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Monday, 27 February 2012

Making Jigsaws Your Own

This week’s guest post is from Todd Hamilton and Alan MacLachlan writing on behalf of All Jigsaw Puzzles.

Personalized Jigsaws are becoming increasingly popular so how do you choose the right image to use? An expert’s view

Remember making cards for loved ones for Christmas and birthdays? Undoubtedly they would have meant much to your recipient as you had made the effort to produce something special and personal.

Few of us have the time or inclination to carry on producing home - made cards once we reach adulthood. There is, however, an increasing trend for something personal especially in these hard economic times.

Thanks to modern printing methods some are making jigsaws from photographs and with pleasing results. But choosing the right image is harder for a personalized jigsaw puzzle than you might think. After all a picture, let’s say of your pet Scotty dog lying on a carefully mowed lawn against a blue cloudless sky, may look great as a photograph but turn that into a jigsaw puzzle and it’s a different story; Who honestly wants to spend time looking for blue and green coloured pieces.

Visually Interesting

When thinking of producing a personal puzzle, consider something which is visually interesting for the puzzler. Of course you want to have a personal detail but do pick an image with plenty of happenings especially background. Think about contrasts of colours and shades. Also are there other people, what about vehicles?

Think too about any action taking place. Often an amusing scene can create the best compositions for a personalized jigsaw.

A good example could be a beach scene say in Bournemouth. You could have your loved ones eating an ice cream, a yellow bus in the foreground and perhaps the pier as a backdrop. Imagine if you had caught someone in the background being accidentally splashed.

You may also want to think about actually going about taking a picture specifically for the the jigsaw - it would save time trawling through albums of electronic images.

How about a street scene as a backdrop? It may look odd as a standalone picture but as a jigsaw puzzle it would work well. If you’re looking for more inspiration you could see what works by looking at manufactured puzzles. Some of the more popular of these include mountain scenes, country cottages, city scenes and fishing villages. Have you been to any of these destinations?


Printer jigsaws can produce really clear results but printers are always looking for the highest quality picture to get the results that you want. Surprisingly images taken directly from Facebook will not be suitable for most printers - indeed many personalized jigsaws printers will tell you to submit the image again.

The industry standard is 300 dpi (dots per inch) but what does this really mean?

You’ll find many printers can work well from an image of 25cm x 19cm. Many printers advise that if you for cropped images you’ll need a picture size in the ratio of 25:19.

You can check the size of your images on your computer. It’s preferable to ensure that the images sizes are at least 500kb, ideally they need to be 1mb or over for most printers. If your image is over 5mb, you may need to reduce the dimensions but leave the resolution as high as possible (unless it is a bmp format file).

Get your image right and personalized jigsaws make truly special gifts which the puzzler could treasure for years to come. Get the image wrong and all the efforts of making something personal would just be tucked away in a bottom draw somewhere.

Please leave your comments on our jigsaw facebook page. We love to hear from fellow jigsaw enthusiasts and we love your fresh ideas!

This post was submitted by Alan MacLachlan of All Jigsaw Puzzles. The links found throughout this document are intended to bring value to those who are enthusiasts. For more information on Alan, check out the Jigsaw Puzzles Site.

Monday, 20 February 2012

How To Choose the Perfect Game

This week's guest post comes from Sean Lind from Silver Oak, you can follow him on twitter @SeanLind. Take it away Sean:

Anyone who enjoys board games has found themselves in a store standing in front of a wall of games with absolutely no idea what to buy.

With hundred of games to choose from the choice is anything but simple. This is why I’ve put together the How to Choose the Perfect Board Game flowchart. Start at the top and follow your way until you get to the title of a game.

If you already have that game back up to your previous choice and take a different fork. Eventually you’ll end up with something worth playing.

If you answer the questions truthfully, chances are you’re going to end up with a game you thoroughly enjoy. I’ve vetted this list to ensure every game on it is worth every penny. That being said not everyone will enjoy every game on this list, be sure to answer each question as truthfully as possible, or you might end up with something you hate.

I actually made this flowchart after hoping to find one to use myself. Every now and then I’m in the mood to pick up a new game, but never have a clue what to get. Without this I might have ended up with something I hate, like Battlestar Galactica.

