Match Report 6th December 2010

With Gwen’s injury forcing her to work from home she joined us for the first time in ages, plus Ben now back from Greece for the winter, Alex with a month off from the joys of flying and old favourites Crispin and Ian. Sadly Daniella was suffering with a bad back and Malcolm had an outbreak of male pattern forgetfulness remembering at 9pm where he had planned to be that evening!

We managed three games with another run out of Hick Hack to start (a game where the foxes eat the farm birds trying to eat the best feed – it’s silly but great fun) , this was won by Ben shortly after saying how badly he was doing!

The players in a game of Dominion considering their next action
We then moved onto Dominion which was unfortunately hindered on this occasion by an incorrect interpretation of the rules – my fault. However it was a pleasant surprise that Gwen was enthusiastic about this game and thought that it compared well with Fresco, a game I thought she would prefer. Somewhere along the way we managed to squeeze in some chocolate panatone as the munchies for this evening, sorry no photo’s.


The picture doesn't show the tension on the players face and the quivering hand as he tries to place the next object in a game of Bausack
Then to the last quick game that was so much fun we played it twice overrunning our normal ending time. Bausack is a gem of a game with rules for 4 different ways of using the 90 odd wooden pieces, all with the general aim of building towers and gaining points for their either their height or instability! However as at least 50% of the wooden pieces are blatantly

Games for Christmas 2010

What to do with guests over Christmas / Some Christmas Gift Ideas 

If you are thinking computers games and Wii, DON’T; Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble etc NO; the miriade of commercial games based on popular films or TV shows STOP !

There is whole world of great games out there waiting for you, just not in the high street stores. They are less well known because they are rarely sold by high street retailers (with the exception of specialist games shops) and so are largely unknown to the UK public. If you want to buy any games mentioned below (prices will range from under £6 to £40) then there is a list of internet retailers on the right hand side of my blog titled Where to get the games.

As we approach the festive season our minds turn inevitably to the various ideas for presents and there are a number of lists out there of games that would work for Christmas (as just a couple of examples Mark Rivera's list is here and the BoardGameGeek recommendations here), so I thought I would approach this blog from a slightly different angle and look at what games you might want in the house for others to enjoy over the festive season.

Modern board and card games come in many forms but the best ones are not designed around hackneyed old games or some cult TV program / film of the moment, but rather stand out from the aforementioned games because frankly they are better. You know the saying ‘a pet is for life not just Christmas’ well so it should be with modern games. The games talked about in this blog post and my blog generally are great fun and hopefully you will be tempted to play them at other times of the year, not just over Christmas.

To those who say 'they don't like games' or have had bad experiences in the past with games I would make the following points concerning these games:
  • You don’t need to be good at spelling, general knowledge, computers or anything else to play them and have fun. I guess maths and a little logic will help but we all need a lot more of these elements to survive in the modern world than you will find required in the games listed below. 
  • There is not a dice in sight, the games are about how you deal with the situations and cards you are dealt not about trying to roll a 6 or indeed any other number.. 
  • The games are more about building than destruction, meaning that direct conflict between players should not be something to worry about, particularly if everybody remembers that when playing games it is more important to enjoy the journey and have fun than win at the expense of ruining the journey for the other players. 
  • There are games listed below that are in all probability unlike any games you have played to date.
This blog post is divided into three elements, so you can just go to the part that interests you:
  1. Quick Games for Christmas Morning
  2. Fun Games for Christmas Afternoon
  3. After the presents – Boxing Day
  4. Conclusion
Quick Games for Christmas Morning 
With people coming and going and a focus on food preparation you may need ways of amusing and distracting people for 20/30 minutes at a time. The following are some simple games that are quick to teach and will amuse both young and old:

Latest Social Gaming eZine

thru-the-portal has just published its fourth FREE issue targeted at social gamers in their many forms. Articles that may be of interest include:
  • 'Teenagers can play board games' an article from a New Zealand teenager following a trip to a friends party (pages 22 and 23);
  • 'Bringing Games Back into the Community' an article by little old me (page 36);
  • Christmas goodies! (page 37)
plus reviews of:
  • Totemo (one of the games I picked up at Essen);
  • Bohnanza (a game we have played a lot in our group this year);
  • Super Farmer (originally created in 1943 this is a re-working that receives high praise particularly if you have younger children)
  • and lastly Dixit (a game that I love but has received very mixed reactions from our group).
Needless to say there is much more in the latest issue of thru-the-portal

If you are asking yourself why I am promoting it so much well it is a work of love for Neil and Laura that is trying to raise the visibility of social gaming - something I fully endorse. Have a read, it may not be entirely to your taste but I am sure there will be something to interest you in it.

