Shivered Timbers

Remember the romance and adventure of the old pirate movies? The sword fights, daring escapes, adventures on the high see? Bad news Letter of Marque will leave your Buckle decidedly unswashed. 
Letter of marque is a filler game. It’s simple, it’s card counting and a couple of games later it will be gathering dust or thrown into the buy and sell at Knavecon. (Guess what I’ll have in the buy and sell and be trying to convince people is a great game?). 
Players start with five little plastic ships, five treasure cards and three cannon cards. 

The objective is to score points by either getting your treasure home safely or hijacking others. 
Of the five ships you have, two are armed, this is indicated by a recessed cannon symbol on the bottom of your little iron, sorry ship. 

During a turn you can launch a ship, land a ship or attack someone else’s ship. 
When you launch a ship you stick one of your treasure cards under it visible to all. What people don’t know is if the ship escorting it is armed or not. 
You can land a ship, pulling one of the ones you launched back to your side and taking the treasure
You can attack an opponent ship that was launched earlier. You burn one of your three cannon cards and turn over the ship. If it’s armed you fail your adversary takes that cannon card and adds it’s one point value to his treasure hoard. Succeed and you grab that treasure

So in essence it’s a guessing and card counting exercise with a nautical theme tacked on. The tacking on is not the worst I’ve seen, it does feel piratey but the game play is just too simple for our sophisticated tastes. Everyone who’s played it has been pretty ho hum about it
So all in all an also ran game


Noah’s checklist 

Fauna is another kids game that works great with adults to. To study for it I recommend DVD boxed sets of Dora the Explorer followed by Diego or just have a some children and suffer a couple of years watching these two super positive Hispanic kids describe their recent acid trips. 

Fauna is simple. It’s features a hundred plus double sided cards with a variety of top trump sort of information on a particular animal. Height, weight, tail length and more importantly where it lives.  What we experts call its habitat

The game comes with a nice board showing the world with around thirty locations and not to be ignored a number of sea locations. (These are vital)

A turn runs as follows, one player pulls the next animal card and shows it to the nice people gamers. The bottom half is hidden (the answer bit) but some indicators on the top half feed you a bit of info. A sketch of the animal. It’s name. How many locations in the world it lives in and so on. 

Now players take it in turn from the first player to place one of their limited cubes either on the map to show where they think it lives or on the spots on the map with number lines for height, weight And something else I cant remember are. Maybe stool size. Play continues around until everyone passes and then the answers are revealed to hoots and curses

For all answers you get right you score points and get cubes back. If you are close with an answer you get less points. Oh btw no two cubes can occupy the same spot so going first has its advantages if you’re sure about the answers. Screw up and you risk your future scoring by not having enough cubes to capitalize on stuff you do know in future turns. 

Some questions are worth more points because an animal might occupy a single or very small amount of regions.

The reason the seas are vital are they abut lots of regions so jumping in there you’ll be close and might score a some points by accident. 

It’s a very simple game. Works really well with kids and surprisingly well with adults. It’s educational too. This would make a great classroom game (alongside diplomacy)

I thoroughly recommend getting a copy. As always it will be there at Knavecon too and I urge you to give it a go (along with everything else I urge you to give a go in the past)


The peasants are revolting (again)

There was a real oriental theme at Thur night games, one group was having another go at Yedo and my table has a lash of shogun. This is a game I’ve had for some time and haven’t played in a while.
Shogun is like Wallenstein with a different map and theme. The first thing that strikes you about the game is it uses the same slot machine of death Tower as Wallenstein and Amerigo, the second is You really need to bag this game up there’s a lot pieces and they get mixed up way too easy.

Shogun is a map conquest game where you play the role (possibly theatrically) of a Japanese Daimyo who wants to be Shogun and rule all of Japan. You do this by scoring the most points by having troops in the most territories and owning the most fortresses, temples and theatres in each of the six regions. I say own because you can build them yourself but it’s so much sweeter to waltz in and take someone else’s after they’ve gone to the effort and cost of building them

Combat is the real sizzle of this game. The battle (murder) tower is like an old Victorian slot machine it. It contains a couple of baffles that retard cubes when you throw in your pieces and it’s a lottery to see what pops out the end. When the game starts a number of armies from all participants and some from the neutral bastard farmers get poured in and seed the tower. Fall outs are put back in supply and away we go.

