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Game Of The Month January 2023

game of the month star wars rebellion

Wow, we're in the month of love - February - already! Let's see what our bloggers chose for their game of the month for January!

Star Wars Rebellion - Jim Cohen

January has been a great month of games for me, with many old favourites hitting my table. I like to start the year playing games I love. Games I know well so I don’t have to learn new rules. Generally, games in my top 10. I was especially delighted to get a chance to play my number one game of all time, Star Wars Rebellion. Delighted, because Star Wars Rebellion is not easy to get to the table for three reasons. One, it is long. You are talking 3-5 hours per game. Not everyone has that time. Two, it’s only two players, so limited to certain gaming occasions. And three, and this is the biggy. It’s so good it will stop you thinking about any other game, person, or thing for a few weeks! It will take over your mind. You will become obsessed with what you did, what you could have done, and what you will do next time you play. Which may not be for a while!

For clarity, you can play in a four, but its terrible. Don’t do that. But if you do get a chance to play this in a two, and you have an afternoon free, with a friend available and willing, oh my! You are in for a treat. The game recreates the original trilogy in board game form. The events of the films won’t happen in the same order. And certainly not with the same outcomes. But make no mistake. This is Star Wars: The Board game. If you are a fan, you will be immersed in the world created by George Lucas and quite possibly smiling for a week afterwards. This is the ultimate cardboard Star Wars experience. As usual when playing Star Wars Rebellion, I lost. I have a 100% loss record at this game. Which for a five hour (average) experience for me, makes the fact this is my favourite game off all time, even more staggering! Anyone got a free afternoon?

Frostpunk - Matt Thomasson

….And just like that we are in 2023. Wow, time flies. At the back end of 2022 I received a game, a game that I had been anticipating for a while. In January I got that game played, again and again and again. That game is the dark, the gritty and the cold, Frostpunk.

Frostpunk is a cooperative, post-apocalyptic survival game about living in one of the last remaining settlements in a cold and harsh environment. The game is long and complex with very important decisions to be made. The story that this game tells can be one of sorrow and hardship, but it tells a very compelling narrative. You and your fellow players will be working together to make decisions for the future of the settlement. You will be performing actions to construct buildings, send out scouting explorations, mine coal for the fuel generator and simply try to survive a harsh and cold environment. You decide if you want to be a leader based on fear and tyranny or a leader who values laws and equality.

There is a huge generator which governs the “heat” of your settlement. This will determine what actions are performed as cold or warm. Performing cold actions makes your citizens sick, but sometimes you desperately need to do that action. Food is also scarce and you need to feed your people each round. The choices are tough and sometimes you need to make the hard decision to not feed people or send them out to get sick. It is tough, it is gritty, it is very compelling.

There is a ton of replayability in this game. There are different scenarios, buildings, expeditions, technologies and events each will add to your narrative story. It is however, a long game, taking usually 2+ hours for the gameplay, with the setup being fairly lengthy as well. But it is very much worth it. This is a game that I can’t wait to play again, I want to delve into this world and the stories that this game tells.

Roll Player - Kirsty Hewitt

I have always enjoyed puzzly games such as Sagrada . More recently, I have also got into Dungeons and Dragons. So, Roll Player was a game which I was very interested in, and I jumped at the opportunity to play it in a local board game cafe. Safe to say, I enjoyed it so much it got a place in my collection.

Whilst I have had Roll Player in my collection for a while, it has hit the table a few times this month, always to a good time. For a start there is a lot of fun to be had just from your character. You draw a dice which gives you a choice between two classes. Then you are assigned a card card with a brief piece about your character on. My husband always comes up with amusing little backstories for his characters! Although your character’s history doesn’t matter for the mechanics of the game, it is fun.

During the game you are trying to match various parameters on your character and backstory cards. For example you might need a purple dice in the second space of your charisma track. But meeting all the criteria to get maximum points requires a lot of clever planning. Each of your six stats gives you an ability when you place a die in that row. This helps in meeting those criteria. As do weapons, skills and traits which you can gain at the market. The game is a great puzzle of trying to maximise the stars you can get by using your abilities to manipulate the dice in the right way.

I enjoy Roll Player. It is a great game, with a fun puzzle and an appealing theme. I am looking forward to it hitting the table again next month.

Ascension: Tactics - Rob Wright

I am writing this on day 906 of January. It has been a long month, but fortunately there have been moments and glimpses of hope and solace in the darkness. One of these has been the Net of Flicks, with its endless stream of visual delights. The other is a game that genre blends with gay abandon – Ascension: Tactics.

Ever since I saw a video of this back in October (I had known of its existence back in 2021, but had quailed at the price of the Kickstarter), I had wanted to have a go. I finally got around to acquiring it at the beginning of this year, and let me tell you it was well worth the wait.

If you are familiar with the deck-builder Ascension and its many iterations, you will already be familiar with its drive mechanism: draw five cards, use your prism crystals to purchase cards from the central row, use your red cards to fight. Only now, you are not fighting monsters; you are fighting your opponents for control of the board. Your red cards now activate your champions and/or your acquired monsters, which allows them to move and fight, so there is a real trick to balancing spending and fire power.

So far, I have mainly been about doing the ‘hold the line’ scenario, both against humans and solo, but that is just the snowflake on the tip of the iceberg – there’s a whole book of suggested scenarios for player counts from one to four, as well a cooperative campaign for up to four players. Seriously, if you like Ascension (or deck-builders in general), turn-based strategy games and/or Overwatch, then this game scratches all those itches and more besides. Now, if only I could win a game…

It's A Wonderful World - Joe Packham

My game of the month for January is not a new game, it’s not even a “new to me” game. No, It’s A Wonderful World has been in my collection for two whole years. Not only has it stood the test of time, but it’s trumped all other games to be my most played game of January. What an accolade!

There are a few reasons for IAWW’s vaunted position this month. It is, obviously, a wonderful game. It’s also light on rules with a short playtime and instantly rewarding gameplay. These qualities made it a sure fire hit with the stream of family members that graced our table over the holidays. Some gamers, most non-gamers, but everyone enjoyed the card drafting goodness of IAWW. That same ease of play makes it an ideal box to pull off the shelf when you want a nice comfortable, fun game. Nothing too taxing but always enjoyable.

Here’s the kicker though, the thing that’s kept it on the table for days on end: Leisure & Decadence! What the heck is that I hear you ask. Well following on from War or Peace campaign, Leisure & Decadence is the second campaign expansion for IAWW containing 6 playable scenarios with secret boxes, envelopes and hidden content coming out of its ears! I won’t say too much about this expansion as it is built around unlocking secret content as you play but we… are… loving it! The really great news is that despite originally being a Kickstarter exclusive, this neat campaign expansion is available to pre-order from Zatu. So even if you missed out on the heritage edition of Its A Wonderful World you can still soon enjoy all the legacy style (no components are permanently defaced or destroyed) fun.

Wow, it really is a wonderful world!