Conan Review - The Challenge Comes Before Playing!

Whichever way you look, we seem to find a tactical skirmish miniatures game. Especially from Kickstarter, as apparently all you have to do to get a game funded is show off some fancy models and you're set. Conan however is a theme which I can get behind for this genre. You could play as your favourite heroes from the movies (of which I've only seen a couple of them once for Arnie nostalgia purposes so my knowledge is very limited) and face off against different enemies and monsters even though we've seen them time and time again in every fantasy miniatures game ever.

I wanted to get this played and reviewed at the start of the year, but I was held up not only by other games that needed reviewing but also a massive problem with the game, that being its horrific rulebook. It was no surprise of mine to hear that everyone was slating Conan for the low quality rulebook which made it a burden to learn and play. Bad rulebooks feature pretty highly in my Top Ten list of "things publishers annoy me with". Time is precious for me and if a publisher can't take the time to fulfill a fundamental requirement of every board game in existence then I'm less willing to take the time to play your game. I don't think I'm been fussy here. I expect a dentist to have suitable qualifications before he sticks a whirring drill down my gob and equally I expect a board game to have a functional, approachable rule book when I give you money for it.

Thankfully though the publishers did recently publish a revised PDF on their website that we could download as a revised rulebook and which would feature in an upcoming reprint. Reluctantly I decided that I would tackle Conan head on using this instead to see if it did the trick and if it was worth the wait and effort.



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Legendary Encounters: Alien Expansion Review - Mummy's Very Angry!

This one sure took its time! I've been waiting for more Alien content for ages! Not that I was bored with the base set by any means, it's still a Top Ten game for me, but who doesn't like adding more cards and variety to a deck builder? And here it appears that we're getting not only a bunch of new cards, but some tweaks to the difficulty rules and even a chance to play the Queen against the Humans.........oohh........

That last bit has me concerned. In the base game there were two variants that on paper sounded amazing. One was to have a player come back as an Alien to ruin everyone's day upon death and the other was to have a Corporation traitor within the group. Unfortunately, in practice, neither of these variants worked particularly well and I never use them. Some could argue I'm been therefore generous at giving the base set a coveted 10 rating, but they were minor additions and a game does not have to be pitch perfect to get a 10. The main focus of the game, being the full co-op thematic experience, was enough to get that ranking.

So even though I'm expecting good things from the added variety, will the Queen mode be simply another variant that never gets played? Also why couldn't they give this expansion an actual name? And given that Easter is fast approaching, is this really the best time to be reviewing a game that involves giant eggs with giant spiders in them?



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Arkham Horror LCG: Dunwich Legacy Review - We've Only Just Begun!

OK first up, no story spoilers here, I wouldn't be that cruel to you all, but I will mention briefly some of the mechanics involved so you might get slight spoilers of those, though to be honest, it's more about the story right?

Arkham Horror LCG has gotten off to a flying start, luring gamers in droves to the soft embracing tentacles of Cthulhu........err I mean to a quality card game set in the Arkham universe that Fantasy Flight refuses to let leave your subconscious. It even hit my Top 10 of 2016 on a podium position, that's how good I think it is. It even replaced Netrunner for me, not because they are similar, but because coupled with Lord of the Rings LCG, I can only carry on so many LCG's and co-operative play just suits the format so much better than a tournament meta heavy 2 player competitive game for my needs.

Well as with any other LCG, expansions are going to come out at a ridiculous rate, however co-op games are easier to get to the table so getting them played and reviewed for Arkham will be much easier (just a small delay currently due to having to catch up with a review backlog for Q1). Rather than just give us a bunch of new player cards, Arkham LCG (like with LOTR LCG) will provide us with new stories to dive into which hopefully will change up the mechanics over time. But an LCG has to get the first few expansions right to keep people interested, I mean they messed up royally with Game of Thrones LCG for me (too many factions, not enough cards, same old tournament dominating meta) so it's critical that Dunwich sets a high benchmark from the get-go.




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Mansions of Madness: Beyond The Threshold Review - Traumatized and Beaten And I Love It!

Mansions of Madness was a slow starter for me throughout its life. I was first introduced to the previous edition and I was a bit disappointed. It was long, very clunky, you had to have a DM and you felt very time constrained. Then the 2nd Edition came out with the app implementation and I was instantly grabbed by the amazing blend of technology and tactile pieces that made up the game. It was still insanely long, which was a worry, but we did have a full complement of players so I held on to my copy for further plays.

Since then the fire has stoked and grown brighter and brighter to the point where it made the upper half of my Top 10 of 2016. It's a fantastic, thematic, immersive co-op experience which I have just as much fun playing solo as I do with friends, if only so that I can keep the time length down, which is still a bit of a pain. Might try to get a video review of that done when I get back to YouTube as I feel like that's slipped the net.

But there's already been a few extras you can pick up for the game. The content from the 1st Edition was re-printed for 2nd Edition and I'm throat punching myself for not buying them when I did, now I have to wait for them to get reprinted, at which point I'm grabbing them immediately. But Beyond the Threshold is the first official new expansion for Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition, which promises more content and more scenarios. So more of the same then? Fine with me, that tends to make the best kind of expansions anyway. . . .All Hail Cthlulhu!!  




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Season 2 Episode 8 - AIRECON

Well AIRECON was a blast, surpassing the previous one in October. Now an annual convention, it's only going to try to expand and be bigger and better.
On today's episode I talk about the convention itself, what new board games I got to play and a couple of particular highlights from my experience.


