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Hello and welcome to Beyond Monopoly! We are a boardgames club in York who meet regularly for fun boardgaming times. We play all modern boardgames- Euros, Social deducation, co-op, American; and if that means nothing to you, then come along and discover the exciting (genuinely) world of modern boardgames. We meet in the Bar Convent on the first and third Saturday of the month, from 10am until 9pm, and on the second and fourth Friday evening of the month, from 5pm until 9pm. If you can’t remember that then please sign up for regular reminders and updates! Absolutely everyone is welcome, and with our numbers attending you’re usually never waiting long for a game. First visit is free (wow!). Given we’re in the Bar Convent we do ask that people don’t bring in outside food and drink- instead drinks are provided, and the cafe does fantastic food (and we get 10% off).

If you want regular email reminders of club meetings, put your email address in the subscription box on the right and click on Sign Me Up! You’ll get a confirmation email. Follow the instructions in that to confirm your sub. After that, you’ll get an email when we post an item on this blog. That includes the reminders which go on the blog.

Thank you! (now scroll down for the rest of the blog…)

Race for the Three Day Weekend!

Hello everybody! Gaming this Saturday at the Bar Convent from 10am until 9pm, it’s a fifth Saturday special in the usual place. Make it an excellent start to your 3-day weekend (assuming you have the bank holiday off, apologies if you don’t).

Also this week we have usual Thursdays at Travelling Man, so come along (apparently they have a refurbished upstairs, haven’t been able to check myself).

It’s the UK Games Expo soon! If you haven’t been, it’s the UK boardgaming convention. Three days of amazing boardgaming fun, new games, bargains, events, and more! Read about it here:

http://www.ukgamesexpo.co.uk/

However, the eagle-eyed/ literate amongst you will have noticed it’s taking place on a BM weekend (first weekend in June). If you’ve never been to the UK Games Expo I really recommend it. This’ll be my fifth year, and I’ve loved it every time (last year the best!). So, I’m proposing that if enough people want to go from BM, we put on a minibus for people for the Saturday. If you’re interested send me an email or let me know at the club.

Game recommendation of the week…

Race for the Galaxy

In honour of playing the Race for the Galaxy beta on my iPhone (it’s fantastic), I’m making Race for the Galaxy (from herein referred to as RftG) the game of the week to play. Legend, and historical accuracy, has it that RftG was created as a card version of Puerto Rico before San Juan, and whilst the game has some similarities (cards used as a currency as well as buildings), the setting, iconography and subtle changes to the classic Puerto Rico formulae make it distinctly different and, imo, better (than San Juan). Some people may have heard it’s a confusion of symbols, but actually as soon as you understand them suddenly everything makes sense. RftG is a tableau builder, in which you choose a role to build your engine, and everyone else does that role as well. With multiple planets to settle/conquer,tools to help you, and items to trade, it is rich with possibilities. I will be more than happy to teach people how to play this excellent game (seriously, this is a good offer, one of it’s drawbacks is its semi-impenetrability when learning the game for the first time) . RftG plays up to 4 players in about 30 minutes- it’s a quick game too!

See you on Saturday!

Regular Meet this Friday!

Super quick update today- first thanks to everyone who came to the breezy Church of the Holy Redeemer, and a special thanks to those who stayed gaming till 10:30 to help pack away and cart off games. Although to be honest I think the time in the evening went very fast anyway.

We have a meet in our regular place this Friday from 5pm in the Bar Convent, all the games from Saturday will (should) have been returned by then. Have fun!

Change of venue this week! Come eat, drink and game with us, Sat 12:30-22:30.

Hi everyone, this week there will be a change of venue- for this week only we will be in The Church of the Holy Redeemer https://holyredeemeryork.com/find-us.

In addition to this there will be a change of time- 12:30-22:30. So you can have a lie in and stay gaming into the late evening, good for all you night owls out there. To get here you can drive, ample parking, the postcode is YO26 6AB for Sat Nav users, and here’s a map:

The Number 5 and Number 10 First buses stop almost exactly opposite the Church Hall, just after the Ainsty. Ask for a ticket to the Ainsty when you get on if you’re unsure. Timetables are here: https://www.firstgroup.com/york/plan-journey/timetables/?source_id=2&operator=29&page=1&redirect=no, both buses are pretty regular, and the number 5 runs very late as well.

