Games in A Pub - 9th December 2012

A group of Convicts and Samurai arrive at a new pub! 

With carols at the Blue Anchor and an expected full house it was time to take our games group on the road and move about 2 mins (by car) towards Uckfield to the Crow and Gate. I am not sure what the diners made of as we started our first game of the evening Alcatraz: The Scapegoat , listening to us get into character and drop each other in it.

Match Report - 3rd December 2012

A big turnout, 2 award winning games and lots of munchies
Munchie time!
Six of us started the evening with one of the group’s favourite fillers, Hick Hack. Although in this case it was being played with Karen, Brian and Claire who had never encountered this amusing family game where the farmyard birds try to eat as much feed as possible whilst avoiding the unwelcome attentions of the local fox population. During this game Natalie and Daniella arrived and we thought the group was complete, and then there was a ring on the doorbell and Alex unexpectedly joined us. As the group settled down with Dominion at one end (Brian, Daniella, Alex and Natalie) and 7 Wonders at the other end the door bell rang again (I was beginning to feel like Bilbo (in The Hobbit) at this point and there was Ben.

Games in a Pub – 25th November 2012

One big Mayan game and the return of the the pirates
Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar (the beautiful worker placement game)finally made it to the table. This was one of my favourite games from Essen but being a more medium weight game it needs the right opportunity. With 5 players this wasn’t ideal, as it is a 4 player game, but as this was my best opportunity to date I took it with both hands - offering to teach the game to the others and watch / check out rule clarifications as the game progressed. This is a reasonably complex game and whilst I had played it twice Simon ‘s interjections as I walked through the rules (based on having watched a 40 min video about the game on BoardGameGeek) where very helpful.

Match Report – 19th November

A welcome return!

With Brian’s health issues pretty much behind him now we saw the welcome return of Claire and Brain after what has been for them a difficult year. Taking one of our occasional trips to Daniella’s we were joined by a couple of her offspring plus ‘mum’ bringing our number to 10.
Ticket To Ride: Europe - The players with what looks like one realising it has all gone wrong!
Crispin and Malcolm led a game of Ticket To Ride: Europe at one end of the room (eventually won by Leonie) which saw Tom either desperately disappointed at loosing to his sister or listening for the sound of trains on the track depending on your interpretation of the photo’s! Mum had never played a game of this type before and was heard during the rules explanation to say “maybe I should have stayed watching the TV”. However by the end of the game she had enjoyed it so much she was talking about the possibility of buying a copy of the game.

Games in a Pub – 11th November 2012

3 Return whilst 1 leaves 

Oliver had told us all a couple of weeks ago that he would be moving out of the area soon and as this would be his final night with us he was given free reign to choose the evenings games.
Braggart - The players
First up was a game of Braggart, reviewed here, this was a game that has been played at our games evening a number of times and with much laughter. It is one of those games which can be played at two levels. You either go for points and don’t worry about the cards or go for fun reading out the boast (made up of a Foe and a Deed card plus optionally Scene and or Result cards). I think this game lived up to Oliver’s hopes and may yet be his first game purchase as he felt his family would enjoy this one.

Match Report – 5th November 2012

Lots of chat and one of the classic 'gateway' games
Ticket To Ride: Europe - Three of the players
On our last two evenings we explored Ticket To Ride: Europe and with a request from my wife to not learn anything new (suffering with a headache all day she didn't feel she could cope with anything too complex – hmmm!) and with 5 players it was unsurprising that Ticket To Ride: Europe was a popular choice.
Ticket To Ride: Europe - The board at the end of the game and after the scorring! Note Gwen's marker on the far side, she smashed the rest of us.
What was less expected was the way in which once the game got started that Gwen demolished the rest of us scoring over 40 points more than her nearest rival – headache?!
Munchies - My part eaten cheese and chive bun

Having just returned from Essen I had hoped to get one of the new titles to the table; sadly not on this occasion. With lots of chat and munchies we only managed one game. At some point we let Crispin get hold of the camera - he likes doing close ups! I f you check out the link below you will see his handiwork.

More photo's of the evening can be seen here.

