On the Seventh Day of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me…

…A Seven-Man Game and I Began to Think She Was Insane! – Java…Not a Seven Player Game!

Seven Javas a-Swimming!
Seven Javas a-Swimming!

The Rules:

Java is a tactical game with very little luck involved! Which make me like it a lot as games which no matter how good you are at them you can still be beaten by a bad throw of the dice annoy me (yes I realize this is a high percentage of games). However it is NOT a seven player game unfortunately. We’re running thin on the ground for games that are higher than six players so from now on not many of the games we do will be the right number of players but they should still be entertaining games that we recommend. Java was part of the very first post we ever posted on this site so it seemed fit that it should get a mention. To read the first post we ever posted and about Java in detail click HERE!

For Christmas?

Why not? Its fun, and anyone who loses at it only has themselves to blame, not a poor hand of cards or a dodgy set of dice. It’s up to four players so can be played in a nice small group! However it being the colonizing of a small island it may set Aunt Jean off about the power and supremacy of the British Empire, so if you want the keep the potentially racists old ladies at bay it may be better to give it a miss?

Happy Seventh Day of Christmas and Happy New Years Eve! I hope you are keeping the spirit…by spirit I do not mean Vodka!


On the Sixth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me…

…A Six-Player Game and Asked How I’d Like to TRIPLE Date! – Six Crown Jewels a-Stealing – Outrage!

Six Geese a-Laying...Outrage
Six Geese a-Laying…Outrage


The Rules:

Outrage! Is a great game in which you play as a criminal bent on stealing the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. However there are other players trying to do the same thing and trying to stop you doing it first! See out full article on this game Here!

For Christmas?

Most probably! There must have been at least one Christmas when we played this game! It’s a fun game but can lead to some hostility between people. If you don’t want to upset Aunt Jean because she can’t understand that the Jewels aren’t real and that no one is threatening to undermine the power of the (non-existant) British empire by taking them, it might be safer to give it a miss.

So here we are… Half way through the Christmas period, already the shopping centers have taken down most of their festive things, and everyone has gone back to their normal routine or is just anticipating getting really drunk on New Years Eve… Speaking of getting drunk on New Year, check out our New Years post on a couple of fun Drinking Games right HERE!

Happy Sixth day of Christmas!

On the Fifth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me…

…A Five-Player  Game To Play With His Parents and Sister. – Five Gold Pirateologys

Five Gold Pirateologys
Five Gold Pirateologys

The Rules:

Pirateology, the long and the short of it (and it’s pretty long game, as they go) is that it’s a last-man-standing game. Literally. At the end of the game, the last pirate left on the board wins. So, with a nice, clear win-objective, how complex could this game be? Well, actually, it’s got lots of bits, gold coins and Skull Cards and such, but once you’ve played it once, you’ll probably have grasped all the important factors to the game. You start the game with just a pirate piece (and can only roll one die to move), and you have to journey to get a Crew Card before you can exchange it for a ship, which moves much more speedily (with two die). There is also a Compass Spinner which is used to determine the direction in which you’re sailing. Now that this has been established, there’s a pretty simple following to the rest of the game, you can find treasure, bury treasure, battle other pirates, face sea monsters and sail through hurricanes, all in aid of being the toughest pirate sailing the seven seas!
To remove other players from the board, all you have to do is battle them to the point where you’ve taken all their treasure, they’re then eliminated from play. Easy, right?

For Christmas?

The game itself is brilliant, but it can be quite lengthy, so I wouldn’t invite Aunt Jean to play unless you’re at your wits end for ways to get her to fall asleep, since she probably doesn’t have the attention span required for this game. It’s a good family game, for 2-5 players, that teaches strategy and patience (good for educating children) and has lots of epic-looking little figures and coins and stuff to fiddle with. I would recommend this game to play on Christmas, but only if you don’t have anywhere important to be anytime soon…

This post hasn’t been linked to a full post about the game because we haven’t written one yet, however, there is a plan for one to go up later this year!