P.S. There is nothing wrong with Battlestar Galactica, it’s just an everyone vs. the board game. I like to destroy my friends, and then gloat about it after.

Click to Enlarge

P.P.S. Sean, if you aren't destroying your friends in Battlestar Galactica I think you're playing it wrong!


The Cylons

Thanks Sean, in all seriousness though there are some great games on this list, I don't necessarily agree with the logical paths taken to reach them, such as "Are you playing with children" -> "Are they younger than 7" -> "Let them experience crushing defeat" -> "Monopoly" but I can't deny that a lot of the games on this list are worth playing and there are worse ways to pick a new game to buy.

If anyone else has an interesting method for choosing new games go ahead and share it with us in the comments below. I'll be back on Wednesday with another review, until then have fun gaming!


Saturday, 18 February 2012

Board Game News 13: FFG Return to the Drawing Board on Star Wars plus more…

It’s been a while since I did the news so this one will be a little epic.

Fantasy Flight Games

The latest news out of Fantasy Flight includes a slew of new releases, including reprints Wiz War, Nexus Ops and Rex, along with an expansion for Deathwatch and the Collectors edition of Black Crusade.

It was also announced recently that faction specific packs will be released as print on demand for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Starting with spells for Sigmar priests the series will allow players to buy specific action cards to suit their characters without having to purchase full expansions. Of course, if you want everything ever printed the POD supplements will make it more expensive, but for players looking to upgrade a single character type these are very affordable indeed. And with news that FFG has finally fixed their international shipping option, they’re also a bit cheaper!

In other FFG news the much anticipated 5th Living Card Game based in the Star Wars universe has been taken back to the drawing board for a complete reboot. At this stage we’re not really sure what this means for the game or what the reasons behind the change are. I do hope however that the game will still release with the hand drawn artwork that was previewed rather than screen shots from the movies.

Finally, FFG announced this week that their World Championships will be held in November and that the games will include all current LCG’s, with the exception of LOTR, but it will also include both Dust Tactics and Dust Warfare as well as X-Wing, suggesting that the game will release on time.

Chaotic Connections

Family game night is a great way for families to spend quality time together, get away from electronics, enjoy each others company and make memories and traditions that will be passed down from generation from generation. It’s like a mini vacation where families can just get away from the chaos of life – that is, unless they are playing Chaotic Connections.

Chaotic Connections is a brand new board game on the market filled with strategy and chance. The game takes players on a cross-country road trip. Each player is dealt four cities at random and must attempt to build roads to connect the four cities in order to win.

However, anyone who has ever been on a cross-country road trip knows it’s not always a straight shot to get from one city to the next. The situation is no different in Chaotic Connections. Players will be dealt Curve Cards, Road Blocks, Detours and extra cities from other players while attempting to connect their cities. Now the chaos really begins!


Chaotic Connections is packed with fun for families and is the perfect way for families to connect over a game night. The basic rules are simple, making it easy for parents and kids to play, but there are many strategic variations to master. For the more experienced player, more strategy comes into the game, but the game easily adjusts to the level of the player, making it easy for kids ages 9 and up to enjoy the game.

Gryphon/Eagle Games


Eagle & Gryphon have 17 of the Ender's "50 Great New Games You Should Know About"

Longtime reviewer, Ender Wiggins, has posted his list of "50 Great New Games You Should Know About" for 2011. Eagle and Gryphon Games have claimed 17 of the 50 slots! The list divides the games into ten different categories with Eagle and Gryphon getting nods in all but one.

The categories are:  Strategy Games, Family Games (Pastiche & Pergamon), Two Player Games (Mirror, Mirror), Card Games (Botswana & Musketeers), Word Games (What's My Word?, BuyWord, & Montage), Party Games (Reverse Charades, Caveman Curling & Why Did the Chicken...), Children's Games (Worm Up!), Themeless Games (Can't Stop, Blockers, & Number Please!), Unique Games (Pizza Theory) and Old favorites (Railways of the World/Railways Through Time). If you'd like to see the full list and read about each game, and we hope you do, just CLICK HERE!


Zong Shi and Pizza Theory are Available for Pre-Order

The Kickstarter projects for Zong Shi and Pizza Theory have ended, and both games were successfully funded!  If you missed your chance to back either game you can still pre-order both games on

Limited Stock of Ferti Games

PitchCar, PitchCar Mini, Siam, Table Hockey and More!

