Men at Work Board Game

menatwork.PNG

Men at Work is a balancing board game. Players take it in turns to place girders, supports and workers on the building site. Place the highest piece on the site and you earn an award from Rita the site boss. Get three awards and you win the game. Make things fall down and you lose one of your three safety certificates. Lose all three and you leave the game. The pieces are beautifully made and presented, and the whole thing is nerve-wracking fun.

With most games you’re waiting for your turn so that you can do something. In Men at Work you get at least as much excitement watching other people take their turns trying to place items on precarious beams without everything falling down. Very enjoyable.

Long Cow

Long Cow.PNG

If it seems like I’ve been playing a few games lately I have. So there. Long Cow was an early birthday present, purchased because I liked the phrase “udderly ridiculous”, it looked like fun, and it had a “moo” voice box as one of the play pieces.

Players compete to create the longest cow and the biggest herd. Your cows can be of particular breeds, or you can use “frankencow” cards that allow you to mix them together and even add robot components. And there’s rustling and other cow related tom-foolery to be had too.

It’s actually rather fun. Nothing too taxing (although I think you can take it very seriously if you want) and some lovely artwork on the cards.

Werewords rocks

werewords.PNG

This is a really good game. I’ve been a fan of werewolf for a while. That’s the game that pits werewolves against villagers. Werewords has a similar basis, but rather than trying to just spot the werewolves the villagers are in a race against time to deduce the “magic word” that only the seer, the werewolf and the mayor know. If the werewolf identifies the seer the wolf wins. If the villagers spot the werewolf, they win. Everyone can ask the mayor yes/know questions to try to work out what he word is.

The seer can try to steer the questions towards the answer, but not too much in case the werewolf spots them. The werewolf is doing the same thing, in the opposite direction. And sometimes the mayor is a werewolf.

Confused? You won’t be. Not after a few rounds. The whole game is run by an app that sets the scene and times each round. A complete game lasts around 6 minutes, and so over an hour or so of play everyone gets a go at the different roles. Well worth a look.

Shifty Eyed Spies

shifty eyed spies.PNG

Shifty Eyed Spies is not a serious game. At least, not the way that we played it. Our attempts ended up mired in frequent hilarity and general shiftiness.

Players have to signal to each other via surreptitious nods and winks, while all the time looking our for others doing exactly the same thing.

It’s very unlikely you’d want to spend an entire evening playing it.But as a warm up for something a bit more meaty, or just a reason to be deeply silly for a while, it is rather fun.

Deal or Duel Game

deal or duel.PNG

I bought Deal or Duel on a whim. It seemed like a good price for a game with lots of moving parts and I liked the idea of setting up a pistol fight between King George III and Napoleon Bonaparte. We’ve had two goes at playing it now, and I must say it is growing on me a bit.

It is fiendishly complicated. And the rules don’t help much. There’s lots of details on some aspects, but others are left delightfully vague. There’s a knack to writing good game instructions and the people behind this game don’t have it. We had quite a few situations where it just wasn’t clear what should happen and we fixed the problem by making something up.

Having said that, it was quite fun to play, and you do get rather attached to the characters in your “roster”. The gameplay is peppered with American Independence facts that are interesting in a pub quiz kind of way and I’d like to have another go at it to try out a strategy that will involve picking fights with everyone.

If you’re prepared to put the time in, you can have fun with this game.

Dropmix Review

dropmix.PNG

I usually buy a game at Christmas. This time I’ve bought Dropmix. I saw it on sale at a very attractive price and could'n’t resist it. For the amount you pay you get a lot. There is a handsome plastic console where you pay the game and a set of 70 cards, each of which contains an RFID tag that is read when you play the game and used to trigger the playback of a sample from a music track. The game runs as an app on your phone or tablet which talks to the console over Bluetooth.

You play the game by laying cards down to build up a song. The cards have a characteristic colour and volume level. Coloured cards must be played on the matching colour of the deck and have a louder or equal volume setting than the card they are being placed on top of. Get stuck and you can press a big button which selects a bunch of cards to be removed.

There is a very wide range of music on offer, including Ed Sheeran among others. You can buy themed packs of 15 to get more sounds but they are rather expensive. The cards are nicely made and have artwork that makes them nice things to have before you even play the game. There are also black and white cards that are played to modify the sound.

I was very impressed by how well the samples knit together to make interesting sounds. There are a variety of play modes, including a single player mode, or you can just put cards down to see what you can make. You can even save arrangements that you’re particularly pleased with.

The game is from Harmonix, the people that made a bunch of guitar games. They really know how to make the music fit together, and the gameplay turns out to be a lot of fun. Well worth a look.