If you would like to try some of the games talked about on this blog come along to our next evening at the Blue Anchor, Crowborough is in two weeks time on Sunday 11th November starting at 7.00pm - £1 per head. More details can be seen on our Facebook Page Social Gamers - Crowborough

Games in A Pub - 28th October 2012

It was half term for the local schools and close to Halloween so it was great to welcome a couple of young friends, including a wizard!
Roborally - The players
The larger element of the group embarked on the traumatic game of RoboRally. More than once I looked across having heard hoots of laughter to see somebody with the head in their hands. A feeling I can immediately recognise from playing this game. I find playing it more than twice a year leaves me feeling I need to see to a counsellor or psychotherapist. Victory eventually went to Oliver however, I can only hope I won’t receive claims for damages from those who at times struggled to reconcile the enjoyment with the chaos and difficulty of getting their robots to complete the simplest of tasks!
RoboRally - Martin head in hands as he struggles to direct his robot an experience I am very familiar with!

Essen 2012 - My Journal

Reflections on my pilgrimage to Essen Spiel 2012If you are looking for photo's of the games rather than the people I played them with then click here

Day 0
As our group of 18 (from across the UK) gathered in Essen at the end of a long days driving the first thought was food and beer but given our nature (!) these concerns were only marginally ahead of which game should we play? 
Essen Spiel 2012 Day 1 - The team gather in the hotel foyer
With schnitzels and bear ordered our first game was Paul Grogan’s prototype, code named Shaun. Paul (the group’s ringleader) had described this as we had driven across Europe and it had left me distinctly cold. However, when it came to playing the game I found the level of interaction and trading between players really engaging and the scepticism I had felt on the journey at the sound of ‘power stations’ and ‘factories’ was laid to rest. This game was played a number of times by others on the trip and all gave it a favourable review. Fingers crossed that this will eventually see the light of day as a successful commercial offering. 

Day 1 
After an early night and some much needed sleep I started the day by meeting up with Rory O'Connor (of Rory’s Story Cubes) and we played a demo game of Article 27: The UN Security Council Game.

Review – Riff Raff

2-4 Players, Aged 8+ with a 30 minute playing time 

A review copy of Riff Raff , designed by Christoph Cantzler, was kindly provided by our friends at Zoch Verlag.
Riff Raff - The box artwork
This is a tactile game of dexterity with quality components set loosely around a pirate theme. In the game blurb we learn that for some bizarre reason Captain Bullseye has decided that he should stow his cargo high up in the ships rigging, “so no peg-leg can get it”. Given the possibilities of losing the cargo to the pitching and rolling of a ship at sea, let alone the able bodied crew the last thing I would have thought the captain would worry about is those crew members with peg legs! As with so many games don’t worry too much about the theme, it is only loosely held together and doesn't stand up to close inspection. That said we think this is a real gem of a game so read on.

What follows is an overview of the game broken down into 5 sections: The 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.

Essen Spiel 2012 – What To Expect

Looking forward to the biggest board games show in Europe
The Spiel Logo

This will be the 3rd year I have been lucky enough to make the pilgrimage to the largest games fair in Europe, the Internationale Spieltage at Essen or Spiel for short (my earlier trips are recorded here).

This year I thought I would write a piece before the show; a show that last year attracted 147,000 visitors, hundreds of press, radio and TV journalists and 786 exhibitors from 34 nations. The show covers 46,000 square meters of exhibition space and once again over 700+ new board and card games are being released; games that span every age range, theme and style.

As I write this (early October) the games industry is working flat out with designers and artists putting the finishing touches to rules for new games after last minute feedback from play testers and proof readers. It involves late nights and much stress as the games publishers seek to hit the publishing houses deadlines. In many cases the games companies will only know when they get to the show if their latest game has completed the journey and will be available to sell to the eager public.

Match Report – 8th October 2012

Trains, boats, a galaxy far far away and + a little ghost! 

As the team gathered we started with that old favourite, Straw and played a few hands of this until it was clear that somebody had beaten me – Crispin!
Ticket To Ride: Europe - Crispin spots I have the camera and Daniella doesn't look happy at how the other game is going

Review – Niagara

3-5 Players, Aged 8 with a 45 minute playing time
Niagara - The box artwork
A game themed around the wild waters of the Niagara river and its famous falls offers an interesting set of challenges that will probably be preferred by those who like risk taking with a good dose of screwage.

