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Games of the Month – August


In a new monthly feature, members of the talented Zatu Games blogging team come together to share their games of the month! Each writer selects one game from the many that they have been playing, and shares a little bit of information about that game!

Click on the links provided if you want to find out just how good each game is!

Nick - Stonemaier Games

For me this month goes to Stonemaier Games, as I played both Scythe and Viticulture for the first time, rapidly followed by the second, third, fourth and so on times. I love both for different reasons - the tight worker placement of wine making vs the many paths to victory smorgasbord of armed mechs that don't actually fight that often.

I'm torn, I love the more open ended play of Scythe, but as so far I have exclusively played Scythe at only two players, this month has to go to Viticulture, the worker placement tour de force!

Ashley - Small World

Small World is a relatively light and humorous area control victory point game for up to five players. It plays fairly fast, a four-player game should be done in well under an hour with players familiar with the rules. Players take on various fantasy races, orc, trolls, giants, ghouls and so on, all of which will also have a random special power. When that race has expanded as far as possible by conquering areas on the board, it declines, and the player takes on a new race.

As to the rules there is not really that many of them, and these are mostly around how many race tokens are needed to take an area, the various attributes of the races and the random special powers they can assigned, and how to gain victory points. It really is this simple.

If you want to add more fun and variety there are some expansions adding new races and new attributes. There are also a few other Small World games which are variants on the theme, do check the small print to ensure you have the right base game and components first.

One tip. Make sure you keep all those different race and attribute counters sealed up in jiffy bags. The plastic game insert might look good, but tip the box and shake it and you’ll have a nightmare sorting all the bits. If I have a gripe with the game it’s that set up and take down are rather long compared to the length of game play, but this is minor, those jiffy bags will help with both the above issues.

Small World is not a game that takes itself too seriously, play it with tongue firmly in cheek. It’s fast, it’s a bit silly, humorous, and a lot of fun.

Robert - Takenoko

It’s nice that they named it Takenoko, but we just call it the panda game. Irrigate fields, grow bamboo and have the rampaging, constantly hungry panda eat it all.

You’ll score points for all of these things!! It’s a fun, bright, simple game that feels great. But this month it became more than a game, when my gaming group’s sunflower competition began to be described in Takenoko terms. If you’re wondering, the panda was a cat no less naughty.

Takenoko is a slight step-up from gateway, plays good with two and more and has a tangible theme.

Ross C - Yamatai

My standout game of the month in August has to be Yamatai, which is about building the most beautiful city you can on an archipelago of islands for a Japanese Queen. Firstly the game looks like a bag of skittles made love to some cardboard, which believe me is meant as a compliment. The vibrance and color of this game run throughout and it’s production values and artwork are top notch. It really is one of the best looking games in my collection.

Secondly it’s a very straight forward game to teach and learn, but will take time to master. Using the instructional player reference mats and quickly going through the clear rule sheet you will be playing your first game in 5-10 minutes easily, with anything you don’t follow easy to pick up as you go along. That said there is enough depth here that even after a few plays you’ll still be trying to work out what your best strategy could have been.

This is a game about adapting to your opponent's moves and switching your plans at the drop of a hat. Sure you can plan ahead however when an a better opportunity appears, such as building a palace on an island the opposition has cleared you can swoop in to take advantage.

Another positive is the random element of the game set-up. The available buildings are from a shuffled deck as are the specialists (which allow you additional bonuses) and even the fleet tiles which dictate your actions and ships each turn bring an extra bit of variety. All this means is that you’ll see different combinations of play each game with a constant shifting puzzle to wrap your head around.

One minor negative point is that it can inspire the dreaded ‘analysis paralysis’ in players based on there being a wide variety of options available over the course of a game, although it’s worth noting I’m yet to see this impact my games too much.

What was your game of the month for August? Share your thoughts and opinions below!