Match Report 22nd November 2010

Another Games Night saw the return of a number of by now familiar faces (Daniella, Matt, Malcolm, Crispin and Ian) in spite of my mentioning that we would be trying out two new games.

Dominion (Age 10+, 2-4 players, 30 min playing time)
If you get bored jump down to the 5th paragraph 

Well the first new game to the group was the 2009 Spiel des Jahre winner, Dominion. A card game (unlike anything I had ever played before) where the theme is vaguely medieval - you seek to build up your Dominion of Estates (worth 1 Victory point), Duchies (worth 3 Victory points) and Provinces (worth 6 Victory points). The game commences with each player having 7 copper cards and 3 estate cards, you shuffle these and deal yourself 5 cards with which you play the first round, the remainder makes up your Deck.

During their turn a player uses the 5 cards in their hand to do the following:

A. Perform an action (or actions if allowed by your cards)

B. Buy a new card (or cards if allowed by your cards). There are a number of stacks of cards (see below) laid out in the centre of the table that you can buy.

C. Clean up your used cards and put them in your discard pile and deal yourself 5 new cards from your deck i.e. the unused cards from the start of the game. (Once your deck is exhausted you take your discard pile i.e. the original 10 starting cards plus any additional ones you have bought, and shuffle them before dealing yourself 5 more cards with which to play the next round). As the game progresses this constant addition to your hand increases the strength of your deck whilst the shuffling means you can never be quite sure what you will get in your hand at any one time.

When you buy more cards you have a number of alternative options laid out in front of you, with costs ranging from 0 (yep!) to 8:

· Kingdom Card – There are 10 alternative stacks of 10 cards e.g. Militia, Market, Village etc. Each card type provides some benefit once it is in your hand, such as more money, actions or various special powers.

· Treasure Cards – Gold (with a value of 3), Silver (with a value of 2), and Copper (with a value of 1). The value equates to buying power and so they help in acquiring other cards.

· Victory Cards - The previously mentioned Estates, Provinces and Duchies

The game ends when either all the Province cards have been purchased or three of the other Victory or Kingdom card stacks of are exhausted.

(5th Paragraph!) If you have read this far well done and if you were like me when ever I read a review of Dominion you are probably going, “sounds a bit dull”. Well all I can say is I was wrong this is an awesome game with massive re-playability. The game itself comes with 25 different sets of Kingdom cards of which only 10 are used in any one game so it is going to take a while before you have exhausted yourself on them. It is also a fast game as, once you have had your go, you deal yourself 5 new cards and start working out what you are going to do on your next turn. For those who like a bit of mischief in a game then the game has this in bundles, albeit (as you might expect with a Eurogame) more by your ability to impact ALL other players rather than pick on one individual.

The verdict at the end of the group’s first game was a unanimous thumb’s up with a “let’s play that again next time”. If there is a downside it was only that in order to accommodate the group I had to buy the Dominion Intrigue expansion as the basic game accommodates only 4 players. (Having played it at Essen and invested in the two Dominion boxes I was very relieved that the group enjoyed it as much as I had hoped they would.)

Taking a break for the lovely Panettone that Daniella had bought along (for which thank you), we set off for a much more serious game!

Hick Hack (also called Pick Picnic at times) (Age 6+, 2-6 players, 30 min playing time)
The players during a game of Hick HackThis is a game where 6 different types of poultry are represented by square cards in the centre of the table. At the beginning of each turn feed is distributed to the poultry by placing small wooden cubes onto the cards.

As players you have 5 cards representing the various types of poultry or foxes! Each person places one card down in front of them. Once revealed:

1. Players with the same type of poultry typically fight over who gets the feed placed on the relevant card in the centre of the table.

Munchies and the Hick Hack tiles and feed2. The foxes (if they turn up) eat the poultry (if present) or rue the fact that they went after the wrong type of poultry (it happened three times to me last night whilst Malcolm to my right sat chuckling away as his foxes kept eating my poultry- oh the injustice).

This was another game picked up for a mere 7 Euros at Essen which like Straw and Saboteur will, I am sure, become a regular at our games evenings. It is very light but has that mischievous element that people love.

Eastbourne 19th November 2010

Mikko and Jeany playing Thunderstone
A brief visit to the 4 day autumn gathering down at Eastbourne saw me quickly fall in with Jeany and Mikko for a game of Thunderstone;a game with strong similarities to Dominion but more complex and with a strong fantasy theme. They and some of the other attendees at this event initially met through their involvement in the on-line game World of Warcraft and now meet up at various gaming events such as Eastbourne, Essen and the UK Games Expo.

