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Ten

Chris A
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Well you're here! But should you have come?

It's been a while since my last post - mostly due to the birth of my amazing baby boy on 01 March. Wow - what an experience that was and has been so far, truly a start of a new adventure.

As I'm sure most of you who have children already know, this has led to an absolutely manic few weeks (and I'm sure this is only the start of things to come). Due to this huge commitment, I have (temporarily) retired from attending Swiggers Game Club and there ha been very little time or interest in board gaming at home during this period. Sadly, I cannot see this changing in the near future while we grapple with our new responsibilities and complete lack free time!



Having said that, I did recently purchase my brother-in-law, James, a copy of Kingdomino as a house warming gift (to start his collection) and we managed to sneak in a few games when he and his other half, Lauren, came to visit the other day. This was the first time playing for both of us with neither of us having any prior knowledge of the game itself.

So without further ado, here are my initial thoughts after our first few games.

The CRUNCH review of...


Game: Kingdomino
Designer: Bruno Cathala
Artist: Cyril Bouquet
Publisher: Blue Orange
Player Count: 2-4
Playing Time: 15-25 minutes
Overall Rank: 195 (at time of review)


Overview

Kingdomino is billed a family friendly strategy game where you take on the role of a Lord seeking to build and expand their kingdom by drafting dominoes and connecting them to your existing land.

The game won the Spiel des Jahres in 2017 and the Jury said "“Kingdomino” lifts the time-honoured principle of dominoes to a new level – without losing any of the sleek elegance of its predecessor. On the contrary: the dual mechanics of planning the far-reaching lands surrounding the castle and the clever method of selecting tiles fit together extraordinarily well, they are expertly reduced to their essential components. The strong two-player variant with an XXL kingdom rounds off this quick and easy-to-learn gaming experience."

Components

The box itself is of good quality and is the right size for the components inside. Alot of board games tend to be way too big for whats inside (I'm not sure if this is to increase shelf space in stores?) but it feels as though they have been sensible here.

There is one board of components that you need to 'pop' which includes the castles that sit in the center (well, depending on how you plan) of your Kingdom. Once assembled there is a space inside the box for these fully assembled castles to sit which is great as having to reassembling these each time would have been a pain and would likely have suffered from wear and tear at a swift rate.

When looking at the dominoes, I initially thought that they would easily peel or warp but when inspecting them closer I was really impressed with the thickness and weight of these most important parts.

The instruction manual looks long but only 3 pages are relevant (in English) so its actually very easy to read through quickly and fully. During our run through we did have to refer to a help video to make sure we fully understood what was going on but for the most part - we had already understood this from the rulebook.

Theme

I like the theme and the artwork is clean and of good quality. I purchased this as a gift for James as he really enjoys playing Carcassonne and while the gameplay is significantly different, the theme of building a Kingdom from tiles/dominoes was something that I knew he would get onside with and hopefully enjoy. The built castles on the centre tile is somewhat unnecessary but is actually a really nice touch and helps with the visuals.

Gameplay

As already touched upon, the instruction manual is clear and the game is simple enough that its easy to grasp after one play through. We only played the two player variant so here we would draw 4 dominoes, place them in descending order (they are all numbered on the back) and with our two King meeples, take it in turns to select which domino we want to place in our Kingdom next. Each domino has a different variety of landscapes and you can connect these either to your centre tile or further afield as long as they connect to another tile with the same landscape. You must keep your Kingdom in a 5x5 square and will score at the end based on the number of connected landscapes, multiplied by the number of 'Crowns' that some of the dominoes have printed on them. Bonus points are granted for having your castle/starting tile in the centre of the 5x5 square and for having a complete 5x5 square once all dominoes have been drafted.

Final Thoughts

We both really enjoyed this. The games run quickly which suits James and I as we like to go back and forth and its always fun to rack up a good tally against one another. I would classify James as a more casual gamer than myself but he picked this up quickly, absolutely destroying me in our first game whereas I managed to catch up slightly in our subsequent game (I won on a tie breaker).

Overall its a lightweight game that is easy to learn and has enough strategy to keep it interesting for gamers who are looking for a quick fix or want to play multiple games of the same the same session.

With the main attraction of the day being the newborn baby, a game that takes 15-25 minutes (in reality, closer to 15 once you have had your first playthrough) was perfect to suit our needs. Will it take over our most played game together (Carcassonne) - probably not. However, I think this will get a lot of attention from us as a starter game before we move onto something bigger, longer, during our gaming sessions.

Rating





Well, it sounds as though I need to go change a nappy but I will try and get another review or game session up soon.

Until then...What do you mean I'm funny?
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Thu Mar 14, 2019 3:09 pm
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Nine

Chris A
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Well you're here! But should you have come?

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As someone who has recently turned their back of traditional social media sites (A year ago I deleted my personal facebook and twitter accounts) I have recently found myself knee deep in the usage of Instagram to fuel my board gaming fandom. I have justified this with the rationale that I do not post anything outside of board gaming on it and I have not given my details to any friends I have in the real world.



I'm still unsure of how much I actually enjoy 'Instagramming' though as there is a definate addictive element that plays into my personality failings. I often and easily find myself become borderline obsessed with tasks/projects that are for lack of a better description - a waste of time. Examples include spending 50+ hours on a video game attempting to get 100% completion (I no longer play video games for this reason) or fully completing a sticker album (the last one I did was Euro 2016 which ended up costing me a lot of cash and once complete my wife asked me - are you going to throw that away now? - wait, whaaaat!?).




Anyway, I'm doing it and there are some clear positives to the platform. For example, its a quick and easy way to see a lot of different board games and good to get a snapshot opinion on something. There have been some great recommendations I've taken from IG (usually followed by a more detailed review of the game on bgg) which have led to some satisfied purchases. The clear disadvantage is that most of the pictures are of games people like and very few people have a negative (or truthful) slant on the games behind the images they post. Which is fine. I'd much rather be engaged in a platform that mostly has a positive outlook than negative as we all have way too much of that in our lives already.




