Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica

WARNING: If you haven’t seen the Battlestar Galactica TV show but intend to watch it in the future, then this game contains a shed load of spoilers!

However, if you enjoy the show, or don’t care about spoiling the plot, then you should buy and play this game now!

Man created the Cylons, robots designed to serve the human race. The Cylons turned upon their masters and a bitter war ensued. Eventually an armistice was declared and the Cylons left the planet of Caprica to seek their own home-world. Over forty years pass with no word from the Cylons…

The humans live in happiness until a devastating and unexpected Cylon attack ravages Caprica and almost entirely wipes out the human race. A small number of ships escape including Battlestar Galactica. As time progresses the remaining humans come to realise a shocking truth. The Cylons have evolved, they’ve developed, and they come in a human shaped package! Anyone could be a Cylon, your neighbour, your friend, even your mother. Who do you trust???

You begin the game aboard Battlestar Galactica, no-one knows anything about any of the other players, but everyone must work together to guide the ship to a new home.

The rules of the game are very simple. Each player is given a secret loyalty card which tells them if they are Human or Cylon. Each turn the team must confront a challenge, to overcome these challenges each player can contribute skill cards of various colours. Some colours help with the mission, others hinder it. The card plays are blind so that you never know what anyone else is playing, but to add a little more confusion to the matter there’s a fate deck of skill cards. Two cards from this deck are placed into every challenge. With fate and player cards placed, they’re shuffled and turned face up. Colours that help are counted, and those that hinder are subtracted. If the total is higher than that required by the challenge then the team passes.

This all sounds fairly simple but remember, as you do this, you never know who the Cylons are. Who put those treacherous red or yellow cards in there? Was it your fellow crew mates? Or simply a bad turn of fate?

Using other game mechanisms you progress along your course, attacked by Cylon ships, boarded by Cylon Centurians, desperate for food, low on morale, scrounging for fuel, and fearing an ever decreasing population.

There’s a constant niggling worry whilst you play this game. If you’re doing badly you worry that you’re going to lose, when you’re doing well you’re suddenly worrying what’s around the corner. And quite right too! You’re a Human striving for the existence of your very race. Or are you? At the halfway mark, the game takes an interesting and painful twist. A second loyalty card is dealt out to each player. All you’ve worked for, all you’ve known to be true, could be turned on its head.

Bam! You’re a sleeper agent! You’ve been given a Cylon loyalty card. Now that amazing job you’ve been doing, you have to try and undo it all, you have to bring this ship and her crew down, and you have to do it fast.

In your sudden attempts at sabotaging the ship your crew mates become suspicious and throw you in the brig. Do you sit it out? Wait for them to let you free? No! You declare yourself a Cylon and unleash all hell on Galactica, turn after turn you throw worse and worse problems at the crew. Can they survive? Only time, and a whole heap of fun, will tell!

In summary, this game is excellent, there’s no other word for it. If you like Battlestar Galactica, and you like my description of the game, even just a little bit, then I really recommend you get yourself a copy. You should do this as soon as you can, even if it means dragging your friends kicking and screaming to the table. It’ll be worth it!

Score: 9/10

Ankh Morpork

Ankh Morpork

Based in the city of Ankh Morpork, the game of the same name offers a fun and interesting experience. Fans of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, will know that it has provided the setting for several other games such as Guards Guards and Thud. I may review these at a later date but for now we’ll concentrate on this gem of a game.

Ankh Morpork, by Tree Frog Games, is a fast-paced game in which players go head to head to achieve their own personal objective. At the beginning of the game each player takes a role card that tells them what their own personal goal is. There are three roles that require you to take control of a set number of areas within the city. Then there’s a role which has you earn fifty dollars, one that needs there to be eight trouble markers on the board, one that needs you to have at least one person in a certain number of districts, and the final role wins if the last card is taken from the draw deck.

If you’re a fan of the Discworld novels then you’ll appreciate the characters and humour spread throughout this game. However, if CMOT Dibbler means absolutely nothing to you, don’t worry! I’ve played this game with several people who have rarely picked up a book, let alone heard of the Discworld. Every single one of them grasped the game quickly, found the characters and art work to be great, and thoroughly enjoyed their visit to the magical city of Ankh Morpork.

As you play this game you’ll discover just how important it is to keep your suspicious eye trained on your fellow gamers! Did they just add that extra trouble marker because it’ll get them one step closer to their goal? Did they build in that area to make more money from the special power or to claim their third control area? Sooner or later you’ll find yourself pointing out whose closer to any of the possible goals, making wild accusations, and casting aspersions on your fellow gamers. You can trust no-one, must watch everyone, and always do what’s best for you! It’s what I would call a fun, fast “leave your friendships at the door” kind of game. If you haven’t already tried this game, then for the surprisingly low price, you should really give it a go. It’s not heavy, it’s not all that time consuming, but it is a lot of fun.

Score: 8/10

Last Night on Earth

Last Night on Earth

Following on from my previous post I wanted to talk about one of the first games I bought for myself. Blowing me away with atmosphere and story, Arkham Horror had left me wanting more and I set out on a mission to find a sub-three hour game that still oozed atmosphere.

My first stop, a game called Zombies!!! Recommended by a friend, I eagerly awaited its arrival; but alas, there was no atmosphere there, it just didn’t meet my needs.
Disappointed and somewhat put off from purchasing my own games, I considered giving up. After all, Zombies!!! hadn’t been overly cheap for what I got… and we still had Arkham after all… Surely that was enough…

Well it turns out I was wrong, in desperation to scratch my growing Zombie itch (There’s a whole other post I could write as to why I had the Zombie urge!) I took a gamble and ordered Last Night on Earth a Zombie themed game, dripping with atmosphere and created by Flying Frog Productions.

