Running away to the Circus


I picked up fleas at the buy and sell at the last Knavecon ūüôā

Amazing Flea Circus is a Reiner Keniza game aimed squarely at kids. ¬†This is usually not a bad thing for my gaming group as we’ve seen with a slew of polish kids games that have turned out to be gold. ¬†(Maybe polish kids are smarter than Irish adults).

Its not bad. Being a RK game it could as easily be turnip farmers comparing crops or Spanish inquisitors putting heretics to the question.



The idea is to amass as many points as possible in the form of dogs and cats which come as nice little stackable plastics. Dogs are worth two points.  Cats one. (I assume RK is more a dog person).

Each player starts with a hand of five and has to choose and play a card then restock. Players build up a little stack in front of them with the top face up card the only one of consequence.

Play is Uno simple. Play an act card value 1-4 and you can steal that many points from the player on your left with a similar act face up. ¬†No player with the same act? No problem take the points from the center pile. ¬†Once the pile runs out it’s game over, count your points and highest wins.


There’s a number of other card types in there like clowns (you can play multiples of them) , Free Ticket (steal two from anyone), Acrobat (can’t remember) and Animal Catchers that nobble everyone and reset the stacks.

It’s good clean fun. ¬†Kids will like it. ¬†Probably. I have nothing further to say



Hyper Active


Hyperborea is something new to me and maybe you too. It’s a “bag em up” conquest game with a bit of worker placement thrown in for good measure.

The game sees you and up to five chums squaring off on a smallish random hex map trying to get the highest score by a number of routes.

You start on your home city with three dudes and three cubes of six possible colors drawn from your opaque bag.

Now it’s up to you to shape your destiny by allocating the cubes to a variety of actions each costing particular colors. The actions range from movement to attacking, building temporary defenses, point scoring , increasing your supply of cubes or teching up to open up more actions for your cubes to power.


It takes a little bit to get your head around and you’ll see mechanics similar to¬†Lords of Waterdeep, Dominion and a number of other games in there which help you along. A few turns in it will all make sense. Even the icons which are plentiful are all very logical.

The game is map based but it’s not really an area control game. Not in the usual sense. There are a limited amount of ruins which yield one shot resource tokens and cities which offer free operations like move a unit or advance a tech. The further inland you venture the better the options but the more exposed your dudes are to attack. It’s a bit king of the hill right in the centre with the best operations available to your brave minions.


This is¬†a very interesting game. You’ll spend your first few games (I reckon) figuring out optimum moves¬†with the¬†other players constantly drizzling on your parade. They don’t rain accept with deliberate malice (game two onwards).

There’s also a stack of ways to earn points in the game all valid. ¬†Taking victory tokens, killing neutrals (ghosts), killing enemies, researching Technologies and so on.

A cool feature which I applaud is the ability to set a short, medium or long game.  There are three conditions that end the game (getting 6 tech cards, getting all your men on the board, exhausting the point token pool). A  short game is when any one of these is met.  Medium you have to complete two and Long sees you reaching for all three end game goals.

Just like Eclipse players can be Johnny generic or pick a specific race with some special traits. ¬†Haven’t tried this yet. ¬†I will.


Presentation wise its shiny. Good solid pieces. Lovely artwork. Nice platicky pieces, each a different shape and colour per player. I picked it up second hand but unplayed for a great price and i’m glad I¬†did. This is a neat game. It needs more replays and with different numbers of people but I’m eager for more. Always a good sign



is there anyone there?


Ever remember the expression “we’ll see” when you were young and asked for ice cream on the way to somewhere? I had one of those moments.

Me : “Is mysterium worth buying?”

Gaming chum : “Hmmm, I’d Try it first”


Mysterium was a game that was mentioned to me some time back and I had a vague idea of how it worked. It sounded suitably different. I got to play it last Thur…. Ever play Dixit? Well then you’ve pretty much played mysterium. It uses the same mechanic of pictures to impart obscure messages. It’s a fun game. Mysterium is a fun game but. That’s it. It’s a bit of fun. It’s never going to blossom into a serious gaming relationship. It looks nice but it’s shallow. It’s a bimbo game ūüôā


Mysterium sees you and up to five chums solving a Cluedo style mystery like regular scooby doos. One player takes the role of the ghost/GM and has to guide the others via a spread of crazy ass pictures to pick their associated killer, location and murder weapon.

Once everyone has done that it’s onto the final guess round where you need to figure who did for the ghost, where and with what. All working under the harsh regime of mistress egg timer.

It’s a lovely looking game. It’s got a nice bit of replay in there and it’s easy to pick up. It does however commit the heinous crime of being coop. To me if a game is going to be coop just like the coaches son it needs to work twice as hard to make the cut. For me it didn’t work. I prefer Dixit.

This is a fine gateway game and will appeal to new gamers. At least for one of two games. It will appeal to kids too and families and so on. There was a lot of hype around this game which can often be a bad thing.


The hype didn’t live up to the execution.¬†I’ll play it again but I won’t rush out and buy it.



More 4X


I got to play Forbidden Stars last week. It’s been on my list of want to plays for a while and I’m delighted I did. One of my gaming group bought it and it’s a cracker.

There’s a number of mechanics melding into this heady brew. I can see hints of a Game of Thrones BG, Starcraft, Armada, Chaos in the Old World and something all of it’s own.

Each player gets to choose between Chaos (fighty), Eldar (zippy), Orks (tough) and Space Marines (balanced) and after a very nice board setup round have to venture out and recover four objectives tokens that the other three players have gone out of their way to put as far away from your starting positions as human/eldar/ork/choasey possible.


Players get a mix of smaller ships and ground troops and like any good 4x (well this is more a 3x as you can see all the sectors before you head out) have to spread out and dominate sectors, gain resources, build more stuff and upgrade their tech.

A bit like Game of Thrones players place action tokens on sectors to build there, move there, upgrade their stuff or grab extra resources from. Unlike GOT players can stack multiple orders on a sector and the orders are resolved in reverse order. This MAKES the game. I might decide to build in a sector but another player after me, decides to move there and their order is resolved before mine,¬†so they move in, knock seven bells out of me and take over my stuff at which point my build order kicks off but because I’ve lost my factory I can’t execute it…. It makes the game very tactical and timing and bluffing are key. (all orders are placed face down)

Battles are neatly done. Units produce a number of battle dice which can show either attack, defense or moral icons, these combined with attack cards give results that aren’t just bring more guns and you win dependent. Units act as you would expect from the 40k universe. Chaos are all out attack with little defense, Eldar are good at dodging attacks and so on.


Attack cards and event cards can be upgraded leading to some very powerful abilities as the game progresses again all race specific and all nicely thematic

Unusually for a 4x game there’s no rules for alliances. Simple because, well, there aren’t any. You don’t have time for such nonsense. It’s kill kill kill and if you have time, kill some more. You’ve got objectives to collect and so does everyone else. The objectives alleviate¬†another issue with some 4x games. There’s very little turtling. Granted you can but you won’t win by staying at home.

Something I have to mention is the build quality. This is a very pretty game. It’s Fantasy Flight so you’d expect as much. Like Imperial¬†Assault it comes in a big box with some lovely (aching to be painted) miniatures (not as much so as Imperial¬†Assult but nice all the same).

Rules are straightforward. You’ll get it pretty quick. One thing I loved about this game was how easy it was to read the position of everything. You need to collect 4 objectives to win. That dude has 3 collected you have none, you’ve losing. Stop him and get your own game in gear.

I spoke about Eclipse recently. This is a very different animal. Whereas Eclipse is more about the economics and upkeep, Forbidden Stars ecomic model is simple and descrete. Get resources, Build stuff, get it out there, try to avoid getting it destroyed.

