The Lost Lighthouse Plays: Cortex Challenge

​Welcome back everyone! Well, as we gear ourselves up for Xmas, yes already, we decided to look at a few games we thought could make your gaming partner/friend/cat’s day even better. We have a selection of games ranging from small to large, to fit anyone’s needs/stocking. 

Today we will be looking at Cortex Challenge (designed by Johan Benvenuto & Nicolas Bourgoin). I’m so glad I was able to review Cortex Challenge, whether we should or not, we judge things by the cover and it’s box gave me the vibe of stocking filler normally found by the till in department stores, thankfully it’s so far from this! For me, Cortex fits in the ever growing & popular quick party game category. 

Cortex has a delightfully short rules set, 3 very small pages. You set up the game by shuffling the challenge cards (excluding the textured touch cards) and placing them face down in the middle of the table. The back of each card will tell you what type of challenge the group is about to play. If someone thinks they have solved the challenge they ether perform the action the card tells them to or they cover the card and shout the answer. Ok, you don’t have to shout but I bet you will! If that player is correct then they receive a piece of their brain token. A player needs 4 tokens to complete their brain and win the game. Each player also needs to feel the touch cards as they may get a chance to win a touch challenge in the game.

In Cortex you and up to 5 others will test your grey matter through 8 possible brain games:

1) Memory. For this challenge you will have a card with 5 items on it. Cover the card and say the items out loud to win the challenge. 

2) Maze. Cover the card and say which letter is the correct path out the maze.

3) Colour. Cover the card and say which word is written in it’s own colour.

4) Coordination. Place the corresponding finger/s on the part of your face it tells you to.

5) Duplicates. Cover the card and say which picture has appeared twice on the card.

6) Frequency. Cover the card and say which number has appeared the most.

7) Reasoning. Cover the card and say which shape fits the diagram shown.

8) Touch. If this card comes up, then the person who won the last challenge has a chance to win again. The person in question has to close their eyes while the rest of the group chooses one of the touch cards for the person to try and guess. If they get it right they win another piece of brain!

There’s so many things I love about Cortex. First off, it can fit so many points in a gaming night. Fancy a quick pre or post dinner game, it fits. Want a game to get you excited before a longer game, perfect. Is it small enough to carry in my bag to a friend’s house just in case we can get a quick game in, yes! Is it easy enough to explain/play so non gamers can enjoy, BOOM, it is. Also the price point is perfect for Xmas only costing RRP £12.99. 

Not the best opponent.

 The only downside to Cortex is, like a lot of games, there are types of people that will excel or be awful at this game. If you have a problem solving personality you will probably keep wining, so someone who doesn’t will keep losing. Cleverly there’s different types of challenges and we found some people were better at one type than another. Also, the game is short enough that it’s doubtful someone doing badly will get board and it’s exciting just to play let alone win. 

If you like games like Dobble or Jungle Speed then I’m confident you’ll enjoy this. I love those games and Cortex will happily sit next to them in my collection.
Gary 

The Lost Lighthouse Reviews: Ice Cool

So, looking for a new game? Maybe a dexterity game? With penguins…with bow ties!  If like me, you answered yes to all of those questions then Ice Cool is the game for you. 

There’s so many fun elements of Ice Cool, the game board is even made up from the box itself. You peg all the interior boxes together to make a sliping and sliding school.
The rules are super simple. If 3-4 players are involved, 2-3 of you are runners and 1 of you is the catcher. The runners get to make one flick during a turn, and their aim is to get completely through a doorway with their coloured fish above it. If they make it, they take their coloured fish and take a card from the draw pile. Each card is labeled 1 to 3 points. The catcher has to flick their penguin, bump into the other penguins and take their hall pass, giving him/her access to the draw pile. The round ends when one runner has all their fish or the catcher has everyone’s hall pass. The game ends once everyone has been the Catcher. Then points are added up and the highest  score wins. Those are the rules, but they aren’t the game. Not by long shot. The game comes from laughing so hard when your friend’s about to win by flicking a penguin two inches through a doorway,  but ends up fluffing it and flicks him half way across the room instead! 

The penguin play pieces are awesome. Just the way they move and wobble is great to watch.  Beware though,  if your cat’s like Monty, he’ll want to get involved! Setup is incredibly quick so you can start flicking right away. 

Brain Gomez and Brain Games have produced a game that has ticked every box on my “great game” list: lots of dexterity, gets people animated and up on their feet, and makes people rethink what a board game is or what they can be. 

If you want a quick game that all the family can enjoy, including the cat, then pick up Ice Cool. Also if I didn’t mention…they have bow ties! 

