Match Report 21st December 2011

Merry Christmas
Christmas Munchies!
With only days to go to Christmas it was probably unsurprising that we had lost some our regular gamers but in the upside we were the grateful recipients of:

a. A 500g slab of Mississippi Mud Pie from Hotel Chocolate, courtesy of Ben, one of the regulars sadly unable to join us.

b. Some of the reindeer munchies that regulars of this blog will have seen last Christmas - thank you again Natalie - they were just as good this Christmas!

c. Crispin’s stunning Christmas cake. This is the 3rd year he has been kind enough to bake one of his excellent Christmas cakes for Gwen & I (in return for a donation to a charity to help the homeless). It is absolutely yummy - a cake lots of fruit and cherries, no nuts but extra brandy. I am very tempted to be uncharitable and hide it away before my brother-in-law arrives since I am sure my wife favours her brother over me when cutting slices!!

News Update - More Zoch Games Available In The UK

Following discussions at Essen Spiel 2011 I am pleased to be able to announce that some of the great games we have been talking about on my blog are at last going to be readily available in the UK through our friends Paul and David at GamesLore.


Bausack - Crispin looks on in amazment at the tower
The prices are indicative and so may change.

Having only taken delivery of them today (19/12/2011) they may still show as 'pre-orders' on the GamesLore web site but its is great to see that games that we have picked up in Germany and have had so much fun with like Fuchs and Fertig, Geistesblitz, and Bausack are going to be more readily available in the UK.

Games in a Pub - 11th December 2011

A large race and then some surprisingly disappointing games

With the rain lashing down outside I was surprised to find a large group ready and willing to play when I arrived at the Blue Anchor, last Sunday. With yet more people arriving close behind me and the festive season approaching it seemed (to me at least!) an ideal opportunity to give Pitch Car another run out.
Pitch Car - Nick sends his yellow car screaming into the next bend
With the evenings focus on social gaming and with so many people I suggested people pair up and play in teams of 2. It thus accommodated 12 players with a further 3 spectators. Mark and Nick took an early and commanding lead and were way ahead of the rest of us however as they entered the final lap everything went to pot and the way seemed open for Oliver and myself placed in second or the green team (see my post from 18th September 2011) in third. However whilst we were lucky enough to profit from their engine malfunction the green team lost it completely with their car doing pretty much everything you don’t want a car to do bar turning around and driving the wrong way around the track, to the point that they came in in last place - oops.

Review – Kalimambo

3-7 Players, Aged 8+ with a 20-30 minute playing time
Kalimambo - The box artwork
A review copy of Kalimambo, designed by Antonio Scrittore, was kindly provided by Zoch GmbH.

Kalimambo is an amusing family game where an unwitting group of amateur explorers (the players) are led through the jungle by Kali (a newly discovered species - our group though that it was an African land based seal!), trying to avoid stepping in elephant dung and all the while being chased by Mambo the large and very fast rhino
Kalimambo - Mambo and the Elephant Dung
When Mambo catches you he inflicts a number of damage points, if he catches Kali then the slowest explorer receives the damage, if you tread in the elephant dung you get negative points and if Kali steps in the elephant dung then the slowest explorer again gets the points. There are no ways to get positive points this is a game of damage limitation and trying very hard not to land in the ‘brown smelly stuff!’

What follows is an overview of the game broken down into 5 sections: The Game ComponentsSetting Up The GamePlaying The GameWhat Did We Think? and finally Who Do We Think Will Like It?. So if reading the whole review doesn't appeal just scan down to the headings that do.

Review - Pictomania

3-6 players, Aged 9+  with a playing time of 25+ mins 
Pictomania - The box artwork
A review copy of Pictomania (designed by Vlaada Chvátil whose other games include Galaxy Trucker, Dungeon Petz and Dungeon Lords) was kindly provided by Czech Games Edition.

Played first when it was still at the prototype stage last summer, I thought then that it would be a fun game, ideally suited to parties and family gatherings. In its finished form its components are functional rather than inspiring, albeit of a high quality. However the game itself is every bit as much fun as I expected.

