Last Week’s Gaming – February 10th, 2020

Blight Chronicles Agent Decker

You know those weeks you feel like you got nothing done, then you look back?

That was me this week. A couple of work projects just hammered me. I am still tired almost all the time, but at least it’s just tired not sick.

And then I looked at my plays for the week. I got a lot more games in than I thought! What did I play? Well thank you for asking 🙂

I backed this solo narrative deck builder on Kickstarter, and it finally arrived a couple of weeks ago.

My first experience was a rulebook that seemed straightforward but ended up being a little too vague on the finer points. A couple of ‘how to play’ videos later, and I felt ready to play.

And while close, I lost. A bit of bad planning and not understanding the end game timing on my part. But that has been corrected now, so time to start again and play through all 7 stages before the review!

Blight Chronicles Agent Decker
It was close, but the first run through beat me in the end. Time to try again!

I have played Villainous before, and spoken about how I enjoyed it. This week I got to play another round, which is always fun. But Alpal and I got to play three players!

Playing with a new player, it was part teaching game but mostly just a social afternoon. I played Prince John for the first time, and some of his cards revealed we had been playing it wrong. It happens to the best of us. 🙂

Alpal and I had been keeping our Allies when ‘vanquishing’ heroes. This is wrong – we should have been removing all cards involved in the scuffle. At least we know going into future games!

Villainous
I was so close to a win! But it was a great afternoon playing this quick favorite

Alpal showed me another new game this week. Similo is a series of games with each version focusing on a different theme. We played Similo: History.

Similo is basically a cooperative Guess Who. The clue giver randomly draws a card for the others to guess. They then lay out 11 random cards with the target, and draw 5 other cards as their hand.

Each round, they will lay out a card which will be ‘different’ or ‘similar’ to the target card, and the guessers try and remove cards that aren’t the target.

Now this description sounds pretty dry, but I am describing it this way because I didn’t take any pictures of the game. This means I have to describe the game more than normal. What I can say is in about 10 minutes we knocked over two games, and next time we catch up I can’t wait to give it another go or three!

Similo History
This is why I should never leave my phone in the car! At least you can see the cover 🙂

Luigi’s Mansion 3 – Switch

Another game finished! I decided to play Luigi’s Mansion 3 after the RPG grind of Final Fantasy XV, and I was glad I did.

I have only played the first one on DS, with plans to go and play the second at some point. What I can say is that the third instalment is everything I remember, and then some!

Puzzles were great, but not too stressful. I collected all of the gems and boos, but I am not going to try and Complete it. It was fun, and that is what counts. Expect a full review soon!

Luigi's Mansion 3
Can't complain with a run like that 🙂

Onirim – Android

Last week I decided to try the score mode. It took me most of the week, but I finally got around to trying it out.

And just as I feared, playing for points put me in sub-optimal play mode as I chased points. It’s not that I think the score mode is terrible, it’s a flaw in how I approach the game.

I only played it a couple of times, but I still enjoyed them! A close loss followed two wins is still a reasonable ratio. 🙂

Again, if you want a great mobile implementation of a solo board game, check out my review and give Onirim a try.

Onirim
There are plenty of people that scored better, but I still had a blast

Onitama – Android

I love playing Onitima. The elegant simplicity, the quick gameplay, and always needing to adapt to new play conditions make compelling challenges.

Regular playing on my phone is against hard AI. I am yet to win more than about 30% of the time. This was demonstrated beautifully this week when I lost every single game.

Is playing against the AI as fun as playing the board game version? Not quite. There is none of the banter and socialising you do in person. But it is better than not playing at all! I have tried playing online, but the opponents tend to drift off at strange times. This makes sense when playing on mobile, but when you are on the other end with no idea what is happening, it’s frustrating.

Speaking of playing against the AI…

Onitama
It didn't matter what I did this week, I kept being blindsided by obvious plays

Splendor – Steam

If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook you would have seen a couple of ‘What do I do now?’ results during the week. To help with this downtime, I have moved to my gaming laptop for work as it can just handle more.

But I still have downtime, and lunchtime is always a thing. I took advantage of this during the week with a quick round of Splendor!

