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What We’ve Been Playing July 2021

What We've Been Playing July Feature Image

Gaming With A Non-Gamer - Andrew Walker

Due to holidays, my recent gaming has exclusively been with my immediate family. While the kids are enthusiastic gamers, my partner is reluctant at best. So we’ve been choosing relatively simple, low tension games to get our beloved non-gamer involved.

Sub Terra is an atmospheric exploration game about a group of cavers desperately seeking escape from a cave of unknown horrors. This won’t be won without teamwork and while there is tension, it’s the good kind - you’re all in it together. With danger potentially around every corner, suspense abounds and the game builds to a dramatic climax every time. As a cooperative game, this takes the pressure off learning how to play and a team win feels good for everyone. 

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is a fast-playing clue driven murder mystery and a good choice for engaging non-gamers due to its simplicity and social nature. Despite being cooperative, there’s also a traitor - a role sometimes off-putting for new players. Fortunately, it’s such an intuitive game that even a first time player in this role won’t feel overwhelmed. There’s nothing like a common enemy to unite the troops!

Quacks of Quedlinburg is an amazingly addictive push-your-luck potion brewing game. Although players complete their actions only affect their own success which removes direct conflict that might deter casual (or forced) gamers. Success and failure is driven by a mechanism that affects experienced and novice gamers equally. This is perfect, as nothing gets a person into gaming like winning!

Filler games have also hit our table a lot this month. These are great for hesitant gamers because they are short and sweet and simple. Filler games were recently covered by Zatu bloggers in their Fun Filler Game article. Owing to the success with our non-gamer I want to additionally recommend Love Letter, Telestrations and Walk the Plank! And to give a special mention to Dixit, a wonderfully elegant game based on intuiting the meaning of clues from enticingly beautiful and bizarre artwork. This is one of the few games my partner will actively suggest and has been a firm family favourite for many years.

Go Nuts For DonutsDan Hilton

With the never-ending lockdown finally coming to an end, coupled with the fact that I have recently got back on my feet and got my own house again, it was high time I actually lived life again. And what does that entail for a strapping (podgy) young (approaching middle age) lad (full-grown man) like myself? An epic gaming day with friends of course!

No gaming day is complete without flowing into a chilled-out gaming night where the big games get boxed away, the drinks are flowing, the salad (pizza) is on its way, and the smaller games get dusted off. Go Nuts For Donuts is the perfect example of a game that can be played and taught after one or three too many rums. It is simple, colourful, fun, and always leads to a good laugh.

The game has a great scaling mechanic where the deck of cards changes depending on the number of players that are sober enough to play. All you need to do is ‘bid’ on one of the available tasty looking desserts you want to add to your growing stockpile of tasty treats. No sharing allowed however, if anyone else wants the same donut, then it is discarded instead and you go hungry for that round. Go Nuts For Donuts is a great little game to pull out for casual nights.

WARNING: Playing this game will cause your body to go into a state of craving for sugary morsels.

Parks On Mars? - Kirsty Hewitt

I have been lucky enough to try quite a few different games in July.  That’s thanks in the main to a trip to a board game cafe whilst on holiday in Bath!  This gave me an opportunity to try out several games I had had my eye on for a while. 

My favourite game I tried was Parks.  In fact, I liked it so much, I have now added it to my collection!  In Parks, you are collecting resources to “buy” National Parks. Each park is worth points at the end of the game. You also have a personal goal which gives you extra end game points.  The theme is great.  Parks is what I would describe as a calm game.  The artwork is also stunning!  I am sad not to have tried it sooner but can see this getting to the table a lot.

Along with Parks, we also picked up Terraforming Mars.  This was another game first trialled at a, more local, board game cafe.  My husband is a sucker for a space theme so this is already a firm favourite with him.  I like that you can see your engine working as you build your card tableau.  I haven't yet discovered the secret to Terraforming Mars yet.  But, I know it's a good game when I have already started thinking about what to try next time!

We also had my younger brother over to stay for a weekend.  This meant an opportunity to teach him some new games.  We played my favourite game, Paladins, a heavier head-scratcher.  In complete contrast, we also played Tinderblox, a tiny dexterity game.  Despite their differences, both games seemed to be a great success!

July had so many great games, I can't write about them all.  What a fun month of gaming!

Horrors, Captains, And Muffins! - Rachel Page

Over lockdown, I was limited to playing all my games with just two players. This weekend I actually managed to try out some of our new board games with five people!

First of all, Eldritch Horror. We have played it obsessively for months. I have every expansion pack and have failed at the campaign multiple times. The moment we had a chance to indoctrinate our friends, we jumped on it. It worked a lot better with more players. There were more ideas flying around and more players to defeat the monsters. It will be a great day when we can play it with the full 8. It takes hours to play, but it has never not been worth it.

Then, we moved onto The Captain is Dead. It has been a while since we had seen each other, so cooperative games seemed like the way to go. Why start an argument so earlier in the weekend? Again, having more characters in the game made it easier to manage all the catastrophes that inevitably occurred.

We eased our way in with co-operative games and then changed the pace with Betrayal at House on the Hill. You start as a team exploring a haunted mansion until one of the players triggers a betrayal. Secret missions are revealed and suddenly the team isn’t so connected. This game has sat still in its plastic wrap for almost a year and it didn’t disappoint when we finally got to play it. There are so many scenarios that it will never get boring.

Finally, when we were ready to turn against each other, it’s Muffin Time! It is a ridiculous game from Big Potato. I have played it before, but no one was cut-throat enough. This time after an evening of games and a few drinks, it worked brilliantly. Everyone was desperate to win and were trying to wind each other up. The perfect end to game night.

Wingspan - Hannah Blacknell

This month for me has been a stressful busy month, but I have had the excitement of getting not one but two game sessions in with friends whilst on my holidays! I managed to share one of my newer games with both groups and with great success both times. So I couldn’t very well pick anything else, could I! It was a huge hit and we played it a few times with each group because everyone enjoyed it so much.

Over the past few months, and my partner and I have been steadily getting to grips with the huge deck of birds in Wingspan. Before introducing a game to friends, I always like to play a load of games so that there is no need to look at the rules apart from checking the setup at higher player counts. We played a few games to learn the rules, but we also spent time learning how to play this game in an effective way. We forged our different strategies. I favour the non-pink birds, whereas my partner loves the pink powered birds and the luck of the card flip or dice roll that they entail.

This is an engine-building game where your basic actions get upgraded by the number of bird cards you have played into that habitat already. Generally, I am outgunned and outclassed when I play my partner at engine builders. It clicks better for them than for me, but the sign of a good game is where you still love playing even if you don’t immediately do well. As we have played, I have started to understand the gameplay more and now it’s a coin toss as to which of us will pull it off each game. I just recently got the European Expansion and cannot wait to get it to the table and see some familiar birdies on my board soon!