Foam Bananas (previously: A banana, a suitcase and a game!)

Welcome to my newer, better, sexier and more violent blog! I go Foam Bananas for games and want to share my enthusiasm with you! Twice weekly (Monday and Friday at 12pm GMT) I will be putting out new articles about games. For the weekly contents go to my user profile.

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Social Deduction- Reviewing the board game media- BoardGameGeek

Adam Majewski
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Eindhoven
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Welcome to my newer, better, sexier and more violent blog! I go Foam Bananas over games and want to share my enthusiasm with you! Twice weekly I will be putting out new articles about games. For the weekly contents go to my user profile.


SOCIAL DEDUCTION

"Reviewing the board game media- BoardGameGeek"



"A fair representation of the average gamer?"


How could I not discuss BoardGameGeek? It is home to the world's best blog(amen!). We all know what BoardGameGeek is but just to make sure we are all on the same (web)page; BoardGameGeek is a database of games where fans and professionals get together to discuss what they love best (after their dear ones of course). As databases go, it is as prolific as IMDB, Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. What elevates BoardGameGeek above the rest is it sense of community. You can ask the community for rule clarifications or get all the hype for the next big game or reprint. There is no other site which has such a monopoly on board game anything. Through BoardGameGeek I have met many friends. I have read many interesting articles, reviews and indeed blogs all on games I love to play. It has the second biggest, but the best, second hand board game market in the world. There are communities for podcasts and you can even pick up promos for your favourite games. The BoardGameGeek team have started producing their own content and run their own events. I will review the BoardGameGeek team in a separate blog.

It is fair to say that without BoardGameGeek, board gaming would not be as big as it is today. Thank you BoardGameGeek for being fantastic and being my chosen platform for this blog.
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Fri Sep 21, 2018 12:00 pm
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Tools for the job-Discussions about games mechanics- Party Games

Adam Majewski
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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Welcome to my newer, better, sexier and more violent blog! I go Foam Bananas over games and want to share my enthusiasm with you! Twice weekly I will be putting out new articles about games. For the weekly contents go to my user profile.


TOOLS FOR THE JOB

"Discussions about games mechanics"




Food, drinks, music and good times, is anything missing? Forget the streamers, party poppers and confetti, for gamers we are missing games! Sure conversation is flowing, meeting new and interesting people. The alcohol is going down well but still the competitive itch needs to be scratched. This is a list of games for these situations or just when you have lots of people down like for Christmas and birthdays. The games must be easy, accessible and be able to provide a hoot and a holler. Do these games have a mechanic in common?


"Colour-the party game's friend"


Classics in the genre

The classic party games appear to be mass market games that are ingrained into pop culture much like Monopoly. As such, the games are not as good as the modern party games. For the past few years, the games industry has started to take note of this market and started making really great games. The original classics of the genre would be Taboo, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary and Jenga. I am not saying that these are bad games, what I am saying is that better games have been designed since, that are more likely to bring people closer together. The difficulty of this genre of games is that it is difficult to have a good time with people you love.

Codenames is the first game that springs to mind when you think of modern party games. A team competition where the team leader must say a word that relates to other words on the table. Will the leader pull you to success or will they make you lose due to their loose connections. The reason this game works is because everyone can participate even when it isn't there turn. Both teams can guess and discuss the clues, possibly trying to put the other team off. If someone selects the assassin, this ends the game and makes the opposing team the victors. A fun discussion begins regarding the clues and the guess ensue. Another great advantage of this game is that people can join and leave as they please.

Apples to Apples began a new genre of party games. An adjective is selected and the other players must select a noun from the cards in their hand which best relates to the adjective. The person who drew the adjective shuffles the nouns and chooses the best noun (the winner). This game mixes personality and creativity which is why it is such a success. The game is quick, not very serious and drives me wild. I always pick the best nouns and never get chosen!

Telestrations is more an activity than a game. The game is Chinese whispers with pictures. The fun of the game is peoples skill or lack of skill. We marvel and envy the artists and laugh with the people who struggle to draw a stick-man.

The connecting themes of all these games are creativity and simplicity. Creativity reflects personality and no one wants to be challenged too much during gaming. That and the winning is only secondary.

What is a party game

A party game is a simple game that appeals to a wide audience and can be played in a jovial atmosphere. Anything else is something different!

Why is the party game so good

The best thing about party games is that it connects people. There are many different games out there but I would say the main component is that you learn something about the people you are playing with. See how your spouse draws a horse or how Kanye West is the definition of cool for your son. The surprise, the ridiculousness of the situation makes everyone laugh like a (sadistic) baby that just dropped its porridge on the floor.

The evolution of the party game

We have come far from simple trivia games. This genre hasn't seen the sharp improvement that other genres have seen. Is it possible to improve on Twister as a kids game and a drunken adult game? Not for me though as I am a tree. The improvements appear to be in production quality. Apples to Apples has been replaced by the beautiful Dixit and Muse. Charades has been upgraded to Time's Up!. Trivial Pursuit has been upgraded to Wits & Wagers. I am a big fan of Jenga but I must admit I haven't kept up to date with party dexterity games. Hamsterrolle and Riff Raff look excellent.


"The lovely Muse"


My favourite party games

My favourite party games are the classics. I look at my box of Dixit and wait in anticipation, when I can play it next. I remember playing Codenames with a friend who would involuntary squeal as you go to select the wrong word. My latest favourites include Decrypto, which I feel is a bit too involved to be a party game, and When I Dream, which mixes in clue giving and blindness! I have great fun playing Time's Up! and Say Anything. If I am partying with gamers I would even stretch to Magic Maze. The silence is anti-intuitive for a party but the body language is hilarious. Finally, how could I not mention Telestrations! Every time I play this, everyone wants to play again and again.

Am I missing something?

