January Gaming

In this post I will be reflecting on some of my favourite games we have played this month and the fun games we played with the kids! I will also mention a couple of kickstarters that caught our eye. But before all of that I am pleased to say that I managed to write two more reviews this month one for an old favourite Dino Race and one for a new release we picked up at Essen, The Mysterious Forest.  So please have a look at those if you’re interested in children’s games!

Games

My favourite game of January was Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. I know I am a bit late to the party on this one but I love this cooperative investigative game as it makes me feel like I am solving a real crime! I highly recommend it to anyone who has a passion for crime drama or books. In Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective you are racing to solve a crime before Sherlock Holmes. You do this by following clues, the clues can be found within newspapers or at different locations on the map. When you believe you have the solution you turn to the back of the casebook and answer the questions. You can then check your answers to see how well you did. You lose points for incorrect answers and for visiting more locations than Sherlock Holmes does. There are ten cases in the box to solve!

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Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective

The second game that I want to mention is Fuse. I have really loved playing this cooperative real time game where your mission is to diffuse all the bombs within ten minutes. It’s fast paced, frantic and an awful lot of fun! You have to defuse the bombs by placing dice on the bomb cards according to their specifications. All the cards are unique and are rated according to difficultly.  The dice are drawn randomly from the bag, rolled and then must be used equally between all players. The game has a companion app which is really only a timer but it does add a great atmosphere to gameplay!

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Fuse

Another game which has been hitting the table a lot is Arkham Horror the card game. I am really enjoying working our way through the story. We are playing two different campaigns at the moment one as a couple and another with friends.  The game works really well in both cases.  In this game you use a customisable deck of cards to explore the story, the cards reflect your different abilities but also contain two weaknesses which might overcome you.  As you complete the different stories you will earn experience points which you can spend to buy better cards for your deck.  I am really enjoying playing through the different storylines in this game but I do wonder whether this game will have much replay value once you have played the stories a few times.  I suspect it might if you change the characters you play each time but as I have only played each Act a few times it is hard for me to tell yet!

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Last month I also played Imperial Settlers a game if I am honest I thought I might not enjoy. I was wrong however! We played the game using the variant which means that you don’t attack (Raze) each others buildings as I am not a big fan of that kind of mechanic.

In Imperial Settlers you play as one of a number of factions which have discovered new lands and are racing to claim it for their own.  At the beginning of the game you start with a selection of cards which are taken from two different decks of cards, one is a deck that is specific to the faction you chose and the other is a common shared deck. To play the game you use the cards in your hand one of three ways, play it to construct a building, discard it to gain resources (called Razing) or lastly use it to make a deal for future production. Over the course of the game you gain resources that can be used to construct various buildings. These buildings have a number of different abilities for example some increase your production of resources, others enable you to convert resources or to trade them for victory points.  Ultimately however it is the player with the most victory points at the end of the last round who wins the game.

This is one of those games that when you’ve finished playing you can look at the cards on the table and say I built that. I really enjoy that!

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Imperial Settlers

Family Games

Overall January was a good month for family games we spent two afternoons with friends just playing games and we also played quite a bit together.

Old Favourites

Some old favourites we played this month include Dino Race, Bugs in the Kitchen and Jungle Brunch. In Dino Race you are racing to be the first to save your dinosaurs from the erupting volcano, you can read more about it in my review here.

Bugs in the Kitchen is a very simple game where you are trying to steer the bug into your trap. The bug is a hexbug which for those of you who don’t know is a small robotic creature. You try and steer this bug by turning various utensils (Knife, Spoon etc.) to open pathways. You roll the dice to determine which utensil you are allowed to turn.  Each time you trap the bug you get a token and the first person who gets 5 tokens wins.  This game is very popular with the kids they love watching the bug scuttling around and scrabbling to get him into their trap!

Lastly Jungle Brunch is a card game where you are trying to get your animals to eat the most food! Each player has a deck of animal cards and they compete with each other for food such as Grass, Nuts, Bananas and sometimes each other! There is a great variety of animals on the cards and each one works in different ways.  The food cards (Bananas, Grass & Nuts) are all worth different points so your aim is to eat the best food whilst not getting eaten yourself! I really enjoy this game and I love watching my children thinking about what animals to play.  There are definitely some tactics needed if you want to avoid being eaten all the time!

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Newish Games

Some games that are still fairly new to us are Fabled Fruit a game which we bought in Essen last year and Beasts of Balance a Kickstarter game which arrived just before Christmas.