Having interrupted the flow of the game with numerous questions and lines of discussion that interested me about why they were there, their experience of games etc. Mikko (who had flown in from Finland the previous day just for this gaming event) eventually won and I, needless to say came

An Interesting Podcast

The Little Metal Dog logo

I have mentioned in my previous posts both Mark Rivera of the Boardgames in Blighty blog as well as Neil Mayer the man behind the eZine (the FREE online digital magazine) thru-the-portal. Well both of these guys were recently interviewed following their return from Essen 2010 by Michale Fox of The Little Metal Dog Show. If you have the time I would recomend listening to podcast 11 as they make interesting comment both on Essen 2010 and the state of the UK Games scene.

Saltdean – Pasteboard and Plastic 13

Attendees at Pasteboard and Plastic 13
With two young friends (Danny and Joshua) we pitched up at the scout hut in Satldean for Pasteboard and Plastic (PnP) 13. The group run three events a year that start at 10am and run through to as late as you want. We arrived shortly after the start time and there was already one game in progress with another just being set up, lots of second hand games for sale and a wide selection of games available for play.

It may be worth mentioning how this aspect works, essentially everybody brings a long a number of games and puts them together in what amounts to a games library. These are then available for attendees to play. This is a great way of trying out a game you might be thinking of buying.

Teaching Dominion  - oh so that is what you meant!
Dick and Helen stalwarts of the group welcomed us and with Helen’s help we soon had a game of Dominion going. A game neither boy had played before but

Match Report 8th November 2010

This week saw the return of Malcolm, Ian and Daniella but no Crispin! Sadly he was not feeling well and was no doubt concerned about this affecting his performance and the possibility that he might loose again.

Fresco (Age 10+, 2-4 players, 45 min playing time)
The Fresco board and components
With so many games coming back from Essen it is no great surprise that another one found its way onto the gaming table for this week’s fun. The game chosen was Fresco, a game that’s theme (given away in the name) is the restoration of a ceiling in a renaissance cathedral. Unlike a number of the games we have played of late where there is plenty of opportunity for devilment this game is more about

A fun filled family weekend

The winning piece being placed in a game of Bausack
As our nephew and his family (which includes two 6 year old boys) left us on Sunday night I was surprised to realise that over the course of four days we had played 12 different games, a number several times over. I know I am a keen advocate of modern games but even I would never have dreamt that we would play so many in such a short period of time. Yes, it rained during their stay but we did many other things during their visit, including a mountain bike ride involving lots of muddy puddles, a trip to Brighton and a pre-Halloween party, however the other notable things were:
  • the boys arrived wanting to play games - Uncle Kevin’s place equates to games unlimited to them;
  • the TV only got turned on three times and in each case to watch a DVD;
  • that the little boys didn’t ask to play with technology games;
  • they asked for some games that surprised us - Take It Easy being one example;
  • they were very good at games we had felt that they would struggle at - Bausack and Take It Easy being examples;
  • none of the games played are available from normal high street shops so are largely unknown to most people.
It is safe to say they left with many ideas for Christmas presents.

If you would like to see what games we did play then click here.

Social Afternoon with Games – 26th October 2010

Some of the players at this weeks Social Afternoon with Games
This session saw four new games being introduced to the group, the return of Peter S, one of the earliest members of the games group in Crowborough and the first visit by Mary and Julia.

The first game introduced was Dixit played the previous night at the games evening and described in a little more detail here.

Then we moved onto Bausack a new acquisition in Germany, only days before, and one that I am sure will prove popular with a wide range of people across the age range.

Bausack (Age 6+, 1-10 players, 45 min playing time)
Bausack - A fun game with lots and lots of wooden bits
The Bausack box contains a mass of well made wooden object in natural and red of interesting and non uniform size, none of which are designed to aid you building a tower and that is the nature of Bausack. A box containing 4 distinct games where you aim to build towers in a variety of ways which depending on the game provides opportunities to buy good pieces and pass the rubbish to your

Gaming Dates for November

Dates for gaming events in the South East during November

Saltdean - Pasteboard and Plastic
Venue:     Saltdean Scout Hut
Dates:      November 13th. 10:00 am  till midnight, if you wish!
Charge:    £4 with profits going to the Scouts
Facilities:  Dedicated gaming room. Free tea and coffee. Bring your own munchies!
Note:       More info can be found here
This is a small group that meets regularly of what was described to me as Social Gamers

Venue:     East Beach Hotel, Eastbourne
Dates:      November 18th,19th, 20th,21st 2010. Noon Thursday to Afternoon Sunday.
Charge:    No charge.
Facilities:  Dedicated gaming room and bar. Cakes on tap.
This is a small group that meet regularly of where social gamers are welcome but leans more towards medium and heavy weight games.

Match Report 25th October 2010

Yacht on fireWell the group was small, but the munchies where huge! This week saw the return of Natalie and Liza (enjoying the brief respite from their educational studies) joined by Daniella and Crispin. Pauline had planned to join us but sadly was laid low with a cold, Malcolm was visiting relatives, Alex was touring Florida, Ben was watching one of the boats in their flotilla explode (hmmm – thankfully everybody got off safely) and Ian was cramming more homework in preparation for yet more exams.

Dixit (Age 8+, 3-6 players, 30 min playing time)
Players nearing the end of a game of Dixit
Fresh (well actually exhausted) back from the Spiel at Essen I suggested we start with one of the new games Dixit. This years winner of the coveted Spiel des Jahres award, described in brief here. This game (despite being simple and non confrontational) seems to create very strong reactions with people either loving or hating it a “Marmite game” as Ian put it. With Daniela falling in the camp of those that really like this game then it come as no surprise that she triumphed in this game, although without her oft heard cry of ‘ I don’t really understand this game’!

Patrician (Age 8+, 2-5 players, 50 min playing time)
Players midway through a game of Patrician
Moving on we gave another run out to Patrician, a more tactical game described here. On this occasion Natalie triumphed which heralded time for the munchies. With an apple cake prepared by Daniela and cup cakes prepared by Natalie we were spoiled for choice and this distraction may have contributed to Crispin failing to win through on any of the games.

Bohnanza (Age 8+, 2-7 players, 45 min playing time)
Munchies - Apple Cake & Cup Cakes. An important part of any games night!
Lastly we came to the ever popular Bohnanza (described in more detail here). This game was marked by much complaining on my part against the restrictive practices of the ladies who seemed to be picking on me, refusing to trade and then accusing me of sharp practice, as if! With the female dominance and Crispin distracted by the food it was no surprise that Natalie and Daniela tied for first place in this game.

So whilst the group was small we had extra munchies and managed to get three games in and a really great evening.

Essen Spiel 2010 – An Amazing Trip

Essen Spiel 2010 - Day 1 The Crowds Queuing to Get In
The Spiel is the biggest games event in the European calendar and sees people travelling from all over the world. It occupies 44,100 square meters of exhibition space for 4 days, from 10am and till 7pm, with over 760 exhibitors from 31 nations. Last year it attracted over 150,000 people.

A common theme that runs through my blog posts concerns the events I attend and how friendly / sociable everybody is (given the nature of the activity this should in truth come as no surprise, however society today almost conditions us to expect the reverse).

Essen Spiel 2010 - Day 4 The team just before we head home - Rob, Phil, Simon, Ian, Daniel, Paul, Ben and me
Well for this trip (being my first to the Spiel at Essen) I had talked to friends concerning how to get there and where to stay. This research eventually revealed that there was a group of gamers driving up from Exeter, meeting another car load from Hemel Hempstead and others from around the country once they got to the hotel in Essen; and they just happened to have space for one more passenger and a room available. So taking the plunge I met up with the group (knowing none of them) and headed off to Germany on Wednesday lunchtime and what a great group they were. Paul Grogan deserves special mention as both the organiser (very efficient), driver and as my guide around the show on the first day. It may seem strange that you need a guide however the show was unlike anything I had ever seen before (see attached photos) and a guide was most welcome, as the show was spread across eight halls.

Essen Spiel 2010 - Day 2 Crowds of people
The number of people was quite amazing. I had been told to expect crowds but what was to me most notable was that they represented a complete cross section of society. This was not the preserve of

Essen Spiel 2010 – Anecdotes

What follows are my memories, comments and images, as well as those of my travelling companions, from the 5 day trip to Spiel Essen 2010.

Essen Spiel 2010 - Day 4 The team just before we head home - Rob, Phil, Simon, Ian, Daniel, Paul, Ben and me
I should start by listing the team that helped me with my research, patiently answering my questions and even playing one ‘fluffy’ (the disparaging term used by board gamers about lightweight games) game with me. Paul Grogan (trip organiser from Devon), Ben and Rob (also from Devon), Simon (from Bracknell), Ian and Daniel (from London), Phil (from Hertfordshire),  Paul, Dave and Mark (from GameLore in Telford), Tim, Chooi and Philip (from Manchester) and finally my room mate Tim (from Newcastle). Thanks guys.

