QWERTYUIOP

QWERTYmartin's Unabridged Insights On Play

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [23]

Recommend
70 
 Thumb up
6.25
 tip
 Hide

November 2022 - playing, reading, listening

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Don't fall in love with me yet, we've only recently met
Avatar
Microbadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: I love old-school German-style gamesMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fan
New-to-me games

 8   San Francisco x4 NEW!

This new Knizia is essentially a 'take & make' drafting game, with an interesting 'take' part that I haven't seen before. Like Coloretto, you either flip a card and add it to a row or take all the cards in a row. But each time you take a row you also have to take a contract token, and you can only take rows that have more cards in them than you have contracts. So the more times you take, the longer you have to wait before you can take again.

The 'make' part is pretty interactive too as there are points for being first to finish areas and for (six different) area majorities. There's also a bit of personal network-building and some special power bonuses, so it's a pretty modern-feeling design for a Knizia.

It's also one of those games that has a fixed pot of points which gets divided up between the players, and not very many of them at that. In the first game I managed 4 (four), and other games were won by a half-point difference. Most of the points are gained through direct comparison with other players so you're going to be watching the other players' boards a lot.

There aren't many decisions to make on your personal board. You have five coloured rows, and you have to place cards in the matching one, filling from left to right. So the only time you have a choice about what to do with the cards you've taken is when you have multiple cards of the same colour or a wild card. This means the focus is very much on the central 'take' area.

The game ends when a certain number of 'foundation' cards have been flipped. There are 10 in the deck, and it takes 6 to end a 2p game, 8 for 3p and all 10 for 4p. There is no initial deck-seeding, so this could vary wildly. Our first game was really short, which caught us all a bit by surprise while the second went about as long as it could, with the endgame featuring lots of colours that were 'dead' for one or two players, because they'd already filled that row.

So far, 3p seems better than 4, and I'm interested to try it with 2.

 7   Gang of Dice x2 NEW!

And yet another new Knizia, this one a push-your-luck dice game on BGA which isn't a rehash of any of his previous ones. Good fun -- I may homebrew a copy as it's not available at the moment.

 7   Ready Set Bet x2 NEW!

This is LOUD (so loud we got told off by Joe's wife). It's a real-time race-track betting game which can have up to 8 players betting plus another one rolling the dice to run the race (or you can use an app). There are a bunch of special bets as well as standard win, place or show, and at a certain point no further bets are allowed and everyone just watches the race play out while yelling encouragement. We won't play it every week but it's unlike anything else in my collection which is great.

 6   Oltre Mare NEW!

Not bad - it's kind of like Bohnanza had a baby with a trading-in-the-Med game. I like how you get a small reward every time you trade with the active player. I didn't really figure out the game's economy at all though and ground to a halt in the second half. Possibly a bit too long and a bit too dry, but I'd play it again.

 6   Tricky Mixes NEW!

One of DJ's many recent designs, it's a rather baroque trick-taker with rotating trumps, reversing ranks, area majorities and a connection board. I had a good time but may-follow is not my favourite form of trick-taking.

 6   Gift of Tulips NEW!

Some nice ideas in this minimalist market manipulation game, but it felt like it all descended into chaos in the end.

Other gaming highlights

Annual weekend away with my Bristol group - about a dozen of us on a farm in Devon with nothing to do but eat, drink and game. Lots of old favourites got played and just one new-to-me. And in the virtual realm, it was the first con for the OG Guild - lovely to play a few live games with friends made there.

Reading

Bournville, Jonathan Coe

A multi-generational family saga told in vignettes at moments of (British) national significance, it was as warm-hearted and witty as Coe always is.

The Man Who Fell to Earth, Walter Tevis

I've never seen the film, but based on reading the book, David Bowie was perfectly cast. More psychological than sci-fi as an alien visitor descends into alcoholism and melancholia.

The Singer's Gun, Emily St John Mandel

I've been working my way through her earlier novels after loving everything from Station Eleven on. They're not quite as good, but still beautifully written with memorable settings.

Listening

I spent a lot of time working my way through Low's many brilliant albums after the desperately sad news of Mimi Parker's death early in the month. I've been listening to and watching them for half my life, most recently in April this year, when they were on brilliant form.

Favourite bands are threads that run through your life, stitched each time a new album came out or you saw them live. Pulling on the thread brings back those memories – who you were with, where you lived, what you cared about – and helps connect all those past yous with the current you; the same person despite everything that’s changed. Hearing the news, I felt like a thread I’d expected to bind me together for years to come had suddenly snapped, and it hurt.



A couple of nice gigs: Canadian singer/guitarist Myriam Gendron, and Darren Hayman playing songs from the first two Hefner albums which I liked a lot back in the 90s.
Twitter Facebook
11 Comments
Tue Nov 29, 2022 2:44 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
41 
 Thumb up
1.25
 tip
 Hide

October 2022 - playing, reading, listening

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Don't fall in love with me yet, we've only recently met
Avatar
Microbadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: I love old-school German-style gamesMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fan
New-to-me games

 8   No Mercy x10 NEW!

Brilliantly simple Knizia push-your-luck which went down well at games night and with my family. It's an iteration of Cheeky Monkey and Family Inc, neither of which I've played, but I love that this one is just a 90-card deck in a small box.

 8   Air, Land, & Sea: Spies, Lies, & Supplies x2 NEW!

I really like the original and this is a smart standalone expansion. You can play with just the new cards, which follow the exact same rules as the original but with a different, and possibly slightly more interesting, set of special powers. You can also combine with the base game to play an 'epic game' with 5 theatres to fight over instead of 3, which we found a bit overwhelming, and you can play either the 3- or 5-theatre game as a 2v2 partnership game.

 7   Dandelions x4 NEW!

An interesting and very quick "roll & move" area majority game, where you do (almost) all the rolling at the start of the game and then pick a die from your stock to use each turn, with limited opportunities to re-roll. It's done in 10 minutes or so.

 7   Hammer Time NEW!

As ever with Haba, this is well-designed and has an amusing gimmick - this time a neoprene mat sits on top of the box, covered in plastic gems. You take turns to hammer on the side of the box, attempting to dislodge some (but not too many) gems to complete contracts.

 6   Herd Mentality NEW!

This is kind of inverse Just One - you write one word in response to a prompt and you want to be in the biggest group who give the same answer. It was a good laugh but it didn't seem to have very many prompt cards.

