We seem to be going through a dice game phase at the moment, having played several different ones over the last few weeks. One of these is the new acquisition, Dino Hunt Dice, which I actually bought partly to top up an online games order to a free shipping level.
The game is actually almost identical to the better-known Zombie Dice, being a very simple, push-your-luck game where you roll three dice at a time (there are three types of dice, representing different danger levels — the T-rex die is most dangerous, while the mild mannered apatosaurus is only likely to stomp you by accident), hoping to roll dinosaurs but not stompy-feet. You accumulate the stomps and if you get three of them you score nothing and your turn is over. Dinosaurs score points, and after each roll you can choose whether to roll another three dice (putting aside dinos and stomps and replacing them with fresh dice) or stop and record your score.
So, simple rules and dice with dinosaurs on (apart from the ones I’ve already mentioned there are tricerotops too), so what’s not to like?
Miss B is getting pretty good with push-your-luck games nowadays. When things go wrong for her, she generally rolls with it rather than getting upset as she used to. I think it helps when she sees me having horrible runs of bad luck too. In our latest game I hit the end-game target score, leaving her with seven points needed to draw even, which is a tough target. She had a great spell of luck and quickly bagged six dinosaurs, which would normally be a good time to bank, but as this was her last turn she had to push on, and proceeded to make the worst possible roll, getting horribly stomped whilst within a hair’s breadth of a heroic comeback. We both groaned, then high-fived, and then moved on to something else. I’m very proud of her, especially at times like that.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 7¾): “Hello! It was a very good game. It was a bit annoying when I rolled a six for the end but got three stomps. Bye. P.S. It was nine out of ten. The end. By me.”
The game: Dino Hunt Dice (Steve Jackson Games), 2 to 8 players aged 6+.
Miss B came home from school with a game that she had bought at a bring & buy stall set up to raise money for plants to grow on the school grounds. She had bought it with her own money, so it was only fair to play it with her.
The game is Sshh! Don’t Wake Dad!, and it is a basic roll-the-dice, move-the-dobber game with a gimmick. The gimmick is a model of “Dad” asleep in a bed, making snoring noises thanks to a bit of electronics, and at various times you have to press the alarm clock button next to him a number of times. If this makes him sit up, you have to go back to bed (back to the start).
If I were to describe this from the standpoint of a gamer, I would not be complimentary. There are actually no decisions to be made, so at some level this is the same as Snakes & Ladders; you just help the game play itself. However, there is actually real tension as you press the button, hoping that Dad won’t wake up, each player has a hand of cards making them immune to certain hazards (but if you fall foul of a hazard you claim the matching card, so you will be safe from it next time), and two of the faces of the die have a star which moves you to one space ahead of the leader, thus helping to move the game towards a conclusion.
I’m never going to chose to play this one, but it was surprisingly good fun to play with Miss B, so if she requests it, then no problem. And she loves it for what it is, and recognises that it is definitely a game for kids.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 7¾): “It was really fun and it’s a bit of a shock when Dad wakes up because he just sits up suddenly. I’d give it ten out of ten because it’s probably the best kids’ game I’ve come across.”
The game: Sshh! Don’t Wake Dad! (Tomy), 2 to 4 players aged 4+.
We have just received a package of stuff from Kickstarter projects, including a new dice game called Dragon Slayer. It has some quite groovy custom dice, and right now the combination of dragons and dice is too much for Miss B to resist, so we managed to give it a go before the packaging had reached the recycling bin.
About these groovy dice… Well, there are four sets of them, one set including axes and shields on the faces, for attacking and defending, and the others being a set in each of red, green and blue, made up of a die for the head, wings and tail of the dragons, along with some mountain sides, which are useless. All the dice also have one or more “fire breath” sides, which you don’t want to roll unless you also get shields. These dice look great, and each colour of dragon also has its own distinct design, which is a nice touch.
The idea is that you choose one of the dragons to hunt (the red is most dangerous but scores most points, while the blue is easiest but lower scoring), take the three corresponding dice and roll them with your own warrior dice. The aim is to roll all three parts of the dragon plus an axe with which to slay it. If you roll more fire breath faces than shields, you lose some of your warrior dice, and then you get a chance to reroll any dice that aren’t dragon parts or lost. If you complete the required set, you get the option to either score up your kills or try hunting another dragon (without any dice you lost in the fires).
Oh, and each player has one “challenge” token, which they can play to force another player to push on when they were wanting to stop. The challenged player can refuse and score reduced points for the round, or accept and get extra points if successful. The challenger gets points if the challenge is refused or failed.
That’s it. The game is played up to 40 points, may the best dragon hunter win!
We haven’t really played this enough yet for me to get a real feel for it, but I do quite like it so far, plus the game has a very different feel to the other dice games we have, which is definitely in its favour. That, plus the lovely dragony dice has really won me over, despite the fact that luck of the dice can make for enormous swings in the game — we have had a couple of rounds where one of us just wipes out instantly by rolling a vast quantity of fire attacks, and several others where a dragon is simply defeated with the first roll. Playing with adults, the challenge tokens would be far more of a thing than they were for us, and would add a nice extra layer onto the game, but it’s still going to be mostly about rolling lovely dice.
What matters, though, is what Miss B thought. As always, we finish with her thoughts, but as we were playing she said that she hoped we would tie at the end because the tie-breaker is to play another round, and she wanted to keep playing.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 7¾): “Very good game. I like the names (Camicaze and Hiccup). Ten out of ten.”
The game: Dragon Slayer (Indie Boards & Cards), 2 to 6 players aged 14+.
September was a bit of a bumper month for gaming, helped along by a trip to the Thirsty Meeples boardgame cafe as well as a games morning visit from a couple of our local friends.
So, what was the score? Well, not our best monthly score for this year, but very close, and better than this time last year: 23 plays of 17 distinct games. That means a few games being played more than once. First of these was Piece o’ Cake, with 4 plays, followed by Miss B’s homebrew Tumbling Towers with 3 (different rules each time, but that’s the nature of game development!), and Appletters with 2 plays (I’ll see if I can get a verdict and write-up for this soon). Other plays of note were Dragonlance (written up last week), the bonkers Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs, and wooden-porcuhog-stacking game Prickly Pile-Up (which we played 5 times in 10 minutes, which I’m actually counting as a single play).
So, for the year that leaves Love Letter just in the lead with 8 plays, closely followed by Plyt with 7, and Dobble and Apples to Apples just behind with 6. It really is all to play for. As we don’t have a clear leader and we are likely to have a few more play sessions with larger groups before the end of the year, it’s seriously possible that Apples to Apples might get ahead, but I really can’t tell at the moment. We’ll see in just a few months…
So Miss B was in the “spare” room (which is largely taken up with games, so isn’t very spare) looking at the shelves of boxes and commenting on a few games that she’d like to play again, some she really didn’t fancy, and asking me about a few she didn’t know about. One of this latter category was Dragonlance, a big box boardgame TSR made in the late 80’s based on the popular D&D scenarios and novels.
I played this game a couple of times, many years ago and thought it was OK, and then found a copy of it in a charity shop a few years back, so added it to the collection. To be frank, it still looks pretty cool when set up on the table, even if it is almost impossible to get the gates and walls to fit together properly. I mean, when you have everything in play you have 30 dragon miniatures (in 6 colours) to fly around the place, how cool is that? The altitude of the dragons also come into play, and this is represented by a stack of disks that elevate the figures, and combat causes losers to fall towards the ground. And on the subject of combat, it generally strongly favours the attacker, who gets bonuses for swooping in at speed rather than just taking pot shots. Movement is, unfortunately, based on a die roll, but at least if you get unlucky and roll low you get to draw magic cards which can give all sorts of nice bonuses to compensate you for the lousy moves.
So far, so fantastic. Unfortunately, the stacks of disks with dragons balanced on top can be really precarious and there can be a lot of accidental knockings-over, particularly when you have a functionally one-armed seven-year-old and a shaky-handed klutz like me. Still, we muddled on through.
The game we played just used the basic rules and one set of dragons each. The rules suggest that in a two-player game you could play two, or even three colours each, which I think we will do next time as our game was over quite quickly without much battling and too much manoeuvring space. Miss B had a shockingly bad start, movement-wise, but then managed to draw a couple of magic cards which helped her get to the Dragonlance rather easily and then out again with some neat tricks, after which I was unable to catch her.
We had a great time with this. The game has amazing visual appeal and is quite a lot of fun to play, despite its flaws. We’ll probably be giving it another go soonish, using more dragons but almost certainly sticking to the basic rules. There are advanced rules that add all sorts of extra tactical factors but, frankly, who needs them?
The verdict from Miss B (aged nearly 7¾): “Very exciting adventure game. I WON! One of my dragons kept falling over. Daddy drew a magic card but it was, ‘bronze dragons immune’, so VICTORY!”
The game: Dragonlance (TSR), 2 to 6 players aged 10+.
It has been some time since I’ve written up a new game. We have actually played several new (to us) games over the last couple of months, but with most of them we just haven’t got to the point where Miss B wants to give a verdict. We do have one now, though: Piece o’ Cake.
I had heard of the game a couple of years or so ago, but we only got to try it out during a visit to the Thirsty Meeples boardgame cafe in Oxford. Everyone enjoyed the game and I totally fell in love with its elegance. Unfortunately it is out of print (at least in English), but a couple of days later I managed to find someone selling a copy of the German version (called “…aber bitte mit Sahne”) through the BoardGameGeek marketplace. The game is completely language independent (apart from the rules, which are downloadable) so we are now the proud owners of this little gem, which we have played a few times since.
So, I may have given the impression that I like the game, but how does it work?
Well, basically, Piece o’ Cake is a game about sharing pieces of cake. Each round one player lays out a cake which comprises slices of different varieties: chocolate, strawberry, gooseberry, and so on. There are 11 slices laid out each time, and the player whose turn it is divides the cake into portions, one per player in the game. Each portion can have one or more slices in it and due to 11 being a prime number, there will always be at least one portion of a different size to the others, which is a neat touch. Each player chooses a portion to take, with the player who chose the splits taking last. For each slice taken, each player chooses to either eat it (which will score points equal to the number of dollops of cream on it) or keep it (which scores more points for the player with the most uneaten slices of each type of cake).
That’s pretty much it other than a rule where you can pass your turn in order to just eat a load of cake you had previously been keeping. You go through all this process five times and then count up the scores. The game is actually really mathematical, with a bit of push-your-luck and psychology thrown in, but it plays so easily that most people don’t notice, and just have fun sharing out slices of cake.
I’ve played this now at all player counts from 2 to 5 (Miss B hasn’t been in on a 5 yet) and have to say that it is weak (though not awful) with 2 players, so I don’t expect I’ll be playing it with Miss B alone all that often, but other than this it is absolutely great. Miss B seems to enjoy puzzling over her decisions and figuring out her best options, and has fun regardless of her end score. And to round off, this was the first game she got out over the weekend when some friends came around to play games with us.
The verdict from Miss B (aged nearly 7¾): “It’s a very good game. I’d recommend this game because it’s very light and easy.”
The game: Piece o’ Cake/…aber bitte mit Sahne (Rio Grande/Winning Moves), 2 to 5 players aged 8+.
Posted by Miss B…
I made this game at after school club as there was a junk modelling table, so I decided that I’d make a balancing game. At first, Daddy thought that it was a pile of rubbish but I explained that it was a game. When I played it before, it was a pretty good game but we had to change it a bit.