Here’s a fun little run down of all the great board games we’ve playing here at Big Red Barrel over the last few weeks and months. As with similar articles these aren’t reviews, just small little introductions to games we’ve played recently and want to talk about! From the looks of things Concept has been very popular amongst BRB folk these past few weeks. I really must play it the next time I head to Loading for Tabletop Tuesday!!
In the last month I have found myself playing a lot of lighter and smaller board games. Super Rhino is still my drug of choice from the boardgames that are silly, fast and social. I have finally purchased my own copy of the game, and to celebrate such momentous occasion I have also properly read the rules for the first time. I can now confirm that building house floors out of structurally unstable pieces of card is equally fun with proper rules as it is with improvised drunken rules.
After watching Will Wheaton’s TableTop episode of Concept, I was itching to try the game and can now confess I like it quite a bit. I have never particularly enjoyed games of Pictionary or Charades (yes, I know, I am a monster!), however Concept is a superior option of these types of games. Once the players get their head around different symbols on the board, the whole game becomes completely intuitive and incredibly fun. When playing Concept, please use the ‘meter of shame’ responsibly!
Finally, I would like to give a mention to The Hare and The Tortoise, a board game I briefly spoke about on BRB Geek Speak Episode 6. It is a racing betting game with adorable and mischievous animals. The game comes in the box shaped like a book, and in general pieces and cards in the game are of excellent quality. Some details, like a little 3D podium, are not a necessity for the game play, but a really nice touch for the overall feel of the game. The Sheep will also be forever my favourite animal to bet on because, even after several playthroughs, his artwork still makes me giggle every time.
The DC Deck Building Game from Cryptozoic was my first foray into the world of a deck building game, one that was self contained in the box. I didn’t have to worry about packing up any special cards or having the right deck with me. I’ve actually managed to play this twice now, and with the same set of people which allowed us to have two different experiences. Once the set up is complete each player gets given some power cards and vulnerabilities to fill their ten card deck. The vulnerabilities offer no value for turns and are there to make either your first or even second hand fairly useless.
If you’ve played Deck Builders before the basic concept of using power or currency to purchase additional cards for your deck should be a familiar one. From the five cards you have in your hand, add up the total power, play any abilities and then purchase a card from the line up with the power you have. There are five cards in the main line up from the main deck as well as a stack of kick cards, which offer more power per card. These are useful early on as you begin to build your deck up. The main deck can have villain cards, hero cards, equipment types and others. Each type has a similar function and suit the DC property they relate to. There are also location cards which give a constant buff once you play them – these stay in front of you the entire game and add some tactical planning. Your selected hero for the game (random choice) also determines how you play. Flash for example means you play first – and then draw a card everytime a card tells you to draw for the time that turn. A different hero means a different strategy and ability to work with.
Although you can attack other players, these attacks mainly revolve around the discarding or destruction of cards in your hand, discard pile or deck. The main aim is to defeat the Super Villains by purchasing them. Each super villain’s attack and ability is fitting to the character they represent. It’s a lot of fun and you can definitely build different strategies every time you play. If you’re a fan of DC Comic properties and Deck Building games – this is definitely one for the collection.
Concept is a 4-12 player board game from Repos Production, created by Alain Rivollet and Gaëtan Beaujannot. I got to play it for the first time at Tabletop Tuesday. The rules were explained but once the game started, I realised that someone had basically just converted Charades into a tabletop game. The premise of the game is to use the various icons on the board to describe one of the nine ideas you get from the card you pick up. These ideas are split into three points categories; 1 for easy options and 3 for difficult ones.
You are given game pieces to select the icons on the board and a number of sheets so everyone can translate the icon (as there are lots of them). Using the question mark piece, you set out the main descriptor for your idea – for instance, I had to make people guess “bad things come in threes”. Therefore, the main descriptor I chose was the icon for a phrase or saying. I then used an exclamation mark piece to set out the sub-concept for the phrase (basically describing it further), so I placed the blue piece on (what I thought was) the negative icon and then used three of the same coloured smaller pieces on the unit icon to illustrate my idea.
Similar to Charades, I was not allowed to talk during my turn (a rule we didn’t exactly enforce strictly) so I used the basic point and thumbs up to let people know if they were on the right track. Concept was fun to play, simple to understand and easy to set up (my biggest issue with many board games) and I would recommend it.
In recent weeks I’ve been playing a few games with great miniatures. The first of these is a fantastic space based “sandbox” game, Xia: Legends of a Drift System. As these Kickstarter miniatures games often are, this game is beautiful! Each player controls a gorgeous little spaceship and flies across a set of hexagonal space tiles doing…well…pretty much whatever they want. That’s where the “sandbox” bit comes in. There are a tonne of routes to gaining victory or “fame” points. You can just be a peaceful merchant, or maybe a daredevil scavenger investigating asteroid fields. Maybe you want to go on missions or perhaps you want to screw all the other players and just go around picking fights.
It has some interesting mechanics. Ships can be outfitted with weapons, shields and engines which basically allow you to use different polyhedral dice. Better guns will allow you roll bigger dice so you can hit higher numbers but always have the chance of having a crap roll. These outfits also take up space in your ship which could otherwise be filled with various resources. Bigger ships have more space which means you can accommodate more stuff. I’ve only had the one game so far and it was fun but the rulebook was a bit of a struggle. It’s just not sufficiently clear and it involved jumping back and forth just to understand simple things.
Recently, a friend of mine bought Golem Arcana, an interesting miniatures game that utilises a tablet or smartphone to do all the difficult maths for you. The base set comes with some great, miniatures, the board and this nifty little pen that sinks up to your device via Bluetooth. The tech is pretty cool – you pretty much just tap everything with the pen. Tap, a mini and the tablet shows you where you can move. Tap an attack (on a separate card) and the tablet lets you know what miniatures are valid targets and, you guessed, you just tap that miniature! I’ve not really played a full game of it yet and more just seen some friends tinker with it. It looks….interesting but so far I cant really see if it’s anything other than a neat gimmick. It’s definitely hiding some maths in the app but the game doesn’t really look complicated enough to actually warrant this technology. This does, indeed seem to be a trend in modern gaming, a trend I actually quite like but here it seems more tacked on than necessary. Of course I’ll need to play a few more full games to really
I too have enjoyed Concept in recent weeks, but that has been well covered already this month! Most of the games I have played recently have been at Loading. I was very happy to be able to play the card game version of the excellent and highly portable deck builder, Star Realms – as I had been playing the (also excellent) App version for some time. Star Realms should be your next deck building purchase whether you are new to the genre or a Dominion veteran. A great strategic little two player game that can scale up to include more people with more decks.
I also got to play another space faring game by the name of Quantum that fellow BRB writer Chris K. kindly bought along to a Tabletop Tuesday. Really enjoyed this simplified 4X game, which sees you take control of a fleet of space vessels represented by standard dice. Based on a streamlined version of the eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate style gameplay that defines a 4X game. It lost some of appeal in the streamlining but still remained a fun strategic game that does away with a lot of the problems of 4X games being overly complex with hard to understand instructions or gameplay that outstays its welcome! Will probably look to add this one to my collection.
Other than that I have purchased some games I have not had a chance to play yet. I am really keen to crack open my new copy of Good Cop, Bad Cop, which I have heard is akin to a fun police based version of The Resistance. Alex and I also purchased a copy of Tokaido which I am keen to play too. Hopefully we will get to them in time for next month!