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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Game Night Reviews - Timeline

With two sessions under our belt I was beginning to grow more confident so I offered the players a choice of themes. The winner was Educational games and so we began the evening with one of the simplest games in my collection, Timeline from Asmodee.


A Quick Overview


Timeline is a small box card game that costs around £10 and comes in a variety of flavours including Music & Cinema, Inventions and British History. Each themed set comes with 110 cards that are compatible with each other set meaning you can mix and match for the ultimate historical experience.

The gameplay is simple, each player is dealt 4 cards. Each card depicts an event from history and on the back of the card is the date that the event took place. A single card is flipped face-up in the middle of the table and that card forms the start of the Timeline. In turn players take gos at placing one of their cards into the timeline so that it falls into chronological order. If they are right the card goes into the timeline, making it harder for the rest of the players. If they are wrong their card is discarded and replaced with a new one.

The first player to get rid of all their cards is the winner of the game.


Why Choose It?


Timelines was an easy pick for an educational game. It’s easy to learn and unless you are playing with a historian most players will have a reasonable chance at victory. If you mix sets, like Historical Events with Music & Cinema you are unlikely to encounter a player who knows both “When the Europeans discovered Tomatoes” and “When 50 Cent released Candy Shop” which really helps level the playing field.

The other reason for choosing Timeline is the game is fun. Sure, it’s just putting cards in a row and hoping that you are correct but you are betting on your own knowledge and there is a sense of accomplishment if you’re right or a sense of disbelief if you’re wrong.



Did They Like It?


They did. However, I don’t think they liked it as much as me. You see the thing with Timeline is that it is simple, incredibly simple. With the group Timeline really felt like a filler, “That was nice but now let’s play a proper game” and in some ways I feel like that does the game a disservice. Yes, it is a filler, it’s the game you play when you don’t have time for something longer, but it is a game literally anyone can play and have fun with. It is infinitely expandable, it scales easily with any number of player and you can increase the difficulty just by dealing each player an extra few cards.

Final Thoughts


Timeline then is a fun game, a simple game, a filler game. However for me it is its simplicity that makes it a clever game. The way the system can adapt and change to fit different groups is genius. With the addition of Timeline Challenge, which sadly still hasn’t made its way to the UK shores, the game adapts once more and offers even more ways to play. So for me this game gets a huge thumbs up but I understand that for some people it is nothing more than a game to play while waiting for something better to play.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Valentine's Dinner Date

It's that time of year again when two people who love each other get together to share a night of passion and romance. So I thought I'd put together a quick list of two player games that gaming couples might want to try out on this special occasion. So, here is my Valentines Dinner Date.

Forget everything you know. Valentine’s is not a day about love and romance, it’s about competition! It’s a contest to see who can be the most romantic, plan the biggest surprise or cook the best meal. So my Valentine’s Dinner Date will celebrate that competitive aspect of the holiday as you pit your wits against your partner in a duel to end all duels.

The Starter

Game of Thrones: Hand of the King


Here’s a fast little abstract game to whet your appetite for the back-biting and deception to follow. Although Hand of the King does play with up to four it works brilliantly as a two player game with a tight back and forth. 



Each player is looking to control the 7 great Houses of Westeros by capturing their leaders and bringing the house under your control. Sure that all sounds grandiose but Hand of the King is actually very simple to play and you can still enjoy the game without being at all familiar with the source material.

Plan your moves carefully to avoid setting up your opponent for victory and utilise the special powers of companions, by capturing the last member of a house, to your best advantage. The player with most influence in each house takes that house’s banner token, the player with the most banners at the end of the game wins.

Each play of Hand of the King takes a little over ten minutes and of course if you’re on a double date you can play with up to four or even play the game using the partner variant to destroy your enemies as a couple!

The Main Course

The Rivals For Catan


I’ve been dying to slip this little game onto a list now for some time. Rivals does not get as much love as it should. Replacing the outdated Catan: The Card Game back in 2010 Rivals not only does a fantastic job of replacing the rather lackluster 2 player variant of Catan but it also introduces some cracking scenarios too.

