Eldritch Horror: Misery, Doom, Tentacles. A normal Friday night in.

Brutus rating: 1/10 knives in the back
Pairs well with: some very strong whisky. Strong enough to forget the horrors you’ve seen.


The Misery Farm’s friendly photographer-friend enjoys only three things: board games, cameras and suffering. This makes him a good misery photographer but a bad person. It has also adapted him to suit a game called Arkham Horror: a board game that brings nothing but relentless suffering. If you’ve not played it, then rest assured that it’s just hours and hours of trudging around dreary old Arkham before being eaten by a void-born tentacle-god.

When Eldritch Horror came out, Dr Photographer sold it to us as “It’s Arkham Horror, but fun.” Does being fun take the fun out of it? … No, it turns out!

Lizzy's tentacle.
Lizzy’s tentacle.

It’s big and it’s long and it’s tentacley. The board is a great chunky world map which you traverse, and there are lots and lots of extra cards and tokens and doodads which make setting it up annoying but playing it extremely satisfying. Like many ‘big’ games turns take a while and are divided into phases. They are, roughly, Doing Stuff, Stuff Getting Done To You, and Bad Stuff Happens (or ‘action’, ‘encounter’, and ‘mythos’ if you’re being fancy and accurate). The aim of the game is to solve mysteries and stop the hell-spawned Old Ones from rising up and devouring the universe. You will sometimes often fail at this.

10397047_10152420766204337_8447561979145296536_oEldritch is one of those games that gives you some excellent characters to work with if you want to get into the spirit of things with a little bit of the ol’ roleplaying. This makes it an immediate favourite for Lizzy already, and the rest of the team are just relieved that it’s a co-op and they can take a break from having to beat the crap out of her in case she gets ahead. Everyone each gets their own character (until they die, go insane, or the game ends) and a good group of friends will heavily encourage acting, an elaborately developed personality and a funny voice for the duration. The characters each have special abilities of some kind, their own set of stats and their own backstory.


Of course, the game also doesn’t shy away from other classic Lovecraftian themes such as racial stereotyping. There’s an Asian lady who’s… really good at martial arts? Ok. And the Nigerian’s backstory is about wise village elders and spirits? Yup. Let’s just… yeah. And let’s not put on voices for those characters k? K.

And then there’s our own personal favourite: Silas Marsh. One for the ladies. His thing is that he’s better on sea-tiles. What’s his intricate and carefully woven backstory? He… quite likes the sea.


Yep, that’s it. He just really likes the sea, you guys. He comes from a small seaport town, you won’t have heard of it. It’s in New England somewhere.

"I'm basically just producing slashfic now." -Dr Photographer
“I’m basically just producing slashfic now.” -Dr Photographer


So as mentioned above, Eldritch Horror is a co-op game, hence the small “knives-in-the-back” rating. It still gets one knife however, in case someone gets a death pact and has to kill one of their friends.

You see this face? This is the face of ‘I just found out what a Dark Pact does.’

… Pardon?


Yup! That brings us right round to the main theme of the review, the game, and indeed life itself: never-ending horror. As with most good co-ops, at the end of every turn someone needs to trigger what’s known as Bad Stuff Happens (‘mythos phase’). For Eldritch Horror this means turning over a card and letting all hell break loose. Not got enough monsters on the board? Have some more. Not got enough terrifying gates to otherworldly and evil dimensions, floating around? Have some of those, too. Not feeling like there’s enough DOOM floating around? Better advance the DOOM track! Frankly if you’re not feeling overwhelmed and panicky once you’ve resolved all the conditions of the mythos card then you’re playing it wrong.

Big bag o'monsters
Big bag o’monsters

If the DOOM track reaches zero, or you’ve got too many inter-dimensional gates spitting monsters all over the board, or maybe just if great Cthulhu’s great alarm clock was set a little early, then congratulations, the Old Ones have woken up. When that happens you are more or less fucked, unless you can pull out some really fantastic dice rolls and co-operation. So yeah, pretty much fucked. Enjoy being devoured.