Deduction games can very easily be included in this list. These games for me however are too involved and has not got the casual component that the other games listed have. I would have loved to add Deception: Murder in Hong Kong and Mysterium to this list, but no one has time for that.

Conclusion

Whether it is a party, or just a gathering of people these games will guarantee a good time. They all manage to bring people together and not worry so much about the result. It's all about personality and interpretation. These games spend most of the time on my shelf but I am very excited when they do manage to come off.

What do you think of the genre?
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Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:00 pm
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Final tally- Village reviewed

Adam Majewski
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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Welcome to my newer, better, sexier and more violent blog! I go Foam Bananas over games and want to share my enthusiasm with you! Twice weekly I will be putting out new articles about games. For the weekly contents go to my user profile.


Final tally

"Village reviewed"




"The number 1 t-shirt was in fashion"


Cock-a-doodle-do and the morning starts. The town is filled with the sounds of birthing cows and metal on metal from the blacksmith. This was a more innocent time, where children ran away from home to explore the surrounding towns. On their return their parents would quickly send them to the covenant to train them as saintly monks. The monks bury their parents, whose children marry who carry on the family tradition of farming. It's all part of village life.

Theme

What better way to portray life with the ultimate conclusion of death. We are from the best generation-says every generation. In this game you get to see the evolution of your family tree. There are many professions that you can be honoured for. If you are one of the pioneers of that profession you will remember, if not you will go into an unmarked grave. You can smell the incense during the church service and you can hear the ox pulling the plough during harvest. The village is protected from the outside world by spiked village walls. Travelling beyond requires a wagon. This game puts you in the shoes of the villagers you are playing. You can still smell the manure on those shoes. When you take an action you get influence in the flavour of: skill, persuasiveness, faith and knowledge. This is where the game suffers from the theme as the influence is represented by difference colour cubes. During game play the theme of these cubes are lost and are just named after their colour. Life is not perfect.

Art

When you think of village life,you think of warmth and pleasure. The artist has managed to convey this theme in this game. The colours are bright and the village is simple. You get the feel that the village is familiar and a vital part of your daily life. Even the start marker is a happy looking couple embraced in each others arms.

Production

The game was released in 2011 and the production quality still stands tall today. It has thick cardboard pieces and nice wooden pieces to handle. The only difference if the game was released today is that it would probably come with metal coins.

Gameplay

Village life is as simple as you imagine but look deeper and you will find depth. On your turn you select a cube to take an action. You need to manage resources and your family. The aim is to be the most successful family by getting the most points. This can be done in a variety of ways. You can build goods and sell them in the market, become a politician, travel the world or dedicated your services to the cross. All are viable strategies and it is likely you will try a few of these to win. This, in its self, would not make a good game. The complexities are that their are limited actions each round and that when you die you want to be remembered in the village chronicle (a dusty old book). Of course, space here is limited and you are in a deep dilemma. Do you race to the grave and forgo a longer strategy or do you love your family and want them to live the most fulfilling life. You measure life with a time track and every time the track passes the well one of your eldest kicks the bucket. The race to the grave is a viable strategy but only if multiple families partake in that strategy. Once all cubes have been taken, the mass phase of the game starts and four randomly drawn monks are drawn from the religious bag. Will you push your luck and hope your monk is drawn out or will you pay money, which is worth one victory point at the end of the game, to guarantee the draw of your family member?


"Seek greater pastures"


Final Thoughts

Individually the mechaincs are boring. Add them together and you have a rich, moving game. The game has emotional heart, player interaction and long term strategy that must be balanced with short term tactics. An example of this is the ever changing market. You posses an ox which you use for ploughing but the market is offering you good points for it, what do you do? As the chronicle gets filled up, if you want a better chance of winning you must send your family to the occupations which are still to be chronicled. The game plays in just over 75 minutes with four players and you are constantly engaged due to the big selection of options. I've played this game many times over the years and what I can say is that this game still competes in terms of gameplay with modern board gaming (7 years, at time of writing, is a long time to stay relevant). If I had to give a negative is that it does become a bit repetitive but that is why you have expansions.

Village Inn

This is the gamer's expansion of choice. It adds a brewery and a pub. The pub allows you to meet lots of exciting characters from the village that have not chosen the family life. They give you exciting bonuses and scoring possibilities. The expansions add an extra dimension to the game, causing bigger dilemmas. The guests in the pub are forever changing and different each game. This adds the much needed variability to the game. The only issue is that you should only play this expansion with gamers experienced with the base game. If only there was an expansion you could play with new gamers.

Village Port

The village port replaces the travelling aspect from the base game. The port allows you to venture out in the world and discover islands with many riches out there. You can even send out missionaries and teach the heathens you enlightened ways. You have to hire sea captains and load your ship with goods you can sell at an extortionate export prices. Who doesn't want to sail the high seas in place of village life?

Additionally, the game provides a module of life goals. This gives you a target to reach in your life and is a quaint pleasant addition.

Summary

An excellent strategic game which often gets overlooked for games that appear more exciting.

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Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:00 pm
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Harvest time- The Great Tour, SteamRollers, Voyages of Marco Polo and Camel Up Cards

Adam Majewski
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"After a twenty-four year trip to a desert, Marco Polo sought true friendship with his camel"


Harvest time


Welcome to my newer, better, sexier and more violent blog! I go Foam Bananas over games and want to share my enthusiasm with you! Twice weekly I will be putting out new articles about games. For the weekly contents go to my user profile.


Harvest Time is where I report on a few of my favourite games that I have played recently. This time, I have no cornucopia of played games. The harvest has failed and I have played very few games. Lucky for me, it was Roll the Dice on Saturday. Welcome to destination gaming.


