Tabletop & Board Game Coldness – Autumn/Fall 2017

*Drum roll please* …Introducing, the Tabletop COLDness! For Autumn 2017.

Very similar to the hotness, this instead is a list  of 5 of the more under the radar and lesser known games releases. So kind of the opposite of the hotness, in which case it’s not similar at all.

I mean, it’s a list at least, so there is THAT.

Thing is, and I know you’re going to say it whilst reading through, ‘Oh, I already know about these because I’m like a way super cool guy who knows ALL of the upcoming releases and these aren’t even CLOSE to underground!’

To that person I say so what, I admit it these might be a bit obvious… maybe. But I’m writing this list from me, to you, as a gift. And that gift is to divulge my most wondrous and excitably received, under the radar and only slightly lesser well know board game and tabletop releases for Autumn 2017!

Let it begin!

1. Someone has Died

This one’s only just gone up on Kickstarter, so if you’re into proving that you’re worth the inheritance of a tenuously connected dead relative then go back it right now gosh darn it!

This game clearly had me from the word ‘died’, which as a starting point is honestly a great backup theme for ANY tabletop game. Pretty much all good games involve death of some kind, pretty sure of that…

‘But lots of games nowadays are family friendly and have to specifically focus on themes that aren’t death related’ you say. Ok, sure you’re right. This doesn’t fit into that category though.

Essentially, you find yourself with an identity, and a strange and interesting connection to a dead relative, and are then pitched against  other players to improvise answers to a series of questions as to why  YOU should inherit the voluminous fortune of the deceased, and not them. You thieving bastard. How  could you!

Hilarity ensues.

2. Whitehall Mystery

Ok so this might just be the most ‘know about’ game on this list. Essentially a rehash of a previous ‘whitechapel’ title, this is a rework, and a MUCH better one at that.

Also, it’s a hidden movement game, which for me basically means that one person gets to go all ‘bond villain’ and periodically start to chuckle maniacally behind a dungeon master style screen whilst casually plotting to escape from a series of murders most foul. Exciting! Isn’t it just.

I love a game with secret hidden motives though, and this one proves not to disappoint. Just think of it as Dracula’s Fury but like, way less complicated and only slightly shorter.

Plus Jack the Ripper is just a way fun theme. You know, in a horrible ‘this could have been real and some actual proper nasty things did take place in some people’s lives’ kinda way.

3. Itchy Feet

Look at those tiny little travelling men! Holy baloney.

And the colour palette! Dreamy.

I’m having a design freak out over here, even the icons nicely reflect the overall tone of the game (even if the font is a little unreadable at small sizes).

Plus, travelling seems like a cool theme for a game because I never took the time in my youth to travel around all the places I wanted to go and I definitely don’t regret that. Honest.

Instead I’ll have an amazingly illustrated set of cards in a game about travelling where I can simply pretend to go globetrotting with my pals and make life long memories that will shape me better as a human being. Yeah definitely no regret there.

4. Yummy Yummy Pancake

Who is naming these games now come on. What a name though. Not just one yummy. TWO YUMMIES. That’s double yummy people. And pancakes are yummy, so this game is already a spot on accurate and realistic portrayal of life. I can totally relate!

If you didn’t  realise I’ve literally just put this on the list for the name alone. For all I know it could be nothing to do with pancakes. What can I say, I know when a theme just speaks to me.

10/10 no review needed.

Top tip for game developers. Name your games after yummy food. Then tell me again how yummy it is.

5. Potato Pirates

Oh I do love it when things string together so nicely. We’ve got a food theme here guys, this time though it’s swashbuckling potatoes. It’s another that’s currently running on Kickstarter as well!

Not only that, but they are TEACHING US CODE. Yeah exactly. Move over code academy and lynda.com, I’m gunna become a senior front end engineer simply from playing this card game ok.

Maybe not quite true, but for kids this is excellent! Games are fun, there are potatoes and pirates in it, I bet when you play you won’t even REALISE you’re learning about object oriented programming languages accidentally.

Win/Win if you ask me.

Yours coldly,

Chris

The D&D Tabletop Etiquette Handbook (aka how to not be a dick)

I can 100% understand that playing D&D for the first time is an incredibly daunting and potentially intimidating experience. At least that’s the stigma that surrounds it.

Thing is though, it’s not! At least, it shouldn’t be. We’ve come to the point in society now, where it’s no longer weird to sit down at a table together and play a made up fantastical character, with a group of other people in a bid to defeat evil (or whatever befalls your path), and emerge on the other side triumphant (or dead). Totally normal you guys! Don’t say you didn’t hear it here first…

It’s kind of always been normal though. Just that those who didn’t understand it for what it is felt somewhat ‘weirded out’ by it, or proceeded to argue about how football was cooler  before placing us in a garbage can and rolling us down the nearest hill. Either that or some other totally plausible and definitely not ficticious form of stereotypical youth related mistreatment.