Loosely set in the late 18th Century, when the Shawnee and Iroquois Indians pointed white adventurers in the direction of hidden caches of valuable jewels, along the banks of the river in the hopes of turning them against one another and away from their territorial expansion ambitions.

The players take on the role of these fearless adventurers (canoeists) seeking to collects gems from along the banks of the river close to the falls. It will come as no surprise that the most valuable gems are to be found closest to the waterfall!

The first player to collect either five different coloured, four of the same coloured or seven of any coloured gems, and bring them safely to land will the game and bring it to its close.

What follows is an overview of the game broken down into 5 sections: Game Components, Setting Up, How To Play, 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 Pub - 30th September 2012

Building castles in a pub!

Splitting into two groups one embarked on the ever popular Discworld: Ankh-Morpork whilst 3 of us headed off to medieval France to set about building a castle and the surrounding town.
Caylus - A close up of some of the buildings along the road leading to Caylus
Discworld: Ankh-Morpork, designed by British designer Martin Wallace, has continued to prove one of our most popular games from last year. On this occasion the players, Robin (Lord Rust), Oliver (Lord Vetinari ) and Simon (Chrysoprase), who was the eventual winner, had an extremely close game with each only 1 point away from winning.

Match Report – 24th September 2012

Pirates, trains and dwarves plus more munchies!

Lunch time had seen a surprise request from work colleagues for a game of Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers and the introduction of two new players, a good start to the week.

The evening saw our smallest turnout for a very long time with apologies because of funerals, over work, holidays and hectic social schedules. The good news was that our master baker was available and had tried her hand at some chocolate and ginger cookies – yummy, and only Gwen and myself to share them!
Ticket To Ride: Europe - The board and other components early in the game
However before the food comes the games and we started with a game of Ticket To Ride: Europe a game that having played TransEuropa many times was immediately familiar to all of us. Ticket To Ride is one of the three classic gateway games (the others being Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan) and in this version is about completing routes between European cities and is described in more detail in this video. We all thoroughly enjoyed the game, although it will surprise nobody to know that when the final scoring came in Gwen had piped both Natalie and I.

Games in a Pub – 16th September 2012

The group gather after a summer break and immediately head off to Manila

Returning to the group after an absence of three Sunday’s gallivanting around Europe - make that a long drive to Venice for a camping holiday with family and more games of Uno than I care to think about – it really isn’t that good a game.

On the upside I played quite a few games of Hive which I needless to say lost to Gwen, Army of Frogs although one of the green frogs went AWOL, presumably preferring the Italian climate, Zooloreto Würfelspiel a game the boys enjoyed and has inspired them to play its big brother a number of times since they returned and Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small which I played on my own whilst the team went to Aqualandia losing to virtual Gwen (how can she beat me when she isn’t even present?!) and Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers a game I had acquired via a swap and which the team were distinctly unimpressed with.

Back to the Blue Anchor; whilst I had been away the group had played numerous games of King of Tokyo, and Takenoko plus Quarriors and Mansions of Madness.

Match Report 10th September 2012

Hello again to some old favourites

With the summer holidays over, teenagers back to school and the end a wonderful summer of Olympics it was back to games night on Mondays.
Saboteur - The tunnel complex in one of the games. We eventually find the gold
With a guest appearance from Ian (brother-in-law now living in the West Country) who is always a keen saboteur it was the obvious game to go for. Bizarrely he once again, entirely randomly, was one of the saboteurs in 2 of the 3 rounds. A fun role but with Saboteur 2 even more difficult to win at. After much tunnel digging victory eventually went to Crispin, helped in part by the normal interplay between Ian and I which saw both of us (instead of my elderly and increasingly rich friend) being robbed by our fellow dwarves.

Review – Flossen Hoch!

2 to 4 Players, Aged 4+ with a 15 minute playing time

A review copy of Flossen Hoch!, designed by Grein-Bottcher, was kindly provided by the team at Zoch Verlag.
Flossen Hoch - The box artwork
The theme as with many of Zoch’s fames is a little abstract / far fetched but if it aids the artwork and fun then there is little reason to complain. The theme of this memory game is that as part of a festival at the South Pole the penguins are having a race. However in order to move round the track the penguins have to memorise where the longest fish are in the polar sea and only move on the race track based on the length of the fish they pull out of the sea. Presumably the fish don’t move much as they are in fact already dead and frozen, presumably in Iceland!

