Archive for the ‘Vault of Board Games!!!!!’ Category

Board games are quickly becoming the new videogames, that were once the new Board Games? Does that work? I think it does. Either way, with the popularity of board games on the rise again, it’s common for gaggles of people to congregate together again, in a small room / medium sized room, around a table and play some good old fashioned board based activities. Many find an escape playing these kinds of games. How do you wreck this escape?

1989’s Jason Donovan: Straight From The Heart board game. That’s how.

A game for 2-6 players. Straight From The Heart tasks you with working your way round a board answering questions about Jason Donovan, while collecting jigsaw pieces of his face. The aim is to complete one of the heart shaped puzzle and claim victory over everyone else.

That’s easy I hear you say. Not so, says I.

Each time someone correctly answers a question about Mr Donovan they have a choice to steal pieces from another player. That s right. You can screw over other players big time. It also doesn’t help that when you aquire pieces from the box you do so at random. This means you could technically be working in all the pictures. The group I played with preferred the stealing off another player method because it’s more annoying.

Each section on the board has a ifferent type of question but I can quite happily say that any answer that requires a song title will either be ‘ten good reasons’ or ‘too many broken hearts’. They were Jason’s biggest hits when the game came out so it stands to reason they would be the answers.

Each time we’ve played the game its been with 4 adult males, who I believe, are not the target audience. I say this because many of the questions regard the other players boyfriends. If you are playing with a group of males you may need to skip a couple of questions.

The other popular question choices involve Jason himself, his likes, dislikes and loves. Trivia such as ‘What’s Jason’s favourite food?’ And ‘what’s Jason’s favourite kind of food?’ The answer to the latter doesn’t 100% match that of the former but that’s ok. All this trivia will stay with you like a happy dream/scary nightmare. At least I can now say I know his favourite food. Although I imagine it may have changed in almost 30 years. It would be useful to find out.

A personal favourite question is ‘does Jason believe in nuclear disarmament?’ The answer is a non surprising yes but it’s the randomness of the question that is pure brilliance.

It just kind of springs from nowhere, considering the lightish tone of other questions. It’s a good thing to know I guess but it really isn’t the bit of trivia I would have read up on before playing.

The playtime is a little on the longer side considering one time we played it took around 2.5 hours to eget to completion. Another time it took around 5 hours. 5 hours is a lot of Jason and a lot of time answering very similar questions. As you can see from the picture below, enjoyment was being had by all.

With more diversity in the questions and a more complex winning strategy it could be a classic game. (Well maybe not). It was quite enjoyable in a tongue in cheek way. I’ll also say that I somehow own 2 copies of the game making we could technically play a 12 player game. But alas finding 11 other people to play is not easy. I also imagine it may increase the playtime by quite some length.

Now would be the perfect time for a sequel covering the years between 1989 and 2018. I think someone needs to tell Jason there is a market for more board games about his life. It could even cover questions like ‘which character did Jason play in Jeff Wayne’s new war of the world’s?’ Or ‘what are Jason’s views on the current political climate?’

I have to say that in my group, that the game is a running joke. I had lots of fun plating it, but some if not all of it was from the sheer hilarity of playing it with adult males.

Until I can convince more people to play I guess it’s going to sit gathering dust.

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escape

Welcome weary traveller. I have a story to tell, one of adventure, harrowing danger and great consequence. One that a traveller like you may have dreamt about in but a dream but never experienced in person. Take a seat and listen to my tale if you will, for I am but a lonely old man who lost all that he once loved and who he once was back in his homeland of Atlantis;

I see in your eyes that you’ve heard of the magical place of Atlantis. It was once a kingdom of beauty and prosperity. A place where man stood side by side as equals, not as enemies. I was born there and lived a happy life. It was there I met my beloved. She was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. I had eyes only for her and she only for me. It wasn’t long before I fathered a daughter. Together the three of us lived a life that was perfect. We thought nothing could take that away from us.

I sat watching my beloved and my daughter, noticing that the temperature had begun to drop. Growing up on this island, I knew that this was an early sign of a storm approaching. I called out to my family as a bolt of lightning hit the ground not 50 yards from where I am. Startled my beloved turned to me and saw the look of panic that crossed my face. I motioned for her to come, to get to me. She scooped up our daughter and began to run towards me. That’s when the hail began. Large chunks of ice fell from the sky, smashing into the ground below. I swung myself around as a chunk struck me in the back, knocking me to the ground. Feeling around I noticed a dampness emanating from my wound. Blood. Lifting myself to my feet I see my beloved by my side. ‘We have to go’ I tell her and she nods. Where would we go? At that moment another bolt of lightning crashed against the island, followed by another.

