What We’ve Been Playing – April 2019

What We've Been Playing - April 2019

The Easter Bank Holiday in April allows for more gaming days, both with friends and family. Here's what we've been playing in the last month.

Tom G - Wingspan & LOTR: Journeys in Middle-earth

This month has been a surprise, specifically with Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth being released two months early! While this has been dominant in my gaming this month, it is not the only game to appear on my table!

First up was, of course, Wingspan! This high-flying engine builder has stolen the hearts and minds of most gamers and it's one that I simply cannot get enough of! The theme, while unique, works in perfect harmony with the game and the mechanics themselves, producing a game that is fast-paced and competitive, but relaxing at the same time. Low production numbers have unfortunately plagued this game but don’t worry; there will be reprints available soon!

Counterfeiters has also been a stand out, small-box game for me this month. You take on the role of a money-printing criminal, working under the watchful eye of the Godfather. As a criminal mastermind, you must print counterfeit notes, exchange them at shops for real cash and sell them on to unsuspecting victims to grow your wealth, while also being sure to hide your cash before the Godfather takes his cut. This simple little game works nicely, and provides some good gameplay for such a small box.

Finally we have Journeys in Middle-earth. This app-driven adventure, tile-exploration game is heavily influenced by my favourite game, Mansions of Madness (MoM). This game has many similarities to MoM however, there are enough changes in mechanics and gameplay to justify this reincarnation and re-theming.

For example, dice are out and cards are in for this game. When carrying out skill checks, you must use cards drawn from your personal deck to complete the checks. You also have board that is set aside from the main map where battles and certain scenarios take place, a nice change in gameplay that keeps the game fresh. Of course, being a LOTR fan means the theme is a real draw for me and Fantasy Flight Games have done a fantastic job of doing the IP justice! If you're a fan of minis as well, you won’t be disappointed with the offering from this game either, with the miniatures having a great quality to them while also losing those DAMN ANNOYING bases that were used in Mansions.

Will M - Sushi Go Party, Barenpark & Family Favourites

This year is flying by already. In April I enjoyed 31 plays of 17 unique games. Top of the play count was our new acquisition, Sushi Go Party – bought due to the eagerness of my wife – I played it seven times, including once with my eldest daughter and two other kids at my Games Group’s International Tabletop Day celebration at the end of the month. International Tabletop Day has officially been moved to June 1 this year, but that clashes with the UK Games Expo so we decided to keep it to the last Saturday in April, as per the previous tradition.

I had a fairly unsatisfying game of Wingspan at my games group, where I bought an expensive water bird on my first turn and then struggled for food for the rest of the game. I like the game but with each play it feels a little too simplistic compared to what I had hoped it could have been.

I also borrowed a copy of Barenpark from a friend as I thought it would be a good game to try with my wife – it’s creator, Phil Walker-Harding, also has the Sushi Go games and Imhotep to his credit. I was right, and Barenpark went down well! We played the game in its basic mode and we're now looking forward to adding-in a variety of achievements for each subsequent play, which will spice things up!

We also clocked-in plays of family favourites Azul (five plays) and Lanterns: The Harvest Festival (three plays), plus I especially enjoyed successful solo plays of Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu and Hit Z Road while on a weekend away in a countryside cottage – in both games I pleasingly warded-off the evil threat and clocked-up my highest Hit-Z-Road score to-date (18).

Louis N - Crown of Emara, Quacks of Quedlinburg and Flotsam Flight

April was a quiet month, gaming-wise. Crown of Emara, Quacks of Quedlinburg (I can't see that going anywhere anytime soon) and Flotsam Flight had their moments on the table.

Crown of Emara is a nice, classic-feeling Euro. Action selection through cards is one of my favourite mechanisms at the moment (especially if the cards are multi use), and the dual rondel makes Crown of Emara just that little bit more interesting. With four different types of goods, and a further four that they can be converted into, resource management is key in this game, so the planning can be quite a challenge at times. Round that off with two different types of scoring, which have to be kept abreast of each other as the lowest gives the final score, and Crown of Emara was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be.

Quacks of Quedlinburg should, by now, require little introduction. The ubiquitous push your luck bag builder has proven to be the hit of 2018, and seems to sit in many collections. The Herb Witches Expansion adds a little more variety to the game as well, so even if you have played the four book sets from the base game to death, you can breathe new life - and new decisions - into an ever popular game.

Flotsam Fight is a more recent game from Oink Games. On first inspection it looks dull, and the dependence upon multiples of numbers 3-10 makes it look very maths-y. But it isn't… in fact the game does all of the work for you. In essence, players are trying to get rid of a hand of cards by placing cards - one per turn - on a low (I.e. 3-10) factor boat. Trouble is, cards can only be placed on a lower number, so sometimes the number cards in the boats can jump very high very quickly. Having low numbers can be really tough… though high numbers are disadvantageous at the end of the round. That all sounds really uninteresting… but give it a go - like most Oink games, it's a great filler.

Throne of Games - Cockroach Poker, Bad Maps & 7 Wonders Duel

Cockroach Poker is a funny, social game for 2-6 players. The rules are simple. Pass a face-down card to an opponent and say what critter is pictured on it. Your opponent can either guess if you're lying or not, or pass it on to another player. If you guess correctly the card goes face-up in front of your opponent, if you are wrong it goes face-up in front of you. The first person with four matching cards loses. This is a filler best when not taken too seriously. Perfect for cracking out when you have 10 minutes to spare. Best at higher player counts.

New out this year, Bad Maps is for fans of light programming games like Colt Express. 3-5 players take the roll of captains sending out their minions to find (or not find) treasure by playing action cards to move them about a map. But it’s not that easy, because unlike Colt Express, all captains can control all minions leading to slapstick moments of pirates walking backwards into the sea or pushing each other into holes. With the comedy value also comes the strategy of guessing what others may be trying to do and playing your game cleverly to secure victory.

Roundly seen as one of the best two-player only games on the market, 7 Wonders Duel is a must for those of us who play two player regularly. Over three eras, players acquire cards that provide resources, allowing them access to bigger better cards and some of the great wonders of the world. With multiple routes to victory and the fact taking cards can make even better ones available to your opponent, keeping track of their strategy is vital. I love the ebb and flow of this game as you aim to complete your goals while at the same time having to put effort into countering you opponent.