Board Game Expertise

A while back I was moaning about the way that there seem to be robots out there which are looking for search terms on sites and then emailing the owners asking to place paid content or link to them.

Then I got an email last week from Kendra telling me about Game Cows, a board game site. I’ve posted about the odd board game here and there, and she seems to have picked up on that. The site has some useful reviews and whatnot, and if you’re into board games you should find it interesting.

Four hours of sheep rustling

A while ago I write a review of the Wallace and Gromit Fleeced game. In it I mentioned that some people were complaining that the game could go on forever with no winners because everyone just spent all their time rustling sheep from each rather than trying to win.

Well, that’s what we did last night. For four and a half hours.

Great fun though, and we did get a winner in the end….

Beasts of Balance

beasts of balance.PNG

Bank Holiday Monday finds us out shopping in Leeds. But I was there for a reason. I wanted to buy a copy of "Beasts of Balance" from the Apple Store. I'd nearly bought a copy on a recent trip but I was talked out of it. But the person who talked me out of the purchase isn't on this trip....

We had a go this evening. I thought it was a game where you try to balance objects on a plinth. It is, but there's a lot more to it than that. The idea of "balance" goes a lot further than than stopping things from falling over. Some of the objects that you balance are beautiful, stylised models of creatures from land, sea or air. And you have to keep their worlds in balance by adding other things too.

We kept adding the octopus (mainly because he has a flat head, and is eminently stackable) but that meant we had to balance his watery needs with  creatures from different realms and he turned out to be quite needy...

So the game turns into a ecological balancing act as well as a physical one. And it gets even more interesting when you add in the "modifier" pieces. There are two types of these. One of them lets you "cross" one creature with another, to make a new species. The other lets you "migrate" a species into another realm. Perhaps we could have used one to get that pesky octopus out of the water. There are a couple of "miracle" pieces too, I'm looking forward to seeing what they do. 

Each piece you add to the plinth contains an RFID tag that is used to identify it. You tap the tag on the plinth before you put it on the structure you're building. The plinth can detect when you've added the piece successfully, and also when everything falls down....

The game is played in conjunction with an app that runs on your Android or Apple device which keeps score and shows the effect your actions are having on the ecosystem you are creating as you play. 

Lots of players can cooperate, but there's not really a competitive mode (although it is kind of fun to put your piece on the plinth in a way that makes it horribly difficult for the next person to do anything). 

Everyone who started playing (including me) began by regarding the game as "Computer Jenga with an ipad scoreboard". It's not. There's a ton of depth to the gameplay. It's not about getting everything on the plinth, it's about getting the right combination of objects on there, and adding bits to find out what they do. 

It's a bit pricey, but not that much more than a video game. And I've seen board games with far fewer, and less engaging, pieces, on sale for a lot more money. The game has a lot of polish, from the beautifully made models to the well drawn user interface of the game. Strongly recommended. 

Fibbage is Fun

We spent some time last night playing Fibbage. I first played it earlier in the year at David's. It's so good I actually bought a copy. It's a great party game. You need a PC, preferably with a big screen, and each player needs a device with web access. Then the game invites players to invent answers to silly questions and search for the correct one. 

And  no, I'm not saying it's good just because I won. Although I did. Perhaps those years of being a lecturer have turned me into someone good at inventing plausible lies....

We didn't playtest this at all

we didnt.PNG

Lovers of games involving strategic play, intense plot and mental strength should look away now. Lovers of idiotic fun though, that's a different matter....

We didn't playtest this at all is daft. It's the kind of game you can win by being the shortest player. Or lose by being eaten by a dragon. Or not touching your nose the right number of times. The games are short, furious and fun. I can't imagine spending an entire evening playing this game, but for a bunch of mad fun before you start playing Coup I reckon it would be hard to beat. 

Battlestar Galactica Board Game

bsg.PNG

Spent a very happy evening playing board games tonight. We started off with a session of Coup, always good for a giggle. Unless you assassinate one of your son's characters, and he then promptly turns round and knocks you out of the game. Oh well. New tactic. Don't attack the player on your immediate left, as it's their turn next and they will instantly go for payback. 

Then we got out the Battlestar Galactica game that I really wanted to play. I bought it ages ago, but never played it properly. Fortunately number one son had, and so we all had great fun finding out how the game works and then finding out how to work each other over during gameplay.

The premise is quite simple. The crew of a spaceship is trying to guide it and a bunch of civilian ships to safety in the face of implacable (and rather numerous cylon foes). The twist is that some of the crew are working for the enemy, and at the start nobody knows who the cylons are. At every turn the crew must deal with a crisis, and work out from the outcomes who can be trusted and who needs to be put into an airlock for a one way trip into space. 