But of course, there are several other ways that things can go wrong for a plucky gang of adventurers during the ‘encounter’ phase. There’s that aforementioned “death pact” and other terrifying conditions (you don’t need all of your limbs for adventuring, right?) and there are monsters – those tend to want to attack you if you get too close. Sometimes you’re just on a lovely, optimistic quest for a ‘clue’ and instead you wind up beaten and imprisoned. There are really excellent cards that describe what happens in each situation and which skill-checks you need to pass, and you’ll always find yourself shouting at your character as you read it out.

When the horror gets too much, sometimes you have to turn into a starfish.
When the horror gets too much, sometimes you have to turn into a starfish.

You see a terrifying crypt… good, that’s ok so far… you head towards it to explore… NO I FUCKING DON’T WHY WOULD I DO THAT… and suddenly an arm grabs you… OF COURSE IT BLOODY DOES I’M IN A SHITTING CRYPT WHAT DID I EXPECT? …Make a strength check to escape…  OKAY COME ON ARMS OF STEEL… SON OF A BISCUIT HOW DID THAT FAIL?? …if you fail you get dragged underground where shoggoths pull off your arm and beat you with it.

Strength check you say?
Strength check you say?

The game has an exciting balance of making you firefight all of the things going wrong and actually trying to scrabble your way towards victory. You may want to hoover up all of the lovely clue-juice, for example, depending on the current victory goal that you need to achieve, but you also don’t want to leave open five portals which more terrifying goat-spawn can clop through at any point.

One thing that seemed a little less balanced is the discrepancies between different numbers of players. We left Bob unsupervised once or twice and she had a few solo runs of the game, which she tells us was possibly a little too easy. Obviously we can only explain this by the game being easier with only one player, and nothing at all to do with Briony, Lizzy and the Camera-Man holding her back the rest of the time. It’s also absolutely impossible that she was playing it wrong. She’s a known rules junkie, our Bob, who never takes the ‘eh, that’s probably right?’ approach to little things like numbers of dice or how DOOM tracks work.

Big board o' horrors
Big board o’ horrors

We also didn’t have too much of the “one person controls all” problem that seems pervasive through a lot of co-op board games, but that might just be the particular team of plucky adventurers / arseholes that we are.

“Get the clue, we need it for the next victory condition!”
“… Hmm but I really want to explore Tunguska.”
“But the victory condition?”


It’s also got great replayability as you can choose from a variety of world-eating monsters to struggle vainly against, and which affect the gameplay quite strongly. If you fancy your misery Shub-Niggurath-flavoured, for example, you’re going to be spending a lot of time losing your sanity to suicidal cultists. If it’s Yig, you’re going to be poisoned by snakes at least twenty times. If you’re in a Cthulhu mood then I’m afraid you’re going to be spending some time in the sea. There are goat-spawn too, and hellhounds.

The expansion adds to this with a host of new monsters, crippling ailments, and a frozen wasteland. Hurray!

To enjoy Eldritch Horror, you do have to enjoy a bit of misery for your adventures. Luckily, this is right up the street of a group of board game reviewers who’ve called themselves ‘The Misery Farm’. We’d certainly recommend it to people who only hate themselves a little. Most of you, probably.

He really likes the sea.
He really likes the sea.

The real winner is Cthulhu. May the dark lord’s tentacles ever be long and terrifying.

Photos credited to Dr Photographer

The big bag o’ monsters was made during a game by the mighty-impressive Emma Field at JustAddCrochet, who is also featured in a photo as a starfish.

Camel Cup: The Yellow Menace

Brutus Rating: 2 daggers in the back out of 10
Pairs well with: One of those liqueurs you bring back from holiday that nobody wants to drink. Maybe cactus flavour, or ouzo. Raki is pretty rough too. Damn Greece, you got some terrible booze.

Note: our photographer insists that the bright glaring photographs are supposed to represent the sun in the camel-filled desert. This, we are assured, is definitely on purpose.
Note: our photographer insists that the bright glaring photographs are supposed to represent the sun in the camel-filled desert. This, we are assured, is definitely on purpose.

Disclaimer: In the interests of maintaining ethics in board game journalism we at the Misery Farm feel that it’s important to make our audience aware that this post contains a high level of pro-yellow camelist propaganda. This does not mean that we aim to denigrate other colours of camel or beings who identify as camels. All camels are equal. Yellow camel is just slightly more equal than other camels.