Supporting myself with my beloved, I push myself forward towards the hilltop. The hail had stopped but that simply meant we were in the eye of the storm. Was it a storm or was it something else?  We stood on the hill top looking down on the port. Chaos echoed below us. Lightning still struck the island, causing flames and panic. People were running to the boats, knowing only to depart the danger. A deep rumbling made my beloved and I turn . The land that we had once known cracked and trembled sending panic across my beloved’s face. I grab her and pull her down the hill towards the port. As we ran, she held our daughter against her chest. Pain coursed through my back as my blood ran flowed freely from my wound.

Behind us we heard a tremendous crashing as the earth vanished to the raging sea below. The darkened sky illuminated by the lightning that ignited the chaos in which we found ourselves. As we reached the port and fought our way through the panicking Atlanteans we saw that most of the boats had departed. Feeling our time was soon to come, we rushed to the nearest boat. I ran on first but was quickly pulled onto the deck by the surge. My beloved’s hand letting go of mine, I turned to see the plank thrown overboard leaving the other Atlanteans to the fate of the island.  

My family! Were they on board? I ran to the side of the boat and looked over the side as the boat turned to starboard to begin its hasty escape. There at the front of the crowd I saw my beloved and my daughter. My heart dropped. A tear in her eye as she waved. She knew this was her end. I tried to jump over the side of the boat but a fellow passenger grabbed my shoulders. ‘Let me go’ I screamed.’ The man looked me in the eye, then seeing my wife, ‘ We’ve lost enough of us, there’s no sense in losing another. She wouldn’t want that.’ I fell to the deck crying as I heard the final bit of earth erupt beneath the port. The screams we short as they pierced the storm. I grabbed my ears tight not wanting to hear, not wanting to accept. The boat had escaped but the storm still raged around us. Suddenly a nearby boat exploded in a crash of wood. A Kraken from the depths surfaced from beneath it. We all gasped in terror. To our port side another beast erupted from the ocean, a large serpent, a horror beyond description.  We could see land in the distance, not too far, it was our only hope. The beasts did not follow, they stayed around what once remained of our beloved home. We were safe, we had escaped.

That is where my tale ends, although it is an experience I feel every night. Part of me hopes my beloved and my daughter survived the chaos and our living out the rest of their days in happiness. But the other part knows that this probably isn’t the case. Either way I know that my heart still lies with them.

A tale such as this, is one that I myself lived out as I pulled out and played the classic board game ‘Escape From Atlantis’. A game for 2-4 players, the aim is to get your Atlanteans from the crumbling isle to the safety of the corner of the board. This can be done by ship, or by risking your life by swimming there under your own steam.

The game begins with the construction of the island in the centre of the map. It’s very much an old fashioned game where you have large plastic pieces that help to get you into the atmosphere of the game.  Each player then places his little figures onto the island until all are placed. Then comes the simple yet perfect gameplay. On your turn you can move 3 spaces in any direction (although it is advised to head for the coast as the island is collapsing.), but the catch is that after you move, you have to remove a piece of land starting from the edge of the island. Beneath it could be a symbol. A shark spawns a shark that eats any players that fall on it, a serpent that destroys boats and people, a kraken which only harms boats, a dolphin who protects players and a whirlpool that destroys each square directly around it.  It’s a simple mechanic but one that can be hilarious in the chaos it can cause.

In our first game, each player lost all but a few our Atlanteans due to drawing constant whirlpools. It is a brutal game that holds no hands, and doesn’t try to make friends. While not co-operative per say there will be a few times that players have to work together to get the boats to dry land with one another.  A dice is rolled at the end of the turn which tells the player which of the creatures that have spawned moves this turn. This is where you can get mean and just send them towards other players. My friends and I played it slightly different and moved the creatures towards the closest person, even if that happened to be yourself. We felt it worked better and added more ‘realism’ to the proceedings.

The game ends when there are no more Atlanteans. They have either escaped or died. The players add up their survivors and as with most games the one with the highest number wins.

It really is a simple (even if I’ve described in in the most complicated way) game which is a great way of wasting a large chunk of time. It’s great to play games like this from the 90’s where there are lots of cool plastic pieces. The version We have is one of the older releases with these pieces and some epically cool box art that just gets you in the mood.

If you like board games you could do far worse than this and I believe that most people will have a genuinely great time with this game.

So what do you say traveller, would you too like to experience the danger and the peril that lay in store in ‘ESCAPE FROM ATLANTIS?