ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn! - Eldritch Horror Review

Well it's the end of Co-Op month and even though I'm a big fan of co-operative games, I'm looking forward to reviewing and unboxing something different now! But I'm going to finish the month off with a big one. Only released at the end of last year this game is making it big with Arkham Horror fans and newbies alike.
However I've been dreading its release. Only in the summer of 2013 had I acquired the whole collection of Arkham Horror all the way up to Miskatonic and in October I nearly killed myself reviewing every single part of the chain. Now suddenly we have Eldritch Horror, touted as a sister game to Arkham Horror, but not intended to be a replacement. . . . . yeaaaaa I'm not so sure on that. Are my fears confirmed so that Eldritch Horror is going to replace my beloved Arkham or are they different enough to scratch separate itches? Is Eldritch even good enough to be included in this argument? Read on!


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Southampton On Board - 24 February 2014 - The Welsh, The Witches and the "What Is That?"

After a short day at work, a tiring gym session and a long drive while talking to my parents, I was hoping my brain and body alike were ready for some games. Due to having to write up a Top 10 Worker Placement games list soon I was sticking purely to that genre and at least didn't have to carry a giant bag full of games for once.

After our usual long chit-chat to catch up, the games got started with my worker placement game of choice being Snowdonia, a game about building a train track up the Welsh mountain. Not a theme I would normally jump on being train-related but then the alternative choice was Russian Railroads which I was hoping to be playing at the POB session on Wednesday anyway. Other players settled in to Discworld: The Witches and another game which I confess, I've no idea what it was - if you get it from the photo then fair play to you but it didn't peak my interest when I looked at it and I was too busy trying to learn the rules of Snowdonia, which had to be re-learned by the game's owner due to tiredness and sitting on the shelf for too long!


"Snowdonia"

It took a while before we got started, but I'd rather get the game right then play it wrong. Despite the game having a fairly dry theme, we were constantly cracking jokes at the Welsh for their station names in the game and adopting different styles of play across the players. I felt that contracts and surveyors were a bit too powerful in this game from first glance so I tried to find out whether avoiding them would do the trick. That meant I stuck to building on top of stations and grabbing points there to which I dominated in that aspect. Unfortunately by the end of the game it turned out that the contracts/surveyors are in fact the way to play if you can pull it off. I only came 3rd by 4 points, but there was a clear leader with Russ breaking 100 points from obtaining a lot of contracts.


". . . . what is this? :P (Thanks to David Parrott @eightlittlebits - it's Last Will)"

All in all, it's a good little game, not too complex and the mechanics fit well with the theme of the game. I'm not convinced that there's multiple paths to victory, but as a result there's enough blocking that can be done to help stop other players much like Agricola. The trains you can buy are also a major factor in this game as they give you extra workers for only 1 resource a turn. I had an expensive train which I could barely use but cheaper trains could chuck out workers constantly.

Will it make my Top 10. . . . . . it comes close but I don't think it will, making the shortlist, but not making the final cut.

The Witches was progressing fine now that apparently the owners actually got the rules right which previously meant that the game slapped them silly until they cried out in terror. Considering the game is meant to be a relatively easy, light game, that's not something you hear every day.

"The Witches"

Two other new members turned up midway and played their own game of Guildhall, which to be fair is a card game I'd like to play - it doesn't get hyped up very much but it sounds like a card manipulation game that I would like so it's on my To Play list. . . . . . what's on this fabled list of games I have to get played, a thousand games at this point?


"Guildhall"

With little time left we resorted to shorter games and lo and behold, Avalon Resistance makes an appearance! I'm surprised we haven't burned out on this game as it's a weekly thing but to be fair it plays a lot of people and my Masquerade game hasn't been as popular as I would like but maybe I just need to bring it again one week. Ah well I'm expecting Bang The Dice Game in the week which might make an interesting replacement - more on that and probably a review in March.