RRP £29.99

The Lost Lighthouse Plays: T.I.M.E Stories Part 1

And that’s my final thought on the game…wait, something’s wrong. I know what’s happened; we’ve jumped in at the wrong point of the run. Let’s spend some Time Units and jump back to the beginning of the article.

*Various 80’s Sci-Fi noises*

T.I.M.E Stories rematerialized within our local game stores in 2015, published by Space Cowboys and Asmodee. A game notoriously difficult to write about as SO much relies on the story and not letting the cat out the bag. So I’m going to write one article now, 3 runs into the game, with no spoilers and one after our time agents have solved the mystery WITH spoilers

So this piece will focus on how I feel about the mechanics, aesthetics and general play style of the game but will give away none the important story hooks.

As I previously stated our play group has only got half way through 3 “runs” into the mission supplied with the base game, so my opinions may change in the next article after we’ve finished. So take them with a pinch of salt.

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Look at how cool those component slots are!

Upon looking at the contents of the box, you know this is a different game. I’m a huge fan of RPGs and from what I’d heard of the game that would help. The components are fascinating; the pieces that represent the players are huge! It feels as if the designers looked at standard games components and went “our game’s completely different, let’s not have standard components”. One thing I really enjoy about the box design is that you can essentially “save” your game progress ready for your next session. The board itself is a blank canvas which is perfect considering the idea of the game.
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I feel I’m getting ahead of myself. If you haven’t heard about T.I.M.E Stories, you and between 1-3 other players take on the roles of agents sent back to some time in history, ours or otherwise, to correct something that has gone wrong. Problem is, time travel takes a lot of energy and it’s not long till you’re ripped back to the future. Every trip is called a run, and every time you try to do something during a run it costs Time Units (TU). Once you’ve spent an allowed amount of TU during a run you have to start again from the beginning. But hopefully you’ll bring along some memories and items from your previous run(s).

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I played as Mademoiselle Doume. Bitter as hell, and twice as tough!

You each pick a different person for your agent to inhabit while they have slipped back through time. Some are better at conversations, some are better at smashing heads! Classic RPG style. It really benefits your party to take a mix.
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Your “view” during the game is a panorama, which changes per location you go to, of the area you are occupying. This could be a roof or a cave etc. you can move your agents around the panorama to interact or talk to various people. Some times for better or for the worse as you are occasionally drawn into fights. The dice mechanics are really simple, though the rule book sometimes isn’t as clear as it could be. As you travel to different locations, you slowly start to piece together the mystery you are there to solve. Then, inevitably, you run out of TU and have to start again. I believe you are meant to get quicker with each run as you know where things are and who you can ignore.
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The artwork is a true highlight. The mission in the core box looks beautiful. It really has that American Horror Story vibe to it. I’d even advise putting on some creepy music while playing.

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Time Units run out much quicker than you'd hope!

So I and my crew are 2.5 runs into a game. It’s a completely new experience for us; it has such a unique playstyle. I really enjoyed reading out the cards and the look on people’s faces when, as a team, you’ve made a bad move, or the joy when you’ve solved something. I’d advise a “no phone at the table” rule as it can really break the vibe of the game if people aren’t paying attention, it also doesn’t help as you need to remember things people have said to you from previous encounters. I can’t give a full opinion yet as I’ve not finished the first mission but the “re-run” style mechanic is looking to be a blessing and a curse at the same time. On occasions it’s really nail biting trying to get stuff done before your run ends, other times it just gets a bit tedious redoing the same things 3 or 4 times. I’m hoping once we have finished the first mission that opinion will have changed.

Overall, at this moment in time, I’d say T.I.M.E Stories is still worth picking up, it’s so unique in its play style and really gets the players immersed in the story. The fact each expansion just “plugs in” to the game board is really cool.

So until my final review, get in your time pods and secure yourselves, for time travel can be a little bumpy!

Gary

True Believers Comic Festival 2016

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Kit headed off to the True Believers Comic Festival at the Cheltenham Racecourse this year. Here’s what he thought!

Mission: To put the comics back into Comic-Con!

Do you like comics? Well you’re reading this so I’m going to assume that yes, yes you do. With that in mind you really need to check out the True Believers Comic Festival. There are many conventions around the UK, you can go to the likes of MCM Expo, which although fantastic and a hell of a lot of fun is not for the faint of heart. I have many fond memories there, but also less fond memories of being stuck in queues for entire mornings or being caught in a crush of people trying to get to the loos. If you want something similar, but on a smaller, far more relaxed scale then True Believers is for you. It’s only been running for two years, and I’ve had the very good fortune to have been to both cons so far.

It’s based in Cheltenham at the beginning of February each year, located at the Racecourse. When my partner, Charlie, and I got there (her in cosplay, a dress down Black Cat and looking fantastic… I was lazier this year and didn’t dress up myself…), 15 minutes after opening we were greeted by a packed entrance hall! There were a lot more people there than last year (no figures to back this up, but it certainly felt like this!) but once we’d hacked through the small crowd to the entrance we made our way in. The main hall itself was full of stalls with plenty going on around each. There’s collectible figures, merchandise of all the mainstream comics, there’s artists, cake and my personal favourite – indie comic books!

One of the things I love about attending True Believers is the time you can spend chatting to the indie artists and writers. They have a great chance to promote their work here and are naturally very passionate about it. When you pass a table and something catches your eye take the chance to talk to them and next thing you know you’ll be even more intrigued by their work, will be the proud owner of a new comic book and a few pounds worse off. I’ll be doing my next few comic reviews based on the comics I picked up at True Believers.

We attended one of the main panels, Celebrate Cosplay lead by GCC, Kurostyler, Limegreenjelly and Tris Trinket. They talked about all things cosplay, they gave advice, spoke about their experience and answered questions. The whole atmosphere was fun and relaxed, plenty of people in the audience felt comfortable asking things or contributing themselves. They promoted a very positive attitude towards cosplay, focusing on enjoying it whoever you are and discouraging elitism.

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There was also a new table-top gaming area, where anyone could step in and play a board game and get to know other con-goers. There were group meet ups (Charlie joined in the Marvel and DC group) and some incredible costumes.

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TB3There was also a real family friendly environment, plenty of kids dressed up as their favourite character and enjoying themselves.

The main event in the afternoon was the cosplay catwalk. I didn’t take part this time, but Kurostyler did an excellent job MCing it. He kept the crowd entertained and introduced all of the excellent costumes.

All of the people working there, from organising the big events to shepherding people into the convention, work really hard, and as a note if any of them are reading this – thanks a lot for putting on a fantastic event. We’ll definitely be back next year!

Anything they could have done better? Well as the convention is growing, the demand for panels and other activities (maybe a video game area) is going to grow. So basically yeah, the same again please, but even more!

Kit

The Lost Lighthouse Review: Loony Quest

It’s not often that you find a game that will please both newbies and veteran boardgamers but Laurent Escoffier & David Franck’s Loony Quest manages to do just that.

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Borrowed from the Esdevium Game website

I can, sadly, see this game getting over looked by people browsing their local games store because the box doesn’t give much of the game away but once you’re inside you’re in for a real treat.
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In the game you are all trying to navigate one of the 7 worlds, represented by 3 double sided tiles. Each tile has a legend that tells you what you need to do to score XP(points), while avoiding various traps and enemies, and secure victory. What ever mission you are on, one thing remains the same, you all have a transparent sheet, and there’s a tile in the middle of the table. You all have to draw on your transparent sheet, then one by one, place your sheet on the tile to see how well (badly) you have done! When explaining the rules, it seems one person will always voice “what? That’s easy!” Little do they know.

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I've got this in the bag!

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Bugger!

Each tile will be 1 of 4 mission types. Link: players must start and end at specified locations on the tile. Move: players must start in one location but may end anywhere on the tile. Ring: players must draw a ring around mission items on the tile. Mark: players must draw a dot on their screen that will hit mission items. Out of the 4 type Id say link is my favourite, it’s a lot of fun trying to look at the tile and translate that to your screen. Ring I’d say is the hardest, as no matter how big you think you’ve drawn the rings, they won’t be big enough. Which ever mission you play will have a lot of laughter Carrying you through it.

For me, the most fun comes from the bonuses and penalties. To unlock these, the line you have drawn must pass through them. They are both cleverly placed, the bonuses are near things that loss you XP and the penalties are near things you need to get to! These can range from having to balance a mosquito on your pen, to having to draw your next line with your arm locked at the elbow.

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Damn that Mossy!

You also get a sand timer included for certain missions. We actually decided to use it for every mission as adding the 30 seconds timer made it more fast paced and exciting.

Each set of tiles colourfully represent 1 of the 7 worlds. Paul Mafayons art is a real treat. As you pass through the worlds, they get harder and harder. The last boss is one of my favourites as it’s a gladiatorial battle with a theatre of chickens watching!

