2018-04-18 14.03.19

Games for a laugh

Board games can be a serious business. Try circulating at an event, trying to capture photos of people having a great time playing games and you’ll soon see: the furrowed brows; the intense examination of a hand of cards; the co-operative players desperately trying to escape The Curse of The Temple. It’s all fun and games till someone loses a die.
In this week’s blog I want to look at the lighter side of board gaming, focusing on 6 games that will make you laugh.
The Cheese Touch
How well do you really know these people – your family, friends and fellow gamers? Thanks to the Cheese Touch, you are about to find out. As you move around the board you have to complete tasks like- miming an action using the adverb on the card (e.g. lazily), the player whose turn it is has 5 chances to get the correct answer; there’s Yes or No – choose a player who you think will give the same answer as you; Who Said What? – match responses with players or Great Minds Think Alike – reveal identical answers to win. Succeed in these tasks and you will be rewarded with movement towards the end of the board… but fail and you will have The Cheese Touch… To win the game you must get round the board first and be free of the cheese touch!
Even if you never read the books, didn’t watch the film or don’t believe that cheese is inherently comical you will still be doing your level best to avoid the cheese touch and laughing as you do!
Cobra Paw
The first thing you need to know about Cobra Paw is that the tiles are called Clawfuku – I’ll let you work on the pronunciation yourself. Roll the dice and identify the clawfuku which matches the symbols shown on the dice. Grab it quick with your stealthy ninja skills, before anyone else. First to 6 (or 7 in a two player game) wins!
But be careful- just because a clawfuku is in front of you does not mean it is yours. At every roll of the dice, they are all up for grabs. You need ‘eyes in your arse’ to win this game!
Despite your temptation to pronounce clawfuku in an aggressive manner – the divit of diplomacy will avert any unpleasantness. In the case of a close call, whichever player has their claw in the divit is the winner of that particular clawfuku.
The game pieces are chunky and colourful, delightfully tactile and the game itself is quick to learn and play and endlessly entertaining.
A quick fire game – like a powered up version of snap. Match the symbols then call out an example from the category on the other person’s card to win the pair. Like so many classic games, it sounds so easy. Then as it gathers speed you realise that you don’t know any animals at all and the only TV shows you remember went off air in the 1970s. Or, worse still the only word you can think of is flatworm and you’re not even sure what that is.
Wild cards add more mayhem by allowing you to match on two symbols. So in the one pictured you could have a match with 2 crosses, 2 zigzags or 1 cross and 1 zigzag. Frankly after ‘a’ glass of wine that can be a challenge too far – if in doubt shout flatworm and hope for the best.
Animal Ailments
A mime in two acts. Animal Ailments demands that you successfully communicate which animal you are. Then through the medium of interpretive dance, charades or simply with the power of your mind – communicate your ailment. You gain cards for miming excellence and for understanding other people’s interesting interpretations! Can you recognise a hungry tiger, a camera shy kangaroo or a snail who is (understandably) scared of birds?
The cards also have power ups, giveaways, extra turns and other abilities which make the game more chaotic and entertaining. And, of course there’s a timer – everything’s funnier when you are under pressure!
A thoroughly entertaining and ridiculous game. We love it!
Quirk and Quirk Legends
Quirk is like Happy Families (if the families were on crack). To win quirks (sets of three cards) you must act out or make the sound of the quirk you are trying to complete. Quirk Legends has the added twist of allowing you to count up how many goodies and baddies you end up with! Both games include tactic and skip cards which allow you to complete actions like – stealing quirks, stealing cards or blocking others’ actions.
The illustrations are lovely too. I particularly like those in Quirk legends. I’ve got a soft spot for the T-Rex though – I’m not convinced they’re a baddy!
It’s obviously great for kids as it is easy to learn and it appeals to their sense of silliness. Recapturing that silliness makes for an entertaining game for adults too. I went for years without rolling down grassy hills and when I had children I rediscovered the joy of it. It’s something I won’t have the chutzpah to do for much longer as I risk embarrassing myself and the children. This game is perfect for giving you permission to be as daft as you like – children or no children.
A thoroughly enjoyable game. In this instance the lack of timer makes it more entertaining as you force your opponent to repeatedly impersonate a wizard whilst sincerely claiming you have no idea which card she’s after. Make ’em earn their quirks!
A word game that has endless possibilities for creative hilarity.
Read more about it in my recent review of it here.
So if you are game for a laugh and you want to challenge your pelvic floor as well as your brain give one of these a go!

Come along to a Cards or Die event and try them out.
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Don your Deerstalker! A guide to detective games.