Yet again I get stuck with the Loyal Servant of Arthur - seriously am I just a magnet for the good guys or something? I yearn to have a game where I'm Evil, I think I've been evil in about 2 plays of this game and we've played it a gazillion times now. However I proved that my logic deducing skills are unmatched as I determined all the bad guys by the end and the missions passed without much issue. . . . unfortunately my logic wasn't enough to convince the bad guys that I was Merlin and yet again Merlin got assassinated. That's 3 times in a row now. I guarantee you, if you can't make me Evil, make me Merlin and I'll prove to you that it's easy to not stand out like a sore thumb and get stabbed in the back - you can hold me to that and if I get killed when it comes around then I'll hang my head in shame!

To end the night, we quickly wrapped up with a game of Kakerlaken Poker where it was proven yet again just how Evil Russell is and why we always suspect him in Avalon. Timing a Royal Stink Bug card while a player with two in front of them and one on top of the penalty pile existed. . . . . result is a loser who deserved a bit of sympathy! But at least it wasn't me!
Another fun night minus the late start, but I got to catch up with a lot of people. Look forward to the next session as per usual, but for now I have more worker placement games to test out and I get to test out Zombicide tonight!

Games Played

Snowdonia
Guildhall
The Witches
Resistance: Avalon
Last Will
Kakerlaken Poker

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Video Review - Marvel Legendary

Continuing the theme of superheroes and Marvel this weekend, here is my review of Marvel Legendary, the deck-building game of superhero mayhem!

And yes I know my voice is quiet - but so far this is the main way I can avoid the Blue Yeti microphone picking up every sound in history including a high pitched whine that's constantly there when the gain is turned up - hopefully my new lapel microphone will improve on things soon.


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How 2 Play - Marvel Legendary

Now we come to one of my favourite Co-Op's for theme based on the Marvel universe. Today I'm going to show you how to set the game up which is usually the most overwhelming part of the game and go through a few turns. 

01:30 - Setting Up The Game
15:33 - The First Round
21:27 - Further Examples



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Unboxing Review - Eldritch Horror

Right, this one is going to be a doozy! There's a lot of cool stuff to show off in this box so it's probably the longest unboxing video to date! Allow me to show you what comes in Eldritch Horror by Fantasy Flight Games.




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How 2 Play - Ghost Stories

Continuing with Co-Op month we now have the How 2 Play video for Ghost Stories. Sorry this didn't come out earlier - I had some sound issues with the first recording!


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Unboxing Review - Sentinels of the Multiverse

Continuing the theme of Co-Op Month, here is the next unboxing review and here we are revisiting the superhero theme. Except in this case, you don't deck-build from a stack of cards, you have your own deck for your superhero. It's been going down well so far and of course a review is incoming.
 
 

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If You Can't Take The Heat - Flashpoint: Fire Rescue - Extreme Danger Review

Ah Flashpoint Fire Rescue. My first review I ever wrote for the blog and also one of my favourite Co-Op's in my collection. When I first heard about Kickstarter I was just too late to get in on the backing for this expansion so I've had to wait a LONG time before it hit retail shops as normal. Another expansion is on the way called "Dangerous Waters", which I'll get on to when it's out.

There are two small expansions already out called 2nd Story and Urban Structures but it's not that easy to get hold of them and they are "mini-expansions" which added a board and some extra rules but not much else. I own Urban Structures, but not 2nd Story which is a shame as it offends my Completionist Syndrome to not have it.

Extreme Danger seeks to rectify some component issues that players had with the base game as well as introduce multiple new boards which you can piece together to form multi-storey buildings. In addition there are new rules and hazards that can get in the way to make the game more complex. Do I recommend getting this expansion? Read on.




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Video Review - Ghost Stories

Today I'm giving my opinions on Ghost Stories, a Co-Op game by Repos Productions which pits a team of Tao Monks against the supernatural forces of Wu Feng in a gorgeous  Japanese themed setting. 

