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If, like me, playing games is something the family share and something that brings everyone together (bar the occasional competitive outburst) then you are always on the lookout for something new. We tried Sunny Day at the Games Expo because it looked friendly and the table was free. Five games in we were still playing and wondered if we should let someone else have a go! We did in the end leave the table – however, we came back again the next day when games fatigue had kicked in and we needed something straightforward.

Sunny Day is by Manu Palau (who specialises in educational games) and is published by Ludicorn. Ludicorn’s aim is to make games for the whole family to enjoy and it fits the bill in this respect. It is a quick filler game and can literally brighten up your day. It is a very simple game to pick up and play.

Gameplay

The aim of the game is to make pictures, collect tiles and score points. The game has a dual mechanism, which we quite like, and you have to make pictures to get tiles. Then, you put those tiles in your personal area and use them to make more pictures.

To set-up the game you first of all make a board of tiles 5x6. This is done by shuffling the tiles and placing them randomly. Leftover tiles are placed in a stack face-down. This is your drawing pile. You then deal each player two tiles which they keep hidden in there hand.

You then choose one of these hand tiles to place on the board and match up with one of the types of picture - windmills, ice cream, umbrellas, sun, clouds and clover. Depending how many pictures you match up, you then take up the corresponding tiles and then remake it in your own personal pile. The more sides you match, the more tiles you collect, the bigger your personal pile, and so on…

As the game continues, your board of matching tiles in your personal area grows. Each match gives you a point at the end. If you match an ice cream or a sun you get to take up a bonus – this could be a two-point sun, a one-point rainbow, or if you are unlucky a grey lightening cloud that is worth zero points. At the end of your turn you pick up one more tile to add into your hand. The game continues until all of the stack of tiles has been used.

There are a few points to note for Sunny Day.

  • It’s easy to get your hand tiles and your personal area tiles confused. This goes for adults and children. I had to be quite disciplined with myself in keeping my hand tiles separate.
  • If you cannot go you must reveal your tiles and swap them for new ones. You do not have a go on this round. In reality this has never happened to us.
  • If you can’t place the tile in your personal area, you lose it – again. The chances of this are quite low as you can branch out on all sides.
  • When you score, you count the tiles AND the pictures for points. We didn’t realise this for quite a while. I don’t think it affected the outcome much however, as there is a correlation between the number of tiles and the number of pictures.
  • Completing a sun or an ice cream in the personal area does not get you extra bonus points.
  • If there is a tie the player with the most tiles in their personal area wins.
Components

Sunny Day is a very cheerful game, full of sun, ice cream and rainbows. It makes you feel cheerful and it genuinely feels quite sad if you get a grey cloud and lightening.

Replay Value

I find Sunny Day a little repetitive after a while. However, as it is a fun, quick game it will remain a favourite for those after tea – before bed moments. A game can be played in around 15 minutes if you are decisive.

If you are playing with younger ones you can simplify the game by getting rid of the personal area. Tiles that are matched are just collected and counted at the end.

Interaction

Apart from shouting at people who have forgotten to take the second card ‘again!’ there is not too much interaction. Sometimes frustration at people taking your perfect match before you get to have a go leaks out.

Engagement

The main problem we seem to have – as referenced above - is forgetting to take an additional card ready for the next go. Or, forgetting which ones are those that you collected instead of those that are in your hand. Sunny Day is an engaging game though and does getting you thinking and weighing up options because of the dual mechanism in the game.

Final Thoughts on Sunny Day

I enjoy playing Sunny Day, although I suspect my family love it a little more than I do. It’s very solid for all occasions and I enjoy playing it even if it isn’t my first choice. I would like to see some kind of expansion to make it more complex as it has good potential to be something more. For the family though, it really hits the mark.

You Might Like

  • The art style.
  • Ease of playing.
  • The replay value.
  • Satisfying building completion.

You Might Not Like

  • Element of luck during the game.

You Might Like
The art style.
Ease of playing.
The replay value.
Satisfying building completion.

You Might Not Like
Element of luck during the game.

The post Sunny Day Review appeared first on Zatu Games.

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Hey, That’s My Fish! is a game for 2-4 players from Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). Players take turns using their waddle of penguins to outmanoeuvre their opponents and catch as many fish as they can without being trapped on an ice floe!

The game is designed by Alvydas Jakeliunas and Günter Cornett, and was originally released in 2003. FFG are known for their bigger brand games such as Star Wars: X-Wing and LOTR: Journey to Middle-earth, so it’s not the kind of game you would expect them to publish.

FFG have repackaged the box and the components to be more inline with the more detailed items you would get nowadays. As a result, the penguins were upgraded from wood to plastic and the art of the tiles is bolder.

What's in the Box?

Hey, That's My Fish! includes the following.

  • 16 plastic penguins - Four per colour. Each one in your waddle has a different pose.
  • 60 hexagonal ice floe tiles - There are three different amounts of fish on them,.
  • A double-sided instruction leaflet.
  • A good old FFG Proof of Purchase token.
Ready to Brave the Antarctic?

To start, shuffle the hexagonal ice floe tiles face-down. Then, place them face-up in a rough square shape, alternating the rows between seven and eight until you have placed all the tiles. The top row must have seven tiles. The players must choose if they are happy with the layout. If they're not, they can choose to switch the tiles to make it more evenly distributed.

For a two-player game you can use all four of your chosen colour penguins. For three players you must use three penguins each and with four player you must use two penguins each.

The youngest player places their penguin first. All players then proceed in a clockwise order to place their penguins one at a time. To complete the game set-up, all players penguins must be placed on an unoccupied one fish tile.

The youngest player goes first and it continues in a clockwise order. Each player’s turn consists of two actions. Firstly, the player can move any of their penguins. Secondly, they collect the ice floe tile that their penguin started movement from.