Playing at lunch was a bit distracting, as I was interrupted with work conversations that kept derailing my concentration. But I went down swinging, and was a welcome distraction during the day!

I have to avoid making it a habit while I am work, but the quick play against the AI made for an excellent mental refresh. Never played Splendor? Check out my review!

Splendor
I could have made a lot better plays, but the chance to stop and change to non-work thoughts was great

Doom – Xbox

I struggled if I should include Doom in this weeks summary. After fixing some internet issues at home, I jumped on the Xbox for the first time in ages. And what was showing on Game Pass? Good old Doom!

When it was released in 2016, I finished Doom in record time. The remake was just as fun as when I played the original back in the day. One level of quick demon shooting action was enough for the time I had, and that is part of Doom’s beauty. Want to play for hours? Please do! Want a quick round? Just as satisfying.

I am not going to play Doom as one of my ‘To Finish’ games of 2019, but the quick round did make me think about finally getting around to Halo…

Doom
How you going there little guy?

Halo – Xbox

A late Saturday night work night coupled with a few hours waiting for propogation meant I got to start one of the games I bought the Xbox for.

I finally started playing Halo.

Even non-gamers know about this series. I know a fair bit of the lore already, and back in the day someone actually gave me their Xbox to play it. I didn’t really get the chance though, as it died on me not long after.

I have put in a few hours and gotten a fair way into the campaign. If you are curious, I have completed The Silent Cartographer. The most annoying thing so far is I have died more from other Marines driving into me than Covenant forces!

Halo is the next of my games to finish. Eventually, I hope to finish all five games. Just not at once. Expect to see this one come up for a couple of weeks.

Halo
It's really hard not to make a "All hail the chief" joke right now

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Top 10 Board Games 2019 (That I actually played)

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My first list in over 18 months!

It has been far too long since I have done a list like this. Once thing I noticed when I compiled my list was the numebr of games I meant to review but didn’t get around to! So these lists have helped from a roadmap for a lot of reviews this year already 🙂

As you may have guessed from the title, this list is made up of games I actually played this year. I tried to also restrict it to games that were released in 2019, and no expansions. As I didn’t do a 2018 list I kind of fudged that rule a bit though as you will see.

Think I missed a great game? That is a possibility. It might also be on tomorrow’s list – Top 10 Games of 2019 I Wish I Played!

Any list like this is very subjective. Even without bending the rules a little bit for eiligability this year, I may have played a game you loved but it didn’t make the cut. That doesn’t mean I don’t like that game or think it’s bad – I just liked these games better. I would love to hear what games you think should be on this list!

All that said and done, let’s get on to my favourite games of 2019.

Number 10 – MegaCity: Oceania

MegaCity: Oceania is an exciting game. Not quite a dexterity game, not quite a city builder, but something in-between. And it is better for it.

Right off the bat, MegaCity: Oceania won’t be everyone’s first choice to play. It might not even be their second choice. But I can’t see many people that wouldn’t play it if it was in front of them.

Not into deep strategy games? Just have fun building your cities. Not the greatest at building blocks? Go for the ‘safe’ buildings and use location to your point advantage.

I played this right at the end of 2019, so it has the ‘fresh in my mind’ advantage. But while a review will be coming, if you get the chance to try MegaCity: Oceania, give it a go and enjoy a light but fun experience.

MegsCity Oceania

So I heard a lot this year that Pandemic: Rapid Response isn’t a ‘Pandemic’ game. That it’s theme was not there or too hard to immerse yourself in.

I don’t understand most of these arguments. These are all things I will cover in the full review later. For now, all I can say about Pandemic: Rapid Response is that is was a fun time on the table. I felt that the theme made sense for the gameplay, with certain leaps of logic that Pandemic already asks you to make in other games.

Was it perfect? Nope. But we did have a lot of fun, and that is what counts most of all.

Pandemic Rapid Response

Number 8 – That’s Pretty Clever

So I really got into That’s Pretty Clever last year, both physically and digitally. A tremendous mental puzzle that allowed you to zone out while playing, I really enjoyed playing this game.

