Episode 53 – The Best Games of 2018

It’s the end of the year, so it’s time to look back at the best board and tabletop games of 2018.  We announce our highly prestigious ‘Polyhedron Collider 3 for 3 Award’ and each pick our top three games of the year.

Baldur's Gate - Logo

Back in 1998 I was at University, drinking too much and generally enjoying my youth. Fast forward to the present and I’m basically doing the same thing. With the exception of not being young any more. Time, it seems, is not kind to our frail human form and I have begun to fall apart. My body doesn’t work quite as well as they did in the 90’s (my knees are shot) and I’m getting forgetful.
Polyhedron Collider - Board Game News

For a time of year when people traditionally spend money they don't have to give gifts to people they don't like that those people don't need, you'd think Kickstarter would be a little quieter. Quite the opposite it seems as there are more new releases to shelves and on Kickstarter than the UK Christmas Top 40. Thankfully the quality on Kickstarter is marginally higher than the typical output from the Cowell factory of money...er...I mean dreams so tell little Timmy that Santa chose to buy him a pile of coloured cardboard instead of another autotuned synth-fest discussing the benefits of driving fast, wearing "jammin' threads" and generally being socially irresponsible on Snapchat.

Or put more succinctly; it's time for more gaming news! We've got some exciting new kids versions of games, Games Workshop being charitable and some solid news on the Metal Gear Board Game.
Polyhedron Collider - Board Game News 12/12/18

Oh no! This week’s gaming news is very late, I personally blame the Polyhedron Collider Christmas party and that bottle of Babycham that Steve was drinking.

Don’t worry though, because we’ve got more new games than you can shake a stick of holly at, including Harry Potter, Power Grid and King Arthur. We also hear about Games Workshop’s profits and board game theme parks.
The Polyhedron Collider Cast Episode 52 - Deep Sea Adventure, Detective and Dungeons And Dragons

Andy is back and finished his house move, and so we are back in action with 300% more waffle. Today’s episode is brought to you by the letter D, as Andy explores Deep Sea Adventure, Steve becomes a grizzled Detective and Jon gives us an update on our Dungeons and Dragons campaigns.

Our news ferret tells us about the latest game from Stonemeier and Frosty the Snow Lich.  We also sort through the mailbag, and discuss Paul Grogan’s itch, using cardboard as currency and our top tips for miniature painting.

Dragonmeet is always a special con for me, at the end of the year, shortly before my birthday, where I get to play a bunch of games and see lovely boardgame folk that I don't get to normally.  The atmosphere is always so relaxed and so casual that you feel you have time and space to chat and to really browse all that this mini-con has to offer.  Having said that, I always leave the con wishing I had seen and done more.
Polyhedron Collider - Board Game News 5/12/18

Christmas must be coming, because Hellboy is dressed as Santa! And that also means the news is coming, with a sack bursting with board game goodness.

We’ve got the designer of one of the best stealth board games working on one of the most famous stealth video games, a new legacy game, secret agents, stained glass windows and a humble bundle full of digital board games.
The Big Book of Battle Mats Review

You move slowly through the Necromancer’s dungeon, carefully peering around every corner and treading as deftly as you can manage so as not to make a sound. The paladin, weighed down by full plate armour and a sword larger than the party’s halfling, trips on a discarded candelabra. The clattering noise echoes off the carved stone walls, answered by the hiss of evil, several green glowing eyes staring at you in the dark and a hulking beast made of sewn together body parts lumbers towards you.

Polhedron Collider Board Game News

I always thought that many mainstream board games are shit.  Well I wasn't wrong, because apparently they are now award winning shit.  

But don't let the family board game industry get you down becuase we've got some proper exciting real news, like a big tease from Stonemaier Games and so really cool news about Board & Dice and NSKN merging.
The Polyhedron Collider Cast Episode 51 - Dinosaur Island and Ravage: Dungeons of Plunder

Andy is busy moving house, or playing Deep Madness in any empty flat, so it’s just Jon and Steve on this episode and subsequently proceedings are much more relaxed. Pour yourself a drink (we recommend a nice dark beer to sip on) and get cosy as Jon and Steve take you through the latest news, visit Dinosaur Island and delve deep into Dungeons of Plunder.

