Live and Let Die

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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

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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)

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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

Huzzah!

Vic

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Courtier

george

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.

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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

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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

Huzzah!

Vic

Dags of War

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I don’t know a whole lot about wine. I tend to like the red sort which in my experience comes in “nice” and “not as nice” variety (at least for the first glass, after which it doesn’t really matter and now it’s time to sing), I don’t get hints of cherry, earthy flavors or robust bouquets. I do know a bit about boardgames and I can detect game flavors and traits very quickly. Dogs of War (or Dags if you prefer) has got hints of several games but still manages to be unique and cheeky.

There’s a touch of Imperial in there (no bad thing), Modern Art (I like modern art), War of the Roses and a few other notable games, none of which overpower the flavour or make it a clone. Dogs of War stands on it’s own two armoured feet and is a great fun game

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The box is quite imposing and you’d be forgiven for thinking it another map based conquest game, it’s not, there’s no map. At it’s simplest it’s a tug of war game betting game.

One of the things I like about this game is you get it straight away, or at least in the first game. There’s no hidden gotchyas, you don’t need to play a half dozen games before you’ll have a hope of winning, you just need to play and watch out for everyone else.  Tricking them into helping you win helps too.

Each player starts with a screen behind which they hide their money, troop cards, event cards, house cards, victory points, lint and boiled sweets.

There are four rounds each a little longer than the last in which you

1. Buy troops
2. Play your 3-5 captains
3. Fall for your opponents ploy
4. Fail to gain points that looked so easy to get at the start

There’s optional crying but mandatory swearing, threatening and parentage questioning.

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After buying troops with your meager funds. you then have to decide on which side of three battles you want to place your men. This is done one at a time by each player around the board. The battles themselves are fought for the six houses in the game each of which you hold ‘shares’ in. Sticking your captain on a particular side has the effect of moving a pointer either one direction or the other (like a tug of war) depending on how good (and expensive) the troop card is you’re going to commit.

The scoring for a battle is tug of war style like twilight struggle.  So every plus for one side is a minus for the other. Figuring out what everyone is up to before you commit is key. Alliances are flimsy and opportunistic, last minute placement of troops can swing battles, falling into a ruse by other players would have Admiral Ackbar horse by round two.

There are no set paths to victory (winning a lot of battles doesn’t hurt) and you will need to adjust your plans on the fly. What I really like about this game is you’re never left wondering what to do, it’s all very simple really. For what is in the loosest manner a worker placement game (very loose) there’s a massive about of interaction with other players, not just cock blockery, direct in your face, HA! sort of play.

There’s a number of neat little mechanics in there that make the game unpredicatbale but rarely luck based.  Every mistake is yours to own, just like every victory.

The models in the game are lovely, each sporting a steam punky style.  The artwork is good but not exceptional.  (We’re spoiled by Fantasy Flights pristine designs).  The build quality is excellent, everything is solid.  it’s a fine construction.

Having played this once, I wanted to rush out and buy it. Since it was late at night and I live miles from anywhere that would have been a mistake. If someone didn’t have this game in our group I would rush out now and buy it. It’s the most fun game I’ve played since Knavecon 6. Well worth a look

Huzzah!

Vic

louis cypher

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I like these card games in a bag genre that’s appeared in the last few year. They’re starting to become a bit samey but it’s a new enough device so I’m willing to indulge it. Love letter is a great game. I really like lost legacy and I do like Cypher.

I first came across this game at last years Gaelcon. A buddy* had bought it and I got to play a few games of it having played a lot lot of love letter (mostly badly)

Cypher features 19 cards this time and sees up to four friends* trying to end the game with as much influence as possible visible from up to three cards in front of them.

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Each turn sees players in turn play a card and execute its action, draw a card and then reluctantly discard down their hand by giving the excess to their opponents. It’s a little bit like Tichu where you hope to offload your trash and not help your opponent. Remembering what your opponent did last turn and guessing what they might be up to is key

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It’s a neat little game. The artwork is dacent. The theme is good (I do like cyperpunk), the mechanics are tidy. It’s pure filler material but it does have some skill and you will want to play it again

I was able to secure a copy of it for a good price at the last Knavecon and I’m delighted I did. Looking forward to more of these. I have not quite slaked my thirst for bag games.

Huzzah

Vic

Bang! Bang! you dead!

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Keeping with the western theme (by pure chance) we played Bang! The Dice Game last thur

I’d plays a good bit of Bang! The card game. Truth be told I’d played a lot of it and it’s expansions. I was in fact over it. Quite a while back, so it was with morbid curiosity I approached the dice version. I was pleasantly surprised

Bang! The dice game (BtDG) is a filler game similar to the original but lighter and quicker. The game sees up to eight players duking it out with secret roles either helping the Sheriff or trying to bump him off.

