Pimp My Board Game

We all have games we love so much, we want them to be the most beautiful thing on the table. Here I will list my top games, that we decided to give a pamper treatment. Number 1 is the game we invested in the most.

Imaginarium

A beautiful game of building dream factories. Game itself is quite perfect, really. Components are great, the component holder was a nice surprise, and ohh the minis… But there was thing missing for us. The point tokens, gears. My first thought was, that they could be metal. So I have searched the depths of Chinese internet shops, and found it. Dozens of gears, golden, silver, copper ones, for as much as £1.

Abyss

Ach, such a beauty! A game, that catches your eye when it’s out on the table. Definitely one of the prettiest artwork I’ve ever seen. And it’s all beautiful. Apart from two things. Those plastic, toilet-bowl-like pearl holders. Nah, that’s just not in line with the theme. So we got some… shells. For free, duh. What’s the other bit? Oh, the keys. Come on, cardboard keys? That was just too easy. Another £1, and we got a set of gorgeous, metal keys.

Altiplano

One of those games nobody wants to set up. Getting all the small tokens out from the bags is a pain, so we made an insert (around £6).  But still, there was something missing. You cannot upgrade the tokens, fact. But what you can do, is to upgrade the bags. The boring, black, drawstring bags. And again, Chinese internet didn’t disappoint us. We got beautiful, colourful, Aztec themed bags, for £4, giving us the total of £10. We bought too many bags, so watch this space for giveaway!

Viticulture

Our favourite worker placement, just filled with theme. Every time we play, we find Italian music, open ;a bottle of something, and have a blast! And as the building tokens and meeples  are great, something was missing. So again, cheap side of the internet provided us with resin, doll house size, wine bottles. The dark ones will be the point counters, the transparent ones may be the wine in our cellars! And all that for as much as  £3. That’s not more than what you spend on Altiplano! Oh, well, yes, and the metal coins added another £22.50, for the grand total of £25.50

Clans of Caledonia

Ok, this one was a bit of a bugger, because we could only upgrade half of the components. We left the player tokens as they were, but the market ones went through pimping process. Boardgameextras provided us with wool, barrels, wheat and milk, for £19. And cheap side of the internet was my saviour when it came to cheese and bread, £4. Additionally, to keep everything nicely in place, I bought wooden jewellery box and turned it into an insert, for another £3, giving us the total of £26.

Scythe

Ahhh, Scythe. This one just had to be upgraded. Realistic resources (£21), and metal coins (£21) do the trick. And they also drained my wallet. It all came to £41 (so far!), because I am not including money spend on pain for the minis, and any future upgrades, like insert, board extension or metal mechs. But hey, it’s worth it!

The New Classics?

Articulate – Accentuate

 

So remember, where you’ve been trying to say something, without using that word? Now, this time you can us all the words, but only those words, and an accent. But hey, it’s not always as easy, as French or Italian, it could be Jamaican or New Yorker, or as hard as Cypriot. And the quotes are all from famous movies, which by the way, score you extra points if you guess the title and the year. Brilliant fun, tonnes of laughter.

Dixit –Muse

 

So in the classic you’re on your own, trying to score your own points. In Muse, you’re trying to get your team to guess what’s the correct card. However, it’s the opposing team, who chooses the card, as well as the clues you can use to describe the picture. For example, you can only say a number to describe the card depicting a blue ball. Easy? Say one! But what if there is going to be more cards with number one on it? Yeah!

Codenames –Decrypto

Codenames was, and still is a great party game, as the team count does not matter. And with all the picture, Disney, Marvel or XXL versions, the game is going strong . However, have you tried Decrypto? In Codenames, you need to connect as many words as you can, and get your team to guess it, before the opposing team guesses theirs. In Decrypto, you have one set of words per team, they have numbers assigned to them, and one person on the team gets the code. If you have it, you need to get your team to guess it, by giving a clue for each word in the code. However, from round 2. the opposing team can try and intercept, and guess your code. Ok, this is one of the hardest games to explain. There is a tonne of rules videos, go check one out (or wait for mine).

Chinese Whispers – Scrawl

So you remember when you had to draw what someone written, and write when someone else had drawn? Well, this is basically the same. You will draw, pass it over, they will write down what they think it is and pass it to the next person, who will draw what is written. The things to draw, however, are rude-ish. And I promise you, after a drink or two, you’re in for a treat! And it’s all dry-wipe! The funniest outcome wins the game. For example my “photocopying your balls” came out as “pissing on your online pen pal”.

Pictionary – Concept

This is a hit, because you don’t need to be able to hold a pencil properly to play this one. I always felt, like people who can’t draw, are a bit handicapped when it comes to Pictionary, and as fun as it can make the game, they didn’t really enjoy it. Now, here comes Concept. A game, where you get the word/saying/quote to guess, and you place tokens on the board with pre-drawn pictures. You get cubes, to stress how much of a certain feature your card represents. For example, if your card would say ‘elephant’, you’d probably put one marker on an animal, one on a colour grey, and then  quite a few on ‘big’ and ‘heavy’, and hopefully your team would guess it. So much fun!

Games I Bough For A Silly Reason

Games we already paid for, and cannot wait to get them to the table! And by we, I mean me, when it come to the paying bit. Being the reasonable and down-to-earth person I am I think through all my purchases, considering all pros and cons… most of the time. This is a list of games, in no particular order, which I bought for ‘no reason’ – according to some people.

Detective – we’ve seen it here and there, browsing the depths of the Interwebs, mostly on the Polish end, and we got really excited with all the previews.  As people who love Sherlock Holmes, EXIT and this type of experience, Detective sounds just like our cup of tea. And the promise of breaking the 4th wall – exciting! We really wanted to talk with Ignacy Trzewiczek about this one during EXPO, but he was constantly busy.