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The Colonists Review - Long Term Storage

Before obtaining a game for review, naturally it's worth doing a bit of research into what other gamers and content creators have to say. You'll usually get a mix of mountain-top praising and horror stories from doing this, but having that information going in can be a great aid. It gives you aspects to look forward to, but also helps to mitigate that sense of disappointment if there's parts you don't like.

Most of what I heard about The Colonists seemed pretty appealling. It looks the business, it's essentially a resource management / civilization game (technically a colony, but same feel), which I tend to like and offered a lot of variety. Sounds pretty sweet so far. Then I noticed a more scary trend among the stories. 3 hours, 6 hours, anywhere up to 9 hours for a potential game length. My reaction to that was basically a homage to The Angry Joe Show....<slo-mo>..UP TO NIIINNNEEE HOOOURRRSS?!?!!

What on earth?! I'm not the biggest fan of games that outstay their welcome and rarely does any game justify more than 3 hours of my time to indulge in it. But six to nine?! I have other committments in life you know, chores, a job, a relationship, etc just like most people, it's not like it's easy to find nearly half a waking day to play a single game and even then that game has to not just be good, it has to be outstanding and keep me engaged the whole time. I hoped that it was simply a case of learning the ropes or maximum player count, which rarely is a good idea in any Euro game anyway (seriously why do some people play Through The Ages with 4 players, are you just insane?), because if these horror stories are true. . . .



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Gateway Games With Board Gaming Ramblings

Back in February I was fortunate enough to be invited on Board Gaming Ramblings to talk about Gateway games with another board game podcaster - Johannes Lindrupsen. The two of us had a blast chatting, bantering and talking about everything to do with Gateway Games.

What makes a game "gateway"? Why do we love them so much? How do we teach these games to new players? And if we ignore the staples that dominate this genre, what alternatives do we suggest for your collection?

You can find the episode at the link below, I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I did recording it.





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Time Stories: Endurance Spoiler Free Review - Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway

Seems like ages since the last Time Stories expansion was released and my set has just sat on my shelf waiting impatiently. I've had concerns with the last few expansions that Time Stories was on a downward spiral as I wasn't blown away by Marcy Case or Prophecy of Dragons. Under the Mask was ok, I liked the story and I loved the cool twist with the characters. But overall nothing ever seems to come close to Asylum - is that because it was the original and there was all that buzz? Maybe, but I think when it comes to art, story, mystery, choices, challenge, puzzles, combat, etc Asylum beats all the rest.

So after a bit of a delay, we've got Endurance, set in Antarctica. This opens up some cool possibilities and made me think of The Thing, a film which to this day still traumatises me to no end. I really shouldn't have get curious when I was younger. But in a board game setting, this could be really cool and the extreme cold could add a new twist. I didn't know what to expect, but I was just glad of another adventure to try. I grabbed my two companions from "The Game Shelf" and we tackled it head on, hoping that we wouldn't need a giant FAQ this time. . . .




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Season 2 Episode 7 - EXCEPTIONS

OK, first of all I said I was doing this before Rahdo did! :P

A quick explanation regarding AireCon this weekend and my games played with The Game Shelf on 5 March including Time Stories: Endurance (no spoilers) and Coliseum.

And then the meat of the episode, my Top Ten Games that are Exceptions to the Rule - games I normally shouldn't like for various reasons, yet managed to impress me enough to either like them or in some cases, adore them.




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INIS Review - A Clash Of Styles

INIS (the Irish/Celtic word for Island apparently) was a miss for me at Essen 2016. But I was involved in a game with 4 of us and nobody to teach who understood the rules. Seriously a note to publishers, if you're going to make a big deal about particular games at a convention, make sure your volunteers know the game inside and out, just saying. So it was essentially self taught by me and we ended up calling it mid-way anyway. Since then I wasn't paying much attention and I figured I'd wait until full retail release to look at it properly.

Well that time has come and yeah I got to admit, I can see why people struggle with the box cover, but we'll get on to that later. Reading the rules within my personal mind palace made for a much easier learning experience and reminded me of some aspects that I do recall liking from my initial demo - a twist on the drafting mechanic, gorgeous land art, tactical gameplay, multiple winning conditions. . . . did a poor demo drive me away from a potentially good game?




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Eldritch Horror: Dreamlands Review - Fantasy Flight, Take Five!

Oh my word Fantasy Flight, SLOW DOWN!! It's no surprise that they chuck out expansions at a greater rate then they do actual games, but it's getting ridiculous now how unbalanced some of the devotion seems to be. Now of course you would beef up your big sellers that's understandable. But only one X-Com expansion and over 6 for Eldritch Horror and a 7th announced for the next quarter (Cities In Ruins)? Surely we can take a break and spread the love a bit? As much as I love Eldritch Horror, it's not like I can get it to the table that often in between releases!

Every single expansion to date has been a case of "more of the same", which is always a good thing for an expansion to do, but very few additional mechanics have been introduced or variations on Ancient One scenarios and I'd like for something fresh to pop up. The whole "destruction of cities" mechanic from the upcoming Cities In Ruins sounds cool and exactly what I'm looking for. A quick skim of Dreamlands doesn't seem to reveal anything new.

Big boxes mean lots of cards so give me a couple hours to figure out how I'm going to store everything and I'll be right with you. . .



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