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What We’ve Been Playing – April


Alana Wren - Blood on the Clocktower

Zatu con was a lot of fun on Easter Monday. I really enjoyed playing Blood on the Clocktower whilst there and I have been playing it a lot since.

Blood on the Clocktower is a social deduction game. One person is the storyteller who runs the game and provides the players with ongoing information. To start the game, all players draw a token from the bag which tells them which character they are. If you pull a blue token you are part of the good team and if you pull a red token you are on the evil team. The good team works together to find the demon and execute them whilst the evil team works to keep the demon alive and sow confusion and doubt in the town. If you have an opportunity to attend an in person session then I highly recommend it. Like me you will probably end up needing to own a copy so you can play with friends family regularly! It’s great fun to play for a different social gathering and I’ve found that most people enjoy it whether they are regular game players or not.

This month as a family we’ve been playing Tinderblox and The sock game. Tinderblox is a dexterity game about building a campfire. The kids really enjoy it and it’s quick and easy to play. It’s great for improving their fine motor skills as well.

The Sock game is a household favourite. Spin the spinner and race to find the correct item in the sock. It’s simple, fun and all ages enjoy it. We usually play a lot of this at Christmas time but The Sock Game has been having a lot of love this month in our house!

Finally, I’ve been playing a lot of Lorcana. My 9 year old and I have enjoyed collecting the cards and have been lucky enough to pull a couple of enchanted cards to his delight. For me the best bit is actually playing the game with him though. We just build decks out of cards and characters we like and have fun. Really that’s what gaming should always be about – fun!


Seb Hawden - Vale of Eternity

My daughter, who is nearly 22 decided to buy her old papa a board game this month. She bought me a lovely little card game called The Vale of Eternity. I had played it multiple times on Board Game Arena and was looking for a physical version to play at work and at home with the fam. Sometimes, just sometimes, I do believe I raised her right. Hahaha.

So, The Vale of Eternity then, it's a deck of creatures that get randomly drawn and then reserved by players to sell or summon. You are looking to create combos and strategies using these cards to be the first to sixty points, or have the most after the tenth round. Simples. There are a few little wrinkles in this though, the drafting, the currency you use and how to manipulate these things in tandem, with the effects of all your cards, is the game.

Cards are made up of five colours, each round a number of cards equal to the number of players times 2 ia drawn. Then from the starting player, you draft cards by reserving them with one of your two tokens. This draft continues in a ‘snake-draft’ style with the last player going twice in a row. Once everyone has reserved two cards the decisions get really juicy. You can sell a card for an amount of currency, depending on its colour or take the card into your hand for summoning later.

To summon the creature, of which you can only have the number of creatures equal to the round number, you need to pay with the currency you have accrued so far. The little hook to this though is that you can only have four currency stones at once. These stones come in denominations of one, three and six and any time you have more than four you have to discard them. It's only a little wrinkle but it has massive ramifications for summoning, selling and activating your various card powers. The Vale of Eternity is a small game with a lot of decisions, it's really juicy!

Some cards activate as you summon them, some activate every round and there is such a massive gamut for tactics and strategies. It's very more-ish. If you are in the market for a quick, thinky card drafting game, The Vale of Eternity may be for you. We have played it over and over and I enjoy it more every time. It has that easy to play with loads of decisions super-sauce I really love. Thank you daughter for the great gift.

Neil Parker - Fury of Dracula

This is one of my favourite games, ever since the first edition. Personally, I love playing games in person, but sometimes playing online has to do and so I’ve racked up twelve games of Fury of Dracula over the last few weeks, winning all twelve, six as Dracula and six as the Hunters. Admittedly it has been against an AI opponent, but the AI does seem intelligent enough to work things out even if it’s not as devious as a human player.

I love this game for its theme. Dracula has to survive long enough to build his threat level to the point it cannot be stopped using vampires to increase this, defeating hunters or simply through time as he moves around Europe using a secret movement mechanism. The advantage is with Dracula here.

The hunters meanwhile have to stock up on items, supporting events and abilities and try to cross Dracula’s trail. Once they do, it’s a race for the hunters to find Dracula and kill him before Dracula escapes the net.

The hidden movement mechanism is at the heart of the game. Dracula has limits on how he travels and utilising this knowledge as well as using various events and abilities the hunters can deduce where Dracula is likely to be. This is one of those games I will always want to play.