Whether you prefer to drink real ale, drive classic cars and shout at Junior Detectives, wear a deerstalker and have sharp cheekbones, or exercise your little grey cells (and if you didn’t read that in a Belgian accent you’ve let yourself down) – you will certainly enjoy these detective games. In our house we love a bit of intense sleuthing and here are some of our choices…
Classics are classics for a reason and Cluedo is no exception. It is yet another Waddingtons Leeds success story. But, unlike Monopoly and despite the macabre theme, it doesn’t inspire actual murder. Internationally successful to this day, the game is widely known as Clue abraod. A reissue of the game in 2008 saw it attempt to align itself with modern culture – you can find out more in Richard Alleyne’s article here. I don’t want to get involved with first names and modern weaponry though, Cluedo for me is about embracing the theme, having a warm milky drink before bed while I peruse and ponder the clues. I still love our vintage version best.
There are three female characters to choose from which is a boon. Although since my daughter adopted this as one of her favourites, I never get to be Miss Scarlet anymore. I am often relegated to the buxom and comforting steadiness of Mrs White and spend the game internally creating a salacious back story – she wasn’t always this matronly you know!
At the time when Cluedo first appeared in the mid-forties it was an important alternative to the roll and move games which were so prevalent. Even as a child in the late 70s / early 80s I was not so spoilt for choice as we are now. Cluedo offered a relief from the day long unpleasantness of Monopoly or the inordinately (and unjustifiably) long games of Frustration and Ludo. I enjoyed it then and now because it uses your brain. Being able to accurately deduce who commited the murder, where and with what implement is still very satisfying. Even when you don’t win, you are invested in the outcome – often the reveal is followed by a comparing of notes and discussion of how close or far off other players were. It is that which gives Cluedo continuing appeal.
Cluedo Card Game
Cluedo but portable? Yes please. The game works well as a card game and sticks reasonably closely to the original. In this version you must use your deduction skills to ascertain the Suspect, the Destination and the Vehicle they are making their getaway in. Action cards determine what players may do on their turns. The addition of destination markers which are all visible help to maintain the mechanic of moving to a room to make your accusation.
There is also a ‘one against all’ variation. One player assumes the role of the fugitive and must form an escape plan while the detectives must thwart the villains plans before they can make good their escape and time runs out.
I love the artwork on the cards, especially the old fashioned modes of escape like the seaplane! All of the cards – photographs and illustrations – have been given a sepia, aged tone. This makes some of the seemingly random destinations all the more enjoyable – Miss Scarlet might have hopped on her hot air balloon bound for Loch Ness, Alton Towers or perhaps even Blackpool Tower! It is a fun variant of Cluedo and easy to take to the pub, so everyone’s a winner!
221B Baker Street
221B Baker Street has 75 different cases to solve (if you buy the most recent version). Cases vary in complexity as well as making different demands of the detectives; for some crimes you need to uncover the motive, killer and weapon while others ask for cause of death, how the victim died or other more obscure details of the case. You start off at Baker Street and then make your way round the board to different locations, collecting and solving clues as you go. You can only read the clue once and there is a time limit of 30 seconds and may not refer back to it – so the notes you take are vital!
When you believe you have solved the mystery you return to 221B Baker street and announce your theory. If you are correct you are victorious and the game ends. Fail and you are suspended from duty – effective immediately – you do not even get to share your notes with fellow officers.
You are able to seal off locations to hide valuable clues or mislead other players. These are fairly easy to unlock and although you are only allowed one key and one Scotland Yard card to seal and unlock locations, they are easy to replace. It is not a feature that we often use when we play, because of the “actual murder” thing (see above!).
While it can seem slow to start, the game soon picks up pace. I enjoy the problem solving and deduction as well as the opportunity to take opium and play the violin erratically.
We enjoy it despite the fact the children find some of the clues too obscure. We usually start out individually and end up in some sort of co-operative game where we work together to solve the crime, or we visit different locations and swap clues. I’m basically quite conflict averse, so we don’t enforce the 30 second rule, or use a much longer time. Not only would it make the game more difficult, but I can’t imagine a scenario in which one of my children would not attempt to kill the other with the clue book rolled up around a lead pipe, in the dining room, when their 30 seconds was up and they ‘HAVEN’T EVEN READ IT ONCE’. I’m a strong believer in house rules and am not a stickler for the printed ones. Games are about having fun and as long as all rules are pre-agreed by the group so that everyone can access and enjoy the game that’s what matters most.
Mr Jack
Mr Jack is a great little 2 player asymmetric detective game. The Inspector employs Holmes, Watson and Toby the dog to track down Jack the Ripper. It is short on diversity of characters but it has many plus points. We took it on holiday with us and played it a lot.
Inspector Morse
Unlike 221B there are only 9 variations to play here (3 cases with 3 question cards each). So it has a clearly limited life on your shelves. Lucky for you I bought it so you don’t have to!
You begin by reading the case book but make careful notes as anytime you want to look at it again it will cost you 10 points (each player starts with 500 promotion points). The object of the game is to move around the board solving clues so that you are able to correctly answer the six questions from the question card. Locations contain clue cards which once read are replaced at the bottom of the pile and if you are unlucky enough to draw the same clue twice that’s just tough – you don’t get to swap it for another!
As you move around the board you also encounter difficulties and positive adding a (possibly unnecessary) element of luck to the game. The square may cause you to lose or gain promotion points at random; move to certain locations or squares or move other players. You can move around the board in a variety of ways though.
There are two endings to choose from which as a group you can decide on at the beginning. You may either return to Morse’s office with your theory, at which point all players hand in their notes sheets which are scored (plus points for correct deductions, minus points for incorrect or missing answers) or, return to Morse’s office and see if you are correct. If you have solved the case then the game ends but if you have not then the remaining detectives slog on while you wait in the pub with an increasingly warm real ale for them.
Despite the luck element this is an enjoyable game, especially if you enjoyed the TV series. Relish the opportunity to say ‘Lewis’ in a suitably angry or disparaging tone every time someone else lands on a bad square! Best played in the pub with a real ale – it’s where you do your best thinking after all.
Get Adler
Get Adler is a brilliant, fun game. In the first half the agents are searching for Adler and in the second half Adler tries to escape while the agents try to catch him. Particularly good for larger groups as it plays up to 9 people. Mechanics wise it combines guess who with fast paced strategy!
I have reviewed Get Adler previously – you can read more here.
And I couldn’t write a blog on sleuthing without featuring a Sherlock gif, could I?
Join us for games for a Cards or Die event.

Where are we now? Mental health and my small business.

