Name That Tabletop Game

So, I thought it would be fun to run a little quiz on Twitter, a sort-of Dingbats/Catchphrase-type thing, where the rules are a bit fuzzy, but answer is a tabletop game. Here is the first one I did:

Love Letter, obviously.

Easy, right?

Well, probably, I guess. I know that so far that tweet has been seen by 270 people, but I don’t know how many of them really looked at it or just scrolled quickly past it. I certainly don’t know how many of them got the right answer in their heads, or how many struggled; all I know is that it took three days before someone replied with the correct answer.

The next one was a bit trickier:

I like this one. It’s still one of my favourites.  Great game too! This tweet has been seen by 467 people, but only one person replied with the right answer. That person, as it happens, was Tony Boydell, the legendary game designer of classics like Guilds of London and Snowdonia. Cheers, Tony!

I won’t put the answer to this one here, in this post;  instead, I will give someone else the opportunity to show how clever they are, by putting the answer in a comment.

Here are five more of my favourites:

Tony Boydell was actually also first to get several of these right, too, which I found quite pleasing. To celebrate this celebrity endorsement, I posted this:


Which elicited the following response:


If you want to follow me and play along in future, I am at


Problem Players

I often hear people complain about ‘problem players’ and usually it either means people who take the games too seriously, or not seriously enough.

In 1950s teen movies, guys who ‘don’t play by the rules’ are cool, but at a game evening they are a pain in the nether regions.

But hold on a moment. Perhaps you should try to take a step back, and ask yourself if it really is a problem. The most important thing is that everyone has a good time!

Is it, though?

Well, okay, usually it is. Sometimes, however, you just have to accept that there are people you should not try to play games with. Some people suck the fun out the experience – they take ages over every turn, get angry at dice rolls, argue the rules, or just sit in silence and make everyone feel awkward. Some people are so bad though, they can be entertaining; well, at least, so bad that I can write about them in a mildly entertaining blog post…

I have a friend who once wanted to win Werewolf so badly, that she slightly marked the backs of the cards so that she could always tell who had the one with the werewolf on it.  After winning a few games, she felt guilty, and confessed; so now, if we play with that set, everybody knows who the werewolf is, which rather takes the fun out of it don’t you think?

I have another friend who always finds something to loudly complain about whenever I am explaining the rules of a game. He complained loudly because Coup was too similar to poker; then, the next week, he complained loudly that Sheriff of Nottingham was insufficiently similar poker.

I also have a relative who does not really enjoy playing games, but occasionally gets roped into the sessions against his will. He literally never understands the rules explanations, no matter how simple the game, and I am pretty sure he does it on purpose. Once, at the end of my two minute explanation of the rules of Skull (the most simple game I own) he asked “so where does the weasel come into it?” There are no weasels in Skull.

The problem player who really sticks in my mind, though, is a young woman who I came up against the last time (and I think it will be the last time) I played Trivial Pursuit. She would not accept my answer of Margaret Thatcher because “it says Maggie Thatcher on the card!”  She was laughing as she spoke, but she meant it – I was not going to get my piece of pie. This caused me a bit of a dilemma – I had to decide whether to argue the point with her (like a small child), refuse to play any more (like a small child), laugh it off and carry on without the piece of pie (treating her like a small child), or reluctantly let her have her way but make a mental note never to play any game with her ever again and hold a grudge for twenty years, until eventually I will attain closure by making a joke of it in a stupid blog that I will write about board games. See if you can guess which option I chose.

Bad Bad Reviews

These are my “favourite” negative reviews for board games. All are genuine one star reviews from forums and online retailers.

I just want to say thanks to these people who took time out of their busy schedules to share their well thought-out opinions with the world.


“I don’t like board games.  I don’t know why I bought this really.”

“I love board games, like Monopoly.  But this is nothing like Monopoly. Very disappointed.”

Ticket to Ride
“Beautiful game, IMPOSSIBLE to figure out. Completely unplayable, adults and kids (ages 8 and 9) have tried and tried to figure out the directions. What a shame, as they love trains.”

“The problem I have with this game is that it is not very realistic. Surely if a series of pandemics broke out, the World Health Organisation would assign more than four people to the job of containing it!”

Ticket to Ride (again)
“Package was left in a snow storm and box is now warped. Let Amazon know, but never heard back.”

Stone Age
“I had a very awkward moment when my eight year old started asking about why putting two meeples together in the hut made another meeple. I had been hoping to have another year or two before having to have that particular conversation. Thanks for that Z-Man!”

“Might be a fun game, but the name is heretical. Should be “Constantinople”. Saint Constantine is rolling in his grave because of this. One star.”

Sheriff of Nottingham
“Game is for liers and cheats. If your goal is to teach your children to lie, steal and bribe then you will like this game.”

7 Wonders
“We’ve just had our 4th attempt at getting to grips with his since Xmas. This time we managed to make it to page 5 of the manual before deciding to do something simpler, like proving Fermat’s last theorem or building a quantum computer out of Mecanno.”

Flash Point: Fire Rescue
“In my excitement at playing this game I turned into a bossy douche and ruined the game for all my friends.”