There are several ways in which Lizzy is the villain of The Misery Farm. She wins too often, she’s a little bit too keen to play the bad guy and she has a really awful smug face. These things might all make her seem like a kind of loveable rogue, but there’s one thing that we’ve hidden from you all so far. The real reason she will strike fear into your heart. We’re about to show you the inside of Lizzy’s copy of Camel Cup. If you’re of a nervous disposition, or there are children in the vicinity, look away now.


Urrrrgh. *shudder* That game even comes with baggies, guys. There’s no excuse for that mess.

Anyway, now that horror is over, let’s get onto Camel Cup.

There are two schools of thought on the name of this game. Some people think that it’s actually called ‘Camel Up’. Perhaps because of the stacking method, in which the camels go ‘up’ and stack on top of each other.

The camels lining up for a bit of pre-race chat
The camels lining up for a bit of pre-race chat

These people claim to be right because of silly little reasons like “that’s what the instructions say”, “that’s what it says online” and “that’s just the actual name, you guys”.

The other school of thought says that the game is ‘Camel Cup’. Because the camels, you see, are racing to win The Camel Cup. These people claim to be right because of excellent reasons like “there is an actual Camel Cup race”, and “we just prefer this name so agree with us or get the hell out of our living room”, and “shut up and play.” The Misery Farm are a part of the latter school of thought.


Camel Cup won Spiel Des Jahres 2014 (“Game of the Year”. Thanks Bob, that degree in German wasn’t wasted after all.) When you first look at the game, running around a giant convention hall in Germany, then that fact can seem a little surprising. It looks a bit gimmicky: it has some sort of strange pyramid thing scheme going on.

It turns out that Camel Cup is almost certainly the best gambling, camel-racing game you’ll play all year.

In Camel Cup you don’t play as the camels, and you don’t have much influence on how fast each of the camels race around the track. Instead, you’re the Egyptian aristocracy. Your goal is to make as much money as you can by the end of the race, having gambled on which camel will be the final winner, the final loser, and which camels will win each ‘leg’ of the race.

The Egyptian aristocracy
The Egyptian aristocracy

It’s fairly fast-paced, and (hopefully) everyone will do one of four actions quickly and move onto the next person. Two of these actions are gambling (betting on a camel for either the leg or the whole race), one is placing down an oasis or barren dessert sort of token (the one way in which you can almost sort-of influence the race) and the final is to move the camels. That is, make it so that the camels move themselves. You get limited choice in the matter.

“I BELIEVE IN YELLOW CAMEL!” (Lizzy bets on Yellow Camel to win, as is tradition)

“Green Camel is currently in last place… so I think I believe in Green Camel.” (Generic male gaming buddy gambles on Green Camel)

“I think I’m going to move the camels!” (Everyone starts chanting ‘move the camels’ and banging on the table)

The game also features Nigel Thornberry
The game also features Nigel Thornberry

Of course, I say that hopefully everyone will do one of four actions quickly. Occasionally you’ll get players trying to cheat. By ‘cheat’, of course, I mean ‘actually trying to think about their turn logically before having it’. Don’t do that, it’s a terrible idea. You’ll look like a dick, and it won’t help. Camel Cup can be for up to eight players, so such behaviour is rightly discouraged in our circles, and hurried along by coughing and reminding guilty parties that “Ahem! This is Camel Cup! The fast-paced camel racing gambling game! Get your shit together” until they take their turn. Attempting to mathematically work out the winning and losing odds has no place in this game, for reasons which we will soon make clear.

The magical pyramid of camel-moving
The magical pyramid of camel-moving

To get any good picture of how Camel Cup plays, it’ll be useful to mention how the camels actually move. At the beginning of the leg, the mysterious pyramid of camel-racing is placed in the centre of the board with five different dice inside it, one for each colour camel. The dice are all numbered 1-3. When some brave gambler chooses to move the camels (cue chanting) she takes the pyramid, tips it upside down and pushes open a little flap so that one single die will fall out. The camel of that colour will then speed that number of spaces along the board! The die is then put aside until the other four are out of the pyramid, so that each camel will get one turn at moving before the dice are all put back inside. When all of the camels have moved once, that’s a leg of the race.

