A Sour Visit to Thirsty Meeples

A few weeks ago, Alex and I decided for once and for all to go to Oxford and visit Thirsty Meeples. We wanted to geek out, play some board games, and meet properly the place that seemingly set the standards of board game cafes in the UK. Well folks, the reason why it has taken me so long to write this up, is because the experience was not what I was wanting or expecting. I didn’t want to write a mean review all hot headed so, I decided to give it some time and reflect back. So, without more hesitation, here is the final report, I guess.

Just to set the scene, we went at the end of June on a Saturday at midday, and it was pretty hot and busy in Oxford itself. The total crew was us two and 2 of our friends, seasoned geeks with knowledge of board game cafes here and abroad. In fact, one of our friends has been working as a games master for different projects since 2017 so, we’d like to think we had some pretty decent background.

The first thing that struck me was how uninviting the space was, although that’s not completely their fault. I understand rent prices in the city centre are demanding and you do the best you can with what you get. However, I had this issue as well when I went to Snakes & Ladders (Bristol). The games for sale are right there as you come in, the space left between them and the first set of gaming tables is of one person, and this is the only way in and out. Needless to say it is tight. In Bristol this is even worse: the playing games are right in front of the bar which is at the entrance and gaming area at the back so, if there’s a queue you have to go through people. If it’s busy, you can’t afford to take your time to have a look in either of these locations, not without getting in the way of the staff and the other customers. I could have got past it in Thirsty Meeples, but then, you ha e the same problem with the actual playing board games. The shelves run along the walls, okay, cool, but then there are playing tables, big ones as well, right by them. And the section that is most heavily impacted by this is strategy games so, what, 70% of the playing collection? If I wanted to play something as simple and iconic as ticket to ride or catan, or even long game like scythe, I would have had to disturb a table of 6. Not great. Never mind though, because there’s no chance I’d have liked to play a long game there. Not only is the gaming space on the tables limited – an issue we had addressed for other places like draughts, though, mind you at least the have the trays under the tables which is useful – it’s so bloody noisy!! Continue reading “A Sour Visit to Thirsty Meeples”

Advertisements

ManaBurnt Timba

Hello guys! How you doin’? We hope you’re having a blast! Now you may have heard that we were on holiday recently, but worry not, we were not lazy. As part of our little adventure in Spain we did a special edition of the Cespedes – Gonzalez household renowned timba: games party bby!!

We cracked open the board games and have a full on day (from lunch time until midnight) on geekery. There was much banter and fun had, and a few crazy moments and sore loses. So here is a quick report of what we played and a few thoughts on a couple of games.

GAME LIST

Straw
Kerala
Mauna Kea
Black Sheep
Marrakesh
Family Business
Piko Piko

Camel Up

STRAW – this is a great game and family favourite for a warm up. It has little to no rules, and it holds up to 5 players. You play one round per player so it goes pretty quick. And all that there is involved here is a little maths: you have to add or take weight from the camel’s back. I failed big time. For 4 rounds I scored nothing 😐 My dad got a clear victory with no possible competition. This was not a very usual game of Straw in that regards. But the game has a high luck component which needs to be taken into consideration.

KERALA – relatively new game for the family; certainly a first for me. It is a game of area control, under the premise that you are building a trading platform for your elephant. You score more points for each colour you incorporate into your platform, you score more points. It’s a fairly simple dynamic of time placement, and has a luck component similar to Azul. Surprisingly, I won! Well, it was a tie with my dad, BUT it still counts as victory!

Continue reading “ManaBurnt Timba”

ManaBurnt Podcast – Episode 5 ft Rikki (DICE, Portsmouth)

Sorry guys, we have been on holiday! But don’t despair: to compensate we bring you a very special edition of our podcast. We had the infinite luck and pleasure of speaking with Rikki from Dice, the board game cafe in Portsmouth.

Rikki explained to us the concept behind their business, how it all came to fruition and their hopes and struggles. We also talked about a few board games.

We would like to send a massive thank you to the entire crew at Dice for their time and hard work. And we hope you guys come down there for a good geeky time!

Find them at diceportsmouth.com

Tactility Board Masters: Azul V Sagrada

Hello guys today I am bringing you a post that will be comparing two different board games: Sagrada and Azul. Now that I have played them both, I can sincerely say that these are wonderful games. However there is a couple of things that I wanted to discuss and that I think is where the choice of game comes into in to play (at least for me), if I were to buy one of them – no, I currently do not own, either but have access to them via my gaming network. So here are my thoughts.

Thematically speaking, they are similar in the sense that the game mechanic involves picking up the tiles, or dice in the case of Sagrada, and making up a pattern in the shape of a grid that will score you points according to the rules at the end of the game. Interestingly, while I didn’t have a clue who would end up winning the game playing Sagrada, it became very easy to establish at round 3 give or take, who was clearly ahead in Azul. I think it has something to do with the fact that in Azul there are no further mechanics other than tile placement, whilst in Sagrada we have the cards and tools that you can use to change the dice or the scoring. But then I know people who didn’t have a clue the other way around, so hhhmmm.

I guess that what I’m trying to say is that, in a way I feel that Sagrada offers more possibilities in terms of the gameplay and the dynamic between the players, whilst in Azul it seemed when someone takes the lead it can become difficult to take that away from them, other than everyone conspiring against that player. At the same time it felt that if I was looking to trump the others I wasn’t scoring what I wanted…perhaps the idea is to find a fine balance or have 0 strategy and go with the flow…not sure on that one 🤔 Continue reading “Tactility Board Masters: Azul V Sagrada”

DICE: Board Game Lounge (Portsmouth)

On the 2nd of February (2019), some of my friends and I ended up in Portsmouth with the intention to go to the game fest at the Guildhall… but our plans changed, and there are 0 regrets because our visit to DICE: Board Game Lounge in Portsmouth was more than pleasant! I am gonna make a very strong statement here guys, but i wholeheartedly believe this establishment is the best of its kind in the South of England – granted we haven’t been to All board game venues, but, hear me out. I will use points of comparison with our local BITC in Southampton and the big name in London – Draughts. Having been to either of these several times, and knowing that of course their audiences are slightly different, I think DICE have actually managed to find a very happy medium which makes their success apparent.

For starters, DICE has several aspects of the business which we approve of: you have the facilities to play board games, they have a bar, a shop, and seemingly a good set of activities throughout the week. We were stupid enough to not book a table – plans! Silly! I know – so please if you are reading this make sure that you book through their page or Facebook which is: https://en-gb.facebook.com/diceportsmouth/ And you will think reserving a table sounds pretentious, but nuh huh! It gets so busy! particularly during the weekend. And you can understand why very easily.

IMG_20190202_132847.jpg
Dice from the side of the shop – look how well stock they are! And without having to have a ridiculously overwhelming display. Super good use of the space and resources.

Continue reading “DICE: Board Game Lounge (Portsmouth)”

Love Nikki – How Did I End Up Playing A Silly (But Surprisingly Good) Fashion Dress-Up Game

Greetings humans! Today I bring you an update about something I never thought I would find myself writing about, but as we all know, those who venture into the warp end up suffering from both insanity and corruption! In any case, look, I am just now playing regularly (and with this I mean daily!) this silly game. It is called Love Nikki, done by Elex games and you can download the app from the Google Play store free of charge. So yeah, it is a phone game, alright? I have never before been interested in one of these things. I found they were money grabs and just time-consuming, unnecessary things. But oh boy, all it took was a couple of my friends talking over it and a very, very dull and boring day at my previous job where I literally had nothing to do all day and had next to 0 customers for finding myself in need of some cheap and easy entertainment. That’s how it started. Then I found that I could kill some time in my super tedious train journey in the morning and on my back from work in the afternoon. And to this day, since roughly the end of October 2018, here I am, checking on my Nikki shenanigans in the bus and during my break.

So what is this game about? Well, to its credit, it is a very pretty fashion game. The art style is anime like, and in comparison with some other games of the same genre, I must say the graphics are Simply So Much Better – it doesn’t look cheesy or cheaply made. There has clearly been a lot of effort and dedication put into this and it shows with beautiful clothes, models and backgrounds. The user interface is very well done too, the game hardly ever crashes and it is idiot proof. What else do you want? But the thing that surprises me most, as much as i don’t actually pay much attention to it, is that there is a whole lore written behind the world in which Nikki goes on a quest to become the best stylist in Miraland. There are different realms, all with very specific fashion styles and thoroughly developed characters with personalities and background that take Nikki through this journey. I had never seen a game of these characteristics invest that much on this aspect. And, as much as like with all these games, there is a component of micro transactions and memberships to obtain more resources, I found that without spending 0 money, I advance in the game without any issues. I do not feel hindered by the fact that I am not spending, because the game is balance! They have weekly and monthly special events where simply by taking part – and logging in daily – you get special rewards, being this in-game currency or more clothes and accessories. the fact that you do not have unlimited resources makes it easy to put down the game, and dedicate to it a limited amount of time so that it is still enjoyable without it taking over your life. And even if you wanted to carry on playing forever, there is a free dress up section where – without advancing the story or your quests – you can try out and design different outfits for your gameplay.

This is the main menu and home screen, very easy to navigate.
Your quest and story stops. The rating on them is what you see above the pink disks. The difficulty setting is the ‘Maiden’ button.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the diary where all the style you share with the community are kept. You can also use it as a base for interactions with other players and their designs

 

 

Now, I must tell you – without wanting to brag – I am pretty good at this game. And I think it all has to do with the fact that, at the end of the day, as much as this is a fashion game and you should be looking at making cute little outfits for Nikki whilst acquiring experience, it all comes down to identifying patterns and establishing combos. All the pieces of clothing have different aspects that are rated accordingly to make them suitable within certain trends or styles. Therefore, by looking up and considering these details, scoring high is relatively easy. I must admit, that sometimes, particularly if it is a difficult mission – like a specific names outfit you need to pout together, or a combo that isn’t easily accessible – I don’t even care if Nikki looks like something out of a series B horror movie. If the items score on the right categories and she looks like a collage of my drawings when I was 4 years old (…or you know, 27. years old too, haven’t improved that much!) That Is Okay.

Continue reading “Love Nikki – How Did I End Up Playing A Silly (But Surprisingly Good) Fashion Dress-Up Game”

GOKUDOLLS – New Dark & Bizarre Anime Parody from Netflix

Happy new Year everyone – and apologies for the quiet last few weeks: Alex and I have been super ill and with the Xmas holidays it all clashed together. In any case, today I come to talk briefly about an anime Netflix has going on at the moment and that caught me 100% by surprise. I think a fair few of them would be right onto this. It is called GOKUDOLLS (or Back Street Girls as it is known in the English-speaking world), and it is one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen in a long time!!

Continue reading “GOKUDOLLS – New Dark & Bizarre Anime Parody from Netflix”