Pandemic (again)
“I’m sure this product is great and lots of fun… However the game that was sent to me is in Spanish. I put it to my group of friends that we should all learn Spanish in order to play. Unfortunately its Spain’s fault we all have no lettuce right now (true story) therefore the vote failed.”


Hope you enjoyed those. If anyone has other “favourite” reviews, please let me know.



Azul: Iberia or Lieberia?

A friend of mine, Bob, has just gone on holiday to Portugal. Before he went, I joked with him that the reason had chosen that particular destination was because of the game Azul.

You see, the official rules for Azul stipulate that the first player marker should be given to the person who has most recently visited Portugal, because the game’s theme is all about tiling a palace wall in the traditional Portuguese style. We have been playing this game in our group for about a year now, and Bob has long bemoaned the fact that the only one of us who has ever been to Portugal is me (I had a very nice holiday in there in 1994 – the weather was fine, thanks for asking).

So did Bob go on holiday there just to be able to be the first player at Azul?  It seems a bit extreme doesn’t it, but maybe he did on a subconscious level?  Maybe, flicking through the brochure a few months earlier, he could not decide between Greece, the Costa del Sol, and the Algarve, and a little voice in his head said “Jas, they are all nice places but only one of them will get you that Azul first player token.”

Now that he has gone, however, another thought has occurred to me. How do I know he has actually gone to Portugal? All I really know for sure is that he has booked a week off work and his car is not outside his house. What if he has actually gone hiking in the Peak District, and this whole Portugal thing is a lie?

So I sent him a WhatsApp message and demanded that he send me proof that he is in Portugal. I told him I needed to see photographs – and not just one photograph, but lots of them. One photograph could easily be photo-shopped. I told Jas that I needed to see overwhelming evidence that he was in Portugal – so many photographs that I would be convinced that nobody would have gone to so much trouble to fake them all for the sake of a game. He replied, saying he would send me something soon.

Now, I should mention at this point, that when I sent that message, I was really thinking of my blog, the one you are reading now. I was imagining a funny post I could write, which included all of Bob’s photographs, and my rejection of all of them.

For example, I imagined he might send me a picture of the boarding pass for his outbound flight, with his name and destination printed on it. I could then reject that, photo-shopping the picture myself to make it look as though he was actually going somewhere else (Faro airport could be converted to the Faroe Islands airport quite easily) as proof that photos of boarding passes were unreliable, and I would post both pictures on my blog.

If he sent me photographs of himself holding a Portuguese newspaper, I could edit that photo to make it look like he was holding a Norwegian newspaper instead.

If he sent me a photo of himself stood in front of a famous Portuguese monument, I could send him the photo below, of me and Mrs Dee “in Australia”, a photo which I have carried around on my phone for years to prove that I am the most widely travelled player in order to go first at Ticket to Ride.



However, in the end, the only photo Bob actually sent me was of what I assume is a famous Portuguese monument, but he was not on the photo himself – it could easily have come from Wikipedia. My first thought on receiving this photo was to wonder if my theory that he was faking it, which I had never believed for a second and was only ever a joke, was actually correct. Then I looked a bit closer at the photo – it appeared to be an ancient obelisk, and there was something decidedly phallic about it. Also, I noticed that if you squint slightly when you look at it, it resembles a giant middle finger pointing upwards towards the Iberian sky.


And that was when I realized he was on to me.

So, my plans for this particular blog post have not worked out the way I wanted them to, but perhaps it has turned out for the best – at least I do not have to spend ages doing all that photo-shopping now.

A few days ago my wife and I were talking about our own holiday plans for next year. She was flicking through a brochure and reading out the names of possible destinations. She said she liked the look of Greece, and the Costa del Sol … and also the Algarve. As she said this, a little voice in my head said “Steve, they are all nice places but only one of them will get you that Azul first player token back.”


Second Edition

I am working on a second edition of my book Ticket to Carcassonne.

TTC-mockupThe first edition went down quite well, but a lot of reviewers made the same point – that they were not sure who it was aimed at. On the surface, the book appeared to be an introduction to modern board games, but then there were a lot of strategy tips in the book for specific board games, which felt out of place.

The truth is (as I hinted at in the introduction) that the book started out as a follow-up to my strategy guide Hive – the Boardless Board Game and was originally going to be a strategy guide for the game Carcassonne. However, I got carried away with writing about the history of Eurogames and gateway games, and ended up writing a much broader book about the gaming hobby … except I decided to keep in all the Carcassonne strategy tips, and then decided to add more tips for other gateway games too.  The end result was, I realize now, a bit confused.

So, I want to fix this.  I believe that the solution is to write two separate books. I am going to go back to my original plan, and write a strategy guide for Carcassonne, and I am also going to rewrite Ticket to Carcassonne, taking out all of (well, most of) the strategy tips, and expanding other sections so that the book becomes what it should have been in the first place, an introduction to all the wonderful genres of Tabletop gaming.

The sections in the second edition will be as follows:

I am hoping the book will be available before the end of 2018.

If anyone wants to help me out by proofreading what I have done, the links above will take you to the latest draft of each chapter. Please do leave me a comment if you have any thoughts, spot any errors, or just want to say hi.