Sunday, November 08, 2009


We played out first game of Zooloretto tonight as a family. I've played a couple of games at work with "the guys", but today was the first at home.

I really only gave the family the briefest outline of what the game was about. Pointed at the enclosures, and said you can only have one animal type in each. Pointed at the coins, and then pointed to the coin-action aid mentioning what could be done in the very briefest of ways.

Then we started, I just told then to draw out of the bag and then put the tile on one of the trucks, which we all did for the first round. Then as my wife started the second round I told her that instead of adding to the trucks she could take a truck, but would have to sit out a turn. She added to the truck. Same info to my son who also added to the truck.

A coin tile came out and I explained that the coin tile would be swapped for a wooden coin.

We all took a full truck at the end of the first round.

During the next round a Male camel came out, so I explained the breeding rules. My son bailed early this round, realising I wanted the male camel he took that truck half full. Grr!

I soon filled my first enclosure and took the coins, explaining why I got them. During my next turn I swapped my full enclosure with a partially full one, once again explaining what I was doing.

My son queried buying a tile. I think he was eyeing up one of the animals in my enclosure so I had to disapoint him and say he could only by from the barn. He was still happy though, and took a Panda off of me. It was an attack, it was a Male in my Barn which would have matched nicely with the Female I had out in an enclosure. Grr!

So here we go. My son and I were bashing each others animal selection and meanwhile my wife was just taking trucks and filling enclosures like mad. We got into the final sections of tiles and she started spending ALL of the coins she had aquired to empty her well stocked barn.

So we ended and my wife wins followed by me and my son came in just behind. It was a close game, and the introduction of the rules as we went along obviously didn't hurt their play.

This is a fun game, and deserves it's Spiel de Jahres award.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Inns and Cathedrals

This week I've a couple of games of Carcassonne using the "Inns and Cathedrals" expansion, and it's been a good experience.

Basically it includes a number of new tiles.

A couple of "Cathedral" tiles, which are entirely city with no green edges. This adds a really fun effect. When added to a city that city becomes totally valueless unless the city is completed. If completed the city is worth extra points.

Likewise the other tiles include road tiles but they roads have inns next to the road. Like the Cathedral if completed the road is worth extra, but if not complete the road is worthless at the end of the game.

Both of these features cause a few things to happen, especially in the end game. If you draw a Cathedral tile or an Inn tile and an opponent has a big feature going you can take a gamble and play this poisoned chalice into their feature spoiling it for the end game score.

Of course you can likewise take the tile and try to make the most of it earlier in the game by scoring extra points.

As well as these great score effecting tiles, it also includes a number of extra tiles that are new, and will cause the tile-counters to have to recalculate. These are not repeats of existing tile types but whole new shapes that give you new great options.

This expansion is a worth while purchase for a Carcassonne fan. It adds new scoring options without either unbalancing the game or breaking the existing stratergies.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The DOOMaster

Well we had a rather disasterous few sessions of DOOM:The Boardgame over the last few weeks. We played through the first couple of levels and in fact into the third level without ever once making it to the end.

We cheated a little I'll admit we went into the third level with three armour each, and a host of weapons all carried forwards from the last mission ( despite losing ). Our only excuse was we wanted a chance to win.

This third level is a doozey. You have to fight your way within 7 turns to one location and immediately another objective starts with only 7 turns to reach it, and then again once more. It has a lot of long corridors so speed is of the essence.

I had some speedy abiilities so I sped off to grab some armour, only to find that the next bit of corridor was now blocked by spiders at a choke point where the corridor narrowed. The other guys then came up after but with the spiders there the path was blocked. So when it came to my turn I was blocked by friends and foes from advancing or attacking. So let me cut this sorry episode short. We never made it along that corridor, a few big-nasty spawns and it was blocked beyond hope, and we died before opening the first door.

So after this miserable defeat we decided to reset it and try again. It the first time we've ever bothered with a reset, normally we just go only the next mission to keep the variety nice and spicey!

So we reset, I sped off and gained the choke point before the enemy did and ignored the armour, which made me rather sad. I promptly broke all of my weapons and resorted to the mighty fists of fury and started battling up this corridor. My fellow marines did likewise and this time we actually made progress. Through the first door and into the room with a lot of big nasties... we got no further. A second crushing defeat.

So we reset, determined to beat this darned thing. Once again I raced to the choke point to secure our path forwards. My marines fists once again leading the way. The other marines followed my lead, we dodged around the bad guys in the corridor, battered the zombies guarding the first door and burst into the room. Some handy grenades from my fellow marines helped to clear the decks. My marine burst through the next door and came to a halt. Two Demons blocked the next corridor next to each other in a mutual Swipe position, remember my Marine only had fists so I dared not advance.

The other guys were battling the big beaties in the previous room and as it turned out the Invaders couldn't stand still and advanced on my poor guy. Sure he got severely hurt but did manage to Punch both of those doggies to death in the process.

We made the second objective and headed for the third. Unfortunately this was being stood on by a Cyber demon and my bloodied fists weren't ever able to husrt him. The next marine into the room promptly ran out of ammo, where was the third guy?

Well he was low on health and he also was without ammo. We were on 4 frags and about 4 turns until the deck was drawn out. He was our only hope (Obi Wan) as he was standing next to grenades with an imp on the bazooka. He splatted the imp grabbed the goodies and advanced towards the line of invaders blocking his way. He needed the invaders to kill him so that he could spawn forwards into the last room. They didn't attack him, just stood there blocking the way. So with a gulp he took the only option he had and shot at an invader while standing in the blast area.

Sure, he got his wish, a frag and a spawn forwards. Unfortunately it also used up the only ammo for the bazooka. Game over. The cyber demon couldn't be hurt by us, we needed the bazooka to blow him off of the objective with the bazookas Knock back.

So we sat back and considered just how darned HARD this game is. We cheated with extra armour and weapons and had still been wasted.

An idle flick through the rules a little later spotted a goof we had made. We had thought that Invader minis blocked line of sight for Spawning, thus the Invader player had been able place lines of invaders along the corridors forming road blocks, and had been spawning in the same room when he shouldn't have been able to.

So there we were, wrecked, dispointed and now dispairing at the rules error. Did it last? Did we actually cry? No and No. We did put DOOM away for a while, and broke out Memoir '44:Hedgerow Hell, you can't keep gamers down!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Speeding up Doom : The Boardgame

Here are my suggestions for speeding up the base game of Doom.

Marine players all play at once or as near simualtaneous as possible.

However before they all start making their moves, the Invader player is given the chance to examine any interrupting cards in his hand and advise the players wether he may or will not be playing any of them. The Invader player must be given some lenience by the Marine players to play these cards to thier best and even have the Marines take back a part of their turn as required.

Next, when it comes time to lay out a room the Invader player should read out the items to be placed and the Marine players do all of the searching through the boxes ( and baggies ). This speeds up the building up of the rooms.

The next point is possibly going to cause the most arguement. Limit the invader to activating no more than 8 alien-monsters per turn.

Of course, this makes the game just a little easier for the marines, but it does make the game more enjoyable, and keeps everyone busy, more of the time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Flying the Storch

I played my first game today using the Air Pack expansion for Memoir 44. Well that's not strictly true I had played the Pegasus bridge scenario but that doesn't use any planes!

So today I played scenario 12 in which the Air Rules are in effect and the Axis side starts with an aircraft on the runway.

My son always like to play the side that starts first so he played the allies. I was surprised as I expected him to want to play with the plane. However after our game he did say that he wanted to play the same scenario again but as axis next time.

I set out the game including putting the plane that turned out to be a "storch" onto the board. I was looking forward to playing with my first aircraft...then I read the capabilities and was a little crestfallen. The Storch doesn't strafe or bomb it just looks around!? The rule is that the aircraft can not attack, but spys on the enemy, which in games rules is simply this, if the plane ends it's turn next to an enemy it acts like a Recon card meaning that at the end of the turn I get to draw two cards and keep the one of my choice.

When I started playing I thought this was pretty lame but two turns later I was changing my mind. The choice of card is a serious advantage, it not only allows you to keep your aircraft in the air but you can quickly build a good hand of cards.

My little Storch lasted a few turns but in the end I couldn't keep it in the air and it disapeared. Immediately after that my worthy opponent gained a P40 which showed my how aircraft can attack the foot sloggers. As his right flank moved up to assault my entrenched troops his P40 sweapt repeatadly across them blasting them and their sandbags to bits. It wasn't enough for him though. In the end I'd advanced my right flank and used the river to pin his troops and whittle them down.

I won 4-3 in the end but it was a close run thing, and I'm looking foward the return match

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Writing Rules

I'm proof reading the rules for my latest board game design "Galaxy Conquest". It's actually hard work. I've heard around the web that writing board game rules IS hard work. I wasn't convinced.

I am now starting to believe it. When I started I just rushed down all of what I thought were the pertinent points and walked away for a ,well, a couple of weeks and now I've come back to it.

I'm amazed at how poor that first draft was. I included a reference to something called "fortification" which doesn't actually exist within the game! I was inconsistent with the terms that were there. I'd left out the entire Combat Results Table!!!

Add to that the number of typos and bad syntax. It was frankly, dross. So I've just spent another hour going over the rules searching fore these mistakes, things left out, incorrect references etc and I'm bushed, it's given me a headache.

