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Up, up and away…

September 29, 2013 2 comments

I was vaguely aware of Cloud 9 a while back, but had it brought back to my attention by a post on Hiew’s Boardgame Blog where Hiew and family had fun with it at a boardgames cafe they frequent. I did a little more investigation about the game and ended up finding a bargain copy which I duly bought.

No, this isn't the night of the living dead. Miss B is just wearing the smudged remains of face paint from a party earlier in the day.

No, this isn’t the night of the living dead. Miss B is just wearing the smudged remains of face paint from a party earlier in the day.

So the game is a cute little push-your-luck game where we all take rides in a hot air balloon and see how long we dare stay in the balloon before bailing out, hopefully just before the pilot runs out of cards that would enable further ascent. The longer you stay in the balloon the more points you score, but if the pilot (whose job passes round the table after each flight) can’t (or occasionally won’t) make the balloon continue to rise, nobody left in the basket scores points for that trip.

Unfortunately Cloud 9 needs at least three people to play, but luckily Mummy was amenable to joining in, so we got a couple of games in before dinner time. The game plays quickly, even with Miss B playing, though there were passages of play where we just got a series of aborted take-offs before someone managed to pilot a decent flight. It is also a tough job being the pilot; very often you end up scoreless, but once in a while, if everyone bails out and you still have a wild card in your hand… well, that’s… umm… it puts you on cloud 9… or it doesn’t usually because cloud 9 is the top of the ascent and scores 25 points if you can make it. Nobody did. I’m rambling. Move along…

As an aside, we have another recently acquired game, the Romance of the Nine Empires, which I haven’t had a chance to play yet (and probably won’t be playing with Miss B in the immediate future). This is a curious beast. It’s a fictional game, invented for a movie, but which then got turned into a real game (it’s a re-theming of Legend of the Burning Sands, as I understand it) and released with packaging claiming that it is a special 15th anniversary world championship set, even though the 15th anniversary and the world championship is entirely imaginary. The game looks good, by the way, and I’ve been hearing good buzz about it. Anyway, Miss B was looking at this while we were talking about Cloud 9 and started giggling. She wanted me to tell you: “When we were writing this down we came up with the joke of mixing Romance of the Nine Empires with Cloud 9 and called it the Cloud of the Nine Empires.”

Meanwhile, back at the game in hand…  We all enjoyed playing this game, though Miss B was frustrated at the difficulty of scoring points when you are the pilot and that some flights literally never get off the ground.  I suspect that with more players flights would tend to get higher as everyone draws a card after each flight, so more players means bigger hands of cards when you are the pilot.  We also love the balloon motifs and the big basket (held aloft by a clear plastic stand) that everyone sits in to fly.  Nobody even questioned why people would be deliberately bailing out of a balloon.

The game: Cloud 9 (Out of the Box), 3 to 6 players aged 8+.

The verdict from Miss B (aged nearly 6¾): “I think I’d mark it 8 out of 10.  It could be better if the pilot got more points on its go. You don’t really have many choices. And I think there could be two games you can play with it.  The first is for one or two players where you try to get to cloud 9.  The second is for just one player and you need to roll the exact number and see how many turns it takes to get to cloud 9.”

Edit: It turns out that I misread the rules and we were playing the game wrong. After each turn the pilot role changes.  This may deal with some of Miss B’s criticisms. We’ll try to play it right next time and see how things go.

A return to Terrinoth

September 17, 2013 Comments off

I’ve written about Runebound before, but playing it is such an event that I felt that I had to write about it again. Miss B loves the idea of adventuring games. We haven’t played it for a while, but Dungeon! always goes down well. Talisman is always talked about in awed tones (despite the fact that, in the version we have at least, the choices for female characters are almost non-existant). And Runebound is possibly edging a lead over the other two games largely due to Miss B being obsessed with one of the characters.

Ah, the Hungry Dead, the encounter where it all started to go a bit pear shaped for Miss B.

Ah, the Hungry Dead, the encounter where it all started to go a bit pear shaped for Miss B.

So this weekend, S was away on a business trip, so Miss B and I agreed that we should get Runebound out. The game is a long one, particularly when playing with a 6-year-old, so I figured we would use the whole of Saturday afternoon (allowing for some breaks) and, if needs be, we could continue on Sunday.

As it turned out, needs beeded. Or whatever.

But to begin at the beginning…

Having been going on for ages about wanting to play as all-rounder Red Scorpion (illustrated in an outfit possibly not best suited to adventuring), Miss B briefly flirted with the possibility of playing sneaky assassin Silhouette before finally deciding that this time she wanted to be Runewitch Astarra and use magic. I chose to play the outdoorsy raccoon charmer Ronan of the Wild.

Knowing that this would be a long game, we decided to speed things up by requiring only three experience points to gain a boost rather than the recommended five for a two-player game. Actually, much as I like the game, experience is one of the beefs I have with it. Essentially you start very slowly, but as you progress gaining experience gets easier and easier, so eventually you end up ticking over a level every couple of turns. This does mean that the game snowballs nicely towards the end, but it also means that if you are unlucky enough to make a slow start (and make no bones about it, this game relies on luck a lot) you may never be able to keep up with the person that got lucky early on and was soon running around the land with rune plate armour and a healing rune.

This is, of course what happened to us, meaning that Miss B, who had a couple of rough breaks early on struggled a bit, though this improved when I traded her a couple of items that weren’t too useful to me but made the world of a difference to her.

