Wednesday 30 November 2016

A Guild Ball newb goes to SteamCon - November 2016

This weekend I headed up to Leeds with my Guild-Ball-obsessed husband to visit SteamCon, the three-day-long celebration of all things Steamforged Games. As well as tabletop fantasy football game Guild Ball, Steamforged are also famous for their hugely successful Kickstarter campaign for Dark Souls: The Board Game, due to ship in April 2017.

As I'm not very experienced at Guild Ball, this post might come off a bit like one of those news features where the BBC send a straight-laced, well spoken man in a suit to check out Minecraft or a new hipster cafe. Nevertheless, there's plenty to talk about even with my limited knowledge!

SteamCon 2016

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Cardboard - Legendary: A Marvel Deckbuilding Game card game review

Since Dominion took the boardgaming world by storm in 2008 all manner of deck-building games have been released. There's seemingly one for any theme you could think of, from novel writing to sci-fi or anime maids to mythological gods, and I feel like I've played a fairly sizeable chunk of them.

Teetering on the edge of deck-builder-burnout, what appealed to me most about Legendary: A Marvel Deckbuilding Game is that it's co-operative. Your elite team of Marvel super-hero types will fight a dastardly Evil Mastermind together, fending off a parade of villains and henchmen and generally foiling evil schemes to clinch a win. More accurately it's a *semi* co-operative game; whilst you may achieve victory over the bad guys as a group, you still get judged on your personal performance to pick an individual winner. Because there's no 'I' in 'team', guys... but there is a 'me' and I was clearly just more heroic.

Legendary: A Marvel Deckbuilding Game box art

Sunday 13 November 2016

Cardboard - Creature College board game review

If you've ever felt a burning desire to fight an eight-foot high hamster named Kevin using a rag-tag band of elemental creature creations (and let's face it, who hasn't?) then I may have found the game for you!

Creature College box art

Sunday 30 October 2016

Making - October 2016

I can't believe that the last time I made a 'making stuff' post was in January! There have been a couple of craft-based posts since (like another trip to the Handmade Fair last month) but this side of things has definitely been neglected. Inexcusable! (Although, if anyone has any suggestions for how to magic more time into my life to get things done, they'd be gratefully received...)

As far as what I *did* get done goes, the past few months have been very much cross-stitch focused while I tried to clear out my work-in-progress pile. This post is a little update about where everything is up to.

I'm still working on the Pumpkin Passport stitch-along pattern from The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. There are only two months to go until it's complete and I'm excited to see what countries we'll be headed to for November and December (maybe Canada and America might feature somewhere?)

Here's the pattern complete up to October (with Australia and a very cute koala):

Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery Pumpkin Passport October

Sunday 16 October 2016

Cardboard - Ice Cool board game review

With the summer sun abandoning us in favour of wintery chilliness, pumpkin-spiced lattes back on the menu and the festive season fast approaching (or at least that's what the shops keep telling me), it seems only appropriate that I'm taking a look at Brain Games' sub zero penguin-powered dexterity game Ice Cool. Because nothing says 'festive' like accidentally firing plastic penguins at your friends!

Ice Cool by Brain Games - box art

Wednesday 21 September 2016

The Handmade Fair - September 2016

The Handmade Fair Logo

I can't believe it's been a year since our last trip to The Handmade Fair! This year we weren't blessed with the same beautiful weather, rendering my obligatory bunting pics a little soggy...

Tuesday 6 September 2016

Cardboard - 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis board game review

It's 1962, I'm pretending to be Russian and someone has left me in charge of the nuclear codes again. Ruh roh. Time for some strategic Cold War cube-shuffling in Cuban Missile Crisis game 13 Days!

13 Days - Random Nerdery review

Thursday 11 August 2016

Cardboard - Exciting games from Gen Con 2016

One day (when I'm a inexplicably vastly wealthy) maybe I'll make it to one of the awesome overseas conventions like Essen or Gen Con, but until then I'll have to attend vicariously through the Twitter feeds of others like a slightly geeky stalker and marvel at the shiny new games from afar.

This year's Gen Con in Indianapolis hasn't disappointed, with a huge crop of exciting new games to add to the wishlist. Here are a few of my favourites based on various hype, news and the odd pre-release playthrough:

Tuesday 2 August 2016

Pokémon Go!

It feels like forever ago that I was excitedly writing about the announcement of Nintendo and Niantic Labs' collaboration on a new Pokémon-based artifical reality game. Last month it finally arrived, causing millions of people worldwide to abandon their sense of propriety, grab their phones and go outside to hunt down their favourite Pokémon in the wild.

Pokemon Go Pikachu
Pikachu obtained. Game over!

Monday 25 July 2016

Cardboard - Cortex Challenge card game review (with giveaway!)

Cortex Challenge is a family card game for 2 to 6 players designed by Nicolas Bourgoin and Johan Benvenuto. It's published by Asmodee and Captain Macaque who, as an aside, are now front runners in my mental competition for cutest publisher logo along with Happy Otter Games and Formal Ferret Games.

Cortex Challenge review - box art

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Cardboard - Knit Wit board game review

Matt Leacock is possibly best known for designing genre-defining team-work game Pandemic, but all co-operative thoughts go out of the window in his latest offering, social game Knit Wit.

Knit Wit board game review - Random Nerdery

Knit Wit is a word game for 2-8 players where they create Venn diagrams out of loops of coloured string, each of which has a word attached to it. Spools are placed at various overlaps in the diagram and players race against each other to think of a word or phrase for each spool, defined by the words looped around them.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

UK Games Expo 2016 - Day 3

[Catch up with Friday or Saturday]

Sunday arrived, bringing with it one last day of gaming awesomeness at the UK Games Expo and the jarring realisation that all the games I'd carried up to my hotel room over the weekend would have to be carried back down again for packing into the car. After multiple trips through the hotel (including one where I almost caused Tom Vasel to miss a lift by wittering at him) it was time to head back to the NEC and see what we could cram into the final few hours.

Having looked forlornly at full Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu demo tables for the last two days, this was our first destination when the doors opened. Our hope was to try and sneak in a play of this latest horror-themed offering in the Pandemic series before the hall got too packed. Katie and I had apparently timed it perfectly and were lucky enough to get seats for a game - only to be beaten on the second turn. Not second round, second *turn*... I didn't even get a go!

Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu at UK Games Expo | Random Nerdery
Well, that escalated quickly...
This game can be mean! Luckily because it was still quiet we were allowed to start again and have a proper go - I've written a separate post on my first thoughts of the game here.

Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu board game - first thoughts

At the UK Games Expo last week I was lucky enough to get a demonstration game of Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu from Z-Man Games and thought I'd share my first thoughts here.

Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu box art - UK Games Expo 2016

Well, actually, my first thoughts were 'Gah, another Cthulhu themed game... Oh well, at least it's not zombies', but that's not very constructive or informative!

Saturday 11 June 2016

UK Games Expo 2016 - Day 2

[Start here if you missed my summary of Friday!]

Saturday at the UK Games Expo was notably busier from the outset, with lots of families making the trip now that the weekend had arrived.

The Pegasus Spiele stand seemed especially family-friendly, with lots of young families enjoying the many oversized demo games set out for them including Camel Up, Yeti and Reiner Knizia cat-and-mouse game Mmm! which was recently nominated for the Kinderspiel des Jahres. The rest of the show wasn't short on giant demo games either - I spotted Pandemic, Castle Panic, Celestia and Colt Express and I'm sure there are lots more that I've forgotten!

Giant board games - UK Games Expo

Family provision at the Expo was great all round, so I can't wait for my little one to be old enough to appreciate it. There was a large dedicated Family Zone in the hall where popular games were laid out for younger people to enjoy, including the Expo-launched penguin-flicking dexterity game Ice Cool from Brain Games.

Tuesday 7 June 2016

UK Games Expo 2016 - Day 1

Wow, what a weekend that was! I'm not sure whether my feet or my wallet hurt most, but an amazing time was had by all at the UK Games Expo at the NEC in Birmingham this weekend. We packed in a lot over the three days; here's what happened on Friday.

UKGE - UK Games Expo 10 Years banner

Thursday 2 June 2016

Cardboard - Codenames card game review (with giveaway!)

I've heard so much about Codenames since its release late last year that I couldn't help but pick up a copy. Initially dismissing it as a party game that I wouldn't be interested in (and to be fair, judging it by its frankly not too exciting cover), it kept popping up again and again in blogs, podcasts and YouTube videos with reviewers whose opinions I trust telling me I needed to play it immediately. Eventually, I gave in!

Codenames card game review - box art

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Cardboard - 7 Wonders: Duel Board Game Review

Antoine Bauza's original version of 7 Wonders is one of my favourite games. A clever card-drafting civilisation-building game, it's quick to explain, plays fast and the simultaneous gameplay means there's no downtime even with its maximum 7 players. The only trouble with it is that the two-player variant brings in a third 'dummy' player, which always rings alarm bells for me.

That's where 7 Wonders: Duel comes in. This time Bauza has teamed up with Bruno Cathala to create a new version of the game that's specifically tailored for two players.

7 Wonders: Duel box art

Sunday 29 May 2016

NSPCC Big Board Game Day (Part 2)

This Friday was the NSPCC's Big Board Game Day event, where they asked everyone to play games at work, home or school and donate money to support their important work looking after vulnerable children in the UK and Channel Islands.

NSPCC Big Board Game Day

Wednesday 18 May 2016

The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery (with giveaway!)

Ever since Pam pushed me off a cliff into the addiction that is cross-stitch (last year at the Handmade Fair) I've been slightly smitten with the adorable patterns of The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery that she introduced me to. This is a small company formed by two friends in California, US; Ashleigh works on design whilst Amanda looks after the business side, making a brilliant partnership that creates colourful kawaii designs.The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery logo

Friday 13 May 2016

NSPCC Big Board Game Day (Part 1)

The NSPCC's Big Board Game Day is fast approaching, so I thought I'd take another look through the fundraising pack they sent over to make sure I'm ready!

NSPCC Big Board Game Day fundraising pack

The NSPCC is a charity that fights against child abuse in the UK and Channel Islands. They help children who’ve been abused to rebuild their lives, protect children at risk, and find the best ways of preventing child abuse from ever happening.

They're asking everyone to join in with their Big Board Game Day on 27th May 2016, playing at work or at home with friends and family to raise some money for a great cause while having an amazing time. Such a great idea!

The fundraising pack has everything you need on the day:

  • Event poster
  • Fundraising guide
  • Sweepstake kit
  • Tournament chart
  • Sponsor form
  • Donation box
  • Sticker sheet

Absolutely anyone can get involved, so if you'd like to find out more about how you can join in take a look at the NSPCC Big Board Game Day website.

All going well, I should be joining in by trying out some games at work as well as playing at home with friends, so I'll post again to let you know how it goes!

Guest Post - Getting Started with Comic Books

One from the archives of the old blog, here! My husband Barry offered to put together a comic-based guest post, because at the time I was complaining that comics were hard to get into and I didn't know where to start. I have no idea how he fits so much information into his brain, but his wide-ranging interests make him really well placed for recommendations, some of which you'll find in the article. He's made some updates since it was originally published, and has been through to make sure he hasn't changed his mind about anything!

If you want to know more about comics or are just looking for something different to read, I hope you find something new and useful below.

Comic shelf - Random Nerdery

Tuesday 3 May 2016

Podcast Love - Polygon Longform

Polygon Longform logo

I used to have plenty of free time that I'd spend playing a lot of video games, and as part of that I kept up-to-date with plenty of gaming news. These days life, work and baby have meant that free time is tighter and there's a lot more to fit in. Audiobooks and podcasts have helped a lot, allowing me to multitask-tetris entertainment into daily life where it wouldn't otherwise have been practical.

Recently filling the videogame void for me is Polygon Longform, a podcast that gathers spoken word versions of feature articles from gaming news and reviews site, read by Polygon's Dave Tach.

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Cardboard - T.I.M.E Stories board game review

It feels strange writing a review after completing just one game, but for co-operative story-telling game T.I.M.E Stories by Manuel Rozoy that's what I'll have to do, because each story in this 'decksploration' series is a one-off experience. It's super-important to avoid spoilers for this game, so I've tried to keep everything below suitably vague whilst still letting you know what I think!

TIME Stories box art | Random Nerdery review

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Cardboard - Colt Express board game review

Robbing a train had seemed like such a great idea at the time. You had your plan all figured out: charge into the next carriage, punch the guy in the ridiculously impractical white stetson, grab some shiny loot, climb up onto the carriage roof and escape in generally awesome fashion.

Except that's not *quite* how it went...

Bursting into the carriage, you found stetson-guy already holding the shiny loot. Before you could punch him in his stupid smug face he was already halfway out of the window, making his escape to the roof. He'd cleaned the place out, so you had nothing to do but stand there looking confused as the door opposite slammed open to reveal an angry looking marshal with a gun, which he wasted no time in firing at you.

Scrambling onto the roof for safety, you wondered briefly who you'd upset in a past life as a passing cargo hook caught your belt and swung you (in a rather undignified manner) towards the back of the train where you managed to catch hold of the edge of the roof. So here you are, clinging by your fingertips to the back of a moving train, looking furious but resigned and wondering why on earth you thought 'outlaw' was such a great career choice in the first place...

Colt Express board game review

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.

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