Essen Purchases 2008 27-Oct-2008

Another year, another Essen!

Flussfieber - Missisippy Queen meets Ave Caesar
St Petersburg + expansion
Hick Hack in Gackelwack
Sushizock im Gockelwok
Dominion < reccomended!
Funkenschlag China/Korea maps
Catan Card Game - Barbarians & Traders
Carcassonne Catapault Expansion !!!

Essen Purchases 2007 22-Oct-2007

Another Essen has come and gone and this is what I came back with:

Portabello Market
Notre Dame
Funkenschlag + expansion cards
Caylus Magna Carta
Ticket to Ride - Switzerland
Tiket to Ride - Computer Game

and 2 card games for 1 euro each : Yoyo and Porca Miseria

Chess 11-Jul-2007

I played a lot of chess when I was young, starting at the age of 7 with friends at local chess clubs though to when I left secondary school having played regularly for all three of the schools chess teams one of which I captained for 2 years. I wasn't the best chess player in the school by far as we were lucky enough to have a number of very strong players who helped the school be top dog in the local school league at that time.

Anyway a recent game of Bilabong made me realize what an influence chess has had on my play style and even to some extent preference for games as a boardgamer. Bilabong itself has a couple of similarities with chess in terms of the board (i.e. a grid - although larger than 8x8 and with a no-go area in the middle), and the piece movement (i.e. Queen like movement, except you're jumping over pieces). But the main difference is really the thought process of figuring out your moves as you negotiate your kangaroos around the board.

Basically nine years of training as a chess player has equipped me to win more than an average number of games of Billabong and it’s interesting to note that the other person who has won a number of Billabong games was also a chess player in his youth.

There are a couple of other games we like to play which I believe share this trait - Ricochet Robot for example and possibly even Robo-Rally, both of which I tend to do well at. Anyway it's just interesting to me that something I enjoyed when I was young is still influencing my life today.

Numchucks 29-Jan-2007

I'm glad to say after two months of waiting that I finally have my pre-ordered Nintendo Wii in my now hot sweaty hands. Now some people might be a bit fed-up waiting for two months - especially when the whole distribution of the console proved to be a complete lottery, but I should add that I pre-ordered on the last day of pre-ordering and so naturally I was towards the bottom of the list.

It's amazing the way the whole console thing works, people will probably go just as crazy for the PS3 next month as they did for the Wii, but I am just happy to have my Wii at long last - just hope that I don’t put the controller through the TV!

 Comment by Andy   30-Jan-2007
It's now Wii arrival+1 and in those 24 hours it has put a big smile upon my face.

One of the first things you do is put together a Wii Mii, in other words and Avatar that can be used in some of the games - like Wii Sports (which is bundled with the console). Ironically there are enough choices to get some similarity with ones-self, and that was quite good fun in itself!!

So far I have tried all of the Sports games in the Wii Sports pack - tennis, golf, 10 pin bowling, boxing and baseball and a quick go at Rayman Raving Rabbits. All of the sports games are best played standing up and require you to use the remotes to simulate each sport. For example when boxing you hold the remote in one hand and the nunchuck in the other act to act as physical boxing gloves to beat your opponent up with. For RRR, the remotes are used in a variety of sub-games to run, draw and even hurl cows around your head in some bizarre version of the hammer throw from track & field sports.

The good news is that this is all pretty energetic, it's a fusion of exercise with computer games and works very well. After three rounds of boxing, I could feel that I had done something physical without getting hurt! One word of caution is that I can see how excessive play could actually cause you to be injured (e.g. pull a muscle), so you need to be wary of what you do with the remotes.

 Comment by Boog   30-Jan-2007
Didn't know we were covering computer games here as well!
In that case I'd like to bring to the forum my shiny new XBox 360 and an extreme World of Warcraft addiction.

I'll post reviews of all three games I currently have on the XBox, and a detailed log of my two year odyssey in Azeroth and more recently the Outlands as soon as I have time.

I've got a lot of cameras too, but don't get me started on those ...

 Comment by Andy   30-Jan-2007
Works for me ...

Cameras? I'd heard about your sort!