What follows is an overview of the game broken down into 5 sections: The 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.

Match Report - 13th August 2012

Saboteurs get their shovels out, plus time for the foxes to chase those chickens!

The request was for simple games as Crispin had exhausted himself during the Olympics. Not that he competed, nor was one of the brilliant GameMakers. No he was one of the many who made an Olympian effort of TV watching, with full use of the red button, so understandably needed as with the other great athletes a period of rest and recuperation!

This is being a little unfair (surely not I hear you cry) as we too had become obsessed with keeping up to date with the latest twists and turns of TeamGB plus the other great feats performed by athletes from around the world and it all seemed a little strange to find that morning that suddenly it was all over.

Eventually we moved from discussions to playing games.

Review – Rory’s Story Cubes: Voyages

1 - 9 Players, Aged 6+ with a 2+ minute playing time

A game I first encountered in a meeting with Roger from Coiled Spring, Story Cubes is a game unlike any other I have reviewed, not least because it is not a game you win or loose, more than most it is a game that you can immerse yourself in and the fun comes from the journey.
Rory's Story Cubes Voyages, the cubes and the game box
Voyages is the is the second expansion set for Rory’s Story Cubes and was released in 2011, it builds on the concept found in the original set and expanded previously by the Actions set. This review set was kindly provided by Rory and The Creativity Hub

What follows is an overview of the game broken down into 5 sections: The 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 - 5th August 2012

Feeding panda's and then a fantasy game with lots of dice

Once again I was not able to able to be with the guys and once again one of them stepped into the breach and picked up the mantle of scribe. On this occasion Stéphene was kind enough to take bring along some games, take photo’s and write the accompanying words. It was a real shame I wasn’t able to make it as having seen their first game at Essen last year, it was one I was keen to play and one that I suspect the Monday night group would enjoy.
Takenoko box artwork

Only 3 of us on Sunday which meant it was a great opportunity to get a couple of 2-4 player games out.

We started the evening with a game of Takenoko.

3 Games For Hot Holidays

With the schools having broken up for the summer holidays and many people thinking of escaping on holidays of one kind or another I thought it might be worth beginning an occasional series of articles on 3’s, with 3 Games for Hot Holidays.
Games on a sunny holiday
The primary consideration for these games is the absence of cardboard (Tip - leave the cardboard boxes at home and just take the playing pieces in resealable bags) as anybody who has played a board game in the sun will testify to, let alone the need to be waterproof given cold drinks and frequent proximity to swimming pools.

Other considerations were the need to accommodate a varied number of people from 1 to 5 rather than normal 2 to 5, and short playing times given the distraction of books, sun and the inability to concentrate after retsina at lunch time!

My suggestions therefore are:

Match Report - 30th July 2012

All about games - Olympic or board!

As the group gathered it was no surprise that conversation turned to the Olympics both the highs and lows of Team GB so far, and what all agreed was a brilliant opening ceremony with Mr Bean’s contribution being one of the favourite moments for many.
The players

Review – Hive Pocket

2 Players, Aged 9+ with a 20+ minute playing time

A review copy of Hive Pocket was kindly provided by the British designer John Yianni, and the team at GEN42 Games.

Hive was first released in 2001 with the monochrome version Hive Carbon in 2011 and two additional
insects the Mosquito in 2007 and the Ladybug also in 2011 and an iPhone / iPad version in 2009, there have been a number of developments since its initial release. Over this period it has won a number of awards including the Mensa Select Winner in 2006.
Hive Pocket - The game packaging
Given the success Hive has enjoyed the creation of this new smaller variant was a logical next step, and one that fans of the game may see as long overdue. Hive Pocket offers the same unique game but in a much smaller more portable package that makes me wonder if Army of Frogs may get the same treatment?

For those readers who have not encountered Hive before it is a tactile tactical 2 player game where players seek to surround their opponents Queen Bee using a number of different insects, each with their own unique characteristics. Obviously whilst trying to surround your opponents Queen Bee you are seeking to defend your own!

What follows is an overview of the game broken down into 5 sections: The 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.

Olympic Games In The Office

Some ideas for running a games session in the office, inspired by the Olympic games

Now that the 2012 Olympic Games have started and interest / enthusiasm for the games is increasing I thought I would offer some ideas for games you might choose to use in the office as a bit of fun. Some of the following we have already used in a very successful lunch time session last Friday.