“Coach Trip without the tour guide”


Line up, line up, bus tours across Europe. Will you drink a beer in Berlin, sight-see in Wein, take in the opera in Milan, climb the Eiffel Tower or explore the canals of Amsterdam? Four companies were offering the tour- Dennis (the co-designer of the game), Derrick, Debbie and, avoiding the D alliteration, Adam. We collected destinations blindly. Sometimes you would choose three, other times you would choose two in hope you would pick up something special. There are a number of tour routes on offer for you and the other companies to choose from. The bus passed through Brussels from Wein to Paris setting up a tourist route. This route was super popular. You can hear tourists clicking their cameras, absorbing beautiful pictures into their electronic databases, causing much traffic. Any other company wanting to use the same route, must pay an extra card.


"Drive through tourisim"


Routes are thwarted as roads fill up and companies run out of resources. Drawing just two cards gives you an opportunity to pick up a VIP route which ignores all the buses on one route or you may pick up wild destination cards which allows the driver to pick any city they want to drive to. The restrictions the bus companies suffered from was that the lucrative routes were limited and even more punishing was that you could any travel from the city you were at. There was always an option to go off the tourist trail for little reward but no stamp of approval. Stamps were awarded from each city and if your company had visited that city the most, then they would reward you with a nice frothy cup of points. The best tour was mine thanks to having the most tickets and receiving the bonus. Backwards and forwards the buses ran and the game to an end. The tourist, despite enjoying the tour, were a little underwhelmed as they saw the same sights over and over again. Sure everyone loves a phallic looking tower, but how often do you need to see it?

What followed is a trip to America.


“Transporting colours”



"Not much to see here"


The Grey cities in middle America requested grey resources. It’s not that they were boring, they were not blessed with colour. Take blue for example, an infinitely more exciting colour than grey but the inhabits of blue hated it. My task, Hugo’s task and Linda’s task was to build routes from these colourful cities and transport resources. This task was made more complicated as you were limited by the dice rolls. Have only ones been rolled? Then you may only draw a route in the yellow land. To transport the goods you need a powerful train as the further the connection the more you are rewarded. Dice were rolled, routes were drawn and turns lasted literally seconds. I had the edge over the other two, having the ability to re-roll dice or flip them on the other side. This cost me two points at the end of the game but the flexibility had allowed me to win the game. America and the colourful states, is a grand land. The three of us were competing to transport the resources but we had all built different routes. There was no suspense. We all managed to deliver enough resources to fulfil the most lucrative of contracts and then we finished. The steam from the train vanished without a trace. It was perhaps because the train was electric and it ran so smoothly that you barely noticed you had arrived at your destination. The character of a train journey is from the bumps and the scenery but instead in this journey all you saw was grey.

First it was crossing Europe, then North America and now, won’t anyone give Asia a chance?


“To travel the deserts you need four camels, none of which will survive”


Derrick joined us in Asia making the expedition a party of four. Everyone knows the tale of Marco Polo, right? There’s even a Netflix series. Marco Polo set off to China and stayed there for twenty-four years. He made some friends and completed some business deals. Business can turn friends into enemies and the heavens were brewing a storm. Derrick played Wilhelm von Rubruk, the famous explorer who just had to travel through towns to set up trading posts. Linda was Mecator ex Trobiz, the trader’s middle man who always took a cut of resources from the market. I was Johannes Carprini, a man who travelled through camps and earned a small amount of money. Hugo was Kubilai Khan, a merchant based in Beijing. The rest of us had started in Venice but we all had agents in Venice doing business and setting up local trading posts. This was a tale of collecting money and camels to travel the Silk Road to allow us to establish good trading practices. Over five rounds, resources were earned and destination were visited giving us an income. Venice proved to be the most popular destination as it was cheap with high rewards. The trouble in Asia is that to trade or move you must roll dice first. High dice rolls are powerful but to use them is costly if other players have used those spaces. Wilhelm got into a trade dispute with Johannes. They had both set up a trading post in Alexandria that allowed you to trade a gold and a camel for nine hard cash. This money was to fund the travelling but each turn Wilhelm beat Johannes to the punch. Johannes, had to change his plans and started fulfilling contracts. He was never going to beat Mecator ex Trobiz at his game. No one knew what Kubilai Khan was up to- he was probably getting a tan. Wilhelm had only fulfilled his starting contract but had such a presence in China that he scored big. Mecator ex Trobiz won the contract race and the rest was drowning with the camels in the Asian deserts. I love travelling the same route as Marco Polo but every game has me going grey due to the others getting in my way. That is what you call a life experience.

The final journey was a race to the finish line.


“Camels will do what camels want”



"The camels were practising their rainbow formation"


Giddy up camel! The rush and the thrill of camel races is that the fastest won’t necessary win. These camels are friendly camels. It is a sight to behold, camel on top of camel helping each other to the finish line. The question is which camel will move next? Will they be propelled to victory by trees on the route or will they run back to the start scared by the fennec fox? To predict the fun and folly we make bets. The chaos is exhilarating and the bets costly. One player lost money every round. I was ahead betting on the camel ahead each stage. The most lucrative bets come from predicting the final results of the race. I predicted incorrectly and one player had more money come in than I had at the peak of my wealth. It’s all good fun but next time I won’t bet on the white magical camel.
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Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:01 am
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Wood for Sheep- Comedy Corner- Ticket to Ride

Adam Majewski
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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Welcome to my newer, better, sexier and more violent blog! I go Foam Bananas over games and want to share my enthusiasm with you! Twice weekly I will be putting out new articles about games. For the weekly contents go to my user profile.




Wood for Sheep

"Comedy Corner"


The Comedy corner is here to make you laugh. I take a look at popular gaming tropes and attempt to satirise them. Get on board another classic!



