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Behind The Bloggers – Northern Dice

Xia photo

This month, Northern Dice is in the hotseat to answer our difficult questions. With so many great games out there what will he pick to be his favourite?

What Is Your Favourite Board Game?

My favourite? I mean it’s an unfair question to ask for one favourite! And if you ask me this tomorrow, I’ll give you a wholly different answer. However, today I’ll have to go with the incredibly asymmetric and superbly chaotic Cosmic Encounter with all the bells and whistles of its many expansions!

Cosmic Encounter was the game that got me into modern board gaming a long while back. A rocket ride of an introduction! But one that has stuck with me is a game that boasts player interaction as its top focus. You’re constantly interacting with others and vying to control others’ alien planets. You’re kicking them out of their homes and taking over the place to claim Cosmic Supremacy!

As you negotiate for alliances and beg for help defending your outposts, you’ll build a political relationship with other players. But trust is a fragile thing. Greed trumps all! Those last second betrayals stick with you making for some beautifully devastating outcomes. Drama doesn’t come close to cutting it!

As for that asymmetry? I’m a sucker for a unique experience and Cosmic Encounter guarantees one every game. And I mean every game. There’s so many races to make use of with a plethora of unique abilities. My favourites from the core game include the Masochist who wins by losing, the Gambler who can bluff their cards and the Shadow who can take enemy ships out one at a time!

Some are truly powerful, others perfect for in a pinch and a few can really break the game’s dynamics! But does a beefed up alien affinity give you a guaranteed victory? Absolutely not. The majority of the game is down to your poker face over your alien skills. But those alien skills can definitely contribute. Overall, I’ve had some insane games of Cosmic Encounter that I’ll never forget.

What Board Game Would You Recommend To Get Someone Into Gaming?

Tricky question. I immediately want folks to start on the heavy stuff. Experiencing those highs and lows, the payoff of a big plan and seeing a solid few rounds’ work come to fruition in a grand reveal.

However! I’m fully aware that not everyone wants to run before they can walk. Many would prefer to see mechanics and themes in a tame way where you don’t need to be a tactician of the highest regard or know six tomes of lore to appreciate the game. I guess it depends on what flavour of “gateway game” you fancy digging into… and my two go to’s are dice and deduction.

To get someone into gaming with dice, I’d start with Sagrada. Sagrada is a very pretty game that’s super simple to pick up and play. Pick a window to complete, roll dice, draft and place following rules, rinse and repeat. It’s lovely in all the right ways and has a beautiful aesthetic to it (you’re literally making a stained glass window after all!).

Once you’ve got the basics down, you can then begin to consider your private goals, public goal and the use of the tools to help you achieve those. There’s no guaranteed winning strategy making the experience less valuable.  It’s impossible to master, ensuring they’re never at a disadvantage.

To get someone into gaming with deduction, I’d dishonestly go with Coup. Dishonestly being the operative word as this game is a social deduction to a tee! You get two cards showing two roles that are kept secret, and you also get a card telling you all the other roles’ abilities.

After that, you can more or less do anything so long as you don’t get caught lying! The aim of the game is to eliminate other players by forcing them to reveal cards on a lie, or by gaining 7+ coins to Coup them. Player elimination isn’t usually a go to mechanic for me. But Coup plays so fast and with such high interaction that it’s immediately forgiven!

The tension and drama caused by a card’s reveal is mad.  You’ll develop tricks and figure out ways to work out the competition. If you want to introduce someone to games and have a few players who can talk the talk, (and even those who can’t!) then Coup is what I’d go to!

You Can Only Pick Three Games To Play For The Rest Of Your Life, What Are They?

If I could only play three games forever? Hoo boy now you’re just being mean… But I’ll bite and take a punt at picking!

For my first choice, I guess I’d stick to my classic favourites: sci-fi fantasy, a lot of freedom and some miniatures. So, Xia Legends of a Drift System is a no brainer. The whole game runs on a sandbox system of “do what you want, be who you want”. But this is constrained within the mechanics it sets out. Your goal is to earn reputation points and you can do so in a multitude of ways.

Piracy, mercenary work, bounty hunting and trading, mining.  These are all viable strategies, all functional and can be tailored easily. There’s lots of scope to customise your ship to ensure you can fulfil your goals with ease! You’ll be blowing your friends to smithereens with a big ol’ cannon stuck to your ship’s front in no time! What’s more is its generic space theme that doesn’t lend itself too heavily to any franchise. A heavier and longer game than many others, but one I’d keep on the table forever if I could!

My second game for life? Something somewhat lighter. Betrayal At House On The Hill is a game very close to my heart and our most played game. I bought it on a whim after accidentally getting its Widow’s Walk expansion and it’s never left our collection! You and your cooperators rock up at a house, investigate and lay room tiles to build the manor. But, as the game progresses, some spooky happenings happen.  Someone becomes a traitor with their own end game goal.

It’s tense, thematic, often cheesy but oh so addictive! We have no end of moments of pure glee and joy as we reveal traitors and go head to head with our ex-accomplices. (Plus, the Legacy version builds into this and allows you to narrate the history of this house and create your own customised version of the game! It’s a great experience!)

My final choice? Well, it’s a toughie to pick. But, I have to stick to my survival horror and eldritch roots. Bloodborne The Board Game is a game set within its video game counterpart’s world. You run through scenarios as a Hunter on any night of the Hunt. You slay beasts, gain insight, uncover mysteries and fight back the scourge of beasts brought on by the Old Blood.

It’s so wonderfully thematic and true to the original content! What’s more is that its chock full of my guilty pleasure… miniatures. So, so many miniatures! All grotesquely detailed and wonderfully created.   It’s undoubtedly one of the most aesthetically pleasing games I own when out on the table. Also, it’s cooperative! The dark feel and eldritch undertones aren’t for everyone I’ll admit, but for me it’s spot on. Dark, dizzying depths of lore, beasts and other horrors. Absolute perfection!

So, there you have it, Northern Dice made it through our difficult questions! Now I’m off to check out some of his picks. I must admit, I have never played Cosmic Encounter, despite it being such a well known game. Coup is also a game I’m intrigued to look into now for evenings with non-gaming friends. There are always so many great board games to check out.

Next month, I will be speaking to Hannah Blacknell to see what her picks are, so don’t forget to check back then.