After a bit of a break the chaps from Polyhedron Collider return with a good old chat about board games.  We go full throttle for our review of Wreck & Ruin, race animals in The Champion of the Wild, get all depressed in This War of Mine and drown our sorrows on a Drinking Quest.

The boys then have a good lock chat about the current state of board game reviews and look at ethics, how we approach reviews and the best and worst receptions we have had to a review.

 
 The other day I received a mysterious package, and well, if it weren't for a couple of clues I would be pretty freaked out. For starters, I receive a shipping notification from Poland. Ohh I think, is it a Kickstarter? Well the shipping and tracking data gave no information, only that the package came from Poland.
Champion of the Wild Kickstarter Review
 
It's a board game review cliché to say "if you like this kind of game, you'll like this game". It's a tired and lazy get-out clause for a reviewer, they can thoroughly dislike a game and then issue this kind of statement completely admonishing any form of reviewer responsibility while remaining pretty, positive and ever so cuddly. It is a phrase I detest, but trying to write a review of The Champion of the Wild while avoiding this statement is turning into the literal equivalent of a daytime charge across the minefield.


Now we all love a bit of Norse mythology. The Marvel films are testament to that. A good looking chap with a big mallet walloping things around the head seems to make for the good times. And I’m sure he’s handy in a workshop too. Smacking nails into wood with one mighty swing – even less if he uses his hammer. 
Mansions of Madness Second Edition Review

I know there are a few people out there who believe that cardboard and technology should be kept completely separate, that by adding an app via a tablet or computer to their board game domain that they have somehow sullied their table top collection. If you think this way then you are missing out on quite possibly the best cooperative game to come out in 2016 and the most thematic Cthulhu Mythos game that Fantasy Flight Games have ever made, because Mansions of Madness Second Edition may have some minor issues, but otherwise is a superb and deeply thematic adventure game that perfectly marries technology and table top.
Runewars Miniatures Game Review
 
When reviewing miniatures games, one must consider the holy trinity of table top miniatures; the lore (or the fluff), the miniatures and the rules. Because a miniatures game isn’t as straightforward as a board game, not only do the rules need to be solid but you also need to have miniatures you want to paint and a background that wants you to fight.  We mostly review board games here at Polyhedron Collider, where game mechanics and gameplay rule the roost, and plastic models and pages of backstory are merely stage dressing. But a miniatures game has to draw you in, it needs to make you want to play, want to paint and most of all, want to pay most of your salary on more tiny plastic men.

How you rate your miniatures game is going to depend on which of these factors influences you the most. I certainly have friends who have bought entire game systems for the miniatures alone and Warhammer 40,000 has traded on the fan speculation of which Primarch would beat each other in a fight for some 20 odd years.

After summer holiday season the Polyhedron Collider schedule has taken a hit, so here we are two weeks late with a bumper podcast full of chat about board games, Gen Con, involute gear forms, and eating olives.  We take in depth looks at Anachrony, Tzolk’in and Labyrinth and provide a roundup of some of the games we have been sent to review that where rather bad.

We also answer questions from the mail bag about blinging out our games, use of theme and which are our most significant games.

How to Go On a Successful Crowdfunding Quest - by Todd Medema

Todd Medema from Expedition: The Roleplaying Card Game here. Polyhedron Collider was generous enough to review our first game’s Kickstarter launch, which doubled its goal. We wanted to return the favour by sharing some of the tips and techniques we learned from our campaign to make your next launch more successful!

Over the years we have been sent a number of review copies of games that have slipped through the net. It’s an embarrassment, it's unprofessional, its ramshackle, but there is a reason these games have remained unreviewed, they have struggled to even get to the table. Some of them are boring, some are uninspiring and some are just plain bad but it's our duty as honest reviewers to tell you why we just don’t like this set of games.
Betrayal at House on the Hill Review

There’s a rumour circulating the industry about us reviewers, about how some don’t post negative reviews. I won’t get into that here as it’s up to the individual reviewers to create content as they choose. We at Polyhedron Collider, however, are certainly not above or below putting the boot in, especially me (Andy), as we firmly believe an honest opinion is far more useful to you, our vast and knowledgeable readership, so you can make a more informed judgement as to where you spend your hard-earned pennies (or not as the case may be).

I have come to the realisation that the hallmark of a great game is one when you look at your options, mull over your choices and then let out a cry of exasperation. It is that moment when you realise that to pull off that game winning moving you really should have started your plan in motion three turns ago, or that you are simply one action or one resource short of pulling off a complete blinder.

I say this because my time with Star Scrapper: Cave In has been embarrassingly short, to the point where I feel slightly dishonest in using the word review in the title, (not too I guilty mind you as an article titled first impressions never gets the traction it deserves) but I will say within my brief time with Star Scrapper Cave In there have been multiple cries of anguish, so surely it is a truly great game.

Century: Spice Road Review

It is said that the early bird catches the worm. However, I’m one of those weird folks who, whenever anyone mentions worms, I immediately think of the sandworms in Dune. Huge great things with mouths bigger than the Channel Tunnel and with more segments than a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. To catch these worms would take a very big bird indeed and we’re not talking Sesame Street here.

For anyone familiar with Frank Herbert’s novel, I refer to the worms here due to the Spice Melange – a substance in the books that enabled long term space flight and which only grew on the planet Arrakis. The spices in the subject of this review are less potent and would barely allow you to make a tasty rice pudding, let alone navigate you across the galaxy. 

This War of Mine: The Board Game Review

Anyone alive in the 90s who owned an Amiga will almost certainly have remembered the Sensible Software game “Cannon Fodder”. If you don’t remember the game, look it up. I’ll wait.

I mention Cannon Fodder because it came with the tagline: “War has never been so much fun”. And it was right – Cannon Fodder was awesome and still stands as one of my favourite games of all time. Making those little men dance across the screen as you shot their twitching corpses was highly entertaining, if a little morbid.

I will be perfectly honest, at first I passed on Bärenpark, a tile laying game where you build a zoo specifically for bears. I will admit that the theme didn't grab me and the mechanics looked a little too simplistic for my tastes and, worst of all, the cover artwork did nothing to inspire me. But I am happy to say that Bärenpark has proven me wrong because not only is it a fun and light game it's also got a surprising depth of strategy.
The Polyhedron Collider Cast Episode 29 - Runewars Miniatures Game, This War of Mine and Cave In

It is time yet again for a slice of tabletop gaming chat as the boys explore the latest miniatures game from Fantasy Flight Games Runewars, get all depressed by This War of Mine and explore the latest Kickstarters with our thoughts on Burning Rome and Star Scrappers Cave In.

We also discuss the latest news about Talisman and organising a Dungeons and Dragons session.

Burning Rome Kickstarter Review

I grew up a stone’s throw from the city of Chester, famous for being an ancient Roman city and having some of them oldest city walls in the country. As such the sight of a man dressed as a Roman legionnaire touting entrance to the Deva museum (Deva being the Roman name for Chester) was a common sight. And because this was such a perfect opportunity for a school trip, I should be no stranger to Roman history, but all that I can remember is that the Romans used to eat dormice.
Brutal Kingdom Review

Reviewing games is largely a discussion of opinion. I can give you some objective facts about a game, but in the end the tone and final thoughts of such a written piece are going to rely on my experience of the game and nothing more. While it is true that some games can actually be bad, most games just have some features that mean they don't rise to the top of the quite staggering list of games available today.

And then there are games like Brutal Kingdom, a game I don't like, but that I'm beginning to think it's not because it's a bad game, but because it is simply not a game for me.
Talisman is Definitely Coming Back

One of the many casualties of the recent split between Games Workshop and Fantasy Flight Games was the famous (or should that be infamous?) fantasy quest game of Talisman.  It has long been a staple of the tabletop gaming world and though many people will criticise its old fashioned mechanics there are no doubts that it remained a big seller throughout its life at Fantasy Flight Games.
Game of Trains Review

 Alanis Morissette would call it ironic that I am writing a review about Game of Trains while sitting on a train. It’s not ironic, it's just where I seem to spend most of my time these days, squirming on London Midlands putrid green seats that where no doubt designed to eradicate slouching on public transport by 2019. The good thing is Game of Trains is a damn sight more fun than sitting uncomfortably on a morning commuter train, in fact I would go so far as to say that it has been the best game I have played so far in 2017.

At the UK Games Expo we got to see something very special, it wasn’t something that was on a stand or something you could play. Instead it was an early prototype of a game called Nemesis – a game we have been following for some time and even called it one of our most anticipated games of the year – and it looks glorious.
The Polyhedron Collider Cast Episode 28: A Game of Trains, Isle of Skye and Century: Spice Road

This week’s theme would appear to be the quicker lighter games in our collection. The boys all gush over A Game of Trains, play Isle of Skye while on the Isle of Skye and discuss the hot game of the moment Century Spice Road.

