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My Self-isolation Game List

My Self-isolation Game List

For anyone self-isolating here is a list of some of my favorite games to play solo, 2 player or with family. It is also applicable for holidays, long journeys or at Christmas (when you’re stuck with your family for 2 weeks anyway).

Solo Games:

I don’t really play solo games but my husband does, and if I have to self-isolate in our spare room I might take them up!

Arkham Horror (or Arkham Horror: The card game) – With all the expansions this could not only take up your 2 weeks but probably 6 months. As with most Lovecraft games, you take the part of an investigator roaming the city, tooling up and fighting till the big old elder gribbly shows his evil face.

Mr Cabbagehead’s Garden – This has the added bonus of being a print and play so you don’t have to order anything to get it, also if you’re self-isolating you might enjoy the added element of a craft project. To play you lay beautiful cards into a grid to impress the Garden Committee and score points.

Shaddows Upon Lassadar – Another of Todd Sander’s beautiful print and plays. A fantasy quest game where you play a magician who must find the lost keys while learning new spells but be careful not to become corrupted.  

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective (and expansions) – We really love Sherlock and took this on our honeymoon, so it could be in the two player or family sections. Players explore the board, visiting locations and looking up clues to answer a mystery, you then compare your score to that of the great detective’s.

Railroad Ink (or Welcome To) – Roll and writes (or flip and fill) are everywhere and have the benefit of a wide player count (Welcome To has 1-100). I happen to prefer Railroad Ink but any roll and write could fill in for this entry. In Railroad Ink you design the most efficient railroad and road network based on the options presented to you from the dice roll.   

2 Player Games:

The majority of my gameplay is 2 player and these are some of my favorites.

Ravens of Thri Sahashri – Whenever someone asks about 2 player games this is what I always suggest. It’s a co-op card game based on limited communication, where one player has to try to help the other regain their lost memories through the drawing and sharing of cards.

Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle Defense Against the Dark Arts – I’m a massive Harry Potter fan so gain added enjoyment from this one. It’s a competitive deck builder where opponents try to curse, hex and generally zap each other to the end of the player board.

Pandemic – Possibly not a good one for the current climate, or oddly appropriate, take your choice. It’s a strategic co-op game based around attempting to contain and eradicate a pandemic… not prescient at all.

Forbidden Desert (or Sky or Island) – All of the “Forbidden” games are great and work in a similar way. Again, they’re co-op strategy games; Desert involves using your abilities to build a plane (with lovely pieces that click together) before the desert buries them. These are also fantastic family games which we have played while stuck inside on a rainy holiday in Cornwall.

Machi Koro – I really enjoy Machi Koro and we’re currently working our way through the Legacy version which is fantastic. It’s a dice roller with a light engine building element, where players roll dice and buy buildings to create a city.

Family Games:

We happen to not have anyone under the age of 25 in our family but these could be played with kids and are particularly enjoyed by my almost retired mum.

Ticket to Ride – A great family game which we enjoy so much that have most of the editions. There are some really good 2 player versions, London is a particular favorite (purple buses driving around London, yes please) so could be included in the 2-player section. It’s a competitive set collection game based around trying to complete route cards by collecting coloured cards and placing trains.

Happy Salmon – A light, loud part game which my sister loves. If you need to get up and burn of a bit of energy its great fun but there are quiet rules in case you don’t want to over-excite small children and a version for people with mobility issues. You have a deck of cards and have to complete actions with other players.

Escape: The Curse of the Temple – Another of my sister’s favs and surprisingly tense. It’s a co-op simultaneous dice roller with push your luck and exploration elements, where players explore a temple against a tension inducing sound track timer. You have to retrieve gems, reveal the exit then escape the temple before the time runs out.

Deep Sea Adventure – This is a great small box, push your luck, time filler game. Players roll dice to move down tiles and try to pick up treasure, but as soon as you pick some up your joint oxygen begins to decrease. Your aim is to return to the submarine laden with treasure while trying not to be drowned by your opponents.  