In Fabled Fruit you are competing with other players to turn fruit into juice. This game comes with a vast number of animal cards these animals help you turn your fruit into juice or help you collect fruit in lots of different ways. When an animal helps you turn your fruit into a juice that animal card is turned over and a brand new one is drawn from the stack.  Your juice card never returns back into the animal deck this means that the game will change over time. The idea being that the game evolves and changes each time you time you play it as more different animal cards are drawn from the deck.  They describe this as a legacy game.  We’ve only played this a few times so far and therefore we haven’t delved deeply into the deck yet but I am really impressed with this game so far. My kids who are six (nearly 7) had no trouble understanding the different options available on the cards and the game has been really close each time. Plus this game comes with animal meeples which the kids (and me) adore!

Beasts of Balance is a cooperative dexterity game with a fun twist. The idea of the game is to build the most amazing world on an app (i.e. beat your high score). The game comes with many gorgeous pieces and a plinth on which to build your world. You build the world by scanning pieces on the plinth and then adding them to your world by balancing them on the plinth. The app recognises each piece and adds its effect on the world. Some pieces are animals to add to your world others allow you to cross-breed animals to make bizarre new creatures or allow you to migrate an animal between its environment (eg land to sea).  This game is my daughters favourite game at the moment. Whenever we play this game there is a lot of squealing and excitement. My daughter just loves that all the new wacky creatures you create are stored in a bestiary and each one has a little bit about what they eat. I love the gorgeous pieces although I am terrible at balancing them. I would play this game without the kids if I thought I could get away with it!

New games

Our kids were a little spoilt this Christmas with six new games, some from us and some from our gaming friends. We did however manage to play them all this month!

The first game they were given was Ice Cool a really fun game about flicking penguins.  The aim of the game is to collect the most fish cards (points). The game is played over a few rounds. In each round you are either trying to flick your penguin under doorways to catch fish if you’re playing a student that round or trying to knock your penguin into the other penguins if you’re the chaser that round! This game proved to be a huge hit with my kids and the adults too! I really liked that even when you are caught by the chaser you are not eliminated and can carry on trying to catch your fish.

They were also given a game called Dr Eureka this is a logic puzzle mixed with a dexterity game. The idea is that you have to pour your molecules (coloured balls) between test tubes until it matches the formula on the card. I think this is a really fun game but I found that my children really struggled with the dexterity element of this game. I am sure when they are a little older or perhaps just more practiced they will love it. It was certainly a good family game which even my mum enjoyed!

We also played Forbidden Island another gift from friends. This is a cooperative game in which you are trying to collect treasures from a sinking island.  This is a wonderful game which I can see us playing with non-gaming friends and family.  We’ve only played it once and we lost horribly but the kids still loved the game which I think says it all!

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We gave our kids three games for Christmas; The Mysterious Forest, Wizardry to the power of three and My First Stone Age. The Mysterious Forest is a memory based adventure card game which I have reviewed here!

Wizardry to the power of three is a cooperative memory game where you are playing students at a magic school. You have sneaked out at night to a secret market but unfortunately the groundskeeper has noticed you. You must sneak back through the dark forest before he catches you. Players are helped by glowing creatures who can guide their path but only if you can remember where they are hiding!  My kids love a cooperative game and this one is lovely. I really liked that the game actually feels hard we haven’t managed to win a game yet!

My First Stone Age as the name suggests is game where you play people living in the stone age. In this game you move around the board collecting different resources (Mammoth teeth, Berries, Pots, Arrowheads & Fish) and when you have the right ones you can take a hut and place it into your village. The first one to build three huts in their village wins. You move by remembering where the different movement tiles are (there are tiles for each place and some with numbers used for counting your way round the board).  We’ve only played this game once so far but we all really enjoyed it.

After Christmas we decided to treat ourselves to Karuba as we thought it might be a fun family game. It turned out to be a huge hit with us all. In this game you play explorers who are trying to reach various temples hidden in the forest. In a bingo like way one player calls out the number of a specific path tile and then each player can choose where on their individual map grid they wish to place that tile.  The game ends when one player gets all of their explorers to the temples but the player with the most points wins. You can gain points by reaching a temple or collecting treasures on the way.  I really like the way the game offers different ways to win because sometimes getting all your explorers to the temples doesn’t mean you’re going to win.

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Kickstarters

Two kickstarters caught our eye this month. Firstly there was Myth Dark Frontier, we are big fans of Myth it’s a game we often play with our roleplaying group if not enough people are available that week.  I really liked a number of elements of this game, the idea of defending a city, the fact that it is compatible with all our Myth figures and lastly I liked the look of the components especially the city piece.

The second game was Sub Terra. This is a cooperative tile laying game where you are cavers trapped under ground trying to survive and escape. I first heard about this game from Lindsay at Shiny Happy Meeples and I really liked the sound of it. She has written an excellent review of it which I recommend you look at it if you’re curious about this game, you can find it here.

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this post interesting! I really enjoyed the chance to look back over the month and reflect on the fun games we played. If there is a particular kids game you’d like me to review then I would love to hear from you! Thanks for reading!

The Mysterious Forest

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The Mysterious Forest is a memory game, it was designed by Carlo Rossi and published by iello. As you might expect from iello this is gorgeous looking game!  All the artwork is incredible and the components are really good quality. I particularly like that the box has a storybook feel, as it opens like a book and has a short cartoon like story on the inside cover.

In the story Jonas finds a magical painting and after stepping through he finds himself in a fairy tale world.  The aim of this game is to defeat the Queen of Draconia after first traversing the forest safely. To do this you must scout the equipment you need, collect it all and then set off on your journey.

How to Play

To set up the game you start by laying out the path you will take to reach the queen. This involves placing cards in a pathway. There are four different types of cards used namely the Starting card, Forest cards, Wanderer cards and Final Battle cards.  There are various ways that you can lay out these cards to vary the difficultly of the game. The usual set up is as pictured below, the Starting card, 4-5 Forest cards, a Wanderer card, 2-3 Forest cards and a Final Battle card.

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The game plays in three phases; scouting the path, preparing for the journey and the expedition itself.

In the scouting phase the first player turns over the first forest card. On the cards it shows you the various equipment you need to cross this part of the forest. This needs to be memorised by all the players then it is turned back over. The next player turns over the second card and all players memorise the equipment again. This continues until all the cards including the final battle card have been looked at and hopefully remembered!

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In phase two it is time to collect all of the equipment that you need to cross the forest. Each player takes it in turn to roll the 4 dice. The player can then choose 2 of the equipment shown on the dice and place these tokens in the backpack.  Players can discuss the equipment that they have memorised when deciding what to choose.  One of the images on the dice is of Loki’s face, he is there to help you in the forest.  You must take a Loki token if you roll his face on the dice, for example if you roll one Loki face you must take one as your choice and if you roll two you must take both as your choice.  This phase ends when your backpack is full.

 

The final phase is the expedition.  The players turn the first path card and place Jonas on it. To move to the next card you must place the relevant equipment tokens on the card.  If you don’t have the equipment that you need you can ask Loki to bring you one by turning over a Loki token in your backpack. Loki has two different powers he can bring you one of the equipment shown on the token or he can swop a piece of equipment in your backpack for a new one.

 

The Wanderer card provides you with the chance to exchange some equipment for his crystal weapon, these act like wildcards.  The Final battle card works in the same way as the other path cards. You must place the relevant tokens to defeat the Queen.

You win the game by crossing the forest and defeating the Queen of Draconia. If at any point you do not have the relevant equipment then you lose the game.

Final Thoughts

I cannot emphasise enough how gorgeous this game looks. The little figure of Jonas is chunky enough to survive being handled by children but detailed enough to look really good. The tokens and backpack board are really well made and the card art is absolutely stunning!

As I have mentioned in previous reviews I am a big fan of children’s games which have different levels of difficulty and this one comes with five different levels. The difficulty is altered by the number of path cards that you use and how many Loki tokens you start with. It also suggests that you can decide to place all the equipment tokens above the Final Battle card before it is revealed to further increase the difficultly of the game.

Overall I really liked the concept of going on a quest but also making sure that you have packed everything you need in your backpack.  My children really enjoyed this game and it was lovely to hear them making up a story about each card to explain why you needed the different equipment.

I would love to hear your thoughts about the game or my review!

Dino Race

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Dino Race is a very fun game designed by Roberto Grasso and published by Ares Games Srl. In this game you are trying to race your dinosaurs to safety away from the erupting volcano! The winner is the person who has the most points at the end of the race. You gain points by getting your dinosaurs and the egg to safety but you can lose points by getting burnt by the lava.

One of the things I really like about this game is that it comes with two good variants. The first makes things simpler for younger players and the second makes it possible to play in teams. The former means that this game has really grown with my children as we played the simpler variant when they were younger and now we can play the full game.  The team variant means you can play with up to 8 players which can be very useful!

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 How to Play

To set up you shuffle the 12 terrain tiles and then place them in a row starting from the volcano tile.  This forms your escape path away from the volcano.  You then place one of your dinosaurs on the first tile adjacent to the volcano and the other on the second tile. The first player receives the dinosaur egg.