It is a game of art, communication and interpretation where players have to draw an image to represent one of the 42 possible images whilst simultaneously guessing which image each of the other players is drawing – frenetic.

As a game with an age of 9 to 99 it is not surprising that Pictomania has 4 levels of difficulty and rules that will definitely allow it to be played at the younger end, indeed we had a game where we had four adults and two 7 year old's who both scored well and enjoyed it every bit as much as the adults.

What follows is an overview of the game broken down into 5 sections: The Game ComponentsSetting Up The GameHow To Play The GameWhat Did We Think? and finally Who Do We Think Will Like It?. So if you don't want to read the whole review scan down to the heading that interests you.

Match Report 5th December 2011

Racing, digging, chasing and then a party with woodland friends!

Last night saw us change venue for the first time in nearly a year and thereby have the opportunity to involve Daniella’s 3 wonderful youngsters - they told me to write that!

With Malcolm off at a Christmas Party and Gwen resting her weary feet (recovery from the operations is proving to be a long process) we nevertheless mustered 5 of the usual suspects: Natalie, Crispin, Ben, Daniella and obviously your scribe.
Pitch Car with Extension - The Players racing around the track

Mini Review - Hick Hack in Gackelwack

Also known as Hick Hack for short or Pick Picknic: 2 to 6 players, Ages 8+, 30 Minute Playing time 
Hick Hack in Gackelwack - The box artwork

This is a fun little game, designed by Stephan Dorra and published in Germany by Zoch GmbH., where players balance the alternative of trying to get as much feed for their poultry as possible or send in the foxes and try and eat the other player’s poultry! It may look a little childlike but like so many of the Zoch games it’s good fun whatever your age. Our Social Games groups have had a huge amount of fun playing this game over the last year.

Games for Christmas 2011

New and alternative board game ideas for this Christmas
Presents under the Christmas tree - maybe they are games?!

As the pressure builds towards the Christmas and New Year bank holidays many people will start thinking about what game to buy for Christmas. Having played some brilliant games this year with people representing a broad cross-section of society from primary children to people in care homes (and every point in between) I thought it might be worth highlighting some of my favourites from this year. I have broken this article into three section:
  • Games We Have Had Lot of Fun With During 2011
  • Alternatives To The Perennial Favourites
  • Where To Buy The Games In This Article
And it maybe that an article written earlier this year may be of interest on Why Games Work in Some Families and Not Others.

A common factor amongst the games in this article is they generally seek to emphasise social interplay, maybe a touch of strategy, more skill than luck, short playing times and rarely have player elimination.

Games We Have Had Lot of Fun With During 2011
These games are not necessarily games that have been released this year but they are games that I have seen being enjoyed by many different people and or caused a lot of laughter when we have played them.

Games In A Pub – 27th November 2011

Still more new faces with both new and traditional games
Straw - The tension mounts as the weight on the camels back gets heavier and heavier
The pub was buzzing Sunday night and we had the pleasure of welcoming a number of new people who had come along to play both traditional games as well as our more modern offerings.

Having been going since the beginning of the year it is always really encouraging when new people appear having discovered us via one of the many advertising mediums we use.

Match Report 21st November 2011

An evening playing with spices, chocolate and elephant dung!
Chocolate munchies with edible gold stars - yummy!

Monday night saw another gathering of our games team with on this occasion, Malcolm (with photo’s of his MG project), Natalie (with scrummy chocolate and orange buns), Ben (with news of his new job at Hotel Chocolate - we do wonder if they will have to announce a profits warning having such a chocoholic on the staff - for Ben on the other hand a dream job), Crispin (with his good looks and charm!) and obviously Gwen and myself.

As the conversation was beginning to slow and Natalie trying hard to balance her lack of interest in the photos of Malcolm’s car with not wanting to appear rude (with a car mad father she has I suspect seen all the photo’s of engines and wheels she will ever want to) we repaired to the dining room.

