Category Archives: News

Next Meeting, 21st March 2023

Our next meeting will be Tuesday 21st March 2023.  As usual, we will start playing shorter games from 7.30pm as people arrive, until 8pm when we will start something a little longer.  For those who want to eat, the table is booked from 6.45pm.

This week, the “Feature Game” will be the Visit from the Rhine Valley expansion for one of the group’s most popular games, Viticulture (review; tutorial video; rules).  This is a very small expansion, just a replacement deck of visitor cards, but it has a reputation for changing the game quite significantly.

Viticulture: Visit from the Rhine Valley
– Image by boardGOATS

Speaking of the Rhine Valley…

Jeff was touring the Rhine Valley and had booked himself into a lovely old castle that had been converted into a hotel.  When he arrived, he entered the foyer and suddenly had the creepiest feeling come over him, like there was a presence that made a shiver run down his spine.

Feeling more than a little uncomfortable, he approached the lady at the reception desk and said, “Excuse me, do you know if this hotel is haunted?”

The lady laughed and replied, “Well, I have been here for three hundred years and I’ve never seen a ghost!”

Boardgames in the News: The Best Game EVAR?!?!

BoardGameGeek is the largest and most comprehensive website dedicated to board and card games, with a database comprising nearly a hundred and fifty thousand games.  These games have a ranking based on ratings submitted by account holders.  While these rankings are obviously skewed by the characteristics of the contributors, the number one ranking game clearly has significance.  In the twenty-two years that the rankings have been in place, there have been just ten games to achieve the top rank, but as of today, there is an eleventh, with Brass: Birmingham taking the top spot from Gloomhaven.

Brass: Birmingham
– Image from

Of these now eleven games, three held the top rank briefly, for a day or two only.  The first of these was The Game of Life, and it’s top rank was the result of a software bug when on 25th February 2006, a User gave it a rating of sixty-five thousand five-hundred and thirty-five out of ten.  Just over a year later, as an April Fool, another User encouraged his friends to give Monkey Auto Races a rating of ten.  With just three hundred ratings, this game went from unranked to number one overnight, only to plummet back down the rankings just a day or so later.  Three years later, the site owner pulled his own April Fool stunt and set the ranking equal to the data base number, making Die Macher number one for a day.

The list of eight genuine Number One Games and the date they first achieved the top ranking are:

Brass: Birmingham
– Image by boardGOATS

Boardgames in the News: Dragons Play Paper Pop-up Games in the Den

Last week’s episode of Dragons’ Den featured the paper engineer, David Hawcock, looking to raise £40,000 for a 20% stake in his company.

Paddington 2 Pop-up Book
– Image from

Hitherto, David Hawcock is perhaps best known for his gorgeous pop-up book that featured in the film Paddington 2, but last week, he showcased his new company, that makes pop-up playable board games.  The first offering, the Pop-Up Chess Set consists of a Chess board made of paper that opens like a book and holds card Chess pieces that stay in place when the board is folded closed.  While there many small, travel Chess sets, the pieces are often small and very fiddly to play with.  In the Pop-Up Chess Sett, the pieces are essentially full-sized, making it easier both to manipulate them and to see the game evolve.

Pop-Up Chess Set
– Image from

Chess is not the only pop-up paper game David Hawcock has developed—he also presented Pop-Up Row of Four, which was clearly under development during the filming in “The Den”.  This is clearly a very close relation to the well known game Connect Four.  While it is often seen as bad form to publish a game that is so closely related to another, only the artwork, the written rules and the game name can be protected legally.  Further, Connect Four is a mass-market game that has been around for many year and is itself a variant on Noughts and Crosses (aka Tic-Tak-Toe), which is very definitely public domain.  These combined with the unique pop-up nature of this entirely paper offering mean it is more likely to be viewed in a positive light by the general public.

Pop-Up Row of Four
– Image from

The episode of Dragons’ Den featuring David Hawcock and his amazing pop-up board games is currently available on iPlayer.

