A Fool’s Errand: Board Game Quest 2021 Ends

December

A Game About Quickly Grabbing Creatures that are Totally Different & Wathcing Out For Turnips

I played a demo of this game at Dragonmeet and for good measure, played it again over New Year at my dad and stepmothers’ place.

In this game, you’re looking at a stack of cards for monsters who have different heads, bodies and legs. You can pick one up, as long as none of the sections match the last one you drew.

it again over New Year at my dad and stepmothers’ place. In this game, you’re looking at a stack of cards for monsters who have different heads, bodies and legs. You can pick one up, as long as none of the sections match the last one you drew.

To help this are turnips. They let your next card be anything, although too many and you lose. When I saw the game’s title I didn’t expect watching out for turnips would be because they’re good. It’s quick and fun, a burst of manic energy which will be perfect for CabinCon.

Cluedo

I don’t think I’ve ever played Cluedo before, although I recognise the pieces, I think mainly from either making my own games or reappropriating them for other things. Emma and I played a game and I can see the seeds of some good in there, although it was also pretty basic. It’s no “Kill Dr Lucky”.

Someone’s dead and you’re wandering an estate trying to look for any suspects, locations and murder weapons to cross off. It hit a rapidfire back and forth of question asking at the end, closing out fairly easily.

Not a fancy board, but I still kind of like it.

Exit: The Game – Advent Calendar

I bought this back in August, possibly, but only added it to my list in December. This is part of the Exit puzzle game series which sees you using cards to solve a mystery, but also playing with every aspect of the game including little props and the box itself sometimes.

In this advent calendar, each door has a code but not a number, so you go from day to day solving a mini puzzle and then finding out where the next door is.

We fell behind a number of times, and with Emma going away to her family for Christmas, we ended the year with four left to do. We’ll get that done soon, ideally before it ends up like Detective Society and Sherlock Holmes, which only seem to get played once every six months.

I’m not going to show you the inside, as pretty much everything could be a spoiler.

Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game

I missed Dead of Winter. It’s a zombie game which came out at the point where we all started to get zombie fatigue, but it’s actually good. I forget how I found out about it, but I preordered the original game which was shockingly cheap to buy and ship to the UK. You play a community living during a zombie apocalypse, trying to survive both the dead and the cold. You’ve all got one main goal, but also individual goals which mean there isn’t an optimal way to play, as you’re all going to go off script. Worse, someone might secretly want the colony to fall apart.

This is a zombie game where the zombies are more of an element to contend with instead of hordes to murder like most other zombie games. It’s a tense joy, and leads to some incredibly tricky situations.

My survivors had a mission to board themselves up in a location and just about managed it, as well as the main quest. I was shocked my plans worked, and only took minimal crazed survivalist style threats to the other players to stay away.

The wintery doom of Dead of Winter, all of our locations and a lot of zombies in them.

Archipelago

An openly problematic board game, as it’s about colonial advancement in a tropical archipelago. You’re trying to expand, explore and hire locals to work for you. As you explore, the numbers of people grow as does their dissatisfaction. Hiring them helps, but then plundering the land too much or refusing to deal with their demands could lead to their rebellion and the end of the game for the colonialists. This means it’s a semi-cooperative game as you’re trying to keep the peace while making as much profit for yourself. It’s fun, but I need to get the longer version played at some point as it always feels over too soon.

The first glimpses of our archipelago, before we started exploring them.

Room 25

I love the film Cube, and this is the board game version. You’re all trapped in a grid of tiles, trying to fine Room 25, which is the exit. We played the full competitive mode rather than the traitor mode which is the default. This means we were actively trying to shove each other into dangerous rooms, shifting the maze and trying to figure out how to coordinate each of our pairs of characters to the exit before others could.

Some incredibly deadly rooms, and everyone racing around the way out, trying not to get shoved into certain doom.

Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Game

You tell a fairytale together, trying to empty your hand of cards with story tropes. If you mention one someone has in their hand, they interrupt and take over, while you draw a card, putting you further back. It’s fine, but there are other games which do similar storytelling.

Slash 2: Thirst Blood

A talking bullshit game about pairing up characters from the popular culture. You put forward someone like, “Fox Mulder” and the other players put in who they think would make a good romantic match. Those are shuffled up and the judge decides who would make the better pairing. It’s more engaging than Cards Against Humanity and causes a lot more discussion over who would be the better suitor. This is the standalone sequel, so we added a bunch of Slash 1 characters and a few new ones using blank cards.

Who should Baba Yaga end up with?

Witch Trial

This was my first Cheapass Games game. You all play lawyers trying to prosecute or defend witches. It doesn’t matter whether they’re really witches, as long as you get paid. People end up playing it like they’re actually at a trial as they slap down surprise witnesses, evidence or objections.

Time to press this widow to death under rocks!

Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne

This is Cosmic Encounter but using the Game of Thrones TV show cast and a few mechanical tweaks. It’s a little more controlled at times and a lot faster. I think compared to my aborted attempt at playing a shortened Cosmic Encounter game, I’d just bring this to the table instead.