There is obviously the ego driven self-gratification that posting a picture and receiving recognition provides but that can probably be said about this blog as well. For now, I enjoy it but I fully expect to throw it away when I'm done with it in the near future.

What was the point of this blog you ask? If you were looking for some deep and meaningful insights into the world of social media, you came to the wrong place - time to move along. I guess I'll go back to posting on Instagram now...

Do you use Instagram to share pictures of your adventures in board gaming? If so, please share your handle in the comments below and i'll give you a follow.

Next time I plan on writing up our recent Star Wars roleplay session as my notes are starting to burn a hole in my backpack.

Until then...It's Our Time Down Here
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Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:18 pm
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Eight

Chris A
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Well you're here! But should you have come?

I've been a little slack in writing here recently - mostly because of outside commitments but also because of my growing interest in Instagram - go give me a follow.

This weekend I've been trying to get to grips with Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island but without much success. To learn, I was using 'Watch it Played' with Rodney Smith and despite usually loving his video runthroughs, have found this particular video/learning the game a bit of a slog.

However, you'll be glad to hear that there are some games that I did actually get my head around so here are some of my thoughts on those.


Viking Fury
Better a brief spell of honour than a long run of shame.

In a nutshell - You are a viking! Starting in your home base of Wintering, you load up your ship with goods and crewman and travel to various locations across the seas where you must (if you want to score points) trade, raid or settle. Uncovered "Sagas" give players direction on where to head and what they should do and "Runecards" give players beneficial bonuses (or bonuses that are detrimental to your Viking brethren who you are in direct competition with). Oh and it all takes place over a tea towel game board.

Thoughts? - I played with Pevans and Richard M who had both played this before, although admittedly not for some time. Rules carefully explained, we all set out to achieve honour and victory. From memory, I concentrated on completing sagas early on thinking this would be the best way to score. However, as the game progressed and seeing what the others were doing, I realised this may not be the only route and started having fun with settlement and raiding attempts.


The game finished very close between the three of us but I think I kept pace more out of luck than anything. I must say, I found the gameplay and theme to be a good match and enjoyed the random elements (rolling dice to determine the outcome of raids and settlement attempts) to be exciting. Playing over a tea towel was a novelty and as you can see from my picture, almost added an ocean-like effect.

The game has been renamed (Fire and Axe: A viking Saga) and repackaged and I would very much like to give this version a go.

Rating -



Little Devils
Are you trying to trick me? Et cetera? I'll tell on you!

In a nutshell - A trick taking card game where each card has a different number of devils on it. The first player plays a card, the next player must go higher or lower and the next player must, where possible, go in the same direction (higher or lower than the first). After all three have placed their card, the player with the highest or lowest card 'wins' all of the cards and whatever devils were contained on them. You want to avoid collecting the devils and the game ends when the first player exceeds 100 with the player who has the least winning.

Thoughts? We played three hands after our long game of Viking Fury and was probably a nice game to wind down an evenings gaming with.

Having said that, rounds were played quickly and are slightly repetitive when you are aiming for the first player to exceed 100. Although I won, I was glad when it came to an end as there is a lot of memory recall required to remember what cards have been played, what values of devils each card has and what cards are left to be played. Some will enjoy this type of thing but to me, its a bit of a chore.

Overall, an OK filler but there are plenty better. Also comes with one of those annoying tin containers a la Sushi Go (which just don't fit anywhere nicely on shelves).

Rating -



Alhambra
If you build it, he will come.

In a nutshell - Each turn you must choose to gain money or build and add to your palace/fortress (Alhambra) complex in the hope of scoring the most points by having the most of certain types of buildings come scoring.

Thoughts? I'd never heard of this game before when Lena and Daniel brought this along to Swiggers board game club but I could instantly see it was something I was going to enjoy. On the surface, it kind of looks like a mixture of Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne and there are definately basic elements of both in the gameplay.


I decided to concentrate on going for the higher valued building types and thanks to a bit of good planning and a lot of luck, I was able to utilise the 'pay with the correct money and get another go' ability and really maxed out on Green, Purple and White buildings. Scoring happens on a semi random basis so this adds an element of excitement as you are never quite sure at what point you will need to compare complexes and score.

Another fun scoring element was attempting to create as large a wall as possible and again, a bit of luck had me raking in the points. A big win always seems to help with goodwill towards a new game but I think this is something I may look to add to my collection in the near future as I can see a lot of replay value here.

Rating -

My ratings are based on the boardgamegeek rating system and are based on my experience playing. A rating of one game should not be compared to the rating of another game (i.e Do I think Spaceteam is a better game than Forum Trajanum overall - probably not - but I'm more likey to choose Spaceteam when looking for a post dinner filler game over Forum Trajanum when looking for a 3 hour session game)

Next time I really want to write up our latest Star Wars - Edge of the Empire rolepaly session report - so watch this space!

Until then.. Whose house?...RUNS HOUSE
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Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:02 pm
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Seven

Chris A
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Well you're here! But should you have come?

A few more 'first times' for me this week and here are a few of my initial impressions of those games.


The Ruhr: A Story of Coal Trade
I think I've got the black lung, pop.

In a nutshell - You control a barge travelling down the Ruhr river collecting and delivering coal as you go. The quality of coal is variable and may degrade depending on if you pass obstacles (Locks) before delivering the coal to its destination.

Thoughts? - Boy oh boy did this first game take a long time to play clocking in at about 4 hours. A game of Scythe actually started and finished while we were still playing which was kind of a 'what!?' moment during play. On the night, I was truthfully glad when the game finally game to an end and was unsure whether I would be interested in playing again

As the week progressed, my opinion started to change. I caught myself thinking about the game more and more, how it works, what I did wrong, what I could do to build a better strategy. For me, this is one of the signs that a game is actually quite good and the underwhelming first play was potentially due to three new players all trying to learn the rules.