I know it's not over yet, I'm going to recheck the rules again later in the week then see about giving them to some alpha testers and thats going to bring back another whole swath of rules questions and problems that I've missed or just haven't even thought about. I'm really not looking forward to that, and I'm supposed to be doing this fun!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Danger Patrol

A couple of weeks ago I was on RPG-Geek and spotted that a game designer had uploaded his beta/apha version of his RPG. I snagged it and had a read through.

I was immediately intrigued. It's not your usual or rather, it's not a traditional Role Playing Game, and neither is it a pure story telling game. It's a hybrid of sorts.

The background is really thin, just a few paragraphs really. The idea if the game is that all of the players as well as the games master will build the background through play.

The game is called "Danger Patrol" and that name nicely links in with the Rocket Cars and Evil Scientist theme. It's posted for free on it's own page at RPGGeek.

The game mechanics are very interesting, there is no board as such, but rather a series of 3x5 cards where each important location is noted. Each character also has a card and these are placed on the table in one of the locations. As the Games Master and the players mention things as part of the narrative they can be added to a card and then placed on the table.

The narrative is also pretty imaginative. As a Player Character is carrying out an action each other player is able to add to the story provided it increases the danger level.

So in summary I've been very impressed with this game. It keeps all of the players involved even when the story does not effect their character and it's tongue in cheek sci fi background is very appealing. The rules PDF is quite short so definitely worth a quick read.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A few thoughts of Batman

I recent bought a game called Batman Begins Shadow Assault. I bought it off ebay despite it getting very poor reviews.

Why would a sane game collector buy a game he knows is poor?

Well simply put, it's the bits! The game comes with 4 Batman figurines and 20 plastic ninjas. It was the thought of those pieces that drew me in. I was thinking that I could make or use those in a game of my own devising.

So the game arrives I crack it open and take a look. I was still disapointed even though I knew it was going to be a bad game. The problem for me is that of the four Batman's ( Batmen? ) one of then has such a terrible pose that the best thing to do with it is to feed it to the nearest hungry child. Hang on there's more. The twenty ninja figures are clear plastic. They are shown on the box as being made of grey plastic, and when I compare the figure to the box, I would have preferred the grey.

So with my disapointment hanging over me I looked at the rules to the game. Oh dear, just as the reviews said on BGG.

So is it all gloom? No, I do still have three Batman's ( that just doesn't sound right) and twenty ninjas is still twenty ninjas after all, but there is a bonus as well. The game comes with four plastic dice made for stickers. These dice have flat recessed sides where stickers can be stuck, so I'll be able to use them when I come to make a Print and Play game that needs bespoke dice. :)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A great idea Lost!

So I was cycling home and had what I thought was a great idea for a board game.

When I got home, all I could remember was that I'd had a great idea. Darn!

Anyway good news in the end, after eating my evening meal the idea came back to me, phew! It'll be a tile laying game and I'm thinking of giving it a hamster theme.

To be honoest it was the idea of hamsters that was the inspiration so there wasn't any idea for possible retheme. Now now while blogging this another possible theme has cropped up. Thank goodness for bloggs! It could be a game set in the asteroid belt...

I'll say no more, this game I'm going to keep to myself until I've firmed it up some more it has a potential of being a mass market game, simple, cute theme, playable by the whole family. If I can register Hamsteropoly I'll be made!!!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another loss at Space Crusade

Well... Huh... I, erm...



Number 1 son is basically a genius at games, or lucky to an inappropriate level. We've played three scenarios from the base game and every time he's won by over 20 points.

I will admit to being fairly close to winning this time, which makes a rare change. I'd taken out all of the standard marines on his team.

He had decided to split his marines up in order to reveal the blips on all of the boards that's something he just loves doing, I don't know why, it's a kid thing.

His Commander sprinted off on his own and his marine with the standard bolter went the other way with the reminder clearing the nearest rooms.

Having read a recent article on BoardGameGeek about tactics in Space Crusade I had decided to adopt the suggest from there that HandToHand combat is the best option for the weaker aliens. So with that in mind I placed the blips in groups just out of sight, the intention being to swamp the standard marines and once they were removed focus entirely on the Sergeant.

Of course it didn't quite go the way I wanted. His missile launcher placed a shot that removed 3 minis in one shot. Then he made a very clever move with the plasma gun guy that lined up a few Gretchins and removed them from the game. In two shots my horde on the first board was all but eliminated.

The Bolter marine who'd gone investigating on his own was my next target. he entered a new board and I placed the blips in just two rooms, in his case I had no fear of the heavy weapons damage I'd just suffered from on the first board. He advanced and then I swarmed him and took him out with a force of Gretchin melee.

His Sergeant stormed across the third board heading for the fourth. I kept the aliens out of reach as much as possible as he whizzed by. Then the missile and plasma guys followed the Sergeant. I took the chance to run all of the guys who had been hiding to jump out and say boo. A Chaos marine heavy weapon poured it on and took out another marine.

The plasma guy replied in kind taking out a couple of aliens with a single shot.

The Sergeant entered the new board and I blipped behind all of the far corners. By now his commander was Bionic and Shielded turning him into a death machine. he turned around to take on the swarm attacking his buddies behind but was jumped himself by a Gene Stealer for three points of damage.

So the sergeant was hurt and alone. I took the opportunity to wave the baggie of reinforcement counters at my worthy opponent. There may even have been an incident of the "I'm going to win dance".

The next turn he made a break for the exit and I began to panic. He had all but killed all of the aliens and that meant I was low on points. I ran the two aliens within range to block the exit including an android but it was not enough. He played a card that reduced my dice and promptly roll 7 to which I had no reply. next turn he was out.

Final result was him in the lead by 20 points. Time for sulking :(

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Using my new Memoir 44 Card-Replacement dice

So yesterday I played a game of Memoir 44 using the M44 Card-Replacement Dice. I was playing against another experienced player of the game and it was the first time I'd played using the dice against another experienced player.

Obviously I went through the dice explanations and we set up the Sword Beach scenario from the base game, I was to play Axis.

When using these dice you don't use the cards at all, but rather roll the dice to see what orders you get to issue.

So we started with the allies going first and the dice started rolling. Each die roll usually allows you to order 1,2 or 3 units and about 1 in 6 times, double that. The allies actually used the the airpower die option for the first two turns attempting to take out the guns in the central region.

I choose to move my tanks forward.

Next the Allies opted to run forwards with their own tanks. One took on the guns and the other took a shot at the infantry on my right flank and then followed through, by again trying to take out the guns, which they never managed.

The dice kept giving me the option to use the guns, so at every oportunity I used them. My attack dice were practically on fire throughout the game leading me to beat back the attacks on the right, decimate the tanks in the middle and hold off the Allies on the left.

The game ended with 5-2 to the Axis.

So how did the Card-replacement dice work out? They certainly speeded up the game which was one objective. No one ended up doing nothing on their turn ( which often happens with the cards ) evey turn both players were able to do something, so that side of the new dice worked very well.

I felt the dice were an interesting variation that worked but my worthy opponent brought up an interesting point. In the Sword Beach scenario the US forces have many more units than the Axis and this is a balancing mechanism in the scenario. As an example of this, if the Axis player had a 3-on-the-left card he would not be able to order three units because he doesn't have that many, but the Allied player would be able to, thus the balance. With the new dice the Allied player was never able to take advantage of the mass of troops.

I would also like to say that all three areas of the board were fully active throughout the game, no one area stayed quiet as can sometimes happen with the cards.

In summary : The dice worked, speeded up the game, both players were always busy, but there may be scenario balance issues when using them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

First game of Lost cities

I've just had my first proper game of Lost Cities. I've previously played the game with myself just to get a feel for it but that was a couple of months ago ( I think it was that long ).

Well it was actually very good, better that I feared it might be.

The outsize cards were a joy to handle and the numbers/symbols in the top left corner worked well to let me keep an eye on what cards I had.

The game was against a complete newbie who hadn't even played by himself but you know what(?), we both had a good feel for the game and felt the brain burn ( such as it is ) when deciding what cards to play.

For example, my noble opponent played a Green handshake and I was holding Green 2,3 . I was planning on waiting a couple of turns to see if I could get a green handshake, but didn't get one. With only 2,3 in my hand I didn't want to risk starting the expedition and the fact that he had played a handshake suggested that he was holding some good green cards himself. I also didn't want to discard the 2,3 because he would have picked them right up and played them down.

In the end I had to use two spaces in my hand to keep these two cards until much later when he played a Green 5, at which point I was able discard the 2,3.

There were a few situations like this as the game went on. Another pressure I felt was the deck running out, as the game ends as soon as the last card is drawn and I'd managed to collect a bunch of cards that HAD to be played and so had to rush play them all during the last few rounds.

In the end we both had 3 expeditions on the table and I had managed to have two successful expeditions and one minor failure, my opponent had two mildly successful and one disaster, so I got a win, HUZZAR(!) for me.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Memoir 44 card-replacement dice

Last week I played a few games of Memoir 44 and watched a few more games. In more than one game both I and others got into a situation where we had no cards at all that we could use and ended up discarding cards until we got a single card we could use. Then once the card was used started discarding again.

