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Before we left for holiday on Wednesday I managed to squeeze in afternoon tea (and playtesting) with my mum. Our time and space was short, so I took Catch a Falling Star (version 3), which is small, easy to teach and quick to play. We played the game while we scoffed on sandwiches, scones and cake – which was marvellous!  Mum got pretty confused with the starting player rule. Version 3 allows the starting player, who is at a slight disadvantage to place only one card on their first turn and then place one extra card at the end of the round. As the number of cards played in the round has reduced significantly, it was actually pretty difficult to keep track of how many cards to play on each turn – because the starting player has more unusual turns than usual ones. This mechanism felt clunky and unintuitive. Mum said she’d much prefer to just rotate starting order each turn. I expect the disadvantage of going first is out-weighed by the cleanliness of having standard turns. One thing I am weighing up is whether everyone should commit to one card to play, which they then can’t switch, before any cards are revealed. Something to try out. 

Version 7 of Throw Down Your Coats also got a play-through. The new starred tiles, that give you an extra point if you build a monument on them work really well. The neutral house tiles are also a good addition, speeding up the game quite a bit. The game is less fiddly due to the slightly bigger tiles and starting with four followers to throw down their coats for the lord to step on, enables players to cover greater distances in the early part of the game. Alfie, Bertie and I played the three-player set-up, which sees two players starting from identical starting positions, while a third is further away from the main action, but has richer tiles close by. It seemed fairly balanced, but I will be interested to hear whether others perceive any disadvantage. 

I’ve been musing over a new game about the Black Death (the working title is, imaginatively, “The Black Death”). While on the plane to Bergen, where I’m writing this, I mocked up a set of cards – representing peasants in a 14th Century village. Each card will represent a certain named character (as yet uncreated). The characters all have a value to the village and a susceptibility rating – which indicates how likely they are to fall to the plague. I’m playing about with how the game will work – it is just the basis of an idea at the moment. There may be rats…