April 2017 roundup

April was a better month for gaming than March was, as I managed to play 31 games of 23 different titles, with 13 of them being new to me. The new games were:


Mmm! – 3 plays –  8 
First Published 2015

This Knizia co-op game is marketed as a children’s game and it is very simple to play but the more challenging side of the board is good for adults too and, having played three times without a win, it’s not a pushover. Liked this one a lot.

Wettlauf nach El Dorado – 2 plays –  8 
First Published 2017

Another game from Reiner Knizia and this is his take on deck-building combined with a race game. Cards are used for movement or to buy better cards and the modular board allows for a huge number of different courses to be built. Not a heavy game by any means but this is a lot of fun and players are challenged to adapt their deck to the terrain ahead while not allowing them to fall too far behind in the race.

What’s My Word? – 1 play –  8 
First Published 1972

Can’t believe I’ve never seen or played this 1972 game before. However, this is a super deduction word game for two players that must have taken Mastermind as its inspiration. Each player is trying to work out their opponent’s secret 6 (or 7) letter word by inserting words into a grid – a two letter word in the first round; 3 letters in the next up to the full 6 letters in the 11th (final) round. You score 250 for each correct letter and 1000 for it being in the correct position. Very simple but very satisfying.

First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express – 1 play –  8 
First Published 2016

This is Russian Railroads the card game and it does a very good job of distilling that game into a card drafting mechanism. You need to balance extening and upgrading your train with moving your conductor and extending your route over six rounds where you take only three actions (although you’ll generate bonus actions along the way). Very good.

Yamataï – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2017

The newest Days of Wonder big box game from Bruno Cathala is a bit reminiscent of Five Tribes (although there’s no mancala aspect). It’s thinky with multiple ways to score and there could be a bit of an issue with downtime with more than two players. But it is a solid game.

A Night in Deepwail Manor – 2 plays –  7 
First Published 2013

This is a solitaire print and play game that I put together, themed around kids exploring a haunted house, trying to amass as many exploration points as they can before being terrified out of their wits. A nice push your luck game that is very compact and plays in about 10 minutes.

Saboteur: The Duel – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2014

Takes the route building of Saboteur and turns it into a 2-player competition to get the most treasure. Works pretty well and the solo rules also work ok.

Magic Maze – 2 plays –  7 
First Published 2017

Co-operative real-time race against the clock to manoeuvre four characters through the Magic Maze shopping mall, steal equipment and escape before the sand timer runs out. This is frantic fun and, as you’re mostly not allowed to communicate and each player has access to different moves, co-ordinating the moves is quite tricky. Not sure if I like the solo version as you have to cycle through the deck of actions so much, it gets a bit tedious going past lots of other actions just so you can reset the deck to get to the action you need.

The Game of 49 – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2014

This is Connect Four mashed together with an auction game and it works really well although everyone needs to make sure one player doesn’t get too much of a head start and is able to generate much more income than other players; otherwise there is a definite runaway leader issue. However, I liked this a lot.

Balloon Pop! – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2017

Ordered this from Amazon US as it’s not available in the UK at present. Another fun roll and write game. Rerolling comes at a cost in this game as you have to roll an additional die and you don’t really want to have to mark off too many balloons at once. Once a balloon colour or symbol hits the top of its column it pops and a scoring takes place, with the popped balloon scoring less than other high-flying balloons. After three scorings, highest total wins. Another fun push your luck game.

Jump Drive – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2017

This is a re-skinning of The City to bring it into the Race for the Galaxy universe. A bit more complex than that earlier game but still lighter and shorter than Race. Games will typically last just six or seven rounds. Nice puzzle to combo the various cards into a money and point generating machine in a race to 50 points.

Honshu – 1 play –  6 
First Published 2016

Landscape building game linked with a trick taking card game. It worked ok but I felt the trick taking aspect diminished the map building part. Not for me.

Haru Ichiban – 1 play –  6 
First Published 2014

Two player abstract game from Bruno Cathala which I quite liked but Jan did not and I’m getting to the stage again that these pure abstracts are not how we like to spend our gaming time so I really shouldn’t buy any more (even though Santorini looks very pretty).


