Thursday, 11 February 2016

Cardboard - Love Letter: Batman card game giveaway

With Valentine's day fast approaching it seems like a great time to talk about Seiji Kanai's tiny-but-awesome card game Love Letter. Not the most original of links, I know, but I'd forgotten how much I loved this game until I got the Batman version at Christmas and we've played it lots of times since! I like it so much, in fact, that I thought I'd share the fun with everyone by running another giveaway.

Love Letter is described by publishers AEG as 'a game of risk, deduction, and luck, for 2–4 players.' where you're trying to get your love letter to the Princess first whilst stopping everyone else delivering theirs.

The first version I owned was this one, based in AEG's Tempest setting:

The game consists of just 16 cards, a teeny rule book, reference cards and a little heap of tokens to mark the winners of each round. The little deck consists of eight types of character card, with each character numbered from one to eight.

Setting up the game is simple - after shuffling the deck to form a draw pile, one card is removed from the game to make sure you can't ever be quite sure of what cards are left in play. If you're playing with two players, three more cards are drawn and laid face up, taking no further part in the round. Each player then draws one card to form their starting hand. On their turn, each player draws a card and then discards one of the two they now have onto the table in front of them. They apply the effect described on the card, and play moves on to the left.

The round ends if the deck is empty at the end of a turn. All the players not yet eliminated compare hands and the person with the highest value card wins. The round can also end when all but one of the players are out - either way, the winner gets to give their letter to the Princess and is rewarded with a little red cube which eventually pile up to show who's won overall.

There are a few different ways to knock other people out of the running on the cards, but they mainly involve deduction and sometimes a bit of luck! Here are the cards in the deck and their effects.

  1. Guard (x5) - Guess a player's hand - if you guess right, that player is knocked out!
  2. Priest (x2) - Look at another player's hand. Very handy if the next card you get is a Guard...
  3. Baron (x2) - Compare hands; lower hand is out. Best played if you know what they have, but you can always try your luck!
  4. Handmaid (x2) - Protection until your next turn - you can't be targeted.
  5. Prince (x2) One player discards their hand. Really good if you know someone has the Princess.
  6. King (x1) Trade hands
  7. Countess (x1) Discard if caught with King or Prince. Discard this and everyone pretty much knows what you've got!
  8. Princess (x1) Lose if discarded

The reference cards also tell you how many of each card there are in the deck to help you figure out what's left in play.

This is a really clever, beautifully designed little game that manages to pack a lot of decisions into a tiny set of components and it's a lot of fun to play. There is some player elimination, but the rounds are so short that no-one is sitting out for very long so it doesn't cause any problems.

Since Love Letter was released there have been a number of different versions produced. They all have the same basic gameplay but the theme and some of the card text is different in each version. Love Letter Kanai Factory Edition is a limited release and comes with beautiful artwork from the original Japanese publishing of the game:

As you can see some of the cards have different names, but the powers are either identical or very similar. You can also choose in this version whether to deliver your love letter to one of the two Princesses included in the box or whether you'd prefer to send it to the Prince instead!

Other re-themes of the game include Adventure Time, The Hobbit, Munchkin and (yay!) Batman, the prompt for this post:

As you can see, the basic components are just the same as the first version I pictured, but the characters have all been swapped for familiar Batman-themed faces. This time, instead of trying to pass on your love letter, you're trying to end the round having 'captured' the highest value villain possible, with The Joker taking the top spot. Your rewards are little wooden bat symbol tokens, (which are just adorable) and I think it might be these that push this version slightly over the top of the others to make it my favourite! It has all the same condensed, fun game-play but now has a theme that fills any gaps in appeal left by fancy princesses. I'm really glad I have this little game (thanks, Secret Santa!)

If you'd like to win your own copy of Love Letter: Batman (clamshell edition) as pictured at the top of the post, please enter the Gleam giveaway below (UK only, I'm afraid):

Love Letter: Batman card game giveaway
Terms and conditions
  • The giveaway is open to UK residents only - sorry, everyone else!
  • One prize available, to be chosen using Gleam and announced on this page.
  • The giveaway will close at midnight on 14th March 2016
  • The winner will be contacted by e-mail within 3 days of the end of the giveaway. If they do not respond within 14 days another winner may be chosen.
  • Entries using any software or automated process to make bulk entries will be disqualified.
Good luck with your entry!

