Christmas is, of course, for spending time with loved ones and enjoying great food. And it may be seen as crass to say, but presents are also a part of the festive celebrations. As such, I have assembled a team of bloggers who were lucky enough to get some game-related “giftage” this Christmas.
I’ll go first. For me, there were a couple of expansions I had been eyeing up for my favourite games. A real mover and shaker for me in 2021 was It’s A Wonderful World from La Boite de Jeu. It is a card drafting, resource management, engine-building game that really sets my world alight. During the game, you draft cards in the first phase of a round. You either draft for construction, or you recycle for the one time resource. Your constructed cards will form both your resource production engine and your point-scoring opportunities for the end of the game. The second phase of each round is the production phase where, in turn, each resource is produced in order.
There are two readily available expansions for this brilliant game. One (War or Peace) is a campaign module with secret envelopes that change the way your game works. Corruption and Accession adds a new type of card that can be drafted during phase one. These cards are enticing, with their big production power or huge scoring abilities, but of course, there is a trade-off. The cards worth mega points are expensive to build, and the cheaper ones may reduce your ability to produce a certain resource later. But these costs and risks are probably worth it in my opinion. I love throwing caution to the wind and embracing these new cards to maximise my end game score. This game has a lot of replayability in the base box, but I really rate the way that this expansion shakes things up. I’m looking forward to this absolute banger of a game hitting my table a lot over 2022.
Well, I must have done something right (or sufficiently hid the mischief). Welcome to the Moon by Blue Cocker Games was on the table almost as soon as the last scrap of reindeer covered paper had been ripped away. As a HUGE fan of Welcome To (click here to see my article covering the expansions), I was very excited when news of this intergalactic version dropped. However, it is not all smiles and satellites. This is the final instalment in the three-part series, alongside Welcome to Your Perfect Home and Welcome to New Las Vegas. But Benoit Turpin and his crew are ending on a high. What looks to be one game is actually a campaign comprising 8 separate challenges, each with its own twist on the basic flip and fill mechanism. Thanks Benoit!
For anybody who hasn’t played Welcome To before, the premise is simple. You have a board and a deck of cards split into 3 piles. Each card displays both a number and an action. It is then down to you to decide which pair you use to fill in a square on your sheet. There are also three separate scoring goals to achieve along the way.
Moon mixes this up a little. The first game is a simple race that doesn’t use the actions at all – a great introduction for nebular newbies! But after that, it’s an increasingly crunchy challenge played out across 7 different adventure sheets. I have only played the first game and I already love it. With a fully formed Solo AI opponent, dry wipe boards (no more DIY laminating for me!), and a fun theme, there is nothing I don’t like about the finale to the Welcome To Trilogy.
Christmas time is when the whole family gets together. It's also a perfect time to splash out and treat your family (or yourself) to a heap of new board games. After all, when better to test out a new game than when everyone is in the same place. As my family are well aware of my board game hobby/obsession, I was treated to a range of new games. The first of these is Unlock! Star Wars. As a huge Star Wars fan and puzzle lover, this was the perfect mix of two of my interests. The game contains three scenarios made up of different cards. Each card holds some clue that you can use to progress through the story. The stories are supported with a free app that records your time and lets you input codes. Overall, it’s an (inter)stellar game and I can’t wait to play more of it!
The next game on my list was Parks, which sees players hiking through America’s most well-known National Parks. Each turn players move a hiker along the path, collecting resources. The artwork throughout this game is spectacular. If I could frame the entire thing I would.
From the serene to the… less so, the final game on my list is Zombicide: Green Horde. One of the most famous franchises from CMON’s catalogue, Zombicide sets players against an army of hungry zombies. Green Horde adds a new twist to the Horde, which grows ever larger with every zombie spawn. This Horde can be triggered at any time from the spawn deck so watch out! For me, this Christmas has been an incredibly good one, and I cannot wait to get my teeth into all the new games!
So. This post was supposed to be about the games I unwrapped this Christmas. The excitement as I opened the paper to find a second layer of unwrapping was needed to get into the precious, precious games. That didn’t happen for two reasons. One: my Christmas was heavily delayed due to… let’s say “current events,” and two: I didn’t get any games for Christmas. What I did get was vouchers for Zatu and I had to have a look at that Boxing Day sale. So I’m going to buck the trend and talk about the games I got myself for Christmas, and also one I gave this year.
I decided to hit up games I had played last year and loved, and some games that had been on my radar for a while. I loved playing Quacks of Quedlinburg at my local board game café and I instantly fell in love with Architects of the West Kingdom when I played it. Both games hit the shopping cart before I had time to think. Although the base game of Quacks wasn’t enough for me… luckily the Mega Box came out just before Christmas, packing in both the Herb Witch and Alchemist expansions with the base game. The next part of the parcel packed three more games: Sagrada, a game I know my partner will love; the Evil Comes Prepared Villainous expansion, for more evil in our lives; and the Plague Inc. Bundle with Armageddon Expansion because that was a fantastic deal. Finally, I gave one game gift this year – Cartographer Heroes Collectors Edition, a game I have loved all year, so it was a delight to give a copy to my family. Happy New Year, everyone.
I had a really lovely Christmas haul this year, of which the star of the show was definitely Furnace. I am a big fan of lean games that pack a lot into a compact experience, both physically and in terms of time and rules. Furnace certainly does that, as it is a crunchy little engine builder with the deft use of an interesting auction mechanic.
You bid for factory cards, maximising your production and sale of resources. The auction phase is exciting because you have limited bids and constraints on how to place them. But losing the auction on a card gives you an instant one-off consolation bonus. Hence you are trying to work out where to bid, what you need to win, and what you actively want to lose. The production phase is more contemplative.
Cards work in a fixed array that you run the effects of from left to right. This makes for a scrumptious brain burner that has provoked cries of anguish and elation across the Christmas period. Marry all of this with great production values, quick playtime, good scaling, and a competitive price point - Furnace has been a real Christmas cracker.
Other prezzies included the excellent Ethnos – a blend of set collection and area control made spicy by the range of different effects from the cards ‘suits’. The 2nd Res Arcana expansion, Perlae Imperii, was another welcome arrival. And finally a shout out for CoraQuest – the lockdown-created, family dungeon-crawling KS that arrived in New Year. Absolutely awesome and a real triumph from Cora and Dan Hughes.
We at Zatu Blogging Team hope that you all had a lovely festive period and that, like us, Santa was kind to you too.