Over a year since our launch and most company directors have to publish a yearly review. But I’m in charge so it’s a blog post! This feels self indulgent and I wasn’t sure whether to write this but then I thought – that’s just the mental health talking – so I’m persisting anyway.
Taking time to reflect.
Since February, not only has the weather been appalling but I’ve also been home with a poorly teenager. Now, if I stay in the house too long, I start to go stir crazy. But I’ve ended up stuck indoors far more than I would like and recently, I had a particularly challenging week. I could feel my grip on my mind slipping through my fingers; everything seemed bleak. I do battle with with my mental health at the best of times but I felt so negative for so much of the time that I was just drained. It all seemed like too much effort.
My partner came to the rescue and worked from home to give me some much needed mental and physical space away from the house and I went out for the day. I decided that what I would do with this valuable time was reflect. So, I took myself to a cafe and spent the day just thinking and planning. I made myself start by writing a list of achievements, then I wrote down where I wanted to be and how I might get there (in small steps). When you are used to voices that tell you how thoroughly rubbish and inept you are, and when you happily subjugate your own needs to those of others (which with a poorly child and ailing parents there is ample opportunity for) then that task becomes a lot harder than it should be*.
*And there’s an example right there. One of the first things I learned on my CBT course was the toxicity of ‘should’. ‘Should’ is a massive stick to beat yourself with. So let me rephrase
… that task becomes a lot harder.
I have decided that each month I am going to make myself complete this process. It’s in my diary, planned in advance with a space (large) to record achievements and goals to evaluate. Even better I made up an acronym – it’s a CAFE day: Celebrating Achievement and Future Enterprise. The day centres on these things, it must be in a cafe and there must be cake. I am a valued employee and a great boss.
Key Achievements
Despite staring at an empty page for a good while, once I started listing achievements I actually had to acknowledge that I have achieved something. My biggest achievement over the past year has been to persevere. In the face of challenge, doubt and sometimes difficult times I have persevered. I have learnt a lot in this past year and I have made mistakes. One of the liberating things has been taking a step back and learning from mistakes rather than berating myself continually; for the most part I have been kind to myself. Don’t get me wrong, I am a kind person where other people are concerned but very often I am not so kind to myself. It can be difficult to like myself when I’m not being kind, not least because that unkind part of me highlights and magnifies my faults for me. It’s like being trapped in some kind of hellish cycle.
It seems a long time since I was planning my launch event at The Abbey Inn last March. And that’s another important lesson that’s reiterated in CBT- reflect on your achievements regularly. Don’t let them slip past you into some homogenous blob labelled ‘I’m sure I must have done a good thing once’.
On a practical level some of my key business achievements this year have been:
  • building a twitter following from about 30 to 1599.
  • built my own website which now has actual subscribers!
  • setting up a facebook page which now has 395 followers and my posts reach 3500 people
  • writing a weekly blog
  • learning about marketing
  • learning to do my own accounts
  • getting regular bookings at pubs and cafes
  • doing a festival, weddings, WI events, Girl Guide meetings, corporate training, and team building in schools
  • making a bespoke game for a charity to use in their training
  • and more bookings coming in all the time
And personally, in my saner, more rational moments I know that I am setting an example for my children; that I am a good, kind and honest parent and that I have done the best by my own parents too.
Dreaming Big
I also took some time to consider my ideals. ‘I’ll know I’ve made it when… ‘ sort of things. I want a business that’s big enough to have staff. Specifically, I want an accountant to do all the maths stuff. I want to expand and employ a small staff on a decent wage so that I can do even more events and reach more people. Really, I want to bring people together with board games – whether that’s strangers at events, or families and friends who struggle to take enough time out of their busy lives to properly connect with each other. So, I want a business that makes a decent profit so that I can pay my share of the bills and see a bit more of the world whilst sharing the board gaming love as widely as I can.
I’d like to say that I’ll know I’ve made it when I no longer worry that I’m an enormous life-sucking failure. But, even for big dreams that’s a whopper!
You can probably deduce from this list that I’m not the most ambitious person in the world. We’ll probably never know how much of that is my natural inclination and how much is attributable to my mental head stuff. So it’s probably not worth worrying about. (Makes mental note to definitely not worry about this. At all. Not even a bit.)
Goals we can achieve
One of the most important goals has got to be better self care. I need to do my physio exercises, eat well and look after my mental health. All easier said than done. Once I get to the top of that helter skelter, I easily and almost comfortably descend into food avoidance, cruelty to self and avoidance of anything that will make me feel better on the basis that I’m not worth the time or I haven’t the energy. I know that self care will always be on any list of goals I set myself, hopefully over time it will become easier to accept that I am worth the effort.
I’ve had loads of valuable support from other small businesses and wherever I can I try to support others. I want to continue to do this and continue to build those relationships face to face and via social media which have been so important to me in this last year.
My aims for the business at the moment are to increase my turnover by getting more corporate bookings, booking in more weddings, a festival or two, maybe some parties too. To increase my reach on social media and to stick to a games budget. No mean feat that last one – if you’re struggling with that you might enjoy this blog.
Next Steps
My small achievable goals; I worked in teaching long enough to know that goals are not enough – they need to be broken down into discrete achievable steps. The type of targets I set myself for the day reflect where I’m at with my mental health. For days where the list starts…
  • physio
  • eat breakfast
  • shower
  • brush teeth
  • make and drink a cup of tea
…well, those days are not my finest. But right now the short term list which me and my boss will review at the end of the month on CAFE day looks more like this:
  • Do more physio (that’s always there!)
  • Increase Facebook likes to 500
  • Increase twitter followers to 1600
  • secure 1 corporate booking
  • secure 1 schools booking
  • secure 1 meeting to show off my bespoke board game to a potential client
  • keep writing a weekly blog
  • keep accounts up to date
  • get the games admin up to date
  • try to get crowned #QueenOf Board Games!
I’ve tried to make it achievable; a mixture of keeping doing the things, and doing new things. If in doubt I just keep doing the thing… and we’ll see when it’s reviewed at the next CAFE day. I know one thing, I’ll make sure my boss is kind to me.
Click on the image below for a link to more Katie Abey motivational goodness.
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How I win at Charity Shopping.

I have always enjoyed an amble round the charity shops and since starting Cards or Die, I can amble with renewed purpose. Or ‘pop in – just for a minute’ as I refer to it when trailing a reluctant trio of kids. But in fact, I am not merely aimlessly ambling. It may surprise you to learn that there is a charity shopping strategy. And, no one expects the charity shopping strategy.
(Dramatic entrance, swirling red cloak) The key element in successful charity shopping is luck. Luck is the main element; luck and a fanatical devotion to bargains. OK… the two key elements are luck, a fanatical devotion to bargains and the willingness to take a risk….
(Goes out, bursts in again) The many faceted elements of successful charity shopping are luck, a fanatical devotion to bargains and the willingness to take a risk. So, ok it’s three. But, many faceted elements sounds much more serious. And bargains are a serious business.
It may seem obvious but luck is a two way street. I’ve had some amazing luck at charity shops: ‘Hey! That’s my Fish!’ for 49p; 221B Baker Street – still shrink wrapped £2.99, brand new Bucket of Doom 99p!
I’ve had some bad luck too – for instance Connect 4 (the co-operative version) and Buffy the Board Game – it turns out this was not the Buffy I was looking for.
The thing to take on board though… (I’ll give you a moment to groan if you wish…) The thing to take on board is the number of near misses I’ve had too. I nearly bought Lost the Board Game. It was in a tin for goodness sake. But, I kept my packaging excitement in check and read some reviews on board game geek and averted disaster. I’m aware that the Connect 4 debacle could have been avoided by asking them to snip the tape* so I could look inside.
(*I’ll come back to this)
Despite using the words ‘disaster’ and ‘debacle’, (prone to drama? Moi?) buying these games would leave me just under a fiver out of pocket. It’s easy to change my language and view this as a charitable donation rather than a waste. Plus the Connect 4 will be useful as spares providing people only ever lose yellow counters…
*Taping up board games. Please don’t. I have invested in massive sturdy rubber bands and at Airecon, in possibly the geekiest conversation I had that weekend, I discovered rubber X bands which are super sturdy for your games.
If you want to look inside a box that is taped up – just ask. They will snip it open with scissors and reseal it. That way no-one has to end up with a ripped or damaged box.
Fanatical devotion to bargains
Raised Catholic, fanatical devotion comes easily to me! The more regularly and frequently you can visit charity shops the better. I can efficiently get round all the charity shops here in Horsforth because I know exactly where the board games are in each one. I can go straight to that shelf and check if there are any new additions. It really can be a quick task. Of course often there may be distractions that result in a new outfit which is a bonus!
I usually have a list in mind of which games I’m looking out for. On that list there are specific games and then sections like games from before 1960, for instance. If you are after a particular game or particular style or make of game you can request shops to ring you if that specific thing comes in. Some will be happy to do this for you. On the plus side you don’t have to trawl round as much, on the other hand you may miss a find that isn’t on your hit list. Part of the excitement of charity shop shopping is that you never know what you might discover so it’s important not to be too focussed.
Going in the car to charity shops in odd, tucked away or far flung places can lead to some bargains too. I’ve had some fab bargains from a charity shop on a housing estate in Ellesmere Port whilst visiting my folks. It isn’t really near much else – a newsagents and a chippy and I’ve had some good vintage finds there. Not to mention a dress that was in the sale for 75p!
Anytime we go somewhere new I always want to have a ‘quick look’ in the charity shops. You just never know what you might find. For some reason in different areas you seem to get different types of unwanted games so it’s worth looking in different places if you can. In Wilmslow I got some fabulous condition retro games in a couple of shops.
The saying ‘One person’s junk is another’s treasure’ springs to mind and I am constantly on the lookout for treasure.
Willingness to take a risk.
Throw caution to the wind and splash out on a game you’ve never heard of! The great thing about this is if it’s a dud you can use it as spares or just redonate it, safe in the knowledge that you have made a donation to a worthwhile cause. But if it’s not a dud…
I’ve bought games that are not listed on board game geek and that I’ve never heard of. Or I simply haven’t checked if they are listed – I like the look of them and at these prices it’s a safe risk to take.
I took a risk with this because when I bought it, I didn’t know what it was. I loved the carved wooden box and how tactile it was. I took it up to the counter and said ‘Is this a game?’ ‘Yes’ they said. And I bought it. Then spent a lot of time saying ‘what’s this?’ and brandishing it at people. Eventually somebody said Mancala and all I needed to do then was learn how to play it.
Mancala is an ancient game and so there are many variations. I did some research and fixed on a set of rules that worked. As with all games as long as everyone is in agreement and understands how to win before you start, it should be fine!
This has been such a popular game at all my events. Quick to learn, strategic and mathmatical: it is the kind of game you want to play over and over. It is possible to get modern versions of it and it comes as part of many of the wooden games compendiums. I highly recommend it.
Space Lines
I had never heard of it and it was clearly a 3d version of Connect 4 which could be a but naff. But, interestingly it plays up to 3 and the picture on the box! Well, that’s what sold it to me. The 3D game of the future, a brave new world where people would shoot coloured lasers out of their fingers. This was the kind of world I wanted a piece of. Once I had got over the disappointment of the lack of finger lasers, I realised that this is actually a really neat game.
Played two player, it is harder than you think to pursue your own series of 4 pegs whilst blocking your opponent. But when three play it becomes very interesting. There is potential for pairing up against one opponent or seeming to and then switching loyalties.Martin at The Abbey has introduced a no talking rule for the three player game which is an excellent idea as it intensifies the dynamics of the game.
Again this is a game with a very simple premise: make a row of four pegs in any direction. Each time you get caught out, you’ll want to play again. The 3D, 3 player element means there are multiple strategies to try out.
A two player strategy game. This time it wasn’t the box itself that encouraged me to buy it, but its award winning status and the tactile nature of the pieces. One player is red, the other black; using your tiles you must make your way across the board from one side to another whilst blocking your opponent’s bid to do the same. This is a gem of a strategy game and I can see why it won the Toy of The Year Award 1974.
In this instance the box itself nearly stopped me buying this one. It was on a shelf with napkin rings (also in boxes) and display plates. So, when I picked up the box I wasn’t sure what to expect. Whoever thought ‘Burgundy and gold, that says fun’? Carefully prising it open I found the instructions which explained that it was a game where you match the colours and try to make a long chain of the same colour, scoring for each square in the chain. To be honest, it sounded a bit dull but it was under a pound and I thought someone might like it. I was both wrong and right! It isn’t at all dull and lots of people like it! In fact it has been re-issued in a nicer box and is well worth trying out. If you like Tantrix (another charity bargain) you’ll like this. It’s pleasing to the eye and mildly strategic. There’s something very satisfying about totting up your ever increasing score as you create longer and longer colour chains.
If, like me you are addicted to charity shops and the board game bargains to be sought out, you may also enjoy Board Game Trading and Chat UK. As I was typing this blog, someone had shared a post – they bought Ticket to Ride for £3.50 and Disc World for £4.25. 154 people reacted to this post so it definitely isn’t just me that enjoys a bargain – vicarious or otherwise!
What are your greatest charity shop finds? Or your most entertaining duds?

Come and check out some of my bargainous finds at a Cards or Die event.
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John Richard Jones Eulogy

I wanted to save this somewhere so that anyone who wants to can read it. I want people to remember my Dad and it was a privilege to write this with the help of my family and then read it at the funeral mass. It was lovely to hear people laughing at my Dad’s corny jokes and to share our memories.
John Richard Jones 23 April 1931 ~ 28 February 2018
Mum and Dad lived in Liverpool during the blitz. While Mum was evacuated Dad’s family stayed together and Dad always proudly told the tale of how his Dad kept the family together and also tales of the war. It must have been terrifying and one of my favourite stories (and one I know Edward and Molly liked to hear) was the time their house was bombed. Dad, Alf, Elsie and Grandma and Grandad were sheltering under the stairs, Grandad with his legs stretched out into the hallway when Grandma shouted ‘pull your legs in Jack’. Grandad pulled his knees up to his chest and at that moment the bomb hit and the front door came in along with a tide of debris. For a short time they were homeless, various shelters offered to take Elsie and Grandma in but the family were adamant that they would stay together and so they did. Eventually the Sally Army took them in and Dad always gave generously whenever they were collecting.
Dad’s faith was important to him. In something that makes Mum and Dad’s courtship sound like a romantic novel, Dad converted to Catholicism so that he could marry Mum at a time when there were still some bitter divisions between the protestant and catholic communities in Liverpool. He was a very active member of the church community and every family holiday began with a walk to find the nearest Catholic church in advance of Sunday Mass. Through church he became one of the Knights of St Columba helping those less fortunate than himself.
Every Sunday he would help with counting the collection plates, and although he took the responsibility seriously, when the task was done he also enjoyed sharing a few beers with his fellow helpers and Father English.
Mum and Dad were the first to move into the Ellesmere Port overspill housing and were even presented with their front door key by the mayor – something Dad was proud of. For most of his working life Dad worked at ‘the metal’. He got his brother Alf a job there and made many friendships. He was secretary of the Van Leer social club, helping to organise panto trips and a Christmas party with a visit from Father Christmas. He enjoyed bingo nights at the club and I remember being excited when I was old enough to join in. Although Dad was always more interested in socialising than playing bingo.
Dad loved music. In the evenings after he and Mum had finished watching whichever TV crime series they were watching, he would often put a record on, pour a whisky and settle down to listen to Nat King Cole or Doris Day. He even loved his steel band records and would proudly tell us that the metal made those drums. One of my first records was from Dad. It was The Brotherhood of Man – save all your kisses for me.
He will be well remembered for his sense of humour. As I’m sure we all know Dad was a huge Everton fan and a season ticket holder attending all home matches. He maintained they were the strongest club in the league (they have to be – they’re holding everyone else up- his words not mine) Lawrence remembered that when Liverpool lost to AFC Ajax in the European Cup in 1966, Dad cut out the name AJAX from Mum’s AJAX cleaning products and placed them all over his workplace! He even went so far as to tape one to his shirt, then unzipped his jacket to flash AJAX at every approaching Liverpool fan.
I remember visiting Aunty Terry and Uncle Jim just after Everton beat Watford in May 1984. Dad, in full kit, knocked on their door which was opened by Uncle Jim – a stalwart Liverpool fan – who shut the door on Dad then quickly re-opened it and dragged him in saying ‘Quick! Get in before the neighbours see you’.
Dad’s jokes- often received with groans from close family still make lots of people laugh. He enjoyed claiming he knew every street in Liverpool. I can’t walk past a boat on a drive without trotting out the line ‘It must have been a high tide last night’ or past the cemetery without declaring both that ‘We must be in the dead centre of say, Ellesmere Port’ and of course, ‘There’s people dying to get in there’. He even had a joke published in the Ken Dodd jokes section of the Echo – What’s black and white and comes steaming out of Cowes? The Isle of Wight Ferry!
Dad loved buying Christmas decorations – the noisier the better! So much so that it became like a mini version of Mission Impossible every time you visited. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, was attempting access to the house without activating the doormat which played “Jingle Bells”, passing the Santa that sang “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”, or setting off the Snowman that blared out “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree”. Not to mention avoiding the hourly Christmas carol from the festive clock in the kitchen!
Whilst he teased others with the best of them, he also loved to be teased himself, particularly by his grandchildren. As young children, Emma and Aimee would frequently hide his slippers, or switch round the hot and cold indicators on the bathroom taps. Dad would feign annoyance and set off in search of his missing footwear, while all the time revelling in the fun.
All the grandchildren would jump onto Dad’s chair whenever he left the room. On his return, he would delight in staring angrily at them, before lifting them off and reclaiming his seat.
One of Marie’s fondest memories was of holidays with Dad. Dad always seemed happiest on days out or when taking family holidays. Giving piggy backs to his children, building sand castles or teaching them to swim, he was at his most relaxed.
As well as his love of a trip out Dad was renowned for his thrift! One of his favourite discoveries was a free way to go to Chester Zoo. He discovered a foot path that led through part of the zoo and often used to take me there. I used to love going even though the only animals you could see for free were antelopes and deer.
Despite enjoying a bargain, Dad was also generous. I have been reminded of the time he renovated one of the old bikes he had kept in the shed (you see he was right it had ‘come in’) and gave it to one of my school friends enabling her to take a Saturday job that was far from her house. He taught my friend Kerry to swim. And, I always remember that he had a row with a boss at a temporary job because his boss was treating one of the female employees unfairly. Despite people telling Dad to keep quiet in case he lost his own job, Dad’s sense of fairness and kindness would not allow him to sit back and tolerate that.
Dad liked to chat. He was happy to talk to anyone he met in the street, while down at the shops, or when away on holiday. It has been comforting to discover the impact Dad had on the lives of others outside of the family. Over the last few weeks many of his neighbours, fellow church goers and people passing the house, have expressed their sympathy, shared anecdotes and asked about the funeral arrangements.
This is only really a snapshot of Dad. There are so many memories of Dad that we all hold dear and I hope that you will continue to tell his stories and keep his memory alive.

