While online multiplayer is great, sometimes there isn’t a substitute to simply having a few friends round, opening a case of beers and playing some board games. Here’s a look at a pair of games we’ve been playing recently, and our thoughts on whether they're worth a punt or not. [break]
Evo - £32.99 from gameslore.com
Evo is one of the more bizarre games we’ve had the pleasure of playing, but it’s one that’s also guaranteed to bring a grin to your face the first time you hear about it - you play a race of dinosaurs that is battling to win supremacy of Krah Island through the medium of evolution.
If you didn’t just let out a little chirp of excitement after that sentence, then your heart must be as cold as the ice ages the regularly sweep across the game.
Genetic mutations can be bought from the auction that happens every turn, and these do everything from helping you kill or defend more effectively to upping your reproduction rate. Some also help you survive different weather conditions, which is important as the climate shifts every turn, making previously safe desert tiles turn into barren wastelands or recently lush mountains into frozen death traps.
It’s important that you don’t blow all your mutation points in the auction though, as you’ll need them to spark life back up when the randomly timed meteor hits the board, and no, there isn’t an actual meteor in the box that you throw at the board (we were disappointed at this too).
Evo is a solid enough game, but the constantly shifting climate conditions can make it tricky to keep track of exactly what is going on and what you should be doing. It’s all right if you’re all learning together, but if one of you knows what’s going on and the rest don’t, you’ll quickly have triple horned, armour plated, night vision toting tyrannosaurs striding around the island laying waste to anything that moves.
Memoir ’44 - £34.99 from maddisongames.co.uk
On the face of it, Memoir ’44 is incredibly simple - each side sets up on the top down view board and has to win X number of victory markers to claim victory. There are subtly different units on each side (the Axis has special Panzer tank divisions, while the Allies get the S.A.S. and some other goodies for instance), but essentially that’s it.
What adds interest and skill to the game is the order cards, which you use to execute actions on the board. These are dealt randomly, and often apply to only a specific portion of the board, so it’s incredibly difficult to tee up plans or even keep a coherent defence line going.
This can often lead to the feeling that it’s the run of the cards rather than good generalship that dictates the winner, though in truth the ability to remain flexible and think on your feet probably has as much to do with it (unless you’ve just got beaten, in which case it’s definitely the cards).
You get a double sided board and a scenario book full of setups based on actual WWII battles in the box, and this can be added to via the numerous expansions that are out there for the game. Even more of an enticing prospect is the idea that you can string a number of the boards together and have team play.
We got slightly weak at the knees at the idea of stringing three boards together and playing four a side; one general responsible for overall tactics and order bellowing and 3 embattled lieutenants in charge moving the pieces and drawing card from each board. Guess which of them two roles Harry wanted....