As for food, whilst the lack of the Bar Convent means no delicious nachos, it does mean that you can eat and drink whatever you want on the premises. We have tea and coffee making facilities, which I’ll remember to keep stocked, but if you don’t want to bring your own food there are cafes and takeaways a couple of minutes up the road, and a Co-op and pub opposite. Feel free to bring food back with you to the hall, and if anybody wants to make and sell sweet things then feel free.

So that’s this Saturday. 12:30 start in The Church of the Holy Redeemer. NOT the Bar Convent or St Chads.

Also, I’ve got quite a number of games from the Bar Convent collection, but I may be able to return to get a few more. If there’s anything your desperate to play and want me to make sure I’ve got it (if possible) then let me know.

Also, whilst talking about changes of venues, I made a mistake last week. We are NOT in St Chads on the fifth Friday, but in the Bar Convent as normal. Sorry for any confusion caused. Don’t forget about John’s quadathalon, details here (again)

“We have a 5th Saturday BM this month on 29 April at the Bar Convent.  
John McCullough is offering to run a Quadtathalon from 1030-approx 1700 if at least 11 others contact him (jjj_mccullough@yahoo.co.uk) to enter (usual session fee only).  John’s idea is to play 4 well-known, easy to learn & approx 90 min games to find the first BM Q Champ.  He suggests Alhambra, Kingsburg, Stone Age & Ticket to Ride but enough suggestions/votes for suitable alternatives might change that.  Please contact John asap if you wish to enter.  No need to know all 4 games, as they are easy to teach/learn.”

Also gaming this Thursday in Travelling Man as usual, if you’re free, why not turn up?

Recommendation of the week…

Imperial Settlers

Imperial Settlers is a lovely tableau builder, in which by the end of the game you have your wonderful civilisation out in front of you. At the start of every round you gain cards, and these cards can either be built into buildings, turned into deals, or razed for an instant benefit. The first two will get you an engine up and running, but the last is important to be able to get resources to do the first. There are a general buildings which everyone can draw from and build, and faction specific buildings. Each faction differs with their faction specific buildings, as well as what they can store and what they can generate, and end up feeling different to play. Finally there is a small amount of combat, with the razing of others’ buildings. Not as disastrous as it may sound to have your buildings razed, as you can use the foundations left behind to build better ones. Imperial Settlers plays up to 4 players in about 90 minutes, also we have seamlessly integrated the ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends’ expansion for more player interaction.

Important news (Venue change!) and a bunch of messages. Please read!

Good day everyone, it was fantastic to see so many people enjoying boardgames on Saturday, old friends and some new faces, I hope everyone had as much fun as I did, and I hope to see everyone again. And those people who played Agricola, please spread the word. If you want to learn Agricola (see last weeks update) then just let me know, my teaching is quite painless.

 

DATE AND VENUE CHANGES TO BE AWARE OF!

We have a meet this Friday, Bar Convent, 5pm-9pm. Due to a quirk of the calendar this will be the first Friday of the Month, but it’s between our two Saturdays, so it makes sense for everyone. So it won’t even feel like a date change.

Saturday 15th April we have a meet in The Church Of The Holy Redeemer, please note this is NOT The Bar Convent NOR St Chads (both of which were unavailable on Easter Saturday when booking). We will have the hall from 12:30-22:30, so a later start, but also a later finish. In terms of getting there there is ample parking as well as regular buses (number 10 and number 5) which stop outside the hall.

Outside food and drink are welcome and we will have tea and coffee making facilities. If you’re worried about eating there’s a cafe and various takeaways 2minutes up the road, as well as a co-op opposite, and a pub if you think you’ll really miss ‘Spoons.

Here’s a map:

I’ll post more about how to get there and everything else next week, but lets finish this update.

Friday 21st we will have our normal meeting in the Bar Convent. Again, this is the 3rd Friday, but it’s after the 3rd Saturday, so it will feel like a normal 4th Friday.

