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What We’ve Been Playing February 2023

what we've been playing sea salt and paper

Now, now, now. Let's not give March any negative connotations. February flew by and we're in the final of the first quarter of the year! Let's see what our bloggers have been up to in the shortest month of the year and take a read of what we've been playing.

Neil Proctor

February has been an amazing month of gaming for me. I have played some brilliant new games, old games, expansions and prototypes. I even got to play one of the most expensive games I have ever seen at a board game café, the game in question is Foundations of Rome and it is massive in price and box size (it fills a whole Kallax cube).

Highlights of the month have been Cat In The Box, Skull King, Wonderlands War, Gnoming Around, Beer & Bread, Bad Company, Raiders of the North Sea, The King is Dead, and Picture Perfect with the Sherlock Expansion. Talking of expansions the Fields of Fame expansion for Raiders of the North Sea is a perfect way of showcasing how to add an expansion without changing the base game too much.

I’m starting to get super excited about what is coming up in March as I am travelling to Airecon for the first time. Going with some friends and meeting lots more friends up there, this is looking like it will be an amazing weekend of gaming and socialising.

I have even started to really enjoy some cooperative games which I thought I never would (normally I am a super mean and competitive gamer). Paint the Roses is a brilliant deduction game with amazing components and table presence. You are constantly trying to work out what the clues your friends are giving you are, whilst also trying to give them clues for your card. I love this game and cannot wait to play it with as many people as possible.

I know I haven’t mentioned Sea Salt and Paper, but I assume all of the other bloggers will say how amazing it is. If they forgot I will say get this game now.

Nick Welford

Sea Salt & Paper has been the talk of the town, if the town is the small hamlet where all the Zatu bloggers reside. Ok, it’s more of a warren but the point stands. Sea Salt & Paper is a drafting set collection game with a killer scoring hook. When someone has 7 points they can carry on playing or end the round immediately by declaring stop, or risking letting everyone else play one more turn at the chance of bonus points. It’s a sweet sweet sweet temptation that elevates the game to addictive heights.

Clank!: Catacombs is the newest edition of the deck building push your luck a-thon. And it’s probably the best one. Making the difference is the new dungeon to explore, which instead of being the same each game is now made up of tiles randomly drawn as you explore. This makes all the difference as it’s much harder to just nip into the dungeon and run away. Combine this with some clever new areas to explore and you have the same old Clank, turned up to 11.

Marvel Remix, the hero and villain rethemed Fantasy Realms, saw multiple plays. Every player starts with 7 cards and try’s to make the best hand of 7 cards they can. Each turn you will draw a hero, villain or from the discard row trying to create the best scoring synergies before there are 10 cards in the discard row. It’s quick to play and always super satisfying to pull off big combos, and if you lose? Shuffle up and play again!

Lastly a quick mention for Revive, a utterly fantastic euro game with beautiful components and mechanisms. I’d previously played solo and the first two player game was everything I hoped. A future game of the month contender!


Love was on the table as well as in the air this month! With my husband’s birthday and Valentine’s Day only 3 days apart, there was a lot of his favourites getting some action!

Polyomino powerhouse Patchwork got us going head-to-head. But instead of battling over buttons and quilts, we were playing the Valentine’s Edition and gobbling up golden nougats! Don’t let the sweet, chocolate box exterior fool you, however. It’s the same brilliant tile laying, tableau building, economic drafting duel as Uwe Rosenberg’s OG.

Hadrian’s Wall always comes off the shelf on hubby’s special day, and this year was no different. This smasher of a strategic roll and write is combo-tastic. Every move triggers at least 2,3,4 or more other actions! And, whilst interaction with other players is minimal, internal turn deliberations translate into audible noises and squeaks. So much so that you’d be forgiven for thinking that part of the game required us to beat each other with big sticks!

A new game to hit our table this month was Lacrimosa by Devir Games. This passion project by Mozart’s widow to fund the completion of her late husband’s Lacrimosa movement of his final Opus Requiem is the ultimate valentine. Everybody plays a patron who wants to be remembered fondly in her memoires. Set in present day and the past, it’s a euro style game chock full of mechanisms and beautiful table presence. Throughout the game there are lots of different ways to score, so everybody can focus on some or all of what takes their fancy. Area control, set collection, hand management, resource management, end game bonuses…..and the components are top notch. The 2.5 layer player boards could be a contender for best Valentine’s Day present alone!

Guy Lowe

February has been “getting back into games we haven’t played for a while” month.

At the simplest end of the spectrum my kids have been loving Uno again. We originally started playing it when they were very little because they could match colours and then learn to match numbers or symbols too. As they got older (and could cope with more losing or more antagonism), we introduced a simple version of the ‘black cards’ and then the others that modify the game. We’re now on full games and even though my son finds it annoying to hold his cards in his hands and often just lays them out on the table, and even though he occasionally changes colour to something he can’t play, we still love it. It’s great bonding time and they don’t mind losing.

Sticking with the card game theme, I offered some friends a choice of games (I think it was: dinosaurs, pandas, misery and birds) and they took ‘making people miserable’. Gloom is simple enough that you can pull it out and teach anyone in almost no time at all, and it pushes all of those buttons that you normally have to suppress. You know, the ones where you bring misery to people around you by causing disaster and calamity. But one of my favourite things about it is the incredible see-through card mechanic that feels totally unique. It’s quick, fun. And has a wonderfully dark sense of humour.

At the other end of the complexity spectrum this month has been Root. I’d forgotten how great it is. The re-playability factor, with two sides to the board, and four factions in the base game alone means that you can play a lot before you even need to think about expansions. Of which there are many… Perhaps my favourite moment this month was a friend sitting in exasperation and saying “I don’t even feel like we’re playing the same game!” – which is the joy/frustration of asymmetric board games. He wasn’t wrong of course: whilst I was busy building a military empire, and he was chopping wood, some cunning raccoon was stealing his way right, left and centre to victory.

Alex Chase

I only got Men At Work at the beginning of the month (thanks Zed’s Subscription Box!) but I’m already bringing it out for several different games groups and haven’t had a miss with it yet.

The game is at heart a very simple dexterity game with a principal that’s not that dissimilar to pick up sticks (well, I guess reverse pick up sticks as it’s about putting things down rather than picking them up!)

Set in a very cute construction site (though one with almost no concept of modern health & safety), this game sees you placing girders and little construction workers in an effort to balance safely while trying to build as high as possible. That wouldn’t be too bad but the instructions often require little bricks or wooden beams to be balanced on your workers (or girders) and that sends up the difficulty level massively. With players losing a safety certificate every time they have an “accident” and only three safety certificates per player before you’re knocked out, the game is pretty quick, which means you can play several games as a warm up before you go onto anything bigger or more complicated.

I love this game, although my hands (which are usually pretty steady) start shaking incredibly as soon as we get to anything tricky! It’s funny, clever and the instruction cards are mostly doable with a side order of occasionally nightmarish, making this a great game for families, casual game groups or anyone wanting a warm up before they play another mammoth session of Scythe.