RogerBW - Rallyman

After Stabcon and Airecon earlier in the year, April has been a quieter gaming month at the Folly.

Most played was old reliable Rallyman: GT, briefly out of print but now gearing up for production with a new publisher. I play a lot of racing games, but this is still my favourite, with lots of die rolling but also plenty of chances to mitigate bad results. Rallyman: Dirt has also been seeing the table.

Favourite new game has been Faraway: it suffers from a confusing rule book, and interaction is generally limited to the drafting, but it’s an enjoyable competitive puzzle with art that’s not just the usual fantasy or space themes.

Sentinels of the Multiverse: Definitive Edition is still waiting for its second expansion, but for now Rook City Renegades provides plenty of combinations of heroes, villains and environments, and even the decks I know continue to throw out surprising combinations. Considering that all the cards are allocated automatically when you choose to play a particular hero or against a particular villain, I’m still impressed with how different each fight can be.

Another newcomer was Art Society, in which you’re bidding on various pieces of art to fill your wall. It’s a bit soulless, but it makes a virtue of it (as a collector I don’t care about the artistic qualities of the painting, just whether its theme is fashionable and it’ll fit in the spaces I have left) Each painting tile is a parody of a famous real work, so you can have fun spotting those too..

And on Board Game Arena I’ve got in a couple of games of Yokai Septet: not generally available in the UK, it’s a trick taker in which you’re trying to gains specific cards for your team. Sometimes a hand can leave you with minimal options, but there are always multiple rounds in a game, and it’s good fun if not taken too seriously.

Tom Goodhand - Azul: Master Chocolatier

April has been split fairly evenly for me between lightweight family fun (we’ve had a wet and grey Easter after all!) and some heavier Euro-style gaming with my frequent gaming companion.

The one game that has transcended both has been Azul: Master Chocolatier. There will be plenty of people who read this blog who don’t need telling what Azul is. It’s a genuine classic tile placement game with numerous spin-offs and adaptations out there.

Of them, Azul: Master Chocolatier is the best, because it’s the tastiest. Well, the tastiest looking, at least (we don’t recommend trying to ingest, lick or otherwise taste the plastic tiles).

A quick summary - just in case. In Azul you take it in turns to pick tiles (or, in this case chocolate-looking tiles) from a selection of factories in front of you, and then place them in your chocolate box. There are five different flavours/colours and you have to place them to match the pattern on your board.

The catch is that different areas of your board/chocolate box require different numbers of tiles to fill, and whenever you take tiles from a factory you have to take all the tiles of that colour. Whether you want to or not.

It works so well because it can be played at a really superficial level - just pootling along, filling your box and minding your own business - or at a more strategic, meaner level - trying to force your opponent to waste a load of delicious chocolates and be punished with negative scores.

This makes it a lovely light family game, or a more intense battle of wits for more experienced gamers.

And of course, it’s been Easter. So chocolate.

When I’ve not been lusting after plastic chocolates, I’ve been herding cattle, catching fish and running a miserably unproductive vineyard. Yep, these are the heavier euro-style games.

My regular gaming companion and I have learnt and played Great Western Trail: Argentina, Le Havre and Viticulture. All of which - to some degree - involve collecting or making stuff, then putting it on ships. Which is an interesting coincidence. Probably.

Great Western Trail: Argentina is a pain to get on your table (and your table better be big) - but once you’re going plays with real pace as your herd your cattle from your farm to Buenos Aires, paying tolls to local farmers, resting at friendly stops and hitching a ride on trains on the way.

Le Havre by Uwe Rosler is one of those games that reminds you that life is a struggle. You work at a harbour. Your workers are constantly hungry. You just want to get on and build buildings and ships. But your workers are hungry. Then you want to expand your industry. But your workers are hungry. Finally you want to ship your goods off around the globe. But, guess what, your workers are hungry.

Le Havre forces you into tricky choices as you balance expansion with nutrition. Which can be really frustrating. But awfully satisfying when you do it right.

And finally, talking of tricky choices and constant struggles. Running a vineyard sounds like an exotic, thrilling life of tending crops and quaffing wine. Viticulture tells me otherwise. Your vineyard never has enough workers - orders may come in from thirsty customers, but it’s never for the wines you have in your cellars, is it?! Money is just never available, and you rely on the kindness of visitors to let you grow your business oh so slowly.

Maybe I’m playing it wrong, but is running a vineyard really so hard? And why is it still so enjoyable to play?