· Paul awoke on the Thursday morning to discover a settee at the foot of his bed with no recollection of how it got there. This was not because of alcohol, but rather

Sheffield University – A Games Evening

Attendees at the Imagination Gaming event at Sheffield University playing TransEuropa
On Wednesday evening, 13th October 2010, Imagination Gaming descended on the Coffee Revolution at Sheffield University’s Student Union. The event attracted a wide range of interest from students still studying for their A Levels through to those of more mature years, with plenty of people from the campus itself. Interestingly the majority of the university students were from

Match Report 11th October 2010

Incan Gold - The Temple
Another good turn out saw the return of Matt, plus Daniella, Crispin, Malcolm, Alex and Ian.

Incan Gold
To get the evening going we started with Incan Gold, a light push your luck / exploration game that has something of the feel of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom about it. At the beginning of each turn each player decides if they want to push on into the temple or run off with the treasure they have found. In this game finding treasure is one thing but getting it out safely and back to your tent is a key part of the game. As it is only once the treasure is in your tent that it counts towards victory at the end of the game.

Incan Gold - Some of the players
After five rounds (the game only lasted half an hour) Daniella emerged triumphant with a huge pile of treasure; the rest of us someway behind, and Ian very unusually

GameCamp 9th October 2010 – The Games

James, Rowena, Jurek and Andrew learning how to play Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico (Age 12+, 3-5 players, 90 min playing time)
When I saw a game of Puerto Rico being set up, described by Stuart Dagger (editor of 'The Counter') as “a work of pure genius”’ I felt called to ask if I could join the other players. As is my wont I wandered over and asked if there was space for one more player – thankfully they said yes.

Rowena, having played Puerto Rico once before, took on the mantle of guide and tutor to the rest of us and battled manfully against our constant questions and the rules. However, with the support of caffeine and perseverance on everybody’s part, the game

GameCamp 9th October 2010 - Overview

GameCamp - Lots of games
An early start (but not as early as some who got up at 4am!) saw me wandering down Richmond High Street just after 8:30. Not a very busy place at that hour so perhaps no great surprise that I spotted some fellow gamers, like myself, trying to work out where how to find GameCamp. The guys I had the good fortune to hook up with where Neil Mayer of thru-the-portal and Mark Rivera the man behind the Boardgames in Blighty blog and so a very interesting hour was spent disusing the future of social game playing in the UK. Interestingly Mark is also using games within his church community to help bring people together.

After coffee and breakfast the GameCamp broke out into its respective streams, the un-conference, the GameHack and playing games.

GameCamp - People gathering around the pizza's
The GameHack was sponsored by Cadbury’s and offered the opportunity to design a

Board Game Dates for October

On this coming Saturday 7th October there is GameCamp, a one day event being run as part of the London Games Festival 2010. This consists of:
  • Talks about games design, play and anything else, I would imagine, board game related.
  • The opportunity to play a wide variety of board games.
  • Game hack offers the opportunity to design and test games for the day
  • Munchies 
This could be a really interesting day with many people present from both the video gaming fraternity as well as obviously board gamers. As their web site states "GameCamp is about more than making games: it’s about playing them, thinking about them and how they affect our lives for good or for ill." Further details can be found on the Game Camp web site

Later in the month there is the Spiel 2010 at Essen, four days of the largest games show in Europe. More details can again be found on their web site I have never been to this before but have been told I will be blown away by the scale of the event covering 12 halls and that regularly gets around 200,000 people through the doors!

Then on the 26th October we will be having our next Social Afternoon with Games bringing together young and old from within the Crowborough parish community of St Mary's. It will run from 2pm till 5pm in the church hall.

My experiences at these events will obviously be posted as time permits on this blog.

The Good Things of Childhood Should Last a Lifetime

Following our summer trial of the "Social Afternoons with Games" at St Mary's, Crowborough, Peter Lanaway, a highly regarded English teacher at St Gregory's school in Tunbridge Wells (until his retirement), kindly took the time to send me this feedback.

I would encourage anybody who doubts my  belief in why these modern board and card games are such an excellent tool, to read his comments.

I have intermittently played board games: when I was young; when my children were young , and nowadays with my grandchildren. Games also tend to appear at larger family gatherings, especially at Christmas.

We have hitherto stuck to traditional games: draughts, dominoes, chess, cards, -especially whist and crib,- Othello, Battleships, and tiddleywinks, at which I used to be amazing... Games for larger groups have included word games such as Boggle and Lexicon. ( I have never taken to Scrabble.) Jenga is an unfailing winner. Of the bigger games, Monopoly has never appealed as its outcome is

Match Report 27th September 2010

With continued distractions keeping some of our members away it was great to welcome a new face in the form of Matt. Having expressed interest in the evenings in the past he managed to squeeze a little time into his busy scholastic schedule to join us – great stuff. The rest of the line up for this weeks meeting consisted of Ian, Malcolm, Crispin, Daniella, Alex and of course, me. With apologies received from Liza and Joe, both deep in ‘A’ level course work and Pauline studying photography at the moment.