We also answer questions from the mailbag, which all seem to be directed at Andy – d’oh!
News Collider - Board Game News 21/11/18

Would you believe that it is actually snowing outside, in Birmingham, in November? Madness! That means that <northern accent>Winter is coming</northern accent>, but don’t worry as we have enough board game news to keep you safe and warm in the long cold week ahead.

We’ve got falling share prices, games based on TV shows and films, films based on games and an expansion announcement for a game that hasn’t even been released yet.

Monolith Arena Review

I am of the belief that there is simply no such thing as a completely objective review, especially when it comes to board games. No matter how hard a reviewer tries, their prejudices and tastes will influence their opinion of a game. I say this because I absolutely adore Neuroshima Hex, it is easily one of my top ten board games of all time, and I think you should be aware of this before I start talking about Monolith Arena, a sequel/remix of the original hex based tile laying battle game.

So if, like me, you are already a fan of Michał Oracz's game, here’s the short review; Monolith Arena is bloody brilliant and you should go buy it.

No doubt most of you will be wanting a bit more depth to a review, however, so here goes.
rick and morty

It’s Wednesday, so that means it’s time for some tabletop gaming news.  Yet again Rory has sailed the board gaming ocean and returned to port with his board game trawler, dragging a net bulging with the freshest news.

In today’s news we have some unfortunate goings on with Super Dungeon Explore’s financial situation, another Rick and Morty Game, Turtles, Twatty-hadoukans and saving the world with Catan.

Any other podcast would make a big song and dance about releasing their 50th episode. Not the boys from the PHC, because they weren’t paying attention and didn’t realise they had reached such a prestigious milestone.

Instead they talk about four games that may well make their best of the year lists; Steve gets his arse handed to him by Arkham Horror 3rd Edition, Andy goes into a Deep Madness and Jon tackles Monolith Arena. Andy and Steve then quickly say how much they love Brass (Brarse), while Jon tackles the news and Steve’s delves deep into his sack, mail sack that is.

Polyhedron Collider - Board Game News

You’d think that the board game news would slow down a bit, I mean its practically Christmas (according to the seasonal aisle in my local Tesco) but it seems the dice that is the board gaming world doesn’t stop rolling. I may have got my metaphors mixed up there.

We’ve got gaming movies, gaming dance shows, champions, bears and more Kickstarters that any sane human could back, but no doubt Andy will try.
Welcome to Dinowrorld Review

You’ll have to be resourceful, inventive and more than a little creative to succeed in Welcome to Dinoworld, standing on the shoulders of giants isn’t an option, even when that giant was your previous victory.  Far, far from it, and so much like the dinosaurs from that movie I’m going to quote the hell out of in this review, you’ll have to find a way…to make those dice work for you.

Civilization: A New Dawn - Cover

I wonder if the ideas bucket for making new media is a bit on the empty side. With films being remade instead of original ideas used, one has to wonder if Hollywood’s brains have just given up. It seems that the same is true for our cardboard world; video to board game conversions seem to be quite popular at the moment. We’ve seen the likes of Dark Souls, DOOM and Fallout amongst others, like the film remakes they’ve all fared quite differently. Personally, I thought Dark Souls was a pile of bobbins with a side of bacon, but DOOM was more fun than a barrel of particularly whimsical monkeys.
everrain board game news

It has been a busy week in board gaming.  With the Essen Spiel board game fair in full swing, many a new game has been announced, played, demoed, and muled back like a suitcase full of Columbia's finest. This means we have a bounty of board gaming news to share with you this week, including a mouse filled movie, the world Scrabble championships and a board game about constant rain and unspeakable mutants (but surprisingly nothing to do with a weekend away in Rhyl).

