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:

== NEW GAMES ==

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).

== OTHER GAMES PLAYED THIS MONTH ==

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.

== STATE OF THE COLLECTION ==

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:

== NEW GAMES ==

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.

== OTHER GAMES PLAYED THIS MONTH ==

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.

== STATE OF THE COLLECTION ==

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:

== NEW GAMES ==

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

== OTHER GAMES PLAYED THIS MONTH ==

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)

== STATE OF THE COLLECTION ==

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.

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:

== NEW GAMES ==

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.

== STATE OF THE COLLECTION ==

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.

2016 end of year roundup

2016 saw me play 133 games of 119 different titles and 71 of these were new to me during the year. Comparing this to previous years, the games played are down a lot but I had expected this due to my house move and the consequent loss of my regular game group, family bereavements and illness, and general lack of opportunities to play. Here are the totals for the last several years:

Year Total Different
2016  133     119
2015  314     205
2014  335     219
2013  234     155
2012  239     154
2011  200     156
2010  208    157
2009 229    157

My full list of games played in 2016 is here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My most played games were Castles of Burgundy; The Card Game and Molkky which both saw 4 plays – first time no single game has racked up five or more plays. 6 games were played three times, 15 were played twice and 98 of them were played just once. My unplayed games list started 2016 at 20 and fell down to zero at one point but is currently sitting at 28. I need to get this down to single figures again fairly soon this year.

My six picks for the best games I played for the first time in 2016 were Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, Burgle Bros, Automobiles, Dark Moon, Mystic Vale and Steam Time. As with last year, I’ve also done a six picks of two-player games featuring 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis, Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft, Matcha, Onitama, Tides of Madness and Hanamikoji. None of the games on either list is a real standout game for me and, as I’ve avoided all the hot Eurogames this year, it’s not been a classic year for gaming for me. Let’s hope 2017 turns out to be a bit better.

As far as the collection is concerned, I sold off another large batch of games in the first half of the year but have acquired quite a few in the last couple of months. Hence the total has come down again from 617 to 561. I’d like to do some more trimming in 2017 so expect to see some geeklist auctions in the near future.

December 2016 roundup

Over the course of December, I managed to play just 12 games of 10 different titles, with 7 of them being new to me. The new games were:

== NEW GAMES ==

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – 3 plays –  8 
First Published 2016

I purchased this from Amazon US, as it isn’t going to be licenced for release in the UK. A deck builder where you play through the seven books in the series with a new deck to be opened each game (providing you defeat the previous game). The first couple of decks are fairly easy because the game eases you into the gameplay, but the third deck ramps up the difficulty and we were defeated at our first attempt. Very good if you are a fan of the books or films.

Fabled Fruit – 1 play –  8 
First Published 2016

This is a very good worker placement / set collection game from Friedemann Friese where you only play with a fraction of the locations in each game but subsequent games start off from the set of locations that you finished the last game with. Play is very straightforward and very quick as you race to complete your sets or mess with other players’ hands to slow them down. Interested to see how each game changes as you play more.

Hanamikoji – 1 play –  8 
First Published 2013

I’ve been intrigued to try this ever since people got to play it at Essen but it doesn’t look like it’ll appear in the UK for a while so I created a homemade version and really enjoyed the way the game plays although it can be over very quickly if things don’t work out the way you’d planned. I’ll definitely be getting an official copy as soon as I can.

DREIst! – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2016

Simple card game of trying to get rid of your cards before your opponents can, by playing to rows or columns to make a row of three or more cards of the same colour or a column of three or more different colours. The solo game has a neat way for your AI opponent to play cards and my one play was very close.

Limes – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2014

I’ve been curious to try Limes for a while and picked up a copy just before Christmas. Reminiscent of Carcassonne, you’re laying tiles and placing meeples to try and achieve the best score when you have completed a 4×4 grid. Nice puzzle and plays identically as a solo and two player game.

Dice Stars – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2016

This is a very good “roll some dice and mark off things on your score sheet” game. The solo version that I’ve tried was a good challenge as the AI player scores each turn based on what dice you’ve left in the pool, which adds another element to think about when choosing which dice to use yourself.

Exploding Kittens – 1 play –  6 
First Published 2015

I got a chance to play this over Christmas and I quite enjoyed it despite me being first to be eliminated. The card play is fairly obvious but it’s meant to be played fast and you can never be sure of the outcome. I particularly like the fact that the deck acts as both a timer and to add to the tension as it is depleted.

== STATE OF THE COLLECTION ==

I added 18 new games to the collection: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, Carcassonne: Star Wars, Basari: Das Kartenspiel, Noch Mal, Dice Stars, Legends, Arkham Horror: The Card Game, Limes, Romisch Pokern, X Nimmt, Schwupps, Freaky, DREIst, Sea of Clouds, Pocket Madness, Rent a Hero, The Game: Extreme and Abyss. I also reacquired 1 title so my total collection now stands at 561.

My list of unplayed games has shot up from 15 to 28 and my Game of the Month was Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle.