Mysterium – A real family favorite and has been played maybe a little too much (we have the expansion to mitigate this and recently bought but haven’t tried Obscurio). One player is a ghost trying to communicate the information of their murder to a group of mediums. This is done through the silent ghost handing out wonderfully weird cards to indicate first the killer, then the location and finally the weapon. For a more sci-fi, Stranger Things version of this mechanic Greenville 1989 is brilliant.

So that’s my list, I didn’t realise just how many co-op games we play! What would be on your isolation list?

Review: Greenville 1989

3-6 players

Age 16+

Designed by Florian Fay

Published by Sorry We Are French

Image result for Greenville 1989

Greenville 1989 is a narrative co-operative game in which players take on the role of a typical 1980s teenager who just wants to go bowling. However, en route you and your friends are plunged into a weird and horrifying supernatural vision of your home town, Greenville. To escape players must work as team to direct each other out of this world and back home.

In game play terms, Greenville 1989 has much in common with Mysterium. Players all begin in a central location on a board and are dealt a location card. Each player describes their card and, more importantly, where they think they will be going next.

One player, the Guide, takes the role of directing everyone to their next location. The Guide is dealt location cards equal to the number of players +1. They then secretly allocate each card to a player including a red herring player. The rest of the team then try to work out which card belongs to who.

If correct, the new card becomes their location, and the next player becomes the Guide; get everyone through 4 locations and you all escape. However, if you fail to correctly identify your location you move a place along a path on the main board. Should one player reach the end of their path you all are lost to the void forever.

Now I am not a fan of horror. I refused to play the T.I.M.E. Stories scenarios because the first one was so unnecessarily horrifying. However, despite its 16+ age rating, I didn’t mind the horror elements of Greenville 1989. The locations are at best a bit trippy and at worst contain monstrous horror, but they are not openly gory or scary. It helps that they have little movie references in them, which the movie nerd in me enjoyed spotting and discussing.

Image result for Greenville 1989

As I said above this game is similar to Mysterium, and it’s nice to see someone other than Libellud take on the “describe a weird card” mechanic. One of the most enjoyable parts of Greenville 1989 is the feeling that you truly are all in it together. Sometimes the cards are against you and none of the locations match any part of what someone has described, but it feels like you’re in control and share in your teammate’s successes and failures.

Mysterium, though fantastic, can feel a little like the Ghost is in control and therefore is someone to blame when things don’t shake out. Also, after a few dozen games of Mysterium, cards end up having unintentional meanings, so-and-so always uses that card to mean the Groundskeeper for example, which sort of spoils the purity of the game.

This may happen to Greenville, I’ll let you know in a few years’ time, but on an initial playing it feels like this is less likely. Greenville 1989 also feels like a pared down, purer form of the mechanic. It doesn’t have the slightly complicated scoring system of Dixit or the separation in Mysterium between the Ghost and the Psychics.

Everyone gets a turn at being the Guide and it’s simply pick your card and win (or not). So, if you like a cross between Mysterium and Stranger Things this is definitely the game for you. Describe your locations, see what’s behind the mirror, direct your friends into the mouth of the beast and try to get home in time for your TV dinner.

Bears Vs Babies: A game review

20170627_171516 On July 4th, while many Americans celebrated with Fireworks and cookouts, my friends and I sat down to play Bears Vs Babies. As fans of the creators, we had been waiting to play it since the game had been announced. We were not disappointed.

Bears Vs Babies is honestly just a very entertaining game. It is also fairly easy once the players get started. There is a mat, and cards that are shuffled together. Some are babies who have different slots on the mat. There are some cards to give the players different actions. The other cards are pieces to help the player make a totally awesome monster!

The game encourages players to first go through a practice round, which is always helpful, depending on the experience level of the players. After they are comfortable, then it is time to get down to business and make some monsters. Players are given a number of cards. All babies are discarded face down on their appropriate color slots. Monsters are put together during each player’s turn.  

