Game of Scones

One of our newest obsessions in life is board games. No, not those terrible family ones you’re forced to play at Christmas, but a new generation of board games. Like most addicts, we were introduced to them by our friends, Rich and Hannah, who were lured in by their friends, Ryan and Bethan. One of the things we love about board games is that they allow socially awkward people like us to be able to interact with strangers in a fun way. There’s no time for stilted small talk and avoiding eye contact when you’re focused on saving Camelot, as in one of our favourite games, Shadows Over Camelot. Or if you’re playing Avalon/Resistance, you’re soon accusing total strangers of being traitors and vowing to never trust them again 😀 Or in the hilariously occasionally offensive and rude Cards Against Humanity, you’re suggesting to strangers that ‘A Romantic Candlelit Dinner Would Be Incomplete Without’…’A Super Soaker Full of Cat Pee’. We once played this game with seven people we’d just met. Two of them are now Facebook friends 😀

Counters board game cafe

some of the games at Counters

And there is also a wonderful place where we can feed our addiction with loads of new games we’ve never played – Counters board game events. Rich, Hannah, Ryan and Bethan have formed a crack team to put on regular board game events in Pontypridd YMCA. We’ve met some really cool people there and tried out games we might never have played before. We were at the November event for the whole eight hours and it only felt like we’d been there two! The Counters events are a prelude to them opening their own board game cafe. We can’t wait. You know how some authors are known for practically living in a particular pub? We’re going to be authors who practically live in Counters board game cafe. They’re going to have to charge us rent 😀

Yesterday was the third event and there was a Hanabi tournament. We’d never played Hanabi, so had no intention of entering. Instead, we played Terry Pratchett’s The Witches until Neen and Zoe arrived then we played two games of Witches of Salem. It’s a horror game with beautiful artwork and it’s all about fighting Lovecraftian monsters. The second game was tense. Lynx was the first to go insane, followed by Zoe. It was left to Cat and Neen to defeat the Great One, Hastur. They were barely clinging on to their sanity, the counter was creeping towards the dimensional rift and they only needed a dagger and two elixirs to defeat the monster. Sadly, their fading sanity was not enough and they too succumbed to madness. Battling mythical monsters and slowly going insane…it sounds like an episode of Calamityville Horror!

Hanabi

Hanabi champions

Then Rich persuaded us to try Hanabi. We figured we’d have a trial run, so formed Team Wildraven – combining Neen and Zoe’s surname, Wilder, with our Raven pseudonym. Hanabi is a card game, where you have to make five sets of cards numbered one to five, each of different colours. The tricky bit is that you’re only allowed to see everyone’s else’s cards, not your own. The temptation to peek at your own cards is harder to resist than a chocolate-covered Johnny Depp. You have to give other people information about their cards, in the hope they put the right one down without costing you a life. We won the tournament! Not bad for a team of Hanabi first timers. We even won prizes, donated by Hanabi’s makers, Abacusspiele. We finished the event with Cards Against Humanity.

Game of Thrones board game

you win or you die

Because of this, we now have the holy grail of board games – Game of Thrones. We bought it from Rules of Play last week. Since buying it, we’ve discovered many of our online friends want the game, but have never bought it. We’ve only played two games so far, with Cat being House Lannister, Lynx being House Baratheon and Ryan (Ashcroft, not Counters Ryan. Yes it gets confusing) being House Stark. Ryan keeps forgetting the cardinal rule of ‘there must always be a Stark in Winterfell’. So in the first game, Lynx took Winterfell and won the game without fighting a single battle. In the second game, Cat won after an epic four hours.

So if you love board games, come to the next Counters event and challenge us to a game. But we will warn you, we are very competitive and if you decide to take us on, we win or you die 😉

Game On

We’ve been infected. No, not by the Z virus, but by a fever. Board game fever. It’s sweeping across the nation and nowhere is safe. Ok, that may be exaggerating. So far the fever has only hit two places – Cardiff and Pontypridd, but it is contagious and nobody is immune. We’re not talking of playing board games, oh no, we’re talking of MAKING them. This is our mate, Rich’s fault. He is Patient Zero.