I know and accept that this is a meaningful situation in the game and part of the playing is trying to avoid this situation.

However I posed myself a question, how could this be avoided. How can I improve the chances of getting to Order units but still keep some tactical choices.

It came down to producing some special dice to replace the cards.

I'm using two dice. One die is a region die that lets you order units as normal. Each die face indicates what units can be ordered. For instance a result of 100 means 1 unit on the left, 101 means on on each flank and so on. One face shows 1* meaning one unit in any region.

My original idea was to just use this die, but experimenting showed you still has the same problem and in fact you had the same problem, even worse!

I then tried just adding in a second of these dice and giving the player the choice of which die to use. This worked and if you make a set of these dice this is a viable option. However it felt very un-Memoir-44-like. So I worked on a second type of die to work with the first die.

On this new die are 6 new faces each with it's own effect each of which feels more Memoir-like.

One face allows you to restore one injured infantryman.

One face allows you to order one Artillery unit.

One face allows you to order 1 Armour unit.

One face allows you to Dig in one unit.

The final face doubles the number of units on the other die.

So on your turn you now roll one of each die type, and then choose one of the two results. This increased the chance of a good or at least usable result and included the Memoir like feel. I'm happy now with these results and invite you to give them a try. They won't ever replace the cards but it is an option.

Download the dice from BoardGameGeek

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Space Crusade - again

Back in misty days of my youth (1990) I purchased a copy of Space Crusade from MB/GamesWorshop. It was a simple to play WH40K game in board game format. As these games go it was pretty darned good. I played quite a few games of it back then, oh those glorius days.

Then life moved on and the game was played less and was stuck in the loft for a few years.

Then life moved on again and a time came when I was home and living on the road. I saw this coming and started giving away my stuff, including all of the games I'd collected over the years, and yes Space Crusade was one of them.

Then life moved on and now I'm back inside a brick and mortar swelling and able to trawl the local charity shops looking for cheap games.

And what did I just find? Well you've guessed it, Space Crusade, for a mere £2.50 I've bought a copy of the game I used to love. I was astounded to find the game in the shop, further astounded to find it in excellent condition and EVEN more astounded to find it complete!

So I brought home this game treating it with awe, and set down to reading the rules. then yesterday i set it up and invited my son in to play.

Wow we had a good time, Bolters, Plasma Guns, Orks, Androids, Chaos Marines and the Ed-209 lookalike. Good stuff.

The game was fun, my son was all excited about it and gee, what memories it brought back. We plan to retry the game again today.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Skirmish Wars Advance Tactics - First impressions

If you've ever seen any of the "Advance Wars" games on the Nintendo game systems then you know what Skirmish Wars Advance Tactics is all about.

Some fans of the Advance Wars games have put together a free Print and Play version of the computer game. The artwork on the board, cards and counters is exceptional, it features characters and artwork from the computer game, but not in the usual poor quality, enlarged sprite kind of way. No , instead all of it is print quality and a real delight to look at.

After one game I can tell you that the game play mimics the computer play almost exactly which is great. The combat is a real dream, I know the designers put a lot of effort into calculating the combat results to match the computer games combat. Like the computer version there is practically no luck in combat. You can work out the results before launching an attack and luck only comes into rolling 1 die to see if you do an additional point of damage. That doesn't sound like a lot, but every point matters so the die rolls are critical.

The computer game is turn based, you verses the AI but here your opponent is more intelligent as it's another player, in fact up to three other players and the game handles 2-4 players.

The rules are very simple and easy to grip on and joyfully also very short with some good examples.

There is not a lot of downtime, at least in the two player game, as when battles take place you get to battle back if you survived the hammering.

I'm really impressed with the game and plan on having another game fairly soon, I think I'll even run this out to my gaming group at work. Thumbsup!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Red November - Discussion

I started today on my first four player game of Red November, which is neat little game from Fantasy Flight games.

The session went surprisingly well. We've had to leave the game set up and will hopefully finish it off tomorrow lunchtime.

So I started off by telling the guys about the games time track. Glazed eyes as a response. I explained when things can go wrong, pressure, heat, flooding timed events. It took a little longer but they glazed over again. So at that point I just got everyone playing and everything very quickly came into focus for everyone.

An interesting discussion came about as I was trying to unjam the door to the captains cabin while fires burned at the other end of the sub. Was I wasting my time? Some thought so. I explained that every jammed door, flood and fire is as important, though perhaps not as urgent as every other.

For instance if theres a fire and no equipment for putting them out, then Grog is important as without it you wont be able to attack the fire!. I'm not sure I made my point very well, or at least I don't think I convinced anyone.

We're all hovering around the 30 minute mark at the moment so tomorrows continuation will hopefully prove me right. :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Game in development and getting old

I'm working on a new space conquest game. It'll be a card driven war game of sorts. It's basically red vs blue across the galaxy.

I've been working on the board for a few days and it's really sweet. The boards background is a huge space shot showing galaxies and star systems, with play areas and tracks overlayed on top. It's the background however that makes it pop out.

The mechanics are not too original, they are a variation of some well know mechanisms but are enough different to make the game play differently.

I'm putting the most effort into the rules. I'm only doing a few minutes per night on it and thats really frustrating as I want to get this done and pushed out into the world. I'm taking it easy because I don't want to burn myself out on it. The rules will include examples of play and diagrams and each of those will take time to produce, so I'm going slowly and hopefully surely.

Once the rules are complete I have still more to do. there are 50+ cards and each has to have some unique flavour text and I know thats going to drain my creative juices so I must rush. I guess that's just part of getting older. :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Dune Express Dice

A while back I put together a game called Dune Express which I blogged about at the time. It's a dice game but does not use standard dice. Each of the dice was a special die with strange and mysterious values on each side.

I was delighted to find very clever and arty peole volunteer to create artwork for both the games board and for all of those special dice faces.

Furthermore I then had the good fortune to fall in with a chap who has a laser engraver which he uses to produce wooden Piecepacks. One small fee later and I had the dice engraved and dispatched you can see pictures of them here.

So I printed one of the boards produced by the "Crafty" chaps and kapow! A professional looking game of my own design.

I'm really happy with the dice and the board, and so thankful to all ofthe people who've applied their craft and imagination to produce such excellent dice, boards and even rules variants. I'm proud to be a member of the BoardGameGeek community [sniff].

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Memoir ''44 Eastern Front - session report

The Suomussalmi battle is a very interesting scenario, there aren't the usual two sides of the board. Both sides have forces in the opposite side of the board as well as their own. Additionally the AirPower card is played as a Barrage in this scenario.

The oddities do not end there! The battle is between the Finns and the Russians, and half of the Finnish forces are ski troops this means they can move three and battle but do suffer from a maximum range of two.

Of course the Russians are also playing with their own special rules that mean they have to select a card to play a turn ahead.

A lot of variables there. It's also a very bloody battle with victory being reached at 6 medals or by the Finnish troops occupying the central multi hex town. The immediate win is obviously an attractive goal, However in this case it does feel near impossible. For the Finns to win that type of victory they have to take over three of the town hexes, fair enough, however the town in garrisoned by 6 infantry units and an artillery unit all of them in town with sandbags or in a bunker!

I played this with my son the other day and he choose to go for the immediate victory but he lost because that central block of russians is very tough and well entrenched.

The session I'm going to talk about is where I played the Finnish against his Russians.

I decided to bypass that central knot of Russians for as long a possible and to rather nibble around the edges.

On my right flank there was an infantry and a tank unit well in advance so I decided to take them on first. I moved my right most finish troops into the woods and that just put them in range of the Russians. The opening salvo just pushed the tanks back.

My son new his strengths and used his guns to return fire and I took damage from that.

On my left flank I advanced my guns, as they start on the back line and out of range. I also used the infanty on that side to take some long range shots at the russians on their own baseline.

My son's brown horde came out for blood. His right flank moved forwards opening a gap for the tanks to shoot through, he put some damage into the sandbagged troops on that side.

On the centre I advanced my left ski troops forwards into the woods to support the left flank and moved the ski troops on the right up onto the hill where they could start attacking the russians who were most advanced. Again I pushed them back rather than eliminating them.

My son now embarked on using his guns almost every turn and when every possible sniping long range at my Ski troops who could not reply due to their shorter range. I was now being wittled down.

In my next turn I barraged his guns but only got a single hit. I wasn't able to hit them again during the rest of the game.

On the russian right they pounded my sanbagged troops and forced one of them to retreat thereby losing the entrenchment.

On my right I once again pounded on the lonely tanks and infantry knocking them both for troops and getting another retreat.

The Russian guns pounded my right flank seriously reducing the ski troops in the woods.

On my left I moved my ski troops on the enemies base line north to close the gap in the line and took some shots at the russian infantry over there and started scoring some serious hits.

I lost some ski troop from the center and yet again took damage from the guns on my right.

In a last gasp type situation I moved my ski troops all with only a single troop each, forwards out of the woods and close assaulted the remaing tanks and infantry. I killed the last tank and forced the infantry to retreat onto the frozen river where they fell through the ice.

The russians took full advantage of my advancing into the opening and took out one of the units on my right and killed off another on the left for a close 6-5 win.

Over all I really enjoyed this scenario. At first it looks like an easy Russian victory but in truth the scenario is really very well balanced and a great deal of fun.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Around the World in 80 Days, review

I've just played my way through a solo, virtual 3 player, game of Around the World in 80 Days.


The game is inspired by the Jules Verne novel of the same name. Each player takes the part of a person racing around the world, attempting to complete the journey in 80 days or less.


Be the person who gets around the world in the least number of days. It's not actually required to do it in less than 80.

The Board

Around the edge runs the score track from 0 to 80 which scores the number of days taken to travel the journey.

Across the middle of the board are 10 spaces scattered across the world, your piece will travel along these 10 spaces. Between each space it indicates the mode of transport that has to be used to move from space to space. Each location also has two bonus chip spaces.

The Bits

There is a heavy start player counter showing a stopwatch. Each player has a wooden meeple and a matching score token. They also get a coloured chit that the player keeps in front of them until they get around the world.

There are some bery thick card coins that you'll earn.

A standard wooden die.

Two decks of cards. The first bigger deck shows trains and ships in various denominations.

The second deck is the event deck, each card is either an event or a bonus to the player that draws it.

There are also small but thick cardboard bonus counters that get put on the board next to the locations.

Finally there is a detective meeple.

Set Up

Shuffle the decks. Deal three travel cards to each player, put the detective on his start space, pick a start player and your good to go.


The start player draws and lays out 1 more travel card than players against the boards action track.

Then players take turns. On your turn you take one of the cards layed out by the start player. You also get to carry out the action associated with the card you took. one lets you get a coin, another lets you use a balloon on your turn, another makes you draw an event card, another lets you move the detective, another lets you be the start player next turn and the last lets you discard and replace cards from your hand.

Then you can play cards from your hand to travel to the next location.

Is that it?

No, not really. There are a lot of things to consider when you step through your turn.

The trave cards come in various denomination. A train card of value 4 costs you four days to play it, so picking lower value cards is better than picking higher value cards. But that's not your only decision when picking a card. The action you get to choose when you pick a card is very important.

For instance when you take the Detective action you get to place it anywhere. Any player who ends their turn in the same space as the detective loses two days so zapping the other players with this is very important.

The Balloon action is an important selection. When you take this action you can ignore one of the cards you play to move and instead roll the die to see how many days the trip takes. Additionally if roll high you can spend a coin to reroll that die, so picking the coin action is also important.

The event option is generally a good option as events usually give you a good thing.

Also choosing to be the start player this turn means you get to choose from all of the cards next turn.

Now choosing when to move from one space to the next is also important. Not only do you have the choice to not move and collect cards, but the first and last player to each location get to reveal one of the bonus chips in that location. These give you bonus and often your opponents penalties.

Being the first to get round the world has it's own appeal even if it takes you longer because after someone gets to the goal every other player who hasn't made it yet loses a day every turn.

There are a lot of decisions here. Everything matters. Being first has bonus', being last has bonus' waiting for good cards is important, but not waiting too lonmg is also important!


I really liked what I found here, the components are very nice, the game play keeps you interested, the ability to stuff your opponents is fun and the theme is very friendly. of course anyone who remembers the novel is going to get a kick out of the events and game theme.

I like it!

Friday, June 05, 2009

I'm an Ass!

Ticket to Ride is a game I've been wanting to get my hands on for the longest time and I finally had it delivered a couple of weeks ago. I played it with the family and it went down okay.

I took it to work this week to play with the guys at lunchtime.

I ran through the explanation and then after a few turns I remembered the longest route rule and told the guys that I'd forgotten it and told them about it. I don't know why that worked them up, but for some reason that seemed to turn the three of them against me and for the rest of the game they were working together to block me at every turn. I got peeved.

Then yesterday we played again. I found them blocking me again. I got really peeved. Were they really blocking me or just completing their routes? They say they weren't blocking me. It didn't feel like it to me at the time. So, you're thinking, what did I do. Let me tell you. I got angry AND peeved, acted like a jack ass and gave it attitude, became sullen and sarcastic.

Now was that any way to behave when you're playing a game? No! I'm such an ass. I'm ashamed. I have to ask myself why I'm playing when I'm going to act like that. They didn't deserve that kind of treatment, I had NO REASON and NO EXCUSE to behave like that.

Sorry Mark. Sorry Gareth.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

DUNE express, upgrade

I've just upgraded the download file for my game design "DUNE express". This has been my gaming project for the weekend.

The game has turned out to be huge success with hundereds of people visiting tha games home page every day since it was released. Fans of the game have created alternate boards and dice and even come up with new rules and alternate rules set.

This fan work inspired me to take another look at the game and start tinkering. I tried a few things then happened on the idea to add some tokens to the game.

In the original game three faces of the Traitor die had no effect. In this new versin those three faces come into effect.

I've added three tokens , one per face of the die that previously did nothing. These new tokens are kept by the player and last from turn to turn. Each one may be discarded to ignore the effects of the Traitor die rolled by another player.

This new feature gives the players something else to consider when rolling dice and may appeal to the players if they are the defensive sort. These also give the aggresive player somthing to consider when choosing a target.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

First play of Bohnanza

I've just finished playing my first game of Bohnanza, a 1997 card game for 2 to 7 players.

There were three of us playing and it was the first time for all of us. Considering that, it was a smooth transition into play. I started the session by explaining the rules. It was quite interesting to watch the family's eyes glazing over.

I don't think I was explaining badly it was just a little too much for them. I gave up explaining and instead played through one turn as the starting player. Of course even that didn't really explain everything as the trading aspect doesn't make sense to a player until they've got some beans on the table. So my first turn was planting a bean and then keeping the two cards that come up for auction.

My son took the second turn and when he drew the two cards I offered to trade cards that would add to his fields even though the cards I was trading for did me no good. That was the main hurdle and everyone could see the benefits at that point.

So play went round the table for a few turns and I made a comment about trading cards just to clear them out of my hand so I could play the cards I wanted to on my turn. This seemed to ring a bell and the trading stepped up a notch.

During one trade on my wifes turn she was asking for a Red Bean which was going to give her a score. I looked at the cards in my hand and offered her a Red Bean, but only if she also took two duff cards I didn't want that she didn't want either. She took them. I was well happy with the trade.

My son was collecting the bigger sets of cards. He was collecting Coffee Beans for the longest time and was trying to maximise the number of coins he collected. On the oter hand I was taking coins at every opportunity except on two occasions where I spent some time collecting Chillie Beans and Garden Beans, ut these were the exceptions.

My wife was doing a mixture of collecting big runs such as Coffee Beans and Blue Beans and doing some give away trades to complete the sets.

The game played on... and on... the game box says the game runs 45 minutes, for us it went on a good deal longer, but I can put that down to it being the first play. the rules say, you play through the deck three times, which we did, but it seemed a bit long for them. I think that in our next play we'll try going through the deck just twice.

I was very pleased to find that the down time in the game is minimal as you can get involved in trades during other players turns.

The final score left us with some very close scores, My son hit 22 while my wife and I both scored 23. This is a game we will be playing again.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Red November

I recently received Red November and yesterday finally got around to playing a solo game to learn the rules.

It took me an age to get the game set up. First I had to read the rules until I got to the Setting up section, that was fine but for some reason I felt like it was taking ages to get the bits set up. The main problem was sorting out the Captains grog which meant I was sorting through the most numerous components. Maybe I was tired, but it just seemed like ages.

The basics of the game were straight forward and within a few minutes I was getting the hang of it. The three Gnomes I was running, were zooming up and down the sub and managing to control the oncoming disasters.

It seems that the game basic are easily grasped, however... there are a lot of fiddely bits. A lot of what if's. A lot of Can I do's. The rules lack an FAQ which in my opinion it is sorely in need of. When you read the text in the rulebook you can find most of the answers but they are buried in places you wouldn't look. For instance you might have a question about fire but the answer is buried in the section about water. The rules aren't long but they are as I said, fiddely.

I think a couple more plays and I'll be breezing through the game without the constant references and look-ups, but its a shame. The game looks so sweet and cute that you also want it to be easy to get into it, but alas it is not so. I bought the game hoping to play with the family, but this level of complexity means that I'm going to have to REALLY LEARN the rules. The "family" does not have patients for rules look-ups.

When I get my head around the rules and a couple of family games done I'll post a review.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Catching up

Yesterday I got a big box of games delivered. It's the first time I've ever had more than one game delivered at a time and yes, it was just like Christmas in May!

What did I get? Is it all of the latest faddy games, the latest hot numbers from the continent? Nope.

It's kind of a catching up delivery, where I get to catch up with the game world for a while. Nothing new here ( well, except maybe one ). I ordered some cool stuff.

Bohnanza : A card game about bean farming. A classic by all accounts and the bean graphics appealed to me.

Lost Cities : Another classic, I'm hoping to get this to the table for me and my wife.

Red November : The newest of the bunch, it's such a silly theme that I'm hoping that the family will enjoy playing. Fingers crossed.

Ticket to Ride : What can I say, I've played this online and loved it. I've been desperately wanting this for years!

Around the World in 80 Days : I loved the book and the simplicity of play looked rather like Ticket to Ride, so I'm hoping it will rub the same itch.

