Category Archives: Card Games

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UK Games Expo T-Minus 4 Days…

ExpoExhibitors

With only four days (including today) until the UK Games Expo 2014, I thought I’d post some of the things that I’m looking forward to. Today I’m going to look at the exhibitors!

Last year I spent most of my short amount of time at the expo wandering around the exhibition hall. This year will, no doubt, see me wandering around and perusing many, if not all, of the stands throughout the expo. In preparation for this I took a minute to go through the exhibitor listing on the expo site and noted many stands I can’t wait to visit. Here’s the ten stands I’m most interested in visiting (in alphabetical order.)

Back Spindle Games
Demoing their awesome looking game Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice (2nd Edition) which goes live on Kickstarter tomorrow!

Czech Games Edition
Producers of some of my favourite games including Galaxy Trucker and Space Alert!

Days of Wonder
Creators of Ticket to Ride and Memoir 44, need I say more?

Fantasy Flight Games
It’s FFG, the kings of thematic games.

Game Salute
Very interested to see what representation these guys have, they’re an awesome company who provide support and publishing services for many, many, many Kickstarter games!

GamesQuest
Looking forward to catching up with Nigel and Paul to discuss some future posts for their blog.

Mayfair Games
Last year Mayfair had a lot of floor space, unfortunately I didn’t have chance to check them out. This time I am going to rectify that!

NSKN Games
Creators of one of my favourite thematic games, Exodus Proxima Centauri, I got hold of the revised edition last year and have recently heard that there’s an expansion on the way!

Steve Jackson Games
Two words…. Steve Jackson…

Z-man Games
I really like Z-man, they produce to awesome games, Pandemic, Robinson Crusoe and Tales of the Arabian Nights. I can’t wait to see what they have to show off, and I especially want to see if I can get a look at the new Pandemic: The Cure game.

International Tabletop Day

tabletop

Last Saturday, 5th of April 2014, was International Tabletop Day! A celebration of all things tabletop game related. I realise that this post is a little late but I still wanted to tell you guys what I got up to!

Brainchild of Will Wheaton of Star Trek and Tabletop fame, the day is dedicated to the gathering of gamers and those interested in gaming. It’s a great way to promote the hobby and get more people playing games and I was really looking forward to taking part in as much fun as I possibly could.

So, wanting to optimize my play time I worked out what my options were and set out for a day of fun and games!

As you might already know, I attend a monthly board game session held at Firestorm Games over in Cardiff. This year they were running a Tabletop event that was both a celebration of gaming and a fundraising bake-sale event for the Help for Heroes charity. As a full time board game fanatic and a cake addict, this was the greatest news I’d ever heard, so I headed there to start.

Arriving over in Cardiff at 10am we played a few quick games of a Donkey, a children’s card game that one of the younger members of the group was thoroughly enjoying. It may not have been my kind of game but we all had some fun and that’s what the day’s all about right?

After Donkey we had a couple of games of Forbidden Desert, followed by Fleet, Eight Minute Empire: Legends, Dominion and finally Wits and Wagers. There were so many different types of cake it was unbelievable and staff from Esdevium games were on hand to demonstrate Terry Pratchett’s The Witches, Ticket to Ride Nordic Countries and Carcassonne.

The whole session was a great success and a lot of fun was had by all. A big thanks goes out to Clare for organising the cake sale and fundraiser, not to mention Roy for making sure everyone knew about it, and Jake plus the Firestorm staff for making sure everything was running smoothly on the day. By the close of business the cake sale had managed to raise £128 which is really great!

With Firestorm closing at 6pm I had a plan in place to continue the gaming fun. Thanks to Ian over at Rules of Play I’d heard about another Tabletop event running nearby that started at 7pm. Just enough time to dash over and get a good table. So, almost as if I’d planned it, we made our way over to The Gate to join the Rules of Play team for more gaming delights. I’ve seen their sessions at The Gate advertised on numerous occasions but living over in Bristol has meant that we, sadly, couldn’t make it over to any of them. Unfortunately weekdays, work and travel just don’t mix that well. However, this Tabletop event was a Saturday so we HAD to be there!

The event kicked off at 7pm as planned and we began with some games of King of Tokyo, we then followed this up with some Zombie Dice, which I haven’t played in quite a long time. Nikki and I ended our gaming at about 10.30pm after a game of Citadels. By this point I was starting to get tired, Nikki was sure her brain was melting, but Chris soldiered on and joined a group for a game of Ticket to Ride Europe.

