It is already April, March went by in the blink of an eye and what a month it was for board gaming! Check out what our bloggers have been playing throughout March.
What a month March has been for games! I went up to Harrogate for AireCon and I took advantage of the time to relax and just play. Over the course of the weekend, I played 13 games, of which I owned three. It was such a pleasure to hang out with new people and experience their games, as well as browse the library available.
The key highlight for me was the second edition of Great Western Trails. The original grey cover didn’t particularly draw me in, but the new brighter artwork caught my eye. This seems to be a theme for newer editions, something I’ve seen in the new Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest, another game I played this month.
Back to the wild west though. When the game was explained to my partner and I as “you’re herding cows,” it got a surprising reaction, especially for what is essentially a deck builder with a rondel system, two mechanisms she does not like. And yet, throw in “Meeples with Hats” and you have something that we bought as soon as we played it.
Even if we don’t know who won that game, we still enjoyed it. Why didn’t we know who won? Well, we were rushing to get to an event, a tournament of Strike. We missed it, unfortunately, but it was something I picked up after the event to give a go-to. I placed it on the table for a game day and it became the game we played most during that day, in between everything else we played, from Escape the Dark Castle to The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31.
And for those of you who are following my personal challenge to play through the collection – 52/110. Not bad going.
We’ve lost half our kitchen table.
Whilst two seats are reserved for mealtimes, since we bought 7 Wonders Duel at the start of the year, the other half has been permanently home to pyramids of resource, science and military cards. A day is not complete in our household without a game (or three).
How can a game that comes in such a small box be so replayable?
For starters, each game is unique. There are options to go for a science, military or points victory, but because the card deck falls differently each time, players can’t rely on the same tactics repeatedly – and you’ll sometimes find you need to change plans midway through the game.
The gameplay is straightforward. On your turn, you’ve got a seemingly simple decision to either take one of the visible cards to strengthen your deck or burn one to earn yourself coins. But your choice is complicated by what you’re going to leave behind for your opponent.
Yes, taking the palace will give you 7 victory points and a potentially unassailable lead if the game goes the distance, but if that uncovers the praetorium for your opponent and they take the three military points on offer, you might not get the chance to count up those points! Although there is an element of luck with how the cards fall, strategy trumps chance each time, so it works for children and adults alike.
A game takes about 20 minutes, which gives the kids time for a head-to-head before school - or a best of three tournaments after their evening meal. And because it comes in a small, but perfectly designed box, it’s super-portable, so it’s been taken cross-country to take on the grandparents.
Since our first play, this is a board game that has not yet been put back on the shelf.
Whilst I have given most of my waking time on the truly superb Elden Ring (yeah, challenge me, I can slip that name into any feature I am writing) there are still times that I have a group of friends over to play some much-loved board games with. Lately, I have had a reduced number of people over for games day, and Destinies has been filling the gap perfectly.
With its unusual 1-3 player stipulation, it is impossible to pull out with anyone but a small handful of people. I actually really appreciate this restriction as the game plays itself incredibly well to individual character story progression and having a large group of people would dilute that experience.
At the start of each campaign chapter, you are given a random character out of a presented selection. Every character in the game has their own winning conditions that you will be aiming to achieve in secret from the other players, bound tightly to their personal story that is also hidden from the others.
The game is similar in presentation to that of the popular Mansions of Madness in that the game uses an app to present you with the overarching world story and shows you the layout of the current scenario as you explore and interact with the world and characters around you.
You will need to do strength, dexterity and intelligence checks that are determined by how well you have managed your gained experience points, where losing such checks can change your personal narrative and gain you more experience to spend accordingly.
The game uses Scan & Play technology, allowing you to scan your personal destiny/equipment QR codes to ask NPCs what they know about them, to use them in the world or to give them to people. This is an incredible mechanic that allows seamless integration between the players, the app, the board, and the story itself.
Incredible game all around, I have had tons of fun with it. Although limiting in number of campaigns available, I would recommend Destinies to anyone with a small group of 2 or 3 people. It is super easy to learn how to play and is accommodating and engaging for both new gamers and experienced gamers alike!