My biggest complaint about it has nothing to do with the game at all. What was my gripe? I always played solo. You can play against other people, but I just never really found the time to start a group game. And the digital implementation is basically solo only, so there goes that idea.

For my full review, click here.

Thats Pretty Clever

Number 7 – Disney Villainous

Well, Villainous took me by surprise. I only got to play a few rounds with Alpal, but they were really, really fun.

There are usually two drawbacks to multiple themed card games. The first – learning curve. You have to learn all of the decks to know what works and what doesn’t. Secondly – mashing the ‘wrong’ cards together. Having Genie face-off against Snow White’s the Hunter doesn’t always work.

Prospero Hall took care of both issues with elegant simplicity – you pick a deck, and your opponents use your cards against you. You are even given tips on how to win/what to watch for on all of the other characters.

Is Disney Villainous a top tier competitive game? Of course not! But it is a quick and fun game that you can have new players getting into straight away, and that is always appreciated.

Disney Villainous

The first Roll Player ‘universe’ game I played, I was a little confused about Lockup when I first saw it. How could you take the dice placement of Roll Player and make it work as a bluffing worker allocation game?

The answer is you don’t. You let it be its own game within the world of Roll Player and enjoy.

Lockup was a game that I wouldn’t have seen for a while without Alpal’s influence, and I can imagine a lot of other gamers being in the same boat. If you get the chance, give Lockup a try – even if you didn’t like Roll Player. The game is entirely different and deserves to be judged on its own.

Lockup A Roll Player Tale

Ahh, Funko Pops. I have too many, and not enough. I will not let myself buy any Kingdom Hearts ones though. If I get just one, I will need to get the rest. And we already don’t have enough room!

Why am I going on about Funko Pops? Because now they have their own strategy game! Games? They have lots of things coming out!

The Funkoverse Strategy Game is no Memoir 44, Warhammer, or even Imperial Assault. It is very streamlined, quick to play, and with an expanding universe of characters and missions, here to stay. The only pack I am missing so far is The Golden Girls. I knew I had to try this when on the internet someone was complaining that Bea Arthur was the most overpowered character in the game.

Just let that sink in – Bea Arthur is seen as stronger than Batman, Rick Sanchez, The Joker, or even Voldemort.

Whether in amusement or disbelief, you must be smiling about that. And that moment of silly suspension coupled with simplified tactics and Pops replacing minis makes Funkoverse a great experience.

Number 4 – Escape the Dark Castle

So this one may be seen as a cheat, as I have definitely played it before 2019. But 2019 is when I got the collectors big box and expansions. I also didn’t do a 2018 list. So, it’s on the list!

Escape the Dark Castle is a light narrative dungeon romp that is still fun to play. Similar to a Fighting Fantasy/Choose Your Own Adventure game with randomised ‘pages’, each run is different. And that is just with the original base cards!

For my full thoughts, you can check out my review here. For something a little different, you can listen to Alpal and I playing here 🙂

Escape The Dark Castle

Wolfgang Warsch seems to have come out of nowhere in the last couple of years. The Mind, That’s Pretty Clever, Twice as Clever, and now The Quacks of Quedlinburg. The man has yet to design a game I haven’t enjoyed.

Quacks of Quedlinburg is my favourite to date though. It contains a ‘rubber band’ catch up mechanic similar to Mario Kart. What is this? If you are behind, you are given some advantages to help you catch up to the leader, keeping it competitive. And it is implemented so seamlessly, it was a couple of games in before I realised how good it is.

Yes, there are some random elements. Push your luck is also a more significant part of the game than I usually give it credit for. I enjoy it so much, and we are yet to play an ‘advanced’ game.

If you have a mixed group of players and are looking from something different, play The Quacks of Quedlinburg.

The Quacks of Quedlinburg

Another game not released in 2019, but I have had a ball playing it through the year. Also, this would have been on my top games of 2018 list, but that didn’t happen! Replacing the mancala like movement strategies of the original board game with dice rolling sounds disastrous, but it works well.