REASON : BREAKING THE 4TH WALL

Everdell – a beautiful worker placement, the board is a 3D tree, the artwork is stunning, the wooden animal meeples, the components are just amazing, and it’s all looking perfect. Plus, the latest Kickstarter update states, that the game will be with us earlier than we think.

REASON : HEDGEHOG MEEPLES

Architects of the West Kingdom – so we happen to love the Raiders of the North Sea saga, however we never went around to buy it, as we got into it too late, when all the expansions were out. Ant that sounded a bit heavy on the pocket. We have played it multiple times at various board game cafes, and really enjoyed the mechanics, but what drew me to it was the art. We watched some run-throughs, and rules, and seeing as the price was ridiculously low, we decided to back it.

REASON : LOW PRICE

D*Day Dice – ok, this one was the theme, mostly. We haven’t played the first edition before backing this one, and didn’t really want to spoil anything for ourselves. But one day, at the Ludoquist, we spotted the tin, and just couldn’t help, but play it. And , oh em gee, we loved it, and now cannot wait even more to play the 2nd edition.

REASON : THEME

Dice Hospital – this one is a bit of a cheat, because we got to playtest it, and have the print and play version at home. But you know, plain paper is not the same as 3D PRINTED AMBULANCES! The game  itself is vry interesting, yet simple, but the ambulances!

REASON : 3D PRINTED AMBULANCES

Solar City – I just backed it on Kickstarter, and got the Early Bird deal, which is nice. And this is a bit of a cheat as well, because we tried it at the EXPO, and surprisingly, I was the one who liked the game the most, even though I didn’t win, and it is a very man game, too. We were talking about backing it, but were a bit sceptical. But then it occurred to me, we don’t have enough Polish games. And, they will plant a tree for every copy sold!

REASON : POLISH PRODUCTION & TREE PLANTING

 

Top 10 Games of All Time

Top 10 Board Games of All Times

10. Clank! In! Space!

We got the first Clank! last year at UKGE, and fell in love with it instantly. Sunken Treasure came next, and didn’t give us anything exciting. And then they announced Clank! In! Space! and I just knew we must get it. I absolutely loved the references to Star Wars, Star Trek and other science-fiction movies and characters. Game itself changed as well. Now the board is modular, and it changes every time you play it. Also, the rules are slightly different, and in fairness, they make the game much more interesting.

9. Abyss (+Kraken, +Leviathan)

Another Expo’17 purchase. I haven’t heard of it before, but Matt did, and he was really keen on buying this one. One of a few games we bought before trying, but man, we weren’t wrong with this one. You explore the depths of the oceans, trying to find allies who will help you recruit the lords, and finally make you rule the Abyss. On the way to achieve that, you may also get to fight some monsters, or maybe it is better to focus on politics? But be careful not to get corrupted! Damn, those Nebulis look so perfect…

8. EXIT series

You may have, or may not, read the post about our ranking of the EXIT series. Regardless, if you have £10 to spare, you should try it. I know, it’s a one-time thing, and you may not be willing to destroy the whole box, but man, it’s worth it! Whether you’d be escaping the Abandoned Cabin, Pharaoh’s Tomb, or trying to find out who killed the Dead Man On The Orient Express, you’d be excited! I agree, it may not be for everyone, but if you like escape rooms, puzzles  and fancy a bit of a challenge, it’s the one for you!

7. Scythe

Came for the looks, stayed for the game play. The mechs, the minis, the metal coins, the artwork! However, that’s not your regular war game. Player interaction is minimal. It’s all about action selection, and doing so in the right time and sequence. Getting those resources, building structures, and being the first one in the race, to get all 6 stars. So is it really a war game? Well, the combat does occur, but maybe not as often, as one would expect. But in the end, it’s all up to you, if you’re here for peace, or power.

6. Sherlock Holmes

This one grabbed me by my throat and hasn’t let go, quite literally, as reading 18th century English is not my cup of tea. However, the experience is so immersive every time we play, I don’t want it to let go. After completing both Sherlock Holmes video games, and the first box of the table top version I must admit, I actually feel, like I am able to solve a crime in real life. We are actually having small doses of Mr. Holmes now, conscious, that at some point, we will run out of cases!

5. T.I.M.E Stories

Another one that falls into the category of puzzles and case solving, as well as time management, and a bit of a race. Our first experience was unbeatable, although we loved the Prophecy of Dragons the most (so far), and got really lucky with the Marcy’s Case. I just can’t help the feeling, that the scenarios are getting worse, and the game play is just repetitive. However, I won’t give up on thinking, this is a great game!

4. Viticulture (Essential Edition + Tuscany)

Oh, hello Euro game! I would never expect me having a worker placement on this list, but hey! There it is! And oh my gosh it is brilliant! The take on seasons, and planning ahead, but as well having one chance per year to use occupied space. And the abilities and buildings, you may even travel in time! It’s an absolute blast to play this one. Gotta know you love the game, if you upgraded the coins to metal ones, and point markers to little wine bottles.

3. Mansions of Madness (2nd Edition)

Well, by this point you may have noticed, that I am more about the experience, than the game itself. Mansions are absolutely brilliant in its simplicity. You are investigators, you’re trying to find out who, when and why. And if some monsters come along, just shoot them in the face! I love the atmosphere and theme in this one, we even threw a dress-up Halloween party with MoM theme!  More expansions please!

2. 7th Continent

Well, and yet another experience. Long awaited Kickstarter, the 7th Continent. Brilliant game, for a maximum of two players I’d say. You really get to thinking what is the best choice, and what outcome could it bring. Do I turn over this rock? What if there is a snake? What if I find a rare plat I read about somewhere before? Wait, what’s that? A hidden number?  This one definitely has a WOW effect, and it’s huge!