Straw (Age 6+, 2-6 players 30 minutes or less playing time)
Amusement as the scores are tallied after the Camel's back has been broken again
With Alex indicating he would be a little late and me distracted with various other duties around the house Ian kicked the evening off leading a game of Straw, with Alex and I joining as it progressed. This is quite simply a brilliant card game that is

Match Report 13th September 2010

Our numbers were lower than usual this week, with only Crispin, Malcolm and Daniella being available. With our house still being the subject of major decorating work Daniella kindly offered to her house as our venue for the evening.

When we arrived we spent some time hearing about a school project Daniella and her family have been involved with that had involved a trip to London the previous day and driving the electric car the school had built up and down the mall. This sounded a really interesting project and a tangible way of schools putting the theory their students learn in the class room to a practical and competitive use.Check out these two links for more information and the school site

Once we sat down to play we considered a number of games we had not yet played, including San Juan, Citadels and Tikal before finally selecting “Seeland”, the game I first played at the UK Games Expo 2010.

With memory failing me and having not prepared myself to explain the game, the initial explanation was slower than I would have wished, although my fellow players patiently bore with me as we felt our way into the game.

The game itself is based on a board representing wetlands in 17th Century Holland. The players acquire seeds and windmill designs from the market place and gradually use these to reclaim the marshlands. As players obtain

Board games + children + parents = FUN ?

What seems incredibly sad is that according to a recent report commissioned by Disneyland Paris and written by Professor Tanya Byron “Parents have forgotten how to play” with their children. This study interviewed 2,000 parents and 2,000 children (aged between 5 and 15) across the UK and the findings suggest that not only have a significant number of parents (21%) forgotten how to play with their children but 30% of parents think that playing with their children is

Social Afternoon with Games – Week 5

What follows is a slightly edited note submitted by Daniella (thank you), as I was out of the country for this final session.

It was a slow start but we began with Enchanted Forest with six players, due to the action of 'if you land on a space already occupied that person gets sent back to the village' the game did go on a bit but when we were finally allowed to get to the castle and locate the hidden treasure....I won....!!! We were all quite pleased it was over but thought it might be worth another go.

Meanwhile Incan Gold had started on another table and there was a little family rivalry in evidence with four players from the same family playing this game, I believe Liza eventually succeeded in winning this game.

Jungle Speed was played with three, Liza won the first round and my Tom won the second.

“Take it Easy!” was played with two players with Marcia, one of our younger players, claiming victory.

Straw was played by five players with Crispin winning (hmmm) a suspicious result there, but I couldn't keep an eye on the game as five of us were deeply involved in, dare I say it, RoboRally!!! Amazingly we all reached the first flag with a couple of us losing a life but time got away on us and when it came to the end of the afternoon Danny was the closest to reaching flag two with I think all his lives intact.

On the other table a final round of Jungle Speed was taking place with six players, Marcia won one game and Crispin again!!

I think all enjoyed the final afternoon.

This brings to a close the last of the summer session; a project with mixed results. The people that attended all said how much they enjoyed it but we all lead busy lives and with summer holidays the numbers never quite reached the levels I had hoped for. Also whilst a number of older parishioners expressed interest and indeed support for the idea in reality (whether for health or other reasons) they and their peers did not come along in numbers to balance the younger attendees.

On the up side a number of people did join us who had not played these games before and interacted with other members of the parish, both young and old, with much laughter and fun. I was also delighted to receive an email from one attendee (a professed non-game player) who with children and grandchildren had supported us throughout.

“They have become very interested in such games following the sessions……we all hope for more....”

St Mary's Social Afternoon - Week 4

Players of Incan Gold look on in wonder at the amount of gems one player has collected in her exploration of the old temple
Well it was a riotous and fun filled afternoon of board games, the numbers were slightly down over previous weeks with only 13 people; a couple of people were unfortunately kept away by health issues.

Games played this time round included:

A photo showing a room full of gamers, with a game on Incan Gold in the foreground
Incan Gold – A very good new addition to the games collection that is ideal for large groups (up to 8 players) and wide age ranges. It reminds you a little of the Indiana Jones films where the treasure hunters explore deeper and deeper into a lost Incan temple. The further you go the more treasure you find but you only get to keep it if the monsters in the temple don’t scare you and send you fleeing from the temple dropping all your loot as you seek to escape. This was played by two different groups, during the afternoon and one was a very noisy affair, in part because all the adventurers except Jennie had fled the temple. This left Jennie to continue exploring on her own with the potential of gaining lots of treasure all for herself. As she pushed on she found a vast wealth of precious gems that would have ensured she won the whole game. However sadly for Jennie she

St Mary's Social Afternoon - Week 3

A game of Saboteur in full flow
This week saw some previous attendees returning from their holidays and the absence of others as they headed off. Overall the number was up by 1, however the ratio was quite different with a total of 10 youngsters and a reduction of those at the other end of the scale to a mere three.