Despite all of those wildly cliched acts of bullying however, all of us stayed the course and emerged on the other side at a point where lo and behold, this gosh darn hobby is actually popular for some reason! Maybe because it’s moderately to quite fun. That’ll be it!

Consider this then the definitive list, of all  the do’s and don’ts of being a productive and friendly, go-getting type of D&D player that everybody will totally love. The kind where everybody talks about what cool stuff you did together  after the session, rather than the kind where everybody wishes they hadn’t invited you to this campaign.

Don’t decide someone else’s actions for them

Woah! Calm down there angry generic office dude shouting at someone who clearly just picked the wrong tie for the day. This isn’t crazy tie tuesday Barry! Go back home and change immeeeeediately! Idiot.

Worst thing ever. When you’re playing D&D and somebody railroads your idea, or your turn, or your entire ENCOUNTER just to force everybody down a route that they don’t want to go down. Barry, I know it’s just a crazy tie, but that crazy tie affects EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE ENTIRE OFFICE. Stop bringing us down with your crazy tie vibes, trying to get every one to wear the same crazy tie as you. Some of us  like wearing a plain old boring red tie, ok!?

Basically, just don’t decide someone else’s actions for them. EVEN if it’s a life or death matter (of your character, not an ACTUAL life or death matter), never force another player to do something YOU think is right.

Do Bring your own dice

Or, crazy idea, MAKE your own dice. Simply cut out the paper above and voila, your very own rubbish paper d6. Amazing! Now, only the d4s, d8s, d10s, d12s and d20s to go. Oh wait, I forgot the percentage dice. That as well. Good luck!

Experience says bringing your own dice is just good practice and good etiquette. It makes everything smoother and easier, you don’t have to keep rummaging around for somebody else’s dice and interrupting the flow of the game. And you can rest assured that YOUR dice aren’t stupid and ridiculous like some people’s. Yeah I’m looking at you BARRY.

Do know your character

Firstly, who wouldn’t buy a magical talking dog. That would be like, the best thing ever to happen in D&D ever. A talking dog! Come on, you know you want one…

Knowing your character doens’t have to be hard though. This just means you should know kind of what abilities you have, kind of your modifiers, and kind of what sort of thing your character is good at, so that if you are put on the spot a bit in any situation, you kind of know roughly what to do in said situation.

That said sometimes not having a clue leads to the funniest stories. Not everybody can be the bumbling adventurer with no clue though. Or maybe they can actually…

Don’t Meta game

Yeah yeah, I go on and on and on about this one all the time. Hey, Chris, you talk about meta gaming in like, EVERY article ever. Why not write about something different for a change you over repetitive HACK.

Well, thanks for the personal attack but no, I will not write about anything different. Not at least until the WILL OF THE WORLD HAS CHANGED AND THE UNHOLIEST OF HOLY META GAMERS HAS BEEN SMOTE FROM THIS EARTH BY THE GOOD LORD METHUSALA AND THE WRATH OF A THOUSAND AGES HAS BEEN RAINED DOWN ON THEM…

I can skip the deception check there right?

Do make game decisions based on how your character would react

IF your character would enjoy ice cream, then GO GET SOME RUDDY ICE CREAM ALREADY.

It’s merely a coincidence that I also happen to like ice cream in real life as well, ok!?

Don’t be afraid to speak in your characters voice

This is literally why I always play the dumb dwarven fighter, it limits my vocabulary in game and thus allows me to get very very very drunk and still remain ‘on brand’ as it were.

Ok, well maybe I don’t always play the dwarven fighter… BUT it sure would be a good way to be able to drink too much beer and not piss the other people off at the table. Dwarven pale ale it is then!

Don’t take it too seriously

You can kind of forget all the other points I rambled on about to be honest because as USUAL with my blog posts, the last point is really the only one that matters in the entire piece. And that’s the case AGAIN with this.

Stop worrying too much people, D&D isn’t this big scary thing that’s really hard to be a part of.

All D&D literally is, is a group of friends, sitting round, having some food and drink, and fake playing some characters out to kill a big evil monster for some reason. Have fun with it!

Yours etiquettily,

Chris

I Played D&D for the First Time in Years and it was Enlightening (in a GOOD way)

It’s been a long time (ticky ticky), shouldn’t have left you (left you)… without a dope beat to step too.