 6   Lucha Wars NEW!

This ludicrous Mexican wrestling dice-chucker was a good laugh, despite the vague rules.

 6   That Time You Killed Me NEW!

This is a combinatorial abstract played across three boards representing past, present and future. You can move your pieces around on one board and also time travel between them. It also has a campaign-style gradual reveal of additional rules. Ultimately I'm just not a big fan of combinatorials though.

 5   First Rat NEW!

I'd heard some good things about this one and it *does* have a shared-board OG core, with a clever movement mechanism along a track and payments to other players for landing on a space they occupy. But *man* does it bury it under layers of subsystems, tracks and about five different kinds of engine-building power-ups. And yeah, we did different things and all ended up with about 90 VP +/- 5. I didn't hate it but I'd have liked it a hell of a lot more if they'd just focussed on the good parts.

 4   Next Station: London NEW!

Generic zero-interaction flip & write.

Other gaming highlights

Nice to get together for a live online game with some of the OG Guild gang - hope for more of that next month!

Reading

A slow month by recent standards, and I'm having trouble getting into Chinaman by recent Booker-winner Shehan Karunatilaka.

Burley Cross Postbox Theft, Nicola Barker

My seventh Barker in a row, this one a fractured narrative made up of letters retrieved from the titular crime, and set in a village in my home county of West Yorkshire. I had a hard time keeping track of the web of connections between the characters that is gradually revealed, but there was lots of fun along the way and a surprisingly satisfying conclusion.

The Performance, Claire Thomas

Three women, aged around 20, 40 and 70 watch a Samuel Beckett play in Melbourne, and think about things. Surprisingly engrossing!

Listening

Ground to a halt on the Uncut 300 albums of the last 25 years list, but enjoyed some new stuff from post-punkers Dry Cleaning and Bas Jan, Bill Callahan's latest, Robyn Hitchcock's Shufflemania and Oren Ambarchi's mesmeric Shebang.

Three gigs, all excellent. A friend's band (Careful, Spider) playing for the first time outside their hometown. A jubilant, danceable show by the unclassifiable Swiss 13-piece, Orchestre Tout Puissant Marcel Duchamp. And an incredibly fun time with Canadian indie-poppers The Burning Hell, mostly drawn from their great newish album Garbage Island.

Twitter Facebook
6 Comments
Mon Oct 31, 2022 4:47 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
40 
 Thumb up
1.25
 tip
 Hide

September 2022 - playing, reading, listening

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Don't fall in love with me yet, we've only recently met
Avatar
Microbadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: I love old-school German-style gamesMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fan
New-to-me games

 8   Gambler × Gamble! x3 NEW!

I think the quickest way to explain this one is kind of like Machi Koro, only instead of the number that pays out being determined by a dice roll, it's determined by the sum of a blind bid by all the players!

You each start with two pay-out cards chosen from 1, 2 or 3 and two bidding cards (0 and 1). The active player places one of their bid cards face-up, then the other players play theirs face-down. Finally the active player can choose to pay to modify the total by 1 either way before the cards are revealed and totalled. The total determines which cards pay out to their owners.

So that's a neat basic structure. Now come the wrinkles... at the end of their turn, the active player can buy one new pay-out card - they come with values of 1-9, and the higher-valued ones also give their owner a new bidding card (2 and 3 are available). The game is a race to 15 so you need to think carefully about whether it's worth spending money on a new card. But there's another incentive to do so, which is that every time the bid total doesn't match *any* payout cards, the player with most money loses half of it.

Oh and the ultimate gamble is the value-4 pay-out card. It costs a whopping 10, but if it pays out, you just straight up win the game.

This is a *lot* of fun! There's lots to think about when trying to figure out which bidding card players might go with and shared incentives develop as the game goes on.

 7   King Up! NEW!

I picked this up second hand as a filler that works with 6 and we all enjoyed it. You're each randomly and secretly assigned 6 of 13 characters (so there's a lot of overlap between players), which you then manoeuvre up a ladder getting closer to becoming king. When a character makes it to the top, everyone gets to vote on whether that character becomes king (ending the round) or gets ejected from the round completely. You can always vote "yes", but each player only gets two "no" votes, and you really want to make them count. Lots of bluffing and hoping other players vote "no" for you.

 7   Tiger & Dragon x4 NEW!

Beautiful Oink production based on a traditional Japanese card game, Goita. I wasn't impressed by my first play with 5, but it was much better with 2 and 4. Chunky tiles and simple rules would make for a good pub game.

 7   LetterTricks x2 NEW!

Interesting trick-taker/word-game hybrid with competitive and co-op modes that play completely differently. Sadly haven't got to play it at its best count (4) yet.

 7   Décorum NEW!

Amusing limited communication co-op in which you're trying to redecorate a house but you each have your own secret requirements, which you can only communicate with passive-aggressive comments on the other players' moves. So far I prefer this to the somewhat similar and better-known Paint the Roses.

 6   Schrille Stille NEW!

This 90s Euro about the pop music industry has a great gadget to resolve players' blind bids and a lot of potential for fun. But it's waaaaay too long and repetitive, as well as having some rather suspect artwork. King Up easily beat it as a queue-based shared-incentive popularity-contest and Gambler x Gamble as a double-think player-reading game.

Other gaming highlights

Pretty much a standard month with Tuesday games nights, a 2p night, online games with work and geekbuddies, and a smattering of plays at home. Nothing to complain about though!

Reading

At the end of last month I read a brilliant novella by Nicola Barker, followed by her first novel. This month I just kept working my way through them! This blog post does a good job of explaining the appeal:

Quote:
This is language which calls attention to itself as an aesthetic object. The description of the bridge itself is inconsequential; the whole thing is shuttered off in a tangent. What this tiny sample of Barker's incendiary flash writing shows is that Barker can write and she wants you to know it. I salute this type of writing. I much prefer ambitious prose to workmanlike scene-setting as if from a screenplay.
Small Holdings, Nicola Barker

This was my least favourite so far though it still had some good writing. As usual, focuses on a group of weird characters interacting with each other and not much plot - this time set in a park in North London.

Wide Open, Nicola Barker

Baffling but really good - for a taster, it features a character called Ronnie who changes his name to Jim and another called Jim who changes his name to Ronnie. This one takes place in London and on the Isle of Sheppey in the Thames estuary.

