in Film, TV & Radio
Posted January 12, 2016
On the one hand, that prisoner Capwn has been exchanging letters with once did something very very bad indeed, but, on the other hand, rockstarjez has consistently been a giant twat his entire life.
So I'm not saying he's worse than a murderer, just definitely a lot more annoying to have around.
Posted January 10, 2016
Going for Gold Leader.
in Gaming Unplugged
Played my first games of X-Wing Miniatures yesterday - went pretty well and was great fun, though the other player was also quite new to the game so it ended with a massive pile up.
Now I just have to stop myself justifying buying every bloody TIE there is in the game.
That rolling of the tongue is just too warm and comforting you see. Though I've not yet pissed off a Welsh man or woman to find out the results... Should have given it a go before I moved
Posted January 9, 2016
You've ruined my life, Graham.
I never thought Welsh could sound threatening until I met the Crones.
He Who Dares, Windus.
Posted January 8, 2016
Hasbro have come out with a statement that they weren't allowed to do Rey toys as it would have given too much away. Apparently.
I for one am shocked there was a woman in this film. Shocked.
There's practically lava coming out of his guitar. Which looks the complete opposite of shit. That is to say, it's stupendous.
EDIT: and also I really have to say, taking issue with something that is in fact actually real and really happening during filming and not CG is baffling.
Found out about it on here. Thanks Rllmuk!
There's a theme going on here...
There's a theme going on here...
Places where you can poo?
Clearly never been to penisland.com
Posted January 7, 2016
Witcher 3: The Fashion Hunt.
That comic is, and always has been, shit.
Posted January 6, 2016
Well I agree that the price is obscene.
I would just like to clarify: I absolutely did mean that the Tropes series is the only time anyone in the world has ever thoughtfully had thoughts that were thunk about games in all of history.
Nah, Citizen Kane was cinema's Dark Souls.
EDIT: but seriously though, the reason games like Dark Souls are so unique is becuase they eschew the traditional narrative structure that is so often employed to ape film, and then play to the strength of games having the luxury of being able to have explorative narrative information with personal discovery. You literally tell your own story with them and are free to delve as deeply as you wish into the background of the world, in the same way that you might study a painting and discover hidden depths to its texture. Games have the potential to encapsulate the strengths of nearly every other medium in any way that they see fit, which is both their blessing and curse.
The fact that some troglodites are up in arms that their precious limited gaming forms are under threat by people that are actually thinking thoughtfully about them for once is utterly tragic and can only hold back the limitless potential of the medium from crafting experiences that could be both familiar and also truly alien at the same time.
Posted January 5, 2016
I should probably clarify that I don't own all of these, but rather have played a good few at a local games club. Any in particular you are looking for?
Relax, this is not a top 100 board games list or anything (well, for now...), but rather I thought it would be fun to get an idea of everyone's favourite board/card/dice/hippo games in here. This would also double up as a handy buyers guide I think for people just getting into the hobby.
Go for a top 10 or 20 even if you can't fit them all in. My personal current top games (so far):
An absolute monster of a game, in more ways than one. I was unsure about placing this here until I had really played hours and hours of the game to be certain of my convictions, and now, dozens of missions in, I can safely say it deserves all the hype and in some respects even exceeds it. It's not by any means perfect, and setup time can be insanely laborious, but this is hands down the greatest board gaming experience I have ever had, maybe even one of the greatest even including video games. There are so many cool innovations in this game and the value for money in the box is staggering. The combat system is truly something of sublime tactical genius and the normal difficulty level is so perfectly judged and exacting it often feels a bit like Dark Souls in the way it's a game you can learn to get better at and work around enemy behaviors with specific abilities. It's a glorious puzzle in every encounter, and the story elements are weaved into the experience with a deft touch.There are so many characters all with unique abilities and the way they can all interact with variable turn order is wonderfully complex yet simple to understand. Finding a decent image of the game is actually quite difficult, as there is so much in the box that begs to be discovered for yourself and savored. Leveling up a character has also never been so delightful and fiendish, as you have to make hard choices to swap out existing cards and change the very nature of how they each work. There is also no dice rolling or crazy levels of variance, so you can really plan things out and work together as a team or even solo. And then the personal goals prevent alpha player problems, as well as the hidden card picks each turn. If it sounds like gushing it's because the game deserves it. It's a staggering achievement, and deserves a place on anyone's shelf. Even if you only play a few missions, it will return your investment in both money and time over and over again and it's a box of utter delight.