Once the novelty of a pyramid dice-shaker wears off, that can all seem very dull. Some dice are rolled, some camels race at that particular pace. *yawn*

But wait! This game didn’t win Spiel Des Jahres 2014 just for some camels trundling along next to each other at a speed of 1-3 per leg! Oh no. I’ve left out the best bit. The camels… they stack on top of each other.


Yep. Apparently the race course is so narrow that there ain’t no room for camels to be side-by-side. When a camel trundles onto an already-occupied tile, they’ll just park their camelly behind on top of that first camel. This is a mechanism that makes Briony feel deeply uncomfortable – when she’s claimed a certain spot on the board she expects not to share, or at least to swear at someone attempting to come near her. This is a particular problem in other games like Tigris and Euphrates as she strongly believes in keeping other civilizations out. Everyone else though? In awe.

6D-33-36BUT THEN! When that first camel moves, does she ask the second one to get the hell off? No! She races on with up to four camels on top of her. The implications that this has on the odds are staggering. Instead of moving a maximum of three places, a camel with some lucky stacking could move fifteen tiles.

Staring into the eyes of Yellow Camel
Staring into the eyes of Yellow Camel

What looks at first like a simple race turns into a crazy one, where the odds a lot of the time are almost impossible to figure out. This is the essence of Camel Cup, and what makes the game so much fun to play. It’s not uncommon to see a camel go from last place to first in one leg, ruining all of your bets and expectations. The game is made by the sheer improbability of it all. It’s made by deciding which camel to bet on just by looking really closely into their souls and seeing which camel really has what it takes (Lizzy deeply believes that Yellow Camel has that X-Factor that’ll take it all the way to the big leagues). It’s made by having all of the enthusiasm in the world for the camel in last place, then actually seeing them win and getting to rub it in the faces of the non-believers.

Having said that, there are several things that Camel Cup is not. Camel Cup is not a lengthy game, nor one for much strategy. Not by board-gaming standards, at least. But that’s ok, because most people’s collections need a place for that kind of game. One that’s fairly quick, fairly simple and doesn’t involve too much thought if you’ve had a long day / are playing with some non-gamer friends / are a bit drunk already at 4pm and can’t quite think straight. It also comes with a Totally Official™ side-game in which players should try to pull faces that match those of the camels on the box art.

10710811_10152401406566161_3131231986079642096_n 6270_10152401406496161_9146959643205959983_n

As you can probably tell, it’s important to play Camel Cup with the right kind of people.

The players need to be willing to get excited about some crazy odds and racing camels, and to not mind the lack of reliable strategy or planning ahead. You need to be able to place a wild bet on a camel just by what feels right. I mean I’m not necessarily saying that it’s your fault if you don’t love the game (you might just have terrible friends). But it might not work so well if everyone’s incredibly quiet, or if everyone’s just received some tragic news.


The game receives just 2/10 daggers-in-the-back since there aren’t all that many opportunities to stick said daggers into your opponents’ backs. There simply aren’t many ways to encourage a lame camel to victory or stop the juggernaut momentum of Yellow Camel. You can sometimes place a tile which will make it better or worse to land on, but most of the screwing-over will just be done by the luck of the dice and the speed of the camels.

A great game, for its type.

The real winner isn’t Lizzy. Nor, for once, is it board games. The real winner is Yellow Camel.



Credit for the photographs to Photographer-friend BA (Hons), MA, PhD.

Catan: Has anybody got any wood?

Brutus scale: 7/10
Pairs well with: cola and vodka. you know, the stuff you drink when you first start drinking and haven’t acquired much of a refined taste yet. 


So we’ve just been informed that Settlers of Catan has now actually been renamed to just ‘Catan.’ This is presumably a move to make it ‘catchier’, ‘edgier’, more ‘down with the kids’. It’s also a move that could be described as ‘dumb’ and ‘unnecessary’. All of the expansions are already called ‘Catan: Slightly More Convoluted’ or ‘Catan: Now with Pirates AND Robbers’ or whatever, it just seems a bit redundant.

‘Wanna play some Backgammon?
‘Oh we just call it Gammon, now’,
‘But that’s already a thi-’

Nice game of Catan in the garden! What could go wrong?
Nice game of Catan in the garden! What could go wrong?

