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Spiel 2021 is over and we had a blast. Four days of finally seeing loads of our international friends again, german bread at breakfast and of course a lot of games. We came back this afternoon and we’ve been trying to focus on finishing this comic and blog post and honestly, it’s a bit of a struggle not to walk away and just start reading some rulebooks of some wonderful new games!

This year we were secretly hoping that with a smaller Spiel and the shipping crisis, there would be fewer games to see and while this was the case it didn’t make us feel less overwhelmed by everything on display. I’ll try to highlight some games we thought were interesting.

First up is Riverside by Chilifox Games, we normally don’t like roll & write games but after playing this with some lovely people from Denmark and the UK in the hotel lobby on Saturday evening we bought a copy the very next morning. It’s a game about being a boat captain, filling seats, and selling tickets to expeditions like polar bear safaris in a nordic environment. The inclusion of a modular board to represent the boat’s journey made the game a lot more interesting than roll & writes with just a scoresheet.

Speaking of roll & writes, Vengeance: the Roll and Fight is a pretty brutal real-time roll & write game about John Wick-like figures fighting their way through loads of baddies and trying to have their revenge on a boss character at the end. I rolled so badly even the designer Dávid Turczi came over to see how this was possible. It’s on pre-order right now and if you want to experience a chaotic action-filled roll & write, this game will fulfill your wish!

We also really like Mobile Markets which apparently is a streamlined version of Mobile Inc. While we never played Mobile Inc., we really enjoyed this game about designing and selling smartphones as it feels very rooted in reality without getting lost in the minutia that heavy economic titles tend to do. The graphic design is also very good as the whole game is played on an overview of the rules on the boards, which made it very easy to play after a short rules explanation. It’s not quite a gateway game but I do think this game could work very well in helping people get excited about economic games.

I’ll keep it to these three but we’ll be talking and showing pictures of loads of games over on our Instagram the coming weeks, so follow along as we’ll be slowly discovering all the games we brought home from Spiel.

Before we ask the question of the week we would like to thank the Hub Games crew for hanging around with us after hours, Peer Sylvester for demoing games with us on Friday. Peter Rustemeyer for saying hi and assuring us the last scenario of Paleo is just really freakin’ hard. Beneeta K for hanging around on Saturday, Happy Luza and Will & Sara from Tantrum House for having lunch on Sunday. Paul Grogan for once again hosting his legendary meetup in the Fritzpatrick’s Pub. All the publishers for running a great show and the demo’ers for doing a wonderful job. Lastly, we would like to thank all the lovely people coming up to us to show their love! We hope to see you all next year!

What do you think is the most interesting Spiel release?

 

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Putting away games is quite a science! Recently we saw this conversation between Eric Booth and Johnathan Liu on Twitter which instantly knew had to be a comic. Especially with bigger games, putting it back in the box can be as tricky as remembering the rules! We really appreciate it when games publishers collaborate with companies like Gametrayz to make sure things will fit nicely. Parks is a wonderful example that has great-looking trays that fit neatly in the box and make sure everything stays in place when the game is returned to the Kallax. Fantasy Flight games are the other end of the spectrum having loads of tokens, decks, boards and dice and you’ll have to figure out on your own what’s the best way to make everything fit. I remember we took an afternoon to reorganize our Imperial Assault box after two campaigns in an effort to speed up the process of setting up and tearing down everything, to only play it twice after that…

Speaking of playing games, we didn’t play a whole lot this week. For the next weeks we have a guest in the house who will change up our gaming nights a bit. He does like Ticket to Ride so we’ll be serving a steady diet of gateway games to see what he does and doesn’t like. The first game we tried yesterday was Machi Koro 2, which went down well and we played two games back to back. We did receive quite a few new games however including Machi Koro 2 (thanks Pandasaurus!), Rush Out! (thanks Sit Down games!), Chronicles of Crime 1400, Cantaloop and Sleeping Gods. We’re very eager to try these games so hopefully, we’ll find some free time soon to get lost in some real-time dice battles and all those wonderful interactive stories.

 

What do you think is the hardest game to get back in the box?

 

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Rules mistakes, everyone makes them! In some cases, the outcome can be quite drastic. We personally think that DnD can be quite rules-heavy and we’re certain many fantasy lives and destinies were drastically changed because of us making rules mistakes. Most of the times, we would suggest just to roll with it but when a player or very important NPC gets taken out, it might be good to rewind back a bit and correct the mistake.