Happy Fifth Day of Christmas! May you receive five beautiful gold somethings 🙂

On The Fourth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

… A Four Player Game, And The Suggestion That We Double Date – Four Calling Buccaneers

Four Calling Buccaneers
Four Calling Buccaneers

The Rules:

Buccaneer is a pretty straightforward game, in which you sail around the ocean as a pirate; trading with ports and fighting (or running away from) other pirates to collect treasure. The aim is to get treasure worth 20 points in your home port to win the game. You can also choose to sail to an island in the middle of the board and take cards which can be anything from an errand, to a disaster or letting you have free treasure. It’s a very exciting game, if you desire to read more about it, go here, and read our exciting post on the game!

For Christmas?

A great game to play with friends or family, with very clear rules and a simple objective. So simple in fact, that you could give Aunt Jean a copy and it wouldn’t matter that she lives alone because she could probably teach her favorite dogs to play on teams against her. Or at the very least, trying would keep her off the streets and stop her terrorizing the neighborhood. It’s a very light-hearted game, good for laughs and great for small gatherings.

Happy Fourth Day of Christmas! If you get bored in the days to come, have a pirate-impression contents with your friend or family, laughter guaranteed!

On the Third Day of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me…

…A Triple-Player Game and Introduced Me To Her Best “Friend” Steve. – Three French Scotland Yards

Three French Scotland Yards
Three French Scotland Yards

The Rules:

Scotland Yard is a game about catching a criminal! While (like most board games) its not a very accurate representation of this it is good fun. I won’t go in to the rules in detail as you can view our previous post on the game for more details here.

For Christmas?

Not strictly a three player game (its a minimum of three players and a maximum of 6) it can be played by a fairly large group which makes it ideal for gatherings. Additionally the rules are quite simple and to the point so Aunt Jean may be able to pay attention to them long enough to grasp them and stop complaining about her cleaning lady who she swears is stealing from her, which is completely plausible apart from the fact that she doesn’t have a cleaning lady!

Happy Third Day of Christmas! I hope your true love did get you three French somethings!

On The Second Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

…A Two-player Game and Promised The Evening To Me – Two Polarity Doves

Two Polarity Doves...not world class photoshopping
Two Polarity Doves…not world class photo-shopping

The Rules:

The aim of Polarity is difficult to describe, it involves magnets (hence the name) and some skill, patience and a steady hand. However rather than going into it in great detail here I will simple link you to the very detailed post my sister has done on it (on this very blog  and only two days before this post) that’s very informative and right here!

For Christmas?

I personally would consider this a great game for Christmas, one to bust out and show the relatives as something a bit different from the average board game and something I’m sure everyone will want ago at. It might even stop Aunt Jean from recounting the endless tales of here youth to you as she infers how lucky your generation are and how things weren’t this easy back in her day! However she may consider the balancing magnets as witchcraft declare you all heathens and start shouting “The power of Christ compels you”. But hey whats Christmas without a slight mental break down by someone.

You may consider this a cop-out as we have already posted about Polarity, well then just to warn you a few of the posts will be things we have already done posts on and the others will be ones we are doing full post on very soon and we are not chickening out we are simply highlighting good games we think you should all play regardless of weather we have posted about them yet or not!

Happy Boxing Day!

On the First Day of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me…

…A Single Player Game and a Card Saying “Sorry!” – Solitaire…in a Pear Tree

The natural environment for any singel player game!
The natural environment for any single player game!

The Rules:

The Aim of Solitaire is to have one piece left in the middle of the board, after removing all of the other pieces by taking them. Taking is accomplished by jumping over other pieces in a Draughts (Checkers) type fashion. Unlike Checkers, jumping my only be done horizontally and vertically and you may only move to take, so, once all taking options have run out, the game is over, and unless you are left with one piece in the middle slot you have lost!