My aim was to bring people together from across the organisation and from every level for a fun relaxing session. It was less about competition and more about laughter. Importantly each game took no more than 30 seconds to explain. Having a wide selection of games I had a few to choose from however there is a link at the end of the article that will take you to a pack of games ideas produced by the Friends of the Elderly.

Games in a Pub - 22nd July

A trip to Tokyo plus more paranoia

As I was returning from our holiday in Greece Oliver took over duties as scribe for the group whilst Martin was the man behind the camera.

I (Oliver) was running late and found that the game was just being set up for a round of PanicStation when I got there. Great - paranoia all round, please! I forget who arrived after me (it may have been Simon) but we got down to a run-through of the rules, and then we were off.
Panic Station - The players

Review – Zozzle

2 -4 Players, Aged 4+ with a 15 minute playing time

The guys at Zoch Verlag kindly provided 4 review copies of their memory puzzle game Zozzle (the Kinder or young children's versions).
Zozzle - Kapt'n Red Jake, the box artwork
Of their most recent batch of games these were the ones I was least looking forward to and it has to be said I was very pleasantly surprised.

What follows is an overview of the game broken down into 5 sections: The Game Components, Setting 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 - 9th July

Time is short so herewith the briefest of match reports.

We met, we played games and we ate some delicious and very impressive munchies!
Games played included, Geistesblitz 2.0 (although there is no photographic evidence)

Review – Da ist der Wurm drin

2 to 4 Players, Aged 4+ with a 15 minute playing time

A first time game design by a mother (Carmen Kleinert ) and daughter combination, stunningly illustrated by    Heidemarie Rüttinger and kindly provided for review by the guys at Zoch Verlag.
Da ist der Wurm drin - The box artwork
With an age range of 4+ this is at the younger end of the family games spectrum. Perhaps surprisingly it hasn’t been rated as 6+ for fear of confused / immature 4 year olds putting the cardboard pieces in their mouths and chocking!

Da ist der Wurm drin - The author Carmen Kleinert with the Kinderspiel des Jahres awardAnyway the game went down a storm last year in Germany winning the 2011 Kinderspiel des Jahres   Award for childrens’ games. The game offers players a simple race between earth worms who want to be the first to poke their heads out of the compost heap at the end of the garden, made more interesting by:

a. The beautiful and colourful artwork.

b. The hidden movement – they are earth worms after all.

c. The ability to place bets on whose worm is doing best.

What follows is an overview of the game broken down into 5 sections: The Game Components, Setting 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.

Games in a Pub - 8th July 2012

Another crack at Power Grid: The First Sparks plus the paranoia of Panic Station

We gathered on Sunday evening having had some discussion before hand on Facebook about alternative games. The possibilities come down to Eketop, Power Grid: The First Sparks and a late entrant Panic Station.

As we sat down to play the decision went to giving Power Grid: The First Sparks another chance, our previous effort recorded here. Setting up the game was exponentially quicker than last time, although still required us to delve into the sepia like rules to clarify a number of points. Not an easy thing with the rules written in a six point font and the pubs dim lighting. However once we got going the game, with six of us, sped along at a reasonable pace and saw Simon’s clansmen sadly wander from hunting ground to hunting ground in an effort to find FOOD (the currency of the game), an unhappy time for the tribe.
Power Grid: The First Sparks - The game board and clansmen
The rest of us were broadly more successful gathering berries and hunting bears and mammoths to the point that within the hour my woad clan were poised to demonstrate their manifest superiority over Martin’s little red clan men (Martin having responded to my previous post stating that he didn’t think it possible that I would win the next game – a clear challenge to the manhood of the woad tribe). As it turned out I had forgotten about the perfidious Oliver and his black tribe. This meant that as my tribe headed to their traditional berry bushes (which in the previous season had yielded a rich harvest for them) they discovered that locusts had descended and the bushes were bare. This rich harvest that was rightfully mine (or so I would like to have seen it) had been stolen by Oliver’s black clad locust tribe and to add insult to injury the few berries he left had been taken by Martin’s veracious red clan!

Review – Alles Kanone! and Alles Tomate!