Zooloretto : It has a cute panda on the box, how can it not be great. A flippin PANDA!

Memoir '44 : I already own M44, but this is a second copy. I'm hoping to try the Overlord scenarios now. Additionally I often play the game at work so having one copy there and one at home should make my life easier. The game gets heavy after cycling to work 10 miles!

M44 Air Pack : I need to have more M44!

M44 Eastern Front : I need to have more M44.

So now I've a good few weeks of gaming to wallow in, and I'm soooo looking forward to it. ;)

I ordered the games from Green Knight Games here in the UK and had very prompt delivery, I'm yet again very happy with their service.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

DUNE express

Two things have come together in my latest free print and play game release.

The first thing is that I've played Monopoly Express from Hasbro.

The second thing is that I'm having trouble getting people together to play DUNE.

So I came round to creating "DUNE express". This takes the Dune premise of taking control of a majority of the habital regions of Arrakis and devolves it down to a simple dice game.

It's not just dice however, these are special dice, and its not just rolling, you have to make decisions with every roll. It's for 2 - 5 players but probably best with 3 or 4.

You have 4 faction dice. These have one face per faction and forgive my spelling these being , Spacing Guide, Atredies, Corrino, Harkonnen, Bene Gesseret and Fremen.

You also have a traitor die, that has six side but only three count, these being, Hunter Seeker, Poison and Crysknife.

There is also a location die that names Arakeen, Carthag and the Sietches.

Finally there is tha Spice die giving numbers 1 to 5 and of course Shia Hulud.

There is also a map which has the Polar Sink at its centre and the 5 other regions surrounding it.

On your turn you roll the dice and then have to accept the result on at least one. The dice you didn't accept you can reroll, but each time you reroll you must accept at least one die from the result.

When you roll your faction that counts as a set of troops. The Spice allows you to move troops onto the map and from the Polar Sink. The traitor die allows you to remove an opponents troop for the board. THe location dictate which of the locations you can move troops to. So each die has a meaning when you roll and you have to decide to accept or reroll.

This gets you into situations when you just cant get the location or the amount of spice that you need so you reroll in but each reroll give you less options.

You need to move troops into three of the locations and be in sole possesion of those three locations to win. Fighting is simple elimination of equal numbers of troops.

So it's very simple but , and I'm being quite imodest here, does have an attractive depth of play, that I think might get you to come back and play again.

If your interested, the game is available for free from my BookRanger site.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

New game brewing, and battling the bulge

My game designer hairs are twitching again. An idea has yet again kept me awake at night. I hate it when that happens.

This time I tried a "coping technique". that is to say, I stopped trying to sleep and instead sat up, and wrote down everything that was whizzing through my brain.

Didn't help.

Next time, I think I'll just try eating some doughnuts. I don't think it'll help me sleep, but at least it will be tasty!

I thought I'd also let you know how my attempt at Axis & Allies Battle of the Bulge went. It went very well. About two turns in I realised That I had been playng it wrong , DOH! I didn't reset the game, but instead just carried on, and I don't think it help the Axis forces too much.

The German forces zoomed across the board, powering up the centre and simply zooming over the town of Bastogne and forming the bulge.

The Allies get a lot of reinforcements that can come in from the edges of the board. This is quite clever because it recreates the "bulge". It accentuates the bulginess of "the bulge".

The Allies struggled. A mistake of using the trucks coming in from each flank to drop supplies in the centre of the board where the Axis forces were striding forwards left the flanks without the fuel they need to pinch the bulge.

Indeed on one flank the American forces were stacked into just a couple of powerful hexes but I managed to cut the roads behind them stopping supplies from anywhere else reaching them. This kept them immobile for two turns but sadly it was not to last. Just then the Allied air power started to take effect.

The Allied aircraft made a point of attacking unprotected fuel dumps on the first turn and managed to do terrible damage to the Axis plans. From that point on, as the designers of the game intended the Axis was pushed slowly back until the end game was reached.

I really enjoyed the game. Took a couple of hours with interruptions of casual play. It's a one scenario game so I don't intend to try playing again for at least a few months, but I am looking forward to it.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Battle of the Bulge

I have a day off work and decided to crack out my very unused copy of Axis and Allies Battle of the Bulge. I've had this game for a number of months but have literally only opened once.

Just after I got it I set it all up and run three quarters of the way through the first turn and ran into a bunch of questions. I managed to puzzle out a few of the intentions obscurely stated in the rules but eventually ran into a complete block.

The rules are not the best written I've come across. I'm guessing that the rules assume some knowledge of the other Axis and Allies games but as I've never played any of them I just didn't know how to progress.

So I went to Board Game Geek and posted my questions and even had some answers, but it's only now, some two or three months later that I've got the will power to have another crack at it. I tend to get a little depressed by poor rules that I can't fathom so it it takes me a while to try again.

Wish me luck, I'm going in!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Racing Dogs

I've just released another Print and Play game. It's a card game called Racing Dogs for 2 to 4 players and lasts about 30 minutes.

The theme of the game of game is players betting on dog races, although I have strictly left the work "Betting" out of the game materials.

Instead of money, players place tokens on the dogs and then score points based on the token values at the end of the race.

Each player gets a hand of cards numbered variously from -4 to +7. That also get three tokens with values of 1,2 and 4.

In each race three dogs run. Before trhe race starts each player places their three tokens one on each dog. The clever bit here is the one of the tokens is face up and the other two face down. This means that there is some information about who's backing each dog but it's not complete.

Then players start playing cards from their hand one at a time onto a dog of thier choice. The numbers on the cards are added up for each dog after every card play, and as soon as one reaches 20 it's won the race. The players then score points equal to the token placed against the winning dog.

It's mechanicly very simple but includes some player interaction and back stabbing but also players will all score every round meaning it stays close right to the end. This also means that every card play matters as you have to make choices about pushing your dog forwards or holding back others.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I've finally done it

It's finally happened, I've made a gamer. I took the unsullied flesh of a non gamer and converted him to a real genuine gamer!

The gateway game that did it was one of my favourites Memoir '44.

I've been playing this game on and off during lunchtimes at work with a small group for ages. Then this new guy saw us at play and stopped by to watch.

Then he came back and watched again. About 20 lunctimes later he decided to jump in and give it a go. Today he was playing the first scenario from the base game "Pegasus Bridge".

It was quite funny to see him start the game with a small handful of tactics cards , which is not the easiest of outsets but he's soldiering on.

After a few games of Memoir, I think I'll try him with Dune, thats a games I've been wanting to get back on the table for sooo long. Or will that be going too far too soon?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Scooby Doo Escape from the Vortex - Review

My son spotted this the other day and we grabbed it. Today we gave it a try, so here's a detailed look at it.

The game comes in a small box a bit bigger than your average paper back book. The box cover is really shiny and very colourful, prefect fot attracting your average Scooby Doo fan, like myself.

The Game has a puzzle like board making it much larger than the box would suggest. The board is very VERY colourful. It's main feature is a black and yellow circle offset from the middle that actually sits on a spindle just above the board that allows it to spin around. The majority of the board is made up of large purple pipes that lead around and bend back on themselves. These pipes are segmented and these are the spaces along which you will move the pieces.

There are many "pipe break" spaces these show a couple of creepy eyes peering out the pipes dark interior. When setting up the game you place a token on top of each of these. The tokens have a matching "Pipe Break" on their reverse. On their obverse side they show one of three things. Either a box of scooby snacks, a security key rather like a credit card or finally a robot.

For playing pieces you have thick cardboard stand ups. There is one for each member of the Scooby Gang detailing the characters front and rear on eachj side. There are also 3 Robot standups Each comes with a plastic base to stand them in. The bases have a good grip on the figure and are weighty enough to not blow over at the first breeze.

There are also two standard six sided dice one black and one white.

The objective of the game is to move your character around the pipes picking up the counters to pass. Once you have a security key and three Scooby Snacks you make your way to an escape space on the board. First one there wins.

On your turn you start by revolving the vortex circle anti clockwise one space.

The outside of this vortex is made up of movement spaces and the ends of pipes. Characters can only move off of the vortex and into the pipes if they pass through a pipe end that is currently aligned with the pipes on the board.

Once you've turned the vortex you roll a die for movement. If there are any Robots in play you also roll the black die for their movement, you move all of the robots in play the number of spaces indicated. Then you do the same using the white die for your own character.

When moving your piece if you pass over a "Broken Pipe" token you flip it over and see what it is. If its a Key or snack you take it. If it's a robot, you replace the token with a robot standup.

The robots are where the only limited stratergy in the game come into play. When moving them you can pass over spaces occupied by other players, which allows you to send them back to their starting space in the vortex. Sadly that's it for tactics and stratergy. You'll find yourself moving the robots away from your piece and towards your opponents and they likewise.

The game is listed as being for ages 6+ and that's fair enough. It's roll and move with just a little more added and there is nothing to appeal to adults.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

More thrift store bargains

Another couple of hours spend drifting around charity shops has found c ouple of games for me to have a go at.

The first is a Ravensburger game simply called Quest. You move your piece around a board competing to collect a ring and run it to the the three cities. You also get to plant blocks in front of your opponents and use "lives" to battle each other and dragons!