First up was one of our current favourites Fuchs and Fertig a silly but very funny push your luck game where the players need to guess if the next card they are going to turn over will show an animal larger smaller or the same size as the last card; the winner being the first player to get rid of all their cards.

As I sat out of this game I was able to observe at close quarters

Review – The Dwarf King

The Dwarf King - The box artwork
3 to 5 Players, Ages 10+, 30 Min Playing Time

This is a game designed by Bruno Faidutti of Citadels and Incan Gold fame (well at least in our house) and released earlier this year by the French games publisher Iello, who also kindly provided the review copy.

The game immediately caught my attention due to a combination of its game play (based on a trick taking mechanism therefore it would be a game most non-gamers would immediately be comfortable with), and the beautiful (if you like fantasy) artwork.

What follows is an overview of the game broken down into 5 sections: Game ComponentsSetting Up The GamePlaying The GameWhat Did We Think? and finally Who Do We Think Will Like It?. So if reading the whole review doesn't appeal just scan down to the headings that do.

Review – Last Will

2 -5 Players, Age 12+ , Playing Time 60 minutes

The artwork on the Last Will box lidA review copy of Last Will (designed by Vladimir Suchy; his other games include 20th Century, Shipyard and League of Six) was kindly provided by CGE.

I am a sucker for humour and good artwork and Last Will struck me as having both; set in Victorian England the game has a slightly Dickensian feel about it. Prior to his death a rich man had the inspired idea of deciding which of his nieces and nephews should inherit his fortune by giving them £70 each - the one who spends it fastest is obviously the most ‘competent’ and deserving beneficiary of his fortune!

What follows is an overview of the game broken down into 5 sections: Game ComponentsSetting Up The GamePlaying The GameWhat Did We Think? and finally Who Do We Think Will Like It?. So if reading the whole review doesn't appeal just scan down to the headings that do.

Games in a Pub – 13th November 2011

Two new faces and three very different games

We started the evening with the fun family game Fuchs and Fertig – which I am sure would have surprised other punters in the pub had they come close enough to see what we were playing!
Fuchs & Fertig - Some of the cards

Match Report 7th November 2011

Victorian England doesn't work for everybody, however foxes and dwarves do!

As people arrived we congregated in the kitchen whilst drinks were sorted and people caught up with what we had all been up to since our last evening. Gwen had had a very tiring day (still recovering from two operations on her feet) so she needed to sit with her feet well up and bowed out of the evenings activities. When all were gathered we had Malcolm, Crispin, Ben and Daniella, whilst Alex, Ruth and Natalie all had circumstances conspire against them to ensure they were detained elsewhere.
The Games brought back from Essen 2011 + 1

The box lid from Geistesblitz
With a pile of the games brought back from my trip to Essen at one end of the table, Daniella was soon opening boxes and delighting in the artwork and quality of the components the games she looked at. We briefly considered Giestesblitz (reviewed here) but with drinks on the table a game that call on the players to grab objects in the middle of the table was never going to be a good idea!

Gwen and I had played Last Will three times over the weekend (on one occasion with one of our cats determinedly trying to play with Gwen’s Errand Boys). Whilst our initial reaction had been that is was complicated we had both really enjoyed it and were keen to play it with more players, although as it was one of the meatier games brought back from Essen I was a little nervous that it might not work for everybody.
Max helping Gwen to play Last Will!

Mini Review - Fuchs and Fertig

2 to 5 players, Ages 6+, 10+ Minute Playing time
A review copy of Fuchs and Fertig was kindly provided by the publishers Zoch GmbH.
The box lid for Furchs and Fertig
This is a short fun game that will delight adults (families) and children alike, although it can also be very frustrating. Described by one of our games team as something she could imagine even the most unlikely games player playing, Fuchs and Fertig would be a great game for family gatherings over Christmas. It is quick to explain, has fast play, is funny and whatever end of the age spectrum you are everybody will have an equal chance of winning. Plus it would be pretty funny to watch as well.