Wiiiiiii !

The Debating Game - Playing Quickly v Taking Your Time 11-Dec-2006

“Playing Quickly”

Nobody likes excessive downtime in a board game, in fact many of the most popular games in our group are 4-5 player card games which have little downtime, are great fun and a fair dollop of stitching each other up. Of course it would be completely unfair to suggest that it is just the game speed alone which makes these fun, but it is a factor none the less.

Analysis Paralysis – ugh what a term, and what an impact upon games! I don’t think that the average German game was ever intended to be dissected into a million pieces before making the perfect move. Many games are intended to be played in 45-90 minutes, but instead we see people slowing them down just to eek out that extra point or two with the net result that an otherwise entertaining game takes 2-3 hours to play.

Of course if winning at all costs is a player’s vogue and they feel that they simply have to evaluate all of the infinitesimal permutations which exist in the multiverse as we know it, then so be it. What such players fail to realise is that they are actually boring the tits off all the other people who are playing the game and come the revolution, they in their sloth-like state will be first against the wall!!!

Many games suffer from the player not being able to make their decisions until it is actually their turn – this is fair enough but surely some planning head is possible or, as seems to be the case, they sit there whilst it is not their turn going “la la la la la la twiddle-dee-dum”. Often in game I find that I have already chosen my move long before it’s my turn and only stop to adjust what it is I am going to do if the situation changes markedly.

I know that I am not alone in this and many games have enough down time that you can actually figure out a strategy before your go. A five player game with everyone on the ball and taking no more than three minutes on their turn gives you fifteen minutes of total thinking/playing time to complete your go. I think that you could argue that even ten minutes would suffice for many games.

So in truth playing quickly is not really about playing quickly – you actually have ages to plan your turn or strategy and making best use of that time is key to not slowing the game down and annoying your fellow players.

Anyway I look forward you your counter arguments, just be snappy about it!!

 Comment by Garry   12-Dec-2006

Relax. Take your time. A great game is like a fine wine and needs to be savoured, not gulped down at breakneck speed. Playing games is a leisure activity and should be conducted at a leisurely pace, not a chore that you need to get over and done with at the soonest opportunity. I mean, it's not as though there are so many games to play that you couldn't possibly get through them all if you didn't play quickly. Err, scrub that, there probably are that many games!

Seriously, I know what you're saying and agree that AP is not a good thing. However, when I'm playing a game for the first time, I am more willing to allow people the time to think about what their next move might mean. Sometimes, if you just play without thinking, you miss some of the subtleties and may dismiss the game unfoundedly. That said, playing a well known game like Settlers in the same way won't make you any friends (especially me).

In truth, I think it is a question of balance and who you are playing with. If someone is, uncharacteristically, taking longer than they should, tell them - hopefully they'll take notice. If someone always plays too slow for your liking, more fool you for continuing to play with them in the first place.

Essen Purchases 2006 23-Oct-2006

Unfortunately due to a wedding, I was only able to attend Essen on the Thursday and Friday. Anyway here is the list of my purchases at Essen this year:-

Himalaya 5+6 player expansion
Heck Mech
Age Of Steam
AOS Expansion #2
AOS Expansion #3
Ave Caeser
Carcasonne De Stadt

I'll not go into the games I played whilst there as I am sure that the others will give a fuller report of the games played over the full 4 days.
 Comment by Tel   23-Oct-2006
And heres my purchases

Maestro Leonardo
Space Dealer
die Baumeister von Arkadia
Elephant in a China Shop
Null & Void

20,000 leagues under the sea - Age of Steam expansoin
Poland/benelix - Powergrid expansion

In the final count I actually bought more then I thought I had. Although it was still a quiet year by my years for purchases I was still surprised to see this year add up to 9 board games, 5 card games and a couple of expansions.

I'll try and get some sort of report up ASAP. - Still very tired at the moment so will take a few days.

Canals Baby !!! 16-Aug-2006

After just over a week of waiting, it's arrived - Canal Mania that is, not some love-child of mine (at least that I am aware of)!!!