When a battle happens it’s simplicity itself. You move your little cube armies into a territory and if it contains enemies you just pick up all of them up and drop them into the tower. Whatever comes out in the combative colours you compare and the most cubes win. The difference between the two is what goes back on the board. Oh and the bastard green farmers throw their weight behind the defender.

The battles are fast and furious. Your dudes can be whittled down very quickly both by defending and attacking.

Turns see you pick a number of actions in regions you control and a little like forbidden stars you have to program them in advance.  It’s more than possible to have an event set to kick off in a region and have someone else come in and take that region nullifying the event.

There’s a simple economic model, gold and rice both of which are gained by confiscating them from the peasants to get increasingly cheesed off with you and ferment revolt.  After spring, summer and autumn turns winter kicks in and you score your regions and buildings but more importantly you have to feed your ungrateful peasants whom you ripped off for the last three turns.  Chances are they’ll be unhappy and depending on how many go without rice you’ll find yourself fighting a number of potentially dangerous uprisings.  The peasants keep grudges for years and never forgive for stealing from them (hey the gold was only resting in my account).
This is a great little game. If you’ve come from conquest games with one for one battles the random tower can be a system shock. Personally I like it. It’s simple and final.

The one criticism I could level at the game is how little the board changes. Where you start is pretty much where you stop with some changes. It’s maybe more realistic than big sweeping battles and the game does only last two years.

Shogun has got a little depth and although there’s really only six turns and a max of 12 attacks from start to finish, you have a lot of tough decisions to make when you plan a turn.
I haven’t played Amerigo yet but the revisit to the battle tower has whet my appetite to play more of this sort of thing. Fun game well worth your time and I’ll be running it the next Knavecon for sure


Big Kids 1

My four year loves board games (it’s was destined) So does my eight year old. I could yammer on why that’s a positive but let’s cut to the chase here’s the three step plan
Step 1. Get your kids/nieces/nephews interested in board games

Step 2. Advise their parents or yourself on what games they should buy

Step 3. These kids grow up and discover beer and sex and Boom! you inherent some sweet free games 
So where to start? Well the beginning is a fine place and simple is good. 
We’re surrounded by board games. Walk into a toy shop and chances are there’s a whole aisle full of board games for children. Granted the majority of them are not games as such, they’re time wasting preprogrammed exercises with limited skill and I guarantee you limited interest for kids. Kids are not dumb, they know a good game from a bad one. In this series I’m going to see if I can find a few decent games in the indifferent aisles of your local toy shop…..

First up I’m going to look at Loopin Chewie. 
For a number of reasons not least my kids got it at Christmas and I’ve had time to play it a good bit (thanks Santa)
Loopin Chewie is a cash in on the older game loopin Louie. The first thing that strikes you is Disney has taken its cut by reducing the players from four down to three which is a pity. It would be a much better game with four so if you are not hell bent on a Star Wars theme I recommend going back to the original Louise the review covers both. It’s also cheaper. 

Having a couple of young children, nieces and nephews I’ve played any number of these type of mass market games. This is one of the better ones. A spinning arm in the center holds the millennium falcon which is out to get you. 

Each player starts with three storm trooper coins lined up on a little sloping slot and smack bang in the line of the circling millennium falcon. Your mission with the aid of a little attached paddle is to swat the falcon up and away from your troopers and hopefully have it come down and take out your opponents ones (I don’t know maybe you’re hoping to get promoted) When you tap the falcon away because of the way it’s hinged and balanced it may spin off, it may loop and come back for you or hopefully it may rise and land amongst an opponent’s guys costing them a life. The game continues until all but one player has lives left. 
Okay okay this is a simple game. I’ve pretty much just explained it in one sentence but beneath it’s simplicity is a game that stands at the top of its class. This is a fun little game. Games are short, typically five minutes but there’s a real go again feel once it’s over. All in all depending on your group you’ll get a good half hours play out of this before everyone has had enough but you’ll be back another day. 
Compared to a lot of the stuff on games shelves this is not bad, the reduction to three players is a pity. It would be a much better game with four
Worth the money? That’s debatable. Certainly not full price while Star Wars fever is still raging. I picked this up as a half price deal and I’m happy with my purchase. Want to get your kids into board games? This is not a bad start or stop along the way


Perhaps it’s just the people I game with but if there’s an opportunity to descend into schoolboy humor we will. Repeatedly. Yedo was a target rich environment for just this, you’ll know why when we play it at the next Knavecon. Not since Serenissima have we sank so deep in the double entendres  

Yedo is a similar beast to lords of water deep with a few subtle differences. The game sees you in ancient China trying to complete a variety of missions and score more prestige points than your opponents. 

