As no D&D campaign running at the moment, tonight was board/card games time.
First up was Vampireology – The Fallen Ones from Paul Lamond Games. (For some reason it isn’t on BoardGameGeek – not a good sign.) This game is a spin-off from a series of books I hadn’t heard of – spin-offs don’t usually make good games.
There were a number of aspects to the game I didn’t like:
- First the board was just a number of paths to move on to pick up item or information cards. Having to roll exactly to land on the square you wanted was just frustrating. Equally annoying was tediously counting along the various routes to see if your dice roll would land you anywhere useful. The chases towards the end suffered in the same way.
- Card design could have been better; although the coffin shape was novel, all the thin cards were printed dark brown which made separating out the different types at the start of the game harder than it needed to be.
- Everybody plays the same character, Joshua T Kraik. I assume this was to fit in with the books but having 3-5 players moving their own clone around the board just seemed silly.
- The fact cards didn’t really add anything to the game as the information on them is never used in a meaningful way.
- Less money should have been spent on the large box to allow more to be invested in the game itself.
The one saving grace was the combat system which seemed to work okay.
Three smaller games took up the rest of the evening:
Monkey Lab was next and felt much different with nice, high quality pieces (both cardboard and plastic). This is a simple resources game – move what you need to different locations before other players do. The board layout had some variety to it as you put four double-sided quarters together to build an animal experimentation lab, from which you had to rescue monkeys. No shades of “28 Days later” though. Quick-to-learn game with definite replay appeal.
Check Out! is a kids’ game and it is very hard. There are six rows of cards, each card containing a particular design printed in a certain colour. New cards are turned over one at a time and players have to call out which row they can put the card in without matching an existing card in design or colour. You need to be fast and correct or you’re soon out of the game. Surprisingly difficult.
Yin Yang requires you to balance winning and losing in a trick-winning card game. Win too often and you score too highly in Ying; lose a lot and your Yin rating takes you off in the other direction. So you need to either not win or lose any tricks or make sure your wins cancel out your losses.