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The tricky part is that the cards have to line up with the stitches so it may take a few turns before a monster can be properly assembled. There are points on the cards which let you know how powerful each card is, so the more cards the more powerful your monster. All of the cards with the heads have a color that correlates with a baby pile, or they have a rainbow meaning they could fight any group. The goal of the players is to defeat the evil baby armies. If the player can, then they get the points. Some cards in the deck enable other players to trigger a fight between a player of their choice and the baby armies so it is a good idea to pay attention to what your friends are building.

Bears Vs Babies is brought to us by the brilliant minds of Elan Lee and Matthew Inman. Yes, the creators of Exploding Kittens. Bears Vs Babies has all of the humor of Exploding Kittens. It felt quick to play between trying to make my monster and strategizing against my friends. The art on the cards is well done. The monsters are funny and sometimes even fancy. In short, it was a great game that I cannot wait to play again.

I would rate Bears Vs Babies: Must play.

Always keep sparkling!

The Wrath of Ashardalon Review

The Wrath of Ashardalon Review

Game Designed by Peter Lee
Published by Wizards of the Coast
Release date: February 15, 2011

Dungeons & Dragons is best known as a tabletop RPG where a group of players sit around a table and role play as their previously created character. They listen to a Dungeon Master, who writes the story, describes scenery, invents situations and stands in as NPCs. It’s been the experience of many a D&D player that a good DM is hard to find (I’ve been blessed with amazing DMs, but I hear other people have this problem). Well, with the invention of Dungeon & Dragons board games, this isn’t a problem anymore.

Just over a year ago – right after I moved to Los Angeles and right before I met my current DM – I bought a board game called The Wrath of Ashardalon. It’s a cooperative game for 1 – 5 players with 5 pre-made characters and 13 build-as-you-go dungeon adventures. Each adventure is more difficult than the last, with the 13th and final being an assault on Firestorm Peak to find and defeat the dragon Ashardalon. The game is part of the D&D Adventure System, which means it can be combined with other D&D games, such as Castle Ravenloft, The Legend of Drizzt, and the newest game The Temple of Elemental Evil.Wrath of ashardalon unboxed

I originally bought this game for two reasons: 1) I was missing my D&D group back in Pennsylvania; and 2) I was excited that it has the option to play alone. When I got the game, however, I was disappointed that there is only one adventure tailored to the single player. This is the first adventure, which is designed to show you how to play the game and doesn’t have much replayability.

The rest of the adventures suggest 2 – 5 players. This is another disappointment because it’s nearly impossible to defeat any of the dungeons with just two players. Even Adventure 2 proved to be too difficult for just me and a friend. We were able to defeat it easily with four players, though, so it’s not all bad.

The game plays very much like a D&D campaign, but your actions are limited and the game itself is the Dungeon Master. Reading the rules of the game caused a lot of controversy, though. They are vague and leave a lot to interpretation. This caused arguments within the group with whom I played the game. Eventually, I was able to quell any confusion my group had by explaining how things worked in a D&D campaign, as I was the only person who’d played before.

Wrath of Ashardalon playingThe adventures themselves are fun once you get the hang of it. The monsters have varying degrees of difficulty, allowing for some experiences to be more challenging than others. The game requires your group to pull together and defeat each dungeon, which gives you the same feeling of accomplishment as a normal D&D campaign. It’s a good substitute for when your DM is sick or just can’t make it for one reason or another.

Do I recommend it? Yes. It’s a fun substitute for an actual campaign. However, I would suggest that you try to get four or five players, including at least one who has played a D&D campaign before who can clarify or make executive decisions in regards to the vague rulebook. That will make the transition much smoother and your adventures much more interesting.

This is also a good choice as a Christmas present for the gamer in your life!

-Vanri the Rogue

Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon