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Games of the Month – October 2019

Games of the Month - Tapestry

Forget pumpkins and sweets, here are our games of the month for October 2019!

Ryan H - Scythe

This month, I introduced Scythe to a new friend group. This gorgeous Euro has sat near the top of the BoardGameGeek Leaderboard since its release, still maintaining its position at number 10 at the point of writing. It's a pretty game. Very eye catching, with gorgeous artwork and interesting components. Resources resemble what they represent, including brown cylindrical wood and grey trapezoids for metals. A huge draw are the miniatures, for both your hero and your faction's unique mechs. The gameplay for this asymmetric title is also pretty stellar.

The teach was a little bumpy, as there is a lot of content to cover, but generally the game was received well. Players made a couple of mistakes here and there, and I made a few rule errors myself. Did you know the recruitment bonus applies when both you and your neighbours take the triggering action? Today I learned.

I was possibly a little mean to the newbies. Using the bribe feature, I was able to extort some sweet mular in exchange for abandoning the factory or leaving an encounter token. Early to mid-game I had an obvious lead. However, as the end neared, the other players had picked up the gameplay nicely. The gap closed rapidly with two other players meeting my 6 stars. I worked out that had a player attacked me on his last turn, he'd have taken the victory. Fortunately for me, I won. Next game is planned next Tuesday, and I can't wait!

Throne of Games - Architects of the West Kingdom

This game, from designers Shem Phillips and S J Macdonald, puts a twist on the worker placement genre. Players take on the role of competing Architects trying to construct the best buildings, improve the local cathedral and slow down their opponents in the meantime.

Each time you place a new worker on a location your ability to utilise that location improves. There are also both above-board and underhand ways of getting what you want. You need to think about the most efficient way of getting what you need and managing your workforce, both in the short and long-term.

However, things can quickly take a turn as your opponents can capture your workers and send them to jail. When things stop going your way, will you remain virtuous or head for the black market, getting you easy resources but costing you points.

Architects of the West Kingdom has been an instant hit with our game group. After getting your head around the sheer number of options available, the game becomes quite intuitive. The game rolls at a decent pace as you will rarely be stuck for options. Also, if you don't take an action one turn you can probably take it the next one. I love a bit of “take that” but it's not to everyone's taste.

Unlike most worker placement games where you are repeatedly blocked from doing what you want, this game removes all that. Instead, it just hits you with it all in one fell swoop as a bunch of your workers get carted off to jail. Just as you were about to rake in a bunch of essential resources for the win. I've watched 15 of my potential points disappear in just one of my opponent's actions. Luckily, we all like telling each other they are terrible people!

Architects of the West Kingdom is a great example of the worker placement and resource management genres. You will not be disappointed.

Architects of the West Kingdom (Credit: Will M)

Matt T - Taverns of Tiefenthal

The Taverns of Tiefenthal is a two to four player dice drafting, deck building game from designer Wolfgang Warsch and published by Schmidt Spiele. Players will run and manage their own tavern, serving guests, upgrading their tavern and attracting nobles.

The game is a lovely blend of mechanisms which I really enjoy - dice drafting and deck building. The deck building integrates in to the game very well and it doesn't feel tacked on. There are some options with how you want to craft your deck and you can tailor it to generate beer, money or a mix of both.

Money can be used to hire new staff members that go in to your deck or spent to upgrade your Tavern with staff members. Beer is used to entice new guests and Nobles in to your Tavern that will become regular customers and come back time and time again. When upgrading certain parts of your tavern you get a discount by trashing the matching cards that you have in play. I really like this aspect as it is a push and pull of having that useful card in your deck vs having the permanent upgrade.

The dice drafting adds an extra level of gameplay in to the mix. Not only do you have your dice to draft from but you get passed dice from your opponents. This means you can be very clever with what you draft if you pay attention. The game also comes with four additional modules to give the game extra replay-ability.