  1. Gloomhaven

Speaking of huge, here’s a monster of a box. Do I need to introduce anyone to Gloomhaven? The 3rd printing has just happened, and the lucky ones got a copy. The hype went down, I’m not gonna lie, but the game itself it’s still a great position. For me, as a kid who grew up playing Diablo, this is a dream come true. A hack and slash on a board, with character development? Gotta love legacy games! Ant the theme is right there, the stories, the characters, the map! And the upcoming expansion… Could we ask for more?

EXIT games – RATING

We are huge fans of escape rooms and everything that’s connected with it. We stumbled upon EXIT games about a year ago, and ever since, this is our favourite family fun! It’s cheap, it’s a brain workout, and it’s just great! We started with Abandoned Cabin, and followed all of them, to Dead Man on The Orient Express. Here is a spoiler free list of all of them, in the order of the least, to the most fun!

The list was made considering the ratio of difficulty level and fun we had. I gave minus points for fiddliness, obviousness and irritation caused. I added points for WOW moments and satisfaction of solving the riddles. Difficulty is the one stated on the boxes, this is not my rating. Here we go!

8.Polar Station                                    difficulty ***                     rating 3/10

We have found this one just a bit boring, some riddles were simple, some overly complicated as for the outcome. This one didn’t have any impact on us, and I remember  only one task.

7.Secret Lab                                         difficulty N/A                    rating 4/10

This one was interesting, however many riddles turned out to be irritating, to the point that I just wanted to check the answer, and that means the fun factor was just not there.

6.Forbidden Island                            difficulty ***                     rating 5/10

Oh, the pirates.. the theme was fun, first couple of riddles were really easy, and then, on the last one, after 20 minutes of failing, we have given up, and looked at the clue. And we were disappointed like never before during EXIT games, and this is the last of all eight we have played.

5. Forgotten Castle                              difficulty ****                   rating 6/10

A good one, although a bit fiddly in places. I liked the theme, but this one requires high precision, and it makes it just a bit too annoying.

4.Sunken Treasure                        difficulty **                        rating 6/10

Ok, not a bad one, probably the best one to start with. Linear riddles, that tell you almost exactly what to do. Also some interesting takes on some things.

 

3.Pharaoh’s Tomb                           difficulty ****                   rating 8/10

Ok, got to the final three. This one was a challenge, and we have used a clue or two. The only reason this one is not higher on the list is because, again, it had some unnecessary fiddliness.

2.Abandoned Cabin                      difficulty N/A                     rating 9/10

This had the most WOW effect on us! Maybe because it was the first one we ever done, at points, we were actually standing and shouting.

1.Dead Man on The Orient Express
difficulty ****                                   rating 10/10

One of the most recent ones, and Oh-My-Gosh that’s a good one! I’m not gonna lie, it took us about two hours to finish this one, but we are proud to announce, that we haven’t used any clues. It was a true murder mystery, and had no fiddly riddle, all made complete sense, and you really had to use your brain. It was a mix of EXIT and Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. A brilliant one!

 

We are looking forward to the next two releases, The Sinister Mansion (difficulty ****), and the Mysterious Museum (difficulty **).

Top 10 Games I Suck At

Inspired by The Dice Tower list during the UKGE, I thought I’ll do my list of To 10 Games I Suck At.

10. Harvest Dice

A new addition to our collection, a roll and write game. You plant vegetables, feed the pig, pump up prices on the market… and somehow, I always end up with empty field, cheap goods  and quite fat pig.

9. Queendomino

Right, so I know now I have absolutely no spatial thinking. The grid just scares me, whether it’s 5×5 or 7×7, I always end up with empty spaces.

8. Caverna

There is just too much choice, and somehow, I always end up picking the wrong action, either giving other people stuff, or taking something I don’t need.

7. Photosynthesis

Point management and thinking ahead are not my things I guess, I plant lots of trees, and they never grow bigger, they stay in shade and score me nothing.

6. Azul

A pretty take on thematic abstract game, at which I stare in amazement, forgetting to collect five of the same colour or completing columns.

5. Clank!

Whether in the dungeon, under water, in the pyramid or in space, I always panic, grab the loot and run. Then I sit there for half an hour watching others win.

4. Magic Maze

Ok, one thing is, that you don’t allow me to talk. Another thing is this big, red pawn. That’s what nightmares are made of.

3. Blood Rage

Vikings! Valhalla! Ragnarok! Rage! Indeed, especially, when you play your best card, and someone cancels it with their *stupid* one.

2. Clans of Caledonia

I am just trying to do too much at once I guess, I want cheese, I want whiskey, I want cows! Oh, wait, what? The game is over? Oh, well…

1. Feast for Odin

Never been good at Tetris, ever. Plus the range of actions to take… It’s Caverna all over again, but with Vikings. And islands. What do I know, never had one.

Pioneer Days – which disaster do I cause, which one do I fear the most?

PIONEER DAYS

Player count          2-4

Time      45-60

Age        14+

“You have a wagon, a cow, some wood and a drug, some coins in your pocket, and some town folk to help, you’ll get to the town before the storm hits the land..” Sounds like a bad country song? Nah, sound like a beautifully done, very thematic, dice drafting game.

OVERVIEW

In this one, you’ll try your best, to have as many wagons full of goods, some cows, and some people, who will help you out during your journey. The game takes place during four weeks, at the end of which you’ll arrive at the town. On your journey you’ll pull out dice out of the bag, and everyone will pick one. They can take the money, the good or the person, which the dice represents. The die that hasn’t been picked, goes on a disaster track, which advances it. Once the forth one of the same colour gets left over, the disaster happens. Good thing is, you can prepare for everything. You see the trackers moving, you and the other players decide which one happens when, by picking the dice. Nothing is hidden, the orders are not secret, so you know what to collect. The dice, that you discard advance the disaster tracks, so you know what’s coming.

