The Lost Lighthouse Xmas Top 10 Board Games Part 2

Welcome back readers! Today we continue our top 10 count down for The Lost Lighthouse Xmas Top 10 Board Games. Part 1 can be found here. We want more families away from the tv and playing together. Well, maybe some tv as well. So here’s our top 5!

5. Cosmic Encounters

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This was one of my first “modern” board game that forced me down the rabbit hole. Cosmic Encounters has all the ingredients needed for a great after Xmas meal game. Possibly the longest rules set of the top 10 but by no means unachievable to teach people, especially if you already know how to play the game. You are all alien races trying control the galaxy. Each of you draw a card that gives your aliens it’s own special rules, and the great thing is they go up in difficulty so you can keep it easy for people and just stick the green cards. You try to get your spaceships onto other players planets and once you hit 5 you win the game. If you haven’t picked this game up yet, please do! It’s amazing. 1-5 players, or more with expansions. For my full review click here.

4. Ca$h & Guns.

Possibly the king of party games. Certainly the top of my party game list. Ca$h & guns sees up to 8 players trying to dish out the loot after a bank heist, problem is, everyone wants the lions share. You all start with a hand of cards, some represent blanks, others bullets! You all, at the same time, place a card face down, then point your gun and another player. Some might get shot, some might not. Then people who haven’t been shot get to divide up the loot. And you do the same thing for a couple more rounds. Such a great game! And you get awesome foam guns!

3. Pictomania.

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Often referred to as Pictionary on speed, and rightfully so! Pictomania has up to 5 players trying to draw a thing/concept while, at the same time (!), guessing what the other players are drawing. The cards are set in difficulty so you can keep it simple if Nan has had a few too many snowballs! The laughter starts quickly and keeps building as you play. Trust me, drawing skills are not a necessity. 3-8 players. For my full review click here.

2. Dobble.

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Dobble was a surprise hit for me this year. I never excepted it to be so good. At it’s core, it’s a hardcore game of snap but it has so much more! There’s several variants included. You could crack this out at the staff party and within minutes people will be loving it! This is one of, if not the ultimate, stocking filler! For my full review click here.

1. Ticket To Ride.

Yes, it had to be. I’m making this a new Xmas day family tradition. Is it the best game on the list? Probably not, but it is the best game, to me, to get everyone involved. The theme is nice, the game takes minutes to learn and it lasts for just the right amount of time. It’s a simple game of building train routes and collecting points. longer the route, the more points, but if you don’t complete the route before the end of the game it will give you negative points. I’ve played Ticket To Ride loads of times, but if someone suggests playing it, I’m still super happy play.

Well we hope you enjoyed that. I can honestly, and full heartedly, recommend any of these games.

Have a great Xmas, and why not give one of these games a go with your family and friends!

What would you choose for your Xmas game?

Gary

The Lost Lighthouse Xmas Top 10 Board Games Part 1

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With Xmas quickly approaching, we decided to put together our top 10 board games, we think, that would make anyone’s Christmas a little brighter.

We’ve tried to keep the price point low, with a lot of the game hitting the £20 mark or lower .

So put away Cluedo and move aside Monopoly, Christmas has a new main event!

10) Escape. The Curse Of The Temple
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This was one of my intros into modern board gaming and it’s awesome! You play adventures seeking treasure in an crumbling temple. You can only move to rooms by rolling the right combo. But what makes this game great is you are restricted to a time limit! There’s a CD you play and if you don’t find enough treasure in time, you are locked in the temple for ever! Each game is only 10mins and you can have 1-5 players.

9) Loony Quest
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I’m not sure what I love more about Loony Quest, the art or the game mechanics! The game is based round imitating a computer game. You are all characters trying to compete in a famous game to crown the new king. As players you have a tile in the middle of the board and each of you have a transparent sheet and a marker. Depending on the mission you ether have to draw a route, place a dot, or circles objectives. Then you each, in turn, place your transparent sheet onto the centre tile to see if your lines mark a safe route, eliminate a target or gain extra bonuses while avoiding pitfalls and obstacles. Most likely you will hit everything other than what you were aiming for! This is normally followed by loud cheers and lots of laughing. An extra amazing thing in Loony Quest is you can unlock perks which help you in game, or traps that make the game harder for other players! Including banana peels and a pesky mosquitoe! With a game length of 20 mins and player count of 2-5, this will be a hit for sure!