Anyway, it's supposed to be somewhere between TTR and AoS in complexity and has been quite highly rated on BGG. I ordered mine directly from the author's site and am quite happy with the condition in which it arrived. Once played I am sure that a session report will be forthcoming soon after.

Oh and there are only 1000 of these to be had in the world.

A Random List of Games I like 25-Jan-2006

There are some games which I would always be pleased to play although oddly enough, there are some games here which I do not own but which I have played on many occasions and always enjoyed. This isn’t intended to be a comprehensive list or a top 10 of games I like but just a list for interest sake:


This is one of those games that we simply do not play enough of. It's a good 6 player game although I think it plays slightly better with less because you have a better chance of planning your strategy. The various permutations of civilizations which can arise and maximizing their potential is what makes this game interesting, this includes of course that crucial decision of when to go into decline which can be a fine line between staying on another turn to grab extra points, declining to grab that juicy civilization ahead of your rivals or declining simply because your influence is being eroded to the point where it is pointless not to decline. Watching your rivals is critical too, attack the leader is a popular choice, but careful positioning of your civilization may make this less attractive or impossible to some players depending upon the status of their own civilization.

Trans America

Whilst this is a game of limited strategies, there is still enough in there to make this a quick, lightweight, fun, filler of a game which goes up to 6 players. It's one of those games where you try to let your opponents do as much of the work for you as possible and then jump in and grab the win. Of course the random allocation of cities to link will have a great deal of bearing on how successful you are and the absolute worst thing you can do is isolate yourself from the other players as they begin to link their networks.


Unfortunately the Carcasonne franchise has now been diluted by the vast number of variant games added over the years and whilst each of these does add value, it's very much diminishing returns for me. To me Carcasonne is at it's best when played as a simple two player game with all the tactical dodging and weaving that this required to come out on top. If you want to spice things up - add the river expansion. Adding players however simply makes the game more random and luck based than it already is given the vagaries of tile drawing.


A tactical game of bluff and guesswork which goes to make a highly enjoyable filler - not to mention a good game to go traveling with. One thing about Perudo is that any number of players can enjoy the game by simply combining sets. The premise is simple, with 6 players you have 30 dice at the outset but you only know the results of rolling your own dice until a challenge is made. People take turns to estimate the number of a given number (free choice - e.g. twelve sixes). Get caught out for bluffing or by making an incorrect challenge and this will lose you a dice until you have zero left and are eliminated. Adding to the spice is that for most of the time, 1's are wild and so if you take the initial roll, the expected number of matching dice of any number is 5, but this is doubled because you also add the 'expected' roll of 5 wildcard dice. Of course one of the joys of probability is that this is ok in the long run, but for a single roll you are quite likely to have something very different from this distribution and therein lies the fun ... catching people out or forcing them down a route where they will get caught out.


This is a game which comes out once, maybe twice a year in our group. The main reason for this is the amount of time it takes to play - which, statistically, is broadly equal to the same amount of time it takes Oggie to plan his Robot moves. There is a new version out which has an egg timer to limit the programming phase (but only after all players but one have programmed their robots). Still the fun of this game is not so much winning but seeing the mess that people get themselves into as the robots interact or if they simply cock-up their programming. Having said that it's also fun to wind up the 'professional' computer programmers in the group because their win-rate is a lot lower than mine and hell I'm just a humble Statistician by trade.

Ricochet Robot

I think that this is a game that people either like or loathe - one person in our group disliked it so much that he once asked for a taxi when it was suggested gaining him the tag of Cry Baby Pee Pants (or CBPP) for a couple of weeks, much to everyone's amusement. Anyway, game is perhaps the wrong label for RR and puzzle may be closer to the mark because all players simultaneously try to find a path for the designated robot to ricochet itself around the board to a destination square which is randomly chosen. The real joy of this game is the tension that builds as players try to find a solution and the risk of getting it wrong, but it should also be said that it's not the most interactive game out there and most of us are really just waiting for Oggie's head to explode from the effort required to play it. Plays with almost any number and a good 20-25 minute filler for our group.

