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Imperial Assault


Ended our campaign today - 3 missions. Rebels won them all with some lucky rolls and skilled planning (the campaign is weighted strongly to Imperials)

We did well with everyone playing a role (and we got to pilot an ATST and kill Darth Vadar!)


Fun game but I really can't see how you'd do it without Gideon/Diala.

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So my copy of Arkwright arrived and after watching the hour long rules explanation by heavy cardboard and most of the 4 hour playthrough I felt ready. 

 For those that don’t know it’s an economic game set around running factories in the industrial revolution. It’s a lovely shade of brown and is the blandest looking colour set since Castles of Burgundy but it somehow looks perfect to the theme - especially with the rows of little grey “workers” lined up in the job market.  Each “decade” you have one action you can take by placing a tile on the board and paying the cost, you then make goods of one type and ship to the domestic market (set by the number of people in work at that time) or try and fulfill an export contract for big gains. - pay your costs and repeat 4 times - once for each factory. Have an end of decade event and repeat till you get to the end - 20 turns in all what could be simpler :) 

 We thought a 2 player water frame game would work for our learning game as the simpler variants seemed to lack the meat of the game. 

 After about 45 mins of setup, rules refresh and checking of tile powers we got going, the next 4 hours vanished in a haze of simple decisions which have impact on everything, changing prices, hiring and firing workers, taking contracts and trying to earn enough to buy my shares back from the bank. 

 I lost badly - partly due to letting my opponent monopolise one good and also by poor use of the inventor tile (which lets you buy more advanced buildings/abilities) but I’m happy that between us we could now teach our group and get a 4 player game in at around the 5 hour mark. 

 I can’t wait to get this back to the table at a full player count the fact every choice has an impact on everyone around the table, the constant re-evaluation of your plans because of one action on a turn and the satisfaction when a long term plan comes to fruition are why I love board gaming - even if it is very, very brown :)



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Had our 2nd go at Arkwright last night at 2 player. Ironed out all the little rule errors we made and didn’t let my mate monopolise any high value industries. 3 1/2 hours for the game this time and ended up on exactly the same share price luckily I’d managed to buy 1 share more so won by the smallest margin. 

 Fast becoming one of my favourite games at the moment along with Brass Lancashire.

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Specter Ops


Played this for the first time last night. We had 4 players (first time for all). Great fun, it's like a Metal Gear sneaking section turned into a board game.


1 player is an agent who enters the enemy base from a known starting point and has to take 3 of 4 objectives placed round the map. 2-4 players play hunters (if there are 4 hunters then 1 will be a traitor) who are trying to hunt down and kill the agent or prevent him/her from completing the objectives within the time limit. Each agent and hunter has unique powers and the agent also gets a hand of equipment cards, the effects of which may or may not become known to the hunter after use. If the agent moves through a hunter's line of sight he is "spotted" or "seen" depending on whether he ends the turn in LoS. If "seen", then the hunters will have the opportunity to attack.


I played a hunter (the Gun - sharpshooter with overwatch ability) and the agent was revealed to be Cobra (ninja - stuns hunters in melee range) on the 3rd or 4th turn. Although the entry point is known, the board is big and it's difficult to cover all avenues. We got an early spot using the motion detector and the Beast's Enhanced Senses ability. The agent made excellent use of his cards to repeatedly send us the wrong way. At one point we were convinced we would have him dead to rights after a smoke bomb was due to clear next turn, when it lifted he was nowhere to be seen and we had to make a mad scramble to try to cover the exits. Myself and a second hunter were miles out of position and the Beast's melee abilities were countered by the Cobra agent's own, allowing him to make an easy escape.


We really enjoyed this. It plays a lot quicker than Fury of Dracula and there was a high level of tension throughout. You always feel right on the agent's heels and the creative plays our agent was able to make with his cards was impressive. Can't wait to have a go as the agent.


Had fun painting the minis too!