All games have a couple of issues, and I’m glad this games issue is not actually to do with the mechanics or games system. It’s the way you keep score! You place these little markers around the outside of the inlay and there’s numbers all along the box. Great idea, but when you move yours or if you’ve got the same score as someone else, they tend to all fall out which can be pretty annoying.

I’d definitely recommend this as it’s like nothing I’ve played before and has only 20 minutes playtime (something ever gamers shelves tend to be lacking), so great to bring out after dinner with friends and it’s not rules heavy so it’s easy to explain to any non gamers you may have at the table. But if you are a hardcore gamer, there’s still lots of fun to be found, it’s a really fun experience. It’s also a nice compact game game, so you don’t need a massive dinner table to play it.

Loony Quest retails at £19.99 which is amazing value, and why not pick it up from you local games store. Find yours with this link

Gary

The Lost Lighthouse Review: Colt Express

What’s the easiest way to entice me into playing a board game? I don’t know but a 3D train certainly has to be high on the list!

Wine not included.

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We have been spoilt the last few years with so many good games. How can we possibly play them all? Well obviously we can’t, it’s just not possible. So we have to be discerning, and games designers have to be clever to catch our eyes. Well Christophe Raimbault & Ludonaute have done just that.

Colt Express sees 2-6 players controlling bandits trying to commit a train robbery. Problem is, there’s a marshal on board, and oh yeah, all the bandits are out for themselves. With a tight, petite rules set Colt Express lets the fun begin right away.

The basics of the game are that everyone has a deck of 10 action cards which represent things your character can do that round, which range from shooting your fellow bandits, picking up loot, to moving the deadly marshal through the train. The aim of the game is to end with the most valuable loot, that being purses, diamonds or the danger magnet that is the marshals strongbox!
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At the beginning of the turn bandits draw 6 cards and each play a card to create a common deck that gets flipped and actions played out one by one. Most of the time they are played face up so everyone sees what will happen and in what order, but sometimes the train is going through a tunnel and they are played face down, which adds a great bit of mystery.

Firing your six shooter is very encouraged in Colt Express and the mechanic is fantastic. You basically choose another bandit that’s in an adjacent carriage, or any carriage if you’re both on the roof, and serve that person one of your bullet cards to their deck. Might not sound much but after you’ve been shot a few times, drawing those cards are basically useless and limits what you can do. You also earn a massive $1000 if you manage to fire all your bullets! Which can be game winning.

Using up your bullets isn't as easy as it might seem!

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You can also punch each other to make bandits drop their loot. Which is always extremely funny/infuriating.

After 5 rounds rounds, you work out how much everyone has earned and you crown a winner.

Colt Express was a lot of fun, our second game lasted about 30 mins and did not outstay its welcome. Each character comes with an optional power but we found the vanilla version (not using powers) was a much more level playing field. Some of the powers are a lot better than others. It’s a nice light hearted game with more than few things in common with Ca$h and Guns (a game I rate very highly). While the light rules set means it’s a great pick up and play game, it does also mean I probably won’t be playing it every games night. But that’s not a bad thing. Some of my favourite games are ones I only play a few times a year. Id also like to applaud Jordi Valbuena for a great art styling.

Monty approves!

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All in all I’d definitely recommend Colt Express as it packs all the fun of a great western movie into 40 minutes and also so you can enjoy sending the marshal into a carriage full of bandits and see them shot and jump to the roof! Also for a RRP of £27.99 you can’t go wrong.

As always we’d suggest using this handy store finder and support your local games store.

Gary

The Lost Lighthouse: The Weekly Rapture 53 – Biscuit Munchers (Holiday Special 2015)

Welcome back to The Weekly Rapture, brought to you by The Lost Lighthouse.

This week was our holiday special, which meant that we recorded in the same room for once! We spent a lot of it drinking and eating biscuits, but found some time to talk about a couple of the trailers we missed due to technical issues a couple of weeks ago, namely the Independence Day: Resurgence  and Star Trek: Beyond trailers.

We had two main talking points. For the first, we went through our top 3 films, TV shows and games of the year, with Gary going for tabletop gaming and Adam video games. (I think this was what Gary was talking about?

Our second talking point was Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. We did go into full on SPOILER mode on this one, so if you haven’t seen the film yet please make sure you turn off before then! We put in a warning klaxon, but we start the discussion 42 minutes into the podcast, and it’s the last thing we talk about.

Gary in 60 seconds was ”A Very Murray Christmas’, with Adam attempting to figure out who this Netflix Christmas special was made for and why.

[audio http://welcometorapture.podbean.com/mf/play/g46c8a/WR53.mp3]
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Happy New Year!