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What We’ve Been Playing – November

What We've Been Playing

Each month, members of our writing team share details about the board games that they have been playing. They share both positive and negative thoughts on their games, to help ensure you choose the right ones for your collection.

Let's see what games our writers have been playing in November.

Ashley - Steam: Rails to Riches

Given I had the task of reviewing this game, it made a lot of sense to get in a few plays and freshen my mind and get all the differences between Age of Steam and its predecessor Steam: Rails to Riches nice and clear. Age of Steam is actually a mighty fine game, Steam: Rails to Riches takes it up a few further steps.

As railway games go it is mid-weight, more complex than Ticket to Ride and without the length and cutthroat shares trading of the 18xx games. It is a game of laying tracks, developing a network and moving goods from one city to another to generate income. Players need to balance the need to invest and grow against the need to claim victory points, whilst keeping a close eye on what opponents are doing because there is competition in both developing the rail network and not getting blocked, and in moving those valuable resources.

Each turn players also need to select specific actions. These all give different bonuses, to lay an extra track, to improve the locomotive, to generate more goods in a city and so on. Put together it means a great deal going on in any one turn, and there are many different opportunities to seize.

The game comes with a reversible board, giving two maps, and with two versions of rules, the Base game and the Standard game. The base game is possibly the better, it’s certainly a lot more forgiving but if you want added complexity and a far tougher economic environment than the Standard game might be the one for you. Add to this there are loads of expansions out there including many from Age of Steam which are fully compatible, and it really is a winner.

Rob W - Lords of Waterdeep

This is the Dungeons and Dragons themed game that’s actually a wonderful worker placement challenge disguised under layers of licence. If you want to be the lord pulling stringers behind a city, then that’s great jump in but if you don’t care about wizards give it a go anyway because there’s much more to it.

Nick - Bumper Month of Gaming

Another bumper month of board games for me! I continued our Pandemic Legacy Season 1 campaign, which is enjoyable and frustrating at the same time! We lost our first attempt at July one card turn before we would have won it! Frutti De Mare arrived from Kickstarter and is a light family friendly skirmish game with theme galore, you even order your new recruits from a menu!

Rhino Hero Super Battle ups the states in the cardboard tower building genre, and has been played and played and played. Also having a good showing due to it’s straightforward rules was NMBR 9, the number stacking game that has gone down a treat with everyone I’ve played it with.

Tumult Royal was my surprise of the month. After sitting on my sell pile due to never being played I finally cracked it open, and it was a lot of fun. You play royals who are taxing the commoners, but tax them too heavily and there will be repercussions! The main phase of the game involves selecting tiles at speed which may put some people off, but coupled with some minor area control and clever end game mechanics this has been a bit of a hit!

Capital Lux instantly impressed with its approach-ability and depth. You play number cards either in front of you or too the matching coloured central pile. If you have more numerical value in front of you than the matching colour central pile you get nothing, but if you are equal or lower then you are okay. Add in clever powers when you play to the central piles and you have a winner.

The Tuscany EE expansion for Viticulture also debuted and is absolutely brilliant. It gives you so much more to think about and routes to victory. All in all a good month!

Luke - Flamme Rouge

The Good.........

I never thought I'd say this, but cycling is fun. Yeah I cycle, but only as a commute to work and it's not because I enjoy being on a bike against the elements, it's just that I like getting the exercise and saving money on fuel. So for a board game about cycling to become a new gem in the collection, it's pretty surprising. Flamme Rouge is based on those cycling races you see on sports channels that take place in European rural areas and involve a large group of cyclists racing over miles and miles of hills, forests and mountains.

Each player has two riders with a deck of cards each for speed. And essentially you simultaneously play cards and move your cyclists taking into account hills and slipstream and exhaustion along the way. There's a fun element of timing involved where you consider when the best time is to dart out in front or fall back and it's so simple it easily joins the shelves alongside other gateway games. An unexpected gem for 2017 and one which you need to check out - and this may be one of the few games I ever look forward to an expansion that adds more players to it.

The Bad...........

I'm usually a fan of social deduction games, but there's one doing the rounds at the moment which I just don't understand the buzz about. Is it just because the Cards Against Humanity people designed it? I don't know. But Secret Hitler just isn't working with me and I don't care about the "theme" (pasted) that is associated with it, doesn't bother me at all. But it doesn't bring anything new to the social deduction genre and actually instead forces disputes to take place with a deck of cards that pretty much dictates the whole game.

I can't tell you how many times you play this game and you hear the same quote multiple times "I was given three Facist cards, I had no choice." It's so repetitive. The same argument EVERY game. And sometimes you get dealt those cards legitimately even if you're a good guy, so it's the same problem that Dark Moon and Dead of Winter have have where the game makes you look dodgy even when you're not by way of forced mechanics.

It's not even a theme you can have fun with or roleplay with. We've got greats like The Resistance: Avalon, Deception, Sheriff of Nottingham to name but a small few, why is this one so much better? I'm avoiding it.