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Top 5 Floodgate Games

Cosmic Colonies

It’s been a ponderous time for me recently. For regular readers, I like to do these top fives of publishers every month and for this month, I had quite a long holiday and my writing juices were pushed back, as if behind some kind of dam or a Floodgate. This meant when I came to write this piece and come up with an intro, I needed to open the Floodgate and let the waters run. Am I being heavy handed with this?

Almost certainly, but Floodgate Games are our publishers for this month! So good are the games of Floodgate Games, we’ve struggled to get it down to just five. In fact, an honourable mention has to go to Decorum, the cooperative deduction game about decorating a house (check it out today!) The Floodgate Games mission statement is of creating everlasting experience through gaming, and I think it’s fair to say they do just that. Let’s get into the top five we came up with!

Cosmic Colonies - Tom Harrod

So, you know that Floodgate Games do top-notch quality components! They didn’t drop the ball for Cosmic Colonies, either. Floodgate could have provided mere cubes for the four types of resources… But no! They went above and beyond to provide plastic-moulded pieces for this polyomino tile-placement puzzle.

Cosmic Colonies designer Scott Almes is better-known for his Gamelyn Games’ Tiny Epic… series. In Cosmic Colonies though, theme-wise, you’re colonising a space asteroid. Players have a hand of four unique action cards, and simultaneous all draft one to play. Turn order gets determined by an initiative order according to the cards played.

On your turn, you’re looking to play an action card to earn resources. You’ll need these to then buy polyomino ‘buildings’ from a public market and place those tiles onto your asteroid, covering up the terrain below. Playing your cards comes with an element of push-your-luck because there are only so many resources available each round. Therefore, turn order of the action cards is crucial! Of course, the weaker cards have a higher priority in initiative order, and vice-versa with the more powerful actions. In classic Almes fashion, so far he hasn’t so much remade the wheel. Rather, he’s taken proven tried-and-tested formulas that knit together with ease.

But there’s a brilliant twist in Cosmic Colonies about the card-drafting. Once everyone’s played two cards each, they then give those two cards to their neighbour. This means that unlike other card-drafters, such as Bunny Kingdom or 7 Wonders, players can’t hate-draft. (Taking a card that they know an opponent wants, and wiping it out of the game for them.) It sort-of does the opposite. Sure, you can ‘hate-hoard’, to deny your opponents using a cool card. But in doing so, neither do you get to play that card!

Also, it rewards players that can remember who now has which action cards. If you can, that way you might be able to predict the initiative order! This simple – yet genius – switch of gameplay provides a plethora of player interaction every time you play Cosmic Colonies.

Fog of Love - Hannah Blacknell

Fog of Love is a game for couples where you play out different difficult (usually) relationship scenarios. You each embody a different character (this is chosen using cards and is best if you are choosing something different to your own personality). During the game you will create your own vivid characters that are shaped by events that happen during the scenario and decisions you and your partner make throughout the game. Your characters will meet and fall in love, and then during the game you will be trying to make the relationship work without compromising too much on your own personal goals.

Because much of the fun is the surprise of what the game will throw at you next, I don’t want to provide any spoilers. The game is kind of a cross between a push/pull tug of war between players trying to achieve secret objectives and a semi co-op storytelling game where decisions are made for the best of you both.

The components and graphic design in this game are utterly awesome, a real sight to behold. I love the simple art style and the clear and colourful iconography really elevates your playing experience to dizzy new heights.

Fog of Love is nothing like anything else in my collection, and I say that in a good way. I'm not really into RPG games in general but after taking a punt on this one I might have to reassess my position.

Bosk - FavouriteFoe

I had a conversation about theme and artwork in board games with a dear pal yesterday. When I started my cardboard adventures, it didn’t matter to me.  So long as I was learning and loving the gameplay, the wrapper could be anything. But as I have been building my collection, it is very clear that I love games that intertwine their mechanics into nature. Wingspan, Village Green, Cascadia, Rustling Leaves

And BOSK by Floodlight games definitely falls within my favourite theme. Why? Because it is all about nurturing trees that are growing in a national park. The game itself is a doule helping of area control. Played over 2 seasons, Spring is all about planting trees of differing values along trails that are represented by a grid format on the terrain board. Then as days warm and lengthen, visitors hike the trails in Summer to marvel at all the resplendent colours. Both of these activities will score you points in the first scoring phase. Then, as the temperature changes and the nights draw in, Autumn arrives, and the wind picks up, bringing cheeky squirrels with it. As you may have guessed, the gusts blow leaves off your trees onto the board. This is effectively setting you up for a second shot at area control. Because, as Winter hits, majorities are frozen in place ready for the second and final phase of scoring.

BOSK is undoubtedly gorgeous. The gameplay with the directional wind board creates also some interesting strategic choices. In the first half, the Summer hikers will reward you if your initial planting was smart. Likewise, in the second half of the game. Autumn and Winter quickly demonstrate whether your earlier tree planting plan was a good one! For us, this falls into a “nice game” category. And by that I mean the theme and look disincentivises us to play, well, mean! You could do some nasty moves with your squirrel. You could blow the wind in ways designed mainly to disrupt your opponents’ leaf placement. But the little trees charmed me (even though I knocked them over a lot!), and I was just happy to see all the trees grow!

SagradaLuke Pickles

If you’ve ever seen a stained glass window and thought “I could do that…” then we may have found the game for you. Sagrada is the dice game all about doing just that – creating a stained-glass window for the Sagrada Familia! Each player will take a window design and set about filling it in through a set of drafted dice over ten rounds. This window will have twenty squares, some of which will have a colour or a number for you to use as a guide. You’ll be making sure you place your dice so that the same number and same colour aren’t next to each other, but you’ll also need to take care to not break the design you have on your window.

Of course, no artisan can be expected to work without their tools, which come in the form of cards with special powers, such as re-rolling a die before placing it or moving dice you’ve already placed. You pay for these with little glass beads, paying just one if you’re the first to use a tool and two otherwise. The number of beads you have is dependent on the difficulty of your window is, so you have to manage this currency throughout. I love Sagrada, I think it’s incredibly simple with some hidden depths and puzzles to solve, and an excellent component quality to boot.

If you’ve never played, I highly recommend it. There’s something very satisfying about drafting the one die everyone else needs and placing it confidently within your own board. Also, there are four different expansions for you to play with – the Great Facades Trilogy of Glory, Life and Passion and the 5-6 Player expansion which all give you some modular expansions to mix into the base game. This is a game I’ve played a lot of this year, including solo, so I highly recommend it.

Kites: Time To Fly - Neil Proctor

Do you want a game that anyone could learn to play within just minutes? Do you want a game that causes raucous laughter every time you play it? If so Kites: Time To Fly is definitely the game you need in your collection.

This is a cooperative speed game for two to six players where to win you need to play all of the cards from the deck without letting any of the sand run out of the six brightly coloured timers. The timers are the highlight of the show as they all run out at different intervals which is cleverly represented by the number of times their colour is shown on the cards.

To play you simply choose one of the five cards in your hand and play it face up in front of you. Then you turn over any timers whose colour is on that card and draw a new card from the deck. The white timer can be turned over by any card which only has one colour. You keep on doing this until the deck runs out at which point you can no longer turn over the white timer and it is now a race to finish playing everyone’s cards still in their hands before the sand runs out.

There are variants included in the box which really increase the difficulty and only the most skilled players can beat the game with all variants included.

One of my favourite games released this year (even though I don’t normally enjoy cooperative or speed games) it comes out whenever we are at a friends house or we see family.