The chosen penguin can move in any of the six directions of its ice floe tile and must move in a straight line. It cannot change direction during that move, but it can move as many tiles as the player wishes. The penguin can only move to an unoccupied ice floe tile. Penguins also block other penguins, even if it is the same colour.

Once the player has moved their penguin they are then able to pick up the tile where they started their turn from and place it face-up in front of them. Once the player has taken their ice floe tile it’s the next player’s turn. See video below for a movement guide.

Players must move their penguins every turn, unless they cannot move to a tile adjacent to the ice floe tile they are currently on. If this is the case they must remove that tile and their penguin back to their collection. This penguin is now out of the game.

Hey, That's My Fish! continues until all penguins can no longer legally move or they have been removed from the board. Any remaining tiles are returned to the box.

King Penguin!

If no more moves can be taken, or if all penguins have been removed back to the players' collection, the fish on the tiles are counted and the player with the most fish wins. If players are tied then the player with the most tiles wins. If there is still a tie, they share the victory!

Final Thoughts on Hey, That's My Fish!

Hey, That's My Fish! is such a simple yet elegant game to play. The rules are detailed and easy to understand. During set-up you can explain what the rules are, so that you can play in minutes! Who doesn’t want to start a game night with something that can be explained in less than a minute!

Even though it is a simple game there is still an air of strategy to it for more experienced board gamers. You do have to think ahead a few turns and hope that your opponents aren’t going for the same tile you are!

I admit that it can be a bit fiddly trying to get the ice floe tiles from the centre of the board, however it’s easy to fix if you mess it up a little whilst taking your starting tile.

The components are well made, as you would expect from FFG. The tiles and plastic penguins are of a high quality. The gameplay time depends on the number of players you have. A game can last anywhere from 5-10 minutes, so after a couple of rounds your ready to start a more medium/heavy game.

Overall, I found Hey, That’s My Fish! to be a really enjoyable and engaging gateway game. It’s a great warm up game for a board game night. I would say it’s a great game for new or experienced players of any age. However, I can see that more experienced players would probably not find this to their taste as it’s too quick and not as strategic as some may enjoy.

You Might Like

  • Quick set-up and learn.
  • Simple and fun for all ages.
  • It's strategic.

You Might Not Like

  • A lack of depth.
  • Too easy for experienced gamers.
  • Short gameplay.

You Might Like
Quick set-up and learn.
Simple and fun for all ages.
It's strategic.

You Might Not Like
A lack of depth.
Too easy for experienced gamers.
Short gameplay.

The post Hey, That’s My Fish! Review appeared first on Zatu Games.

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Room 25 is a novel game. It was created by François Rouzé and produced by Matagot Games. The game consists of 25 tiles, each representing a room in a futuristic jail. It is loosely based on the films The Cube and The Running Man.

With up to six players (base game) you explore the grid, find the exit (room 25) and escape within eight or 10 turns. You need to avoid hazards, lethal areas and traps. All of this before you consider the possibility that one or more of your companions might be a secret traitor. Their mission is to ensure you fail. So, who can you trust?

Overview

Players start in the centre of the grid. The room tiles are shuffled and arranged face down into a 5 x 5 square. The exit will be somewhere at an edge. Before each turn, each player must decide independently what two actions to perform that go. These include peeping into an adjacent room to check its contents or walking through to the next room.

You might choose to push another player into the next room. This might be to their advantage (or not, depending on your allegiance). The grid of rooms can be moved. The rows and columns of rooms slide, shuffling up the contents. This is where a good memory can help. As you enter each new room the tile is flipped and its contents are revealed.

Many rooms contain hazards.

  • A water filled room where you will drown if you return.
  • An acid bath room where one of two occupants is eliminated.
  • The mortal chamber meaning instant death.

Some rooms are more benign.

  • A series of tunnels allowing players to move around the grid.
  • The vision chamber giving you the ability to view other hidden rooms.

The rooms are colour coded; blue, green, yellow and red. The blue rooms will help you escape. Green rooms are safe (but are very few). Yellow rooms are an inconvenience. Red rooms might kill you or another player.

Room 25 requires you to work together within a limited number of moves. Beware though, you have to perform every selected action even if other players have moved the grid or caused other changes. This is where communication is key (in some game modes) with an element of pre-planning to help. In the standard scenario unless all of the players get to Room 25 and this tile is slid off, then no-one has won.

Four Different Game Modes

The game variations and random placement of room tiles ensures that every game is entirely different. This ensures great replay-ability. It is technically possible to escape within half a dozen moves, but this is very unusual.

Within Room 25 there are at least four game set-ups. If you and fellow gamers are good communicators then the standard co-operative scenario with more limited moves is very good. To provide more competition, players can be grouped into teams (of any size). This generates a frenzied race to get all of your team to Room 25 and prevent the opposing teams from escaping.

For those of a more vindictive nature another option has each player as an individual character. This can create a dog-eat-dog world where only one player will survive. Finally, the “suspicion mode” is fantastic. Who is an innocent prisoner trying to escape? Who is a guard placed to sabotage your escape plans? Can you trust anybody? If another player peeps into a room and declares it green (safe) can you trust them to enter it yourself? Are they bluffing? Can you afford to waste moves by double checking? If you stay nearby might they chose to push you into a mortal chamber?

Room 25, as a base game, contains six different characters and enough rooms for a 5 x 5 grid. The room tiles are made of thick, sturdy card. Each coloured mini figure is a good representation of your character. The artwork on each tile shows a top down view of each small room within the prison. The mini-figures are of the correct scale for the rooms and artwork.

The game looks very effective when all 25 rooms are touching each other. However, it is best to leave a small gap between each row and column. This will assist in sliding the tiles during the game. The other tokens needed to select a player’s actions are quite small. While they are colour coded, players new to the game might get confused between the different possible actions.

