There are so many great games published in France that for one reason or another, do not get picked up by UK distributors. One person spotted this obvious opportunity and started a business in the summer of 2021 to provide a UK forum for these wonderful games.
Since then, a flood of fantastic titles has hit the UK shelves. Games that were previously flourishing in mainland Europe but unavailable to British gamers. Flavien Loisier, the man behind the plan, has been busy hitting conventions, social media, and game events to spread the good word. But with games this good, this should be a walk in the park!
We have recently been enjoying several great Hachette games. Let’s take a look at five of our favourites. All offering a very interesting and sometimes unique experience.
WBG score: 8/10. 2-4 Players – Set collection/ Engine building / Race Space themed game. Plays 20-40 Minutes. Suitable for 8 plus.
Ganymede is a fantastic game. The art is striking and suits the space theme very well. But I think the main selling point for this title is the amount of game packed into such a short and light table experience. You will feel a significant amount of strategy and interesting decisions are needed to succeed within what is a quick and relatively light game.
In Ganymede, players are looking to recruit settlers to their intergalactic space corporation to help them travel first from the Earth to Mars, and then from Mars to Ganymede. You will need to use different shuttles for each part of the journey, in a game that challenges you to increase your efficiency of turn through building a quick and productive engine.
Each shuttle and settler piece has a symbol on it. When you take one that has a matching symbol to another that you already have, you can use the effect of the chosen piece again. As you move your settlers along from Earth to Mars and ultimately to Ganymede, you will also be trying to improve your company’s reputation and diversify the type of shuttle ships you use. At various stages on the reputation track, there are opportunities to take additional actions. And when you have one shuttle of each type, you can launch a settler ship to Ganymede immediately.
Considering the game ends when one player launches their fourth settler ship, this is a very powerful additional action to take. As the game is quick, and full of opportunities to increase your turns power, this game is all about trying to maximise these cascading options. Recruiting the right shuttle to move the right types of settlers seems to be all this game is asking you to do at the start of the game. But players will quickly realise this is about a longer-term plan.
Choosing a shuttle that moves a red and blue settler when you only have red ones available may seem inefficient. But if it gives you the symbol you want to enact a certain power more than once, or to get your final symbol to launch a settler ship, then the overall power of this turn will prove more significant.
Making these decisions in Ganymede is a highly satisfying and enjoyable experience. Essentially this is a race game. Trying to maximise your efficiencies to launch your fourth ship first, whilst ensuring you are not falling behind the other scoring opportunities in the game. I think it works best in a two. It can be frustrating for certain shuttle or settlers’ pieces to be taken by other players, which of course happens more in a higher player counts. Largely, there is not a huge amount of thinking required in this. Make a plan and execute it. In higher player counts, you can be sometimes left waiting for your go. But in a two, this has quickly become one of my go too games when I only have 30 minutes. But I want to feel like I have played something with some meat on the bones. Ganymede certainly delivers for that.
WBG score: 6.5/10. 1-4 Players – Dexterity story telling game. Plays 10-30 Minutes. Suitable for 6 plus.
Ghost Adventure plays like no other game I have seen or experienced before. Remember those spinning tops you had as a kid? You often get them in crackers? You know, they have a cone shaped bottom with a handle which you can spin them from? The idea being how long can you make them spin for. Well, in Ghost Adventure, they have somehow turned this into a game!
The idea is that you are moving through duel layered boards, moving your spinning top over certain images to collect or interact with them. This is a dexterity challenge, but in truth, more a test of your patience and subtle hand movements!
Ghost Adventure has three main game modes. Solo, Adventure or Quests. Each modes asks players to move the spinning top over certain images on the multiple game boards. The Adventure mode is the one with the most story, so I will focus on that here. In Ghost Adventure, you are playing the ghost of a mouse. The mouse is looking to help a group of animals on an island that has just had their sacred statues destroyed by the wolf-warriors of the north. Your job, using a delightfully illustrated comic book, is to travel through the eight different worlds, and visit different people, collect different items, and travel to different places to progress the story.