Right, sorry, bad reference to a song nobody remembers from the 90s.  What I meant to say is WHY did I stop playing D&D? I mean, apart from the lack of a regular group and the extra lack of a motivation to spend time on something that clearly wasn’t a priority side project (like this is of course, can’t you tell? It’s  so well written and always published on time…).

My problem was that I always wanted to play DM, which sure, is maybe a little outside of the norm, but someone has to do it right? Nobody else wanted to so I jumped in head first. Which by the way is the correct way to jump in. Head first. Just FYI.

Legal disclaimer: I can claim no responsibility from any ACTUAL injury sustained from jumping into anything head first. Especially things that are not water or… air? (I’m looking at you, you base jumping, skydiving nutcase)

Something miraculous happened recently though. Someone in a D&D group that I had friends in was ill. Isn’t illness great! Three cheers for illness, I bet they felt terrible! Ok that was a bit harsh. But still!

What it meant though was that I could immediately step in to heroically ruin and destroy the very fibre and essence of the character that they had spent so long lovingly levelling up, growing and shaping, in the space of only a few hours! A challenge I jumped into… well, head first obviously.

I got 99 problems but DM ain’t one

For once I was glad I wasn’t playing DM, but to be clear DM doesn’t come without its unique challenges and prerequisite knowledge of a LOT of things. I’m talking about things BEYOND just knowing the rules here. Like how to successfully engage all players socially, or how to set an early precedent for role playing even when several people may have hangovers.

Our wonderful DM for the session took us through the Vestani encampment and a furiously burning (nothing to do with that fireball that hit a tree) forest  within the classic  D&D creepfest of the Strahd campaign. All the while we simply bumbled and fumbled our way through each encounter to the next. We were intrepid, excited but very very badly organised.

Now this is where I get to my first quandary with pre-created campaigns in that a large chunk of the encounters can sometimes feel random and pointless, but then again, isn’t REAL life just full of random and pointless encounters anyway… oh  LIFE, you prankster you!

Tony & Guy

One such instance had us bump into a shaggy haired fella (whom we affectionately named ‘Tony’), only for werewolves further down the road to attack us ferociously because we didn’t pay his ridiculous ‘anti-werewolf tax.’ I was always taught as a kid not to give any money to strangers no matter how many fantasy horrors or teen goth romance  novel characters I was threatened with. Apparently that BASIC and most well known of childhood lessons just doesn’t pan out  in D&D. Who knew.

I was especially miffed when Tony himself turned out to actually be the  werewolf he was attempting to ‘protect’ us from in the first place! The cheek. I’m chalking that one up to miscommunication on behalf of Tony. Dress up a bit nicer next time Tony and get some professionalism to your social interactions. THEN I might be encouraged to give you a few gold pieces, even if just for being a polite and dapper gent.

He’s Worth It

My character at least was fabulous. The infamous High Elf ‘L’oreal’, with hair like gold wavey… waving stuff, waving about in the wind. Ooo, so wavey, how do you get those waves L’oreal?

It’s just natural babe, I’m worth it.

Genuinely ok if you choose to stop reading there, I deserve it for that low hanging fruit of a joke.

My one fatal character flaw was that I at some point had caused the downfall of my tribe, which although being fairly nondescript, is also a pretty godawful thing to have done as a lawful neutral elf with amazing hair. Most people don’t even come halfway close to causing the downfall of even much smaller things, like for instance, the life and health of their pet dog ‘Biff,’ let alone the whole god freaking damn tribe. Fuck me L’oreal.

Our party was also composed of 3 other interesting characters, including but not limited to a Dwarf who just wanted to sell people his DPA (Dwarven pale ale FYI; which I proceeded to sneak out of his tent during an extended nap in order to drum up some business, but just ended up getting drunk with the locals and starting a tribal dance party through the camp. Standard).

The Imagination Frustration

The Imagination frustration is my name for one of the most common of problems when it comes to D&D campaigns: the encounters can get SAMEY.

Same dungeon, same monsters, same set up, same objects in the room, etc etc.

Fortunately that wasn’t the case for my brief time playing L’oreal.

Now in my opinion one of the areas where D&D always works well is in small and interesting encounters with monsters and bosses that are WAY out of your pay grade. I mean like; we need the Avengers to sort this out because we are just running around like idiots who like to play with magic and then very quickly die, whilst simultaneously the evil boss guy flies away, cackling maniacally having suffered basically zero damage.

And that’s exactly what happened, but it was great! Having tied ourselves to the subject of our boring escort quest, she proceeded to wake us up in the night, ask to go for a pee whilst we followed, only to see this bloody Count Vampire boss guy,  idly standing by a tree and  drinking her gosh darn blood. From the neck as well. I mean that’s just unhygenic for starters. Although, I imagine he carries some form of ‘vampire cleansing wipes’ around with him for these exact situations. No harm in being clean even if you are an abomination of pure evil. Priorities.