8) Machi Koro
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Full review here

Machi Koro has been sweeping up awards since it’s release, even before it’s English translation. Machi Koro is as simple as it gets, with it’s roll & earn formula. You are all racing to build your own town, winner is who ever builds the 4 landmarks first. You roll a dice, see if it matches any of your buildings, if it does, you earn money. But that explanation does not do this game the credit it deserves. Since adding this to my collection I’ve played it constantly! With it’s 2-4 player count and 15min game time, you’ll be able to get a good few games of this in over Xmas!

7) Hey! That’s my fish
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Full review here

Want a great game, at a good price point that also has amazing penguins in it? Then look no further madam! Hey! That’s my fish has to be one of the simplistic, yet enjoyable games available. You simply have to collect as many fish as possible while trying to get isolated on a list ice berg. With an easy and quick to learn rules set and quick game length we highly recommend Hey! That’s my fish.

6) Sheriff of Nottingham
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Full review here

Fancy a bit of bluffing? What to try and sneak some contraband pepper past grandma? Then Sheriff of Nottingham is for you! Possibly the simplest rules set for a bluffing game, you play traders trying to get through customs, but each turn someone plays the Sheriff and gas to guess wether you are trying to sneak some illegal goods through. If he’s right, you pay him a fine, if he’s wrong, he pays you!

Well that’s our first 5! Please check out any of the links to learn more about the games. We happily recommend them all.

Turn in next weds for our top 5

Gary.

Reader’s Review: Zombie Dice

Today, one of our dedicated fans, Sam Phillips, lets us know his thoughts on a classic game he’s recently picked up.

Zombie Dice 

Everyone loves zombies and I’m no exception. So when I spied a game combining them with a gambling-dice-mechanic I was hooked! 

Zombie dice puts you in the shoes of the recently undead. You hunger for soft, delicious brains and the aim of the game is to eat 13 victims before your shuffling brethren. 

I found the game is best played in a small group, each player takes turn to roll three of the specially marked zombie dice. The player then chooses to score the brains consumed (rolled) or hunt more fresh meat and roll another trio of dice. 

Annoyingly (for you) your intended meals aren’t helpless and come equipped with shotguns, a roll that leaves you with three blast symbols ends your turn without you being able to score any brains previously eaten. 

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Bang Bang He Shot Me Down.

Zombie dice is the perfect pub game. The rules are simple to understand and teach, the game itself is compact enough for a pocket and the zombie theme won’t mark you out as a total loser if you’re one of those closet nerd types. 

In fact I would say zombie dice is the ideal gateway game to drag 
that friend who you wish to drag further into the rabbit hole we call geekdom. 

Sam

The Lost Lighthouse Reviews: Fury Of Dracula

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Moonlight flickers between the rushing trees, an owl hoots, you hear an eerie sound, not too dissimilar to a coffin lid opening. He’s back! The Count has arisen for a 3rd edition of Fury Of Dracula!

Now, this game has a lot of fans and I’m not just talking about this edition. Previously made by Games Workshop, Fantasy Flight Games has picked up the license for Fury Of Dracula since the 2nd edition. Copies were selling for such escalated prices on eBay, that it seemed impossible for the standard gamer to get a copy. Then FFG announced the 3rd edition release! I was excited, as pretty much every avenue of board game media said this is a “must have” in our collection.

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Sadly I couldn’t afford Fury Of Dracula for Halloween but as the long, windy, nights draw in, pretty much every night is scary!

I won’t go into the differences between this edition and the others as that’s the past and this incarnation is very much the present.

Before the rules, let’s talk about components. Fury Of Dracula is refreshingly light on components compared to most FFG games. All are good quality but it’s nice to not take half an hour setting up before even explaining the rules to people. The Dracula miniature himself makes me giggle as he looks a little bit like a vampire cosplayer that has been caught on the wrong end of a man hunt. The board art is amazing but I fine the colour palette a little drab.

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He appears from the shadows!

Up to 4 people are Hunters, while 1 person takes the role of Dracula. The hunters win if they find, and kill, Dracula and Dracula wins if he elevates the influence track to 13. The rules are pretty simple once you get going, but can be a bit difficult to get your head round to start with. The hunters take 2 actions during their turn, one during the day and one at night. These action can be simple things like moving or reserving a ticket to searching a city for the count himself. Dracula has a bit more to think about, he has to try and move from city to city, unseen, hoping the hunters don’t pick up his trail!

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A cheeky visit to Amsterdam!

The trail is where the excitement takes place in Fury Of Dracula. Everytime Dracula moves he places a facedown location card on the trail, which slides along the trail every time he moves. He also gets to place an encounter card on that location card, which could be an event that delays the hunters if they find that location, it could be a vampire Dracula has left there to try and kill them, or something in between. There’s a lot of options for Dracula and his encounters. If the Hunters move to a space where Dracula has been, Dracula has to reveal the location card and choose to reveal the encounter card or not, as it maybe a card he wants to mature (more on that later). Once the hunters find a location he has been to they can start to work out where Dracula maybe now and start a more focused hunt. 

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Dracula wins the game by gaining influence. He does this by ether biting a hunter in combat, maturing an encounter card, or defeating a hunter in combat. Maturing an encouter card means that it didn’t get discovered by the time it slides of the end of the trail.

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Combat in the game is nice and simple, it takes a few goes to get used to it but it’s good. In a nutshell, the hunters and Dracula have their own combat cards that they play face down and then flip at the same time, if the symbols match then the hunters card takes effect, but if they do not, Dracula’s card takes effect. Dracula is tough but if he gets set upon by 2 or more Hunters then he needs to escape asap! I know this from experience!

Now a thing to consider is that FFG also make Letters From Whitechapel, another great hidden movement game. With a few less rules Whitechapel is a smoother game overall but I much prefer the setting and mechanics of Fury of Dracula as it’s not just a game of hide and seek.

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I really like Fury Of Dracula, being the Count is so much fun, all be it nail biting at times. When the hunters are talking about cities no where near you, you are laughing but then when they have you trapped and they don’t even realise, you’re sitting there in a cold sweat! I’d say it works best as a 5 player, as then it’s 4 hunters deciding by themselves where to move rather than one or two people controling all the pieces. If you haven’t got a hidden movement game in your collection, make sure this is it!

Gary

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P.s A tip if you’re ever Dracula, wear a cape, it’s the best and never travel by sea, it’s the worse!

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Don't travel by see, trust me, just don't.

The Lost Lighthouse Reviews: Hey, That’s My Fish!

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I’ll start this review by confessing that I love penguins, plain and simple. I also love being able to screw my friends over in board games, less so when it happens to me but I guess that’s one of the rules of being “a bit of a git”.

After seeing the box art for Hey, that’s my fish!, I knew I’d enjoy it. I’d also heard a lot of good things about it before picking it up.

With a rule book (sheet) shorter than most fast food menus, you’ll be able to get straight into the fishy fun. The only downside I find to the game, and it’s really minor, is setting it up. You have to set up lots of small tiles, but if the whole group gets involved, it’s really no issue.
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So, in a nutshell, the aim of the 2-4 player game is to collect more fish than your opponents. Each player moves one of their penguins at a time, in a straight line and then collects the tile they started on. Your penguin can not pass through any other penguin during his move but that’s pretty much the only restriction. Tiles will have 1, 2 or 3 fish on them.
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In the beginning it seems a bit tame, but after a few turns you’ll start to notice the play area disappearing as you collect tiles. We quickly spotted that you can try to isolate other people’s penguins and leave their penguins adrift, it’s a bit mean but quite funny none the less.
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Hey, that’s my fish! fits nicely into the “pre-game” slot, it’s great as a nice warm up to a bigger games or for friends that are new to board gaming. Not taking anything away from it, as it really is a great game and you may well fill an evening playing it lots and lots. We managed to get a couple games in around half an hour and really enjoyed them. The small amount of game space needed is also refreshing! Proving that a game doesn’t need to be big to be good. I can see this being great to play with the kids as well.

