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Games of the Month – September 2019

September Games of the Month - Terror Below

September was a fun month. There were several exciting new releases, and we also visited Tabletop Gaming Live convention in London. Find out which games our writers selected as their Games of the Month below.

Louis N - Terror Below

If I’m honest, I wouldn’t have given Terror Below a second glance. It looks like a game that is all about the theme. Also, designer Mike Elliott tends to produce more misses than hits for me. However, it is good look beyond first impressions, and I’ll give a game a go at least once (as Ryan Hemming can attest). Terror Below is a perfect example of why it is a good idea to give a game a chance.

Terror Below is, as has been said many times, Tremors, the movie, in a board game. Players move around the board - a map - making noise to distract monster worms which lurk under the surface. Each movement card, which creates the distraction, carries a number of action points. Players can use these to gather up rubble (which otherwise prevents movement), pick up or deliver eggs.

Once a worm has been distracted sufficiently, it will surface, and attack anyone in its vicinity. Platers can defend themselves with weapon cards; if the worm is defeated, the player that dealt the final blow is awarded a victory point. Victory points (VP) are also awarded for delivering specific colours of eggs to specific locations (determined by objective cards) or by defeating specific types of worm. The first to 20 VP wins the game

The game mechanics are really visible throughout (action point allowance system, pick up and deliver). Fortunately, this doesn’t detract from the theme, which carries the game really well. All in all, I’m really impressed with this one.

Will M - Arcadia Quest

In September I played my print-and-play version of Railroad Ink 10 times. However, my award for Game of the Month goes to a game I only played once, and that was Arcadia Quest. The game is set in a fantasy cartoon Chibi universe. Players control a guild of three adventurous heroes in a series of scenarios. Not only are they battling other player's guilds to complete quests first, they're also fighting a myriad of monsters!

I backed the Arcadia Quest: Inferno Kickstarter about three years ago but it has regrettably seen very little table-time. However, building a studio in my back garden finally gave me the impetus to mobilise some motivated friends into starting a campaign. I recently got my hands on the Arcadia Quest base game and we combined this with Arcadia Quest: Pets to venture into the gardens of Arcadia to take on the evil witch Vexia and her monstrous aberrations.

The three of us completed the first scenario. Our guilds included several heroes from sister game Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia, whose characters are cross-compatible with Arcadia Quest. My guild included a frog prince(!), a dread-locked Voodoo lady and a hooded forest elf woman – all aided by their cat pet named Miaw! (Quite an ensemble cast!)

My friends grasped the game better than I did. As my frog prince set off on a desperate chase to capture a wild weasel, my friend’s barbarian shot him in the back with an arrow to end the scenario – I came dead last but had a thoroughly good time, and can’t wait for the next five scenarios!

Arcadia Quest Pets

Andy P - The 7th Continent

September was a much-anticipated month for me. Having received The 7th Continent a couple of months ago and played the introductory mission, I was eager to get another play in. Me and a colleague had booked the same week off work. So, we had the perfect opportunity to try the second curse.

Needless to say, after 15 hours and our eventual demise (alongside the loss of several of our animal companions), I was more hooked than I’d ever been. I love big, sprawling adventure games (Gloomhaven is a particular highlight for me), and The 7th Continent gave me the dire feeling of futility when met with the consequences of our actions. We started well, had a good system of hunting and salvaging going, but one wrong step took us on a series of events that condemned us before we could figure out where we’d gone wrong.

You’d think, given how much I hate losing in games, that I’d be disappointed. However, the game has probably provoked more discussion than any other in the face of that defeat. We got the opportunity to reassess the clues we’d found, figure out a way to smooth out our journey and streamline our efforts, and both of us are eager for another go. With the Classic Edition on the horizon for next year’s releases, expect this one to be more readily available in the coming months. It’s a wonderful set of adventures tied up in beautifully illustrated cards, combined with an action system that simultaneously doubles as your life resource.

For me, I will always carry the memories of Gregory the Goat, who we needlessly sacrificed instead of using for food. We’re sorry, Gregory. Please don’t haunt us.

Northern Dice - Flash Point Fire Rescue

It can be hard to pick a game that stands out as the one we'd put on a pedestal above others for a single month... or at all to be honest! But for us, our Game of the Month must be Flash Point Fire and Rescue. If you ever wanted a slither of the pressure our fire service must feel during an outing, without the heat, this is the go-to game. It's arduous, difficult, unforgiving, but incredibly rewarding!

The idea is simple. A building is on fire and it cannot be rescued. The inhabitants of this structure can be saved, however. This is only through a strong sense of teamwork and communication. Flash Point's theme is superbly done and the feel of having control of a situation is constantly fluxing. You may be on top of everything one turn, but the next you may have a chain reaction of catastrophic events. You'll often have to make the difficult decision to either tackle a developing blaze or risk saving the survivor. And believe me, there is often no correct course of action!

Flash Point's components are perfect for their purpose and are identifiable from the others easily. Blocks to identify broken walls, bleach bottles for hazardous materials, and fire tokens for, well, fire. It's easy to grasp! The firefighter figures are very cool, with vibrant colours and great detail. The game is co-operative and reliant on communication. You cannot go it alone when playing with others and everything must be done for purpose. No exceptions. You can disagree, dispute and work out a common plan of attack, but outright deviation will cause problems. It's not a game I'd play with the group's rogue!

The game never stays static due to dice roll set-up rules and variable player abilities, but also due to its plethora of expansions. Between adding a second story to the building and taking on blazes in industrial areas, you're sadly spoilt for choice! Each poses its own dangers and obstacles, but that's the beauty of this game. It's designed to challenge and never be mastered. It has variable difficulties for when you're struggling and has rule variants for the true life-like inferno tamers of the world. True to its nature, it'll make you hot under the collar and sweat. However, you'll enjoy the heat too much to put it back!

Ryan H - Super Fantasy Brawl

The beauty of gaming expos is that you get to sample a whole range of games that you wouldn’t normally have access to. I’m mostly referring to Kickstarter, and even pre-Kickstarter titles. Slotting into this description is the highly anticipated, and suitably well backed, Super Fantasy Brawl by Mythic Games.

Based in another realm, where magic users reign supreme, mages entertain themselves by summoning great warriors to battle before them. This magical introduction opens the gates to a huge variety of contenders to enter the ring, not limited by the creatures of a single world. This also means, for those in control of the fighters, that pleasing the crowd is number one priority.

Gameplay sees you in control of three heroes, facing off against another three, trying to fulfil objectives that the crowd want you to achieve. This typically means maintaining control of a certain region or killing opponents. To do this, you play from your hand cards that correspond to each of your heroes. Cards represent a plethora of abilities, from fireballs and broad swings of a weapon, to teleports and buffs. Combat is fast, dynamic and down-right exciting.

I’m also enamoured by the components. The board is bold and colourful, clearly laid-out, whilst being attractive. I also got my hands on some 3D-printed miniatures, which were detailed and distinct. I’ve not seen how well the minute features will be translated when the minis are formed from plastic, but the Mythic Games team reassured me that the final product remains impressive.

After battling it out with two members of our team - securing two wins, might I add - I was left with the conundrum of late backing the title. Having not delved into Kickstarter before, I was apprehensive about developing the pledging addiction that plagues much of our community. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to March when my copy will finally be shipped.