Matagot have provided a comprehensive list of the room tiles and their actions as well as a summary of each character’s ability. This is essential to new players. However, the font size is tiny making it quite difficult to read if you are over a certain age! The rulebook is very clear (and of a decent font size) and is comprehensive. It also contains a description of each room and its hazards.

When I first unwrapped Room 25 I noticed that one of the mortal chamber cards had an identifying mark on its back. I emailed Matagot and sent back the defective tile. Within a couple of days a replacement arrived that matched with the other room tiles. This little event showed me that this game producer values its players.

Friends that are new to gaming say that Room 25 is unlike any other game they have played. Some of the concepts, such as acid baths or shredder rooms are not suitable for young players, but the principle of the game and its rules are easy to understand and master for children age 10 years or older. Teenagers certainly enjoy this game.

The Season Two Expansion

The base game is good. What makes this game “sing” is the expansion, Room 25: Season Two. Firstly, all of the expansion components fit perfectly within the base game box insert. It is as though it was designed that way! Season Two brings two new characters and allows up to eight players to try to escape together.

Each new character has different special abilities. There are new rooms with additional hazards (and some helpful ones too). Rooms may now be locked by some characters or-re-opened by other players. There are robots! These robots can be controlled remotely to seek out safe rooms or “take the pain” of a “red” room rather than your character. In Season two, sometimes the grid will be slid randomly according to drawn cards. This can really put a spanner in the works.

Other tiles in this expansion will prevent any communication whatsoever, or hinder some actions for certain playing characters. This can make the game much more challenging. Sometimes the time pressures in the latter stages of the game will encourage players’ alpha tendencies to surface. This can be avoided by playing some game modes (individual or suspicion), or just by wisely placing a character in the jamming room and stopping all bossiness completely.

For players who prefer, a solo mode is also possible. One player must negotiate the grid to get their character to the exit in few turns. If you want even more challenge, use the extra tiles in Season Two to create ever bigger grids of different orientations. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Final Thoughts on Room 25

In my opinion, the only way to play Room 25 is together with the Season Two expansion. This expansion takes the novel idea (scoring 7.5 out of 10 for the base game) to an entirely new level (9.0 out of 10). The variability of each game, choice of game mode and the fact that the game plays really well as a solo challenge means Room 25 (with the Season 2 expansion) is a game for all seasons. Rarely does a game play so well for one as well as up to eight players.

The game encourages communication, bluffing and deception and has a nice race against time element with the variability of some random events. This does mean that the outcome of each game is never a foregone conclusion.

I was asked by my daughter if I were stuck on a desert island, which five games would I choose? Room 25 (with Season 2 expansion) would be on that list.

You Might Like

  • A co-operative game that works equally well for 1-6 players (eight with Season 2 expansion).
  • Plenty of game mode variants.
  • Excellent game for team work and communication.
  • A wonderfully designed box insert that also takes the expansion pieces perfectly.

You Might Not Like

  • Possibility of alpha-player bossiness.
  • Some games can finish more quickly than expected.
  • The game benefits best from the Season 2 expansion.

You Might Like
A co-operative game that works equally well for 1-6 players (eight with Season 2 expansion).
Plenty of game mode variants.
Excellent game for team work and communication.
A wonderfully designed box insert that also takes the expansion pieces perfectly.

You Might Not Like
Possibility of alpha-player bossiness.
Some games can finish more quickly than expected.
The game benefits best from the Season 2 expansion.

The post Room 25 (Base Game & Season 2 Expansion) Review appeared first on Zatu Games.

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Zatu Games Blog by Northern Dice - 4h ago

Budget airlines are both a blessing and a curse to those who need them. They are cheap and efficient, but crowded and lack basic amenities. It's a double edged sword. Sure, everyone who could would fly first class every time! Who doesn't want hot towels, leg room and peanuts? But, that may cost double the holiday itself! Do you fly in style but remortgage your house, or deal with the crying child and cold food? Well... Overbooked by Jumbo Games lets you run that budget airline how you see fit.

This is a pattern recognition, pattern placement game for 2-4 players that takes a lot of thinking and planning.

Gameplay

The airport where your plane is located is... Strange. Passengers have some very odd requests and some must be placed in specific manners to score for you. Simply being on the plane isn't good enough for every traveller! There are requirements for children and couples, but luckily every other passenger just wants to sit with people of matching tee colours. (For a budget airline, the demands of passengers are very specific!)

To begin a game of Overbooked, every player takes their own plane on-which to place passengers and eight dinner tokens. Each turn, players take turns to take cards from the luggage conveyor to determine which passengers to place. The passengers must be placed in the pattern on the card onto the plane. The conveyor is made up of several sections. To take from the first section is free, for every section after that you must pay a dinner token and place it on the skipped cards. They then become available to any players who may wish to take said cards, increasing their options later on.

Placing the dice passengers is easy to start, but to ensure you score for them is tricky. The passengers have certain conditions to score and some need to be used in specific ways.

  • White (Children) - Must be fully surrounded orthogonally to score but don't score if next to another child.
  • Red (Couples) - Must be sat orthogonally from another red.
  • Blue/Yellow/Green - These are groups of people who need to be sat in clusters. They score more for having the most of one colour in a cluster.

When placing the passengers, you may encounter some problems... Groups of children? A love triangle of couples? A random rugby player amongst an elderly expedition? Or worse! Not enough seats! This can be problematic and can mean that you've trapped yourself. So, what can you do? Easy fix. Kick someone off the plane. Old or young, get them off and replace them! If you were to place one passenger onto another's space, you remove the previous and replace them. Unfortunately, the previous passenger will haunt you (not literally) and will sit in the Overbooked area of your board until the end of the game.

