new borders and artwork. I am still not sure about these as the new art style is different to previous cards. I am sure they will grow on me but for now they just look a little odd. The icons are still there but they look refreshed and more readable. I think the main differences on the cards seem to be the text area. It looks bigger and they have put the battle effects into different areas so you can see what is a battle effect and what happens after the battle. This should clear up any confusion and make for a better play experience.

Dragonspire was the first expansion to use a board as well as ditching experience cards for plastics tokens. Thunderstone Advance has upped the ante, there is now a full board with spaces for the village cards as well as the dungeon. It's also double sided enabling you to play a wilderness variant on the other side.
There are also cards for a new game mechanic, familiars. I am not really sure what they do as yet, I need to read up the rules but I am sure they will add to the game experience.

Thunderstone Advance looks like the natural progression with the game, its almost like its version 2.0 with all the irks ironed out. It hits the shops next week, around March 5th and there is a bonus set of cards for people buying from local shops.
My copy has been ordered and I'm really looking forward to giving it a try.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Its alive Jim

There are always a few topics that are bandied around message boards. They include, what games can my kids play, what game will my wife enjoy and what game can I play solo.
So generally it seems like some gamers out there have trouble finding other players and are trying to boost the gamer numbers with family members.
I'm lucky, I have a good group and my kids are willing to play games. i also have some really good solo games.

There are some games that i would love to play more often, Power Grid is one of them. I have had a copy for years but with the cult of the new taking place it doesn't get played as much as usual. One of my friends loves it, but playing it with 2 players just doesn't work. Luckily Friedeman has created some lovely robots to help bolster the game. I was initially unsure about them, but as they are pretty cheap I ordered the set.
You get two thick stock cardboard sheets for your money, with each sheet containing 3 robots. The robots themselves are made up of 5 pieces. To prepare for a game you just pick a random head, feet and 2 body parts and put them together. Each part will tell you how the robot will perform in each phase of the game. Plus each robot will have a special power to help it through the game.

For our first game we created a single robot, so the game was set up and played as though there were 3 players. Our robot seemed pretty hard to beat. His power meant that he got his first city for free in phase 4. He quickly became the leader of the game and we were playing catch up.
Eventually the robot won the game by being able to power one more city then the rest of us. He had built 17 cities and powered 16 of them. Frankly he was one tough robot to beat.

Playing with the robot was very interesting, initially it was hard work as we had to continually refer to the rules to go over what he would do. But after a few rounds it started to sink in. I think this is the worst part of the expansion. It doesn't quite feel intuitive enough. I am not sure if I would want more than one robot in the game, but maybe things will improve the more they are used.

Finally, it blew our meta game of winner packs up.

Would I recommend Power Grid Robots? Yes, if you like power grid and can't get it to the table often enough because of player count. Or want to try with some hard players then its well worth it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Fantasy Flights Sid Meiers Civilization game has been on my wish list since it was released. I played the computer games and can remember many evening playing it and having "Just one more Turn".

The Board game version looked interesting, it was a distilled version of the game that took away a large part of the micro management and was getting favorable reviews. But I held off, I wasn't sure how often I would get to play the game and was unsure if Fantasy Flight had done a good job or just filled a box with as many cardboard bits as possible.

I picked up a copy as a Christmas present along with a copy of the expansion, Amazon had it for a good price and I was struggling to find gift ideas to suggest to family. I opened it up and looked through the masses of tokens, cards and boards. All produced to Fantasy Flights usual high standards. The bits looked lovely and the artwork worked really well.
I started on the rules and faltered, the rule book was well written but its quite big. Usually I start piecing the game together as I am reading the rules but as there were so many bits I hadn't started punching and bagging yet. Christmas celebrations came and went and I still hadn't finished reading the rules.

Then a night was set to play, I had 2 weeks to get my head around the game. I watched a couple of videos from the geek and started to bag the pieces. The rules were read and then reread again. I don't think I have read the rules to a game so many times in such a short period of time.

Last night the game hit the table, there were 4 of us and it was the first play for all of us. I had warned people in advance that it was going to be a long one and as the clock struck 8 the game started. I had spent the previous 20 Min's running through the rules and bits and anything we were unsure of or would need later we would deal with as and when the situation arised.

The game started smoothly enough, civilizations started developing and cities were being built. It really felt like you were playing a condensed version of the computer game. Analysis Paralysis did start to set in once we all got to 3 cities a piece but the pace of the game was still going well.

My Egyptians were doing well with there technology research and culture but I was starting to be harassed by two other players. I managed to research flight then built a stream of airplanes while researching as fast as I could. America was building up its culture and its cities were creating money and trade quite freely. Unfortunately China decided to nuke one of Americas cities which caused it to stall. Rome was doing well, its economy was moving along nicely and was getting to around 12 coins.
It soon became apparent that Egypt was going to win and two players decided to send there troops in to attack. I had luckily won a battle the previous round and take a much needed 3 points of trade to get my last level 4 technology. I just needed to hold my ground and not loose any trade this round.
China went first and made the mistake of dealing with an American battle first, he lost a few units but won the war. There were 2 battles against my cities but his depleted forces were no match to my air power and I won both battles. I then managed to research the final level 5 tech and win the game.

It was just passed midnight and we had been playing for 4 hours. It was a test of the game that we only went through one packet of crisps and 2 rounds of coffee. We were all hyped about the game that hunger and thirst were put to the back of our minds.
The story the game tells is brilliant, America will definitely not forget the nuclear attack from China, while its archers very tank battles would like to be forgotten.

Simply put I love this game, its going to get a 10/10 score and I cannot wait to play it again. Everything about it just works, the components are lovely. The rules are pretty straight forward once you have played a few turns and the varied victory paths make the game a good challenge.