Five Miles From Outer Hope, Nicola Barker

Captivating first-person voice from an awkward teenager living in a dilapidated hotel on a remote Devon island. Very funny.

Clear, Nicola Barker

This one is set around the David Blaine fasting in a glass box stunt in London in 2005. A lot of stuff that will only make sense if you were immersed in British culture at that time, but I was, so I loved it!

6 down, 7 to go...

Listening

Continuing to work my way through the Uncut 300 albums of the last 25 years list. Good new stuff was Built to Spill - When the Wind Forgets Your Name, Daniel Romano - La Luna, No Age - People Helping People, Vieux Farka Toure and Khruangbin - Ali and The Comet is Coming - Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam.

One of my three gigs got cancelled (covid's back ) but I really enjoyed Magnetic Fields (lots of 69 Love Songs!) and Robyn Hitchcock. Three more booked for October.
Twitter Facebook
3 Comments
Fri Sep 30, 2022 11:24 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
35 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide

2022 Q3 review

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Don't fall in love with me yet, we've only recently met
Avatar
Microbadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: I love old-school German-style gamesMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fan
Total plays: 280

Distinct games: 103

New-to-me games: 29

Dimes: 3 - Strike (31), Cross Clues (21), Babylonia (10)

Nickels: 8 - Overstocked (8), So Clover! (8), Cinderella's Dance (7), Incan Gold (7), Schnipp & Weg (7), Sea Salt & Paper (6), Cockroach Poker Royal (5), Just One (5)

And I thought last quarter was big... this was insane. I had two family holidays, a wonderful weekend away with old gaming friends and a month 'home alone' so I guess it's not surprising I played a lot!

Now a look at the collection. *deep breath*

Acquired: 16 - Overstocked, Organic Soup, Skulls of Sedlec, American Bookshop, Cinderella's Dance, Castello Methoni, Piece o' Cake, Trendy, Gambler × Gamble!, LetterTricks, Strike, Narabi, King Up!, High Score, Sea Salt & Paper, Dandelions

Removed: 6 - Die Dolmengötter, Euphrates & Tigris: Contest of Kings, Glenn's Gallery, Tonga Bonga, King Chocolate, Heir to the Pharaoh

Owned: 271

Unplayed: 3 - Res Publica, Uruk: Wiege der Zivilisation, Dandelions

A lot of turnover! But most of the new ones are really good and I instituted a giveaway thread in the OG guild which has been going well.

Best new-to-me: it's got to be Strike, a brilliant play-with-anyone hit

 10   6 nimmt! x3 (188 all-time)
 10   Babylonia x10 (32 all-time)
 10   Doppelkopf (21 all-time)
 10   For Sale x3 (97 all-time)
 10   So Clover! x8 (50 all-time)
 10   The Mind x3 (70 all-time)
 10   Tigris & Euphrates (66 all-time)
 9   American Bookshop x4 (21 all-time)
 9   Aton x2 (34 all-time)
 9   Beowulf: The Legend (20 all-time)
 9   Cockroach Poker Royal x5 (29 all-time)
 9   Cross Clues x21 (51 all-time)
 9   Eggs of Ostrich x3 (62 all-time)
 9   Elements x2 (49 all-time)
 9   Hanamikoji (24 all-time)
 9   Jump Drive x2 (140 all-time)
 9   Just One x5 (41 all-time)
 9   Letterpress x3 (30 all-time)
 9   Mandala (20 all-time)
 9   Maskmen (23 all-time)
 9   Ninety-Nine x2 (18 all-time)
 9   Pairs x3 (105 all-time)
 9   Strike x31 NEW!
 9   The Palaces of Carrara (30 all-time)
 8   Brian Boru: High King of Ireland (5 all-time)
 8   Caesar!: Seize Rome in 20 Minutes! x4 (7 all-time)
 8   Dickory x3 (7 all-time)
 8   Die Wandelnden Türme x3 (7 all-time)
 8   Escape from the Hidden Castle x3 (49 all-time)
 8   Gambler × Gamble! x3 NEW!
 8   Great Plains x2 (16 all-time)
 8   I'm the Boss! (17 all-time)
 8   Jekyll vs. Hyde x4 NEW!
 8   Keltis: Neue Wege, Neue Ziele x2 (3 all-time)
 8   Las Vegas (17 all-time)
 8   MarraCash (7 all-time)
 8   Marrakech x2 (29 all-time)
 8   Mexica (5 all-time)
 8   Mille Fiori x3 (5 all-time)
 8   Municipium (13 all-time)
 8   Nokosu Dice x2 (9 all-time)
 8   Overstocked x8 NEW!
 8   Piece o' Cake x3 (12 all-time)
 8   Potato Man (18 all-time)
 8   Profiteers (3 all-time)
 8   Regicide x3 (20 all-time)
 8   Riftforce (7 all-time)
 8   SCOUT x2 (11 all-time)
 8   Schnipp & Weg x7 (10 all-time)
 8   Sea Salt & Paper x6 NEW!
 8   Set & Match x2 (5 all-time)
 8   Tea for 2 (14 all-time)
 8   The Field of the Cloth of Gold x2 (17 all-time)
 8   The Mind Extreme (11 all-time)
 8   白と黒でトリテ (Trick-Taking in Black and White) x2 (9 all-time)
 7   Biss 20 x3 (14 all-time)
 7   Castello Methoni NEW!
 7   Cinderella's Dance x7 NEW!
 7   Collusion x2 NEW!
 7   Deep Sea Adventure (7 all-time)
 7   Diamant x7 (32 all-time)
 7   Dicke Dämonen (3 all-time)
 7   Doodle Dash x2 NEW!
 7   Décorum NEW!
 7   Five Cucumbers (8 all-time)
 7   Heckmeck am Karteneck (2 all-time)
 7   High Score x4 (7 all-time)
 7   Kiitos x3 NEW!
 7   King Up! NEW!
 7   L.L.A.M.A. x2 (37 all-time)
 7   LetterTricks x2 NEW!
 7   Mismatch x2 NEW!
 7   Powerships (5 all-time)
 7   Rumble Nation x3 NEW!
 7   SWAT! (3 all-time)
 7   Sundae x2 NEW!
 7   Ticket to Ride: London x2 (9 all-time)
 7   Tiger & Dragon x4 NEW!
 7   Trendy x3 NEW!
 7   Whale Riders: The Card Game x2 (10 all-time)
 6   Battle Sheep NEW!
 6   Don Carlo (3 all-time)
 6   Free Ride NEW!
 6   Kingdomino (11 all-time)
 6   LACORSA Grand Prix Game NEW!
 6   Narabi (3 all-time)
 6   Organic Soup NEW!
 6   Panic Lab (7 all-time)
 6   Rear Window NEW!
 6   Rhino Hero (2 all-time)
 6   Schrille Stille NEW!
 6   Scrabble Scramble NEW!
 6   Skulls of Sedlec x4 NEW!
 6   Sleeping Queens (9 all-time)
 6   Sumatra NEW!
 6   The Ming Voyages NEW!
 6   Yahtzee x2 (9 all-time)
 5   Chinese Checkers NEW!
 5   Framework NEW!
 5   Hansa Teutonica (2 all-time)
 5   Pachisi (2 all-time)
 4   UNO: UNOcorns (2 all-time)
 N/A   Unpublished Prototype (17 all-time)
Twitter Facebook
22 Comments
Fri Sep 30, 2022 10:53 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
50 
 Thumb up
5.25
 tip
 Hide