Still experimenting with video/audio settings, so bare with me! :-) It's not easy using a compact camera with a sensitive Yeti microphone in a small space in a room that's lighting and sound wise is hardly kitted out for a professional recording studio! 

01:23 - Component Quality
03:25 - The Rulebook and Challenge Rating
09:07 - Does It Scale Well?
12.09 - Final Verdict

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Portsmouth On Board - 12 February 2014 - Tech Trees, Bizarre Concepts And A Tragic Loss

Ahhh with January out of the way I can concentrate on gaming and Co-Op Month! Unfortunately there's also a flaw with February, that being that work just dies completely and each day drags on to a crawl. So I was looking forward to Portsmouth On Board that night, so much so I even turned up earlier than usual!

"Innovation"

Yet again, plenty of members turning up - it's great to see a regular cast each week. I was expecting Nigel from GamesQuest to turn up a bit late so I opted out of the games that started off, but was able to give my mate Jim a run-down of how Innovation works. I'd only tested it once briefly, but this time we had a full two player game and it certified that it's going to remain in my collection. It's like the ultimate definition of tactical adaptation where you have to constantly change to what tech cards you draw or replace as the ages go on. Ok the theme isn't that strong, but it's a cool game for those who like "quick-thinking" games like me.

"Android Netrunner"

Elsewhere plenty of games were under way, but the giant Eldritch Horror game caught my attention first. I've recently acquired this game and I enjoy it a lot (check out my Top 10 in Episode 12 for it's placement and my review is coming out later this month). But it's cool to see how other players fare at the game and this was a LONG game that night so it must have been pretty epic. Unfortunately they lost in the end, but hey, if you won a co-operative game every time, where would the fun be? One thing about Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror that makes them great games is the immersion and the experience when playing the game, not the ultimate victory.

"Incognito"

Jim & I were then invited into a game of Concept - now this game has brushed past my radar briefly with some confusion. It's a white box with a giant question mark on it and I've not seen it mentioned on many review blogs so I was lost as to what it was. Turns out it's a party game of guessing words, except on this occasion you have a board full of various symbols that depict "descriptions" and then you have to place coloured cubes and markers on the board to emphasise said descriptions to the other players. It's tricky to explain, but let's say for example I had to describe "Noah". I would first mark out that it's a man, then place a marker out to show that he's fictional (blasphemy!!) and then place several cubes of the same colour on a space to really focus on the fact that it's far back in history.

"The Witches"

Get it?. . . . . No? . . . . . well tough you'll have to play it, but I recommend that you do. First impressions were that it's very innovative and different and of course as a good party game should, brings out a ton of laughter among the players with all the crazy guesses being unloaded everywhere. In fact once I can qualify for free shipping, I'm adding this to the collection, it was that much fun and I know my family will be able to get it.

"RoboRally"

As the other games continued on with the Sentinels players getting owned by the Ennead and The Lurker In The Threshold set to destroy the world in Eldritch Horror we moved on to quick fillers. Beginning with For Sale, which is not my favourite game in the world as it's an auction genre and I rated these pretty low in my early podcast days. I don't mind For Sale though because it's simple and quick - much better than that Power Grid rubbish. . . . . oh yeah I'm still bringing it up!

"Eldritch Horror"

A good fun game with me proving that even cardboard boxes can fetch you thousands of pounds when played at the right time. I won the first game but had a serious double take moment in the second game where I felt confident I'd walked away with that victory as well, only to find my mate Jim had completely demolished my score without me realising! Fair play to him, I was really surprised, but I still held the status of earning more money from a cardboard box then he could with a beach house!

"Concept"

To wrap up the night, I brought out Kakerlaken Poker to fulfil my itch to get a bluffing game in. I've already spoken about this game and reviewed it on the blog - it's a cool filler game of bluffing and deception that always seems to go down well, is easy to play and only costs a tenner, so you can't lose really. . . . . . well I can, yes tragically I suffered my FIRST EVER loss at this game despite hanging on for a long time. Ah well it had to happen eventually . . . . stupid flies!