Players involved in the Mysteries of Peking
We started the afternoon with a game of Straw on one table, Zeus on The Loose on another and The Mysteries of Peking on a third table. This last game was brought along by Daniella and family and enthusiastically played by 5 youngsters and watched by one of our older friends who came in to see what we were getting up to for half an hour. In essence Mysteries of Peking is a detective game where players look for clues to solve a crime with the ability to hamper other players.

A group watching and playing Othello
Later we moved on to play a game of Saboteur with 10 players which I believe Leonie won whilst others played Othello and Carcassonne. Interestingly not all the youngster went for the fun but light game Saboteur, preferring more thoughtful games with older players.

Castle Panic – A collaborative game 
As the afternoon continued four of us played Castle Panic an unusual game to the three young people playing with me in as much as

Match Report 16th August

With the summer hols in full swing and with all the many things going on in our busy lives the numbers attending Monday night fluctuated throughout the day. With two hours to go, the potential 11 came down to 6, before finally finishing with 7.

Apologies were received from Malcolm who has escaped to Northern Ireland, Helene and Josh with other commitments, and Pauline and Natalie needing to spend some playtime with Darcy (the wild beastie shown in previous photos) in order to ensure they got a peaceful nights sleep; sadly this meant they were not able to bring along the toffee and pecan cup cakes they had made!

We welcomed a new face to the evening session in the form of Liza, plus regulars Crispin, Ian, Daniella, and the less regular Joe and Alex.

RoboRally (Age 12+, 2-8 players, 120 min playing time)
The players taking a moment out to consider the chaos on the game board
Back by very popular demand this amazing Board Game was the requested game from at least three of the evening’s attendees. We started this game (it doesn’t seriously disadvantage late arrivals) without Alex and Joe, meaning we had 5 little robots all competing to get to the

St Mary's Social Afternoon - Week 2

Yesterday saw the second of the St Mary’s Crowborough Social Afternoons with Games. I am pleased to report that the numbers held up and if you include one person who came along to see what was going on we advanced to 18 people.

Players pondering where to go next during the early stages of Carcassonne
Whilst chatting to Gervais it struck me once again what an amazing thing modern board games (and card games) are; we looked across at a game of Patrician (described in more detail here) and of the 5 participants, there were three over 60, one in her eighties and two teenagers (14 and 17). They weren’t members of the same family but they had all come together to sit round a table and play some games and, by all accounts talking to them afterwards, they ALL had a great time. At how many places or events in Crowborough, or the UK for that matter, could the same have occurred?! That is not to say this was an isolated case either,

Match Report 2nd August 2010

Having had a fun afternoon leading the first of the St Marys Social Afternoons with games. Daniella, Crispin and Ian (now a qualified a Dive Master – well done
) met for an evenings gaming and relaxation. With relaxation being the order of the day we quickly dismissed the opportunity to learn San Jaun which Crispin had been reading up, in favour of RoboRally.

Darcy looking very dangerous
Apologies were received from Natalie and Pauline desperate from some sleep given the exertions of playing with the dangerous beastie Darcy, Josh only just back from Durham, Joe of on holiday, Malcolm otherwise committed, Liza baby sitting, Ben back in Nidri and Alex in Edinburgh mystified as to how his rostering has managed to mean that every games Monday he is flying whilst the alternate Mondays he is back in Crowborough.

Crispin thinking what on earth is Kevin doing with that camera again
RoboRally is essentially a race between some pretty dumb robots controlled by a bored super computer around a dangerous factory floor with many lasers, obstacles, conveyer belts and more beside. The race is to be the first robot to touch three flags scattered around the factory floor. Ian and I had already had a trial game of this with Danny (not reported in the blog) where Ian won whilst I found it virtually impossible to get off a conveyer belt.

With Crispin and Daniella having not played RoboRally before Ian quickly explained the fairly simple rules and so we were off. I took an early lead before it all went

St Mary's Social Afternoon - Week 1

Monday saw the first “St Mary’s Social Afternoon with Games”. It was a great start with 17 people turning up and as was my hope there were both young and old with 6 people aged between 8 and 17 and 7 over 60.