2-8 Players, Aged 6+ with a 15 minute playing time

Review copies of Alles Kanone! and Alles Tomate!, designed by Reiner Knizia, were kindly provided by Zoch Verlag.
The artwork from the Alles Kanone! box
These are two identical games, in terms of game play, that offer younger children a simple memory game with colourful artwork on the themes of farming, Alles Tomate!, and pirates Alles Kanone!.

The initial version of this game Alles Tomate! won an award from the magazine Spielen und Lernen in 2008 in the 6 years and up category (they have 4 categories ,"from 3-years old"; "from 6-years old" and "from 9-years old" and in one category for unreleased games) whilst Alles Kanone! was released earlier this year.

The Deutscher Lernspielpre award aims to promote the culture of educational games in German-speaking countries and highlight particularly good games for children. It seeks to promote playful learning to a wider audience, so that educational gaming is recognized as an essential building block in the development of children in all age groups; with the bi-product of heightening the social status of gaming. Whilst it is a German award it is promoting something that I think would be of interest to all parents.

What follows is an overview of the game broken down into 5 sections: The 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.

Match Report - 2nd July 2012

The games group goes on summer tour!

With enthusiasm running high in Daniella’s household she took the brave step of inviting the group to descend on her home for Monday night gathering. As luck would have it we had a large (for us at least) turnout totalling 11 + Merlin, the dog not the wizard!

Travelling through an English Summer evening, this should conjure images of warmth, bird song and the smell of flowers in bloom. Instead the reality was heavy rain and wind, however like the wise men we came bearing gifts - MUNCHIES!
Bohnanza - The players
With Daniella midway through refitting her kitchen she had just enough space to accommodate us all. Crispin lead a game of Bohnanza at one end of the table with me leading two games of Niagara at the other end and Daniella / Leonie leading a game of Pirate's Cove on the other table.

Short Review - Elasund: The First City of Catan

A game by the designer Klaus Teuber of Settlers of Catan fame but a game with a very different feel.

What led us to get the game?

Elasund: The First City of Catan - The box artwork
Settlers of Catan, designed by Klaus Teuber, and winner of the Spiel des Jahres was the first euro game we bought as a couple. We knew very little about games at the time and it was too early for it to have garnered the reputation it would go onto achieve as the classic gateway game; it is so long ago that I cannot remember where we bought it or even what led us to buy it. What I do know is that we have had a lot of fun with it playing with friends and family over the years and the birth of the first cloned sheep in 1996 (named Dolly) coinciding with a particular game where one of our godsons produced absolutely HUGE numbers of sheep has meant that for us the sheep will always be Dollies!
Elasund: The First City of Catan - Some of the larger neutral buildings
Elasund is designed by Klaus Teuber and subtitled the First City of Catan being just one of the games and franchise opportunities spawned following the success of Settlers of Catan. With its heritage and being a tile laying building game (a type of game I really like) it was perhaps not surprising that this game would appear on my wish list. My limited investigations indicated that it offered a similar mechanism to its parent and so was likely to have a similar universal appeal, thus when it appeared on ebay and I put in a bid and on this occasion won. 

Games In A Pub - 24th June 2011

Islands of Settlers and Frogs!

At the request of Simon, the games under consideration included, Settlers of Catan, Tobago, Forbidden Island and Pirate's Cove i.e. games that conjure up images of sunnier climes; a reaction I am sure to the unpleasant stormy weather of the last couple of weeks – so much for the summer solstice! When the group was gathered the decision was Settlers of Catan.
Settlers of Catan - The basic layout early in the game & my red territories are already being blighted by the robber
Stéphane had not played this before, Simon and Oliver had but on the unfortunate evening when it had bombed – a review of that evening can be read here. As I started explaining the rules Oliver, presented with a choice of white or blue was jokingly heard to claim that he did not have enough information to make a considered decision!

Match Report - 20th June 2012

Islands, treasure, pirates, and elephant dung!

With 7 players two games seemed in order and with a number expressing interest in Pirate Cove that seemingly left a choice between my preferred option Power Grid: First Sparks and Gwen’s of Tobago – Ben didn’t express a preference. No great surprise then that we played Tobago!

Tobago - The box artworkThe challenge for me was teaching Pirate Cove to Daniella, Natalie, Leonie and Malcolm whilst trying to focus on my own efforts at winning Tobago. As a bloke you will appreciate that this was not easy (doing 2 things at once not being our specialty – according to the ladies at least!).