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Had an excellent "gamey" weekend with a  full day this Saturday from midday until eve and a bonus eve last night after work :) 


Played two games of 6-player Captain Sonar... finally got this out having owned it for about 3 months! Anyway... what a great game! Played both games in the turn-based style, and I realise from bgg people saying this isn't the most fun way to play, but it has a lot of advantages and we still got a lot from it. Both games were a bit of a write-off as errors crept in (game one had numerous rules ignored/altered), second game one radio operator completely ballsed up and lost track, and then our Captain stupidly gave him all of the previous information when he should really have started from scratch. Also our Engineer completely forgot his job and crossed off a critical system, leading us open to torpedo abuse x 2 :lol: 
Really fun though, went down well with everyone there and looking forward to playing it again soon.

Followed it up with a swift few games of the party-game Raise Your Goblets - a fun game where you try to poison your "target" with hidden tokens placed into goblets (can either be wine, poison or poison-cure), whilst also trying to survive yourself. Players can move goblets around the table, remove the different coloured markers to disorientate other players with what is in which goblets... it reminded me a bit of Werewolf but not as tight rules and a lot more random. Still fun, a decent family game for 6 or more players.


Someone then left leaving us with 5 players, so we had a 4-hour epic battle of Manhattan Project 2: Minutes to Midnight. Having only ever played the original MP I can't really comment on the similarities/differences, but I did enjoy this tactical worker placement game. It's incredibly hard to verbally describe succinctly, and for 75% of the game I had literally no idea what my "strategy" was :lol: but essentially you have multiple routes to earning VPs depending on your tactics and also, crucially, what random country you're playing as. These were really well themed and definitely benefitted the immersion. For example, I was North Korea, and my special ability was that I could extort money from the other players everytime I was about to test a nuclear weapon in my Test Site. Not only was this useful for me to get money (and drain it from other players) but it also prevented me from blowing up my Test Site, meaning I could place 2 workers on my 2 Test Sites every other turn and either blow up for big VPs or take money from other players.
Everyone had a different ability like this - for example China produced an extra worker each time they used their special ability (I guess alluding to their population!), and so forth. The game itself was quite clever in that you only got the resource when you removed your workers from squares - i.e. you could remove yours a turn early if you wish, therefore the following go when everyone else removed theirs, you'd have a nice clean board to go for whatever resource/ability/space you wanted. 

I really enjoyed this anyway, and I'm not a massive worker placement lover (except for Orleans, what a great game!). It just went on a bit too long with 5, and as 3 of us were new to it probably didn't help, so I'd say 4 players max would be my limit.

Finally last night four of us had a 2 hour long game of Endure The Stars. I've played this a few times before but unfortunately, as fun as it was, I've been playing Gloomhaven for the past 9 months and this is far too similar (theme aside) and far less well designed to come out too favourably. The same can be said for when I played Mice and Mystics recently. I do really like Endure The Stars' theme - you're a crack squad investigating an abandoned freighter, and there are missions which you can follow in order, usually something akin to "find out what is causing anomalous readings in Engineering" or "rescue scientist in the Medbay". You have to explore corridors, rooms looking for equipment (for some reason all these heroes forgot their gear before they arrived :lol:), all whilst avoiding Alien-style blips on your scanner. If you make contact with these, or get eye sight on them you all face a "resolve check" which chips away at your mental skills. These inhibit your abilities over time, and you also become more liable to fail future resolve checks the lower your score is. Enemies also do standard damage via battle dice and you can pick up armour to mitigate (e.g. roll 5 or 6 to negate attacks for some). Managing which members are at the front, and which aren't becomes very important as some members of your party are quite squishy. I feel like this would make an excellent Legacy game - with some gameplay tweaks - however, ultimately every game of this I've played the scenario has just been far too boring, or dull, or just completely unengaging. Usually it is too easy, or the enemies appear too infrequently. 75% of it involved you searching for equipment you never even use because all the enemies decide to swan off to the other end of the map. A bit of a wasted opportunity of a game which is a real shame, especially as the aesthetics and visual design is superb.


