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What We’ve Been Playing – October

What We've Been Playing - October

Each month our writers share information about the board games they have been playing, sharing both positive and negative thoughts on those games.

Let's see which games our writers have been playing in October.

Nick - Flip Ships & Word Slam

As well as my game of the month, Whistle Stop, I also played some other strong contenders. Flip Ships is my sort of game, mixing dexterity with Space Invaders. Ships advance towards the earth while players join forces to flip their ships (round tokens) on to them to destroy them.

Another interesting game I got to play was Alien Artifacts from Portal. It looks like a space version of 51st State or Imperial Settlers but the resource system is way less fiddly and the game zips by at a fair old pace. Word Slam is a fantastic team game that mixes Codenames-like word play with silent clue giving. Ponzi Scheme blew me away with the tense and growing feeling of dread it built in me. The game revolves around you borrowing money, which you have no way of paying back unless you borrow more money which you have no way of paying back... and so on.

Kapow! coming to Kickstarter soon, takes the dice crafting of Dice Forge and applies it to a super hero battle and is a lot of fun. Lastly I caught the collecting bug in Star Wars Destiny, which for all the annoyance in it's money pit ways, is actually a very enjoyable game. Until next time...

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.

The Game Shelf - Board Game Cafes

This month, we’ve had the opportunity to visit a few board game cafes around the UK and so we’ve tried many new games along the way! We’ve tried 28 new games this month, so here’s a three of the best games we got to try at the cafes and stores we visited.

Capital is a city building and tile laying game from Granna games. It is set in the city of Warsaw in Poland and you will build your city over the course of six rounds, including the time period of the first and second world war, when your city will be bombed. We really enjoyed the scoring mechanisms in this game, as well as the drafting which allowed you to control how your city was built, especially in a two-player game.

Via Nebula is a family weight game from Martin Wallace - two things that don’t typically go together. It also builds on our new found love of pick up and deliver games, after also trying Wasteland Express Delivery Service and Whistle Stop recently. In Via Nebula you need to create routes through the clouds to connect resources to building sites and then build different building for bonuses and special abilities. We were surprised how quick the game plays for two players and are really enjoying it as a 20-30 minute game.

This month our copy of Rhino Hero Super Battle finally arrived, after we have been waiting for the pre-order and UK release. I resisted the temptation to try this in the board game cafes and saved the enjoyment for our own kitchen table. Like the original Rhino Hero, this is a card stacking, dexterity game. Super Battle super sizes the game, allowing you to create much more elaborate multi-level structures, as well as adding an element of dice-rolling competition as you aim to be the highest hero on the tower as well as trying not to be the player who knocks it down.

If I’m honest, I think the original Rhino Hero actually makes a better game, but there’s a still a huge amount of joy I get from building the fantastic structures in Rhino Hero Super Battle.

Luke - Takenoko and Ticket to Ride

The good.....

It has been refreshing to bring out one of my favourite games out again, Takenoko, but not just in its natural form. A couple of years ago at Essen I invested in the Deluxe version, which comes in a giant cube box with everything you see in the original game, but times 10 in terms of size scale. The Panda and Gardener are like ornaments rather than miniatures. It's a beast to carry, but it draws the attention of a crowd like no other. And best of all, I had the Chibi's expansion for it as well, so I got to enjoy a full sized, fully expanded game of bamboo-eating fun with panda babies thrown in for good measure. It was an indulgent purchase, but one I never regret.

The bad....

I love the Ticket To Ride franchise, it's one of the staple additions to any board game collection and one of the first choices you make when looking at a gateway game to teach newcomers. However not all of the sets are great, though I don't think any of them are bad. My last game of Ticket To Ride: Europe though made me realise that this version is my least favourite of the range, but only because of a small feature that I can remove easily (and in fact do every time I bring it out) so it doesn't spoil it entirely for me. And that is the Stations.

A small mini-variant that allows players to salvage their tickets by placing a Station out, thus still acquiring the points and all you lose is a measly four points for doing so. I HATE this variant. Part of what makes Ticket To Ride so cool is the tension that your route may get blocked. So why remove that make it all "la la la nice nice" for everyone? Blocking becomes a pointless move as they'll easily recover so there is no longer any tension in the game.

I lost outright despite blocking people purely due to those stations. The numbers are just out of balance like crazy. I lose four points to prevent a swing of 16 points for an eight point ticket (the eight you lost out on plus the eight you lose for failing the ticket). I love Ticket To Ride and I like the Europe map, but this is one variant I never want to use again.

The ugly.....?

I finally got a chance to try out Lisboa - the latest monstrosity from Vital Lacerda, a designer who has a knack for creating the right balance of heavy mechanics and strong integrated theme in a Euro that I crave. I can't stand all these dry titles lately with no care for theme, it's just wrong! Overall I was happy with the package, despite the fact that the theme, however strong it is, isn't one that I'm interested in.

I'll take making cars or wine over influencing nobles and building generic stores thank you. But my biggest issue was the board itself. It's thematic in how it looks based on Lisbon's history, but my god it doesn't work as a practical application. The blue/white pastel look just blends everything together too easily and I had to strain my eyes to make out what sections started and ended where while making out fine details. To each their own as it's a subjective area, but I'm not a fan of that design choice.