Once upon a time in the West it wasn’t all Doom and Gloom: the beauty of Storytelling Games.

Storytelling is an ageless activity bred of an instinctive human desire to connect with others. Back when we lived in caves and all you needed to do to impress someone was light a fire, we would sit round that fire and tell stories: stories of the mythic beasts we had slain; cautionary stories of the dangers our youngsters should avoid; stories of comical mishaps and misunderstandings. Playing games is an ancient pastime, and it’s no coincidence that games is another great way to connect with other humans. So, what could be better at connecting us than games that tell stories?
Here are some of our favourite story telling style games:
Players use the letters that are revealed to create sentences. Each sentence must use all of the letters in order reading left to right or right to left. You place 7 letter cards and a category card face up to create the board. The category card awards different points depending on the subject of the sentence. Turn over the 3 minute timer and off you go! You need to make sure that the sentence is grammatically accurate and you can use names but not just to use up letters – they need to be an integral part of the sentence. Write as many sentences in the time to maximise your score. The rules claim that the game is outlandish and creative, and the results certainly lend credence to this claim!
A variation allows you to place 10 letters and choose a sequence of those to make your sentence. In this version you score according to the length of your sentence.
The game is played over 5 rounds, so you’ve got time to warm up!
This is a quick, fun party game. It is challenging but it’s the kind of game that once you warm your brain up, you can create all sorts of bizarre and entertaining stories! Have a go at the boards in the pictures to get you started!
Bucket Of Doom
Another classic party game. I was wary of this one at first as it says it’s suitable for ages 17+… some people had seen it in my collection and said the thought it would be like Cards Against Humanity – this didn’t help! 9as you may know, I am not a fan of Cards Against Humanity at all. I’ve played it and I felt that some of the topics were so tasteless that I could not find any humour in them). But, I found a copy of this in a charity shop and it is by Big Potato Games (Creators of Obama Llama which is well loved here at Cards or Die headquarters) so, the conditions were perfect for me to throw caution to the wind and suspend my reservations. And, I’m glad I did.
You have 8 objects and an improbable yet perilous scenario. The scenarios are mainly ridiculous, some are rude and many are nightmarish but they are not offensive. You must use one of your 8 objects to escape the scenario you find yourself in. The group choose the most convincing and entertaining explanation and we have a winner/ survivor. Above all else this game is ridiculous. It demands that you engage your imagination and reach into its farthest recesses to generate plausible absurdity.
So, how will your Bachelor’s in drama get you out of this suicidal whale?
Serving suggestion: definitely the sort of game which is best served with fizzy wine or fine ales.
In Dixit the player who decides on the phrase, word or saying that encapsulates their card is referred to as the storyteller. Each image tells its own story. I have already written a detailed review of Dixit -you can read more here.
I love Gloom; both the game and the Eeyore-like state of being. We have the Cthulhu version. Despite the tuck box (we won’t talk about that it upsets me), this is a brilliant game. The aim of the game is to make your family as miserable as possible before killing them all!
The cards are see-through so that you can stack them up, obscuring or replacing some or all of the existing scores and categories. Event cards intensify the gloom of your family and outline a mishap or terrible event: ‘disappeared in the night’ or ‘was part of a feast’ for example. As these stack up you tell the horrifying story of that character. Storytelling is outlined in the rules as ‘half the fun’: you are encouraged to flesh out (if you will) how these chilling events came to pass. It’s definitely more entertaining if you engage your storytelling brain as well as your maths/ strategic one. This goes some way to settling the ‘Is Maths better than English?’ debate. Or perhaps they work in beautiful harmony? Nonsense, English makes everything better. (This is the answer, no need to comment below).
Whilst trying to make your family as miserable as possible you can cheer up your opponent’s with bargainous books or secured tenures. When you have enough negative points you can cause the untimely death of your family member or as a philanthropic gesture you can limit the unhappiness of an opponent’s family member by putting them out of their misery – literally.
When your entire family have gone to a better place (which given the circumstances wouldn’t take much) then the game ends and you total up the points to see who has spread the most gloom. Fabulously gruesome!
Colt Express
In Colt Express you are all ruthless bandits in the Wild West trying to grab the most loot and prove yourself as the fastest gunslinger. The marshall guards the prize on the train – a briefcase full of money. But watch out, get shot by the said marshall and that really messes up your plans.
One of the immediately impressive and striking things about Colt Express is that it uses a cardboard train rather than a board. It truly is a thing of beauty. You make your way along the train either clinging to the roof or risking life and limb as you swing from carriage to carriage.
Disappointingly the number of female characters is limited to the usual two and one of them is predictably busty. As with so many games I overlook that. If I only bought games which fairly represent the diversity of society my shelves would be significantly emptier.
Colt Express uses a programming mechanic. A round comprises 4 to 6 actions per player and this is detailed on the round outline card. Some of the outline cards dictate that certain cards are placed secretly and some end with an action like the train screeching to a halt – when the outlaws who have chosen to risk the high winds and jolting tracks by creeping along the roof are jettisoned dangerously closer to the marshall.
Each player chooses the action they plan to execute and places their card in the pile. When this is completed, one player then tells the story of the round. This mechanic makes the game quite tricky; to play effectively you need to not only keep track (no pun intended!) of what you’re planning but of what everyone else is doing and where they are, adjusting your plans accordingly.
The storytelling element and the cardboard train are my favourite bits of this game. (It even comes with cardboard cacti!) For me the game is perfect when people enter into the storytelling element of it with enthusiasm. A list of actions becomes a scene from a Wild West train robbery with a cast of rival guns prepared to fight to the death.
Each player has a special ability which lends some more depth to the game and there are two expansion packs available which I’m keen to try out.
Everybody needs good neighbours and you can join forces with yours in The Neighbours board game to create the best plotline ever. I have thoroughly enjoyed playing this game and it’s had good reviews from events too. Now – whenever I read the word “hilarious” in a review part of my soul dies, but honestly Neighbours is hilarious to play (admittedly we consumed wine while we played – a theme is emerging), but it is a fun game – and the plot lines you create have to be grammatically accurate, which pleases me more than I can tell you. Pretend it’s the 80s, pretend it’s sunny, and dive right in!
So what is the story we should take away from this post? Well, once upon a time there was a little girl who eschewed the rules of grammar. She thought that what really mattered was the story, not the way it was written. She was wrong. She lost. Grammar matters kids.
As a poster in my classroom stated:
“Let’s eat Grandma! or, Let’s eat, Grandma!”
It takes a lot more than lighting a fire in a cave to impress people these days… get this wrong and you could have been having quite a chewy dinner…
Join us for board games at a Cards or Die event.