The much loved and highly rated (7.24 on dexterity game, PitchCar, is in stock.  This fantastic game from Ferti Games has been a favourite of gamers and non-gamers alike for over 15 years. In addition to  PitchCar, we also have PitchCar Mini, a more compact version of the original game, as well as most of the expansions for both versions. Click here to see all the PitchCar games available!

Also available is Siam, a beautiful 2-player game in which players take the role of either the Elephants or Rhinocerouses and try to be the first who pushes a rock out of the board. An animal can push a rock, but beware, if you want to push an animal which faces you, you have to be superior in numbers, e.g. two animals oriented to the right direction can push two rocks and three animals oriented to the right direction can push three rocks.

Table Hockey provides all the fun of air hockey, without the electric bill!  Tabletop Hockey comes with a wooden frame that surrounds the playing area and has two openings for the goals.  Players each have a padded circular 'stick" (similar to the ones used in air hockey) they use to send the puck on its way to the opponents goal.  This game was a big hit at Essen, and sure to please fans of PitchCar and other dexterity games.

Caveman Curling Review

Caveman Curling has gotten a rave review from longtime review, Ender Wiggins.   

"Caveman Curling is the kind of game that will have a broad appeal, and can be enjoyed by gamers and non-gamers alike."

Read the full review here.

If you haven't backed this project yet what are you waiting for?  Time is running out! 

Click Here to View the Caveman Curling Project on

Announcing Defenders of the Realm: Battlefields!

Defenders of the Realm: Battlefields is a competitive fantasy battle game for 2 to 4 players. In the game, one side takes the role of the Dark Lord's invading army and minions while the other side represents the heroes and forces defending the Realm. The battles are fast and furious as players place minions and heroes onto the battlefields and attack their opponents using a variety of abilities and special skills. The first side that is victorious on 3 battlefields of the same colour or 5 total battlefields is the winner.

Look for Defenders of the Realm: Battlefields on next month! 

Wingmen Needed!

Eagle & Gryphon Games are looking for a few good gamers. Do you enjoy playing our games? Do you want to teach others to play as well? Do you like getting swag and free games? Do you think you have "the right stuff"? Become a Wingman!

WINGMAN members teach others how to play our games at their friendly neighborhood game stores, book stores, local game groups, and gaming conventions. These events are determined by you, and provide an opportunity to recruit new players to Eagle and Gryphon Games.

To apply,  send us an email and you will be contacted shortly about the possibility of becoming a WINGMAN (or WINGWOMAN).

Responsibilities of a Wingman:

  • Organize events for Eagle & Gryphon Games.
  • Schedule and organize demos & tournaments in game groups, game stores, book stores, libraries, and game conventions.
  • Hand out cool stuff to participants of your demos/tournaments.
  • Create a fun and pleasant atmosphere for all players.

Benefits for being a Wingman:

  • A cool WINGMAN T-Shirt.
  • Free admission to gaming conventions.
  • Receive advance prototypes for play testing and development.
  • Free games and other cool swag!
  • Get advance notice of our upcoming releases.

More information will be sent to you about the program after you contact us. So what are you waiting for? We need you to be part of a select group of gamers. A WINGMAN.


Two Trick Pony

The guys over at Two Trick Pony have put together an amusing video in which a designer attempts to pitch his new game to Milton and Bradley.

Check it out here and check out their site here.



Kickstarter project Zoneplex is looking for backers.

Zoneplex is a game that combines a tile-laying/exploration mechanism, a collaborative battle system and a zone control system to create an intriguing adventure deep within an alien pyramid.

The visual and back story mythology is influenced by space-opera imagery akin to the epic novels of Iain M. Banks and Frank Herbert plus Ancient Alien Theories and even Daft Punk. We tossed all this in a simmering cauldron with Alejandro Jodorowsky's L'Incal and H.P. Lovecraft’s images of otherworldly abominations to create an expansive universe that the game resides in.



Pop artist Robert Burke, known for creating a wacky stream of unusual cartoon characters, is readying a Kickstarter campaign for his flagship board game Cartoona.