RE-PLAYABILITY

Each game will be different, as the character sheets, like in Harvest (another great one by Tasty Minstrel Games), you can be a regular pioneer, or chose to play an advanced one, where everyone starts with different resources. The town folk deck and the orders will come up in different configurations, also the dice will advance the disaster in a different way each time you play. I see how this game may become addictive, as since we played it I can’t stop thinking about it.

LUCK

Well, obviously where there is dice, there is luck. However, you can pay to change the dice face. The cards that come up are random, but they are never bad, however they may be useless, but there is always a thing to do on your turn. You don’t like the dice – change it, you don’t want the person – take the money, you don’t want the money – take the goods. No space to store them? Buy another wagon! There is always an option, and never will you spend your round doing nothing.

COMPONENTS

The quality of components is astounding, the cardboard is thicker than any other we’ve ever seen, the boards are sturdy, and even the cows seem more detailed. First player marker (horseshoe) and wooden wagons and meeple are also great. Artwork on cards is beautiful, and it all presents on the table pretty well.

DO I NEED IT ON MY SHELF?

Do not buy, if you expect strategy like in Great Western Trail. Buy, if you want something way better , but still in the spirit of The Oregon Trail.

 

 

This War of Mine – podejście drugie

„A my na tej wojnie…”

Czujesz to? To już nie jest chłód, nie głód, to codzienność. To już ostatnie okruchy, ostatnie krople, pierwszy śnieg. Wyjść, i ryzykować życie za kilka konserw; czy zostać, i czekać na lepsze dni? A co, jeśli nie nadejdą? A co, jeśli nie dotrwam? Wychodzę, ostatni nabój w pistolecie znalezionym w gruzach. Trzymajcie kciuki.

„Kto walczy, może przegrać. Kto nie walczy, już przegrał.” (Bertold Brecht)

Na wojnie, podobnie jak w tej grze, nie ma zasad. Nie zaczniesz rozgrywki od przeczytania parunastu stron. Wszystko jest wielką niewiadomą. Rzucisz okiem na  setup, rozłożysz wszystko na planszy i… No właśnie, co teraz? Pierwsza osoba weźmie dziennik, i będziecie się go trzymać i sobie podawać. Tak krok po kroku, dzień po dniu, przeczołgacie się przez wojnę. Albo i nie. Nie ukrywajmy, ten tytuł jest ciężki. Nie tylko tematycznie, bo rzeczywiście niektóre decyzje będą wymagały przemyślenia, ale także jest to trudna rozgrywka. Dóbr i czasu jest mało, a do zrobienie wiele. Do tego dochodzą kości, które jak wiadomo, nie wybaczają. W niektórych momentach nie będziesz wiedzieć, czy się śmiać, czy płakać, czy zamknąć pudełko i wrócić do niego później. TWOM oferuje funkcję zapisywania gry, bo jeśli nam dobrze idzie, partia może trwać około czterech godzin, a to może być zbyt przytłaczające. Czasem szukamy jedzenia któryś dzień z rzędu, i nic. W końcu docieramy do miejsca gdzie jest szansa na słoik ogórków, jeśli tylko wyrzucisz 9 lub 10. Albo chociaż 7 lub 8, żeby bandaże… albo 5 lub 6, to chociaż zapalimy po papierosie. 3 lub 4 w ostateczności, książka też się przyda, zawsze można nią rozpalić w piecu, tylko błagam, nie 1 lub… 2! Oczywiście, znów wracamy z prawie niczym.

Na wojnie nie każdy jest żołnierzem. Ja jestem nauczycielką, Sveta architektem, a Pavle… cóż, Pavle był dobrym chłopem, robił co mógł,  by nam tu ułatwić żywot. Niestety, nie wytrzymał. I tak wegetujemy, z dnia na dzień, starając się nie zagłębiać w to, co stało się wczoraj. Wiem, że on umierał! Był słaby, ledwo oddychał, cierpiał. Nie, nie zapytałam o jego imię. Morfina? Tak, zabrałam. Jemu już się na nic nie przyda.

Łatwo oceniać tym, którzy to czytają. Prosto stwierdzić „kraść jedzenie i lekarstwa?”; jeszcze prościej powiedzieć „przecież to tylko gra, nie przesadzajmy”.  Jednak This War of Mine nie nazwałabym grą, to bardziej przeżycie, doświadczenie, experience. Jest również bezwzględnie miażdżącą pozycją. Po nią się nie sięga dla rozrywki, dla śmiechu, nawet nie dla uroku. Musisz być na to gotowy, mieć czas, towarzysza czy dwóch (ale nie więcej) i dużo cierpliwości oraz pogody ducha.
Mimo, że wojna jest w tytule, to nie ma tu figurek wojowników, nie ma area control, nie ma czołgów, dowódców. Czasem spotkamy tego czy owego, czasem z nożem, czasem z pistoletem. Czasem chcą okraść, czasem tylko postraszyć, a jeszcze innym razem chcą się przyłączyć.

 

Słyszałeś to? Ktoś puka do drzwi! Trzecia w nocy, zmiana warty. Cholera! To ja muszę otworzyć. Czego tu? Nie mamy nic na wymianę. Co? Zostać? Tutaj? Poczekaj… Sveta! Facet za drzwiami chce się tu zatrzymać, mówi, że ma karabin, ale zepsuty. Chce użyć naszego warsztatu w zamian za ochronę. Nie, nie ma jedzenia, z resztą my też nie. On mówi, że znał Pavle… Wejdź, siadaj.

