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Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective (1981)

There is a genuine thrill that comes from experiencing something that takes a beloved property and runs with it in an entirely different direction.  That thrill is even more electric when it confounds your own expectations.  Look at Stephen Moffat’s modern take on Sherlock, for example.  ‘Oh, it’s the Arthur Conan Doyle stories, except we lose everything about them and…

Blood Bowl (2016) – Accessibility Teardown

It won’t be a surprise from our enthusiastic review that Blood Bowl is a game we heartily recommend. You’d get some very odd looks if you tried to convince anyone it was a storytelling game but years after the fact there are still matches I can recount in vivid detail. That’s a remarkable accomplishment from a game that’s about fantasy races knocking each other around a football field. It’s certainly not for everyone though – you need a fair degree of psychic armour to weather the storm of vindictive fate at the very least. Is it for you? Let’s roll these block dice and find out.

Blood Bowl (2016)

You can find our accessibility teardown of Blood Bowl here. As I ripped open the sealed bag containing the special dice for Blood Bowl, I applied just a tiny bit too much force and four of them ended up going flying across the room.  I went over to pick them up – each of them showed the ‘attacker down’ symbol…

Escape: The Curse of the Temple (2012) – Accessibility Teardown

With a four star review and a hearty endorsement, Escape: The Curse of the Temple has a lot to recommend it. It’s a a rare breed of tabletop game that manages to create real stress and tension from the simplest mechanics – it’s like the darkest timeline version of what Yahtzee could be. Play in Escape is an arc of desperation, triumph, frustration, joy, and rapidly escalating sadness and mounting despair. If they slapped a different theme on it they could have called it ‘Nightclubbing in Dundee’.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf (2014) – Accessibility Teardown

There are very few games that manage to take five minutes of play and pack them so thickly with activity that light can’t escape their pull. One Night Ultimate Werewolf though is one of them – its four star review measures its black hole density as much as its quality. Let’s say you like the look of it. Let’s say I’ve talked you into making it part of your gaming lifestyle – is it something you could play? The token in front of it will determine whether or not it’s gonna get lynched. Open your eyes. AHR YEW A CAWP?

One Night Ultimate Werewolf (2014)

You can find our accessibility teardown of One Night Ultimate Werewolf here. “Don’t listen to her”, I yelled.  “The two of them are in cahoots!   It’s them!  If you kill me, we lose.  If we kill them, we win!  It’s that simple!  Don’t…” “Okay”, intones another voice.  “Let’s vote.  Three…” “No, don’t…” “Two…”, “You’re making a mistake!”, “One…” “Noooooo…” There…

CV (2013) – Accessibility Teardown

CV has a great set of bones to it but the flesh around them is somewhat emaciated. There’s just not a lot of content, and you see the same cards each game so the novelty rapidly diminishes to a vanishing point after a handful of plays. That’s fine in a game that has the mechanical complexity to stand on its own merits – nobody argues Chess needs an expansion pack. CV though lives and dies on the combination of life choices it puts in front of you. Nonetheless, we gave it three stars in our review because it’s intensely charming and a very worthwhile experience while it holds you attention. Can you make it a meaningful part of your life? There’s only one way to find out.

CV (2013)

You can find our accessibility teardown of CV here. Many years ago, I encountered a video game by the name of Alter Ego.  It was the brainchild of Peter Favaro, a clinical psychologist who wrote his PhD dissertation on the relationship between computer games and mood.  It wasn’t a particularly exciting game – the graphics, even for the time, were…

Takenoko (2011) – Accessibility Teardown

Our view of Takenoko is a little different from most. We acknowledge there are systemic flaws if you want an engaging and strategic game experience. However, we think there’s something more meaningful to be found within its game systems. It’s a game of meditative reaction, rather than grand strategy. We like it a lot, and as such we gave it four stars. It’s singularly lovely, and manages to tightly bind its components and rules into a game that will flow over you if you let it. Does that sound nice? Let’s find out if you too could experience that sense of oneness with a wooden panda.

