Boardgaming in 2019!

Usually when people mention “THAT riddle” in Pharaoh, they’re talking about THAT one. The bullshit one.

You know which one.

What have I got in my pocketses?

Tried Fog of Love today with my visiting friend. It’s a pretty neat little narrative game with just enough mechanical heft to guide play. Basically, you set up a pair of lightly sketched characters embarking on a romance. You get trait goals that are secret but which you want to work towards for the end of the game, an occupation you pick yourself (from a random selection), and features that you select about your partner’s character, the latter two of which establish a few basic personality tendencies for your character. Then you move through a handful of “Chapters” of a (broadly defined) story scenario playing Scenes that prompt both players or the other player to make choices about their reaction to a scene in ways that may modify their personality traits, modify Satisfaction (the “points” of the game) , and possibly have other effects. For the “Both Choose” prompts, certain pairings of choices will have additional effects. There can also be cards that modify the next played scene or have special one-off effects, Reactions that can be played in response to a particular trigger, Secrets that do one thing if they stay hidden and something else (usually a choice prompt) if revealed by another card, and so on. Finally, you have Destinies that you choose at the end to determine the future of your relationship - whether you stay in it, on what terms, and whether you “win” (are happy). It’s pretty clever and produced a bunch of hilarious story beats, even in the tutorial. I’m looking forward to checking out the more advanced scenarios.

Then we headed to the gaming gathering I’ve attended off and on for decades, and got to play Sentinels of the Multiverse with characters and an environment from the Cauldron fan expansion, against the official villain Deadline. He opened very aggressively and we were almost all sucking fumes by the end (actually, I and the host of the evening both got KOed the final villain turn) but we did manage to pull it out thanks to some clever card play.

Finally, we closed out the evening with a four player Suburbia run (with one expansion, whichever adds the edge tiles). Our host’s son, Thorin, led by a solid 20 points or thereabouts, but I pulled a respectable second place, which I thought was pretty good for my first time with the game. And I very much enjoyed having a heavy government town with a very very pretty cemetery and Office of Bureaucracy.

I remember seeing Parks on Kickstarter. I thought the artwork was gorgeous, but the gameplay didn’t seem all that great. How was it? Loved seeing all the pics.

First play, first win of Pax Imperium IV. Total play time of 7 hours. I enjoyed it. Will play again. Learned lots. Barely squeaked out the win.

That explains why y’all’s group picture looks like the kind of picture dudes take when they’ve been rescued from a shipwreck or collapsed coal mine: your faces are all saying “we survived!” :)

I love the idea of a grand game like Twilight Imperium, but I just don’t think I have it in me anymore to play one game for seven hours, especially when I know one or more of us poor sods will figure out early on he’s going to lose, so he just has to hang in there until someone else wins.

Any peak moments come to mind? Any cool reversals of fortune? Red seems to have a tough time of it there ast the end. Hearing about people’s epic sessions might have to be the closest I come to a seven-hour boardgame.

Also, what are those grey containers? Did they come with the game?


Embarked on the Sword & Sorcery campaign with previously mentioned visiting friend (Maddy) today, with two characters each. Our party is Ecarus, the Knight of the White Rose; Samyria, the Druid; Morrigan, the Witch Hunter; and Auriel, the Sorceress, a completely different lineup than used when I first tried the game with my regular group, and Law-aligned instead of Chaos at that. I think we did a better job of keeping track of the minutiae than the first time around (since, for one thing, I had more of a grasp of the rules) but still forgot a few important things. Overall it seemed a bit more challenging since the move from 3 to 4 heroes passed a number of thresholds that bumped up difficulty, and Ecarus in particular struggled to do much damage (the one-handed weapons in the basic Stash kit are pretty underwhelming, especially when penalized by the story effect in the first part of the quest). On the other hand, he hardly took damage until late in the quest, and at that point 3/4ths of the party ended up dying over a couple of turns because that final encounter is a heck of a dustup. And he had the tank kit to be the main target over most of the game. And the other three characters were all quite solidly effective in their particular niches, just in different ways than the Runemaster, Necromancer, and Assassin we were rocking last time around. Definitely digging this game.

Tomorrow we’ll probably tackle quest 2.

I played the first scenario and it felt terribly generic. Peeking ahead through the remaining scenarios – I think there were only four? – it also seemed to suffer a lack of content. This was just the first box, though. Is there anything to recommend it over the bazillion other dungeon crawls? Does it require buying the next set to make it good?


I’m not an expert by any means. Today’s run of the first scenario is my second session with the game and the previous one was also a run of the first scenario. There are a few more scenarios than you remember - seven total in the base box, but it’s probably fair to call it a tad light on them. I suspect the heavier emphasis on in-scenario story beats and (however minor) branching decision trees makes them more difficult to write than something out of, say, Descent.

As to a unique appeal…this is what I posted after the previous time I tried it. Some of this is probably comparable to other games in the genre that I haven’t played, but I obviously wouldn’t be able to tell you:

Maybe more will reveal itself as we proceed with the campaign.

we are playing not so seldom 6 hours for one game of chess in the chess club… Playing 7 hours does not sound bad if you enjoy yourself ;)

Amazing! Did you get to try out Jaws at all? I was surprisingly excited for Shark Island a few years ago (matched only by crushing disappointment when I actually played it later), but Jaws looks like it might be better.

Is Die Hard looking like it may be more than a thematic cash-in?

I didn’t get to play Jaws unfortunately but the components looked nice. I did get to play the first act of Die Hard. The board is cool in that it’s double sided and you unfold it more with each act. I played act one which is a quarter of the board where John is trying to find a gun, shoes, and a radio. The mechanics seemed interesting and I definitely want to play more.

I’m going to be doing some capsule overviews of the games I got to play on the podcast next week!

Thanks @Vesper for posting all those pictures!

I think I’m getting jaded, though, because none of those games look interesting to me at all.

I don’t understand why the back-of-the-box text for Jaws doesn’t just come out and call the shark by his proper name, though!

In Jaws , one player takes on the role of the killer shark off Amity Island, while the other 1-3 players take on the roles of Brody, Hooper and Quint to hunt the shark. Character and event cards define player abilities and create game actions for humans and the shark. Gameplay is divided into two acts — Amity Island and The Orca — to replicate the film’s story:

  • In the Amity Island phase, the shark menaces swimmers and avoids capture. Other players attempt to pinpoint the shark’s location and save swimmers from shark attacks.
  • In the Orca phase, played on the reverse side of the game board, Brody, Hooper and Quint are aboard the sinking ship engaging in a climactic battle against the shark, while using additional action and strategy cards to defend the Orca from targeted shark attacks.

If humans kill the shark, they win; if the shark attack on the Orca succeeds, the great white shark wins.

Grey containers are made by Folded space. To be fair we would have been done in under 4 hours but the host missed one critical rule: in a 4 player game you are supposed to doke out all 8 leader roles so 2 each. Not doing so doubles play time.

We paid a visit to our boardgaming friends’ house for a “Creepy things are taking over the world” session today.


We started our collection of tales of doom with Growl.

I don’t know who here has played Stay Away (basically The Thing: the card game). Growl is basically a lighter version of Stay Away with a werewolf theme.

It’s got a fluffy box cover

At the start of the game, one player is the werewolf. Cards are passed between players each turn and at the end of each day.

The werewolf tries to infect or kill all humans. While humans try to kill the werewolf(ves). If any humans are still alive at the end of 3 days, they win the game.

If you are ever in possession of 3 bites without a way to mitigate at least one of them, you turn. If you ever suffer 3 wounds without healing salves, you die.

My neighbours are determined to turn me. I don’t trust them…

The game has elements of deduction. Though it doesn’t offer a lot of information to base who to give what cards to at the start. Having to give out a card from the top of the deck to a player on your turn leads to strange decisions. Is it safe to give out the bite you drew to someone else without turning them? Are you really trying to kill / heal the right person? …

The game is over in 10-20 minutes and you can easily swap in a selection of expansions that came with the box. Light and enjoyable, though I would prefer it with more than 5 players I think. That said, it doesn’t really do anything we haven’t seen before. I wouldn’t rush to buy it. But I’m happy to replay it at another meet tomorrow to see whether I can fathom some better strategies.