For Christmas?

Well this game could be good on Christmas if you’re alone or just want a few moments to yourself amidst the hubbub, chaos, and potentially drunk distant relatives. The game only takes a moment to understand, but it’s quite hard to get the hang of, however, once you’ve figured out one win strategy, you can win every time, so pros and cons. You may be called anti-social if you’re caught playing it on Christmas Day when Aunt Jean has just turned up and she only gets to see you once a year and wonders why you’d rather play with little wooden pieces than hear about her 13 dogs and a guinea pig… I appear to have digressed.

So on that note this is the first of twelve posts going up over (you’ll never guess it), the next twelve days which will touch briefly on twelve different games we suggest that everyone should play in 2014, the aim originally was to have them go up in player amount according to the day but we don’t have games to cover every player amount, so really they’re just be games we suggest you should play! See the Twelve Games of Christmas – 2013 page for the full list (will only be complete after the Twelve Days).

For further information on good one player games see this list!

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Polarity – For The Scientifically Inclined

4.5 - 5

Number of Players: 2

Year of Publication: 1986

Creator(s): Douglas Seaton (Designer), artist is unknown

A while ago I found this game, Polarity, in Oxfam. It’s one of the only games i’ve come across that involves magnets. I’ve played it a few times now, and, although there is obviously some strategic element to this game, I have yet to discover what it is. This isn’t a quick game, and it does require a certain level of skill, dexterity and attention to play – at least, if you want to improve the way you play after getting your head round the rules.


It was originally invented in 1985 by a failed Canadian artist called Douglas Seaton, and was first published in 1986. The rights to the game have changed hands several times since its’ invention, it’s been published by Telemotion Technologies, Irwin Toy, Mattel, and is currently published by Temple Games.

Playing The Game:

The game is played with 52 black and white discs and 1 red disc. The black and white discs somewhat resemble Othello pieces (if you haven’t heard of Othello, go read about it here!). The black side of the disc is the North pole of the magnet, and the white side the South. The red disc is also a manget and has a dot on one side and a line on the other. This is used to determine which player goes first. One player tosses the disc and the other calls line or dot, the same as flipping a coin. The player that wins the toss chooses whether they play as black or white, and therefore first or second. In this game, white always plays first, so the winner of the toss can choose to play as black to deliberately play second.

Initial game set up - white places five pieces called "Foundation Discs"
Initial game set up – white places five pieces called “Foundation Discs”

So the red disc is placed in the center of the mat, there is a large black dot beneath in on the mat that you can’t see in this picture. This dot is important because if at any point in the game the red disc moves completely off it, the player responsible for causing this instantly loses the game. White plays first and places five discs anywhere inside the circle. These are called Foundation Discs, they lie flat on the mat with the players colour facing upwards. Once White has finished placing discs, Black then places their first five.

Once this is done play reverts to White and the game really begins. There’s probably something strategic about where you place your first discs, but i’ve so far found that just trying to make sure they’re relatively evenly spaced is a good start as you then get minimal magnetic interference from your own discs later in the game.

From this point on players take it in turns to place other discs, but you are no longer allowed to place discs flat on the mat. You must attempt to use the magnetic cushion around your colour discs to make the disc you’re placing float or “lean”.

Here White has played a successful Leaner against one of their Foundation Discs
Here White has played a successful Leaner against one of their Foundation Discs

As you can see, White has successfully placed a piece in a position so that it is supported magnetically and appears to float a little off the mat. Once a successful Leaner has been placed White can continue to place other Leaners until they create a Fault. The disc you’re playing at any one time is called the Action Disc, until it is safely on the board and your turn has ended.