The Smith company was one coal transporter away from building a tunnel. The Smith company was run by little Harry, who only just started his young adolescent years, but as wise as his peers. He wore green because that was his favourite colour and that was the colour of his trains. His competitors followed suit, there was Clark, of the Boyes company, dressed smartly in blue. In photos, he would stand behind Harry looking suspicious. Harry was always running away in those pictures. What had Clark done? Maybe it was the photo, but it seemed clear to most that Clark had committed atrocities against Harry, as he stood there smoking his cigar in smug satisfaction. The coal transporters were lined up to smash a hole in the mountain to connect two cities together. As the locomotive increased its speed, the face of the mountain maintained its blank stare. The red fire raged against the cold reality of physics. The engineers shouted, we need one more coal transporter to complete this connection but the resources were not found. The project was abandoned but the locomotive and coal transporters were saved. Maybe Harry would have another attempt to connect Pamplona with Madrid.

Gary from the North, South, West but not East company was a maverick. He was born in the early 19th century and disobeyed rules. He wore a big purple suit to cover his hideous frame but his trains were black like his soul. He did business the old fashioned way. He would knock on the door of the government and ask for routes they would like him to build. The government had a sick sense of humour and handed him five routes he could choose to build. The routes were all in the east and Gary was famous for not building in the East. The government officials owned Gary because if you went to the government for for a ticket you had to choose at least one, no matter what. Gary had agreed to the terms and would have to pay a fine. As it was the 20th Century, women like Jane McTrain, were welcome to join in the same venture. The government officials had complained somewhat to begin with, but decided that if they give Jane routes to build that she had already built that Jane would be a good sport and play with their trains.

It was Clarice's turn to play. She had inherited her husband's fortune after he died in an early bungee jumping attempt. The technology was't there yet and he jumped without a rope. Clarice was standing at the bottom of the ravine but managed to stay clean as she always carried an umbrella. Come rain or shine she was going to make a success of her husband's train company. She would go to the train yards and pick different coloured carriages used to build routes. The yard manager want to get rid of his old stock and allowed customers to collect two carriages. They could pick from the stock on show or have a random train. If they picked a locomotive from the yard, then they could only choose one but if they picked a random carriage that might be a locomotive. Clarice was only cautious with weather and therefore she would go to the market only picking blindly. The train yard manager would laugh and get rich. What Clarice forgot was that the government only allowed her to build routes with 45 carriages and she had 60 in hand. The government had seen their folly of their ways and decided to stop all route building once Harry had built his route from Los Angeles to Miami. No one knew why he had attempted to build a tunnel in Spain. Spain is full of mountains and is foreign. Harry had no time to ask the government for more routes he was running away from Clark. Once the ban had came in Harry was the richest 11 year old in the world. This only attracted more unwanted attention from railroad investors. Where was his mother?


End


The actual story of Ticket to Ride is even more disturbing:

"On a blustery autumn evening five old friends met in the backroom of one of the city’s oldest and most private clubs..... the five attended University together. Inspired by his [Phileas Fogg] impetuous gamble, and a few pints from the local pub, the group commemorated his circumnavigation with a more modest excursion and wager – a bottle of good claret to the first to make it to Le Procope in Paris.

..... The objective: to see which of them could travel by rail to the
most cities in North America — in just 7 days."

The characters make no sense. Hope you enjoyed my parody.

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Fri Sep 7, 2018 12:00 pm
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Event Card- News in Review- Getting bigger

Adam Majewski
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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Welcome to my newer, better, sexier and more violent blog! I go Foam Bananas over games and want to share my enthusiasm with you! Twice weekly I will be putting out new articles about games. For the weekly contents go to my user profile.

Event Card

"News and analysis of the month"



"Drowning in games and happy"


Another month, another game purchase. I am literally drowning in games. My lungs are filling with meeples and I got cards hanging out my arse. No need for a coffin, just bury me in all my game boxes. My head in the box of Cranium and my feet in the box of Lowlands. More, more and more! I'm not dead yet. Thankfully, most my games are in storage. I get them back next month. I am worried, I did a "fun" date of death predictor and that day is soon. Who thought that buying board games would be the death of me.

It's not just me though. Game companies are merging and buying each other. They are acting as if they are they are playing a real life version of Acquire. This month Stronghold Games has merged withIndie Boards & Cards to create Indie Games. I hope you appreciate the irony as Sir Google defines the word "indie"-not belonging or affiliated to a major company. The news reports that all three four companies (Indie Boards & Cards purchased Action Phase Games in 2016) will keep their brand and it appears to be a merger of strengths. One CEO will be the man running the show, the other will be promoting the show. These people are well known to us board game enthusiast- Travis Worthington and Stephen Buonocore. So, is this a publicity stunt or more? Is their work output enough for four design studios? Is their outstanding brands so ingrained into the board gaming society that the new release will damage or fall from the expectation from these brands? The press release reads like most merger quotes:

"Blah, blah, happy, blah blah expand, customer focus, blah balh, ready to battle the giant corporate owned conglomerates of the hobby board game industry."

As far as I am aware both Stronghold Games and Indie Boards & Cards are doing extremely well with brands such as Terraforming Mars and Coup. It sounds to me that they want to become multi-millionaires. The giant corporate owned conglomerates they speak is of course Asmodee. Asmodee recently incorporated most of the big board game companies and Asmodee was sold to the French private equity firm, PAI Partners at a price of about €1.2 billion. With figures like this, how could it not be about the money?

The consequence of game companies like is two fold. First the product's quality had increased in at least in material but the games have become even more expensive to match. But that's not true. The price for a standard-sized [company=17] game was previously around £42 or US $50, but Ra’s retailing with a recommended retail price of £50 or US $60 (information taken from Shut Up and Sit Down).


"Where your money is"


With more and more games being released, more and more board game companies popping up, how does increasing the competition for yourself help you? More news in August was the merger of Cheapass Games merging with Greater Than Games (Dice Hate Me Games). The discussion is that the CEO of Cheapass Games wants to design more games and step down from his role. This is the story I like to hear. It cements the friendliness and close knit community the board game community displays. After all, it's about getting round the table with good people and having a good time. The board game world is not the tech world. Google will not buy you up.