Gaming the System

As with all D&D sessions, there is a fine balance between meta, and just playing normally. This mostly only happens with those people who LOVE to min/max, and who can’t  HELP but always ask a hundred questions to try and wriggle around a situation, but it can creep into any session.

Just ask yourself; ‘What would my character do,’ the answer is usually ‘not ask about rolling a perception check for a certain aspect of a rule you just remembered that applied to some form of illustion spell.’ Unless you are playing a character who then also plays D&D within D&D, like some kind of weird D&D-meta-inception. What if the character you play is also a meta gamer.

Doesn’t bear thinking about.

The Situational Intricacies of not Dying

The only thing slightly worrying about playing somebody else’s character though, is an underlying sense of innate responsibility.

This on a surface level is about choosing the right abilities when they level up, using the right skills in battle, etc, but actually translates on a much more realistic level to: DON’T LET THEM DIE.

Initially a struggle due to my immediately getting bitten in the neck by a vampire in the first encounter and loosing 80% of my hit points… and then still a struggle in the second encounter. I got mobbed by werewolves, took almost my whole health in damaged, and then used my athletic prowess to jump up a tree and just sit still for a very prolonged period of time, kind of just bleeding all over the foliage. Picturesque.

Finding Fun in Chaos

And that’s what D&D stands for for me really. Finding fun in all of those ridiculous encounters and situations, and not feeling pressured to know EVERY bit of the rules but to just go with the game, get into character and really just be a bit of an idiot for a few hours.

Oh, and it helps to not kill your character in the process as well.

RIP L’oreal.

Kidding, he’s still alive really.

Or is he…

He is.

Yours vampirically,

Chris

Tabletop & Board Game Hotness – Autumn/Fall 2017

*Drum roll please* …Introducing, the Tabletop Hotness! (And coldness, to follow next week) For Autumn 2017 (or Fall if you’re from the other side of the Atlantic).

Yes, the name sounds a bit ridiculous, but what we have here is something a little special, something that only comes around once every season. Yes, it is in fact the wonderful and amazing news that I’ll be writing up a list of the both the hottest new games for the season (the hotness), plus a list of seasonal games I consider to be flying under the radar a little right now (the coldness).

A list of the best games coming out? ‘Revlutionary!’ I hear you cry. Well, sure it may not be revolutionary, but at least once every season, you’ll be able to see at a glance what the big releases are, and what games I feel you should be on the lookout for. Think of it like professional gambling advice, but for board games and tabletop games. Oh, and definitely not professional.

First up…

1. Unearth

This game looks STUNNING, and has 2 to 4 players ‘bending their luck’, with their ‘tribe’ of dice, to draft cards and claim ruins and stones and other fun things.

Said ruins look incredible, so naturally, you will WANT to collect them. This one has been receiving a lot of praise for a while and justifiably so. It’s simple, looks amazing, and also manages to incorporate dice in a way that doesn’t make people with commically aggressive voices exclaim  ‘WHY ARE THERE SO MANY DICE, AAAARGH DICEEE!’ and then flip the table. Which is nice in a way.

2. Lisboa

This one is a beast, but as much as Unearth looks incredible. The game is designed around such an overdone theme;  the rebuilding and planned development of a really old european city after the devastation of a particularly nasty earthquake in 1755. Be at least a bit original guys. Sheesh.

The hype around this one was huge again, except on the opposite end of the complexity scale to Unearth, this game is an absolute beast.  It’s a heavy game through and through, with strategy galore, and a board that features like, A LOT of pieces and things all over the place. They do look nice though, which is a bonus.

This one comes with a strong warning for beginner gamers or newcomers to the hobby, but if you love really complex and deep games, go nuts, this’ll be like Christmas but just not actually at Christmas. So just like, a really cool day where you get a fun new game. Hurrah!

3. Whistle Stop

Again with the overdone themes guys, SERIOUSLY.

I do love trains though, so let’s just let this one off this time.

Whistle stop was one of those games that was absolutely ALL OVER twitter during Gen Con. It’s a game that looks nice, has mini trains in it, and is also competitive in a fun ‘pick up things and deliver them to try and build your fledgling railroad company in the mid 1800s’ kind of way. Nice!

Playing in the oddly specific time of 75 minutes this game is a mid length, mid weight, middle of the board game night once everyone has polished off the doritos and beer combo and started chanting ‘TRAINS TRAINS TRAINS’ affair.

Just get it if you like trains.

4. Mountains of Madness

Cthulhu!? WHAT IS THIS, the ‘we’ve done this a million times before already’ brigade or something. Good one Chris.