2. Twilight Imperium: 4th Edition
For ages before I played this it was one of those games that was talked about in hushed tones both because of its length and its complexity. Happily, when finally getting the chance to enjoy its delights, I can confirm the reality is nowhere near as intimidating. Yes, it will most likely take around 8 hours to play a full game, perhaps a couple more with newer players, but you will absolutely get that time investment rewarded for every single minute you are at the table, as every player's actions will affect all of your plans within plans and there will never be a dull moment. Absolutely a must to find 6 players, and at the very least 4, it's not going to be easy to get it to the table, but when you do it will be an unforgettable experience.
3. War of the Ring (second edition)
Back up to number 2 as the second edition is the best version of what used to be my favourite game. Great looking on the table, incredible theme, and one of the most satisfying games I've played. The only problem is it's essentially limited to 2 players, but those two people will have one of the best board gaming experiences you can have.
4. Terra Mystica
Simply sublime. Terra Mystica is indeed very deserving of all of its praise. Much easier to understand that you might expect, and a truly brilliant exercise in difficult but rewarding choices and strategy. It makes you think about it for days afterwards, as there are so many possibilities.
5: Forbidden Stars
Shot up 10 places because I absolutely love this after getting a few games under my belt. A kind of reskin of the Starcraft board game and truly excellent it is too. Gone way up in my estimation after getting to know the mechanics: there is deep strategy here and it rewards multiple plays.
6. Twilight Struggle.
Love this game even more now, it has so much depth and historical interest. I almost had an aneurysm trying to work out what to do every turn. It's horribly absorbing and thematically incredible. Much quicker to set up and get going than many long games too.
7. Fire in the Lake
This was such a hard decision to make to kick my original favourite game off the top spot when I first wrote this, but my experience of Fire in the Lake is something I have been thinking about ever since, and has actually changed what I think board games are capable of in terms of both documenting, representing, and making you think more deeply about the nature of a historical conflict. Far from just being a war game, this actually makes you question the motives of factions involved in the conflict and the role played by commanders and political alliances in shaping an entire country. Far from trivializing the human cost in a game of wooden block and cards, this is actually deep enough to encourage sober reflection and study, and has been, dare I say it, an important experience for me. Incidentally, I would argue that this has to be played by 4 players to get the true feel of the issues affecting each side. It's dropped down my list a bit because it's hard to get a game like this to the table.
I think to enjoy Netrunner it helps to be sold on the theme, but even then the sheer brilliance of the mechanics of the game could win it many converts who aren't even interested in cyberpunk. An absolutely superb exercise in asymmetric gaming and a horribly addictive one at that. I've rated it higher on reflection because the game really is that good, and now with the reset of the game with the new core set it's more balanced than ever before.
This one kind of crept up on me - the card playing mechanic is just brilliant and makes it a far more dynamic and involving Eurogame than most.
10. Memoir '44: Operation Overlord
The core Memoir '44 game is a solid and straightforward game, but add the Overlord expansion and another coreset and suddenly you have one of the most amazing experiences you can have around a table with 7 friends. I would rate it higher if it wasn't out of print.
11. Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
This is now my favourite "party" game. If you can imagine a cross between The Resitance and Mysterium, this is basically the result. A murderer secretly picks a murder weapon and evidence from the cards in front of them while watched by the forensic scientist, then when all players open their eyes the forensic scientist has to use a series of clue cards to point the investigators in the right direction, without any dialog or expressions. Each investigator has just one chance to get it right. Immense fun and in my opinion one of the best party games out there.
I used to not like Kemet this much until it clicked after a few games, and now it's one of my favourite area control games. The "menu" that you pass around with the different power tiles you can buy to improve your army is great and makes for very asymmetric games. The setup is just a bit of a faff.
13. X-wing Miniatures Game
A Terrible, terrible, terrible drug. Don't buy this game. You'll only end up selling your house, family and dog to fund expansions for it. If you like tactical combat miniatures games, don't buy it. If you like Star Wars, certainly don't buy it. If you ever liked the X-wing/TIE Fighter series of space combat games, DEFINITELY don't buy it. I think what I'm saying is: you should probably buy it. I'm dropping it down just because there is literally so much of it now it's suffering from bloat. But it's still awesome.
