Saturday, 30 June 2012

History of the Bored: Being Board Back in B.C.

Hey there, we’re a pair of gay gamers from the land of Kangaroos, and today we’ve got the first of our posts on ye board games of olde.

Long ago, when Gods were believed to roam the earth, when philosophy and mathematics were in their first golden age, when statues of inconceivable grandeur were built, and when men pulled each other’s brains out through their noses after death….people were bored. Very bored. Building pyramids and harvesting crops gets old after a while, and sometimes there isn’t even a civil war to keep you entertained. So, the bored Egyptians invented the first board games. Back then, sadly, this was not a pun, until the Proto-Germans in their great wisdom chose to make the two words somewhat similar (buron and burdam), a great linguistic development which I like to believe was not a coincidence but in fact a product of proto-germanic enlightenment about the relationship between the two concepts.

There is much debate as to exactly what is the oldest board game of all time.  The two contenders for the prize are the game Senet, from Egypt and the Royal Game of Ur from…well, from Ur actually, which is located in modern day Iraq.


An Original Senet Set. Photo not From Egyptian Timez

Senet is a seriously ancient board game. Archaeologists found it in tombs from the First Egyptian Dynasty – dating 3500B.C - 1500 years before anyone tasted a peach and a whopping 5200 years before mankind was gifted the grapefruit.  Since then, it’s popped up in tombs all over the place, and apparently was a great hit in Egypt, particularly among the dead.  The rules of Senet are not known, but what we do know is Senet is a race game, where players roll….roll…something….to get their five pawns to jump like lemmings off the edge of the board before their opponent. Senet was essentially a game of luck, but the Egyptians didn’t believe in luck, they believed ALL FATE was written by the mighty gods. Therefore, the winner of a game of Senet was not just a champion of chance, but CHOSEN by the power of THOTH, RA, and OSIRIS to TRIUMPH. The victor was considered to be under their patronage. Which is a good thing, because you wouldn’t want to get on the bad side of three guys who cut things to tiny pieces, doll out eternal punishments, and generally hold all the secrets of the universe. The game apparently made it as far as Crete and Cyprus, but since no one there really went for the whole Gods-with-animal-heads thing, they played it just for the kicks.

The Royal Game of Ur

The Royal Game of Ur lookin' pretty royal

The Royal Game of Ur is was around from at least 2500 B.C, but it may be as old as 5500 B.C, if it were named and claimed by Ur not long after the city itself was established. In a naming conundrum almost as bad as “Die Fugger” (quite a decent game from Adlung-Spiele), it seems that the Royal Game of Ur was indeed not a royal game but was in fact more widely played by commoners who, often too poor to afford a set, scratched boards out on bits of stone (reminds me of the Chinese chess set I made out of paper in English class.) The rules of the RGoU are handily transcribed on a 175 B.C. stone tablet from Babylon (when the literacy rate had probably increased from 0.00000001% to 0.0000001%).

Rules in Easy To Read Format

It is a race game, much like Senet, or how we think Senet was played. But wait, there’s an added demonic twist. A player can take his opponents pieces and remove them from the board, unless they have landed on a safe space. With seven pieces, it’s possible for one lucky player to occupy all the safe spaces and screw over his opponent utterly. Tactical play in 2500 B.C? Awesome.

Who Wins?

Like so many things in history, we don’t actually know for sure which game is the oldest. But the true winner in modern eyes is Senet, which has a BBG rating of 5.86, beating the Royal Game of Ur which scored only 5.47. It’s nice to know that even though these games were invented thousands of years ago we can still evaluate them online next to Puerto Rico and Memoir 44. The internet, they say, cares not for carbon dating.

What in the Weird?

Another very ancient Egyptian game was Mehen, which dates back to 3000 B.C. Mehen was played on a board depicting a coiled snake which is cut into segments – but not every board is divided into the same number. It is also played with 3 lion or lioness tokens per player, and 6 round marbley things. None of the components actually fit neatly within the segments of the snake. 

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to what on earth the rules were?

Because all I can imagine is a group of Egyptians burying the thing especially for archaeologists to find and sniggering smugly to themselves.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Lesbians Review: Race For The Galaxy

Why hello there, we’re two game lovin’ and girl lovin’ chicks from down under, and today we are reviewing a staple of so many game cupboards, Race for The Galaxy.

The GF! In Space.

Race for the Galaxy Fact File
Players: 2-4
Playtime: 30 - 60
Genre: Card Driven / Civilisation 

Race for the Galaxy entered my apartment not so long ago in an exciting package inside another exciting package we received in the mail. The girlfriend and I had played it before, and we had also played it before we’d played it before, and before that, we had also played it, but had got most of the rules wrong. I’m reviewing it partly because it tops the “recently played” list, and partly because I have been challenged to slip ALL the phase names into my review. And I always accept a challenge. Unless it involves Vector 3 (shudder). 

