Blog

Ashby de la Zouch Castle

A small medieval castle, Ashby Castle is an English Heritage site located in the centre of Ashby de la Zouch, a small market town in Leicestershire.

Despite its relatively small size and ruinous state compared to some of the other 400+ sites looked after by English Heritage including Dover Castle in Kent and Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire, Ashby has much to explore.

 

Around the site, visitors can read all about William Lord Hastings, who first began to adapt what was originally Aschebie Manor House into the more elaborate, fortified building it became. Hastings’ heirs continued to develop the castle with Henry Hastings further fortifying the castle during the English Civil War.

William Hastings, son of Leonard of Kirby Muxloe had also been working on nearby Kirby Muxloe Castle. When he was suddenly and unexpectedly executed without trial, the work on the castle continued but at a reduced scale, and eventually ceased altogether, leaving Kirby Muxloe unfinished.

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/ashby-de-la-zouch-castle/history/

Ashby Castle was placed in state guardianship in 1911 and has been managed by English Heritage since 1983. https://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=312919

Around the grounds of Ashby Castle, children and adults alike can learn more about each of the remaining parts of what is now a ruin. Guests can discover more about the origins and uses of various rooms and buildings including the great hall, chapel, and great tower. There is also evidence of preserved features such as a 15th century fireplace and underground tunnels.

DSCF3568.JPG
view from the top of the Great Tower (photo is my own)

Within the ruined edifices, a number of narrow staircases remain. Within the great tower, the centrepiece of Ashby Castle, there are 96 steps which can be climbed by visitors. The views from the top of the tower are quite spectacular.

Entry to the site is free for English Heritage members while the price for non-members is currently under £7 per adult and under £4 for children. There are also discounted concessions as well as good value family tickets available.

 

When visiting Ashby Castle, guests typically spend around 1 to 2 hours. Because it is an open air site and set on a large grass garden, the site can become wet and muddy in rain or adverse weather.

While English Heritage try to be inclusive, the nature of the buildings and the grass mounds within the grounds make it impractical to allow pushchairs, and wheelchair access is limited. There are accessible toilets, and assistance dogs are welcome.

Dogs are allowed on site provided that they are kept on a lead.

There is limited parking, including one disabled bay, but its proximity to the town allows visitors to park at a town centre car park within a short distance of the attraction.

There is a small shop on the site which sells a variety of books, toys, and souvenirs. However, there are no food or drink facilities but, again, guests can wander into the town to find cafes but are also encouraged to bring a picnic (weather permitting) to enjoy on the grass.

The usual opening times are from Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 6pm. Additionally, the site opens for bank holidays and some special events.

All in all, Ashby Castle can be a lovely visit for a picnic or enjoyed as part of a day out discovering other parts of the East Midlands and nearby places of historical and cultural interest.

Advertisements

St Patricks Day, the REAL meaning

Pinched this fron The Temple of Disorganised Religion because it’s funny.

The Temple Of Disorganised Religion

(Or ‘the REAL meaning, according to us, so it’s probably not true, but you can always Google it).

St Patrick was a green leprechaun, he is the patron saint of Irish snakes.

The reason St Patricks day is sometimes called St Paddys day is because of all the tantrums and tears that happen when people get so drunk they get grumpy (this seems to especially occur with football hooligans).

St Patricks Day is always celebrated on the 17th of March, because he liked to march through the fields of four leafed clover.

St Patricks Day is meant to have an apostrophe in it, but we know how much it annoys one of our followers when we leave them out, so we’ve left them out, because that’s how we roll.

On St Patricks Day there is ALWAYS a rainbow over the whole of the Emerald Aisles. (The reason it’s called The…

View original post 111 more words

Catholic Saints Feast Days: August

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rjhuttondfw/1320829478/in/photolist-d6v21b-6peymV-6awQ4A-UCBfwN-31HAA3-gtkpB3-gtkSGr-dTsuKt-dhr95i-A9NFob-Avr12v-57eyka-7JRxyY-57ewCc-BcaAkv-57iF9W-57iDAo-7DW2EB-57eqct-57iC1A-dREj12

In the Christian calendar, there is a Saint’s Feast Day every day. In August, there are several Saints celebrated on each day. For example, there are four different Saints whose Feast day is celebrated on 6th August while the 17th August is shared between twenty-five different Saints. Overall there are hundreds of Saints celebrated in the month of August alone.