With Christmas coming up, and landing in at around £10, I can see this being a great stocking filler for all board game enthusiasts.

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I love this penguin. You will have the same expression when one of your penguins gets isolated!

I’d highly recommended Hey that’s my fish to pretty much anyone. With it’s low cost to high fun ratio, I can’t see anyone being disappointed. So treat yourself to an early present and pa-pa-pick….(Gary was forcefully removed before finishing this awful joke).

You can find your local retailer for Hey, That’s My fish by using this link.

Gary.

The Lost Lighthouse Reviews: The Grizzled

The Grizzled is a co-operative card game for 2-4 players. A lot of board/card games have based their setting in war. Where most games theme themselves around the fighting itself, The Grizzled is about the morale of a group of friends that have signed up to fight the good fight during the Great War. I always find it a bit difficult to play war games that are based during times of our close relatives, but The Grizzled presents itself in a tasteful way. At every step it respects it’s themes.

I think the first thing that will attract you to The Grizzled is the art. It’s absolutely beautiful by the fantastic Tignous and If there’s some thing that sticks with you, it’s his art. I’d find it impossible to think someone could walk past the cards laid out and not be drawn in by the art work. It’s the first thing that struck me that’s for sure!

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The games itself, to me, is a mix of strategy and push your luck. Your aim is to reveal the dove of peace, but if at any point the war monument is revealed or a soldier has 4 “Hard Knock” cards laid out in front of him, you lose. Each player starts with a soldier and some support tokens (these represent some kind of relief, that being a hot coffee or a friendly chat).

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Trial cards consist of ether threats or hard knocks. Threats represent pure danger while traversing no man’s land and hard knocks represent psychological conditions you and your friends may develop. At the start of each round, a certain number of trial cards are placed onto the peace card and the rest are placed on the monument card.
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During the game the mission leader choses how many trial cards will be dealt to each person (each player gets the same amount). Then one by one each player takes an action that can range from playing a card or making an inspiring speech to your best friends.

While the game is co-operative, your hand of cards are secret from each other. You could also end up with hard knocks like mute, which means you can not communicate with other players in any way!

When you play a threat into no man’s land you are trying to avoid matching 3 threats, the avarage card having 2, the worse card having 6! You also have to deal with traps that trigger more cards being played. If at any point, 3 threats match, the mission has failed.

After a while your only option is to withdraw from the mission. Cards are dealt from the monument pile, onto the peace card depending on how many cards the plays have left in their hand. The better the mission goes, the more chance, potentially, of succeeding with the next.
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The games ends when the dove or the monument is revealed, or if a soldier has 4 Hard knocks.

My group loved playing the The Grizzled. When you laid out the cards, it was more like you were working on a piece of art. Everything from the environments on the cards too the hand written hard knocks.

While a co-operative game, The Grizzled takes just enough away from your freedom to communicate to make it a different, more intense experience. Just reading some of the hard knocks make you really reflect on what those men went through; mustard gas, bombardment, and the dreaded whistle blow that signaled another push through no man’s land.
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Wether we won or lost a game, it felt like like an achievement, like you’ve tried as hard as you could. Every move you make, you think how it’s going to effect your brothers in arms. When you decide who gets your support token, it’s not always simple. Does the man with the most hard knocks get your support or the one who have 1 really bad one!

As a special mention I’d liked the “Happy Christmas” card. It really gets you if it gets drawn. That ray of hope in the worse time.

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I’d full heartedly recommend The Grizzled. It’s simple superb. I’ve been compiling my “must buys” for Christmas and this will have a well deserved place on it.

You can find your local retailer for The Grizzled by using this link.

You can pick up The Grizzled from Amazon for £16.99

Gary.