But what do I know? In a few days time, I will be coughing up green meeples, red meeples will be pouring from eyes and event cards will cover my chest like a Memento rules book. I will have less money to pass down to my love ones and the table will have one less player. So I beg you please, before that time, give me a job in the industry and give me some of that delicious money cake. Go on- take a chance- roll those dice!
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Mon Sep 3, 2018 12:00 pm
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Check please- Games played this month *BUMPER EDITION* July and August

Adam Majewski
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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Welcome to my newer, better, sexier and more violent blog! I go Foam Bananas over games and want to share my enthusiasm with you! Twice weekly I will be putting out new articles about games. For the weekly contents go to my user profile.


CHECK PLEASE

"What have I played this month?"



"Lost in Japan"


By popular request I now introduce the list of games I played in the last two months. It has been quite the two months. I went to ManorCon a four day games convention. I had a few sessions with my friends at Roll the Dice and some casual gaming with friends and family. Some classics, some duff games were played- time to find out which was which!

Games I played with Maartje
Maartje had taken a two week holiday in August and other than rushing around Europe and partying with Kasabian I broke her down and forced her to play games with me. If you spend an excluisve amount of time with me I will break you down!

Kingdomino

I picked this up for 10 Euros at a toy shop and what a wonderful purchase it was. A beautiful looking game with a bidding system that is so simple, it doesn't bother Maartje. The game is basically multiplayer solitaire and is a puzzle. Maartje is mathematically minded and often beats me at this game. We played this a few nights ago and she gave up because she could not finish her kingdom and her castle was not in the centre. She still won. Fantastic game for couples, probably too light for everyone else. I'm interested in getting the expansion but hear it is more interactive and more expensive than the base game- shame.


"My kingdom is better than your kingdom"


Queendomino

After the success of Kingdomino I borrowed the sequel from the Roll the Dice library. This game forces you to play two players on a 7x7 grid, making the game longer than the kingdom you must build. It adds some interesting mechanisms but those mechanism remove the joy of the original. We both enjoyed our one game but this game won't reign in our kingdom. Casual wins in this household.


"Now including brimstone"


The Game: Face to Face

A two player version of The Game where you must rid your deck of 60 cards. It plays the same as the original apart from that you must help your opponent. This concept of a competitive cooperative game is new to me and works a treat. We have played this a large number of times and it always causes stress and satisfaction due to the difficult choices to be made. Out of a dozen plays we have managed to complete the game only once or twice. This really is the best two player game, small card game, I have played in recent times.

Hanabi

Hanabi doesn't really work with two players. The chaos that comes from multiple players is gone and the game just becomes a game of back and forth. Hanabi itself is a wonderful game I vowed never to play after my first play. In a sleep deprived state I played it, loved it and now I own a copy!

7 Wonders Duel

Our go to game that is complicated. Since it's release we have played it over forty times and it still feels great. I remember winning the game but there was tension as Maartje was going for an instant win.

First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express!

I thought this game would work with two and for Maartje. It was a partial success. The game is simple enough and quick that Maartje got to grips with it and played it. She was not too pleased with the extra rules that make the game, such as: bonuses for building your train fully and end of game bonus cards. I won't be playing this game with Maartje anytime soon again. This is not a problem as it is the game I have played the most in the last two months. It plays great with three and four because the drafting is more competitive and this is even despite the rules with discarding the cards with less players. In a multiplayer game, turn order is important and racing for the bonuses is more competitive. I played a three player game in 75 minutes including rules explanation and for a game with such depth that's great.


"The conductor gave a first class service to the celebrities"



Games I played at Roll the Dice

Star Realms

I have played the app hundreds of times but this was only my second game of the physical version. It was a fun two player game that went well with my competitor. Keeping track of the health was not as much as a pain as I remembered the first time and it was refreshing to play without any of the expansions.


"Fleet killer"


Mystic Vale

This game is Dominion, with removed actions and a tedious card building mechanic which (admittedly) sounds cool on paper. We played three players, not that you would notice, as our heads were down fiddling with our deck. A successful turn would mean you tactically choose the best card available to buy with your budget, a failed turn would mean you would discard your cards. This game is as bad as I remembered the first time I played it, many years ago.


"This picture is as boring as the game"


Blood Rage

I have managed to stay away from this game until now. No one can argue that drafting is not fun. The game itself plays quite well. The game takes an age and we were all hoping that Ragnarok would hit us and finish the game. Fortunately, due to prior commitments of one of the players, we had to finish the game after the second age. Maybe if I enjoyed bland colours on a less than inventive board, then this game would have been great. I am not into miniatures, I am not into games where careful planning can be destroyed after taking 30 minutes of setting everything into place. I am bitter. There was a clear winner after the first age and the rest was tedious. If I wanted to play a game like this I would play the infinitely better Small World. Small World has everything this game but better!


"Destruction to all over bloated games"


The Castles of Burgundy

I have not got a bad thing to say about this game. It's as uncool as Catan but I always enjoy playing it. I understand the criticisms of the lack of control and luck involved in this game but for me that doesn't matter. Expanding your landscape gives this game a sense of progression more than most. The dice are your enemy and it's fun to battle them. To all the haters of this game I say: "Go build yourself a castle in hell",.


"The journey was more interesting than the scenery"


Troyes

What a day of gaming! I do love the game of Troyes as you hold your breath each turn, hoping that your opponents will not steal your actions. This games offers you combos, targets and allows you to fight the French. I won the game having worked out what the other bonuses the people had. I also played this at Manorcon and you can read about it here.


"The party at Troyes had a strict dress code"


High Society

Two games of this fantastic bidding game. This game always plays differently and this time it was very odd. In both games you had two players going bankrupt and therefore automatically losing. That was a big shame as it took out the suspense of the game.