The first part of the afternoon saw the group split into three. One group with all the youngsters and some amused (or was that bemused) older people to play
Saboteur, a second group to play Patrician, meanwhile Peter and Peter enjoyed a good old game of Crib (and I know they would be keen to welcome some new participants for this next week if anyone else is interested).

The group playing Saboteur
The players considering their next action in Saboteur
Saboteur - In brief (explained more fully here) this is a game where each person is either a good dwarf (trying to dig tunnels and find gold) or a bad “Saboteur” dwarf (trying to hamper the efforts of the good guys). Your role is concealed until the end of the game which leads to much guesswork and false accusations. If the Saboteurs reveal their intentions too early then they are likely to find all their equipment broken leaving them unable to

Match Report 28th July 2010

With plans advancing for our first “Social Afternoon With Games” (Monday 2nd August 2pm ‘til 5pm in St Mary’s parish hall) it was time for a quick planning session with some of our evening gamers who have offered their support (and were available) plus two younger supporters of this exercise.

With the planning done we inevitably thought it a good idea to have a game or two or indeed four, albeit none were very heavy or serious.

Straw (Age 6+, 2-6 players 30 minutes playing time)
The Straw box artwork
We started with Straw, a new addition and filler type game which has beautiful cards on very good quality card. The idea being to place objects on the camels back without breaking it. Each object has a positive or negative (if a magical object) weight with some cards altering the direction of play, typically when you least want it. The looser of a round is the person that

Internet Games Can Help The World!

A photo of Jane McGonigal taken during one of her presentations
I watched the video entitled Gaming (meaning on-line gaming) Can Make A Better World? Presented by Jane McGonigal (as referenced in the thru-the-portal Vol 2) from The Institute for the Future. The numbers she cites if correct are quite jaw dropping.

Her contention in the presentation is that, as a game designer, she would like to make it “as easy to save the world in real life as it is in on-line games” and she goes on to describe how in the virtual world, heroic or epic adventures are undertaken all the time; posing the question “so what would happen if

Match Report 19th July 2010

The team line up for this week was denuded by the absence of Pauline(at a BBQ), Natalie still recovering from her graduation celebrations – well done (actually working with a judge this week but recovering from a party seemed more interesting), Josh up north with his girlfriend, Alex still in Kerry discovering what the Irish mean when they say it’s a ‘soft day’, day after day, after day, after day…., Ben briefly back in the country but with other commitments, and finally Helene having run out of time, after a day out and finding that there are sometimes just not enough hours in the day.

On the positive front our numbers this time were augmented for our second game by two youngsters we found loitering around in Daniella’s house looking for a game It seemed churlish of us adults to be playing such fun games and deny the opportunity to them. It might be analogised to showing

BP, Monty Python & Other Musings From This Week

Box artwork for Offshore Oil Strike courtesy of Boardgamegeek
I spotted an article in the Metro about a game from the 1970’s called “Offshore Oil Strike Europe” that had BP branding on the front of the box with the first player to earn $120 million being the winner, I wonder what that figure would be today? Not surprisingly (certainly in the light of recent events in the US) the game had hazard cards with the cost for one in particular being a mere $1 million (‘Blow out! Rig damaged. Oil slick clean up costs. Pay $1 million’). Even allowing for inflation then BP would

Match Report 5th July

The dangerous 'beastie caged in
With the continued renovation work going on at our place the group was kindly invited to meet at Pauline’s with the added benefits that this is the home of possibly the best munchies in the UK and a unique and very cute beastie.

Apologies had been received from no less than 5 people on this occasion, Malcolm visiting his sister, Alex in Marseille, Julia working hard with American clients who seem to think it unreasonable to work in line with our time zone, Joe having finished exams is already hard at work on the coursework for next year’s exams and Josh travelling back south. Attendees were Ian (now the Black Knight), Helene, Crispin (Now Brother Crispin member of a new order of monks, the Crisponians - more on this and the Black Knight later).

Sushizock im Gockelwok (Age 8+, 2-5 players, 20 min playing time)
We managed three games on this particular outing. Starting with Sushizock im Gockelwok as Natalie and Daniella had not yet arrived. This simple game explained in previous posts saw the big plus numbers captured early and in my case a balancing pile of low negative numbers, things were set fair and then it all went wrong.

Your scribe crying into his drink as he tries to re-build his pile of + tiles
Ian - launched three (others may have been involved but in the session with my counsellor I could only remember his dubious activities) unprovoked chopstick raids, not only on my pile of plus tiles leaving me with none and then to add insult to injury he took one of my minus one tiles leaving me with no alternative but to take the remaining minus four tile. The net result of this