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.

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:


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.


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.