Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Regulars...

All is quiet in the castle, finally.  The children are abed, the littlest sated with a belly full of milk and kissed goodnight by doting parents wishing for a good few hours of restful sleep from her.  The whir of the machinery of the household hums in the backdrop, washers, driers, heaters...

Sitting and soaking up this quiet is peaceful.  Being able to sneak in a chapter or two of Jeeves and Wooster, or listening to a podcast: a secret and nighttime pleasure.

It was my birthday a few days ago, and I was thrilled with the chance to relax with my family - there is no greater or more fruitful use of my time.  Also rather nice was the fact that my dear wife showered me with gifts, The Wonders of the Universe is a DVD I am very much looking forward to enjoying - I loved the Wonders of the Solar System series.  A collection of games were also among those gifts given, and gratefully received.

A mixture of the peace and the presence of new games in the household has led me to ponder those games that have been absolute boons to my collection.  These are those games that find a place at the game table like a long and dear friend.  The games that are scuffed from play, box edges worn from the action of their continual removal from the shelves.  These games are as familiar, nearly, to the game table, as the faces sitting about it.  In their presence one can relax, the awkwardness of those early days of getting to know one another have long passed.  These are the regulars.

There are a handful of games I’ll briefly cover here, some I have written about before, others may have gone unmentioned - until now!  This list is in order of the most to least played of my 5 most played games.  I don’t keep a log of all my games played, but try to most of the time as I find it interesting to see what has hit the table and what has not.

Fairy Tale

Fairy Tale is a card game I have blogged about before.  It’s a drafting game - where players start with a hand of cards, pick one and pass the others to the next player.  Once this drafting is done cards are played out on the table.  Different cards have different effects, some are just worth points, some combine with others, some flip cards face down, some flip cards back face up.  There is nothing overly complex about Fairy Tale, but the action and interactions in the game are enjoyable.  Players need to play by the seat of their pants, making the best of what they have in hand and keeping an eye on what everyone else is collecting and playing.  All in all it is an excellent game - one of the very best in my humble opinion.
Plays: over 200.

Photo by the Greatsage...
An Indian dexterity game, something like a flicking version of billiards or pool.  I love flicking games as a general rule, and this one is the very best in my opinion.  With a proper Carrom board the pockets and board size make for a game of skill, where angled shots, rebounds and clever placement elevate the game into a pitched duel.  I’m not much good at the game in all honesty, but for me it is the very best of the dexterity genre.
Plays: nearly 150

No Thanks

Possibly the best light family card game I’ve ever played.  This is the game people should play instead of Uno.  Players turn a single card face-up in the centre of the table, they must then decide to either take it, or pay a chip to refuse it. Each card has a number, and a run of cards will count as the lowest number in the run.  The object is to end the game with the fewest points.  A simple game, easily played, extremely cheap, and should be ‘one of those games’ - that is to say, if the average family has a dusty shelf of games whereupon may be found Monopoly and Uno waiting a rainy day - so too should there sit No Thanks.
Plays: 50 odd.

Court of the Medici

A two-player head-to-head battle of a card game.  This, for all the renaissance art, is a pure card game.  Players are trying to end the game with more ‘points’ worth of cards on the table than their opponent.  Nastiness abounds however, as cards can be played onto other cards to form an alliance, or may equally be played onto other cards to conspire - that is if I play a 5 onto another 5, I can discard any card or alliance worth 10.  It is pure card play, simple maths, and yet a highly enjoyable and very well designed little game.  Highly recommended as a knife-fight like two-player card game.
Plays: 50 odd.

Ra: The Dice Game

Roll the dice, keep the ones you want, put aside any suns, and roll again.  Over three rolls players are trying to get their cubes down on the various scoring tracks on the board.  This is a dice game adaption of the wonderful auction game Ra, also by Reiner Knizia.  The dice game is, of course, completely different in many respects, but it is still a highly enjoyable game.  For me this sits next to a game like Roll through the Ages, but when decided which to get out I will almost always choose Ra.  Why?  Because everything on the board is easily visible - so it is much easier to play with family and friends who have trouble reading the small writing in Roll through the Ages.  Ra the Dice Game is also simpler - yet for its simplicity it loses nothing - a wonderful dice game that plays quickly, involves some choices, and has the right amount of luck.
Plays: 40 odd.

It is only natural that my most played games are those that are easy to get to the table and short enough to played repeatedly.  Perhaps some day soon I’ll put together a list of those most played ‘bigger’ games of mine to talk about... 
until then, here is a pic of the birthday loot that will hopefully make these lists one day:

And another that arrived recently that I'm looking forward to getting to the table:



  1. Fairy Tale and No Thanks sound interesting. I have Ra: The Dice Game and I agree with you. It’s a keeper. My gaming group (that is, my wife, my mother and I) are growing a bit tired of losing all the time in Castle Panic. Would you have any feel for how these games play with 3 players?

  2. Omen: Reign of War is a great 2 player game, and I think it's the one that will finally put John Clowdus on the map.

    I'm interested in what you think of Road to Canterbury.

  3. Hi Randolph!

    Fairy Tale, and No Thanks are excellent 3 player games. Carrom is best with 2 or 4 (my preference is for 2, but 2 teams of 2 also works well). Court of the Medici is a dyed in the wool 2-player game.

    Ra - you have already, but I think it scales well across the player numbers (2, 3 and 4).



  4. Thanks Iain - I am very much looking forward to playing Omen - the game looks really nice (and the Kickstarter copy with the metal coins is very nice).

    Also can't wait to play Road to Canterbury - the artwork is wonderful and the production is top notch! I'll blog about it when I finally get to play! :D