Overbooking a passenger is probably best used as a last ditch effort, although options may not be vast in the later stages of the game. As soon as one passenger colour is empty, everyone gets a final turn up to the round startee and then the game ends. Players tot up their scores and acquire points based on the score guide. They also double the totals of their highest clusters of green, blue or yellow passengers if they beat their opponents'. Finally, they reduce their points based on empty seats on their plane and on the passengers they booted off.

How It Plays

We found ourselves talking throughout the game, discussing tactics, needs, but mostly complaining about the mess we'd made! Overbooked kicks off nicely with lots of options and an ease of access into placing passengers. You'll play a few rugby players, find seats for children... it'll be going well. However, there is then mass hysteria when six passengers want to sit in the shape of an L, all of which complicate your current patterns. You don't want to put a couple on the end of an aisle! Where is that child going to go? Do you kick off the nice old lady with no score value or the the lovely looking couple? It's a good thing it's not a real plane!

The quirky artwork is very comical, with each plane being uniquely illustrated with oddities and hidden bits. However, the best bit is the plane boards being double-sided. We played four-player games and filled our planes easily, but the flip side is a wider plane for 2-3 players! This meant we were able to still accrue high point scores and passengers ran out when you expected them to.

Needing to make use of dinner tokens to acquire more appealing cards adds a resource management element to the game. It's a small one, very minor, but you'll completely understand why. The first card might be awful... two children on one card! So, you splash out and spend three tokens to get the last one on the belt. The next two players do the same... Suddenly that first card has three dinner tokens on it and doesn't look anywhere near as bad! Once a player has the majority of tokens you'll be forced to take all the leftovers. You've got to manage that currency!

On the other hand, if you're that player with the small ready meal empire, you'll be full of choice! It's a good feeling! Plus, every two dinner tokens count as one point at the end of the game so bask in those poor quality meals. The people choosing the first card are then forced to think as well. This will inevitably make them question what they're actually trying to achieve.

Anyone can stick passengers on a plane, and there are no consequences for not matching patterns, but your score will suffer. This game requires a surprising amount of thought, take it lightly and it'll catch you out!

How It Handles

Overbooked runs very smoothly in terms of its handling. You take a card, move the belt down, restock the card and check for empty piles. You can't really get it wrong! What you can get wrong is your passenger placement. This is where the game's handling becomes tricky: The human side. Some people see patterns naturally and are able to score amazingly in this game, it works for them! Others, like me, need to plan way ahead and establish what sorts of cards they'll aim to get. And the rest of the people will place four cards, panic, and overbook half their plane!

The game has a few variants within it too to keep things spicy. The standard, vanilla play is simply place passengers onto the plane to score the most. If you're feeling confident, you can utilise the symbols on the cards to change how the game is played and best use effects. Absolute madmen can use the dark passport deck, which no longer places passengers in small clusters. This deck requires you to place passengers in specific seats across the whole plane!

Setting up and breaking down the game can get messy. There are lots of individual tokens for the passengers, and you could baggy these up. Jumbo provide a cardboard build insert to store things which works well, but I would worry about storing it sideways with this. Still, I've not yet had any messy box openings (for now!).

Final Thoughts on Overbooked

When we blindly unboxed Overbooked, we expected a ridiculously quirky, yet fun, pattern placement game. The game delivers. The components make sense to the game, it's themed excellently and made well, and the game doesn't ever leave you guessing. Again, the only faults we found in routine were human error. If we could recommend you do one thing it's baggy the tokens, but honestly, that's preference!

So, should you feel the need to run your own budget airline, love to control the smallest things like people's seating arrangements, or love a good pattern builder, this one's for you! Pack your bags, get into groups according to shirt colour, and enjoy your flight!

You Might Like

  • It's easy to grasp but hard to master style.
  • The routine of play.
  • The quirky, cute artwork.
  • The variants of play based on confidence.

You Might Not Like

  • The many, many bits.
  • The need for pinpoint precision in placement and lots of planning.

You Might Like
It's easy to grasp but hard to master style.
The routine of play.
The quirky, cute artwork.
The variants of play based on confidence.

You Might Not Like
The many, many bits.
The need for pinpoint precision in placement and lots of planning.

The post Overbooked Review appeared first on Zatu Games.

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The winners of the coveted Spiel Des Jahres awards have finally been announced. The Spiel Des Jahres could be described as the Oscars of the board game world. As always, three awards were presented, with each category having three nominees.

Spiel des Jahres - Just One

Werewords, LAMA and Just One were all nominated with Just One taking the top prize. Just One was designed by Ludovic Roudy and Bruno Sautter, and published by Repos Productions. In Just One, players must work together to discover as many hidden, mystery words as possible. Each player can give their teammates a clue but be careful, as any identical clues will be cancelled out, making you job even harder!

Kennerspiel des Jahres - Wingspan

The winner of the Kennerspiel Des Jahres is Wingspan. This game was designed by Elizabeth Hargrave and published by Stonemaier Games. In Wingspan, players take on the role of bird enthusiasts, seeking to attract various different species of birds to your network of wildlife preserves. Using various actions throughout the game, players look to score the most points over four rounds.

This game took the hobby by storm this year and has been incredibly popular, selling out almost instantly when it retail earlier this year! I love this game, and have had a fantastic experience with it! A well deserving winner of the award! The other nominations for the award this year were Carpe Diem and Detective: A Modern Crime Game.

Kinderspiel des Jahres - Valley of the Vikings

Valley of the Vikings has taken the Kinderspiel Des Jahres award. This game is published by HABA and designed Marie Fort and Wilfried Fort. The game centres around a barrel bowling contest, with players having to utilise their courage, skill and risk-taking to knock down the right barrels to capture gold coins and win the competition.