Takenoko (2011)

You can find out accessbility teardown of Takenoko here. Hexes in Autumn Panda eats the bamboo shoots Calming consumption Let me tell you about a little game called Takenoko.   It is a game much maligne, despite its relatively lofty position on the Board Game Geek rankings.   Shut Up and Sit Down dismissed it as a nopener – a game so…

Kingdom Builder (2011)

You can find our accessibility teardown of Kingdom Builder here. There aren’t many names in the field of modern, designer board gaming that raise expectations quite like Donald X. Vaccarino.  I mean, look at that name – it even has an X in it like he’s some kind of Marvel super villain.  Vaccarino is the mastermind behind the perversely popular…

7 Wonders: Duel (2015) – Accessibility Teardown

I made a reasonably big thing about the Splendor link in 7 Wonders: Duel – while the latter is a substantively different game, the central core engine building feels very similar. Both are excellent games, and we reflected our enjoyment of 7 Wonders: Duel with a four star review. Splendor is one of our highest ranking games in terms of accessibility – will we find that 7 Wonders: Duel has that in common too? Let work out if we find a game of bricks and leave it a as game of marble. I guess marbles is already a game. God, this didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. Shut it down. Shut it all down!

7 Wonders: Duel (2015)

You can find our accessibility teardown of 7 Wonders: Duel here. Do you like the idea of Splendor’s core game design, but really wish it had a mechanic where you could metaphorically punch your opponents right in their metaphorical dumb faces?  Man, do I have a game for you! I’ve never played the original 7 Wonders, so I am spectacularly…

The Ballad(s) of the Fancy Lads

There’s a new reprint of Games Workshop’s Blood Bowl coming. This is a game I have only ever played the digital version of, and I’m absolutely going to pick it up. It’s a horribly random, frustrating game but it’s also one with moments of hilarious consequences. I was reminded of (two) such games today, and looked out the poems I had written to commemorate the occasions. I present them here, for your enjoyment, or otherwise! With apologies to Ploosk (the handle of my opponent), Cyanide (who wrote the shitty software that resulted in a dialog I couldn’t dismiss, thus losing me the game), and the basic concepts of rhyme and scansion.

Small World (2009) – Accessibility Teardown

Small World is a fun, if somewhat unchallenging, game with several interesting and innovative features. It’s reasonably good – we gave it 3.5 stars in our review as recognition of its fundamental okayness. I appreciate that’s not an endorsement likely to make you reach reflexively for your wallet, but there are many people who like the game much better than I do. You are free to be influenced by whoever you like in terms of consumer guidance. It’s fine. They’re only feelings – they’ll heal.

Small World (2009)

You can find our accessibility teardown of Small World here. I’m a huge fan of the Civilization games. Or at least, I’m a huge fan in theory.   You probably wouldn’t have guessed it by how much I hated the vanilla game of Civilization V.  That though was only because it was a betrayal greater in scale than Pearl Harbour.  Seriously, if…

Watch the Skies Dundee

“A good chunk of Washington has been destroyed, mister President” We had been expecting that ever since the ‘crop circle’ that had been burned into the concrete of Washington.   When, with Japanese help, we deciphered its meaning as ‘gather Earth’s warriors here’, we didn’t interpret it as a sign of peace.  Also, a similar circle had presaged Tokyo’s recent obliteration.…

Isle of Skye (2015) – Accessibility Teardown

As a Kennerspiel des Jahres winner, Isle of Skye is a title that has an unusual degree of importance attached to its accessibility. The Spiel des Jahres winners end up in supermarkets where anyone can pick them up, and the implicit endorsement there is that anyone should pick them up. They’re accessible in terms of the ease with which people can buy and play. Are they accessible in the ways that matter to us? We’re going to find out, because that’s what we do here. Just in case you didn’t notice. We gave Isle of Skye four stars in our review so we’re hoping it’s a title that you can easily make part of your gaming library.