Kevingston Boardgames. Cambridge, England


Games I have known ...

Contrary to popular belief (that 'boardgames' comprise Monopoly, Cluedo, Risk, and something to do with that show on the telly..) there have been thousands of games published in the past few years. The vast majority are either 'lemons' or 'incomprehensible' in any one persons view and you can rarely tell before opening the box. I, for one, value knowing what others think of a game, even superficially, before I buy. These reviews are scored by my opinion as to how good the game is for its audience. Acquire scores the same as Ladybirds; Acquire is far more sophisticated but Ladybirds is a far better game for the under fives.

Games are listed alphabetically -ish.

RodMod = Roll Dice Move Dobber along a track, take a chance card, .. etc.

Painful.

Dull.

I'd play, but not suggest it.

I like this one.

..a lot.

Blue scores are for games I'd probably keep for when gamers visit.
and green for games I'd play with my young sons but probably not other adults.
indicates a [German] 'Game of the Year' winner.

[This page is rather, as they say, "under construction", and so contains a pretty minimal and eclectic starting set!]

Acquire

A cleverly designed semi-abstract game of share buying, but those able to 'card count' have a big advantage unless the game is played 'open'. The presentation can be quite confusing for newcomers (not helped by the 2nd edition showing pictures on the board and tiles that have nothing to do with the game mechanics). The latest edition looks much better but I've not seen it in the flesh as yet. Privately, I eye the game with suspicion as I never get an opportunity to start a chain!
Avalon Hill
Anglepens Fishing Game

This game is rather like a film with stunning scenery, but no plot. The artwork is wonderful and the pewter dobbers have to be seen to be believed, but the game is completely random, has no player interaction whatsoever and drags on for hours. An accurate simulation, maybe, but numbing as a game and the rule book is obfustication incarnate.
Anglepen Jones, 199x
Auf Achse

Mike Siggins described our Special Delivery as a very English Auf Achse. A bit of an overstatement but they do share a delivery theme. Auf Achse has much more frustrating contract bidding mechanism which I'm sure I'll get the hang of, one day.
Bohnanza

The bean trading card game where you need to keep very careful track of your hand and the traffic in cards between other players. The amazing card artworks inspire many alternative names which can be a bit confusing between players -was that a Garden Bean or a Manic Bean?
Some nice mechanisms, always a good game, and it fits in the pocket!
Bal Masque

Whoever wrote the rules was on one of the more exotic levels of conciousness. As a result I suspect we've never managed to work out how to play this properly.
Shallcross Creations
Bushell on the Box

Suffice it to say this is the only game I was asked to review that was handed to me wrapped in a plain brown paper bag in a unlit car park somewhere near Cambridge. Never could bring myself to ask anyone to play it.
Carabande

Not a board game in any traditional sense, but I justify it's presence here as a "table-top" game -and it's fun. Imagine a large wooden racetrack assembled from 'jigsaw' pieces with fences on one side only, and flat disc 'cars' flicked round the course bouncing off fences and each other. The usually suspicious phrase "Great fun for all the family" is spot on here. Get the expansion set with the chicanes and jump.
   
Formula One

A British classic of Formula1 racing using judgement and forward planning. Up to 6 players choose their speed round the course limited by acceleration constraints and judging just where to risk burning those brakes and tyres. Proof that there was once a popular UK strategy games market.
Waddingtons, 196x?
   
Gizzajob

Roll dice, move dobber, answer bizarre question. Next please...
Kehco
The Game of Nations

This is one of those games that makes you wonder whether it was ever playtested. Potentially a challenging semi-abstract game over an oil well scenario it suffers two major flaws. One is that the trailing players are soon out of the game and it then drags on for the two remaining players. The other flaw is to allow an unbeatable stalemate situation, so the game never ends if you have experienced players playing it. I've never tried but it might work as a 'limited time' game.
The Game of The Year

One of the 'roll dice move dobber' camp except that the die is a twirly calendar thingy. Little strategy as such but fun in a 'family game' sort of way. It would be improved by a degree of simplification, because, although there are few decisions there are a lot of things you've got to watch all at the same time and missing things like your immunity to Bad Things whilst in your birth sign can get a bit irritating.
Linie 1

A game with an irritating anti-climax. Spend the main part of the game tracking out an efficient path from A to B only to lose on the erratic race at the end. Even with the 'designer's cut' ending it feels a bit of a let down, but it's still great fun trying to untangle your track that someone's just redirected down a blind alley.
Ladybirds (The Game of)

Ridicuously simple game, well made, playable by a 3-year-old with little help, not a dobber in sight, and it's fun all round. Just what else can you ask of such a game?
Orchard Games.
 
Modigliani

A well presented art auction game that unfortunately didn't quite pull free of the RoDMoD format. Some nice bluff and you need to manage your money carefully else that picture you need for the set will go elsewhere. A bit long for the depth, and an independent and quick auctioneer is essential if it's not to drag on.
Gazebo Games, UK, 199x
Marracash

This game of buying shops and guiding customers into them is a pleasing mixture of auction (with all the elements of desparation and bluff), dobber placement, and planning ahead. Always seems to finish before I've got my strategy quite right! Although I've put this in the 'gamers' camp it's one of those games I'd introduce to non-gamers should the occasion arise. It's a good game to show that rewarding 'strategy' games need not be complicated by lots of rules.
 
Politrix

Silly one this. The board is a complete take-off of the Monopoly format and the politically cynical cards serve to make everything pretty much completely random. Strategy free but who cares, just enjoy the send-up of politics and 'chance' games. One for 'Have I Get News For You?' viewers after a few drinks.
   
Rummikub

No great innovation here, simply a tile variant of rummy where you can rearrrange already laid sets in order to create places where you can dispose of tles in your hand. It has the merit of having widely known underlying mechanics thus can be taught quickly but can still stress a few grey cells.
   
Skeleton in the Cupboard

Light Cluedo format game for children, collecting cards from rooms rather than seeking information. Not bad but the generous size of the board and only one die for movement means it can take a while to get from room to room. Spooking other players with the ghost goes down well with the kids.
Orchard Games
Snap Election

One of a number of games that fall in the sadly unprofitable space between 'family' and 'gamer' games. A physical heavyweight with the huge number of components it hasn't the depth for those looking for a strategic game, but has a complexity liable to deter those happier with RoDMoD games. A 2nd edition of the rules tries to move it toward the gamer camp which is the wrong direction, however, its still the best of the 'family' political games I've played.
 
Traffic Jam

A welcome, but not very succesful, stab at a strategy game for the very young. Rules are incomplete and it really doesn't work, but I'm so pleased that someone at least tried.
Orchard Games
   
Wrott & Swindlers

Fun filler. The humour is probably not intended but the reaction to some of the double double bluff bidding can hilarious. No great strategy but some nice twists, and like most auction games needs to have someone to keep the pace up.