January Gaming!

I have decided to try and write a monthly catch all blog post on all the games we played in that particular month. This will include games that I have played with my children but also all other games that I have played such as those with other members of my family or with friends.  So without further ado here is what my January Gaming looked like!

Games I played with my children!

Dinosaur Tea Party

This is probably my most played game of January so far.  The children adore it and it is so much fun to play.  The easiest way I can describe it, is that it is a much better version of Guess Who, if you have played that game.  In the game you play dinosaurs who are attending a tea party at Dinoton Abbey the only trouble is that you have forgotten the names of your fellow dinosaurs!

In Dinosaur Tea Party you are trying to establish which dinosaur the other players are.  On your turn you can ask another player about the traits their dinosaur has, or what they are currently doing or even the colour of the room that they are in.  For example you could ask if they are currently eating or if they are wearing a hat.  That player must answer truthfully (although there are some exceptions) and place a token in front of them to match their answer.  There are however three dinosaurs (chosen randomly at the start of the game) who answer differently; there is one that always lies, there is one who always says no and lastly one who switches answers each time.

Once you think you may know another persons dinosaur you can on your turn use that name to see if you are correct.  If you are correct then you receive a sugar lump, the first player with four of these will win the game.  If your dinosaur is guessed by another player you simply draw another one and continue playing.

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I really love playing this game with my children.  The artwork is just delightful and really conveys the fun theme.  We always put on our best silly accents as the game is set in Dinoton Abbey after all.  The game itself has straightforward rules but it really tests your deduction skills.  I love the twist of some of the dinosaurs having different ways of answering it really changes your thinking.  Overall this is a really fun family game that I would definitely recommend.

My First Stone Age

In My First Stone Age you are competing to be the first player to build three huts in your village.  You are moving around the board collecting the resources you need in order to purchase different huts, so for example one hut might need one fish, one berry and one horn to build.  Surrounding the board are tokens which are placed facedown these have die faces on them or pictures of locations on the board. On your turn you will flip one of these to move directly to that location or count spaces to reach a location.  This brings an element of memory to the game as you need to try and remember where the different tokens are located.

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I have talked about My First Stone Age before so I won’t say too much more about it.  Other than to add that we have had a lot of fun over the years playing this game.  I think my two are now getting a little too old for it, that said we still had a lot of fun playing it. Sometimes it is good to pull out something that is familiar and just enjoy it!

Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle

In this game you play as either Hermione, Neville, Ron or Harry and work together to defeat Voldemort.  The game contains 7 boxes one for each of the books in the series.  You start with a deck of cards which can be used to gain influence and Lightning Bolts. Lightning bolts are used to do damage to the villains and influence is used to purchase more cards for your deck.  The villains will also be attacking you directly and through effects caused by dark art cards which must be drawn at the beginning of your round.  If you manage to defeat all the villains you will win the game however if they corrupt all your current locations you lose.

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I can’t speak highly enough of this game, even if you aren’t a particular fan of the books the game plays really well.   Game 1 is relatively straightforward and is clearly designed to teach you how to play this deck-building style of game.  Each new box you open adds something to the game, always new locations, villains and cards for your deck but also many other new things which I won’t spoil for you.   We have just completed Game 6 after two attempts and we’re really excited to be trying Game 7 next.  This game has got better and better each time we have played it.  I highly recommend it if you are looking for a fun family game to play especially if you have any Harry Potter fans in your house!

Across Africa

I won’t talk too much about this game as I have written a review of it which you can find here.  That aside this is another game which I think my two are getting a bit old for now.

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We had a great time playing this one possibly because we hadn’t played it in a long time.  I think because it is a cooperative game you aren’t as concerned about the roll and move aspect of the game.  We spent a lot of time laughing about our terrible dice rolls, although in this game slower is usually better which is just as well!  Overall I would still recommend this if you are looking for an easy to play cooperative game.  It definitely helps that the artwork is really charming and theme is a fun one.

Moneybags

This is a difficult one for me as I am not a big fan of this game however this game has been fantastic at helping my children learn about money.  I think this one will be leaving our collection now as this time we played it they breezed through it all.

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In this game you are earning money by carrying out different chores such as hanging out the washing.  The game comes with a dial to spin which indicates how you must collect your money for example it might say I have to collect my 25p by not using any 20p pieces.  This encourages you to think about all the different coins.  In addition there is a space for exchanging your money for a higher denomination which means you are forced to add up all your money.  Overall I would only recommend this game if you want your children to practice with money.

Games played with friends or at the gaming club.

The Reckoners

This game is based on a series of books written by Brandon Sanderson. The story is that 10 years ago there was a mysterious event which gave several people extraordinary powers these people became known as epics unfortunately it also turned out that they were all evil. A group of ordinary humans have banded together to try and bring down these epics and their leader Steelheart.  In the game you play as those humans working together to defeat the epics and save the city.

 

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In The Reckoners you are investigating the epics to discover their weaknesses and then taking them down!  You do this by simultaneously rolling dice and assigning them to different purposes.  Each player can roll their dice up to three times selecting the dice that they wish to keep every time to a minimum of one.  In turn the players will then use those dice for many different actions.  The epics will be hunting the players base and also attacking the population of the city itself.  You win the game if you manage to defeat Steelheart but you lose if the cities population is reduced to nothing.

This is a fantastic game almost certainly one of my all time favourite games. I absolutely love the puzzle that this game presents me with. Trying to work out what you need to do this round and then trying to work out what to do with the dice you’ve actually rolled that round is such a satisfying challenge.  It always feels challenging and we have definitely lost more than we have won but I still love it.  The game has been beautifully crafted too with incredible components from the trays to the dice it all looks amazing.  It is the gameplay though that draws me back though every time.  I definitely recommend giving this game a try I love it!

Gizmos

If you had told me a few years ago that I would be playing a game with filing in it and enjoying it I would have laughed at you.  Yet here I am writing about Gizmos!  The theme of this one is pretty thin but apparently you are building a gadget for the science fair and the person who’s engine works the best will win the game.

The game is played by selecting (picking) marbles from the dispenser and using them to purchase cards on the table. The cards add different abilities to your engine for example one card might state that if I picked a yellow marble I can also take one at random from inside the dispenser. Another might allow me to convert a red marble to any other marble of my choosing.  The game continues in this way with each player adding more and more cards to there engine until one player has either 16 cards in total or 3 of the level 3 cards built into their engine.  When that happens the game ends and players add up their victory points and the player with the most wins.

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I have a weakness for engine-building games like this one.  There is something so fun about building up the combos especially towards the end when everything starts to really ramp up.  I’m not that good at this one but I still love to play it.

Aeons End Legacy

In the original game Aeon’s End you took the role of Breach Mages who defended the city of Gravehold from the forces of The Nameless. In the legacy version you play apprentices learning how to be Breach Mages.  You work your way through the legacy story and your character will change as you play.  I can’t explain too much about this because I really don’t want to spoil the game experience for anyone.  If you have played Aeon’s End before then the main gameplay mechanics will be very familiar to you.  Ultimately this game is a deck building game you will use different gems in your hand to purchase more powerful gems, spells and relics to add to your deck.  You will be attacking The Nameless with spells and attempting to protect your city from them.

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We’ve played through 5 chapters so far and I am really enjoying this one.  I am enjoying the twists of the main story and some of the mechanics around The Nameless lead to some agonising choices.  It is hard to say too much for fear of spoilers but I can say that it hasn’t disappointed. This game has always given me that sensation of it being impossible to win right up until the end when sometimes it all comes together and you win!  We have only lost two games in total but have felt like we were going to lose them all.  If you have played Aeon’s End and are looking for more then I think you would enjoy this one but equally if you have never played it then this is a great starting point.  Overall I am loving playing through this story and I am really keen to see what happens next!

Arkham Horror (Third edition)

In this game each player takes the role of an investigator and are trying to save the town of Arkham from the Ancient Ones.  The theme of this game comes from the books of H.P. Lovecraft.  Players will need to collect clues as to what the cultists of the Ancient Ones are up to, battle terrifying monsters, collect useful equipment and aid their allies in order to win. Each round players can choose from a number of actions such as battling monsters or cleaning away corruption.  Then players must survive the monsters attacks, encounter different places and people in their search for clues.

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I have always loved the Cthulhu Mythos so it comes as no surprise that I also love this game.  This game feels like a very interesting combination of other games in this genre such as Mansions of Madness, the original Arkham Horror and Arkham Horror the Card Game.  It also has one mechanism which feels a little like the outbreak mechanic in Pandemic if you have played that game. I recognise that to some that whole paragraph may have meant very little but i felt it was worth drawing those comparisons for those of you who have played those games before.

I love the tension in this game and it is definitely not easy to win. Well for us anyway! I have only played twice so far and we have lost both times!

Assembly

This is a fun little puzzle like card game for one to two players. This was my first play of the game which I played solo whilst my husband was away.  It is worth noting that Assembly is a cooperative game if you play at the full player count of two.

In this game you are trying to escape an orbital platform after a virus has broken out killing all but you and your fellow players. The computer has however undocked all the spaceships so the only way to return to earth is to complete the assembly of an unfinished spaceship.  You are therefore trying to place the completed room modules in the correct bays so that the spaceship can be assembled.

You do this by using cards in your hand to move the modules to the correct bays by rotating them or swapping them directly with another module.  Once in the correct bays you can use another card to lock them into place.  You only have so many chances to get them into the correct position before time runs out, this is determined by how many times you are allowed to go through the whole card deck.  The game setup will vary every time you play and there are malfunction cards which you can add to change up the game and in addition different role cards with special abilities to chose from.

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We were first drawn to this game after spotting it at the UK Games Expo last year.  I love games that have a puzzle like feel to them and this one definitely does.  It also helps that it comes in a small box for easy transportation and is quick and fun to play.  I haven’t as yet tried out all the different elements of the game however, having only tried it’s most basic form.  Even then as I understand it I should have flipped the cards over once they were locked in place (Oops!).  I’m looking forward to giving it another try with the malfunctions included to see how I fare!

Quacks of Quedlinburg

I attended for the first time a games club close to where I live and had the chance to play some interesting new to me games.  The first one I played was the Quacks of Quedlinburg which is fabulous name for a game!  In this game you are playing quack doctors who are making their own secret potions however some of the ingredients are very unstable so you must be very careful not to explode your potions.

This game can best be described as a bag-building press your-luck style game. What this means is that you are purchasing ingredients to place into your bag and drawing them out from the bag as you add them to your potion.  The white starting ingredients (sorry I have completely forgotten their name!) are very volatile however and if you place too many into your potion it will explode! You place ingredients into your potion starting from your start location (the tear drop piece) or a rat token if you have one. The rat token is a catch up mechanic for all players who have fallen behind the leading player.  Each potion ingredient that you place on the board has a number on it this is the number of spaces you count on from the previously placed ingredient.  Each of the coloured ingredients have their own special power, some for example will move further if other ingredients are in front of them and another enables you to draw some from the bag and choose which one to play. There are I believe four different options to choose from for all of the different ingredients leading to many different ways to play.  In addition the player boards are double-sided with the other side having yet another different way to play.

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We ended up playing this game twice in a row, the second game being considerably faster than the first.  I really enjoyed this game especially the tension when deciding whether or not to continue pulling tokens from the bag.  I really liked that you could easily change up the different ingredient powers which meant that you could try different ideas as to the best combinations each time you played.  If you are the type to be frustrated by randomness this is probably not the game for you.  I had such a good time playing this game and it’s one I think I am going to try and pick up as I think my family will love it too!

Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition

Railroad Ink was another game I got to try at the game club it is a roll and write style game in which you are trying to build networks of Railways and Roads.  On each players turn a set of four dice are rolled these show different shaped pieces of railways or roads.  All players must then draw these routes onto their player board.  The game is played over seven rounds and by the end you are aiming to have all your railways and roads closed off.  In addition to the dice results you can also add three of the special routes shown along the top of the board during the game but only a maximum of one per round.

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As you can see from the picture I didn’t do so well at my first go but i liked the puzzle of trying to decide where to place my pieces. I also made a few rules errors too so it’s probably best you don’t follow my terrible example! All that aside I did really enjoy this one and would happily play it again.

 

If you’ve read this far then thank you! I hope you enjoyed reading about the games I played this month. If you have any comments or feedback I’d love to hear from you!

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Snitch

Disclaimer: Please note that I was sent a copy of this prototype game for review purposes.  All views on the game are my own however.

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Snitch is a card game in which you are trying to make the most money by completing heists, but be careful because someone might Snitch on you! It was designed by Slight Games and illustrated by Cristian Hosu.  The game was recently funded on the crowd funding site Kickstarter and is still available for pre-order there at the time of this being published.  You can find the link here if you are interested! The game is for 3-5 players aged 8 and over.

How to Play

Setup

  • Deal each player 3 Snitch cards and then place the remaining Snitch cards back in the box.
  • Shuffle all the Specialist cards and deal each player 7 cards.
  • Place the remaining Specialist cards face down in the middle of the table.
  • Give each player 3 silver loot tokens.
  • Place the remaining loot tokens within easy reach of all players.

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Game-play

The game is played over 8 rounds.  In each round the first player will decide how difficult the heist will be, this is done by choosing a number between 2 and the number of players. For example in a four player game the difficulty could be either 2, 3 or 4.  This is the number of specialist cards that are placed face up in the centre of the table which in turn are the cards required to be played in order for the heist to be successful.

Once the specialist cards required for the heist have been revealed all players will then discuss who is contributing the required Specialist cards to the heist before secretly choosing a card.  Then all players will reveal their chosen card simultaneously.

The heist will be successful if all the required Specialist cards have been matched by the players.  The heist will fail if all the Specialist cards are not matched.

If the heist is successful then all players who contributed a Specialist card will gain loot tokens equal to the heist’s difficulty level.  For example if the heist’s difficulty level was 3 then all the players that contributed a Specialist card will gain 3 loot tokens.  A player will gain these loot tokens even if the Specialist card they contributed was not required for the heist to succeed.  Anyone who played a Snitch card however will not gain any loot.

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If however a heist is unsuccessful then any players who contributed a Specialist card (again of any type) will lose one loot token.  Any players who played a Snitch card will split the loot tokens lost by the other players.  You always round up when calculating this, topping up from the supply if necessary.  The minimum amount gained in this way is always one loot token.  It is worth noting however that if everyone plays a snitch no one will get any money!

At the end of the round all played Snitch cards are set aside and all played Specialists cards are placed into a discard pile.  The first player moves on in a clockwise order and a new round begins.

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After the 8 rounds are complete the loot tokens are totted up and the person with the most is the winner of the game!

Final Thoughts

Before I get into my final thoughts it is important that I mention that this game is still in prototype form so it is possible that things will change between now and the final version of the game. I think for example that the loot tokens will be larger in the final version of the game.

I really do like the look of this game, the artwork is fantastic! I love how different all the specialists are and the different colours behind the characters really does make them stand out.

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The game itself is really easy to learn and to play which is fantastic. In our first play we had a few issues with the children learning how to bluff as it was something they weren’t so familiar with.  In fact this game is a great introduction to bluffing games for children as the rules are straightforward.  Certainly it didn’t take long before they were catching us all out!

I should say however that straightforward rules don’t mean that this game doesn’t have interesting choices!  I  really like how the dwindling cards in your hand from round to round makes it harder to fulfil the heist requirements as the game progresses. This in turn makes it harder to judge whether or not the heist might be a success making it more of a challenge to know when to play that card!  It is generally quite profitable to help the heist succeed but if you can time your Snitch card well you can catch everyone else out and rake in the loot!

I really enjoyed playing this game with the children as it provoked a lot of laughter and excited finger pointing.  They seemed to love trying to work out if I was lying about my card choices.  This is definitely one of those games which makes for a really fun and lively game session.  Sometimes we enjoy a game that really makes us think but other times you just want to play something fun.  This is definitely one of the latter!  In addition I think it would also be a great game to teach to people who don’t play games a lot.

Overall I would recommend this game if you’re looking for a fun bluffing game which is quick and easy to play and family friendly!  Thanks for reading my review today. Please do get in touch if you have any comments or questions!

