Here at Shady Baron, we’re still fairly new at this board gaming stuff. In fact, one of the reasons we started this site was to share with people the joys of board gaming that we’re only just discovering for ourselves.
We’re starting a new monthly feature, not to keep you up-to-date with all the trends and releases in gaming, but to keep you up-to-date with our own journey. We want to share with you the games we’ve been playing and discovering: games we might not have the time to review or don’t think are worthy of reviews; maybe even games we think it’s worth being on your radar until such time as we can get a full review out.
Some games we’ve been playing this month:
Machi Koro Bright Lights, Big City
Congratulations! You’re the mayor of a small Japanese town. It’s a Japanese town with only a bakery and a wheat field, but it’s a town nonetheless. And you’re a mayor with big ambitions: ambitions of building your small town into a big city of airports and family restaurants, tax offices and tech start-ups and cafés and… moon towers(?!)
Just look at that artwork! It’s cuteness personified. But don’t be fooled, Machi Koro has more going for it than cutesy Japanese pictures. It’s actually a fiendish little puzzle game in which you roll a dice, collect money if a thing you own has that same number, and eventually try to build six landmarks to win the game. Most likely you’ll spend the game rolling the one number you actually don’t need and cursing the dice gods (which is the only way to address dice gods). It sounds simple, but there are so many ways to play and so many ways your opponents can play that you’d be forgiven for feeling a little lost when you first play. On top of that, you have fiendish red cards which let players take money from you when you roll the relevant number. Making money is really difficult when you can’t stop eating at an opponent’s pizza restaurant.
And don’t take that 30-minute recommended playing time as anything other than the bare minimum recommended playing time. Until you build the landmarks and buildings which accelerate the game, making money is a slow accumulative process. Your first Machi Koro games will hit the hour mark and you’ll be no closer to having the best Moon Base-populated Japanese city than you were when you started playing.
There’s a Masquerade ball, and nobody knows who’s hiding behind which mask. The bishop’s pretending to be the king, the queen’s forgotten who she is and thinks she’s the witch and everybody’s just genuinely bloody confused. Which is how all masquerade balls go. Right?
Mascarade is a glorious bluffing game in which everybody memorises the characters everybody else has…and then you’re not allowed to look at them again, meaning you’ll immediately forget what you’ve got in front of you. On top of that, players then start swapping cards around…or maybe they don’t: all the swapping happens under the table, so players might switch cards, but equally they might just pretend they switched cards. And once this is over and everybody’s confused you start claiming to be characters you might or might not be and everybody else frantically tries to work out if it’s true or if they should call your bluff.
But perhaps the biggest joy of Mascarade is watching your friends fumble under the table because they just forgot which card they had in which hand, and they suddenly make an “Oh no” face and everybody bursts into laughter.
We’ll review Mascarade in full at some point, but for now trust us: this game is one of the funniest we’ve ever played.
Maybe some day Android: Netrunner will get a review on this website, but it won’t be any time soon. You see, A:N is what’s referred to as a living card game, which basically means it potentially involves a serious investment of money and time. Fantasy Flight, who publish A:N, release new datapacks of cards every month for you to collect, but even the base game takes some serious concentration and time to fully learn.
Believe us, Android:Netrunner is a beast of a game to teach and to learn; on the surface it seems like it’s outside the remit of this website. But maybe you’re looking to get deeper into the hobby and into something more ‘difficult’ than the games we usually talk about. Since Android: Netrunner is perhaps as good a place as any to start, it’s a game in an area of the hobby we’ll likely talk about at some point.
At the moment we’ll say nothing more about it than it’s a Steampunk-influenced game of hackers and corporations, of bluffs and risk management. And it’s brilliant. But it’ll take you time to get to grips with how it works, to really get the most out of it and understand it. One tip: If you’re interested in getting into Netrunner, I’d recommend you learn it with a friend.
What we’ve been up to this month:
Mr Jones has largely been eating, although he takes regular time out to perfect his repertoir of unusual sleeping positions:
Andrew has been testing the strength of Sainsbury’s shopping bags, which is the sort of thing you have to do if you want to be an engineer. It’s also the reason he hasn’t been as active on the site as he would have liked to be:
Jones took a bit more time away from eating to perfect his repertoir of ways to stop Andrew working:
And Chaussette’s been hard at work:
See you next month.