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Oh, I can’t push that one

June 29, 2015 Comments off

I remember being given Cambio by some friends as a Christmas present many years ago. It was a really nice object to receive, being a load of large wooden cubes with designs printed on the faces, with a wooden board/frame on which to arrange them. We played the game a few times that Christmas, but unfortunately it has remained on the shelf for most of the time since. Until Miss B got onto her current interest in abstract strategy games, so it came out again…

Cambio

In a neat move, the squares capture two corners at once.

So Cambio is one of those games that can be loosely described as turbo-charged tic-tac-toe. Play is on a five-by-five grid and you slide cubes with your personal symbol uppermost in on one side of the board, pushing another cube out of the other side, but with the restriction that the cube coming out may not show your opponent’s symbol. The first player to get a five-in-a-row is the winner.

That’s all there is to the standard two-player game (though there are alternative rules that allow more players), and the strategy basically involves taking control of corners as quickly as you can. It all works well and is a nice twist on an old standard. And those cubes are a pleasure to play with. This sort of game can be really made by good quality components, as we know from playing those jumbo games at UK Games Expo, or playing chess with large, weighted pieces.

Miss B found the game straightforward to learn and play, but occasionally forgot the rule about not pushing your opponent’s symbol off the board. Given that there are up to six different symbols cluttering up the board to start with, it is easy to overlook this and plan an illegal move. Still, that only happened a few times and we had fun playing. I’m not sure this will get played as often as some other games (and actually, right now, I think the big buzz is exploring the sheer range of options in this style), but it has been a modest success. As always, though, I’ll leave the last (ish) word to Miss B…

The verdict from Miss B (aged nearly 8½): “It’s not my favourite abstract strategy game and I’d give it about 97%. For my opinion I wouldn’t play it as much as the other games but I’m still happy to play it a few times.”

The game: Cambio (Lagoon Games), 2 to 5 players aged 9+.

It’s closer, but it’s not high enough!

June 21, 2015 5 comments

Where do I start? OK, a few weeks ago, we went to the UK Games Expo, and one of my plans in attending was to pay more attention to smaller game producers. In a conversation with an Internet-acquaintance (hi Colin!), I got tipped off about a little strategy game called Mijnlieff, produced by a guy with a stall in the corner. I tried that game, liked it and bought a copy, but that is not what this post is about (though hopefully we’ll have a write-up of Mijnlieff later). It turns out that this stall was being shared by three designers, who were all peddling their wares, and one of their wares was a little tin containing a bunch of dice and rules for six games. They were selling it for £6 and the whole thing was called, simply, 6. (As an aside, it is impossible to find using the search tools on BoardGameGeek, so treasure that link I just gave you!)

Ready, aim, flick!

Ready, aim, flick!

I had a demo of one of the games in the tin at the Expo, which was enough to convince me to part with some cash, then when we got home I tried out another with Miss B. Since then, 6 has been our most played game (or set of games — difficult to know how to phrase this), and we have now tried all six sets of rules.

What is nice here is that, in six dice games, not one of them is like either Yahtzee or Pass the Pigs. Three of the games have elements of dexterity. One has a bidding stage where you find who is willing to take the biggest risk in order to earn the right to take a turn. One has next to no skill, but great excitement and tension. There is even a neat spin on rock-paper-scissors, where there is more information to go on when deciding your play. And in keeping with the design efficiency here, there are two games where the rule cards themselves are used as components.

Miss B took to the games very quickly. We have developed a little ritual to go through where we select one of the rules cards to use and someone reads out the list of dice that are required for that game (while the other lines them up), and then runs through the rules, which fit, for each game, on the two sides of a small card. Then we are off. None of the games are complicated, but they all have their own flavour and appeal.

Before we go on to Miss B’s verdict, I’ll just summarise my thoughts, which probably won’t be a surprise by now: you should go and buy this game (and you can do so here). OK, so many gamers would probably have everything they need to play these games in their stock, but it’s not much money, you are supporting some very creative game designers, all the games are fun (in different ways) and if you don’t like any of them, you still have a nice little tin with a pile of nice red dice in it. For me, this was the best money I spent at the Expo, and I don’t doubt that we’ll be racking up quite a few more plays of these games.

The verdict from Miss B (aged nearly 8½): “I would like to try Triangles with more than 2 players because it’s not very good with about 2. But apart from that 6 is a very good game to play. Wrestle was quite clever because you get people into a hold and they need to get you into a hold to get out of your hold. Foiled is a bit like fencing, and to play it is like a very fancy rock-paper-scissors. Dicey Winks is quite fun to play because you’re flicking dice even though it’s hard to get to the target. Airstrike you try and bomb the dice so they get the number you want. But I think Dicey Winks is my favourite, followed closely by Wrestle. I’d give it 99% out of all the 6 games.”

The game: 6 (Too Much Games), 2 or more players.

Our month in gaming: May

June 2, 2015 3 comments

May was a good game for games, and finished off with a bang as we went to UK Games Expo, where Miss B spent her usual couple of hours playing roleplaying games in the family zone, and also spent some time exploring a few of the games available in the family games library provided by Imagination Gaming.

Miss B thinking hard about her next move in the Peter Pan inspired RPG for kids.

Miss B thinking hard about her next move in the Peter Pan inspired RPG for kids.

So how good was the month? Well, we managed an impressive 40 plays together, from a total of 29 different titles, which is the best score for variety that we have ever recorded. We even did well in the 10×10 challenge — but more on that later.

We played Balanx and Yardmaster Express 3 times each, with Backgammon, Ingenious, Lift Off!, Pick-Up Sticks, Plyt, Quoridor, and Timeline (the General Interest set) each getting 2 plays a piece.

So for the annual totals, that reinforces Yardmaster Express in its strong lead, now amassing 13 plays, well ahead of Backgammon and Dobble on 7, and Apples to Apples, Rhino Hero and Timeline played 6 times. Still a long way to go, but I’m sure Yardmaster Express will get at least a few more plays this year, so it’s looking unlikely that it will get caught, but you never know.

As for the 10×10 challenge, we played all of our nominated 11 games at least once, and as you can see from the above, we played three of the games twice, meaning that our chart is looking pretty good now:

Game Plays so far
Dobble 7
Plyt 4
Love Letter 4
Empire Express 4
Apples to Apples 6
Piece o’ Cake 3
Gubs 5
Heckmeck am Bratwurmeck 5
Dungeon Roll 3
Timeline 6
Backgammon 7

So that means that for our lowest scoring games we still only need to average one play per month and we’ll get there. And we even have two games that only need three plays each to complete. I’m feeling a lot more confident about this than I was last month, but we’ll have to wait and see how things pan out.

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