Movable Type

Disclaimer: Please note that I was sent a copy of this game for review purposes.  All views on the game are my own however.

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Movable Type is a card game in which you will be competing to create the best words, it was designed by Robin David and published by Uncanny Cardboard.  It is for 1-6 players aged 8 and over.

How to Play

Set-up

  • Place the five round tracker cards in a stack with the first round card on the top and the final round card on the bottom.
  • Shuffle the letter cards and vowel cards separately into two face down stacks.
  • Shuffle the author cards and deal three of them face-up where all players can clearly see them.

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Game-play

The first 1-4 rounds are played the same way, with a draft phase, a word phase and lastly a score phase.

Draft Phase

Deal two cards from the letter deck and one card from the vowel deck face-up in the centre of the table. These letters can be used by all of the players and are known as common letters.

Each player is then dealt five letter cards.  From these cards the player must choose one card to keep and the remaining cards are passed to the player either to their left or right as indicated by the round tracker card.  This process is then repeated until each player has selected five cards. This process in case it is unfamiliar to you is called card drafting hence the title of the phase.

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Word Phase

In the word phase players attempt to construct their highest scoring word.  Each letter card has it’s own value.  In addition players are allowed to use the common letters in the centre of the table.  It is also worth noting that you can use one letter card to represent two letters if they appear twice in succession within a word. For example one letter ‘o’ card could be used twice to make ‘cool’ but not to make ‘common’.  The rules also state that words should not be proper nouns (names, places) or slang words, although it is worth noting that a variant allows the use of these.

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Score Phase

In the score phase you calculate the value of the words, see if you have met any author challenge cards and contest the validity of played words.  You may only take one author challenge card each round, these are replaced from the stack such that there is always three in play.

Once the scores are calculated these will determine how many letter cards can be claimed by each player.  This varies by player count and what position the players came in the score ranking.  These claimed letters are set aside along with any author cards in a collection that will be used in the final round.

Final Round

In the fifth and final round players do not receive any additional new cards.  Two letter cards and one vowel card will be dealt to the centre of the table as normal however to make the common letters.

Players will then attempt to construct the highest scoring word using all the letters in their collection and any relevant author cards.  The highest scoring word will win the game!

Solo Play

I am not going to explain all of the rules for solo play but I do want to highlight a few.

The way you acquire cards at the start of the round is clever I think. Firstly you receive one card from the vowel deck and one from the letter deck.  You then draw five cards from the letter deck from these you must select one to add to your hand the remainder are discarded. Then you repeat this process with four cards, three cards and two cards keeping one card each time and discarding the remaining cards. Lastly you draw one card and add that to your hand. This leaves you with seven cards in your hand to form your words from.

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When you create a word all unused letter cards are given to the Solo bot card.  Depending on the score of your created word you may be able to remove cards from beneath this card or add letters to your collection.

The main process for adding words to your collection is also interesting.  You place your new word beneath the previous rounds word trying to position it so that your new words letter card scores beat that of your previous words letter cards.  Any letter cards beaten in this way can be added to your final word collection.  For example if I placed an ‘M’ underneath an ‘T’ then because the ‘M’ scores a 4 and the ‘T’ only a 2 I could add the ‘T’ to my collection.

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At the end of the solo game you compare the score of your final word against the total score of the cards underneath the solo bot to determine the winner!

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed playing Movable Type, I have played it several times both by myself and also with my family.  I am not usually someone who plays many card games solo as I prefer the social aspect of board and card games.  So my enjoyment of this one solo took me a little by surprise!

Focusing on the solo play for a moment I found the solo bot card worked very well. I really did have to think about which letter cards I wasn’t going to use in my word carefully so that I didn’t hand too many points away!  The way you choose your letter cards was really interesting and felt challenging.  I also found the process of adding letters to your collection a real puzzle which I loved.  Overall I have really loved my solo plays of this game.  I am a big fan of word game apps and word puzzles and this gave me that feel but with the added bonus of the tactile feel of playing cards!

In addition I have enjoyed playing this with my family, my son in particular really liked it.  From a parental perspective I felt that it was great for encouraging him to think about word construction and his spelling.  Staying on the educational theme for a moment I also found that the author cards were great talking points as well. Both for my children asking about the different authors but also several of the authors were ones that we all weren’t that familiar with.

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I think it is important to mentioned that my daughter struggled to enjoy this game.  I think this was because both of my children are at the cusp of finding it too hard to play, purely from a word construction perspective rather than because of the game-play.  This probably is because at 8 years old they are right on the bottom end of the age range the game is aimed at.  It isn’t a negative for the game overall but is definitely something to bear in mind when considering this game for children.

As I mentioned above I am a fan of word games and I found that this one came across really well. It was very easy to teach and play.  In addition I found the rulebook easy to understand which is always helpful!  I especially liked the card drafting aspect of the game as it really makes you think about which letters you are going to need in order to create a word. Each part of the drafting process created difficult decisions which made for a fantastic puzzle like feel.

In addition I really liked the author cards as they add another element to the game, in deciding whether or not to aim for these. I liked that each one has a different ability be it adding another card to your collection or counting as a letter or group of letters in the final round of the game.

I really liked the way this game looks on the table and I especially liked the design of the letter cards.   I was less keen on the starkness of the author cards to be honest.  I do think that the look of the game might not be to everyone’s tastes but that of course is true for many games!

Overall I have really enjoyed playing Movable Type and I would definitely recommend it to you if you enjoy word games! I hope you’ve enjoyed the review today please do get in contact if you have any questions or comments. Thanks for reading!

Shopping List

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Shopping List is a memory game where you are trying to be the first player to collect everything on your shopping list.  This game is for 2-4 players aged three or over and published by Orchard Toys.

How to Play

Each player chooses a trolley and a shopping list. All the shopping tokens are then placed face down in the middle of the table.

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The youngest player goes first and chooses a token from the centre of the table.  If this token matches an item on their shopping list they may place it in their shopping trolley.  If it does not then it is returned to the table, face down.  Play then continues clockwise until one player has collected all of the items on their shopping list. That player is the winner of the game.

Final Thoughts

Shopping List is an incredibly simple memory game for children.  It was one of the first games I bought for my children when they were about three years old.  They have really enjoyed playing it and it was great for teaching them about turn taking.  The matching element is very straight forward perfect for a child of that age.  As an adult it isn’t the most exciting game in the world but then that’s fairly normal for a game aged at such young children.

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This game has been really well produced, the artwork is really lovely and the components are great quality especially the thick cardboard pieces.  My children and I have played our copy many times over the years and it is still in great condition. I would definitely recommend this game if you are looking for something to introduce games to young children.

 

 

An Interview with Andy Thomas

I’m delighted to say that I had a chance to chat with Andy Thomas from Mad-Dad Games where I asked him various questions about his favourite games and his new game Hyperleague Racing!

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Hello Andy! Thanks for agreeing to come and talk to us today.  Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Firstly, thanks for the chance to talk to you today! Me? I am an extremely nerdy father of two equally nerdy girls aged four and six whose day job is working with teenagers aged 16-19 who are not working or engaging in education. My girls and I are currently playing through the Dungeons and Dragons Parker Board Game and loving it. My six year old loves Pokemon and plays the card game regularly with her fairy deck… she smashes my poor Mewtoo theme deck a lot but it’s a great game to help with her numeracy and literacy and we love it. My 4 year old has started to collect now and we are slowly introducing playing the game to her.  

Background wise… (Apart from family monopoly) I started tabletop gaming in the mid to late eighties with Games Workshop games like Warhammer 40’000: Rogue Trader, Chaos Marauders and most of all, Blood bowl! I absolutely loved the fantasy and sci-fi genres and so this idea of buying and painting elves and orcs and having them playing american football against each other was the best thing ever for me!

Somewhere around 1994, a friend told me about ‘The Gathering.’ I listened to him talk about several thousand people dressed as orcs, goblins, elves, dwarves and more and he convinced me to join him on this live role-play adventure! Over time I became more involved in writing storylines and was volunteering more and more. I made friends there that I still count as some of my closest and it gave me a good grounding to take on a project called Shadow Wars (A dystopian future LARP) which in 2016, won ‘Best Medium LARP in the UK’ at the UK LARP Awards.