Before I slide into the review proper, I wanted to announce that we now have a twitter – for all the stupid (I mean um…clever and droll…) board gaming jokes I think of throughout the day. Check it out here:!/lesbigamerz


See the resemblance?
Race for the Galaxy, not surprisingly, is set in “space,” and that is “space” as it appeared on the front of 1980s hack sci-fi novels. The cards feature painted intergalactic landscapes, bad CG, and variety of tropes to let us know it is set a dark, stark, violent, but really really shiny future. Lazerz, alienz, and spaceshipz are trotted out on almost every card letting the player build themselves a glorious twelve card empire of stereotype.

But rare indeed is it for the player of RFTG to be looking at the background art, instead they are much more likely to use their eye power to explore the tiny tiny symbols on their cards – and be warned, these are a weirder alien language then any sci-fi flick I’ve ever seen. 


(The GF is writing the gameplay section again because she is able to explain things in a calm sophisticated manner without using !!, sarcasm, or CAPSLOCK)

Each player is dealt a starting world, with it’s own special powers – some military focused, some trade focused and so on – and six cards. Two are immediately discarded, giving each player a starting hand of four. This is a nice touch, giving you at least a bit of choice in how you’ll be going about taking the galaxy for your own (i.e. earning VPs).

Friday, 22 June 2012

A Lesbian Session Report!: Mage Knight, The Reconnaissance

Hi everybody, we are a pair of geeky gay gamers from Aussieland, and today we have for you the first of our Speedy Session Reports for your general viewing.
It all started one quiet morning when the girlfriend and I received a mysterious package.

Me:  That’s odd. We didn’t order any mysterious packages. They must have delivered this mysterious package to the wrong place.
Me: … You know what’s in this package don’t you?
Me: It’s a Board Game, isn’t it?
But my girlfriend was no longer in the room, and echoing down the corridor were the suspicious sounds of bubble wrap being chewed, crushed and ripped into a million pieces.
And so it happened that the girlfriend and I played Mage Knight.

Nothing like a brand spanking new MK game, with no missing bits!
Why is it that battling the shrink wrapped card
and tokens in MK makes you feel like you're
doing your best chipmunk impersonation?

  1. Setting Up

    GF:  Don’t use the scissors on that! You’ll damage the cards!
    (30 minutes of battling shrink wrap later)
    Me: Can you get me something from the kitchen?
    GF: Sure
    ME: Can we play now?

  2. Why You Don’t Skim the Rule Book

    Me: What does this funny roman-statue-like thing on this enemy token mean?
    GF: Maybe it’s a super-good looking enemy.
    Me: Well, we are in a strange fantasy world. Snakes-for-hair could be the rockin’ look. Oh well, I guess I’ll attack.
    (10 minutes of battle later)
    Me: What?
    Oh well, if it wasn’t the medusa it would have been malnutrition.  

  1. The Girlfriend Is Infinitely Moar Awesome than Me

    GF: And then I use the green mana from mana gain to activate Concentration which I use on Improvisation for 7 attack, killing the second creature in the spawning ground, and gaining my reward! I also level up.
    (I think for ten minutes)
    GF: You move one space?
    Me: That’s all I can move.
    GF: That’s it? That’s your turn?
    Me: I’m in a desert.
    Me: I just explored and I got here.
    GF: SIGH…never playing co-op with you….(solo-play, my one true love)

  1. The Game Gets Really Big

    GF: Can we move your bed?
    Me: No, we’re not moving the bed. Just imagine these two tiles are connected.
    GF: Aw….
    …..Can we move your desk? (Or to a bigger place?)
  1. The Final Exciting Moments!

    GF: I explore!
    Oh look, a city.
    Well… I guess we won then….
    Me: Yep, I guess we did.
    (A moment to embrace our sensational heroic breathtaking victory.)
    GF: We should play a scenario with a better win condition next time…
    Me: YES WE SHOULD.(Still, it was an excellent beginner scenario, especially since in the beginning we could not even work out how to move!)
  1. Packing up

    ME: Why not?
    GF: WHY NOT?!?!?
    ME: Why not?
    Me:….. No.
    Me: Uh….where else would they go?
    GF: DO YOU NOT SEE THE SIZE OF THIS GAME. I demand a full  inventory count.
    (And it was true, the entire room was covered in cards, and the spell offer was lined up along the windowsill.

