Episode 10 - The Top Game of 2013 - With The Lurker As Special Guest!



Merry Xmas to all you gamers out there! Here is Episode 10 - with a introduction format I'm hoping to stick with!

In this episode I give my first impressions of Coup and Eldritch Horror and reveal which game published in 2013 is my top game of the year and why.


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Agricola 2.0, Now With Added Caves! - Caverna: The Cave Farmers Review

Agricola has been a fan favourite among Euro gamers and I like to think of myself as a fairly well balanced gamer so I enjoy Euro's and Ameritrash alike. Agricola made its way into my collection based on the farming theme which I thought was interesting and due to the sheer amount of components in the box. I love the idea of seeing a progression in the game where you can see your endeavours build up in front of you and at the end you feel a sense of achievement. City building games are good for this and farms in this case are no exception.
 
Some people were not as taken in by Agricola due to it's tense worker placement and the emphasis on feeding your people rather than building the farm. The negative point scoring which forced you to balance your farm out rather than specialise was also a concern. Well now we have Caverna and it's essentially panned out as Agricola 2.0 with more streamlined rules, less tension, but a wealth of options. Does it have a place alongside Agricola, or does it replace it entirely?

"That donkey is there asking - have you seen my friend Ed, oh no you haven't!!"

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Southampon On Board - 16 December 2013 - Dark Nights and Dead Knights

Not many games played on this final night of 2013 at Southampton so it's a shorter report, but both seemed pretty epic in scale. I'd been waiting for this night painstakingly for a week though as it was my chance to try out Eldritch Horror - a game which I'd been waiting for, but also dreading because it's the direct rival to my Arkham Horror collection.

"Eldritch Horror - yeah it's a lot of tokens and cards like with Arkham"


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Episode 9 - From Dusk Till Dawn Gaming Marathon



In today's episode, I give my first impressions of Lancaster by Queen Games and report on a recent 12 hour board gaming marathon I conducted with some old friends from 6pm to 6am last week.

As always I appreciate all feedback on how to improve the podcast and the blog in general. Share it around, get the word out and leave me any questions of which I can either respond personally or deliver in a later podcast.


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Portsmouth On Board - 11 December 2013 - Farms, Albino Dwarves and Devoured Meeples

This will be the last session report for Portsmouth On Board before 2014 as our next meetup won't be till 8th January. Such a shame, I enjoy these gaming nights!

Tonight proved to be an epic challenge though - introducing four new players to Caverna: Cave Farmers (CCF) while setting up and playing on pub tables with 5 players in total including myself. . . . . oh boy! Good thing I got there early to make a start, but some shuffling was still required and the layout was less than optimal. Ah well you live and learn for next time, might just have to re-jig my box layout or invest in some more Ramekins for easy token access (my funky Euro box doesn't cater for big fingers).

"Spartacus"

After some detailed explanations, we're ready to play and everyone got started building up their farms and caves with a particular strategy in mind. I had already played this game going for farms or pastures or mines so I thought I'd try a new idea and that was to go for lots of children, which is the polar opposite of what I would want to do in real life. Only one player can have six dwarfs running around so I aimed for that.

The upside was that by the endgame I had so many actions a turn it was insane, which did extend the turns a bit, but it did get a lot of laughs. In order to feed my family I had to resort to ruby trading , adventuring and scrimping the action spaces because I couldn't get any outside activity going on - too busy being stolen by the opponents. Essentially I was creating the ultimate Albino Dwarf family with all my activity taking place in the cave. The family didn't see sunlight until the end of Stage 3!

I got so engrossed in the game, that I almost forgot to get details on what games were being played and collect photos! It's addictive I'll tell you that.

"Caverna - I think I'm going to abandon my Ipad as a camera!"

Near the endgame a major revelation was revealed though, something that may have fooled a lot of players of Agricola and Caverna. Kudos to Ed for pointing this fact out to me and being cool about it (hey we have all made mistakes in interpreting rules before was the agreement essentially). It's also got a lot of buzz on BoardGameGeek though so I'm not alone. The breeding rules particularly in Agricola aren't 100% clear on how many offspring you get from animals. Most of us, including me, read it as "one animal per 2 parents", but in fact it's still only one animal, regardless of how many animals you have in the farm. I've been playing it wrong for months! . . . . . well what can I say except .. . . .whoops! <big cheesy grin>

We carried on playing with the wrong rule as it was too late to go back and eventually the mass animal hoarder won the game, which is probably no surprise considering we were literally breeding like rabbits. Ah well, hopefully everyone got a decent idea of how the game plays and it's certainly going to change my future games. Although I'm going to re-check the iOS version of Agricola as I wonder if it does it wrong as well.