                                         

Learning Rivals is simple, each player begins the game with a principality formed of 6 resource cards, two settlements and a road. Every turn you roll the dice and collect resources on the card corresponding to the result rolled. So far so simple. However as the game progresses you can develop your settlements by adding upgrades, maybe you’ll build a ship to allow you to trade goods, or a storehouse to protect your goods from barbarian raids.

As you progress you’ll grow your settlement outwards, building new roads and settlements and discovering new lands which you can farm or mine for resources. You’ll develop your settlements into cities, opening up even more opportunities for upgrades, like the Mint which turns rough gold ore into a wild resource or a University which increases your hand size.

Rivals ships with three different scenarios, which all change the game in a significant way. The Era of Gold makes the gold resource more valuable, The Era of Turmoil pits brother against brother in an arms race for supremacy, whilst the Era of Progress focuses on learning and the university upgrade as the players race for victory.

However the variants don’t stop there as there are also two further expansions which introduce another six scenarios, including a seafaring scenario where you discover islands and face pirate raids. Really, Rivals is a perfect little civilisation game for two players that builds on familiar concepts but really branches out into unique and fun scenarios.

The Dessert


Luchador: The Mexican Wrestling Dice Game


So, you’ve had a taste of politics and intrigue, then you’ve gorged yourself on civilization building and so you’ve finally arrived at the dessert course, you’ve arrived at Luchador (second edition).

In the previous games you went after your opponent indirectly, by subterfuge and manipulation, through resource denial and domination, however in Luchador the competition is simple, direct, you’re looking to grab your opponent by the posing pouch and throw them from the ring!

Luchador can be played as a one on one match or a tag team match with each player controlling two wrestlers or four players working in pairs. The aim is simple, smack down your opponent and keep them there. 



Each round the two wrestlers in the ring chuck their dice on the board, any that stay there count, any that fall off are lost for the round. Players compare dice, Misses don't count, hits cause damage, blocks block hits and counters counter hits doing a damage in return. Once a wrestler’s strength drops below 14 they become vulnerable to pins and if you can successfully pin your opponent you win. Alternatively you can win by knockout, simply by reducing your opponent's health to zero.

With the advanced rules each player takes control of a wrestler with a few special abilities and a signature move which they can use to really bring home the damage.

Luchador is a silly game, but it’s simple and it’s fun; sure it’s more fun with a crowd of people to cheer you on, but so are many things in life. So, what are you waiting for, go on, get out there and chair smash your significant other!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

End of an Era - FFG & GW Part Ways

I can clearly remember the cheers of joy when the partnership between Fantasy Flight Games and Games Workshop was announced, just as clearly as I can remember the wailing and the gnashing of teeth now that it has all come to a crashing end. For nigh on a decade FFG has been producing quality titles under the Games Workshop banner and in this post Mike Barnes from Who Dares Rolls and I will talk about our three favorites and just how much we're going to miss them. To start us off, here's Mike.

Back in the carefree summer of 2016 news hit that put a bit of a wilt in my cucumber sandwich. It was the ending of the longstanding agreement between Fantasy Flight and Games Workshop that had seen the latter publishing board games based on GW's various IP's.

At the time we gnashed our teeth and wrung our hands with many taking solace in their credit cards as speculators and fans rushed to complete collections or grab these soon to be rare and precious items in a feeding frenzy of panic buying. Since then it's all been a bit quiet, I suspect the new shiny or more probably the unrelenting bastard of 2016 as it kept churning spouting worrying worldwide developments between offing beloved celebrities with alarming regularity kept us distracted.
Well now it's time for the hangover to kick in. February 2017 is about to pounce and with it comes the ending of the agreement and once the dust finally settles many beloved titles will be lost to us probably to never be seen again.

Chris from Unboxed approached me with the idea of picking three titles from the casualties and presenting in somewhat of an obituary what they mean to us and what our thoughts feelings are on the passing of them. Depressing though this idea was it felt proper that we should mark this event and so I had a really long think.

The choice for me wasn't that hard I will admit that I never got around to trying any of the card games produced under this agreement but fortunately for you dear readers Chris did. So that left me with the big box hobby titles and I'll broach now the soon to be pachyderm in the room missing from my choices.