Jamin epic reviews out.

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Had a 5 player game of Mission Red Planet last night, a game which I have played once before. I had forgotten what a great strategic game it is, all wrapped in a pleasingly thematic yet accessible package! Also, for a competitive 5-player game it only took around 90 minutes which ain't too shabby me thinks.


For those never to have played, the theme is that Earth has been pillaged too long and we're all out of juicy energy. Don't worry though! A large number of Mining Corporation have all set up shops at the exact same time, and now they're all off to Mars to gather up precious resources in harmony bloodshed.

The main centre board depicts Mars divided into around 10 specific regions. Each region has either 1, 2 or 3 VP markers on it (only flipped when an astronaut lands). By the side of the Mars board there are five "shuttles" to Mars! Each one lists it's destination (one of the regions) and a max Astronaut capacity. Players have a stack of astronauts of their colour and also an identical hand of nine cards, with each card doing something a little different. Players then place their chosen card face down, and a designated mission controller then counts loudly from 9 to 1, stopping whenever a player has played a card with that number. So higher the number, the earlier they go (but also, usually, the weaker the card).

The general aim of the game involves playing cards, getting your Astrodudes onto spaceships and then "launching" them (shuttles are automatically launched with capacity is reached or if they play a card which allows them to launch one of their choosing) to Mars. Players can also play cards to instruct Astronauts to deviate on the surface of Mars, thus complicating the area-control aspects even further. After 5/10/15 game turns (roughly) scoring takes places and whichever player has the most Astrodudes in a region (i.e. has control of that region) gets the VPs. Later rounds sees regions generated 2x and 3x resources, by which point (in a 5p game anyway) it was clusterfuck of coloured Astronauts all over poor Mars like a nasty insidious disease.


To add an extra layer, players are given special "mission" cards at the beginning of the game, with specific conditions. Mine last night was have most astronauts present on Hellas (one of the regions) by the end of the game and if I did (which I did, yay team me!) I gots 9 VPs. One of the player cards you can play allows you to pick up more cards which can be additional "mission" cards, or "research" cards. Research cards are usually helpful or hindersome. For example I had control of a zone last night and on the last round a guy slid under a research card on said zone. Turned out this was a "resources in this area are exhausted - do not score on the final round", and I was naturally, delighted.

The beauty of the game is that of the 9 cards you can play each of them are useful but oh so different. I decided to go for a strategy of re-using a couple of my cards which allowed me to load astronauts onto locked shuttles and also redirect said shuttles to direction of my choice, basically enabling me to build up an armada of my Astrodudes in the top two regions. I suspect I peeked my head over the horizon a little early in the game, as other players objected to this Google-isation of the northern hemisphere by constantly murdering my guys whenever they played that card which did so, stating "I'm sick of seeing so many of that one colour up there".


One other guy on the table reused the "pick up a mission/research card" ability, meaning he had a stack at the end, although this didn't work out too well for him as he wasn't able to complete many of these missions and was spread too thin on the ground in terms of dudes on Mars by the end. This might have been a decent strategy for the first few rounds however, to give you something to aim for in the rest of the game. Also, shuttles with his Astronauts on kept getting blown up by other players (another excellently fiendish card to play!), much to his chagrin.


It's a great little game though, and I'm actually thinking it's light enough a concept for non-hardcore-gamey people to enjoy. I'm planning on borrowing it over Christmas and trying it out on my folks/girlfriend during the festivities. Where probably I will try a new strategy just to see what happens (and also providing a great excuse to myself if I fail to win!).


So yep, would recommend, Light and deep at the same time. Reminded me a little bit of Small World in space, and I love Small World but I think this might just pip it for me with it's stronger gameplay and sci-fi theme.


