Felicitously, at a recent fête our family found for few funds a fully functional copy of the fast, fun and furious game Fast Flowing Forest Fellers, which was fabricated by the fabulous Friedemann Friese for five or fewer folk.
Alliteration-R-us. I’m sure there are some of you out there who could do better.
Of course, that pretty much covers the review right there, but I’ll go into a little more detail anyway…
Basically this is a race between a bunch of lumberjacks riding logs down a river. You control two or three lumberjacks each (depending on the number of players) and have a deck of cards, each of which allow you to move one of your people a number of spaces, jostling others as you go. The first player to get their whole team past the finish line is the winner.
I’m not sure how a lumberjack riding a log can navigate upstream, mind you, but I’m happy to gloss over that. It doesn’t seem to bother Miss B.
I really rather like this and it is certainly worth the small sum we paid at the school fête (which was rather higher than the stupid asking price). It takes moments to explain and is, for the most part, very intuitive to play. It’s a fun race game with plenty of opportunity to stuff your opposition by shoving them into adverse currents. And it comes with a heap of different boards (some more conducive to stuffage than others), which you pick two of to construct a course for the race meaning that there is plenty of variety to be had.
Miss B got the hang of how the game works almost instantly and liked the fact that there are both boy and girl lumberjacks, which is certainly a good touch. There was a point in our game, though, when Miss B was getting a little frustrated by a current heading in the wrong direction which she kept getting stuck in, but after she got one of my lumberjacks with the same trick, things brightened up significantly.
I’m looking forward to trying this with more players, as that should add to the chaos. A lot of the game seems to be about the jostling; you can make more of your moves by having your lumberjacks push one another along as well as barging the opposition out of the way. Yup, I’m hoping for some more plays of this.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 6¼-odd): “After we played Fast Flowing Forest Fellers I made a giant race track out of all the boards and loads of logs on it just as if a game was going on. If I had to rate it, it would be 8 out of 10. Not the best of games but I’m happy to play it if Mummy or Daddy wants to.”
The game: Fast Flowing Forest Fellers (Rio Grande), 2 to 5 players aged 8+.
Guilds of Cadwallon is a game that has just been delivered (a month or two late) after a massively successful Kickstarter campaign. There are, I believe, a couple of other Cadwallon games out there, set in a fantasy city with some really rather nice but a bit grotesque artwork. It’s basically about playing cute little agent miniatures to take control of cards that are laid out in a 3×3 grid (or, optionally, larger). You play a few rounds of doing this and then make sets of types of card in order to score points.
The game is basically quite a neat, pretty abstract game, but looks nice and has some nice twiddles with action cards that get mixed in with the regular guild cards, plus has optional contract and condition cards which, respectively, give secret bonuses for certain achievements, and make a global change to the game rules. Good stuff, though we only used the basic rules, without contracts and conditions.
The rules are easy to get your head around and Miss B was soon playing with very little advice from me. She found it a little tricky working when and how to play her action cards, but could easily see what she was trying to achieve and have a reasonable go at doing it. I think that with a couple more plays she will start to see the patterns in the game. With the small grid of cards each turn, options are limited, meaning that it is not hard to play and the games zip along and finish pretty quickly.
All in all I am quite pleased with this and am looking forward to playing some more. I think Miss B is up for it, so fingers crossed.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 6¼-odd): “I was the Guild of Blades and Daddy was the Guild of Goldsmiths. It was quite easy to play. If I had to do a rating it would be 10 out of 10. I liked the different people for the wildcards instead of just the one picture for them. There’s a symbol to remind you that it’s a wildcard.”
The game: Guilds of Cadwallon (Cool Mini or Not), 2 to 4 players aged 8+.
I sometimes forget to write about the traditional games that we play. One that crops up once in a while is pick-up sticks. You know, the one where you drop a bunch of wooden sticks on the table or floor and score points for picking up sticks without moving any of the others.
As with a lot of dexterity games this is not exactly my cup of tea, but mixed in with other games (we’ve just played it alongside draughts and Guilds of Cadwallon — about which, more soon) it’s a fun little diversion.
Actually, I think the main thing to write about here is how much the game relies on fair play. More than just about any other game we have played together, players need honesty, integrity, and willingness to accept what is. The game can so easily descend into “You moved the red one!”, “No I didn’t!”, “Did too!” arguments.
From this standpoint (and many others, of course), I am so proud of Miss B. I very rarely need to point out that she has nudged another stick. Sometimes she just drops a stick back in without me noticing anything awry and tells me that she moved one that she didn’t mean to and that it is my turn.