It's possible this may replace Kemet for me eventually as I play more games, but to be honest they are still very different games, they just share an area control aspect. The card drafting and the eb and flow of power between players is truly excellent and it rewards repeat plays. Unfortunately it seems to be a bit of a marmite game with some people really bouncing off it. I'd urge anyone to give it a try though as they may love it.
15. Arkham Horror: the Card Game
Streamlining the Arkham Horror board game into a card game that can be played in a fraction of the time but with the same atmosphere, this is probably the best game of its type available. There are now loads of expansions out so the game has been extremely well fleshed out.
16. DOOM: The Board Game
No not the original Doom boardgame that came out before the Descent series of fantasy one-vs-many board games, this is based on mechanics that have been refined over the years including in Imperial Assault and gone back to the start again with models based on the new Doom computer game. The card driven actions are incredibly fun, as you can combo cards together and run through demons, including "glory killing" them like in the videogame for health and bonus cards. It's far more streamline, fun, and pacy for me than all the other games of this type that have been released. But be warned, unlike those games the Overlord player has a really tough time on the early missions.
Ridiculously awesome and still one of the best party games you can buy.
Dropped down the list as it's quite time consuming and the number of bits is almost overwhelming, and it's a real pain to set up, but I love how relaxing the game is and the wooden pieces are something gorgeous and special. It's also unbelievably well designed.
I wasn't expecting to like this as much as I did, and it's almost beaten Caverna for me, but the unavailability of the Deluxe components version (pictured) lets it down for me, as the components of that version felt much more polished and it's a shame it was Kickstarter exclusive. Nevertheless, a fantastic game.
A riotous splashing of colourful components, superb deck building mechanics and glorious card synergies. It's very intuitive for this type of game and the lovely artwork will melt the hardest of hearts
21. Not Alone
A truly brilliant game of bluffing and second guessing, with one players vs many trying to escape the planet. It scales well with all player counts and the iconography and rules are ridiculously straightforward to learn and teach. Lovely game.
One of the best 2 player games there is. I find myself just whipping it out any time there is a spare 15 minutes as it's so accessible. It's very deep as well and doesn't seem to get old with repeat play.
23. Blood Rage
I didn't like this at first but it really grew on me. You've got card drafting, area control, amazing miniatures, and it rollicks along at a decent pace.
24. Star Wars: Rebellion
A truly grand strategy game of sheer unadulterated awesomeness. Yes, another Star Wars game is on this list but what a game it is: asymmetrical in a similar way to War of the Ring, and having the truly perfect central conceit of the rebel player having a secret base that the empire is trying to find (a bit like the fellowship in War of the Ring), and like all Fantasy Flight games it has wonderful components and overall visual quality. Utterly brilliant. It's dropped down a bit as I find the combat increasingly fiddly, but the expansion improves this greatly.
25. The Voyages of Marco Polo
Don't listen to the Shut up and Sit Down review - this is a fantastically designed Eurogame. Yes it's not the "best" one you can buy in terms of surprises or unique mechanics, but it's one of the most finely crafted and enjoyable. The player powers are the icing on the cake. Plus look how colourful it is
Yes it's got tons of extra stuff from the Kickstarter you won't get in the core box, and yes it has some questionable design choices visually, but I've had a lot of fun with Conan. It might actually have the best mechanics of any 1 vs many game I've played, with the river system used by the Overlord and gems system making for extremely balanced games. It's an extremely good game but I've not felt able to rate higher simply because of the aforementioned sour taste problems and the terrible rule book that's in the core box. (download the revised rules or you'll end up looking for clarifications on so many things that the core box rules just don't bother to even mention let alone explain.)
27. Cosmic Encounter
As a party game, narrowly beaten by Codenames because it's a bit more time consuming and takes (fractionally) longer to set up, but with all the expansions this is sheer fun in a box - it's utterly brilliant fun with a good group. I like it because it lets me be a colossal dick to other people in a safe environment where they will probably only slightly murder me.