As our game of Tobago unfolded I found it increasingly difficult to get into the game with the more rowdy group to my right being a constant distraction. It is perhaps a lesson (one that you would think I might have learned by know!) that when playing two games on the same table that it is better to select two that games that are similarly paced. I know Crispin amongst others has on previous occasions struggled to get into one game when a noisier one is taking place at the other end of the table and so it proved for me.

A Box Full of Family Games

Zoch Verlag’s latest batch of review games arrive

Shortly before we went on holiday a large box arrived from our friends at Zoch, the contents included four of their 2012 game releases:
  • Flossen hoch! (a memory game involving penguins eating fish);
  • Geistesblitz 2.0 Given the popularity of this reaction game it is perhaps unsurprising to see Zoch issue a second version that can be combined (for extra pain) with the original.  Personally I really struggled with the original but my wife loved it and our review is here;
  • Alles Kanone! (is a reworking, with pirates – always a good thing in my view – of their award winning memory card game Alles Tomate) ;
  • Streifen Toni (in English this translates to Strippy Tony and is an extension of the award winning concepts delivered last year in Da ist der Wurm drin where very colourful worms race each other).
In addition the box contained some games from 2011 and earlier including:

Games In A Pub – 10th June 2012

Triumph of enthusiasm over experience, or should that read the failure!
Power Grid: The First Sparks - The players
It was great to welcome another new face, Stephane, to our merry throng and as it turns out a fellow blogger although with quiet a different focus (a link to his blog is here

The evening kicked off with a game of TransEuropa whilst we waited for Robin and Oliver to join us. It was Martin and Stephane’s first encounter with this quick, light game and it got a definite thumbs up from them.

The second game Power Grid: The First Sparks was one of only two purchases at this year’s UK Games Expo and one that, despite of having played over 20 games in the intervening time, was yet to be played. With our number at 6 and with it being Stephane’s first encounter with us I was keen to keep everybody together in one game.

Of the games I had brought with me that could accommodate 6 players I only had three: TransEuropa (!), 7 Wonders and Power Grid: The First Sparks. Having played its older and more well known version Power Grid four weeks earlier and believing First Sparks to be a light version of this popular game I thought, what have we got to loose. Well maybe with a different less patient group maybe quiet a lot!

Games in a pub - 27th May 2012

Two in a car and three in a pub!

As Martin and I sped home across the motorway network from the 2012 UK Games Expo in Birmingham the guys back in Crowborough met at the Blue Anchor.

Oliver kindly wrote up the following note and provided the photo’s – thank you.

Just Robin, Simon and myself - as luck would have it, the fates conspired to ensure that the other two were both delayed so I sat with a table full of games and no one to play them for the first 20 minutes or so. One older couple came by in that time and expressed an interest so I explained that I was waiting for the others to turn up, and it's a fortnightly event, maybe we'll see them next time. But sadly they weren't willing to have a go with me in the meantime.
Trans Europa - The game board and components
Once the gang of 3 was all present, we ummed and ahhed for a minute or so but eventually picked out Trans Europa to get us going. I got a very lucky set of cards for the first and third round (the third round, as pictured, I had Dublin and Glasgow, combined with Sofia and Bucharest, the finishing position - I was red), which is why the other two look rather glum in the picture and I thought there might have been other reasons! On the second round I was miles behind the others, but my advantage from the first round was insurmountable given the luck I had on the third go. It was a nice, light way to open the evening.

UK Games Expo 2012 - The Journal

The highs and lows of my weekend at the UK Games Expo

The UK Games Expo Logo
As the train headed north on Friday morning out of Euston I found my seat and couldn’t help but overhear the conversation of the other 3 people at the table talking about ‘decks’, ‘cards’, ‘combo’s’ and a number of other distinctly game type terms. Aaaha me thinks they are going to Birmingham for the UK Games Expo, but no they were a group of friends who love Magic The Gathering heading to Aberystwyth for 5 days (and nights by the sounds of it) of Magic games! The journey sped by as we talked and quizzed each other about our respective interests finding common ground at times and significant differences at others, most notably the direct combative nature of their game versus my preference for Eurogames which rarely have head on conflict.
UK Gaming Media Network - Michael Fox interviewing Richard Denning & Tony Hyams

