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Game Of The Month July 2023

Game of the Month - Stomp The Plank

Rachael Duchavony - Stomp The Plank

Ahoy mateys, grab your elephants and get ready to ‘Stomp the Plank’. A fun family game for 2 to 4 players which mostly involves pushing your luck whilst searching Captain Giraffe’s chest for treasure.

During fast paced action, play moves from player to player around the ship. On your turn you will draw cards from a draw pile, the treasure chest, and lay out the treasure found onto a small playing board. But beware, finding a duplicate will force your poor elephant to walk one step further down the plank and could ‘seal’ his or her fate.

Tension mounts as every card turned forces you to face a gut-wrenching choice… take your chance turning a new card over revealing one more item of treasure hoping against all statistical odds that it doesn’t match any currently found. Or chicken out and stick with the treasure already uncovered.

As you place your stolen treasure along the small playing board you will clearly see what forfeits you can force upon your opponents. And by forfeit of course I mean making your opponent load small wooden discs to the bottom of their planks bringing a bit of dexterity to the game.

We’re going to need a bigger… erm… plank. Keep pushing your luck because if you draw 6 consecutively different items of treasure out of the chest you are hailed instant winner and feared and loved by elephant pirates far and wide. However, draw a duplicate and your poor elephant will be forced to walk one step further down the plank, quite probably with an imaginary cutlass pressed into his or her back.

The first person’s elephant to fall into the sea is declared the loser and left to the mercy of sharks and jellyfish. Shiver me timbers, there’s an elephant sinking over there!

Possibly the most important feature of my game of the month, to meeple loving me anyway, is the super cute little elephant mini’s you will play with. When Nelly packed up her bags and her old suitcase I don’t think this was what she had in mind! It’s quick, fun, full of giggles, tension, thrills and of course elephant spills. Grab your copy today… one could say, it’s elephantastic.

Dan Street Phillips - Spots

I have been waiting for a while for Spots to finally hit the shelves in the UK after being delayed before the UK Games Expo. It is a small box game but there is a lot in it. At its heart it is a push your luck dice rolling game but with super cute art. You have a series of cards in front of you, each with dogs of different breeds on them. But each dog is spotty and they all have spaces for dice on them to complete their spotty pattern. Your job is to select a trick, allowing you to do a certain power, and match your dice to the dog cards in front of you.

However, any dice you can’t place must be buried, but if you ever bury dice totalling eight or more, all of your dice are sent back to the supply. The tension of knowing when to stop rolling dice or to hold off for a big turn that will score you in a bigger way, is great. But the star of the show is John Bond’s gorgeous artwork. Each dog is uniquely named and each has a very specific character and it is a joy to add those cards to your tableaux. We have been playing it for two weeks now and because of its variability in trick cards, it presents a different puzzle each time you play. I’ve never been happier to be seeing spots!

Gillian Lee - Chronicles Of Crime

With the sun being out, there’s no better time to stay inside and explore board games (at least in my opinion). I’ve played so many really fun games this month, so it was difficult to choose but if we’re talking about a game that’s taken over my brain, it’s Chronicles of Crime. Throughout the game, it’s delightful to explore locations and see a new characters revealed as you go through the cases. I hadn’t thought much about combining an app with a board game, but for a detective game it makes complete sense.

The basics of Chronicles of Crime is that you’re a detective in Scotland Yard and you’re on the case. You really can start playing straight away, pinning evidence to the board, finding new locations and characters and solving the case based on your conclusions.

You use the app to scan evidence, talk to characters and use VR to explore the crime scene. Exploring the crime scene is my favourite, it’s the most immersive part of the game (though beware of dead people jump scares) and a bit of a memory exercise when playing solo as you try and remember the items you saw. I really like the art style of the game, it’s memorable and just the right line between cartoon and realistic, which is good cause the cases are pretty grizzly.

I love a murder mystery and being able to do that with a board game is a joy, the forensic employees are great and have really come through on multiple occasions. You really feel part of the story, more than a video game as you look through the crime scene and physically pin evidence to the board. I’ve gone through all the main cases of the game and I’d like to think I’ve got better at deducting as we’ve gone along. Though some of the cases feel a bit like 3D Chess and it’s like “How was I meant to come to that conclusion?”. But maybe that was just me, and it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the experience. And when I did get things right, it felt great. I can’t wait to try the rest of the Chronicles of Crime Time series now.

Pete Bartlam - Scythe

As soon as you take hold of the box of Scythe you know you are in for a treat. It’s massive, it’s weighty, the box-art is fantastic and it’s jam-packed with goodness. The thick, lavishly coloured 6-piece mapboard is one of the biggest I own but if you feel your living area is not sufficiently taken over there is another, larger hex version on the back to which you can add a cheeky extension and completely fill your table.

The chunky, wooden playing tokens are nice. The individual Mechs for the different combatants are fantastic and the five Faction Leader Miniatures are absolutely exquisite! If there are a finer group of miniatures in a mainstream boardgame I’ve yet to see it.

The gameplay is straighforward with a lot going on. Each of the Faction leaders has asymmetric powers giving a different slant to the same mechanics that all share. There are 5 different dual-layer Player mats that show the 4 Actions that you can chose from: Move, Produce, Trade and Bolster. Each has a Top Row the same for all and a Bottom Row with differing Costs and Benefits.

You Move about the board, in Hexes large enough to be considered area movement, place your workers and Produce Goods: Wood makes Buildings, Metal for the Mighty Mechs, Grain Enlists Recruits and Oil is used for Upgrades. In addition the Villages provide further Workers.

In the Centre of the board lies the mysterious Factory where your leader can go to learn new skills. They can also uncover Encounters which give further colour and randomness. Combat can, and does, occur but not as frequently as you might think and there are many ways to gain the Six Stars of Success. I now have the Rise of Fenris Campaign Expansion and will be embarking on that for the foreseeable future!

Clay - Coded Chronicles: Scooby-Doo Escape From The Haunted Mansion

Scooby-Doo - Escape From the Haunted Mansion is a puzzle game where players use number codes to find clues and solve a ghostly mystery. It is a game that I like to bring out for quiet nights in with friends since it’s a good laugh, takes a few hours and of course: who doesn’t like Scooby-Doo?

Most of the game is split between reading in-character texts from each of the Scooby-Doo cast and solving interactive puzzles. Every one of the five characters has a booklet where answers to problems, clues to the mystery and simple flavour dialogue can be found that help to flesh out the story of the game. The story itself sees our heroes seeking help at the mansion of a rich explorer who has left his home, with only his staff to occupy it, due to a haunting. Overall, it’s a standard Scooby-esque tale.

As someone who ADORES puzzles, the mix of visual and code breaking puzzles that are scattered throughout this game are so fun! They’re simple enough that anyone could take a good crack at them, but are perfect for solving as a team when everyone gets stuck into the game.

This month has seen the younger members of my family break up for the summer, so I had every excuse to drag a couple games to spend an evening celebrating - and this game was perfect for it.