Chaos in the Old World is without a doubt a fantastic I mean Eric "bloody" Lang designed it. My reasons for neglecting this masterpiece? Well I could have done it just to enrage the BGG crowd and get all punk and cool smash the system fuck yeah!!  But actually my reasons are all a bit boring, if anything is going to get a reprint its probably this. I'd argue that Lang himself has returned to this particular well himself more than once with last year's blockbuster hit Blood Rage and both his forthcoming Godfather game and the hotly anticipated Rising Sun sharing much of the same DNA.  So while the theme of battling Chaos gods may have left us and for the record it was a great theme much of  the mechanisms and games clever trappings are still to be found. And that is why Chaos isn't on my list, although technically it is here (shh quiet back there).

Mike's Picks


Talisman


This is the one title taken from us to have seen the least amount of tears shed in its passing among hardened hobby gamers. By modern standards, Talisman isn't that great of a game. I produced a review/session report early in 2016 on this stately gentlemen and I stand by my opinions on it coming on as it is as the glorious bastard love child of Robert E Howard and Monopoly.

What did keep Talisman ticking during its tenure at FFG was a nostalgic glow of love for a period of hobby gaming consigned to history and a determination to explore every dusty corner of its world with multiple expansions. And it has to be said that FFG's run represents the most complete and proper edition of this game that I believe we will ever see.

Talisman was a product of the 1980's being the brainchild of Robert Harris and through all its various iterations it's remained true to that first core game. It's an unashamed roll and move adventure that sees's you levelling up one of any number of heroic or not so heroic types as they race to be the biggest hardest most powerful wizard/warrior head to the centre of the board and try to best the game. Over its run, multiple expansions were added including four side boards that brought the wonders of a bustling city, mystical forest groves, deep dark dungeons or treacherous mountain slopes each successive one straining the capabilities of even the most expansive dining table. With these came bucket loads of unbalanced player characters and bustles of cards. FFG produced in total 14 expansions with the final big box version aptly named Cataclysm that saw the Talisman world we'd grown to love decimated in some apocalyptic end of gaming times.


Looking at GW's current slate of boxed games it's hard to see where there's room for Talisman in it being as it lives in its own universe and not GW's officially sanctioned corporate approved fantasy setting and the monumental task of competing with the amount of content FFG produced just seems at odds with the current GW business model. Perhaps it will find itself licensed out to another publisher but I really can't see anyone else coming close to achieving what FFG did with this.
For me, my greatest regret is that I never completed my collection falling some way short of the multiple expansions although now in some way it's all rather apt. I will continue my hopeless quest to slowly seek out the gaps in my collection a quest I feel may take me many frustrating years and is no doubt doomed to failure rather like an actual game of Talisman.

Farewell, old friend. We shall not see your like again.


Forbidden Stars


Out of all the losses this one smarts the most. Forbidden Stars is a cracking 4x style of war game that introduced many subtle layers of gameplay and looked to have a bright future of multiple expansions and emergent strategies to discover. Reimplementing FFG's Starcraft game this was the perfect fit with GW's 40K universe a bleak future that saw war a constant brutal affair carried out over a galaxy on fire.

Utilising a smart hidden action selection and tile activation system it's like a grown up Risk with asynchronous sides and its shiny gem in its crown the clever battle system that introduced a comprehensive dice and deck building mechanism to resolve conflicts.


It's just a really solidly designed and deep game, bemoaned by some that it was slow going and that the conflict resolution was drawn out and ponderous. But this is more a victim of one of the biggest issues with modern board gaming of players chasing that next new shiny object and not stopping to smell the poses and let a game and its design truly breath over multiple plays. And with those repeat plays came the realisation and understanding of these subtleties in the combat and fascinating differences between each faction, and the astounding amount of emergent strategies and nuanced game play that was waiting to be discovered.

What's heartbreaking is that at one point a large boxed expansion was being worked on and Sam Bailey one of the designers on the game let slip some of what they had planned. More races that would have given us Necrons, Tyranids, Tau, and Dark Eldar. Relic worlds, that would have given extra bonuses in battles when captured. More boards for the game and the potential for massive battles or even to stage separate games out of the one box. Alas the plug was pulled the moment that the split was announced and its unknown just how far along development these were.