Wiele jest sensu w tej rozgrywce, co niektórych frustruje. Jak to nie mogę wiedzieć jak się robi barykady, zanim w ogóle znajdę dziurę w ścianie i deski? A no tak, o wielu rzeczach dowiesz się dopiero wtedy, kiedy zostaniesz w ich stronę popchnięty przez los, yyy to znaczy, przez Księgę Skryptów. Mnie to bardzo odpowiada, przecież póki nie musisz wystrugać sobie dzidy, nie sprawdzasz jak to zrobić.

Realizm w This War of Mine jest wielkim plusem, ludzie są ludźmi, mają potrzeby. Jeden jest uzależniony od papierosów, drugi od kawy, i jeśli brakuje ich w naszej bazie, to wpadają oni w depresję. I ona się pogłębia, do tego stopnia, że jeśli stanie się coś nieprzewidzianego, wyżej wymienieni mogą tego nie wytrzymać. Realistyczne są również warunki, jeśli śpisz na podłodze, to nie wypoczniesz tak dobrze, jak na łóżku. Jeśli pijesz wodę po ogórkach, to nie odżywi ona tak, jak kiełbasa. Jeśli jesteś empatyczny, to kiedy kto inny jest w depresji, Tobie też ciężko.

Sveta poszła szukać jedzenia, coś długo nie wraca. Ten nowy, Stepan, chyba ma depresję. Może myślał, że blefujemy z brakiem jedzenia. Sveta zostawiła pistolet, ale wzięła tę strzelbę, którą naprawiliśmy wczoraj. Może tym razem się uda. A co, jeśli nie? To już trzeci dzień bez jedzenia. Nie wiem, czy mam halucynacje, ale ten ostatni nabój ma na sobie moje imię… Katia… Katia…

Nie jest to dla każdego, ba! Jest to gra dla mało kogo. Jednak ja się cieszę, że jestem w tej mniejszości. Trudno opisać rozgrywkę, bo każda jest inna. Ciężko mówić o zasadach, bo prawie ich nie ma, a streszczanie tego, co wiem, byłoby spoilerem. A jeśli chodzi o wykonanie, do którego nie można się doczepić, to aż nie na miejscu, żeby się o tym wypowiadać.

Śmiejcie się, ale dla fanów komiksów paragrafowych, książek typu chose-your-own-adventure, gier jak Martwa Zima czy klimatów postapo, This War of Mine jest grą, która powinna pojawić się na półce. Urzekła mnie tym, że jest prawdziwa. Nie ma w niej zombie, kosmitów, maszyn z przyszłości czy mutantów. Są tylko ludzie, i tego czego najbardziej należy się bać, to tego, do czego są zdolni.

 

UKGE 2018

So the UKGE came to an end a while ago, and I finally have some time to write a couple of words about it. First, I’d like to say how well organised it all was, and how much bigger compared to last year. Hall 2, that previously was committed only to tournaments, had an open gaming area, game library, playtesting and some exhibitors. Either way, it was a great experience, and I cannot wait to go there next year!

Now, this post is gonna be longish, and made of separate modules :
1. Game haul
2. Playtesting
3. People

GAME HAUL

We haven’t bought many games prior to UKGE, so we had some budget, but also we started to be more of gamers, than collectors. Let me start with the smallest box, and work upwards.

GLOOM & GLOOM CTHULHU         8/10

So these two are together, for obvious reasons. Gloom is a great party game, that takes a different approach to a negative interaction. Each of you plays a family, and your aim is to kill your members off, whilst making your opponents’ families happy. The more miserable life you have lead, the fewer points you score. The lowest score wins!
Cthulhu edition just adds Miskatonic theme to it. You don’t need to know Lovecraftian world, but it definitely helps. That is why we bought two versions.

HARVEST DICE          8/10

We only recently got into roll and write with the purchase of Dice Castles of Burgundy, but it immediately became our favourite type of travel games. You are a farmer, planting carrots, lettuce and tomatoes, and feeding your pig. The vegetable that is not chosen by anyone, goes to the market, and adds to the value of all of its kind. You score points by multiplying the number of vegetables in your garden by the market value. Additional points are scored by feeding pig, and completing rows in your garden. It’s quick, it’s fun and it’s language independent.

EXIT! Forbidden Island, Sunken Treasure and Orient Express     5/10 — ??/10   — ??/10

We are huge fans of EXIT series, because we just love exit rooms! However, after playing through 4 scenarios with 6 of us, one with 3 and one with 2, we came to a conclusion, that it’s best played solo, or as a couple. Any more people just adds more confusion, and to be fair, most of the puzzles are linear, and with more people it becomes just… boring. So far we liked the Cabin the most, then Tomb, Castle, Lab, and Polar Station.

T.I.M.E STORIES : Endurance & Lumen Fidei                       ??/10 — ??/10

I hope I don’t have to introduce this game to anyone, it’s a great position for all escape room and puzzle lovers. Cannot say much about those two yet, because a) we haven’t played it yet, and b) it would be hard without any spoilers!

GRETCHINZ!         7/10

Well, that was a fun experience! We got to try it first, but I’ll write about it here, as we bought it immediately. You don’t have to be a fan of Warhammer 40k series to play this game. You are a goblin, and alongside others of your kin, you race through the wasteland, shooting at each other. You use cards as bullets and misses, sometimes explosion. What’s so fun about it, you ask? You don’t see your own cards. You can, however, ask questions to people, and they always have to answer truthfully. Oh, but you can only ask if you roll that face on a die. Dice? Yes, I forgot to mention. It all starts with real time dice rolling, and if you get what you want, you shout  GHHHAAAA!, and everyone else have to stop rolling, and accept their dice. It’s frantic, it’s funny, it’s mean!