Cartoona is a tile-laying, creature-building game of strategy and chance featuring the whimsical pop art creatures of Robert Burke. The game encourages creativity, strategic thinking and social interaction. Players compete by building colourful, and sometimes hilarious, cartoon creatures from different body part tiles and can be played with from 1 to 8 players, ages 3 to adult. 

There are three versions of the game that will come in the box, and they can be played in a player vs. player mode, a team mode, or even in a solitaire mode.

Early backers of the game (MSRP $34.99) can get a copy for just $15 with free shipping in the United States.

A preview of the project can be seen here:



Gemma Cole would like London based gamers to know about their month game nights at the Ritzy.

Strategy games, skill games, family games, party games.

If you love games, this is the place to be.

And if you're not so sure, that's because you've never been to an event like this before! Yeah, Monopoly's OK, but there's a whole new generation of games out there that are so much more exciting, more challenging, and downright more fun -- and we can't wait to show them to you.

Bring your own or ask for a recommendation from the many games on offer.

Pander to your playful side; go on, I dare you...


It’s the second Monday of every month, from 6.30pm @Upstairs at the Ritzy.

Hosted by Charlie Fish

Website:and Facebook

And Chris Geggus would like all Cheshire based gamers to know about his convention Swan Con at the Swan Hotel in Knutsford 9th – 11th March.

Organised by The Weekend Gaming Group (WGG). Has been running at The Swan in Knutsford for over 18 years. Open to all (small fee charged to cover cost of room). Gaming from Friday lunchtime until Sunday afternoon (all night if you're desperate). Multi-player Euros generally with some wargames and other games as desired. No game refused. Numbers are c. 20 - 30 during the weekend - some stay at the hotel, whilst others will drop in whenever. Contact: Chris Geggus (Ahiksking) on


And Finally, This Week’s Release

Once again our friends over at Board Game Guru have put together a list of all the best games coming out this week, take it away Paul.

Fantasy Flight has reached into the back catalogue for sumptuous new editions of 'Wiz War',  'Nexus Ops' and 'Kingdoms'

Two new Living card packs are also released; 'Shadow of the Monolith' for Call of Cthulhu and 'City of Winter' for Warhammer Invasion

'‘Til Death us do Part' is a new scenario for Mansions of Madness and the 'Tyranid enemy pack' can be used a replacement for the genestealers in Death Angel

The ‘NL’ and ‘World Championship ‘decks provide even more occupations and minor improvements for Agricola

‘The Coldest War’, is a standalone expansion for Nightfall, with the Vampire and Werewolf action shifting to Eastern Europe

‘Wiraqocha’ is a steam punk adventure game, originally released at Essen 2011

‘Rattus Africanus' gets is also on general UK release so will be back in stock on Tuesday

I also will have two new command units for Dust Tactics

Happy gaming


Plastic Paradise?

Every year, dozens of new board games release that are choc full of plastic. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, I can hardly claim to avoid the stuff as an avid mini gamer and dungeon crawl fan I own more plastic than some toy manufacturers but today I'm going ask the question, why?

Why is that board game publishers choose to produce plastic miniatures?

At first plastic may appear to be a cheap alternative to other available products. The price point per miniature drops to an extremely low figure when they are produced in volume. However, the initial outlay costs are not small, the cost of the moulds for plastics can be extremely high. Happily, plastic moulds last much longer than metal and plastic is lighter to ship than metal or wood.

However to make this manufacturing process viable the publisher either needs to raise the price of the game or to produce, and more importantly, sell, a vast quantity of the games. This is why companies like Hasbro can produce plastic heavy games at a very low price point, while a company like Fantasy Flight or Days of Wonder has to charge significantly more.

However, many games that use plastic do not use high quality sculpts. This seems like an odd business decision. The sculpting fee is considerably smaller than the moulding process, it would seem that if you plan on producing a quality product you should invest at little more on the sculpts to ensure a quality end product. The truth of this can be seen in the success of Super Dungeon Explore.

However, it's not just the sculpts that tend to be low quality, but the material itself. There are two kinds of plastics, the hard brittle kind, such as you may find in Risk and the soft rubbery kind such as that found in Descent.

Both such materials present problems. The hard plastic can easily break during shipping, which for companies like FFG, who will replace broken parts, could mean a large second outlay on replacement pieces and shipping costs. However hard plastic holds it's shape and details better, which is why companies like Games Workshop have used it for years. The soft rubbery plastic neatly combats the shipping issue and the fact that the pieces will be handled by players who may not necessarily know how you should handle delicate miniatures!!! However, this method often results in warped miniatures with a substantial lack of detail.

When you consider that plastic in games increases the price point, not only through manufacturing costs but also through the additional weight and increased size of the box for shipping, it begs the question, why bother? What are the alternatives?

I'm glad you asked. The alternatives are many.

Metal - Metal components would combat the issue of quality, however not of weight or the manufacturing costs.

Resin - Resin production is still a developing process. Resin allows for much higher quality miniatures than plastic, with even less weight and a cheaper overall production process. However, they are also less durable and are susceptible to casting issues with air bubbles. Eventually however I believe resin will become the material of choice, although a more durable kind than is currently on the market.

Wood - Wood is often used in games. It creates a different atmosphere to plastic, giving a feeling of abstraction. With laser cutting complex shapes are not difficult to produce relatively cheaply. Although wood is not as cheap as plastic the initial outlay is lower making it a viable alternative for smaller print runs. However wood is heavier still than plastic.

Cardboard - Cardboard is an alternative that is very affordable. It offers a similar function to plastic miniatures without the associated risks. It also removes the end users need to build and/or paint anything.

But, none of this really answers the question, why do we use plastic?

We know that plastic makes our games more expensive, we know it's never going to be as detailed as wargames miniatures, we know it will need assembling and painting, we know it breaks and bends and yet we still continue to use it... But why?

Because it looks impressive. Because it feels tactile.

Short of miniature gaming there is nothing quite as imposing as a table covered with 3D cardboard layouts with plastic miniatures  fighting it out for control. While cardboard or wood may allow you to see what is going on the table, it's just not the same as a fully 3D gaming piece, painted lovingly to look like your favourite in game character.

For me, there is a line between board gaming and miniature gaming. I feel like I've reached a stage in my gaming career that I like my games to be complete, in the box, that I can open them and start playing, never having to pick up a paint brush (and paint substandard miniatures) For me, I’d really enjoy the option of purchasing my mini-heavy games “plastic free”, an option where you instead receive the game without miniatures for a moderate reduction. This way I can could substitute in minis from my own collection, which I currently do anyway, without having to pay for mini’s I wont use.

But what about you guys? What do you think of plastic heavy games? What is it that makes you like or dislike them? And what do you think the future of plastic is in gaming?

Until next week, have fun gaming


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

King of Tokyo

Unlike most gamers I’ve never really played “Richard Garfield’s other game”, Magic: The Gathering. Although I did own a starter set of the game I found that it was practically impossible to enjoy the game with the decks included. So, despite the huge popularity of M:tg, I never got into it, despite my love of card games in general. So when I heard that Richard Garfield would be releasing a new game I figured “Big Whoop” and ignored it.

… But then Christmas rolled around and I’d begun to hear good things about the game… really good things. As usual I was hunting for new games to play with my little brother and one game kept cropping up, King of Tokyo. Of course it was sold out everywhere in the UK, but luckily Board Game Guru managed to get some copies in just in time for the holidays and I bit the bullet and picked it up.

But what did I think of it? I guess you’ll just have to wait and see…


Tokyo is under siege, six terrifyingly huge monsters are fighting to gain control of the city, and the yummy human shaped treats contained therein. A giant lizard, a humongous monkey, a mech warrior controlled by a super intelligent bunny, a leviathan sized sea monster, a mechanical dragon and an interstellar alien have all turned out to battle over who will dine on humankind!


What do you get?

  • 1 Tokyo Board
  • 66 Cards
  • 28 Counters
  • 6 Black Dice, 2 Green Dice
  • 6 Monster Boards
  • 6 Monster Standees
  • 50 Energy cubes
  • Rulebook

First off, I can’t decide if it is a good thing or a bad thing, but when you open the box everything is prepunched and sorted into sections and bags in the box so you’re ready to play straight away… but you don’t get the fun of punching and bagging everything… It’s a confusing state of affairs!