The Lost Lighthouse Reviews: Dice Masters “War Of Light” 2-player Starter Set

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Dice Masters has been such a massive hit this year in the game world but I’ve been avoiding it like the plague. Why you ask? Because I didn’t like the way it looked? The themes? The fact it’s dice? Nope, I love all the those things! I have been trying to avoid it because I love everything about it, and I didn’t want to get addicted. Still, despite all these things I’ve managed to avoid it. Until I got sent a copy of Dice Masters “War Of Light” to review. It’s fine, I mean, it can’t be that good, right? *Gulp* .

I’ve got to say, I’m a Marvel man. Anyone that listens to the podcast knows I’m not a huge fan of DC. Batman is fine, I don’t like Superman and there’s not many more I can name in all honesty. Which is why I was genuinely happy that the review copy I was sent was a DC themed 2-player starter set. It meant I could reach my conclusion focusing on the game, not the themed wrapped around it. It’s hard sometimes, as we all forgive our loved ones failings, but that doesn’t help a games review!

I think the best way for you to get to grips with the rules is to check out this amazing video by the legendary Rodney Smith, of Watch It Played fame, which can also be found on the Wizkids website. It really helped me get to grips with the rules before my first game.

The game works a lot like a collectible card game, but with dice. In fact, that’s exactly what it is! If you’re familiar with card games like Magic The Gathering, then you’ll understand the basics of Dice Masters. You start the game with 8 basic dice that, when rolled, generate different types of energy (an in-game resource) or a basic fighter, or sidekick as they are called. Side kicks and character dice are you main fighting power, able to attack, block or just be menacing in general. The attacking rules are simple, with the complexity coming from what you decide to do. When you choose to attack, your opponent can elect blockers, any damage that gets through takes life points away from the player. Going back to energy,  you can pay for better dice which represent bigger and more bad ass heroes, which in turn can generate more energy or fighting versions of themselves. In War Of Light you have access to heroes like Hal Jordan and Batman but you can also recruit villains including Lex Luthor and the dreaded Anti-Monitor. But the core of the game is learning when to recruit, battle or hold strong in defence. One mistake, or poorly planned attack can easily lead to your defences being to weak to withstand a strong retaliation. Also trying to remember who your opponent has recruited and if they’ve been drawn from their dice bag yet is vital! In my first game, my opponent was in a strong lead and decided to attack with all he had, reducing me to 1 life point! But he used all his dice, I then drew my dice and 3 of them I rolled ended up being strong characters which then attacked and won me the game.

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This set gives you lots of play value, a few starter sets I’ve played in the past requires you to immediately go and buy extras to get any proper play from them. This set lets you play a really good game but trust me, you’ll go buy boosters, not because you need to but because you want to!

What was really cool was working out little tricks like keeping your basic sidekick dice in the field area, effectively “milling” your dice pool so you’re more likely to draw your stronger dice but also helps your defence.

If, like me, DC isn’t your thing then they also have Marvel, Yu-Gi-Oh and D&D versions. If they do an Alien or Predator (or vs) set, I might as well get my pay check in dice form!

My FLGS runs at least one draft a week of Dice Masters and I talked to them about it, and they said the game is only picking up speed. Everyone loves it and the fact you can do drafts of it makes me love it even more. 2 dice boosters are also available, meaning you might pick up some rares along the way! You can use this handy store finder to help you find the closest location to play. RRP is £16.99 and boosters are £1

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I can only assume this guy hates those lizards!

I really enjoyed Dice Masters “War Of Light” and if you enjoy the Lantern Corps or the War Of Light cannon in general then this is definitely the box set to pick up, the art is beautiful and dice are awesome quality.

I’m more than happy to say I fully recommend this game, just don’t blame me when you have to re mortgage your home!

Gary

We were supplied a copy for this review.

The Lost Lighthouse Reviews: Timeline Inventions

When were rubbish bags invented? I’ll tell you, 1950. I don’t know how I know this very random fact, but never the less, I do. I don’t know how I knew it when I won my first game of Timeline: Inventions, but I did. It wasn’t even a guess, I knew it. I feel I’ve skipped ahead some what, in the voice of Bo Selecta Craig David, can I get a rewind!

