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.