It all started when we played Atmosfear for the first time. Somehow, we managed to miss out on this as kids and never even heard of it. But Ryan had found the original game in a charity shop a few years ago. It’s so old it comes with a VHS tape and guess who has a working VCR player? Yes, us. So we played it. And loved it. Then we bought the modern, DVD version. A couple of weeks later, Rich found Atmosfear The Harbingers in a charity shop in Ponty, so we went round his and his girlfriend, Hannah’s to play it and Key to the Kingdom. We’ve owned that game since we were kids and it’s still in great condition. Then we found out Atmosfear IV, the Elizabeth Bathory one, was in a charity shop in Ponty. Two days later, Rich and us went scouring the charity shops of Ponty. Yes we spent a couple of hours raiding every charity shop in Ponty town, when it was pissing down. We are dedicated hunters. We bought Atmosfear IV and it sparked off a need to find the others. Preferably in charity shops, as they’re nice and cheap.

That’s how we were all infected with board game fever. But then Rich’s developed into a more serious case – he started planning to make his own. He told Ryan, who instantly went down with a serious case of the fever. As soon as he read Rich’s text, he was infected. He has  a  very weak immune system. Then Ryan told us. Our first thought was – ‘Bleeding Empire – the board game!’ but we’re stronger than they are. We watched them get swept up in the fever, all the while feeling the infection, but not catching it. We’re used to Ryan becoming geekily obsessed with something for a few weeks, only to abandon it & move on to something else. We’ve seen it happen over and over, so we wait until the latest obsession dies down. But this time, he was geekily obsessed with something we wanted too.

Then Rich emailed us his game for us to print out. It’s called Twelve Dragons and in a word, it’s brilliant. As this is a prototype, there are a few bugs, but not enough to spoil the game. We loved it.

On Saturday, we went out to Hobby Craft so Ryan could buy things for his game – Death or Glory. Hobby Craft is filled with shinys. Expensive shinys. After being cleaned out by the opticians, we watched Ryan with the shinys, fighting the fever. By Sunday, we succumbed. We ordered beautiful pearlescent red dice (they come in a pack of 50, so we’re sharing them amongst our infected) and we planned our board game – Bleeding Empire. Based on our newest novel. There will be all 5 horsemen, plus Drew, the fallen angel and the objective will be to break the seals and end the world. The board will be double-sided, for if Drew stops the Apocalypse, the horsemen end up in Purgatory and have to fight their way through Heaven.

We have one problem – our talents never match our ideas. This is why we’re writers, not artists. We can only create with words. But we have a secret weapon that Rich and Ryan don’t have – our mate, Neen. She’s a set painter for TV and film and she’s fantastic at making little models. There are only two rules – it has to be cheap and it has to be awesome. 3D awesome with a city scene on one side, Purgatory and the treacherous path to Heaven on the other. Yesterday we went round Rich and Hannah’s and spent all evening playing board games. Some we played several times. We also played Rich’s game and it was even more awesome, especially as Cat and Hannah became a co-op team & kicked everyone’s arses. And we were all VERY excited about the new dice. Oh no! It appears…are we becoming…geeks?

This afternoon, as we were in the dentist’s, awaiting Cat’s wisdom tooth extraction, we took a notebook and planned our game, including character cards, and made notes on what needs to go into it. It’s not fully fleshed out yet, but it has a skeleton we can build on. But we are WAY behind. Rich’s game is complete, save for a few kinks. Ryan swears he’ll have a prototype by the weekend. Ours hasn’t even made it out of the notebook yet. But with an artist on board, we know ours will be stunning. The greatest board game ever! We think. We just hope the obsession hasn’t died by the time it’s made.

The fever is spreading.