Nikki and I sat chatting at our table and were shortly joined by Steve from Rules of Play who we chatted to until the very end of the evening. It was really good to get to chat to him outside of the store and Nikki and I had a great time discussing all manner of subjects with him. At one point he tried to persuade us to give role playing games a try, something I’ve avoided like the plague since my first and only experience of them put me off for life. However, Steve was quite persuasive and even Nikki seemed to be warming to the idea slightly. In fact Steve was so persuasive that I’ve since ordered a copy of Fiasco to dip our toes into a very simple system and have been looking into the FATE Core System too!

All in all it was a great evening and the perfect end to a wonderful day. We played some awesome games and met some fantastic people who I would love to spend some time gaming with in the future. I even got some fun tabletop promos which really topped the whole thing off nicely. Unfortunately I didn’t see any of the 7 Wonder Will Wheaton promo cards but What I did receive was totally awesome! and all I can really say is that I can’t wait for next year!

A weekend of gaming!

mice

This weekend has mostly been dedicated to relaxing and playing games, something that I need to do on a more regular basis! Anyway, I thought I’d take a few minutes out from relaxing to drop a quick post on here as a summary of my gaming antics.

Saturday:
I attended the monthly gaming session at Firestorm games over in Cardiff. As always I had a great time playing games with attendees both new and old. I managed to get quite a lot of games played which is always a bonus.

Alhambra – I’ve wanted to play this game for a long time. I’m not sure why I hadn’t bought it already, but for some reason it had stayed on my wishlist longer than most other games. After my single play of the vanilla base game I was surprised at how little there was to the game. I really wanted to like it especially after hearing people saying that they’d enjoyed it, unfortunately though, something just didn’t click for me.

There was no player interaction at all with Alhambra, I just did what I needed to do when it got around to my turn and didn’t really care much about what anyone else did. I suspect that the game may be improved dramatically by the expansions, but I just don’t know because they weren’t included in this playthrough. Perhaps someone out there can point me in the direction of the best additions to try?

All in all, I’m glad that I hadn’t bought this on a whim, I feel it’s just not a game for me.

Château Roquefort/Burg Appenzell – A very fun kids game that will appeal to both adults and children alike. Some amazing production value with this one, a great board and some amazing little mice/player pieces (see the photo at the top of the post for just how much fun these pieces are!)

This game took me back to my childhood, when I played a game called the aMazing Labyrinth. I loved that game and when I got into board games again all these years later I called my parents and asked them to find it. Filled with the joy of nostalgia I set up and played aMazing Labyrinth, only to find that it was nowhere near as good as I remembered. Château Roquefort however, utilises the same tile pushing mechanic as aMazing Labyrinth, a similar item collection concept, but adds a few more layers of complexity to it. As the game progresses, the board evolves, cheese are collected and mice sent plummeting to their death in small shallow pits. This game is really quick to play and I’d recommend it to all families and most gamers!

Guild Hall – I got this at a really low price in a sale earlier in the year. The box makes this game look terrible, the pigs on the front of it don’t even feature in the game, and anyone who sees it turns their nose up at it almost without fail.

So, in an effort to show a few people this little gem, I grabbed a large plastic deck box, transplanted the cards and tokens into their new home and persuaded a few people to join me in a game.

I really like Guildhall, it’s fast and it’s fun. You collect sets of cards, when you have a set you can use it to buy points, and you play until someone scores twenty points. That’s the basics of the game, but there’s so much more to it. There’s a selection of cards that you use to build your sets, each having their own unique ability. I won’t go into detail in this post but there’s a lot of player interaction hidden away in this fun little game and it’s really worth giving it a shot!

Francis Drake – I’ve had this game for a few weeks now and not managed to get it to the table. Jason from the Cardiff group had brought along his copy and set it up for me to have a try. Jason, Paul, Gavin (new to the group) and myself took on the roles of explorers and started hiring crew, purchasing cannons and gaining the odd bonus by “taking” the Queen. Yes I said it!!

From the box, you wouldn’t get that this game is seriously fun. The artwork is your typical Euro style and the box put me off buying it originally! Thankfully I watch the Dice Tower and saw a glowing review of it on there, so I figured I’d grab a copy whilst it was still available! Keeping this short and sweet though, this three round game had me entertained and engaged throughout. I lost by quite a margin, but I still enjoyed it!

The Resistance – A great game that I’ve played hundreds of times. I’m not exaggerating here, I’ve played it so many times over lunch that I stopped counting at about 125 plays. I’ll get round to writing a review of this and its sister game Avalon sometime in the near future.

Coup – Set in the Resistance universe, Coup is a game of lies and deceit. You can claim to be any of the characters in the game, and if no one challenges or blocks you then you get to do as that character does. The trick is, you don’t actually have to have that characters card to claim that you do. After backing this on Kickstarter I’ve played this a few times. It’s not bad but there’s plenty of games that are far more fun to play. Resistance or Bang the dice game with their hidden roles are both more fun and frantic than any game of Coup.

Sunday:
Sunday wasn’t going to be a games day but it turned into a 2 player gaming session whilst a delicious Sunday lunch was cooking in the background.

We managed to get two games played, each hitting the table for the first time. Both games belong to Nikki and I have to admit I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy either. However, after a bit of a rules reading session we started playing what turned out to be a pair of pleasant surprises.

Cyclades – Greek Gods and Mythical beasties make for an interesting and fun game. I’d played this before on the iPad and hadn’t been impressed at all. Bringing the game to the table I was worried that I’d feel the same about the physical version. However, after a very quick glance through the rules we were up and running. It’s fast to learn, easy to play and with more than two players I think this could be a lot of fun! I would definitely play this again, even with only two players, and would be very interested to see how the new conversion pack works that lets you use the monster figures from Kemet in Cyclades and vice versa!

Drum Roll – OK, so I saw this on one of the crowd-funding sites a good while back. I thought it looked interesting, but as time went on I decided it wasn’t a game I would be interested in. When Nikki bought this game I was surprised, and a little apprehensive. It just didn’t appeal to me at all anymore. However, looking for games to play on Sunday, we finally brought it to the table.

All I can say is that I actually really enjoyed this game. Although there’s not a lot of player interaction it’s quite good fun gathering performers, building a circus troupe, and putting on shows. It’s fast paced and you’re never left bored or wishing your time away. The art work is beautiful and drips theme from virtually every component. This is a very nice game and I am happy to say I grossly underestimated how much fun it would be.

And Finally…
So, that was my weekend of gaming, I had a lot of fun playing through most of these games and I can’t wait to play some more. This week I don’t think I’ll have a lot of spare time free for gaming so any time I do get will be completely dedicated to playtesting the last two chapters of the Mice and Mystics Downwood Tales expansion. I can’t wait to get my teeth into these, the story so far has been extremely interesting and I can’t wait to see how it ends!

January! Again??

January

I know this is a little late but I just want to wish anyone reading this a very Happy New Year. Thank you to those who have subscribed to my little blog, and apologies for not having written much lately.

Where does all the time go?

2013 was a brilliant gaming year for me with plenty of fun to be had. This year I want to build on this and get even more from the hobby whilst engaging more with new and interesting gaming folk. With this in mind I’ve been hard at work creating a blog schedule for the year. It’s an alien concept, scheduling blog posts, but if I have a rigid schedule then I’m more likely to stick to it. That’s not to say that I’m going to write a post for the sake of it, but I will be posting more regular reviews and I hope to start posting ad-hoc board gaming news when I hear of anything interesting coming along.

So, to start the year as I mean to go on, I’m going to list my top five gaming wins for the year. Not games that I’ve won, but game or hobby related accomplishments that really made 2013 so much more interesting for me.

  1. I started going to a monthly gaming group over in Cardiff at the wonderful http://www.firestormgames.co.uk I’ve met some great people there, the staff and gamers are all extremely friendly, and the gaming area has large enough tables to set up some of the more epic games.
    Being of a, somewhat, nervous disposition I admit I was extremely unsure about taking the leap and going along. But; if you’re reading this and you’re on the fence about joining a group then the only advice I can offer is: “Give it a try!”
  2. 2013 saw a lot of my unplayed games hit the table. Many were very good, but one of them really stood out from the crowd. Mice and Mystics by Plaid Hat Games simply oozes everything I love in a game. A rich story mixed with interesting decisions and a variety of great characters. But why would playing Mice and Mystics hit my top five gaming events of the year? Because, dear reader, not only did I fall in love with the game during 2013, I also became an official play tester for the next expansion The Downwood Tales. I can’t tell you how excited and proud I am to be testing such a great game.
    For those who are interested, I’m going to cover more about this amazing addition to the series another day, but I can tell you one thing now, it’s got even more of everything that made the base game so damn fun!
  3. I attended my first ever gaming convention, The UK Games Expo. I only spent half a day there, but I had a good time, spent way too much money on some great games, and fully intend to go again in 2014. I’d also love to go over to Essen, but only time will tell as to whether I can manage that.
  4. I recorded my first and second podcast episodes earlier in the year. I’m not sure I’m cut out for podcasting but over the coming year I’ll try my hand at it a few more times and then decide whether it’s the life for me. “Yo ho, yo ho, it’s a podcasters life for me…” Anyway… moving swiftly on…
  5. I recorded my first game-related video, the unboxing of Nothing Personal by Tom Vasel and Steve Avery. It’s had a lot more views that I ever expected, 380 instead of 1, so that made me happy.

So, that’s my personal top five game-related wins for 2013!

If you did anything that you thought was particularly exciting last year then feel free to post about it in the comments. Perhaps I can use it as a target for making my gaming 2014 even better than 2013!