August 2022 - playing, reading, listening

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Don't fall in love with me yet, we've only recently met
Avatar
Microbadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: I love old-school German-style gamesMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fan
New-to-me games

Strike - 12 plays -  8 
First Published 2012
Board Game: Strike


This is a phenomenal 'play with pretty much anyone' game.

The box contains a plastic dice 'arena' and 26 dice. You divide them up between the players at the start and the last one with dice remaining wins. Each turn you must throw one dice into the arena, and you're allowed to disturb any dice that are already there. If you make any matches, you claim all of those dice and your turn ends. Otherwise you can decide whether or not to have another go, continuing until you make a match, decide to stop or run out of dice. In addition, one face of each die is marked X and any time a dice lands on that side it is removed from the game, which cleverly drives the game to a conclusion. And finally, if you manage to clear the arena, the next player has to roll *all* their dice in, which has a chance of instant elimination.

I've not quite figured out if it's better to try to disturb the dice already in the box or not! It slightly increases your chance of making a match, but also your chance of rolling Xs. More importantly, it's been a blast with everyone from Effie up to her grandpa.

Sea Salt & Paper - 5 plays -  8 
First Published 2022
Board Game: Sea Salt & Paper


New Cathala card game just out on BGA which I've played live with several different opponents. It's really cool! The basic idea is pretty standard - draw and discard, attempting to form sets which can give you points and/or special powers. But I really like the push-your-luck twist it borrows from Koi-Koi. Once you have at least 7 points you can either end the hand immediately, each player scoring their points, or you can gamble on giving the other player(s) one more turn. If you still win, you get a bonus and they score less, but if you're surpassed, it's the other way round. Seriously cute art too, and colour-blind-friendly graphic design.

Collusion - 1 play -  7 
First Published 0
Board Game: Collusion


Another really neat David Parlett card game - here you're aiming to win the same number of tricks as *exactly* one of the other players (of 4) and have to constantly reevaluate as the hand goes on. Table talk is encouraged too!

Castello Methoni - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Castello Methoni


Interesting! Initially it looks like an area majority game - you're placing houses on the board and also dividing it up with walls. But it turns out it's much more of an economic game, and you can earn a lot of points by buying areas cheap and then having someone else buy them from you in turn. It's a little reminiscent of Acquire in that regard but more flexible as your cards only determine which part of the board you can place walls in, not a specific location.

Rumble Nation - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Rumble Nation


A really neat area majority filler that kinda reminds me of Las Vegas in that you roll dice which tell you which area you can place in and how many cubes. On top of that it has a cool dilemma between playing into lower-point areas which resolve early and allow you to spread influence to adjacent areas, versus just playing straight into the higher-point areas.

Cinderella's Dance - 6 plays -  7 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Cinderella's Dance


Minimalist 21-card climbing game by the brilliant Taiki Shinzawa. After a few plays, I still can't quite work out how much agency there is, but it's always fun regardless!

Sundae - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2022
Board Game: Sundae


Carol LaGrow and Sean Ross's reimplementation of Schotten Totten with dominoes is fun. I preferred the smaller "2 scoop" version where you play 2 dominoes to each flag over the "3 scoop" which hurt my head.

Skulls of Sedlec - 3 plays -  6 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Skulls of Sedlec


Picked this up at a nice games shop in La Rochelle as I had carry-on luggage only and it's very small. It's a pleasant enough 18-card drafting game but not nearly as good as Circle the Wagons. The solo mode (cheap print & play) looks quite fun if I can be bothered.

Sumatra - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Sumatra


I'll never turn down a new Knizia! Found this a bit disappointing though, not helped by the wretched graphic design. It feels like Ra scoring but a bit more complicated, while the drafting is a lot less interesting than the auction in Ra.

Scrabble Scramble - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2005
Board Game: Scrabble Scramble


Not a bad Scrabble derivative, in which you roll 7 dice each turn to form your hand, play a word and then leave only that word on the board, returning the previous one to the dice pool. Each turn is on a one minute timer and you play first to 200.

Other gaming highlights

My most games played in a month ever (124)! I had a week with my extended family in France (highlights being Cross Clues and Kakerlaken Poker) and two weeks with Sarah's family in the US (Strike was a big hit). In between there was a wonderful weekend getaway with old gaming friends.

Reading

Probably my most reading in a month too! I should take three weeks off work more often...

All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

I adored Cloud Cuckoo Land and a trip to France seemed like a good time to read his breakout hit. It had some of what I loved in the later book, but honestly I could go the rest of my life without needing to read another "good Nazi" story.

The Rabbit Hutch, Tess Gunty

A debut that deserves all the praise it's getting. Set in a decaying rust belt town, it follows the lives of the residents of the titular apartment block. It's satirical but heartfelt and reminded me of David Foster Wallace at times.

Tennis Lessons, Susannah Dickey

An intimate, sometimes claustrophobic, second-person telling of the life of a woman growing up in Northern Ireland, in snippets at roughly annual intervals. Definitely want to read her second book now.

The Word for World is Forest, Ursula Le Guin

An understandably furious polemic in response to Vietnam, but that made it a bit less interesting to me than the more ambiguous The Dispossessed which I read earlier in the year.