Then came our meaty game of the night: Betrayal Legacy (chapters 3 and 4 out of 13).

The only thing I can safely show is the box and closed envelopes

I love this game so much. Our friends joined us for those chapters and it took very little time to get them up and running with their very own families. We were soon telling stories about our characters and how they had ended up in this wretched mansion again.

Both haunts (when the traitor is revealed and the game becomes a race between heroes and a villain to fulfill secret objectives) triggered more quickly than we expected thanks to some “lucky” exploration and dice rolls and we had to scramble to face against events that would send sane people fleeing for their lives into the foggy woods at night.

Very mild spoiler (3-4 tiles visible only added after a chapter or 2)

Our group determined to prove that even people who know their horror tropes will still split up in a creepy haunted mansion

Both games were a ton of fun and we’re going to stick with our 5 families to run through the rest of the campaign together. It’s going to be a blast. Betrayal Legacy has got to be one of my favourite games to bring to the table right now. It’s silly, funny, cheesy and horrifying at the same time. We love it.

Finally, we ended on a much lighter note with Don’t Mess With Cthulhu Deluxe.

This one is my favourite social deduction game at the moment. It takes a minute to teach and no time to play. It doesn’t put newcomers near as much on the spot as some other deduction games (like Coup or The Resistance) and scales really well with 4-8 players.

The Deluxe version comes with various potential expansion cards you can mix in if you want to add variety.

This is a game I’ll happily play any chance I get. With gamers and non gamers alike.

Any impressions of Proving Grounds based on what you saw?

Sadly no. Didn’t get a chance to play!

Did you end up progressing onto the second act?

I think the value of Ecarus in the first act is actually his crowd control capacity by being able to act as two units when it comes to control/dominance of a particular space. Plus his shield bash is pretty much a necessity against the blue goblins who enjoy spray spikes everywhere. If you found the one handed weapons to be underwhelming in the first act, you should try the bow. Oh wow, my archer character was next to useless when I played him in a solo game in that act, his only real contribution was the traps he could set for crowd control.

Sadly, I never got past the second act playing the game. It was Summer, I had the bright idea of playing on the lounge room floor where (theoretically) I could easily manage all the moving parts without the burden of sitting down at a table does when playing solo, and the sweat from my body was making the experience all together too uncomfortable. I’ll get back to it some day. I just hope you had more luck than I.

I think S&S has some solid strategy present. As I mentioned, first mission is definitely about crowd control. But when I ended the mission and saw that my choices for equipment purchase was lackluster to say the least, I felt disappointed. What’s the point in collecting gold (crowns) if the item options don’t offer much of a benefit?

The second act? Goodness no. We have five more quests to go and at this rate probably won’t get through them all before Maddy has to go back to Seattle. We did run the second quest yesterday, though, which definitely nicely ramped up the challenge and worked in a few classic adventuring tropes along the way, and we’ve gotten 3/4ths of the party up to soulrank 2. Our Ecarus unfortunately does not have the Commanding Presence (or whatever that power is called) power, picking Shield Mastery instead. It does seem very useful, but Maddy felt that being able to regularly add in that second, shield-based attack and reasonably consistently Bash enemies away was more interesting and potentially just as useful. I think on balance it’s worked out, especially once she picked up the Spiked Shield.

I agree that the selection of purchaseable equipment is pretty anemic, but I mostly meant the stash one-handers. Once the Emporium items were available there were a couple of actually effective one-handed options (if not amazing). Those bows are pretty crap, though, I will say that much. And I’m honestly not quite sure what to make of the Handbow that Morrigan adds to the Emporium list. Sure, she gets a couple of powers that can pump it up a bit, but it’s the same range as her Whip, which didn’t cost money, and seems actively weaker. Mostly it seems like a way to get a second attack once she gets a rank III cooldown power, but that’s not just “attack a second time”, it’s “if you inflicted KO (a two-bolt option) with your whip attack”. Which so far I have never bothered doing. I guess if I had that and a Handbow maybe it’d feel more worthwhile.

That said, even once you’ve filled out your equipment (which wouldn’t take long), there’s still plenty of use for crowns in a) consumables/projectiles and b) Forging your gear each quest.