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Each player starts with a random character with terrible names like “Willy the kid” or “something else” each with a non imbalanced special ability such as immune to Gatling guns or able to regain health at below 4 and so on. They also start with a secret identity like bandit (wants to kill the sheriff), deputy (wants to help the sheriff), renegade (wants to be the last person standing) or just plain old bullet magnet sheriff who starts visible to everyone.

People then quickly roll dice and the shooting starts.

The sheriff who starts with two more life than normal needs to figure out who’s on his side and who’s out to get him. Here’s a top tip. If they’re shooting at you they’re not your friend

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Each player takes it in turn to roll the half dozen dice which allows you to shoot someone either one or two players away, drink beer and recover health, explode by rolling three dynamite or dishing out damage to everyone else with a Gatling gun. Finally and here’s where it rises above the norm. You can roll and gain arrows from a central pile. Once the pile is exhausted the Indians attack and everyone holding arrows take that many wounds.

Games are snappy. The special ability means it’s quite varied and guessing who’s who is fun. Unlike Colt Express shooting someone means something and it’s the big roundup in the sky once you lose your dozen or less health points.

This game reminds me a bit of zombie dice. There’s a push your luck element and it will appeal to kids. Kids who like shooting each other.

Compared to the original bang it’s a shorter game and much simpler. Personally I prefer the original but this is a perfectly acceptable filler game. Plus it’s got Cowboys in it

Yehar!

Victor

We don’t like your type around here

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Colt Express sounds like a cleaning product Barry Scott would be proud of. Don’t be fooled it’s not,  it’s a “cowboy train robbery, program ’em up.”, quite a small genre all said.

This game has been on my radar for a while and I was eager to get my farm hand mitts on it….  it’s good, but it’s not exceptional.

With any game a good judge of it’s merits is the urge to play it again.  I had no strong urge to replay Colt Express having played it once, which is a pity because it’s got a lot of good things in there.

The game itself sees up to six bandits trying to steal as much loot as possible from a very nicely realized 3D train. It’s absolutely not co-op.

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The pieces are lovely. The game needs some assembly and fits together to form six snug carriages and a locomotive.  The artwork is nice, not amazing but more than adequate if a little cartoony for my liking.  The whole thing is sturdy and the assembled pieces fit neatly back in the box.

Gameplay see you draw a number of cards and program your bandit to perform tasks in a sequence, the length of which is visible for the current section of the trip.  Each player takes it in turn to place an action so you can make out roughly what’s going to happen.  Your bandit is programmed with between 3 and 5 actions in advance and then thus instructed, takes you literally and all hell breaks lose .  Actions like, move from one carriage to another, pick up some loot on the floor, punch someone, shoot another player, move the lawman and so on are what it’s all about.

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If you’ve ever played RoboRally you’ll know what to expect.  Bandits get knocked out of the way and your original plans go awry. Better options open up through other’s unexpected interactions.  It’s a bit like riding a horse where you’re partially in control.

What I do like is the actions something come with options.  So a move for your bandit when it pops up allows you to choose which direction you move. Ditto shooting where you choose whom to shoot unlike RoboRallys strict wind up, sit back and watch it helplessly unfold style.

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It’s fun, it’s pretty quick and it’s easy to learn.  What I don’t like about it are two things.  One. It’s a bit random, which is fair enough and two it’s a bit mild.  When you shoot someone you don’t really do that much damage to them, you just dilute their deck with bullets making their next turn a bit more difficult.  There’s no real sense of screwing over the other players which for me is key.  (Maybe that says more about me than the game).

This is a excellent kids game.  I’m fond of kids games as a lot of them (like Ribbit) work really well as an adult game too.  For me I found this game was lacking something, I couldn’t say what and I think it was as good as it could be, just not good enough to demand regular play.  It’s a funny beast insofar as it’s neither a filler game and yet it’s too short to be a main course.

Good enough but not exceptional I reckon.

Yehar!

Vic

a Good Case of Hives

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Remember those cheesy films where two guys would be tied together by the arm and knife fight ? That’s Hive. Just swap moody heroes for insects

Hive is a two player game that’s cheap, portable, quick and easy to learn. Have I mentioned it’s portable?

It’s a neat little gateway game and lends itself to playing in a restricted area like a train, pub, iso cube. Actually the last one won’t work its strictly two player.

Each player starts with a dozen or so hexagonal tiles with a variety of bug types on the face of each. The key one is the Queen whom you have to stop your opponent surrounding on six sides whilst simultaneously trying to do the same to your opponent’s.

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It can be surprisingly strategic. You need to think several steps ahead. It’s a bit like chess. Well it’s more like a mid game of chess where you’re down to the last dozen pieces or so. It’s also a lot of fun

Just like chess or the Pope the various bugs move in mysterious ways. Queens can move one “space” around the edge of the tangle of pieces. Grass hoppers jump over pieces in straight lines, ants can zip to any spot around the edge. For me the beetles are kings. Like slow moving suma characters from any fight games these dudes lumber in on top of other pieces and choke hold the queen so lesser bugs can pile in.

The game itself is a work of art. It comes in a variety of materials. Wood and well hard plastic or carbon which is made of hard plastic. So two materials really. There’s a lovely solid feel to the pieces like good poker chips. The game play is fairly fast, depending on your opponent and yourself I suppose. It’s got a little bit of variety and it does have a second and maybe third game feel to it.

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There are a couple of expansions for it. None of which I’ve played so I can’t comment on them and there’s a decent app version which despite being pretty slick just doesn’t have the same feel as playing with the physical chips.

It’s a fine bridge between checkers and chess in terms of complexity and it’s certainly kid friendly.

A classic two player everyone should have. Huzzah!

Vic

Night of the Wolf

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One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a game which on the surface shouldn’t work. If you’ve played Werewolf (possibly at Knavecon) you’ll know it’s played out over a dozen, sometimes more days and nights. This is played out over One night (the clue was in the name). That said its a Long night with a hell of a lot happening.

There’s a free app available to run the game. Get the free app. Don’t bother trying to GM it yourself, the app is very slick and looks after everything for you.

Once you’ve played the base game you’ll probably look at it and wonder how much you can flog the game for. Don’t. School boy error. This is not your basic werewolf where everyone is Joey tight lips about their role. Everyone is vocal about whom they claim to be and its here that the game really shines.

A couple of the roles involve swapping hidden roles with others and the skill is in concocting a convincing story based on the possible roles that may have been mixed in

“I was a werewolf but my role was swapped by the trouble maker so your better off hanging HER! /points ”

The app is clever. It gives a five minute count down to the vote.  After a few games you’ll be using all that time to cover your furry tracks or get everyone onboard to hang your suspect.

Hang a wolf and the villagers win. Fail to hang a wolf and the wolves win.

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What makes for an interesting game is you’re never sure which roles are in play just the possible ones so concocting a good cover story is essential

Just like Spyfall you really want to play again straight away after the last game. We found we had to call a halt to our filler game or it would have raged all night. The extra roles add a lot to this game and given enough plays I could see myself stretching out to acquiring the expansion but there’s a lot of play in the base game

One thing that will strike you about this game when you use the app is the amount of time you spend with your eyes closed. It’s like the end of a yoga class. You’ll awake refreshed, energized and ready to devour villagers

Huzzah!

Vic

Act Natural

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A buddy of mine* told me about Spyfall. It sounded right up my street A traitor, filler, party game.

Ok it’s not Really a traitor game as such but it’s not far off. Each player gets handed a card from thirty possible stacks all carefully laid out so one player is always the spy.

Each mini stack corresponds to a particular Location. It might be a Starship. A Beach. A School. A Hotel and so on. Additionally each card gives a role so if the randomly selected stack was a pirate ship the roles might be captain, first mate, gunner and of course the spy…

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Now here’s the rub. No one knows what the other person’s role is and the spy knows bugger all. The hapless spy doesn’t know the location that’s been picked so they’re up against it from the off.

A round shakes out like this. One random first player picks another player and asks them an insightful question to try and figure out if they’re the spy  or a loyal comrade. They need to ask a question in such a way as to figure out if their target knows the location or if they’re clueless.  All the player have cards in front of them with a full list of all the locations so if they don’t make it obvious they might figure it out.

Here’s an example

Player 1 : (Not a spy, Location : The Artic) : “SOoooo…. Are you going to shave the beard off or leave it?”

Player 2 : (Spy, Thinking it might be a pirate ship they’re on) :  “Well I’m going to leave until this adventure is over….”

The asked player now gets to ask a question.

Player 2 : (Spy) “So…. what the hell did we drink last night?”

and so on.  At any stage a player can go.  HE/SHE’s  the spy! and a unanimous vote sees everyone reveal their cards. Get it right the players get a point each get it wrong the spy scores four.  The same can happen where the spy says,  I’m the spy and I KNOW WHERE WE ARE!  If they get it right they score points otherwise everyone else does

The game resets and a new location is picked and it happens again. For several round.

It’s actually quite good.  Not what I thought it would be.  It’s very hard to be a spy especially in a small group and I reckon you need a minimum of six to make this work but it’s so quick and so repayable you want to go again and again

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We played a dozen games last night and we had to stop ourselves playing and go home (well not me I was home).

Like a lot of games I love, it’s just so simple.  Truth be told it’s so simple I dispensed with the cards and wrote a quick application to do the role picking which just goes to show how lazy we are.

This will be front and centre at the next Knavecon and I highly recommend you try it out

Huzzah!

Vic

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