Small World: River World Review - Did We Really Need Two Worlds?

Right, well now that I've gotten Small World out of the way I can now give you my thoughts on the recent River World expansion from Essen 2016. Firstly it's going to get annoying saying Small World: River World on a regular basis, did they really have to use "world" twice? Maybe "Seven Seas" would have worked out better.

Most expansions have added in new races and abilities, but here there's none of that. Not a single one. In fact the rulebook even recommends that you remove one of the original abilities for fear of being overpowered. So just what are we adding here?



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Season 2 - Episode 5 - CONVENTIONS

Brrrrr, it's cold in January! Sit back, grab a cup of tea and listen to Episode 5 where I talk about my plans for attending upcoming conventions in 2017 including Airecon, UK Games Expo and Essen 2017.

After that I'll talk about my recent experience at Handycon 2017, a new convention run by Paul Harris and his team in High Wycombe. How did it go for a first run?



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Small World Review - No I'm Not Singing The Song!

I think if you know anything about board games you're going to know what Small World is. It appears in many gateway games lists and is regarded as one of the all time staple games for a collection. But I don't see it played that often any more and I used to own it myself actually before eventually selling it off - I overloaded it with expansions and as a result it didn't hit the table often enough.

I never actually did a review on it either and at the very least it deserves one, particularly as a new small expansion has come out for it - "Rivers", which I'll do a separate review on shortly after this. Small World only barely made my Top 75 before and is still at the lower end of the last Top 100 so it will be interesting to see if Rivers can bump it up. I've always considered it a good game, but never a great one. What holds it back for me?



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New Angeles Review - He Isn't Your Android!

Negotiation, it's a long lost art! I'm a big advocate for interaction in games and this is one of the best ways to incorporate it. You can't get much more interactive than talking with the other players on more than just how their day was. Cosmic Encounter is one of the forerunners of the genre, but it also is a big part of some popular social deduction fillers such as One Night Ultimate Werewolf, CS Files and The Resistance. Honourable mention must go to Dragon's Gold though, just straight up negotiation over treasure, great fun!

They don't tend to be long games though. Sure you can make alliances with other players in epic 4X games and the like, but for a game to be pretty much straight up negotiation and long, that's rare in my experience and even rarer for them to be actually any good. New Angeles is seeking to be just that and based in one of the best universes Fantasy Flight has brought out: Android. I enjoyed Android Netrunner and its rich, thematic sci-fi world (though I might have to quit soon, it's impossible to keep up with the meta) and so I like the sound of using it to perform shady deals as corrupt Corporations.

Too much complexity could kill it though. And how long can one keep up a session of constant negotiation before one gets bored or one's head explodes?



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Pandemic: Iberia Review - Theme Makes A Comeback!

Ah Pandemic, I may not love you, but I humbly respect you. I love co-ops and even though I get enjoyment from playing Pandemic, it's not my favourite one out there compared to many, mostly because of the feeling of being a puzzle more than a thematic experience. Pandemic Legacy however managed to rectify that and then some with a very entertaining cinematic experience (though not #1 on BoardGameGeek worthy, come on people). Despite that though, I can't deny it ticks the boxes for what a gateway co-operative game should be. Tense, challenging, quick, a little bit of luck, and a good amount of communication in the group ignoring any alpha player issues. It gets the praise and deservedly so.

But Z-Man has gone on a mission lately with these spin-off's. First we got the dice game, which was OK. Then Pandemic Cthulhu recently, which was decent, but talk about jumping the shark. Almost straight after that we now have a limited print edition of Iberia, which at first glance looks exactly like regular Pandemic, just set in historical Spain. Was there a need, does it improve the game and should you even consider this if you've already got a ton of Pandemic content on your shelf?



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Colony Review - Dice With Dominion

Quite a fair amount of buzz was going for Colony over Essen - it was tricky to get myself into a table to play it. Eventually patience prevailed and I enjoyed a 3 player experience. It intrigued me, but not enough to warrant a space in my hold luggage. With a new copy just in, I've had more time to test it out and even enjoy the solo mode.

The big concern I had when I first heard about Colony was that I wasn't sure it was going to offer much new to the engine building genre. The market is overloaded with such games and therefore some more innovation is required to stand out. Combining dice with a Dominion style setup is a good start. Dice drafting is also welcomed. But is that enough or is there some hidden potential?



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Power Grid: The Card Game Review - Oh Yeah, I've Played It!

Uh oh! Yes, it's no secret that I hate Power Grid. One of my Top 10 Hated Games consistently. I'm in a minority, but others share the same opinion. I like the resource market, resource management is fun, but other than that I find it boring, tedious, overly long and themeless. So much boils down to the final turn and I find that map to be completely pointless within the game. All it does is complicates the maths to the point where analysis paralysis inflicts on several players during auctions, allows for players to be taken out of the game entirely by a simple blocking move and you don't even use all of the map in a single game! Why give me a colourful map which then has to have paper covering various regions on it so that players don't mistake where they can't place their Monopoly houses? And paper money?!!? PAPER MONEY?!?! ARRRRGGHHH!............