This was one of the best titles to come out under the agreement and despite us wishing for what could have been the base game still represents for me one of the greatest uses of the 40K license and one of the most satisfying war games out there.


Fury of Dracula


I'm a big fan of hidden movement and deduction games they have been responsible for some of the most nail-biting and tense tabletop experiences I've had. Fury of Dracula originally published back in 87 reappearing under FFG's banner early in 2006 and then much sought after falling out of print had been one of my grail games. When it finally arrived in its swish new 3rd edition that polished up the components and ironed out some niggles leftover from the 2nd edition I was first in line.

What I love so much about Fury aside from the gothic drenched theme is the unique experience among these style of games in that it tilts the idea on its head by allowing the hunted to turn the tables on his pursuers and take the fight back to them.

I love the chance to play as the count sneaking about after hours, setting traps for the hunters or even leading them on a merry chase before striking when they least expect it. There's such a lot of delicious fun to be had in this box.


The third edition tweaked quite a bit but its highlight was streamlining the clunky fight system with a very cool element of rock paper scissors to the running battles that really added a brisk but satisfying punch to them.

I'd heartily recommend that anyone interested in the theme grab this while you can, unlike Peter Cushing in the myriad Hammer movies GW have done the unimaginable and finally staked the count once and for all consigning him to a permanent restless end in an unshowy grave. And that dear readers is a tragedy.


Chris’s Picks


It was the summer of ‘99, high school was done for another year and I finally had that copy of Warhammer Fantasy Battle I’d been drooling over for months in my hands. Bretonnians vs Lizardmen, snap fit minis with cardboard heroes and terrain. It was my first forray into the true Games Workshop hobby. After that I started snapping up anything which had those legendary initials on the front, be it Heroquest, Dungeonquest, Space Crusade or Blood Bowl. I even picked up a copy of Games Workshop’s Cosmic Encounter which was way beyond our comprehension.

My obsession with GW continued through the next decade as I played my way through three editions of Warhammer and four editions of Lord of the Rings. The final straw however came with the release of 8th Edition of WFB, a mighty tome with a hideous price tag that felt like a money grab (at the time they had yet to finish re-releasing all the army books for 7th edition). I downed tools and my love for the Old World fizzled.

Enter Fantasy Flight! Here was a company that was picking up the banner for Games Workshop, taking the Old World and the 41st Millennium, like a curate in a museum of antiquities, caring for these treasured properties, nurturing them and introducing them to the generations to come.

My first experience of FFG’s tenure with the GW licence was the wonderful Warhammer: Invasion. A beautiful blend of Eric Lang’s mechanics with the art and flair of the Old World. Once again I was able to experience the rush of cavalry charging across the battlefield but at a fraction of the price. In the core set you could experience playing six completely different factions that were fun to play, right out of the box. It was an exhilarating rush and Warhammer: Invasion doesn’t make my “list of games I’ll miss” only because FFG had already decided to retire the line a few years before the split was announced. Invasion, however, remains one of my favourite games of all time and still has pride of place in my collection.

So, to the list.


Blood Bowl Team Manager


BBTM was first announced during the deckbuilding haze of the late 2000’s when everyone was scrambling to bring out the next Dominion. However by the time the game actually released it was a different beast, the deck building mechanic had been retired (recycled into the much underappreciated Rune Age) and replaced with a hand management system.


In BBTM you will take on the role of a manager of one of six teams (12 teams with all the expansions and there should have been more!). At the start of each round the players will draw 6 cards from their starting deck of 12. In turn each player must commit a player to a match, going around until all players have committed all 6 players. Each match is then scored awarding bonus players and upgrades to the winning teams as well as Fans which were essentially victory points. The team with the most fans after 5 rounds wins.

That sounds simple, taking it’s lead from games like Colossal Arena or Battleline, but BBTM was so much more. Every team was distinct, having it’s own flavour, Dwarves were tough, Elves were fast, Humans had ball control. Upgrades and Star Players added more flavour as well as fixing your team's shortcomings or maxing out their power. This game was, for me, the game Blood Bowl should have been.