Speaking of mistakes, this week we finished our Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Magic draft and we came in last and second to last, so mistakes must have been made. 😉 We did have a blast however and we already promised we’ll do a draft when other cross-over sets, like the Lord of Rings one, get released. While we both enjoy some casual Magic, a little get-together once a year like this is enough for us.

Other than Magic we played fourteen(!) games this week, highlights include four games of The King is Dead, which we introduced to two new people who were both in love with it after their first game. We also played three games of What Next which were a lot of fun. Like we said in the last blog post, this is a choose your own adventure game in which different challenges will have to be overcome by playing small dexterity games. While we’re not completely convinced the game is super replayable after playing through each scenario a couple of times, it is very very fun and if you always wanted a story-party game, this might be it. We have posted a Twitter thread with our first impressions featuring some dramatic slow-mo footage of us playing.

This week we’ll continue our Pandemic Legacy Season 0 campaign and hopefully, we’ll get to play our first game of Specter Ops, we found a second-hand copy in gaming shop Speelkwartier in Arnhem during a day out!

Have you ever fixed a rule mistake with a dramatic result?

 

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Getting friends excited to try new games is something everyone with a bigger board games collection will run into and it requires knowing what would be a good ‘hook’ to persuade certain people. We have some friends that don’t like certain art styles, or games that lean on role-playing, so we know we’ll have to find some other enticing aspect to get people interested. Often this is the theme or certain components, or maybe just saying it won’t take THAT long. 😉 We don’t try to trick people into playing games they don’t want to play but sometimes you have to lure them out of their comfort zone a bit so they can experience something we think/hope they will enjoy.

The fun thing about this is that it’s not only gamers doing this to each other, but publishers doing it as well. Anytime Vital Lacerda and Ian O’ Toole team up we’re so tempted to get the game even though they are too heavy for us to enjoy or even get to the table regularly, but just look at the Weather Machine cover! You just want to live in it!

Speaking of games with a great hook, yesterday we played some Gods Love Dinosaurs and it’s just full of cool little details and mechanics that get us excited. We haven’t heard a whole lot of hype around it since its release last year but the smart ecosystem building mechanic combined with some delightful animeeple figures are great. We definitely going to introduce this to some friends to play it at higher player counts. We also took a little holiday in a wooden mobile home and played two games of Rummikub as the mobile home contained a small collections of games like Yathzee, Chess and Rummikub. Rachel had only played it a few times in her life it but for me it’s a game that used to get played loads during family camping trips, so playing it while staying in a mobile home gave it just a bit more of a vacation vibe. We did notice that the way my family plays it might not be fully within the rules but it does offer a bit more combo potential. It’s a bit hard to put into words but our family has the rule that if for example, you swap out a joker with a tile for your board, you’re also allowed to use additional tiles from your board to make a new series using the joker. The rules sort of seem to hint that these multi-step turns might not be legal but since it makes the joker less powerful we kept it in. We were also reminded that the Rummikub joker is a very scary piece of board game art…

This week we’ll be playing What Next from Big Potato and we’re very excited about it. A choose-your-own-adventure game mixed with dexterity challenges seems like a fun gimmick that has to potential to be very immersive. We’ll very likely post some videos and photo’s on social media without getting too spoilery.

 

How do you get people interested in a game?

 

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Cubes are the best! While a miniature or even a standee can only be one thing or a set of similar things, a red cube can be anything from a Welsh follower to a wound! That’s why we collected 71 different cubes from some of our favorite games to present you with this handy guide into the world of cubes and their meaning. If you ever find a random cube in your house again you can quickly see what it might be!

Ironically, we didn’t play any game containing cubes this week, although we did continue the Lost Ruins of Arnak solo campaign that requires you to add some cubes from other games as a story marker. Where now halfway through the campaign and while we are able to complete the goals we are nowhere near scoring enough points to beat our automated opponent, we can only hope this doesn’t come back to bite us like a snake hidden in the bushes…

We also got tricked into playing a game! A friend has been trying for years to play Imperial 2030 but wasn’t able to get enough people excited about a game that’s about trading in obligations and going to war for profit. This weekend, however, he invited us for a game day and he had already set up the game, so there was no escape. While we thought the idea of having a war game in which the player that controls a country can switch because of stocks is interesting, it went on for a little too long to really recommend it. If a designer would be able to turn this into a version that could be played in an hour or 90 minutes, this would be a very interesting game.

We hope you have a great week and don’t forget about our ongoing giveaways over on our Instagram!

 

Can you name all the games that are in the guide?