So with that in mind, I am looking forward to trying this again. There are some really interesting trade off's that you must make - do you go for a large coal delivery early on lower down the river at the cost of losing turn preference (turn order is dictated on how high up the river you are) and do you try and open up the higher, more lucrative part of the board over gaining the ability to build warehouses and open Locks which earn you bonus points - Trying to find that balance will be interesting.

Rating -



The Princes of Florence
I need you Ned, down at Kings Landing, not up here where you're no damn use to anybody.

In a nutshell - You must assemble different buildings, landscapes, ideas and even Court Jesters in the hope that you will attract different professionals to your court.

Thoughts? Wow - I really enjoyed this game.

You begin by having a choice of 'Profession' cards which helps you put together a strategy using the synergy between the cards and what the different professions want to come to your court.

During play, you are largely concentrating on your own board but each round there is an auction mechanic which really increases interaction between players - trying to up a competitors bid without getting stuck with something that you don't actually want is great fun.

Each round you can decide to take your points as money or a mixture of the two. Early on, I found myself gathering as much money as possible but as soon as that first player started taking the points, the decision on what ratio of points/coins became a lot harder as I didn't want to find myself too far behind.

The addition of 'Prestige' cards makes for an exciting end game with bonus points on offer if certain targets have been met - each player has the opportunity to gather more than 1 of these and the conditions are private to each player.

You would think that the downtime between turns while you wait for other players to decide what to do would be tedious but I found there was enough to be thinking about that the game played quite fast and was an exciting experience. I very much look forward to playing this again.

Rating -



Macao
Seaward ho! Hang the treasure! It's the glory of the sea that has turned my head.

In a nutshell - You take on the role of an adventurer seeking to make their fortune by buying city quarters, obtaining goods and delivering them to various locations on the Sea. There is a very clever and unique 'Ship Wheel' mechanic which allows players to collect resources that can then be spent to perform various actions. There is an element of luck involved as the use of dice dictates the collection of these resources but the results are shared amongst all players so it doesn't feel too uneven.

Thoughts? During setup I was skeptical as to whether this was a game I would enjoy. I was unsure that I understood what was actually going to happen after the rules were explained to me as I was bedazzled by the ship wheel whose workings were alien to me.

One turn in though and it all clicked into place. It can be quite an exciting game as a lot does depend on the dice rolls. I did cling to the fact that you are awarded bonus points for owning city quarters adjacent to each other and ultimately it won me the game in a very tight four player contest.

With this amount of players, it was difficult to review what cards would be beneficial to other players when drafting cards but I kind of liked that. It wasn't until the end of the game when I realised just how powerful some of the cards drafted by other players were but as I had played my own game (and won!) it shows that there are multiple paths to victory which is great.

This game definitely won me over and I look forward to playing it again.

Rating -

My ratings are based on the boardgamegeek rating system and are based on my experience playing. A rating of one game should not be compared to the rating of another game (i.e Do I think Spaceteam is a better game than Forum Trajanum overall - probably not - but I'm more likey to choose Spaceteam when looking for a post dinner filler game over Forum Trajanum when looking for a 3 hour session game)

Next time I may get onto discussing some online tabletop simulators that I have been dabbling in, perhaps making an assessment on whether I actually enjoy using Instagram or maybe do another Star Wars - Edge of the Empire sessions report.

Until then.. I’m your density. I mean, your destiny.
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Sat Feb 2, 2019 7:33 am
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Six

Chris A
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Well you're here! But should you have come?

Christmas, Birthdays, Gotta love em! More so when your friends and family know you are board game geek and shower you with fun gifts! So here are my very brief first impressions of some of the newer games I have played recently.



Exploding Kittens
I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

In a nutshell - Its a card game about small cats that explode and apparently did pretty well on something called Kickstarter - maybe you've heard of it? Each player has a starting hand and continues to draw cards in turn order. The aim is to avoid drawing an exploding kitten which results in you, well, exploding. Various power cards help prevent this from happening and play continues until one player remains intact.

Thoughts? - It's super easy to pick up and play. The games don't outstay their welcome and you can easily get a few rounds in while waiting for dinner to cook. Beware if you don't like direct conflict as the potential to screw over or be screwed over is high.

Rating -



Mini Rails
Well, I'm not gonna give them oil prices. I'll give them quail prices.

In a nutshell - You have two actions each round - buy stocks and lay track - you have to both each round so your only choice is in what order.

Thoughts? At first glance this game appears to be very simplistic. Limited moves, a small game board - it all leads to you to wonder where the strategy is going to come in. However, after a few rounds you will find that there are some very difficult and interesting choices to be made as you try to balance your own interests against those of your opponents. Easy to learn, difficult to master.

Rating -



Forum Trajanum
What have the Romans ever done for us?

In a nutshell - FT places you in control of your own Colonia. Each round you choose two tiles that have hidden benefits, one of which you must transfer to the player on your right (and in turn you receive one from the player on your left). Resources are gathered, a building action is performed and you will (hopefully) be able to increase your influence in the Forum.

Thoughts? This was actually my second playthrough (first time as a four player though). The game looks great in my opinion and has some fun mechanics (I really like the choose two tiles and pass one along). However, there isn't much player interaction - you are kind of just doing your own thing and there is fair amount of waiting around for players to make their decisions. I really want to like this game but so far it feels slightly underwhelming.

Rating -



Spaceteam
So, um, we think we should discuss the bonus situation..

In a nutshell - A 5 minute cooperative game based on a mobile phone app where you work as a team to frantically try and fix a spaceship that is falling apart at the seams. Everyone has a unique set of tools that must be passed around to teammates who will all have their own malfunctions to fix.

Thoughts? This game delivers a short burst of high energy fun. It looks easy but with zany side challenges such as being sucked into space (you physically have to move slowly backwards away from the table until your team mates pull you back in) and with everyone shouting over each other trying to get the tools they need, it can actually be quite tricky.