There are two phases to each of the eleven turns. The first is a bidding phase where you try and score various resources like weapons, geshias (highly flammable), extra rooms for your house, extra agents , missions, bonus and intrigue cards. There’s plenty of opportunities to force bids up and generally be a complete dick/front bum 

The second phase sees you placing agents on the board in six different patrolled sectors to gather pretty much the same resources as you tried for in the bidding phase. 

Missions require you to have agents in the right sector of the city and whatever resources are needed be it different weapons, money, blessings,geshias and so on. Missions come in four difficulties from handy green ones that give very little prestige to humdingers of black missions that require a shit ton of resources but reap big rewards. 

Intrigue cards allow you to mess up your opponents plans in a limited way. Bonus cards give you bonuses for completing certain missions types, or having this that or the other at the end of the game. 

There’s nothing particularly magical or unexpected in the game but it’s a good solid fun game. It’s a good length (see, schoolboy humor), the artwork is good, the theme is lovely, it’s competitive and close run. Is it better than Lords of Waterdeep? I’m not going to go there it’s apples and oranges. 

I’m eager to play this again. There’s a good bit to it. As I said it’s going to be at the next Knavecon and I predict it will be a big hit

More of this sort of thing I say



Fear of Kemet ment


They bite, they fight, they bite and fight and fight, bite bite bite, fight fight fight the itchy and scratchy show! Kemet’s a bit like that without the biting. 

This has been on my to play list for a long time and after a false start the week before where we got one rule wrong, (albeit a critical rule) we got to finally play it for reals last thur. I knew before the game hit the table I would like it and I most certainly do.

Kemet sees you and up to four gaming chums beating the pudding out of each other repeatedly in an ancient Egyptian setting. You start with a city, three pyramids each showing your level in blue, red and white, five prayer points, a divine intervention card, ten troops, a half pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and you’re wearing sun glasses. 

Everyone is racing to get to eight points in the short game and ten in the long version. You can get these points in a couple of ways, winning battles being a damn good one. 

The map is divided into around twenty regions some containing your starting walled city, some temples and some open areas. Because of the clever layout of the map everyone is pretty much two spaces from temples and maybe four from each other so in no time at all you can be happily spilling blood (preferably your opponents) on the hot sands. Couple this with the ability to teleport to most parts of the map from your home city and you can be up in anyone’s business quick sharp.  

The primary resource is prayer points which can be spent to raise troops, buy upgrade cards, teleport or raise your pyramids to a higher level and thereby grant you access to better upgrade cards. Everyone gets two free each night but you get bonus ones from taking and holding temples at the end of the round or stopping everything and having a quick pray. Some cards grant extra ones too and crucially (we missed this first time around) you can gain them by sacrificing your warriors to the gods once a battle has ended. 
I’ve heard this game described as a knife fight in a phonebox but since there’s no such thing anymore I think of it more as a fistfight in a saloon with the piano never skipping a key. It’s all about being the last man standing at the end of the round in certain locations and not losing fights. 

Upgrading your guys is essential if you’re going to survive. There are three colours (or colors if you’re American) of upgrades. blue (resources), red (attack), white (Defence) each with a level shown on your pyramid. Some of the higher upgrades give you access to various mythical monsters each of which will fight alongside your troops and grant attack, movement, Defence or some other bonus (I never leave home without one). Upgrade cards are unique so there’s a mini arms race going on for upgrades in conjunction with the race for points

For a conquest game it’s pretty quick. You’ll be done and dusted in and hour plus once the rules click for your group. If you want a longer game you can just up the victory points goal. Simples

This is a neat game. It’s fairly simple to learn and play. Looks great and plays smoothly. Don’t expect anything subtle or deep, it’s a pure slugfest but there’s still plenty of skill required to come out on top and there’s a definite urge to play again straight away after its finished. Longevity wise I’m not sure how often this game will appear after the initial appeal but in the holy words of Rick Deckard “I didnt know how long we had together… Who does”. Great game. I’ll be demoing it at Knavecon 



Do I want to build a snowman?