Puerto Rico

This is probably the most "fashionable choice" for gamers in the list (and the only game with a 5 player limit). I thought long and hard (about 10 seconds) before including this game and it is in here to represent all of those good solid gamers type games out there (of which there are many). This game typifies the kind of games I like to play (and is very good to boot) because there are multiple strategies to win, a lot of strategic timing to what you do and generally engaging even when it is not your turn. The main problem I saw with this game was that it hit the table so often that we were in danger of excluding other good games from being played.


This is the only physical dexterity game on the list and it's one of the best in my book. A very interactive game that plays up to 8 but requires a fairly large table to play on. Basically the aim is to flick wooden disks around the track, across a variety of obstacles (e.g. jumps, chicanes) and be the first across the line over 3 laps. It’s a very active game because you can’t sit down to play it and the fun factor comes from either making a stunning move or repeatedly screwing up. Multiple sets could be joined together but the original version is no longer in print (and was selling for a lot on EBAY) but a reprint has been made which sadly is incompatible with the original. There is also a Carabande Mini version for kids or people with a smaller table!

Magic the Gathering

Although MtG is in this list it isn’t a game that we really play together that much these days although we all have massive collections of cards going as far back as the revised edition (in my case) and perhaps further for some of the others. MtG is best described as a cash sink, and most of us have now given up buying cards because we as a group have largely outgrown this game. The good thing about MtG is that you could spend as much time building decks, formulating strategies and play-testing to see if it works and I would still enjoy playing the occasional game. This said if anyone wants to offer me £1000 for my collection, I wouldn't turn them down either.

Alles im Eimer

Otherwise known as "The Bucket Game", the aim is for up to six players (sadly this is 5 in the revised edition) to try and topple other player's pyramid of buckets by playing cards to increase your bid for a bucket of a certain color until that bid can’t be beaten by the next player. At this point the player looses a bucket of the color played and any resulting buckets it supports. This is a great filler game and one that you can play several games of in a session with ease. It fits in nicely with our group as we like to stitch each other up and I would say that it is also a very good game to play with children.

 Comment by Tel   26-Jan-2006
One comment about Puerto Rico. You say that you think we have overplayed PR. According to the stats we actually played it 5 times in the first couple of months, and since then its makes an appearance on average once every 2.5 months. This is quite a complex game with plenty to think about. If we didnt play it as often as we did, then every game would be a learning excercise, trying to remember how to play, and picking the inticacies up. I do agree that some (read most) games dont get played enough, but I personally think we should try and play a couple of games fairly regularly, so we can start to pick up the "sub plots" of the game.

My main reason for saying this is PRs smaller brother San Juan. When this came out 3 of us from the group were getting the same train home every day, and as such we started to play card games on the train. San Juan fitted the bill perfectly and as such I ended playing well over 100 games of this in close succession. For the first 20-30 games we were convinced that the Guild Hall was Overpowered and the winner of every game had built one. We then found that the quarry/library was the killer combo. Eventually we found that a wide variety of tactics work, and that the game on the whole is very balanced (still not sure about the crane though). Had we had played San Juan like every other game, ie 1-3 games a year, we would still see this as a very one dimensional game.

So I guess my point is that I personally feel that we should be playing PR (or another such worthy game) at least as regularly as it is (if not more regularly), to allow us to dig deeper into at least one game.
 Comment by Paul   26-Jan-2006
Ah, the usual dilemma. Do we play one game more often or more different games? I guess everybody has their own preferences. And I have a plan which should keep everybody happy.

Who fancies joining me for a few games of Reef Encounter? That seems like a game with a fair bit of depth and it would be interesting to explore it. It's available play by web, which is effectively play by email with pretty graphics, at Play By Web . We can run through a few leisurely games of this without taking up any of the usual gaming time. Let me know who's in and I'll set a game up.
 Comment by Andy   01-Feb-2006
Lies, damn lies and statistics goes the saying - and I should know as I am a Statistician by profession. My recollection is that we were playing it almost every week for a period of time, and as you well know, not all games played are recorded on this site.

The Animal Noise Blog ... 16-Dec-2005

 Comment by Paul   12-Aug-2006
Quick spam test
 Comment by Paul   25-Sep-2006
Another test