The components themselves are very good, the artwork is superb, if you like the cartoon style that is. The tokens and boards are all nice and thick and the energy cubes look cool. The dice are now etched as opposed to the initial print run which used painted dice which rubbed off easier, however they’re still not as good as the custom dice that appear in FFG games like WFRP3 or Elder Sign for example, but they are still pretty nice and the size and contrasting colours will work well even with players who may have a difficult time seeing.

Overall I’m very happy with the components and the visual style of the game, it looks great both on the table and on the shelf!

Playing the Game

To set up King of Tokyo, place the board in the centre of the table and deal out three cards from the deck face up. Each player takes a monster and a monster board and you’re ready to begin.

First player is determined by all players rolling the 6 black dice and which ever player rolls the most attack symbols goes first.

On your turn you will roll the six black dice and use the results to gain victory points, gain energy, heal your monster or attack other monsters. The game is played until only one monster remains or until one monster achieves 20 victory points.

Each turn the players will roll the dice 3 times, keeping any dice results they want and re-rolling the other dice. the possible results are as follows.

1, 2 or 3 – These results indicate victory points. If you score three 1’s you score 1 vp, three 2’s is 2 vp and three 3’s is 3vp. Each additional matching number is an additional point, so four 2’s is 3vp for example.

Heart – This heals your monster 1 point of damage. You cannot heal if you are in Tokyo however.

Claw – For each attacking symbol you roll you do 1 point of damage to every monster not in the same area as you. There are two areas, in Tokyo and not in Tokyo.

Lightening – Energy symbols allow you to take energy cubes which can be spent to buy cards or power effects on cards.

Much of the game revolves around controlling Tokyo. The first player to use an attack symbol takes control of Tokyo, after that players can only take control of Tokyo if another player yields or through a card effect.

Taking control of Tokyo earns you 1 victory point, starting your turn in Tokyo earns you 2 victory points. As noted above all attacks generated by players not in Tokyo target the player in Tokyo (and vice versa) and you cannot heal while in Tokyo.

A player may only yield Tokyo when he is attacked by another player, if he chooses to yield the attacking player is placed in Tokyo and gains the victory point for taking control. Because you can choose when to yield (mostly) you can push your luck to gain additional victory points or yield to a weak player in the hopes of them being killed by the other players.

The final way to gain victory points is through purchasing cards. The cards give you all manner of different abilities, some give you an extra dice or additional rerolls, others simply give victory points or deal damage.

When only one player remains or one player scores their 20th victory point the game ends.


My little brother opened King of Tokyo on Christmas morning, and despite being initially disappointed that it wasn’t all 3 seasons of Ben 10 Alien Force (although he got that too!), we had already opened and played the game three times through before lunch was served.

The game went on to be a popular choice all throughout the holidays. The fast playing time and colourful nature of the game makes this great filler and a perfect family game.

There is a certain element of “take that” in the game, however because who your attack is arbitrarily defined by the game and not really by your choice, it doesn’t feel like you’re being picked on even though the victory conditions are last man standing.

As I’ve already said the artwork is fantastic and really helps to capture the feeling of those giant monster versus the city style films that dominated early cinema. Even having played the game over a dozen times I’ve yet to get through all the cards in the deck (I've never even used any of the tokens supplied with the game yet) so replayability is huge.

I guess if I have to find a negative point to the game, it would be player elimination. It is possible to be eliminated early in this game, especially in higher player count games, which could leave you out of the action for 20 minutes or so until the game is over. That said there is always the “It had a Baby” card which would allow you to respawn with full hits and 0vp. But the game is so fast and fun that even when I’m eliminated I don’t mind watching the rest of the game play out.

Final Thoughts

This games major strength is in it’s simplicity and it’s weight. The simplistic, yahtzee style nature of the game makes it easy to play with any group, even non-gamers and families. The lightweight nature of the game certainly lessens, if not removes entirely, the possibility of feeling victimised by the other players actions. And the vast number of combinations with the card effects keeps the game fresh and interesting every time, despite the simplicity, making it fun to play over and over again.

King of tokyo is a great game and can be enjoyed as a filler game between heavier ones, or a great way to start off or wind down an evening of play. I highly recommend you check it out.

Until next week, have fun gaming!

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