Review – Discworld: Ankh-Morpork

2- 4 Players, Aged 10+, Playing Time 60 minutes

I have already mentioned this game on my blog and its potential so was delighted to receive a review copy from Treefrog.
The box artwork for Discworld: Ankh-Morpork
Set in the largest city of the fantasy world created by Terry Pratchet, in his many Discworld novels, Discworld: Ankh-Morpork is about the intrigues between the powerful lords of the city resulting from the alleged disappearance of Lord Vetinari. Players take on the roles of various lords vying for control of the city but perhaps his disappearance was just a ruse to expose his opponents!
Discworld: Ankh-Morpork - The game board late in the game
What follows is an overview of the game broken down into 5 sections: Game Components, Setting Up The Game, How To Play The Game, What Did We Think? and finally Who Do We Think Will Like It?. So if you don't want to read the whole review scan down to the heading that interests you.

Games In a Pub - 30th October 2011

Some new games, some old games and all of them very different, but lots of fun.

A week ago I had been surrounded by thousands of people at the largest games event in Europe at Spiel 2011 in Essen; the previous day we had been running our own little games event in Tunbridge Wells on behalf of the Pantiles trade Association and had seen nearly a 100 people through the day (details of this event can be found here). Both of these experiences had been wonderful but to sit down with friends last night and get a chance to play some of the games I brought back from Essen was really nice.
The team playing Carcassonne
However the evening started with an old favourite, Carcassonne, but as people arrived slightly later in the evening I had to dive out of Carcassonne and explain a couple of other games to our newcomers. I am not sure how either group felt about me jumping between their tables but in my absence the Carcassonne team selected and placed tiles for me. At the half way stage this was looking really good for me as I was joint leader, however as the game moved towards its

Mini Review - Geistesblitz

2 to 8 players, Ages 8+, 20-30 Minute Playing time
A review copy of Geistesblitz was kindly provided by the publishers Zoch GmbH.
The box lid and artwork from Geistesblitz
Geistesblitz is a fun game about speed of recognition / action where there are 5 wooden objects, a White Ghost, Red Chair, Green Bottle, Blue Book and a Grey Mouse and a deck of 60 cards. Each card has 2 of the objects represented by their physical image and importantly by their colour. On most of the cards the objects are coloured incorrectly so you might have a green mouse sitting in a blue chair. However on some of the cards one of the images will be correctly coloured e.g. a White Ghost holding a Red Bottle.
Geistesblitz - The wooden objects and 5 cards. Which object would you grab for each card?
The wooden objects are placed in the centre of the table and the game then proceeds with all the cards face down being passed to the active player. The active player turns over the top card and then all the players have the opportunity to either grab the correctly coloured object on the card OR the object that is missing from the card i.e. neither its image nor colour is present. The person who is the first to correctly grab the object receives the card. They will also receive a card from any players that get it wrong! We played without this option and would recommend that you do likewise for your first game as players are familiarising themselves with the images, particularly when playing with young children and adults like me!

As the active player if you grab or call out the correct object you retain the deck of cards and turn over the next card. If not then the rules say you pass the deck to the person who was correct, in our games we simplified this so that the deck was always passed to the next person in a clockwise direction. The winner being the player who has the most cards when the deck is exhausted.

This is a game clearly targeted at families and in particular children. Our experience is that they will love it and have a lot of fun playing it but that it will also help to develop skills around colour and shape recognition, plus speed of reaction and analysis skills.

However as with so many of the Zoch games it is really good fun and will also work for:

· Gamers as a light filler when time is short at the beginning / end of a games evening.

· Social Gamers who will I believe really enjoy this simple yet testing game.
Geistes Blitz being played in our local pub

· Non gamers who are up for a fun game that will be boisterous and have lots of interplay between the players as they frequently grab the wrong object.

A wooden ghost and happy confusion

If you liked this review then other games I have reviewed can be seen here

The Pantiles Games Day, Tunbridge Wells

On the 29th October 2011

Imagination Gaming is coming to Tunbridge Wells and will be at the Pantiles Games Day in the Corn Exchange on October 29th from 10am to 4pm, a free, exciting and engaging event for all ages and abilities. I will be leading this event as one of the Imagination Gaming team working like mad to make sure everyone there has a great time.