"Rampage - pre and post destruction!"

Across the way, the games were a lot more lighter, with Spartacus and Rampage taking the highlight spots. Let's face it a game where you have Meeples balancing in skyscrapers being knocked down by grown men blowing on the game is going to get a few double takes. On that note as I'm thinking about it . . . . ewwww, your game investment has all these different people blowing spit all over your game. Not for me I don't think.

Eventually their games finished and some lighter fillers such as Incan Gold and Saboteur made the cut, but our game took the entire evening with explanations and then some. Frantically I had to pack the game away in a hurry - not something I want to repeat soon. Some improvements to how it's packaged or organised are definitely in order.

"Saboteur"

All in all, a good test of the game with many players, however unless I can seriously sort out the setup and packing issues, I'm going to avoid 5 player games again. I think 4 players is a great sweet spot for this game, but I'd happily play 3 players as well. I've now played this game with 1-5 players so I'm all set for the big review later this month which I know many gamers have been waiting for.

But there's still one ultimate question to answer. . . . . . . is Caverna better than Agricola and regardless of which, is it worth having both games or must one make the cull? I'm going to hate having to answer that one. . . . TO BE CONTINUED

Games Played

Caverna: The Cave Farmers
Rampage
Spartacus
Saboteur
Incan Gold
. . . . and a couple others! 









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Sharkey the Friendly Shark, But Not Too Friendly! - Survive: Escape From Atlantis Review

Ahhhh, feels good to be all nostalgic. I've been into board games since a young age but for a long period of childhood the majority of games I played were by Ravensburger as there were the ones my parents had bought and stuck with. Occasionally there were some other gems though like Hero Quest, Key to the Kingdom and Battle Masters that I could play with my brother if necessary. One particular gem that made the cut even for family play however was Escape from Atlantis which was a great 80's game for me so when I noticed there was a 30th Anniversary Reprint out with all new components, I jumped at the chance to acquire it along with all the mini expansions (especially after my parents sold the original.......THANKS!)

Do I now regret my decision or has my childhood been preserved for my adult years? Let's find out! A quick note though, I'm going to cover the main game as well as the mini-expansions in this review as they are cheap and easy to find, yet make small and significant changes to how it plays.




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Southampton On Board - 9 December 2013 - Emoticons, Firefighters and Red Chips

You turn up to a board game night on time and there's still games being played! Makes me wonder why I bother working late and not just head to the pub straight after work! (Note - sorry for picture quality again, the pub is terrible for lighting)

Ah well, gave me the chance to pick up the late arrivals with a new game I'd purchased for a tenner based on every board game reviewer out there sticking it on their Underrated Games list - and that is Smiley Face designed by Bruno Faidutti. Yeah, the same guy who created Citadels, one of my first and favourite games. This is rated in the 6,000's on BGG and I bet it's all because of the box cover which features a row of Emoticons in bright colours. The amount of trouble I've had trying to get this to the table in the first week - luckily though, they were willing and so 7 of us opened it up.

"Trust me, this game is under-rated, it's a good light game and I'd rather play this than Coup any century!"


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Who's That Pokemon. . . . Err I Mean Huge Angry Monster? - King of Tokyo Expansions Review

When something is made by Richard Garfield, you have to expect expansions galore, not that it's a bad thing of course, but your wallet will say otherwise. King of Tokyo, which is already a staple in most gamer's collections has now received 2 expansions to date and we're expecting a special standalone game "King of New York" in 2014. However at £11-12 per expansion should you consider grabbing these for your game or can you survive just fine with the base game?


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Southampton On Board - 2 December 2013 - Knights, Big Monsters and an Wool Excess

A late arrival (curse you Southampton traffic as per usual!) meant I almost thought I was going to be stuck for a couple of hours testing out Le Havre on the Ipad while listening to a 6 player game of Catan take place (seriously 6 players are you mad?!), but thankfully I was invited into a last minute game of Lancaster not realising that it could house 5 players - result!

Knowing very little about the game and even the rules which had to be explained in a hurry due to my lateness, I was keen to show just quickly I can pick up a game and formulate strategies. I did have some worry though when I noticed Queens Games was the publisher and my most significant encounter with them was the god awful and hateful and frankly hellish. . . . . Kingdom Builder which if you listen to my podcast you'll know it's a game I detest with a passion. 

"Lancaster - it does look pretty but arggh, boring wooden cubes on the left!"

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