Tuesday, 31 May 2022

All you women, now stand in line...

 ...I'll give you some lovin' in an hour's time

It's a long time since I did some boardgame reviews, and it's even longer since I combined them with a Ronnie Hawkins track. Let's start with the recently departed Hawk:

And on to the boardgames:

7 Wonders Duel: A two-player version of the original, which is equally good. It doesn't really work with one of my regular playmates whose Peace Studies degree - featured here once or twice in the past - precludes her from ever engaging with the military side of things, meaning she loses an awful lot of games by being conquered. It highlights what to me is an obvious practical flaw in being a pacifist, namely that one has rejected one potential solution before one even knows what the problem is.

Bargain Quest: This is a clunker. To start with it's about heroes fighting monsters, which is not really my sort of thing. But the twist is that the players don't even get to take the part of the heroes. Instead you play shopkeepers seeking to lure the fighting men into your shop to fit themselves out with armour, weapons etc. Who on earth thought this would be a good idea?

Carcassonne: Great game for two people, bit slow with more players. We only play with the Inns and Cathedrals expansion.

Cat Café: A roll-and-write game about cats and the ludicrous things that people buy for them. Probably best to visit a mad cat lady to orient yourself before you play it. Not a bad little game though.

Concept: This is a sort of cross between Codenames and Pictionary with no drawing involved. To my surprise I rather enjoyed it.

Cover Your Assets: I enjoyed this one as well, possibly because the winning strategy was obvious to me, but not apparently to everyone else, which meant I won with ease.

Fairy Tale Inn: Despite the theme and the spatial awareness part (it takes place on a kind of Connect Four vertical grid) I like this. It needs a wider variety of characters; given how many fairy tales there are, there should be plenty of scope. It's a two-player game.

Ganz schön clever: A very good roll-and-write game where you try to choose dice in such a way that they give you not just as high a score as possible, but also the best bonus combinations. It plays up to four, but I prefer it with two as you get to do more. The sequel Doppelt so clever is just as good, although I haven't yet cracked the best strategy for the blue dice in that one.

Half Truth: It's a trivia game, but one that caters for varying levels of confidence in one's answer. Not especially memorable though.

Jaipur: A two-player trading game, which is quite unusual in itself. It's an enjoyably tight game in which one has to choose one's moment to collect camels for fear of the next cards being drawn all being jewels.

Lost Cities: This is a cracking two-player card game, ostensibly about explorers' expeditions into the unknown, but actually a challenge to avoid throwing away something your opponent may want without clogging up your own hand with dead wood.

Patchwork: Another good two-player game. Get buttons into your design early is my advice.

Pit: Now here's a blast from the past, 1903 to be precise. I doubt that I had played it for fifty years. Still good fun in the right environment.

Power Grid: Excellent game. We played the China map and I won.

Qwinto: Das Kartenspiel: Not available in English - I think my copy is Dutch - it's a flip-and-write version of a dice game. Despite the cards only being laid out in a two by two matrix I struggle with the spatial awareness aspect. Pathetic really.

Qwirkle: I got this out to demonstrate it to  a couple who were looking for a game to play with their 8 year old grandson. Given that they were completely bladdered when we did so I'm not sure how well they were able to judge it; your bloggist has become very censorious in the years since he last had a drink. For the record, I think it would be a good game to play with one's grandchildren.

Sagrada: A rather pretty game where you lay out coloured dice to imitate designing a stained glass window. The theme doesn't really carry forwards into the scoring, but it's all perfectly light and pleasant.

Shanghaien: As the name might suggest the theme is shanghaiing sailors in Shanghai. Neither the rules nor the scoring are that intuitive, but when you get the hang of them it's a good, thinky, two-player game. It's out of print though.

Splendor: This is the game I have played the most in recent months. It's not a gamers' game, indeed most serious gamers turn their nose up at it, but when playing with non-gamers it hits the spot. No real theme, but easy to pick up and with very tactile components. There are a variety of strategies and the winning one will inevitably be something your opponents are doing.

Spyfall: Not for me, but then social deduction games never are.

Startups: From Oink Games, this is a small but interesting game that was perfectly OK. You really have to put to one side anything you might know about the way that investment in start-up companies actually works.

Trek: Another old game, 1960 this time, but not one that I had played before; mountains not stars. We played with an original copy, with the rules printed in the lid and poorly moulded plastic pieces. It was inevitably unsophisticated, with a lot of 'take that', but also relatively short. I'd have another go in the unlikely event that I bumped into someone who owned it.

Targi: I think I might have mentioned before that this is my top recommendation for those seeking a two-player game. It's excellent. 

Wingspan: One of the best-selling games of recent years. The gameplay is fine, although there isn't a great deal of player interaction, and it's certainly very nice to look at.

Zillionaires On Mars: I'm not generally a fan of auction games, mainly because no group of players ever seems to collectively judge values in a way that makes them work. Inflation on Mars seems even worse than on Earth and all bids are in zillions, which I'm not sure makes it any easier to pitch them at the right level.


  1. Have a look at Azul. Simple to play, tough to master. For the record I quite enjoy Quirkle but keep making too many mistakes!


  2. Oh and Jules and I like Machi Koro. Plays very differently depending on the number of players. Tactics that work in a 2 player game don’t necessarily work in a 4 player game. You’ve not mentioned it but overall our favourite is Ticket to Ride - however it is so common I’m sure you’ve played it.


    1. It's only in the last couple of months that I've started going out to play boardgames again after you-know-what, and these are just the games I've played during that time. I like both Ticket to Ride and Azul, but don't own either and they're not the sort of games that get played at the places I go. I don't know why I'd never considered Azul as being a two-player game; I shall maybe think about getting a set. Boardgamegeek tells me that I played Machi Koro in 2015, but I can remember nothing at all about it. I shall read some reviews.

      Carl sends his regards by the way.

  3. RIP The Hawk - must give my copy of The Last Waltz a go. He seems to have been a mentor for a lot of talent - rather like John Mayall, perhaps?

    1. The music in that film is, of course, excellent, but Robbie Robertson is really irritating in the talking heads bits. Having said that, he's even worse in 'Once Were Brothers'.

    2. Not sure I ever saw the film; sounds like I may be best sticking to the album!