Space Hulk: Death Angel


Death Angel was a little like Marmite, players either loved it or hated it and I have to say I experienced a lot of the latter. For me I feel that a lot of the hate came from people expecting the game to be something it wasn’t. This one was based on the hugely popular Space Hulk, a tense two player game of cat and mouse and it was coming from the mind of Corey Konieczka, at the time one of the hottest designers on the planet.


Licence and Designer combined here to produce a maelstrom of expectation that just couldn’t be fulfilled and so a great game in its own right was poo-pooed by the weight of expectation. Now, I will admit that the rulebook is not well written, it’s difficult to follow and turns a fairly simple game into a quagmire of complexity. However, once you get past that the game is a lot of fun.

Death Angel is a cooperative game in which each player takes on the roles of two Space Marines exploring a derelict wreck infested with genestealers. You have to accept that not everyone is going to make it out alive. Once you accept this the brutality of the game becomes a strength. You run and gun your way from objective to objective, never passing up the opportunity to escape the outstretched claws of the enemy, always looking for that final goal, for the game to end, for the torture to stop.

As brutal as the game is and as much as it tries to kill you and everyone you love, it always feels like, if I get lucky, there’s a chance I can make it through this. It’s not often that a cooperative game inspires such a selfish, self preservation instinct, but this one does it in spades and it’s great!


Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game


This was the game that died too young. I remember the excitement when this one was announced, finally, Warhammer Quest was coming back. You could taste the anticipation, smell the excitement, finally, after all these years…


The game came out to great reviews, to endless speculation about the expansion format, six months went by with not a word from Fantasy Flight, the expansion powerhouse, people began to worry, things were looking suspiciously quiet. We began to question if Warhammer Quest had not been the success it had first appeared to be, or if perhaps we had done something wrong to not be treated to new adventures and new heroes.

Then a ray of hope! New heroes were coming… they were coming out as Print on Demand…??? But why? Why not a full box release, why no new scenarios, monsters and locations? We didn’t have long to wait after that, the announcement of the split, mummy and daddy were getting a divorce and FFG had lost their visitation rights. The Old World was done for, the Age of Sigmar had begun and FFG’s tenure as the curators of my childhood was over.

Oh right, you wanted me to talk about the game?

Warhammer Quest is the bastard child of Lord of the Rings: The Card Game and Space Hulk: Death Angel. The two combine here to create a hellishly hard dungeon delve as 2 to 4 heroes work together to defeat an evil nemesis. Players must balance making progress through the dungeon with attacking enemies and healing each other. Once you play an action you can no longer take that action until you refresh it, limiting your choice from turn to turn.

Between adventures you have the chance to level up, adding new action cards to replace your old ones or accessing new equipment with which to face the long dark.

Warhammer Quest had a bright future ahead of it, each scenario was challenging but different. The heroes too offered different play experiences and sure you can replay the base game’s five scenarios with different heroes, you might even win one now and again but you’ll always know that there was supposed to be more, that your adventures should have continued…



About the Authors

Chris Bowler is the lead author at Unboxed The Board Game Blog and The Duke of the Blood Keep. He also runs the UK Gaming Media Network and in his spare time he likes to… yeah… like he gets spare time!

Gaming since birth Chris enjoys a vast collection of Board, Card, Miniature and Role-Playing games, with eclectic taste in both Style and Theme.




Mike B is the founder of Who Dares Rolls, Host of the sporadic Who Dares Rolls Podcast that nobody listens too and occasionally produces videos on the WDR You Tube channel that nobody watches.

Mike displays almost no taste or appreciation of the finer points of game design despite this potentially debilitating personality defect he continues to critique board games.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Game Night Reviews: Braggart




LIAR!!

The call of the Braggart! We’ve all been in the pub with “that friend” when he begins to tell the valiant tale of the time he confronted the eight foot tall spider with his homemade flame thrower. Well, Braggart is that friend… in a Box. No… not literally, that would be weird.
Braggart is a fast playing, take-that style card game that can handle up to six players. Is it a good game? Let’s get to the review!

A Quick Overview

In Braggart each player is dealt a hand of cards and one player is chosen to go first. The round begins with a draft. Cards are dealt from the top of the deck equal to the number of players, each player drafts a card in turn order. They then have two options, “Go to the Bar” and draw three cards from the deck or Brag. Before they brag they may play any number of Ploy cards (special abilities).