We also end up down rabbit holes within rabbit holes as we discuss kilt patterns, how to pronounce garam masala and wearing a Victorian cape to work.

The Polyhedron Collider Cast Episode 27: The Great UK Games Expo Caper Part 2
 
Jon is back! And so Steve and Andy regale him with some more exciting game we played at the UK Games Expo and talk about some 100% fresh board games and tabletop gaming Kickstarters.

We build theme parks, we go to sea and raid as a Viking and then divvy out the spoils of war, go fishing and become estate agents and detectives. We also discuss drinking songs and how pasties are hotter than the core of the Sun.

Sorry for the audio quality in this episode – we have had a myriad of problems throughout.

Batman the Boardgame first look review

 Batman!

Quite frankly there is part of me that wants to leave this preview as just one word and some photos, but that would be unprofessional of me (although professionalism does seem to always be out of Polyhedron Collider's grasp) so custom dictates I should annotate the pictures of the quite frankly gorgeous prototype minis with some explanation and musings.
UK Games Expo 2017: Game On Tabletop Interview

At the UK Games Expo 2017, I spoke to Laura from Game On Tabletop about the France based crowd-funding platform and how it is launching its first English language tabletop crowd-funding projects.
Dice forge uk games expo review

If I was to simply say Dice Forge is Dominion but with dice,  this will not only convey the whole gist of Dice Forge, but also everything that may get you excited or worried about Libellud's upcoming release. Asmodee and Esdevium were showing off a late prototype of the game at the UK Games Expo 2017 and I got myself a seat to grab a game, well actually my wife saw the game loved the artwork and quickly jumped at the two empty places to give Dice Forge a go.
UK Games Expo 2017: Fallout Miniatures Games and Star Trek RPG

At the UK Games Expo 2017 Chris from Modiphius took us through all the new releases and upcoming releases including the Steven Spielberg 80’s movie inspired roleplaying game Tales from the Loop, the inside scoop on the upcoming Fallout Wasteland Warfare Miniatures Game and the huge box of goodies that is the Star Trek Adventures RPG.
The Polyhedron Collider Cast Episode 26: The Great UK Games Expo Caper Part 1
 
Suffering from the sleep deprivation that comes from the 3 days at the UK Games Expo, Andy and Steve try to download from their brain everything they saw at the UK Games Expo 2017. They failed, which is why this episode covers just half of the games we saw.

We would like to thank everyone who was involved, we had a great time.

Geeknson UK Games Expo 2017 Interview

At the UK Games Expo 2017 I got to commanded a Viking long boat as I chatted with the guys from Geeknson all about their magnificent wood!
Lords of Hellas Kickstarter Interview

Anyone who has been on any form of board game social media may have noticed the new game from Awaken Realms involving loads of minis and some kind of cyber Greek mythology theme. I must admit that although the minis caught my eye the first thought was "here we go, another game packed to the gills with moulded plastic and not a whiff of gameplay" and then I found out that Lords of Hellas is being designed by Adam Kwapiński and I got very interested.

Me and Adam go way back (in that I spoke to him once at Essen and he didn't look scared, uncomfortable or ask me to leave) and so I thought I would give him a shout and get the inside scoop on Lords of Hellas
Listen to us guest on Gaming Rules - Podcast 46
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Steve and Andy guest on Paul Grogan's Gaming Rules podcast where we talk about Star Wars Rebellion, Dark Souls, Anachrony and of course the upcoming UK Games Expo.

Critters Below Kickstarter Review

You’re in a room. It is dark. You’ve been eaten by a Grue.

Ok, not that last bit, but two out of three isn’t bad. For those of you who may wear tinfoil hats and are obsessed with the impending dawn of war, then you may quite enjoy the subject of my latest peek-a-boo as it’s set in a bunker during a war. Whoever chose to build this bunker clearly hadn’t heard of basic requirements like medicine or lighting. Perhaps they were cut from the budget during construction.

It’s hardly surprising that amenities such as a light bulb were missed as the inhabitants of this Stone-Age bunker are a bunch of woodland animals, the Critters, trying to survive a particularly hefty war involving a lot of bombing of a rather unspecific nature. The world is warring whilst our protagonists must wait it out in their concrete cocoon below ground. And thus we arrive at the name of the game in question: Critters Below from Antler Games
Realm master board game kickstarter review

The more board games you play, the more you notice mechanics and concepts shared between various games. It’s actually one of those great things about learning to play a game, when you realise that there is a common DNA with another game, or a new game takes something familiar to you and mixes it up, using it in a way that you weren't expecting. Unfortunately this sometimes leads to games feeling very similar, or sharing so many mechanics that it’s hard to differentiate them.

