What was on the table in January?

February 10, 2016 4 comments

January was a better month for gaming with Miss B than I was expecting. We had 22 plays of 15 different titles. This was helped by two days: one where we met up with some friends in Oxford for an afternoon of gaming at Thirsty Meeples, and the other when we visited some other friends in Bristol.


We didn’t play Cash ‘n Guns, but Miss B had a lot of fun putting together this diorama.

Our multi-plays were dominated by new arrival Wetland with five plays. This was actually thrown in as a dead-stock freebie with a recent delivery of stuff and, though it is right up Miss B’s alley (a quick abstract game with frogs), there are certain problems with it. Maybe we’ll do a full post on this sometime — or it may never get played again, difficult to say!

We also had three plays of the ancient take-stuff-from-the-piles game, Nimm, and two of yet another abstract, Cambio.

I was particularly pleased to get a play of Between Two Cities with Miss B (plus two more people), as it is fast becoming a favourite of mine, being a very scalable super-filler that just works nicely and generally leaves people smiling.

We’re not doing a 10×10 challenge this year, but it’ll be interesting to see if we do get to hit 10 games 10 times anyway.  We’ll see how it goes…

Where’s Rey?

January 20, 2016 10 comments

Oh dear, we’re getting caught up in something again. As you may well know, there is something of a fuss going on about the new Star Wars film and the fact that one of the major characters, a young woman named Rey, is being excluded from some lines of toys. Or at least not being given the prominence of the other characters. It’s like Black Widow being missed out of Avengers lines, but possibly even worse as, while Black Widow was one of half a dozen lead characters, it is probably not a spoiler to say that Rey is the joint lead, along with one other character, and she may well be more important.

Anyway, recently a new Star Wars Monopoly set came out recently including figures for two characters from the original films, a young Luke Skywalker plus Darth Vader, and two from The Force Awakens, Finn and Kylo Ren. All male. None Rey. When I passed this information to Miss B she was outraged and immediately went up to her room, emerging a short while later with a letter.


The original letter.  And a foot or two.

“To Hasbro Gaming. I think the idea for Monopoly Star Wars is brilliant. But you have missed out important characters. Firstly Rey. Rey is the main character. And even if you included her then that is only 1 female character. Leia is important. And what about Padme Amidala? Please give a GOOD reply or I will be complaining heavily.”

So we stuck that in the post.

Today Miss B was delighted to receive a response.  She eagerly opened the envelope and then started growling with annoyance. She had received a pathetic non-response which didn’t even acknowledge her point.

“Thank you for contacting Hasbro UK Ltd.

“We appreciate the opportunity to assist you and hope you and your family will enjoy our products for many years to come.”


You have *got* to be kidding me.  Who thinks this is customer relations?

As you can see from the picture of the reply, Miss B took her frustration out on the poor, defenceless bit of paper, and would probably have flushed it down the toilet if we hadn’t managed to point out that it is probably worth keeping for posterity.

The situation now is that the anger has been channeled into a new letter demanding a different response, which will be winging its way to Hasbro UK tomorrow. I will report back on what comes of this.

Categories: Uncategorized

Our month in gaming: December, plus bonus 2015 roundup

January 10, 2016 4 comments

Happy new year! I’ve been more than a bit tardy with getting back to blogging this year but here, at last, we have the final gaming roundup for 2015…

Scrabble Scramble: a pocket sized, dice based word game; not bad!

Scrabble Scramble: a pocket sized, dice based word game; not bad!

December was a bit of a quiet month for us from a gaming point of view, with only 17 plays of 7 different games. Based on those numbers, you’ll be able to infer that there were some multiple plays, and indeed there were. The biggest game of the month was Codenames, with 6 plays: three plays were just one-on-one games with Miss B and I working for the best score we could, but on Christmas day we had a few games with the extended family, with proper team play, and it was a lot of fun.

Our other multiple plays in December were Loopin’ Louie with 3 plays and Balanx with 2.