Finally we have a Fifth Saturday  at the Bar Convent, more details coming up, but our events guy John wants to organise a quadtathalon! Take it away John:

“We have a 5th Saturday BM this month on 29 April at the Bar Convent.  
John McCullough is offering to run a Quadtathalon from 1030-approx 1700 if at least 11 others contact him (jjj_mccullough@yahoo.co.uk) to enter (usual session fee only).  John’s idea is to play 4 well-known, easy to learn & approx 90 min games to find the first BM Q Champ.  He suggests Alhambra, Kingsburg, Stone Age & Ticket to Ride but enough suggestions/votes for suitable alternatives might change that.  Please contact John asap if you wish to enter.  No need to know all 4 games, as they are easy to teach/learn.”

In addition to all this don’t forget we still have regular Thursdays at Travelling Man, and I’ve been asked to share that this Thursday at Travelling Man Alex (no surname) will be looking for people to help playtest his time travelling game. They will be at Travelling Man from 11am, and hope to have two games et up for players, so if you want to help playtest then please go along and help.

[As an aside, I’ve been sent a game to playtest by [REDACTED]. If you fancy helping  playtest [REDACTED] and you don’t mind signing an NDA then please let me know.

Also you can help playtest my game without signing an NDA. You’ll be rewarded with smiles.]

(random game image because it’s just been words so far)

Whooo, that’s a lot of gaming this month. I’d usually do the game recommendation of the month here, but I’ve still got another messages to post, so I’ll post those first then give it to Agricola again to save time.

Do you own Conan? Can you teach Conan? Flav is doing something very exciting and I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to share here, but he needs someone to teach him how to play Conan. If you could help that would be fantastic!

Game recommendation: Agricola again.

Bye!

The inevitable #Agricola update

Hello everybody, we meet again this Saturday from 10am-9pm in the Bar Convent, for some fun Spring gaming. In honour of the new season, today’s update will be devoted to me explaining why Agricola is my favourite game, and offering to teach it. But first over to John:

“John McCullough, our new Events Officer, tells me his first attempt to organise an event (Scythe Tournament) was unsuccessful – as only 5 including him signed up.  He would therefore be grateful for suggestions (to jjj_mccullough@yahoo.co.uk) about any other games (apart from 7 Wonders) BM members would like him to try and organise an event/tournament for.”
Thanks John. Also a fresh reminder that BM! is also in Travelling Man this Thursday, for some weekday gaming fun.
Straight into our game recommendation of the week (which I offer to teach at the end if you want to jump straight to that bit)…

Agricola

When people ask me what my favourite boardgame is, I always reply Agricola. Even if I’m asking people to play something else, ‘Gric will remain my number one game for the forseeable future. Why is this harsh and demanding subsistence farming simulator rated so highly by myself and others (11th best game ever on BGG)? Well for one thing the theme works perfectly with the mechanics. Now theme normally isn’t the first thing people reach for when explaining why a game is so darn good, but in Agricola the theme just fits perfectly. Everything you do makes sense because of the theme. Of course you need fences to keep your animals in, and of course you need an oven to bake bread. Of course you need to plough fields before sowing vegetables in them, and so on and so forth. At the end of every game of Agricola, whether your farm resembles some sort of super farm with all the animals and crops next to a stone house, or an empty wooden shack next to empty pens which used to hold sheep (you ate all the sheep), your farm is yours and makes sense (poor sheep). Agricola has one of the best mechanics-theme drawing from and using each other. Even if the theme doesn’t excite you, the fact that so little of it is abstracted away means that it ends up being a richer experience than many other dry, dry euros.

So what are the mechanics? Well, Agricola is a (the) worker placement game. What the Key series started, and other games took off with and used, Uwe Rosenberg refined to perfection here. The game takes place over 14 rounds, and each round a new action space is revealed. Then each player takes it in turn to place a worker on a space, going clockwise until everyone has placed all their workers. When a worker is placed you gain the resources or do the action on the space. Some spaces will accumulate resources until someone takes them, leaving a strong element of push your luck to proceedings, especially when weighing up other players’ options.