For what you get the game is relatively fast. we got our first four player done in under four hours, but we were learning bits as we went. Battles do slow things down a little bit but I suspect more play will see subtler actions, more posturing and less fights but on second thoughts I doubt it. One of the things I really like about the game is fighting is a positive. In too many others games, getting into a number of battles rather than avoiding a fight spells disaster. Not so with Forbidden Stars. It’s par for the course. I lost a number of battles but it was by no means the end of me. (As usual my old chum Hubris was the end of me)

I really liked this game. It’s one of the newer Fantasy Flight premium style games which cost a bit more but give you a lot more and are worth the extra investment. If I was to knock the game the only real fault is that it’s a max of four players. I can understand this as the game would drag on with more, but I fully expect to see an expansion just like Chaos in the old World that will add a fifth. You mark my words.

All in all, a fine game, well worth the entrance fee

Again well done Fantasy Flight, keep em coming



First they get the guns,


Cash and Guns or more password securely correct Ca$h and Gun$ is a reprint of a classic push your luck game called the same thing but with a few less rules.

The game sees you and up to seven chums (so it’s eight player in case math’s is not your thing) standing around a haul of loot and initiating a Mexican stand off each turn to see who gets the pick of the goodies. (unless you live in Mexico in which case it’s just a stand off)


It goes like THIS

Each player starts with a character with a special ability, maybe they can survive four rather than three shots, maybe they get more points for collecting diamonds and so on. they also get a foam gun. Foam so they don’t pistol whip¬†each other.

Each turn a random spread of loot is laid out with one for everyone and having feasted their beedy gangster eyes upon it, the players secretly choose from their limited stack of bullets, half of which are blanks half of which are the real deal. the Don then shouts GO! (but not too loudly because the kids are asleep) or something suitably gangster and everyone points their gun at someone else and freezes. the Don now gets to change whom one person is aiming at and on the Dons second call players can drop their character down to indicate they are chickening out (wimps). Those left standing get to find out if guns pointed at them contain blanks or live rounds (not ideal) and take appropriate wounds.


Anyone not chickened out or shot gets to pick in turn from the loot in front of them. Rinse and repeat for a number of rounds. The loot varies from money to paintings and diamonds that are worth more the more you have in your stash at the end. It’s possible to exit early if you get three wounds so caution and guts determine the winners (and of course the money more accurately)

It’s pure party game. I’ve played this a number of times and it’s bigger cousin cash and guns live and it’s good fun. The gun mechanic is elegant the rules simple. It’s pure filler. My only gripe with the game was the absence of the undercover cop rules from the original (which can be easily retrofitted to the game) which made the original a much more interesting and paranoid experience. All in all worth having and really good to introduce non gamers to gaming.

All good



Bad Planning


I first played Survive! on a PC way way back and it was called last days of Atlantis or something like that. I liked it. It was good clean water based fun. One of the reasons it faded from my view like retinal afterimage was I had played the computer version and I had played it against bots. Fast forward with suitable sound effects to near present day and I get to play it at the last Knavecon with the expansion making it a six player water polo mosh. It’s a great game. Well ok let’s hold on. It’s at least as good as The Downfall of Pompeii. If you liked that game and it’s game play style you’re in familiar territory for sure.


It’s the last days of Hanoi and everyone’s partying like it’s 1999. You need to get your best and brighest off the sinking island across shark infested water from the centre slowly¬†shrinking centre island to the welcome corner islands. To help you in your endeavor you have row boats that take three peeps, friendly dolphins and the good old reliable breaststroke. Hindering you, you have Sharks, Krakens, Squids, limited time and worse still other survivors who will happily make a raft from your bloated body to row ashore.

In hindsight it may have been a bit foolhardy to settle an overpopulated unstable island surrounded by monsters. I’m convinced it was all a royal stag party dare that went horribly wrong.

The centre island consists of a random blob spread of hexes that come in three types. Sand which is the first to go, jungle the second lot to sink and rock that stands hero steady like a hob knob dunked in tea to the biter end.

Once the centre island is laid out players take it in turn to place their soon to be hopefully survivors. Each hex can accomodate up to three dudes and the aforementioned dudes have values written under them which in turn are worth points at the end if they survive so it’s key to get the high value guys to shore.