"A wealth of options"


Games I played at Manor Con

Egizia

Before making it to ManorCon I got to play this amazing worker placement game. I focused on building the pyramids and had plenty of stone. I had lost some points for not feeding my people and Pete had stole the win as the graves had unexpectedly filled up.

Keyflower

A five player game of this most wonderful game. I was convinced that Pete was going to win as he had all the pubs and tiles that give him people and he managed to snag all the end of game bonus tiles giving him points. It wasn't to be. Ray was pig rich and scored 35 points only on pigs! I thought I was doing well, but it really depends on scoring well at the end of the game.


"The people of Keyflower ventured to every corner of their land"


The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire

I've had so much fun playing this game in the past but this game went flat. There was a race to win the leader of the UN and the rest of the game turned out to be a rinse and repeat challenge. I had wanted to try a different strategy but the end of the game bonuses kept me focused and the other spaces I wanted to use were blocked. I had this game, got rid of it and wanted it back in my collection. After this game, I am not too sure. One of the biggest disappointments of the convention.


"This nuclear is unstable"


San Juan (second edition)

One of my go to two player games with Maartje. With four players there is a bigger challenge as you have less control of the roles. Martin won having scored an impressive amount from his buildings. It was very close with two of us, just one point away.


"Lots of production in San Juan"


Airships

A luck-fest dice game that lasted, what felt like and probably was, hours. It was a really horrible game. The players I played with liked the game but did admit that it had been more fun in the past.


"This zeppelin is going down in flames"


The Palaces of Carrara

I love this game. A literal race to score and win the game. I built up the two cheapest cities and scored a load of points. In this game, skill will really show by the difference in points in the end of game. Having scored over 50 points I was keen to finish the game but couldn't! I did win but only by 10 points. Ray had built up the top three cities and managed to catch up.


"Stack the cities high"


Pulsar 2849

A fantastic, euro game set in space. I wrote about this session in some depth here


"Lots of lasers no destruction"


Nusfjord

I really enjoy this game and was lucky to play two consecutive rounds. This has never happened with a Uwe Rosenberg game before and is a testament to how well designed the game is. The usual challenge of collecting resources and building up your own personal board is as great as ever. The quick length of play and the uncertainty of the bonus buildings arriving until the middle of the game makes you play cautiously. I must admit I didn't fully enjoy these games as I lost. Let's play again and remedy that.


"The only catch that matters"


Via Nebula

The first time I played this was at ManorCon, so it was nice to play it with the person who taught me how to play this in the first place. We played with four and I was on for a win had I been not too bold and made four resources available. I find this game plays best as a duel as you can plan better but the chaos of four worked well. Still love the way this game looks.


"A gem within the fog"


Ticket to Ride: Europe

My final game of Saturday evening just before the pop quiz. I was getting bevied up and my route got blocked. Time for plan B- get tickets and use your stations. I came second! This is probably my most played map and with the stations make it quite unique. I was gutted when my route was blocked but the damage control is a thrill within itself.



"Change at Berlin and you cannot go wrong"


Troyes

Another game of Troyes and to my shock there was no tie break! I felt I was cheated as I was blocked out of building the Cathedral costing me the win. Great as always!


"The neighbours would not take the hint they were not welcome as they were served with boiling hot oil"


Hawaii

As you run around Hawaii collecting fruit, building farms and sailing boats you aim to spend a number of shells. You have to be careful as a tsunami will come and destroy your village unless you have enough tikis. It makes no senses. In this five player game we all enjoyed the tight design of this euro game. Pete had won by a 8 points. He had scored 24 points from his two gods. I was scoring gradually by collecting rope. I said it doesn't make sense but it was a lot of fun.


"Not as relaxing as the beach setting would have you believe"




Yokohama

Ray had not played this game before and I had sold it to him as being a nice gentle game. With four, it is not a nice gentle game, but a competitive, nipple twist of a game. The board is so overwhelming for new players and Ray didn't enjoy it. He just kept going for technology which he found boring. The game itself was very close as I gave generously to the church and customs. Timothy had won by acing the customs. I am sad that Ray did not enjoy the game as it really is fantastic.

Codenames and Good Cop Bad Cop

These two late night party games went down extremely well. The mad clues given by the drunk gamers for Codenames, was a marvel to behold. Good Cop, Bad Cop was a chaotic social deduction game which plays to abilities rather than trying to work out who was who. Great fun!


"Considered minds"



"Acussing finger of Justice"


Russian Railroads: German Railroads

My final game of the convention and I was 10 short of getting 500 points. By round three I had my white track on the main line Munich to Hamburg. I love the challenge of this game and it was my favourite worker placer of the convention.


"Trains have never been so exciting"



Games I played Solo[/url]

I am not working much these days and so I have invested in some time killers.

SteamRollers

A nice game where you are challenged against an AI opponent which you have full control of(subject to dice rolled). You roll three dice and draft two. The left over dice is played by the AI and therefore you not only considering what you want to do but what you want to allow the AI to do. Most solo games I have played (not many), the choices are obvious, in this game you have to really consider what to do. The longer you play, the more likely the AI player is going to win so it does seem like a race. I haven't played this game multiplayer but this has certainly wet my appetite.

The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game

A game where you are trying to get the highest score. This game is a nice way to pass 15 minutes but at the same time unremarkable. I am going to get rid of this as soon as I can.

Games I played casually with friends and family[/url]

Imperial Settlers


"My Japanese army"


I must admit that I did not enjoy this game. I was Japanese and my main ability was to hire people. For every two people I hired, Dennis got an extra person. It was a nice tableau building game but I felt like I was playing a losing game from the start. Apparently I randomly chose the most difficult army to play with. I did appreciate the solid design but this play has soured me on playing it again.


