Home > TaG Awards > The 2015 TaG Award: The Grand Final

The 2015 TaG Award: The Grand Final

October 26, 2015

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.

Advertisements
Categories: TaG Awards Tags: , ,
  1. Barnetto
    October 27, 2015 at 11:09 am

    I was personally routing for the underdog, The Witches, though I know nothing about it – it’s just in my nature….

    But it sounds like a good solid, mainstream game production – rather than one of these flighty, all chrome no substance Kickstarter interlopers….

    Which reminds me, I must make up my mind on 7th Continent today….

    Well done to Catacombs – what more can you really ask for than “fun”…

    • Rob
      October 27, 2015 at 11:24 am

      I really like The Witches. Any time I hear people talking about the Martin Wallace Discworld games, they always seem to say that Ankh Morpork is great, but The Witches is underwhelming/disappointing/lame. The thing is that they are aiming at very different audiences: while Ankh Morpork (which I’ve never got around to playing) appears to be a really solid middleweight gamers’ game, The Witches is kind of a “family game plus”. For a simple game it does some nice things with the theme, it is pretty quick to learn, plays in a moderate amount of time, and sits nicely on the bridge between “mainstream” games and “proper” games. It’s out of print (and will probably stay that way) but if you see a copy around, it’s really worth picking up as a quality family game.

      It doesn’t include flicking things at monsters, though!

  1. No trackbacks yet.
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: