With everyone returning home for the festive period, we finally managed to hunt down old friends and lock them in a room with a rather large pile of good old fashioned board games.

While filling up on large amounts of sugar and greasy takeaway to keep our energy up during this marathon session, other than discovering some of us are prone to sulking when we aren’t winning (you know who you are!) we learned a lot.

Peter, Jack and John wizarding in the wild

Peter, Jack and John wizarding in the wild

Starting off with Evolution by North Star Games, we all agreed this was a very well made game, the instructions were well written and we had a game going within 10 minutes (admittedly it turned out after several games we’d actually missed out several rules) and gameplay was fluid and a decent chunk of strategy made this the favourite of the day. The game is centered around players evolving their species to eat as much food as possible while staving off the attacks of other players’ carnivorous predators.

Hiding food tokens in a bag once eaten also avoided that common problem among games of being able to see who was winning, we spent a whole game convinced that one player was miles ahead, only to find out at the end he had only won by 2 points. The frustration of this semi-hidden scoring being that the last turn would have played out very differently had we known how close it was. We were also very impressed by the quality of the Flight Expansion, which added a huge amount of content and playability to the game.

Evolution and the Flight Expansion, from North Star Games

Evolution and the Flight Expansion, from North Star Games

Wizards of the Wild, from CrossCut Games, recently acquired from a Kickstarter campaign went down less well. Although the theming was hilarious – with Wazzun the Racoon an all round favourite, and although we all like a good dice rolling game, we felt the lack of interaction between players let this game down, it got so bad that the rest of us happily chatted among ourselves while the active player was left alone to carry out their turn. With a good expansion pack of spells to increase interaction between players, this could be a great good value game!

Wizards of the Wild from Crosscut Games

Wizards of the Wild from Crosscut Games

Ancient Terrible Things, from Pleasant Company Games, while similar in many respects to Wizards of the Wild, seemed to produce much more engagement all around the table, with other players keen to see if you could really roll 5 of a kind, and condolences were offered after you managed to only muster 4 of a kind after a complex series of rolls, re-rolls and using various cards. Having played this with both 4 players and 2 players the one thing that we found frustrating about this game was the length of game. As a guy who enjoys the late game phase, it felt like the game was over before it ever arrived. Ancient Terrible Things has an intriguing pulp-horror theme, giving it an artistic edge over a lot of other dice rolling games, which was refreshing and well received.

Ancient Terrible Things from Pleasant Company Games

Ancient Terrible Things from Pleasant Company Games

In the early hours we transitioned to some more tried and tested games, the old classic Carcassone was played, and while several of us had not played before, the simplicity of the rules and high level of strategy required made this a fun game to play, at least for those of us who decided not to join in trying to build the castle to end all castles.

Carcasonne from Z-Man games

Carcasonne from Rio Grande Games

Finally, with friendships running thin, we broke out Munchkin. Needless to say we are no longer friends, with the experienced players clearly taking advantage of those less well versed in the art of backstabbing and our sleep deprived minds finding some cards much more hilarious than they were clearly meant to be.

Munchkin, from Steve Jackson Games

Munchkin, from Steve Jackson Games

You know it’s been a successful session when everybody comes out of it hating one another but desperate to to play again, maybe less sugar next time though.