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Why I Hate Monopoly

The festive season approaches and with the prospect of family get-togethers comes the increasing likelihood that a game of Monopoly might be on the horizon for many. Well-known podcaster, designer and reviewer of board games, Tom Vasel, has recently released a short video explaining the issues he has with Monopoly, which echo the views of us here at All Good Meeple.

Tom’s beefs include the amount of luck involved, the amount of time it takes to play, and the way that players are eliminated and left as spectators, potentially from quite early on in the game.

Alternative games we stock here, that would be well worth your attention this year, for those occasions when everyone comes round to yours, are:

Catan 2015Catan (formerly known as Settlers of Catan) – race to settle the island and build roads and cities to earn victory points, by trading goods with your opponents. The amount of resources, such as wood and ore, are designed so there is never quite enough to go round, and someone always needs to make somebody an offer. Watch out for the random robber who can plunder your stash at any time, though! No player elimination and the winner can easily come from behind quite late in the game.

Ticket to Ride (Europe)build rail routes across Europe and try and thwart your opponents’ routes at the same time. The routes you are building are kept secret from your opponents, so it’s not always clear how many completed routes (and thus points) someone has built up. Great for geographical education, again no player elimination, and lots of points available at the end of the game to bring someone from last to first in the final reckoning.

DixitDixita storytelling theme, describe a wacky picture using cryptic clues to try and get people to guess which is your card from a selection laid out on the table. If your clue is too obscure or too obvious though, you score no points that round! If you have more than 6 people, use Dixit Odyssey which can handle up to 12, and there are additional picture packs you can buy, to keep adding variety to the game.

codenamesCodenames – a great team game where you are giving clues to words that appear on a 5 x 5 grid. The premise is that you need to contact a group of spies who have been left out in the cold, using their code names. If you have, say, two teams of four, it’s easy enough for people to join and leave a team as the game is in progress, so ideal to be playing when somebody has to keep popping out to check the dinner or if new guests are arriving.

Forbidden IslandForbidden islandrather than compete against each other, why not work together to beat the game itself? Forbidden Island  puts everyone on the same team of explorers trying to save precious artefacts from a sinking island.  If the island sinks before you all escape, you all lose, but if you get off the island with all the artefacts you can share in the euphoria of having outwitted the game. Great if you have someone who doesn’t play board games because they don’t like coming last!

So, try your family and friends with something different to Monopoly this year, and you may discover a new favourite festive game!

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Beware counterfeit board games

dominion
Dominion is a game that has been targeted by counterfeiters

Not fake news, but news about fakes! A word to our customers to beware of counterfeit board games which have started appearing in the last year or two. Several publishers have experienced problems with products being sold through the likes of Amazon and Ebay, with lower quality components, flimsy card stock and other production issues such as toxicity of paint and plastics used by the fakers. There is an in-depth article on the topic on the Tabletop Gaming web site, in which Shari Spiro, CEO of independent publisher Breaking Games and manufacturer Ad Magic, whose games include Exploding Kittens, says “buying counterfeits only helps the counterfeiters – and takes money out of the pockets of the hard-working people who are creating the games and products that are being illegally counterfeited.”

You can often spot a game that has been subject to counterfeiting by checking its listing and comments on Boardgamegeek.com. Games which previously had good feedback will start seeing comments about poor printing or misaligned cutting of card stock, missing pieces and other similar issues.

General advice is to buy from reputable retailers and always check the seller’s feedback or star ratings. If you see problems noted in seller feedback, you may be in for a bad deal. Some of the counterfeit board games are being sold at half the price of the real thing, so as ever, you get what you pay for and if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

For the avoidance of doubt, all the games we sell on this site come shrink-wrapped from the authorised UK distributors (such as Esdevium / Asmodee UK , Coiledspring, or the Green Board Game Co) or in some cases we source them direct from the manufacturers (such as Ferti), so you can buy in confidence from us.

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New year, new games

Christmas was (as usual) a busy time for board game shop sales, and January has been equally busy for new stock arrivals. There were a few games released at the back end of 2017 that didn’t reach these shores in time for us to stock them before the festive season, but they are here now, and there are some right corkers amongst them. 2018 is certainly looking like being a great year for new board games!

KingdominoKingdomino

Board game of the Year 2017, an easy-to-learn tile laying game with shades of Carcassonne, where players try to complete a 5 x 5 grid of domino-shaped land tiles and earn points for connected tiles of the same type.

PhotosynthesisPhotosynthesis

A novel idea for a game in which players earn points from planting trees in a forest and capturing sunlight as the sun moves around the board (and also casting shadows on their opponents’ trees as it does so).

Le HavreLe Havre

A new release of the classic board game in which players vie to be the top shipping magnate for the French harbour town, by effectively managing their resources, ships and buildings.

Divinity DerbyDivinity Derby

An interesting new release which offers players the chance to bet on a race between various mythological flying creatures, but each player only has partial information about the likely performance of each creature.