You pick your House and a character to lead it, then the other characters each try to gain influence over another randomly selected House. You can ask for allies, betray people, take hostages and generally be a cad. For now I’m keeping them both as they have enough differences for me to enjoy them in their own right.

Hey, remember the Game of Thrones TV show and when it was good?

Deadwood Studios USA

Another early Cheapass Games game, which I wasn’t sure would survive in my collection. You play struggling actors in the Hollywood studio system, represented by a d6 which shows how prestigious an extra you are. Each day is spent going from set to set, trying to take on low-level roles and work your way up to actually getting credits. You can be a jobber on the set itself who has to be low rank (knocking you down if you’re too high) but is a fantastic way of farming dollars one at a time, while main roles are on cards, vary a lot and you want done ASAP for a quick payout of a lot of money. It’s got some interesting mechanics and it was incredible watching Saffy become the richest extra by a long way, just thanks to purposefully bad die rolls on our first day of filming.

The endearingly cheap board and cards.

The Resistance

This was one of two really tricky ones. We were in the thick of December and a lot of failed attempts to gather groups of people for a game. The last chance for me was my roleplaying group, who number four including myself, and then Emma, who joined us for this and the next two games.

The Resistance is set in a cyberpunk dystopia, where you’re going on missions and trying to pick a team which doesn’t include spies. It’s the same as Avalon, but a bit simpler. I would ditch Resistance, if it wasn’t a lot easier to get to the pub for any boozy gaming gatherings.

Ultimate Werewolf: Deluxe Edition

If Resistance was tricky, Ultimate Werewolf was going to be downright impossible. The box claimed 5+ players, but neglected to include the moderator, so we would need a sixth player.

BoardGameGeek has served me incredibly randomly in hacking games for Board Game Quest 2021. This time it helped with someone’s suggestions of a five player version of Werewolf. We didn’t have all the cool roles this version of Werewolf has, but we did get a game of it in with no moderator and only three nights.

Fury of Dracula Third Edition

This is a great game which I always think I won’t remember the rules of, like archipelago.

One player takes the role of Dracula, hiding and constantly travelling through Europe, gaining influence as he goes. At the same time, all the other players are hunters, trying to find Dracula and eventually fight him. Dracula’s playing piece isn’t on the map until you collide with him; the Dracula player uses cards laid down and often seeded with traps as he goes. If you stumble upon any of the recent places he’s been, that narrows things down.

In this game we had some mad dashes when we realised he was hiding out in the UK and we could storm all of the ports around the channel, tooled up and hoping to take him out. We were lucky this time, although it always feels like you’re on the back foot against Dracula.

Our hunters, all scouring Europe for Drac.

Galaxy Trucker

I love Carcassonne, Tang Garden and other tile-playing games. This is a short, manic one in a science fiction setting. You’re all racing your ships and trying to collect cargo as you go. The problem is that you’re all pulling from the same scrap heap to make your ships. The game’s manic, the ships are all a mess and if you’re lucky, you’ll have something left to land by the end of the race.

I was in a space where I didn’t have any company, so I found a solo variant on BoardGameGeek which was… fine. I got to play with the pieces and race. I didn’t have a working printer, so I used my tablet and dice to try and replicate shuffling what the ‘AI’ player did. It was a bit of a faff, despite having some enjoyable gameplay loops.

Chess & Backgammon

I was walking out of the Workroom and spotted two games on the old metal shelves. They’d not been played in years and I’d spent the first eleven months without noticing them.

I like the idea of Chess, but I’m not good at it. I’m just not a tactical thinker. I did better than I thought against Emma, who is very much the opposite, but I still lost. Backgammon went a bit better, and I don’t think I ever played it before now. It sticks in my head as a game my dad and brother would play, but not me. It feels like there are a lot of dice chucker games with a better end to it, but it’s fine.

X-Men: Mutant Revolution

I wanted this to be better. I’m a massive X-Men fan, and I love the Spartacus board game. I knew that playing this game would lead to the elimination of this or Spartacus, as the games were too similar.

You each control a school of mutants and put forward teachers, students or sometimes your headmaster to carry out missions. The mission part is interesting, but a lot of them ended up a bit of a mess.

Ultimately, Spartacus can be played with more players and feels a bit more thematically relevant to the mechanics.

The battlefield for our final three way brawl to see who won.

Paranoia: Mandatory Bonus Fun! Card Game

I love the Paranoia RPG, so years ago I bought this game. You have one team leader and a mission each round. You can do the mission and try to get the success conditions, but you might want to purposefully fail to wreck the team leader’s reputation, or simply start shooting at each other. It’s chaotic and fun, but has the Mongoose level of quality and has since been superseded by other games.

My clone and all of the treason. Too much treason.

Empires of the Void II

The last ‘big’ board game of the year. This is a science fiction game by Red Raven who normally do fun, whimsical fantasy board games. A new edition of one of their earliest games, this brings the 4x genre (Explore, Expand, Exploit & Exterminate) to a shorter, more narrative playtime.

Each player is a race of refugees with a worldship, trying to make a piece of space their home. There’s a selection of planets you can rule diplomatically or violently, all while events go off, affecting the few planets in our section of space. You also upgrade your worldship, your technology and recruit mercenaries to help.