In order to Brag a player must have at least a Deed and Foe, but can also have a Scene and a Result. They play down their cards and read the story aloud (Roleplaying is not necessary but is encouraged.) All players then have the opportunity to play liar cards. These cards allow that player to swap any one card for a card in their hand, usually making the brag worse. The Bragging player must then read his adjusted brag out loud once more.

After each player either goes to the bar or Brags the bragging players add up their score (the numbers at the top of the card) the player with the highest score keeps all their cards using the number in the bottom right corner for victory points, the losing players keep only their highest scoring card.

The game goes until the deck runs out, the player with the most victory points at the end of the game wins.


Why Choose it?

So, it was our second meetup, at this point I didn’t know if my friends were still humouring me or if they really wanted to play games. It was Christmas, we’d had a nice meal and a glass of wine, Codenames had gone over well and we were looking for a way to wind down and relax. Braggart seemed like the obvious choice to me. It’s a small box, so it’s not intimidating, it has simple rules and fun colourful artwork. Braggart won't burn your brain and it’s funny, it has the feeling of a role playing game, or a storytelling game without requiring anything from the players.

It’s Funny

One problem with Braggart is that the game is driven by humour, it’s funny to laugh at a player who spent the night with the unfortunate trout or ran screaming from the terrified urchin. The problem is that the game becomes less funny the more you play it with the same group. Once you’ve seen all the cards you begin to repeat combinations and that story which once generated big laughs is now just a perfunctory point scoring exercise. You can certainly add a  roleplaying element to the game to bring back some of the joy if your players are comfortable with that, but once you fall out of the theme and the humour the game simply becomes about points and the best way to get them.

More Cards

There is, of course, a simple fix for this, expansions! Unfortunately so far Spiral Galaxy has yet to release any. Many of us are hoping that the second edition of the game (which does come with additional cards, if only a handful) will, if successful, spawn some expansions and really allow us to mix it up with new stories and grand, tall tales.

Did they like it?

Yes they did. One player even bought himself a copy. It’s simple, it’s light and it’s fast. If your players have any experience of role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons then they will get an additional kick out of it but no such experience is necessary.

Final Thoughts  

Braggart is a take-that style game which relies on humour to hide the fact that the mechanics are pretty simple. The drafting mechanism adds a little bit of an equalizer to the luck of the draw but realistically if you don’t draw the right cards you aren’t going to win no matter how well you play.

Of course, Braggart is such a light game that you should be playing it for fun, for the laughs and the stories and the moment when Bob acts out the lewd dance he performed for the Queen of the Fairies. If you are counting points and taking it seriously Braggart is going to give you no joy at all, but if you give in and let the theme overtake you then I promise you’ll have a fun time and so will everyone else.  


Monday, 9 January 2017

12 Games of Christmas - Day 12 Pandemic: Legacy

It’s Christmas so I decided to give my Game Night group a little present and picked up Pandemic Legacy. Okay, it’s mostly a present for me, but they get to play too! So far we’ve played January so what follows will not explore beyond the first two games but if you don’t want any spoilers look away now.

Image result for pandemic legacy


“It was a cold new year, much like any other, viral infection was rampant with the temperature lowering the populations immune systems. We figured it was a January just like any other, however the lady upstairs felt differently. Disease was spreading rapidly, multiplying and mutating at a rate unseen for decades.

We deployed the team, our scientist went south, hoping to put an early end to the outbreaks in south america while the medic headed east to offer aid to the Asian capitals that were struggling to adapt to such a potent disease.


The dispatcher and the researcher did their best to offer logistical support, ensuring that all the major players were in the right place at the right time with the right resources in hand. It was then that disaster really struck, in the middle east. The disease had gone largely unnoticed, as the team fought to put out the fires in Asia and South America. Something had changed about it, drugs had no effect. All we could do was treat the symptoms.


The whole region began to destabilize, Cairo and Algiers were the first to go and while we fought to bring that under control the whole of Northern Asia erupted into unrest.