Harry Potter Hogwarts BattleHarry Potter Hogwarts Battle

Play as Harry, Hermione, Ron or Neville and try to save Hogwarts from the forces of evil in this co-operative game. The card game is based on the content of the Harry Potter books and films.

AncestreeAncestree

A card drafting game that will appeal to genealogists, in which players compete to discover who has the best family tree during a rummage through the archives. Extra points are scored for long lineage and more marriages.

Dicey PeaksDicey Peaks

Beat your opponents to the summit with this push-your-luck dice game where you need to plan when to climb, and when to rest and replenish oxygen. Watch out for the yetis too!

Fog of LoveFog of Love

Highly-rated board game for two people who act out the roles of a couple in a relationship, with potentially conflicting personal goals which may be reconciled (or not) as the game progresses.

 

Follow the links above to the game pages for more details on each one, and keep watching the web site or social media for news of further new games throughout the year.

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Dexterity and dreaming

PitchCar

Some new supplies have come in ahead of the festive season, three of which focus on manual dexterity – PitchCar, Tumblin-Dice, and Le Passe Trappe – they will all test your finger-flicking abilities in different ways.

The same manufacturer also produces Crokinole boards and these can be obtained to order, contact us for more information.

Also in stock now is the highly-rated new game “When I Dream” in which players take it in turn to identify elements of a dream and recount them well, whilst blindfolded.

Dream cards from When I Dream

You can find them all in the latest products section.

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Spring restocks and Tabletop Day

After the busy time up to and around Christmas, game stocks have been replenished and new games added to the store. Four games that have been out of stock for a while are now back with us:

Forbidden IslandForbidden island. The essential co-operative game where a band of intrepid explorers attempt to save precious artefacts from a sinking island, and escape in the helicopter before everything is lost to the rising waters.

Forbidden Desert. The sequel to the above, where you are attempting to locate the co-ordinates of parts of a flying machine in a desert full of shifting sands, so you can piece it together and fly off.

Sneaky Cards. The game played in public spaces, where you leave cards for other people to find and use, to prompt random acts of kindness and friendly public interaction.

Anomia. New reprint of the family party game where one by one players reveal cards with categories and symbols on, and each player must watch for other players cards’ symbols that match their own, so they can be first to say a word in the category on the opponent’s card.

Recent new additions to the latest products page include:

Scythe, a Worker Placement/Economic Engine board game set in an alternate-history 1920s period;

Tanto Cuore, a Japanese-anime-styled deck-building card game from Japan, where players hire maids to fill out their house; and

Ice Cool, a flicking skill game involving aiming penguins around the game board and through doorways to collect fish while the hall monitor tries to tag your penguin.

Also don’t forget April 29th is Tabletop Day – look out for press coverage about this annual board gaming event, and look out for events near you, where you can go along and try out new games. Due to other commitments we are not planning a specific event in Cheddar that weekend although may take a few games down to the local pub! But Bristol Board Game Cafe are having an event, if you are in that area.

 

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The Christmas rush

Captain Sonar
Captain Sonar

The shop has been really busy over the past couple of weeks and it’s great to see so many people buying board and card games for each other as festive gifts. The Guardian’s new board games column has undoubtedly been a major factor in this. One of the games covered in the most recent column is the frenetic Captain Sonar, which we currently have in stock, and is a real-time game between two teams of submarine crew, trying to be the first to blow each other out of the water. There’s a great review of it on Shut Up and Sit Down.

Also popular has been HMS Dolores but at the time of writing we have sold out – again it was covered in the Guardian column. Many other perennials are selling well, such as Catan, Puerto Rico and Ticket to Ride – stocks of these are dwindling but we will keep topping up as and when new supplies become available. One of the other popular games in 2016 was Funemployed, now reprinted through a different publisher and should be a great addition to any festive gathering.

If the game you want is out of stock, you can subscribe to an email alert on the product page, but it’s not possible to know if game x or game y will be in stock again before Christmas. When new shipments arrive from manufacturers, wholesalers are finding their shelves stripped bare pretty quickly at this time of year – so there’s no guarantee we will get an allocation of any new supplies. To be sure of getting your orders delivered in time, please place them by Monday 19th, and please allow an extra day for us to process orders at this time of year. We will keep sending orders out right up to the 23rd and again from the 28th to the 30th. No orders will be posted out from Dec 24-27 or Dec 31 – Jan 2, but you can still place orders via the web site during these times.

Have a great Christmas and in the words of Mr Wil Wheaton – whose Tabletop Season 4 has recently begun with Lanterns – “play more games!”