"Hansa Teutonica"

Another great night and looking forward to the next one as always!

Games Played
Innovation
Eldritch Horror
Concept
Sentinels of the Multiverse
Love Letter
Modern Art
Kakerlaken Poker
For Sale
Roborally
Incognito
Hansa Teutonica
Android: Netrunner
The Witches
King of Tokyo

"Sentinels of the Multiverse"

"For Sale"

"Love Letter"

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Southampton On Board - 10 February 2014 - Persistent Sages, Triangular Houses and Chaos Gods

Well, not a great deal to report on this week as every game took forever to finish! So there were only 3 major games in play with a couple of lighter fillers thrown in! Due to having to pick up some goods from Novatech I ended up at the pub way too early, but lucky for me there were 4 other players setting up Citadels - fantastic!

My Assassin proved to be a little too good at his job. After wasting the Merchant in the first round, the Merchant decided to be absent for the next 3-4 rounds from the selection of characters. Next time I'll just try to hospitalise him rather than outright decapitate him, that should still get the message across!

The Tax Collector was a replacement for the Thief and personally I don't like him despite having easy opportunities to make accountant jokes about him given my profession - his ability just doesn't sting enough as you can get around it easily and you lose the coolness of having to figure out which character is who like the Thief does. However Russell seemed to like him very much taking him four times in a row - shame he wasn't winning as I would have chosen the Assassin more often otherwise! ;-)

"Bora Bora"

Once everyone else had arrived, we settled into our 3 major games of the night. The group that I swear only play Euro games religiously (not that that's a bad thing, I love a good Euro game too) whipped out Bora Bora - a game I wouldn't mind trying at some stage if only to find out what the deal is with all those triangular houses all over the place. Graham started teaching yet another game on my hitlist called Chaos of the Old World in which you control the Warhammer Gods of Chaos in a large area control game. It looks gorgeous and being an Warhammer fan in my college days I would have normally jumped straight into this. . . . . however. . . . . I made a promise that I was going to teach Tales of the Arabian Nights and I never go back on a promise!

Four of us opened up the Book of Tales, which incidentally is obscenely huge and contains over 2,600 paragraphs/lists. Don't let it be said they didn't put in an effort when they designed this game. This game is essentially a giant story-book where you move around from location to location having encounters which can range from wicked hags to mystical creatures to ancient treasures. The majority of the time they won't necessarily go well for you but it's hilarious to find out what kind of things you can get up to. Let me give you a few examples:

"Tales of the Arabian Nights - bit fuzzy, apologies!"

Justin decided to go for a sea-faring Sinbad (how original :P), but this plan encountered an issue when he came across a legendary Dendan (which apparently is a gigantic black fish) and thought that he could take it on. . . . yeeeeaaahhh! The Dendan took out his ship and crew causing him to be grief stricken throughout the whole game which meant his skills became near useless! Well it's a heavy burden on your shoulders to lose your whole crew, even if Justin didn't really care either way!

Callum. . . . well I need to keep this report PG-13 so I can't go into detail as to what he was aiming for but it involved a female with talents in appearance and seduction so you do the math! Unfortunately all his attempts to court anything were hindered by his inability to do any decent story-telling, which got him scorned and made a fool of regularly. Don't all women say these days that it's more about personality than looks after all.

As for me, my story resulted in many normal encounters until the later half of the game where I acquired an Ebony Horse treasure piece, which allowed to teleport across the map willy-nilly. However every time I used it I had to encounter a Pursuing Sage who wanted his little horse back! 5 times I tried different responses and every single time I got screwed over! Finally on the 6th attempt I hung my head and chose to grovel in front of him - "I've had enough, just take your stupid horse, I can't take it any more"! The Sage felt sorry for me and let me go with a nice humble reward!

These are all examples of how hilarious this game can get as an experience.