Players during their turn can move surviors either by boat if they have the most dudes in it or more slowly swim for it. You get a limited amount of movement points per turn and there will never be enough to save all your guys. In addition you get to move the monsters (preferably away from your guys and evil cackle towards other players). Each turn the island shrinks by one tile and once all the tiles have sunk it’s game over, full stop, count your points. (especially tough if you have some high point guys almost home)

The system is very neat and straightforward. There’s no ambiguity on rules. Monsters cover all posibiliteies Sharks can eat surviors in the water but not in boats. Krakens destroy boats and their survivors. Octipi do something something. Dolphins can give your swimmers a three hex boost towards the shore.

Is it fun? hell yeah. Getting your VIPs to land and inducing the monsters to block or destroy a flotilla of other player’s dudes is crush your enemies best. I had a lot of fun playing this game. It’s quick to learn and teach. It’s simple and it’s fast fun. forty minutes to an hour will see you done depending on numbers. There’s little down time because you’re constantly watching other players for where they’re heading to or where they’re directing the monsters

I’m going to make it my business to pick up a copy of this sometime soon. It’s that much fun.



Wolve’s Clothing


“You’ve NEVER played Catan? NEVER? and neither has your brother…. Ok let’s fix that”, thus i found myself playing Catan after quite a break from it.

Settlers of Catan is a classic game which is shockingly knocking on twenty years of age. Catan¬†was like the Dune II of Boardgames. It was new. It was fresh and if kickstarted a new genre into life. Catan is still a great game. It’s aged well. If you haven’t played it. It’s definitely worth a go. Actually if you consider yourself a gamer it’s your duty to play it. It’s patriotic.


Catan sees you and three chums trying to get to ten points first, so it’s a race game. It has you building settlements and roads on a map, so it’s a conquest game. You need to trade resources to get the ones you want so it’s a trading game. It’s got sheep in there and wood so it’s a great setup for jokes game

If you haven’t played this game it’s pretty straightforward. A random spread of five possible typed and numbered hex tiles makes up the map. You setup your starting settlements on the edge of them so each of your bases is at the nexus of up to three tiles. Each turn you roll two dice and the corresponding numbered tile pays out to whomever is next to it.


These resources when you have the right combos can be exchanged for roads, settlements, cities or cards. The bigger your civilization the more points it’s worth. First to ten wins.

Bonuses come from having the longest road or the most soldiers. Oh and let’s not forget the robber. Roll a seven when you’re seeing which spots pay out and you get to move the robber who zooms in like an unwelcome relative and sets up shop in one spot shutting it down until another seven is rolled. (he also has a nasty hand size reduction trait you’ll come to hate)

There’s surprisingly good opportunities to block other players and generally cause mayhem. I forgot how much cursing and swearing accompanies this game as you’re THIS close to winning and someone micturates on your plans.


This is rightly a classic game. It hasn’t aged badly. It’s still balanced. Some people complain that there’s luck involved but I disagree. Roll a dice enough times and it events out. There’s real skill here in negotiating and out thinking your opponents to a win. A great game always worth a play



Our Finest Hour


Quarter Master General is a great game. It’s a map conquest game. It’s fast. It’s easy to learn. It’s a barrel of monkeys fun. The expansion Air Marshall is good. It’s more of the same. It’s not essential but it does add something. To be exact planes.

Air Marshall introduces airplanes to the proceedings which… don’t act the way you think they would. You were expecting dakka dakka? Sorry try sacrificial meat shield.


Planes can jump in, take one for the team, lookout sir style if they’re cohabiting army is about to get blasted or they equally can jump in and remove enemy air support. A few of the new cards allow actions on sectors next to or containing planes too. Again like the base game you’ll really need to play through each faction to see what’s in the post for you during a game.


Air Marshall adds about a dozen cards to each deck which makes it more difficult to run your opponent out of cards but also opens players up to dumping more and not being as tied to the whim of the deal gods.