You do this by first spinning the top. There are two provided. One which you must engage in the usual way. A quick flick of the fingers. The other has a pull mechanism which starts the top itself. This is better with younger children who may not be able to initiate a good spin. It also starts the top spinning in a more controlled way. This is important, as you need to move the top through a series of grooves and channels on the duel layered boards to run over the certain target art required for that mission. Some of the boards have holes and fiendishly cut grooves to hinder your progress, and it will certainly take a few turns to master. But I found even my younger daughter who was six at the time of playing had a quick and impressive learning curve with the technique required.
As you progress through the comic book, you will be taught new rules and rewarded with new powers. Being able to jump up to other levels of the board, or teleport from one board to another certainly helps speed up your progress and increases the fun factor! The idea being that in a multiplayer game, each player is holding a different board, and when one player has collected all they need to from their board, they either teleport, or move to the exit, to then roll or jump to the next persons board. All of course, whilst the top is still spinning.
Players will be looking to get as far as they can across the multiple boards used in each mission before the top runs out of spin. You are able to restart the spin four times using the relaunch potions, so this won’t end your game. But it certainly becomes more of a challenge as the game goes on to reach the final part of each mission in time.
The Quest mode acts similarly, but without as much of a story. The solo mode has 15 simple missions for you to try on your own. Great practice for your next adventure!
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Ghost Adventure. I am unsure if it is a board game as such, but do the semantics really matter? I sat with my family for many hours over multiple days playing our way through the story and it delivered many laughs, cries, and screams. My family enjoyed the unique nature of this game and the story it told. The sense of satisfaction from completing a team task is very high too, and for this alone I think this game should come recommended by WBG. But fair warning, some players may find this frustrating at first, so go easy on the first few games!
WBG score: 6.5/10. 1-4 Players – Dexterity / Puzzle game. Plays 10-20 Minutes. Suitable for 6 plus.
Photoshoot is a game very much aimed at the modern generation of younger gamers! You play as a team of photographers looking to shoot a group of celebrities. You must organise them all into the right positions but remember to care for their every needs!
To set-up, place the nine character tiles into a random three-by-three square, then flip over the first objective cards, and move each character into the right space to match the card. You can only move tiles one space, swapping them with one of their orthogonally adjacent characters. Players must work in teams, moving one character at a time, in turn with their team. Oh, and all whilst working in silence. And all within a 1.5-minute timer!
As the game progresses, you will flip over certain effect cards that bring new rules into the game for each character. Some tiles will need to always remain next to other ones, the Foxes affection for the Squirrel being never ending for example. Other characters will require you as the player to say or do something, such as shout the words “Say Cheese” or perform a two-handed wave! The idea being that a simple game, slowly becomes more difficult with new rules to remember.
If any team member gets a rule wrong, or forgets to say or do something, then the other team, if they spot it, can stop the timer and make a rule check. This is a way for teams to score a point depending on the outcome of the ruling, but the main goal is to complete as many objective cards as possible in your allocated time, scoring two for each one, and reach 25 points first.
This game is very quick to learn and play with children, and due to the physical nature of the mechanics loved by younger gamers, is a sure-fire winner. There is a real sense of satisfaction in completing the objective cards, and the race to the points target adds a fun element of competition that adds tension to the game, but not pressure. Suitable for younger gamers.
There is a family variant where you don’t apply some of the more complex character rules, and of course you can always house rule certain parts and not play with any of them. Or with them all added in from the start for a bigger challenge. With or without the timer, just for some fun. There are lots of ways to play this, and I have found that this is a regular after dinner request from my family due to its simple, quick, and fun gameplay.
WBG score: 7/10. 2-4 Players – Real-time / Line drawing / “Spotting” game. Plays 10-20 Minutes. Suitable for 6 plus.
Imagician offers players a chance to see who can spot the crazy shape first! Do that skill well, and you will win the game!
