Can we even do this?
So the gravitas of the size of this challenge hit at the beginning of this weekend. On average 3 games a day, but so far we had only played 7 games in the first 7 days. So that means we are already 14 games behind. Not the perfect start!
We sat on the floor of the games room and stared up at the huge towering shelves. Bulging with games to be played in the next 3 weeks, some of them we had never played, quite a few of them we had played once or twice a while ago. Some of them were meaty long heavy games like Spirit Island, many can be played in 45 mins. But 80 lots of 45 mins is a lot of time!
So that was the first wobble.
Getting stuck in
Not one to be defeated though, we pulled our socks up and knocked a few party games off the list on Friday night over zoom. A few weeks ago I ran Mysterium Park as a team-building different exercise with my wider team, and it was so well received that a games night was asked for. So we played Cranium and also Herd Mentality. Herd Mentality is the type of quiz game I can get behind, because you don’t need to be right, just not be the odd one out. It’s like reverse-pointless. With a group of 18 people over zoom all drinking, getting the games done took a while and a bit of perseverance. But everyone enjoyed themselves and it was well received.
This weekend provided us with the first opportunity to have a good run at getting stuck into the collection though. We played 9 games on Saturday, and a further 6 on the sunday. We were starting to claw back some time finally. Two of them were brand new so involved reading the instructions as well, pats on the back required for both of us for bashing out a couple of heavy sessions.
Saturday; NMBR9, Abyss, Exploding Kittens, Fluxx, Talisman Legendary Tales, The Bloody Inn, Kanagawa, Sub Terra, and The Dwarves.
I will start with the absolute rotters, if I had my way Exploding Kittens would have left my shelves a while ago. Alas our house is a democracy and I am outvoted. Fluxx is unbelievably popular, and there are a gazillion different variants. And yet, it just does not click with me. I don’t mind so much the constant rule changes, although it hurts my head for things to change that frequently and that quickly. But also there is a card that if you draw it says look you won. For doing nothing, for just picking up this card. What a hollow victory. So if anyone wants to rehome a copy of Fluxx 5.0, you know where a neglected one is residing.
And now onto everything else, which was top drawer. I am going to cherry pick a few of the games from each group that I don’t normally talk about, to give you a flavour of how the day went.
NMBR9 is the easiest quick game that never gets boring. You just flip over the deck and place the numbered tiles numbered 0 through 9 down according to the card. The tiles fit together in a tetris style, and you can lay tiles on top of one another as long as there is no overhang or blank space underneath. Tiles on the level 0 will score no points, but level one tiles score 1 value of the tile. On level two the tile score twice their value, and so on. There is no set up time, and it plays in ten mins. I love this game. If you don’t have this in your collection, then it really should be. NMBR9 is published by Z-Man Games, and is for 1-4 players.
The Dwarves takes the spot for the biggest surprise of the challenge so far. This has sat on our shelf of shame for about six months now, having arrived in a mystery box and not really having inspired us from the box. You play as dwarf characters who each have unique player powers, and are trying to complete the adventure cards in the deck before time runs out. It is a dice rolling extravaganza, and we are not good at dice rolling. There is some dice mitigation that can be done as the game progresses, which was welcomed. This is a co-operative game which is almost a hybrid of Risk and Pandemic in the way that the armies cascade out causing perished land to appear and time to march onward to the impending doom. Although not the highest scored game of the day, it is the one that has really stuck in my mind. The Dwarves which felt like it was on its way out having never been played has earned its place on our shelves. Shouldn’t judge a game by its box art and blurb I guess.
The Dwarves plays 1-5 players and is published by Pegasus Spiele.
Sub Terra if you haven’t already played it is a great tile exploration co-op. You are cave explorers trying to get out without being caught by the horrors that lurk just around the corner or getting killed by earthquakes and floods. It is not an easy game to win, because it is so very easy to die. Anyone who has followed me for a bit will know that my track record with this game is patchy, and almost all of this can be laid at my partner’s door. No matter what character he plays, he keeps needing to be rescued. He insists on flying too close to the sun and always ends up dying. So I have yet to achieve the Gold status win. Maybe I should play it solo…
Sub Terra is published by ITB Games and plays 1-6 players.
Sunday; Tiny Towns, The Crew, Jaipur, Hey, That’s My Fish, Five Tribes, Codenames Duet
The Crew: Quest for Planet Nine won the Kennerspiel des Jahres award for 2020, so people much more knowledgeable than me see that this game is great. This is a co-operative trick taking game where you are playing through all different missions which each have unique objectives. These start off pretty easy, but they ramp up in difficulty the more proficient you are in the game. I like trick-taking, my partner loves trick-taking. This is one of his all-time favourite games. It is sleek and it has turned trick-taking from take-that to a group experience which I find absolutely enthralling.
The Crew is published by Kosmos and plays 2-5 players.
Five Tribes is a Bruno Cathala masterstroke, and I shall not hear otherwise. It uses a mancala style meeple movement mechanism in the sleekest way imaginable. The game is actually quite an in-depth strategic experience, you need to bid for turn order, there is a lot of power to be had by playing two turns in a row, but are you willing to pay for that privilege? There are djiinns who unlock powerful in-game benefits and end-game scoring bonuses, then there is also the struggle to control tiles on the board too. There is, especially in the two-player version, a satisfying and yet frustrating tug of war. And this makes the end game scoring a nail-biting experience. We certainly never seem to know who has won until the final tally. Just for the record though, the winner was me.
Five Tribes plays 2-4, although I love this at 2 the most, and is published by Days of Wonder.
After a heavy weekend of gaming, we are almost caught up to where we should already be. So it will be no rest for the wicked this week when we will be juggling playing 3 games each evening after work and food and workouts! Wish us luck!