The game also introduces bolster cards. These are reactions (in some cases) and can be played directly from your hand as a reaction to someone else’s move¬†or else cards that play out of sequence and setup a chain of plays. They’re interesting. Certainly way more interesting than reaction cards, which I found were a bit of a waste in the base game. ¬†That said I’ve never won as the Axis so what would¬†I know.


The new cards and planes not only offer new possibilities but also patch the original game and make it harder to go for proven killer combos.  It can lead to players turtling which for this game is fine as the base could often feel like a knife fight in a phone box.

All in all I liked this. I think the card play system is solid and I’d like to see Griddly Games use it on another setting for their next game. ¬†The only negative I can see with this is games can often feel a little samey, then again this is a semi simulation of an historical event and for me I’m still excited by this game and happy to play it at the drop of a hat

More of this sort of thing



Live and Let Die


I spoke above Village a few months back. An unexpectedly good worker placement game. For some reason the artwork on the box led me to believe it was an also ran formulaic twee game. I was happily incorrect

Village is a vicious worker placement generation game with no cuddly toy and no didn’t he do well. In village you have to carve out a legacy that outclasses everyone else. It’s not twee it’s not coop and it’s not team building


The inn expansion adds some extra options to the game. Five players, two new locations, one of which has a lot of sub options open to it and beer. Lots and lots of beer

One of the new locations is the brewery. It’s simple. Use it and you get a new resource, namely beer. The inn on the other hand is a den of scum and villainy (we’ll sort of). Sitting in the pub are a number of upstanding citizens that can grant you a boon or a bonus if you ply them with the aforementioned beer. The priest for example can rig new monk appointments. The bard can remember one of your relatives in song thus giving them an extra exclusive spot in the book of remembrance. There’s a total of thirty of these rascals so there’s a bit of variety in each game. The inn is a fur lined mousetrap. (As admiral Ackbar would say) you need to send in one of your dudes to curry favor with the patrons but only a wedding will get them back out and crucially if you die in a pub no one will remember you. (I can only assume you get stepped over or become furniture when you’ve drunk your last)


Even with all these extra options open to you the game still doesn’t feel overly complex even for beginners. Well second game beginners maybe.

I had a lot of fun with this. I would have won it had it not been for one of my less civic minded chums who got¬†to the priest and rigged the elections. I wasn’t happy… that said¬†I still had a great experience with this game and I’m eager for more. Again if a regular in the group didn’t have this I’d be off to buy it and the expansion in quick succession

Great game. Great expansion





Courtier is like a very complicated dance all explained in words on paper. The rules are simple but the execution is a different story.

The Tempest games are a clever idea. A story arc played out as a number of board games. The first of which, well the prequel really is Love Letter. You’ve probably played love letter at this stage, if you haven’t it’s worth gambling a tenner and picking it up. A number of the characters in the game appear in courtier with the same artistic style. It’s noteworthy, like the finding cadburys fingers in a mini market¬†whilst¬†on holidays.


Courtier is like Steve Jackson’s Revolution. In fact I think it’s by the same designer. The game is all about placing influence cubes on various courtiers, (members of the court) each of which are themselves¬†members of a grouping like the church, the merchants, the royal court and so on. Having the most influence in a group grants you some special abilities like placing two cubes rather than one, gaining one bonus point per turn and so on. Some of these are more valuable earlier and later in the game.

Each player starts with a secret petition and a communal pool of four visible ones each of which involves having control of a number of specific courtiers.

Completing these Petitions scores points. This part feels a bit like ticket to ride or Lords of Waterdeep.

The game IS¬†pretty simple rules wise however keeping everything in your head, abilities, other players abilities, your moves, what others are angling for, what could happen, completing petitions before someone else… It’s hard work requiring a sharp brain and a number of replays. ¬†It’s certainly way beyond the normal gaming decisions of should I have crisps or biscuits


I like this game. It’s neat. It’s tidy. It’s not exceptional but it’s a solid game and if you’ve never played revolution it’s definitely worth a look. The game has charm and the whole story arc idea is something I like. I do think revolution has the edge but I believe they both need a good replay to be sure. ¬†Which I’ll do



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