"Big bold and beautiful- for experienced players only"



Decrypto and Codenames

Decrypto is a great "party" game. I put Decrypto in quotes as it is a game that needs your full concentration. I played with Maartje, my brother and his other half, they loved. Afterwards we played Codenames and they preferred Decrypto. Codenames is a turn by turn puzzle, Decrypto is an unravelling puzzle. I would say that Codenames is the better party game.

Betrayal at House on the Hill

Me and Maartje played this with two friends, one of which is a hardcore gamer the other is the spouse of the hardcore gamer. The game played nicely but as soon as the haunt happened the game ended within two rounds. It was fun whiles it lasted and really whetted my appetite for the legacy version. Spoiler below:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
The haunt was where the plant eats the one of the characters (me) and most eat the rest of the players. The other players had easy access to the basement and had the right weapons in hand and the plant version of me died.


Magic Maze

Me, Maartje, my brother and my brother's girlfriend played this about four times. We lost every time. I really love this game but it did seem like my brother and his girlfriend didn't get to grips with this game. At one point we were waiting for a player to move all four characters. I considered this to be a game for everyone, now I believe this game for almost anyone.

Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small – The Big Box


"It's all about the animals"


I bought this game to play with Maartje. I love Agricola and I thought this would be digestible enough for Maartje to play. In the end I played with Dennis and found it so repetitive and dull, I am hesitant to play it again. This is a big shame as I think this is the first Uwe Rosenberg game I have actively disliked. This makes me sad as it has all the winning ingredients for being a great game.


"Lovely Farms"


Exit: The Game – The Abandoned Cabin

This is the first time I have played the Exit series and thought it was excellent. We did very well and I thought the puzzles were superb. Part of the fun was destroying the cards and not worrying about the 10 pounds it cost me. Below are our stats and a brief description of some of the puzzles.

Spoiler (click to reveal)


I really enjoyed the puzzle and the story. We got stuck on the wall puzzle as we were missing out on a card. The dominoes were neat that we had to cut out. I enjoyed the mathematical puzzle and I had the answer to most the clues. Sander attempted to cut out the dominoes but Maartje worked out on paper first.


Wow- that's a lot of games. To think I complain I don't play enough games!
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Fri Aug 31, 2018 10:36 am
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Check please- Games played this month-Brussels' Games Festival SPECIAL

Adam Majewski
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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Welcome to my newer, better, sexier and more violent blog! I go Foam Bananas over games and want to share my enthusiasm with you! Twice weekly I will be putting out new articles about games. For the weekly contents go to my user profile.


CHECK PLEASE

"What have I played this month?"



"Festival under the Arc du Cinquantenaire"


This is my first Check Please segment and it should cover July and August. Instead it will just cover games I played at the Brussels' Games Festival. I played many new and unreleased games and I thought if I focus on them I could write a bit more about the games and tell you all about them. I hear your cries begging me for a list of more games I have played and I will promise that your voices will be heard.

Orbis

Orbis will be Space Cowboys release for Essen. I was lucky enough to be the first at the festival to have a game with two other players. The game is simple. You collect a tile and start to form a 15 tile pyramid. The bottom row of the pyramid can be composed of any colour tiles(of five) but each subsequent row the tile below must be of the same colour. Once you take a tile, the adjacent tiles receive resources of the same colour of the tile taken. With the resources, you must pay for the tiles and the tiles get subsequently more powerful. The tiles start giving you resources and points depending if you meet a certain criteria. It's a very quick game but the choices get more difficult as you proceed and your choices become more limited. I would describe the game as Splendor. In Splendor you take lower level cards to afford medium level cards and then you will be able to afford higher level cards.


"And on the 7th day the gods rested on top of their new creations"


It is like a pyramid. In this game you are literally building a pyramid and you hope your previous choices enable you to have successful choices later on. The final tile is a god tile which you can take at any point of the game. Most of these gods require you to have the most of a certain tile to achieve the bonus. The other interaction between players is the competition to collect the most temples. In the three player game the one with the most temples would score nine points and the one with the least would score two. I won the nine points and significantly won the game. It was a pleasant game but insubstantial. I predict this won't be the success for Space Cowboys that Splendor was due to the theme of gods and because it is very fiddly placing the resources on the tiles. I would like to see the final production as this was still only a prototype.


"The civilians of the pyramid were unimpressed with the aesthetics"


Ticket to Ride: New York

This is Ticket to Ride express. I played a quick two player game which took about 5 minutes. If you have played Ticket to Ride, you know the score as this game plays identical. You have 15 taxis (blasphemy) to place on routes around New York and the person with the highest score from placing taxis and from completed tickets win. For a game that takes about 5 minutes, I don't know why you would bother. There is none of the suspense of the main version of Ticket to Ride. With four it would take longer but for me some needs to get this game a taxi home.


"Taxi please"


7 Wonders: Armada

7 Wonders is my favourite game and all the expansions have added something fun to the game. My excitement levels were high and we got to play a prototype with four. Armada gives an extra card each age and a ship track which gives you goodies if you choose to pay the resources once you play a card of a certain colour. The cards mainly relate to the boat mechanic of the game but there are other new cards.


"The world is flat after all"


There is a military card that allows you to battle your neighbour two spaces away from you and a science card that gives you an extra science symbol of your most collected symbols. The game adds an extra naval battle each round where the one with the highest naval army wins points and the least loses points. This adds an extra level of interaction to the game not seen in the base game or its expansions. The game is fun as you have the tough decision to collect certain cards to allow your armada to sail out further collecting you even more bonuses. The exploration costs more resources and therefore you have even more resources management in the game. It was fun and challenging to try out this version of 7 Wonders. But(!), the game adds island cards to the game. The island cards are collected mainly from sailing your science ship. The islands give you bonuses. These bonuses can include military power. I got burned by neighbour building one of these islands. Therefore, I would say that the control you had drafting is somewhat been diluted. Is this good or bad? The game still played like the classic 7 Wonders game it is and the surprise I received was fun. As it lost me the game (probably), I am still undecided whether this makes the game better or not. I will certainly add it to my collection and find out my true thoughts on the game.