A family at one of our previous games events
If you have been reading about the great games we have available and or just fancy trying out some brilliant games as ideas for Christmas Presents then why not pop down and see us, what ever your age. It's free!

Essen Spiel 2011 - An Overview

Some background on this massive games show and a walk around one of its halls
A photo at Spiel 2011 taken in Hall 11 showing the people sitting at tables and in the aisles playing games

Most people in the UK will not have heard about the Internationale Spieltage or Spiel for short. This is a mecca for gamers who come from all over the world to buy, sell and play games of every type - except computer and internet games. It runs annually over 4 days in Essen, Germany attracting around 150,000 people with this year 810 exhibitors from 34 countries. With it attracting so many families (this should really be stressed, it is not a geek thing) and friends looking to play, there are tables in all of the 11 halls where you can just pitch up sit down and play, or buy a game. With so many people it is not surprising that it is also a key event for designers and this year's show saw 750 new games being released (some of which appear on this list)

What follows is a set of photo’s taken on the Saturday walking around just part of the main hall. It starts with

Families That Enjoy Playing Games

Other bloggers writing about the games they play with their children

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am a keen advocate of games both as both a tool in society and as a valuable resource for fun and education within the family. I recently stumbled upon a list of games played by a Canadian family with 5 children aged from 9 through to 14. The children had graded the games (adding their own comments about each game) creating a top 10; I felt particularly inspired by the effort that had been put into their top 10 list and the breadth of games played and thought it would be of interest to others. I also thought that their list and comments might provide some good ideas as minds turn to thoughts of what Christmas presents to get for those children near and dear to you.

The list can be seen here with a list from the previous year here

If you are interested in which games other families have fun with then check out these two blogs.

1. Growing Up Gamers – Mum (Angie), dad (Randy), Katie (5) and Jack (2 – it is never too young to start playing games). This blog has a strong educational leaning as Mum is a teacher.

2. The Board Game Family - Mom and Dad, Trevor, Jaden, Brooke and Caleb. They do a number of reviews (including video’s) with the children leading and giving their own marks for the games, plus there is a list of their favourite games

I am sure there are other families’ blogging out there about their experiences but these are two I find particularly interesting. I hope you enjoy their efforts and they help inspire more families to explore the fun that can be had with modern board games.

Games in a Pub - 16th October 2011

More new faces and six games in one evening

Last night saw yet more new faces and apologies from some of our regulars.

We managed to play six very varied games during the evening:

Match Report 10th October 2011

Games, munchies and is that somebody in a balaclava?!
Cloud 9 - The players

Monday night saw 7 players gather around our table for an evening’s gaming; Ruth making one of her occasional visits (with a big cake), Ben, Daniella, Natalie, Crispin, Gwen (with pins!) and yours truly.

We started with a quick game of Cloud 9 where players take turns to pilot the balloon (throw the indicated number of dice and discard the appropriate number of coloured cards from their hands) whilst their fellow players try to guess if the next pilot will have the cards available to meet the requirements indicated on the dice. It is simple, light and amusing – a good way to start the evening, although some may have disagreed as I won the game.
Cloud 9 - The board and components

We then moved onto Stone Age with Gwen, Crispin and Daniella at one end of the table and “War on Terror The Board Game” at the other end. Having played Stone Age on the previous Monday the guys were keen to give it another go and Crispin once again showed his mastery of this attractive game through a combination of large population (he now understand you need to send two meeples to the ‘Love shack’ to produce a

Review – War On Terror The Board Game

2-6 players, Aged 14+ with a 120 minute playing time
Artwork from the box lid

War on Terror The Board Game was kindly provided by Terror Bull Games

What started as an alcohol fuelled mickey take at the absurdities and hypocrisy of the 2003 Gulf War that “was not designed to encourage or make fun of terrorism” stirred up such a wave of controversy in 2006 that the games designers received around a dozen death threats, nearly went bankrupt themselves and are still banned from a number of Toy Fairs. A fuller history of the game can be read in the FHM article here.