28. Dead of Winter
Hands down the best co-op style game with a traitor mechanic I've played. And yes, better than Battlestar Galactica. The one genius aspect that creates such amazing stories and event that happen to the players is that it is not guaranteed that you have a traitor, but every player always has a unique personal objective that they have to achieve, so they may end up looking suspicious while trying to do it during the game. The crossroads deck is just the icing on the cake, with unique and context sensitive events happening during players' turns and every mechanic being finely judged to create the maximum fear due to the risks of moving or searching at any time. Best played with as many people as possible, but put a whole evening aside for it. Truly spellbinding stuff.
29: 7 Wonders
Just a lovely theme, great mechanics and the fact that there is no down time between turns is brilliant.
A Shutupandsitdown favourite - played this a lot and it is probably one of the simplest yet most riotously fun bluffing games I've played.
Beautiful components and artwork, and one of the best 4X "style" games I think I've played. Utterly absorbing for 5 players too and amazingly not longer than a few hours for that many people. After a few plays however I've had to drop it down to 30 as it's clear that there are some definite paths to victory, some better than others, but it's still a very very good game with lovely production values. I'm just not too keen on how abruptly games can end making it feel unsatisfying.
32: Sail to India
Really deceptively deep for such a simple game to set up and play and with some great mechanics. What do you mean I have to spend workers to use my victory point track??
After only playing this a few times it grew on me a lot. A very quiet game of contemplation over the sound of clacking chips that are part of the beautiful components.
Go - I've not played it as much as Chess, but I think it's actually a better game. Perhaps the most simple and elegant game in existence.
Five Tribes - great game with a weird and original placement mechanic
Keyflower - worker placement with added brutal bidding wars
Love Letter - simple, quick and superb
Libertalia - requires cunning like a mighty pirate
The Resistance - brilliant party game for large groups
Imperial Assault - what's that, you've bought into a bit of the X-wing game and are destitute already? Then avoid this like the plague.
Takenoko - cuter than Ticket to Ride and feels very similar. Get this instead if you hate trains...
Fury of Dracula - one of the most thematically brilliant games I've played, and perfectly captures the atmosphere of the story.
Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar: worker placement game with a very interesting time based mechanic where you have to do a lot of planning ahead, and lovely art and components too!
Puzzle Strike: really fun "deckbuilder" that uses a videogame theme.
Android: superb cyberpunk storytelling and roleplaying game but with victory points and actually quite clever game mechanics.
Kingdomino: if you like Carcassone try this, you might like it even more.
Magic Maze: careful who you play this with or you might end up murdering each other.
Spoilered the old list because while they are still relevant and you can go back there for more detailed thoughts on some of them, it's IN WITH THE NEW. First my top ten:
1. Twilight Imperium: 4th Edition
I would argue that you absolutely cannot play this with people new to the hobby, but not because the systems are especially complex, but rather the sheer number of choices you can make on the board or choose to interact with other players mean that newbies will be literally eaten alive. However, once you "get" in this is probably the finest strategy board game bar none. It's just the sheer drama of it. It's long, it's weighty, it's drowning in plastic. It's a beast.
My favourite of this type of game, but doesn't get played as often these days. I still think it's the best dungeon crawling style game ever made. The combat puzzle is the most enjoyment I've had from a boardgame to this day, and it's very much got that feel to it like you get in a game like Into the Breach, where you can see all the behaviours out there in front of you, and there is going to be a perfect solution that you just have to find. But by making this a collaborative puzzle with the other players it just makes those moments when you all perfectly sync your attacks together that much more sweet. A masterpiece.
3. War of the Ring (second edition)
I still don't think there is a better "Lord of the Ring in a Box" game. The new Fantasy Flight game that is a bit like a re-skinned LotR version of Mansions of Madness might be a narratively driven experience, but the "emergent" narrative that happens in a game of War of the Ring is second to none.
4. Terra Mystica/Gaia Project
My favourite is still Terra Mystica. There could be some compelling arguments in favour of the new Gaia Project over it, and that game certainly has a better implementation of the "worship" track, but for me Terra Mystica is tighter, leaner, and I just prefer wood to plastic. Definitely check out both though.
5. Twilight Struggle/1960: The Making of the President
Both mechanically similar - your preference will come down a lot to which is the more interesting historical event. I prefer TS just because the Cold War setting is a bit more expansive. However, both games are an absolute joy to play, with the way opposing players can counter the use of cards for actions with their key historical event, so there is a delicious war of attrition where you try to do a lot, but not too much, lest you over exert and give your opponent an opportunity to wreck your plans.