Our game was fairly peaceful between the players, even though it got brutal on some of the planets. Lee conquered a few places, although he left one planet alone when a kaiju escaped from a zoo and started wrecking things. I managed to send some scouts out to rescue people from a crash on a snow planet.

The setup and teardown is really time consuming, but it’s a simpler game than it looks and really good fun.

Our giant world ships hovering over planet, laying waste and/or chilling out with the inhabitants.

Billionaire Banshee

Billionaire Banshee consists of a couple of decks made of ‘perks’ and ‘quirks’ ranging from normal to explicit to fantastical. These are combined to make a date for someone. The mode I tend to play with them has one person judging while everyone tries to sell a person with a randomly drawn perk and quirk to you. It’s kind of Blind Date but where you’re trying to sell a cyborg crime fighter who also steals your tears while you sleep.

Emma and I played the basic mode which is a guessing game version. You draw a perk and quirk, then select whether you’d ‘date’ or ‘deny’ them. The other players guess and if they’re right, they score a point.

The decks for Billionaire Banshee, all with 8-bit-looking art.

Hanafuda

This was another surprise game in the collection. Nintendo sometimes offered physical things for the ‘stars’ you can redeem from their games. I used a lot of mine for a Mario-themed ‘Hanafuda’ game. It’s a classic Japanese game which Nintendo have printed copies of for years.

It’s a set-matching game and looks very pretty. I like the style of it, but it suffers a bit from a lack of familiarity. We had a small instruction booklet we had to keep revisiting to see what sets we were aiming to get. It feels odd to say about a classic game, but some kind of symbology or icons or even a reference card might have helped us with it.

Spillikins aka Pick-up-Sticks

Another foundling in the house, this is a classic game which was fine. It took a moment and we picked up some sticks. That was it.

Dominoes

I bought a pound shop set of dominoes to run Harder they Fall, an RPG about massive battled. Even so, it was here and needed to be played. It’s fine. Like Backgammon, this feels like an ‘old men playing in a cafe’ kind of game.

Cyclops looking over my hand of dominoes.

The Christmas Blitz!

In theory, everything was played, but Christmas happened. Folks bought me games, which is understandable given my love of them, but meant they also needed to be played.

Kingdomino

Speaking of dominoes, here’s a tile-laying game based on it. My friend Steve gave me Kingdomino which was oddly apt, as I gave his family Dragonimo for Christmas. Great minds and all that.

In Kingdomino, you pick a domino with farms, fields, forests, swamps, sea or caves. You’re trying to match them in groups, but also collect ones with crowns on to actually score points. It’s really short and tricky as grabbing something early helps, but it’ll get you the less interesting tiles. It’s really quick pretty and moreish.

Super-Skill Pinball: 4-Cade

This was the game of the festive period for me. A roll & write game, you’re rolling dice and moving a faux-pinball across a table, filling in numbers as you go. While players pick from the same pair of die results, you’ll start similarly and deviate wildly as you play. The different areas, special abilities you unlock for filling things in and flippers to have to navigate make for a fun time.

My beloved bought this for me and I managed to talk my brother into playing it, as well as Kingdomino. We ended up playing multiple games and two of the four tables. My dad and stepmother looked like they were getting stressed at the rules explanation over New Year, but my stepmother’s still got the highest score on one of the tables.

One of my favourite roll & writes, a late ‘GotY’ contender for me.

Tournament at Avalon

Emma was bought this game by one of her aunts at Christmas and even though it’s her game, it still counts (as did Parks and several other games).

A trick-taking game, you all play Arthurian characters taking part in a grand melee. Rather than trying to win the fight, you’re mainly trying not to be the person who fails and has to pick up the ‘trick’, counting as wounds in the fight. We all ended up picking the knights with animals, almost like it was a weird chivalrous version of Pokemon. I lost, despite having a lion to help me out.

Superfight

I found my copy of Red 7, which was great, as I love it! Unfortunately it was in a box with one last ‘talking bullshit’ game. I didn’t even mention this for a day or two, wondering if I could simply ‘lose’ it, or pretend it didn’t exist. That would be rubbish though, and would haunt me, so we had to play it when a friend visited between Christmas and New Year.

You put forward a fighter and modifications to them (one from your hand, one randomly selected). People debate about who would win and the winner keeps going. It’s fairly simple and one of the better talking bullshit games that isn’t about dating.

Happy Little Dinosaurs

Finally, I did something stupid. I mentioned to my friends in The Huddle that I was done with Board Game Quest. That was before the Christmas rush and even before finding a few games, so I was a little early.

One of them, Ben, “kindly” sent me this game as a gift. It has dinosaur meeples, which is a good sign, but I really should have hedged my bets and not told anyone just in case someone did this.

You play a little dinosaur trying to have a nice day and avoid predators, social problems and environmental problems. It feels like it’s somewhere between an Exploding Kittens type game and a trick-taking game. I found it strangely comparable to Tournament at Avalon, and I want to give it another go with more than two players, as it feels like it’ll be more fun that way. If there’s one mark against it, no game should have a massive fold-out leaflet with instructions as that’s pretty unwieldy.

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