    All in all, I reckon it was one awesome first time play of Mage Knight!
    Look out for a review coming soon (after five billion more plays) 
Our Heroic Triumph - Finding the City

Lesbians On: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Board Games

There is an argument that board games are behind the timez. We live in a psychotic electronic world where I can shop, bank, eat vegemite sandwiches, and throw wet sponges at my boss all online. What more could I want in my cybertransative* and post-modern** existence? Yes, I admit, there are times when one is playing Mage Knight, and one is like, ok, now all I need to do is - deep breath - refreshthespellofferrefreshtheunitofferrefreshtheadvancedactionofferreshufflemydeckflipthedaynighththingrerollthesourcedierefreshmycharacterabilities WHY IS THIS NOT ON A COMPUTER? Oh ye of little faith… Don’t get me wrong, video games can be a sack full of awesome, but for those of us who have the board game bug, or rather TERMINAL and CHRONIC board game insanity, there’s got to be some things that keep our games on the table top instead of the desktop. Here are my two main reasons board gaming = hellz yeah.
*means nothing
** probably also means nothing

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Lesbians Review: Small World

Hey everybody, we’re a duo of crazy boardgaming lesbians from the arse end of the world, and today we are reviewing a game of small spaces and vast numbers of races, SMALL WORLD.


Small World Fact File
Players: 2 - 5
Playtime: 80 minutes
Genre: Civilisation / Wargame

Small World charmed its way into my apartment with its exciting fantasy world premise, and its little flowery elf tokens. Since then it has been our go-to-game for big groups, including an infamous incident in which it was our go-to-the-park-and-cause-my-OCD-girlfriend’s-head-to-explode game (no, I am never going to let her live that down). Since it has been the cause of much fun and fuss, I thought I should give it a review.  


A picturesque country scene

Small World looks almost as cute and loveable as my tiny Gf. It is the first game that I have actually wanted to hug (…except the ratmen…poor ratmen….forever alone….) Fun and funny, quirky and engaging the graphics of Small World entice you to open the box and jump in. They look like how Middle Earth would look if it was a toddler – all the ingredients of Tolkenesque fantasy but walking just a little too off centre (in an endearing way) for you to take it seriously. And in my opinion, this is how the game itself wants to be taken. Not so much frowny frowny super-intensity, but friendly, approachable, and with a lot of lolzy pseudo-fantasy.

Small World is kind of like risk with ADHD. Conquering ALL THE WORLD and CRUSHING THE HEATHEN FOES is a bit too intense for this game, so the winner is simply the one with the most VPs at the end of the game. 

Gameplay begins when you pick a fantasy army, with an illusively titled bonus (and speedily read up on what exactly it is all the bonuses do….) Collect all the tokenz and assemble your killer force of fearsome skeletons wearing Stetsons, or ferocious halflings with tiny knives.

Monday, 18 June 2012

MAILBOX! Race for the Galaxy, Twilight Struggle

And after many days of the above, the MAILBOX has finally arrived.

Hey guys, this is the GF here. Ordinarily, lesbigamer writes and produces our content, but this is a quick post because I am just that excited.

Purchased these from Milsims Games based in Melbourne, Australia. I'd definitely point out they're the cheapest place for games in Australia (a good AUD$10-30 below other online stores, and AUD$20-40 below brick and mortar ones). Some people have complained about the service there, but so far my experience with them have been wholly positive.

Anyway, what am I doing just ogling the box with my camera? Here we go with the ripping sounds.

Aaaaaand.... ta-daaaah!

Oh gosh, I'm so excited. We don't have huge collections like many people out there, so getting two games in one day is a huge deal for us! (And a total luxury, it's like, what almost 40% of my wages?)

Looks like I'll be spending the rest of the day delving into these..... instead of studying. Damn.

Give us a shout and let us know what you think of these games below!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Lesbians On: Valuable Lessons I Learned About Board Gaming

Hey guys, we’re a couple of very gay and very gamer chicks from Australia.
As I write somewhere, somehow, a postal package – the only kind of package I would ever handle – is slowly snaking its way towards my girlfriend’s house. Inside it contains two things. Twilight Struggle, the commended and recommended cold war game, and a gaming classic, Race for the Galaxy. But in the interim until this package of rainbows and gaming related happiness arrives, I thought I would write on the subject of:


And boy, did I learn all of these the hard way.

1. Boardgaming is not a valid way to express or resolve underlying group tensions.
This point is especially true for Risk. Anyone who has played Risk with a group of people they are close to will know that it DESTROYS friendships and RUINS relationships. To play Risk is to push your bf/gf/bff/bffbf/bffl/any other acronym to the extreme limits of their feelings towards you. So deciding to play Risk with the intention of having a fun afternoon that will bond your irritable and somewhat pissed off friends back together and bring about harmony and peace and love is just stupid. At least, I know that in retrospect.