Considering the number of Saints celebrated in August, an exhaustive list would be impractical here. This is a brief overview of a small selection of the Saints celebrated during the month of August.

The dates given herein have been sourced from  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=242. Other sources may cite different dates.

 

August 1

Saint Jonatus

The Feast of Saint Jonatus (d. 690) is celebrated on 1st August. There is very little information available about Saint Jonatus. He was a Benedictine abbot of Elnone in Belgium. He was a student of Amandus of Maastricht. Other than this, who exactly Saint Jonatus was is unknown.

Saint Sofia

Saint Sofia, or Sophia, the Martyr (d. 137) is also celebrated on 1st August. She is also celebrated during both May and September by different Catholic sects). Sofia was also known as Wisdom. She was the mother of three daughters: Faith, Hope and Charity. It is believed that her daughters were persecuted during the reign of Hadrian (117-138). The three daughters were all tortured and beheaded. Wisdom is said to have sat by her daughters’ graves until she died three days later. Saint Sofia also shares her Feast Day with two of her daughters, Saint Hope and Saint Charity.

StSophiaicon
Saint Sofia and her daughters Faith, Hope, and Charity

Saint Peter in Chains

Another Saint who is celebrated is Saint Peter (d. 64). Saint Peter’s original name was Simon, or Simeon, Peter. He was the son of Jonah and brother of Andrew. He was one of Jesus’s twelve Apostles. Saint Peter was imprisoned by Herod Agrippa where he was rescued by an angel. Saint Peter was the first bishop and the first Pope of the Catholic church. He is also the patron saint of fishermen. There is some dispute as to whether his date of death was 64, or 67 AD.

 

August 5

Saint Abel

Saint Abel (d. 751), was archbishop of Rheims in France. Later becoming a Benedictine monk at Lobbes Abbey in Belgium. He is the Saint of the blind and lame. Abel was a missionary alongside Saint Boniface. Where Saint Abel was born has been disputed. Boniface stated in a letter that Abel had been born in England. However, Folcuin, abbot of Lobbes, believed Abel to be Irish.

Saint Nouna

Saint Nouna is celebrated on August 5th. She is another Saint about whom there is little information available. She converted her Jewish Pagan husband, Gregory of Nazianzus, to Christianity. All of their three children were also canonised.

 

August 12

Saint Jane Frances Chantal

Saint Jane Frances (de) Chantal (1572-1641) is a Roman Catholic Saint. She was married to Christoph, Baron de Chantal, and they had four children together. Pious Jane, daughter of royalist President of the Parliament of Burgundy, organised her husband’s estate and got him out of debt. She gave food to the poor and she became godmother to the child of the man who had accidentally shot and killed her husband. She, along with Saint Francis de Sales, founded the Order_of_the_Visitation_of_Holy_Mary. This Order accepted women who had been rejected elsewhere.

Saint Just

Saint Just is the patron saint of the Church of Saint Just, which is an English town situated in Penzance, Cornwall. Other than this, the identity of Saint Just himself remains largely unknown. It is not known where or when he was born or died. There have been varying accounts of a Saint Just, possibly signifying that each account actually describes a different Saint Just.

Blessed Isadore Bakanja

The Blessed Isadore Bakanja (1887 – 1909) was born, and died, in what is now known as Democratic Republic of Congo. He was a devout Cistercian Christian from the age of eighteen and was beaten by his employers for not complying with their demand to cease preaching and to remove his scapula, which was a symbol of his faith. He died as a result of infection in his wounds. Isadore was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1994.

 

August 31

Saint Raymond Nonnatus

This name may be familiar to fans of British television show ‘Call the Midwife’ as the home of nuns and headquarters for their midwifery and nursing work is aptly named after him.

NonnatusHouse
Raymond Nonnatus House

Raymond Nonnatus (1204 – 1240) was taken from his mother who died in childbirth. He was delivered by caesarian hence the name Nonnatus which means ‘not born’. Saint Raymond Nonnatus was from a poor but noble family and was evidently pious from a young age. He tended a farm until his father gave him permission to take the habit. He visited several countries as a ransomer and freed hundreds of captives. He was also very successful at converting natives to Christianity. When Raymond no longer had the monetary means to free any more people, he gave himself as a hostage in order to rescue others. While in captivity, Raymond Nonnatus is said to have had his lips pierced with a red-hot iron and closed together with a padlock. He is the patron saint of childbirth, midwives, children and pregnant women as well as of priests who wish to protect the secrecy of confession.

Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne

Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne (d. 651) was an Irish monk who was known to be a benevolent man who studied under Saint Senan. Saint Aidan became the first Bishop of Lindisfarne, a small island off the coast of England, where he founded a monastery. He is credited with bringing back Christianity to Northumbria after paganism had begun to resurface.

 

Note: This was an article I had been working on years ago for the now defunct Helium.com. I rediscovered it when looking at other articles in One Drive. I wanted to publish on Vocal.media but there was not an appropriate category, so it is now here instead (and in place of my game review as I have not had chance to write the next one yet).

Note update: Article was resubmitted to Vocal and is now available here on their Futurism site.

Gloom – Game Review

Gloom is an interesting and unusual game from Atlas Games. Very much a family game in that players must make their family as miserable as possible until one family dies.

As players control the fate of their chosen family, there is also an opportunity for story-telling. Cards tell a small part of the story but a gruesome story of exactly how a character met his untimely death can add an extra miserable dimension to this rather unconventional game.

Gloom

Game type: card

Players: 2-4

Age: 13+

Who is this game for?

Given its rather morbid nature, Gloom is not recommended for young players or those who may be easily offended. It is, however, a brilliant game for those who are looking for something different, perhaps with a penchant for the gothic or for people who enjoy a little schadenfreude.

The game does not take up a great deal of space, but there must be a large enough area to place cards in front of players. Players will also need enough space that cards in their hands are not seen by other players.

Aim of the Game

The aim of the game is to make your own family as miserable as possible while trying to make other players’ families happier. Ultimately, the player with the most miserable dead family at the end of the game is the winner.

Rules

Set up: First, separate the four sets of Character cards from the rest of the deck. Each player chooses a family and takes the 5 associated Character cards (Castle Slogar, Hemlock Hall, Dark’s Den of Deformity, or Blackwater Watch). Players place these Character cards face up in front of them. Any Character cards not chosen are set aside and unused during the game.

In a 4 player game, each player discards 1 Character card*. It is possible to have a 5 player game by making a misfit family from these 4 discarded cards. 6 or 8 player games are possible if players pair up.

*Players are not obliged to discard a Character, it simply makes for a shorter game. Should players wish to play a longer game, there is no reason why all 5 Character cards should not be kept.

Once players have chosen their Character cards, the rest of the cards are shuffled and placed face down within reach of all players. This forms the Draw Pile. Each player then draws 5 cards as a starting hand. When cards are discarded, they are placed face up next to the Draw Pile to form a Discard Pile. This pile can be reshuffled to create a new Draw Pile should the Draw Pile run out.

The player who has had the most miserable day goes first. If everyone has had an equally miserable day, the owner of the game goes first.

On your turn: Make TWO plays on each turn then draw back up to your hand limit (this is FIVE unless a card is in play which says otherwise). A play can be: play a card; discard hand; pass. Playing an Untimely Death card or discarding a hand can only be done on the first play. Other than these plays, any play can be made as either first or second play, and can be played twice.

DSCF3514

Card Types 

Modifier: a Modifier can be played as either First or Second Play. Played on any Living Character (of your own or another player). If the Modifier has an Immediate Effect, it must be resolved as soon as the card is played.

Modifiers have Self-Worth points, and some also have Story Icons. Story Icons have no effect on their own but may trigger an effect or interact with other cards (these effects and interactions are detailed on each card)

Event: An Event can be played as either First or Second Play. Reveal the card, follow the instructions on the card, then discard as soon as the Effect is resolved.

Untimely Death: Untimely Deaths can be played as a First Play, not a second (but a Modifier or Event may allow it as a ‘Free Play’). Untimely Death can only be played on a Living Character with a Negative Self-Worth. The game ends when the last Character in any Family dies.

Other Plays

Discard your hand: As First or Second Play, a hand may be discarded. However, if a hand is discarded as a First Play, there will be nothing to play for the Second. To discard a hand, place all cards in your hand onto the Discard Pile. Draw back up at the end of your turn.

Pass: A player may choose to pass and make no move at all.

Draw Back Up

After making 2 Plays, draw back up to the hand limit (usually 5 unless it is altered by card effects). There is no limit to the number of cards a player may hold. Simply do not draw back up if you are holding more cards than the current hand limit.

