Maven Games

Maven Games is a boardgames publisher, based in Nottingham, UK, and built up around the community at the The Dice Cup (a boardgame cafe). It is linked with the Boardgame Opinions YouTube channel and is run by Jonathan Hicks. The blog contains articles on a wide variety of topics, from gaming to publishing to living in community.

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War of the Ring: The Collector’s Edition

Jonathan Hicks
United Kingdom
Nottingham
Nottinghamshire
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War of the Ring is one of my Top 30 Games of All Time.  I’ve played it a fair bit over the years, mostly with my Boardgame Opinions compatriot Mark Windle, since he owns a copy.  It’s a fantastic game in many ways.

A few years after the original release though, they announced a Collector’s Edition – a limited one-time-only print run with outstanding components (and a price to match).  Ever since, I have dreamed of one day owning and playing a copy.  After waiting many years, a recent windfall finally allowed my dream to come true…


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Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:05 pm
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Pie Face (part 1)

Nathan Cooper
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An undisputed classic of the heavy strategy genre, the mechanics of Pie Face are notoriously difficult to master. Indeed the skill cap for this game is so high that even people who have played it many hundreds of times can still improve just as fast as complete novices. The (famously unpredictable) game dynamics can change completely in a single turn, and experts as well as beginners can suddenly find themselves in a very sticky situation. So, what is it that makes Pie Face one of the all-time greats of hardcore strategy gaming, and what is the best way to master the complex and game-changing decisions players have to make on every single turn? Let’s find out.


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Wed Aug 22, 2018 9:42 pm
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KS Spotlight: Solomon Kane

Jonathan Hicks
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I went to Mythic Day last month.  Mythic Games is the company behind the very successful Solomon Kane Kickstarter.  They are based in France, but they decided to host an event day at Warboar Games (a boardgame café) in London where they were demoing their games.

Mythic Games came to fame with another very successful Kickstarter: Mythic Battles.  It was co-published with Monolith, but rather strangely Mythic Games parted ways with Monolith and sold the rights to their eponymous Mythic Battles.  Monolith now owns the game, despite the fact that the designer (Benoit Vogt) runs Mythic Games.

Anyway, politics aside, Mythic Games currently has two games in the pipeline: Solomon Kane and Time of Legends: Joan of Arc, which had another very successful Kickstarter last year.  These games were being demoed at Mythic Day and I was very impressed with both of them.  We’re going to focus on Solomon Kane today though…


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Wed Aug 15, 2018 4:21 pm
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How do you store your games?

Jonathan Hicks
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When I was a student, I remember getting together with a bunch of other students to play Talisman.  A friend of mine used to play it a lot as a child and reckoned we’d all enjoy it.  I’d never played it before, so was curious to try it, but never again!  It turned out to be a long, draw-out affair with copious amounts of randomness.  I did badly.  Not that I’m bitter or anything…

My reason for bringing this up though, is that our host had more games than I’d ever seen in my life.  In fact, he had an entire shelf of games.  They were piled haphazardly (this was before box sizes became relatively standardised) and he must have had nigh on twenty games.  Twenty!  Boy, was I jealous.

Of course, my perspective has changed rather these days, but at the time I think I had three or four games.  I couldn’t imagine having twenty games in my wildest dreams.  I remember mentally totting up how much it would cost to buy all of those games.  It was hundreds of pounds!  On games!

I’m getting side-tracked again though.  What I really want to talk about today is storage.  The last time I counted (which was a few years ago), I had over a hundred games.  I dread to think how many I have now.  I keep meaning to sell some of them, but I’m a compulsive hoarder.  So last weekend my thoughts turned to storage.  How do you store your games?


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Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:16 pm
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Explaining Games – and Other Stuff (part 1)

Nathan Cooper
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As a fully trained physicist, I know the secret of explaining something well: you just have to remember that the most important thing you need to get across is how much smarter you are than the person you are explaining it to. The more you ridicule and patronise them the better – nothing will make people like and respect you more than conclusively proving your intellectual superiority.

So, since ordinary people are often very bad at explaining things, I will now tell everyone how they ought to be doing it. Be sure to pay close attention. This can be a challenging subject for people – such as yourself no doubt – who have only limited experience of thinking.


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Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:25 pm
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How to Read Out Loud like a Pro

Jonathan Hicks
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I was playing Near and Far last night.  It’s a worker-placement game crossed with an adventure game.  Having collected various resources and hired companions in town, you venture off into the wilderness and have adventures!

Each adventure spot has a number associated with it and you look up the number in a big book.  It provides you with a short story describing some kind of encounter and then offers you a couple of choices as to how you might respond to what you find.  Depending on your choice, a conclusion will be read out and if successful, you’ll receive a reward.

So a large part of the game involves reading sections of story out loud.  A lot of people find this quite difficult.  It might seem like a rather odd topic for a blog post, but today I thought we could tackle the subject of how to do that well.  How can you learn to read out loud like a pro?


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Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:11 pm
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Pretty Clever

Jonathan Hicks
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I’ve never really been into roll-and-write games.  I played plenty of Yahtzee as a kid, which was fine, but the whole system felt outdated to me.  However, roll-and-write games seem to have made something of a resurgence in recent years.

I was pleasantly surprised by titles such as Harvest Dice and Dice Stars.  They’re a bit lighter than the kind of game I usually like to play, but there was enough strategy to keep me interested.  When I heard that one of the Kennerspiel des Jahres nominees this year was a roll and write though, I was astonished.

The Kennerspiel is the strategy game of the year and the nominees are a step up in complexity from the lighter Spiel des Jahres nominees; they’re usually what I would call medium weight at least.  Could a roll-and-write game be sufficiently involved for a Kennerspiel nomination?  You bet it could!  Let me tell you about Pretty Clever…


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Mon Jul 2, 2018 3:44 pm
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My Top Games from UKGE 2018

Jonathan Hicks
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On the whole, I wasn’t overly impressed with the offering at the UK Games Expo this year.  I really enjoyed myself at the convention, but in terms of exciting new games to try, there wasn’t a lot that really interested me.

That being said, there were a few diamonds in the rough.  I didn’t get to try everything I wanted to (some games became booked out almost as soon as the show opened), but of the ones I played, these were my favourites…


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Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:01 pm
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Confused Drow mages play with letters (part 3)

Nathan Cooper
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Arise from your wage-dorms, cast aside your warm Doges and your dower mags, and if you are a gambler apply some wager-mods. This post will be no sog-warmed amalgamation of mowed rags, no sad gem row through which the hapless gamer morg-wades. Today we cut, saw-gormed, through the dewar smog and distill the very orgasm dew of truth from the subject of word games.



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Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:36 pm
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Heaven & Ale

Jonathan Hicks
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The Spiel nominees were announced recently and one of the surprise nominations was a game called Heaven & Ale.  It’s been nominated for the Kennerspiel des Jahres – the “Strategy Game of the Year” award.

Whereas the Spiel des Jahres games are meant to be light, family-weight games, the Kennerspiel are meant to be more complex, but still accessible to people with some gaming experience.  Previous winners include Istanbul and 7 Wonders.

How does Heaven & Ale stack up?  Is it likely to win?  Let’s take a look at it…


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Mon May 28, 2018 11:37 pm
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