By a combination of skill and miss-reading the rules the good guys managed to make it to safety, which made me a rather hapless member of the winning team. It's a great game, although there is a lot to take in at the start. The events in the game pay good service to the plot of the TV series (that is, the second iteration) but you don't need to have seen the programme to be able to enjoy the board game. 

Next time we play, I hope I'm a cylon though, it looks like fun.

Candy Chaser Game

This is a neat little game which gave us a diverting few minutes this lunchtime. Each player is trading in a particular type of sweet and players take it in turns to move the price of any the sweets up or down. Once trading is over you have round where everyone tries to figure out who is selling which kind of sweet. If someone works out which sweet you are trading, you are out. If they get it wrong, they're out. Last player standing with the highest score wins. 

Games last around 20 minutes or so maximum. It's quite fun to play, although in typical Computer Science fashion we all massively overthought the situation and I managed to win one by just doing the simple, stupid thing. 

Quite fun. 

Bristol Board Game Cafe

I didn't take this picture at the cafe. But I'm still very pleased with it. 

I didn't take this picture at the cafe. But I'm still very pleased with it. 

A while back we went to the board game cafe in London.  We had a great time there and so today we went out to the one in Bristol. Just as much fun. In fact it was even better because we had more time to play, with no train to catch this time.

We had a proper go at the Thunderbirds board game. And by proper I mean that we played it long enough to lose. Oh well. As with the one in London, the service and knowledge of games was first rate and the food was excellent.

By the time we left the place was filling up nicely and what sounded like an uproarious session of Cash and Guns was going on in the back. Next stop, the cafe in Hull..... 

Draughts Board Game Cafe in London

I think you should know that this game is way complicated

I think you should know that this game is way complicated

We've been meaning to go to Draughts for a while. the first Board Game Cafe in London. In case you're not sure what a "board game cafe" is. It's a cafe. With board games. And it's awesome.

You pay a fiver each for a session and then have literally hundreds of games, all neatly categorised, for you to grab off the shelf and have a go with. I wonder if they'd charge 'game corkage' if you brought your own games? Anyhoo,  they also have great coffee and amazing brownies (and I'm a connoisseur) 

I've always fancied having a go at the Thunderbirds board game, and they had a copy there. The box says the game takes around 40 minutes to play. That might be true. But it also took us around 40 minutes just to set the game up.

Each player takes on the role of a character from the show and pilots Thunderbird craft around the globe performing rescues and defeating the Hood's evil schemes. Or in our case losing. In around 40 minutes. The loyalty to the show is pretty slavish. The nicely printed cards are all dotted with stills from the episodes. There are FAB cards you can play, pods you can load with equipment and even the automatic camera detector gets a look in.

And yet, I'm not completely sure it's fun just yet. I think a lot of the problem was lack of familiarity, and numbers - there were only two of us playing - but I'd love to have another go. 

As for the venue, as we left around Sunday lunchtime it was filling up nicely. If I lived in London I don't think I'd want to go anywhere else on Sunday morning. 

Hull has a boardroom cafe too, the Boardroom. I really must check it out. 

Elder Sign Winners. Yay!

Tonight we managed something that I didn't think we'd ever do. We won a game of Elder Sign. We defeated the Black Goat of something-or-other by a cunning combination of skill, timing, luck and more luck. It was great fun. Owing to reasons of chance I was "Sister Mary", a woman with strong will, an ability to use locked dice and who is, sadly, not much good in a fight. But I was playing with a gangster and someone with second sight, so it all worked out well enough.

It took us two evenings to complete the game, but it was worth the effort.

Ruined by Alvin and Dexter

Alvin and Dexter are an add on for the wonderful Ticket to Ride board game.  

You can use them with any version of the game. They are a thwarty type thing you can use to stop your opponents from building train lines to particular cities. 

I was kind of excited to see how they work so we had a go with them today.  And they were promptly used by everyone else to stop me from building anything and making sure that I came a really poor last place. (at least, that's what I'm telling myself)

Oh well. There's always next time...

Marrying Mr. Darcy Card Game

What with Winchester and Salisbury just down the road, this would seem an ideal place to have a go at Marrying Mr. Darcy.  It's a card game where each player takes the role of a character in the story, all trying to find married bliss. And perhaps a fortune.  

You navigate events, trying to build up your character and beauty in a way most appealing to your chosen beau. And then there's a flurry of proposals and counter-proposals, after which you find out who won. You don't have to end up with Darcy to win. I ended up marrying the Colonel, and my added charm and beauty points got me onto the winners podium. 

The game has some nice period touches and is great fun to play. I think I could have used a few more chances to scupper my opponents though, but if you like the story I think you'll enjoy the game.