Set up by giving each player a pen and double-sided board. Place the timer and cards in the center of the table and you are ready to play! The cards will show a series of symbols, either connected or on their own. If they are connected, you need to find the two shapes on the board and connect them with a line. If they are shown alone, you must circle them. The game is a race to see who can find and mark each shape first, and then identify through the lines and circles they have drawn, what shape they have just illustrated.
Write down the name of the item you think you have just drawn, and then start the timer. Each other player then has 30 seconds to finish their drawing and make their own guess. The first player to finish and correctly guess the shape wins two points. Any other players who guessed right within the time wins one point. The game runs for 8 cards, and the player with the most stars after this final card is the winner.
The game has an excellent catch-up mechanic. Well, more of a ‘don’t let one player run away with the lead’ mechanic! The player who wins each round must flip their board over for the next card. The reverse side of the board shows the same shapes in the same locations, otherwise the game wouldn’t work. But now, they are all in black and white. This makes a huge difference in the difficulty and is a great idea for players from different ages or abilities to be able to play together.
If you like the idea of the calm, meditative state you need to be in to find the right shapes and work smoothly to draw all the lines, I think you will love this game! I found the process thoroughly enjoyable. I was not great at it, and often got lost in my head trying to find one shape. But I enjoyed the process. I liked trying to calm my mind, focus my eye, and work methodically round the board to find the right shape. Like some other games here, Imgaician is not really a board game, more an exercise, But an exercise in patience and concentration. One I think we can all perhaps do with a few lessons in sometimes!
WBG score: 6.5/10. 2-8 Players – Sensory Party game. Plays 20-30 Minutes. Suitable for 6 plus.
Like all the games on this list, In the Palm of your hand offers some unique gaming experiences many players may not have seen before. And like many other games on this list, is perhaps not really a board game. In this case, more a party game.
The concept behind In the Palm of your hand is a beautiful and nostalgic dive into the players sense of touch and creativity. Each round, in teams, two players from one team will be active. One to play as the Child and another as the Grandfather. The Child’s job is to draw one card from the deck of beautifully illustrated cards and then mime what they see in the card onto the palm of the Grandfathers hand whilst the Grandfather players eyes are closed. Having watched the interaction between Child and Grandfather, but not yet seen the card, the other team must then choose a card from their hand to try and interfere with a memory.
The Child will then pick a new memory, act it out onto the Grandfathers’ hand, and again, the other teams will try and interfere with it. The Child player will top up the cards in play to eight, shuffle them and place them face up for the Grandfather player to see. They must then try and guess which two memories were acted out on their hand. The active team will score one point for each correct guess. The opposing teams score a point if their cards are mistakenly chosen.
Once everyone has had a chance to play as the Grandfather then the game ends. But of course, like many games of this nature you can adjust this to suit your own desires based on time and enjoyment! There is also a way to play this game through all 100 cards in the game in order, showing the Grandfathers’ life from birth to now. Which is a stunning experience.
There is also an expert mode which uses cards to impose advanced rules. Such as only being able to use certain objects for the mime, not being able to touch the palm or fingers of the Grandfather or only being able to use one or three objects. I liked this challenge, but it did take away some of the creative opportunities, which for me was more important than the challenge.
There are many games like this out there. The obvious unique part for In the Pam of your Hand being the sensory side. But the element that stood out for me more, was seeing the creativity from the Child player. Using random shapes and techniques to create a sense for the Grandfather player in new and imaginative ways was truly inspiring for me to watch. I love watching my children, family and friends play this game. At first, people seem a little intimidated by this game. I think there is an initial mental block that hinders your ability to think in the way the game asks you to. But after a round or two, I started to see some stunning and wonderfully inventive ways this game can be played.
This is the true core of this game. Sure, there is the usual element of team competition here. But after playing this game, I am not left thinking about who won or lost. I am remembering who came up with what great idea. How a piece of plastic was used to recreate the movement of the planets. How two ends of a shoelace were used to make another player imagine rain drops on their skin. Beautiful!
This game gives the equivalent feeling of the first few minutes of the Pixar film UP. If you are into that, then I would encourage you to try this game as soon as you can!