This is a fantastic kids game and one that I have heard many a positive review of, so it is good to see it recognised with this year’s award! The other nominations for the award this year were Go Gecko Go by Jurgen Adams and Fabulantica by Marco Teubner.

Congratulations

Congratulations to the winners of each category. Of course, just being nominated is a fantastic achievement for any game, so congratulations to those nominations that did not manage to take away the top prize.

The post Spiel des Jahres 2019 Winners Announced appeared first on Zatu Games.

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Zatu Games Blog by Andrew Pemberton - 16h ago

Neta-Tanka is a 2-4 player worker placement game from La Boite de Jeu. You are a member of the Frostrivers tribe, aspiring to become the clan's next leader. To do so, you must prove your qualities by feeding your people, building tents, fashioning items, and constructing your totem pole.

The winner is the player who can amass the most generosity points through these actions, becoming the new Neta-Tanka.

Set-up & Gameplay

To set-up, players place the game board in the centre of the table, along with the totem pole board corresponding to the player count. Each player takes a player board and meeples in their chosen colour. They then place their respective totem pole makers on the totem pole board.

Next, players draw five cards from each of the Net-Tanka and Handicraft decks, placing them down face-up. Place the resources (bone, wood, hide, meat, mushrooms and generosity) in a supply beside the board and seed the Forest and Tanning areas with their respective resources. You may also place the nine link tokens on the blank link space on the board, as well as the two buffalo tokens. Create a deck of canoe tiles corresponding with the player count (4/6/9 for 2/3/4 players) and add one of the four final canoe tiles to the bottom of this deck. Place the 'visiting nomad' and round marker on the track and space near the canoe. Players may then take the resources marked on their player board according to the opening turn order, as well as one objective card.

Neta-Tanka proceeds over a series of rounds in-which players place their workers onto various spaces on the board. After placing their pieces, each player (in turn order) may resolve any actions on the spaces their workers occupy. However, where this game differs from other worker placement games is in the 'links' between action spaces. Players may claim a link in between two spots where they have placed their workers this turn. This offers them additional resources or actions that can be used to gain points.

Each area of the board focuses on a different method of generating generosity. The hunting area promotes capturing bison and harvesting them for meat and hide, while the forest area promotes gathering wood and constructing your totem pole.

There are also smaller subsections where you can turn resources into handicrafts, or instead build tents and feed your people. Each action grants its own method to leverage your resources, and it's up to you to decide which path to take.

At the end of the game, players will count their points from all of their exploits, and the player with the most generosity points is the winner.

Neta-Tanka Review - Game Components and Layout (Credit: La boite de Jeu)
Final Thoughts on Neta-Tanka

Neta-Tanka is an interesting take on the worker placement mechanic. Its method of offering rewards for specialising in a given area promotes focusing on certain areas each turn. Players can often carve a niche knowing that anything they produce will result in points. Blocking other players can be fruitful in some worker placement games, but in Neta-Tanka it often leads to both players receiving less rewards. This, in-turn, leaves the other players free to scoop up the spoils. It tends to work best when you are the first player, staking claim to an area before anyone can move in. However, it is often wisest to make use of each area of the board, gathering points wherever the best opportunity exists.

The link mechanic is a unique mechanical offering, and a great way of forging an advantage. By focusing on one area per round, you can feasibly acquire up to four extra actions a turn depending on how many players are in the game. You may not be able to diversify your efforts in one turn but being able to do the same action multiple times is powerful. For example, adding multiple resources to your totem pole or finishing off multiple tents in one turn can boost your score immensely. The problem is that you then need to plan accordingly. Being blocked out of an area you need to occupy can be disastrous if you run out of time.

There are opportunities to get ahead without links. The 'Consult the Neta-Tanka' spot allows you to give up on food to acquire powerful Neta-Tanka cards. These are either worth points at the end of the game or give you multiple additional actions in one without having to use your workers elsewhere. They're very costly, but often worth it if the right card shows up for consideration. In addition, the 'Make an Offering' spot allows you to trade in generosity points for multiple effects. These can be mundane such as purchasing resources, up to claiming links without needing workers in the area.

There are also plenty of modules to diversify your games. The map board is double-sided, giving you two maps to play on. The winter side alternates the link spaces which mitigates the ease of stacking up multiples of the same action. This makes it a perfect next step once you're comfortable with the game's mechanics.

There are plenty of cards in each deck, and plenty of goal cards to give you different strategies to aim for each game. The canoe boards also provide you with plenty of options, with four different end-of-game boards to use. Of note, the deluxe version of the game also carries an expansion with it. The Mountain board offers an additional worker placement spot where you can spend resources to gain points or actions. It also gives access to the vaguely named 'special resource' which counts as either wood or hide during crafting. Using this resource in crafting any item grants an additional three points during end-game scoring.

Neta-Tanka Review - Artwork (Credit: La Boite de Jeu)

Component quality is at a premium here. The retail version of the game matches up well with the deluxe version. The only differences are the lack of shaped resources and the screen-printed workers. Stickers would have been ideal for these but are by no means essential. Cards are of a good quality and are laid out well enough to aid in understanding the game's iconography. The standout component is the player boards. Each is vibrantly coloured, with cutouts to hold all of your resources firmly in place.

The component trays are the one area which lets down the production for me. Each resource has its own place, and the removable boxes aid in game set-up. The only downside is that the resource tray is made of flimsy cardboard, so be careful if you'll be storing the game vertically.

All in all, Neta-Tanka doesn't reinvent the wheel in any significant way. What it does is present a solid offering into the worker placement genre, making slight tweaks to differentiate itself. A lot of the mechanics are familiar, though the linking mechanic makes the game diverse enough. It delves into a theme not often seen, and it ties this into its mechanics wonderfully.