 

Story Telling

Only part of the story is told on the cards. It is up to players to add the detail. Who drove Lord Slogar to drink? How did Darius Dark come to drown in a bog? Embellish the story for extra fun. DSCF3518

Self Worth Points: These are the numbers on the left of cards. Add up VISIBLE Self Worth Points of DEAD Characters to determine your final score. The winner is the person who has the lowest score once one Family is wiped out.

Table Goth Rating: 6/10

I like this game, but it is certainly something I would consider an acquired taste. It is certainly something different. In my opinion, the more story-telling, the better the game as players embellish the misfortunes of their families. Perfect for a Hallowe’en night or creepy theme.

Chess – Game Review

One of the oldest and best-known games in the world, chess most probably originated in India before the 6th century AD, although some historians argue that it has its origins in China. However, the general consensus is that the Indian game of Chaturanga is the ancestor of the game we know today.

Wilhelm Steinitz is sometimes credited with being the father of modern chess, having claimed the title of World Chess Champion in 1886. Steinitz wrote “The Modern Chess Instructor” which was published in 1889 and 1895.

Chess can be tricky to learn and certainly not easy to master. Modern chess pieces now come in many shapes and styles, from the traditional pieces to those based on Star Wars or Harry Potter. The game, nevertheless, is played in the same way.

Chess

Game type: board/strategy

Players: 2

Age: 5+

Who is this game for?

Chess may be a difficult game to master but there is no reason it should not be enjoyed anyway. For many, part of the joy of chess is in learning the game and reading the opponent. A large enough space will be needed for the board plus space around the board to set aside pieces when they are taken. There are, however, pocket and travel chess sets so space is not an issue with the game.

Chess is for anyone of any age who enjoys strategy. To play the game, all the player needs to know is how to move each piece. To play the game well, that takes practice.

Aim of the Game

The aim of chess is to defeat your opponent by placing his king in ‘check’ i.e. placing pieces such that the king can be captured and is unable to move to a safe place.

Rules

These are the most basic rules. For further information and official rules, visit: FIDE World Chess Federation or chessvariants.com

 

Set up: Chess is played on a board of 64 squares, a chequered pattern of black and white. Each player has 16 pieces (either black or white): 8 pawns, 2 rooks, 2 knights, 2 bishops, 1 queen, and 1 king.

The board must be placed so that a black square is the left-most bottom square to each player.

pexels-photo-814133

Place the white pieces as shown in the image above, and then mirror the black pieces on the opposite side.

Moves

King: moves one square in any direction (as long as he is not putting himself in check)

Queen: moves any number of squares in any single direction.

Bishop: moves diagonally any number of squares

Knight: moves 3 squares in an L shape (2 across and 1 forward/back or 2 forwards/back and 1 across)

Rook: moves any number of squares in a straight line

Pawn: moves 1 square forwards (exceptions: each pawn may move up to 2 spaces forwards from his starting position; a pawn must ‘take’ diagonally)

Castling

Under certain, special rules, a king and rook can move simultaneously in a castling move.

The following conditions must be met:

  • The king that makes the castling move has not yet moved in the game.
  • The rook that makes the castling move has not yet moved in the game.
  • The king is not in check.
  • The king does not move over a square that is attacked by an enemy piece during the castling move, i.e., when castling, there may not be an enemy piece that can move (in case of pawns: by diagonal movement) to a square that is moved over by the king.
  • The king does not move to a square that is attacked by an enemy piece during the castling move, i.e., you may not castle and end the move with the king in check.
  • All squares between the rook and king before the castling move are empty.
  • The King and rook must occupy the same rank (or row).

When castling, the king moves two squares towards the rook, and the rook moves over the king to the next square.

 

 

IMG_1009
There are many themed chess sets but the rules are always the same

 

 

Playing the game

Always starting with white, players take alternate turns to move a piece.

The only pieces that can move first are pawns or knights. Players move one piece on each turn. Each piece can be moved as above. The piece must land on an empty square unless taking an opponent’s piece. Each piece can only move through empty spaces (with the exception of the knight, which can pass other pieces).

Taking an opponent’s piece: a player may take an opponent’s piece if that piece is in its path. Only one piece can be taken per turn. Pieces must travel in the same direction as usual. However, the pawn is the exception to this as its usual move is forwards but it must only take diagonally.