 

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We love Above and Below, it’s such a strange mash-up between worker placement and story game and while it’s a shame the little stories don’t come with a resolution (house rule: make up a little resolution story when reading from the book) the game instantly teleports you to a wondrous world of pig men, abandoned mechanical contraptions and strange encounters. We’ve been itching for a thematic experience and with What Next?, Sleeping Gods and the new Descent being available soon, it’s a good time to be looking for some amazing stories in board games. It’s wonderful to spend some time in another world and take a break from reality.

Speaking of taking a break, we’re taking a little holiday! You probably won’t notice as we’ll still update our comics and Instagram but behind the scenes there will be relaxing, fun day trips and hopefully games! Normally we would have guest artist to fill August but this year has been so busy that we didn’t have time to get guest artists lined up so you’ll just have to enjoy more some of our own comics!

What have we been so busy with you might ask? Well not only has Semi Co-op turned six years old this year, we recently hit 15.000 followers on Instagram. Because of that we’ve reached out to some of our favourite publishers to organise some really cool giveaways. The first one with CGE went live last week but if you missed it, there are still enough giveaways coming to enter every Wednesday. We are a bit overwhelmed by the awesome generosity of everybody we reached out to especially in this current resource and container crisis. It’s been amazing to see what games they were willing to provide us with, so we hope you’ll enter the giveaways and win some amazing games!

Luckily there has also been some time to play some games. This week we enjoyed some older favourites like Flamme Rouge and It’s a Wonderful World but our main event was this Saturday when we had a small Magic: the Gathering draft with some friends. Because our friend group originally bonded over playing D&D, the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set seemed a good time to enjoy some Magic even though we all hadn’t played in years/decades. We pulled some cool cards, played some fun games and didn’t even get to complete our mini tournament before the day was over. So in a few weeks, we get to grab our drafted decks again and continue our little Magic/DnD nostalgia trip. While we both don’t enjoy Magic when it gets serious, a draft or a single game with preconstructed decks is a fun time.

What game transports you to another world?

 

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We’ve spent so much time playing the Star Realms app, we even participated in a Clash of Creators season battling other board game content creators in Star Realms. When Wise Wizards announced they were doing a Hero Realms app we remembered the old viral news that a Google Pacman doodle supposedly had cost the economy several hundreds of millions of dollars and that’s how the comic came about. The Star Realms/Hero Realms games are easy but very fun deck builders and we definitely recommend them if you are looking for something to introduce people into games or just want something quick and cheap to play. Hero Realms can even be expanded upon with a co-op campaign but we haven’t tried that yet.

Speaking of things that are quick and fun, Adam New and his crew have been making these fun comic dub of our comics and the latest one is a video version of the classic comic Field Research. Not only is it cool to have “ourselves” voiced by other people, but it’s also fun to see what creative choices they’ve made in translating a static comic into something moving. Check it out on Youtube!

This week we didn’t play a lot of games but we did finally play Terraforming Mars! We really enjoy it so far although we’ve only played with the basic corporations and no variants. I can see how the drafting variant can make offer some more room for a strategy which sounds good. We are surprised at how heavy BGG rates it. With a 3.24 the score is a lot higher than other tableau games like London 2nd Edition, Roll for the Galaxy, or even Wingspan which we think have just as much going on. Maybe we’re missing some sort of intricate layer of strategy we haven’t seen after two plays?

We also got our first three-player game in of Brew which is just as brutal as with two players but you’ve got to be even more on your toes. I think a lot of people will enjoy this a lot as long as you know this game is mean and requires you to really interfere with the plans of other players to win. With most games being only around six actions per round, and four rounds per game every action counts! You should also know that the forest you are trying to save will get burned down in the battle for dominance which is a very funny disconnect from the cute theme and the brutal way this game plays.

This week will play some more Gloomhaven as always but we’ll also have a Magic: the Gathering draft of the new Forgotten Realms set. We, and the people we’re drafting with, haven’t played Magic in years (or even more than a decade!) and the shopkeep at the FLGS looked very confused when we bought the boosters so that’s going to be fun!

 

What digital board game have you spent the most time on?

 

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We never cheat on purpose but we do sometimes realize later we made an error. We’ve never caught anybody cheating during our games but we have heard “Oh, I seem to have miscounted my resources” which is always is a bit suspicious.😏

Since our main goal, while playing games, is having a good time with friends and enjoying the game… we don’t care about winning and we don’t think somebody at the table wants to win bad enough to cheat. We have seen some crazy cheating in the world of tournament play, with cheating at the Ticket to Ride World Championship and Pro-level Magic has had enough cheater to make list articles out of them! I think we can all agree though that Rachel’s form of cheating here is probably not something you’ll see anywhere in real life. 😉

But enough of people ruining the games just to win, let’s talk about fun games! In case you missed it, we did a fun comic for Sinister Fish games for the Villagers expansion. We learned about Villagers last year during Spiel when Peer Sylvester showed us the game on Tabletopia and we ordered the game the next day. Since then we got in contact with Sinister Fish and we even got to play the Shifting Seasons expansion on the AwSHUX live stream, so Villagers has been a fun little ongoing thing this year that always puts us in a good mood. 🙂

Another thing that puts us in a good mood was beating the headless horseman in Gloomhaven! We put together a pretty good mix of abilities like retaliate to make him suffer so it seems we’re finally in a place with our current party that we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses to create good game plans. As it seems we’re coming to the end of an act in the overall storyline we’re curious to see how the game will change in the next, and probably final(?) act.

We’re not sure what we’re playing next week, we’ve been waiting for Sleeping Gods to hit retail again, but its delivery has been delayed several times. We’re also going to do a draft of the new Forgotten Realms Magic set with some friends but we’re not sure when that’s happening. So we’ll probably just enjoy one of our current favorites, since MicroMacro and Paleo won the Spiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel we’ll probably include those. 🙂

Have you ever caught somebody cheating at a game?

 

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Getting games to your table is a long process that involves multiple parties getting the right things from point A to B. At the moment, there is a global container crisis going which is hitting the board game industry hard. On Twitter, we heard from publishers that they have to pay up to 1000% for shipping. Understandably, nobody takes that sort of price hikes into account while making a budget so tough choices will have to be made. Expect upcoming games and backed Kickstarters to come in a little later.

Something that we tend to forget is that most board game publishers are very small, even bigger companies are between five and ten people. It’s easy to forget when you get frustrating news about a game you are looking forward to but please stay reasonable and polite because these small teams are probably going through some very scary times at the moment. You probably have some other games on your shelves you’ve yet to play or take the time to grab an old favorite.

Speaking of “old” favorites, this week we played Gloomhaven and Wingspan. It’s a bit strange to realize Wingspan is just two years old and Gloomhaven has just been out for four years. Luckily, both are still great but would recommend them to completely different people.
Gloomhaven is a long campaign that requires you to learn a whole lot of rules and see the big picture while also spot opportunities to succeed. This was our 47th game of Gloomhaven and we honestly have no idea how far we are along with the campaign but our best guess is that we’re just past the 50 percent mark, which means we will probably finish in 2023 if we keep up the current pace.
Wingspan, on the other hand, is a bit tricky to explain to people that are not used to tableau-building games. But once you understand the rules, you can have a fun hour-long game enjoying birds and making all kinds of powerful combos! It is amazing that board games can bring two such different experiences while both being considered one of the best games in the past couple of years.

This week, we’re continuing our Pandemic Legacy Season 0 campaign and we’ll celebrate Rachel’s birthday!

What unplayed/old favorite game do you want to play?

 

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Getting a new game is always exciting, you always want to get it played as soon as possible, sometimes forgetting that you will also need to teach it to your unsuspecting friends… 

We always make sure that when we bring a new game to read the rules in advance and most of the time I set up the game and mimic some of the moves in the game to get a feel for how the different components and rules go together. Sometimes, however, life gets in the way and we try to do a last-minute rule read just before, or even when everybody is at the table and that mostly doesn’t end well. Before you know it you’ve done an hour-long reading of the rulebook at game night with little time to actually enjoy the game.

Learning a game can be difficult, especially if you are the one that is the person “hosting” the game. You will need to have all the rules in your head to turn it into a nice instruction at the start of the game plus you’ll probably need to keep an eye out for people making accidental illegal plays during their first games. We can’t imagine working in a board game cafe and having to memorize so many different games.

Luckily for us this week we only needed to learn one game and it was Brew, sent to us by Pandasaurus, that we’re very excited about. The game looks amazing and it turns out it offers loads of ways to optimize your plays, mostly by making very aggressive moves and blocking or even nullifying your opponent’s hard work. While the game’s tagline is “bring balance back to the forest”, we approached balance a bit differently by burning down large parts of the forest to secure more victory points.

This week we have no gaming plans at all, except for one game of Gloomhaven! So it’s time to look at the shelf and see what old favorites we’ll finally get the attention they deserve!

How do you learn new games?
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