Southampton On Board - 9 December 2013 - Emoticons, Firefighters and Red Chips

You turn up to a board game night on time and there's still games being played! Makes me wonder why I bother working late and not just head to the pub straight after work! (Note - sorry for picture quality again, the pub is terrible for lighting)

Ah well, gave me the chance to pick up the late arrivals with a new game I'd purchased for a tenner based on every board game reviewer out there sticking it on their Underrated Games list - and that is Smiley Face designed by Bruno Faidutti. Yeah, the same guy who created Citadels, one of my first and favourite games. This is rated in the 6,000's on BGG and I bet it's all because of the box cover which features a row of Emoticons in bright colours. The amount of trouble I've had trying to get this to the table in the first week - luckily though, they were willing and so 7 of us opened it up.

"Trust me, this game is under-rated, it's a good light game and I'd rather play this than Coup any century!"

".........yeah, I had my work cut out for me here"

A small game of Star Trek Attack Wing was in motion in the corner and annoyingly for me, a large game of Eldritch Horror started shortly during our game, which is a game I really want to play as I'm a big Arkham fan (and really paranoid that it will make my Arkham collection redundant). Ah well, I'm promised a return next week so I look forward to trying it properly then.

Smiley Face is a simple card game where you play different coloured emoticons to score points and win each round. You can also play Mischief cards which cause chaos among players and cards alike and even lend your cards to other players in order to score "helping hand" points. Whatever fear anyone had over the game was immediately gone within the first couple of rounds as there was screaming at each other and yelling and laughing galore. It certainly gave emphasis to the phrase "don't judge a book (or game) by its cover".

This game will no doubt be getting a review in the future as do all of my owned games, so stay tuned and I recommend you give it a try - don't assume it's for kids just because it has "family game" on the cover, adults can laugh and curse just as often.
When that was over, the epic space battle (well I say epic, I only saw 3 ships on each side) was still in motion and Azathoth was about to be stopped from appearing. . . . well until someone messed up a die roll apparently - yeah that happens a lot.

"That's a lot of setup for just 3 v 3 in terms of ships . . . . think I've gone off miniature games"

As one group split to play Snowdonia, I was eager to test out the basics of my new Flashpoint Fire Rescue expansion "Extreme Danger" and introduce the game to some new players. Surprisingly people don't latch on to the theme instantly - why? It's such a great theme, you're a team of firefighters teaming up to stop a raging inferno while saving victims from the building before it collapses on your head. Surely that's pretty cool and beats even Pandemic, which in essence is a puzzle game more than it is a Co-Op.

"Snowdonia - sorry I don't know anything about this game"

It was fairly easy going at the start with the Paramedic, Veteran, Rescue Specialist and Imaging Technician (me) making good ground with the fire and initial victims, to the point where they were thinking "this is relatively easy, it's all good". . . . . yeeeeeeaa.. . . . I happened to know we were playing on Veteran difficulty, i.e. the second hardest setting, using an expansion board (The Mechanic Garage) and despite getting one setup rule wrong with 2-3 less hot spots than we should have had (my bad!) had plenty of scope for chaos.
Yeah well, guess what? Within a matter of turns suddenly we had explosions going off in two major areas of the board and damage counters dwindling fast. I switched roles to the Fire Truck Driver and began spraying and praying the entire building, which bought us some time but even then we were struggling. By the last few turns we were however close to winning, but the tension was unbearable as every single Advance Fire roll potentially spelt Game Over for us. I even switched roles again to the Structural Engineer to try and repair the building, but sadly, eventually we were doomed to a collapsed garage. Well I say we, technically 3 of us were on the outside streets at the time so only Chris died inside. Ah well, we'll send the widow a bunch of flowers or something!

"Flashpoint Fire Rescue - still one of my favourite Co-Ops - look at the dreadful situation we're in!"

One big highlight was the poor Rescue Specialist who ran to the help of a screaming woman inside a toilet with smoke only to open the door literally before the next players Advance Fire roll caused the toilet to ignite and roast the girl and him in one go for our first casualty. Firefighters can cry too, though more at the hilarity of the situation rather than the loss of our first victim!
The weirdest thing though was, we spent time trying to get the Hazmats out because we had 3 in a line next to a parked car and fire nearby and yet they didn't cause our failure. I couldn't help but laugh at the concept of that going off and effectively nuking the game board. But all in all that was a great start to this expansion and I haven't even read up on the "two storey" rules yet. Can't wait, I love this game and hopefully you're at least tempted after this report, so check out my review for more details on the base version.

"Eldritch Horror - will this destroy my old Arkham collection?"

Eldritch was still going on at this point with the Doom Track very close to Annihiliation for mankind, but to pass our time we then brought out my classic 5 second rules filler game "No Thanks" while the other group whipped out Sushi Go. You'd think a game so simple and basic would be boring, but no, every time I bring this out it gets played about 3-4 times due to its short length and high addictiveness. We blazed through 4 frantic games with an even spread of winners leaving players tempted to buy their own copy.  And why not, it's only a tenner, though I believe it's out of stock at most online retailers so best of luck with that.

"Have tried it, not for me really, much rather be playing 7 Wonders!"

Finally the investigators of Arkham were able to solve the mystery of Azathoth and win Eldritch Horror, but it certainly took them a while - no different from a traditional Arkham game then in that respect. Can't wait to play this next week but what does this spell for my Arkham collection? Well first impressions will no doubt appear on a podcast so we'll see won't we?

"Cheap, simple, yet good fun and gets a good laugh . . . . four times over!"

Until then, this is me signing off from one of the most fun Southampton on Board sessions I'd had in a long time!

Games Played

Star Trek: Attack Wing
Smiley Face
Eldritch Horror
Flashpoint Fire Rescue
Sushi Go
No Thanks!