What We've Been Playing - August | Board Games | Zatu Games UK

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    What we’ve been playing – August

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    In a new monthly feature, members of the talented Zatu Games blogging team come together to share their gaming experiences. Each writer will talk about the games that they have been playing, sharing both their negative and positive thoughts.

    Click on the links provided if you want to find out just how good each game is!

    Nick - A bit of JamSumo

    This has been a bumper month of game playing for me. Massive Darkness arrived, my group started Pandemic Legacy, I was sent a preview copy of Total Recall and got to play Viticulture and Scythe extensively. However there was one email that pleased me more than anything else and that was the one telling me that Cubiko Games' handmade JamSumo game was on its way to me.

    After hearing the JamSumo legends whispered through boardgamedom, I finally got to play JamSumo at the UK Games Expo and I signed up to the waiting list. JamSumo is a wooden raised board with small platforms in each corner and a central dice-sized hole.

    In round one, Jam, you turn all your dice to show 4s and on your turn flick one of your dice from a corner platform. You are aiming to score as low as possible, with scores coming from your remaining dice once a player has cleared all their dice (scoring zero).

    Round two, Sumo, is essentially the reverse. You start with all six of your dice displaying 3s and tucked in front of one of the corner platforms and try and knock other players off the board or down the hole. This time you want higher scores as your first score is taken off your second.

    This gamery element of scoring really makes the game. It's simple fun and draws a crowd!

    In round one, Jam, you turn all your dice to show 4s and on your turn flick one of your dice from a corner platform. You are aiming to score as low as possible, with scores coming from your remaining dice once a player has cleared all their dice (scoring zero).

    Round two, Sumo, is essentially the reverse. You start with all six of your dice displaying 3s and tucked in front of one of the corner platforms and try and knock other players off the board or down the hole. This time you want higher scores as your first score is taken off your second.

    This gamery element of scoring really makes the game. It's simple fun and draws a crowd!

    Ross C - Fun Party Games

    One thing you should know about me is that I play games exclusively with my close friends. I’m not part of any local game groups and I don’t frequently visit any board game cafes. In fact, my friends only actually play board games at all because I’ve introduced them to the hobby over the last few years. I’ve introduced them to countless games and we generally play a real mixture, based on how many of us are there that night - which can be anything between 3-12 people.

    August was a bit of an unusual month in terms of which games hit the table most often, with mainly light games such as For Sale, Herbaceous, Camel Up, Okey Dokey, One Night Ultimate Werewolf (plus Daybreak) and Diamant (Incan Gold) hitting the table.

    These kinds of games are ideal for when people want to play something easy and straightforward for short bursts of time. This could be anything between 10 minutes to an hour, but more often than not it's choosing these games which leads to people saying ‘go on just one more round’ as they’re having too much fun.

    If I had to highlight any of these it would be One Night Ultimate Werewolf. This is actually the most played game in my collection and it has a wonderful combination of bluffing, deduction and team play which I’ve found to work with anyone. It’s also a game that you find yourself enjoying more with each play. As you learn how the characters fit together you will become more astute at figuring out who is who and who might be lying. Plus how often in life do you get the respect of your contemporaries for successfully lying to their faces?

    Some additional plus points; It’s in a small box, it’s cheap and in a less than five minutes explanation you can jump straight into your first game. If you’re looking for a game for all ages, backgrounds and nationalities you really couldn’t do much better than this.

    Robert - Barenpark

    Nothing like a game you can learn in five minutes (true), play many games of and still love (true) and decide you want to kidnap a Panda for (err, false your honour). This is like multiplayer Tetris, or Patchwork with added wrinkles, as you fill in your bear parks with oddly shaped tiles, balancing expanding out with filling in (and the odder the shape the more you score).

    It’s also fun to realise it’s based on a real place (in Switzerland). Perhaps a bit too much at full retail, but Barenpark is a good experience never the less.

    Chris - Keyflower

    The game I’ve played the most times this month is an older one, from 2012, that’s entirely new to me: Keyflower, designed by Sebastian Bleasdale and Richard Breese. I haven’t yet been able to play it with more than two players, but as a two-player game, I have to say that I’m really enjoying it.

    For starters, it has auction / bidding mechanics that actually work well for two players - a difficult feat for any game to achieve. The game length also feels like it’s right where it needs to be: just long enough for a small but varied range of meaningful choices and strategic pathways to unfold, but not so long that it gets bogged down into a laboriously extended meeple-pushing exercise of the kind that some players find a turn-off in ‘Euro’ games of this type.

    Sure, it has some of the hallmarks of what you might call a “dry” Euro game, with its almost complete absence of any in-depth theme and gameplay decisions that revolve entirely around the attempt to secure end-game point-scoring opportunities - so I guess that some non-Euro gamers may well be turned off in any case.

    But it does offer one thing that many other Euros don’t: highly competitive and direct player interaction. This is not one of those “multi-player solitaire” experiences. Every action of each player has relevance to, and an effect on, the other player(s). So if you can live without theme and you’re happy to push meeples around within in a nicely constrained time-frame, I’d recommend this game to anyone looking for a tight, thinky, interactive challenge.

    Iain - Loving Arkham Horror

    August has been a bit lacking in the gaming department, but where I can I’ve been getting the odd game in. According to the excellent BGGstats app, which I thoroughly recommend, I have played seven games this month, with five unique games. They were:

      1. Arkham Horror: The Card Game - I'm still enjoying the hell out of this and going back round on the Dunwich campaign on hard mode, with my zealot Zoey and her friend Rex.
      2. Lords of Vegas - When our RPG night collapses we play board games and Lords of Vegas is a frequent visitor to the table. Find out more in my review.
      3. Clank!This is a game that sees you running about a castle stealing loot from the ever watchful dragon. It does this by way of a deck building core and board movement round the edges. The deck building and movement was fun and interesting but I disliked the player elimination mechanic.
      4. Adrenaline - This was a new purchase for me this month, second hand, and I really enjoyed it. It’s a really fast playing game, apeing FPS games like Quake with a beautiful point scoring system. Expect a review of this one soon.
      5. Champions of the Wild -  This was a preview of a Kickstarter game that I was sent to look at. It’s a party style game where you try and justify why your elephant is better at weight lifting, rock climbing and being stacked one on top of the other than an ostrich. It’s a funny, light game and would make a great addition to a family game collection.

    Which games did you play in August? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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