Flavour-wise, it almost reminds me of Tokaido: a relaxed approach to worker placement. It's refreshing to have a game focus on generosity rather than blocking. This happens too much in most games like this. I don't think Neta-Tanka is in danger of dethroning established titles like Caverna or Viticulture. However, I think to dismiss it completely would be a mistake.

Neta-Tanka is at least worthy of consideration, if only for its beautiful presentation and slight adaptions of worker placement.

You Might Like

  • It provides a relaxed atmosphere.
  • A great worker placement game.
  • A rare theme.

You Might Not Like

  • It's not overly competitive.
  • Could do with a little more depth.

You Might Like
It provides a relaxed atmosphere.
A great worker placement game.
A rare theme.

You Might Not Like
It's not overly competitive.
Could do with a little more depth.

The post Neta-Tanka review appeared first on Zatu Games.

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Zatu Games Blog by Joseph Hough - 1d ago

To me, Arboretum is wonderfully simple thematic experience. Despite being a relatively simple card game, Arboretum is a challenging and rewarding journey. The Japanese practice of Forest Bathing, which I once misremembered as wood soaking, is the experience of health benefits through enjoying nature, and, to me, Arboretum taps into this ideal.

I have had positive experiences with all Z-Man titles I have played, and this is by no means the exception.

The Pieces Nature's Beauty

The game is made up of 10 sets of eight cards. Each set represents one species of tree (e.g. Willow, Oak and Olive) all of which have a unique colour in the game (e.g. Dogwood’s are white), and are numbered from one to eight. The trees are nicely depicted, and the game gives the overall impression of high quality and attention to detail, for something which is relatively limited in materials.  You also receive a short rulebook and a scoring pad both of which are pleasant and in keeping with the game’s general aesthetic.

The main concern might be that you are only buying a deck of 80 cards, a small rulebook and a notepad. Therefore, are you getting value for money? Given the overall gameplay experience, I would say that you are. This will be the case, even if the quality and attractiveness of the cards isn't sufficient for you.

The Sojourn

Arboretum is for two to four players. However, the total amount of cards you play with is dependent on the number of players.

  • Six sets for a two-player game.
  • Eight sets for a three-player game.
  • All of the sets for a four-player game.

The cards are shuffled, and each player is dealt seven. Then, apart from the starting player, everyone else has one card placed face-up to represent their discard pile.

On each player’s turn they have a choice to pick up two cards from the top of any player's discard pile or from the deck. This can be done in any combination. The player then plays one card by placing it somewhere in their Arboretum, adjacent to an existing card, and then discards one card.

The aim is to lay your cards in rows or columns so that they create numerical runs from low to high. In order to score any run, you need it to both start and end with the same species of tree. The longer the run the higher they score. You get double points if the run is all in one species. Each species is scored at the end of the game. There are also additional points for using the one or the eight.

However, the wonderful balance of the game lies in the fact that players can only score those points, which they have worked so hard for, if they have the highest total value of that tree species in their hand at the end of the game. So, if you have put down a beautiful run of Maples, but only have the Maple five left in your hand meanwhile one of your opponents has both the four and the two, then you will not score any points, undoing all of your grand landscaping efforts.

Seeing the Wood from the Trees

The tactics of Arboretum fall somewhere between attempting to score as many points as you can and trying to stop your opponent from scoring any points. This is dependent on what cards you draw and when. If you draw cards that already match those you have played you are more likely to lean towards trying to score. On the other hand, if you draw high cards that are from species your opponent has played you might be inclined to keep these.

However, you are constantly battling the limits of your own hand. You must weigh up the relative value of each card, unable to play some quickly enough whilst trying to not reveal too early what species you are trying to score. Sometimes you might find yourself taking the risk of using your own discard pile as an additional archive, throwing away a card one turn and then retrieving in the following, hoping that no one else decides they want it whilst you wait.

The game also enjoys the excitement and dread of the slow reveal. As you get closer to the end game players slowly realise what cards other players must have. As a result, they understand whether they are going to score any points for their meticulously designed row of willows. Also, if a player has the number one left in their hand, and another player has the eight, that eight is suddenly worth zero in the end game totalling.

This brings with it further mental conflict. You must try to work out whether somebody is still holding the one, and if so, what is the point in holding onto your eight. Do you take that gamble?

Final Thoughts on Arboretum

You spend your time trying to knit together your trees in such a way as to maximise your scoring. Representing its own little planning puzzle, you can inadvertently block your own ability to create runs if you lay the wrong card as they must be in sequence.

I prefer the two-player experience as the benefits of your own actions help you rather than another player. With a three or four-player game you can often find someone has won purely by the remaining players all cancelling each other out rather than their own efforts. This doesn’t lend itself as well to the overall light experience to me. However, others may enjoy the rivalry and the additional risk that this brings.

Despite the mixture of chaos and pressure, I find Arboretum to always be a relaxing sojourn. It's never quite the same, and it allows you to make different mistakes each time. However, you never feel frustrated. Instead, you tend to look back being able to precisely pinpoint where you won or lost the game.

It is probably clear by now that I really enjoy Arboretum. I think it is a light, charming and thoughtful experience, a tactical game of subtle conflicts where every decision feels decisive, and whether you win or you lose, at the end you get to look at the charming little forest you have grown.

You Might Like

  • A relaxing experience.
  • Reasonable levels of strategy.
  • Easy and quick to set-up and play.

You Might Not Like

  • Some elements of luck.
  • Limited materials.
  • Indirect player conflict.

You Might Like
A relaxing experience.
Reasonable levels of strategy.
Easy and quick to set-up and play.

You Might Not Like
Some elements of luck.
Limited materials.
Indirect player conflict.

