Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2016 – Day 7: Hive Pocket

Hive Pocket is an abstract tile placement game, where you place chunky insect tiles with the aim of surrounding your opponent’s queen bee.


Like in chess, each player is black or white and each type of piece has different movement abilities. Unlike in chess, there is no board.  In Hive, you form the play space with the pieces themselves, placing pieces for your first few turns, which – except for the first turn – aren’t allowed to be touching your opponent’s pieces.

Another key rule is the “One Hive” rule. At all times, the hive must be connected as one. If moving a piece would separate the hive into two sections, you can’t move that piece. Also, if your piece couldn’t squeeze into or out of a space without moving other pieces, it can’t. This leads to a lot of movement to block other pieces moving.


But how do pieces move?

Your queen bee can only move one space, but this can often shake the game up in big ways. Beetles move one space, too, but can climb up on top of the hive and sit on other pieces, preventing them from moving. 

Grasshoppers move by hopping over at least one other piece, but can go in a straight line as far as possible till an empty space. Grasshoppers, like beetles, are great for filling (or getting out of) gaps where other pieces would be stuck.

Ants and spiders scurry around the outside of the hive – ants as far as they want, spiders exactly three spaces. And that’s it – except for the mosquito, lady bug and pill bug expansion pieces with their own unique movement rules.


It’s very strategic, easy to learn, hard to master, and very engaging every turn.

Every time I’ve played this game there have been dramatic reversals, with a player moving from what appeared to be certain doom, to relative safety. How you move your pieces has huge repercussions for how your opponent can move, and what you can do next turn. You can often look at the hive and see no possible moves, only to find one last respite which changes everything and lets the game continue for several more rounds.

Hive comes in a few versions. Hive Pocket fits in a handy little bag, making it portable but with pieces that are still chunky and satisfying to place. Hive (the non-pocket version) has even bigger pieces and is not as portable. We feel like Hive Pocket is the perfect size, and comes with mosquito and lady bug pieces.

Hive is challenging, strategic, engaging and fun. A great portable game for two.

Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2016 – Day 6: The Networks

Ever had a favourite show cancelled on you? Or a main character removed or recast between seasons? When you play The Networks you’ll be the one doing all that over five seasons, to gain and maintain viewers to make your new TV network the most popular of the new channels.IMAG5169

Every player runs a different network and you all start with shows like “Let’s Pickle” and “Emergency Broadcast Test Hour” that are so bad they have literally no viewers. You play the game by hiring stars to feature in your shows (gaining more viewers, but often needing salaries), landing ads (which give you cash to develop shows or pay stars), developing shows by adding them to your network (and attaching stars and ads to them).

Importantly, the number of viewers a show will have depends on which time slot you air it in, which stars are on the show and which season it’s in. Some shows start off strong and lose viewers the longer they stay on the air, but others get better with age.

After a few seasons, you’ll find yourself callously (or regretfully) cancelling your sci-fi blockbuster for a more lucrative, ad-ridden sportscast. Or you’ll get some lucky Network Cards that give you bonuses and special abilities.


I ran the U62 network and one of our launch shows was Chainmail Bikini Warrior, laughably staring a xylophone talent contest winner. It gets better in season 2, then really goes downhill. But I got the “Showrunner” Network Card two seasons in a row, which let me prevent the viewership from degrading, giving Chainmail Bikini Warrior a healthy 4 seasons before it was replaced when viewers finally jumped ship.


Quirky art and funny shows, often plays on real favourites – like Person of Disinterest, Dextrous, Cringe and Communist-y – give the game a great sense of humour. Players inject funny moments into the game, too, through strange pairings of stars and shows, like a Celebrity Chef in an action series.

There’s real strategy involved, in deciding when to go for stars, when to focus on ads, and which shows you should be aiming to air. If you’ve ever aired 3 shows of the same genre you get a viewer boost and some other immediate bonuses (and again with 5 same genre shows). So, it’s great to focus on similar genres, but sometimes you can’t, and just need to cast that sports show on your otherwise dedicated sci-fi network.

Because shows do better in their first season when aired in the appropriate time slot, there are also decisions to make about whether to cancel a show while it’s still doing well to open it’s time slot up to a show with an even higher viewership, or air that new show in a different time slot for a few less viewers.


Even when to stop playing in a season is a decision you’ll need to consider. Once you feel you’ve done all you can do, you can choose to drop out of getting new cards this season, and instead take a bigger cash or viewer bonus. The later you do this, the smaller the bonus, but the more cards you can acquire now.

Then you start the next season, with new stars, ads, shows and network cards.

Some may find all the decisions a bit tricky to weigh up, but for others that’s half the fun – deciding how you want to tackle the challenge of increasing those precious viewer numbers.

With a great theme I haven’t seen in board games, interesting decisions, great art, lots of nods to real television in the art and certain rules, and the 1-5 player count, The Networks is sure to find a loyal audience.

Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2016 – Day 3: Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 (Spoiler Free)

Pandemic Legacy is currently the #1 game of all time on Board Game Geek and Shut Up & Sit Down. Is Pandemic Legacy truly the best game ever? Probably! It’s certainly an incredible game, unlike almost anything you’ve played before.

It’s the worst year humanity has ever faced. Diseases run rampant, and one looks ready to dangerously mutate. You and one to three friends will band together to combat the worst pandemic the world has ever seen. And you’ll be permanently altering the game as you play. You get to name the diseases if you eradicate them! You write their names on the board!!


There’s a reason for the “Spoiler Free” tag in the title. Anything I show or say here is something you’ll see when you first open the game. This is a board game, yes, but I can’t show you much of our board without spoiling later sessions of the game. That’s because you play in a campaign, of 12-24 sessions (a fortnight or two each month, in the game world), slowly uncovering more story and mechanics as you progress. You’ll be writing on the board, adding stickers, and even tearing up cards! 


And the legacy parts aren’t just tacked on. They’re important and well-integrated. One instance we thankfully haven’t encountered is if characters die (or become “lost”). Yep, that beloved character you’ve named, upgraded, and whose established relationships with other characters, when they’re lost, you tear them up, losing all that, along with their unique powers.

Suz and I get into roleplaying the characters, which makes games more fun and will make any loss of a character more tragic. I really don’t know how we’ll handle it if we ever lose Bruce 😦

We absolutely love the changes that you make in the legacy format. Writing on the board, adding stickers – this level of customisation is fantastic, and it’s not random, it’s based on the choices you’ve made. One particular city may be rioting or collapsing because you chose to help another in a time of need. From then on, you’ll have to work around these changes, altering your strategy. Changes like these affect all your future games, and make your particular copy of Pandemic Legacy feel special and your own.


As for what you’ll actually be doing in the game: you’re travelling the world, treating and removing disease cubes from cities, drawing cards to gather research data to cure the diseases, and trying to hang on for just one more turn, against the constant threat of disease outbreaks and deadly epidemics. If you’ve played Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert, Flashpoint: Fire Rescue, or any of the other Pandemics you know the basic mechanic. Water rises. Sun beats down. Fire spreads. Epidemics occur.

If you’ve never played Pandemic before, you can play a few sessions using this board before diving into the campaign. It worked for Suz and I. We lost our 3 practice games, then jumped in and won several games in a row, but not without a decent challenge!

Suz and I can’t recommend Pandemic Legacy enough. It’s a must-play, in our book. And it works great with 2. We sometimes wish we had more active characters to give us access to more powers, but that also means more infections and potential epidemics before it gets back around to your turn – also less cards per player to start. It seems well-balanced to us.


When you open up Pandemic Legacy you’ll see 8 sealed boxes and lots of sealed sheets of stickers and cards. You only open these when the game tells you to, and what’s inside always gives more options or changes how the game works from that point on, often drastically. During your very first session the legacy mechanics will come into play.

Having played through June, we’ve still got half the campaign left. Things have gotten crazy, and we can’t wait to see where the game goes next. Pandemic Legacy is a great, solid game in an incredibly engaging package that’s definitely worth the price of admission.

Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2015 – Day 8: Carcassonne

Carcassonne‘s box says “Especially good for two players”. We agree 🙂


Carcassonne came out in 2000 and has been a worldwide hit ever since. It’s a great, easy to play tile-laying game. You take turns placing tiles and maybe claiming them with your little meeples, to score points later on. You want to finish the feature you claim, and the other players probably want to stop you (or at least share your points by connecting up to your feature with a tile claimed by their own meeple).


It’s simple and pretty quick to play (we just played in about 40 minutes), good for newcomers and experienced players.

Recommended for all board game collections 🙂

Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2015 – Day 5: Suburbia

Suburbia is basically “SimCity the Board Game”. It takes longer to play than anything I’ve posted this fortnight, but it’s a fantastic game and a candidate for my favourite 2-player game ever. Though, it actually plays 1 to 4 players.


Suburbia sees you buying property from the Real Estate Market (which gets cheaper the longer it’s there) and trying to build a city that fits together well, to give you a better income and reputation.


It’s well paced, loads of fun, pretty funny (Suz focused on lakes, but see my elementary school down in the industrial and airport district) and a game that you sort of play together and apart.


Lots of stuff I could go into here, but let’s leave it here and let my favourite board game site Shut Up & Sit Down explain more about, this, one of my favourite games.

Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2015 – Day 4: Tsuro

Tsuro is another great, fast game. It’s beautiful too, and sort of zen.

You play by placing tiles with paths to follow (anyone touching any of the paths must follow it), flying around and trying not to stray off the board (and lose) or crash into another dragon (both lose).


At first, you just move a little way. Later, when tiles connect up, you’re zooming all over (and hopefully not off) the board. Whoever survives the longest, wins. You’ll always have a winner by the time the tile deck runs out.

I think it’s a better game with more people (can do 2-8 players), as you’re all passing by each other and it can get hectic. It’s a good game when you’ve got 15 minutes – though I find we’ll often want to play two or three times in one sitting 🙂