Welcome to The Niche.

Years ago I started Morris Dancing. Those of you who aren’t fans of ‘the Morris’ may not know that there are different styles of Morris: Northwest, Cotswold, Border, Molly… and there’s just where it starts. Each discipline has its own exacting requirements and those vary depending on who you speak to- debates about what angle and height your knees should be in NorthWest, the disgust at feeble stick thwacking in Cotswold are the thin ends of a niche wedge. I’ve had many, long and heated conversations about what constitutes traditional dance. And that’s all before I start on Sword dancing which I also do – although that’s “Not morris, it’s traditional English Dance” Yep, Morris then?
It had never occurred to me when I started spending more and more time in the board gaming community how similar our communities were until this week. And suddenly there it was.
I love Morris and I love Board Games and I love the people in both communities. We are inclusive, friendly, giving, supportive, lovely; we champion each other and our hobbies; we encourage others to take part and we want to see everyone love our hobby as much as we do. It’s all going so well – like some kind of hippy utopia until someone does it wrong.
Can you game wrong? – oh yes you most certainly can. You can have too many light, filler games, you can like ‘abstract’ games, you may never progress beyond gateway games, you may be the owner of a shelf of shame or never have backed anything exclusive on kickstarter…you might even … brace yourself… enjoy a plain old luck based roll and move game. Just as in the Morris world there is usually someone to helpfully advise you on how straight your line ‘could have’ been or how high your knees ‘could have’ been; so too in board games there are a minority of people with very specific, not to say strong, opinions and I worry that sometimes that element in both of my loves – dancing and gaming – sends out the wrong message and leaves some people feeling excluded. So, I want to just challenge a few conceptions…
The very concept of “Gateway Games” is an interesting one. “Gateway” implies there is something that we should all be headed to, rather than having a plethora of choice about our destination… it suggests that you start with games that are in some way inferior, progressing on to ‘better’ ‘more serious’ games. When, in reality most of us enjoy a wide variety of games – different themes, different lengths, different challenges. In our house it often varies according to our mood, or how much challenge we can cope with. Sometimes it’s a long battle like Escape From Colditz or The Big Book Of Madness; other times it’s a bit strategic like Kodama or Coup… but it might also be Dobble, Cobra Paw, or, dare I say… Shut The Box.
Abstract games like Abalone or Mancala are also frowned upon by some people, and yet are amongst the most popular at events – quick to learn with lots of depth and strategy. The kind of games that after your first loss you have to play again because you now know how you went wrong and you can definitely win next time. I never factor in the fact that my opponent is also becoming more focussed and tactical. So it seems very odd that abstract games should be so dismissed – take for example Mr Jack – it’s not abstract but it is utterly on a par with Abalone in many ways – the rules themselves are fairly simple, and the opening strategies comprehensible by a 9 year old… but the more you play either, the more devious depth you find…
I think my main concern with this is the dismissal of an entire genre. I have come across people who ‘don’t like games’. I maintain that they have just not found the right game. I even made a flowchart to help them. So you don’t like abstract games?… maybe you just haven’t found the right one.
How about the term “filler games”? To me this means one you just have a quick round of whilst waiting for the real meal of the evening to start. But this just seems dismissive – revealing a prejudice towards bigger, complex games that take many hours to play. Sometimes an evening of gaming can be composed entirely of fillers – Love Letters, Gobblin Goblins, Exploding Kittens, Jenga, Terrible Monster… the list goes on. All deliciously light – like a day of eating breakfast food without ever commiting to a whole meal.
They are just shorter. That’s it. Short games for when you want a short game. Again the term suggests some sort of predetermined path. Enter through the gateway games, attend games night and play fillers in between more substantial games. Or don’t. Play what you want, when you want.
And lastly – the “Shelf Of Shame”. We are embroiled in an expensive hobby; many of us joke about how we need to sell a kidney to afford yet another kickstarter or how we need to extend the house to fit all our games in. But we need to be mindful that this doesn’t turn into wallet waving of the highest order. If we want gaming to be as inclusive as possible then bragging about buying so many games that we can’t even play them all really needs some rethinking. There are some great games on kickstarter and there are so many new games coming out all the time it can seem overwhelming. Games cafes, local board game groups and Cards or Die mean that you really don’t need to own everything. One of my driving desires as Cards or Die is to bring people together by sharing a love of board gaming.
Those of you who follow me will know that thrift is a virtue I prize very highly. One of my favourite features on the Board Game Trading And Chat UK facebook group is the threads about charity shop finds. I particularly enjoyed (with hardly any jealousy) people buying up Quinns’ Oxfam donations this week. There are some epic games out there waiting to be discovered. I bagged Bucket of Doom for 99p and Tantrix for £1.99. One of the real pleasures though is stumbling across a game like Trek from the 1960s with every piece present and intact. I love how much people cherish board games and I think that’s because it’s more than just a game. It’s a box of memories, connections and good times.
They’re not all hits of course. Like this co-operative version of Connect 4 I found
I couldn’t be prouder or happier than when I’m dancing or gaming. (On a side note I must mention my dance face – my extreme morris face as my loving friends call it. It’s difficult to smile when you’re counting beats and concentrating! But I know you understand because I’ve taken photos at events and I’ve seen your extreme gaming face. I can not tell you how difficult it is to get pictures of people smiling for my website! But that’s a different story) I love connecting with others and I don’t really care if their knees aren’t high enough or they wibble out of line a bit. (I do care if you bring your sword down on my face but that’s more of a health and safety issue than a dance quality issue.)
So, however you play your games or where or which games you play – it’s all good. Play lots of games, play games you think you might hate, play games you loved as a kid, play them all. Have fun, connect with other human beings. And above all, be kind and welcoming. We are a fantastic community let’s share the love!
Come along to a Cards or Die games event!

