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Five Games We Bought For Silly Reasons But Love Anyway


“Nobody’s perfect, you live and you learn it.” Those are the wise words of 21st-century philosopher Hannah Montana. It’s true. Even us Zatu bloggers make the occasional error. Here are some of the times we have purchased games but have gone a very clumsy way around it.  

A mistake by Nathan Coombs’ inner saboteur?

We all make mistakes- we’re human. Sometimes these mistakes can have fortuitous consequences. And so it turned out for my family. 

In the days before Covid, we played Saboteur with a few friends in a local Games Group. We were taken with its simplicity and the team spirit that was needed. On getting home I jumped online to purchase a copy and ended up getting Saboteur 2, thinking this was a second edition for a “bargain”. As it happens this was not so much of a cheap deal but an excuse to buy another game. Saboteur 2 is the expansion of the base game and in my excitement, I had not read the small print. 

This was my excuse when I explained this to my wife. Perhaps it’s better to ask for forgiveness later rather than permission beforehand! 

Having “successfully” acquired both Saboteur and Saboteur 2 I am pleased I made this school-boy error. The expansion allows for individual creativity with the addition of the geologist and foreman. There are two teams working semi cooperatively, but all under the cloud of suspicion as to who is the saboteur. There are still the same mechanisms at play with the need to lay cards to create a tunnel to the gold. Players gain gold coins depending on how they or their team do. The game is best with six or more players. Now that we’re returning to a sense of normality, I can now persuade my wife that my stupid mistake was actually a fortunate oversight that has given us a better gaming experience overall.

The time Callum Price was betrayed by his senses...

Man oh man did I once luck out with an accidental purchase. Not only did it become one of my most played games, but it also brought my gaming group into the fray of the hobby! I’ve since learned from the potential errors and now know to research the finer details and, since then, haven’t bought an expansion before a core game! My accidental purchase was The Widow’s Walk expansion for Betrayal At House On The Hill by Avalon Hill games.

The purchase occurred on an evening like any other; browsing Zatu, Boardgamegeek and every other tabletop forum for ideas… when I stumbled upon an article. This article, labelled Best Expansions to Enhance Gameplay, was the primary cause for this purchase. (That, and my inability to read clearly labelled titles!) I browsed the list leisurely, reading blurbs and final thoughts on these clearly labelled expansions… until I saw it. The artwork screamed horror, the blurb said traitor, it sounded too good to be true! What wasn’t to love? The moment I pressed order I was already sat at the door waiting on Royal Mail and messaging the gang that we had a mystery to solve… 

A few days later, it arrived. I immediately cracked the cardboard, removed the cellophane and began to greedily unbox the components. My first realisations came when I noticed the lack of character figures, tiles and tokens. It furthered when I glanced at the very scarce rules… the penny dropped when I read the large lettering that said, “Requires Betrayal Base Game”. It was a real moment of learning to check my purchases! But that said, it was possibly my best accidental purchase. When the core game arrived, we couldn’t get it off the table! It was hit after hit of unique play and adventures surrounding a betrayal each time. 

Prevention wouldn’t have led to The Cure for Luke Pickles

The problem with some games is that when they’re popular, new variants come out and you don’t notice. And if those new variants are popular, there’s an expansion. But to the story of how I messed up (in a good way.) 

Like many game stores, when my FLGS re-opened last summer, they held a sale to get punters through the door. They had up to 75% off on some items, so I was happy. On the table, I saw something that may have made people shudder at the time – the word “Pandemic.” I picked up the box and looked it over. I saw the word “expansion,” then the discount sticker and tucked it under my arm. Merrily I went to the till along with the other games I had picked up, and the chap behind the counter said, “oh do you have the base game?”  

I said, “my flatmate does” and off I went. When I got home, I studied the box a little closer. I realised that I’d overlooked a detail. The game was actually called Pandemic: The Cure: Experimental Meds. 

A super-expansion for Pandemic: The Cure. 

A game neither of us had.  


Back to the shop I went to buy the base game. 

As it turned out, Pandemic: The Cure is a really fun dice rolling variant of Pandemic, which has the added challenge of not being able to remove the diseases from the game. Each character also has their own dice which gives a number of actions, which you can press your luck on to try and get the right moves for you. However, push it too far, and you’ll end up with a sudden surge of the disease. This version of the game is an excellent refresh of the classic and I can highly recommend it… even if I never meant to buy it myself

John Hunt’s illness made him play hard with A-Vengeance

Not exactly bought in error, but definitely bought on a whim, or while my head wasn’t straight. This got ordered when I was sick a few years ago with a nasty dose of gastric flu. Miserable three or four days where I was feeling lousy and trying to get as much sleep as possible. In between a lot of napping, I read a bit. I can’t really remember how I came upon this online somewhere, but it got inside my head. I felt like treating myself and I really liked the look of the art style and the massive praise it got from review sites about its engagement with the theme of payback movies. Craving something simple enough and a bit trashy but filled with evocative play and action – I gave Vengeance a whirl.  

I wasn’t disappointed. As it arrived and I started to feel better. I got plenty out of the solo to begin with, and then once properly better it got good table time with my game group. I love the choice of messed-up, anti-heroic movie stereotypes you play. The cinematic flow of the game is really clever. Montage turns, improving your character, getting gear and scoping the gang hideouts are hugely evocative. The fighting itself is a fun tactical puzzle as you roll a handful of dice and then use your abilities to swap faces and efficiently eliminate the particular blend of foes in the hideout you are clearing. And all of this is wrapped in a push your luck game: deciding which bosses you are pursuing; balancing how much they have hurt you (and reduced various stats) with the growing prize of victory points available. Combine all this with great production values and twisted, graphic novel art - Vengeance was a winning purchase. If you like Old Boy, you’d love Vengeance. 

Sometimes the boxes are a machi for each other… - Craig Smith

I’m going to set you a challenge if you have the Machi Koro base game, as well as Harbour and Millionaire’s Row expansions. Place them next to each other and cover the titles. Can you remember which is which? No? They’re pretty similar, aren’t they? Like… REALLY similar. Similar to the point where you might buy the expansion, thinking you’d bought the base game.  

I think you know where this is going, dear reader.  

My boyfriend and I went for a weekend away together and stumbled across a small board game shop. I saw the bright blue box of a game I had wanted to purchase for ages. I went and paid for it, exclaiming that we must play it as soon as we got back to the hotel.  

And then, a Callum-like realisation dawned on me: this was an expansion requiring a base game.  

I was too embarrassed to return to the shop and admit my mistake (especially as I had mentioned in passing that I was a guest blogger for Zatu, so they probably thought I knew what I was doing). As soon as I got back to the hotel, I went onto the Zatu site and bought the base game.  

Since I purchased it, it has become a firm family favourite and has been played pretty much every week. The expansions add extra levels of meanness and strategy. So, whilst I did intend to buy the game, the way it happened was a complete rookie error.