2x Limes
2x Habe fertig
2x Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
1x Say Anything
1x Love Letter: Batman
1x The Oracle of Delphi
1x AttrAction
1x Rolling Japan
1x Lucky Numbers
1x Herbaceous

We’ve now completed Book 5 of HP: Hogwarts Battle and are looking forward to Book 6. Glad to have got Lucky Numbers and Habe Fertig back to the table. It’s been a while since I’ve played either game and they are good fun.


I added 11 new games to the collection which were: Wettlauf nach El Dorado, Jump Drive, Das Vermachtnis des Maharaja, Bucket King 3D, Best Treehouse Ever, Magic Maze, Yamatai, Mmm! Balloon Pop, Yangtze and Sultaniya. My total collection now stands at 593.

My list of unplayed games remains at 18 and my Game of the Month was Wettlauf nach El Dorado.

March 2017 roundup

Oops, I forgot to post this last month but better late than never.

March proved to be a very light month for gaming as I only managed to play 14 games of 10 different titles, with 5 of them being new to me. The new games were:


Unlock! – 3 plays –  8 
First Published 2017

Although we tried the tutorial in February, I’m classing this as new this month with us trying two of the three scenarios in the box and the bonus print and play. This is a very good escape room style game which integrates an app very well. Even though you can only play each scenario once, if they can release each one for about a tenner, I still think it’s reasonable value.

Twenty One – 1 play –  8 
First Published 2017

Another roll and write game and I enjoyed this one a lot (but I do have a tendency to enjoy this type of game anyway). Sort of a race to complete your rows quickly but judging whether to wait for an exact hit or cut your losses is a nice dilemma.

NMBR 9 – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2017

Fun tile laying puzzle where everyone is using the same tiles to create their own individual multi-level structure where points are scored for pieces not on the base level. However, you need to create sufficient space on the base level to support pieces above the base. Simple, good fun and short.

The Oracle of Delphi – 1 play –  6 
First Published 2016

This is a provisional rating as this turned out to be an incomplete play. Use dice to move around a map, accomplishing tasks for Zeus in a pick-up and deliver approach. The number of possible actions for your dice is very high so you’re always likely to be able to do something but whoever does things most efficiently will win. Not bad but I need to try again to see if I like this enough to hang onto it.

Twins – 1 play –  5 
First Published 1996

Wow. We played this three player and it just didn’t work for us. The fixed closed economy was a problem because unless you played recklessly, you didn’t seem in danger of going bankrupt (which is what triggers the end of the game). It might work better with six but I felt there needed to be a way of money going out of the game, such as a tax of one coin per player at the end of each round.


3x Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
1x Dream Home
1x Spot it!
1x Schotten Totten
1x Elevenses for One

Still enjoying HP: Hogwarts Battle (and Becky loves it). Managed to get through Book 4 so three more to complete it. Interested to see there’s an expansion in the works.


I added 7 new games to the collection and reacquired 1. The new additions were: Elevenses for One & Bowling Solitaire, Haru Ichiban, Unlock, Saboteur: Das Duell, Twenty One, NMBR9 and Unfair. My total collection now stands at 582.

My list of unplayed games has risen by one from 17 to 18 and my Game of the Month was Unlock.

February 2017 roundup

In February, I managed to play 43 games of 37 different titles, with 13 of them being new to me. The new games were:


Flamme Rouge – 1 play –  8 
First Published 2016

X nimmt! – 1 play –  8 
First Published 2016

Musée – 1 play –  8 
First Published 2014

Cottage Garden – 1 play –  8 
First Published 2016

Dream Home – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2016

One Deck Dungeon – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2016

Unlock! – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2017

Carcassonne: Star Wars – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2015

Herbaceous – 4 plays –  7 
First Published 2017

La Granja: No Siesta – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2016

Dingo’s Dreams – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2016

Schwupps – 1 play –  6 
First Published 2016

Coup: Rebellion G54 – 2 plays –  6 
First Published 2014


Diamant (2)
Hanamikoji (2)
Amphipolis (1)
Completto (1)
Crokinole (1)
Deep Sea Adventure (1)
Dice Heist (1)
Dice Stars (1)
Dominion (1)
Elder Sign (1)
Extra! (1)
Fabled Fruit (1)
Finito! (1)
FUSE (1)
The Game (1)
Game of Trains (1)
Liar’s Dice (1)
The Lord of the Rings: Journey to Mordor (1)
Noch mal! (1)
Pickomino (1)
Pizza Box Football (1)
Stone Age (1)
Träxx (1)
Zombie Dice (1)


I added 9 new games to the collection: Dingo’s Dreams, Oracle of Delphi, One Deck Dungeon, Dream Home, First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express, Twins, Time Bomb, Hanamikoji and Herbaceous. My total collection now stands at 574.

My list of unplayed games has come down from 20 to 17 and my Game of the Month was Flamme Rouge.

New game meetup

On Thursday evening, I took the 15-20 minute drive to Congleton to try out a new game group: the Congleton & District Light Board Games Club (bit of a mouthful but reasonably good description). This is a new group that have only had a couple of meetings in their current location (previously having been based in Leek). Tonight there were four of us, although they do have a few more attendees and are looking to build up numbers.

I took along a few games and we started with Liar’s Dice / Bluff as an easy to explain aperitif. None of the others had played before so, obviously, I suffered from the teacher’s curse and was first to go out (although if I was making excuses, I might suggest I was pushing the bidding up so I could demonstrate the set aside dice/increase bid/reroll mechanism). Anyway, that gave me chance to heckle the others and Barry was next to lose his final die, through no fault of his own as Manny challenged an exact bid by Peter. This led to a sudden death face-off between the final two and Peter was able to outmanoeuvre Manny to take the win.

Peter then suggested Stone Age and I was happy with that as it is always good fun, although I was amazed to find I’d not played it for over five years. Peter and Barry both knew the game but it was new to Manny. This game took the rest of the evening, which surprised me a bit, but we were playing a relaxed game. That’s not to say people were going easy on each other and I was a bit shocked when Peter played seven meeples on the forest at one point just to stop me finishing the game. Barry was collecting cards like crazy and it was obvious he was picking up stacks of end game points. Manny was concentrating on huts, although he did also spend quite a bit of time in the love hut, increasing his family to dynastic proportions. I was also grabbing huts but picking off cards that worked well with huts and my harvest production. Eventually the game ended and, sure enough, Barry got about 90 end-game points and looked to be uncatchable. Well, yes he was actually, but I had squirrelled away lots of bonuses myself and ended up just two points behind him, and one more pip on my final dice roll would have given me enough in-game points to take the win. Curses but a very close and hard fought game.
Final scores: Barry 184, Garry 182, Manny 150, Peter 137.

Thanks to the guys for making me feel welcome – even though they didn’t let me win and I’m hoping this will be a regular Thursday session.

Fruity Geishas

Yesterday saw us dig out Fabled Fruit. It was Jan’s first and my second play of this. I really enjoy the simple turns and the prospect of the game developing through multiple plays by introducing new action cards. The game is short so it really is a race with two players to get fruits converted into juice as quickly / efficiently as possible. Jan won 5-4.

Then today we tried Hanamikoji, which is a great two player card game where you try to gain control of four out of seven geishas or three geishas worth at least 11 points. Each player gets four actions per round after which you check if someone has won. If not, you play another round. Games take between 10 and 30 minutes depending on the number of rounds needed to produce a winner.

I finally got my own official copy yesterday and so Jan and I played this evening. The picture below is the end of round two and Jan (the side closest to the camera) takes the win with four geishas on her side, as shown by the round markers.


Finished yet?

Last night, Jan and I played one of our favourite relaxing games, Finito. It’s a Take It Easy style puzzle game where the roll of a 20 sided die determines where within a 6×6 number grid the players have to place one of their 12 bakelite discs. The discs are numbered 1-12 and once someone has ordered their discs in correct ascending order within the grid, they win the game (or round). Each round takes 5-10 minutes to play so we normally play three rounds counting up each player’s longest sequence of sequential numbers.

Jan was on fire tonight and, although we both went out at the same time in the first round, she won both of the other two rounds for a perfect score of 36 (3×12). I only managed 22 (12+5+5). Really fun game for up to 4 players.

Looting the Louvre

Tonight’s game was the fun dice game, Dice Heist, which we played on our Caribbean cruise last year and Jan won it easily. This time, I turned the tables by pretty much ignoring the paintings and going for gem groups. As a result, I ended up winning 50-38.