The aim of Timeline: Inventions is simple. Each player has a certain amount of double-sided cards. One side has a picture and name of an invention, and the other side is the same but has the date also. Players lay their cards date side down.  Then one card is drawn from the remaining pile, and placed it the centre of the board, date side up . This is our starting point for the timeline. The first player chooses one of their inventions and decide wether or not it came before or after that first card. If they think before they place it to the left of the start card, if they think after they place it to the right. Then they flip their card, if they are correct (yay!) the card stays where it is, if they are wrong, it gets discarded and they have to draw a new one (boo!). Then the second player goes, but they now the timeline has, possibly, two cards on it. So does it go before, after, or in between these dates! As the game progresses the timeline gets bigger and it’s harder to place cards as the dates get closer together. The first person to have no cards in their hand wins.

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The group I played with enjoyed Timeline: Inventions. It seems to fit well into that “pre big game, game” slot. The aim is very direct and there’s no real tactics to speak of, but because it’s quite a short game, it ends while it’s still interesting. The price point is good as well, barely more expensive than a cinema ticket, and for that you also get a really nice tin to house it.

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The art work style is also really cool, and also the choice of “inventions”. Having “RPG games” and a Doors song come up were nice treats.
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While no game is perfect, an issue I do have is that one of the dates that’s printed is wrong. It didn’t ruin the game what so ever, and in fact made for a good discussion afterwards.

Another plus is that there are five versions of Timeline! So you can take your pick of what you think your group would like. Timeline is available at Waterstones for £12.99 or you can pick all five versions up from Amazon.

I would recommend Timeline: Inventions if you’re looking for a quick, fun game to start your evening and also who knows, you might learn a thing or two. Like, when rubbish bags were invented!

Gary.

A sample copy was supplied for this review.

The 5 Best Tapletop Games to Introduce People to the Hobby

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We’ve got a new contributor in the form of Jonathan! He’s Kit’s brother. Like Kit, but also not at all like Kit. Because that is not how brothers work.

Mornin’ all, I’m not Kit. Instead, I’m his brother Jonathan, the younger, slightly sillier version. Now, we don’t know much about each other, but I hope you won’t be alienated if I say that I like fun. Do you like fun? It is pretty fun. That’s why I like tabletop games, as they are basically little engines that produce fun, and I like to play them with as many people as possible. Today, we’re going to look at the best games to introduce people to the hobby. Maybe you want to give them a go, but don’t know where to start. Or maybe you are sick to death with playing Articulate with your in-laws. As I said, I don’t know you either.

Let’s be clear, these games aren’t my favourites. Instead, they are easy to pick up, instantly engaging and fun to lose. After all, nothing will put someone quicker off the hobby than losing painfully at something they don’t understand.
5) Monikers

Monikers

“But Jonathan, this isn’t even a board game?!”

I know, dear reader, but if you can get people to have fun with pieces of card or paper, getting them around a board will be so much easier.

Monikers takes the good bits of Articulate, but doesn’t have you playing with cards 20 years out of date. It starts off very similarly, teams taking it in turn to have one member trying to describe the thing on the card without saying anything on the card, with the others trying to guess what the hell they’re on about. So far, so ordinary.

Second round, same cards, this time you only get one word. Starting to sound more interesting? Third round, you can make gestures, but no words. Round four, you go behind the sofa and describe your card with nothing but facial expressions. Round five, back behind the sofa, but now you can mime with anything except your head. This would be impossible, if you hadn’t built up in jokes and familiarity with the cards beforehand.

There are a set of cards you can buy, which I hear work very well. I, however, feel that this game is at its best when you choose your own things to guess. Let each player write down five things, perhaps in categories, and use these as your cards. This makes every game of it different, taking on unique flavours due to the people playing it.  That said, if you feel your group isn’t too creative, or you don’t have time to produce your own, the cards linked below are cheap and of high quality.

Now, as you may imagine, this is a silly game, and requires people to be willing to make a fool of themselves. I still remember trying to communicate Madagascar using nothing but my head. Ah, good times.