The UK Games Expo is the 2nd to 4th of June and it’s the biggest tabletop gaming convention in the UK.  It will be three days full of board games, card games, miniatures and roleplaying games and we take a look at the games that have got us excited.

To get more information and tickets head to https://www.ukgamesexpo.co.uk/


Dungeon crawling is a well-used trope in the board gaming world; grab a party of likeminded adventurers and head underground to grab some loot and kick the snot out of all manner of monsters. But what if I told you that gold and sparkling gems weren't the real treasure? What if you were a culture that used teeth as a currency? Well, all of a sudden venturing into dark subterranean deaths isn't about collecting shinies and honour, but instead becomes an attempt to recreate a Pantera album cover in as a many imaginative ways as possible.

In many ways Ravage: Dungeons of Plunder is a typical dungeon crawler and in its basic premise I have to say that there isn't a huge amount of original ideas in the game. You'll venture into dark depths, kill monsters, grab loot, level up and hopefully last long enough to take on the story's goal. But Ravage puts a few interesting tweaks into the age old formula and wraps it up in a package of beautiful artwork and striking graphic design.
 EXIT: The Game – The Secret Lab Review

You may have noticed a surge in the number or Escape Room style board games appearing over the last few months.  Fresh on the heels of cooperative puzzle games like TIME Stories comes a whole range of one-time puzzles based on the escape room phenomenon that is gripping the world.  If you are like me, and live at the arse end of nowheresville you will most likely not have had an opportunity to visit one of these experiences.

Thankfully system like Unlock, Escape the Room and EXIT allow you to experience these cooperative puzzle sessions at home. We were lucky to receive a copy of EXIT The Secret Lab from Kosmos and so the opportunity of a bank holiday weekend meant I was able to lock ourselves into the dining room after a Sunday roast and see if the Tudor family was clever enough to escape a devious laboratory.

We were not.
Steam Works Review

Picture the scene: you’re at a large convention at a popular UK site and you see through the crowd a man wearing a metallic owl on his shoulder, together in Victorian getup and an extendable spyglass fixed to the side of his head. On the streets, this kind of behaviour would usually result in a swift recapture followed by a series of injections and perhaps a straightjacket. In the safe and womb-like environment of the UK Games Expo however, it’s worthy of perhaps a gently raised eyebrow before being distracted by another miniatures vendor. Unless you’re me of course, where Steampunk holds a particular fascination ever since I donned the light gem and began a career as a thief in the PC game… er… Thief.

In a desperate effort to clear the decks before the UK Games Expo, the boys from Polyhedron Collider cast their eye over the latest batch of board games and tabletop Kickstarters.

Steve faces the crushing difficulty and divisive gameplay of Dark Souls and then all three go to war with big mechs and sneaky spies in Farsight. Andy is one with the weather as he moves like the wind in Petrichor before joining Steve on the dungeon crawling of Ravage: Dungeons of Plunder. Finally Steve tries one of the latest Escape the Room games in Exit the Secret Lab.

The UK Games Expo 2017

Chaos. Games. Minis. Press. Cameras. Shops. Stalls. Cosplay. Shows. Talks. Seminars. And Two prats from Polyhedron Collider. It's the UK Games Expo, it’s the biggest tabletop gaming convention in the UK and it’s only a few weeks away.

In part 2 of episode 23, the Andy, Jon and Steve go through our overflowing mailbag and answer your questions. We discuss solo games, Talisman Legacy, apps in game and our favourite and least favourite game components.

Farsight Kickstarter Review

Big bastard robots!

