RogerBW's Blog

Games Weekend at Home 21 July 2021

On what turned out to be the hottest weekend of the year so far, several friends came over for games.

With care: lots of ventilation, antigen tests beforehand, and these are sensible and non-shouty people.

Gaslands: Refuelled felt very like an attempt to make an "X-Wing Killer": the same templatey movement, the same lightweight firing, and alternating activations (known among wargamers as "IGO-UGO")… which feel frankly antiquated, and produce some very odd results, such as the slower car getting in front of the faster one if they pick the right moment, or being able to cross someone's firing arc without them getting a chance to shoot.

On the other hand it was all great fun, even in this basic version without force design, sponsors, audience votes, etc.; I also really like the DIY ethic of kitbashing toy cars into something a bit more carnage-worthy. (Or, as we did, not even doing that but just using cars we had lying around.)

We checked the rules. Your car does not have to be drivable when it crosses the line in order to count as a win.

Riftforce is the game Lordof1 and I had tried out at the last in-person UK Games Expo, and which we both chose to back on Kickstarter. Two-player lane-based duelling, with weird powers. I like it rather a lot.

Ominoes is still a bit random to be a great game, but it's an interesting tactical puzzle each turn and nobody got left behind.

Dice Miner is, well, sort of there. Pretty bits (especially the KS-extra plastic mountain), nothing objectionable about the pleasant light gameplay, but nothing to draw me back to play it again either.

The Big Book of Madness next. My second game of this, and like the first it all seemed to be going well until everything collapsed in a spiral of horribleness.

Nemesis next, and an interesting start… no, technically you do need to be alive to win. (Also the first alien appearance came during the first round, so there wasn't much to go on in deciding which objective to drop.)

I think the SU&SD review is spot on. If you want to get together with some friends and screw each other over while having a laugh, fine! If you want a serious game that you'll care about winning or losing by your own and others' actions rather than randomness, go elsewhere.

I also felt it outstayed its welcome a bit; it was the first play for four out of the five of us, which certainly made things slow, but more seriously towards the end several of us just had one more thing we wanted to do, but that one more thing kept getting put off by the random friction generated by event cards. (Indeed, I felt the event cards did us rather more damage than the actual aliens, or each other's machinations.)

Nice-looking painted minatures help. And I really like the search mechanic, that says a given room will only have a set number of items in it so you can't keep searching forever in the same place. (But it does mean that you may never find the item you need because it was at the bottom of the deck…)

Of course there's a bit of a thematic disconnect; not only do none of us remember where which room is, but when I'm the guy with the assault rifle and I have a goal of "be the sole survivor", I can't just shoot the others.

I'd never buy this but I'm glad I know somebody who owns it.

Star Realms: Frontiers: I'm still rubbish at deckbuilding apparently. Enjoyed it, though.

Letter Jam broke down towards the end, but 2P worked better than I expected.

I remember demoing Castellan as a new shiny at my first couple of Essens in 2012 and 2013 (at the first one we were using prototype components). Now you can't buy it any more. Hey ho; another for my list of forgotten midlist games. Still fun.

Illimat could really do with a better rulebook (I know, I know) but still works out well once you grasp what's going on.

Maybe every play of Whitehall Mystery is basically the same, but I still like it.

Air, Land, & Sea doesn't try to be more than it is, but it does that thing very well. (Still wonder whether it would be more popular with a different theme, though. For that matter, why do I still play it when I have Riftforce?)

And Rhino Hero is of course a great game to end the weekend with.

[Buy Gaslands: Refuelled at Amazon] [Buy Riftforce at Amazon] [Buy Ominoes at Amazon] [Buy Big Book of Madness at Amazon] [Buy Nemesis at Amazon] [Buy Star Realms: Frontiers at Amazon] [Buy Letter Jam at Amazon] [Buy Castellan at Amazon] [Buy Illimat at Amazon] [Buy Whitehall Mystery at Amazon] [Buy Air, Land & Sea at Amazon] [Buy Rhino Hero at Amazon] and help support the blog.


  1. Posted by J Michael Cule at 11:18am on 21 July 2021

    You kept going on Sunday then?

    I'm glad my wimping out didn't cut into your fun. How long did NEMESIS keep going after my departure?

    I would agree that there's a problem with the design of the room tiles. I couldn't easily distinguish between them from any distance away. A more garish room design wouldn't really fit with the overall 'gloomy spaceship' look but would make players' lives easier.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 11:40am on 21 July 2021

    Nick and Gus stayed over to Sunday.

    I don't remember exactly how long Nemesis took; the first photo was at 16:04 (when we were getting our player boards and objectives), and the last was at 19:47 when the queen was out. Probably at least half an hour more after that?

    I'm almost tempted to make a mini (non-mini) version: cardboard standees, better graphic design, no miniatures. But I'd need a serious card printer.

    I love the objective-choice thing with interlocking objectives that are slightly compatible, and I'd really like to play a lightweight social deduction game (say, about the complexity of Battlestar Galactica) with that at the core. But there's so much complication here that it gets in the way of concentrating on that specific mechanism. (Still, I generally like "plain" social deduction more than I like "do other stuff and worry about a traitor too".)

  3. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 02:13pm on 21 July 2021

    The Su&SD review of Nemesis was awesome, and if only there were a cheaper non minis version it would be a no brainer, just for the narrative darkness.

    Their review of Another Glorious Day in the Corps really tempts me too. So thank you for linking to a fun boardgame review channel.

  4. Posted by RogerBW at 03:07pm on 21 July 2021

    https://discussion.tekeli.li/, which I run, is the officially unofficial forum for SU&SD (among other things).

  5. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 02:14pm on 22 July 2021

    Cheers Roger, I shall check it out.

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