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.

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: Forbidden Stars

“This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but with a whimper”. Now, T.S. Elliot was a smart cookie, but he got it wrong here. The (many) worlds will end with a metric f**k ton of Orks, Chaos, Marines and Eldar ripping them apart with orbital bombardments. On the grim, dark future, there is no whimpering!

Forbidden Stars, where do I start? I could say “amazing components, exquisite board, and a great rules set” but when it comes to Fantasy Flight Games, it tends to be a given. Forbidden Stars is all those things and more, don’t get me wrong. The game pieces look like they could perfectly fit into epic or battlefleet gothic. FFG are not letting down the 40k license, they are representing! I particularly like the “titan” sized pieces.

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Oh, I almost forgot the board. You know I saying everything in this game is beautiful? Well the tiles are even nicer! They look like a wonderfully painted star chart. Almost too whimsical for the 40k universe.

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Now lets not praise this game too much, it has its flaws, but all games do. With FFGs recent 2 book system (one for the core rules, the other for referencing in-game), the initial read through can be a bit arduous. Over all I like the 2 book system for longevity but doesn’t do much for the first game. Secondly, to me the combat system seems a bit fractured. Trying to explain it to people was the most difficult part. Again, after a few actual combats it sinks in and works. Sadly, messing up your first few combats might screw you over for the rest of the game, and it’s not a short game at that! But I’m nit-picking. I do love this game.

The game is split into 3 phases. The planning phase, the operation phase and the refresh phase.

The planning phase is pretty self explanatory. Each player plans their moves for phase two. You do this by selecting one of your order tiles and placing it on a tile. The cool bit is, someone else can place there order on top of yours. Meaning you can’t resolve your order until they resolve their one that’s on top. Evan player puts down 4 order tiles, you get two copies of each order.

Order consist of the following (I’ve written a very basic summary):

1) Deploy. You build units, then structures. Structures include factories (you need these to build units), bastions (fortifications to help you hold worlds) and cities (needed to make the bigger and more killinger units!)

2) Strategize. Lets you upgrade your orders and improve your combat deck

3) Dominate. You harvest any assets your friendly worlds have. Such as extra money, reinforcements and forge tokens (you need these to build to best two units). You also get to activate your special faction power.

4) Advance. This is your move order. I found movement to be a little confusing at first, but after a couple of games I got it. Basically, if worlds are adjacent your troops can move to them. But if there is a void section (open space) you need to have a friendly ship in that space to allow them to move through it.

The Refresh phase sees you collecting materiel (Forbidden Stars currency), rallying units and, the coolest bit, moving the warp storms. These little strips of hell can make or break your plans! No units can move through them, so they may stop your invasion in a heart beat.

Your aim for the game is to pick up little objective tokens (which is the first step of the refresh phase). If you pick up as many as there are players, you win the game.

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I highly recommend this game. It’s awesome! Even if you’re not a fan of the 40k universe, it’s worth it!

Gary

The Lost Lighthouse Reviews: Star Wars Armada

What a box! No, I’m not talking about your mum, I’m talking about Fantasy Flight Game’s Star Wars Armada. It’s a beast. Once again, not your mum. There’s no hiding this on the bus home from your LGS, and why should you! You should proudly shout, at the top of your lungs “I’m king of this fucking bus!”

Enough with the silliness, what’s this game like? Well, once you’ve done with the new box smell, you can admire the beautiful components. A common ritual for me with FFG products. I challenge you not to rip the Star Destroyer straight out its plastic coffin and bask in its glory. The rebel ships deserve the same treatment. Then you see the squadrons…Oh. Ok, so on face value, the squadrons are a bit of a let down, but I’m quietly confident that after a lick of paint, they will be fine. They are basically just counters after all. Everything else is the standard, great quality that you  pay for with FFG. The manoeuvre stick thingy is mental. It’s hard not to sit there just clicking and moving it like a steam punk snake.


The 2 rule books included are very well laid out and gets you playing very quickly, and like X-Wing, it’s very intuitive after a few turns. That’s right, I mentioned it. The big old elephant in the room. Ok, that time I was talking about your mum. I’ll talk about the 2 games similarities later.

The turns themselves are split over 4 phases. The 1st phase is the Command Phase, where players secretly choose their ships special actions. The bigger the ship, the further you have to plan with the larger ships planning 3 turns ahead! To represent the slow reactive nature of the big capital bastards. The 2nd phase is the ship phase, in which you alternately activate capital ships. The 3rd phase is where your squadrons move or shoot and lastly the 4th phase is a standard refresh stage. Then wash, rinse, repeat.

I found the most important thing to get right was the speed of your ships. Get that wrong and you’ll find your most important ships out the battle for long periods of time. Dealing with squadrons is also vital. Leaving X-Wings too long near your ships and you’ll find them with no shields rather quickly.

Is this just X-Wing, tarted up and given a new lease of life? No. Well I don’t think so. I found the skills you need to be a good X-Wing player, are similar to the skills you’ll need to master in Armada, but you go about it different ways, and you have new elements to think about. Armada is more refined, more intricate, dare I say it, more fun. This coming from a guy who really enjoys X-Wing. I find Armada more of a war game than X-Wing, which is maybe why I enjoy it more. And, possibly, why others won’t.

So, do you need both X-Wing and Armada? Of course not. Will you buy both X-Wing and Armada? Probably. I’m happy to say, both games are fantastic and deserve space on your shelves. Though you might need to extend it for Armada!

If you fancy picking up a copy, you can from Element Games

Gary.

Gaming For The Busy: Why Tournaments Are The Answer

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Our old ‘friend’ and Avenger fanboy Jan Novak runs us through his favourite game for a busy lifestyle

I am a very busy person, I have a full time job, I keep a house and a young family to contend with. Gone are the days of me spending hours painting up little figures ready for a whole weekend of pushing them round and making ‘pew pew’ noises. Sadly, I simply don’t have the time to dedicate myself to this sort of endeavour anymore.

Having taken some time off after the birth of my first child, I decided the time was right for me to get back into gaming. I needed a good dose of geek, surrounded by like-minded, socially awkward brethren. My first task in this new chapter of my life was to find a game that I wanted to play which would be suitable. I immediately wrote off playing a game such as Warhammer, where I would need to paint up a whole army before I could jump in and get involved. I’d never really played card games like Magic the Gathering, so this was also pushed to the back of the queue. After much deliberation I settled on X-Wing, the miniatures game by Fantasy Flight Games which has been reviewed briefly by Gary on this very site.

I played a few games at home with some friends on evenings after work, really enjoyed myself but came to the realisation that this really wasn’t scratching the itch I had for some hardcore geekery. Then, I did it, I plunged myself in at the deep end and signed myself up for a tournament. It was this decision that changed my gaming life forever. I nervously went along to the event, a whole hour drive away from my home, horrendously underprepared and expecting the worse.

What happened? I got absolutely smashed in my first two games but actually learned how to play the bloody game, taught by a couple of lovely and friendly opponents. My third game was a bit closer and the last two games I actually won! None of this really matters though because I had experienced the shot in the arm I needed, the itch had been scratched and I was whole again.

In essence, what I had achieved was finding a way to play geeky games within the context of my normal life. I was able to fit a whole five games of X-Wing in one day which I wouldn’t ordinarily get to do in a whole month! All of this was also achieved with near-zero preparation which is a massive draw for me as a busy person. I’m not advocating this as a ‘one show fits all’ solution to gaming for the busy but it has definitely worked for me. I now regularly attend X-Wing tournaments and am loving it. I’m finding that the short, concentrated burst of gaming events provide fit perfectly into my lifestyle.

Jan