Pop-Up Chess Set
– Image from

Boardgames in the News: Connect 4 on 5 Live

Board games pop up in all sorts of unusual places—who would have expected them to feature, for example, on BBC Radio 5 Live‘s post Christmas World Football Phone-in?  Presenter Dotun Adebayo and editor Adam Rosser played Connect 4 live on Radio and used it to lead into discussion about other games.  Unfortunately, the program somewhat perpetuated the stereotype of games being complicated even though Connect 4 is not a exactly a complex game.  The other presenters also claimed to have no idea what was happening in the game and one asked if it was anything like the 3D Chess (sic) played on Star Trek.  That said, after winning, Dotun commented that the game was addictive and went on to compare it to Subbuteo with later discussion including Crazy Golf and Tiddley Winks (which also needed an explanation).

– from

There was discussion throughout the program, with the game of Connect 4 starting at 17.30 mins in, with most game related discussion at 1 hr 19 mins (Crazy Golf and Tiddley Winks) and 1 hr 41 mins (extensive chat about Subbuteo).  The full episode is available on iPlayer until 25th January 2023.

Boardgames in the News: The Guardian’s 2022 Christmas Choice

Some time ago, The Guardian added a specially dedicated board game section to their online “lifestyle” magazine.  Although they include articles covering jigsaws, role-playing and even Wordle in the mix, over the years, they’ve also published popular articles discussing modern board games—their 2020 “Best Game to Play at Christmas” article has garnered over a thousand comments.  Their latest contribution is a list of seven of the best new board games to play with family.  The most high profile game in the list probably is Cascadia which won the 2022 Spiel des Jahres award (and was a runner up for the Golden GOAT last week), but the list includes a variety of games and is well worth a look.

– Image by boardGOATS

Golden GOAT Award Winners – 2022

As usual, the boardGOATS met just before Christmas for a party and to decide the winners of the GOAT Awards.  After pizza and crackers and the usual mayhem, the group voted for two awards:  the Golden GOAT for our favourite game and the “GOAT Poo” award for our least favourite.  Everyone had the usual three points to hand out for the Golden GOAT Award (plus a bonus if wearing Festive Attire), though a maximum of two points could be given to any individual game.  Everyone could also nominate up to two individual games for the GOAT Poo Prize.

Dice Hospital
– Image by boardGOATS

This year, there were a few games that received the unofficial “Marmite Award”, that is to say they received nominations for both the Golden GOAT and the GOAT Poo prizes.  These included Dice Hospital, Azul, Modern Art and Viticulture.  For the GOAT Poo Prize itself, there were several games that received two or three nominations, but the clear winner was Villainous – The Worst takes it All which received six nominations—quite an achievement since only five people played it and one of those wasn’t present for the vote!  Villainous is a beautiful, asymmetric card game, but one that we struggled with for several reasons, not least the fact that players had to work out how to play their own character, and we were playing it with five people which is two or three more than it needs.

Disney Villainous: The Worst Takes it All
– Image by boardGOATS

Nominations for Moment of the Year included two epic games, one of Viticulture and the other of Tapestry.  The latter nomination included the citation:  “I thought I was doing well until Ivory lapped me… twice!”  Pine also recalled Lilac nobbling him in Turf Horse RacingThe most poignant moment however, with hindsight, was last year’s UnChristmas Dinner, which was the last meeting attended by Burgundy, who very sadly, suddenly passed away just a few days later.  We all still miss him, but the fact we were joined by Jade and Plum and their partners this year is his legacy, and one we think he would have been proud of.

Mike Parker
– Image by
Pushpendra Rishi

And that just left the Golden GOAT Award for the best game of the year.  Previous winners including Wingspan, Altiplano and 6 Nimmt! were ruled out, but there were plenty of options remaining.  Lots of games received three nominations including Endeavor, Cascadia, Old London Bridge, Splendor, Tapestry and Die Wandelnden Türme  But this year, the clear winner was Everdell. This card-driven game was only played for the first time a few weeks ago, but it is planned to play it again soon with one of the expansions being the “Feature Game” early in the new year.