The other, I don't have must hope for, my son spotted it and hoofed it off the shelf. It's another Scooby Doo game. And after the disaster that was the last Scooby Doo game we tried I was a little jaded. This one however does look like it might actually be a game, where-as the last one was not! This one's called "Escape from the Vortex" and isn't in the BoardGameGeek database ( I've submitted it now ) so I cant guess how good/poor it may really be. Hopefully this holiday I'll get to play it and try it out.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Wrting Rules

I'm having a hard time putting together some rules for a new game design. I posted here a while ago about a game design based on the or at least inspired by the computer game "Stronghold".

Yesterday I finally got around to starting the rules. It's hard work. I have the entire game in my head and could tell you how to play really quick if we were sitting round a table. It just feels so slow and pedantic to have to write these things down. writing

I'm a very quick typist so its not the actual wordage that's the problem it's the thought process. I write a paragraph, go on the next then stop. Re-read the paragraph and realise I've left something out. Every time, every darned paragraph!

I enjoy creative writing, that stuff just flows from my fingers but when I have to be clear, concise and cover not only what you have to do to, but also word things so that they can't be misinterpreted my brain starts frying. I hope to get this first full draft put together by the weekend, and I'm going to truly grateful to get this job off of my desk.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Dogs

I've just had a most enjoyable 10 minute family game while sat around watching the TV.

"What!" you say. "The Telly!" you say, "How can that be?" you ask.

Well a few months back I noticed that we have a Sky channel called "The Dogs" and every two minutes this channel runs a computer based dog race. It a computer version of going to a dog track.

The TV shows you 6 dogs one after another, you see the dog, the colours its wearing "The odds" and the dogs name on screen for a few seconds. Then a summary, then the computer animates the race. These computer dogs then race once around the track, and the top three are then listed.

Very simple entertainment.

For our game, I gave everyone five chips. Each turn everyone picks a dog and puts a chip in the middle. The player who's dog comes in highest gets the chips put into their score pile. If no one wins, the chips get added to by everyone next time around.

At the end of five races ( or six, if no one wins the last race ) the player with the most score-pile chips wins.

Very simple game, great fun. You sit around with the fizzy pop and some munchies discussing the dogs names for a minute or two then have the excitement of the race with associated highs and lows, and repeat. We'll be doing this again.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Dinosaur King - Review

My son is a dinosaur nut so getting this game was a no brainer. A quick read through the rules game me an impression that its was a simple card game with some tactics and the usual amount of luck that card games always involve.

It's a CCG, but let me say from the outset that a couple of starter decks do give you a good game.

In your starter deck, you get a random selection of dino cards and "move" cards. You also get a play mat and a random character card. Lets take a look at them.

The play mat is a single sided affair. It features three main things. The first is a set of card shaped spaces where you'll place discards, your draw deck, and the cards you've put into play (space for three of these ).

The next feature is a Health track. This is a 20 space track that you'll have to supply a counter for. During the game this starts set to 20, full health and if reduced to zero you become the games loser!

The last feature is the turn track. It runs from 1 to 10, but that's not the length of the game, it's used as a mechanism to make the game build slowly to a finale. Once again you'll have to supply your own counter for this.

The Character card shows a picture of the character in question and details the special ability that character has. These usually involve a "once-per-game" ability such as turning an attack loss into a win, or the ability to add extra cards into an attack, simple things like this.

The cards are split into two basic types. These are "Dinosaur" and "Move". Let me take you through what appears on an example Dinosaur card.

In the top right is a symbol, there are 4 or 5 of these symbols. These are used to combine with similar symbols on "move" cards for bigger bonus'.

In the top left if a paper/scissors/stone symbol. This is used during attacks to determine who have the initiative.

The main area of the card shows a image of the Dinosaur. These vary from CGI critters to cartoon images. Some of the cards have a foil effect which usually indicates the card has a special ability.

A number appear about half way down. This number relates to the turn track on the players mat. You cant put a monster into play that has a number in this location, that is higher than the turn number. The lower numbers are usually lower in power than the higher one.

On the right about half way down are a varying number of life point symbols. These indicate how many life points the player will lose if the dino loses a fight.

Then comes some text. For you average dinosaur card this is just a non-game related fact about the dino, for some dinos this is an in-game power.

Finally at the bottom appears the dinosaurs power value. The higher, the better, the stronger.

Now onto Move Cards. These are played in combat between your dinos and your opponents. The card has a space in the top right which MAY contain a symbol. If it contains a symbol it can only be played with a dino with a matching symbol. If it is blank then it can be used with any dino.

These cards also feature dino's in action with the same variation of image types as the dinosaur cards. The card also has a text block which gives either flavour text or describes a special ability or extra bonus.

Finally at the bottom is a bonus number that is added to the dinosaurs combat value.

Now we get to how the game plays.

You start the game by drawing a hand of 6 cards. At this point you can discard your hand and redraw, but only once.

Then player start taking alternate turns. The turn sequence is as follows.

1) Move the turn track marker.
2) Draw two cards
3) As many times as you want you may play dinosaurs from you hand onto the play mat and make attacks.
4) Discard down to 8 cards in the hand.

Making an attack is very simple. You indicate which of your dinos is making the attack and which of your opponents Dinos you are attacking. You compare the paper/scissors/rock symbols and the loser has to play a move card first, if they want to. The winner may then play a move card. Each player total the points of their dinosaur and move card and the winner is the player with the higher total.

The losers dinosaur is discarded as are both players move cards. The losing player also reduces his life point track by the number of life point symbols on the defeated dinosaur card.

This is very simple, but the play is complicated by the abilities of the dinosaurs in play, the abilities on the move cards and the characters ability if used.

Some cards give you pause for thought. For instance you may have a card that lets you attack with two dinosaurs but at the cost of a life point or two.

I've played the game with just a couple of starter decks and it worked very well, I will be playing again, light and fun.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dinosaur King - Session

This weekend I played my first CCG (collectable card game) in many a year. The game is a relatively new one, Dinosaur King.

A bit of research on the web has shown that the game is supported by a cartoon series and is also an arcade video game. The arcade game apparently is still a card game... A card game in the arcade is pushing my understanding of video games, but then I haven't been in an arcade for many a year.

So the game itself. It was the first game for both me and my son.

We layed out the playmats and set a couple glass beads each onto the health and turn tracks and placed our decks there as well.

We drew our starting hands. My son opted to swap his entire hand, I just kept what I had as it was a reasonable mix.

He started off dropping a level one beasty in front of himself but opted to not attack straight off.

I didn't have any level one dinos, so basically just drew the extra cards.

On his next turn he laid down another dino.

I now had a low level dino so played that out. I also had a reasonable move card so decided to make an attack as well. He countered with a move card that won the fight for him and my only dino was consigned to the discard pile.

The turn track was climbing and so we played on being able to lay out bigger and bigger dinos, and making bigger and bigger attacks.

At one point I had two strong dinos in my hand and a couple of weak ones on the table but was reluctant to play them as each attack with them would cost me a life point!

Another interesting point was when my son had out a 2000 point dino that was totally unassailable by any card combo I could play. So I had to sit back waiting for good cards and watching him slaughter the dinos I had worked so hard to get into play.

I did come back from this and even took out his big 2000 pointer by playing a special move that combined a grass dino with a grass move for an additional 700 points. It was just as well I managed it as each attack he made with it gained him another health point back!

But alas, the game started as it was destined to go on. Each time I hit him he came back stronger and he finally took my last health point and I had only reduced him to 7.

For a first play it was pretty cool. Turns out that a couple of starter decks work perfectly and I dont see a big investment in extra cards here :D

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Playing Cheese Chasers

I reviewed the free game Cheese Chasers a while back. Well now I've gone a step further and put together a video of me playing a session...

... as you'll see it's a very simple boardgame and plays very quickly. A fun light filler I guess. Might work in a classroom as a project to make study and play

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Memoir '44 dice roller

After the release of my Doom Dice roller I was inspired to take the concept a little further. The dice that came in my copy of Memoir '44 are already wearing out. On a couple of the dice you can barely see the flags.

So It seemed appropriate to take the same concept and produce a Memoir '44 dice roller as well.

Sadly of late my game playing has been somewhat curtailed and I'm missing it quite a bit.

This weekend the family got around the table and we played a couple of hand of the Sherlock Holmes card game. This game was produced by Gibson Games back in '91 and is really very good for mass produced game. At one point this game was in all of the shops but then just disappeared from the shelves and has not be reprinted since as far as I know. Such a shame.

When the players are familiar with the cards it plays very quickly and is a nice bit of fun for the family or gamers alike. I got mine cheaply from EBay and there are quite often copys of the game on there going for reasonable prices

After that we played three player David and Goliath, my son had dropped out after his Sherlock Holmes win, obviously wanting to go out a winner. As usual when we play this game, my wife stormed into the lead by taking practically no cards at all until the end of the game. I'd love to know how she manages to kick my butt every time but she does!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cheese Chasers - Review

I played Cheese Chasers for the first time this weekend and I fear I may be in danger of becoming addicted to this solitaire game. It is a very neat little game.

The theme of the game is cats, mice and cheese. The artwork is a very good cartoony style that will have an immediate appeal for kids, but dont let that put you off. As I'll explain it's not just for kids.