In check

A King is in check when the opponent’s piece is in a position to take the King. Upon placing the King in check, the player must say ‘check’. The next player must then manoeuvre his pieces so that the King is no longer in check. This can be by moving the King, taking the opponent’s piece if this is possible, or move a piece in between the King and the checking piece if the checking piece is a Rook, Bishop, or Queen.

Checkmate

If a player’s King is in check and can not make a valid move, the player who put him in that position wins the game.

Stalemate

When a player is not in check but can not make a legal move, this is a stalemate and is considered a draw.

 

 

Table Goth Rating: 8/10

Chess is often seen as a complicated game which takes too long to learn. While it seems difficult as there are so many possible moves and each piece moves in a different way, it is not that hard to learn. It is, however, a hard game to master. It is something that can be fun to play as well as something to learn and master. I admit, though, that I am giving it a higher rating than I may have done previously for the simple fact that I finally managed to win a game against my son recently!

 

 

Monopoly – Game Review

A cause of contention and bane of family Christmases everywhere, this much-maligned board game is a traditional classic. Whether people enjoy the game or not, it is iconic. An interesting fact about Monopoly is that, although Charles Darrow patented it in 1935, the game was not invented by him, but is a variation of ‘The Landlord’s Game’ patented in 1904 by Lizzie Magie, inventor of the rules and concept which became Monopoly.

There are more than 1000 variations of Monopoly, which include themes from TV, films, cars, as well as electronic and junior editions.

Some versions have the same rules, some vary slightly, while others may be based on Monopoly but have significantly different rules. Herein are the rules for the UK (London) version of Monopoly. (The shortest recorded game of Monopoly is 21 seconds, while the longest was, allegedly, a game that lasted for 70 days)

Monopoly

Game type: board

Players: 2-6

Age: 8+

Duration: Variable. Some versions have a ‘Speed Die’ for faster gameplay

Who is this game for?

Monopoly is a board game which can be played by all ages. The basic premise of rolling dice, moving around the board, and buying property is not too complicated. However, there are a number of elements to the game. It can also be a very long game so good for those with patience and who enjoy the challenge of a game which could last a long time. For those who would like to play but not commit the time, there are ways to make the game shorter. The Monopoly board, bank, property cards, and players cash and assets can take up a fair bit of space so a large playing surface is required.

 

MonoFastDie
The red ‘Speed Die’ has been included in some new Monopoly games to make game play shorter.

 

Aim of the game

To win at Monopoly, you must be the last player in the game after everyone else is bankrupt. To make the game shorter, it is possible to determine the winner by whichever player is the richest after a mutually agreed amount of time.

Rules

Set up: Place the board in easy reach of all players. Give each player £1500 each in the following denominations: 5x£1; 1x£5; 2x£10; 1x£20; 1x£50; 4x£100; 2x£500. The rest of the money stays in the box to form the Bank. Shuffle the Chance and Community Chest cards and place them as indicated on the board.

Choose one person to be the Banker. This person will be in charge of the Bank’s money, property, Title Deed cards, and Auctions. The Banker can play but must keep all their money and assets separate from the Bank.

Each player chooses a token and places it on GO and the two dice are placed next to the board.

To decide which player goes first, each player rolls two dice and the highest roller goes first.

On your turn: Roll the two white dice and move forward that number of spaces. Check the board space. If you rolled a double, roll again and take another turn (this can happen a maximum of twice in one turn as a third double in one turn means the player must go to jail). When one player’s turn is complete, the player to his left goes next.

Board Spaces

Streets and Railway Stations: When landing on an unowned street, either buy it by paying the price on the board space and taking the Title Deed card, or the Banker must auction it with bids starting at £10. Any player may bid. When landing on a street that someone else owns, pay them the rent shown on the Title Deed card.

Note: A player may only build houses when he owns a colour set. Rent increases as soon as the set is complete. Rent increases further when houses and hotels are added. The amount of rent for a Railway Station depends on how many stations the owner has.

Utilities: Buy or auction in the same way as streets and railways. To determine rent for utilities, roll the two dice. If the owner owns just one utility, the rent is 4 times the dice roll. If the owner owns two utilities, the rent is 10 times the dice roll.

Action Spaces 

Go: When landing on or passing go, collect £200.

Chance/Community Chest: Take the top card from the corresponding pile and immediately follow its instructions. Return the card to the bottom of the pile.

Income Tax/Super Tax: Pay the Bank the amount shown on the space.

