Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Something a little different

Do you love board games? If you don't you are in the wrong place (in many ways). Want to write about gaming, but want to do something a little different? Then get in touch!

We are all about promoting & growing the board gaming hobby and would like more people to join in with that goal. If you have an idea or have already written somthing you would like put up on this site send me an email.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Ben gets his quill out over Terra Mystica

Ben Earl of Maddox "reviews"...

Terra Mystica is not a hybrid. It may look like a griffin but in reality it is just a lion wearing an eagle mask. The art work on the box, the promise of asynchronous play and variable player powers all point towards a synthesis of American and European style games but in reality this is Euro to the bone and a heavy one at that.

It is beautiful. The artwork, by Village artist Dennis Lohausen is stunning. The quality of the components is first class. The wooden pieces beg to be caressed, handled, tossed from hand to hand and even, at a push, placed on the board. This game isn’t cheap but in terms of what you lay on the table your money is well spent.
The game play is challenging. It is a delicate balancing act between limiting your opponent’s expansion but encouraging them to build enough so you can cream off their juicy, juicy power. It is passive aggressive player conflict at its tooth grinding best.
It is in the individual races though, that this game demonstrates its genius. The races aren’t balanced; not even in the slightest. This should be a negative but for a game as complex as this it is brilliant. Jens Drögemüller and Helge Ostertag have designed a game with a built in handicap mechanic that limits players with more experience without patronising those who are sat at the table for the first time. Making some races easier to play than others levels the playing field in a simple, unobtrusive way. That doesn’t mean that the game is easy but it won’t smack first time players in the face so hard that they don’t want to come back.
Is this game really about Dwarves and Chaos Mages? Absolutely not, it is about optimisation and building an efficient engine but it is about those things in an incredible way. The races offer massive variety and once you’ve developed an understanding this game is a challenge that is a pleasure to confront.
Terra Mystica is not a hybrid; it is a thoroughbred and one that you should jump on the back of as soon as you get the chance. 


Monday, 27 October 2014

Questions for today

Before we get to the questions, time zones is an issue again!

The UK has gone back into GMT but the USA is still in summer time so today #BoardGameHour will take place at:

12pm L.A
3pm NewYork
7pm London
8pm Berlin

Questions for today:

We are trying somthing different today, we are going to focus in on two games. We will spend the first half of the hour talking about Castles of Burgundy & the second half speaking about Lords of War.

Castles of Burgundy Questions

Q1: Do you own Castles of Burgundy, how often have you played it? #BoardGameHour
Q2: Despite it only being released in 2011 is Castles of Burgundy a classic? #BoardGameHour
Q3: Does the theme & artwork go well with the mechanics in Castles of Burgundy? #BoardGameHour
Q4: What do you like most about Castles of Burgundy? #BoardGameHour
Q5: What could be improved about Castles of Burgundy? #BoardGameHour
Q6: How would you sum up Castles of Burgundy? Who would like it? #BoardGameHour
Q7: Any other questions about Castles of Burgundy? #BoardGameHour

Lords of War Questions

Q8: Do you own Lords of War, how often have you played it? #BoardGameHour
Q9: Does the theme & artwork go well with the mechanics in Lords of War? #BoardGameHour
Q10: What do you like most about Lords of War? #BoardGameHour
Q11: What could be improved about Lords of War? #BoardGameHour
Q12: How would you sum up Lords of War? Who would like it? #BoardGameHour
Q13: Any other questions about Lords of War? #BoardGameHour

See you later!

Friday, 24 October 2014

#BoardGameHour Games in detail

We are going to try something a little different on Mondays #BoardGameHour
The plan is to look in detail at two games. One a classic and one a new kid on the block.

Why two games? Why these?

I asked what games you would like to talk about and these where two popular choices. They both have lots of depth, so there is lots to talk about. I think an hour on just one game would be to much. I want to try this format and find out what you think. Hope it works and you enjoy the chat. I am confident that weather you know the games or not you will have fun. If you don't know the games, please ask questions and get involved anyway!

