Thursday, 9 May 2019

Review - How to Rob a Bank

Published by Jumbo
Designed by Prospero Hall
For 2-4 players, aged 10 to 99 years

The front cover box art for How to Rob a Bank by Prospero Hall

I think most parents would like their young children to be interested in board games. After all, gaming promotes a range of important life skills, including mathematics, logical thinking, and social interactions. But I imagine the desire to have gamer kids is strongest among parents who are themselves gamers, with the ultimate goal being to play games with the whole family without having to endure the likes of Snakes and Ladders or Monopoly Junior.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Review - AvP: The Hunt Begins

Published by Prodos Games Ltd
Designed by Jarek Ewertowski and Grzegorz Oleksy
For 1 to 3 players, aged 12 to adult

AvP: The Hunt Begins

Recently, I was approached by a website asking if I would write board game reviews for them. It was a huge honour, but I had to decline. You see, although they said they loved my style, they would insist that I make a few changes to adhere to their particular company direction. Namely, they wanted me to break reviews into sections with headers, give standardised ratings for each element of a game (art, components, replayability), give a final overall rating, and then include a list of recommendations for other games the reader might like.

Now, in my day to day job I frequently have to produce content based on different client style guides, and that's no big deal. But board games are my passion. Reviewing games is a chance to do things my way. It isn't something I do to make a living; it is living.

I don't want to break up my stories with sub-headings. It would be like breaking up a Curly Wurly. It might taste the same, but it wouldn't be curly or wurly anymore, and that's kind of the point.

I don't want to give numerical ratings to anything because they're just arbitrary numbers that don't really mean anything. A nine to me might not be a nine to you. Besides, the reason I would rate Space Hulk a nine out of ten isn't the same reason why I would rate Tash-Kalar a nine out of ten. I just don't define games in that way.

But most of all, I don't want to give people recommendations. How could I possibly tell other people what they would like when I can barely figure that out for myself? I mean, I like what I like. Except when I don't. There are countless games in the world that look like they should be exactly my sort of thing, but which I end up disliking anyway. When I do like something, often I'm not really sure why.

Take AvP: The Hunt Begins (Second Edition) for example. It is maddeningly flawed, but I find it deeply engaging. It is overly complicated and fiddly, with a rules book that seems like it wants to actively dissuade you from playing, but I enjoy every second I'm playing it. I honestly don't know whether I could recommend it to anyone; but I love it.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Review - Timeline (British History)

Designed by Frederic Henry
Published by Esdevium Games
For 2 to 8 players, aged 8 to adult

Box art from the Timeline card game

Not a lot of people realise, but I'm a big old bag of insecurities and anxieties. When I'm in public, I put on a decent show, I'm not agoraphobic or anything like that, and it's not like I hate people (I happen to think that, in theory, the idea of people is quite a good one); but I'm uncomfortable in crowds, loathe public speaking, and really don't like getting too close to people until I know them really well. Put it this way: It's no coincidence I've ended up working a gig that means I don't ever have to leave my house and I can comfortably hide behind my words.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Review - Warhammer Underworlds: Nightvault

Published by Games Workshop
For 2-4 players, aged 12 to adult

Warhammer Underworlds: Nightvault box art

I don't watch much television, but I always make a point of watching The Apprentice. It's pure train wreck TV; a show designed to make people look as bloody stupid as possible. I'm sure you've head of it. A bunch of hopefuls get put through the wringer in a series of implausible business scenarios designed exclusively to make them look like complete pillocks ("You have 12 hours to launch a new international superstore with 50p and a stick of chewing gum") . Cameras follow them, recording everything so it's possible to recut the footage exclusively to make them look like complete pillocks. And then at the end, Alan Sugar talks about himself a bit, says how hard he is to please, and then reads from a script of insults designed exclusively to make him look like a complete pillock while all the contestants simper, stab each other in the back, and call him "Sir" like they're a group of naughty schoolchildren.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Review - Labyrinth: The Duel

Designed by Marco Teubner
Published by Ravensburger
For 2 players, aged 8 to 99 years, apparently

Labyrinth: The Duel

Is there anything more terrifying than being lost in a dark maze, where the walls are constantly shifting, and you never know which way to turn? Well... probably, yes. Probably lots of things. Spiders, clowns, spiders dressed as clowns. The list is almost endless. But the truth is, it's Halloween and I should be reviewing something suitably creepy such as Warhammer Underworlds: Nightvault right now. Unfortunately my photographs aren't ready, and that means you get stuck with a review of Labyrinth: The Duel which I'm ham-fistedly trying to cram into a spooky framework.

So, let's all just pretend this is a really creepy game and we'll say no more about it...



Here goes...