I know plenty of players that love the idea of Istanbul but get frustrated at various aspects of the gameplay. For these people, the dice game works wonderfully. You get the same sense of tension and racing your opponents as you do with the board game but in a fraction of the time.

If you are new to gaming, Istanbul: The Dice Game is a fun introduction to an intense euro game with a natural learning curve. The tactics you learn in the dice game can carry to the board game quite easily, even if it doesn’t look like it at first.

If I want to play a game, Istanbul: The Dice Game is usually on the list of options. For more information, check out the review here.

Istanbul The Dice Game

Number 1 – Chronicles of Crime

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective remade for the digital age. There are plenty of new deduction games out there, including Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game and Detective: City of Angels, both with their own twist.

Chronicles of Crime is probably the most accessible to play and works well in small sessions. Lucky Duck Games have outdone themselves with this setup.

The use of QR Codes makes reading easier to digest for most people. Instead of being faced with a wall of text, everything is in smaller bites. Plus you can actually interrogate people about items, something that is very difficult in the preprinted document format a la Consulting Detective/Legacy of Dragonholt.

The look on new players faces as they use their phones to actually examine a crime scene is priceless as well.

I am yet to make it through all of the original cases. I also have both expansions to look forward to. Chronicles of Crime is easily my choice for the best game of 2019, and I look forward to playing it through 2020 as well.

Chronicles of Crime

Honorable Mention

Deep Space D-6

I was really tempted to give Deep Space D-6 a spot on this list. A solo game only game that came out a few years ago, I still love to pull this out now and then.

Released in 2015, I only got my hands on it this year. By my bedning of the rulesfor thiis year, I could have found a way. The main reason I marked it off the list is that it is only solo, where as every other game on the list you can play with others.

All that said, for 2020 the follow up is now live on Kickstarter – Deep Space D-6: Armada. Check out my review of the original Deep Space D-6 here., then check out the Kickstarter here.

Deep Space D-6

What do you think? Is there a game you saw me talk about in Last Week’s Gaming that you think should be on this list?

Or even better, what were your Top 10 games of 2019? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – December 2nd, 2019

So you know how life loves to throw challenges your way?

Not much gaming this week. And not ‘Hey wow I tried 7 games I forgot about’ not much.

Lots of things happening at the Den of Delightful Diversions. I will update everyone to that on Wednesday, alongside this weeks Yeti hunt. But until then, the gaming I did get in is awaiting some attention!

Oooh I have been waiting to play this one, and thanks to an Alpal purchase I finally got the chance!

Villainous is hard to explain quickly, but it is a heap of fun. It’s like a really, really streamlined Magic the Gathering/Netrunner style card game. You have your hand, your opponents have theirs, and you largely play your own game.

You can play cards against other players, but you play special cards from that character, so the Genie doesn’t mess with Captain Hook for example.

Hoping to do a formal review on this early next year, but for the holidays if you get the chance play Villainous for yourself – you will be glad you did. Also, having Hades and Scar in two different expansions is just mean :p

Each character plays in a unique way, with a simplicity of game flow I wasn't expecting.

Pokemon Shield (Switch)

Yep, I am still chipping away at the latest Pokemon outing.

I have now collected four gym badges, but I am thinking that I will give the challenge a rest for a little while. Instead, I am going to focus on Poke Jobs and filling out my Pokedex for a little while.

New jobs have opened up that give you more than XP (but that as well!). Now I think I might just have to think about building up a couple of tailored teams, rather than just power leveling various Pokemon as I usually do.

I am four badges in now, but I think I will stop the gym challenge for a little while

I only got to play a little bit this week, but I think the final push will be a pretty long one. Which is unfortunate, because I think if I don’t finish Terminator: Resistance this week I don’t think I will anytime soon.

Not becuase it’s a bad game, I am really enjoying it. At the moment I know I am about to be really busy again, and that will cut into my time. It’s like when you have to stop watching a series for a couple of weeks – you will pick it back up immediately, or it will be a long time later.

Oh, and I really wish network security was just playing Frogger. It would make my life so much easier 😀

Get your dot from one side to the other. There is even a checkpoint in the middle. Hacking of the future!

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD