They’ve been around for thousands of years, entertaining people from all ages and walks of life. Whilst Video Games are still relatively adolescent, board games are like the great, great, great grandfathers of gaming. They have taught us plenty of strategies, help to keep the mind active and are generally brilliant in social environments as well. They are great in parties as well as between a small group of friends, or even games between lovers.
Yet, one question has remained throughout all of this… Just what are the best board games out there today? Joel and Timlah decide to tackle an extremely tough topic as they dig out their board games, look through what they’ve played, take serious notes (by which I mean we just shouted at one another until we’re blue in the face) and judged each game for the merits they bring to the table. This is the GeekOut South-West list of our Top 10 board games!
10) King of Tokyo
Giant monsters have a real thing for Tokyo. I suppose once you’ve become unnaturally massive your diet will naturally take a shift for the similarly huge, so skyscrapers eventually end up on the menu.
Take up the role of one such giant monster and slug it out in your own B-Movie battle for Tokyo. Gather power to buy cheesy upgrades like laser beams, fire breath or an extra head. Go straight for the kill, or just chase the points while everyone else is preoccupied.
If your more a Michael Bay fan than Harry Hausen, try King of New-York too. More building smashing, more calling in the military and more strategy!
The game of the path is an excellent mixture of chance and strategy, and it’s also elegantly simple. Place your marker at a starting point around the edge of the board, use tiles covered in paths to start your journey, last man standing wins. Oh but everyone else is building their own path, and every tile has four paths on it that could take you somewhere you don’t want to be.
Tsuro is brilliantly quick, really easy to play, harder to master, and massively replayable with so many possible variations. The board and all pieces are beautifully made and designed, as is the sequel Tsuro of the Seas, but I’d rate the original game higher.
Spawning one of the most memorable catchphrases in all of gaming history, this is a game of placement, strategy, logic and luck. I mean the initial shots are basically just luck, but once you land your first hit, you know a ship is vulnerable. These ships are simply sitting ducks that are perfect targets for you to sink. All of these ships are vulnerable, except the most evil ship of them all.
The patrol boat! It’s just 2 pieces long for crying out loud! Where are you, you nasty little patrol boat! Stop looking for me, I’m looking for you now. I’ve sunk all the rest of your fleet, you have no chance… Oh wait, what are you doing? Oh no…
“You sunk my battle ship!!!”
7) Mouse Trap
First made back in the 1970’s, Mouse Trap is a brilliantly unique game. Whilst it certainly has its faults (such as Joels revelation that his trap rarely worked, whereas my traps nearly always worked), the game is something of a childhood classic. Nostalgic is a great way to describe this game now, but it is still available in shops with more modern editions.
You play as mice who are trying to get their cheese but most importantly: Not to be caught by the mouse trap. As you go through the game, you build up one of the wackiest, zaniest traps in gaming history. These traps puts Acme to shame, as it involves cranks, boots, marbles, divers, bath tubs, rolling tracks and a cage. I loved this game as a kid and I think many others did too, although it wasn’t very well received by critics.
Never the less, this game is simply fun. It’s childish, it’s silly – It’s just a fun game to play, with lots of set up and lots of things to see and do. Its USP however… That trap is ridiculously unique and Loony Tunes-esque.
Collectable chibi figures that beat each other to death with wacky powers in an adorable cartoon arena may sound like a child-friendly concept, but here’s a game for people with a flair for strategy and a cruel streak. It’s not all that simple to play, but once you’ve gotten to grips with it, Krosmaster can be a fast-paced bloodbath of slung dice.
If you want to practice there’s a free version online, and investing in the figure boosters allows you to unlock those characters in the online game. But the board game comes with so much! It’s not cheap, but there’s a huge collection of set pieces, tiles, tokens, and a full playset of figures! It’s quite possibly the best investment you can make in a board game.
So the board is little more than a scoreboard in Dixit, but it’s a lovely game nonetheless. We’ve talked about Dixit before, a game of narrative and descriptive power for the creative types. Players take it in turn to take an art card from their hands, offer a clue to what’s on it, and then other players place their own art cards into the pile that they think match the clue. Not too obvious, or you get no points and everyone else does. Not too obscure, or everyone else gets points and you don’t.
You may find this game requires expansions to keep it fresh, but there are plenty of those to be had, and with new players it can offer a wealth of new perspectives on the cards you thought had become familiar. We love Dixit here at GeekOut South-West, and we’ll offer anyone a game at a convention.
4) Ticket to Ride
Have you ever gone to a train station and decided “Boy, I’d sure like to go from station A to B in the most convoluted way possible!” No? Well that’s a shame, because players of Ticket to Ride surely have.
Surprisingly educational and an easy game to pick up and play, Ticket to Ride is a game that balances simple game play with a lot of strategy and a pinch of luck to go with it. Do you want to be risky and take the longer routes with fear that your competitors might try to take it over. This is the ultimate game of balancing greed and being strategic with your monopolisation of the railway. Be warned though, this game takes minutes to learn with its simple rules of: Each turn you either draw a card, claim a route or get more destination tickets. With such an easy rule set, you’ll be pleased to hear that it’ll keep you and your friends or family entertained for hours.
Also for all of you mobile fans out there, you can buy this board game for a hefty discount from the typical asking price of £25 and above. Seriously, it’s well worth playing this game, even though board games can be expensive, man! Controversial
3) The Settlers of Catan
The ultimate resource management board game, the Settlers of Catan sees you in charge of a group of settlers as they build settlements, cities and roads that connect them all together. A simple game to pick up and play that has been praised for how well balanced it is. It’s the modern day board game.
German designed, Catan has had many spin-offs and variants, including many expansions. I’d argue that Settlers of Catan is the board game that helped bring board games back to the centre of social gaming. Having sold more than 15 million units world wide, this board game is easy to pick up and play, which can be played in an hour. The question is, which version do you get? I’d recommend still getting the original.
Although I get a feeling they kind of went wrong when they introduced this to the world…
==1) Chess & Hero Quest
Chess – Joel
The king of games. Little needs to be said, it’s the pinnacle of strategy gaming, there are no elements of chaos like dice or decks of cards, only skill.
When we debated chess and Hero Quest to a standstill, I likened chess to sharks. It’s a design that has barely changed since its’ creation many centuries ago, a few tweaks here and there to made as play intensified, visual aesthetics that reflect trends of the time. Chess is history itself, it’s art, and music, and literature, and narrative.
Nothing can be said about the King of Games that has not already been said a thousand times before by a thousand more eloquent people. It’s also one hell of a way to start arguments.
Hero Quest – Timlah
This was a board game that was basically a game of Dungeons & Dragons. Amongst some of the special points about Hero Quest are that it’s now quite a rare game to get your hands on. It’s so worth having a go if you can manage to get your hands on it, though.
It’s incredibly expansive with people creating resources for the game, almost to the same degree that people make resources for Dungeons & Dragons. This game was so popular, they took to Kickstarter for a 25th anniversary edition which was highly successful, even though they were met with copyright disputes. This shows that the community for this particular game is so strong still – It’s worth a nod at the very least.
Couple this with encouraging children to learn to tell stories and to teach them basic dungeon master skills, this game is the very foundation for children to progress into tabletop RPGs. It was very well balanced, with lots of great pieces which you could put on the board. With character sheets and rulebooks, this was the ultimate in tabletop RPG… And it was a board game, not pen & paper!
You’ve heard mine and Joels arguments for our respective game choices and now we’re handing it over to you. Do we hand the number one slot to Chess, or do we hand the number one slot to Hero Quest? Two entirely different games, both highly educational in their own rights and incredibly strategic. One promotes healthy competition, whereas the other promotes working together as a team. Now their fate for the ultimate battle of the number one slot is in your hands.
Don’t you just hate it when you’re sat there with all of these incredible board games and some people decide to mention these damned games instead? We’re not saying they’re bad or anything, but we’re saying god damn it, why do you even bring this up right now? Still, they deserve the love, even if one is the root of all evil and the other lets you find out who is going to play the root of all evil.
Dungeons and Dragons
Do you have any idea how many times during an explanation of what D&D is, I’ve been asked “So is it a board game?” and my response always starts the same way, “No, well, ehh… kind of.”
And that’s the point, tabletop RPs are board games that don’t need a board necessarily, but there’s no denying that they can be helpful under certain circumstances. Boards are readily available in huge varieties, pre-made, draw your own, build your own, everything from line drawings to sculptures. Tokens, and figures and dice are all available, even box-sets that’ll give you the whole lot in one go.
But they’re not board games! They’re not!
I’m not sure if this game is evil at its core by this point, but the game was first made as a way to demonstrate the evils of property trading. No seriously, that is why Monopoly exists… And it’s very good at getting this point across. This is a game where you have to watch your friends and family turn from your loved ones into vicious, penny pinching, money grabbing monsters before your very eyes.
They want your blood, your thimbles, your wheelbarrows, your dogs and evil your top hats. They do this, not out of love… But this is war. This is a property war and this is Monopoly, damn it!
Whew, I may be getting ahead of myself here, but Monopoly is pure evil and it always brings up heated discussion. Whether you love it or hate it… Monopoly is a game that will tug at peoples heart strings, either from pure love of the game to “hnngh, I’m going to have a heart attack as you mentioned that vile abomination of a game.”
That was our list of our Top 10 Board Games and our honourable mentions for this week. Yes, we know, we cheesed it with our honourables, but Monopoly is a necessary evil that needed to be exposed for the evil (but fun evil) that it is. We also have a controversial decision in our contentious first place position, between Chess and Hero Quest. What do you think about that? Let us know what our next Top 10 should be!
As always, if you disagree with our list: Why not shout at us and tell us that we’re stupid in the comments below? Or you can be nice and give us your suggestions and let us know if you think we’ve forgotten a really important board game from this list. Perhaps you like our list but don’t agree with the order? What are your thoughts on us doing a joint first place with Chess and Hero Quest? We had a long, tough debate over this but we couldn’t put a point past either of them. As always, comments below, over on Facebook or Twitter and let us know what you think of our Top 10 for this week!
We’ve had a fantastic month here at GOSW, and we want to extend our thanks to all of you for keeping us going and encouraging us to keep going. I look forward to meeting more of you to thank you in person, and April looks to be the time to do it. I have a busy month ahead of me, and a lot of plans that were put off that I’m starting to get time to accomplish, with a few minor diversions along the way:
e-Collectica Games Day
And it just so happens (as if by some bizarre coincidence) that e-Collectica are hosting their next Games Day on April the 11th, what luck. If you’re in the Shrewsbury area at the end of half-term swing by the Morris Hall on Bellstone for a little of the following:
- Krosmaster Arena
- Star Wars X-Wing
- Viking Tomato
- King of Tokyo
The cost of entry is the same as it ever was, £3 to get in on the door, or £2.50 if you get to e-Collectica and book ahead of time. Only a week and a half to go, so head on up to the market if you want to save yourself a little extra cash, and get a look at what’ll be on offer on the day.
The last few Games Days have been incredible, and the latest was an amazing success. Sadly this time, I won’t be there…
So begins a new era in the British convention circuit! Last year at KitaCon, the Kita committee announced a union between themselves and Ame to run a cycle of events, each taking it in turns to run one large and one small event annually, beginning with AmeChibi (and KitaCon in August). From April the 10th onwards, I will be there! Instead of at Games Day. Not entirely certain how I feel about this yet.
Come find me on Saturday in the games room. Don’t know where it’ll be, but I do plan on running something special in D&D 5th edition! I’m going to provisionally say I’ll start at 14:00, but keep an eye on the GOSW Facebook page because – as with all plans where RP is concerned – that time is subject to change. Either way, it’ll be after AmeChibi’s own ITTD celebration, because I’ll inevitably be joining that too.
As a final note, we’ve been up to something for quite some time now, something that we’ve not been ready to share with you, but we’re getting close.
Very close now…
It’s a padding device as old as games themselves. Throw in a little variety in your creature catalogue by changing the colours, copying the code over and slapping a completely different name on it. Cheap trick it may be, but it’s not without it’s up-sides, and it’s not impossible to do it well.
Inky, Pinky, Blinky, and Clyde became very distinct personalities in Ms. Pacman, but in the original Pacman they were just multicoloured clones of one another. Aside from the obvious advantage of giving them cool names, what benefit is there to making them different colours? It would have been simpler to leave them all the same colour, or perhaps change the colours between levels, increasing the sense of progression, but for the player, having unique colours makes it much easier to keep track of each ghost’s movements. It’d be easy for four identical ghosts to fade into your peripheral vision, and thus make them impossible to spot until too late, but changing the colours keeps the player’s attention.
Another early example of identical creature given a variety of colours, the aliens from Space Invaders: the block of sprites has a very singular strategy, one that never changes no matter how many you destroy, no matter their colour. Aside from breaking up the wall of enemies, the changes in alien design help the player track progression, although the colours have no effect on the game, the stripping away of layers is much easier to track mentally by colour than by number.
Now let’s talk about Diablo…. here’s a prime example of palette swapping gone wrong. Of all the hundreds of monstrosities Diablo 2 (for example) has to offer, they boil down to a grand total of 72 sprites for general mobs, maybe another 20 or so for unique bosses. The classic of course that we all know and love: The Fallen
Identical tactics, identical sounds and art, but with different colours! Now I don’t expect miracles from a turn of the millennium game, but I think my real question is why go to such drastic lengths with the naming scheme? I feel like it’s some poor attempt to make us believe that they’re supposed to be different creatures, and I’m not buying it. Great game, but compared to its’ contemporaries like Titan Quest or Grim Dawn (two games I talk about far too much, this is why I promised at the start of the year I was going to try and get through my Steam list) where creatures like the Satyrs are palette swapped, they’re named as different breeds, rather than different creatures.
Done well, this kind of palette swap can build up a kind of ecology, and feel within a world, make it a little more real by keeping some small level of consistency. So it really needn’t be all pointless corner cutting.
In short, I’ve grown accustomed to palette swapping, but I’m old enough now to realize that M&Ms aren’t different flavours because they’re different colours. Recently though, I’ve started observing palette swaps appearing somewhere I didn’t expect.
More and more, Games Workshop are producing twin model kits, swap a few pieces here and there on the spru and the figure counts as a completely different unit on the table, initially I was fine with that, not a big deal when the difference was between one type of tank or another, an assault sphinx or a transport sphinx:
But I find myself drawing a line when one build is an entirely different faction to the other as they have begun to be recently, and the differences are not suitably significant to be drawing that kind of distinction. I suppose my biggest question here is why? Is it to give the builder more options with the kits they buy, rather than being bound to a single model? Or is it just to save some money in plastic and moulds, because apparently the price increases just aren’t helping any more.
Call it a sideways move on the topic, but this feels like a palette swap! A cheap rehashing of old material sold as something different, and they’re not the only ones. Fans of Ashens, the action figure/cheap tat reviewer of YouTube will know how full the industry is with repainted figures resold under a different title, even as a different intellectual property. One of my favourite tabletop games is packed to the brim with palette swaps:
Resources are limited everywhere, that’s a fact, be that resource plastic, money or time. Unfortunately this means corners will be cut here and there, but at times clever design can make this kind of cheat to great advantage. This is one major incident where we can look to the past for lessons to apply today. At one time the limited resource was colour, but it was used to greater effect than perhaps it’s used today.
As I prepare for another year of conventions, and look forward to attending more than the last two years, I find myself confronted with a quandary. I swore last year that I’d cosplay, but ended up struggling for ideas, then had enough ideas but not enough time, but now I could manage to accomplish some of my simpler ideas without much hassle, so why haven’t I started? (more…)
Hi all and welcome back to another lovely Monday.
So, I thought I’d quickly share some updates with you all with regarding one of my costumes I will be taking to ALCon.
Things weren’t going so well for me and my thermoplastics. Worbla is best for layering, not for bonding together I’ve now sussed out. Great!
My mask wasn’t doing so good, nothing was going right – So what did I do about it? Do I just give up?
Instead, I decided to try a new material which I might have to do a full “Cosplay Materials” post on at some point. After a little bit of time, I got the shapes right… and I made two more pieces of the costume.
So far then, we have the belt buckle (along with the belt.)
We also have the robes, the mask and the ribcage. Brilliant.
The only things left for the costume itself are skeleton feet (I’ll simply be using toe-socks for this and adding some lines to make them more “bone-y” Those should be pretty hidden overall, though). Along with my bony feet, I’ll need to have skeletal arms and hands.
I’ll be using elastic bandages to make the arms and hands. To be fair, I could go the full shebang and make full blown plastic prosthetics but I’ll be happy to get the overall image right to begin with and perhaps if I improve the costume, do those then.
So, here’s a quick montage of me having made the actual mask.
I started by drawing out the mask as if it was flat. I simply sketched it out onto some A3 paper and then used a knife to cut around the stencil. I decided to keep the mouth on during this point, as it made life a lot easier when I was actually cutting the mouth out at the final part of the cutting stage.
Next, I got me a slab of EVA Foam, my new favourite Cosplay Material. In fact, why didn’t I just call this post “Cosplay Materials – EVA Foam”? Perhaps one day, when I get better with EVA foam, I.E when I make my **NEXT COSTUMES MAIN FEATURE** will I make that an actual post. In the mean time, this was mostly just cutting and heating into shape.
EVA foam has two sides. One side is really smooth and soft (which is the side I used to spray) and the other side is a bit more rough. This EVA foam is the same material they use for flooring, hence why it has such a strange back texture. It’s okay though, this stuff is very cheap. I got something like 46 meters of the stuff for £21. I’ll gladly buy more in the future, too!
Right, so that was the cut out and flat mask. Next up: I simply heated the mask into a more… recognisable mask shape.
I trimmed some areas over time, to make the chin area more rounded and I also cut the forehead down a bit, which made it look a lot cuter and a lot more “round” like the actual characters face is.
Lastly then was the spray paint job. That was simply a water-based acrylic spray paint. There’s not too much to say. I also made a rough stencil for a ribcage, as some of that will be exposed.
Interestingly with the rib-cage part, it’s hard to see unless you have the model yourself, but it is exposed and that’s why I made that part.
Well, that’s it for this update. Stick around and soon enough I’ll have a picture of the full costume! Horrah!
I also realise that Oscars bones are a bit more… Shall we say: bone coloured than my mask currently. I’ll be trying a few things to make it more that colour but if it comes to it, I’ll simply buy a spray paint of the correct colour and do that before I use the costume out and about.
I might also try and make his cheeks stick out more. We’ll see about that…
What did you think of the mask and ribcage? They’re held on with elastic because eh – Elastic is easy to get a hold of and does a good job. Any tips from you pros out there? Let us know in the comments below. Or if you want my ego to be inflated, give me some compliments…
… Or tell me how bad it is and make me feel bad for the rest of all time. You meanies.
So as I have previously mentioned on this website, before we can start a costume, the most important element is researching the character. After all, how do you know if the costume you are making is going to be made of something completely ridiculous unless you know what kind of character
Unfortunately, this is somewhat hard with this character, as it turns out there’s not really that much information on him! I was flabbergasted, however there are some things which I can certainly work on, including the robes.
To be fair, he’s a character from a figurine game, so of course there’s not much. He’s a petty criminal who’s main attack is called “Con”. This explains his dagger and a few other things. I’m going to use this to my advantage, as I’ll be able to walk up to people and act like a criminal.
So, I didn’t make the robes. I figured to myself, I could modify something! So the original idea I had was to buy a dressing gown and modify it big time.
Then I struck cosplay gold! I went to eBay and I found myself a seller who was selling cloaks. Check out this eBay shop!
The listing in question was for this cloak. £17.50 + £4.10 Postage and Packaging. Not terribly priced at all! However, at the time, all of those extra options weren’t on the page. So, I thought I’d be cheeky and I e-mailed her. It didn’t take long before she responded and I asked if she could make a cloak in the same colour as my Oscar Kass costume.
Well, the lovely lady was happy to help! We had a great discussion about the cloak and we dealt with the transaction easily and safely via PayPal. I received the cloak way ahead of time and it turned out to be amazing. The quality of this cloak, I really cannot talk bad about at all, which is great!
Of course, some people may be wondering how I can work with a cloak when clearly it’s a robe. This is why I asked for a pretty large cloak. It’s so large, that when I first put it on, the hood completely devoured my head and my body was cocooned in fabric, which was perfect! I’m simply going to use a pin to hold things together and a rope belt along with the buckles detail.
My cloak from the seller Diamond-jones24. If you’re reading this, Diamond-jones24, thank you!
As you can see, I’m not in the most flattering of poses in that picture… I look rather asleep for some odd reason. It’s fine: There’ll be a mask on me eventually, it’ll look a lot nicer then.
Well, I’ve got to use some pins to get it in place, but this is the robe in question. I need to have the sleeves up and make some little blue armlets of similar colour, but I should be able to do that.
What’s next for this costume?
With this robe now sorted, I just need to suss out the best positioning of the cloaks opening to. I then need to make the belt, the mask, the hands/arms/feet and the dagger.
For this costume, I’m also going to make a large pair of dice which I can throw around at the convention so anyone who’s played this game will instantly recognise what my bonuses are as I walk around. Yes, I am a pretty silly individual.
Next up, the mask of the character! This should be fun to make a mask of! I’ll be using some black-netting like mesh so that I can still see out of the mask and perhaps use it on the back of the mask, as As for how I’ll be able to eat/drink in the costume – Okay, eating I won’t be able to, but with the mouth I’m going to leave a small gap and just drink through a straw.
What do you think of the cloak, guys? I’m very proud of it and as I say, the seller was a delight to buy from. She was very switched on and heck, whilst it’s huge on me, with those basic modifications of a rope belt and pins to keep it in place, I’m sure I could move it about ever so slightly so I won’t need to buy another robe or cloak at any point! Plus, it’s so fetching on me.
Krosmaster Arena is a figurine tabletop game.
However, we’re not going to look at that part of it. We’re going to look at the online version of Krosmaster Arena and maybe in the future, we can look at a tabletop version of it.
How is it played?
Krosmaster Arena is an interesting little game. It is a figurine strategy game, where you play as a figure and are given their card which explains their powers and the likes.
You are given 6 Golden Galleons (GG) to start the game off with and each character you put on the board are worth a certain amount of those GG. If the character is to die in the game, then you lose the same GG that they are worth.
On the cards, it explains a few important details, such as how many action points each character has and how many hit points they have. How many movement points and how much damage each move deals are on the cards, too. But how do we actually play?
Krosmaster Arena is a grid-based game. Each tile you move is worth 1 MP (Move Point). For example, a character may have 3 MP, so they can move just 3 spaces per turn.
They can also use their action points. Let’s take the example of Oscar Kass (Yes, this is the game I know of Oscar Kass from)
If you want to get into Krosmaster Arena and are looking for the manual, here it is! It is freely available online.
Looks and presentation
Let’s be honest here, we can’t truly talk about the graphics of this, as the pieces are merely representations of the figurines.
So, how does this game look and feel, since we’re taking a tabletop game and playing it online.
So, the board itself is represented nicely and in fact, the characters look really good! Consider this – you can play this little game online for free. Now to collect more of the figures, you do need to do a lot of winning in order to earn enough points to get another character, but hey! If this game really hooks you, then you’ll likely have a new figure in no time.
The game is presented nicely and most people don’t chat, which can be quite nice. It means you get to have a little game with someone for a few minutes before you leave to carry on with your day. It’s casual, easy to pick up and play with enough documentation to get into it.
The coins on the map are used to get buffs/power ups and items. You stand on one of the demonic squares to get the rewards from using the coins and all of the information is quite clean.
You see the 5 in the sort of star shape? That’s my GG, as mentioned previously. The current character is displayed at the bottom along with his/her powers. Along the top left hand corner is the turn order of the characters.
In all honesty, this game is very quick to learn and very sweet. In terms of how it was recreated online by the guys who made the game, it’s worth a look!
This is a sweet little game that you can waste a little bit of time on. I’ve yet to play with people I know, though I am hoping to get one or two people into it soon enough so that we can have a nice, easy to play board game to play online.
If you’re interested and want to have a match against me, go ahead and drop me a line in the chat and I’ll have a game. I’m pretty much a push over. I’ve had 5 wins, 11 losses, so say! You can find me on there by the name of “Timlah”. Huh, go figure.
But of course, I’ll warn you now. I say I’m bad, but I have been known to win a match on occasion…
What do you all think about this simple to pick up little game? It’s a great looking little game with awesome style. The online version does detract from the “collectables” side quite a bit, sure enough… However, considering this is supposed to be a way to introduce people to the game, it’s quite short and sweet. Worth a look at.