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Game Of The Month October 2020

Zombie Kidz components

Zombie Kidz Evolution - Jim Cohen

Zombie Kidz Evolution is my game of the month and it is a very easy pick. The game is incredibly smooth, really quick to play and offers a lot of surprises. But the reason I am picking this is down to three simple things.

First, this is the game I have played the most in the last few weeks. We are currently on game 26 and we have had it for two weeks! The game plays incredibly fast, sets up in a minute and with the unlockable envelopes being made available after a certain amount of plays and trophies have been awarded; the addiction is real! Every time we play, all we want to do is just play again.

Secondly, Zombie Kidz Evolution is so fun to play! I regularly come down and see my own kids sat there waiting for me, a game set up, dice in hand, ready to play! They are like this for a few games, but none with the constancy of this game. They want to play it all the time, and I am fine with that! The simple mechanic of roll to add a Zombie then move a space is so accessible. The extra powers are added in slowly but don’t change turns too much, so this can be played with any age from four up. My children are 5 and 7 and love it.

Lastly, the unlockable’s are brilliant, game-changing and very addictive! The joy in my children’s faces when we reach the next milestone and they can open them is only beaten by their faces when they see what is inside! “Ah! Daddy! I got a new power!” The only issue is when we finish an evening, it’s bedtime, and we are one game away from the next envelope! Oh, go on then, one more game!

To say this game has consumed our household would be an understatement. If we are not playing it, we are talking about it. We have all played the same characters since game one and have been quite attached to our little standees. And as per the rule book, we have tried to bring other players in for guest plays, to get extra trophies. Everything in this game is tasked around progression. Feeling good about what you have done, win or lose.

Zombie Kidz Evolution is a brilliant game. A must-have for any young gaming family, ideally suited for 4-12 I would say. But as crunchy Euro gamer myself, I have really enjoyed the experience too!

Architects Of The West Kingdom - Joe Packham

Stone Age was our gateway into Worker Placement. Architects of the West Kingdom for me feels like the spiritual successor to Stone Age! It’s more complex for sure but it shares that feeling of investing more workers in an action space to increase its yield. Everything feels more evolved in Architects though. Instead of tools to mitigate dice rolls you have apprentices to improve certain actions. Instead of building huts, you can work on personal buildings or the shared work of the cathedral. as well as this, instead of feeding workers (thank goodness), we have the capture/prison mechanic, the real shining star of the game and the thing that raises it from good to absolutely great!

One spot allows you to pay a coin to capture a group of enemy workers from a single action location. so the more workers you play to an action the better it gets for you, but the more tempting it gets for your opponents to kidnap your workers! It keeps the risk versus reward factor high whilst completely doing away with the luck of the dice roll. The mechanism makes interactions between players really interesting and engaging too.

Another excellent facet of Architects is the virtue track. Some actions award virtue such as building the cathedral. Whilst more shady activities like the black market drop you down the virtue track. Your position on this track will award positive or negative points at games end and also bar you from a certain action. Getting the balance of virtue right is something you have to bear in mind. Architects is a fantastic worker placement game that can genuinely call itself unique whilst employing one of the most popular and common mechanisms in modern gaming. I can’t wait to see what Garphill games have in store for the next trilogy!

Cosmic Colonies - Tom Harrod

In recent months I’ve reviewed a card-drafting game, Tybor The Builder. I also reviewed Tiny Epic Dinosaurs by Scott Almes in October. My game of the month is a blend between these two things: a card-drafting game, designed by Scott Almes. It’s Cosmic Colonies, published by Floodgate Games, who mention it’s an ‘orbit-drafting game’ on the box. What’s that about, then?

Cosmic Colonies is all about constructing polyomino building tiles upon your asteroid. It’s your very own floating colony among the stars. You’ll earn points depending on how few landmass types you leave uncovered. Tiles sit next to each other, and within asymmetrical player mat grids.

You have a hand of four cards, and you play two per round. Cards provide the means to either collecting resources, buying tiles, or extra bonus traits towards either. As well as an action, the card has a Priority Number. The lower the number, the earlier you go in turn order. The higher the number, the better the card’s bonus ability.

The real joy that flips Cosmic Colonies on its head comes as a stellar twist. Usually, in card-drafting games, you pick a card and then pass your hand to your neighbour. Not in Cosmic Colonies. Here, at the end of the round, you pass your neighbour the cards you just played. (Meaning, you’ll receive the cards your other neighbour played that last turn.)

Theme-wise, your cards are freelance space workers. Once you play them, they float off into orbit, looking for a job elsewhere. It’s a stroke of genius. You’re giving your opponent all your best cards! ‘Hate drafting’ goes out of the window. (Playing a card that means nothing to you, but valuable to them, and in doing so eliminating it from the game.) Do you hate… hoard, then?

I adore games that take tried-and-tested mechanisms and have the guts to add in a ‘What If?’ addition. And wait until you see Cosmic Colonies’ plastic resource pieces! They’re out of this world…

Splendor - Nick T

October has been a month of abundance in terms of board games played. Taking part in a 24-hour board game marathon for Dementia UK certainly helped the tally! I was delighted that the Zatu blogging team rallied to raise money to help fund Admiral Nurses as part of the #raiseyourgame campaign. We are all very grateful to those who donated. Despite a plethora of games making it to the table, there was one that we have particularly enjoyed playing. In fact, it is one we always enjoy playing. My game of the month for October is Splendor!

Splendor is a card drafting set collection game that was released in 2014. For those unfamiliar with that terminology, you will be buying your own personal hand of cards from a shared central pool. Set during the renaissance, you are merchants trading gemstones (poker chip tokens) to gain property (cards) in attempt to please nobility (noble tiles). The aim of the game is to be the first to achieve 15 victory points.

One thing I love about Splendor is that it is generally extremely close. Almost all games finish with another player exclaiming ‘I would’ve won on my next go’. It is a strategic game tinged with the luck of the turn of cards that is mitigated enough through there being plenty of options. Despite the strategy, my 9 year old son, George, can win fair and square, probably more often than I can. That makes for a brilliant family experience. My five year old Max can play, but is a bit young for it and will seldom win.

The gameplay is supplemented by some great components, poker chip gems, stunning artwork on the cards, and some very familiar nobles. All in all, Splendor is a great game, and if you’re like me, you will be excited to hear there is a new Marvel-themed version that has just been released!

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