 
The key space, and the one new players seem to fear, is the grow your family space. One of the key stresses in Agricola is feeding your people. At regular intervals there is a harvest- the grain and veg are picked, the animals breed, and every family member needs to eat. At two feed each it can get expensive, and starvation is almost always a bad option. However if you choose not to grow your family you not only miss out on points, but also on actions, as each family member, when grown, can go out on the board and perform actions. The entire game is built on managing the issues surrounding growing your family and establishing a food engine. Luckily, there are ways to help with that…
Now, it may sound like I’ve just described an extremely good worker placement, but nothing different to, say, Caverna. Well, there’s one thing which tips the favour to Agricola, in a massive way. Cards. Unless you play the family game*, each game every player starts with a hand of cards, 7 occupations to hire, and 7 minor improvements to build, drawn or drafted from a deck of hundreds. These cards not only make every single game different, they make all strategies different. You may have cards which encourage baking, or vegetable eating, or animal breeding, or make building easier, or give food for hiring more occupations. These cards not only make the game more varied, but when drafted with experienced players, add another strategic layer and truly make it an excellent drafting game, up there with worker placement. I cannot understate just how valuable these cards are at turning the game into a 10.
Are there any negatives to this wonderful game? Well, some people (Jim) would have you believe that there’s no player interaction, but don’t believe them (him). Not just direct player interaction with some occupations, but the entire game is predicated on being able to read your opponents intentions better than they can read yours. It’s not just planning, it’s understanding when you can afford to leave resources or food, and when someone else will take them. Battles for the family growth queue are real, and you need to read the table as to when to risk starvation, and when everyone else will pounce. If you play this as a multiplayer solitaire you will quickly find yourself locked out of essential spaces on key turns and gasping for wood. That isn’t to say it;s ever unfair though- good play will always win out, and you will only ever starve if you allow yourself to be.
A few final thoughts. I’m talking about the old Z-Man edition, neither myself nor the club own the new edition, which cut and edited a significant number of cards, changed some of the space names, and removed the fifth player. If anybody has this copy I’d love to see it to compare it to my edition. Next player numbers- 2 is just a battle, where it’s better to inflict 2 negative points than gain 1 positive point yourself. Good, but I’m not a great fan of any 2-player games (unless specifically for that number). 3 is a good Agricola experience, but food is a lot tighter. Without Travelling Players and 1reed, 1 stone, 1 food, the whole experience is a little more challenging and hungry, despite the lack of a fourth player to take some spots (in the new edition they added 1food to the any resource spot to combat this). 4 is superb. It’s how I will always choose to play hands down. All cards can be used, and everything feels correct. I have played 4 player Agricola a lot of times. And I mean a lot. 5 is just to many, a lot of spaces will get taken, especially if you’re fifth player, and to compensate a lot of spaces are duplicated, or things are made easier to get (cattle from the off!). So 4-player is where it’s at.
So there it is, a deeply strategic, richly thematic, multi-faceted always replayable game. A true modern classic (it’s over 10 years old now). And I’m offering to teach it to players this Saturday! (multiple times if necessary). Whether completely new, never played with cards before or just need a recap, I have picked out some synergistic decks to avoid players get defeated by an inexperienced card draw, and will be setting up my copy to teach to players (it has animeeples and vegimeeples). If you are interested I’d appreciate letting me know beforehand so I can organise times. If not I’ll still have it set up on the day, and will be willing to teach it to all and sundry. Here’s a form if you’re interested:

My favourite game. Let me know if you want to wax lyrical about your straight up 10/10, or want to appeal to new converts.
*Whilst the family game is okay (actually brilliant), it can lead to pathetic empty husks of farms and true resource fights, and the game with cards is just better.

Meet this Friday update and I talk about #CamelUp

Hi everyone, hope you had a good time gaming last Saturday. I had a fantastic time, and managed to get all but 2 of the games I wanted played, played (Camel Up! Super Cup and Unlock!, we’ll meet again sometime). Anyway, this blog post isn’t about me, it’s about what we’re doing this Friday, and that’s having another great evening meet in the Bar Convent from 5pm until 9pm, so come along! There’s also BM! at Travelling Man on Thursday from 10am.