With Shadow Wars ending in 2017, I wanted to concentrate on doing things with the girls and this is where we started to play games together. From here, I started to write little games for us to play and it spiralled from there!

Where did the inspiration for Hyperleague Racing come from?

Honestly? I wanted to make a game that I could play with my daughter that would challenge her numeracy but also be fun. I initially wrote a dungeon crawler style storytelling game called ‘Heroes of Burnthurst Hall’ and we played that and had good fun. Then one night I read a book with her called ‘The Snoogle Race’ in which a group of alien teenagers steal racing pods and have a race against the martian kids only to be told off by the moon for being loud. This story caught my imagination and it started to develop from there. My absolute favourite games in my teens were cartoon style race games like Crash Team Racing or Mario Kart and between those memories and the Snoogle Race, the idea was born.

I love the sound of  ‘The Snoogle Race’ and it’s really lovely that it was all inspired by your desire to make something for your daughter! I gather from what you have said therefore that the first thing you thought of was the theme rather than the mechanics?

Definitely the theme! When I make anything, I try to imagine the story that sits behind that thing. I try to imagine what the world looks like, who the people are and what their culture is like. I try to think of how the technology works and then the rules sort of fall in to place afterwards.   

I’m a huge fan of good theming in games so that makes a lot of sense to me!  What made you decide to publish Hyperleague Racing?

I wrote this as a game to play with the girls but a few friends helped me to playtest it alongside the girls and they started to fill my head with the idea that it was actually good fun to play and that I should do something with it. Once my wife and daughters were telling me to do it, I had no choice! 

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What has been the hardest part about designing this game for you?

Being just me trying to manage everything. There is so much to do and it’s exhausting to try to get everyone who is doing work towards the project to get it done in the timeframe I need.

I can see why that would be really stressful!  On a different note if you could co-design a game with any current designers who would you choose and why?

This is an easy one! Michael and Jo Lovejoy from Oathsworn miniatures or Mike Hutchinson of Gaslands fame and for the same reasons.

I love playing Burrows and Badgers and Gaslands for pretty much the same reason in that you cannot help but get immersed in the game you are playing. Storytelling moments crop up several times in a game and that attention to narrative play in a small scale skirmish game is frankly wondrous! Also, I can’t mention Burrows and Badgers and not also mention that the model range for it is stunning. The hand sculpted miniatures ooze personality and personally, I can’t look at one without starting to write its back story!

They sound really interesting games I will have to look them up!  What would you say was the first game you remember playing as a child and did you have a favourite game growing up?

Good question! As a child I remember playing monopoly a lot but my absolutely favourite game growing up through my teens was Blood Bowl. I had every team but my absolute favourite was Orcs!

If you could play a game with any famous person, either living or dead, what game would you choose and who would you play it with?

This is a hard question! But I would love to gamemaster a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay campaign or Dungeon and Dragons 3.5ed with Sir Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and the incredible Brian Blessed. I don’t think I need to go in to why!

Not at all, that sounds like an amazing combination one I would love myself!  If you could only play one game for the rest of your life what game would you choose?

I think it would be Burrows and Badgers as the campaign mode is magical.

I’m really going to have to look up that game aren’t I!  Let’s talk about your game again for a moment could you tell us a little about how the game plays?

Players become the pilots in highly customisable intergalactic racing leagues where they fly between race markers while swinging round moons, asteroids, black holes and other space themed terrain while performing a range of tricks and manoeuvres to get ahead or better still, crash their rivals into space junk!

In the standard game, players either play as individual racers of their own design or use one of the pre-generated All-Star racers in ‘all against all’ 2-4 player action. Options exist to also play as a pair of racers racing against other pairs, demolition derby and a fun version affectionately called Puzzle Racer Turbo.

In Championship Mode however, the player takes the role of a fresh faced racer from one of the factions and as the campaign progresses, the pilot gains Championship Points to spend on upgrading their pilot, ship or garage.

Each turn, players activate their racer and make a simple race action followed by up to 3 manoeuvres and then a trick. A typical player turn takes minutes and every action is a balance of risk vs. reward. This creates a straight forward but fast paced balanced game that suits gamers that like a game that can be played quickly as a fun 30 minute blast or by players that want a more tactical game.

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I’m intrigued by the Championship Mode could you tell us how that works in a little more detail?

In Championship Mode you create a new racer by choosing their faction, naming them and writing a short bio for them. The current drafts for the championship sheets are that they will have an outline character on them that you can draw over to create your racer. (A bit like the My Little Pony Storytelling game does I suppose.) After the important stuff is done, you allocate your fresh faced racer with 1 in each stat and then have 2 further stat increases for free. Then you choose a trick and a garage upgrade to start with and you are ready to go! If you (like me) enjoy a random character creation system, I have written random tables to roll on so you can completely generate a character randomly.  

Then comes the races themselves.  Again, there is a table that determines the specific type of race you will be competing in from standard racing to demolition derby to a mode where you are collecting a specific number of race gates and trying to get them back to your start area before your rival racers. In that last mode, crashing means you spill your collected race gates and it’s made even harder by the fact that everyone has rockets installed!

After the race, positioning determines how many championship points you accrue and you can bid these on upping your stats, garage upgrades, making manoeuvres or tricks easier or even just saving them up to go for game bending championship talents such as;

‘All or Nothing!’

Distance:  Self

Requirements:  Factions – Gaia Prime, Undercrypt Alliance

Description:  A racer may attempt up to 4 manoeuvres in the manoeuvre phase instead                            of 3.  This 4th Manoeuvre has a further target number penalty of +1.

In addition to this championship bidding mechanic, there is also a wear and tear mechanic to see if you have have put too much pressure on your racing pod. There is a table that determines what, if any, issues may have arisen from thrashing your racing pod around that is modified by how well you placed and any crashes you suffered! Here is an example of what could come up if you roll low;

2D6 roll Result Description Effect
2-10 Minor repairs Your pit crew can sort that out, no problem! Nothing happens.
11 Gremlins in the cockpit! How on earth did they get in there! At the end of each turn, roll a D6. If the score is a 1 or 2, gain +1 initiative.

Basically, the championship mode was designed to be extremely flexible and highly customisable with enough depth so that each race could potentially have different ways to win. This kind of scenario based campaign system is something I loved from Mordheim, Blood Bowl and the like and I was keen to see if I could make that a reality within Hyperleague Racing. So far, playtesting shows it is working so I hope people really enjoy the scenarios when they see them!

What has been your favourite part about designing Hyperleague Racing so far?

Playtesting games with my six year old daughter because she is hilariously brutal about how the game plays. It’s the head tilt, fake smile and the head shake that absolutely make this the number one part of the project. A close number two was seeing all the parents and children at the recent UK Games Expo enjoying the game so much. You have probably picked up how much I love the idea of gaming with children so seeing them enjoying the game with their parents was huge for me.

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My children definitely enjoyed their playthrough of the game!  I really liked the look of the characters when I saw them at the UK Games Expo but do you have a favourite?

I actually have two favourite All-Star characters. One is ‘Tyg’ from Gaia Prime because she is so mischievous that everytime I see her card I wonder what prank she has pulled this week and Lavender of the Nymari elves because she was, in part, designed by my six year old. When I asked Natasha why the queen of the Nymari would be racing she simply answered with; “she is bored.” That ended up being the basis of her character bio.

That’s such a good story about Lavender and something I could see my daughter saying too!  Could you tell us a little about some of the other characters in the game?

Sure! Each faction within Sector 98 has 2 All-Star characters that can be played straight out of the box. Sector 98 has long since done away with war and all that nonsense and the capital planet is Gaia Prime.  There are 2 All-Stars that hail from Gaia Prime and they are Ty-Gress (or Tyg) and Master Lee-Zard. Master Lee-Zard is a monk like red dragonkin who trains upcoming racers. ‘Tyg’ was an admin assistant in the government building but her mischievous ways soon landed her in hot water that swept her to cart racing and now, The All-Star leagues!

From the Undercrypt Alliance we have Banshee, an ex-cafe owner who has the largest following of any All-Star on the Sectors media stream; Instagroan and Zom-Boy, a former package boy from a small time criminal gang who has since found racing as a way of getting past his nefarious past!

From the robotic Technos Nebula we have ‘Whizz’ and ‘Boost’ who are part of the ‘Wonder-Bots’ race team. Whizz started his life as an executive transport vehicle but has since been repurposed after failing one to many M.O.T’s. ‘Boost’ on the other hand was one of the first bots to develop a sense of competitiveness and is considered by many to be the diva of the All-Star league.

Finally, Queen Lavender of the Nymari has got bored of her stately duties throughout the sector and swapped her throne for a race pod while ‘Ivory’ was once a highly regarding host in one of the most popular holiday destinations for the sector until he spilt hot chocolate over one of the visiting dignitaries! One thing led to another and after a crazy unofficial race where he beat ‘Whizz’ he got given his own race pod!

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All these characters and their full bios are on the website along with their race cards.

Here’s a little spoiler of one of the fluff stories for the rulebook that is work in progress at the minute!

‘Another long day’

The sun rose over the Worlds Spine mountains, projecting hues of reds across the sky and in that moment; the master of the Red Drakon Monastery felt most at peace with himself as the sky and mountains transformed themselves to a near perfect match for his crimson scales. As his body, honed by centuries of training, soaked in the suns last moments he cleared his mind for the task to come.

The young novice known as ‘Tyg’ has caused quite a stir since coming to the monastery. Her playful mischief often putting her at odds with her teachers and other students. That said, the wise master liked her spirit, admired it almost as it seemed that now she was unbound from the rigors of life in the capital city of Gaia Prime she had found herself and had proved far more capable in a racing pod than any in her current peers. It was hard then, that he was about to go to council knowing that the other two masters were pressing for her removal.

Master Lee-Zard closed his eyes and reflected for a second, breathed out and turned to enter the chamber. The fires from the braziers hanging at six points around the room provided enough shadows to highlight the carvings around the walls of this inner sanctum. Each carving depicting another chapter in Gaia Primes long life. Carvings here heralded back to a time of war and dire strife but then also showed how Sector 98 had come together eventually under Gaia Primes banner and the birth of the senate. It was a place of remembrance and reflection and not surprisingly the place where the Masters of the Red Drakon Monastery came to discuss matters of great import.

Soon after Lee-Zard had entered the room, his peers arrived. No ceremony heralded them, and no ego followed them. They entered and all three sat, cross legged in the centre of the room as they had done many times before. Of the two others, Master Sally-Manda spoke first. The colouration of her skin and scales a perfect combination of colours between flaxon yellow, orange fire and crimson red with eyes so dark you could be mistaken for thinking she had replaced them with black holes. Her robes stitched in hues of brown were simple but allowed a freedom of movement and moved with her as if she had been born wearing them.

“She has to leave Lee-Zard. She broke the rules.”

Master Lee-Zard looked at his fellow master, a wry smile hinted upon his face and a softness entered his eyes as he spoke;

“I remember a certain young drakonkin entering my inner chambers to read texts she was not supposed to so I would not be too quick to assign intention of harm where no intention was present. It is my understanding that she wanted to learn about her fellow racers to prepare herself for the next race.”

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Master Allie-Gator, was ready to speak now and held her clawed hand up as she did so. She was some foot taller than the other two and her emerald scales upon dark jade skin had previously caused more than one visitor to the monastery pause for thought at her immense presence. Her piercing yellow eyes giving the threat of what lay underneath her measured demeanour, she turned to face Lee-Zard.

“Convince us that she will not use forbidden Technos vid-units to spy on her peers again? Can you do that? The use of technology is strictly controlled, and this act makes a mockery of how we are trying to teach these racers honour on and off the track.”

Master Lee-Zard smiled again as he spoke. His tone measured and calm, respectful but also assertive.

“She has her own path, that is true enough and it seems that her differences make her a burden to us and what we are teaching but that is not true is it. She is trying to succeed, trying to put a past behind her and in doing so, bring honour to herself and to us. We, and the others before us, have spent a lifetime telling others how to be more like us and perhaps it is time for us to be a bit more like them. This technology exists whether you like it or not and rather than condemning it, perhaps we should understand it and use it improve ourselves further. I know what ‘Tyg’ did needs to be addressed and I am willing to do so, but to remove her from this monastery because of your fear of evolving beyond these walls is no reason to remove her at all.”

After some time where the three masters sat silently. Master Sally-Mander broke the silence as she stood.

“I am not convinced that we are not about to make a mistake but no true advancement was ever gained from not embracing change. You will personally see to her punishment and we should meet again to discuss how this monastery can maintain what it has stood for while also embracing what the Sector has become.”

As the master left the chamber; Master Allie-Gator rose and smiled to Master Lee-Zard knowingly before she walked from the chamber.

Master Lee-Zard stood and took a breath as he was suddenly aware that even though his peers had left, he was not alone.

The young feline known as ‘Tyg’ snuck out from her hiding place from behind a raised dias towards the rear of the chamber. Her blue and red race suit suited her and she looked at Master Lee-Zard with her youthful eyes while beaming from ear to ear.

“You rock!”

Master Lee-Zard sighed…

It was going to be another extremely long day…

I really like how much detail you have gone into with the character backstories and I look forward to reading more about them.  On that note where can we find out more about your current projects and the latest news?

I am rubbish at social media but I’m getting better! You can find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by searching for @maddadandyt. I also have a website that i am trying to make look nice at www.maddadgames.com and a YouTube channel here; https://youtu.be/AISVpvVhUY8 which has ‘how to play the basic game’ videos uploaded to it now!

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That’s fantastic and could you let us all know how we might get hold of a copy of this game in the future!

I am going to Kickstarter on the 20th July but this is really as a way to get the game into local game shops. I love the community of gaming and playing board games is something that should bring people together. I think that local games shops are key to that. The games prototypes are complete but there are several elements that need redesigning so if the Kickstarter is successful then that can start being done and should be done by the end of the year. Realistically, the game should be with people by May 2019 or sooner if everything goes to plan… (goes to plan he says… ) In fact, I spoke to my manufacturing team recently and they seem to think that once the redesigns are done we could have physical copies going out to people within 4-6 weeks. I didn’t want to say that people could have it by Christmas and then fail to deliver so I have planned a good buffer so that the project can be delivered correctly. I would rather do it that way and potentially deliver early than run hopelessly over because I didn’t plan realistically.

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In the meantime, there is a free ‘Print and Play’ version of the game on the website along with all the All-Star racers from the core set. It is likely that I will put some free to play scenarios on the website as well so anyone who wants to can use whatever spaceships they have lying around to play.  

I will have to look out for it on kickstarter then. Thanks again for chatting to me about Hyperleague Racing and I really hope the campaign goes well!

Thank you! This has been great fun!

 

I hope you enjoyed reading Andy’s answers today.  If you have any comments or questions I’d love to hear from you! Thanks for reading!

Cookie Box

Disclaimer: Please note that I was sent a copy of this game for review purposes.  All views on the game are my own however.

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Cookie Box is a logic game where all players are competing to pack up a box of 9 cookies correctly!  This game was designed by Jean-Claude Pellin, illustrated by Sunju and published by Korea Board Games.  The game is for 2-4 players aged six or over.

How to Play

In Cookie Box you are working in a very busy cake shop where the orders are coming in really fast. You must complete the box of 9 cookies that have been ordered as fast as you can!  The first player who completes four order cards correctly wins the game!

Set up is very straightforward each player chooses a set of cookie tokens and places them randomly into a 3 x 3 grid square in front of them.  The bell is placed within easy reach of all players.  Then the order cards are shuffled and placed in a pile face down in the middle of the table.

One player turns over the first order card and places it face up in the middle of the table where everyone can see it.  All players then simultaneously race to make a matching order.  Each of the cookie tokens are double sided so the players need to move and turn over the cookie tokens in order to match the image on the card.  As soon as you believe you have matched the order you ring the bell.  All players then stop moving their tokens.

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The completed order, from the player who first rang the bell, is compared to the order card.  If this matches they win the card which is placed face down in front of them.  If not it is placed face up in front of them, two such failures will lead to that player being eliminated from the game.

The game continues in this way, with the winner of the previous round turning over the new order card, until one player has won four order cards or all but one players have been eliminated through mistakes.  The player with four order cards or the only player left in the game are the winner.

Final Thoughts

Firstly I just want to say that we all loved Cookie Box!  I really like logic games however most of the ones I have come across have a dexterity element which hasn’t always suited my children.  This game doesn’t have that element which makes the game much easier for children to play.  I should point out that this doesn’t make it any easier from a logic perspective however!

There are 6 different types of cookies and there are only three sides of each different one.  On the other side of each of these three are completely different cookies.  For example on the other side of the three waffle tokens are a donut, blueberries and some interesting looking green cake.  As an aside I would love to know what that green cake is, if anyone knows!  Anyway this gives an awful lot of options when you are trying to complete your order.  We found that you are constantly flipping the tokens desperately trying to find where that one cake is that you’re missing!  Sometimes finding that one cake means you have to then find some more cakes to replace the ones you’ve just had to flip over.  This leads to this wonderfully tense game where everyone is flipping tiles as fast as they can to find all those combinations they need!

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The components for this game are also fantastic, as I have come to expect from Korea Board Games.  The tokens for the cookies are really chunky plastic pieces which will hold up really well to being flipped around so much!  The card stock is also of good quality.  I really like the look of the game and whilst I don’t recognise what these cookies are I find that this somehow adds to the charm!  I can’t talk about the components without mentioning the bell of course!  I love that they chose to include a bell in the game.  There is something so wonderfully satisfying about tinging the bell when you have completed your order!  It’s such an unnecessary piece but somehow it just brings out the theme and adds so much to the fun factor!

Overall I would definitely recommend Cookie Box if you are looking for a logic game to enjoy with your family and friends.

 

 

My thoughts on the UK Games Expo 2018

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Overall thoughts on the Expo!

This was the second time we have visited the UK Games Expo but the first time we have stayed for the whole weekend.  If you are unfamiliar this is the UK’s largest expo for hobby games.  It features many different board and card games as well as role-playing games.  It is held at the NEC in Birmingham usually on the first weekend in June.  This year they have estimated that around 39,000 people attended!

This expo has a lot to offer those who enjoy playing games. The foremost to my mind is the chance to play a wide variety of different games which you otherwise wouldn’t be able to.  There are a large number of companies at the Expo who are very keen to show you their latest game.  In addition there are a number of prototypes of new games which may be seeking crowdfunding or will be available to purchase later.  The children and I played 17 new to us games over the weekend!

The expo in general is very family friendly and there were children everywhere I looked.  It is worth noting that all children aged 10 and under are admitted for free!  They also have a large family area with it’s own library of games which was fantastic.  In this area there were also people who could help teach you the games. We spent quite a large time in this area over the weekend and my only small criticism is that it was very busy on the Saturday which made it hard to find a free table.  I was very impressed by the choice of games on offer in the library especially as it included some brand new releases!  I was also really impressed with just how kind all the exhibitors were with my children. Some of them going above and beyond in making my children feel very special and welcome!

On the Friday we came across the children’s role-playing area and my children were very keen to give it a try.  They chose to try The Waters of Life story.  Each of the role-playing sessions were an hour long and were completely free!  Parents do need to stay nearby, I chose to sit near them and listen in on their adventure.  I was really impressed with how well it was all done, I liked how they had simplified rules and the props they had were all really good!  Out of all the things the children did over the weekend this was by far their favourite!  I can definitely recommend signing up for a session of this but do go early as they fill up really quickly!

I have written a summary of some of the games we played over the weekend below.  I have broken this down into games that have been published already, those currently seeking crowdfunding and those to keep an eye out for in the future.

Games currently available!

These are games that should be available to buy from games stores at the moment.

Mystic ScROLLS

Mystic ScROLLS was designed by Evangelos Foskolos and Stelios Kourtis, and published by Drawlab entertainment. It plays 2-4 players, aged 8 and over.

We didn’t manage to play a full game of this sadly as we had to dash off.  That said I really did enjoy this game! In it you simultaneously roll dice in order to cast different spells.  Each player has a unique character with different spells.

Every player rolls the dice at the same time. You are trying to match the different elements required in order to complete a spell. When you have matched all the spells elements you place those dice on the spell card.  At this point you can then take more dice from the central pool to replace those used.  In addition to your personal spells there is also a scroll in the centre of the table which you can attempt to claim for your own.  When either this is claimed or you are unable to take enough dice from the central pool the round ends.

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At this stage you then enter the casting phase.  First any completed healing spells are cast and then the damaging ones are applied to the player on your right.  Game play continues in this way until there is only one player left standing.

This game has gorgeous components, I especially like the artwork and the dice!  The gameplay felt fast and really fun.  I am really hoping that I get another chance to play this one again soon.

Ticket to Ride First Journey (Europe Map)

Ticket to Ride First Journey was designed by Alan R Moon and published by Days of Wonder. It plays 2-4 players, aged 6 and over.

This was our second game of the expo and one that the children specifically asked to play!  We have played Ticket to Ride First Journey before in our local board game cafe but not with this European version of the map.

In Ticket to Ride you will be competing to build train routes across Europe.  Each player is dealt two ticket cards which will have different train routes for example Paris to Warsaw. They will also receive train cards, these represent the different coloured lines on the map.  In addition you have 20 coloured plastic train carriages.

On your turn you will be drawing cards to get sets of colours or playing these sets to connect two cities. If I want to build between Zurich and Vienna for example then I would need either two black or two red train cards.  There are also wild train cards which can be used for any colour.  In addition if you connect the eastern cities with the western ones you can gain the special East to West ticket.

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The winner is the player who manages to complete six different tickets.  I’m not a particular fan of this type of game but every time I have played this one I am impressed by just how smoothly it plays.  It just feels so polished and well designed.  The artwork is really good and the trains feel so chunky and well made.  I think if you’re looking for a good game to play with your children you really can’t go wrong with this one!

Drop It!

Drop It! was designed by Bernhard Lach and Uwe Rapp and published by Kosmos. It plays 2-4 players, aged 8 and over.

This was a game that I had really wanted to try at the expo after watching it being played online.  It really didn’t disappoint!  I am kicking myself slightly for not picking this up straightaway as it was sold out when I popped back later!

The game comes with a vertical board, for want of a better term! It is basically two pieces of plastic between which you will drop various shapes.  The aim of the game is to try and position your shapes to gain the most points.  The higher up your piece is the more points it will gain, ranging from 1 point at the lowest level to 8 points at the top.  There are also three different clear circular areas which will earn you additional points.  The larger ones gain you one extra point, the medium sized two points and the smallest three points.

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On the side of the board you can slide in different challenges, we played with the colour one but there is also one based on the shape of the pieces.  In the version we played you are trying to avoid touching your colour pieces to each other and in addition to the zones marked at the bottom or side.  For example if I was yellow I would need to avoid touching the yellow area at the bottom and the ones up the sides. In addition I would need to avoid touching any of my previously dropped yellow pieces.  If my piece touches any of these when it is dropped in I would not get any points at all.

My understanding is that the shape variant is a little more complex and involves avoiding colour and shape pieces touching but I haven’t seen the rules to understand this completely.  Overall I really loved this one. I liked puzzling out where to drop my piece which incidentally I was fairly rubbish at!  I also liked how we were almost encouraging each other on to make a good drop despite being competitive about who was winning.  There is of course a slight element of luck in how your piece lands but somehow for me that doesn’t detract from the game.  I’m hoping I can pick up a copy of this game soon!

Macroscope

Macroscope was designed by Martin N Andersen and published by Mayday games. It plays 2-6 players, aged 6 and over.

This is a slightly older game, published in 2016, but it was new to us!  In this game you are trying to peer through the holes to guess what the picture is.

On your turn you roll the dice and choose one number, you then remove the corresponding numbered token from on top of the picture.  You can either choose to guess what the picture is or remove another token matching your other die.  Again you can choose to guess if you decide not to play passes to the next player and you receive two gems.

When a player decides to guess the image, you count up the number of tokens remaining on the picture.  If they guess correctly then they receive that number of victory point gems but if they guess incorrectly they would lose that many gems.  When a player makes a guess if you think they are guessing incorrectly you can pay them two gems and make your own guess.  If you choose not to guess you will also lose points when someone guesses correctly.  Just to note each player also starts the game with two gems.

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Sadly this game really wasn’t for us.  My children found it really difficult to identify the pictures and quickly became frustrated.  In addition I found the whole process of scoring with the gems a little strange.  We only guessed four pictures I think in total before they’d had enough.  It was such a shame as I had been looking forward to trying it for a long time.

Pyramid of the Pengqueen

Pyramid of the Pengqueen was designed by Marcel-André C Merkle and published by Brain Games. It plays 2-5 players, aged 8 and over.

This is a new release I believe of an older game, it has been re-themed using the same adorable penguins that are in Ice Cool.  In case you are not aware Ice Cool is a really fun flicking game with penguins!  We were lucky enough to be able to give this one a try in the family area.  In this game one player takes the role of the Mummy who is trying to catch the treasure hunters and the remaining players are of course the treasure hunters who are trying to gather up enough treasures to break the curse and flee the tomb.

All of this takes place on a vertical magnetic board with the mummy player on one side and the treasure hunters on the other.  The treasure hunters can see the location of the mummy but the mummy player has no idea where the treasure hunters are.  At the beginning of the game the treasure hunters are each dealt one treasure card from each of the five different colours.

On a treasure hunters turn they roll the dice.  These dice have different sorts of faces, some are numbers, some are arrows and the last kind are Mummy faces.  All the Mummy faces are set to the side, I’ll explain those a bit more in a minute.  The treasure hunter can then choose one of the other results which they must share with the Mummy player. They can then move their piece in accordance with that result, either counting that number of spaces or moving as far as they can in the direction of the arrow.  They then pass the remaining dice to the next treasure hunter.  This player can then choose to either re-roll all the dice including the Mummy faces or just those which are currently free.  If they choose to re-roll the Mummy faces then the Mummy player immediately moves that number of spaces before the treasure hunter takes their turn.

After all the treasure hunters have taken a turn the Mummy player goes.  On their turn they roll the Mummy dice and add any additional Mummy faces on the treasure hunters dice and move that number of spaces in any direction.  The only clue the Mummy player gets is when a treasure hunter collects a treasure they must land on that space and reveal the treasure they have collected!

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If the Mummy player catches a treasure hunter by moving into their space, the Mummy player receives one life token from that player and they are moved to the sarcophagus. Play continues in this way until the Mummy player has collecting enough life points tn win (the number varies depending on the player count) or one treasure hunter has collected all their treasures in which case they win!

I really liked this game! It is another one that I am regretting not picking up at the time.  I can see this being a firm family favourite for a long time.  I played as the Mummy (obviously!) and the children seemed to really enjoy me, somewhat badly, trying to hunt them down! It is however really straightforward to play and I think any of us could have played the Mummy.  It is one of those great games where you are trying to get into the head of the other players as to where they are hiding! The game itself is really well made, I especially liked the chunky Mummy piece!

SOS Dino

SOS Dino was designed by Ludovic Maublanc and Théo Rivière and published by Loki. It plays 1-4 players aged 7 and over.

This is a fun little cooperative game where you are trying to rescue four dinosaurs and their eggs from the erupting volcanoes.  On your turn you will be drawing a lava tile from the bag.  These are usually placed on the board according to the colours of the flowers although some are meteors which automatically land on the board in set places.  The lava tiles will sometimes specify how far the dinosaurs can move and which ones cannot be moved. Occasionally the tile will require you to draw another one.  You must place the lava tiles on an open lava flow or start a new one from the base of the volcano.  Any dinosaur or egg touched by the lava is lost.  You collect an egg by moving into its space. You need to get the dinosaurs onto one of the four mountains at the edge of the board.  Depending on how many dinosaurs and eggs you rescue is how many points you all score.

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This was a really good family cooperative game, I liked how straightforward it was to learn and play.  The mechanics are easy to learn but there are some good decisions to be made, for example choosing the direction to send the lava flow and deciding how you are going to move the dinosaurs.  We had a few issues with the volcanoes coming apart but nothing that couldn’t be fixed if it was your own copy.  We all loved the little dinosaurs, they are very well made and all different.  Overall I think this is a really fun family game with a great theme!

Loony Quest

Loony Quest was designed by Laurent Escoffier and David Franck, and published by Libellud. It plays 2-5 players aged 8 and over.

This was a really fun game which has a real video game look to it.  In Loony Quest you are competing to be the best at completing levels.  The game comes with 21 double sized cards which represent the different levels and as you can see from the photograph you play part of this game in the box itself.  Each player will receive a sheet of plastic the same size as the card. Everyone will play simultaneously drawing on the plastic in front of you.  Each level card will have different requirements, for example it might state you have to draw one continuous line or just dots in the right places.  You might also need to avoid certain objects whilst collecting others on the way.  Once each player is happy with what they have drawn, the plastic is placed over the card.  This will reveal how well the player has completed the objectives and you will score points accordingly.

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This was another game that I had wanted to try for ages! I very much enjoyed this one even if I was terrible at it.  This is such a clever idea for a game and the theme is fantastic.  It did make you feel like you were battling through different levels and the variety of different challenges made each level feel very different.  My daughter sadly didn’t like this game, I think she really struggled with the spacial awareness side and became frustrated.  I think I would like to try this again with them when they are a bit older as I think they will find it a bit easier and therefore more fun.  Overall a great family game with a lot of variety in the box and one that I would happily play again!

Lost & Found

Lost & Found was designed by Martin N Andersen and published by Lifestyle Boardgames Ltd.  It plays 2-6 players aged 6 and over.

This is an incredibly simple memory game.  All players study the objects on the card for a few minutes after which the card is flipped. Then you are trying to be the first player to shout out what the item is that has been added. The winner is the first player who wins five cards. You can also reverse the cards to instead search for the object that is missing.

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This game was I think too simple for us. I didn’t really enjoy it at all however my daughter seemed to like it.  I think it is one of those games that you only enjoy because you are playing it with your children and they like it.  I did like that the cards had a numbered difficulty level on them so you could make the game easier or harder.  Overall though it isn’t one that I will be looking to play again.

Flicky Spaceships

Flicky Spaceships was designed by Matt Green and Sam Mercer, and published by Room 17 Games. It plays 2-4 players aged 13 and over.

In this game you are flicking spaceships, collecting resources and using them to buy upgrades to your spaceship.  The person who builds the best spaceship wins the game.  At the start of a players turn they will collect a resource based on the hex they are now on.  This may well be different from the one they had originally landed on if they have been knocked away by another player.  They will then flick their spaceship hoping to land on the resource of their choice perhaps.  They will then use the resources they have collected to buy upgrades for their ship, these all add various useful benefits, and most are worth victory points at the end of the game.  The game ends when a certain number of upgrades are unavailable (this varies for the different player counts) or all the victory point tokens have gone.  The player with the most victory points is the winner.

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We really enjoying playing this game in the family area, so much so that we went to the Room 17 Games stand and bought a copy to bring home!  We all really liked the mix of dexterity with the resource gathering.  I think it’s a really good family weight game in that the rules are straightforward but there are plenty of great decisions to be made.  It is worth noting that there are a few cards which may generate some player vs player interaction for example one where if you knock into another player you may take one of their resources.  There is also however a card that means you gain a victory point if you are knocked into by other players.  So overall I feel that the game has a really good balance to it and is great fun to play.  I may well be writing a full review on this one soon!

Lazer Ryderz

Lazer Ryderz was designed by Anthony Amato and Nicole Kline, and published by Greater than Games. It plays 2-4 players aged 12 and over.

In this game you are racing to capture three prisms with your laser.  You will be placing various laser pieces in a continuous line from your base at the edge of the table ideally to manoeuvre over three prisms on the table claiming them as your own. The game has an element of spacial awareness to it as you are not allowed to place the pieces beforehand to determine the exact direction it will take.  The pieces are numbered and you are only able to use those pieces which match your current speed.  When placing a corner piece you must roll a die to see if you succeed, if you fail you spin out and do not turn at all.  In addition if you crash into a player you must remove all your laser pieces and restart, that player’s pieces from where you hit back to their base are also removed.

