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What We’ve Been Playing – January 2023

wwbp jan 23

Sorry it's late everyone... but better late than never! Here's what we've been playing January 2023 - the first month of the year.

Luke Pickles

In 2022, I had many board games. In 2023, I have… more board games. But at least last year, I was able to have a decent cull because of my self-imposed challenge to play all my games owned at the start of the year (111 at the time.) This year, my challenge set for myself and my partner is a twist on the 10x10, where we both picked a list of games to play 10 times each, giving us a 20x10. 200 plays to have this year and January has been a strong month.

Our single biggest commitment was to The Adventures of Robin Hood, the storybook driven game from KOSMOS which leads to you flip over tiles and draw disks and cubes from a bag whilst following a story. We have tackled it six times already this month, getting a good chunk into the story and thoroughly enjoying it. I love that it’s replayable because we’ve got a couple of other characters to explore with which I’m very much looking forward to.

Planet Unknown got a trio of plays too, including one with the designer, Adam Rehberg, which was an absolute delight. The polyomino tile placement game involves a lazy Susan as the selection mechanism, five tracks to bump up for various bonuses and a whole solar system of planets and corporations to explore, giving a hugely replayable and async game to put on the table again and again.

Finally, we managed a few quick plays of Whirling Witchcraft and Unmatched: Hells Kitchen and Redemption Row, giving the smaller games a chance to light up the table. Whirling Witchcraft is a clever little engine builder where you’re trying to use what your opponent on your left gives you to ruin the day of the player to your right. There’s a great balance that I’m looking forward to trying again with more players.

Unmatched is hugely familiar to me, and it was great to introduce to a friend who’d never seen it before, and I was gracious enough to give him a victory. It wasn’t because he played better than me… honest! If you want to see what other games we picked for our challenge, you can find the video we did here.

Alana Wren

January has been a fun filled and game filled month playing through all of the wonderful things we got for Christmas!

Firstly my son received Zombie Teenz Evolution which he is very excited to play. However, he set the challenge to completely finish Zombie Kidz Evolution before opening it which makes complete sense. We only have one more challenge to complete and the final envelope to open before we move on!

We really enjoy Zombie Kids Evolution. It’s so easy and quick to play as a family and we love having our own characters and receiving new powers/clones for them. We’re really looking forward to seeing what Zombie Teenz Evolution has in store!

In the evenings my husband and I have been playing a lot of Unmatched. We got Unmatched Dr Sattler Vs T-Rex and Unmatched InGen Vs The Raptors for Christmas and this sparked an idea. We have set up an Unmatched tournament. All 20 of the characters we own have been randomly put into groups where they will play everyone else in the group at home (on their own board) and away (on the other character’s board). Points are gained for wins and when the group stage is finished the bottom character from each group will be eliminated. We will then move on to knock out stages and keep going until we have the ultimate champion!

It seemed a fun way to spice up January though it will take us a lot longer than 1 month to complete this hefty challenge. Place your bets on the winner now!

Lastly, we’ve had a lot of fun playing Lost Ruins of Arnack. A really fun deck building game with resource management. I could play this over and over and have a different but great experience each time.

Natalie Morant

Friends of mine got back from a cruise and I asked what they did when the weather is awful (which it had been most of the time). “Do you take board games with you?” They didn’t, and what’s more they had never heard of Catan, Wingspan, cooperative games in general, or anything much outside the realms of Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit. Sensing an opportunity to expand my board game circle, I set a date to introduce them to the games I play so that they could better enjoy their wet weather days at sea. I took round a selection of fairly easy-to-learn games and they chose Pandemic. They loved it! I was careful to let them make most of the decisions - co-op games are no fun if a seasoned player is just telling you what to do each go - and we didn’t save the world but they opted to play again immediately. Now we have another date set and I know they want to play Wingspan. More gaming friends for me, more cruising fun for them.

With another friend I’ve been playing Tiny Towns a lot. He owns the game and has bought both expansions, but refuses to break into either of them until we have played the base game many many times. It’s not hard to do. Tiny Towns is great, puzzling over where to place each resource and in what order to construct buildings so that you maximise the space. It’s easy to learn but difficult to play well, and consequently scores can vary by a lot, both between players and games.

Burgle Bros has made several appearances this month. Another cooperative game with a great theme. I love how hard it is to win, and the fact that each time you successfully break treasure out of the safe, it adds to your problems by being too heavy or setting alarms off or some damn thing! I can easily see myself investing in Burgle Bros 2 one day, but first we need to crack that Fort Knox Job.

Sophie Jones

Thanks to my Christmas haul I’ve had lots of games to try, this January. As I’m new to the hobby, I finally got my hands on the fan favourite Wingspan and Wingspan Asia. I wasn’t sure what the hype was about, but I needed to find out for myself and wow I’m obsessed. This game has so many tactile pieces and upon setting up looked a little daunting. But the rules are simple to pick up and I found myself tucking birds and hording food in no time at all. The artwork is phenomenal, and the Asia expansion introduces new birds and a fun 2-player mode. I can understand why everyone went crazy for this game.

Another game I can’t stop playing, due to its beautiful table presence is, Parks. In Parks your goal is to visit as many National Parks as possible. Armed with just 2 hikers and 1 canteen you travel up the trail and gather resources. These can be used to purchase gear and parks. Though things aren’t simple. As you trek, other players will get in your way and block the path. Despite its relaxing appeal it has a lot of strategy under the hood.

Finally, I love a game of Splendor but this January it was time to bring another gamer into the fold. My nephew has a soft spot for Marvel so what better way to introduce him to the hobby then playing Marvel Splendor. This edition isn’t a simple repaint of the original. With a new winning condition to consider it does alter the pace as you have to get all the colours. My nephew picked it up in no time and won the first, second and third game but who’s counting!

I am excited to see what February brings. I imagine it involves the purchase of Wingspan Oceania and Parks Nightfall. So, expect that order Zatu!

savannah park carcassonne

Andy Broomhead

January being cold, dark and few people’s favourite month, it feels like sitting down with a few games is the best way to keep spirits high. We’ve had a good mix of family faves and some new-to-us games on the table this month.

First up is Carcassonne, the classic tile-laying game that we probably play more often than anything else. There’s something quite comforting about the familiarity of those square bits of ancient France and constructing winding roads and sprawling old cities is nourishing for the soul. We mix it up with the Inns & Cathedrals expansion, or for the colder nights, 2012’s Winter Edition adds some gorgeous snowy artwork too.

I feel like a latecomer to Roll and Write games in general although I’d had the odd came of Cat Café and Ganz Schön Clever last year. However, I picked up Rolling Realms in the Zatu January sale and my love for this style of game took off. Firstly, it combines some of my favourite games into one handy experience, and the way the themes and mechanisms of the Stonemaier catalogue are represented is really well done. I love the variability of combining different Realm cards in different ways to get a unique challenge every time and the chunky dice add something extra special too. This is definitely one to try if you love Roll and Writes!

Finally, Savannah Park from design duo Keisling & Kramer has been a delight. Tile-laying is a big favourite for us, the art really draws my daughter into playing, and the fact it’s largely a multi-player solitaire puzzle works nicely for how we play. It’s essentially a slide-puzzle game where you each start with a randomly distributed Savannah but all move the same tile during a turn to reorganize the plains to get groups of animals close together, and near to watering holes to score the most points.