Rating -

My ratings are based on the boardgamegeek rating system and are based on my experience playing. A rating of one game should not be compared to the rating of another game (i.e Do I think Spaceteam is a better game than Forum Trajanum overall - probably not - but I'm more likey to choose Spaceteam when looking for a post dinner filler game over Forum Trajanum when looking for a 3 hour session game)


Next time I may talk about some of the online tabletop simulators I have tried recently and what I think about playing in this way. I have also been dabbling in Instagram (or IG as the kids are calling it) but am yet to decide whether the interactions on there are enjoyable or just addictive.

Until then.. Shame, shame. We know your name.
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Sun Jan 20, 2019 9:17 am
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Chris A
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Well you're here! But should you have come?

A big week of new for me. The following were gifts on my birthday - Star Realms Frontiers, Eldritch Horror: Forsaken Lore and Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island. I also got to play my first games of Mini Rails, Exploding Kittens and SpaceTeam.

However, this post is going to be slightly different. Last weekend, four of us had a fun six hour session of Star Wars - Edge of the Empire- the fourth session in total but my second. A big thank you must be given to the GM (Tom) who really put together a great story for us to play out. This post is pretty much a fleshed out session report from that game - I am by no means a Star Wars aficionado or a creative writer so please excuse the primitive narrative or any inaccuracies.



STAR WARS - EDGE OF THE EMPIRE

EPISODE IV

A MINER DISASTER

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

It is a time of civil war...and much more.

Every day, the growing Rebellion threatens the Galactic Empire on new battlefields and political arenas, fighting for hearts and minds throughout the galaxy in their bid for freedom.

Beyond the Rebellion, the rest of the galaxy goes about its business.

Some hope to stay out of the line of fire, but others profit from the conflict.

Three such individuals are the Wookiee Lowhhrick, a Twi'lek bounty hunter named Oskara and Pash the Unlucky, a human smuggler pilot. The group are currently laying low in the Outer Rim Territories following a botched kidnapping of a high ranking Imperial Officer on Coruscant.

Aboard the Century Eagle, Lowhhrick has assumed piloting the ship as his main responsibility since leaving Coruscant, sensing Pash's resentment towards him. A brooding Pash has been keeping to himself, mostly learning to use his newly fitted mechno-arm and is currently skulking around one of the dark recesses of the Eagle. He knows that what Lowhhrick did saved his life but still can't help partly hate him for it. He also can't help but notice that he still hasn't been paid the couple of thousand credits promised when he joined up with these two. He grimly laughs to himself, he really is Pash The Unlucky. Oskara, trying to keep the peace, has largely been keeping an eye on the ships systems after helping Pash with the installation of his cybernetic arm replacement. Three days have passed this way when they receive a communication from Lady T'eeb, an underworld syndicate boss based on Coruscant and the groups current employer.



Lady T'eeb is sending the group to investigate a mining colony on Davos, a gas giant in the Kun system. She explains that it has recently gone silent and as she holds an interest in the production there, wants them to them find out what has happened. The three of them meet in the galley to discuss their options. Oskara states that they should visit the nearest space station to gather knowledge. Pash, who is keen to blow off some steam suggests that they head to EY10FL, a space station within the Kun system where he knows they can gather some intelligence for the mission .. as well as being able to find plenty of sabacc players to con.

After docking, Pash declares that he is heading to the Cantina and to his surprise Lowhhrick joins him. Oskara rolls her eyes at this and sets off to find an access terminal to hack into. (TEST=SUCCESS) She discovers that Davos is a cloud planet with the mining colony protected by a storm barrier which will allow access to approaching ships as long as the generators are operational. The system also confirms that orichalum ore is mined there, a metal that is widely used in the galaxy. The colony is governed by a human named Bonda. Unable to obtain any further useful information, Oskara decides to head to the Cantina only to find Lowhhrick and Pash embracing each other, revelling in their (TEST=2 x SUCCESS) sabacc success. Oskara tries to find someone who may have any information about the lack of communication on Davos but no one knows anything. Pash tries to sell some death sticks at a high price but noone is interested.

Having exhausted what basic amenities the station has to offer, the group return to the Century Eagle and take off for nearby Davos. Upon approach, they enter through the Storm barrier and notice that Pad A is unoccupied while Pad B has a large frater parked there. They notice (TEST = FAIL) nothing else.



Pad A is a hexagonal shaped landing platform headed with a long gangway leading towards a reception/welcome area for the colony. They enter the reception area but no one is there to greet them. To their left is an office and Lowhhrick (TEST = SUCCESS) gains access by shooting the door open. They find a dead Trandoshan slumped behind a desk with a blaster wound to his torso. A nametag confirms his name as 'Vrrisk'. There is nothing else here.

They head towards a Canteen located to the right of the reception and find 4 dead non-descript bodies. Lowhhrick loots one of the bodies for 20 credits but finds no other information. There is a chef droid working behind the counter. Oskara and Pash approach the droid to ask what has happened but it has no idea and continues to prepare food for no one. They ask when he last saw someone alive and it suggests 3 days prior but is unsure. Unable to coex any useful information out of the Chef droid, they head down the corridor to the far left of the reception and come across the mining quarters. There are lockers and beds here but nothing else of note. At the end of the room is a rec room and the chief's quarters. Lowhhrick decides to check the rec room but finds nothing and then re-joins the others as they enter the chief's quarters.

Inside they find a powered down protocol droid with a restraint bolt attached. Oskara (Test = SUCCESS) removes the bolt and is met with 'WELCOME TO DAVOS MINING FACILITY, MY NAME IS 3D4K, HOW CAN I BE OF HELP'. Oskara explains that they have come across no living person so far after landing and asks where Bonda is. The droid doesn't know. She asks when was the last time the droid saw someone alive. The droid doesn't know. Oskara, growing frustrated at the unhelpful nature of the droids on this colony, asks what the last thing it does remember. 3D4K confirms that Bonda was supposed to have a meeting with EV8D3, a relatively new droid they had added to the colony in order to improve productivity. She asks if it can locate Bonda or the EV droid and 3D4K confirms it cannot but does mention that there are four security cameras on the station, 1 on landing pad A, 1 on landing pad B, 1 in reception and 1 in the mine entrance. They ask if they can enter Bonda's office for clues and the droid agrees, following them.

Bonda's office has a desk with a computer unit sitting in the middle, a few filing cabinets and nothing else of obvious note. Pash checks the filing cabinets (TEST = FAIL) and finds nothing. Oskara hacks into the computer (TEST=SUCCESS) and reviews the security camera footage. Pad B's security camera shows the Frater arriving 3 days ago and an EV droid approaches the ship to meet a Sullustan as it descends the landing ramp. The footage then cuts out. The reception footage shows a Trandoshan running in fear with a blaster shot being entering from outside of the camera range.The footage then cuts out. The footage for Pad A is still running but around 3 hours prior to the Century Eagle landing, a scout droid can be seen returning to a pod and taking off. The mine entrance footage shows a group of miners, slightly rushed, heading towards the mine around 3 days ago.

Reviewing the colonies personnel manifest, it confirms that the following droids are on the station.

PK Droids
Scout Droid
Chef Droid
Protocol Droid
Loading Droids
Astromech Droid
EV Droid



A diagnostic check confirms that there are four generators supporting the Storm barrier system but only three are currently operational with the fourth reading as though it has been destroyed beyond repair.

Finally, the financial statements suggests that the mining colony is in the red.

Pash continues to look around the room (TEST=SUCCESS) and notices a safe partially hidden under the desk. Pash (TEST=SUCCESS) manages to pry it open and finds 165,000 credits worth of casino chips. Seeing the booty, his eyes light up and smirks at Lowhhrick, declaring it was about time they saw some real money. Lowhhrick, excitedly returns the chips to the safety of the ship taking 3D4K with him to safeguard the ship (and credits).

A side door reveals a changing room where they meet a medical droid. The droid briefly acknowledges them and then continues working, uninterested by their presence. They ask the droid if it knows the whereabouts of the miners to which it unhelpfully responds 'IN THE MINE I ASSUME’. Oskara notices another restraining bolt and in doing so returns to Bonda's office to access the computer mainframe. She finds a subroutine which can disable all restraining bolts and activates it. She re-joins the others and they head into a changing room. A side doorway reveals a cargo area.

The cargo area reveals an assortment of large crates mostly full of orichalum ore. Two loading droids are positioning the crates around the cargo bay but an R2B7 Astromech is also present. It ignores them. Oskara makes a movement to approach the droid but it quickly disappears amongst the crates and every path she takes to try and intercept it is blocked by the loading droids dropping a new container in her path.

Growing suspicious of the droids here, they decide to give up on R2 and can see a doorway leading to landing Pad B. They walk down the passageway to the hexagonal landing site and can see the Frater is still open. They go in. They find a dead Sullustan, who has been stabbed through the chest with a trail of blood leading to its final resting place slumped against an unopened crate. Pash pry's the crate open to find a cache of medium range blasters, obvious now that the Sullustan was trying to reach the weapons to make a last stand. Pash and Oskara check the pilot area and Oskara checks the computers (Test=SUCCESS) but they have been scrubbed clean and all data removed. Lowhhrick enters a workshop and see's a bench with some tools. He takes some scanning equipment and loots another dead body for 10 credits. He also finds and takes a number of restraining bolts.

Oskara takes the scanning equipment, noting they can check for lifeforms. She turns them on (TEST = SUCCESS) and finds out that there are life signs in the colony but they are all coming from 1km underground, however, there is severe interference from what looks like wreckage in the area. Pash investigates the remainder of the ship, trying to look for any hidden compartments (TEST=FAIL) but finds none. The group return to the cargo area and decide to try the final doorway which leads to the mine. At the mine entrance they encounter EV8D3 along with 6 B1 Battle Droids (roger, roger) and 2 PK series worker droids. "Thank god you are here" says the EV droid, "We've been attacked by pirates who landed, attacked and are now holding all miners hostage in the mine". EV explains that when he went to meet the ship on Pad B, everything seemed legitimate but they soon attacked once they had access to the colony. Oskara, Lowhhrick and Pash look at each other suspiciously. Oskara asks EV how they can help to which it replies "stop, kill, or restrain the pirates" and confirms there are six of them. Lowhhrick suggests that the group must return to their ship to get their gear and will return to offer assistance. Once back in the cargo area the group confer. Oskara is unsure of what to do and suggests leaving orbit to confer with Lady T'eeb. Pash offers that they should leave and nuke the planet, "It's the only way to be sure". Lowhhrick seems to agree with Pash, offering that they have already looted over 165,000 worth of credits. Oskara is firm though and they agree to contact Lady T'eeb.

After returning to their ship and exiting the storm clouds, Oskara contacts Lady T'eeb on the comms. They explain that Lady T'eeb wanted them to find out what was happening and offer the explanation given by EV telling Lady T'eeb to send her people. Lady T'eeb bluntly tells Oskara that they are 'the people' and to rescue the miners. Lowhhrick, hearing this, jumps on the comms to tell Lady T'eeb that they need remuneration for this and Lady T'eeb (TEST=SUCCESS)reluctantly agrees to offer a 50,000 reward for finding out what has happened and resolving this conflict. Pash, sensing an opportunity says they also want a favour in return. Lady T'eeb reluctantly agrees.

