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What We’ve Been Playing September 2021

What We've Been Playing September 2021

Ian Peek

After eight or nine months of Railroad Ink: Deep Blue proving scarcer than a PS5, I could wait no more. I relented and bought Railroad Ink: Blazing Red.

It’s the same core game. The only difference is the two included expansions – with Deep Blue’s scenic, gentler lakes and rivers to Blazing Red’s destructive meteors and lava.

I haven’t played the expansions yet, but the core game is a serene, contemplative puzzler where all players use the same dice. I enjoy the level playing field this provides and the simple, jigsaw-solving satisfaction. There’s an intrinsic reward to carefully crafting road and rail networks, as well as actual points.

Some friends bring round Welcome To Your Perfect Home and I order it immediately afterwards. It’s another shared hand game, where all players choose from 3 cards & accompanying powers to build their own 50s suburban neighbourhood. Bonus points for swimming pools, gardens, grouping houses into blocks, investing in real estate and completing town plans. Make the right choices for your neighbourhood…

Lastly, we pick up Cartographers and it’s the best of the bunch. Plot simple shapes and terrains on an 11 x 11 grid to satisfy goals for four terrain types. Surround mountains for bonuses. Monster ambushes allow other players to draw invading shapes on your map. It’s meditative, calculated and engrossing.

Roll and Writes have ruled the roost here – re-markable and remarkable.

Today I picked up Patchwork: Doodle on a whim… more on that later.

Fred Cronin

Two games I’ve really been getting my teeth into recently have been Nemesis and its Void Seeders expansion. Nemesis has players taking on the roles of crew members on a spaceship, who discover that one of their fellow crew members has been murdered by an Alien Intruder. What’s more, these Intruders are still on board! Players must fulfil their own personal objectives if they want to win. But not everyone is on the side of good, so be careful. Some players may not want the ship or any of its crew to get back to Earth. Stay alert, and don’t trust anyone too easily!

Void Seeders is an equally horrifying expansion to Nemesis, which brings a new alien race into the mix. These slimy adversaries slowly corrupt the minds of the crew, driving them to insanity. Unlike the brutal Intruder race, the Voidseeders are much more subtle. This alien foe is particularly tricky to destroy, and each interaction could bring you closer to losing your mind. Not only is this dangerous for your health, but it can cause hallucinations that drive you to hurt others or the ship.

The final game I have been able to enjoy this month has been Pandemic Legacy: Season 1, which has players joining forces to halt the advance of an aggressive and deadly new virus. Each decision you make has a real impact on future games, and the fate of many lies in your hands. As you go you unlock stickers and new components which add new rules and change the face of the game. There’s only one thing that’s for certain playing Pandemic Legacy, and that’s that no two games will ever be the same.

Craig Smith

Over the course of the last month, I’ve introduced my boyfriend to The Fox in the Forest Duet. We went on a walk around the Wye Valley and sat in a beer garden to play. This is a cooperative, trick-taking game. Each person has a hand of 11 cards, and the object of the game is to, over a maximum of three rounds, clear all the jewel tokens out of the forest. You do this by playing a series of ‘tricks’, moving the counter towards the player who wins the trick. We enjoyed playing it so much that we’ve bought the competitive version of the game for our upcoming holiday.

I also went to a board game café with a friend and (rather belatedly) had my first ever experience of Wingspan. There aren’t many games that rival Elizabeth Hargrave’s masterpiece for beauty. Having played it two-player, I would be interested to see if playing at a higher play count impacts the game in any way.

I’ve also found myself with a few nights in the house by myself, so have dabbled in a bit of solo board gaming. If you want a solo variant that isn’t too dissimilar from the multi-player version, I would recommend Calico. I’ve also played solo games of Red Rising and Red Cathedral, but I don’t always find playing “against the game” as satisfying as trying to beat my own high score. They're all very good solo variants. But there’s something quite soothing about constructing a quilt and attracting those kittens.

Matt Thomasson

Summer holidays were in full flow, schools closed and I had a week's staycation. That didn’t stop me from playing games though. I was away with my in-laws. They don’t really play games, but I was convinced there was something in my collection they would like. 

Just One was that game. This was an instant hit. Some reservations at first when I suggested a game but after the first practice round everyone was fully on board. Just One was perfect for the situation. A light-hearted, laugh-inducing, cooperative party game that just pulls you in for one more game.

As the active player, you are trying to guess a certain word that all other players can see but you can’t. In secret, all the other players write a clue that relates to the word and the active player closes their eyes. The clues are revealed and if any match they are removed from the game. The active player then has to guess the word on their card from the remaining clues. The concept is simple but the game is amazingly good fun. Everyone was involved and everyone had a great time. The game was requested night after night and we played around 10 games of this in the week. 

Other games that hit the table include the obligatory Marvel Champions. Not a month or week goes by where I don’t get some Marvel Champions played. And the release of Mad Titans Shadow was a great excuse to get it to the table. Ganymede, Cubitos, Lions of Lydia, Istanbul and Prehistory also made an appearance. A good selection of games and a great month of gaming. 

Luke Pickles

At the back end of August was my birthday. My partner took me and several of our friends to the local board game café and we played a couple of big party games. And, because it was my birthday, we came home with more games than we arrived with. Then September rolled around, and we had time to play some of the games we’d bought. So, for this month’s “what I played,” I’m picking one of my presents – bought for me by someone who isn’t a board gamer but does love this particular game.

Galaxy Trucker was introduced to me a good four years or so ago by another friend of mine, and my desire to play it again was kickstarted by playing a lot of Steampunk Rally. It’s a machine-building game that uses tile drafting and placement to help you transport goods across the galaxy. You and your opponents will use a single hand to draft tiles from the warehouse simultaneously. These include shields, batteries, weapons, crew quarters and cargo containers.

Once you’ve picked it up, you can choose to store it, put it back in the warehouse or add it to your ship. Corporation Incorporated is paying handsomely for your machines and goods. But of course, they want to see beautiful ships so make sure you don’t have any exposed connections. Sometimes, this is unavoidable, because once your ship is built, you set off across the galaxy, encountering pirates, meteors and other points of interest which can benefit or hinder your mission.

What I love is that your base ship changes as you go to different parts of the galaxy, meaning the way your ship is built will change depending on possible encounters and the order in which components come up. Now a new generation of Galaxy Truckers is coming up and is available to pre-order here.

John Hunt

Busy month for games as a teacher in the Summer Holidays. Plenty hitting the table at home with the family and also with our gaming group, which is meeting again. Some top fun playing Renature at home. Gorgeous production values, beautiful design and tactile play experience are a delight. I particularly love the combination of domino laying with surprisingly tactical meeple placement. Imperium Legends has followed hot on the heels of Imperium Classics – more of the same goodness in many ways. We were particularly taken with the more ‘out there’ nations: Olmecs, Atlanteans and Arthurians in particular. The jury is out on the Utopians.
Getting increasingly meaty, I have played both of the Dune games with friends – the reprint of the original Dune board game and also Dune Imperium. The former is all that I remember it being from 20 years ago. Brutal conflict with plenty of crunch and not much sympathy. I can see it being a bit like Marmite… but I love it! Dune Imperium is a lot of fun. I found the mash-up of worker placement and deck building, punctuated by turnly ‘arena style’ combat, to be a really engaging mixture. I think the lack of auto-cycling in the market is a little flawed, as it can get locked up, but that aside I am keen to give this another go. My gaming group highlights have included The King is Dead, a phenomenally lean area control game… sort of. Whitechapel was fab – for me, it is the cream of the hidden movement/cat and mouse crop. Lastly, Pax Pamir 2nd Edition is in my top 5 of all time. Love the manipulation of the changing board state. The second board created by the track formed by players’ tableaux, and the simple turn mechanics, made devilish by complex car play and combos. Outstanding!

Rachel Page

Over lockdown, I was limited to playing all my games with just two players. This weekend I was able 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 on to 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 early 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.