And, of course, that brings us to the totals for the year. We got up to an impressive 360 plays throughout the year, so were unbelievably close to averaging a game per day. This is better than we have managed in previous years: 2014 had 223 plays and 2013 had 326.

As for variety, we played 121 different games in 2015, beating 102 in 2014 and 112 in 2013. And, just for the hell of it, let’s work out the mean number of plays per game: 2.98 in 2015, 2.19 in 2014, and 2.91 in 2013.

So, whichever way you cut it, 2015 was a bumper year of gaming by our standards.

I’m sure you can guess what our top game was, based on previous posts, but I’ll go through the games we played at least 10 times in an attempt to build up some dramatic tension.

Apples to Apples, Boggle Slam, Dobble, and Love Letter all had 10 plays each.

Backgammon and Timeline were each played 11 times.

Loopin’ Louie got to 12 plays.

Yardmaster Express had an impressive 16 plays.

But our game of the year, with a walloping 19 plays, was the little tin of dice called ‘6’. This was particularly impressive as our first play of this was on the last day of May, so it only had a little over half the year to amass all those plays. But, like Yardmaster Express, play is quick and we often played more than once in a session.

All this brings us to our final results for the 10×10 challenge. Well, as we only played nine games at least ten times, and some of those weren’t on the challenge list, you can see that we failed. We did manage to get a tenth play of Apples to Apples in over Christmas, but that was about it. Our final scores were as follows…

Game Plays so far
Dobble 10
Plyt 9
Love Letter 10
Empire Express 8
Apples to Apples 10
Piece o’ Cake 7
Gubs 6
Heckmeck am Bratwurmeck 7
Dungeon Roll 4
Timeline 10
Backgammon 10

If we had gone with a “standard” version of the challenge, where we can declare the games we are going for as we go along, we would still have been one short, but then, maybe we would have edged another one over the line. We’re not planning to do the challenge again this year, but I guess we can change our mind later by joining this standard version.

Finally, I guess we have to consider the status of this blog. The truth is that, while Miss B enthusiastically plays some games sometimes, most of the time she would much rather be doing something else. She’s growing up so fast and, while she will always have the opportunity to play games, the priorities of a nine-year-old are not the same as those of the four-year-old I started with.

I expect we’ll keep the blog ticking over for the time being and post occasionally (maybe I will go with the monthly updates at the least), but I expect I might not often get up to even the couple of posts a month that was the norm for last year.

But then again, maybe things will change again. We’ll certainly be playing now and then, and we’ll just see where things go.

Thanks for reading.

Our month in gaming: November

December 5, 2015 2 comments

November was a quieter month for games, and was a bit on the lumpy side: our plays were mostly on a small number of days when we played several games. We had a total of 21 plays of 16 different titles.

We played a game with lasers and mirrors. There might even be a write-up of this one day...

We played a game with lasers and mirrors. There might even be a write-up of this one day…

Our top game of the month was Battleship, yes, the old pencil and paper game of systematic guesswork and calling out coordinates, which we played on actual pencil and paper three times. We also had two plays each of A Piece O’ Cake, Lava Dragon, and new-from-Kickstarter dexterity game, Push It.

All this leaves the annual totals exactly as they were this time last month, with 6 leading the way on 19 plays and Yardmaster Express on 16. Timeline and Backgammon are both still on 11 plays, and Love Letter, Dobble and Boggle Slam are all sitting there on 10. So it looks very much like 6 will be our game of the year, but Yardmaster Express has an outside chance of overtaking. Unless we have something like an insane day of playing Dobble repeatedly (which is not impossible), it’s unlikely anything else will get close. We’ll see soon enough.

As for the 10×10 challenge, it is looking extremely unlikely that we will complete the planned plays. Miss B has gone off some of the games that she originally chose, and it really isn’t worth pushing the issue too hard. We may get one or two more of the games getting to their 10 plays though (Plyt and Apples to Apples are extremely likely — with the latter almost certain to get some plays over Christmas).

For the sake of completeness, our current status is as follows:

Game Plays so far
Dobble 10
Plyt 9
Love Letter 10
Empire Express 8
Apples to Apples 9
Piece o’ Cake 7
Gubs 6
Heckmeck am Bratwurmeck 7
Dungeon Roll 4
Timeline 10
Backgammon 10
Categories: Monthly Gaming Tags:

Look out for the lava!

November 6, 2015 Leave a comment

We haven’t been writing up new games very much lately, largely because we just haven’t been playing that many new-to-us games of late. But now we have cracked open another of the pile of Lego games that we have lying about the place. This time, we have Lava Dragon, a game that involves knights, a dragon and, yes, some lava.

The blue knight, having won the race, mounts the dragon and prepares to fly off.

The blue knight, having won the race, mounts the dragon and prepares to fly off.

Our copy of the game got picked up from a charity shop recently, and the parts were mostly assembled, so we didn’t have the fun of building the whole assembly, but we did spend a little while checking that everything was set up right. It mostly was.

This is one of the smaller Lego games, with a small “board” being a pyramid-shaped mountain, and you move your knight figure up the steps on it trying to get to the top first. Die rolls may make lava move around, potentially blocking your way, and there is an optional rule (which we didn’t use) where the knights can get knocked off the mountain when eruptions occur. The distinctive Lego die in this case starts off with little on it, but gradually changes, so on most turns you get to add a little square onto the side you rolled, meaning you get more movement the next time that side is rolled. And you sometimes get to move on other players’ turns. This part is really quite cool, and means that the game speeds up as it goes along.

Like most of the Lego games, though, this is really not very much of a game. I quite enjoyed it though, and Miss B demanded a second game straight after we finished our first. The attraction of a Lego dragon is not to be underestimated. And the way the die is used in this game is, I think, the most interesting variant I have seen yet and one which makes proper use of its Legoness.

We still have a few more of the Lego games to go…

The verdict from Miss B (aged 8¾): “Brilliant! 100% I like the dragon, the dragon is cute. This is the best Lego game I’ve played so far. I recommend it a lot. :)”

The game: Lava Dragon (Lego), 2 to 4 players aged 7+.

Categories: Games Tags: , ,

Our month in gaming: October

November 2, 2015 2 comments

I was expecting October to be a bit quiet on the gaming front, but was seriously mistaken as we ended up playing 36 games, of 22 different titles. OK, so most of the games were crammed into a couple of game binge days, and a lot of them were short games that we played more than once, but there were some pretty big games in there as well.

A little off-topic for this blog (I don't really have an appropriate pic for this month) but this is I Know An Old Woman, an entry for a contest on BoardGameGeek that Miss B has helped me with over the last couple of months.

A little off-topic for this blog (I don’t really have an appropriate pic for this month) but this is I Know An Old Woman, an entry for a contest on BoardGameGeek that Miss B has helped me with over the last couple of months.

So the top game of the month, in terms of number of plays, was One Night Ultimate Werewolf, which Miss B loves but we don’t get to play often. In this case we played it a few times with one of her school friends, whose dad later joined us for a couple more plays. Next most popular was the ancient game of Nim, this time played on a bit of paper (rather than with coins or stones), with three plays, followed by a whole bunch of two each: ‘6’, Boggle Slam, BraveRats, Empire Express, Gnomi (a prototype from someone else), Noughts and Crosses, and Sleeping Queens (a former favourite, back after a long absence).

This doesn’t make a huge difference to the year’s standings, as we still have the little tin of dice that is ‘6’ ahead, now with a slightly increased count of 19 plays, followed by Yardmaster Express, still with 16. Way behind, Timeline and Backgammon are on 11 plays each, and Love Letter, Dobble and Boggle Slam all on 10 plays.

Finally we come to the 10×10 challenge. We didn’t make a lot of progress in October but, critically, we did get a couple of plays of the biggest game in the set, Empire Express. We also notched up a play of Plyt and finished off our plays of Love Letter. We now have four games completed and three more only two plays from the target. Miss B has looked at this and seen that the end is definitely in sight and, even though right now she is less than enthusiastic about some of the games on the list, she thinks we might be able to do it…

Game Plays so far
Dobble 10
Plyt 8
Love Letter 10
Empire Express 8
Apples to Apples 8
Piece o’ Cake 5
Gubs 6
Heckmeck am Bratwurmeck 6
Dungeon Roll 4
Timeline 10
Backgammon 10

Will we succeed? Watch this space. It’s going to be close.

Categories: Monthly Gaming Tags:

The 2015 TaG Award: The Grand Final

October 26, 2015 2 comments

We’ve been struggling to find time to finish off the awards process this year. This is partly because (as I have mentioned before) one of the finalists, Catacombs, is a big game in just about every sense of the word. It takes more setting up than most, and can take longer to play than most of the games we have in our current repertoire. But at last we found an afternoon and got on with it. And here we have our report of this year’s grand final between the behemoth of cardboard and wood, Catacombs, and the feel-good Pratchett game, The Witches.

Wolf attack! The Wolf Companion from the Chicks in a Catacomb expansion is, as we currently play it, overpowered, but it's fun and one of these days I'll figure out how it's meant to work.

Wolf attack! The Wolf Companion from the Chicks in a Catacomb expansion is, as we currently play it, overpowered, but it’s fun and one of these days I’ll figure out how it’s meant to work.

First up was Catacombs, which we played in our currently-standard form of running through two preparatory rooms, followed by the healer and merchant rooms combined and then the catacomb lord’s lair for the big boss fight. We decided to up the ante in this game by using the next boss in difficulty: Shargila the Gorgon. I had fun with centaur archers running around and taking pot shots at the adventurers, while Miss B hurled fireballs around while her wolf companion run amok. I am pretty sure we still get quite a few rules wrong (the rulebook is probably the weakest part of the game, which is a real shame), but this being something akin to a roleplaying game rather than a real competition between us, we tend to just go with what seems fun.

When we got to the final battle, I was very impressed with how philosophical Miss B was when I started using Shargila’s mega-power of petrification: a one-hit kill weapon, but using it can leave her wide open to counter-attack. I managed to petrify two of the four adventurers before the last two managed to incinerate the gorgon with a volley of giant fireballs.

I wasn’t able to get a thoughtful critique of the play experience from Miss B as she was too busy with her victory dance.

It turned out The Hiver was causing more trouble at Blackglass than Tiffany was able to handle on this occasion.

It turned out The Hiver was causing more trouble at Blackglass than Tiffany was able to handle on this occasion.

We cleared up, grabbed fresh drinks, and then set up our second game, The Witches.

The game officially has a phase of drafting the different characters, but Miss B always wants to play Tiffany Aching (natch!) and I’m happy to let her have that when it is just the two of us playing. I randomly took Annagramma Hawkin with her boosted magic capability at the game start.

Having played the game a few times now, The Witches flows really quickly, with the simple structure of turns going nicely, and there being some fun decisions to make most of the time: off over here to deal with those elves, then jump on the broomstick to visit another witch for a cup of tea. An, yes, having a cup of tea can be a critical part of the game, and one which I exploited rather more this time than I have in the past.

Miss B also had fun this game, but I think moved on to dealing with the harder problems a little too soon and had a couple of turns of having less useful cards in hand, leading to a couple of frustrating turns. To be fair, the game is such that no card is useless, but it can be infuriating to battle some elves and be forced to run away due to some poor dice rolls, only to draw a frying pan card (a mighty weapon, greatly feared by elves) right afterwards.

Looks like Catacombs is very happy with its new medal.

Looks like Catacombs is very happy with its new medal.

We hadn’t even started putting the game away before Miss B announced, “Catacombs wins!”

She went on to say that it was just because of the fun from these plays and that it’s not anything wrong with The Witches, which is also great.

I asked if we should take a photograph to commemorate the result. “I know what to do!” she said and ran out of the room. A couple of minutes later she reappeared, stuck a smiling face and a medal onto the Catacombs box, grabbed the camera and started taking pictures.

And so, I give you the winner of this year’s TaG award: Catacombs. Well deserved by a great fun game.

Categories: TaG Awards Tags: , ,

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