Previously: The Frigid North
Name changed for reasons that will become apparent later on. Now the original idea was to combine any fantasy setting that included cold north spaces, Tamriel, Westeros, Britain, or Azeroth, wonderful in principle, but coming to sit and think about it… I was scuppered. So thank you Alan for A: giving me the idea, and B: bringing his own Jenga tower with him, so that we could have a tournament. It’s wall building, we seem to like walls to stop encroaching peoples from marching south, and there’s a rather ominous metaphor to the whole thing I rather like.
Anyway, to the photo gallery.
Back to where it all began, if only for a little while. A few casual games of Love Letter over coffee and cake… which may or may not have been breakfast. The warmth that makes the Coffeehouse unsuitable for a summer meet (although for a quick brew it’s pretty good) makes it an absolute blessing in this chill.
Cal arrived with gifts! Sample stickers for the purposes of shameless branding and for selling on to you in the name of supporting the Meets, the prizes, and materials thereof. The first sticker adorned the Resolutions Box, more on that later.
Werewolf, chair stacking, Tsuro, cards against humanity, kingdomino, tides of madness… other games that I wasn’t really paying attention to because I was busy talking to people. We had a lot of new faces, and a lot of people who have become regular attendees that now feel like they’ve been with us forever. As we fast approach our second anniversary, it’s nice to see the mixture of old hands and fresh victims… people… people victims.
And we’ve brought back the Resolutions box! When I bust open last year’s efforts (most of failed to uphold our promises, myself included) a lot of people took a keen interest, and were pretty swift to enter into a cruel bargain with me this year… pinning their hopes onto a card, sealing it away, and placing their name upon the box, entrusting their very future to me, making me guardian, arbiter, and judge.
Sixteen competitors, sixteen games, tension, dirty tactics, heart failure, and a tie breaker that I don’t think we’ll ever forget. Would we have it any other way? Could we? For once, maybe have a competition that people can just enjoy instead of the genuine concern for our respective health? It’s not a quiz, dammit, it’s just Jenga. Here I thought it would be a nice and relaxing evening of good natured fun, only tangentially related to the theme of keeping frost zombies from marching south, or romans from getting too far north.
During the quarter finals we saw something I had never thought possible, a tie in Jenga, that could only be resolved by adding a second game on top of the tower! Congratulations Matt on second place, Hannah for the tense fight for third, and finally to Zach for demonstrating dexterity and steady nerves enough to reach first place.
The lesson, should we ever find ourselves in a tie break scenario, chairs are the answer, but we shall always do our utmost to prevent it. Thank you to everyone who came. Next month’s meet: February 28th, Meme Your Own Adventure, details on Facebook and Meetup soon. Expect the worst, and you won’t be disappointed.
Cuz it… it’s NaNoWriMo… it’s November, we did… it’s… aheh, ahhh… good stuff.
Puns aside, this was a month full of stuff, which sounds trite, but there’s an increasing degree of me being entertained by you nerds as I am there to entertain you, enough of you have your own plans for what you want to do month by month, that I’m mostly there to introduce the new folks and organise the venue. I was still up until midnight prepping the quiz, but the rest all fell into place nicely… (more…)
August, that long awaited Shrewsbury meet, a whole six weeks have elapsed since last we gathered and the enthusiasm has not faded, nay it has grown. Although it’s notable that with the encroaching term-time, and so many of you retreating back to university our numbers have taken a small blow, so too will our growth from month-to-month subside for a while. Still, there is ever more to look forward to.
This month’s theme was Tengen Toppa GeekOut Lagann, which will make very little sense to those not at least vaguely into their anime. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is a ridiculously over the top anime about robots fighting moons and smashing together to make walking boat-swords. You can see the appeal. Our mechs will not be fighting anyone with boat-swords…
Over a year of GeekOut and it just keeps getting better. This month I decided to poke one of the geekiest bears out there, as divisive a topic as Kirk or Pickard, X-Box or Playstation*, D&D or Pathfinder, and to pitch the giants in the comic book playground against one another seems very du-jour considering Infinity War was released the day of GeekOut, and that I’ll be going to watch it tonight.