If you’ll pardon the pun, Arctic scavengers leaves me a bit cold.  After a couple of games I’m neither excited to or unwilling to play it again. It’s fine, it’s a solid game and it does introduce some new elements to the genre but it’s not epic and I demand epic.  Again as ever this is an early review and I will return to it and review it again in coming months

Maybe it’s the theme that doesn’t grab me. The game sees you assembling a gang of survivors in the Artic with various skills.  Scavenging resources, fighting, providing food, drawing cards (a really handy skill when it’s 20 below and a polar bear is trying to make you into a glove puppet) and trying to score highest in a number of categories (buildings, population, medical) all by the time one resource pile runs out. I just don’t like the setting.  It’s bleak.  I don’t know why everyone is up there (I don’t care enough to read the back story in the same way as I pick the standard character with no customization to start an RPG video game.  If I like it enough I’ll come back to it, but for now, Jenny Generic is just dandy).  I can’t associate with the cards. Let me put it another way.  Ever go skiing? what’s the worst part? Getting kitted out and trying to remember everything. Getting your gear together in the cold. Stomping uncomfortably in sore boots, tired, burdened and cold. Now, the payoff is WELL worth the effort, way in excess in fact. I’m just not sure at least so far, that Artic Scavengers delivers the payoff. It feels all trudging and no soaring.

I’ve played numerous card games of this type, pretty much all of them good.  Dominion, Ascension, Star Realms. This game to me looks a lot like these with a couple of extra rules.  It’s not new.

The graphics are ho hum. It’s all blues, whites and greys. Yes I know it’s set in the arctic and granted It’s mostly been played on a black table by us but the palate is just plain dull and uninspired.  Yes it adds to the whole end of the world feel but for me it’s just too Eddard Stark. (see what I did there?) I want to be entertained.  Look at Star Realms the pictures are gorgeous, you want to study them, Artic Scavengers you couldn’t care less you just look at the numbers on the edge.  The art work is work man like.  All of the dudes look pretty much the same.  Pretty much it’s a pic of a person or persons wrapped up well with a weapon/rope.

Now, what does pull this game from the bargain bin is the extra rules.  Having a charasmatic leader that grants you a bonus is nice, some of them seem a bit overpowered to be honest (like the cannibal) and some of them well weedy but time will tell. The three piles of cards are good.  The diminishing returns scrap pile adds something.  It’s definitely worth digging there early on but judging wether it’s still worth the effort when a number of other players have rifled through it with their grubby gloved fingers is cool.  The engineers and buildings is nice, but it’s a longer term play and we noobs didn’t go there that much.


The fights are definitely cool. This on it’s own adds a nice dimension.  Cards not played are held for a big scrap at the end of each round to gain the round card that the first player each round got a peek at.  By big scrap there’s no actual fight as such and the most muscle points wins the card and the others just don’t get a look in but don’t lose anything

Another bit I like is being able to remove as many cards from your hand permanently as you like at the end of the turn.  This is a power move, but since it’s open to everyone it makes or should make it quicker to get to the good cards.  The games we played, it didn’t.  assembling your tribe is a slow business.  Again it would speed up with more replays but the time per game is WAY longer than the side of the box indicates. Thats fine, I’m in no hurry but there is something to be said for shorter games and more of them since this is essentially a lite game

As you can see I’ve no strong feelings on the good/bad number line.  I’m going to keep my opinion powder dry on this one and recommend you try before you buy and of course there’s no better place to try it than at the next Knavecon on the 30th April.



Space Crusade


Flashback Friday review of a classic game from the 80s.

Space Crusade is a great game. When I first saw it back in the day I figured it was just heroquest in space. It’s not. It’s a very different beast

The game sees you and up to two others taking on a fourth overlord player who is going to make it their business to ruin your day. 