........I'm calm, I'm calm. So yeah, I don't like the original game so you can imagine that when I've been asked by many followers to give my opinion on the new card game version, I wasn't exactly jumping for joy at the prospect. But a few factors gave me some hope. Lately card game versions of popular games have been received quite well, with the new Castles of Burgundy card game getting a lot of praise. Also these attempt to shorten and streamline their heavier counterparts, another plus point. And when I did my research, I noticed instantly that the biggest contributor to my hatred of the original is completely removed from this version. Maybe there's some hope yet. Could this be the version of Power Grid that I need, yet didn't ask for?



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Adrenaline Review - First Person Euro

Ah who remembers the days of old where arena based first person shooters were all the rage? I was particularly partial to Unreal Tournament and Mobile Forces (bet most of you don't remember that one, look it up), but there was also a huge Quake following as well. Many hours spent fragging people on the internet and probably raging at them while I'm at it! Yeah, yeah come on we've all done it!

However it's not the first thing I would expect to be able to port over into a board game. Some have tried and from what I can tell, failed miserably. Czech Games Editions (CGE) now believes it can pull it off with the new Adrenaline, which certainly has an enticing box cover, even if the size is irritating for transporting in bags. But a Euro style game? Surely this is more suited for Amerithrash right?



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Citadels (2016) Review - Bringing Back My Nostalgia

Yooo listen up, here's a story....about a little guy that lives......OK enough 90's dance pop references. But let me tell you one anyway. Back in my school and college days I enjoyed collectible trading card games (TCG's) and Warhammer miniature games much to my wallet's detriment. As I got older we moved on from TCG's and replaced those with Roleplay games (RPG's). This carried on through college and university (remember I'm from the UK, don't get the school systems confused). Board games never really featured much aside from at home even though I did enjoy them.

During university though I recall playing some Steve Jackson published card games and also Citadels. Citadels was an instant hit with me and I bought my own copy making it one of the few actual "board games" that I owned personally. It would be a while before I suddenly became sucked in to the wonderful world of board gaming, but this was the turning point where I realised that games had come a long way since the mainstream tedium that I got forced to play with the family regularly.

Other role selection games exist and I'll admit, Mission Red Planet is my favourite (added area control) and I don't like Libertalia (too clunky/random). But Citadels has had the biggest impact on me as a board gamer. And shockingly I've never done a review of it! Well now Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) has helped me with that by releasing a brand new 2016 edition with additional content. Time to make it up to you!



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Kanagawa Review - Hashtag: Oh What A Beautiful Morning!

It's taken me a while to get this one in my hands to play. But Kanagawa has a lot going for it (incidentally Kanagawa or "The Great Wave" was a woodblock print painted by the Japanese artist, Houkasai). It's produced by Iello who have a knack for colorful filler games. It's designed not only by Cathala, but also Charles Chevallier, thus reuniting the same duo who created Abyss, one of my Top 30 games (seriously more people need to check that one out). And it incorporates a Japanese theme reminding me of various "Zen" style games I own like Tokaido and Takenoko, which I've always enjoyed as games to . . . . well relax to I guess.

On top of that, with a runtime of only 45 minutes on the box, this has the potential to be a new gateway game entry and we need more of those these days I feel. We seem to be getting swarmed with complex, 2-3 hour games and that's not going to help promote the hobby to newcomers. So I'll grab my easel and dive right in (pretty sure Japanese artists don't use easels, but I suck at Art so what do I know?)



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Season 2 - Episode 4 - 2016

Happy New Year!!
Now for many of us we want to leave 2016 behind, but let's talk about some positives, the board game industry released a ton of new content and even though I think it was a bit of a weak year overall, there were still some gems that came out. Today I'm going to reflect on 2016 as a whole for me and then it's my turn to go over the Top Ten of 2016!
01:05 - Reflection on 2016
14:36 - Top Ten of 2016
50:18 - Conclusion

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Unusual Suspects Review - How To Lose A Friend In 20 Minutes

There have been a few games over the years that would be said to have caused some controversy in the public eye. These can be either games that take political correctness to a dangerous place (Cards Against Humanity) or those that touch on subject matters that resonate strongly with particular groups of people (Freedom: The Underground Railroad).

Dealing with the former depends on your ability to let go and simply take what's given in jest (though I don't find CAH to be funny in general). The latter is fine in my opinion providing that the the publisher and designer is careful and thoughtful about how they bring that theme out in gameplay. In Freedom's case, if you check my earlier review they did an excellent job of being thematic, yet considerate.

Unusual Suspects fits more in the first category of controversial titles where it forces you to be incredibly judgemental based solely on physical appearances. Not something you want to be teaching your children so word of warning, keep your kids away from this game! But for adults, is this a game that will cause more laughs than frictions?



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