Each player is then dealt 5 cards as their starting hand. These cards are made up of movement cards and special cards. Movement cards are played to move your dinosaur onto the matching terrain tile. There is also a particular movement card which acts as a wildcard for all terrain types.  The second type of cards are special cards these allow you to steal a card, knock a dinosaur backwards or throw the egg to an opponent.

The game is divided into three phases:

Phase 1 – Draw cards

In this phase you draw as many cards as you have dinosaurs in play.

Phase 2 – Play and swap cards

After you have taken your cards you can play as many cards as you like.  You can also discard two cards from your hand to gain a new one from the deck.

Phase 3 – Roll the event die

If you roll a terrain symbol then all players with dinosaurs on that terrain draw one card per dinosaur from the deck. If it shows two cards then all players take two cards from the deck. If you roll the volcano symbol then the volcano erupts or the lava flows further onwards. If your dinosaur is on the terrain when the lava flows onto it, you move the dinosaur on one square, discard a card at random and take a lava drop. If you have the egg when this happens you must discard all the cards from your hand, take a lava drop and pass the egg to another player of your choice.

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When your dinosaur moves onto the last tile on the escape path it is safe. You can then look at the prize counters in the stack and choose one. The prize counters are worth different points and getting two colours the same gives a bonus.  If you are the owner of the egg when your second dinosaur reaches the end then the egg is safe and the game ends. In addition to your dinosaur prize counter you also take an egg counter.  The egg counters are chosen at random from the stack.

The final scores are then added together however you lose one point for each lava drop you received. The player with the most points wins!

Final Thoughts

This game is very well made, the dinosaurs themselves are very cute and the game pieces are made from sturdy cardboard.  The only thing I wasn’t so keen on is that the dice required stickers but given we’ve had it several years and they’re not showing any signs of damage I don’t think it’s really a problem.

As I mentioned previously one of things I like about this game is its flexibility. We’ve played with a variety of player numbers without any issues. There are little touches for example each dinosaur is unique so that if you are playing as a team you would know whether you were playing the yellow and red dinosaur or the yellow and green dinosaur.

I am also a big fan of games that can be adapted to make them harder or easier based on the age of the child.  This is a game that we’ve had in our collection for about three years now and we all still enjoy playing it!

Please let me know if you have this game and what your family thinks of it!

Looking back & moving forward!

It’s that time of the year when we look back, reflect and make plans for the coming year.

Last year was a tough year for me. At the end of 2015 my Dad passed away and the year that followed was bumpy at best. Last Christmas (2015) was one we survived rather than enjoyed. My family has always enjoyed playing games and last year one game kept us going, Tsuro. This was the game I would have bought Dad as a present that year if things had been different. As it was my mum, my brother and myself played this game over and over again.  This Christmas was much better although we all miss Dad terribly.

It was also the year that I decided to start this blog and join various social media such as Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. I didn’t manage to write as many blog posts as I would have liked. I have really enjoyed connecting with the board gaming community on social media however. There is a huge amount of wonderful content produced by some very talented people.  Whilst this has been fantastic from the perspective of seeing lots of exciting new games I want to try, I feel that my bank balance might disagree!

We’ve also played some amazing games this year some of which are pictured below

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From Left to Right – 4 Gods, Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition, Bios Genesis, Mythos Tales, Quadropolis, Beyond Baker Street, Mysterium, Grimslingers, Cthulhu Pandemic, Myth, Feast for Odin, Kingdom Death Monster, Tides of Madness and Arkham Horror the card game!

and games with the children too.

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From left to right – Ice Cool, Oceanos, Bellz, Flashpoint Fire Rescue, Zingo sight words & Moneybags, UFO farmer, Outfoxed, Fabled Fruit, Mix it, Qbitz, Dino Race, Sherlock, Beasts of Balance, Wizardry to the power of three, Jungle Brunch and Across Africa!

In addition we’ve enjoyed playing various table top roleplaying campaigns this year.

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Horror on the Orient Express, Accursed, Numenera and 13th Age.

Looking forward to 2017 I am hoping for a more settled year. I am planning on writing more regularly. I already have the next game review planned out in my head! I have also decided to spend my birthday this year at the UK Games Expo (UKGE). We’ve never been before and we’re hoping that it will be a family friendly experience!

More importantly however I am just hoping to play lots of games with friends this year. There are so many games that I’m looking forward to playing this year! Top of the list for me to play are Pandemic Legacy, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and Pandemic Iberia all of which we were lucky enough to get for Christmas. We’ve also got some exciting expansions on order and some kickstarters arriving! Here’s hoping that 2017 will be a better year!

What things are you looking forward to in 2017? Any games that you can’t wait to play? I’d love to hear about the things you’re looking forward to this year!

Across Africa

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Todays review is for a game called Across Africa published by G3. This is a roll and move style game which I know doesn’t appeal to some people however my children really do enjoy the game.  It is also a beautifully made game. The board and components are of really good quality and the artwork is lovely. Not only that, the game itself is a lot of fun.

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This is a cooperative game although it does have a competitive variant. The game is for 2-4 players aged six or above however as it is a cooperative game I think younger children could play this. Having said that, it does have small parts so it is not suitable for really young children. There is also a reasonable amount of reading required so it is a game to play with adults or older children.

In this game you are travelling across Africa taking photographs of the animals you see and looking for precious stones! You’ll be drawing cards to represent the photographs you take and some of the adventures you go on, along the way.  The photographs have a very fun element in that some of your photographs have been photobombed by nosy giraffes and cheeky lemurs! This always causes lots of laughs and groans in our house.

How to Play

The aim of the game is to fill the crocodile photo album with photographs worth 40 points and 5 diamonds.

As I mentioned above it is a roll and move game and therefore the game board has a number of different types of spaces:

  • A camera means that you get to take a picture, by drawing a card, sometimes you get a perfect shot (worth 5 points), sometimes a nosy giraffe gets in the way (3 points) and lastly sometimes a cheeky lemur gets in the way (2 points).
  • If you land on the thicket you get a little lost and on your next turn you go backwards.
  • The monkey represents an adventure, here you get to take an adventure card and then follow its action.
  • A tent means a camp where you can fill up the crocodile photo album with any photos or diamonds that you have collected. This is the only place where you can add things to the album.  There are 8 slots in the crocodile and you can only place 1-2 cards in a slot to a maximum value of 5 points. No photographs can be removed from the album by the players once they have been added so choose which ones to add carefully!
  • The muddy road space means you have to subtract two from your next dice roll as you get stuck in the mud.
  • If you land on the off-road car space you get a lift forward 3 spaces.
  • Lastly the snake means you have to roll a 4, 5 or 6 on your next roll to move onwards.

The diamonds are collected when you land directly on a space containing one. You start with one on every camp but some adventure cards lead to more being placed on the board.

The game ends when a player lands on or passes the finishing line (you only win if your album is full at this stage!) or you manage to fill up the photo album.

We did change how you win the game however to make the game a little harder as it felt a little too easy.  We did that by requiring someone to cross the finish line with a full album rather than the game ending when your album was full.

Final thoughts

My children really enjoy this game. They particularly love the animals photobombing. Yes it’s a simple roll and move game with no elements of choice involved but my children enjoy that.  Overall it is a really well made fun family game which I enjoy playing with them.

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Outfoxed!

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Outfoxed is a lovely family game aimed at children aged five or above.  It is my children’s favourite game at the moment. They absolutely love it!  I’ve lost track of how many times we have played this game and yet I am still enjoying playing it myself. Which can’t be said of many children’s games!  It’s published by Gamewright who have produced a number of popular games including Story Cubes and Forbidden Island.

If I had to describe this game in a few words I would probably say Cluedo for kids.

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In this game a naughty fox has stolen Mrs Plumpert’s pot pie and it’s running away to its fox hole to hide. It is the players job to discover which of the foxes is the one who has stolen the pie.

As a team the players need to identify what the naughty fox is wearing and use that information to narrow down the suspects until you are ready to guess who the guilty party is.

This is a beautifully made game. The art work on the game board is lovely and all the pieces are well made and sturdy.  I particularly like all the names that they’ve chosen for the naughty foxes!

 

How to play

  • Decide before you roll whether you are searching for clues or revealing some suspects.
  • If you chose to reveal suspects you need to get all three eyes matching on the dice. If you manage this you can turn over two suspect cards. If you fail to match three eyes after three rolls then the cheeky fox takes three paces towards its hole.
  • If you choose to search for clues then you need to get a minimum of one paw print on each dice after three rolls.  If you manage to succeed you count up the total number of paw prints to determine how far you can move on the game board. Again if you fail the fox moves three paces toward its hole.
  • You can only move your token (little  detective hats!) horizontally or vertically on the game board not diagonally. The aim is to land on the paw prints. When you do, you can choose a clue (things like Top Hat, Monocle, Cloak and Cane) and place it on top of the clue decoder. If the colour you can see is Red than this means that they are wearing that item and if it is green then they are not wearing it.

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  • The information from the clues is used to eliminate your revealed suspects based on whether or not they should be wearing that item or not.
  • You have to guess who you think is the guilty party before the fox reaches his burrow.

 

I hope that you have enjoyed reading my review of Outfoxed today. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this review or the game itself. Thanks!