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Sunday, 7 February 2016

Cardboard - Carcassonne: Over Hill and Dale board game review

If you're not familiar with Klaus-Jürgen Wrede's classic game Carcassonne, it's a tile-laying game where players build up the landscape of southern France, making cities, roads and fields to try and score the most points along the way. Released way back in 2000, Carcassonne has been a staple of many gamers' collections for a long time now, famed for simple, engaging gameplay that makes it a great introductory game for new players.

There have been numerous expansions over the years which can be added to the base game to change things up a bit, from adding different types of tiles and meeples to an actual physical catapault that flings tokens across the board. I've bought a few of these expansions in the past but these days I've separated them all out again so that we can easily play plain old vanilla Carcassonne without spending ages picking out expansion tiles and pieces.

More recently, publishers Z-Man seem to have come up with an alternative expansion method. Rather than selling smaller expansion packs that can be added to the base game, they've started releasing spin-off standalone versions with alternative rules: the same Carcassonne experience we know and love but with an added twist and no need to spend time muddling about with components.

One of the latest entries to the family is Carcassonne: Over Hill and Dale, a farming themed version of the original game where you're making fields and growing crops instead of fortifying cities.

Carcassonne: Over Hill and Dale review

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Making - January 2016

My plan to do a crafting post each month appears to have fallen slightly behind, with the last one being in September! I'll have another go this year, starting with yet another catch-up post.

I picked out my first ever cross-stitch pattern at the Handmade Fair back in September. It's a cute glow-in-the-dark rocket for my baby's room from Bobo Stitch and I'm quite pleased that I managed to finish and frame it before he's old enough to leave home!

Here's the finished product, with his name removed at the bottom to protect the innocent; conveniently this also hides a spacing error I made that still makes me want to unpick and redo the whole word!

Bobo Stitch glow-in-the-dark space rocket cross-stitch

I'm told that doing this would be considered crazy, so it'll have to stay as it is! I love the glow-in-the-dark thread, the whole thing looks really great when the lights go out.

For my second ever cross-stitch pattern I picked this cute Christmas themed stamp from the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery:

Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery - Santa cross-stitch

They make all sorts of adorable patterns, from little stamp sized patterns like this to big year-long stitch-along patterns where you get a new piece each month to complete. This particular one was published in Just CrossStitch Magazine's Christmas ornament issue. I made the completed stamp into a little pillow-shaped decoration the Christmas tree:

Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery - Santa cross-stitch decoration

I had big plans to make for lots of similar decorations, but only managed one in the end.  Maybe more for next year!

I also started this larger pattern - 'Christmas on Gingerbread Lane' - from the same designers in November, optimistically thinking it would be ready for Christmas:

Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery - Christmas on Gingerbread Lane

There's quite a lot still to go on this one, but hopefully I can get it done for *next* Christmas!

Moving on from Christmas themed things, I finally put all the pieces together for the baby's mobile after months of looking at the pile of finished crochet bits. Ta daaah!

Happy Day baby mobile with planets and rockets

It's a bit of a mash-up of three patterns and goes from space through to sky. Random, I know, but I think it turned out pretty nicely!

I found a pattern for Amy Gaines' Happy Day Mobile on Ravelry for free and fell in love with it straight away, but at the same time I really wanted a space-y theme in there somewhere. I bought a pattern for the rockets, planets and moon from One & Two Company but didn't really like the stars it used, so I found a free pattern on the Mohu blog for some smaller ones.

On the way I made a few modifications. The clouds in the Happy Day pattern were all flat circles, which I thought looked a bit odd against all the other puffy bits - so I gritted my teeth and made double the amount so I could stuff them like the other elements. I had to make a bit of a modification for (what seems to be) an error in the planet pattern, which was a bit disappointing in the only pattern I'd had to pay for!

I finished off the planets and moon little kawaii faces to so that they matched with the sun, rainbow and raindrops. Oh and I also added rattles and chimes when I was stuffing the parts so that when the mobile turns it makes a nice noise!

Here are a couple of closer pictures of some of the parts:

Baby mobile planet

Slightly wonky rainbow:

Baby mobile crochet rainbow

Happy sun - I love this bit:

Baby mobile crochet sun

So that's pretty much it for what I've been making since my last post! I've now starting working on the Frosted Pumpkin stitch-along for 2016 - the Pumpkin Passport, a travel themed pattern where you get a new section each month with a different international city, but more on that later!

Friday, 29 January 2016

Cardboard - Zombie Tower 3D (Kickstarter preview)

Bad news, I'm afraid - a mysterious object has fallen from outer space, triggering zombie outbreaks throughout the world! You and your friends are trapped in a zombie-filled tower and have been completely cut off from each other as it begins to collapse. You can still talk to each other, but you can't see what everyone is doing and can only pass items through little gaps in the rubble. The situation isn't looking too positive! Oh, and more zombies are appearing all the time. And I forgot to mention the survivors that need saving. And you all need to escape...

Zombie Tower 3D Kickstarter preview | Random Nerdery

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Cardboard - Patchwork board game review

Patchwork was released back in 2014, but for some reason I've been seeing it *everywhere* for the past couple of months. Everyone on Instagram seemed to have a copy except me and since it combines board games and crafting, two of my favourite things to do, it had to go onto my Christmas list. Not that I've ever actually done any real quilting; my sewing is a bit rubbish and I value my fingers too much to go near a sewing machine on a regular basis... Even so, I was lucky enough to find a copy of the game under our Christmas tree courtesy of my lovely husband.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Kickstarter - The Dice Tower 2016

Ever-improving technology and internet connectivity have given us access to huge amounts of information and entertainment on demand. It's all too easy to start expecting whatever media you want, when you want, and often for free.

I've been guilty myself of watching content without really considering the effort that someone else is putting in on the other side. And fair enough, it's their choice to put their content up for everyone to use for free - but I think that sometimes it's nice to give something back! Luckily for me, the more choice we get in how we consume media, the more ways that emerge to help us support creators. Crowdfunding sites can sometimes be a little bit controversial, but personally I love the chance to support projects and people that matter to me - like The Dice Tower Kickstarter campaign for 2016.

Dice Tower Kickstarter

If you like board games and gaming in general, you'd be hard pressed to find a better repository of news, discussion and reviews than The Dice Tower and its associated network of gaming podcasts. In 2015, Tom Vasel and the team put out over 1,500 videos along with 50 podcast episodes, providing a really valuable resource for the board gaming community.

Their reviews are top of my list to check when thinking about buying a new game. As with all reviews occasionally my opinion of a game differs, but Dice Tower reviews can always be relied on to give a great overview of gameplay with loads of objective information to help make up your mind.

They've kept me entertained through many sleepless hours of pregnancy and the first year of a small baby, so it seems only fair to give something in return (although now I think about it, they've cost me a lot of money in board games over the years!) 

I also know that most of the money is going towards making more and better content that I can watch in 2016, so that's super exciting! Stretch goals will help bring more members into the team, help with convention attendance and add some more fun one-off videos.

There are tons of cool rewards on offer for all the different levels of support, from little dice to game promos - if I had $250 spare I could even join the guys for dinner when they come to UK Games Expo in June (a little out of my price range, sadly!)

Check out the Kickstarter campaign here.

Dice Tower Logo

If you want to find out more about The Dice Tower, head over to their website and check out the podcasts and videos. Tom also does important charitable work, having established the Jack Vasel memorial fund to help gamers in their hour of need - you can read more here.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Cardboard - The Game card game review

Happy new year, everyone! I hope it's full of happiness and fun things for you all.  I've had a bit of a Christmas blog-break, but I'm back with new year's resolutions and all sorts of good intentions - starting with a new review!

Another exciting box arrived before Christmas from Esdevium, this time containing The Game, a co-operative card game designed by Steffen Benndorf and published by IDW Games.

The Game - Random Nerdery review