War On Terror The Board Game is a satirical game that sets the players as ‘Empires’ seeking to dominate or should that be liberate large swathes of the world were oil is the primary means of gaining more money. Each land space has a probability (low or high) of generating the black gold. As the game progresses the Empires expand seeking to control more and more of the land (to gain greater and greater revenues). Along the way players may create and use terrorists to slow down their opponents, choose or be compelled to become a terrorist state themselves and in their lust for oil stumble upon a country with indigenous terrorists.

This is a game rich in cynical black humour where you can declare Holy wars, nuke other players, bankrupt opponents all in the cause of gaining enough victory points to declare yourselves the winner. If this kind of humour offends you then stop reading now, this game is not for you.

Discworld: Ankh-Morpork

Waterstones best selling game, but will it have any lasting impact in the UK?
The box artwork for Discworld: Ankh-Morpork

Say board games to most people in the UK and they immediately think of the likes of Monopoly, Cluedo and Risk, but go to your local Waterstones store this autumn and nestled amongst the aforementioned titles you will also see a very different game – “Discworld: Ankh-Morpork”.

Why is this particular game worthy of comment beyond that fact that it is based in on the much loved Discworld created by one of Britain’s most successful and popular authors Terry Pratchett? The answer to this is complex but important.

Ankh-Morpork - The City and the game board
1. Last year the UK was described to me as the ‘black hole’ of

Games in a Pub - 2nd October 2011

Frustration and chaos in a very funny racing game

With apologies from a number of regulars and Gwen at home following her second foot operation the previous day I knew the turnout might be small. But thankfully Oliver and I were quickly joined by Karen and Martin (the green team from the last Sunday meeting). At the last Sunday meeting we played Ticket To Ride and Oliver had requested that we have a crack at one of the other two classic gateway games Carcassonne or Settlers of Catan so this week we started off with Carcassonne. This is a game in which I had lost interest until playing it recently with my nephew on a camping trip reawakened my enthusiasm; I was confident that both Karen and Oliver would really enjoy it (which they did) and Martin knew what he was letting himself in for.
Carcassonne - The players

Carcassonne is a tile-laying game where players build up a landscape reminiscent of that around the southern French city of Carcassonne famous for its Roman and Medieval fortifications. As the players develop the area around Carcassonne they deploy their followers (Knights, Thieves, Monks and Farmers) on the roads, in the cities, in the cloisters and in the fields earning points as they complete various elements of the landscape. It is a gentle almost collaborative game but still has a competitive dimension as players seek to score as many point s as possible. With Martin and I having played this one many times before (although never together) there was always a good chance one of us would come out on top and so it proved in the end with Martin finishing significantly ahead of the rest of us.
Carcassonne - The tile layout early in the game

Whilst we had been enjoying the delights of the French country side Nick, Andy Chris and Adam had arrived and played the ever popular Bausack.
The guys playing Bausack - Not a good photo - Sorry

With both games complete we rearranged the furniture (as there had been a request for a game that could accomodate all eight of the evenings attendees) and set up the chaotic but very funny

How To Pass Time In Hospital - Part 2

Games are used as a tool to distract and amuse the patient, by a 10 year old!

This is a follow up article to our first visit when Gwen had lots of work done on her left foot including three nice green pins inserted into her toes! On this occasion her right foot was the target of the surgeon’s knife!

On this occasion things went less to plan (as they are wont to do when spending time in hospital) and so even we couldn’t resist the siren call of the TV and succumbed to the delights of watching England play the first half of their world cup game against Scotland before she was taken off into the operating theatre. I watched the second half alone but the theatre sister kept Gwen appraised of the score whilst they were waiting for the “block” (local anaesthetic) to take effect on her leg.
Playing Archaeology in hospital

Once I had recovered from the stress of England’s performance on the rugby pitch and Gwen had recovered from the sedation we felt up to playing a couple of games that were not too “taxing”. On this occasion we started with two games of Archaeology (possibly one of the smallest and lightest games we have). This is an interesting card game that deserves more use, although it is let down in my view by the somewhat bland artwork. True to form Gwen won the first game but I did manage to recover and win the second.

