2017-11-28 13.38.34_edited

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.
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Push Your Luck Games – warning: mild peril.

Push your luck games are the marmite of tabletop. Often involving little or no strategy, instead they rely on risk calculation and a large helping of luck. You can calculate that the odds of being shot in the head are low and then… boom… no head! I know. I’ve been there. Frequently. I guess that’s the other marmite element; I lose my head and then just have another game. It is high speed risk taking with the consequences removed. In these games I assume an air of confident optimism (sadly lacking from other areas of my life) usually resulting in my sudden demise and perhaps reinforcing the theory that in real life everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
‘Big Risks for High Rollers’. Yes! This encapsulates me: a high roller from the 70s.
I picked up Waddingtons’ Stun from the UK Expo bring and buy sale. It plays up to 6 which is always a bonus at events where often people like to play in larger groups.
You have to collect 5 chips to win. And there’s the rub. I’m already hooked because I believe I can win and easily too.
I’m realising now that this explains why I spend a proportion of every decent UK beach holiday with my nose pressed against a 2p machine that’s “just about to drop. I’ll stay here. Change this £1 for 2ps. GO!”
You turn over cards, stopping only when your nerve fails. Turn up a stun card and your turn “ENDS IMMEDIATELY” as it says in the rules. Verbatim. Shouty capitals and all.
There are also Stun Plus and Stun Minus cards with which to scupper your opposition, always an enjoyable aspect in a game.
Stop turning up cards in time, save them and trade them for a chip: slow and steady wins the race. But, where’s the fun in that? One more… go on… I dare you!
by Ludi Creations. Plays 2 – 5. Age 6.
The most striking thing about this game is its beauty. When I saw Daniel Solis’ name on the box I was not surprised at all (Kodama and Koi Pond are also beautiful games). So beautiful was it that it took me a while to realise that it is at its root a push your luck game.
First, let’s take a moment to enjoy the board. I challenge you to open it without going ‘Ahhhhhhh’ in what you believe to be an angelic voice! It’s a pop up book of a board and it’s mini.
Then, we learn that our heroic mice must defeat the red dragon and recover the Sacred Golden Cheese. I was already completely sold on it by this point.
The clever bit in Mythe is that, rather than drawing up from a central pile, you draw cards from other players’ hands (one by one) stopping before you hit an obstacle card. When you finish your turn by advancing on your cheese quest or by fatally overestimating your mousely strength, you give cards away to other players.
So, you just give away all the good cards and then draw them back up next go? Right?
No. Because to defeat that pesky dragon before your cheese becomes fondue you need to hold a legacy item. Obviously. How else would a mouse defeat a dragon? Also, by the time your turn comes round the other player may have a very different hand.
Clever, eh? There’s more randomness than 52 card pick up, there’s second guessing what other people are up to and there’s peril little mouse, so much peril.
You will want to play this many, many times.
Zombie Dice
by Steve Jackson
Another game that accommodates many players, Zombie Dice is a quick fun game that is always a hit at events. You are a zombie, you must roll the dice to find out if you eat braaaaaiiiiins, get shot in the head or if your victim escapes.
Re-roll escaping victims or just keep rolling until you fear for your head. Three shots to the head and your head fully explodes.
But never fear, it will regrow in time for your next turn. It is a low scoring game and grasping that is the route to success.
The best part of this is that the dice are weighted to allow you to calculate your risk. Red dice mean you are more likely to be shot, green you are more likely to feast on brains and yellow could go either way.
Yahtzee boasts that it is a game of skill, not reliant on luck. MB clearly understood that luck sells less than skill but if we’re honest surely being lucky is the only way to win this!
Classic Yahtzee and Yahtzee Word are the sort of games that sound like nothing when you describe them, but are super addictive to play. Roll the dice and collect points for words or sets of dice. Every round you must record a score – you can choose to record a zero for a category and try instead to get an ‘easier’ category. For instance, you may decide there’s no way you will roll 5 of a kind or get a 7 letter word but you may get a 3 letter word or 3 of a kind. So, you put a 0 next to 5 of a kind and go instead for 3 of a kind. It’s hard to capture the addictive nature of them – I think it’s the fact you are pushing your luck – deciding that rather than putting a zero for a low scoring category you will risk it and go for the big scores, which makes it so compelling. You have just as much chance of winning as your opponent. They can not outwit you or just be cleverer or better than you. But maybe these are just the words of someone who lost too many games as a child and is now being destroyed on a regular basis by a smart, ruthless 12 year old.
There are bonus points to be achieved if you score certain amounts or fill certain boxes which lend more importance to the decision making process. Yahtzee word does feel more reliant on skill than Classic Yahtzee as creating words under pressure is a challenging task, and the addition of the timer makes it more pressurised which is always more fun!
I love pushing my luck in these games. Weighing up your options and calculating your chances carefully is the way to boss all of these games. But, to get the most enjoyment out of them…. slowly, carefully, reveal the card or roll the dice, then shout at the cards and dice, shout at people who are winning or losing, and take big risks – after all you won’t really lose your head.
What’s your favourite type of game? Strategy? Luck? Something else?
Come along and play these at a Cards or Die event.