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.