Anyway. Let’s have a show of hands, who hasn’t played Settlers of Catan yet? It’s OK, this is a safe space. There’s no judgement here (except probably from our German readers. Over there I believe it’s as ubiquitous a part of family game shelves as Scrabble or Monopoly in the UK). Until recently, Bob was one of you. In fact she still sort of is. Despite the fact that Catan is THE gateway board game for future board game addicts it just somehow passed her by. There were always newer, flashier games to play, or no one around with a copy handy and a willingness to explain the rules.

Ehehe. Wood, anyone?
Ehehe. Wood, anyone?

By 2015 this state of affairs had become something of an embarrassment. What kind of board game reviewer hasn’t played Catan? A piss-poor one, that’s what kind. Luckily salvation was on the horizon in the form of a local mini-convention. Lots of friendly local nerds gathered at a hotel to share their (collectively enormous) stash of games, make friends, and carouse until the early hours. When the incredibly friendly and helpful in-house vendor heard of her plight he cheerfully not only conjured a show copy of Star Trek Catan to learn on, but a couple of experienced players at a loose end and willing to teach a newbie. Despite Bob’s ordeal, Briony’s first Catan experience was simply to be told to play it. She then won. Like, by a lot. And since those friends were the only people she knew with a copy, has never been asked back to play it again.


Catan was one of the first European-style agricultural resource management board games to gain mainstream success. In case you have also lived your life under a rock until now, it’s comprised of a randomised modular board made of cardboard hexagons, so no two games are ever identical. The aim of the game is to build towns and cities which generate resources from nearby hexes, depending on dice rolls. Mo towns and cities = mo victory points. Longest road between settlements also = mo victory points. Instead of making your settlements bigger and more numerous you can instead choose to earn points through development cards, which grant favours like extra roads, resources, or knights. Get the most knights in the game, earn some victory points. Get 10 victory points and you win the game.

The little grey douchecanoe
The little grey douchecanoe

There is also a nasty mechanical implement in the Robber. He’s a dick who shows up every time a seven is rolled. Because every player rolls two dice on their turn, he is statistically likely to show up pretty damn often to annoy the crap out of you. His job is to sit on a hex so that it denies you resources, and steal from you.

Star Trek Catan! Credit to  Richard Harris-Abbott for this one
Star Trek Catan! Credit to Richard Harris-Abbott for this one

Star Trek Catan is pretty much regular Catan with a Star Trek: TOS makeover. The robber is a Klingon battle cruiser. The resources are things like dilithium, tritanium, and oxygen. Roads are itty-bitty starships and towns and cities become outposts and starbases respectively. It’s pretty damn adorable. The only real difference is that the ‘Helpers of Catan’ expansion is integrated into the game in the form of Kirk, Spock, etc. showing up to give you a hand.

It is not an easy game to get the hang of right away. While it doesn’t immediately punish you for every mistake, and strategic errors made in the early game can be overcome, this very much depends on the savviness of the other players. There is no open conflict mechanic, but there are definitely ways to stab your fellow settlers right in their puny, exposed backs, enough for a 7/10 on our ‘Brutus Scale’. This game is war. Gentle, cerebral, agricultural, sly road-blocking war. Any fault made in another player’s turn should be harshly punished, while any obvious strategy should be blocked or made unfeasible. Sun Tzu’s wise advice to ‘know your enemy, especially if it’s Lizzy’ is to be heeded here.

Misery Settling
Misery Settling

Success means being able to tally this awareness with an overall strategy based on early settlement placement, as well as being flexible when the fucking dice keep rolling nines and you’ve banked heavily on an ‘eight’ hex. A new player is at a distinct disadvantage. Bob’s first game is marked by banter, desperation, and a pair of dice that refuse to roll anything but a seven. You may think this is an exaggeration, and that in any case sevens are the most likely outcome so it’s not a surprise anyway, but really this was ridiculous.

Argh! A terrible gust of wind devastated the island!
Argh! A terrible gust of wind devastated the island!

After eight turns which included six sevens someone brought out their freshly bought, unrolled Firefly-licenced dice, reasoning that the stacked dice was probably the reason for this being a show copy. Luckily Momus, the god of irony and mockery, was grinning down and sent another two sevens in a row before letting the players get on with the damn game.

Bob managed to earn four whole victory points, and the winner was a Settlers savant who sat down with no prior knowledge of the game just as the rules were finished being explained and asked to join.