Slightly different from your usual Cthulhu affair we have a game which sees players going up a mountain and slowly getting progressively more and more insane. And not  insane in a ‘I think that guy looked at me funny’ way, but more like a ‘I saw tentacles in the darkness and now I’m questioning the meaning of existence and god’ way. Fun!

This one is a coop deal, and you have to make sure to communicate on a mostly non-insane  level to successfully complete your mission up the mountain of questionable  intrigue and mystery.

I don’t even understand why you’re party is going UP the mountain in the first place, surely it makes more sense to head DOWN but then that’s just me I guess. It’s a good game though, so that’s a thing.

5. Trench (2nd Edition)

Oh but Chris, why have you put a game in here that already exists! Well, mostly because people are talking about it all over the place, and also because it’s having a SECOND EDITION printed and launched through Kickstarter soon.

Plus look at it. It’s beautiful, and I hate using that word  but it is. A gloriously monochrome glossy sheet of abstract and mind melting strategy goodness. Hell even if you don’t like the game it’s worth the buy to have it sit on your posh fancy coffee table and just sit there…  looking cool.

Coming Soon: The Coldness!

To follow next week, my top 5 under the radar games aka; games that I like the look of that not many people are really talking about that much. Check it out! Not now, but when I post it, obviously.

Yours hotly,

Chris

TABLETOP REVIEW: Survive: Escape from Atlantis

Full Disclosure: This review is unpaid and 100% unbiased, and I played this game at the lovely tabletop gaming cafe Draughts in London.

 

I guess my review type is just gunna be classic games. With the exception of the first one, so not really my review type at all. Right, good start.

Regardless, moving on with the classic theme, today I’m reviewing a game that has again (along with Sherlock: Consulting Detective), been around since the 80s. This game really brings out the evil in people, but in like a cool, fun, ‘I’m gunna just make this shark eat your poor stranded and drowning survivor, sorry mate,’ kinda way. Nice! I love light-hearted shark based violence. That dead survivor probably wasn’t even worth any points ANYWAY. Way to value people’s lives guys.

What I’m really trying to say is that the game I’m reviewing today is ‘Survivor: Escape from Atlantis.’ It’s a board game where you try and escape a sinking island, escape it better than the other players, and end up with minimal shark, whale and seamonster related casualties along the way. The box looks like this! Click on it for the BGG page if you want.

The points today are going to be  monsters from the DEEP, because this game has seamonsters obviously, so for starters this gets +20 monsters from the DEEP for the absolutely incredibly executed theme. The artwork is great here, the production quality is decent  (+20 monsters for wooden pieces in the shape of monstahs), and the theme absolutely suits the mechanics and gameplay.

So without further ado…

Final Thoughts Up Front

This Game is Good for:

If you want a great game for either the start or end of the night, that isn’t too heavy, plays in under an hour, and looks incredible on the tablet. Also, anyone who likes competitive games and tends to get a bit… carried away with playing aggressively. The type of gameplay here lends itself very well to non-confrontational forms of competitiveness. Even the harshest move against another player isn’t ever THAT harsh, simply because of the amount of survivors everyone has (and their different values). This game is also good for new gamers, people who love games that feature a bit board with lots of moving pieces, and players who are fans of visual strategy  rather than abstract or tactical strategy.

This Game is not Good for:

People who prefer more complex or solitary games with less randomness and deep tactical strategy. Anyone who obsessively plans their turn or anyone who is ESPECIALLY touchy when it comes to competitive gaming. Or anybody who prefers games with a large amount of replay value (there is an expansion however).

Things of Note:

One of the best things about this game is that EVERYONE has survivors that survive, get eaten, have to swim, or end up in unfortunate situations, and EVERYONE gets the chance to control the negative aspects of the game (+10 monsters for allowing people to control the actual monsters). It is also gives a lot of visual feedback and is very satisfying when something works out. It also (due to the fact that more than one person’s survivors can be on one boat) allows for a small amount of social tactics when it comes to teaming up with other players for the greater good. That or even sinking a ship with one of your own survivors on because you think the survivors of other players on the boat are worth more points than yours. It’s a lot of fun.

The Bit where I Talk about the Actual Game

So the game itself when in the middle of play looks a bit like this…

Players take it in turns to first set up the island, place their survivors on the island of Atlantis, and then place 2 boats each around the edge of the island. Each player then takes it in turns to first move their survivors or a boat, then remove a piece of the island (starting with beach, then forest, then mountains), then move a sea creature (potentially eating a survivor in the sea, or capsizing a boat – or both depending on which creature). The premise and the gameplay is simple (+10 for low barrier to entry), and that is really why the game works so well. It’s quick, easy to get into, very satisfying to play, and incredibly well designed and presented.