It’s like a four player space hulk but a lot more social and to be honest a lot more fun. I’d play this game anytime over Space Hulk. 

Missions follow a pretty similar pattern you arrive on a space hulk (dungeon) with four beweaponed space marines and their nails hard commander and need to get somewhere and do something, more than likely kill some big dude. Theirs a big supporting cast from kobol like space gretchens to lethal chaos marines and the big daddy ed209 style dreadnaught. 

The map is split into four parts and as your team enters each the overlord places blips face down for you to get LOS and kill. You’ve probably guessed this but I love playing overlord and running an evil tower defence on the questing “heroes”. There’s is nothing as fun as the look on someone’s face who’s been facing gretchens and suddenly comes face to face with a chaos marine with a rocket launcher when they’re all badly bunched up. It’s quite common to lose all your grunt squad but your commander to carry the day. 
There’s a time limit governed by a set of event cards (usually bad for the marines) that get drawn each turn.
Completing missions gives marines and more interestingly the overlord experience points which can be spent on equipment cards. 
The game is unfortunately expensive now to get your hands on. More so the two expansions for it. However unlike heroquest from the same era this IS worth getting your hands on
It’s become a firm favorite at Knavecon and will be there front and center at the next



CBM64 Coup


I Like Coup. It’s a great little filler game. The expansion for it is good too. G54 rebellion is like the big brother of Coup. A chip off the old block but way cooler and with a leather jacket.

Rebellion has 25 roles each of which have various abilities, five of these are randomly picked and you have at it with these. The one constant from the original is you can always draw one coin per turn and if you have eight coins you can unstoppably coup someone. Oh that and everyone is still lying through their teeth about their roles.  The setup is reminiscent of Dominion where you assemble a deck from mini stacks of identical cards and AWWWAAAAYYY you go.

The plus to this is every game is different. There’s an infinite amount of combinations or more accurately 25 factorial 5. Let’s call it 6 million or so. The down side is it’s going to take a while to learn this game as there’s so many bloody roles. Ok maybe that’s not a bad side, but it’s not conducive to a fast start. Players tend to roll back to the old reliable of amassing enough for a coup and just grabbing one coin in their turn.

It’s also a little harder to lie as you’ll be unfamiliar with the roles. That said the five roles are visible in the centre and it wouldn’t be above some players to use this to their advantage by appearing to read their role from their card before they pronounce what they are
If you like Coup you’ll like rebellion. I can’t say I’ve played it enough to get a full overview but let’s pretend I have and it’s great



Fur coat, not much else


I’m not sure (apart from snazzy graphics) what I was going to be getting myself into when I got to play imperial settlers but I was eager to have a lash of it. Oh I do know what I thought might happen. Some sort of develop your village attack your neighbours….. It IS like that but not in a slick and easy way….

Imperial settlers has you working through more hoops than 1970s spaghetti. You can’t do THAT until you have THIS and getting that you’ll need this. It was the second game of the night but I could feel the “let it end now” mood swinging in.

The game sees you with a hand of cards each with a resource cost on them. Getting them into play costs you a mix of apples, stone, wood and little pink people. Each round you draw a set of resources depending on your race and you try to build your economy as best you can via worker placement (On the cards you’ve been able to bring into play). There’s no map.  It’s a card game. so… no map.


Ok I’ll say it straight out. I didn’t like this game. There’s only five rounds and every turn is unforgiving and to be honest tedious. By the time you get a reasonable economy together it’s game over. Granted after repeated plays you’ll be able to get things off the ground faster but it doesn’t matter. It’s just not that exciting planning to be able to generate an extra wood next turn if you play your cards right. Couple this with the lack of interaction and you have a pretty dull economy game. Yes you can attack other players economies but doing so will use resources better spent developing your own so we have a fairly solitaire experience. Granted again once you learn the game you’ll start to see different strategies emerge but I couldn’t be bothered. I only have a hundred years or so of life left and I don’t want to waste any of it.

There’s lots of economy games out there. This needed to be something special to raise its head above the rest. The nice pictures didn’t do it. To me it’s over hyped just like machi koro was. I won’t be rushing back. (I may saunter back)




Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