That's what my podcast co-host and Polyhedron Collider writer said to me when I showed him some details about Farsight, the new game from Braincrack games that the entire Polyhedron Collider crew got to play on Tabletopia this week along with Lewis from Braincrack. And the game certainly is about big bastard robots, with a mix of game-play from Space Marine, Stratego and Heroes of Normandie.

fallout wasteland warfare miniature game minis

 Grab a fusion core for you power armour, stock up on ammo, get Dogmeat ready and head out into the wasteland, because here at Polyhedron Collider we’ve got uranium fever for the Fallout miniatures game from Modiphious. We’re big Fallout players and so we are really excited at the announcement of Fallout: Wasteland Warfare at the weekend, but now Modiphius have released some more details.
Martians: A Story of Civilization Review

Mars seems to be the hot ticket right now. Whether people are terraforming it, journeying to it, colonising it or battering it and deep frying it, the Red Planet has got more attention than Sean Spicer talking about what he believes to be an accurate account of German history. There are currently rovers on Mars roaming around giving us more information than ever before and they’re all more reliable than the cars of the same name. Rover Metros were less reliable than a London Midland commuter train on a bad day and the Mars Rover took less time to get to its destination.

So being the space-nut that I am, sometime in 2016 I jumped on the backing bandwagon, boarded the mission to Mars and backed Martians: A Story of Civilization. And I note the awful Americanisation of our beloved mother tongue with that filthy “z” instead of the Queen’s “s”, but, like an excited hound with the keys to a JCB, I dive down yet another rabbit hole.

Steve, Andy, his potty mouth, Jon and his creaky chair have come together for another batch of board gaming chat. In part one of a two parts special (I say special, its more that we waffled for too long and had to chop it down) we go through Andy’s Kickstarter habit, have a discussion on the pronunciation of the word Brass, Nandos and how best to censor Andy.

We also talk about some games, since that’s why we’re here. Andy takes us to Mars, in a Story of Civilisation, Steve ventures through time in TIME Stories Expedition Endurance, Jon is all at sea with Tsuro and we all learn some valuable science from Dr Lewis in Planetarium.

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T.I.M.E Stories: Expedition: Endurance Review

I have been a big fan of T.I.M.E Stories. At the time of its release the Myst style puzzles, accompanied by amazing artwork and interesting stories, made it one of my favourite cooperative game experiences. But this feeling has been eroded. The introduction of ‘escape room’ type games follow a similar concept and Mansions of Madness second edition and the Arkham Horror LCG have both made games that offer similar experiences in a much more re-playable format.

This meant that although I was eager to play the latest T.I.M.E Stories expansion ¬- Expedition: Endurance - as I played it the other games in this genre preyed in my mind. To remain king of the hill, T.I.M.E Stories would have to deliver an absolute blinder of a puzzle. Unfortunately, it failed.
Potion Explosion App Review

So let's get this straight; Potion Explosion is a board game, based on a mobile app that now been turned into a mobile app. Confused? Don't be, because Potion Explosion is a fun little game that works just as well on both the tabletop and your telephone or tablet.

The premise is simple, you need to brew potions and do it better than your opponent. To do this you will need to gather four different ingredients each represented by coloured marbles, in varying quantities. Each turn you are only allowed to collect one ingredient from the rack, but if by doing so two ingredients of the same colour come into contact then they explode and you get to collect all of those of the same colour. If by removing these ingredients you then cause another group of the same colour to come into contact then you also get to collect those as well. It means you can set off a cascade and grab a handful of ingredients by simply removing one key ingredient.

Planetarium Review

 A few months ago when I took a peek at Eclipse: New Dawn for the Galaxy, I may have let slip that I was a student of Astrophysics. Sitting in or on an observatory in the middle of winter was all very well, but it did have a habit of reducing one’s tackle to the size of a cashew nut given that the observatory in question was in Scotland. Thankfully it wasn’t all steering telescopes and going cross-eyed trying to discern one speck of light from another. Part of my study of all things “space” involved the formation of stars and consequentially, the formation of planets. I could start harping on about accretion disks, gravitational fields and potential wells, but I’m sure Steve doesn’t want to lose our readership.

Having said all that, it seems that Game Salute have an interest in planetary formation because they’ve recently released Planetarium following a Kickstarter campaign. Every time I hear that word, I instantly think of the South Park episode – not because of Cartman’s cheesy poofs try-out, but because Dr. Adams can’t pronounce the “T” in Planetarium. According to my better half, saying that repeatedly for 6 weeks starts to wear thin. I fail to see the problem myself. 

On their return from Airecon, the boys have put together a bumper episode of tabletop gaming goodness. We start by discussing FAITH: The Sci-Fi RPG and its Garden In Hell starter set. We then go over the games we played and the people we met at Airecon, including our thoughts on Geeknson gaming tables and The City of Kings, the fantasy adventure game that is taking Kickstarter by storm.


At Airecon, Andy joined a group of UK board game media creators to discuss which aspects of the tabletop gaming hobby that they should put into Room 101.
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