Some of you may have seen a few photos and live-streamed footage already, courtesy of our guest from Thors-Kin Podcast, Alex, who helped out with this month’s competition. Here is this month’s slightly belated gallery.
Here’s the same thing about a year later. (more…)
It seemed like such a long wait for it to be all over so soon…
One last gasp for air before we dive into the cold waters of Christmas Cheer, November 30th was GeekOut Shrewsbury, and we have had the biggest turnout since the beginning, way back in… um…
March! Wow, my memory is terrible. Let’s get into what little I recall of the gloriously blurry hurricane of geekiness that was GeekOut Shrewsbury the ninth, complete with photographic evidence. (more…)
It was a happy Hallowe’en. And it wasn’t even Hallowe’en.
Let it be known that I do not cosplay often… read “ever”, so even my low-energy effort as the “Quest Giving NPC” still took some work but it’s not easy to carve a question mark out of styrofoam, get it painted yellow and affixed to a headband securely enough in between all the writing and full-time-job-having. It didn’t quite work out as planned, and five minutes after settling into Sweet and the quest marker was in three useless pieces. I took my frustrations out on Murray’s Magic deck and an oversized milkshake.
Kudos to Murray for his cosplay, he endured his wig, makeup and heels for most of the day, boosted along by the compliments of strangers. Sat next to him I felt woefully under-dressed. (more…)
May comes and May goes, but every month something new for GeekOut Shrewsbury. More new faces, more new games, more new plans for our glorious and shining future! And as we continue to grow you continue to grow with us, making the Shrewsbury Meets yours. Remember we’re always looking for ways to improve and make these events better for everyone, so we want your input on what you want, on what you geek out about, because we’re not just out to play board games all evening.
Not that that’s a bad plan, but it damn near killed some of us this month. (more…)
They’ve been around for thousands of years, entertaining people from all ages and walks of life. Whilst Video Games are still relatively adolescent, board games are like the great, great, great grandfathers of gaming. They have taught us plenty of strategies, help to keep the mind active and are generally brilliant in social environments as well. They are great in parties as well as between a small group of friends, or even games between lovers.
Yet, one question has remained throughout all of this… Just what are the best board games out there today? Joel and Timlah decide to tackle an extremely tough topic as they dig out their board games, look through what they’ve played, take serious notes (by which I mean we just shouted at one another until we’re blue in the face) and judged each game for the merits they bring to the table. This is the GeekOut South-West list of our Top 10 board games!
10) King of Tokyo
Giant monsters have a real thing for Tokyo. I suppose once you’ve become unnaturally massive your diet will naturally take a shift for the similarly huge, so skyscrapers eventually end up on the menu.
Take up the role of one such giant monster and slug it out in your own B-Movie battle for Tokyo. Gather power to buy cheesy upgrades like laser beams, fire breath or an extra head. Go straight for the kill, or just chase the points while everyone else is preoccupied.
If your more a Michael Bay fan than Harry Hausen, try King of New-York too. More building smashing, more calling in the military and more strategy!
The game of the path is an excellent mixture of chance and strategy, and it’s also elegantly simple. Place your marker at a starting point around the edge of the board, use tiles covered in paths to start your journey, last man standing wins. Oh but everyone else is building their own path, and every tile has four paths on it that could take you somewhere you don’t want to be.
Tsuro is brilliantly quick, really easy to play, harder to master, and massively replayable with so many possible variations. The board and all pieces are beautifully made and designed, as is the sequel Tsuro of the Seas, but I’d rate the original game higher.
Spawning one of the most memorable catchphrases in all of gaming history, this is a game of placement, strategy, logic and luck. I mean the initial shots are basically just luck, but once you land your first hit, you know a ship is vulnerable. These ships are simply sitting ducks that are perfect targets for you to sink. All of these ships are vulnerable, except the most evil ship of them all.
The patrol boat! It’s just 2 pieces long for crying out loud! Where are you, you nasty little patrol boat! Stop looking for me, I’m looking for you now. I’ve sunk all the rest of your fleet, you have no chance… Oh wait, what are you doing? Oh no…
“You sunk my battle ship!!!”
7) Mouse Trap
First made back in the 1970’s, Mouse Trap is a brilliantly unique game. Whilst it certainly has its faults (such as Joels revelation that his trap rarely worked, whereas my traps nearly always worked), the game is something of a childhood classic. Nostalgic is a great way to describe this game now, but it is still available in shops with more modern editions.
You play as mice who are trying to get their cheese but most importantly: Not to be caught by the mouse trap. As you go through the game, you build up one of the wackiest, zaniest traps in gaming history. These traps puts Acme to shame, as it involves cranks, boots, marbles, divers, bath tubs, rolling tracks and a cage. I loved this game as a kid and I think many others did too, although it wasn’t very well received by critics.
Never the less, this game is simply fun. It’s childish, it’s silly – It’s just a fun game to play, with lots of set up and lots of things to see and do. Its USP however… That trap is ridiculously unique and Loony Tunes-esque.
Collectable chibi figures that beat each other to death with wacky powers in an adorable cartoon arena may sound like a child-friendly concept, but here’s a game for people with a flair for strategy and a cruel streak. It’s not all that simple to play, but once you’ve gotten to grips with it, Krosmaster can be a fast-paced bloodbath of slung dice.
If you want to practice there’s a free version online, and investing in the figure boosters allows you to unlock those characters in the online game. But the board game comes with so much! It’s not cheap, but there’s a huge collection of set pieces, tiles, tokens, and a full playset of figures! It’s quite possibly the best investment you can make in a board game.
So the board is little more than a scoreboard in Dixit, but it’s a lovely game nonetheless. We’ve talked about Dixit before, a game of narrative and descriptive power for the creative types. Players take it in turn to take an art card from their hands, offer a clue to what’s on it, and then other players place their own art cards into the pile that they think match the clue. Not too obvious, or you get no points and everyone else does. Not too obscure, or everyone else gets points and you don’t.
You may find this game requires expansions to keep it fresh, but there are plenty of those to be had, and with new players it can offer a wealth of new perspectives on the cards you thought had become familiar. We love Dixit here at GeekOut South-West, and we’ll offer anyone a game at a convention.
4) Ticket to Ride
Have you ever gone to a train station and decided “Boy, I’d sure like to go from station A to B in the most convoluted way possible!” No? Well that’s a shame, because players of Ticket to Ride surely have.
Surprisingly educational and an easy game to pick up and play, Ticket to Ride is a game that balances simple game play with a lot of strategy and a pinch of luck to go with it. Do you want to be risky and take the longer routes with fear that your competitors might try to take it over. This is the ultimate game of balancing greed and being strategic with your monopolisation of the railway. Be warned though, this game takes minutes to learn with its simple rules of: Each turn you either draw a card, claim a route or get more destination tickets. With such an easy rule set, you’ll be pleased to hear that it’ll keep you and your friends or family entertained for hours.
Also for all of you mobile fans out there, you can buy this board game for a hefty discount from the typical asking price of £25 and above. Seriously, it’s well worth playing this game, even though board games can be expensive, man! Controversial
3) The Settlers of Catan
The ultimate resource management board game, the Settlers of Catan sees you in charge of a group of settlers as they build settlements, cities and roads that connect them all together. A simple game to pick up and play that has been praised for how well balanced it is. It’s the modern day board game.
German designed, Catan has had many spin-offs and variants, including many expansions. I’d argue that Settlers of Catan is the board game that helped bring board games back to the centre of social gaming. Having sold more than 15 million units world wide, this board game is easy to pick up and play, which can be played in an hour. The question is, which version do you get? I’d recommend still getting the original.
Although I get a feeling they kind of went wrong when they introduced this to the world…
==1) Chess & Hero Quest
Chess – Joel
The king of games. Little needs to be said, it’s the pinnacle of strategy gaming, there are no elements of chaos like dice or decks of cards, only skill.