Plus, this game has one of the best mechanics I know of when it comes to entry level strategy. Each of each players meeples has a number on the bottom, and that number corresponds to how many points that meeple scores when (if) they are rescued. Basically some meeples are the Justin Beiber of the meeple world (although I’d question whether or not you leave him for the sharks), and some are just lowly peasants like you and I (+10 monsters for meeple peasants! Rise up peasants! Rise up!). I hate to see different values put on human life but in this instance I’ll make an exception. You’d be surprised how quickly a few drunken tabletop gamers can forget where they’ve put their most valuable meeple, and subsequently spend the whole game trying desperately to save the live of a meeple only worth 1 point.

Mechanics and Gameplay

The game itself flows quickly, everyone is constantly involved, and is a great way to blow off some steam after a marathon 3 or 4 hour strategy game, or even as an intro game for the tabletop session you’re about to dive into! (+20 monsters for easy access monstah fun).

Now, there’s no denying this game does not have a huge amount of depth or replayability (-30 monsters), but the fact is that it doesn’t really need to. Survive thrives on it’s simplicity, and the ease that you can really play it with any type of group is testament to the enduring quality of this game. There is a REASON this game has been reprinted so many times (+50 monsters for reprintability).

Some Other Stuff

That’s not to say this game isn’t without it’s flaws however, and they aren’t many, but it does have them…

Firstly, owing to some combination of tiles you might pick up from Atlantis, occasionally one person will get very lucky and be able to move a lot of the sea creatures out of their way over the course of a few early turns. This is particularly beneficial if they have been very clumped up in their placement of meeple, and can thus lead to a relatively easy path to victory (-10 monsters for luck making the game occasionally imbalanced).

Also, despite individual actions feeling fairly impartial even if you eat an opponents meeple, if one person is rescuing more meeples than everyone else, they may start to feel ganged up on. I mean really in this case, just don’t play with a group of douchey people who would do this, but it can happen (-20 monsters for potential ganging up situations).

The game board could also be a bit MORE 3 dimensional when it comes to the beaches, forest and mountains (like some of the older reprints of this game). However in the grand scheme of things, the board is still amazing to look at when playing, and really I’m just being nitpicky for the sake of it. Shame on you Christopher!

Verdict

I absolutely love this game, it’s just got the perfect mix of humour, strategy and competitiveness. It’s on the lighter side without being entirely devoid of strategy, and it works perfectly at the beginning AND end of a games night. The theme also means that it’s INCREDIBLY easy to get people interested in playing as well. Who wouldn’t want to escape from a sinking island whilst simultaneously eating other players survivors with sharks, capsizing boats with whales and just generally creating a good old mess. Love a mess me.

Score: 80 Monsters from the DEEP

But Chris. What does that rating MEAN.

Well, it means you should buy it, because this game is just really really good.

Yours survivingly,

Chris

5 Tips to Remember when Buying Snacks for your Tabletop Games Night

I see you there, standing in the aisle of your supermarket of choice, perusing the snacks section for something suitable, just grabbing any and everything of the shelves. Put it back! I’m here to help, and to say; not all snacks are created equal when it comes to board games and tabletop, and choose the wrong ones and you’ll be left with greasy fingerprints strewn across playing cards, smeared stains of unidentified dip on your ticket to ride board and worst of all… sticky things. Nobody likes sticky things when they weren’t meant to be sticky in the first place. Gross.

So stop staring at those random snacks on the shelf and start looking at your phone and read this article before you buy anything… promise it will either be super useful or super confusing. Maybe even both, if you’re lucky. Either way I imagine the potential to learn anything of true value is relatively small. BUT we continue anyway, and onto the actual tips! And no surprise right out of the gate we have…

1. No Grease

This refers to both the movie and the food style, both are unnacceptable on tabletop nights. Not only because your gaming group will get wildly distracted by the fabulous and wonderful teen romance and drama of an overrated film from the late 70s, but also because grease is like the food version of sand at the beach. As soon  as it gets on anything, IT STAYS THERE FOREVER AND NEVER LEAVES.

Cardboard things will start to show shiny fingerprints, rulebook pages will bend and crinkle under the oily mass, and particles of clothing will begin to stick to things where people have rubbed their fingers vigorously on their trousers (or other items of clothing that they may be wearing) to try and dispose of the erroneous grease film before touching literally any game piece. How can you clean cardboard without ruining it? You can’t, it’s borderline impossible, so avoid the grease!