When you download the game ( it's free Print and Play ) you get one PDF of the rules. These only cover a single sheet which is formatted in a pocket-mod format so that you origami it into a tiny booklet. This little booklet explains the rules and even manages to squeeze in 7 diagrams explaining play.

The next two PDFS are a single page each and contain the tiles you use in play. One page is entirely made up of Mouse tiles, these are the good guys, you will use them to generate your score.

The next PDF contains a mix of tile types, including the Cheese, Cat and Mouse Trap tiles.

The final PDF contains tile backs. When I made my copy of the game I didn't bother with tile backs as I used a plain card backing for my tiles.

Setting up to play is simplicity itself, turn the tiles face down and shuffle.Then you draw a tile and place it face up in the middle of the table.

From here on you simply draw a tile and must place it adjacent to the previous tile, either diagonal or orthoganal. That's very simple, but you have a descision to make with every tile based on what your've drawn and how the tiles in play are already laid out.

The non mouse tiles all have different effects on play.

A Cheese tile when in play is a way of gaining a lot of points. If you manage to orthoganlly surround the Cheese with Mice you get a bonus 10 points. Wether you surround it or not each mouse adjacent to the Cheese gains a bonus point.

There are four mouse trap tiles in the deck. If three of these come into play and aren't deactivated the game ends immediately. You can deactivate a trap by orthogannly surrounding it with mice. So you must deactivate one or two of these in order to play all of the tiles.

The last tile type is the Cat. A Cat tile will deactivate any mouse ties that are orthoganally adjacent to it. If those mice are deactivating a trap then they no longer deactivate it, if they are surrounding a Chees they no longer count for that either. Furthermore the poor mouse doesn't score you any points.

Another point to keep in mind is that if you can get two or more Cheese's orthogannly adjacent and then surround them all with mice they count double.

It all sounds rather simple, but in play you'll find yourself trying maximise points and avoid pitfalls with every tile you lay.

It plays quite quickly, just a few minutes really and when all of the tiles are laid, you count up your score. 100 points is a good target but in this game your always trying to beat your best score.

I would suggest this as a great "hand crafted present" for your friends and a great addition to your own collection.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Another Print and Play video

I've just uploade another Print and Play video to YouTube. In this case it shows how I went about making a free game called Cheese Chasers

Friday, March 13, 2009

DOOM dice roller

As you may or may not know, the game "DOOM : The Boardgame" came with some rather poor dice. The special symbols were printed onto the sides and very quickly wore off!

My dice wore out after only 3 games but a quick email to the wonderful support people at Fantasy Flight Games soon had a replacement set winging their way through the post to my door.

In the meantime I needed a die roller to replace my worn out dice. So I wrote a web based die roller. I've now posted this die roller to my web site so anyone with worn out dice or who has perhaps lost a die under the fridge or even to the cats stomach can still play DOOM.

DOOM die roller


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Well And Donkey - Review

On my podcast this week I reviewed a free Print and Play expansion for the well known and very popular game Carcassonne.

The "Well and Donkey" is a story that originates in the city of Carcassonne itself and in particular focuses on the big well found in that city.

The well itself is huge and of course when tourists see it, they have to walk over and have a look in. It's not just tourists, everyone feels drawn to look in and maybe that's where the story started, springing as it were from the mysterious drawing power of the well.

The story goes along these lines. A bunch of archers were carousing loudly in the city one night and went as far as swearing against the saints. They spotted a donkey passing by with a really swanky bit of cloth on its back, and one of the archers couldn't resist jumping on its back. Then another archer did like wise, great fun! In the end all of the archers jumped onto the donkeys back! Then it set off running through the city, only pausing next to a graveyard where the graves opened and the dead sang a lament. Then the donkey ran to the big well and jumped in taking the archers with it. Of course it wasn't a donkey, but was really the devil!

So enough with the background what about the game bits etc?

There are 8 tiles in this PDF, which by the way is available in the files section of the Carcassonne page at board game geek. Two of the tiles feature the Well and Donkey, these are city tiles. These two tiles have a drastic effect on gameplay. When a city gains the Well and Donkey, the meeples in the city are removed from play! That's it they are gone for good, and you get no score out of it.

The other 6 tiles in the set are pretty average nothing special type things. This is good because obviously you're always going to be able to tell the home made tiles from the ones that came in the box when you brought the game. These extra 6 tiles effectively "water-down" any decision related to taking one of the new tiles.

What effect does this have on game play? Significant. Until both of the well and donkey tiles have been played players are reluctant to claim cities because they know that as soon as they do then their opponents are going to zap them by dropping the well and donkey into the city!

This reluctance to leave meeples in cities means a lot of very tiny cities get built which in turn means farmers and farming becomes immensely more important. The playing of farmers has always been a major strategy in my gaming group and this expansion intensifies that part of play and makes it very enjoyable.

When we play we always have the tiles in stacks on the table so players can choose which tile they are going to play ( only from looking at the backs of course! ). With these cards in play it is obvious which ones they are but as I said only two out of 8 are the killer tiles, so you have to make a choice, do you keep picking the expansion tiles to get rid of the donkey tiles as soon as possible or do you try and save them to attack with later, but if you do that, will your opponent beat you to the tiles!

Because we play openly this effects our play. When the tiles are drawn hidden, from a bag or some such, players feel they can risk bigger cities and that is fun to play as well. Imagine it, your opponent has a meeple in a four tile city and you draw a Well and Donkey tile, oh how you can tease him/her...

The tiles in the PDF are well drawn and print very well. Mine were printed to thin card, and mounted with spray glue onto thick card. The PDF does contain tile backs, but provided your mounting material is plain, then they are not really required.

An alternate rule that we've played with, that you might also like, is where rather than removing the meeples in the poisoned cities you simple score nothing for the city when its closed, at the end of the game, or for farming it.

All in all this a good expansion, it is simple and straight forward, no complex rules to remember. It makes enough difference in play to make the game interesting and of course that tease factor has to be worth a few points. If you've never made a print and play add-on, this would be a good first one!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Two games, one lunchtime

Yesterday lunchtime was a blast of gaming! Two of us had three quarters of a lunchtime to play. Out came Stratego slapped it down and played through a very quick game. I lost, but feel I can blame that not on tactics but on the third person watching.

Mr Third person is not a gamer he just wanted a break from his desk so wandered over and watched and asked a few questions. This is where I became doomed to be a loser. He started asking questions while chomping on his pasty. “What’s the number one called?” he asked, and I told him. Then “What do bombs do?”, with a gesture of a chin to my right side of the board. I wasn’t too worried at this point I usually spread out the bombs. I told him what bombs do. Then it happened. “What does a flag mean?”, again with the chin gesture to the right side of the board. I told him, with a saddening heart. When we play this game, it’s all about bluff and watching the opponents eyes. You know hovering your hand over a bomb or even the flag as if your about to move it, and looking for a slight cringe in the eyes as you attack a piece near the flag. So I know full well my mighty opponent hadn’t missed the gesture. I said nothing.

Suddenly all of the attacks came down the right side and I knew it was all over, but I carried on. There was no point trying to cover the flag as that would really just confirm its location, so I launched an attack down the left. Alas it was a forgone conclusion. Two scouts and one bomb later my flag was defeated.

Then we rushed onto a two player basic game of Carcassonne at hyper speed. In the end we only overran lunchtime by a couple of minutes and it was worth it, as I could end the session with a win. Mr Third stuck around, and tried to make sense of the game while we played. I could see him getting confused as we scored cities and so on. My opponent is an expert on joining his farmers into my fields so I was wary of that and got two farmers into my main field as soon as possible as an attempt to put-him-off, as he’d have to put three in there to take it away. This actually seemed to work for me so I might well try this again in future. I cant put too much hope in that tactic though because the terrain ended up dividing into two major farming areas with a major road network in the centre.

A good lunch time, a loss and a win, and as a bonus, we managed to show a non gamer that we don’t go-off-and-play-dollies at lunchtimes.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Slogging on

Not a lot of games played recently, I just haven't had the spare energy. I just had last Monday off giving myself a long weekend, but, no, it wasn't for rest and relaxation and a few friendly games of Carcassonne.

No it was for one of those three word combos I'm coming to hate. "Do It Yourself!"

Move the furniture up that end of the room. Lay half a floor. Dismantle a Foldaway bed so it'll fit in the car for a trip to the tip. Take a trip to the tip. Build a bed. rebuild the bed because I didn't follow the instruction properly. Move the furniture back. Move the furniture from the other end of the room. Dismantle a broken down old bed, saving some good bits of wood against future need. Lay half a floor. Remove a shelf and two coat hookey things. Paint the walls to cover the marks where the stuff was removed. Build a bed, right first time. Move the furniture back. Study the layout for a while. Move the furniture again. Spend a total of 8 hours doing various shopping expeditions.

Collapse into bed Sunday.

I really do prefer it when I play games instead of doing it myself.

I have manged to lay out the prototype boards for my Stronghold game during my lunch breaks. There's only a couple of hours development work left in this prototype game before I release it to any playtesters who want to try it. Yet at this time, I dont know when IF EVER I'll get the chance to finish it. Too much DIY!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Free Trader = session report

Tonight I finally got round to playing a game of Free Trader using the professional quality cards I recently bought from ArtsCow.

