And at long last, the moment you have both been waiting for. Yes, it’s the final stage of the award so exclusive that most of the designers and publishers nominated have no idea that it even exists. This really is a hipster award. So, without further ado, I give you the final of the 2016 TaG Award, and present the finalists, which have made it through a rigorous and exhausting selection process to get this far: Dragonheart and In A Bind.
We played Dragonheart first. To be fair, Miss B started off with a shocking hand, which I later found out included four of the ship cards, which just isn’t a happy way to get going, take my word for it. It’s the sort of hand I seem to always get when playing the game online. Her fortunes picked up as we went along, but I ended up with a comfortable win in the end.
Then, of course, we came to In A Bind. I removed my glasses (only fair!), we shuffled the cards, and then got going. A couple of minutes later my cards went everywhere and Miss B was giggling at my ineptitude. So we had another game, this time using In A Bind Junior, an alternative set that replaces some of the trickier cards with nutty stuff like making animal noises when someone draws a card, and I managed to get my revenge, so we had to have a decider (best of three), which Miss B won. I consider myself a winner, though, having managed to avoid any cricks or strains from putting myself into awkward positions.
I will now hand you over to our head judge, Miss B, to report on the results of her deliberation…
These are things I think make a good game:
-a bit of a challenge
-a bit of a laugh
And In A Bind has all 3. Dragon heart is a good game and came very close to winning because of the thinking you have to do and neat ideas in it. Overall In A Bind won because of this. 😀
Ladies and gentleman, I present to you the winner of the 2016 TaG Award: In A Bind.
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…
I’m running massively late with this, but at last I would like to announce the shortlist for this year’s Training a Gamer Award (formerly the Golden Thingummy).
In case you haven’t been reading this blog in previous years, each summer Miss B and I choose a set of four games (Miss B chooses two and I choose two more) that we enjoy and want to play a bit more. These games are paired off so we can have two “game-offs”, playing a pair of games in one session so we can decide which we enjoyed most on that occasion. The winners of each heat become the finalists for one more game-off to decide which will win the prestigious and sought-after TaG Award.
Last year was won by flicktastic dungeon crawler Catacombs. What will get the laurels this year?
Miss B’s first choice was instant, the game of contortions, In a Bind, which she introduces to friends and visitors whenever she can. Her second choice surprised me a little as it is something we haven’t played for quite a long time, but she really fancied breaking out Dragonheart, which we used to play a fair bit a few years ago.
I added recent favourite Apotheca to the list as I think it deserves a few more plays and is probably at its best with two players. My second game is one that we haven’t covered here before, but Miss B did express interest in while we were discussing the award: a cute card game called Murder of Crows.
So we have four contenders, two new and two not so much. Coming soon: the game-offs.
One of the game designers at the London playtesting meetups that I attend when I can created a little game called In a Bind, which she Kickstarted a while back, then I ended up playing at a games day earlier this year, and buying a copy at UK Games Expo. It is, for me, one of those little games that just needed to be in the collection as it is small, fun, and takes about 5 seconds to teach to just about anyone. Miss B was more than happy to give it a go when we got our own copy.
I have heard In a Bind described as “Twister the card game”, which isn’t too far off the mark. It comprises a deck of cards, each of which has an instruction, like “This card on left shoulder”, or “Right pinky pointing down”, and when it is your turn, you draw a card, read it out loud, and then comply, while still complying with instructions from previous turns. If you can’t follow an instruction, or stop doing one later on, you are out of the game. That’s it.
Miss B immediately took to the game, and has wanted to play it over and over again. In fact, I’m pretty sure she has played it a load more than me, as she has played it with her friends, relatives, and anyone else who will give her the time, even after I have run out of the necessary energy. There is actually a junior version of the game available now, which I believe loses a few harder cards, but includes some other twists like cards which require you to make an animal noise when anyone draws a card, and other such daftness. We’ll have to pick up a copy of that when the opportunity arises.
Officially the game is for 3 or more players, but it works just great for 2, and Miss B even enjoys it as a solo challenge, where you just draw cards and try to beat your personal best. The biggest problem with this (other than that a codger like me can end up with a cricked neck) is that the cards can end up getting a bit battered from the inevitable mistreatment, but frankly I don’t care. This is a game that may get destroyed by play, but I’ll be more than happy shelling out for a replacement later on, if necessary.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 9½): “In a Bind is a really fun game to play, though it can sometimes get quite uncomfortable! I would rate it a 10/10 because it is really funny to watch and play.”
The game: In a Bind (Stuff By Bez), 3 to 10 players, aged 13+.