I won’t go into the mechanics of the game, that’s not what I’m writing these posts for, I want to give people a feel for the game, an idea of what I think when I play them, and how immersive they are. I have quite a vivid imagination and I think this helps me get the most out of my games. I know people who don’t have much of an imagination, or can’t seem to visualise a game panning out in real life, and I think it really limits their enjoyment.

Anyway, imagination in full throttle I started playing Last Night on Earth, there were three of us the first time, one zombie player (Me) and two human players. It’s possible to play with six people, two controlling the different colour zombies, and four controlling a single hero each.

With each turn of the game the sun slowly begins to rise, the Zombie player sends endless waves of foul, decaying, undead minions after the human “heroes”.
In our first game each of my opponents controlled two hero characters and they worked together valiantly to fend off the zombie hordes. Alas, their efforts were in vane as one by one they fell to oncoming waves of the undead menace. This is where my imagination really kicked in.

Picture the scene…

“A young, unarmed, man quietly creeps down an alleyway attempting to avoid detection. He slowly peers around a corner where he spies the decaying corpse of an overweight towns-person ambling out of the darkness. With fear in his eyes he carefully falls back, turns to run, and stumbles on the remains of dog, savaged by it’s once human master. He let’s out a cry and instantly regrets it, he hears the, now louder, moaning of the towns-person drawing closer. As he climbs to his feet the abomination rounds the corner and begins ambling towards him.

Petrified the man turns and runs for the other end of the alleyway. Passing a nearby window he’s showered in vicious shards of glass which tear at his skin and sends him crashing into the wall opposite. A zombie waitress thrusts her arms and head through the now empty window frame and grabs him, tearing at his skin with her cracked nails. She gains a hold and drags herself out into the alleyway screeching as she goes. There’s nothing that he can do, he’s trapped, with no hope of survival. With the screeching waitress clawing at his flesh, he resigns himself to his fate. As she sinks her teeth deep into his face the, slower, ambling towns-person bears down on him, dropping to its knees it joins the waitress and begins its horrific lunch.

Slowly the screams die down and the alley returns to its previous tranquillity, the zombies return to their mindless wandering, simply waiting for the next meal to pass by.”

Playing this game is like watching a first class zombie movie panning out in front of your very eyes. With a variety of scenarios there’s massive replay value. Add to this the Growing Hunger and Survival of the Fittest expansions and you will never be short of fun zombie action. I love Last Night on Earth and I can’t wait to play and review the Timber Peakexpansion which is currently sitting on my shelf demanding to be played.

Score: 9/10

Arkham Horror

Last Night on Earth

When I decided to create this blog, aside from the usual “Welcome to the site…”, I didn’t really have any idea what to write for my first post. Eventually after much deliberation it struck me. Let’s start at the beginning of the story! The beginning of the story that tells of my growing love for board games, and how a bunch of Geeks came together to form a gaming group.

One cold November evening four friends gathered around a box. A box bulging with dark secrets, untold tales, vile beasts and terrifying horrors. This was the first true gathering of the Geeks that game.

As we opened the intriguing box, with its beautiful artwork, we were shocked by what we found. In a nutshell, Arkham Horror has SO!!! much in the box. A giant board, lots of chits and God knows how many cards! This was our first foray into bigger games, and what an insane whirlwind of an introduction to the gaming world it was!

Putting my dodgey story-telling aside, Arkham Horror was the first BIG game that I ever played. It blew me away at how different it was from the casual games I’d played previously. Monopoly, Cluedo, Uno and more recently the immensely supperior Carcassonne and Catan. For starters, Arkham Horror is a co-operative game. Every decision you make will either help or hinder your fellow investigators. You all work towards a common goal, to prevent the rise of some great evil, or “Ancient One”. To do this, you strive frantically to seal a series of inter-dimensional gates that spew forth a variety of monsters into the streets of Arkham. If these abominations aren’t enough for you, the game bombards you constantly with horrific obstacles that occur every time you take a second to breath.

By using a series of location, mythos and other-world encounter cards the game provides you with a truly spectacular simulation of despair and utter hopelessness. When you fail, and you will; you genuinely feel defeated. But when you win! The joy, the celebration, the comradary! It’s all there in abundance.
If I wanted to discuss every aspect of the game then I could be sat here writing all evening and would probably discourage you from ever returning to my humble corner of the internet. So without further delay, I’ll sum up by saying that Arkham Horror is a truly great game, I have yet to find another game that can provide such an immersive atmosphere. I’ve heard people say that you don’t really play the game, the game plays itself and you just enjoy the ride. Well, if that’s the case then sign me up for more tickets to ride. (That’s not a hint at my next review!)

Pros:
Immersive atmosphere, co-operative interaction, beautiful artwork, excellent game mechanics, chits (Hundreds of them!)

Cons:
The rules (can be a bit complex for people new to gaming), the size of the play area needed (especially with the expansions which we’ll discuss at a later date), time required (an average game lasts 3-4 hours in our expereince.)

Score: 8/10

Uno (Not the game!)

Welcome to the site!

This is my very first post and I’m going to keep it simple.

This is a site about board games, card games, video games and of course Geeks that enjoy playing them!

Over the coming weeks I’ll be dedicating some time to writing reviews for games both new and old and if the response from readers is good then I hope to continue to do so into 2013 and beyond.

Thank you for dropping by and feel free to pop back any time! You never know what random things I’ll be covering next.