Dark Imp Placemats

The double-sided placemats made their debut at the London Playtest UK designers group this week. There is a different ‘roll & write’ game on each side of the placemat. 

In Rescue Me? each player is stranded on her own desert island and must make decide whether to attempt to get rescued or to make the best of it and settle in for the long term. The die rolls give island coordinates – restricting players’ actions each turn. Players can choose to:

  • Fell trees – in order to build shelters, lighthouses, windmills, bird hides or even SOS messages
  • Plant new trees – for points or to provide more wood for future projects
  • Plunder shipwrecks for nets
  • Build structures …. Or
  • Cast nets or messages in bottles out to sea.

This playtest has come after tweaking scoring from a previous version. This has strengthened some strategies but weakened others, as you would expect. Some more fine tuning is needed to ensure there are multiple equally valid routes to victory. The end game conditions also need looking at. One player became frustrated that he was unable to end the game with his strategy and wanted to be able to. Version 4 is on it’s way.

In Beach Life, each player selects two of three dice rolls each turn. One dice relates to a specific mini-game, the other dice gives the number that can be used within that mini game. Beach Life has been inspired by Ganz Schön Clever by Wolfgang Warsch, an abstract roll & write which I highly recommend.

Each mini-game is inspired by things you may find on a beach – razor clams, starfish, oysters, a sea snail and a crab – and each animal gives points in a different way. The crab has to move sideways down the beach to the sea. Players were willing the little guy on and cheered whenever he managed to make it a bit further. 

It could be his cuteness, it could be the struggle of his journey to the sea.. but something made the crab the star of the show at this week’s playtest. I need to work on giving the other four animals stories and making them cute!

A weekend in Edinburgh

My son, Alfie, and I spent last weekend in Edinburgh. We were combining our investigations about possible universities for Alfie to apply to… with my niece’s, Tabi’s, 21st birthday party. But, of course, we left enough time for game-related activities. 

Alfie is a big Magic: The Gathering player. So part of the weekend involved visiting Edinburgh’s three MTG shops to quiz them about events, meet local players and to browse their collections of single cards. 

We spent a happy afternoon in Noughts and Coffees – a board game cafe. They do a mean sandwich, but the selection of games was disappointing and those games they did have weren’t in great condition. I love visiting board game cafes to play games that I know I should have played, but have never had the opportunity to. Last weekend, I crossed Blokus and Stone Age off my list. I enjoyed both, though Stone Age is the one I’d like to play again – next time I’ll try to get all of the rules right!

On Sunday, after a long family brunch in a pub – accompanied by rounds of Rummy and Bohnanza – my sister Alison and niece Rosie joined us to tackle an escape room. We chose Blackbeard’s Treasure, by Escape Hunt. Now I’ve done a lot of escape rooms and the quality of the build and the quality of the puzzle is so variable from room to room, but I was really impressed with this one. The room felt like part of a ship’s cabin – with wood panelling everywhere. 

The puzzles were ingenious and the tech was excellent. The quality of the building was also excellent – much much better than most I’ve visited – with a beautifully comfy reception room. I could have stayed for the afternoon! I won’t give too much about the room away, but I’d certainly recommend Escape Hunt. They have locations all over the world – and several different rooms. I want to try Alice in PuzzleLand and Escape the Wild West next.