Monikers can be found here

 

4) The Resistance: Avalon

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Be honest, you think you’d be a brilliant evil genius, don’t you? Perhaps it’s just me. Regardless, The Resistance: Avalon gives you the opportunity to be just that. You and your group will be noble Knights of the Round Table. Unfortunately, some of you are secretly evil, and are trying to corrupt Camelot. Each round, you’ll vote on which members of the group should go on quests, then the quest goers will secretly vote on whether or not they want the quest to succeed. If one votes to fail, then the quest fails. Over the course of five quests, once three go to either good or evil, that team wins.

A couple of additional touches make this spicy curry of intrigue even spicier. On the side of good is Merlin, who knows who the secret evil people are. To balance things out, at the end of the game, if the forces of evil can guess who Merlin is, they win, even if they didn’t corrupt enough quests. Ooh, such secrecy, such possibilities for deception.

This game needs to be played with people who won’t hold grudges. Occasionally, the rules can get a little complex for first time players, so you’ll need to have studied that rulebook, ready to field any questions. The game excels, however, because people don’t spend ages staring at a board. Instead, they are looking at each other, using intuition and logic, those wonderful things we all possess, to suss out each other’s motives.

Not convinced yet? I’ll tell you one story, from early in my Avalon days. A friend was playing for her first time, and she was nervous. She haltingly asked who Merlin might be, and I replied by slyly winking whilst stating Merlin would never reveal himself. She nodded, and a bond was built between us. We voted together, we swayed things our way. The final quest came, and we got our people on the quest.

Only, I wasn’t Merlin. I was evil. I had gone full Machiavelli, and tricked my friend into trusting me. My betrayal was beautiful, and yours will be too.

The Resistance: Avalon doesn’t have a designated website page, but I’m sure you’ll be able to find it quickly if you want it.

 

3) Pandemic

pandemic

Pandemic brings something to the table nothing else on this list does. It is a co-operative game, with all players on one side, fighting the board. This makes it ideal for groups who you fear may get a little too rowdy if they’re set against each other.

You play a team of doctors and scientists, trying to prevent four deadly diseases from wiping out humanity. On your turn, you do your best to stop the spread of these diseases and research their cures. If you come up with a cure for each disease, you win! If you run out of turns, you lose. If too many places suffer an outbreak, you lose.  If you run out of disease cubes to play, you lose. In other words, you’re all going to have to pull together to get through this.

When you pull off an awesome manoeuvre, playing just the right card at just the right time, you feel incredible. The games best feature is how each player will have at least a couple of moments when they get to save the day. When your group becomes a team, chaining together moves to pull off a complex set of actions that save the earth, you’ll feel pretty great. Furthermore, it is very easy to modify the difficulty of the game, making sure that any group will have a fair shot.

The one thing you’ll need to make sure of is that no one becomes a mini-dictator, telling people what to do on their turn and browbeating them into subservience. The other thing to be aware of is that after numerous plays, you risk ‘solving the puzzle’, and realising what the optimal plays are. The expansions do a good job of mitigating this, but beware, dear reader, for one day you may need to shell out for them as well, to recapture Pandemic’s wonderfulness.

Pandemic can be found here.

 

2) Codenames

codenames

Codenames is probably the single tensest game I’ve played. It is also a thankfully quick one, otherwise I suspect my head would’ve exploded from sheer stress the first time I played it.

It is also a simple word game with incredibly simple rules. 25 words will be placed out on a table, with players split into two teams. One player on each team is the ‘spymaster’, knowing which cards are secretly their colour, the enemy’s colour, a turn ending innocent bystander, or the fatal assassin card, which results in an instant loss if it gets picked. To communicate which ones should be picked by their teammates, they get to say one word and one number each round. The word will hopefully hint towards some of the ones they want their teammates to pick, with the number an indication of how many to go for this round.

That’s it. A simple, fun game, that is incredibly easy to understand, but rather tricky to master. It is great for those you suspect will be reluctant to try anything too unusual. It may not work so well for those who aren’t too wordy or strong on lateral thinking, but its swiftness and its tension make it a great way to fill 15 minutes.