Spirits of the Forest Board Game Review

From the box to the insert, from the score pad to the tiles, Spirits of the Forest, is quite simply enchanting.  You’ll quickly read the rulebook – don’t be alarmed, it's multilingual, the rules just about cover two pages and are very, very simple.  You’ll set the game up and take a moment to just look at it, it is, as one has come to expect from Thundergryph Games, very pretty.

Essen 2018 Preview Index

Here at Polyhedron Collider, we have been luck enough to try many a game before it gets released to the general public.  Whether it be via an early prototype copy, a media preview or Andy just barging his way into a demo at a convention, we've seen, played and passed judgement on quite a few of Essen 2018's hottest games.  

So that you, our dear listeners and readers don't have to traipse through page after page of content we have provided this handy and easily digestible list:
news collider board game news 24-10-18

News Collider is back! Yes folks, hot on the success of Jon Cage’s news ferreting in our regular podcast, we’ve decided to bring back our News Collider column, bringing you a hot slice of board game news every Wednesday. It’s not just board games, however, we’ll also be looking at RPGs, card games and miniatures, basically whatever catches our eye over the week.
Monumental Kickstarter Review

The first thing you notice about Monumental, the upcoming civilisation building board game from Fun Forge that's now on Kickstarter, is just how stunningly beautiful it looks. As I sat down to play a demo version of the game at this year’s Tabletop Gaming Live, I was overwhelmed by the splash of colour, the well designed and clear iconography, and the absolutely amazing looking miniatures, so much so that it took a few moments to draw myself away from the visuals to learn the rules, and it was then that I found that Monumental’s beauty was more than skin deep.

According to my GCSE results, I speak better French than I do English. I’m not going to contest this because I’m from the North and my rough, no-nonsense accent will likely confuse the Southerners speaking with their plums in their mouths. A particularly awkward place to put one’s plums I might add.

One language I’m demonstrably not great at is Mesoamerican and I have two pieces of evidence to back up this outlandish statement. One; the well-travelled lads here at Polyhedron Collider struggled to pronounce Teotihuacan the first few (hundred) times, resorting to referring to it as “Twatty-Haduken” (anyone who’s played Street Fighter will get the reference) and two; David Turczi himself stopped me at UK Games Expo this year to give me language lessons on how to do it properly.

It’s that time of the year again were our gaze is directed towards Germany and the Spiel game fair in Essen.  We look forward to some of the exciting games being released at the world’s largest board game convention and have a look back at our predictions from last year.

Let the rampant speculation begin!

There are times in life when you say “screw it”, throw caution to the wind, drop all pretence of sensibility and just get stuck into something. Be it a new hobby, sport or simply just spunking a wad of cash so thick it could be used to prop up a skyscraper. With the notion of Kickstarter (other crowdfunding platforms are available), it’s getting ever easier to buy and back games with increasing production costs (and consequentially improved quality), timescales and grandeur. I’m not going to start a rant about the cost of games getting silly, there’s a time and a place for that and it’s not this review.
Fallout - Cover

It’s a desolate landscape with strange, offensive beasts walking around; stalking others, chasing them down and claiming territory for their own. You feel lost, dazed and alone as you wander in search of meaning and a sense of belonging in this lurid, post-apocalyptic wasteland.

But enough about Brexit.

Steve goes to Tabletop Gaming Live and tells us about the games he played there, including Keyforge and Monumental. Jon takes on the role of new ferret and Andy just distracts us all with his usual nonsense.

Photosynthesis Review

We’ve covered all kinds of games here at Polyhedron Collider, ranging from tabletop battle games with rank and file miniatures through lightweight party games all the way to hefty Euros (a particular favourite of mine, I might add). The subjects of these games is just as varied, covering such topics as oenology, Vikings beating up monsters, hiding from aliens in the dark and of course going mad in a big old house. We’ve never considered advanced horticulture as a subject for a game, let alone played one.
Nanty Narking Kickstarter Review

Well-dressed gentlemen, dirty street urchins, pea soup smog and a young paper boy calling you “Guv’nor”, are all part of the sights, sounds and awful smells of a nanty narking in Victorian London Town. Nanty narking is an old fashioned phrase for a right good time (something now I can’t say without putting on a Barbara Windsor impression and adding “saucy” to the end of the sentence) and it’s an appropriate, if at first odd sounding, name for Phalanx Games’ remake of Discworld Ankh-Morpork.