A Fault is when one of the following things happens:

  • Placing the Action Disc causes two or more discs that were previously not touching, to touch
  • Making a Leaner already on the mat fall flat
  • When a disc on the mat snaps up onto the Action Disc
  • Causing a Foundation Disc or a Tower to move more than their diameter on the mat
  • Making a disc in play (inside the circle) move entirely outside of the circle


After a Fault has been created a few things happen; firstly, it automatically ends the turn of the player who was responsible for it, but, if the Action Disc is still in their hand when this happens, it”s returned to the unplayed stack of discs, rather than placed on the mat.
Following this the nature of the Fault must be considered;

  • If the Fault has caused other Leaners to fall flat on the mat, but they are not touching any other disc, they are left where they land, however, if your Fault causes an opponents Leaner to flip over to your colour, they then get a chance to capture it at the start of their turn
  • If any discs snapped up onto the Action Disc and it remained in hand, these are then all returned to the unplayed stack
  • If the Fault caused discs to snap together on the mat, your opponent is allowed the chance to  capture them
  • If a disc is forced completely out of the circle, it is added to the players unplayed stack, and if a Tower or Foundation Disc is forced to move more than its’ diameter, but is not touching any other disc, nothing further happens
The middle of gameplay. Both players have placed several successful Leaners and no Towers have yet been created.
The middle of gameplay. Both players have placed several successful Leaners and only one Tower has been created.

Capturing Faults:
If, at the start of your turn, there are any discs that have either snapped together on the mat, or were Leaners that have flipped over to your opponents cover, you are now given the chance to capture them. Capturing must take place at the start of your turn and if there is an opportunity to capture, you must take it before you play.
To make a capture, grab one disc or Tower section of the Fault, and attempt to lift it clear of the play mat, any other discs connected to this Fault should now snap up onto the disc you lifted, creating a Tower. You can then place this new Tower anywhere on the mat, with your colour facing upwards. If the Fault is already in Tower form, you may choose to leave it where it is and simply declare it captured.
NOTE: A capture must be made without creating another Fault. If a Fault is created the normal Fault rules apply and play reverts to your opponent.

It can occasionally be to your benefit to intentionally create a Fault, especially later in the game when it becomes harder to find places to play successful Leaners, you can use the Action Disc to force a Leaner to fall flat on the mat. This creates a Fault, ending your turn, but also gives you another Foundation Disc to play off of on your next turn.

Winning The Game:

The first player to successfully place their last piece ends the game, the winner is then determined by points. Points are scored by counting the number of discs in the Towers of your colour. The number of pieces remaining in your unplayed stack (if you were not the player to end the game) is then subtracted from your Tower points and the player with the most points after this wins.

So, although it sounds complex, this game is easy to play after you’ve given yourself a few tries. Personally, I think it’s something i’m going to continually come back to, and hopefully, i’ll always be able to find someone like-minded enough to play with! I highly recommend this game, and think that if you can play it well enough, to the point where you develop a strategy, you’re doing brilliantly!

Anyone interested in the strategy of the game, there is guide here, I found it endlessly interesting (although I must admit that I haven’t finished it yet).

Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! – Buccaneer

3.5 - 5

Number of Players: 2-4

Year of Publication: 2006

Creator(s): Unknown

Just a quick note about this post; there’s going to be a bit of both of us in here, each covering our particular areas of interest (don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my brother tends to do hands-on DIY or how-to-improve game stuff, and my posts are a little more academically orientated. Not always, but as a bit of a general rule). So to keep you on your toes, we’re both writing in this post!

A Pirates Life For Me:

So my recent wondering through Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag left me with the crazy longing to be a pirate (my parents did always say I got overly affected by films I saw and games I played). Luckily for me I didn’t have to go to Somalia (like in the South Park episode) I just got out my Pirate of the Caribbean edition of Buccaneer!

The Box
The Box

“Well that’s nothing like being a real Pirate” I hear  the voices in my head say! Well, they may have a point but its a damn good game, if a bit different and less explanatory then original Buccaneer!

Original Buccaneer. Picture courtousy of our sister who owns the original.
Original Buccaneer. Picture courtesy of our sister/brother-in-law who own the original.