Martin

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The gift of board games

5220663566_ffce30a320_mAny time you have a gift-giving opportunity approaching, whether it be Christmas, birthday or some other reason, you should always consider giving a board game. Well we would say that. But why? Well, here are a few reasons…

  • Happiness will be created. Nobody plays a board game to be miserable. Playing board games involves interaction with other people, friends or family. Whether you win or lose the game yourself, guaranteed, at least one person around the table will smile or laugh during the game. Even if you are playing “Gloom” ! So giving the gift of happiness can’t be a bad thing.
  • Brains will be exercised in different ways. Whether you are bartering sheep for lumber in Catan, rushing around the globe fighting virus outbreaks in Pandemic, or trying to bluff your way past the Sheriff of Nottingham with a few crossbows disguised as chickens, the players will find themselves thinking about unusual situations far from everyday life.
  • Problem-solving skills will be enhanced. Just which is the optimum way to assemble this Patchwork quilt? What clue do I give for this Dixit picture that is not too obvious? And what is the best tile placement I can employ to stop my opponents scoring a Qwirkle?
  • People can learn to work together as a team, if you choose a co-operative game. Everyone versus the game itself. Save the Forbidden Island from sinking, complete a Space Alert mission, or survive the Dead of Winter – they all require people to work together towards a common goal.

And don’t forget to include one of our business cards with the gift – so the recipient knows where to go for more 🙂

Image by Jennifer C. on Flickr

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Board games and mental health

Board gaming and mental healthThere have been many articles written about how board gaming improves general health, connections and communication between people. People need the kind of interpersonal interaction you don’t get from watching TV or playing an online MMORPG. Depending on the game being played, they can help improve reasoning, deduction, negotiation, spelling and language, storytelling, co-operation, mental and physical dexterity, problem-solving and reaction times, to name but a few. And a 2013 article in the BMJ concluded that “a possible beneficial effect of board game playing on the risk of dementia could be mediated by less cognitive decline and less depression in elderly board game players”.

Many people will have bad memories of being soundly thrashed at Monopoly in their youth. Or maybe sitting round a Scrabble board while those “in the know” are cleaning up by playing QI and ZA on premium tiles while you are still struggling with the more straightforward words. Whereas, modern board games are much more conducive to people having a good time and getting together for an enjoyable games night.

In this video, which is tough to watch at times, Michael May tells how board gaming has helped him cope with depression and social anxiety. He explains that a game night can give someone in his situation a safe framework and an expected course of events, through which to engage with other people. Beginning with games against existing friends, Michael was able to push himself out of his comfort zone, to go to game nights with strangers. Also, playing games at home can help to improve family bonds and help to overcome differences and disagreements, by bringing people together and giving the participants a task to focus on as a group (and possibly co-operative games such as Pandemic or Forbidden Island would work well here). And of course any laughing that may ensue, increases happiness!

Michael’s YouTube Channel also reviews a large number of board games, and you can subscribe to it here.

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Letter Tycoon and Brexit costs

letter_tycoonEarlier today I did a quick summary of Letter Tycoon, recently new in stock, for attendees at the local Business Breakfast Club. Letter Tycoon is a kind of cross between Scrabble or Boggle, and Monopoly, so if your family can’t decide which one to play, try Letter Tycoon!

In this game for 2 – 5 players, each person takes a turn trying to make as good a word as possible from the seven in their hand plus three in a community pool on the table. Points are scored based on the word played, but you can then also opt to buy a “patent” in one of the letters in the word you played. This is akin to buying a property in Monopoly, so when anyone else uses that letter in a word, you get additional cash. Letters that are used often are more expensive to buy patents for, whereas the more infrequently used letters are cheaper but have special powers. B’s patent, for example, scores you extra points for words starting and ending in vowels. Letter Tycoon is a 2015 Mensa Select Award Winner and can be found in-store here.

And staying on the financial theme, UK games distributors have been hit hard by the recent Brexit-related exchange rate fluctuations, and as the majority of games seem to come from the USA or Europe, they have had to review the price of games across the board (no pun intended)! It has meant some games in the £30 area have increased in retail price by £5-£10, and some of the pricier ones such as Mansions of Madness, by even more than that. If you are wondering why some prices have been hiked up, that’s the reason. Old pre-Brexit stock is still in our shop at the original prices but as new stock comes in leading up to Christmas, these will be at the new prices.

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UK Games Expo 2016

UKGEThe weekend of the 3rd-5th June 2016 is the UK Games Expo, (UKGE) the main board games exhibition for the UK held every year in Birmingham. Unfortunately due to family reasons we can’t make it this year, but if it is anything like previous events, if you are going, you are sure to have a great time. The show doesn’t just cover board games but card games, roleplaying, and miniatures too. The show is a combination of trade stands, seminars and talks, tournaments, playtesting, cosplay, and opportunities to try out new games, or play some old favourites with new friends. It’s completely open to the public and in 2015 there were 7000 unique visitors and 14000 attendances over the weekend. There is plenty of parking, and on-site catering provided by the Hilton Hotel and other providers, so you don’t need to leave the exhibition for sustenance.

If you discover a new game while you are at UKGE, but for some reason are unable to get a copy at the show, let us know and we may be able to help. You are welcome to pop a note in the comments below to say what you thought about the show.

This year, The Dice Tower’s Tom Vasel and Sam Healey will be attending – see the preview video below. Other guests this year include Colin Baker (the 6th Doctor Who), the guys from Shut Up and Sit Down, and prolific game designer Dr. Reiner Knizia.