The Polyhedron Collider Cast Episode 47 - Micro Brew, Nanty Narking and Simulation Theory

Nanty narking is an old Victorian phrase for a right good time, and that's what we're having as we give you another generous helping of tabletop gaming chat.

Jon takes on the role of News Ferret as he weasels out the latest board game news, Steve takes us through current Kickstarter games Simulation Theory, Micro Brew and Nanty Narking, and Andy just adds his usually colourful language and unique sense of perspective to proceedings.

Simulation Theory Kickstarter Review

Simulation Theory is a board game that seems to think it’s cleverer than it actually is. An RPG inspired take on the matching pairs memory games, Simulation Theory attempts to blend adventure and exploration into a game of virtual realities, where anything is real, and whereas the final game is perfectly functional, the result simply isn’t very exciting.
The Polyhedron Collider Cast Episode 46 - Gen Con, Talisman and other shenanigans

After a myriad of audio recording problems and Skype snafus we are back with the latest episode of the Polyhedron Collider Cast.

Two weeks later than planned, our discussion on the latest hotness from Gen Con now feels a bit cold, but that never stops us from talking nonsense about the Arkham Horror, Keyforge and Gen 7 announcements. In a shock to everyone Andy has played Talisman and Steve regales us with his thoughts on comedy fantasy card-game game, Hero Master 

Agra board game review

India to me seems like a fascinating country. Everyone I’ve met from India always seems lovely, friendly and happy to help. The food is awesome (who doesn’t love a good curry?) and the clothes are all bright, colourful and really comfy. Plus, having attended the Sikh wedding of a good mate of mine, they really know how to party.
Ruthless pirate board game review

Ruthless, from Alley Cat Games is very much like a firework.  Not the type of firework that goes off randomly at 11:36pm on a Thursday night in March, waking the dog up, and thus you.  No, Ruthless is like a firework in that despite the fact you’ve played many other deck builders, this one will make you go “Ooohhh”, like you do when watching fireworks, despite having seen many fireworks go off before.

Hero Master: An Epic Game of Epic Fails Kickstarter Review

Jamie Noble Frier, designer of Hero Master: An Epic Game of Epic Fails, has specifically asked me to avoid referencing Munchkin in my review of his game. And who can blame him? Munchkin is a stodgy mess that takes far too long and is far too chaotic, its no surprise that our resident fan of all things bad, Mr Jon Cage, rather likes it. But its difficult to talk about Hero Master without mentioning Munchkin, as on the surface the games are so very much alike.

Both games involve a party of bumbling heroes going on adventures, both games put their humour front and centre-with humorous card names and silly flavour text-and both games teach us that victory is best achieved by playing the most erect of dick-moves. I could go on, but while Hero Master may cover the same broad strokes of theme and style, it is a vastly superior game as it provides a tight and strategic experience that still manages to be chaotic and downright silly.
The Champions of Chance face Storm King's Thunder - Episode 3, 4 and 5 - Goldenfields

The Champions of Chance continue their adventures in Storm King's Thunder from Wizards of the Coast. We are playing Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, using Roll20 to play. In our latest instalment, the heroes venture to the farming city of Goldenfields, only to find that it was recently attacked by giants.

You can watch the entire adventure on YouTube and don’t forget to join us in Twitch, every Thursday at 1930 BST for more ramshackle shenanigans as we continue the adventure of the Champions of Chance and follow the adventures of the Masters of Fate (or team frozen balls as they are more commonly known). Available at: https://www.twitch.tv/polyhedroncollider

Let's Play Dungeons & Dragons - Storm King's Thunder

Those of you that listen to the Polyhedron Collider Cast (and if you don’t we’d really love you to give it a listen) will know that the boys from the PHC have become well and truly addicted to Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.  Well due to the magic of the internet you can now join in the fun.  

