Hot on the heels of the first game-off report, here we have the second. We already know that In A Bind has reached the final, so now we need to find out the second finalist, from the pair of very different card games, Dragonheart and Murder of Crows.
Our first play of this session was Murder of Crows, a game where you are trying to play cards in front of yourself to spell the word “murder”, with different letter cards having special effects when you play them, and the winner being rewarded by getting to read out a short (and bizarre) murder story formed by their cards. This is really neat (and has the mother-in-law seal of approval), and our game followed the usual pattern of stealing cards from each other and good-natured growling. And a win to me!
Dragonheart takes a bit longer to play, but is a really cute card game where you play cards onto spaces on a well thought out board which has a layout that graphically reminds you of the effects of the various cards. Playing the right cards allow you to take other cards off the board to add you your score pile, but then provide opportunities for your opponent. Plays of this game tend to be full of swings and roundabouts as passages of play are profitable for one player for a while before the other gets a period of doing well — though once in a while one player just has a stinker and never seems to get a break. This time we had a pretty close and dynamic game which ended up with Miss B getting a pretty decent win.
So which game will progress to the final. Over to the head judge…
Dragonheart won this time, but this play was also very close. Murder of crows is fun though. I like the way it tells a murder story at the end of the game.
So, the grand final for 2016 will be between In A Bind and Dragonheart. A daft, physical game versus a game of cagey manoeuvring. Should be good…
With the runners and riders all lined up, it’s time for me to finally let both of you in on the results of the first game-off for this year’s TaG Award. Actually, the runners and riders have probably all gone home by now, so I’d better just get on with it.
Our first match was semi-randomly selected to be Apotheca and In A Bind, so a largish box full of really shiny things versus a very small box full of more silliness than you would imagine possible.
We played In A Bind first. I usually have the great advantage of wearing glasses (which is massively unfair — if you play the game you will soon find out why — but we now treat it as a balancing mechanic to help me out) but this time I was without, and that is my excuse for the embarrassing degree of my loss here. On the plus side, losing at this is usually funny. Sometimes even for the loser!
Apotheca is a much less crazy game, to say the least. Now we have played it a few times, Miss B is really getting the hang of visualising the effects of the more complicated apothecaries and making some really cool moves. Just by way of a reminder, you get access to some very basic moves all the time, but can “hire” apothecary cards which allow you to do a load of unique special moves, and then you lose the use of these special moves as you gain points towards victory. It’s a very clever dynamic. I got to win this one, just.
So we have a featherweight taking on a middleweight, in terms of box size anyway, with both games being very clever and enjoyable in completely different ways.
Over to Miss B for the judging…
It was a really close competition. Apotheca is a really good game though personally I prefer In a Bind because you do more stuff, and that’s more my kind of game.
And we have our first finalist for this year. In A Bind will be competing against either Dragonheart or Murder of Crows for the title. Next time we’ll find out which…
September wasn’t a bad month for gaming, with a respectable 24 plays of 14 different games. The highlight of the month was the games afternoon we hosted. We didn’t have quite as many people as last time, but we had a nice houseful, with two tables of games running for a fair bit of the afternoon. Thanks to everyone who came, played, shared food, and took photos!
The games that we played multiple times were led by traditional counter-flipping game, Tiddlywinks, and house favourite (though not played so much this year), Dobble, each with three plays a piece. We also played Array, Codenames Pictures, Magic: The Gathering, Push It, Spyfall, and Yardmaster Express twice each.
Array was a gift brought back by S on a recent trip to the USA which, unfortunately, we found unenjoyable using its intended rules (“We don’t have to review this one, do we?” asked Miss B — no, we don’t), but we gave it a second play with some alternate (speed play) rules that we made up on the spot and had a fun time. Codenames Pictures was also a gift, this time from some of our visitors at the games afternoon, and I think we actually prefer it to the original Codenames, which is great in its own right (and won this year’s prestigious Spiel des Jahres prize).
Which brings us to the running totals for the year… Well, Push It has pushed its way into the lead with 12 plays, nudging ahead of BraveRats, still on 11. In a Bind is still on 9 plays (though Miss B has played a few more times without me), alongside 6. Then there is a gap before we hit Dobble on 6 plays and a whole heap of games with 5 plays.
So we are now three quarters of the way through the year. We’ve played a fair bit less than last year, and it has been a bit patchy, but that is fine. You know that whole “training a gamer” thing? Well, I think I am finally getting trained properly. Sometimes I’ll suggest playing a game, and sometimes the idea is accepted, but increasingly we get situations when Miss B comes in and points out a game that we haven’t played for a while and fancies having a go at.
Patience is rewarded.