History and Things:

(Who noticed the change to academmic-y things? 10 points to you if you did!)
Although it’s been around for 75 years, this game doesn’t have a lot of history, in that, it has no historic or cultural background. The original of this game was first published in Britain in 1938, making the game just two decades and four years shy of being 100 years old! It was published by Waddingtons all the way up until the 1980’s, but had several revisions in that time. The original 1938 version of the game had a roll up canvas board that was stored in a tube and this first edition of the game is now incredibly rare, selling for over £100 if complete and in good condition. The game was revised in 1958 and the most notable change is that this version of the game has the folding board that we’re all familiar with now from games like Monopoly and Cluedo. Another change in this edition was that the playing size of the board went from 25×25 to 24×24.

There were also the “Small Box” and “Large Box” versions of this edition. The “Small Box” version was released first, in this version all the pieces for the game were stored in a small box, but the thick, heavy board was separate. Then there was the “Large Box” edition, you can probably guess where this one’s going, but i’ll put it in anyway, this one had a box large enough to store the board in too. Both the small and large box editions of the game had the same graphics, but with the release of the “Blue Box” version of the game, that changed.

On the box of this version of the game there were some pirates finding a treasure chest, along with the box insert containing “Treasure Island” graphics with palm trees and such.

All the biggest changes to the game occurred in the late 1960’s-70’s; the playing size of the board was shrunk again, but this time considerably to 20×20, some ports were reduced or relocated and there was a reduction made to the total amount of treasure available in the game, only five of each type were now included in the game, where previously there were different amounts for the different values of the treasure. Where all the earlier versions of the game were for 6 players, this new edition was only for 4. This was probably the biggest change made to the game.

Our copy was released in 2006 to coincide with the Pirates of the Caribbean movies being released.

All this exciting info, and very little else, can be found here, for anyone interested!

Objectives and Rules:

The aim of the game (apart from to sail around the board pretending to be a pirate) is to collect treasure, and, like any fearless Buccaneer roaming the Caribbean, you’re going to use any means available to get it, this could mean trading with a port, attacking a fellow pirate who you see as competition for the limited amount of treasure available or getting random events from the deck of cards located at the Isla de Muerta.

Winning the Game!

To win the game you must be the first player to have a total of 20 treasure points stored in your port. This sounds like a simple objective, but your luck, and the other players, can make it very challenging!

Starting the Game, Moving and Fighting:

At the start of the game each player is dealt five crew cards, these each have a value on them and come in two colours; red and black. To move you take the total value of your crew cards (irrespective of their colour) and can move that many squares in the direction you’re facing. The colour of the cards only matters when you either attack another player, or are attacked. Then you must take the two totals separately. You subtract the smaller total from the larger, and the number you’re left with is your fighting strength. Then the player with the highest number wins the fight. He or she can then take up to two treasure tokens or two crew cards from the loser’s ship. Taking the crew cards away reduces the amount that player can move on their turn as well as decreasing their fight value. Any unclaimed treasure tokens go to the Isla Cruces. The loser must now immediately move in a straight line away from their attacker for as many spaces as their crew cards allow. In the event that a player loses all their crew cards, they can only move one square per turn.

Keeping the Game Exciting:

If you want to shake up the game a little by not attacking someone or roaming around from port to port you can sail to the Isla de Muerta, or Treasure Island, in the center for the board. Here you take a chance card from the deck on the island, and read it out. These can be both good and bad, sometimes they simply tell you to dig for treasure, other times they’re quests that can be something you must do immediately, or something that you can do at any point in subsequent turns. They can also simply be bad luck for you and your ship, they might tell you that you got caught in a storm and lost some of your crew, or treasure, or have to miss a turn. All of these are unfortunate for you, and probably make your opponent(s) very happy. These cards make the game more interesting because they’re always a gamble, they help to keep the players on their toes a bit. When you visit a place on a quest card, such as Davey Jones’ Locker, without the quest card, nothing happens, these places are irrelevant unless you have a quest card that tells you to go there for whatever reason.