So welcome along as we join the Champions of Chance as they fend off a horde of bloodthirsty orcs from the gates of Nightstone in our Storm King’s Thunder campaign. Of course it wouldn’t be Polyhedron collider without a bit of ramshackle nonsense, and so we apologise for the iffy sound in places.

Don’t forget to join us in Twitch, every Thursday at 1930 BST for more ramshackle shenanigans as we continue the adventure of the Champions of Chance and follow the adventures of the Masters of Fate (or team frozen balls as they are more commonly known).

Polyhedron Collider proves it is, as always, on the bleeding edge of new releases and the new hotness… by talking about Lords of Waterdeep and Android Netrunner, games that came out about 5 years ago.

We also agree the Echidna Shuffle is a great game, admit that we are terrible at Pandemic Legacy and should never be left in a position of responsibility and get all paranoid over The Thing.

Those of us who lack the always enviable skill of artistry, especially that skill of painting can rejoice, finally, that there is now an alternative to colour-by-numbers and those adult colouring books (which failed my expectation on the adult front) with Sunset Over Water, a lightweight, quick game of painting landscape masterpieces and selling them off.
Nine Worlds Board Game Review

Our game of Nine Worlds has stalled, my troops are scattered to Midgard, Alfheim and Norheim, their grasp on these realms would seem strong but in reality it is tenuous at best, because it is no longer my go and now I must wait. Tick follows tock, as my opponent's later on in the turn order mull over every option available, consider every possible avenue for points, and weigh up every possible combination of actions available to them with their limited resources. Time itself has slowed to a stop.  I can do nothing, only wait and see what my fate becomes. 

And thus Nine Worlds has committed a cardinal sin of modern board games, for I am now bored and I might as well play on my phone, go to the toilet or start peeling the spuds for the Sunday roast.  I currently have no viable input into the game, until it all comes back round to me again.

Nimble board game review

Nimble is a game that will present you with neither interesting nor agonising choices.  It will not test your resolve, or your ability to read a bluff in a friend's face.  It will—as the name may hint at—test your reactions, your nimbleness if you will.

The rules and gameplay are very simple; all you have to do is draw a card from the top of your player deck, briefly place it on your discard pile and then place it on one of the central piles, where you will match the frame of your card to the circle of one of the central cards.

The first person to burn through their deck wins, if they haven’t made any mistakes that is.

That’s it.  That’s the entire game mechanics.
Rise to Nobility board game Review

There are things in life that are perfectly understandable. Things like buying German cars because they’re well made and can go round corners; wearing a crash helmet when riding a motorbike; sacking work off to go to the pub and drink in the beer garden because it’s a nice day or avoiding old people on the pavement as they dawdle and you’ve got places to be. There are also things that make less sense. Like Brexit or Donald Trump.

I feel that the subject of this review falls into the latter category, although purely in name alone. Rise to Nobility for me conjures images in my mind of a pleb trying to become more than they are. Earning money, working hard and gaining a title. A bit like Heath Ledger in A Knight’s Tale. What doesn’t spring to mind on hearing the title, is the strife involved to become the next Town Clerk to manage the organisation of inhabitants in a new city in the Five Realms and succeed a particularly bungling, but delightful old chap called Berk. Perhaps “Rise to Administration” would be more appropriate.

But, like a drunk trying remain focussed on explaining the finer points of Quantum Theory, I digress.
UK Games Expo 2018: Ragusa Preview

Apparently, Ragusa is the name of a port city now called Dubrovnik. I've learnt something new today and hopefully so have you. Well at the UK Games Expo 2018 I had the chance to play Ragusa with the game's designer and a lovely little euro game it was too.