"Chaos in the Old World"

We wrapped up the night after everyone else had finished their games with an 8 player Avalon: Resistance game. Seriously I'll never be rid of it! Ah well, turned out to be a good game although how I can have a 3 in 4 chance of being a special character and/or evil and still end up as a boring good guy is beyond me! Evil is so much more interesting. Anyways, we easily figured out who the evil guys were, but unfortunately our resident Merlin was a little too open about his thoughts and received a poisoned sword to thank him for his troubles from the opposing Assassin. One of these days I'll be Merlin - good luck trying to assassinate me!

Another fun night though a shame I didn't get to try out any of my hit-list, but in the words of a classic cartoon villain. . . . "I'll get you next time Gadget . . . . next time!"


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Unboxing Review - Marvel Legendary

Today I'm looking into the contents of Marvel Legendary, a deck-building game in which lots of the superheroes we know and love from the Marvel universe come together to battle against evil.
 
Expect a LOT of cards!
 

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Episode 12 - Why Can't We Be Friends?

Hey folks!
Awfully sorry about the delay for the next episode in this podcast, January for me is the month of hell with regards to being a Chartered Tax Advisor as my day job. Thankfully though, January is over with and now I can get back to some solid reviews, both on the blog and on the podcast/YouTube channel.
This is a new format for the podcast which I'll be sticking with now, more streamlined, organised and with more content. In today's episode, the theme is Co-Op Month!!
I give my first impressions on Robinson Crusoe, talk a bit about the Alpha Gamer problem that Co-Op games can have and give my Top 10 Co-Operative games. You can now subscribe to this podcast on Itunes!



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Video Review - Forbidden Desert

The first review on the YouTube channel is finally here! Today I give you my opinions on Forbidden Desert - hopefully my How To Play video has given you an idea of how the game works, so here's my verdict on the game itself - will it stay in my collection?
 
 
 
02:05 - Component Quality
03:36 - Accessible Gameplay
08:00 - Criticisms
12.11 - Final Verdict

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How To Play - Forbidden Desert

Hey folks!
 
As promised this YouTube channel will also feature short "How To Play" videos on various games throughout the year in the hope that anyone who is interested in playing the game will get a feel for how it works.
 
We begin with the first How To Play video continuing the theme of Co-Op month and that is Forbidden Desert, the sequel to Gamewright's Forbidden Island.
 
 
01:28 - Setting Up The Game
04:32 - The First Turn
12:00 - Further Examples
 
 
 
 

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Unboxing Review - Ghost Stories

Continuing the Co-Operative Month, we have one of the classics that isn't as well heard of as I would like. This is the game that despite being easy to learn, takes a while to master and teaches you the harsh truth that some Co-Op games are designed to slap you in the face the second you lift the box lid.
 
Component wise though, being from Repos Productions, I'm expecting good things, so let's find out!
 
 
 

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Coming Down With A Nasty Case of Cubes - Pandemic Review

It's February and that means . . . . IT'S CO-OPERATIVE MONTH!

I almost feel like I'll need to shelter myself in a panic room when I'm done with this review and I don't mean just from having a sore throat. This game is regarded as a staple in the Co-Op gaming world and it even reached No 1 in the Dice Tower People's Choice of 2013 so if I don't give this a glowing review, there will be people marching to my front door in a manner comparable to that film "The Purge".

Well, I like to think I'm objective when I conduct my reviews and I refuse to be influenced or biased so I hope ACME have done a good job with the installation because this review is not going to be all about praise. And I love co-operative games, in fact I've just added another 3 of them to my collection today. With that in mind, let's talk about Pandemic (expansions not included). And apologies for the formatting on this page - Blogger is being a pain!