When that level of sportsmanship is being displayed I am more than happy to play again, even in games that I’m not keen on.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 6¼-odd): “It’s really hard to keep still on other people’s turn. I like the way there’s only one of the black pick-up sticks so that the one that gets it will have a better chance of winning.”
The game: pick-up sticks (traditional).
My posting has not been exactly prolific over the last month, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been playing games. We actually did very well, with 32 plays, made up of 17 different games.
The most popular game in April was Love Letter, which we only acquired right at the end of March but managed to notch up 7 plays, displacing long-time favourite Sleeping Queens, which we played 5 times. There is certainly some novelty value helping here, but it’s interesting to note that, as it is a longer game, each play of Love Letter was on a different occasion, while we often play multiple games of Sleeping Queens in one sitting.
Other games that had more than one play were Antics (back after a long time languishing on the shelf), Giro Galoppo, and the Android version of Hey, That’s My Fish! (as always).
That leaves us with Sleeping Queens still the most played game of the year (11 plays), but Hey, That’s My Fish! and newcomer Love Letter close behind on 9 plays. Nothing else is particularly close at this point.
It’s interesting to note that we only played one new game in April (aside from a little prototype game that I had knocked up and we were trying), which was Sheepland. And a previous post reveals how well that went!
I’ve been meaning to mention this for a little while, but a couple of weeks ago or so one of my favourite blogs was rehomed.
GeekDad has been a staple of my reading for a while now as it seems to be about people like me. Not exactly like me, but geeks are all different, right? The blog covers all sorts of stuff, but they include gaming (roleplaying, video, board, whatever), film and TV (mostly fantasy, SF, supers, and the like), books and comics, computer and tech stuff, tinkery-makey stuff, science and engineering, all through the lens of parenting and doing this sort of stuff with your kids. Great material.
They also do a podcast, which I almost never listen to, but seems good if you’re into that sort of thing.
Well, for several years now, GeekDad has been operating as a blog hanging off the website of tech magazine Wired, but recently, for reasons I am not privy to, that relationship ended and so GeekDad has gone to its very own site at geekdad.com. This means that they no longer have the might of Wired behind them, but presumably it means they can control their own destiny a little more.
So, go on, give them a look, stick them into your feed aggregator, or whatever floats your boat. They’re doing a great job.
I only heard about Sheepland a couple of weeks or so ago. It looked cute, so I checked out some reviews and had a look at the rulebook. Simple rules, what looked like the need for a bit of thinking, plus (and this was the clincher) sheeples! (Sheep meeples, right?) So I had an opportunity to pick up a copy at TringCon over the weekend and did so.
Basically the game starts with a bunch of sheep distributed evenly around a map and you move shepherds around to build fences and manoeuvre sheep into fields of a terrain type that you favour, until you score points by counting up the terrain tiles that you have collected during play (and the one you had to start with) and the sheep in the different terrains to get your final score. Oh, and one of the sheep, the wilful black sheep, wanders randomly around the board.
We set up the game and off we went. Miss B had a little difficulty with the rule that in a two-player game you have two shepherds each but you are only allowed to use one of them on each turn. Maybe we shouldn’t have bothered with that restriction, but lately we have been almost always been playing with “proper” rules unless they massively complicate things. We got about two thirds of the way through when Miss B announced that she was fed up and didn’t want to carry on.
So we called off the game and had a chat about this. What Miss B told me was essentially that she had problems with the theme: if you were a shepherd, surely you would go into the fields to round up the sheep and not just walk up and down on the roads. She has a point here, though in other games we have played similar thematic issues have not proven to be a problem. I suspect this may have been her trying to express a general dissatisfaction with the game and reaching for the first explanation that made sense to her. Either way, though, this is the most surprising failure we have had yet.
For what it’s worth, though, I quite like Sheepland. I’m planning to take it into work as it could be a good little lunchtime game.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 6¼): “I don’t like it because it didn’t make sense as much as other games that I’ve played because the shepherds can’t go into the fields and the sheep can’t go onto the roads and usually the shepherds go into the fields as well as the sheep.”
The game: Sheepland (Cranio Creations), 2 to 4 players, aged 8+.
This just in from Miss B: “Tonight the game went really quickly and Daddy won by just one point. Daddy got 40 and I got 39. I thought I’d win though. I had more cards than him but he got the higher number on the cards. I think this was the best game we’ve done so far of Dragonheart and I think it’s the quickest game as well.”