All of this, in a game that takes less than hour, flows well, has a bit of interaction (with the dice drafting) and has a lot of additional content to increase variability and replay-ability in to the base game. This game is a big hit for me. In fact, I think it's Wolfgang Warsch's best game so far.

Tom G - Abomination

Since October is the month for Halloween, it seems only fitting that my Game of the Month follows that spooky theme. Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein is set 20 years after the original novel and sees players being invited to Paris to partake in a “competition” created by a benefactor who wants his very own Frankenstein monster.

Players must stalk the streets of Paris in the hunt for body parts and organs, ensuring they are fresh enough to use in their experiments. The fresher the parts, the higher scoring your monster will be and the more likely you are to succeed in the competition. You must utilise the cemetery, the hospital and the morgue to obtain these parts however, if you are willing to brush with the law, you can murder and obtain the freshest parts available in the game!

This worker placement game from Plaid Hat Games is a fairly weighty entry, with a fair amount of game in the box. However, the theme oozes from said box, with each little detail being thought of, including flavour text as the game progresses with the events drawn at the beginning of each round.

I think the theme really does the game justice and while the admin side can be a little tedious at times, the gameplay itself alongside the theming negates this and produces a very creepy, very dark experience that fits beautifully with the backstory and the continuation of the original novel.

Yes, this game can seem slightly taxing and long winded, but I believe that once you get into it and commit to the game fully, you will have a superb experience! A real winner for me and one that I will be playing not just at Halloween but at many game nights to come!

Games of the Month - Abomination

Luke P - Tapestry

In Tapestry you play as a growing civilisation over the span of four eras. During these eras you will be gaining points from increasing your science, culture, military and technology. You'll also expand your capital city. There is a central map in which you can explore unknown lands to get resources and also spread out to take on other civilisations.

At the start of the game you pick an aspect of your civilisation that makes you unique to others and the area of your capital city. Outside those two things you’re all essentially the same. Tapestry is a game all about efficiency. Spending resources to advance the four areas is all about making sure you get the most bang for your buck and never wasting a move.

Often a game like this can lead to analysis paralysis for players, but in my experience with Tapestry that doesn’t seem to be an issue. However, I could see some people taking time to really weigh up their options every turn. It’s hard to really say that Tapestry feels like a civilisation game. The theme is there but the game does some things that can disconnect. For instance, my opponent gained the technology of battleships before the compass. Things like that take you out of it a bit.

What the game does do is pop off the table. Like all Stonemaier games it’s very very good looking. The rules and mechanics themselves are solid as a rock too. There is quite a bit of symbology, but once you have a grasp of the general symbols then the graphic design does a great job of making it all very intuitive.

All in all I think Tapestry is a really well put together game that I look forward to playing more. It’s problems are few and minor ones at that. I urge people to give it a try.

Northern Dice - Dark Souls

This month our highlight has been playing Dark Souls: The Board Game, a game based on the rock-hard video game counterpart.

Dark Souls: The Board Game sees you play through the happenings and events of the video game trilogy. You run a campaign, should you dare, and your progress is continued from play to play.

We've only ever tried a few back to back chapters of the campaign, however that's simply down to our own time constraints. Running two back to back is incredibly rewarding, and the feeling of entering the next set-up appropriately equipped is empowering. Our next goal is to run a few sections all together, focusing on a sequence of the whole game... But that's down to time! Of course, we'll not be rushing through this! Being poorly prepared is near certain death!

The game is chock full of things happening. You'll move on to progressively harder, trickier and more punishing sequences pitting you against merciless enemies and bosses. The classics include Ornstein and Smough, the relentless double boss take down. And then there is The Dancer of the Boreal Valley, a boss with huge sweeping attacks that are near impossible to avoid.

Dark Soul: The Board Game is dense in content and stuff to kill you. Whether you work as a team or go alone, you'll move from room to room, taking on the classic Dark Souls enemies.