I feel like I have nothing to push here, no impending conventions or anything of that nature, it feels most odd. So I’ll just say that if you’ve never played Agricola before then watch this space (next week. Next week watch this space).

Actually there is something, a friend of mine wants to sell his copy of Evolution +Flight expansion. If anybody wants it, just give me an offer and I’ll pass it along.

And I think that’s about it, just time now for the GAME RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK

Camel Up featuring Camel Up: Supercup

 

I have only recently experienced the 2014 Spiel des Jahres Winner  Camel Up! but I was hooked from the first play. In this game a bunch of you are trying to make the most moeny by wagering on the Camel race. Each turn you get to do one thing- move a camel, place a bet, or somehow modify the desert terrain to provide a bonus or penalty to the camels. Each camel can only move once per round, and at the end of each round people who bet on the winning camel for that round gets coins. On and on it goes until one camel crosses the finish line. So what makes it so good, a few things: the camels stack in a really satisfying way. Enough said about that. No matter the state of the board, you never feel out of contention for the win. Despite the apparent simplicity, there’s a lot of thought and push your luck put into deciding when to back a camel , and when to just roll the dice. There’s a dice pyramid and it’s great. Overall it’s just a really fun quick little game.

But what’s this, Camel up Super super Cup!? Yes the expansion adds a whole bunch of things, such as an extended race track, a easy to use photographer which gives another scoring option, but is so easy it just feels natural to play with him in. Catch up dice, which keep all camels in contention for much longer, and even cards for sharing bets with other players. And pieces for extra people to play. I’ve only played with the extra long track, photographer (great addition), and catch-up dice (ditto), and whilst these may extend the length of the game, I honestly say I enjoy this game so much I wouldn’t mind playing the extra super long version, which is still relatively quick (we’re not talking Firefly expansions here people). So there you have it, an excellent game for all ages made even better. Play it. Camel Up SuperCup plays 2-8 plays in 30 minutes.

#Airecon report! AKA look at all the games we’ve now got! (+meet on Saturday to play them)

Hello everyone, hope you all had a fantastic time at Airecon, and I hope those of you who didn’t go had a great time at BM! on Friday. We have a meet this Saturday at the Bar Convent, 10-9pm, and it will be an excellent chance to play the games we got, as well as pick up your t-shirt if you didn’t at Airecon. We are also meeting as usual on Thursday in Travelling Man.

THE AIRECON REPORT

Important things first: we won the Boardgames Quiz!! Oh yes, who would have thought that knowing which South American country was misspelled on the 1st edition of Twilight Struggle would be so rewarding?

We sold a whole bunch of games and bought loads of new ones (detailed later below).

Codenames: Duet was there, in the wild for the first time! This new Codenames is a co-op best with a small number of players, is incredibly ingenious, and because it’s got no downtime may actually be the best version yet. Also another Vlaada Chvatil party game was there, one which asks whether you’d rather be able to rewind 1 minute into the past three times in your life, or be the captain of a spaceship.

So what games did we get? Loads! Checkout this list below (otherwise known as, the list of games I will be playing on Saturday!)

And.. the final game is my recommendation of the week!
Unlock! is an escape room game. Just like the excellent escape rooms in York (check out gr8escapeyork and ask for your BM discount!) in Unlock you are locked in a room, metaphorically, and need to escape. You do this by looking at cards, combining cards, and solving puzzles. All of this is done with a timer on an app, into which you can insert codes. Some of us at BM! tried the P&P escape and despite failing massively (listening to a phone in a convention hall is difficult. Listening to a phone in a convention hall on mute is impossible), we still had a fantastic time. I encourage all people in the club to give this a try. There are 3 possible escape rooms, just make sure you don’t give anything away to other people who may want to solve them later- they are only playable once, but an experience unlike any others. Unlock takes teams of up to 6, although I strongly recommend 4 so everyone feels included, and plays in up to 60 minutes.