Nine Phobos' out of ten.

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I’ve not played many board games recently but last week I took the plunge ;)with Nemo’s War, a solo adventure game set in the world of 20,000 leagues under the sea.  
On first sight it looks a little dull, and you will hate it if you dislike dice rolling & DRM for stat checks etc because that is a core element to gameplay, but we have here an intricately designed and well balanced puzzle, with added interest if you are familiar with the book.  

Detail (no spoilers)


Basically you play as Nemo captaining the Nautilus with one of 4 motivations  Explorer, War, Science and Anti-imperialist. These backgrounds affect the weighting of scoring and also, more subtly the pace of the game through deck composition (cleverly if things are going very badly you can change it in act 3 and I suspect the best players can also use this to their advantage to optimise scoring). Gameplay comprises revealing an adventure card, either resolving it or leaving it for play at a later time (usually when you are in a certain ocean), then rolling 2-5 dice (more as the game progresses) to place ships on the map according to strict rules.  The differential between the white dice determines the number of APs that turn.  Rolling a double is a lull and it means no action points for you and a potentially dangerous build up of shipping in one place.  
The core dilemma is to balance the status of your vessel i.e Nemo, the Hull and the Crew, all of which can be bet against future dice throws, your notoriety level and the volume of shipping, but to reduce the last of these to manageable proportions (by virtue of attacking it and, if it is a warship, being attacked by it) will very often result the other two measures moving against you. Vessels captured may be added to your scoring totals (which need to be equalised around all six oceans for best effect) or scrapped to provide material for upgrades.  Additionally, there are treasures to be found and local peoples to incite against their colonial masters, modifications to the Nautilus and actions to improve the status of the vessel.  Special characters from the book  may be sacrificed for additional turns or DRM (as can some treasures).

Everything is easier earlier on in the game because revealed ships lower dice rolls.  Sometimes the last few rounds can be incredibly tense as everything hinges on the dice rolls.  

Furthermore, to reach the end of the game by revealing the finalé card, does not equate to success - it will take a few games to be able to see how to score optimally and even then a few bad throws or disadvantageous adventure cards can screw things over pretty quickly, (but so too poor starts can be rectified).

For once it actually takes the advertised 90 minutes, is pretty brisk, simple to set up and doesn’t hog space - a large desk will suffice.
It comes with some difficulty variations and also a co-op variant where you take turns to be captain, but this is first and foremost a solo experience, and as such comes recommended.  
The photo is from a game playing with War motivation, and I thought I had done pretty well to fill the board with sunken vessels and kept my notoriety in check, but it barely scraped a Success verdict on scoring.  




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1 hour ago, revlob said:

What do you mean by DRM for stat checks?


Dice Roll Modifiers - obtained by various means either before or after rolling, either by using or betting various resources, or by the position of the board (ships go from being hidden to being revealed as play progresses and only revealed vessels count negatively) or specific attributes of the Nautilus.  "Stat check" should probably read "test value", usually from rolling 2d6.


Thankfully it's all set out on the board for easy reference as to what can be used when and for what impact.

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I played Settlers of Catan last night. Settlers of Catan! Regular ordinary Catan too, not even Seafarers.


It was an odd experience. With our group collectively owning a considerable library of hobbyist board games, we've had little desire to play Catan these past few years. But it was the game that first got us playing together, sparking an interest in many of us and laying the foundations for a group activity that has become the centre of our social calendars these days, so I've held on to my copy.


Rolling those dice, cursing at how 5 was coming up three times more frequently than 6, 7, or 8. Sitting on a stockpile of stone and having it all taken from you by a bastard with the Monopoly card. Getting penned in by two others each competing for Longest Road. Asking every single round for just one fucking wheat. It was almost fun. I think I've only kept a space for Catan on my shelves because of nostalgia. Compared to the likes of Cluedo and Risk it's a blast, but I own dozens of other games I'd rather play.

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