The Classic - The Castles of Burgundy

Designer: Stefan Feld

Plays: 2 - 4

Play time: 90 mins

BGG description: 

The game is set in the Burgundy region of High Medieval France. Each player takes on the role of an aristocrat, originally controlling a small princedom. While playing they aim to build settlements and powerful castles, practice trade along the river, exploit silver mines, and use the knowledge of travelers.

The game is about players taking settlement tiles from the game board and placing them into their princedom which is represented by the player board. Every tile has a function that starts when the tile is placed in the princedom. The princedom itself consists of several regions, each of which demands its own type of settlement tile.

The game is played in five phases, each consisting of five rounds. Each phase begins with the game board stocked with settlement tiles and goods tiles. At the beginning of each round all players roll their two dice, and the player who is currently first in turn order rolls a goods placement die. A goods tile is made available on the game board according to the roll of the goods die. During each round players take their turns in the current turn order. During his turn, a player may perform any two of the four possible types of actions: 1) take a settlement tile from the numbered depot on the game board corresponding to one of his dice and place it in the staging area on his player board, 2) take a settlement tile from the staging area of his player board to a space on his player board with a number matching one of his dice in the corresponding region for the type of tile and adjacent to a previously placed settlement tile, 3) deliver goods with a number matching one of his dice, or 4) take worker tokens which allow the player to adjust the roll of his dice. In addition to these actions a player may buy a settlement tile from the central depot on the game board and place it in the staging area on his player board. If an action triggers the award of victory points, those points are immediately recorded. Each settlement tile offers a benefit, additional actions, additional money, advancement on the turn order track, more goods tiles, die roll adjustment or victory points. Bonus victory points are awarded for filling a region with settlement tiles.

The game ends when the last player finishes his turn of the fifth round of the fifth phase. Victory points are awarded for unused money and workers, and undelivered goods. Bonus victory points from certain settlement tiles are awarded at the end of the game.

The player with the most victory points wins.

The rules include basic and advanced versions.

This game is #14 in the Alea big box series.

The Fresh Face - Lords of War:

Designers: Nick Street & Martin Vaux

Plays: 2 - 8

Play time: 30 mins

BGG description: 
Lords of War is a dual-deck strategic card game for two-plus players which sees fantasy races engage in dynamic, tactical card battles.
Orcs versus Dwarves was the first Lords of War game to be released, in December 2012, at the Dragonmeet Game Fair in London. The game went on to win the Best Strategic Card Game Award at the UK Games Expo 2013, along with Lords of War: Elves versus Lizardmen.

During Lords of War battles players use hands of 6 units, drawn from their total 'army' of 36 cards, playing one card per turn at the start of their turn.

Cards have unique formations of Attack Arrows on their edges and corners signifying which adjacent cards they attack once played, and the damage they will do. Some cards also have Ranged Attack values. Each card then has a Defence value which, when exceeded by attacking cards, sees that card defeated.

At the end of a player's turn, once combat has been resolved, the player can then either draw a new card from their army deck to return their hand back up to 6 or retreat a unit that has not engaged in combat during that turn.

The game is playable out of the box and contains two complete armies - the Orcs and the Dwarves.

These factions are differentiated by their exclusive cards and strategies; the Dwarf faction plays more defensively, using some Ranged cards and powerful Berserker units to pick-off assailants, while the Orc army encourages players to attack more vigorously, often committing kamikaze moves to their tactical advantage.

Orcs versus Dwarves is cross-compatible with Elves versus Lizardmen, meaning that all the Lords of War armies can be used to battle one another. The armies can also be blended together, using a strict Ranking System, to create Mercenary decks for tournament play.


