No Love Lost


Love letter is a bit of a misnomer, there’s no letter and there’s surely no love when you play this game. I love simple, clever games and Love Letter is certainly one of these. It has sixteen cards and it still manages to deliver like a boss

It’s best played with three to four players (the max) and it plays out in say twenty minutes or so. The first few games take a bit of getting your head around and being told repeatidly draw one, play one eventually gets through your skull.

You start the game with one of seven possible card types some of which have multiples. They are the usual motley crew of medieval archetypes, Priest, Princess, Duchess, King, Guard and so on. Each of them have a special power and each of them can dampen either you or your opponents ardour.

The idea is you need to end the round with a card higher ranked than your opponents or knock them all out of the round before the cards run out.


This can be achieved in a number of ways, the easiest being naming what card an opponent has by playing a guard (yes sometimes it’s pure guess). Forcing them to discard a particular card, punching them in the throat (not sure this is an official rule), Challenging them to have a higher card than you with the Duke. Other cards allow you to swap hands or view another player’s cards. It’s very much Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock and it works very well indeed. It is if you will perfectly formed.

The game is purely reactionary, you have to think on your feet (even when you’re sitting down) and there’s always a way to win. This sounds like a wine buff (there’s hints of blackberry) but there are hints of other games in here but none of them are overpowering nor is the game too similar to anything else. It very much stands on its own.

I’m always amazed how music works, a half dozen notes into a tune you have something unique, the same is true of love letter. It’s unique, it’s fun and it’s criminally cheap. You can pick it up for less than ten euro and you will play it again and again. Of all the essential games to have in your collection, THIS is top of the list

Go now and pick up a copy and if I’m wrong you can punch me in the throat at the next Knavecon




Thur Child is Full of Win – Part 1

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Why do we love zombies? There’s no denying that zombies are “in” at the moment. TV shows, movies (some of them good), games, books, marches, the real ones outside my window desperately trying to scratch through, calling me to join them in my sleep, we’ve all gone zombie mad!  But what is it about zombies that we really like? Is it that they’re just misunderstood old ragamuffins that need hugs (and brains) or that we love the idea of being a survivor in a world that’s had it’s reset button pressed?

I’ve no idea, nor could I care less 🙂

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I did however get to play Card of the Dead on Thur night thanks once again to our Polish connection and it’s good solid zombie fun.

Card of the Dead is a card game by AEG with fun cartoony artwork. It’s pure filler and plays out in fifteen or so minutes. It does have the potential to drag on since your move is often a choice between strengthening your own position or screwing someone else’s up. Wild guess which was the popular choice for our group (canned laughter)

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Players start with a hand of three from an initial pick of eight and during their turn they draw one card and play.  Draw a zombie and you place it in front of you. Draw too many and it’s goodnight zombieville.  Other cards allow you to remove zombies, more importantly move zombies to other players or generally cause them headaches.  Yet more cards have a foot symbol on them with a number.  Get enough of them in front of you and you get to escape leaving all the other players to their grizzly faith.

It’s fun it’s quick, it plays not unlike a whole lot of other filler card games.  The artwork is nice, the production quality good and it’s cheap as chips so if you’re bored of your current filler game and a fan of zombies (as if you weren’t) then you could do worse than this.  Will I rush out and buy it? Nope, I have a stack of fillers and don’t need more, but it’s certainly welcome at my table any time

More Thur to follow



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Kneedeep in Seamen

On The Town 1

Having played Serenissisma a number of times I thought I had heard every possible Seamen joke, I had been misled….

We had a big group on Thur night and we tried our best with an eight player game of Tsuro but when it’s that size the only thing to do is split into two groups.  Our group played this.

Serenissisma is a nautical game of trading in the Mediterranean in the 14th Century.  Integral to the operation of your fleet are your seamen.  Being a group of 16yr old schoolboys at heart and mind, the game very quickly became a series of jokes about the aforementioned lads.  So what follows now is review of the proceedings liberally infused with seamen ‘jokes’…..


“Let’s not beat about the bush (you see what I did there), I’m a big fan of Serenissisma, My copy has been knocking about for a long time and only occasionally do I get to whip it out and play with it with unsuspecting gamers”

The game is played out on a map of the Mediterranean with up to four players taking control of a major power.   The map is made up of a number of ports that each supply one of seven goods Wine, Iron, Wood (of course), Cheap Plonk, Knock off CDs, (well maybe not but you get the idea.) and around 30 or so sea square   Each of these ports that produce a particular good want goods of the other types so you’re job is to zip around in your ships full to the gunwales of goods and seamen and drop them off like a merry postman, sticking your flag down to claim ports as your own and getting into or avoiding fights with other players doing the same.  A Pat Mustard of the waves if you will

There’s a limit of five spots in a ship, so the balance (and there’s always a balance in games) is between how many goods you stick on board and how man seamen you ram in there.  More seamen means more protection and speed for your ship but less space for valuable trade items.   Even more fun as you probably guessed it is to attack other players ships and take their ships and goods as prizes.

In all the games you’ve played THIS is the most unforgiving of plays.  You build up a fleet of ships, buy some goods are thinking about your Ferengi profit and BAM! some savage steams in, pistol whips your swimmers and gets all familiar your very expensive goods and ships, THEN to add insult to injury, sails off and sells your previously owned goods.  Pirate code me hoop.  This is not a safe game, once you get tangoed like this you’ll never forget it so guard your stuff well.

“The key to the game is your seamen… (waits for laughter to subside), you need seamen, lots and lots of seamen, if you’re going to succeed (oh err missus) and come out on top, you’ll need more seamen than the other fella (canned laughter). “


Once again the old puzzle, which comes first the chicken or the egg problem is evident here.  You can’t afford lots of seamen if you don’t sell lots of goods, you can’t protect your goods without lots of seamen.  So you do you’re best.  A Gamer worth their salt does this sort of thing the whole time.  Still hurts when you get holed below the keel and your plans evaporate.

The other thing I like about this game is you don’t really have time for vengeance.  Go after someone who’s wronged you and you’ll probably lose the game.  You need to pull up your big boy/girl pants and get your house back in order and then ON YES then you get to exact a revenge on them IF you have time.  So in essence get your vengeance in first and make sure you do it so they never recover.

The game ends after eight turns (more if there’s less players) and rattles along for a good 2+ hours depending on players.  There’s a good range of decisions to be made each turn and there’s very little downtime as everyone else’s move can have a big impact on you.  Some of the mechanics like getting a monopoly on certain goods and setting the prices for them can really rankle players so if you’re militarily weak it’s often a case of appeasing other players but ultimately if you don’t hire seamen and plenty you’re goosed good and proper.  As the game progresses it becomes more and more crowded with ships and it’s very much a powder keg waiting for the spark that’s most beneficial for you.  This game can be very tense at times, mostly towards the end.  It’s also possible to be really petty, sacking a person home city just because, even though you’ve got them on the ropes already.

Is it any good? Yes.  It is.  Iv’e got an older copy, a new revamped version two came out and I haven’t tried it but I understand it’s a bit different from the original but opinions are divided as to which is superior.  Will I play it again soon?  Wellllllll… probably not.  I’ve played a good bit of this game and whilst not bad it’s not as good as some newer stuff out there.  Worth getting.  Welllll again there’s better out there but that doesn’t make it bad.  Try it at the next Knavecon.  I’ll bring it along and you can join in a chorus of comments about seamen.

Don’t get me wrong I like this game but if you get overrun by someone else seamen, it can leave a bad taste in your mouth.



More of that next week






Pirate Ninjas Rule


I got to play a game I’ve seen a few times lurking on the edges in Amazon also boughts.  Smash Up by AEG

I had very few expectations going in, I figured it was going to be a bit like King of Toyko but it’s not.  It’s borrows from a number of different games.  I’m not sure where exactly it stands.  Definitely a filler game, definitely as good as King of Toyko but it needs more play to be sure and I intend to give it some.

The game I played was a two player and it allows up to four which I suspect would be as crazy as after eights eaten at 7:30.

It’s quick to learn. A player starts with five cards which are of two types either actions or minions.  On the board are a number of bases with all very colourful titles  (Monkey lab anyone?) a completion value (from say 18-24 or so), a score value for first, second and third positions and a special ability.

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Each turn a player gets to place a minion against a base, use the minions special ability (which could be kill another minion there, increase some variable, do something, I dunno else, it varies quite a bit from faction to faction) and also play an action, which could be Kill another minion, increase some variable (you get the idea).  Each minion has a strength value or say 2-5 and when enough minions in total from everyone are at a base the based is scored, the highest strength of minions from one player gets the first scoring value and the next gets second prize and so on.  You obviously want to be first if possible to snag the highest score.  Once it’s scored a new base is wheeled out and the process repeats until someone scores 18 points or more, then pulls their jersey over their head and does their winner dance/slide/gesticulation

What makes for an interesting game is that at the start you pick two sets of factions from a base game of around a dozen or so.  These vary a good bit so you have some colourful stuff, like Pirates, Zombies, Ninjas, Cthulu and so on.  I opted for the obvious awesomeness of Pirates and Ninjas whilst my opponent went with Time Travelling and Zombies.  You then carefully blend the play decks of your two choices together and wind up with a combined deck of 40 cards and play begins.

It was surprising fun, the theme of each it very well done, Ninjas are sneaky and good at assassination, Zombies just keep coming back again and again.  Mixing two factions together makes for a different experience each time.  Maybe even 132 different combos, (though my maths may be off)

Would I recommend it? yes, I would. I wouldn’t rush out and buy it, but I’d definitely play it if it was lying around.  It’s not getting bumped up on my must buy list, but it’s good fun and if you have a spare 20 minutes and this at hand you could do a lot worse




a bit of THIS thur night

Have been thinking about a second tag line for Knavecon and I kinda like  “Meet as strangers, leave as enemies” but I digress

It’s thur night so it’s gaming and thanks to a very nice fathers days present of Bloodbowl Team Manager we may well have ‘a bit a that’ tonight.


Now I must admit that I owned a copy of this before but due to my voracious game swapping addiction it got swapped out for something else (possibly some magic beans) and never got past a game or two.  I was nonplussed about it which was a pity because I LOVE Bloodbowl proper  (waits for comment about how I should learn to play it properly so) and it’s Fantasy Flight.

I really don’t think I gave this game a proper chance and coupled with the fact that there’s an expansion out now I think it would be churlish of me not to welcome it back into my heart.

So lets gird our loins and Play Ball !


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