Word Up! The guide to word games!

Word games are my favourite but least played games. The double edged sword of an English degree and English teaching for 17 years means that not only will no-one play with me but if they do concede, the expectations are so high that I often just crumble under the pressure. Then win. I’m the person you all look at when they say ‘Literature’ in the pub quiz or when anyone wants to know what any word means. I don’t know what every word is and I haven’t read every book. Even writing this blog I can feel the weight of your expectations. You may assume I know loads of good words. Please re-read that last sentence and adjust your expectations accordingly.
So in no particular order we have:
1. Scrabble
To be honest this is not one of my favourites but it’s the classic word game and its popularity endures. It has made an easy transition to an online format. Created by Alfred Butts in 1938, the word scrabble comes from the Dutch ‘schrabbelan’ (which means to claw or scrape). Ironic really when you think how many rows you’ve had about whether words are ‘foreign’ or not! I am rubbish at scrabble. I stare at my letters endlessly and if you judged me by the words I play you might conclude that I’ve never read a book in my life!
If you want more Scrabble facts – click on the image below
2. Upwords
Upwords works by stacking letters on top of each other (as the name suggests). When you look at reviews this is a popular alternative to scrabble – less intense, less time consuming and scoring is straightforward. Having more options due to the ability to stack on words and not feeling under pressure to use ‘difficult’ letters makes this more enjoyable and accessible for me.
3. Option
The variation here is that letters are on a prism with one blank side and two letter sides. The letters are white on a burgundy background or burgundy on white. As the name suggests this gives you lots of options! Scoring is more complex though – you can score bonus points by completing a word in the same colour letters and of course there is more consideration needed about how to achieve the highest score. You can flip letter prisms to make new words (providing both the new word and the existing word still makes sense). It’s a rarer game than Scrabble or Upwords which are readily available in many charity shops.
4. Bananagrams
There are many reasons I love Bananagrams, apart from the fact it’s fun to say and the game employs banana based terminology: it’s compact and portable and plays up to 8.
You race to create a grid of words using up all your tiles, which you can rearrange at any point. There is a time pressure but I get absorbed in my own grid, and I love it when I remember obscure words and they fit neatly in my pattern! Even better still, when I risk deconstructing part of my grid and it pays off. Of all the word games we have here at Cards or Die, this and Boggle (see below) are my favourites.
5. Yahtzee Word
A recent addition to the Cards or Die collection, this is already proving popular. A family at a recent event played this all afternoon. Like regular Yahtzee it is challenging and fun. Roll the letter cubes and then complete words from 2 letter and up. Unlike Yahtzee, you must complete the rounds in order – every round you must record a score, choosing whether to gamble and re-roll for All Consonants or Yahtzee Words (which use every letter) or play it safe and record your three letter word! We’ve always avoided using the timer when we’ve played at home but it’s there if you want extra challenge (i.e stress!!).
6. Boggle
Another favourite of mine since childhood. You have 3 minutes to spot as many words as you can (the letters have to be touching) which is enough time for it not to be stressful… mostly. Rather than just a race to get the most words, the fact that any duplicated words are deleted from your score means that really you are trying to spot unusual words, which is a nice twist. Like Scrabble it has made a successful transfer to the virtual world and in fact variations of it used to be in the newspapers too. I also love the fact that whenever I post Boggle pictures, people immediately start playing – go on… what have you got?
7. Kan-U-Go
When I googled Boggle to check the timer length because Boggle is upstairs and I’m sitting at the computer (it’s not laziness, I’m efficient) I was reliably informed by ebay and amazon that it’s vintage! It’s from 1986!! But Kan -U- Go – that’s proper vintage that is! My version is from 1934 – a ‘thrilling and absorbing’ game for 2 to 7 players. I probably wouldn’t go for ‘thrilling’ but it is a good game. Be the first player to get rid of all your cards by playing words of 5 letters or less. It’s a quicker game than Scrabble or its variants, and as you can see, you need to make sure you have plenty of space.
8. Lexicon
There are three possible variations of Lexicon but the most common version is a 2 to 4 player game in which you aim to get rid of all your cards by playing a word, adding to a word that has been played or substituting a letter in an existing word. Remaining players add up the score of the letters in their hand, lowest score over a set number of rounds wins, or, as you reach 100 you are eliminated.
9. Roots
Another retro classic – this time from the 70s. Roots requires you to play the highest scoring word or words from your hand with the aim of being the first to reach 100 points. Spelling out your family name when you hold one of the family cards gives an instant win opportunity. Bonus and penalty cards add an extra layer of challenge but basically this is a straightforward family friendly game.
Word games are brilliant for testing your brain and competing against both yourself and others. I find them satisfying because when I don’t win, I can still be pleased with my achievements. Sometimes I dig up some absolute pearlers from the depths of my brain – words that have rattled round in there for years devoid of meaning. The look on people’s faces when you play one of those is priceless, improved upon only by their expression when they say ‘Is that even a word? What does it mean?’ and you respond ‘Definitely. And I haven’t the foggiest.’ Games which provide opportunities for smugness are the best kind of games and definitely don’t cause arguments in our house. At all 🙂
Join us for games at a Cards or Die event.
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Diesel Demolition Derby