DECRYPTO        ??/10

Ok, another position, that hasn’t hit the table yet. I have been reading about it, and many people said it’s the new Codenames. We haven’t tried it before buying, because we just couldn’t crack the rules. Why did we buy it then? Because we like a challenge, and we like word games and, quite frankly, got a bit bored of Codenames now. I will post a proper review comparing those two, soon!

NEAR AND FAR     10/10

Wow! Well this one is a big deal. We have never played Above and Below, but Near and Far not being really a sequel, drawn us with it’s beautiful visuals, and storytelling. And my oh my, it’s a winner! Me and Matt always buy games that work for two players, but they are mostly co-ops. This one is actually a very competitive one. You put down tents to establish routes, get money, people, food, treasures. You complete objectives, that give you good stuff. You chose, if you want to be good or bad. You can play it as a campaign, as a arcade mode or character mode – each of those tells a story, however the character mode does it best. The component quality is great, the board is a book, the whole game is just a gem!

ALTIPLANO     9/10

We’ve played this one multiple times in a board game cafe, but never got to buy it for some reason. Got it this time, as the price was quite attractive. There is a tonne of reviews of this one, and I will post my one soon, too. So I will be brief, it’s Orléans with alpacas. Action selection + worker placement + beautiful setting + great components + fulfilling orders + bag building + warehouse filling + board upgrading + alpacas = 9. What is the missing 1? No player interaction. For me, it doesn’t matter too much, but mu group seems to have issues with it.

LEGENDARY ENCOUNTERS ALIEN      7/10

So here is another co-op game, deckbuilder this time. We got it mainly because of the theme. Matt loves Alien movies, and it works for me too. I don’t know the movies as well, so I just aim to fulfil the objectives, whilst he wants things to be thematic. The first game absolutely crushed us, but the other two we managed to win. It is good, but re-playability is low.

PLAYTESTING
I am really glad, that there is a playtesting area! We had a chance to try some great games! This time I’ll go from the least to the most fun!

GRIBBLIES        6/10 (so far)

We only came across this one, because it is being created by Matt’s colleague, otherwise we probably wouldn’t know anything about it. It is a pretty looking game with cool graphics, good for introducing new people and children to gaming. But for experienced gamers it’s average. No strategy involved, luck based and repetitive. However, if you’re looking for something to get your  older children into board games, keep an eye out on this one!

CORAL ISLANDS        6/10 (so far)

Alley Cat Games stand was always busy, but we finally managed to squeeze at the table to play Coral Islands. It’s a dice stacking game, where you’re all building a coral reef, trying to fulfil as many patterns presented on cards, as you can. You also want your high numbered dice to be on top of the reef, because at the end of the game, you add up all of the pips on your dice. You can only stack them in an ascending order, so 5 on top of 4, 4 on top of 3 ect. BUT you can put a 1 on top of a 6, to deny someone points. Once per game you can also use a starfish to lock in one of your high scoring dice, and it cannot be touched. The game itself is gorgeous, the translucent dice make it all a feast for the eyes, however, you need to be able to ‘think in 3D’, that I am not able to do. Also, once you have used your dice to, and as pretty as the game is, it turned out to be quite a dexterity one, with the prototype dice being wonky and slippery. It was just too much for me, one of those I’d rather look at, than play.

ECHIDNA SHUFFLE        6/10

A great gateway game! Designed definitely for children, with big, chunky pieces, and simple rules, the game gets very cutthroat when played with adults only. The aim of the game is, to pick up three bugs of your colour, and deliver them to different tree stumps. The point is, on your turn you can move ANY echidnas you like! So you can re-route someone, who was close to their stump, to make way for your one. However, when everyone is left with one bug only, the game becomes a long and relentless experience. If I pick on blue, blue picks on red, red on yellow and yellow on me, we will probably never reach our stumps. Anyway, if you have young children, and want to introduce them to games, this is one to look out for!

IGUAZU       6/10

Another pretty and simple one! It’s a set collection game, with lot of planning ahead involved. You’re trying to hide your gems in a waterfall, and put them in a certain order, to score you the most points. Not a mean game, luck based, with some elements to adjust the random cards. Good as a gateway game, again, to introduce new players to board games. It is pretty, looks gorgeous on the table, great component quality, and the price is decent, too!

MINERALS      7/10

This is one we tried, because I have heard lots about it, and because it just looked so pretty! The components are gorgeous, the tiles, the little suction thingies, the card design is simple and clear. Rules are easy to learn, and the game will be different each time you play it. Abstract with a theme, language independent, that’s what I like! It also supposed to be inexpensive. It’s a game I’d play with my parents, as a filler, easy to learn.

LOST EXPEDITION 7/10

Fancy a bit of a challenge? Robinson Crusoe seems too easy? Try this one! It’s a great little filler game, where you are exploring the jungle, and trying not to die! And I assure you, you’ll die pretty quickly.

PIONEER DAYS 8/10

New release, brilliant dice game by Tasty Minstrel, the creators of Harvest – one of our favourites! You have a wagon, and as you go through the wild west, you get people to join you, you collect resources and try to get to towns to fulfill orders. However, the dice that aren’t picked advance various types of disasters, that will come, sooner or later. Amazing components quality, quick game play, high re-playability!

SOLAR CITY     8/10  (so far)

Well, this one got me with the theme. It’s set in near future, the world is mostly made of concrete and smoke. You need  to erect buildings, and turn them into gardens, in order to score points. Each game you’ll have six building types to chose from (over a dozen available in the box will make the game different each time you play it). You place a tile on your grid and activate either a row or column it has been built in, this column/row is not available for other players to activate. So you have to keep an eye on other players boards. The game has been compared often to Santa Maria, but it is different. Coming to Kickstarter on June 12, looking forward to this one!

THE AWAKENING      9/10 (so far)

The best experience during UKGE for us! A mix between T.I.M.E Stories and EXIT games, plus a pinch of paragraph comic books. You chose your actions, get clues, solve puzzles and… well, I can’t tell you 😉

PEOPLE

I’ve been lucky to meet some fellow Instagramers and well known Youtubers, some very friendly, some not so much. People who run the stalls were mostly very enthusiastic and helpful, but we have encountered few, who seemed to be having the worst time ever. Just a tip, be professional! Don’t assume, if you’re in England, people won’t understand your mother tongue. But that experience didn’t spoil the whole expo for us.

We loved the panels we attended! First one was The Dice Tower with their Top 10 games they suck at!

Tom Zee Dave
10 Klask Smallworld Downforce
9 Magic the Gathering Gold West Near and Far
8 Space Base Viticulture Tzolkin
7 King of Tokyo Cyclades Catacombs
6 Summoner Wars Divon Gaia Project
5 Robinson Crusoe Legends of Andor Voyages of Marco Polo
4 Russian Railroads Cosmic Encounter Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg
3 Rhino Hero Super Battle Poker Civilization
2 The Pursuit of Happiness LOTR LCG Robinson Crusoe
1 Ink & Gold Rising Sun Nations

The other panel was absolutely hilarious! A board game music quiz, run by No Pun Included, featuring some other famous youtubers, like Tom Vasel or Rahdo. They formed two teams of 4, trying to guess what board games NPI sang about. Some were very obvious to me, like Viticulture, some were too vague. But still, had so much fun watching it!

The whole UKGE was an absolute blast! We are so looking forward to next year! Save the date 31.05-2.06.2019!

Imaginarium – Fabryka Snów

„Poprzez mgłę widzisz zarys wielkiej fabryki, fabryki snów. To tu kształtuje się esencja tego, o czym śnimy! Wchodzisz przez ogromne drzwi. To tu są te słynne maszyny! Możesz je naprawiać, zespalać i wyburzać. To one wyprodukują elementy potrzebne do budowy kolejnych maszyn.” – czytamy na Kickstarterze.

Imaginarium to gra niewątpliwie piękna, niesamowite miniaturki graczy, kostki dóbr, plansza no i karty. Graficznie wszystko jest dość… ciekawe. Symetryczne, to prawda. Ale czy próbowaliście kiedyś zobaczyć swoją twarz na symetrycznym zdjęciu? No tak. Dodajcie do tego latające świnie, metalowe ślimaki, i małpy, dużo małp. Wszystko jest bardzo dobrej jakości i naprawdę ciężko by się czegoś doczepić.

Ale do rzeczy, gra sama w sobie nie jest zbyt skomplikowana, wystarczy raz, dokładnie przeczytać zasady,  jakiegoś bloga, albo obejrzeć video instrukcję (na przykład moją, która ukaże się jutro). Ale ostrzegam, rozgrywka nie należy do najkrótszych, szczególnie kiedy kogoś uczymy grać. Ale przecież to jedyna opcja, żeby mieć w końcu 4 lub 5 graczy, którzy wiedzą, co robią.

A zatem, na początku gry wybieramy inżyniera, który będzie tylko i wyłącznie kolorem (promo z Kickstartera dodają inżynierom specjalne umiejętności) i pasujące drewniane dyski. Do tego dobieramy osłonkę, bo dobra zbieramy w sekrecie. Na owej osłonie mamy również pomoc dla graczy, czyli rundy krok po kroku i wyjaśnienie akcji na zegarze. Jakim zegarze? A no tak, dodatkowo dobieramy planszę gracza – te się różnią, dają nam inne dobra i karty początkowe.  Na owych planszach mamy zegar akcji, i dwie wskazówki, które są trochę… zepsute. Wskazówki obracają się, jednak wskazują na dwie akcje obok siebie, i tylko te akcje możemy wykonać. Czasem mamy wymaganą ilość węgla żeby zakupić pomocnika, ale też chcemy wyburzyć jakąś maszynę i naprawić inną – problem, bo nie można. I tu zaczyna się myślenie.  Ale do tego wrócę.

Kiedy już ustawimy swój warsztat, zabieramy się za dużą planszę. Na środku kładziemy pudełko z kostkami i węglem – bardzo ładny dodatek tak na marginesie, przydatny i ładny. Tasujemy karty pomocników i układamy tyle, ile wyznacza ilość graczy. Potem tasujemy karty maszyn i wykładamy ich cały rząd, resztę odkładając obok na wyznaczone miejsce. Później bierzemy płytki osiągnięć, tasujemy i wykładamy tyle, ile wyznacza nam ilość graczy. Na koniec gdzieś w zasięgu ręki wysypujemy żetony punktów (które, jak na zdjęciu, można zastąpić metalowymi trybikami). I możemy zaczynać.

Pierwszy gracz kładzie swój znacznik na polu, którego akcje chce wykonać, jest to albo kupno karty, albo przypływ waluty. Jeśli chodzi o węgiel (tutejszy pieniądz), to można w ten sposób dostać 1, 2 lub 3 jednostki. Co do kart, to jest to bardziej złożony proces. Przy kupnie karty płacimy węglem cenę – numer na planszy plus numer na karcie. Wtedy maszyna jest nasza, niestety, jest zepsuta. Kładziemy ją z boku naszego warsztatu, i będziemy mieli możliwość ją naprawić. Zanim jednak to nastąpi, przeprowadzamy proces produkcji, czyli dostajemy dobra, które produkują nasze maszyny w warsztacie. Jeśli mamy wystarczającą ilość dóbr, żeby naprawić zepsutą maszynę, którą mamy w posiadaniu, możemy teraz wybrać tę akcję na zegarze i ją przeprowadzić. Tu właśnie zaczynają się schody, bo może będziemy chcieli zrobić co innego – na przykład kupić pomocnika, jeśli mamy wystarczającą ilość węgla. Powiedzmy, że jednak jako jedną z akcji wybieramy naprawę maszyny. Płacimy wtedy ilość dóbr wskazaną na karcie, i kładziemy kartę w naszym warsztacie. Musi ona być zbudowana na pustym polu, zanim może być zespawana z inną maszyną.  Od następnej rundy ten oto wynalazek będzie produkował dodatkowe dobra/ osłony/ punkty.