The aim of Ragusa is to build the titular city and you'll do this in true euro fashion by gathering resources and exploiting locations. But instead of this game being the rather common worker placement game, this is a house placement game. Each turn you'll claim a location on the board and your little house will permanently remain in that location.  This house gives you access to a variety of resources, including your basic wood and stone for building but also including things like olive trees, silver and grapes, all of which can be processed later in the game and sold for huge amounts of profit, or at least that's one of the aims of Ragusa.

There are but a few hours left, then, and then it’s all over.  Everything. No more light, or dark, or time.  Just the end.  No one knows why.  Or how.  So before all the questions are gone too, all we have left is “what”.  What are you going to do in the last moments of your life?

So Long, My World from Axis Mundi, is a game bleak in concept, bleak in themed, and yes, you guessed it, bleak in art.  It is the theme, rather than its execution that will get under your skin, that will leave a taste in your mouth after the game is done and put away.  In it, you’ll find a little bit of deck drafting, bidding and a sort of tableau building that all coalesce over a Matrix-esque end-of-the-world story that isn’t quite a story.

In this week’s episode we talk about a whole bunch of family games we have been playing, which means we have to counter balance it with more filth and swearing than a normal episode. Andy educates us on the difference between sonic and knuckles with Echidna Shuffle, Steve tells us about a hangry dragon in Beasts of Balance and Jon blind bets on peacock based trick taking game Pikoko.

We also have tickets for Knighmare Live up for grabs in our very first competition.

UK Games Expo 2018: Wildlands Preview

I don't know whether it's cynicism brought on by an approaching mid-life crisis, or simply that I have a burgeoning board game collection that is taking up far too much space, but with every new game that is announced I ask myself, do I really need this.

And its these questions that come to mind as I go through Wildlands, the new board-based skirmish miniatures game that I went through at the UK Games Expo 2018.  Now at first glance this game would appear to be your run of the mill game that appears to adorn Kickstarter once every few weeks. It's got a board, it’s got miniatures and it’s all card based, but like a racehorse or prize pig it's important to look into Wildlands pedigree, because Wildlands is being brought to us by legendary designer Martin Wallace and publisher Osprey games and that in itself means that Wildlands deserves a second look.
UK Games Expo 2018 - Witless Wizards

Old age comes to us all, I should know because as I fast approach my 40th year on this earth I've started to notice the unfortunate effects of ageing. While I am still in procession of a full head of hair, not one of which is going grey, my mind does appear on occasion to do stupid things and I am pretty sure my memory is not as good as it used to be. For me this effect appears to manifest itself in forgetting the name of an actor but if you're a mighty wizard that has spent their life studying the arcane arts, this forgetfulness can be a spot of bother, especially when you can't remember a particular spell during a magical battle with your peers.

“First comes the bass.
Then the drums.
Then we bring in the keys, oh yeah.
Followed by the sax.
Then, and only then do we lay down the lyrics; it’s poetry really.  
Now that, that’s Real Cool Jazz”
MAD E. Upman - The Spirit and Soul of Real Cool Jazz

The Gig is a light and fast dice placement game that caught my eye, attention and imagination at the UK Games Expo 2018 and it was quite simply a joy to play.
Holding on the troubled life of Billy Kerr

He has moments of lucidity, but mostly, the things he says come in fragments, I don’t think he even knows where he is.  If we could piece together all these things he talks about, maybe he’d let go, and go peacefully.

Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr from Hub Games was one of, if not, the hot ticket at this year’s UK Games Expo, and being lucky enough to sit down with the designer, Michael, to play some of the first scenario, it really isn’t very hard to see why. 
The Polyhedron Collider Cast Episode 43 - The Great UK Game Expo Caper 2018

We have returned from three days at the biggest tabletop gaming convention in the UK.  The UK Games Expo was yet again another amazing and exciting event so we talk about all the board games, card games, tabletop roleplaying games and miniatures games we saw that got us all excited.

We would like to thank everyone who made it an awesome convention.

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