The Lost Lighthouse Reviews: Dobble

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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.

First Thoughts Review: Dragon Age Inquisition

Gary finally gets time to play a very small amount of a very large game!

The game starts with an explosion, a very large one at that. I think if I’d played the other two games then the explosion would be more significant but oh well, I haven’t.

I’m not going to spoil any plot lines but from the get go I love this game. The visuals are simply stunnning and the controls are as smooth as a baby elf’s buttocks. The combat is a little hack and slash but still very enjoyable.

Character creation is what you make if it, I know some people like spending hours changing little details, I don’t. The races choice gives you the classics: human, dwarf and elf but now you also get to choose a massive half daemon. I chose the latter.

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You start the game as a villain in the eyes of the people, but quickly become the hero. Darn fickle common folk!

I’ve only managed to get a few hours under my belt but I’ve loved those hours intensely. Even when you’re doing considerably small things, like setting up camps. Some games makes these little missions a chore, but not Dragon Age.

Would you want this game? Well I have a simple question. Do you want to play a game that’s an awesome mix of Eldar scrolls fantasy fun and Mass effect style rpg-ness? If the answer is yes then buy this game immediately. If it’s no, take a considerably long look in the mirror, and know you disappointed me greatly.

Gary.

The Lost Lighthouse Reviews: Machi Koro

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Ever wondered what the Japanese consider ‘priority buildings’ when they begin construction of a new town? Well wait no more! Machi Koro has hit our shores, with help from IDW Games and Pandasaurus Games. Designed by Masao Suganuma and art by Noboru Hotta.

The first thing that struck me when I had Machi Koro in my hands was the fantastic art styling. I’m sure all Nintendo fans would love it, it genuinely makes me happy just to look at the box.

The game rules itself could not be simpler, in fact I’ll place this helpful video right here:

In the simplest form, you roll a dice and if that number matches one of you establishments then you earn money. You then use this money to buy other establishments which in turn can earn you more money. You follow this till you have enough money to construct the 4 key establishments that win you the game. While the rules are simple, winning is far from. Commit to a bad strategy and your friends will be earning the big bucks, leaving you alone, crying in your 4 wheat fields. It’s all about adapting.

This game, for me, is a must have. It’s fast, simple but difficult to master. A great beer and pretzel game. I’m very much looking forward to the upcoming Harbour expansion.

Lastly, to answer the question I started with in this review, I believe priority buildings are ranches and cheese factories! They always make me a mint. Dairylea must be raking it in!

Gary Hennessey

The Lost Lighthouse Reviews: Blueprints

Hello again board gamers or bored gamers, see what I did there, ahaha…

So, I’m back doing a review for The Lost Lighthouse and a one I promise will be more positive than Takenoko.

“What is Blueprints then?” I hear you ask so inquisitively. Blueprints is a little dice game where you put yourself in the roll of an architect crossed with a builder using the games namesake, Blueprints.
The interesting thing right off the bat with this game is that many people hearing “dice game” may be thinking that it’s all about the rolling of them like in Yahtzee and so many other games.

Dice are rolled, but in this each die has another different and quite interesting purpose, to make a building. How many of us have sat there stacking our dice, making little forts in between opponents’ turns in a long game? Well Blueprints takes that silliness and uses it as nifty little mechanic.

Before we delve into the mechanics of Blueprints with any detail and trust me there is very little in the sense of details you need to know, let’s do that typical review examination of what you get for your money.
For around the twenty quid mark, Blueprints is a small game box containing 32 dice all of which are reasonably chunky and of good quality. Not to complain about other games specifically but there are a few games out there that use dice as an important part and the quality is just not there, poorly printed pips, bad material, well don’t worry about any of that, this game has not gone one of those issues and is fantastic. You can see where your cash is going and this is good being the main component.

Four little card screens with good thickness and nice print are inside which having the scoring rules on the inside is a useful reminder for the players. Next are the actual blueprints and points cards, these are slightly smaller than typical playing cards but are clear and again well printed.
The final piece of card is a scoring board, which is that lovely thick stuff with the slight texture to it that nice board games tend to have, again this is well printed and again totally fits within the aesthetic.

After that there is not much else, bar your typical rules manual, which for Blueprints is a quad fold piece of paper with great diagrams and keeps into the aesthetic of the game itself.
Finally, there is a blue felt dice bag that isn’t as soft as I would like but really does not matter. The bag too seems sturdy and of a good quality, great for sausage fingers.
All in all some dice, some screens, some cards and some scoring bits.
Blueprints uses its tiny box very well, not hard to pack away but a full box and each component is very nice so much so, you can feel and see the quality.

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Green Dice Are Green Material, Transparent Are Glass and Orange Are…Wood. Maybe They Should Of Been Brown

Back from the contents and into the rules.
We all know what comes in this box and the concept of it, but how does it play?
Blueprints is quick and simple, but like the best board games it also has great depth and fits a lot different gaming styles the people you are playing with might have.
First, after each player of which the game plays from two to four, grabs their screen and every dice is poured into the bag.
Between the 32 dice Blueprints gives you they are divided into four groups of eight.
These four groups represent building materials, black dice are stone, clear dice are glass, green dice are recyclable materials and lastly orange, which I assumed they really wanted as brown, is wood.

Each player gets a blueprint that they hide behind the screen, which has a top down and three-dimensional picture to show what they (might) aim to build with six dice they will eventually get.

Two of these are then randomly pulled out and rolled (it doesn‘t matter who does this) and go onto the scoreboard, if a pair of the same colour are rolled, another die is picked until you get something different.
What these represent by being on the board is the most in-demand materials, what this is in the actual game is the tie-breaker and instantly a clever mechanic as now the in-demand dice are harder to come by with only 7 of each left in the bag.

After the in-demand materials are decided a handful (the number is according to the amount of players) of dice is rolled, each of them is then picked, replaced by a new one and the bag is passed on around the table.

At this point is where I should explain the scoring briefly.
Each of the four colours has a different scoring mechanic, green are better in mass to show your commitment to saving the planet a single die scores barely anything where as a building completely built from this is worth fifteen times more (or each single one is 2.5 times more for the pendants like me out there).
Wood seems to represent a frame; it is worth more the more dice that are touching it.
Stone, the black dice, are worth more the higher they are in the building and lastly glass is the simplest of understanding the scoring, the top face of the die is how much it is worth, easy.
When each die is grabbed it stays the face it was showing and is placed anywhere within the blueprints two by three boundary and once all six dice are placed and their totals added up the last little bonus you can get is fulfilling your Blueprint.

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Blueprint Cards Help Score You Points But Don’t Have To Follow It.

However, as I say, this is a bonus and not something you have to do.

This in itself is clever. Do you make the blueprint for that bonus or should just start stacking the black dice that keep turning up.
Again, maybe you could finish the Blueprint but hey, that Orange die fits snugly between things including another orange that your score will skyrocket.

This as a mechanic is great, for the beginner there is no need for trying to think too hard early on about the maths, following the blueprint is simple, grabbing those glass sixes is safe and all is good.

Maybe “the comedian” of the group has decided to stack all six in a tower; if the stone dice keep coming up, they actually might win with it. However, maybe they are “extra funny” and they just made their building shaped like a phallus.

The one issue I know many people will see here with the hidden scoring is the fact that turning a die isn’t hard to do in a small space and therefore cheating could be easy unless someone has kept track of each colour and number picked.
To that, I say the problem here is not the game but the players. If you have people you play with who you think will cheat, why are you playing them? So do not worry.

Anyway, once each player’s score is totalled up the gold, silver and bronze cards get handed out with any ties in points dictated by those “in-demand” ones rolled earlier.
This is not it though as were the Gold to Bronze cards award points that will determine an overall winner after three rounds there are also four other cards that can be awarded to one player each round.
First off, an award that is perfect for that comedian named the “Skyscraper prize” where they need to stack five or more.
Along with these are using five of the same material (colour), four of the same number face and lastly having your dice show from one to six.

This scoring mechanic is where sneakiness comes in, the “griefer”, the backstabber this is their playground.
The quiet genius, this is also perfect for them.

For the latter player, they can quietly pick their die each round, possibly acting that the reason they keep taking sixes is just that they are the colour they need, “well this glass is worth the most”, secretly attempting to score the “Structural Integrity” prize for having four of the same by the end.

The former, the cheeky git sees the player to his left has been taking black dice all game and notices that supplies are running dry so cuts them off stopping them from getting the “materials prize”.

This is where the game keeps you hooked, has you wanting to play again and gives this extremely simplistic piece of fun a huge amount of depth.

As I hinted earlier, your building score gets you these victory and bonus cards and there is not just one round played but three.
This itself does a couple of things, first it cuts the variance down a little as the first round “loser” is the person to go first next so is less likely to be screwed over by bad rolls or those colours they wanted never coming around to them.
Also it means for the newer player maybe their initial building is poorly made, worth very little but after seeing what scored high they can both understand and plan next round better all the while not having to play a ridiculous amount of catch up.

Three rounds takes twenty to thirty minutes to play, you never get confused whether it’s time to finish or if you are on round two as there is only three of each victory card so if any pile has run dry you know what has happened.
Twenty minutes gone and you just want to play again; you shake your fist as your opponent piped you on ties with that one extra in-demand die.
You realise now where you went wrong and you know you can do better.
Maybe, just maybe, you want to see some more blueprints and roll some more dice.

This game for twenty good old British pounds sterling is a bargain a brilliant short, fast, beautiful, simple yet deep game that can fill a gap on a board games evening, be a good opener for some less board game savvy friends or just a really good chance to play something when you are strapped for time.

Thanks again for reading, hope you enjoy Blueprints too.

Ben

Tale Of One Gamer: Week Five

Welcome back my lovelys. Hope you haven’t missed this article. I bet you’ve been gagging for another painting fix! No? Well, you’re getting it anyway.

So this week I’ve been painting a Spellsinger. He’s not actually a Games Workshop model, he is in fact a Privateer Press model. He’s for a faction in Hordes and his title in that is Lord of the Feast. I’ve loved this model for a long time and have always wanted to use it. He seemed perfect for my disgraced Wood Elf force. He is normally modelled with a raven but I’ve changed it to an owl, because you know, owls are boss!

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The one thing I didn’t realise is he’s got a severed arm in his bag. I guess we now know why he’s been expelled from his original group. Maybe he was using magics that were forbidden.

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I’ve also been putting together Durthu. He’s a special character for the Wood Elves. I’m not sure how he’s fitting in with the fluff but I’ll think of something.

Hopefully next week we will have him paired up for your view pleasure.

Byyyyeee!

Gary.