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Bens got his quill out over... Seasons

I would like to introduce you to a new feature on the Minister of Board Games "Bens got his quill out over..." As you might have noticed we like to do things a little differently around here and with that in mind let me introduce you to Ben Earl of Maddox - @BenisAce on Twitter.

Ben can often be found alone in his room, quill in hand, bent over a pill of cardboard and dice. We at the Ministry have agree to publish most of what lands on his page. Let us begin with his unique take on Seasons:

Seasons by Ben, Earl of Maddox
Like a Skittles Monster™ has vomited all over your table, Seasons shakes off excess body heat by excreting colour. From the hacksaw shaped player boards to the frenetic L.S.D. art work, ocular stimulation is at a premium in this game. Even the humble cube has been sent down the road to the local stylist and has returned resplendent in eighties neon. It’s not just the way the game looks though but also the way it feels. This game is enough to make even the most restrained Ludophile tug suggestively at their shirt collar and exhale sharply. Those perfectly laser cut, oversized dice feel so good in the hand that it’s almost impossible to toss them and allow the game to commence.

But toss them you should because for all of its lascivious beauty it is the game play that really shines in Seasons. This is a game that it so well designed that it has even managed to make a virtue of set up.

It starts with a draft that is replete with choice but also carries the danger that you will be gifting your opponent the final piece of their jigsaw. The tension is palpable and you haven’t really started playing the game yet.

Ostensibly a Euro game it has enough player interaction, through the familiars, that it never feels like single player solitaire and there is enough variety in the cards to reward shifts in tactics and almost limitless repeated play. The strategic burden of the cards also makes it one of the most easily expandable games I have ever played.

I played last night and was predictably destroyed but rather than feel gypped I was panting to play again. This game is a well crafted gem with sharp little teeth (is that even possible?) and did I mention how good it looks?

Seasons: Taste the Rainbow (only don’t, it’s probably a choking hazard.)

Monday, 20 October 2014

Starting out it board game design

Our topic for today is starting out in board game design. Get tips for those who have done it before!

Q1: What is your game design background? How many games have you designed / are published? #BoardGameHour

Q2: Are there any common errors new designers make? #BoardGameHour

Q3: What good ways are there make a prototypes? Got any tips? #BoardGameHour

Q4: Play-testing is important, how should new designers go about it? Got any tips? #BoardGameHour

Q5: My game is awesome and playtesters love it, what next? Kickstarter or publisher? where do I start? #BoardGameHour

Q6: What resources should new game designers should use to help them? #BoardGameHour

Q7: Any other questions you would like to know the answer to? #BoardGameHour

See you later :0)

Monday, 6 October 2014

Hidden Gems

Today on #BoardGameHour we are going to talk about hidden gems, which is our way of saying games that have been over looked or unappreciated.

Because this topic is going to focus on games many people will not have heard of I am going to tweek the format a little. Rather than have a question every 5 minutes or so like we normally do we are going to break the hour into bigger sections. The hope is to allow you to really chat with each other and explore the games you might not have heard of.

Q1: Are there game that you have not bought because they have low production values but turn out to be great games? What?

Q2: What games from Kickstarter do you feel are underrated and can you still get them now?

Q3: Are there any out of print games that you feel are hidden gems and should be brought back?

Q4: Which games that are available now do you feel don't get enough love and are underrated?

Q5: Are there any good secondary markets out there where you can pick up hidden gems at a good price?

Please give me feedback after regarding having less questions. I think for this subject it might work, but your opinion
is what really counts!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

"Try it you might like it" - Nominations

Last week we took nominations for the #BoardGameHour  "Try it you might like it" award for best introductory game. If you are looking to get people into the board game hobby this is good list for you!

Love Letter

No thanks

Going going gone


Settlers of Catan

Two rooms and a boom


Ticket to Ride

The Resistance

Alien Frontiers


Great Heartland Hauling Company

The Boss

Forbidden Desert


Escape: Curse of the Temple






Voting for the #BoardGameHour Awards will be open soon!