6: Forbidden Stars
This is the game you play when you want that Twilight Imperium feel but you only have 2 or 3 players (You can play with 4 too, but by god it goes as long as TI:4 and one player usually ends up being shafted). Very much its own space opera, where TI:4 is mostly diplomacy, this is more about the tactical combat and fleet upgrading, and the combat deck building is masterful. It's out of print though. Boourns.
This is the best "selling stuff in the Mediterranean" game there is. But it's really the card playing mechanic to do actions which sets it apart. Most games give you a "move, action" style of play, but here all actions are dictated by what cards you have in hand, and you only get them back when you skip a turn to drawn them up again, with the more you draw back giving you a greater cash bonus. This encourages efficient use of actions but also allows for a fairly freeform approach to player choice. Truly an evergreen game.
8. Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
This is probably my favourite social deduction game of them all. So many other examples of the genre can get bogged down in people "solving" them or reply on intimate knowledge of player powers or mechanics so when people make mistakes the whole game can stop working properly. But here there are simple rules, lots of variety, and plenty of scope for hilarity.
9. Memoir '44: Operation Overlord
War ain't never been so much fun. I mean honestly, it's hard to get hold of, and trying to find the number of people required to enjoy it is a pain, but it's so much more than the sum of its parts and makes the base game seem rather pedestrian.
10. Fire in the Lake
If you want a lesson in why Vietnam was such a clusterfuck, play this game. You absolutely must play it with the full player count however, as the historical significance of how each side operates only really comes alive when there is a human trying to make sense of their goals.
And the other excellent games to mention that are lovely (including new ones!):
What a fascinating tactical challenge Kemet is. I can play it over and over and it seems to be boundless in variety. Every player can have wildly differing ideas for how to win and still somehow it all holds together.
Arkham Horror: The Card Game
So you like a bit of Lovecraft eh? Daunted by the sheer number of Lovecraft themed games out there? Easy: just buy this one, and ignore ALL of the others (Except maybe Mansions of Madness). The original Arkham Horror is now an interminable bloated mess. Eldritch Horror also takes too long and is demoralising. Mansions of Madness can be great, but is expensive and scenarios vary widely in quality. AH: The Card Game is streamlined, straightforward, intimate, and makes going mad fun again.
Caverna/A Feast for Odin
I struggle to decide which of these I prefer these days. I think a Feast for Odin just about edges out because the game feels a lot more exacting and there is that wonderful feeling of being able to do just enough, but not quite, with the highest possible score just out of reach... I used to dislike the tile placing and the struggle to cover everything, but it really grew on me. Caverna is a much more friendly game and I would argue is still better for components and production quality, despite being a similar price. Definitely try both.
Both very similar games in my opinion, with the way that you drop your workers into spaces as you move around the board and pick up good or fulfill orders. Yokohama has quite a lot of options and seems to have more going on on its larger sized board, but Istanbul edges it for me and I much prefer it, as it's tighter, shorter, and when someone gets enough rubies, the game ends - no need to do tedious adding up of points etc at the end.
Still criminally underlooked. It probably doesn't help that it's not exactly cheap now for such a small game. I think the price went up when it got some good reviews - it's about £25 now which is about twice what it should be.
A devilishly horrible and mean game of bidding and second guessing and being a bastard. Appropriate considering you play at being estate investors. There is some truly excellent player interaction in this game, and being devious can see you being richly rewarded. Not a game for those that have trouble enjoying a game when they have just been utterly screwed by another player. But for those that enjoy complex and deep player interaction, this is a must.
Never played a game before and have two players? This is the first one to buy.
51st State (Master Set)
A fantastic blend of card drafting, tableau building and subtle player interactions. There's something incredibly moreish about it, and I much prefer it to Imperial Settlers by the same people just because it doesn't go on forever when someone has made a huge combo machine towards the end like that game.
A wonderfully esoteric bidding game that seems to get better with every play. Confusing number of versions.
Never played a game before and have two players? This is the second one to buy.
Teotihuacan: City of Gods
Very different to Tzolkin: The Mayan Calendar from the same designer, I think I now prefer this. It's a bit more of a freeform game and doesn't punish you quite as much for not getting your timing exactly right, plus the pyramid is a lovely chunky prop.
