Friday, 22 September 2017


Board Games Played This Week:

Timeline Challenge - While I don't mind playing the odd 'party game', more often than not I'd prefer to play a lighter filler game that involves some strategy or tactics as opposed to random guessing and acting dumb.  They have their purpose though and are more often than not the first board games people play as they can be quite accessible.  In my quest to have a board game for every type and occasion, a few party games have managed their way into the library.  Telestrations, Codenames and Times Up! are the few that come to mind as being some of my favourites - but the few editions of the Timeline series that have been played have all been really enjoyed.  A quick game is a good game.  Epic journeys through an immersive game are also amazing experiences, but its the simple things that seem the easiest to sell to a group and actually get played.  Timeline is one that I've never struggled with getting to the table.  'You got 5 minutes? Try this..'  5 minutes later, 'Can we play that again?'.  Rinse and repeat.  Timeline Challenge is the 'proper' board game version and after two plays in two weeks I'm just about ready to call it the definitive edition.  It's the same thing, only longer and with more variety.  It's an easy concept to grasp - guess the year this random event happened.  Some you may have heard of, a couple you might even know the exact date, however most will fall into the category of 'I've got no clue but with a bit of deduction I can take an educated guess'.  Those same factors are prevalent in Timeline Challenge and possibly even more as the different 'events' normally give you an easy chance to move ahead so you never quite feel out of it.  It plays longer, but with the extra things going on I feel like Challenge will give you some extra mileage on your cards and it appears it will still be easy to get on the table.

Takenoko - A few more plays of this beautifully charming Panda Japanese gardening adventure!  Takenoko is great, and just the way it looks will be enough to allure most gamers.  Not the deepest game and luck plays a factor, but there's enough you can do to try and help mitigate this.  I've still only played this as a 2 player game so am looking forward to trying it with 3 or 4 soon.

Zoomaka - Currently live on Kickstarter and about 50% funded.  If you enjoy card games, Zoomaka breathes some new life into the genre by giving you options, actions and more to think about than simply playing one card every turn. You need to build and complete your Zoo before any of your opponents to win.  To build your Zoo you'll need four exhibits filled with animals which are sorted into different types - animals with hoofs, animals that eat banana's, animals that fly etc.  Each type requires a different amount of cards to complete an exhibit.  Some animals have the advantage of belonging to two categories and there's also a couple rare chameleon cards that can slot into any exhibit.  It's not just animals in your Zoo that you'll be focused on as you'll also need money for your Zoo.  The currency 'Zoomas' is required to pay for action cards your opponents play against you, but to earn money you have to sacrifice one of the cards in your hand as well as an action.  You can always gamble and hope your opponent won't play a card that forces you to pay, but if you have no money in the bank your zoo has to pay with its animals which end up straight into your competitors attractions.  That's a quick summary of Zoomake, and if a card game about animals and a zoo, mixed with planning and strategy sounds enticing to you - then I'd suggest you go and back it now (link on the picture below).  Personally, card games have never really been my thing and as such I've decided to pass on backing Zoomaka.  I enjoyed it a lot more than traditional card games like Uno and Skip-Bo, but even with its stronger mechanics, Zoomaka is still a card game at heart.  That's not a bad thing - especially if you enjoy card games, but it wouldn't see enough time on my table to justify a purchase.

7 Wonders & Cities - First game of the mighty 7 Wonders in nearly a year!  We got our original gaming group back together on a sunday night and at the suggestion of one of the group, we went back to our roots for a game of Wonders.  It took a quick refresh on the set up and about 2 minutes before everyone got back into it like we had never stopped playing.  To make it simpler we voted on one expansion and Cities with its extra card each age, peaceful dove, debt and powerful black cards made the cut.  Oddly enough, there wasn't one vote for the tower of babel expansion (and yes that was sarcasm as no one ever really knew what was going when we used to play it!).  7 Wonders used to feel intense, but this game was just fun and relaxing.  The scores were all within about 5-6 points from 1st to 5th and I barely squeezed out a victory with a strong mix of victory points across all categories.  Not sure when we'll play again.  It could be a long while before our next Wonders session, but I know when we do get around to it, we'll all love and enjoy this classic once again.

T.I.M.E Stories: A Prophecy Of Dragons - The last game for this two week, weekly recap is our third play through of the Dragons scenario for T.I.M.E Stories.  Our first adventure through this episode was a 10/10 and possibly the most I've enjoyed a run through of T.I.M.E Stories, yet with each successive trial through the score has slowly been downgraded.  I absolutely love the new elements and am excited about the creativity and effort that is consistently put into each scenario.  Dragons played out like an RPG with spells, weapons, armor, potions, maps, thieves, warriors, wizards and everything else you'd expect in a fantasy setting.  It also boasts the most non linear experience (of the 3 scenario's we have currently played), with multiple ways to conquer and challenge the quest to discover the Prophecy.  That's what made the first play through so enjoyable, it was different and exciting, we were comparing characters and invested to try make them stronger and debated who's character was best suited for each task.  As I keep saying, I loved the first play through.  So what happened between the first and the third?  Well the biggest problem with T.I.M.E Stories is also its biggest asset in making it unique.  The time factor.  Being constantly on the clock and trying to solve the mystery before time runs out, keeps the tension and pace high.  Having to redo those things a 3rd time almost becomes a chore, especially when you've already made it to the very end only to fail - you've seen everything and know what's coming already.  Your just going through the motions and the only real choices are what do we skip, what's not important and what is a trap.  Thus our journey into fantasy became a game of memory and dice rolling.  This is the same experience we had with Asylum and The Marcy Case, both of which also took us three runs to complete.  The difference with Dragons is the story, or lack thereof.  I can loosely tell you what was going on, but realistically we either somehow avoided it in our three times through or it was severely lacking on this episode.  Both of the aforementioned scenarios, the resolve of the mystery and what was going on is what kept us engaged, but in Dragons we didn't have any sense of what was going on or even care to know.  I love fantasy and all the rpg concepts included in Dragons were an absolute treat, but at the end the only thing I was caring about was making sure my character had the best gear I could, which wasn't enough to see me trek through a whole set of already played out locations.  Maybe the T.I.M.E Stories experience is wearing thin?  I disagree as I can't wait to head to Egypt, the ocean and the Knights Templar on our next few scenario's, but I'm hoping we'll find ourselves more invested in the stories as they unfold in the future.