Match Report 19th September 2011

A very unusual evening, 2 games with dice!

Monday saw the welcome return of both Natalie and our pilot friend Alex (so often in other parts of the world and rarely able to be with us these days). To these two were added our regulars Crispin, Daniella, Gwen (with pins sticking out of her feet!) and Ben. Alex and Ben were a little late so we began with a couple of hands of Straw.

Once all seven expected players had all arrived we split into two groups, the oldies and the youngsters. Although I think my presence in the latter and Alex's in the forma my undermine this naming!
Pirate Cove & Stone Age - The players

At one end of the table Alex, Gwen Crispin and Daniella decided to play Stone Age, a game Alex had never played and Crispin and Daniella had each played only oncebefore. It is one of Gwen’s favourites and she regularly beats me when we play the 2-player version, so I duly warned the other players to watch Gwen very carefully.

Pirate Cove - The board and player mat (ship)
At the other end of the table 3 of us tried Pirate Cove. This is a Days of Wonder game with delightful components and a good reputation on boardgamegeek as a fun game. With the game board laid out before us Ben, Natalie and myself set sail in search of fame and fortune. Early in the game Ben and Natalie's ships arrived at the same island and as you would expect with rival pirates

How to Pass The Time In Hospital – Part 1

A quick recovery, an unexpected delay and 5 games!

My long suffering and increasingly active game playing wife had to have an operation on her left foot last Saturday resulting in lots of holes, stitches, bruising and, very unpleasantly for her VERY squeamish husband, 3 pins sticking out the end of her toes! On the upside for me she cannot get out so I have a willing captive with whom to play games.

The operation went well and by 2pm Gwen was: fed and watered, expert with the crutches, dressed and waiting for the surgeon to visit and give her the all clear to go home. Frustratingly, he finally arrived well after 6pm meaning we had four hours to kill in a hospital room; thankfully I had thrown two games in the back of the car for just such an eventuality.
San Juan - A game in hospital

We started with San Juan (a gift from Tim on my trip to STABCON last summer - thanks again Tim). This is a simple and relatively fast card game where players seek to build up the optimal set of plantations, commercial and monumental buildings. More importantly it can just about fit onto one of those wheelie tables found at the side of hospital beds.

I had hoped that as well as fixing her foot the medical staff might have injected her with some magical ‘losing serum’ (regular readers will know that Gwen wins most of the games we play together), sadly this was not the case she beat me – strike one to Gwen!

Games in a Pub - 18th September 2011

Property, Trains, Boasting and Espionage a strange but fun mix of games

As expected the return to schools and universities impacted our numbers and the additional absence of my wife (recovering from an operation) meant the ratio of ladies to men swung heavily in favour of the males.
For Sale - The debris at the end of the game

We started with a gentle game of For Sale, the property trading game where you can buy anything from a Cardboard box to a Space Station. I think I had the Card Board box and Martin the Space Station but in the end it was

The Importance Of Theme And Mechanic When Selecting What Game To Play

A conversation during one games evening

An interesting conversation ensued at our last Monday games evening concerning the games we like and dislike. Not surprisingly everybody's list was slightly different, buy interestingly as much as we enjoy playing games there are equally individual games, or game themes or mechanics that we dislike. This conversation might be summarised as:

• Crispin likes the lighter games particularly ones with more social interaction e.g. Bohnanza and Saboteur, but ‘doesn't do’ co-operative games e.g Castle Panic and dislikes Galaxy Trucker and RoboRally.

• Daniella likes pretty much any game (and wins many) and loves RoboRally.

• Ben likes the generally likes the funnier games including Landlord, Braggart, Galaxy Trucker and Saboteur however he will play pretty much anything but doesn't generally enjoy some of the more thoughtful games such as, Alhambra, Seeland and League of Six, dislikes RoboRally but enjoys games such as Blokus and would happily play an exclusion game such as Bang.