The second half of the month brought with it more woes, but we managed to contain the situation with a good degree of control. The northern hemisphere was disease free except for San Francisco but we soon brought that under control and eradicated the strain that was causing the problem. Unfortunately our celebrations were cut short as Algiers fell to riots. We could see the fires, even from the safety of our research station in Cairo.


The Medic and Scientist worked through the night to find the solution, panic erupted on the streets in streets of Taipei but at last we had them in hand, we had the cures.”

So, we lost the early part of January, consumed by diseases that were all next to each other causing chain outbreaks. Despite this early setback and the surprise that the Black Disease was no longer curable we managed to eek out a victory in the second half of the month. This was partly due to the more favourable placement of starting diseases and the knowledge of how to deal with and contain the black cubes. However it was also greatly assisted by our upgrades (remote treatment upgrade for the medic and a research station in Cairo) and our increased funding allowing for 6 events in the deck.

Overall we found January to be an intense month, which can mean things are only going to get more intense! We found the legacy format refreshing and enjoyable, the nice twists and surprises, along with the potential damage we caused by having so very many outbreaks. If the next 11 months prove to be as exciting I will be very happy with Pandemic Legacy.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

12 Games of Christmas - Day 11 Paperback

Okay Granddad, put Scrabble back in the cupboard, it’s time to learn a real word game! In paperback you begin the game with a deck of five letters R, S, L, N. T and five wild cards. On your turn you draw five cards and then must spell a word using your letters and a common shared vowel on the table.

Image result for paperback board gameYou then score points for your word and can use those points to buy cards from the middle which go into your deck allowing you to spell different words and give you special abilities. As the game progresses you can use your word score to buy more letter cards or to buy victory point cards (which still count as wilds). When two of the four stacks of Victory Point cards run out the game ends and the player with the most VPs wins.

The beauty of Paperback is that you don’t have to be good with words necessarily to win. Yes, often, longer words score more points, but using the special abilities on cards to your advantage can mean playing simple words can still score high. There is no rule about playing the same word as someone else or playing the same word multiple times in a row.

Because the game uses the deck building mechanic you can sometimes be at the mercy of your cards. If you only draw consonants then it can be pretty hard to play a word but most of the time you will find you have a wild to help out and there is usually a common vowel on the table that any player can use.

Image result for paperback unboxed the board game blog

Paperback is one of my favourite short games, packing a lot of meat into a very small package and play time. It allows for creativity as you build your words, but it also allows for tactical game play in the way you build your deck. As each hand is different and the letters change from game to game I find that the words you build will also change preventing the game from becoming stale and obviously also expanding your vocabulary at the same time.

If you can find a copy, Paperback is definitely one I recommend picking up.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

12 Games of Christmas - Day 10 Not Alone

Image result for not alone board gameMy collection has grown vast and unwieldy with 300+ titles and as such it is difficult for me to find games that don’t already resemble something I already own. Not Alone however I think falls into that category.


Not Alone is the embodiment of films like Predator or Alien. Most of the players take on the roles of the Hunted, their ship crash landed on an alien world, their job is to repair their ship and escape before the Alien Player can hunt them all down and assimilate them. Each turn, each Hunted secretly plays down a place card numbered one to five. Then the Alien player plays out up to three tokens on the various locations, hoping to catch the Hunted. The players then reveal their place cards, if the Alien caught them he scores a point and reduces their will to resist, if he missed them they get to use the power of the place.


The various place cards allow the players to reclaim played cards, open up new areas to explore, help them discover new pieces of survival gear or fix the ship and bring them a step closer to being rescued.


At the end of the round the players discard their place card face up rather than taking it back into their hand, meaning they can’t travel there next turn, lowering the number of options they have and helping the Alien better know where to strike. The game of Cat and Mouse continues until the players escape or until the alien player has assimilated enough of the crew that the others no longer want to leave.


Image result for not alone board game


Not Alone is a great game. It’s a small box and a small price point from a company I haven’t really heard of before (Geek Attitude Games), but it’s a quality product. The game itself is fun, it has a deduction element, a bluffing element and a push your luck element. It scales from two to eight and plays in twenty to thirty minutes.

It offers a unique experience and it does so with some lovely art and enough diversity among turns to keep the game fresh and interesting each time you play. This one is getting a huge thumbs up from me.

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