Hello everyone, hope you’re enjoying summer times and beautiful board games.
At the cafe we’ve a giant blackboard that we keep updated with our Game Gurus’ current picks, favourite titles of the moment that they are taking out to tables again and again.
Currently Guru Tristan is toiling away, hard at work putting up the latest in what’s hot this summertime at Thirsty Meeples.
Let’s see what is on our minds….
Will's Pick: Roll Player
Roll Player represents a competent combination of crunchy and rewarding game design with enticing theme, formed from the unlikely pairing of dice-drafting to a Dungeons and Dragons-esque fantasy world.
1 to 4 players (5 with the expansion) are challenged to draft multi-coloured dice to meet stringent demands made by their fantasy characters race, class, background, and alignment over the course of roughly an hour. Each of these character facets are dealt randomly, both representing victory point conditions that players will aspire to complete but also featuring names and flavour text oozing with theme that brings the characters to life. The higher (and better) dice the players drafts, however, the worse cards they will have access to from the market, creating a balance between taking the dice needed and the items, skills, or traits desired to score the most points. The theme, whilst admittedly sometimes abstracted from the game design itself, coupled with the difficult decisions and multi-layered strategy, makes this a must-try for any fans of fantasy worlds, dice games, or medium strategy.
1 to 4 Players | 60 Minutes | Ages 10+
Tristan's Pick: Fog of Love
What happens when an unfashionable internet celebrity goes on a date with a neurotic prince? Can two high school sweethearts riddled with personality flaws build a life together? Who do you side with when your heavily-muscled girlfriend gets in an argument with your eccentric parents? All these questions, and more, can be answered in Fog of Love, a sitcom simulator that weaves a tangled tapestry of relationship ups and downs over a languid hour. Tell a tale of romance scene by scene and chapter by chapter, climaxing in a dramatic resolution that could spell everlasting devotion or anguished heartbreak. Whether you cooperate or compete, love or hate, Fog of Love is, much like a real relationship, always over too soon.
(Currently we’re stocking the hard to source KS version of this game with extra content! - Ed.)
2 Players | 60-120 Minutes | Ages 17+
Dan's Pick: The Climbers
This well crafted game involves stacking brightly-coloured, wooden blocks in a tower and ‘climbing’ your meeple to the highest point you can using cute little ladders. It is visually striking, elegantly simple, and deceptively vicious. Each move you make alters the three-dimensional, multi-coloured board that everyone shares, so players must use ‘Stacktics’® to ensure they hinder their opponents as much as they help themselves. While it sits alongside favourites such as Santorini, Tsuro, and Crabz, this game towers above the competition and will elevate your collection from great,…. to monumental.
2 to 5 Players | 45 Minutes | Ages 8+
Ben's Pick: Kero
Created by the collaborative design collective known as Prospero Hall, Kero is a two-player game of resource collection, area control, and engine building set in a Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic wasteland. The twist is that players gain resources by rolling and re-rolling dice against the clock, or more specifically the fuel-tanker-shaped-sand-timer. This injects a fairly deep strategic game with a nitrous boost of urgency and panic. The gameplay is innovative, the artwork is beautiful and the production values are exceptional.
This game is a mad must. Woop woop.
2 Players | 30 Minutes | Ages 8+
Simon's Pick: Raids
A raiding we will go, a raiding we will go!
Continuing a current fashion trend in boardgame themes Raids see you at the helm of a Viking longship as you go out with plunder and glory in mind. Over three years (rounds) you’ll scour the nearby seas for loot, pillage, carnage and oppertunity, carefully managing your cargo space and crew to ensure you don’t fall foul of the biggest threat in these waters: THE OTHER PLAYERS.
See for every Cnut the Great there is a Edmund Ironside and you’d better believe your fellows are gazing at your loots in envy! All in all a great, light strategy game with multiple viable approaches to winning and Iello’s usual FANTASTIC art and production.
(And did we mention that 1/2 of the design team Brett Gilbert is an Oxford local who often attends our end of the month Sunday playtest night?)
2 to 4 Players | 40 Minutes | Ages 10+
Andy's Pick: Unstable Unicorns
Unstable Unicorns is a strategic collection-based card game, in which all players are aiming to be the first to have a required number of unicorns within their stable. Gameplay runs on a simple basis of each player in turn playing one card from their hand to impact the game. Generally, this will either improve their own stable or demolish their opponents.
The simplicity of gameplay is actually hiding a large amount of content beneath it as the powers on the cards range from allowing you to play two cards instead of one, to downgrading an opponent’s stable so all their unicorns are now counted as pandas, so cannot be used to win the game. This variety forces some strategic planning to ensure you can block all your opponents beating you to have a full stable of unicorns. The bizarre nature of these powers is further highlighted by some fantastic comical artwork on the cards, which keeps the game's tone quite light, while the gameplay itself becomes more competitive as the game progresses.
Overall, Unstable Unicorns is fantastically fun, offering 2-8 players a slightly strategic, but always chaotic, card game.
2 to 8 Players | 30-45 Minutes | Ages 14+
Fergus' Pick: Pyramid of Pengqueen
Playing out as something akin to ‘Battleships but the pieces keep moving’, Pyramid of Pengqueen is a thrilling game of cat and mouse set in the icy lair of an undead bird….
2 to 5 players take on the roles of hunter or hunted, wrathful Pengqueen or greedy treasure hunter, and a tense chase of close calls and devious plots unfolds over half an hour. Gasp as treasure hunters betray each other for material gain, gaze in wonder at the frozen pyramid’s unearthly riches, and weep icicle tears as the Pengqueen entombs you in her chilly sarcophagus to end the game. Both young and old will be enthralled by this gem of the strategic world, easy to learn yet brimming with tactical promise.
2 to 5 Players | 30-45 Minutes | Ages 8+