Yesterday we had an epic family outing to Cardiff for a visit to the Doctor Who Experience. Miss B, being a budding Whovian, donned her shiny new TARDIS t-shirt, picked up her cuddly knitted dalek, and took her place eagerly in the back of the car for the journey.
The cuddly dalek’s name, incidentally, followed one of her standard naming schemes and had been dubbed Daleky. Not the most imaginative name, but it’s her choice. After an incident at Magor services, where the Dalek spent some time in a puddle, S suggested that Dalek Sog could be an appropriate name, but Miss B was having none of it.
We met up with a couple of our South Walean friends for lunch before the five of us bravely ventured into the exhibition.
I have to say that I was really impressed. I don’t want to say much in case of spoilers, but the experience kicked off with a moment of pure SFX magic, had us flying in the TARDIS, escaping from daleks and other foes, and finished with some really great use of 3D technology before spitting us out into a superb exhibition of props and costumes from the show. Most of the exhibits were the genuine articles blagged from the studios across the road, including several that were newly arrived from the Christmas special episode.
Then, of course, there was the gift shop, with opportunities to buy t-shirts, sonic screwdrivers, cuddly weeping angels, badges, jigsaws and games…
Umm, right, where do I start? There are a lot of games out there, several about Doctor Who, and some are really quite good, so what games did they have available for purchase? Well, there was a DVD quiz game, a Trivial Pursuit variant, and a Top Trumps set, but taking pride of place was Doctor Who Monopoly.
Doctor. Who. Freaking. Monopoly.
Nothing speaks to the spirit and heritage of the Doctor Who franchise like a game of taking hours to grind your friends and family slowly into the dust with ruthless capitalist dice rolling.
What makes this worse is that the properties in the game aren’t even locations, they are stories. So you can roll the dice and find that you have landed on Terror of the Autons, which has a hotel on it, meaning that you have to mortgage Genesis of the Daleks in order to pay the rent. In what portion of time and space does this make sense to anyone?
I guess the only sense here is that there are people out there who collect Monopoly sets, and there are people who collect Doctor Who stuff. Nowt wrong with either of those, but the superset of those two sets of people is sufficiently large that Hasbro (and the BBC) can make some money from it. Shudder.
I would so love, one day, to go into one of those gift shops and find a game for sale that I could actually point to and say, “Now that’s what I’m talking about!”
Sorry about the rant there. This sort of thing makes me sad and upset.
Anyway, forgetting that side of it, if you (and/or the kids) enjoy Doctor Who and are in the vicinity of Cardiff, the Doctor Who Experience is a great use of some money and a couple of hours of your time. We’re thinking that we’d love to go back in a year or two to see what they have done with the 12th Doctor…
Well, my posting rate has fallen off quite a bit over the last couple of months, but we have a few games that we have played once that Miss B would like another go at before giving her verdict. I’m hoping that over the next week or two we may be able to get some of these written up and posted.
Then, of course, in the new year, we’ll have a review of our gaming exploits in 2013, having been recording what we have played all through the year. I’ll have a chat with Miss B and see if she wants to do this again, or whether we should do something else as a month-by-month project.
In the meantime, have a great Christmas and New Year. I may be posting again before the end of the year, but if not, have a good one!
So, City of Zombies has arrived. I know I’ve posted about this a couple of times already, but I figure I’d like to flag it up one more time.
To recap, this is a cooperative dice rolling game which requires players to add, subtract, multiply and do other arithmetical acrobatics with the numbers on three dice in order to have results matching the numbers on zombie cards that steadily advance across the board. Match the number and you get rid of the zombie. So this is sort of an educational game, but it is a lot of fun. The creator set this up as a Kickstarter project but fundraising through that channel was going slowly, so he pulled the plug and managed to find alternate methods of funding an initial print run.
And now that print run is complete and Miss B and I have our very own copy of City of Zombies. Very nicely produced it is too. Being a small print run, you don’t get as much for your money as you might for some games from major manufacturers, but I am very happy with what we have here.
This blog isn’t really a review site and I generally just report on games as seen by Miss B and I without getting properly critical, but I feel that as I am cheerleading a bit for this project I should perhaps put in a few words about the shortcomings I can see with the game, so you can make an informed decision.
What I have mentioned before is that there isn’t a lot of game here, and no real strategic decisions to make. What you do is roll the dice, which effectively generates a puzzle to solve, so you find the best solution that you can to that puzzle, then it’s someone else’s turn. There are optional abilities for the heroes, which will give you some extra decisions to make, but it’s still really a game about small mathematical puzzles.
Possibly worse is that the game doesn’t scale gracefully. What I mean by that is that in other cooperative games, like Pandemic or Forbidden Island, the “bad things” that happen do so at a rate that is proportional to the number of players (in those examples, bad things happen once after each player’s turn). In City of Zombies, all players take a turn, then bad things happen, and those bad things are the same regardless of the number of players. As a result, a two player game will be significantly tougher than a four player game. The rules suggest ways to tweak difficulty, but you should be aware that this does not happen automatically.
With these caveats, though, I still think that if you want a fun activity to stealthily exercise the kids’ maths skills that doesn’t feel like that is what you are doing, this is well worth a look. It may even be fun as a filler for adults (particularly if you add in some of the nasty optional zombies). I’m delighted with our set now, and I’ll be enthusiastically showing it to other parents (I know one friend who has already bought one for her kids). Tt would be really great if ThinkNoodle Games can sell out of these and go on to produce more stuff, as Matt has some other projects on the go which sound good too. You can order a copy at their website.
So we’re getting towards the end of the year, and it turns out that in November Miss B and I had 20 plays of 14 different games.
The star of the month was Dobble, which proved to be a great travelling game and ended up with 5 plays. This was only over two sessions, but I think there is enough of a game here for each play to be recorded individually.
The only other multi-play games this time were Jazz: the Singing game (2 plays) and… wait for it… the long awaited return of Sleeping Queens with 2 plays!
So, for the year to date our most played game remains Love Letter, with 22 plays, though Sleeping Queens is still in the hunt with 19. The other games that have reached double figures are Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule (12 plays), Dobble (11 plays), Gubs (11 plays, but not played for a few months) and the Android app of Hey That’s My Fish! (10 plays).
It’s still a little early to crown a winner, but unless something very strange happens, it’ll be either Love Letter or Sleeping Queens.