PERSONAL DIARY (March 2019): Slipping by the wayside…?

Lots of links again for the click-happy amongst you!

Hello again – this entry is a tad later than usual, owing to all manner of things but most annoying for me is that I couldn’t get a second review onto the blog last month. I spent a lot of March finalising some edits for another forthcoming book of mine (this one for the BSFA – British Science Fiction Association), and ensuring their annual BSFA Awards booklet also got done and dusted in time for Easter – it’s still at the printers as I write, though… Eeek!  I also had a number of reviews due for The SPIRIT Magazine too, and the layout work for it as well (it’s a rather spiffing FREE boardgames magazine available in PDF format that you really should take a look at if you haven’t already seen it — you can download the latest issue here: The SPIRIT #4 and follow them on Twitter here for the latest updates: @spofgamesmag ).

Well, now… March proved a packed month, kicking off as it did with one of my favourite gaming conventions: AireCon.  As I said last time, I was only there for the Friday and Saturday this year (8th-9th March), but I did get through a tidy number of games over those two days and was also fortunate enough to spend a solid 4 hrs playtesting a couple of my own designs (and a few hours playtesting other people’s games, too, o’course!) — I’ll be talking more about those another time, I suspect, but suffice to say it went well, especially with Aliens Ate My Planet, of which you can read more here: Aliens WIP.

One of the reasons AireCon remains such a popular convention for me —apart from the fact that it’s in Harrogate and only an hour or so away— is that it hasn’t lost sight of the original purpose of these things: to get gamers together to celebrate and play games. AireCon has never really been about ‘the business’ imho, and the focus seems to be mainly on providing space and tables for attendees to play on, and believe me there was no shortage of those!

Taken from the AireCon gallery on the website

I played at least 16 or 17 games over the two days I was there, including a couple of games of Architects of the West Kingdom (a game that’s growing on me with every play), several games of FlickFleet (which was a KS I backed and wrote about here), a few games of The Old Hellfire Club, and a monster game of The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire — all with several marvellous people, and all of which went down very well with players.

I also got an opportunity to try Magnate: The First City, which is a forthcoming Kickstarter from Naylor Games – it’s a game of property development with a rather unique ‘boom-or-bust’-type mechanic, and we were given a crash course in how the game might play out in three separate phases. I’ll reserve judgement ’til I’ve played a full game, but I like what I’ve seen so far, so we’ll see how this one goes…

ACIS_P500You may already be aware that I made a resolve not to buy any new games or back any on KS this year (you can read more about that here: 2019: The Year Ahead, etc) and I’m pleased to say that despite many temptations at AireCon, I have remained strong and true to this so far this year… But… I did find a game on the GMT Games P500 list that caught my interest a few months back and this may actually have finally broken my resolve… it’s called Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea, is a lightweight Civilization-style game, and it has me totally sold, not only for its several solo scenarios, but also the variety of alternative scenarios it offers players. I hope to be writing a lot more about this soon, but you can discover it for yourself on the GMT website, so by all means check out the link above (and the articles about it you’ll find on the site). For those not aware, the GMT P500 list is a form of pre-ordering system that allows the company to wait until they have at least 500 orders for a game before they agree to start production and further development on it — I am trying unsuccessfully to convince myself this is not quite the same as buying a new game, but it is very similar to backing something on KS, so… >gulp!<

Speaking of which, I have had no less than THREE games come through from Kickstarter in March…

The first of these was FlickFleet, which I am very impressed with, and wrote extensively about back in November last year (link). Mine was hot off the press, and was one of the first limited edition ‘deluxe’ copies: number 18/400 in fact, and it came with a nice little message on the inside of the box from the designers, too… The ‘deluxe’ version has the acrylic ships nicely etched with various details, etc. and the bits are as solid as you like. A great dexterity-based game, this!

The next one to arrive just a week or so later, was The Island of El Dorado — this is a game of exploration and area control which I was originally attracted to primarily by the artwork (which is gorgeous), and it reminded me a little of Rise of Tribes, so I figured it was worth a punt. I’ve yet to get this one to the table, but there are already several rules queries popping up on which is a tad worrying. A poor rulebook can so easily break a perfectly good game, I think, and I’ve heard mixed views about this one, so I’m hoping it’ll prove a worthwhile investment… With the power of people investment on a platform like Kickstarter, I am amazed some publishers still manage to mess up their rulebooks – it’s become almost standard practice to share early versions of these with backers, so does that mean we are to blame?  That’s an interesting thought…

Also arriving just last week was Darkness, a relatively simple but clever little card game that I am really looking forward to trying this weekend. The simple premise of playing six coloured cards to claim Artifacts and Relics (everybody has the same deck of 15 – three each of 5 different colours) is made more interesting by the players playing their cards in three distinct phases: 3 cards are placed down first (face-down, and then flipped simultaneously so everyone gets to see what the others have played), then 2 cards are placed down in the same way, and then a single card is played. These six cards determine which players claim which cards, but of course players can hazard a guess as to what cards the other players might be pursuing earlier in the round and adjust their choices accordingly if needed. A couple of Relics you can claim allow you to mix things up a bit by keeping a couple of cards hidden instead of face-up, etc. but the basics of the game certainly stand up well, so we’ll see how this one plays soon enough.


I believe there’ll be a few more goodies arriving in April, too (again from KS), so I’m glad to see that as originally predicted, I have been fortunate to receive at least one new ‘shiny thing’ in every month of this year, so far…

And finally, very few titles caught my attention this month and these may have taken my money if I wasn’t trying so hard not to spend it this year (excl. Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea mentioned above, of course), so here’s my Temptation List for March:

Exodus Chronicles (NSKN Games)
Paladins of the West Kingdom (Garphill Games)
Proving Grounds (Renegade Studios)

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