One of the prettiest, chunkiest games around. Azul is an infuriating abstract puzzle that just gets more and more absorbing with each play. It's a masterclass in exacting player interaction, as every choice can be a tactical slap in the face of denial.
A massive and opulent new Kickstarter edition of the game hasn't changed the fact that it's still one of the most mechanically inventive and satisfying dungeon crawlers from yesteryear. The damage mechanic that sees the human player's people gradually unable to move from exhaustion is a tactically rich and lovely thematic touch.
Quacks of Quedlingburg
My favourite push your luck style game ever, I think. It constantly encourages you to go for just one more token to fill your ever more point scoring pot, and has just enough variety to keep the game fresh for repeated play.
I'm becoming a little less enamoured with boardgames that feature very little player interaction these days, but Wingspan is such a delightful game it's not really a concern. A lovely and relaxing way to bring out your inner twitcher. And fabulous to look at.
Conan/Batman: Gotham City Chronicles
The new Batman game has definitely refined the mechanics introduced in Conan, and I think it still remains the best 1 vs many combat style boardgame currently on the market. But really, your choice of the two will probably essentially come down to theme and price, as they are both great.
A wonderful concept, that seems an island helping villagers to fend off colonial invaders, this is in my opinion one of the best co-op games available, Legacy Pandemic maybe aside. The way the card interactions and rule work means you don't tend to have the problem on one player dominating the flow of the game, as each player must play their combos and chain them on their own, and so everyone has to always be involved and invested at the same level.
A an equally clever and dumb and hilarious dexterity game that looks brilliant.
Century: Spice Road
For some reason I find it feels very similar to Splendor, and seems to develop in a similar way. For me this is just starting to edge it out as the quiet game of card picking for me. It even comes with lovely little cube cups.
Perfect entry level game that works especially well with non-gamers. Also looks gorgeous.
It's dead! Thanks for the memories! Actually, more seriously, Netrunner might no longer be being printed or expanded, but there is still a thriving scene around it and now there are fan made expansions being released to keep it going. Don't let anyone tell you it's over.
X-wing Miniatures Game
I used to love this and bought loads of it until they completely reset the whole thing to allow for app driven updates to the rules. Unfortunately this would have been another massive amount of cash for my collection to stay relevant so I'm out, but for those just getting into it it's now a wonderful, fun and above all well balanced game that has tripped out all the silly feature creep it had and got back to the meat of what made it fun in the first place: dogfights.
Inis is an interesting one, as it seems as many people bounce off it as love it. I think a lot of this comes down to the fact that if you can't really learn the possible card powers that people can use and have drafted during the game then it can make it very hard to tactically respond to various actions, as you need to be aware of those extensive possibilities as well as the board state. For those that like a taxing mental challenge though, this is fantastic.
I'm proper tired of Codenames now but... Oh look a Marvel edition!
DOOM: The Board Game (the new one)
Well, it's admittedly not the most balanced of dungeon crawlers, but I still maintain that this was criminally underlooked and underrated on release, maybe perhaps because people played the first scenario, found it too easy for the player characters, and dismissed it. However, when you play through the campaign, you realise the difficulty for the players and the powers of the Demon player ramps up as you progress through the levels, much like a videogame, so the full experience is only really there when you dedicate a bit to it. The only problems there though is unlike other dungeon crawlers it doesn't really have the campaign hooks to keep you playing, with no persistent goals or things carrying over, so it comes across as what should be a skirmish game with more balanced scenarios. I'm underselling it maybe, but as long as the demon player is okay with having a tricky time, it's lots of run and gun fun for players. And seriously, look at those minis!
Still a lovely and simple bluffing game that has a lot in common with Liar's Dice (also a great game). You can even play it with playing cards if you don't want to buy a set. But do buy it, because it looks lovely.
Star Wars: Rebellion
Still essentially the Star Wars version of War of the Ring and still excellent. However, I couldn't go back to playing now without the Rise of the Empire expansion, so best to take the cost of that into account. But still, incredible, luxurious 2-player game. (Ignore that it says you can play with 4, doesn't really work)
The Voyages of Marco Polo
Still one of the most solid and enjoyable goods trading Eurogames there is.