More scenes of destruction
More scenes of destruction

This is not the end of the review, gentle readers. Oh no, Bob had only just whet her appetite for sheep and wheat. Despite a miserable score the potential for fun in Catan was unmistakeable. By sheer coincidence Catan: Creators Edition (the latest Catan ‘videogame’) showed up in the following week’s Humble Bundle along with Ticket to Ride, Smallworld 2, and some other crap that no one cares about. Pennies later, the download was quick and running the game only made Bob’s elderly and increasingly senile laptop fall over and die twice. It includes the original vanilla game, Catan: Seafarers, and Catan: Cities and Knights.

Rebuilding efforts
Rebuilding efforts

In general it’s a faithful but cheap and somewhat nasty port. The rulebook, for example, is dreadful. It has no easily-searchable index, bundles all three versions together in its explanations (confusing as fuck, yo), and is remarkably brief on the details. This is fine if you already know the rules, but not great if you’re trying to find the expanded rules which apply only to Cities and Knights, for example (it looks like there’s a dragon involved? Is that right?).

It does, however, come with some pretty great little game ‘scenarios’, which alter the gameplay to make certain strategies more viable or difficult, and reward you in different ways. There is also a whole gang of computer-generated characters to play against, including knights, mothers superior, craftsmen and nobles. They curse you in different ways when you screw them over by plonking a settlement in front of their longest road, and have a rotation of phrases during their turns. The game also makes a variety of noises to let you know when somethings happening (gained some sheep? Have a sheepy ‘baaa’ noise. Gained some wheat? Have the sound of… uh… some grains? Being scattered? Whatever, they tried.)

Very helpful, Lizzy
Very helpful, Lizzy

Of course the best thing about having a digital version of a board game is that play is much faster, meaning you can play several games in a day instead of doing your PhD research, which all of the misery farmers approve of. Although computers don’t make the same mistakes that humans do, you can definitely begin to identify winning strategies and refine them to work in different situations. ‘Desperate resource-grabbing Bob’ is long gone, having been replaced by ‘longest-road-builder of Catan’ Bob, ‘successful sheep-farmer’ Bob and ‘fuck you and your army I’ve got a monopoly on the supply of wheat so good luck building a city’ Bob. Lizzy better watch her back, harbourmaster Bob’s a-coming.


Lizzy is tempted to counter that the game is actually a lot better as an app, after you’ve played it your first few times and have been gently welcomed into the gaming world. But that may be because there’s just too much opportunity to ruin each other’s game. If, for example, you’ve earned a reputation as someone who’s ruthless and always wins games, then nobody will ever trade with you. Ever. Even if you’re desperate. Even if they’re desperate. At least the AI on Lizzy’s phone won’t bully her quite that badly.

Hold onto the island! The gentle breeze is back!
Hold onto the island! The gentle breeze is back!

Bob is very enthusiastic about Catan. It’s a bit like watching a grown adult who’s never eaten peanut butter before try it, go mad, and refuse to eat anything else for three weeks straight. Suddenly a whole new world has opened up to her, and she tries to tell all of her friends about it, but all of her friends already know about peanut butter. It’s actually quite surprising that she’s eaten five jars of it in a row and neither thrown up yet (metaphorically) nor gotten bored of it.

Soon she’ll realise that peanut butter involves far too much dice-rolling, luck and reliance on other players. Until then, we’ll have to cope with playing more Catan than is healthy. (Are you sure you wouldn’t like a nice game of Caylus? Bob?)

Even this bearded dragon has played the game too much
Even this bearded dragon has played the game too much

Briony has only played Catan several times, and unlike Bob has not gotten hooked. Any board game that has memes about sheep trading are way too cool for her, and she prefers to instead to engage with these types of games by turning up, ignoring the rules, being mysteriously silent and then thrashing anyone else without batting an eye. The good thing about this strategy is that you can get away with doing it once, and claiming that it happens as consecutive times. But, she supposes, at least Catan is a good way for normal people to be swayed to the way of the board game nerd.

Credit for the incredibly sunshiney photographs go to Dr Photographer-Friend. Credit for the photographs, that is, not for the sunshine. He hates the sunshine. And happiness.

Quantum: Space Dice!

