I’ve had a few mails asking to show off my current collection of board games, so I’ve put together the following video for you all to enjoy. The aim I have is to play existing games with the family before picking up new ones.
If you’ve never heard of Commander before, it’s probably because it’s better known as EDH, or Elder Dragon Highlord. It’s a fun variant of Magic: The Gathering that is typically played by 3 or more players. It’s also highly entertaining to play, as it allows you to use virtually every card ever printed (with a few key exceptions) which gives you a huge amount of variation and play mechanics to take into consideration when creating decks. Unlike traditional games of Magic however it features 100-card decks and you can only use a single card instead of the multiples of 4 used in Magic. It’s also never been officially recognised by Wizards Of The Coast. Until now…
Wizards Of The Coast are now rectifying this by unleashing 5 new decks specifically designed to introduce new players to the format. And a damn fine job they’ve done too.
The 5 decks are Counter Punch, Political Puppets, Heavenly Inferno, Mirror Mastery and Devour For Power are all are based around specific themes. Devour For Power concentrates on throwing huge creatures into your graveyard, so that they can retrieved with powerful spells like Living Death, Political Puppets lets you manipulate other players and take pressure off yourself, while Counter Punch focuses on building up token creatures until you have an overwhelming army.
The decks we played with were extremely well balanced, and were even able to hold their own against EDH decks belonging to some of our friends, despite the powerful cards they featured. This in part is due to the large number of extremely genuinely strong cards that feature in each pack. Indeed, many of these cards are staples of any good EDH deck, so it’s truly satisfying to see Wizards listening to feedback and delivering a genuinely decent product.
In fact, the strengths of the decks are so good that certain unscrupulous retailers are already selling several of the packs over their recommended retail price, something I find personally disgusting.
But that’s not all. Spread across the 5 decks are 50 new cards that range from powerful generals, to useful instants and enchantments. All the cards are specifically designed for Commander play and not for use in standard and many of them are extremely powerful and flexible as all good Magic cards should be. The packs are finished off with 3 oversized foil cards of your generals (you choose one of these to lead your army) and are easily worth their £25 asking price.
Magic: The Gathering Commander is available now from all good retailers.
Sorry about the lack of updates, but I’ve been on holiday for a week 🙂
Anyway, here’s a quick look at a video of Khet 2.0 to supplement my recent review.
Khet is not a new boardgame. In fact it was first released under the name of Deflexion in 2005. It’s name was later changed to Khet, and this new version is currently available to buy from all good online retailers.
Published by Esdevium Games, Khet 2.0 is a surprisingly good strategy game that in some respects plays very much like Chess. The board is set up in a specific way and there are an additional two layouts to ensure that games never become too predictable.
Set-up is relatively straightforward, requiring around 5 minutes of your time, while games can take around 15-40 minutes to play. The gameboard features 5 distinct playing pieces: Sphinx, Scarab, Pyramid, Anubis and Pharaoh and the aim of the game is to destroy your opponent’s Pharaoh, while keeping yours in play. A task which is a lot harder than it initially sounds.
For the trick with Khet is that it uses lasers in a very clever way. Scarabs and Pyramids feature mirrors on some of their sides, which are used to deflect your Pharaoh’s laser. If a laser beam hits a piece on a non-mirrored side it is immediately removed from play. There are exceptions to this rule though, as the Anubis can only be removed if it is hit from the back or sides.
Every turn you can either move one of your pieces, or rotate it through 90 degrees. Your Pharaoh must be activated at the end of each turn, so you really need to work out where your laser will potentially end up before you commit to a move.
It’s a clever concept that works exceptionally well and provides plenty of strategy. Like Chess, games are often won by having thought several steps ahead of your opponent and considering every move you make. It lacks the elegance of Chess, but it remains a highly entertaining strategy game and a great alternative to many of the traditional strategy games that are currently available.
The game itself is very well made, with nice robust figures and a well designed board. Check it out if you’re after something a little different.
Fans of monsters and fast-paced card games would do well to seek out this excellent offering from the great Yehuda Berlinger, as it will sate both your interests and then some.
It’s Alive is a game for 2-5 players and places you in the role of a mad scientist with one overwhelming desire: bring life to your undead creation. It’s certainly a morbid concept and arguably the main reason why it comes with a 12+ recommendation, but it’s nevertheless a superbly fun game that even our 6-year old has started excelling at.
As with many recent board games It’s Alive! features wonderfully old-fashioned art and a nice canvassy field, like you want to hang it on a wall, rather than tuck it away on a shelf. It’s madcap cover also gives you no illusions that this is a game about grave-robbing, which again, we rather like in a morbid kind of way.
The box includes both English and German instructions, 60 cards, 5 slabs, 5 handy hint play cards and 5 beautifully drawn screens to hide your nefarious dealings behind. The final addition is a number of coins, which will be used to make all your dodgy dealings on the second hand body market.
Each turn sees a player taking a card from the graveyard (depicted by the pile of cards in the middle of the play area). Once you’ve flipped a card over you can do one of three things: buy the card at its face value, auction in off in the hope of getting a better deal, or sell the card back to the gravediggers for half its cost. Once you’ve started dumping cards in your graveyard, players then have the option of buying your discarded card from your disused pile for the full asking price.
It’s a clever play mechanic that has you scrutinising every single move, as you try and work out how far a person is away from finishing their hideous creation. The 8 parts of the body include a head, torso, arm, leg, brain, heart, foot and hand and all must be assembled before you can whip away your screen and shout out It’s Alive! in the most campiest voice possible.
These cards are instrumental to your success in It’s Alive! and a fair amount of strategy is required to get the most for your money, as you only start with 12 coins. Things are further complicated by the inclusion of Coffin Cards and Villager Uprising Cards. Coffin Cards are expensive, but are wild cards, able to represent any body part you still need, while the Village Uprising Cards require you to hand over coins or money indicated by their price. Needless to say a poorly timed Villager Uprising can really hurt your chances of winning.
The game itself is fast and furious, with play quickly alternating through each player and dealings can get extremely devious as you try and sell off cards for profit, while trying to make sure that you don’t carelessly give away a body part that a player might need to raise their unholy beast. It’s not uncommon to hear people constantly badgering each other with lines like: ‘Surely you must have the last part now?’ and the last 5 minutes of play are a madcap dash as you constantly try to outwit each other and breathe life into your stitched up cadaver.
It’s Alive is a game that all the family can enjoy, but it’s surprisingly deep gameplay and macabre tone make it better suited for elder children and adults. Pick it up now from http://www.boardgameguru.co.uk for a bargainous £5. You won’t regret it.