Through the afternoon we took a couple of half hour breaks, but by the time it reached five o’clock (we started a little after one), Miss B’s stamina and will to continue was pretty much drained.  This was made so much worse when she hit a particularly nasty challenge with an undead monster which regenerated, making it very hard for Miss B who ended up having to run away.  Things didn’t return to a happy state after that, meaning that neither of us was having any fun, so we knocked the game on the head for a while so I could prepare us a meal.

After a pile of pizza the world was a much happier place and we managed to return to play a few more turns before bedtime. At this stage I had started battling the purple (level 3) adventures while Miss B, after having a bad experience earlier, was starting to beat yellow (level 2) adventures reasonably comfortably.

It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do for you, and Miss B was actually quite spritely about having breakfast and getting dressed so we could resume. We agreed that we would play to the official end of the game and not cut it off short. Miss B’s confidence grew with every defeated foe and while I moved on to the top level red adventures, she mopped up most of the remaining purple ones before joining me in beating the stuffing out of dragons.

I’m treating this post as different to our normal game posts, but I think it would be best to leave things with a comment from Miss B: “I enjoyed it a lot but I got a bit scared about everything and the living dead were really scary because when you got injured it healed up. We played for two days but I got a bit cross because my tummy was starting to hurt, saying, ‘I want pizza!'”

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An August of Games

September 10, 2013 2 comments

Oops, this post is coming a bit late this month, but here we go with the summary of our gaming in August.

So, over the month Miss B and I played 20 different games for a total of 29 plays. I thought things might be a bit skewed by the Golden Game Award, but the spread of games was pretty normal, I think.

We did pretty well with new games this time, getting to try out Alhambra, Escape: The Curse of the Temple, Make ‘n’ Break, Smash Up, and Super Munchkin, this last game belonging to guests who wanted to play it with us. So we’re really building up a bit of a backlog of games to report on.

Astoundingly, this was the second month in a row when we didn’t play Sleeping Queens. Our top game for the month was Love Letter, which we played three times, with several others getting two plays.

This now means that across the year so far, Love Letter (19 plays) is now clear of long time leader Sleeping Queens (17 plays), with Gubs (11 plays) and Hey That’s My Fish (10 plays) heading the rest of the field. It would be interesting to see what would happen if we had fewer games available, so focussed on just a handful, but that’s unlikely to happen given the collection we have. Ho hum.

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The 2013 Golden Game Award: The Final

September 5, 2013 Comments off

So, at last we come to the final stage of the 2013 Golden Game Awards. The remaining competitors are the fun kid’s game, Enuk, and the slightly cut down rail game, Empire Express, both of which were Miss B’s nominations at the first stage of the competition.

Just so you know what the competition is: Empire Express versus Enuk.

Just so you know what the competition is: Empire Express versus Enuk.

For the final we played Empire Express first. Having played this very recently, Miss B was instantly right in the swing of things and figuring out where she wanted to deliver goods. In Empire Express I generally help her by pointing out the locations and sources of goods that come up on demand cards and pretty much leave her to it apart from pointing out a neat route if she seems to be struggling. This seems to work well and the only trouble she really has with the game is when the crayons break due to her slightly rough handling of them. The manufacturer claims that the crayons are very special ones and that we shouldn’t use regular ones on the board (I know the quality of crayons can vary wildly, so this seems plausible to me), so it would be nice to get hold of a fresh supply of unbroken ones some time.

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The game gets into its late stages with Miss B running maple syrup to Pittsburgh to put her within striking range of victory, but can I get my imports to Chicago first?

This game took us about an hour, which surprised me as I was expecting longer. In our previous play, Miss B caught me napping and beat me into the ground, but this time it was much closer and I just managed to scrape a win, just scraping past the winning post the turn before Miss B would have gone screaming past it. High fives all round for a very close game.

Miss B’s thoughts: “There’s not many games around with crayons in. I think there should be more games around that have drawing in because I like having a bit of a sketch.”

Our game of Enuk was also pretty close. Certainly more so than our last game, during which I was pretty much served. Miss B made an excellent start, while I seemed to unerringly (and un-herringly) pick up a piece of igloo every time (which ends your turn). Still, I eventually managed to find the scoring animals and due to having to resort to the unsportsmanlike tactic of actually paying attention, I managed to catch up and squeeze in a narrow win again.

I forgot to take a photo until the end, so here we are, with the final round of guesswork based on the claimed igloo tiles...

I forgot to take a photo until the end, so here we are, with the final round of guesswork based on the claimed igloo tiles…

Enuk is definitely a game we play on an even footing, which makes it well worth having in the collection. As I said after our previous play, the game is growing on me and was definitely worth the few quid it cost us.

Miss B’s thoughts: “It’s really annoying when you get a really good set and they are all the same and then you get something that scares them all off and then you only get one thing. Apart from that I really like it.”

So, that is it for another year.  We had a lot of fun playing all four games, but in the end only one could be the winner.  Actually that is a lie as last year we had two joint winners.  But this year we definitely have just one, which is…

Drumroll…

Empire Express.

The winner does a lap of honour with Miss B.

The winner does a lap of honour with Miss B.

I got this game after someone recommended it to me on Board Game Geek after I asked for recommendations for train games that might work for Miss B and myself, and it turns out this was a very good pick.  We’ve had a few plays so far and once the current set up gets a bit old, there is an advanced way of playing in the rules which is more like the full crayon rail games where you don’t get the easy start that we have been using here.  All in all, I’m happier with this purchase than I thought I would be.  Thanks for the recommendation, whoever you were!

Categories: TaG Awards Tags: , ,