By Lizzy, Bob, and Briony

Number of dicks in ear: 6/10. Dick size will grow in inverse proportion to the size of the map.
Pairs well with: cheap vodka. (It’s what people drink in space.)

6D-31- 365 Quantum1 Lizzy loves a game where you know who you are. Where you really know what your motivations are and why you’re collecting <Generic Resource!>. Quantum is a game about space, and it does this quite well. It has a space background. You play as a kind of space conquistador, colonising the stars using cubes. Cubes are very important in Quantum, because cubes mean victory and the ownership benevolent leadership of galaxies.

“Which galaxies?” you cry!
Whichever galaxies you like!

‘Which map shall we use?’ ‘The one that looks like a swastika!’ ‘That is absolutely not what a swastika looks like, Bob’

The layout of the map is quite variable; there are several possible galaxies to choose from for each player number, and each has its own name. You can fight over the Outer Reaches, the Barren Empire, Terra Major, Terra Minor.

Even the planets themselves each have a name. Tau 18, Ursus Major 2, you get the idea. They even have lore and geography, if that’s your bag. It’s all very good sci-fi. Points for sci-fi.

Here’s Bob posing for a photo and pretending to attack her own ships. That’s not how the game works. Silly Bob.

For further points, each of your dice are your loyal spaceships and the number on the die represents the kind of ship it is. Even better, there’s some kind of story to the mechanics behind each number! A lower number is a lot slower but better at combat because it’s a bigger ship. A 1-die, for example, is a battlestation, which is the best at fighting but can only move 1 square at a time. A 6-die is a scout, they can zip around like crazy but aren’t too hot behind the weapons. At this point in the game your in-house Bob or Bob-substitute can demonstrate agility by throwing dice around going ‘pew pew’. It’s helpful or something.

As well as the changing planetary layout, gameplay is also affected by cards, which affect the kind of play which your space-conquering race can undertake. After invading landing on a planet you can, as they say in the trade, ‘do a research’ and so learn to do fun stuff like shoot more effectively and fly across the entire galaxy to thrust your dick in your team-mate’s ear.

Quantum7 Quantum2 Quantum6

If you are the kind of person who hates dice combat you might hate this game. But even our friend ‘Dr Hates-Dice’ loves this game! And he hates dice, or any attempt at putting randomness in a game. Briony, of course, is sadly unable to roll dice or dice-shaped objects and so found this game something of a challenge. She also hates dice.

Tons o'dice
Tons o’dice
Space Cards
Space Cards.

In the words of Lizzy it is a game of learning and fun, if you understand how basic maths works. Bob, for her part, is unable to count, making the ‘fun if you know how maths works’ description more of a threat than an incentive. She has, however, played games with Lizzy before and understands that when our dear Liz looks particularly gleeful after rolling a die and buying a research card that no one is safe and… oh god oh god we’re all going to die… why is no one stopping Lizzy… we all know what happens when we don’t stop Lizzy and… oh yep she’s won. And she has the cheek to ask why we don’t trust her in board games.

6D-31- 374
We’re all gonna die when she gets that face on.


Nonetheless, this game doesn’t rub your face in your failure like a misbehaving puppy. If you do badly it’s because you’re bad at very basic counting, strategy, and rolling dice. This is in comparison with games like Terra Mystica where you feel like a failure from round 2 because you haven’t picked up on the very specific and delicate strategy required of your race. Quantum is particularly enjoyable if you bear your position as commander of the fleet in mind when communicating with the enemy. “The OrionRepublic welcomes the puny Kepler Imperium to our planet!” “The Orion Republic denies all knowledge of the weapons fire around Minim 2586. You must have been watching a training exercise.” Also humming ‘Duel of the Fates’ (literally the only good thing in ‘The Phantom Menace’) and the Star Trek theme tune are recommended during manoeuvring and battle.

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A lonely spaceship contemplates its fate at the edge of the galaxy.

All in all this is a pretty fun game. It’s still Lizzy’s favourite thing to have come out of Essen 2013, well over a year on. Good luck on your colonisation, loyal Space-Dice. May the solar wind be always at your back.

Bob does not take particularly well to losing. Shame it happens so often.
Bob does not take particularly well to losing. Shame it happens so often.

Image and photography credit to Dr. Photographer.