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Game Of The Month November 2022

game of the month - paint the roses

We're now into the Christmas season AKA, the last month of the year! What has been our Zatu bloggers Game of the Month on the end of year wind-down?

Paint The Roses - Craig Smith

Gaming wise, November has been a great month for me. I’ve finally got to see if Ark Nova lives up to the hype (spoiler: it does) and I had nearly an entire week where my partner and I just played board games. He prefers playing cooperative games, so one game which hit the table more than any other was Paint the Roses.

In this Alice in Wonderland themed game, you’re cultivating the Queen of Hearts’ Garden. Each player has a whim card which tells them that they need to place tiles on the board in a certain pattern, either colour to colour, shape to shape, or shape to colour. Once you have taken a tile and placed it on the board, you play a number of cubes to show how many matches you’ve created. Using deduction, other players then must work out which pattern is on your card. Guess correctly, and you move your miniature around the scoring track.

The aim of the game is to stay ahead of the Queen of Hearts, who moves at the end of every round. If you make any wrong guesses, she then moves at double speed. It’s not so bad at the start of the game, as she only moves one space at a time. However, as you pass the white rabbit checkpoints, she then increases her speed by one. If you complete the garden and you haven’t been caught, you win. If she catches or overtakes you, your head gets chopped off… in the game.

As someone who loves logic puzzles, I am a massive fan of deduction games. It can be frustrating when the tiles you need aren’t there to choose from, but sometimes giving a clue about what the answer isn’t is equally as important. It’s unlike any other cooperative game I have in my collection, and we look forward to playing it more and more.

Memoir '44 - Stefano Paravisi

If I look back to all the games I played in November, the one that deserves the crown of my Game of the Month is for sure Memoir '44. I brought it back to the table at the end of October after it has been on my shelf for a while and it was like meeting an old friend that meant a lot to me.

In case you have not had the chance to stumble upon it, Memoir ’44 is war game that includes miniature play and card management. Each game is based on a scenario that represents an historical battle of World war II (hence the “44” in the title) and it usually requires 2 players taking the roles of Axis and Allied forces. The base game could also be expanded adding more scenarios, new forces, and increasing the size of the map to recreate large-scale battles for multiple players.

The first thing I loved in this game is how good the components are. The double sided boards, the tiles, and all the tokens are as sturdy as they are colourful. The miniatures look great on the table, do not require assembly and they are not easy to be damaged. All great features for a game you want to quickly bring to the table and that could be played by younger gamers.

Looking deeper in the game, the rules and game mechanics are the characteristics I love the most in this game. Being based on Richard Borg's Commands & Colors system, this game provides a light wargame experience that is at the same time very accessible but quite strategic. These two aspects are achieved by having a deck of command cards that are distributed randomly to the players. Each one of these cards allows a player to activate one or more units in one or more sectors of the field or to carry out a special action.

In order to win, players need to carefully plan which card to play and when, in order to balance the randomness of dice rolling and card drafting. Such a simple system and such a great fun!

Obsession Board Game - Matt Thomasson

November has come and gone in a whirlwind of new deliveries and new games played. There can only be one Game of the Month so who is going to take the mantle this month

My game of the Month is not a new game, it is in fact a game from 2018. That’s right everyone, I still play and enjoy games from four years ago. I recently acquired Obsession and I am, well, kind of obsessed with it. The cover does not do it justice, in fact the whole aesthetics of the game do not draw me in. The gameplay on the other hand is top notch.

Think Downton Abbey the board game and you get some idea of Obsession. You play as the head of a troubled family set in 19th century Victorian England. You will be hosting various events such as afternoon tea, whisk, bowls and tennis in an attempt to gain favour with the Fairchilds.

Each turn you will host an event, assigning various workers (such as a butler, footman and ladies maid) to help run these events. Players will select gentry (cards) from their hand to attend the event and gain various bonuses based on the guests attending. Bonuses include money, reputation and more gentry cards. Players can then purchase new buildings to improve their Estate and provide further activities to host on future turns.

The game is very tight. Money is not easy to come by and you have to carefully manage your gentry cards and your worker availability. On top of this, after every three rounds there is a courtship round in which one of the four areas of your estate are evaluated. The player who has the most VP in the specific area can add one of the powerful Fairchild cards to their hand.

The game has a lot going on but it is relatively simple in the gameplay. I love the hand management and worker management aspect of it and it doesn’t take too long to play. There is a bit of randomness in the game based on what you draw, but apart from that I have been really enjoying Obsession and I have already purchased the Upstairs, Downstairs expansion.

Metro X - Kirsty Hewitt

I have found myself travelling about a lot this month. So my game of the month is a game which can slip in a bag to travel with you. All you need to play Metro X is a game board, a dry-erase pen and the small card deck. But for such a small footprint it has a lot of replayability. Even better, it can be played solo or multiplayer with very little change. You just have to take an extra board and pen for each player!

In Metro X you are trying to complete different train routes to score points. Each route is worth a different number of points. In a multiplayer game, you get more points if you are the first to complete a route. At the end of the game, you will get negative points if you have empty stations. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins in a multiplayer game.

Each turn the top card of the deck is flipped. This will determine how many stops all players can fill in on their selected route. But each route can only have a certain number of cards applied to it. Also, some routes overlap with each other. This means you can fill in two routes at once. But this can mean that you block yourself unless you draw a skip card, which allows you to skip pre-filled stations.

Metro X is a great puzzle as you try and work out how to most efficiently complete as many routes as possible. The boards in the base game are double sided, which offer two different types of challenge. I have really been enjoying my games of Metro X this month. It has helped provide me with my gaming fix even while travelling.

Terracotta Army - Tom Harrod

Have you heard of the ‘T-Series’, (many of which were) published by Board & Dice? They all have a historical setting, and begin with the letter T (and tough to pronounce!). These games are fantastic medium-heavyweight titles, and are all designed by Daniele Tascini. They include some major big-hitters in the Euro-gaming scene, such as Teotihuacan, Trismegistus, Tekhenu and Tabannusi.

Terracotta Army isn’t a strict member of the T-Series. But I’m going to give it an unofficial invite to join the Cool Club! Besides, it ticks a lot of boxes to qualify. First, it’s by Board & Dice, who now have a phenomenal reputation for producing superb, brain-crunching strategy puzzles. Second, it provides chin-stroking strategy, and decisions aplenty. Third, erm, it begins with a T…

It’s not designed in some capacity by Tascini, though - Przemysław Fornal and Adam Kwapiński take the credit here. Terracotta Army is a worker placement game, where players aim to construct an army of clay statues. Once built, you’ll place the different kinds of miniature warriors into a grid. The goal? Area majority scoring within this grid comes into play across five rounds.

The mechanism that I thoroughly enjoy is the trio of rotatable wheels. They form ever-larger concentric circles as part of the board design. They all have 12 different actions on them. By placing a worker on the outer edge, you get to take one action per wheel, where they line up. You can pay coins to rotate a wheel one notch, to try and get the perfect triumvirate! The challenge is: can you locate the best three actions in among the options to take this turn? Having coins to spare to move a wheel is crucial. But of course, whenever you move the wheel to help yourself, you might line up another great option for an opponent…