It was Airecon month this month which of course meant plenty of gaming with old friends who I had not seen for over 2 years! As well as plenty of new games due to hit Kickstarter in the coming months (Drags 2 Riches being a personal favourite of mine), I also managed to play Shamans, a trick-taking, a hidden traitor game that was absolutely brilliant!
The combination of mechanics in this made for an edge-of-your-seat experience. Trying to identify who is working against you was half the fun but then also attempting to play cards that made you look least suspicious. The abilities that you can use such as assasination also allow for deeper gameplay strategies and keep the game flowing and interesting.
To avoid the post-Airecon blues, Adele and I have tried out plenty of games that are new to us and there were three standouts this month! The first of these is Lost Cities, a 2-player card game that is heroically competitive and equally frustrating. While the game is certainly not new, we had never played it before and after our first game, we immediately had it set up for a second game!
Knowing when to play cards, hold cards and discard them is key to victory here and for such a simple premise, you get a lot of enjoyment. The second game is another one that isn’t new to the hobby but is new to both of us; Everdell. This nature-themed tableau builder is a game that has a cult following, is a delight to play and one that has you playing, again and again, to try and improve on your previous score.
The artwork is adorable and it certainly has a table presence, thanks to the towering Evertree! The final game is one that is both new to us and the hobby; Cascadia. In Cascadia, players select tiles and tokens, in pairs, building their environment with the tiles while placing the wildlife tokens in various configurations to score the most points. There is a lot of variation in how you can score and the drafting of tiles and tokens in such a way makes for an interesting game every time! March has been an excellent month of gaming for me and long may it continue!
As much as I try to vary the games I play, at the minute I just keep coming back to Tapestry. It was a relatively recent purchase, but it quickly became a firm favourite. I love how much variation there is in the gameplay. There are so many different ways to gain Victory Points that no two games are ever the same!
I can try a different strategy each time depending on which civilisation I was given to start with. Now we have the expansion Tapestry: Plans and Ploys, I don’t think I have even seen all the available cards! This weekend we played it with 4 players for the first time. The dynamic was shifted drastically. Suddenly I found myself gunning the Technology track, which I have never done before!
Another game that I played with 4 players for the first time was Wingspan. I accidentally had a bit of a Stonemaier weekend. They are such reliable gamemakers that I am pretty sure I will eventually own all their games!
I love the little dice tower that comes with Wingspan and I need to know if their other games have the same adorable features! More players certainly improved Wingspan. I will admit that I didn’t understand the hype when I first played it. But having more players means that pink actions are triggered more often and the bird cards that you can draw are rotated more frequently. It was also a lot more tense when I had my heart set on a Northern Bobwhite and I had to wait 3 long turns to be able to pick it up! Much more fun.
My challenge to play 52 new games this year has carried on unabated through March and I have played some absolute cracking boxes of bits this month. First up, I managed to finish off the last few cases of Micro Macro: Crime City. Those last few cases are a real challenge and it’s a great finish to the game. Would definitely recommend that!
Next up was Lawyer up. This is an interesting head-to-head card game where the players will be looking to build the best case, they can to sway the jury to their side. You do this by chaining symbols on cards. This represents your line of questioning with a witness and if you manage to put together the best argument you can start to influence the jury. If once all the witnesses have been questioned, you have the most jurors on your side you win the case! It’s a really novel theme and the mechanisms work really well. It sort of reminds me of the key matching found in Tainted Grail.
We’ve also been playing a lot of Gravwell. It’s such a cool little game where you are trying to escape a gravity well, it’s not just a clever name. You do that by playing cards that will pull you towards or push you away from the closest ship to you. The long and short of it is that depending on what order these cards resolve you can end up either flying to victory or the cosmic bin. It’s a great alternative to Colt Express if you enjoy the chaos that ensues when everybody’s plans fall apart.
Lastly, and certainly not leastly, I’ve been playing a lot of Fantastic Factories. More specifically the Manufactions expansion for it. I really enjoyed the base game; it has been one of my favourite engine builders of recent years. The Manufactions expansion really elevates it by throwing in new cards and variable player powers, it’s great stuff and a great way to cap off the month.