• Gwen and I like pretty much anything but with a tendency towards more medium weight / tactical games but no exclusion games e.g. Bang. More specifically ‘Gwen doesn’t do’ SciFi games and Kevin ‘doesn’t do Railway games’ (Kevin keeps this quiet but you might have noted the absence of Ticket to Ride in my collection).

• It now seems that all of our group dislike Race for the Galaxy, claiming it to be to complex (check out this video for an unbiased assessment and form your own views).

Why do I recount the conversation? Because if this group of people who like playing games (and have probably seen many more games than your average UK resident) find there are games that they dislike, I suspect that if one of those had been their only ever encounter with games it might have left them thinking "I really don’t like games". A view that seems common to a large percentage of the UK population and one that could demonstrably be based on only a limited exposure to the games available today.

Match Report 12th September 2011

Where did everybody go?

With the return to school and university it was no great surprise that our numbers halved but thanks to our faithful core group, Crispin, Ben, Daniella and obviously my wife Gwen, we managed 5 Monday night.

As people arrived Gwen and I were finishing off the latest of our duels at Gobblet (an abstract two player wooden game I picked up at the local Hospice in the Weald charity shop for £1, full price when new around £25). A game that typically takes us 5 to 10 mins and over the last week we have played 20+ times, over breakfast, dinner and coffee. I had a clear lead in these encounters, which is very unusual since Gwen has something like an 80% victory record against me at 2-player games and sad to say I think the tide might be turning on this game too!

Alhambra (Age 8+, Players 2-6, 60 min playing time)
Alhambra - The game components

Alhambra - Kevin's Alhambra midway through the game
With everybody comfortable we started the evening with a game of

Review – Alhambra

2 to 6 players, Ages 8+, 60 Minute Playing time
This review will provide a brief overview of the rules (to give a flavour of the game), why we liked it and who we think it might appeal to.
Alhambra - The box and the Builders Market board

A classic Eurogame and Spiel des Jahres winner from 2003 Alhambra was designed by Dirk Henn and published by Queen Games. The game sees you in the role of one of the master builders at the time of the Moorish Sultans of Granada competing to build the most impressive walled palace or Alhambra.

Building your Alhambra you will have to manage your resources and outbid the others as you seek to add extravagant pavilions, beautiful gardens, long arcades, richly furnished chambers, comfortable seraglios and high watch towers whilst always paying attention to the wall that will protect your

Games in a Pub - 4th September 2011

The numbers hold up and we play 12 games in one evening
Patrician - The players pondering their next move
With so many ups and downs over the last 9 months as we have tried to build a group of Social Gamers in Crowborough I approached last night with some trepidation. We had had a really good turnout for the event two weeks earlier but would the numbers hold up and would people who said they had enjoyed themselves return or as has occurred in the past disappear into the distance.

Meeting Martin in the car park as I was carrying in the games for the evening (somebody who was joining us for the first time but had spotted our Facebook page and ‘Liked it only the day before) was surely was a good sign?

Match Report 30th August 2011

The challenge of picking the best game for the number of players
The Monday (on Tuesday) night gamers enjoying some munchies

Another good turn out with 11 this time, Daniella, Malcolm, Liza, Leonie, Chris, Effie, Sinead, Crispin, Joe, Gwen and obviously yours truly. On this occasion we had apologies from a further three Ben, Claire and Brian. I am sure the imminent start of school for two and University for another two will cause number s to drop but it is tremendously encouraging that we continue to attract such a broad range of people.

Given the nature of the evening i.e. a social evening with games (where people arrive at different times and we can never be 100% sure of how many will turn up) we can at times stumble into a good game that when played with too many people doesn’t quiet deliver and so it was on this occasion.

Caracassonne (Age 8+, Players 2-6, 60 min playing time)
Carcassonne - The players watch as Sinead considers where to place her next tile
At one end of the table I led six people in a game of Carcassonne which included the two expansion sets, “River” and “Inns and Cathedrals”. The interplay between the players and the suggestions, normally