When we debated chess and Hero Quest to a standstill, I likened chess to sharks. It’s a design that has barely changed since its’ creation many centuries ago, a few tweaks here and there to made as play intensified, visual aesthetics that reflect trends of the time. Chess is history itself, it’s art, and music, and literature, and narrative.
Nothing can be said about the King of Games that has not already been said a thousand times before by a thousand more eloquent people. It’s also one hell of a way to start arguments.
Hero Quest – Timlah
This was a board game that was basically a game of Dungeons & Dragons. Amongst some of the special points about Hero Quest are that it’s now quite a rare game to get your hands on. It’s so worth having a go if you can manage to get your hands on it, though.
It’s incredibly expansive with people creating resources for the game, almost to the same degree that people make resources for Dungeons & Dragons. This game was so popular, they took to Kickstarter for a 25th anniversary edition which was highly successful, even though they were met with copyright disputes. This shows that the community for this particular game is so strong still – It’s worth a nod at the very least.
Couple this with encouraging children to learn to tell stories and to teach them basic dungeon master skills, this game is the very foundation for children to progress into tabletop RPGs. It was very well balanced, with lots of great pieces which you could put on the board. With character sheets and rulebooks, this was the ultimate in tabletop RPG… And it was a board game, not pen & paper!
You’ve heard mine and Joels arguments for our respective game choices and now we’re handing it over to you. Do we hand the number one slot to Chess, or do we hand the number one slot to Hero Quest? Two entirely different games, both highly educational in their own rights and incredibly strategic. One promotes healthy competition, whereas the other promotes working together as a team. Now their fate for the ultimate battle of the number one slot is in your hands.
Don’t you just hate it when you’re sat there with all of these incredible board games and some people decide to mention these damned games instead? We’re not saying they’re bad or anything, but we’re saying god damn it, why do you even bring this up right now? Still, they deserve the love, even if one is the root of all evil and the other lets you find out who is going to play the root of all evil.
Dungeons and Dragons
Do you have any idea how many times during an explanation of what D&D is, I’ve been asked “So is it a board game?” and my response always starts the same way, “No, well, ehh… kind of.”
And that’s the point, tabletop RPs are board games that don’t need a board necessarily, but there’s no denying that they can be helpful under certain circumstances. Boards are readily available in huge varieties, pre-made, draw your own, build your own, everything from line drawings to sculptures. Tokens, and figures and dice are all available, even box-sets that’ll give you the whole lot in one go.
But they’re not board games! They’re not!
I’m not sure if this game is evil at its core by this point, but the game was first made as a way to demonstrate the evils of property trading. No seriously, that is why Monopoly exists… And it’s very good at getting this point across. This is a game where you have to watch your friends and family turn from your loved ones into vicious, penny pinching, money grabbing monsters before your very eyes.
They want your blood, your thimbles, your wheelbarrows, your dogs and evil your top hats. They do this, not out of love… But this is war. This is a property war and this is Monopoly, damn it!
Whew, I may be getting ahead of myself here, but Monopoly is pure evil and it always brings up heated discussion. Whether you love it or hate it… Monopoly is a game that will tug at peoples heart strings, either from pure love of the game to “hnngh, I’m going to have a heart attack as you mentioned that vile abomination of a game.”
That was our list of our Top 10 Board Games and our honourable mentions for this week. Yes, we know, we cheesed it with our honourables, but Monopoly is a necessary evil that needed to be exposed for the evil (but fun evil) that it is. We also have a controversial decision in our contentious first place position, between Chess and Hero Quest. What do you think about that? Let us know what our next Top 10 should be!
As always, if you disagree with our list: Why not shout at us and tell us that we’re stupid in the comments below? Or you can be nice and give us your suggestions and let us know if you think we’ve forgotten a really important board game from this list. Perhaps you like our list but don’t agree with the order? What are your thoughts on us doing a joint first place with Chess and Hero Quest? We had a long, tough debate over this but we couldn’t put a point past either of them. As always, comments below, over on Facebook or Twitter and let us know what you think of our Top 10 for this week!