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Unfortunately this game really wasn’t one we enjoyed very much.  I struggled to get to grips with visualising the positioning of the pieces on the table as did the children.  It also felt like we were on top of each other right from the beginning perhaps because of the size of the table we were playing on.  The lack of any connection to the theme also didn’t really help me either.  Overall I found that the game worked well but it just didn’t feel like the game for us.  I have to say that the gentleman who demoed the game to us was fantastic however, really fun and helpful!

Scare it!

Scare it was designed by Adrian Dinu and published by Strawberry Studio. It plays 1-8 players aged 8 and over.

This game is all about scaring away certain animals to achieve your hidden goal. At the beginning of the game each player will receive a secret animal and a secret colour. Your goal is to make sure they are the ones which are left on the table at the end of the game.  In this game elephants scare away the dogs, the dogs scare away the cats, the cats scare away the mice and you’ve guessed it the mice scare away the elephants.  On a players turn they will select an animal to scare another away, the scared animal is then removed.  The player can then decide whether to move the animal that did the scaring into the space where the other card was removed or to leave it where it was.  Once this decision has been made all the cards will slide down to fill the empty space.  The game ends when there is either a completely empty column or no more animals can be scared. You then count up the animals and colours left to determine the score.

I really liked this game!  It was easy to learn but it still had some great decisions to make.  Knowing which animal to scare away and when to move that animal was really tricky.  In addition deciding when to end the game was also a challenge.  Scare It also has some wonderfully charming artwork which was one of the things that drew me to this game in the first place!  I was also impressed that they had included little symbols on the cards to help people who have colour blindness.  Overall I would definitely recommending giving this one a try and I am regretting not picking this one up to be honest!

Games on Kickstarter right now!

These are games that you should be able to find on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter at the moment!

Assembly

Assembly was designed by Janice Turner and Stu Turner, and published by Wren Games. It plays 1-2 players aged 12 and over.  Assembly is currently seeking crowdfunding on kickstarter, as of the time of writing this it has funded but you can still find it here!

This is a compact solo or two-player cooperative game with a very puzzle like feeling.  In the game you are a worker at a spaceship assembly base unfortunately for you a meteorite has struck bringing with it a deadly virus which has wiped out everyone else.  The computer has tried to prevent the virus from reaching earth by jettisoning all the spaceships however you are immune and need to escape before the oxygen runs out!

You and maybe a friend are trying to complete the construction of an unfinished spaceship so that you can escape.  You are playing cards to bring out room modules and then adjusting their position on the assembly line so they go into the correct bay.  Once there you want to lock them in the right position. You have cards drawn from a command deck which will rotate the modules in different directions, bring out more modules or lock modules which are in the correct bays.  The game ends after you have cycled through the command deck three times and you will score depending on how many of the modules you have managed to lock in.  I haven’t gone through all of the rules for this one, please have a look at the kickstarter page for more information!

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Unfortunately for me I didn’t get to play Assembly myself as the kids leapt at the chance! It was really interesting watching them trying to figure out how to manipulate the modules to where they needed too. Whilst they didn’t do very well on their first game I was impressed with how well they picked up the gameplay!  It feels like one of those games with straightforward rules but with enough of a puzzle to sink your teeth into.  This kind of puzzle game appeals very much to me and I should probably mention that we have backed this one on kickstarter and I am very much looking forward to playing it myself.

Repel Boarders

Repel Boarders is from Dark Orbit Games. It plays 2-6 players aged 8 and over. Repel Boarders is currently seeking crowdfunding on kickstarter, as of the time of writing this it hasn’t yet met it’s target.  You can find it here!

This is a cooperative adventure game where you are trying to defend your ship from space pirates.  You will be collecting weapons and armour from chests on the ship and using this equipment to help you fight off the pirates.  There are various different missions planned, we only played a brief taster version. There were seven different characters in this prototype version which all had a different flavour to them.

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This was my children’s favourite game of UKGE this year.  They really enjoy cooperative adventure games which is why I think this one drew them in!  I will also be honest here and say that I too have a weakness for such games.  I really like the premise of a family friendly cooperative game that even young children can play.  In addition I think that the theme of space pirates is a great one for a family friendly game.  We all really enjoyed our play of Repel Boarders.  It is definitely one we will be keeping an eye on!

Games coming soon!

These are games that are not currently released or seeking crowdfunding at the moment.

Hyperleague Racing!

Hyperleague Racing was designed by Andy Thomas from Mad-dad Games. It plays 2-4 players, aged 8 and over.

In this game you become a pilot in an intergalactic racing league.  You must race around moons, asteroids and other obstacles reaching race markers and ultimately the finish line.  There are various ways to play including a campaign called championship mode.  The designer says that he has been inspired by a love of racing style video games like Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing amongst others.

I feel at this point it is important for me to mention that I know the designer, through live role-play we have played together in the past.  This was however my kids first chance to play his game and they really had a great time.  I love the way the game looks on the table and hopefully at some point I will get a chance to play it with the kids!  I’m really interested to see what Andy has planned for the future! You can find out more information on his website.

Jetpack Joyride

Jetpack Joyride was designed by Michał Gołębiowski and will be published by Lucky Duck Games. It plays 1-4 players aged 8 and over.

This is a real time competitive game based on an app of the same name.  Each player receives a set of four lab cards which are placed in a line in front of them.  In the centre of the table are a pool of polyomino pieces.  All players will be simultaneously taking these and placing them on their cards to make a pathway. The tiles must be placed one square off at both the start and end of the path and must be touching throughout.  The round ends when one player completes their path. At the start of the round there are various mission cards for the players such as not flying too close to the scientists or not touching the bottom line of the cards for a number of spaces.  The players are trying to collect as many coins as they can and achieve the mission cards to gain the best scores.  The lowest scoring player after the first round will be the first player to choose a gadget, these have various helpful benefits, and then play continues.  It is worth noting that each set of lab cards are different and at the end of each round these are passed to the player on your left.  At the end of the third round scores are totalled and the winner determined.

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I really loved this game, especially the mix of real time with a puzzle. Do I spend the time trying to get the most points only to have someone end the game before I had really got started! I had never played the app version before but that didn’t stop me enjoying this game.  I found the theme really fun and the prototype version already looks fantastic!  The idea of rotating the lab cards between players was really clever as it means that you can’t really remember the layout of the cards.  I also liked the different challenges the mission cards brought to the game.  Overall a really fun game and one that I will definitely be keeping my eye out for in the future!

Pocket Pharma

Pocket Pharma was designed by Brett J. Gilbert and Chu-Lan Kao and will be published by Alley Cat Games. It plays 2-5 players aged 8 and over.

In this game you will be playing a pharmaceutical company and putting together compounds to formulate drugs.  On your turn you will be choosing compounds from a central pool and trying to match the drug card recipes.  For example the Cardiovascular drug requires 2 pairs of compounds and one wild one to complete.  However if you do not match the drugs efficacy as indicated by the small syringes then you will incur negative points as you cannot compete in the market properly.  In addition it is also important to make sure that your drug does not have any nasty side effects.  In this case the card specifies two skin rash and two stomach pain symbols.  You must keep your side effects equal to or below this otherwise you must lose that amount you are over in cards, for example if I was three over I would need to lose three cards.  The fastest you can develop a drug the more points you will receive.  At the end of the game you add up the total number of points take away any negative points and the player with the highest points wins the game.

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This was a fantastic game which we all enjoyed very much.  I was concerned at first when the rules were being explained that my children would find it too complex.  However they picked up the rules very quickly and went on to come first and second!  I was also concerned that perhaps the theme wouldn’t be to their taste but again they seemed to like it. I have to say for me the theme is what drew me in! I really liked it because it felt very fresh and different.  It is worth noting that this is a prototype version and therefore it may well change.  It is definitely one that I will be looking to get hold of as soon as I can!

Final thoughts

We had a fantastic time at UK Games Expo and we will definitely be back next year, hopefully for the whole weekend again!  If you are looking for a really fun weekend or a day trip I can definitely recommend it.  It is noticeably more crowded on the Saturday than it is on the Friday or Sunday if that helps you plan your visit.

I would love to hear from you about your experiences at the expo if you were there, including any games you might have played! Also feel free to ask about any of the games we played I can’t promise to know the answers but I can certainly try!  Thanks for reading!