UK Games Expo 2013

Ticket to Ride Pandemic

This year I swore I would go to a games convention. My original plan was to head over to Essen and experience the wonders of Spiel 2013. Unfortunately that won’t be possible due to the costs involved. So with that decided, I headed on over to Birmingham for the UK Games Expo 2013. Taking place from 24th -26th May, the Games Expo offers the UKs biggest board gaming event. I could only get up to Birmingham on the Sunday which meant I missed the Friday gaming and the expo kick-off on Saturday. Here’s a rundown of my experience at the event.

11.30: Nikki, Chris and I arrived at the NEC Hilton. Excited to get a taste of the convention scene, we pulled into the free car park and jumped out ready to go! We wandered over the road looking for how to get to the Hilton. There were no signs pointing us in the right direction and we bumped into a guy who was also looking for the hotel. Those guys really needed better signage for late comers. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before we found our way and began our first expo experience.

12.00: We signed in and paid the entry fee, with lanyards round our necks we were set loose into the hotel. First stop, a strange room with people selling their second hand games. We didn’t find anything interesting there so we moved on.

12.30: We wandered into the Palace room. An Aladdin’s cave of stands and stalls covered in wonderful games and geek related paraphernalia. There was a presence from some of my favourite online stores including:

  • Heron Games
  • Gameslore
  • Leisure Games
  • Spirit Games
  • Boardgames Extras

I’m a self-confessed sufferer of the infamous acquisition disorder, so it didn’t take me long to hand over handfuls of cash in exchange for a delightful selection of fun.

13.30: Shopping bags in hand; we checked out some of the publishers that were in attendance. I was particularly interested in seeing what each of the following had on show:

  • Queen Games
  • Mayfair Games
  • Asmodee Editions
  • Fantasy Flight Games (FFG)
  • Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG)

I think that perhaps we were a little late in the day to really get a sense of what these publishers had to offer, in fact we felt somewhat underwhelmed by what we found. Listening to podcasts like the Dice Tower we’d heard mention of publishers at cons having stock to sell as well as any available from the traders. This did not appear to be the case at the UK Games Expo, or rather at the time we were looking it wasn’t. I don’t know if they’d been selling their games earlier but certainly FFG didn’t appear to be selling anything themselves, nor did they seem to have anything particularly new to show. What they did have though was a large Deathstar table for playing X-Wing Miniatures on. It was nice but it would have been good to get a glimpse at some upcoming games or expansions that we could look forward to in the months to come. The Elder Signs expansion for example would have been great to see. What we did notice, as we looked around, was quite a good selection of Queen Games’ titles being played. Chris joined in a game of Fresco, which he really enjoyed, and I saw people happily playing Escape. This is a massive favourite of mine, and one that I’d recommend to anyone.

14.30: A little disappointed by the publisher offerings we returned to the traders and milled around looking for some more games to buy. Between the three of us we managed to pick up a few fun titles:

  • Quarriors Quest for the Qladiator
  • Quarriors Quartifacts
  • Resistance Avalon
  • Exile Sun
  • Small World
  • Village
  • Incan Gold
  • Saboteur
  • Nexus Ops

Chris was desperately trying to find a copy of Fresco but unfortunately everywhere he looked only had expansions left. If there’s one thing we learnt from our first games con, it’s that if you see something you think is a bargain, then you buy it. That guy next to you also thinks it’s a bargain and will buy it the second you put it down. It all boils down to the old saying “You snooze you lose!”

15.00: We wandered around some of the other side rooms, found the playtest room and the lecture room. If we’d had more than an hour left we would have spent some time in those rooms but we didn’t think we could get enough time there before the end of the expo.

15.30: We decided to leave the expo and head home for the day. We’d enjoyed what we’d managed to do and wanted to get home and pop those chits for all of the games we’d just bought. On leaving we were asked to return our lanyards for recycling, Chris and Nikki returned theirs and the nice guy at the door let me hang on to mine because I liked it and I use them at work a lot.

Summary
As a whole I would say the event was OK, I can’t say much more than that because it would be unfair to judge it based on the small amount of time I spent there. I can also say that I would return next year and I would try and be there for all three days to get a more rounded experience. One thing I would really like to see improved is publishers putting more effort into this event as they seem to do for the US alternatives.

Anyway, I don’t want to finish on a negative so I thought I’d conclude on a high note by listing a few of the things that I really enjoyed. Here they are in all their glory:

  • Playing my first game of Crokinole at the Boardgames Extras stand.
  • The Tardis and Daleks.
  • The extra-large game of Pandemic with stylish lab coats.
  • A large version of Ticket to Ride.
  • Shopping at the trade stands for all my lovely new games.