"Who thought, in a world covered in water, that ships would be involved in a civilisation?"




Carson City the Card game is a four player game. We played with two and the game incorporated two dummy players. In Carson City there are five cards to draft from. One character card and four landscape cards. You start with cards numbered from 1 to 9 and these are your bidding cards. Each player bids with one card and the highest wins. That card is no longer available until the second round (out of two), which starts once you have played all 9 cards. With the landscape cards you are building up Carson City. This involves building plains, mountains, mines and an assortment of buildings that will score you points at the end. The landscape cards are split into four and you have the opportunity to over build the plains. This makes for an exciting card laying game. The characters are just as interesting. You have the usual ones that allow you to score for certain features in your city at the end of the game. You also have characters that effect the bidding in the game. This game has three fantastic features: bidding, city building and character abilities. Each part of the game is fantastically tense and well designed and it was my favourite game I played in Brussels that day. That's quite a feat considering I played the NEW 7 Wonders expansion! I would have a bought a copy if I didn't have to run off to catch my bus back home. The dummy players did not subtract from the tense two player game but I imagine this game really shines with four players. The score at the end was close, I managed to win and we even beat the dummy players who seemed to be getting the best cards (the cards have numbers on them and if the dummy player wins the card they get points the same as the number).

My camera had run out battery at this point after a day of sightseeing in Brussels. This was truly a spectacular convention. Held in a huge park, with a truly majestic Triumphal Arch overseeing the gaming. On the Friday the festival opened at three o'clock which gave me time (to little) to see the truly wonderful city of Brussels. It was a shame I only got to go for one day because over the weekend there was open gaming and many tournaments I would have liked to participate in. There is always next year. Brussels Games Festival



"The tents in the background held the exhibitors."




"Monsters clash in Brussels"
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Mon Aug 27, 2018 12:26 pm
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Every dog- Board game design- Initial ideas

Adam Majewski
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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Welcome to my newer, better, sexier and more violent blog! I go Foam Bananas over games and want to share my enthusiasm with you! Twice weekly I will be putting out new articles about games. For the weekly contents go to my user profile.


EVERY DOG

"Every man and his dog has designed a board game- this is mine"



"Bullet proof design"


I have nought designing experience, little mathematical skill and lose most games I play. This would seem as an automatic no to design a game. Yet, everyone has a game they designed. Sure, most are inconsequential but still they say "I have a game" and blow smoke in my face from the cigar they are smoking. Well no more choking! I am a game designer starting today.

So, where shall I start? I look at my pet dog and he stares back with his dead eyes as he doesn't exist. What do I like? I like the Matrix the film. How cool was it when Neo and Trinity storm the nondescript commercial tower to save Morpheus? They wore fancy, fancy, leathers and armed up. How cool was it when Neo attempt to beat death into Morpheus in the dojo? Now all I need to do is combine this neo noir excitement, cool all into a stiff and motionless board game but still maintain the excitement.

My idea is a two player game. The players start the game by drafting from an open set of cards. Next, is the combat in an arena with the weapons which were drafted. Each player knows what their opponent drafted, so they must fight to their opponents weakness. I envisage the combat to be a programming game where each player simultaneously plays a card, which they both activate at the same time. The loser is the first to lose their health and this leads to the final stage of the game. The loser will act as the villain and the winner as the hero. That's as far as I have got so far.

The next stage is implementation. I will start with the second act, the combat, and this will influence the first act. Time to take my pills, red or blue?
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Fri Aug 24, 2018 12:00 pm
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Social Deduction- Reviewing the board game media- Spielbox

Adam Majewski
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Eindhoven
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Welcome to my newer, better, sexier and more violent blog! I go Foam Bananas over games and want to share my enthusiasm with you! Twice weekly I will be putting out new articles about games. For the weekly contents go to my user profile.


SOCIAL DEDUCTION

"Reviewing the board game media- Spielbox"



"Shiny magazine of pleasure- no not that one"


I've been reading magazines since I was a young one. Nice glossy pages of screen shots of all the upcoming computer games. There's nothing more relaxing than sitting back on the couch, with a nice drink and reading about your favourite past time. That is why I have decided to write about Spielbox in my first "Social Deduction" segment.

Spielbox is a German magazine, which is translated into English, which primarily concerns itself with reviewing the latest games. The magazine also contains editorials, interviews, special features and almost always a free promo. They have a team of writers which I imagine to be old men in their 50s, choking on their cigar smoke, telling tales of their long suffering spouses over a whiskey. Every now and then they play a game and write a review. Despite this the layout is vibrant, the quality is excellent and it has certainly inspired me to write a little better. The reviews are a few hundred words long and is marked out of 10. If any of the other reviewers have played the game, they place their mark out of 10 followed, usually, with a one sentence remark. It's a nice feature. I have been reading it for a number of years and have got to learn the personality of each reviewer. Udo Bartsch is a harsh reviewer, Matthias Hardel (the editor) loves most games and Edwin Ruschitzka tends to prefer the lighter games.

The editorial is informative and pushes the zeitgeist of the day. There are limited news reports and a section for tweaks and variations in games for people who like that thing. I usually find the multi issue report about game mechanics long and cumbersome. Other than the reviews, I can wholly recommend the interviews and convention reports. Relevant and informative, the reporting gives you a feel for the personality of the designers and the buzz of the conventions.

Sit down, relax and drink a cup of tea. Disconnect yourself from the internet and enjoy the simple pleasures (Spielbox is now available digitally). There are very few board game magazines but this one, is all you need!
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Mon Aug 20, 2018 12:00 pm
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