November 2016 roundup

In November, I was lucky enough to spend two weeks cruising around the Caribbean with Jan and, although I took several two-player games with me, we tended to do other stuff rather than play games. We did get to try seven titles over the course of the fortnight but I’m not sure if my mind was elsewhere as I had to suffer the indignity of losing all seven. (Call yourself a gamer?)

Over the whole month though, I managed to play just 9 games of 9 different titles, with 7 of them being new to me. The new games were:

Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu – 1 play –  8 
First Published 2016

Familiar yet different. This was an excellent revamp of Pandemic, changing a number of elements of play and yet retaining the overall feel of the original. I really enjoyed this and was beaten fairly easily playing it solo with two characters. Looking forward to playing it again.

Tides of Madness – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2016

This was also familiar yet different, but this is much closer to the original with just the addition of insanity icons to some of the cards to give another factor to weigh up because, as well as trying to score points, you also need to avoid gaining too much insanity as this can cause you to lose. Good stuff and a slight improvement on Tides of Time in my view.

Multiuniversum – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2016

Interesting puzzle game that I’ve only played solo so far. You’re collecting card combinations to use to close portals, which will gain you VPs while also hopefully closing the right mix of portals for bonuses.

Matcha – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2015

Very clever two-player only card game where you’re trying to outwit your opponent to win ingredients for the perfect blend of tea. Some tough choices in picking which cards to play and working out what your opponent is trying to achieve and yet it plays really quickly. Very nice game that should see a fair bit of play.

Dice Heist – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2016

Simple yet fun game of collecting dice and then gambling when to try and grab the loot from four different museums with three different types of loot presenting different scoring opportunities. Light and family friendly. This was Jan’s favourite game we played on holiday.

HMS Dolores – 1 play –  6 
First Published 2016

A prisoner’s dilemma theme mixed with a rock paper scissors mechanism sounds an interesting mix and it sort of works but, with two, it fell a bit flat – and, to be honest, I’m not sure adding more players would make it more engaging. Pity.

The Lord of the Rings: Journey to Mordor – 1 play –  6 
First Published 2015

Perfectly playable yahtzee type game with a LotR veneer but the decisions were reasonably obvious and the outcome of the race against the nazgul seemed to be purely down to the luck of avoiding rolling nazgul symbols. I’d play again – and I want to see if the advanced variant makes any difference, although I suspect it is marginal – but there are several other dice games I’d pick before this if asked.

I added 7 new games to the collection: Tiny Epic Western, HMS Dolores, Dice Heist, Lord of the rings: Journey to Mordor, Flamme Rouge, Honshu and A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King. My total collection now stands at 542.

My list of unplayed games is unchanged from last month at 15 and my Game of the Month was Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu.

September / October 2016 roundup

In September, I didn’t manage to play any games due to my house move and family stuff. In fact, I didn’t play anything between 12th August and 5th October – which could be a record for me. October wasn’t much better but I did manage to play 10 games of 7 different titles, 3 of which were new to me. The new games were:

Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft – This is a very neat two-player worker placement, set collection game. Your workers visit different Holmesian characters with new characters turning up in each of the 7 rounds and you’re aiming to claim majorities in the various card sets for VPs at the end of the game. Jan and I really liked this.
Codenames: Pictures – Just the same game as regular Codenames but with pictures rather than words. I didn’t think this worked as well because the pictures are Dixit-like and you tended to spend more time working out what was in the pictures than giving clues. I’d much rather stick to the word version.
Fields of Green – This is supposedly a re-implementation of Among the Stars but I’ve never played the earlier incarnation. However, it worked well as a tableau builder where the positioning of your cards to gain synergies with surrounding cards was the key to doing well.

I added 13 new games to the collection: Chariot Race, Codenames: Pictures, Cottage Garden, Eminent Domain: Microcosm, Fabled Fruit, The Game of 49, Kingdomino, La Granja: The Dice Game – No Siesta, Multiuniversum, Oceanos, Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, Sola Fide: The Reformation and Tides of Madness. I also got rid of three titles and re-acquired two, which leaves my total collection at 535.

My list of unplayed games has risen from 4 at the end of August to 15 now (due to all the Essen releases, even though I didn’t manage to go this year) and my Game of the Month was Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft.

August 2016 roundup

In August, my gaming was very limited due to preparations for moving house so I only managed to play 9 games of 8 different titles, 3 of which were new to me. The new games were:

The Grizzled: At Your Orders – Only tried the solo rules and they work pretty well.
Warhammer Quest: Adventure Card Game – First play through tutorial. Thought I was going to win but forgot one of my characters was bleeding and they died the turn before I would have won. Need to explore this more in September.
Mystic Vale – Excellent new “card crafting” system with lots of options for how to construct your deck and a nice push your luck mechanism. Really impressed with this.

I sold 12 games and added 6 new games to the collection: The grizzled; At Your Orders, Warhammer Quest: Adventure Card Game, Thief’s Market, Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft, Matcha and Musee. My total collection stands at 523.

I have 4 unplayed games in my collection and my Game of the Month is Mystic Vale.