Oskara equips the optimal camo system that she was rewarded for during their last mission. This makes her partially invisible and significantly improves her stealth capabilities. They agree a plan and return to the cargo area, Oskara on point and camouflaged, only to find the cargo area under siege by the 6 B1 battle droids, 3 pointing their weapons at the doorway in and 3 pointing their weapons at the mine entrance doorway. Oskara sneaks in the room unseen and heads to landing Pad B. There she witnesses the EV droid ordering the astromech to prepare the Frater for take off. This is relayed to Pash and Lowhhrick on the comms and they decide to attack.



Pash and Lowhhrick enter combat both managing two pre-emptive strikes before the battle begins. Pash equipped with a heavy blaster inflicts a decent amount of damage while Lowhhrick wields his bowcaster with devastating results. The battle is short and all 6 B1 battledroids are destroyed.

The group confer what to do next and decide to split up. Oskara decides to go investigate the mine leaving Pash and Lowhhrick to patch up their minor injuries using stimpacks. They agree that they will wait until Oskara returns unless the Frater is due to take off imminently.

Oskara (TEST=SUCCESS) easily navigates herself down to the mine, fully camouflaged. She see's a barricade that has been setup and notices 4 humans wearing mining gear on the other side. There seems to be no pirates. Deeper into the mine she can see more miners huddled together in safety. She exits and reenters the mine after deactivating her optimal camo system. The miners ask where the droids are and Oskara, suspicious of the situation, lies saying there are no droids upstairs. The miners look confused and proceed to explain that an EV droid went rogue, conspiring with an astromech to kill everyone in the colony and start a droid revolution. Oskara asks for Bonda and he comes to the top of the barricade. Bonda confirms the story. She tries to persuade the miners to return to the surface with her but when they ask why, Oskara admits she was lying and that the EV droid is trying to escape on the Frater. Upon learning of the lie, the miners immediately train their weapons on Oskara who nervously takes a step backwards. They ask why she lied and state they are going to take her hostage. Oskara pleads her case saying she needs to deal with the EV droid. (TEST=SUCCESS) The miners reluctantly let her leave but do not go with her.

Meanwhile Pash and Lowhhrick have applied medical care to their wounds. They decide not to wait for Oskara and rush the EV droid on Pad B. They enter combat and after a short firefight destroy the EV droid which was hiding behind a crate at the end of the platform. The Frater powers up. Pash, severely injured from the fight tries to jump onto the Frater but misses. Lowhhrick on the other hand makes the jump with ease and enters the Frater. He storms to the cockpit and hastily blasts the astromech with his bowcaster, destroying some of the ships controls in the process. The ship spins out of control. While he attempts to wrestle control, he notices a warning light confirming that the colonies storm barrier is under great stress. It indicates that 3 of the 4 generators have now been destroyed and the storm barrier is wavering under the reduced power. Lowhhrick (TEST=Success) somehow manages to crash land the Frater on Pad B.



Oskara is already there helping the injured Pash when Lowhhrick relays the news. They have to make a decision. Go after the miners and face death if the storm barrier breaks. Go to the 4th generator to prevent whatever is destroying them finishing the job. Return to the Century Eagle and book. They choose the last option, hauling the blasted remains of the Astromech and EV droid as evidence for Lady T'eeb.

Back in space they see the mining colony collapse in on itself as the 4th generator is destroyed and the storm barrier deactivated. All of the miners lost their lives. They contact Lady T'eeb who is less than impressed that she has lost the colony but (TEST=SUCCESS) reluctantly agrees to give them 50,000 credits in exchange for the remains of the rogue droids.

Pash comments, "It's like I said earlier, nuke the planet from orbit, its the only way to be sure".



Next time I will give some thoughts on the new games I have played recently.

Until then .. May the Force be with you
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:23 am
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Chris A
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Well you're here! But should you have come?

42 may well be the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything but I ask you - what is the significance of 27?

The number of board games in my collection at the end of 2018 - 27
The number of different board games I played in 2018 (13 of which I don't own) - 27
The number of times I played my most played board game in 2018 - 27

So what does it mean? Affinity Numerology confirms the energies 27 represent want to see humanity better off than it is. Then there is the phenomenon that is The 27 Club, Dark matter apparently making up 27% of the universe and who could forget that IT returns to Derry every 27 years. Of course, this is all just nonsense and has nothing to do with me or my board game collection. Having said that, I do like the Angel Number Meaning which suggests that 27 is deeply connected with one's love interest.

On that note, I'd like to share my top five games played in 2018. The criteria is simply me having played the game at least once during the year - whether or not they were newly released or new to me has no baring.



#5 - Star Realms - Played 8 times during the year.

This game actually sat on my shelf for a few months unplayed until early December. I bought it on the Geek Market based soley on its high bgg rating but unfortunately it didn't immediately appeal to my wife, Katharine, so it took a bit of time to play - it was probably the theme and the unassuming box.

For those who haven't played, Star Realms is a space themed deck building game. Ships and bases can be purchased from a central market (or Trade Deck) depending on your buying power which is determined by five cards you shuffle and reveal from your draw pile each turn. Once purchased, these new cards eventually enter your draw pile allowing you to draw more powerful ships and bases. These cards also wield attack power and you win by destroying your opponent by reducing their health (or Authority) from fifty to zero.

Our first game was rocky as we struggled to get our head around the scoring cards ( similar to what happened in this episode of Tabletop ) but once we decided to replace them with the trusty pen and paper the game really came alive for us. Its quick, its fun, its strategic and the random elements give it a lot of replay value.

Katharine rated this #1 in her top five.



#4 - Machi Koro - Played 4 times during the year

Machi Koro is a deck builder with dice. The value of the rolls will determine which cards are activated and can range from getting money from the bank to owing other players money to taking money from a player of your choice.

Most of our games include the Harbor expansion only. We do own the Millionaires Row expansion but have recently made the decision to remove this from play as some of the cards seemed way too overpowered and can sometimes prolong the game beyond what is fun (Park - I'm looking at you). It also meant that a crazy amount of cards were in the deck and any chance of building up some multipliers and you know, a strategy, were a lot less likely.

Our group of friends love this game although we have adopted an extremely cutthroat style of play with loud verbal exchanges a given. Chants erupt if certain cards are activated - Wheatfield? WE ALL GET ONE, WE ALL GET ONE. Tuna Boat? TOOOONA BOAT, TOOONA BOAT - Sound annoying? It is. But its also great fun, especially when you get to steal all of your brother-in-law's coins.

Katharine rated this #4 in her top five.



#3 - Steam - Played 1 time during the year.

This was played during my first visit to Swiggers Game Club and after having a fantastic time I remember going home and enthusiastically telling Katharine - we played this game, it was like Ticket to Ride but you get to move goods and auction for abilities and it was awesome. This is a very basic description of a really great game but I don't think its a million miles away.

Despite only playing Steam once, it has really stuck with me and is very high on my wishlist of games to get (alongside Brass Birmingham - I am from Nuneaton you know!).



#2 - Carcassonne - Played 6 times during the year.

My first introduction to meeples! But what is there to say about this game that hasn't already been said? It's just a really fun, clever game that is easy to teach, easy to learn, is well made and looks really great on the table.

My only gripe is that newer players appear to struggle with the placement of farmers which can skew end of game scoring. When discussing this with Katharine recently she replied 'I just don't like those meeples who lie down'... Carcassonne did not rate in her top five.



#1 - Eldritch Horror - Played 27 times during the year.

I've spent many an hour in 2018 sitting down (mainly solo) fighting the forces of darkness. I absolutely love it.

Eldritch Horror is an adventure type game where you take on the role of investigators trying to put a stop to the advancement of doom (bad) which will eventually lead to the awakening of an Ancient One (very bad). Each card includes flavor text and while they don't all necessarily create a direct story, there is a lot of fun to be had weaving them together into one. There is so much to this game with multiple investigators to choose from, four different AO's with there own individual challenges alongside a huge deck of cards to draw from. On top of all that - its hard. Like really hard. A lot of things have to go right (or not go too wrong) for you to win but it really makes those few victories all the sweeter.

Reading out the flavor text aloud is a must - even when playing solo - although it was much more of a whisper during my sleepness night 3am sessions - but that just enriches the atmosphere created by the game. Add more players and the game transforms into an engaging group experience, even if some of the seriousness is lost to giggles and silliness.

Katharine rated this #5 in her top five.


Honourable mentions would include Forum Trajanum and Instabul. These may have been contenders if they had been played more than once but maybe next year. Katharine's top five was rounded out by Puerto Rico at #4 and Pandemic at #2. So for what its worth, that it. Next time I will likely explore one of my games in more depth or possibly even attempt a review.

Until then.. Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies
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Sun Jan 6, 2019 7:10 am
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Chris A
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Well you're here! But should you have come?

A very quick post from me to wish everyone on boardgamegeek a very Happy New Year!.

I hope you all had fun seeing in 2019 - We almost missed it at ours as we were busy betting away our lives in the mad camel racing game Camel Up. The race is ran over a number of legs in which you can bet on who you think will win the leg, win the race, lose the race or move the camels around the track. The board has a 'pop up' feature with palm trees standing tall as you unfold the board and the pyramid dice roller in the centre is a clever way of randomising which die/camel is moved.



This was my first time playing and with six players thought it was great fun - even if everything I bet on seemed to be more of a donkey than a racing camel (I came dead last with only 3 coins at the end of the game). Everyone else fared significantly better with Sofia scoring 10, Stu 13, Patrick 15, Maddie 16 and Katharine as the ultimate winner with 17 coins.




Luckily, with three minutes to spare we noticed the time and were able to all get onto the balcony to have a fantastic view as the South London skyline exploded with fireworks in every direction to mark the New Year.

Next time I really will take a look at my favourite games that I played in 2018.

Until then.. It looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking.
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Tue Jan 1, 2019 12:56 pm
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Well you're here! But should you have come?

It seems like board games have been coming outta the goddamn walls for me this year. The result of this has meant that not everything has been fully appreciated but nonetheless, there were some great new experiences. With that in mind along with the two shelves on our bookshelf that I'm allocated for board games in danger of overflowing, I will likely need to take a much more considered approach when adding to my collection in 2019.



So here's my two cents on how my year in gaming shaped up with a few sprinkles of non-gaming related incidents for your viewing pleasure.

January


Lovecraftian fantasy romp Eldritch Horror dropped through a portal and into my collection via an other world encounter on my birthday. I had been itching to try a 'meatier' game for a while after mostly playing lighter games such as Machi Koro and Takenoko. It definitely delivered in that department - so much so that with hundreds of pieces, two rule books and an uninterested wife the horrors went unchallenged for quite a few months.

Once I finally did invest some time into learning the game, there was many a restless night where I would be unfolding the world map at 3am to battle the approaching horror. I later managed to host a fantastic games night where four of us played an epic five hour game against the big bad Shub-Niggurath which took us well into the early hours. On our final turn we had won it all, solved all three mysteries and only had to survive the mythos phase but you guessed it, Shub awoke and proceeded to kick our ass. The World had ended but it had been a fun ride.




Also arriving in January on the back of a camel was trading game Jaipur. We got this owing to its high rating as a two player game which is mostly how I play. Early signs indicated this would be a big favourite but regrettably faded in the second half of the year. I'm keen to start playing this again soon as its super easy to play but with enough strategy to not make it dull.

Finally in January, after being a long time lurker, I finally created a profile on boardgamegeek.

February


A visit to Lithuania saw a lot of games of my go-to travel card game, Yaniv – an Israeli card game originally taught to me by an Australian in Bulgaria – go figure.




I'm not sure where the inspiration came from whistlebut upon our return tile placement classic Carcassonne was the next new entry and has proven to be a big hit with all of my friends. The only snag is that the concept of farmers proves to be a head scratcher for newer players - where they can place them, when should they place them, etc - but this usually resolves itself after a few plays.

March


My first ever adventure into the world of Kickstarter saw me backing Japanese themed area control game Kami-Sama. Checking the progress of the fund raising took an almost addictive like quality and having direct access to the creators of the game was fascinating and really made you feel part of it. I was very excited about receiving the game later in the year – due October but when I told my wife what I had spent on an unfinished game this was the response I received.




June


A month long trip to Mongolia limited board gaming opportunities but it did include many more games of Yaniv as well as being introduced to Shagai Bones although it was only referred to as 'Knuckle Bones'. We were mostly staying with nomadic families during our trip – most of which had their very own set of dried ankle bones from sheep. The bones all had 4 distinct sides and after rolling them, you and your opponents would take turns in flicking a type of bone at a matching type of bone to collect it. Sounds gross? Well it kind of was but most importantly it was entertaining and actually quite competitive.




August

College classic Sh*thead was the main card game played during our trip to Georgia. We play with two's restarting, seven reversing, eight invisible, ten scrapping. Overall I was well and truly beaten when all said and done over the course of the trip.



September


This was my first trip to a board game cafe, something I had been against previously as I didn't understand why four people would want to go to such a place, each spending £10 when they could club together and buy a game themselves. However, we had some time to kill while in Slovenia and at Dobra Poteza decided to try out Splendor which had fantastic components and was really easy to learn. Interestingly enough, we were surrounded by twenty odd people all playing Catan and I was told this was some kind of World Cup qualifier?



On our return I noticed I was spending more and more time lurking on boardgamegeek. This is the likely cause of three new games being added to my hoard in quick succession though you can tell the choices were heavily influenced by our time in Slovenia, namely - Splendor, Catan, and Star Realms.

Unfortunately these games have not fared so well thus far. Splendor has only been played twice and Catan remains unopened which echos my earlier comments of being guilty of not fully appreciating what I have already.

It seemed as though Star Realms was also destined to collect dust but after finally getting it to the table in December (and after putting aside the awfully confusing scoring cards) it is now probably one of my favourites.



October


I needed more. Luckily I live in London where there is a plethora of board gaming clubs and meetups and it was just a matter of finding one that suited me. I stumbled upon Swiggers,a club with a long history and unannounced, went along to my first board game night. What a great time I had! So many enthusiastic and knowledgeable players who were very welcoming - I was very glad I took the plunge. Despite missing a few weeks recently, attending Swiggers is now a regular feature in my diary.

November

At a dinner party I was pleased to discover a fellow board game fan after proudly showing my his expansive collection kindly offered to let me borrow Castles of Mad King Ludvig which is something I had expressed an interest in. After a couple of plays I'm still on the fence of how I feel about this game. The components are nice, its clever and I really like the bidding system but I'm not sure how much I actually enjoy playing it. Something to try a few more times before I return it (was supposed to go back in November but the meetup was cancelled - lucky me!)




December


Is it a board game? Is it a game at all? All I know is that my first experience of The Mind was a thrilling experience and I saw it as a no-brainer to get in for the Christmas period. Unfortunately the first two player game of this we tried was less than successful and dare I say dull and boring. I am hopeful that giving this a go with more people will recapture the exhilarating fun of those first games I had with the fine fellows of Swiggers.

This month also marked my first foray into roleplaying, notably Star Wars RP. After the slightly embarrassing introduction of speaking in character the session progressed nicely and was strangely enjoyable

Finally, the arrival of Kami-Sama concluded my first adventure with Kickstarter. Although delays pushed this back I didn't really worry and honestly almost forgot the game was coming. Unfortunately this also meant my excitement for the project had dwindled but it was still nice to receive it during the Christmas period.



However, some damaged parts, a confusing instruction manual and unbalanced gameplay have led to an underwhelming first few games. I may struggle to get this to the table again any time soon and the less I mention the price tag to my other half, the better. For the time being, my adventures in Kickstarter are over.

Next time I'll take a look at my favourite games that were new to me this year.

Until then.. Be excellent to each other
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Mon Dec 31, 2018 7:38 pm
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Chris A
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Well you're here! But should you have come?

While you ponder on that let me tell you a little about myself and why I am here. My name is Christopher, also known as crunchbunch . I'm in my early thirties, live in London and have recently found myself tumbling head first down the board gaming rabbit hole.

Probably like most of you, I find myself visiting bgg multiple times a day but so far I haven't really gotten that involved. So here I am, shouting into the void - if only to be heard by me, myself and I.

Hobby wise, I'm a master of none - I love watching films and have some strong feelings for my favourites but i'd struggle to name the actors or who tell you who directed them and I can really love a book but two months later struggle to tell you who the author is or even what the title is for sure. Board gaming is no different, I think and read about them a lot but ask me what a 'eurogame' is and I wouldn't know where to start but would I like to know more? Hell yeah!

I suppose it all started around three years ago during a seven hour drinking session where four of us battled it out in a truly epic game of Risk. Afterwards I was left with a few questions – Who won? How did I get home? But most importantly, when can we play again? The monster that is board gaming had clamped its jaws around me and that Christmas I found that Santa had indeed visited and my very own copy of Risk was sitting under the Christmas tree.

Shortly after, I stumbled across a little known youtube show called Tabletop. The linked episode was directly responsible for King of Tokyo smashing its way into my life and since then my collection has grown into the modest collection that I will be exploring over my next few posts.

What I found interesting was that prior to being 'in' I would have thought this an unusual hobby. What I actually found was a lot of my friends had already been exposed to a wider board gaming experience beyond Risk, Scrabble and The Game of Life. This has encouraged my interest as I find myself amid a lot of good people who are enthusiastic about getting a game to the table - I'm very thankful for this and I hope to pay homage to some of our experiences on this page.

Next time I will (briefly) take a walk through my year in gaming.

Until then.. Hold onto your butts.

EDIT - Removed double word in last paragraph
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Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:22 pm
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