The post Arboretum Review appeared first on Zatu Games.

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It's recently been confirmed that Ticket to Ride and Warhammer are being converted to TV shows. This got me thinking, are their other games that would work as TV shows? Well, I've brainstormed the idea, and here're my picks.

The Golden Age

I am very aware that we are currently experiencing a Golden Age of TV.  There are many great shows vying for our attention. Also, the ubiquitous nature of on-demand viewing means we can binge-watch box sets over a weekend. We’re no longer limited to five channels, as was the case when I was a kid. Shows like Game of Thrones, Line of Duty, Fargo and True Detective have had me utterly hooked. I'm always gasping for more when each series reached their denouement.

Another Golden Age we are also in the midst of is that of my favourite hobby, board gaming. Several clever people are using their great minds to create fun, engaging and even thought-provoking board games. Thankfully, it seems like there is no seeing that bubble burst either. The hobby’s popularity is touching the mainstream with increasing regularity.

Numerous TV shows have had board games based on them. Whether the theme is integral to the game’s design or simply pasted-on is a matter of opinion in some cases. The Walking Dead, Rick and Morty, Firefly, Game of Thrones, Battlestar Galactica, Wacky Races and hundreds (thousands, millions?!) of others have all lent their IP to at least one game.

However, in this article I’m going to look at some of the games in my collection and others I’ve played that currently have no presence on TV and fantasise as to whether their universe, characters and story would translate into a good TV show.

Board Game TV

I’m cognisant that a lot of board games take inspiration from film and TV in their concepts and visual style. Therefore, there might be some board games that would make the transition to TV fairly easily. The one that springs to mind first is Pandemic. This game, where a team of medical experts are jet setting across the world to research and cure diseases, would pique my interest if I saw a trailer for the series on TV. However, I’m sure the budget would need to be huge to effectively do this theme justice!

Another universe that would translate onto the small screen is Elder Sign (from the Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror universe). I imagine this to be a special effects laden paranormal investigation show in the style of The X-Files, but set in 1920's New England. They could really go to town on immersing people in the furtive atmosphere where an ensemble cast of investigators try to thwart cults and strange mysterious creatures. I also imagine a story arc that culminates in a big reveal at the end of each season.

Another game that I bought based largely on its remarkable theme is CMON’s figurine extravaganza, World of SMOG: Rise of Moloch. Indeed, when this game was announced I commented; “They’ve made this game especially for me!” Rise of Moloch is set in a re-imagined Steampunk Victorian London. Necromancers reanimate corpses to provide cheap labour and the cult and agents of the Nemesis seeks to commandeer and re-appropriate this undead workforce as an army to help them raise their beast-like demon god, Moloch. Tasked with stopping them are the Gentlemen of the “Unicorn Club” – loyal followers of Queen Victoria. This includes a menagerie of characters in the style of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, featuring werewolves, ghosts and mechanically enhanced humans. With numerous Gentlemen and Nemesis agents the potential for characterisation is so vast, and the dark, foggy Victorian setting would be so exciting. TV execs, make it happen.

If The Walking Dead is spiritually a TV show for Zombicide fans, then I would love to see a version set in the Middle Ages based on Zombicide: Black Plague. Wouldn’t it be great to see how survivors would cope with an undead apocalypse armed only with swords and bows?!

Scythe is a game about superpowers, set in a re-imagined 1920s Europe. You have fabulous chunky mechs marching across the countryside. However, I would base the TV series far more in the mundane. By this, I mean that I wouldn't focus on the power struggles of the factions. Instead, I would centre the series on the lives of people affected by the tension and war. Perhaps we could have a farming community in Rusviet, or a tavern in Saxony. Maybe the show follows a group of Polonia lads signing up for the army and learning to pilot mechs.

The final board game I’d like to see adapted into a TV Show is Terraforming Mars. Bear with me here! I envisage this as a corporate thriller series set in the near future with plenty of intrigue and corrupt goings on. Mix this with ostentatious special-effects-laden scenes of terraforming in process. With the right writers it could be utterly awesome.

Board Games to TV Shows - Scythe
Loony Toons

So far, I have concentrated on board games that would make great live action TV series. I’d now like to take a moment to consider some that I feel could work as cartoons.

The Arcadia Quest universe, with its humour and crazy, chibi characters could become a cartoon comedy favourite a-la The Simpsons, Family Guy and King of the Hill, but in a pseudo-Medieval setting. With plenty of heroes and monsters in the game’s universe already there would be no struggle for content.

Raiders of the North Sea is another board game that I’d like to see in animated form – if only because “The Mico” is my favourite board game artist and I’d love to see his Viking creations brought to life in a cartoon.

Other possible board games that would adapt well to cartoon would be King of Tokyo, Colt Express and I even think they could make Ticket to Ride work (at a stretch).

In terms of kids’ TV, I would look to the Oniverse (games including OnirimSylvionand Aerion) for surreal acid-trip viewing, or Sushi Go or Takenoko, for a more cutesy pre-school broadcast.

Video Nasties

Moving on, here are some games that would make the transition to TV as comfortably as a fish on land. A series about a Spanish King getting his palace tiled (Azul) would be comparable to awful daytime staples such as DIY SOS. Meanwhile, watching perpetually on-going footage of the Sagrada Familia windows being painstakingly erected would also be a snooze-fest!

Wingspan could be a show about ornithologists that would be an instant channel-flicker for me. While dry Euro games also don’t lend themselves too well to the TV treatment, I imagine Nusfjord, set in a 1950's Norwegian fishing village, to be a Norwegian version of Last of the Summer Wine with seas instead of fields and boats instead of tractors. Viticulture, despite all its plaudits as a game, would be a documentary on the Tuscan wine making process… Zzzzzz… Sorry, I dropped-off for a moment there…

I guess Codenames could be made into a quiz show as when this comes out at my games group it usually develops into a spectator sport. Perhaps “Celebrity Codenames”, hosted by Noel Edmonds is just around the corner…

Final Thoughts

It would be exciting to see some of these games adapted for the TV screen. However, I still maintain that I'd almost always choose to play a board game over watching TV. Therefore, whether they end up on TV or not, you’ll find me at the gaming table!...