I had a pun for this one actually… Grease lightning, more like grease frightening! Hah, I amaze even myself…

2. No dips or generally runny things

Look! A delicious pie! Why not eat some whilst we play this game of many intricately designed and perfectly crafted miniatures! Ice cream anyone? Cream? What, cutlery, nooo! Eat it with your hands I say, the messier the better!

What could possible go wrong?

Guess I need to keep the puns going as well, errr, sayyy… runny dessert, more like runny game… hurt! Yeah that was bad.

3. No Sugar Rush

This kid loves sugar see. AND lemons. Or is that a grapefruit? Ok, definitely a grapefruit, nobody has lemon for food, let alone even would be able to FIND a lemon that big.

Thing is with sugar though is that with the massive HIGHS come the lowwwwws. It’s the kindergarden equivalent of crack cocaine, and the come down even for adults after a high concentration of things with glucose in them, is often even mightier. Some sweet things is not a bad idea though, don’t get me wrong, sharing a bag of colourful and flavoured animal fat between good friends over a board game of an afternoon sure floats my boat. What you don’t want though is a LOT of sugar over an EXTENDED period of time. At some point people are gunna start to crash hard. And once that happens there’s no coming back…

Sugar rush, more like sugar hush! Because everyone will fall asleep when they crash? No? Alright you’re right that makes no sense. Sure hope the next one of these is better…

4. No Over Complications

Ooooo isn’t it lovely, look everybody our kind and generous host has carved a full tableau of the battle of the bastards from game of thrones into a large melon. Let’s eat it! Melon won’t get on anything I swear and it definitely won’t be precarious to eat in  any way.

Apparently the thing in that picture is a cocktail, not a random platter of tropical fruits featuring a token drink. Just skip on the overly complicated stuff I’d say, I know sometimes you want to flaunt your fancy cooking skills or amazing masterchef level presentation abilities but for the whole board games and tabletop thing, yeah simple is better. Let’s stick to things in bowls that we can use our hands to eat…

Fruit watermelon, more like fruit… all over the place and I can’t eat it properly without a knife and fork and OH GOD I dropped a piece of it on the discard pile and it’s STICKING to the cards. Now the card is peeling apart because of the naturally sugary fruit juices seeping through the pores of the cardboard OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE. Not really a pun that time I see…

5. Just get card protectors already…

NO, that’s not the sort of ‘food on playing cards’ search results I was going for but  I guess it will have to do for now. I mean THAT food on THOSE cards is fine but otherwise, in all other possible scenarios (with the exception of sushi go), food on cards is very very bad. THE STICKY CARD IS A GIVEAWAY, he’s got the Princess, he’s got the PRINCESS! Surefire way to ruin Love Letter that…

Instead there is a WAY EASY solution, for all of your games with limited numbers of cards (Sorry Sheriff of Nottingham, you’re out of this one), just get card sleeves! That or just don’t have food on the table when you play card games… and get everyone to wipe their gosh darn greasy fingers before they draw!

I think I’m being too harsh.

Oh well! Them’s the rules… well, tips. Not strict, but I’d advise sticking to them, very much like your cards will to each other if you don’t follow these tips.

Alright we get it, sheesh.

Yours snackily,

Chris

5 Steps to Hosting the Perfect Tabletop Games Night (ft. Simon Drowell)

So you have the games, you have the people, you have your cool little room with the Kallax shelves stacked to the sky, but there’s more to running a perfect games night than just having ‘the stuff’. You’ve got to have the intangible, something that nobody else has. That thing is the X factor, which is why (for my sins) I’ve brought along my good friend Simon Drowell to talk through some top tips for hosting the perfect games night, and getting that said ‘X-factor’. Isn’t that right Simon?

Simon: Exactly Chris, I was told when I was younger that to be the perfect host you had to only do one thing right. That thing is to not be awful. Basically, if you’ve got it you’ve got it, and if you havn’t, well you might as well quit.

Chris: Harsh but sure… I guess. We’re trying to give tips here though Simon, we can’t just tell people ‘sorry but if you don’t know then  you should give up.’

Simon: Well that’s wrong but fine.

1. Variety is the spice of life

Chris: As everyone with the aforementioned full Kallax setup knows, you have to play lots of different games to have a good games night, but choosing the games is one thing, and planning out your night is something entirely different.

Simon: Exactly, basically Chris, just don’t choose terrible games, and you’ll be absolutely fine. Next tip.

Chris: Alright, well not quite Simon, you should be organising these in a way where you don’t end up playing back to back heavy euro games. Make sure you have at least one small, short or light game to put inbetween the longer games. Then another thing I like to do is to make sure you start off with something more socially orientated, so as everyone gets fully involved in the  vocal part of tabletop, and everyone gets to a place where they are more comfortable interacting with everyone else at the table. This is  especially important if you have new people at the table.

2. Dem snackz

Simon: Just get snack food surely, done.

Chris: Well, sure I guess, just get snacks and you’ll be fine.

Simon: Exactly, just make sure you get snacks that are not extraordinary.  Extraordinarily bad that is.

Chris: Right, very confusing. I mean, you can look at it from  a slightly different angle and that is this. If you have card games to be played, or anything involving paper pieces, or things that pick up dirt, just DON’T get crisps with fancy coatings. Oh, and if you get dip, just make sure you keep it away from the game at all costs. No drippy doritos over the game please!

Simon: If you seriously know people who would eat a ‘drippy dorito’ over your copy of mechs vs. minions then you 100 percent need new friends, I’m sorry but that’s just a fact.

 3. Move along now dear

Chris: Unlike this friendly guy in a blue onesie in this comic you have to remember one key thing as a host. If your players get stuck, move it along! Getting stuck on one scenario or encounter (in D&D) that takes FOREVER can suck the fun out of the night. Getting stuck on a game where  everyone is suffereing from AP again, sucks the fun out of the night, so move it along!

Simon: Basically Chris just don’t choose a game that’s going to get people stuck, I would have thought that would be pretty obvious at this point.

Chris: Well, exactly. Not too harsh this time Simon, are you feeling alright? I agree though, which makes a change for once. New players don’t want to sit and play through Diplomacy for hours on end, and likewise eurogamers don’t want to sit there and play Cards against Humanity for hours (on a games night that is, the pub is a completely different matter).

Simon: If people get stuck then you are just a terrible host, and maybe just think about using your time more effectively on things you’re better at, like not hosting for example.

Chris: Ouch.

4. Pace yourselves

Simon: We all know the tortoise wins the race, so just stop being the hare already.

Chris: Err, yep sure. Well, not quite, what I mean by pace yourself is that you can’t just go from game to game to game forever without a break or anything. Break away from the table for a bit, go and grab a drink, cook some food, have a chat about whatever, anybody doing anything for a long time gets a bit tedious after a while so keep the evening paced!

Simon: I take it back immediately in that case. How do you expect to have the X factor if you can’t get through every single game back to back without stopping to have a ‘break’.

Chris: Well, the X factor in a games night is about the whole night, not just the games Simon. You have to get past this very aggressive tone you’re taking and just have fun instead of worrying about it being ‘the best’ night. Just have fun.

Simon: When you’re the best you don’t have time for fun, this is a competition not some  little kiddies board game group.

Chris: Right, well I’ll just go and have fun with the kiddies group then. Sounds way more fun to me…

5. Embrace the RP

Simon: Basically if you’re not actor level proficiency here, you don’t have a spot on this D&D table ok? This is the X factor of tabletop nights not the local theatre groups production of  ‘A Christmas Carol’ alright.

Chris: Glad to see I’m back to disagreeing with you then… This is exactly the opposite advice I would give for a tabletop night. The point of getting on board with role playing in a group playing tabletop is to  include everybody, NO MATTER their proficiency. In fact, when everyone feels comfortable role playing, it’s usually MORE fun the worse everyone is at it.

Simon: I don’t understand, why wouldn’t you want people to be incredible at everything.

Chris: Well, you wouldn’t Simon, but to everyone else, just remember, RP isn’t about being GOOD at RP, it’s about everyone getting together and getting  involved in the story and getting everyone engaged with the game! That’s the most fun you can have, break down the barriers and embrace RP! If you have people in the group who are  more comfortable, get them to lead by example, and don’t laugh AT the people who aren’t good, laugh with them, make them feel good about role playing, and get everyone to a point where they’re ok with making a bit of an idiot of themselves! It’ll be a better night trust me.

Simon: I need a drink…

Chris: To be honest alcohol is a great way to get the RP started, so for once you’re talking my language!

Tabletop Night X-factor = Ignore the X-factor

Simon: SO why am I even here again, if the end result is that the X-factor doesn’t even matter?

Chris: Well, just think of it as a way to prove to people reading this that making something perfect and the best thing ever, usually doesn’t lead to it ACTUALLY being the best thing ever. Your favourite TV program should prove that enough anyway Simon…

Simon: Well in that case I’m leaving.

Finally, he’s gone. That’s it though really, my advice for any tabletop or baord game night, don’t worry about it too much and follow these simple steps. Get a good variety of long/short and light/heavy games, get snacks, move people on in a nice way when they get stuck, and  embrace being silly and role playing a little bit  (if it fits the game!). That’s it really! Simple.

Oh, and take a break every now and then.

Yours anti-simonly,

Chris