I think that’s all the exciting things I can tell you about how to play the game, so now, go play it, be pirates, roam the seven seas, and drink lots of rum! I’m out and handing back over to my brother now! Enjoy! 🙂

Flaws of This Form of the Game:

In comparison to the original a HUGE flaw in this version of the game is its canceled down rules, while it means you can play faster and don’t feel like you’ve just read a novel after reading the instructions it leaves you very unclear on some points. Meaning that when certain circumstances occur you have to make a decision as to what happens in this case, leading to a face off because one option will probably benefit one player more then the others and vice versa. Now having played the original (but not for a long time) I remember the original instructions being far less vague, however I can not specifically make comparisons as I haven’t read the original instructions in two years or so.

However, the biggest flaw in this game is the storage! The game comes just in a box, with no vacuum formed plastic tray shaped to fit all the pieces (which is basically a given with 99% of board games).

This is the game in its box, the bags are not even included. I stole them from the kitchen to keep the pieces together!
This is the game in its box, the bags and rubber bands are not even included. I stole them from the kitchen to keep the pieces and cards together!

Then to add insult to injury they put this in the instructions:

This is in the instructions as some sort of compensation for the lack of actual storage system.
This is in the instructions as some sort of compensation for the lack of any actual storage system.

Now, while all the separate pieces for the board are awesome, there are a lot of bits when all’s said and done and just to have them in the upturned islands inside the box is fine…SO LONG AS YOU PLAN ON NEVER MOVING THE BOX! Or taking it to a friend house…Or anything…EVER! I can’t imagine it would be that expensive to have produced a plastic insert for the box to hold the pieces…Would it?

The last thing I have a problem with, with this version of the game, is that in the original game you got awesome little pieces of treasure!

If you can see in this picture the barrel in the ship and the pieces in the island.
If you can see in this picture there’s a barrel in the ship and treasure pieces in the island.

But in this version you just get little tokens that represent the treasure!

As you can see at the bottom of this picture the sets of tokens representing ruby's and silver.
As you can see at the bottom of this picture the sets of tokens representing ruby’s and silver.

However I will let this go as to counter it, they changed the middle section to you have to actually dig for the treasure with you finger so you don’t know what your going to get which makes the game much more interesting.

Update – The End of 2013 and The Start of the Year of the Board Game!

Some Changes and the Future:

So we’ve been looking at the way we do things and have come up with some ways to make things better (we hope) and to make this more like a real website with more structured content and more things to do! Starting in the new year we plan to implement a few things:


Regular posting! Monday evening will be “Tame the Board Game Day” with new posts going up once a week every Monday. Unless we’re doing a specific event or its a “Breach the Keep” post which will come as the game develops and I get all the different aspects of it in order ready to actually Give Away! But they will now be separate posts and never added on to the end of anything else.


We’re re-thinking the format of our posts, we aim to make them more accessible by adding a standard structure and also giving aspects of the game a rating as well as giving the game an overall rating.


A Video Blog! We’re hoping to add a video blog to compliment our existing posts, we will aim of at least one video a month to go with one of the posts in the month. However, this may prove more challenging as we have to find time where both me and my sister are around and ready to film, which is proving hard.


We will expand into social networking…I really don’t want to do this, as I hate social networking, but it seems to be the way to get places in this day and age so we will be setting up a facebook page at some point in the new year!

But Before All That:

We have a few things to finish this year off. We have two more normal game posts going up before Christmas, then we have the “Twelve Games of Christmas – 2013”  which, for every day of Christmas, we will put up a brief post of a game with the same amount of players as the day… Well up until about seven players then it might just be other games we recommend.

Then we will be doing a “Drinking Games” Special for  New Years eve (of course) to give you something to do at your wild house parties!

That’s all for now, keep reading!