I also got another delivery today containing Dream Home and First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express. That makes five new games this month already. I need to start playing some more.


Dreaming of Dingos

I received a parcel today containing One Deck Dungeon, The Oracle of Delphi and Dingo’s Dreams.

The rules to the last of these are so short that Jan and I tried Dingo’s Dreams this evening. It’s a neat simultaneous puzzle game played on a 5×5 grid, where you reveal animals each turn and then push tiles in your grid (Amazing Labyrinth style) trying to manoeuvre them into a specific configuration. First to do so shouts “Dingo” (or should that be “Bingo”) and wins the game – or round if you’re playing to a certain number of target wins. Very simple and quick but fun for a really short game. Jan won.

I also noticed this morning that French online retailer Philibertnet had in the last 24 hours managed to get some more copies of Hanamikoji in stock. I’ve been waiting for this for ages so put in an order for that game, the Oink Games version of Twins and iello’s Time Bomb, which is the French version of Don’t Mess with Cthulhu / Tempel des Schreckens.

January 2017 roundup

During January, I managed to play 16 games of 14 different titles, with 11 of them being new to me. The new games were:


Arkham Horror: The Card Game – 3 plays –  8 
First Published 2016

This is a very nice adventure game for one or two players (although I’ve only played solo) and has a nice story-telling aspect to it. I’ve tried two of the characters so far and you need to play each differently to suit their strengths/weaknesses. I’m looking forward to more plays of this.

Noch mal! – 1 play –  8 
First Published 2016

This is another “roll dice and mark things on a sheet” game but this one works extremely well with decisions becoming more critical as you get closer to the end-game. The solo rules work well and the multi-player version has a modest mean streak where the active player can choose particular dice to deny the others access to them. Really good fun.

Basari: Das Kartenspiel – 1 play –  8 
First Published 2014

No surpise here as Basari: Das Kartenspiel is the board game distilled to card game form with very few changes. I really enjoy the board game and this gives exactly the same feel in a more compact package.

The Game: Extreme – 1 play –  8 
First Published 2016

The additional actions on the extreme cards add an extra element to consider in playing your cards as the actions can really hurt you if played at the wrong time. I like that this ramps up the difficulty while not really changing the gameplay. I’m happy to still play the original rules but this version makes a change from that on occasion.

Rent a Hero – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2012

Simple card game of bluffing your way to collecting six different heroes before anyone else. Easy to pick up and good fun as a quick family game.

Römisch Pokern – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2015

Push your luck dice game where you try to form valid roman numerals from the dice and you bust if you can’t. Short play time but needs to be as non-active players are not involved until it gets to their turn. At higher player counts, the downtime may be too much.

Pocket Madness – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2016

I’m a big fan of rummy games and this is another really good example with a Cthulhu theme (although the theme isn’t very strong). I nearly rated this an 8 but the set-up for each round is a bit cumbersome / time-consuming. That said, the gameplay is quick and the two different round-resolution methods makes scoring interesting. Good fun.

Kingdomino – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2016

Nice tile drafting and laying game with tiles displaying one or two of six different landscapes, and groups of connected landscapes scoring based on the number of crowns appearing on that landscape. Another nice family-weight game from Bruno Cathala.

Freaky – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2016

I never got to play Absacker (which Freaky is based on) but this is a nice card matching game where you play cards in columns to try and get four to match one of three characteristics and claim the cards in the column. Most cards collected when the deck runs out wins. Very simple and a good relaxing way to spend 15 minutes.

A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King – 1 play –  6 
First Published 2016

The card illustrations are great but I found the gameplay to be very pedestrian, with turn choices being pretty obvious. I have no need to try this again.

Tiny Epic Western – 1 play –  5 
First Published 2016

Another Tiny Epic game and this one turns out to be my least favourite. The gameplay works but I didn’t feel it was very engaging. I might give it another try but I’d probably rather just play Galaxies.


I added 3 new games to the collection: The Dunwich Legacy and Curse of the Rougarou expansions to Arkham Horror: The Card Game and Vienna. I also reacquierd one game so my total collection now stands at 565.

My list of unplayed games has come down from 28 to 20 and my Game of the Month was Arkham Horror: The Card Game.