Awesome artwork and Alliteration – if only it had puns I could end my search for the perfect game.
Diesel Demolition takes about 30 minutes to play and is quick to learn. It says suitable for ages 14 and up but really it is a straightforward mechanic; 8 or 9 year olds would manage it. 2 to 6 people can play and as it true of so many games – the more the merrier – or the more the more deaths (which is essentially the same thing. Isn’t it?)
Game Play
Diego is keen to just get playing, she’s a busy cat, she doesn’t have time for complex rule books.
  • Each turn you choose a combatant from your hand.
  • Everyone places their chosen combatant face down in front of you.
  • All reveal combatants simultaneously.
  • Resolve the effects on the cards (starting with the instant/ lightening effects of the highest points value). This can result in your card being discarded or neutralised. This means that every time you play a card you are taking a calculated risk.
  • Then, you pass your remaining hand to the left and you repeat.
  • The person with the most powerful line-up of combatants* triumphs in the Derby
*One thing we have learnt from this game is that the word combatant is the sort of word that once you’ve said combatant too many times it feels like you are saying combatant wrong. Just putting it out there so that you can share that weird feeling!
Although I find this mechanic challenging – I’ve got enough on trying to remember what my plan is when my cards are in front of me, nevermind trying to calculate what everyone else is likely to do and which cards I’ll get back- I really enjoy this game. Challenge is good for your brain and I feel like I’m definitely getting better at it each time I play. If only my son wasn’t also honing his tactics, victory would be in sight by now.


They recommend that you have a run through without Arenas first and we have done that when introducing people to the game. It’s always good to have an element that you can play with or without – it lends the game variety and allows you to differentiate according to who’s playing or what mood you are in. Some Arenas resolve at the end of a Derby and others have a continuous effect throughout. We haven’t played all of them yet but I’m loving the extra layer of strategy that they add. (As well as the gothic images of course!).
Plays 2 to 6
I have played this as a two player games lots of times, and it’s good fun. But with 5 or 6 players cards like the Champion come into play. The Champion allows you to win the Derby by having the most or the fewest cards deployed (instead of most powerful line-up)… it completely changes your tactics and received a mixed response in our group. We were evenly divided between thinking it was a terrible or genius idea. (It wasn’t just the person who won by using it who thought it was genius – just to be clear.)
Playing with more cards and more players allows you to play valuable combinations of cards; your machines can work together to destroy your opponents. It also means you can’t just remember what cards are in each hand. Most games are better with more people in my experience, just because it’s a more sociable experience. But the full range of this particular game is best experienced by playing with 5 or 6.
In addition the cards are very clearly labelled so sifting out the cards for 4+ or 5+ players is a quick, easy job. This is a quick access game on all levels and I like that. A lot.
It comes with cog parts for scoring – gain 3 parts and complete your cog to win. The parts are nice, chunky cardboard and give a nice, tactile element to the game. I got the upgraded kickstarter cogs which are lovely steam-punk pieces and well worth paying a bit extra. One of the things that attracts people to games is the tactile nature of them. When I put games out at events, it is the ones with ‘nice pieces’ that people gravitate towards and these scoring pieces are an attractive addition.
As with so many of my favourites it comes with a crib card – reminding you of the rules and numbers of each type of card in play – handy for tactical decisions. Unless your tactic is ‘keep playing Battlemeks and hope for the best!’
The cards feel durable and I like the size of the arena cards. Text and symbols on the cards are reasonably sized – although I feel like text can always go a bit bigger! Machine types are also differentiated by colour and when playing in a dimly lit bar there’s the usual is it red/ orange difficulty but as they are also labelled this is no big thing. Also you could argue that I could a. put my glasses on or b. not play games in dingy bars. Both, frankly unrealistic pieces of advice. The illustrations and symbols are all in keeping with the futuristic feel of the game. A future where I don’t need glasses and all bars have sensible lighting and decent sized tables hopefully.
One game of this is never enough. All in all, it’s a quick, vicious game – perfect for eliminating *ahem entertaining* your friends and loved ones.
Ludi Creations have also brought ‘…and then we held hands’ and ‘Mythe’ to the table so it is well worth checking them out.
Have a play of this and others at a Cards or Die event.

Games for Weddings

5 reasons why if you treat yourself to one extra ‘thing’ at your wedding, it’s got to be board games.
1. Memories are made of this.
What do you want people to remember from your wedding? You want them to remember what a fun day it was, the people they met and spent time with, how special that shared time with you and your family was. Games are fun; games bring people together: that’s the whole point. For many families Christmas is the only time they get the board games out. Why? Because we associate board games with fun, with family, with quality time and memories. I’m not suggesting that I bring Risk or Escape From Colditz and we all settle down for a six hour intensive, strategic battle (well, not this time!). I’m promising to bring the sort of games that you remember from your childhood, fun games that you will want to share. The sort of games that make you name 7 things beginning with ‘F’ before the timer runs out, without offending Grandma or teaching the children any new words.
2. Kids have to sit still to play games and they will.
At various points you will want the children to sit still for a while, to have some calm time. Playing a game with children is a great way to grab a bit of family time; it can be a long tiring day for the little ones. Just as with the books, our favourite games are those that both adults and children can enjoy. The best bit is – once you’ve played them through a few times – they’ll play happily on their own and you can move on to a more complex game or simply go back to your wine! Poo, Dobble, Exploding Kittens and Don’t Panic are quick to learn and fun to play.
3. 4 Hours in and you’ve run out of things to say to Great Uncle Jeff.
Never fear, once you’ve got him engrossed in Mancala you’ll be discussing tactics and strategy. Or, we can crack out Downfall or Guess Who and he’ll soon be regaling you and anyone in earshot with comical (and probably embarrassing) memories from your childhood. This is a great way of sparking conversation or providing a focus, and equally true of tables where everyone knows each other or where strangers are sitting together. Get people playing and they aren’t strangers for long.

4. The Twilight Zone

Apart from the temporary distraction of the photographs, the time between the wedding and the evening reception can feel a little flat. Providing a carefully chosen selection of games gives guests something fun to occupy their time. Games like Anomia, 5 Second Rule or Jenga are all good group games that people can dip in and out of when it’s their photo call. The fact that people can swap in and out of the games also encourages people to mix and get together.

5. Games that are funny are HILARIOUS when you’ve had a glass (or two) of fizz.

Any game that requires dexterity or quick fire answers is entertaining as it is but, add a couple of glasses of fizz and the level of challenge intensifies; you find yourself crying with laughter as the first celebrity that your friend names is Michael Fish! You struggle to regain your composure as the timer ticks down and you wrack your brains for a type of insect. An insect. Any insect. Come on, you know that a hamster is not an insect and yet your brain only has this to offer! Or, you can try to steady your hand as you perch a chair on top of another precarious chair. (Frowning and holding your breath helps with this!). People laughing at your “concentration” face does not help. Then as the chairs come crashing down, the people on the next table see you all laughing and shout over ‘Can we have that next?’ Suddenly there you are with people mixing and having fun. Just what you said you wanted at the start.

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Cards or Die is all about board gaming fun and creating great memories. Get in touch to chat to us about which games would suit your wedding.
You can always pop along to a Cards or Die event and see what it’s all about.