A o co chodzi ze spawaniem? Niektóre maszyny działają lepiej, kiedy są połączone. Jedną z akcji na naszym zegarze, jest akcja łączenia (spawania, zespalania) maszyn. Jeśli posiadamy maszynę, która może działać jako baza dla innej (patrz prawy dolny róg karty), oraz taką, którą chcemy zamontować na tej pierwszej, jako akcję możemy je zespolić, bez żadnych kosztów. Wtedy taka maszyna może produkować więcej (lub inny rodzaj) dóbr.

Jeśli jakaś maszyna nam się znudzi, nie jest już użyteczna, lub wiemy, że nigdy jej nie zbudujemy – możemy w ramach akcji ją wyburzyć. Jeśli jest to maszyna zepsuta, dostajemy za nią węgiel (lewy górny róg) lub część dóbr, które normalnie płacilibyśmy za naprawę. Jeżeli jednak maszyna jest naprawiona, dostajemy 2 x węgiel, lub 2 x dobra, które zapłaciliśmy za naprawę. Nie możemy jednakże wyburzyć maszyny, która jest połączona z inną.

Może dość zasad, to wszystko można przeczytać na osłonce gracza lub w zasadach. Może trochę o tym, jak dostajemy punkty? Dobrze, na początku punkty będą wpływały bardzo wolno. Chyba, że będziemy mieć fart, i złote maszyny, które produkują punkty, pojawią się szybko. Punkty głownie napływają z wypełniania zadań określonych na początku gry. Pierwsza osoba, która wypełni zadanie, dostaje ilość punktów wyznaczoną na kafelku, a każda inna osoba dostaje jeden punkt mniej (np. pierwsza osoba dostaje 4, a druga, trzecia i czwarta po 3 punkty, jeżeli wykonają zadanie. Punkty, tak jak dobra, zbierane są w tajemnicy, ale pierwsza osoba, która osiągnie 20 punktów, musi ogłosić to wszystkim graczom – to jest ostatnia runda. Jeśli gracz, który ma 20 punktów był także pierwszym graczem w tej rundzie, wszyscy inni gracze również dostają ostatnią kolejkę. Kiedy wszyscy wykonają pozostałe akcje, liczymy punkty za ilość dóbr i dodajemy do punktów zdobytych w czasie rozgrywki. Najwyższy wynik wygrywa.

Teraz może o wrażeniach.

Gra na pierwszy rzut oka przepiękna, nie ma w niej chyba nic, do czego można by się przyczepić jeśli chodzi o grafikę i ogólne wykonanie (może poza okropnymi zębami na planszy). Miniaturki są najpiękniejszą częścią gry, zdecydowanie. Zastanawialiśmy się czy je pomalować, i postawiliśmy na metaliczny kolor, zamiast detali i „prawdziwych” kolorów. Jakoś bardziej nam to pasowało tematycznie.  Do tego plansze, karty i osłonki – wszystko cacy. Żetony punktów, jak już wspomniałam, zastąpiliśmy trybikami różnych kolorów i rozmiarów, brązowe 1 punkt, srebrne 3, a złote 5 punktów.

Rozgrywka niestety nie jest bułką z masłem. Jeśli tylko jedna osoba spośród czterech lub pięciu zna zasady, cała gra zajmie około 2 godzin co najmniej. Wszystko sprowadza się do zegara akcji, wtedy odbywa się najwięcej myślenia, i traci najwięcej czasu. Jednak jest to wszystko warte świeczki, bo kiedy wszyscy wiedzą, co robią, rozgrywka jest płynna i daje dużo frajdy. Gra jest typową grą „na myślenie”, nie można wygrać przypadkiem.

Ikonografia na katach jest naprawdę czytelna, wszystkie symbole są jasne i wiadomo co jest czym. Po przeczytaniu instrukcji raz, a porządnie, nie trzeba do niej więcej zaglądać.

Rozgrywka różni się za każdym razem, ale również jest inna przy dwóch graczach. Jeśli gracie tylko w dwie osoby, w swojej drużynie macie też sabotażystę, który psuje wynalazki, lub maszyny produkujące węgiel. Zatem grając głównie we dwoje, przyzwyczaicie się, że niektóre maszyny nigdy nie będą zbudowane. Natomiast w 3 lub więcej osób gra zmienia się bardzo, ponieważ nagle czerwone wynalazki (maszyny agresywne) pojawiają się w warsztatach, warto mieć miejsce na jakąś maszynę obronną (zieloną) i nagle wypełnianie zadań staje się dużo bardziej skomplikowane.

Czyli co to za gra? Dla osób, które muszą mieć konkretną kategorię, to będzie problem. Bo jest to worker placement + resource management + action selection. Mechanika jest naprawdę unikatowa.

Co mnie dziwi to to, że Kickstarter ma 8 dni do zakończenia i niestety, nie osiągnął nawet 50%. Cieszy mnie, że zawartość pudełka będzie taka sama i naprawdę jest to gra warta wsparcia. Samo pudełko przyciąga wzrok!

W jednym zdaniu? Unikatowa, ciekawa graficznie i mechanicznie, gra na myślenie.