UK Games Expo - My Highlights

Some of the highlights from this years UK Games Expo

The UK Games Expo goes from strength to strength attracting over 4,000 people and a diverse range of people who enjoy playing games from hardcore games, families, role players, social gamers, wargamers and more - groups of gamers not normally found under the same roof.
UK Games Expo - Some of the demonstration tables

UK Games Expo 2012 - Some Of The Games

Games That Caught My Eye 

These are not games I played but rather based on what I have read and seen ones I thought followers of this blog might find of interest. They are in no particular order:

Board Games On Technology

Some thoughts on board games for iPhones, iPad’s, and Android phones

A friend recently came into work and mentioned that following our conversations he and his partner had bought Tigris and Euphrates for their iPad. They had had a great time playing it. Not surprisingly this piqued my interest and as I don’t have one of these beautiful devices I asked him if he would be kind enough to write a little bit about his thoughts on the game / using the iPad to play a board game.

“These days, many of the big-name board games are available for iPads. They tend to be visually identical to the traditional versions of the game, but they do offer some advantages:

Tigris and Euphrates - An image from the iPad version of the game

Match Report 21st May 2012

Saboteur 2 - The dwarves return!
Another weekend and this time we had the pleasure of seeing my Godparents and Goddaughter down in sunny Somerset. Not surprisingly we played a few games over the two days and what was so brilliant was to see my 80 year old Godparents leaning how to play Settlers of Catan with their 10 year old granddaughter. Whilst Gwen won it was very, very close with both ends of the age spectrum nearly beating her. This was followed by a couple of games of Army of Frogs.

Monday night and MORE games! We were pleased to welcome a new member of the team, Karen a defector from the pub group and the return of Ruth for one of her occasional visits not to mention all the regulars.
Seeland & 7 Wonders in the background

Review – Dungeon Petz

2 - 4 Players, Aged 13+ with a 90 minute playing time 

Dungeon Petz - The box artwork
A review copy of Dungeon Petz, designed by Vlaada Chvatil of Dungeon Lords, Pictomania (reviewed here) and Galaxy Trucker fame, was kindly provided by Czech Games Edition (CGE)

This is a game that was, in large part, created because Vlaada had enjoyed working with David Cochard on Dungeon Lords so much that he wanted to find another opportunity for them to work together. The game, dedicated to Vlaada’s wife, is one which Paul Grogan (one of my Essen travelling companions) was heavily involved with. Put these factors together with the amusing theme, stunning artwork and quality components and this is a game that begs to be got out of the box and played.

I think the following set the tone for the humour of the game and a feel for the considerations to be weighed up:
Dungeon Petz - One of the players screens
“The dungeon lay in shambles, the dungeon lord was vanquished, and the spare pick-axe supply was running low. It was a tough day to be an imp. As the imps trudged back to town, thinking about where they could find another job, one of them said, “You know what this town needs? A pet shop.” A pet shop for dungeon lords? What a great idea! Original! Yeah, and no one else is doing it! No competition! We’ll be rich! We’re natural entrepreneurs! Yeah, natural manures! And now you have opened the first pet shop in town. Right next door to the other first pet shop in town. Across the street from two more. Your impish heart swells with optimism, for you know that your sound business acumen, your attention to detail, and your long-handled manure shovel will give your pet shop a reputation that stands head, shoulders, and pointy ears above the rest. You can’t keep a good imp down!“
Dungeon Petz - The part of a players Burrow board showing the imp family home
As a Social Gamer I love games in many forms but have few regular opponents prepared to play a game of this complexity. Dungeon Petz builds on the theme introduced in CGE’s earlier game Dungeon Lords (which is described in the rules as “designed for hard core gamers”) so it is no surprise that the intellectual gymnastics necessary to balance all the choices and decisions in Dungeon Petz is of a similar level – so at best your brain feels as if it has had a strenuous workout, at worst it feels frazzled!

What follows is an overview of the review copy (kindly provided by CGE) of this 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.

Interview with Albrecht Werstein CEO of Zoch Verlag

Albrecht Werstein
We have had untold hours of fun playing the many Zoch games in our collection (Bausack, Hick Hack in-gackelwack, Furchs and Fertig and Safranito to name just a few) and I felt it would be interesting to interview their CEO, Albrecht Werstein and find out a little more about the company and its history.