The particular game of Risk I am thinking of ended particularly badly. Some of the highlights included: a player checking the rules to see if it was legal to attack himself; many tiny Risk tokens being thrown at said player - hitting 20 or so times for 0 damage per hit; and a player becoming so upset by everyone they locked themselves in the TV room with all seven seasons of Buffy. All this left just my girlfriend and I, ALWAYS competitive UNTIL THE DEATH, and utterly confused about what happened, staring at the board. From memory, we had the following conversation:

Me: Wow.
GF: Yep.
Me: This sucks.
GF: Yep.
Me: I WAS JUST ABOUT TO TAKE EUROPE. (Extremely Awkward Silence) I mean…um…wow, isn’t all this fighting terrible.

So, if you’re going to play Risk, you’ve got to be willing to deal with the risks. (badoomcha)

2. Do not pressure non-Boardgame Geeks into playing games with you.
They WILL go out of their way to show you they are not having a good time. They may even finish all your beer just to prove this to you. Once a non-gamer did even make me listen to an entire Jay-z album just because I made them play one stupid game of Puerto Rico. It is therefore, not worth it.

3. Playing Games Outdoors Is Not “A Great Picnic Idea.”
This is not a hard and fast rule - there is a difference between playing cards on the table in your backyard, and trying to play Smallworld in the middle of a busy park. Yes, I tried to play Smallworld in the middle of a busy park, and I regretted it even more than being forced to watch a video recording of the Taylor Swift concert.

First, my OCD girlfriend freaks out every time a piece of dirt touches one of her immaculately sorted tokens. Which is a lot of the time. Because parks are full of dirt. Being parks and all.
Second, the ants become massively annoying pests.

Third, large dogs, much larger, more scary, and more dangerous to your gameplay than ants, decide that trampling on the board would be a fun activity. Too many games that should have ended in my glorious Smallworld-domination instead ended playing hide and seek with many tiny tokens that were scattered all over the grass. THEN, WOE and MISERY if you happen to be me and have an EXTREMELY OCD girlfriend who discovers one of her little giant tokens has gone missing. This means you have to search your entire section of the park not once, not twice, but three times for this tiny little cardboard thing like it was a wedding ring.

The offending giant token

BUT it does not end there because, for the rest of the day and the next day, you have to hear about how her perfect mint condition board game now has a metaphorical scar so big and noticeable that it dwarfs the scars on TWOFACE. AND THEN one month later when you find the offending giant token under the five bivouacs, you do not even get an apology….
So I am not bitter about this point at all.
Anyway, I would recommend against playing complex multi-piece boardgames in the park.

4. The “Strip” of Strip Poker cannot be applied to games at random.
Like scrabble. It cannot be applied to Scrabble.
I am not going to elaborate on this one.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Lesbians Review: ZOMBIES!!!

Hi everybody, we are two super gay lesbians from the land down under, and today we are reviewing an excitingly themed game called ZOMBIES!!!
(Hold on to your brains everybody.)

My lovely Girlfriend having her face mauled by Zombies!!!

Zombies!!! Fact File
Players: 2 - 6
 Play Time: 60 minutes (theoretically)
Genre: Figurine/ Board-Building

Zombies are pretty in right now. Books, movies, games, Zombie strippers, it’s hard to get away from the undead (unless you have a 2+ modifier on your movement dice roll). Zombies!!! is a game which feeds your expectations of this genre just as its zombie figurines feed on your brains.
I purchased this game for my lovely girlfriend on her birthday based purely on the pun on the front of the box – “This one’s a No-Brainer!”



The Zombies!!! artwork has the gritty, bloody, funhouse feel you would expect from game jumping on the Zombieland style bandwagon of gleeful gore. I may have been a bit too excited about the figurines (“BABE, IT’S IN 3D!”). I’ve never really played a figurine style game before (unless you count smashing batman into the joker when I was five), and it’s fun to play in “real space” so to speak; a game that really has space and location at its core. The only problem is, the 2D buildings seem pretty flat in comparison. I’m not going to lie, the zombies are cool, they even come as female/male ones!

(When they aren't hungry for brains our zombies support marriage equality)

Monday, 11 June 2012

Lesbians Review: Dominion

Hi everybody, we are a pair of very gay lesbians from Aussieland and today we are reviewing one of our all time favourite games DOMINION! (No relation to anything to do with BDSM)

Dominion Fact File
Players: 2 - 4
Play Time: 20-45m depending on no. of players and card set
Genre: Deck-Building

We first played Dominion inside a games shop inside a mall inside a suburb close to a train station. We were taught by a very nice man whose last day it was working at the shop, so he didn't give a damn about the customers and spent ridiculous time on clock playing with us. We planned to crush him because he was a member of the patriarchy, but actually he won because I wasted my time buying up all the villages and my girlfriend clogged up her deck with too many coppers for her extra buys. (She's Asian, she can't pass up anything free.)

Since then we have played it 1000000000 times and even fallen asleep on it, so we thought we would pick it as our first game to review.