Golden GOAT - 2022
– Image by boardGOATS

Next Meeting, 29th November 2022

Our next meeting will be Tuesday 29th November 2022.  As usual, we will start playing shorter games from 7.30pm as people arrive, until 8pm when we will start something a little longer.

This week, the “Feature Game” will be the Asia expansion to the multi-award-winning bird-themed card game, Wingspan.  This latest expansion introduces new cards and a “flock” mode for playing with six or more players.

Wingspan: Asia
– Image from

Speaking of birds…

Jeff and Joe were chatting about their favourite songs.  Joe was really into modern stuff, but Jeff said he preferred eighties music.  Then Joe asked Jeff what his favourite song was.

Jeff answered, “Wake me up before you Dodo…”

Boardgames in the Nude: A Report in The Independent

Board games have long been a tradition in Germany, as has naturism, but a recent report in The Independent suggests that in rural Lincolnshire they have taken to combining the two German traditions.  NakedLincolnshire organise “Social Nudity, Naturism and Clothes Optional Events”, and one of their recent events, attended by Colin Drury, was a games night in the Hemswell and Harpswell Village Hall.  The report suggests they played Chess, UNO, Snakes and Ladders, Scrabble and other family-friendly fayre, so perhaps someone might like to go along to their next event introduce them to some more modern games?

– Image from The Independent

Essen 2022

Known to gamers worldwide simply as “SPIEL” or “Essen”, the Internationale Spieltage, the annual German games fair is the largest in Europe and arguably the world.  The fair is of particular significance as many new releases are scheduled to coincide with the event just in time for Christmas sales.  In 2020, like many other events, SPIEL was cancelled.  The online event that replaced it was not as successful, and in 2021 there was a return to the in person fair albeit with restrictions and much smaller than that in 2019.  Today is the first day of this year’s SPIEL which runs from Thursday to Sunday every October.

Essen 2022
– Image from

Although many of the Covid restrictions have been lifted, medical grade surgical masks covering mouth and nose are still mandatory for all visitors and exhibitors.  So while SPIEL will likely be larger this year than last, it probably won’t reach pre-pandemic proportions.  The maths trade is back though, a crazy event where hundreds of people agree multiple trades and sales online in advance and then all meet up at 3pm and try to find the people they have made contracts with and make the exchanges.  Remarkably, it works, and very well too, with some people selling hundreds of euros worth of games through this means.

Essen Maths Trade
– Image by Friedhelm Merz Verlag

Despite the number of people involved, the exchanges only take a few minutes and it is usually almost all over in half an hour making it a surprisingly efficient way of making space for the new arrivals.  In addition to the Maths Trade, there will be the usual exhibitors showcasing their wares.  The Spiel des Jahres and Deutscher Spiele Preis winners will also all be available and there will also be lots of games making their SPIEL debut.  These include Uwe Rossenburg’s latest game, Atiwa, and the top of “The Essen Hotness” games:  Tiletum, Revive, Woodcraft, Lacrimosa and Hamlet: The Village Building Game.  Games like Flamecraft, Turing Machine and War of the Ring: The Card Game will be for sale too.

– Image by BGG contributor W Eric Martin

There will be re-implementations, like Richard Breese’s reworking of his 1998 game, Keydom’s Dragons (formerly Keydom), Clever 4Ever (extending Ganz Schön Clever), Skymines (a redevelopment of Mombasa), Amsterdam (formerly Macao) and of course, Ticket to Ride (San Francisco).  Expansions will also be on show for games like The Red Cathedral (Contractors), Galaxy Trucker (Keep on Trucking), Meadow (Downstream), Sagrada (The Great Facades – Glory) and two of our favourites, Viticulture (World) and Wingspan (Asia).  Sadly, no-one from boardGOATS will be there to see them though; maybe next year…

Wingspan: Asia
– Image from