My trader started his travel on the central world of Corolis. Everything seems a little too expensive and without much chance of making a killing so I opted to jump to nearby Nu-Earth without purchasing any cargo.

At Nu Earth agriculturals were going cheap so I invested in a couple of them. I opted to jump back to Corolis as it looked like a prices were going to make me a profit. I jumped and checked the prices... Khaaaaaaaaaan! They had just shut the agricultural warehouses.

With only 1 Vectorium in the tanks I jumped to Kailing and was immediately attacked by a small Pirate, he shot, missed and I shot back getting a kill and earning a vectorium. Here I sold the cargos but only managed to get myself back to 5 Vectorium.

Once again the best bet seems to be Agriculturals to Corolis, I bought 2 and made the jump ... straight under the guns of a huge Pirate ship. Money being so short I decided to fight it out. Ka-blam! Kapow! Fzzzz! Zapoong! After trading a few shots and not getting anywhere I lost my nerve and emergency jumped to Tanist. Fortunately the jump went safely, but sadly another Pirate was waiting at the jump point. We started trading fire and in the middle of it the bank came looking for funds I couldn't supply.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Game design and Artscow

Rather than repeat what I've already posted over at board game geek I thought I'd just drop a note here with a link letter you guys know that I've posted a thread that details my first rough-out of a boardgame design based around the idea of the computer game Stronghold. the BGG thread.

On another front I've just received my first delivery from ArtsCow. This Online company offers print on demand service. Nothing that unusual in that, however one of the services they offer is custom card decks. That's 54 cards printed to your own specification, put your own images on the front and design a your own back. 54 individual cards!!!!

The cards can have the normal suits printed on them or not, as you choose. Now add to this that they frequently run specials. I just printed up a copy of my game Free Trader for £5.88 ! The cards arrived today and I am really impressed with the quality, they are just like standard playing cards and they look splendid.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Brewing again

In the last couple of weeks I've had a very limited number of opportunities to get any gaming done. Firstly the weather ( ice/snow ) stopped me getting out, and I've been busy recording. I was invited to record a story for the Drabblecast a few weeks ago and that has lead to be being asked to also do recordings for Escape Pod and Starship Sofa.

I've been blown away by how much time this recording work takes. Im my Librivox recordings and those for my own podcasts I usually just rip through the recordings, fixing the gaffs as I go. I haven't been able to do that for these other podcasts. They are dramatic readings! So I record, then decide the tense is wrong, and re record then find the levels are different and then have to record again and so on. It's taken so much time.

Then there's the other reason I haven't been playing too much. I installed "Stronghold" on my computer and have been buried in that game for hours on end. It's been about 5 years since I had any games like this on my computer and I'd forgotten what a time-sink they are. I've lost a number of evenings without ecen realising it.

Is this computer time wasted? No, not in this case. I've been running my game-designer brain over and over the game brewing up ideas on how to turn this into a board game. I'm almost at the first stage of putting a prototype together. There's a lot in it. Collecting resources, tech tree, building things, building troops, using troops. All of these on a single board seems a little unreasonable so I'm thinking that each player will have two boards. One for the home territory being stronghold and surrounds, and another for management of the stronghold, the resource gathering and allocation etc. There will also be a board between the players representing the distance between strongholds. I think this is going to be a big PnP game.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Biological Invasion

A few days ago I had to spend a lot of time and effort in de-moulding my bedroom. I noticed mould around the window, then under the window then along the skirting...behind the bedside cabinet, then under the bead. So all of the furniture had to be moved, the bleach like mould spray put to use and much wiping sweating and even a little swearing.

Next to the bed I have a number of card and plastic folders that contain a lot of Print and Play games. I opened one up to find a splotch of the blummin mould. I also noticed that the paper and cards in the folder felt a little damp.

So today I've had to open all of the folders and spread out the contents to dry. I'm currently sitting surrounded by printed games! It would be great if they weren't all in danger of being eaten my the dreaded mould.

The plan, is that once dry I'll put them all in baggies.

Here's a little story. A few years ago I used to live on the road in a camper van, moving from lay-by to lay-by. We noticed that many of these locations kept having stripped abandoned caravans left in them. These caravans had the number plates removed, the sinks, cushions, gas and electrical items removed leaving them as hulks. Obviously someone was buying cheap caravans stripping everything of value out of them and then abandoning them around the county.

As I walked the dog I would pear into these things to see what had been taken and what had been left. Let's face it, there wasn't a lot of entertainment on the road.
Then one day I saw "stuff" in the back of one of the caravans. I opened the door ( lock was removed along with all of the other fittings ) and would you believe that inside I found a couple of rubbish bags filled with what looked like garden waste.

When I moved one of the bags there was a treasure underneath. There was a ream of photocopier paper and joy of joy, an A3 baggie stuffed full of baggies just bigger than A4. At least a hundred of them! Those two items mysteriously found themselves in the locker of my camper van.

Tonight I'll be using those big baggies to store my Print and Play games, safely away from the creeping mould of game-death.

Friday, February 06, 2009


I just realised that I've never mentioned the Nandeck software on this blog. Considering I use it all of the time that's quite an oversight. What is Nandeck you ask?

Simply put it is a FREE piece of software that allows you to quickly build decks of cards.

There are all kinds of reasons to build a deck of cards, here's one , a real one that I used it for only the other day. I was making up a copy of a game called Pond Hockey. The game is kind of in its embrionic Print and Play status. The board is done the rules are done... but some cards are missing. The game only needs 20 cards in two sets of ten numbered 1 - 10.

So finding the cards missing I brought up Nandeck wrote the script to make the cards and KaBoom! The cards are done in a nice PDF ready for printing.

Here's another reason, suppose your army cards in Manoeuvre get torn or worn out, or heavens forbid you lose a card! Well you could whip out Nandeck and make up a replacement set of cards.

Here's another use, one I'm engaged in right now. I'm designing a card game I've built the deck in Nandeck and I can quickly change the script and change all of the cards in an instant. For instance, suppose your deck of cards had the games name at the top of each card, that would be a single line of Nandeck script, so if you decided to rename the game, you would edit just one line and all of the cards would be updated!

Nandeck allows you to put images on the cards, text and numbers in any arrangement you want, it's very versitile. As a bonus the designer of the software is always answering questions that people post and the Help section of the web site is superb.

So enough of my gushing, go download it today!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Hour of Glory - Session Report

In case you haven't heard Hour of Glory is a "sneak -em up", you take the part of agent trying to sneak into a WWII bunker or the part of the German Commander trying to protect the secrets therein. It's fantastic, and available as Print and Play or as a full prodution game. There are also a number of expansions for it and free PDF magazines. Onto the session...

The British agent attempted to Breach the entrance, failed!

The Commander (rolled a 5) sprinted down the corridor.

The agent attempted to Breach the door again, failed!

The Commander ( rolled another 5 ) sprinted down the corridor.

The agent breached the door and moved into the corridor, moving up the the door of room 8.

The Commander, slowed down to get his breath back but was already closing in.

The agent entered the room, leaving the door open and spyed around finding some good intelligence.

The Commander turned the corner and spotted the open door...

The agent tried to dash for the other door, sneakily.

The commander came into the room, the agent tried to dive for cover but was spotted, then takes a poorly aimed shot at the Commander.

Pulling his pistol the Commander take a shot back, but misses.

The agent fires again, but gets rather miffed at hitting the German who simply shrugs it off.

The Commander fires and once again misses.

The agent rushes forwards, taking another shot and at last killing the Commander.

Stepping over the body the agent leaves the room he came in by and heads west.

The newly promoted replacement Commander leaves his new office and follows the path of the previous incumbant.

The agent turns north at the next junction heading for the first door.

The Commander stops to chat with the fat Sentry who's blocking his way.

The agent closes on the door.

The Commander suggests to the sentry that he really should cut back the sausages!

The agent breaches the door to the south western room.

The Commander leaves the sentry shaking his head and moves towards the crossroads junction.

The agent spys out the room finding a map. Excellent now he knows where the other intelligence is to match the piece he already has.

The Commander turns west but another large sentry is in the way.

The agent breachs the northern door in the room and exits, the Commander is busy dresssing down the sentry so doesn't see him sneak into the westernmost corridor heading north.

The Commander reaches the intersection and turns north parrallel to the agent.

The agent has turned east, then sneaks through the intersection and heads north.

The Commander heading north, thinks he sees something ahead in the gloom ( agent evades ).

The agent hold his breath reaches the junction at the very north of the complex, and steps out of sight

The Commander is not sure what he saw, he rushes forwards.

The agent reaches the door to the room containing the intelligence he wants.

The Commander rounds the corner spots the agent and raise the alarm, the door next to the agent is thrown open revealing the guards. One strikes out at him but only cuts his clothing.

The agent knocks the guard to the floor but the other two guards are ready to take his place, he runs east hoping to lose them in the corridors.

The Commander heads back the way he came, leaving the guards to follow the agent, he's hoping to cut off the agents retreat.

The Guards are obviously worried about how dangerous this man is as they follow very slowly.

The agent runs west, then south into the juntction but is heard by the sentries who catch him in a crossfire knocking him to the floor his brains splattered up the walls.

The clock only had 21 minutes left.