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Game Of The Month July 2022

Red Cathedral

Red Cathedral - Favouritefoe

Wowza this month was a hot one, and I don’t just mean the weather! The Red Cathedral by DEVIR hit our table for the first time and it has raised our temperatures in the best possible way!

Red Cathedral is an easy to learn euro-game with a central resource producing rondel action.  In the game, you’re playing engineers seeking to create Tsar Ivan the Terrible's dream Cathedral. Your goal is to win the glory and prestige that goes along with being his best builder!

Each game has a random blueprint for the Cathedral design made from cards showing bottom, middle and dome sections – the number of cards is based on player count. Every turn, you get to choose one of three actions: (1) erect scaffolding (i.e. reserve a Cathedral card) (2) build (or decorate) a Cathedral section or (3) take resources from the rondel market. 3. To build i.e. complete contracts for money and points, you have to have reserved a tower section first and have the right resources to allocate to it. The market rondel is where you get resources - moving dice around and picking stuff up. And if you work the rondel right and there is more than one dice in the section you move to, the amount you get is multiplied! You can also use Guild influence for bonus actions as well as activate any related workshop tiles for more goodies on your go! Building doesn't stop at bricks and mortar either. You can decorate any completed section with adornments for additional points! There are also anytime actions, but these come at a price!

We instantly clicked with Red Cathedral. It's thinky but not heavy. It's crunchy but not AP inducing. Plus we can play a game in under an hour and it has an awesome rondel! There may only be 3 main actions, but you can create some sweet combos that turn them into much more! Given its euro-y, calm, easy to learn dice/resource allocation gameplay and muted colour palette, it has an almost Castles of Burgundy vibe for us and that's a great thing! It plays really well at 2P and the variable setup also makes it highly replayable. I can’t wait for the expansion which is due later this year – that’s going to be a scorcher!

Tapestry - Rachel Page

My board game collection has got out of control. There are shelves full of games and some are even still in their plastic. And yet, every time we are looking for something to play, we go for Tapestry.

You really can’t go wrong with a Stonemaier game, but Tapestry is by far my favourite. The thing that makes it stand out for me is how varied it is. The whole game is very asymmetrical meaning that each time you play, it is a completely different game. You can earn your victory points from any of the four tracks, so if you want you pick a different one each time. There is no “right” way to play the game.

The variation also comes in the civilisations. Each time you play as a different civilisation. This gives you additional skills and bonuses. It also gives you a focus. Some of the civilisations are best suited to technology, some exploration, others military. So even if you normally like to play games aggressively, you might be paired with the Isolationists or Merrymakers and you have to rethink. There are so many options that I don’t even have a favourite. I like trying something new each time.

We play this so much that we bought both expansions to add even more variety. Plans and Ploys just  adds more cards, which is not a bad thing. Arts and Architecture adds a whole new track. This means that when you are playing with the full 5 players, there is less fighting for space. Though you can leave in the new cards, but leave off the track if you like the battle…

One of the main things I want from a game is replayability and Tapestry has that. No two games are the same and I love it.

Viticulture World - Tom Harrod

Stonemaier Games’ Viticulture is one of my personal ‘Top 10’ games. I love the theme (winemaking); I adore the setting (Tuscany, Italy). It features my favourite mechanisms (worker placement). Plus hey: it has amazing wooden meeples and buildings-galore! So you can imagine my delight when I got my paws on the latest expansion: Viticulture World.

I’ll assume you know Viticulture as a game (if not, head here!). Viticulture World does two fresh and fruity things, uncorking a brand new flavour into the base game. First up: this is a co-operative experience. That’s right: you’re no longer racing to try and hit that 20 (or 25, in Tuscany) point marker first, to win. Here, every player has to earn 25 points, before the end of six years (rounds). Plus, you need to get your collective Influence up to 10 Points, on a separate track.

This is fascinating, because you need to spend the start of each year working as a team. You need to ensure your plans won’t block each other with your workers. You need to utilise your Grande, because it has an extra feature, when used. You can trade one item with another player, when you place your Chief Worker. (This was crucial to us winning in Year Six! Don’t ignore it!)

It also flips the Summer and Winter Guest Cards on their heads. Many of them function where you gain something, at the cost of giving something to your opponents. (Whether that’s a free action, points, wine, or a mixture.) You use the same Guest Cards from Viticulture. Here you treat the term ‘opponent’ on any of the cards as ‘teammate’. That means with smart hand-management, you can play Guests that end up boosting fellow players!

The second neat trick is there are seven Continent Decks. Each one adds a different challenging narrative angle to the gameplay. You reveal a new card at the start of each Year, each having unique rules, requirements, or boons. They all range in difficulty too, so there’s seven different modes to play!

And I haven’t even mentioned the series of Innovation Tiles. You can pay to overlay these onto the board to improve the worker placement spots. They’re revealed in a shuffled order each time, resulting in a near-infinite array of modular set-ups. My goodness. Never mind Game of the Month. This might be my game of the year…

Creature Comforts - Joe Packham

We’ve all done it! Bought a game based purely on the theme or art with no clue wether it’ll actually be any good to play. Sometimes it works out very nicely, thanks Everdell! Other times, well… not so much.

Creature Comforts was one such gamble for me. The adorable animeeples, the cutesy art, custom dice. I’d pressed buy before I even looked at the description. Happily this game proved to be on the “worked out very nicely” end of the spectrum. In fact I’d say I was even pleasantly surprised by how good Creature Comforts is.

The art and components were obviously every bit as gorgeous as advertised. The surprise came from the fact that I was expecting a very simple family weight game with fairly limited room for strategy or interesting decision points. Boy did I underestimate this one. I mean it’s still firmly in the light/medium complexity range but the mechanics allow for some genuinely engaging  and enjoyable gameplay without being too taxing.

Creature Comforts is a worker placement game, but it’s also a dice placement game. Usually in dice placement the dice ARE your workers, not here. In CC you place your workers on the actions you want to achieve, THEN you roll your dice and assign dice to workers. Each action has a certain pip value it needs assigned in order to complete it. So the succes of an action relies on information that’s hidden when you select it. This adds a layer of tension and excitement and also means players must build their engines of cards which help mitigate these all important dice rolls.

Coupled with the unique action spots and events that occur each round and the powerful synergies available between comfort cards and CC is a genuinely fun and challenging game that any gamer should enjoy! You can’t always judge a board game by it’s cover, but sometimes when you do it becomes your Game of the Month!

Dice Hospital Community Care - Stefano Paravisi

July has been a very busy month both at work and at home but it has also been a great month for playing board games.  In particular, I had the opportunity to introduce a couple of new friends to one of my all time favorite games: Dice Hospital. My wife and my son also love this game and it was great to play it again after leaving it on a shelf for a while. Considering how much fun we had trying again all the variants included in Community care, Dice Hospital is definitely my game of the month.

The best aspect of Dice Hospital is how well the mechanics matches the theme of the game. As the title may spoil, your aim is to run a successful hospital by treating as many sick patients as possible. To achieve your goal, you need to constantly move your patients and nurses around the hospital to provide medical care. Even if patients are anonymous but colorful dice, you really feel the pressure of getting them to feel better.

The expansion, Community care, adds three great modules to the game that could be played independently or mixed-up. In the first one, you could pick the patients you prefer directly from the town instead of having them randomly delivered by your ambulance. In the second one you are allowed to invest to improve your treatment rooms to make them more efficient. The last one adds maternity wards to your hospital and some big and small pink dice representing mothers and newborns. This is my favorite of the three modules and it is really fun to play.