Elder Race, Adrian Tchaikovsky

A clever novella which alternates between fantasy and sci-fi, depending on which character's perspective we are taking at the time.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold, Toshikazu Kawaguchi

An interesting premise but it feels more like a play or a collection of short stories than a novel and the writing (or the translation) is awkward. The narratives of the four stories felt quite conservative in their gender roles too.

The Stranger Times, C.K. McDonnell

This was recommended as a Pratchett-esque romp and while it wasn't as laugh-out-loud funny as PTerry (who is?), it was definitely enjoyable.

Industry of Magic and Light, David Keenan

His brilliant This is Memorial Device evoked the post-punk era in small-town Scotland and this sequel/prequel does the same for the psychedelic 60s. The first section is told through an inventory of the unearthed contents of a caravan while the second half is in the form of a tarot deck. A strange trip indeed!

How High We Go in the Dark, Sequoia Nagamatsu

This has been getting lots of praise and sounded like my kind of thing but I found it really disappointing. Although it spans multiple interlinked perspectives over hundreds of years, he only really seems to be able to write one, rather flat, character. And at times it felt like he was rushing through a checklist of sci-fi hot topics rather than saying anything meaningful.

I Am Sovereign, Nicola Barker

Meanwhile this novella takes place over the course of a 20-minute house viewing in Wales but the characters jump off the page and burst through the fourth wall. Post-modern and hilarious, I savoured every moment.

Reversed Forecast, Nicola Barker

Loved it so much that I went back to her first novel, with the intention of reading all twelve eventually! This one is not so meta, but just as vivid and fleshy.

Listening

Really enjoyed the sample-heavy and summery Reset by Panda Bear and Sonic Boom.



Also Meridian Brothers & El Grupo Renacimento and Sons Of by Sam Prekop and John McEntire.

No time for live music but three gigs to come in September.
Twitter Facebook
13 Comments
Sat Sep 3, 2022 11:53 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
62 
 Thumb up
2.30
 tip
 Hide

Teaching, learning or playing - what's your happy place?

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Don't fall in love with me yet, we've only recently met
Avatar
Microbadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: I love old-school German-style gamesMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fan
Last weekend I had an absolutely brilliant time staying at a friend's house with a group of nine old friends from London on Board and access to a whole bunch of our favourite games. Looking back on my 42 plays of 27 different games, I was particularly pleased to have only learned 2 new ones (one of which I brought).

But then I realised that I'd taught about 10 games to at least someone in the group, denying them that same opportunity to play games they already knew. I hope that this wasn't an unwanted imposition!

It occurred to me that we can break down our plays into four main groups, each of which have different pros and cons.

Everyone already knows the game

This seems surprisingly rare among hobby gamers. We're all so busy trying so many different games that there are few we coalesce around to the extent that everyone at the table knows the game. But it's an absolute joy when it happens, especially for the more complex games which are frankly a pain to teach. It also allows for an even competitive playing field.

Highlights of the weekend in this category were a brilliant, tight 4p game of Tigris & Euphrates and my first loss at Brian Boru: High King of Ireland, which is so much more fun to play than to teach.

No one already knows the game

There are two types of game for which I can tolerate this: simple games where the rules can be figured out from the book within 5 minutes, and complex ones where we treat the first play purely as a co-operative learning experience rather than a competitive game (my first play of Pax Porfiriana comes to mind). I hate learning a medium-complexity game from someone teaching from the rulebook, unless they've done plenty of prep beforehand, and I imagine I'm really unpleasant to teach that type of game as I always try to grab the rulebook myself!

The only game in this category at the weekend was Castello Methoni which was simple and which I taught. I hope I did a reasonable job.

I know the game, but some other players don't

I really enjoy being in the role of introducing a favourite to people I think will enjoy it. But I'd much prefer that to be a simple game that I can teach quickly and in which they can be competitive, rather than a complex one where I'll probably crush them.

There were several of the former category over the weekend - Cross Clues, American Bookshop and Overstocked were particularly big hits. In the latter category, the game of Mille Fiori I taught resulted in an embarrassingly lopsided victory for me, which I doubt was much fun for anyone, while the play of the same game where everyone knew it well was hard-fought and close.

I'm really obnoxious if I know the game but someone else is teaching it - I find it really hard to avoid jumping in. Sorry!

Someone knows the game, but I don't

I enjoy learning a game from someone who knows it well enough to teach it confidently and to handle any rules queries without having to keep going back to the rulebook. I still usually check the rule book afterwards and often find an error though! I'm also (probably annoyingly) picky about the games I'll agree to be taught.

The only game in this category was Rumble Nation which I'd been keen to try and really enjoyed. It's a simple game but I did find one important rule that had been forgotten (you can't play special power cards after anyone has run out of cubes).

Preferences

My preferences vary a bit depending on the type of game. For complex/opaque games I'd much rather play with an experienced table and any teaching is just a chore to get to that stage. For simpler games I really enjoy teaching and also don't mind learning from someone who knows the game.

What's your preferred style? Do you consciously think about the style you're imposing on other players with the games you suggest?
Twitter Facebook
68 Comments
Thu Aug 18, 2022 11:04 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
36 
 Thumb up
1.25
 tip
 Hide

July 2022 - playing, reading, listening

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Don't fall in love with me yet, we've only recently met
Avatar
Microbadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: I love old-school German-style gamesMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fan
New-to-me games

Wow, a bit of a splurge this month!

Overstocked - 5 plays -  8 
First Published 2021
Board Game: Overstocked


I backed this a while back and had almost forgotten about it but now I'm glad I did. It does the familiar 'patching' thing with cards each depicting a 3x2 grid of four different types of toys, which you can rotate and overlap in different ways. But the cool thing is that as well as patching your personal 'warehouse' together, you can also choose to put cards into the central 'popularity' area. After 6 cards played by each player, your score is evaluated as your largest connected area of each toy *multiplied* by the largest area of that toy in the middle. But! The toy with the largest area in the middle is 'overstocked' and instead counts negative, allowing for some huge swings. I've played with 2, 3 and 5 so far and 3 was definitely best.

Mismatch - 1 play -  7 
Board Game: Mismatch


Always happy to try a Parlett trick-taker and this one is of the silly fun variety. The main thing you want to do is avoid matching a suit or rank already played to the trick, or even worse making a sequence of 3 or 4. As the hand goes on you try to keep your options open but someone inevitably ends up getting screwed!