"Focusing on the 2013 reprint version"

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Southampton On Board - 27 January 2014 - Harbours, Zombies & Cyber-Terroism

Despite the dodgy parking restrictions in place there was still quite a few members present for this weeks Southampton group! Due to time and cost and distance I'm having to be a little more picky with which sessions I turn up to, but hey who'd be a Chartered Accountant with a games blog and YouTube channel these days?
Not too many games to report on though this week as my chosen game took most of the available time, but I was so glad to be able to try it. For a while I've enjoyed playing Agricola by Uwe Rosenberg, which now has been almost replaced by Caverna by the same designer. So I've been keen to try out his other work, but on the top of the list has been Le Havre. Pegged by Tom Vasel as one of his favourite Euro games of all time, I've been meaning to get this played for ages, but no-one seemed to own it.

"Le Havre"

No shocker that it got a lot of attention from players, 5 of us were keen to play it and despite the game's warning that only experienced players should play with 5 players, we got stuck in anyway. I ain't letting no silly publisher warning ruin my chance! I'm a quick learner of games, I play Euro's solo and take on Cthulhu with my own squad of investigators, I can handle running a harbour and trading goods, how hard can it be?

The rest of the group settled into Last Night On Earth with a couple others branching off for Netrunner under a request for tuition in the game. I've tried it once at a recent Demo day and I enjoyed it, it's a cool card game, but one that I could only really play if I knew enough players with decks that I could play against regularly. Might happen in the future though as LCG's are kinder on the wallet than CCG's. As for Last Night On Earth . . . . <shiver>. . . . sudden feelings of dread run over me when I see that game.

"Last Night On Earth"

Le Havre puts you in control of a harbour warehouse and throughout the many rounds (and there are a LOT of rounds even in the short game) you take it in turns to acquire goods from incoming ships and construct buildings to refine them or provide special abilities. The premise is simple - earn as much wealth and money as you can by the end of the game. Now already that makes it easier to pick up than Agricola as you don't have multiple scoring venues, but despite this there's legitimately multiple paths to victory. Also unlike Agricola there's usually always a good action to take so if someone blocks your worker, you're not totally screwed over.

"Android Netrunner"

Each of us chose our own route and strategic path and even though the buildings varied across the board, you could still get an idea of what each person was doing and it's a neat concept to have the buildings available for access for anybody but at a cost if it belongs to another player. Not original, but it works well in other games that use it. I had to change my intended profession a hundred times though at the beginning as everyone else kept buying my buildings! I think in the end I was a baker that also owned a lot of factory style buildings - a move which turned out to be critical when I found out what the Bank gave you for owning them.
Eventually the cyber-terrorists had finished their tutorial session (as I'm writing this I'm getting more and more tempted to buy the game now) and quickly brought out Labyrinth for just the two of them. I remember playing this classic back in the childhood days - not sure I'd give it the same love now, but hey it's one of those cheap and cheerful games that scratches the "kick you when you're down" itch.

"Labyrinth"

Continuing with Le Harve, one surprise I was noticing (besides winning as I honestly thought I was lagging behind by miles until I bought the Bank which brought me back in) was actually the game length. The rulebook stated that a "short" game with 5 players should take around 2 and a half hours. And funny enough it did and that included rules explanations as well. I expected it to take much longer so this was a welcome boost. Granted we played the short version, I bet that doing the long version would have added another 30-45 minutes minimum, but when you have 5 players in a Euro game, you don't want it to drag on too long.
The zombies and treasure hunters had finished their games and whipped out a large game of King of Tokyo to finish out the evening. Regrettably I was too late to join it, but Gigazaur was not mis-treated in my absence, being the eventual victor of the game. Gigazaur rules, nuff said! It gave me a chance to catch up with other members and discuss a few games including Le Havre, something which isn't always easy to do at populated game sessions.

"King of Tokyo"

Not as much to report on this week really - but hey it's nice to be able to wrap this up nice and quick for a change. I've got a ton of Co-Op related videos and reviews to get ready for February as it is! On that note - Pandemic is coming on the 1st, guaranteed!

Games Played
Le Havre
Last Night On Earth
Android: Netrunner
Labyrinth
King of Tokyo

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