Codenames can be found here

 

1) Dixit

dixit

Without a shadow of a doubt, Dixit is the best game to introduce people to the hobby. Just show them the cards, and they are hooked. In Dixit, you are rabbits, running around a field, dreaming. Trust me, it is great.

On your turn, you choose one of the frankly beautiful cards in your hand, and play it facedown, providing a word or phrase to describe it. Each other player chooses a card in their hand that could match your description, and adds it to the pile. These are then shuffled and revealed, with everyone else voting for which card they think is yours. If they get it right, or trick someone into voting for theirs instead, they score points. You score points if people get it right as well, but you get nothing if everyone or no one gets it right. That way, you want some people to guess correctly, but not everyone.

dixit2That is the whole game. Playing this game is far more fun than winning or losing it, making it ideal for first time players. You’ll probably need to be the one keeping track of the scores, as I’ve seen people occasionally get muddled with it. This game shows people just how much more a board game can be than what they’re used to. And seriously, look at this card with a bag on it.

Is it not glorious? How could you not want to play a game with something as wonderful as that in it?

Now that we’ve got to know each other a little bit, I’ll be honest with you. I’m tired of Dixit. One day, you will be too. But the first time you play it, you’ll have a brilliant time. The second time too. It’ll take you a long time to get sick of it, and that first time brilliance is exactly what you need in an introductory game. Play it, dear reader, and make others play it too.

Dixit can be found here.

 

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Now, there were other great games that didn’t make it into the list. Some were left off because they were too complex, others because they were too similar to things already on the list. Let me know if you feel any absences are travesties of justice. Trust me with these five though, and you’ll be a bringer of joy to your loved ones. In time, you’ll get to introduce them to more complex games, and you’ll never have to play Monopoly again.

Jonathan

Check out The Nomadic Lighthouse, Jonathan’s own site totally in keeping with the ‘lighthouse’ theme.

 

 

 

The Lost Lighthouse Reviews: Dobble

5

It’s not often a game takes you completely by surprise. In a golden age of board gaming, it’s easy to over look a little game like Dobble. It’s not in a huge, flashy box or costs loads of money, so it must not be worth it, right? Wrong, so very wrong!

I had not heard of Dobble before playing it, but I love Jungle Speed, a game made by the same publisher (Asmodee), so I gave it a go. Within a few minutes I fell in love. It asks for so little but gives you so much back in return. It’s hard to describe how much joy you can pack into a metal container, barely bigger than a can of tuna.

I like to think of it as “hard-core snap”, that might not make it sound as good as I’m preaching, but trust me readers, have I steered you wrong before? In one way or another you are trying to match up a symbol from you card with one on a central card, or someone else’s.

The symbols are nice cartoony designs, some more abstract than the others. I particularly like the cat & the gingerbread man, which the rules name “Orange Man”.

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The overriding objective could not be simpler: “No matter the game, you always need to be the fastest to spot the identical symbol between two cards, name it out loud and then take the card, place it or discard it depending on the rules of the mini-game you’re currently playing”.

This objective carries over into the 5 mini-games included in the rules, here’s my 2 favourites:

“The Well”. In this game the cards are dealt face down to players with the last card face up in the middle. Then players flip their pile of cards and try to discard them to the middle pile by matching symbols. The last player to get rid of their cards loses!

“The Hot Potato”. This is the first of the mini-games that consists of multiple rounds. Each round players takes one card and keeps it face down. Then everyone flips and tries to be the quickest to match and pass their card to another player, which then becomes their new card to pass on until one player has all the cards from that round! Then the round starts again, and this continues until all the cards are given out. Who ever has most cards loses.

All 5 games are great though. It’s really interesting how you can create different games from one core concept.

One of my favourite things about this game is that, while children playing and calling out their matching symbols is super cute, grown ass adults shouting “gingerbread man!” Out loud is hilarious.

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If you’re looking for a new, fast pace, super fun game that all the family can enjoy, then I’d suggest you pick up Dobble!

available from Waterstones on the high street for around £12.99 and online from WHSmithArgos and Tesco.

Gary.

A sample copy was supplied for this review.