Jekyll vs. Hyde - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2021
Board Game: Jekyll vs. Hyde


Interesting 2p trick-taker where one player wants both players to win the same number of tricks in a hand while the other players wants to win as many tricks as possible or lose as many as possible. The special powers are restrained and it's rather nice.

Doodle Dash - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2021
Board Game: Doodle Dash


A speed drawing game in which the players take turns to be the guesser and everyone else draws their own picture. The first to finish grabs a baton, the second to finish rolls a dice until it comes up 'stop' and then everyone stops. First the guesser sees only the first-finished drawing and tries to guess. If they don't get it, they see the second-finished one too. If they still don't get it they see all the others. Points for a correct answer go to the guesser and to the owners of the pictures that triggered the successful guess. Very funny!

Kiitos - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Kiitos


A letter game in which someone states a word and plays its first letter and then on your turn you must add the next letter if you have it in hand or else you must add a different letter and declare a new word to target if possible. I'm pretty sure there's a traditional version of this? 2p was much better than 3.

Free Ride - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2021
Board Game: Free Ride


I'd been looking forward to trying Friedemann Friese's TransAmerica/Ticket to Ride-ish route-making game but was a bit underwhelmed by my first impression. We're planning to come up with a way to indicate the available routes on the board though, as it was a real faff having to constantly cross-reference between the cards and the map.

Battle Sheep - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2010
Board Game: Battle Sheep


Hey That's My Fish-like shrinking possibilities abstract. Probably better with 2? (we were 4)

Rear Window - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2022
Board Game: Rear Window


This is new from Prospero Hall and it's basically Mysterium with a cleverly integrated theme from the Hitchcock movie. The pictures feel a bit duller though and there's a weird potential traitor element which I'm not sure quite works.

Organic Soup - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2010
Board Game: Organic Soup


An old and rare Chudyk. No crazy card powers here, just four types of atom (C, H, N, O) which you gradually assemble into larger and larger molecules. It reminded me a bit of Sid Sackson's Monad crossed with Rummikub.

The Ming Voyages - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2020
Board Game: The Ming Voyages


Yet another little card-driven war-game. I feel like there are diminishing returns from these as you don't really get much out of them without knowing the deck, but that doesn't tend to happen with so many other options available.

LACORSA Grand Prix Game - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2018
Board Game: LACORSA Grand Prix Game


Like Knizia's Formula One Motor Racing this is a race with only relative track positions. Here you move up the field by playing a higher card than the player in front of you in a blind bid. You seem pretty screwed if you get dealt a bunch of low cards...

Framework - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2022
Board Game: Framework


A Rosenberg 'take & make' with simple rules but very little interaction. Bring back fun Uwe!

Other gaming highlights

A lovely get-together with old friends in London and a few great 2p sessions in addition to the usual Tuesday night fare. And it was really fun to get a trans-continental table assembled again for online MarraCash.

Reading

London, Burning by Anthony Quinn

Set in late 1970s London and featuring four interesting characters (a journalist, a policewoman, a young academic and a theatrical impresario) whose paths cross in various ways, with a background of strikes, political tension and IRA bombs. The ending felt a bit rushed but otherwise I really enjoyed it.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

The story of a childhood friendship which becomes a creative partnership, in the video games industry. I enjoyed the first and last thirds a lot more than the middle, but in retrospect, the characters becoming unlikable and self-obsessed in their twenties was kind of the point.

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

Interesting parable reminiscent of Jose Saramago in which the residents of a small island gradually have objects removed from their memory, enforced by a secret police. Haunting, but also quite slow.

Your Show by Ashley Hickson-Lovence

A peculiar telling of the story of the first black Premier League referee, made up of second-person narrative and newspaper and social media clippings. I enjoyed the backstory but there was a lot of kick-by-kick narration of 90s football matches which was a bit of an ordeal even for someone who knew a lot of the personalities involved.

Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura

Sweet young adult fantasy in which a group of misfit teenagers find themselves transported through a portal to a mysterious castle.

Listening

Lots of good new stuff, my favourite being the powerful Riderless Horse by Nina Nastasia.



Also enjoyed Gwenno's Tresor, Laura Veirs' Found Light and Naima Bock's Giant Palm. Best older things were the gorgeous The Cloud of Unknowing by James Blackshaw and the Necks' hour-long improvisation Drive By.

Two wonderful gigs by old favourites. I've seen Belle & Sebastian lots of times over the past 25 years but they were in particularly fine form and good spirits at this one, a twice postponed outdoor gig in balmy weather on Bristol's harbourside. On the other hand I'd never seen Dean Wareham, and what better time to rectify that than when he was performing the whole of Galaxie 500's On Fire, certainly one of my top ten albums of all time. Support act Ryder the Eagle was quite something too.
Twitter Facebook
3 Comments
Sun Aug 7, 2022 9:44 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
38 
 Thumb up
5.25
 tip
 Hide

2022 Q2 review

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Don't fall in love with me yet, we've only recently met
Avatar
Microbadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: I love old-school German-style gamesMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fan
Total plays: 190

Distinct games: 87

New-to-me games: 15

Dimes: 1 - So Clover! (18)

Nickels: 6 - Tea for 2 (9), Cross Clues (6), Letterpress (6), Babylonia (5), Midnight Party (5), L.L.A.M.A. (5)

A big quarter! Regular games night plus a few get-togethers outside of that as well as a long weekend away with old friends.

Now a look at the collection.

Acquired: 5 - Formula Motor Racing, Die wandelnden Türme, Set & Match, Keltis (with Neue Wege Neue Ziele), Heckadeck

Removed: 3 - Fjords, Orongo, Five Cucumbers

Owned: 261

Unplayed: 2 - Res Publica, Uruk: Wiege der Zivilisation

Not too bad! Got a good offer for Orongo and hadn't played it for years. Couple more Knizias coming in as usual

Best new-to-me: it's between Mille Fiori (more Knizia!), Caesar!: Seize Rome in 20 Minutes! and Die wandelnden Türme.

 10   6 nimmt! x4 (185 all-time)
 10   Babylonia x5 (22 all-time)
 10   Baseball Highlights: 2045 (43 all-time)
 10   Cribbage x2 (129 all-time)
 10   Doppelkopf (20 all-time)
 10   For Sale x2 (94 all-time)
 10   Kingdom Builder (93 all-time)
 10   The Crew: Mission Deep Sea (15 all-time)
 9   Azul (37 all-time)
 9   Cross Clues x6 (30 all-time)
 9   Decrypto (22 all-time)
 9   Eggs of Ostrich x3 (59 all-time)
 9   Fuji Flush (66 all-time)
 9   Impulse (26 all-time)
 9   Just One x3 (36 all-time)
 9   Letterpress x6 (27 all-time)
 9   Lords of Vegas (16 all-time)
 9   Ninety-Nine (16 all-time)
 9   Res Arcana x2 (43 all-time)
 9   So Clover! x18 (42 all-time)
 9   Spot it! x2 (39 all-time)
 8   Auf Teufel komm raus (9 all-time)
 8   Blue Moon x2 (32 all-time)
 8   Caesar!: Seize Rome in 20 Minutes! x3 NEW!
 8   Coloretto (32 all-time)
 8   Die wandelnden Türme x4 NEW!
 8   Escape from the Hidden Castle x5 (46 all-time)
 8   Ghosts of Christmas (9 all-time)
 8   Great Plains x2 (14 all-time)
 8   Marrakech x4 (27 all-time)
 8   Mille Fiori x2 NEW!
 8   Nokosu Dice (7 all-time)
 8   Riftforce (6 all-time)
 8   SCOUT x4 (9 all-time)
 8   Sheepy Time x2 (4 all-time)
 8   Space Worm x2 (23 all-time)
 8   Spicy x3 (15 all-time)
 8   Stinker (10 all-time)
 8   Tea for 2 x9 (13 all-time)
 8   Texas Showdown (27 all-time)
 8   That's Life! (8 all-time)
 8   Watergate x2 (5 all-time)
 8   Wavelength x2 (16 all-time)
 8   Whale Riders (6 all-time)
 7   Art Robbery (3 all-time)
 7   Backgammon (12 all-time)
 7   Break the Code (3 all-time)
 7   Cryptid: Urban Legends x2 NEW!
 7   Diamant x2 (25 all-time)
 7   Dragon's Breath (15 all-time)
 7   Ethnos x2 (7 all-time)
 7   Exit: The Game – Dead Man on the Orient Express NEW!
 7   Faiyum (3 all-time)
 7   Fiesta de los Muertos x3 (14 all-time)
 7   Formula Motor Racing x2 NEW!
 7   Into the Blue x3 (7 all-time)
 7   Keltis: Neue Wege, Neue Ziele NEW!
 7   L.L.A.M.A. x5 (35 all-time)
 7   Le Plateau (5 all-time)
 7   Memoarrr! (4 all-time)
 7   Mhing (8 all-time)
 7   Schnipp & Weg x3 NEW!
 7   Schotten Totten 2 (3 all-time)
 7   Set & Match x3 NEW!
 7   Tajuto (4 all-time)
 7   Web of Power (4 all-time)
 7   Whale Riders: The Card Game (8 all-time)
 7   Zero Down (10 all-time)
 6   Carcassonne Junior (4 all-time)
 6   Chess x2 (6 all-time)
 6   Clubs (3 all-time)
 6   High Score x3 NEW!
 6   PUSH (6 all-time)
 6   Paint the Roses x3 NEW!
 6   Radlands x4 NEW!
 6   SWAT! (2 all-time)
 6   Sleeping Queens x3 (8 all-time)
 6   Yahtzee (7 all-time)
 6   ドキッと!アイス (Dokitto! Ice) (4 all-time)
 5   Cascadia NEW!
 5   Happy Families x2
 5   Pachisi
 5   Pick Up Sticks
 4   Long Shot: The Dice Game NEW!
 4   Lost Kingdoms: Pangea in Pieces NEW!
 4   Twenty One (3 all-time)
 N/A   Unpublished Prototype x3 (16 all-time)
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Thu Jun 30, 2022 3:00 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
47 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide

June 2022 - playing, reading, listening

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Don't fall in love with me yet, we've only recently met
Avatar
Microbadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: I love old-school German-style gamesMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fan
New-to-me games

I wasn't really supposed to be playing any new games but...

Mille Fiori - 2 plays -  8 
First Published 2021
Board Game: Mille Fiori


From a glance at the busy board and the rules I thought Knizia had jilted me and run off with Feld, but I shouldn't have worried. Yes, there are several mini-games which combine into a point salad with winning scores in the 200s. But they're all played on the same central board, each with different and interesting player interaction. And the scores aren't of the gentle 2.8 or 3.2VP per action type, they have some brutal drop-offs and you really have to watch what you're passing to the next player.

Keltis: Neue Wege, Neue Ziele - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2009
Board Game: Keltis: Neue Wege, Neue Ziele


I'd been interested in trying this for ages and picked up the base game with this bundled as the other side of the map. Fascinating! Instead of each colour of cards driving one pawn along a matching track, the tracks branch, allowing you to switch from one colour to another as you go. Lots more options, lots to think about. It's amazing how much Knizia has wrung out of this system over the years.

Set & Match - 3 plays -  7 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Set & Match


Wimbledon is the perfect time of year for this clever flicking game which really manages to capture something of the feel of a tennis rally. The court is marked with zones giving 0-3 points, and where you land pushes a pawn back and forth along a track until one player manages to get it all the way to the end zone and score a point. There are also bonuses for hitting crosscourt or drop shots.

Schnipp & Weg - 3 plays -  7 
First Published 2012
Board Game: Schnipp & Weg


This was flicking great too! It takes place on an hour-glass shaped wooden board, each player starting with a row of their pieces at opposite ends. It's a bit like pool/snooker, in that if you knock at least one opponent piece off the board while not losing one of your own, you get to keep flicking. You win a round by eliminating all the opponent pieces, but that means you permanently lose one of your pieces and start the next round closer to the middle, providing a bit of a catch-up mechanism.

Exit: The Game – Dead Man on the Orient Express - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Exit: The Game – Dead Man on the Orient Express


We hadn't played one of these for ages. As well as the usual sequence of puzzles of various types, there's also a murder mystery to be solved as you go along. Worked quite nicely but we were too tired to put it all together correctly by the time we finished.

Other gaming highlights

Lots of fun with So Clover, Wavelength and Fiesta de los Muertos with old friends at a getaway for Sarah's 40th. A lovely afternoon of Faiyum with Joe and Sam. And hopefully the first couple of a good run of games of Blue Moon with Joe.

Reading

David Annand, Peterdown

I really loved this social satire, but I'm not sure how much of that depended on it having such a huge overlap with my life and interests. The setup is that a new high-speed rail-link is coming to a post-industrial Northern England town, and either the local football stadium or an architecturally-important but unloved housing estate will have to be demolished. A tall tale unfolds across a panorama of the local community and some memorable characters. The fictionalised town is a lot like where I grew up and the football team is very like the one I support. Add to that my dad having spent his career in local government and being an architecture buff/local historian in his retirement and you can see why it resonated with me!

Damon Galgut, The Promise

This won the Booker last year and I can see why. It tells the story of a family across a background of modern South African history, starting near the end of the apartheid era and taking a stop in each decade since. The narrator's voice swoops dizzyingly between characters and even 1st/2nd/3rd person - each of the four lengthy chapters feels like a single-take tracking shot in a movie.

Gwendoline Riley, My Phantoms

This is a vicious and brilliantly-observed character study of a daughter's toxic relationship with her parents. The daughter gets to tell the story but doesn't give away much about her own life. In the end what she doesn't say perhaps ends up telling us more about her though.

Listening

Over on Uncut magazine's Top 300 Albums of the last 25 years my favourite was Charlie Haden/Liberation Music Orchestra's Not in Our Name. Favourite new thing was the Firmer than a Rock We Stand EP by LYR, featuring our poet laureate Simon Armitage, who's from my hometown.



Also went down to London to see William Basinski perform at the Barbican. The first half was him on his own playing his recent album on a laptop plus two tape reels looped around a tuning fork. The second half was the London Contemporary Orchestra playing two arrangements of his Disintegration Loops. It was sublime - repeated string motifs gradually dropping out and brushed drums contributing rising 'static'.
Twitter Facebook
8 Comments
Thu Jun 30, 2022 2:16 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
58 
 Thumb up
1.25
 tip
 Hide

May 2022 - playing, reading, listening

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Don't fall in love with me yet, we've only recently met
Avatar
Microbadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: I love old-school German-style gamesMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fan
New-to-me games

From gallery of qwertymartin
Die wandelnden Türme - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2022
Board Game: Die wandelnden Türme


I imported this new Kramer/Kiesling because it sounded like one that could work at games night (and up to 6 is a good player count for an opener/closer) and at home. Success on both counts!

Think of this as an update on Pachisi/Ludo that isn't painful to play. You have several of your own colour of pawn, which need to proceed clockwise around the board and get 'home'. Instead of dice, you move them with cards, but the race track is also littered with stackable tower segments which meeples can ride on top of or become trapped under.

Some cards let you move your meeples, some let you move towers, and to add to the craziness, the 'home' also moves around the board every time a meeple enters it. You're balancing two goals to win - not only do you have to get all your meeples home, but you also have to fill up all your 'potions' which you do by trapping meeples under towers. There's a light memory element because you need to know where your trapped meeples are in order to release them later by breaking that tower up again. And there are also some simple 'spells' you can cast by spending potions. The 'advanced game' adds more of these but seems like it would also slow things down and act against the core fun of the game.

Cryptid: Urban Legends - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2022
Board Game: Cryptid: Urban Legends


This is getting savaged by the BGG populace so far, seemingly mainly because it isn't Cryptid. The parent game is true deduction of a hidden location, while this one does the 'reverse deduction' thing where there is no true hidden location. One player is the cryptid, trying to keep several logically possible locations open, while the other is the scientist, trying to whittle them down to one. It's a pretty dry abstract but I found it intriguing - it helped me to think about it as a game of collapsing the wavefunction, but where the cryptid player gets to decide which 'experiments' the scientist is allowed to perform.

High Score - 2 plays -  6 
First Published 2021
Board Game: High Score


This is quite similar to Reiner Knizia's Decathlon but with a randomised set of 7 'events' instead of always the same 10. Also you score for your relative placement in each challenge not your absolute value, so you can't have as much of a runaway leader/loser. It was fun but felt a bit generic and didn't have the spark of genius I expect in a Knizia.

Radlands - 3 plays -  6 
First Published 2021
Board Game: Radlands


This 2p card battler has had a lot of buzz recently. I can understand why but didn't immediately loving it myself. One game was oddly short and the other a bit attritional and protracted. I prefer the elegance of Riftforce.

Lost Kingdoms: Pangea in Pieces - 1 play -  4 
First Published 0
Board Game: Lost Kingdoms: Pangea in Pieces


This tile-laying area-majority game looked like it might be fun but it doesn't seem very well designed. Lots of analysis paralysis which doesn't ultimately end up mattering because the board changes so much between turns. The most important thing is whether one of the three scoring rounds gets randomly triggered just after one of your turns rather than someone else's.

Other gaming highlights

Three plays of face-to-face Babylonia! And the first game of Cribbage with Sarah for far too long!

Reading

Moses McKenzie, An Olive Grove in Ends

This brand new novel attracted my attention because it's set not just in Bristol but right in my part of town - all the action takes place within a 20-minute walk of my house. It's about a young man from a Jamaican family growing up surrounded by gangs, drugs and knives, the influence of his community, religion (Christianity and Islam) and love. The writing is wonderful though I didn't get all of the patois dialogue. The author is only 23 - one to watch.

Emily St John Mandel, Last Night in Montreal

I've really enjoyed Station Eleven and everything she's written since and her first book was available for free on Prime Reading. I could see plenty of hints of her later work but also wasn't surprised this wasn't the book that broke out for her - the characters are a little too cliched.

Claire North, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

This time-travel yarn was a real grind to get through. My summary is "Fifteen lives, no personality".

Listening

Pressing on with Uncut magazine's Top 300 Albums of the last 25 years I enjoyed Simultonality by Natural Information Society a lot - a brew of spiritual jazz, krautrock and African music. Favourite new one was This is a Photograph by Kevin Morby.



A couple of fun gigs - Modern Nature, who made one of my albums of the year to date, and Darwin Deez, on his 10th anniversary tour for his debut, now 12 years on thanks to covid.
Twitter Facebook
15 Comments
Sat Jun 4, 2022 8:21 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [23]