The post Board Games that would work as TV Shows appeared first on Zatu Games.

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The single most suitable game franchise for film or TV is finally getting its spotlight moment! Yes, Warhammer 40K is getting its own show!!

The announcement was made yesterday by Games Workshop, owners of the Warhammer Universe. Within the statement, they revealed that Frank Spotnitz and Big Light Productions are creating a live action series based in the exploits of Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn. It's this team that created Man in the High Castle, the Amazon Prime series based on Philip K. Dick’s alternative history novel set in Axis occupied America.

Spotnitz will act as both show runner and executive producer on the series. The show will be based on novels written by New York Times best-selling author Dan Abnett. Originally published in 2001 by Black Library (Games Workshop’s publishing imprint), the books have been reprinted in multiple languages and sold over half a million copies globally.

Speaking about the new show, Spotnitz commented:

"We are delighted to collaborate with Games Workshop to develop the beloved visionary world of Warhammer 40,000 into a TV series. Warhammer 40,000 is steeped in rich and complex lore, with a myriad of traditions and stories that have accumulated over time in this thrilling and complex world, making it one of the most exciting properties to adapt for television audiences and the franchise’s loyal global fanbase.

"There is nothing else like it on television, and we are incredibly excited to tap into our own experience creating imaginative, complex and compelling worlds to bring this incredible saga to the screen.”

Though Eisenhorn, created by author Dan Abnett, isn’t a ground pounding Space Marine, he is one of Warhammer’s most beloved characters and a kick-butt daemon and alien investigator and hunter to boot, saving the universe from the scum of the otherworld and beyond – be prepared for plenty of Xeno and body horror action (it’s gonna get icky).

Warhammer 40K's universe is host to:

  • Demons.
  • Aliens.
  • Orcs.
  • Elves.
  • Dwarves.
  • Huge robots.
  • Gothic space fleets.
  • Power armoured knights.
  • Mutated, plague-ridden rebels.
  • Decadent perverts,

As a result, it's possibly a universe that could give twin behemoths Star Wars and Star Trek a run for their money and, if it’s done right, could be bigger than an Adeptus Titanicus’ MOT invoice.

No date has been set for the launch of the Warhammer TV show.

The post Warhammer 40K to get its own TV Show appeared first on Zatu Games.

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Zatu Games Blog by Nick Welford - 5d ago

Party games are often held to a different level of judgement than other games. Perhaps they are not seen as serious endeavours for 'proper' gamers. I understand, really, I do. A party game getting the same score as your beloved heavy Euro is slightly unsettling. But, here's the thing - party games can tap into fun in a way that most other games can't. A good party game is not about the score, but about a shared journey with plenty of laughs along the way. Rarely will we remember who won a party game, but we will remember laughing until we cried about... something!

Just One is a co-operative party game from Repos Production. They purchased the rights from the Fun Consortium in 2018, changing the name from We Are The World. Repos made several adaptations and it's now nominated for the 2019 Spiel des Jahres. It's designed by Ludovic Roudy and Bruno Sautter.

Just One

Inside the Just One box you will find:

  • Seven different coloured dry wipe pens (that are actually not bad quality).
  • Seven white 'v' shape card stands.
  • A deck of cards.

The gameplay is simple. You deal out 13 cards from the deck and one player takes one of these and places it on their stand facing away from them. On the card are five words helpfully numbered 1-5, the player chooses a number and everyone else looks to see what the word is. Next they will write a one-word hint that points towards the word on the card. For example, if the word is Elephant I might write 'Ears'. The words are written directly on to the card stands, which is a nice touch.

After everyone has written a hint the guessing player closes their eyes while the other players check their words against each other. If any have written the same word all examples of the word are erased. This is the crux of the game, choosing a word that will lead to the answer but not be so obvious that everyone else chooses it. Of course, maybe everyone will be doing that, so the obvious word is the right word?

Just One Review - Game Components (Credit: Repos Production)
Just Some

There are the usual word game rules in effect about derivatives of words and all that jazz, but Just One is best played loose and fast. Remember you are working together! The guessing player then looks at the remaining clues and attempts to guess the word.

If they are right - hurrah! One point for the team, if they are wrong they have to discard two cards. The safer option is to pass thereby only discarding the current card. Depending on the group I sometimes ignore this slightly 'gamery' rule in favour of just losing one card when you pass. The rulebook provides a ranking depending on how many of the 13 cards you successfully identified!

You could argue there is not much 'game' here. However, I have found this to be a hit in multiple groups due to the approachability, and fun. Thinking you have nailed a great clue only to have someone else come up with the same word is as amusing as it is frustrating. It is also quite unique to have a party game that plays as a cooperative experience, and it works to create a great experience.

Final Thoughts on Just One

It is hard not to recommend Just One. It's a cheap fun, party game with just the right amount of that something special. Of course, if you aren't a fan of party games already then you won't find anything here to convince you otherwise.

Bottom Line - 'Just One provides a simple word guessing game in a clever co-op package that will have you playing just one more time for most of the night!'

You Might Like

  • Simple fun.
  • Co-op party game.
  • You will play it a lot.

You Might Not Like

  • Party Games.
  • Is it a game?

You Might Like
Simple fun.
Co-op party game.
You will play it a lot.

You Might Not Like
Party Games.
Is it a game?

The post Just One Review appeared first on Zatu Games.

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