Free Parking: Nothing happens. This is a free space.

Just Visiting: It is fine to land on this space by dice count. Just put the counter on the edge of the space.

Go to Jail: Move your counter directly to the In Jail space. Do not collect anything for passing Go. A player may still collect rent, buy and sell houses/hotels, mortgage, trade, auction while in jail.

To get out of jail, there are three options –

1. Pay £50 at the start of your turn then roll and move as normal.

2. Use a Get Out of Jail Free card if you have one (or buy one from another player)

3. Roll a double on your next turn. If a player rolls a double, she is free and must use the roll to move. Up to 3 turns may be used to attempt a double. If no double has been thrown after this, the player must pay £50 to the bank and use her last dice throw to move.

Buildings

A player may build houses as soon as he has a colour set. Houses and hotels can be purchased at any time – it does not have to be on your turn.

To purchase a house, play the cost price (as detailed on the Title Deed card) to the Bank and place a house on the street. Maximum of 4 houses on one street.

Build evenly (eg. a player must not build a second house on a street in a set until all streets in the set have one house).

Houses can be upgraded to hotels once there are four houses on a street. Pay the hotel cost price (as detailed on the Title Deed card) and return the four houses to the Bank. Only 1 hotel per street. Houses and hotels can’t occupy the same street.

If multiple players want the last house available, the Banker must auction it. If there are no buildings left to buy, players wishing to buy them must wait until someone sells or returns theirs.

Auctions

If a player does not wish to purchase a property on which he landed, the Banker must auction it. The auction starts at £10. Anyone can increase the bid by any amount from £1. The highest bidder wins, pays the Bank, and takes the Title Deed card. If no player wants it, nothing is paid and the property remains unsold.

Deals and Trades

Players may buy, sell, and swap property at any time. Plays must not trade buildings. Buildings have to be returned to the Bank before streets can be traded.

Property can be traded for cash, other property, and Get Out of Jail Free cards. The amount is decided between players.

Note: if a mortgaged property is traded, the new owner must immediately either pay the Bank to unmortgage cost to repay the mortgage, or pay 10% of the mortgage value and keep the mortgage.

If a player is in debt and does not have money to pay, he can raise money by selling buildings, mortgaging property (after selling buildings, turn the Title Deed face down and collect the mortgage value).

Note: rent can not be collected on mortgaged property. To repay a mortgage, pay the mortgage value plus 10%. If a player still owes money, that player is out of the game. If another player is owed, the bankrupted player must give the owed player any Get Out of Jail Free cards and all mortgaged properties. If the bankrupted player owes the Bank, everything is returned to the Bank, mortgages are cancelled, and all properties put up for auction.

Table Goth rating: 6/10

I think the main problems with Monopoly are that it can be so long, and that people don’t read the rules and it causes contention because there are arguments when everyone follows different rules which they think are right. There are quite a few elements to it. Seasoned players might think it is an easy game but as I checked the rules, I thought it could seem rather complicated for first-time players. The time-scale element is something that can be altered, and it is a family game. I am giving Monopoly a 6/10 because it can be a good game, but some incorrect rules are ingrained into people’s minds and it is often (unfairly, in my opinion) berated for causing arguments.

Ultra-Tiny Epic Kingdoms – game review

A tiny game with a big adventure. Ultra-Tiny Epic Kingdoms (UTEK) is, as the name suggests, a very small game with very small pieces. A board game in a card box, UTEK is a very small version of the Tiny Epic Kingdoms board game. There are variants of the game, each of which is stand-alone.

This review is specific to the card game, although most rules are the same.

 

Ultra-Tiny Epic Kingdoms

Game type: strategy

Players: 1-5

Age: 13+

Duration: 30-45 minutes

Who is this game for?

This is a game of strategy which involves collecting resources to use for expanding kingdoms, fighting enemies, building, and research. There are several ways to end the game but only one way to win.
There is a role-play element in that each player has a ‘faction’ card, which shows whether they are to play as, for example, Changeling, Merfolk, or Valkyrie. Each faction has its own strengths which players will learn to use to their advantage.
The game is small, so does not take up a lot of space to store or play, although this does make it easy to lose the pieces.
Ultra-Tiny Epic Kingdoms has a number of elements and will take a while to master but is a relatively simple game to play.

 

Aim of the game

The aim is to be the player with the most points at the end of the game.

Rules

Set up: (2 to 5 players) Place the Tower Card and Action Card in the centre of the playing area. Place the 5 grey cubes (action cubes) next to the Action Card. Each player takes 10 cubes of their chosen colour plus one of each resource cube (brown ore; green mana; yellow food). Players will also need one resource track, a territory card, and a faction card. Territory and Faction can be chosen at random. Cards show Territory on one side and Faction on the other. So, each player will need two cards – one showing a Territory, another showing a Faction.

 

The three resource cubes should be placed on each resource track, with a total of 6 resources. It is recommended for beginners to place 1 ore, 2 mana, and 3 food. However, players may choose any combination they choose.

One coloured player cube each should be placed below the Tower Card, one below the magic levels on the Faction Card, one near the war track (grey line above the resource track), and two (armies) on any one region of their Territory Card. The remaining 5 coloured cubes are kept near to the Faction Card.

On your turn: The active player token (grey castle) is passed to each player to indicate whose turn it is. A player must select an available action from the Action Card. The active player places an action cube next to the chosen action on the Action Card. The active player must either take the action or forfeit his turn. All other players have a choice of taking the same action or collecting resources on another player’s turn. A grey cube next to an action means that action is not available for play. If all grey action cubes have been placed, remove them and choose any action.

Check for end of game conditions and pass the active player token to the next player.

Actions

There are six possible actions: Patrol, Quest, Build, Research, Expand, Trade.

Patrol: Move one army (a coloured player cube occupying a region on the Territory Card) into an adjacent region on the Territory Card. An army can not patrol across crags or water unless the Faction Card states otherwise.

Quest: Move one army to another Territory. The regions must border and must not cross water or crags.

Note: No more than two armies may occupy the same region at any one time. A player’s last army can not engage in war.*

Build: Pay ‘ore’ (brown) equivalent to the number on the Tower Card. For example, the 1st level costs one ore, the 2nd costs two, etc. Building on the Tower Card counts towards points at the end of the game. A player who builds to the 6th level will receive 10 points towards her score at the end of the game. A player may build only one tower level per turn. The coloured player cube placed underneath the Tower Card should be moved up the card to indicate the level reached.

Research: Pay the number of ‘mana’ (green) equivalent to the level on the Faction Card. Players may only increase one level per turn. The special ability granted by the new level is immediately accessed and in addition to any previously learned. Each level learned will add a point at the end of the game, with added bonuses for achieving the highest level.

Expand: Add a new army to an occupied region by paying ‘food’ (yellow) equivalent to the number of armies you have in play (including the army being added eg. adding a 4th army costs 4 food). The new army (one of the 5 spare coloured cubes) must be placed in a region occupied by one other army of your colour. 1 point is gained at the end of the game for each army in play except for those in the ruins.

Trade: Trade one resource type for another. For example, a player may choose to discard 3 ore in exchange for 3 mana.

Collect Resources: A non-active player may choose to take the same action chosen by the active player or the non-active players may choose to collect resources. For each occupied region, gain 1 mana from forests (green), 1 ore from mountains (brown), and 1 food from plains (yellow). Only one resource can be collected from each region per turn. If a player has only one army in play, he may collect one bonus resource of choice as well as the resource from the occupied region. Players may never have more than 9 of each resource.

Only non-active players may choose to take resources instead of completing the chosen action. The active player (the player who chose the action) must either take the action or do nothing.

*Engaging in War: If a player enters another player’s region, the invading player must attack and is the Attacker. The other player is the Defender.

Each player, without showing the other, sets their war cube on their war track indicating the total cost they are willing to incur (maximum of 11). Players must have enough available resources and bonuses to cover the cost. Alternatively, a player may set their value to the white flag to offer a peaceful alliance.

Both players reveal their value. The player with the highest war cost takes control of the region. If both have chosen the same number, the Defender wins. If both players choose the white flag, a peaceful alliance is formed (both players may stay and collect resources from that region as usual).

Unless an alliance is agreed, both players must pay war costs to their chosen value by firstly deducting any war cost abilities and then paying the rest in resources (mana is worth 2, ore is worth 1). The winning army remains while the losing army either removes their army from play or retreats by paying food equal to the number of armies they currently have in play. An army may only retreat to an unoccupied region or one in which they have a single army.

 

Capital Cities: A capital city does not provide any resources during the game. It is worth 2 points to any player who occupies it at the end of the game. Or 1 point each if two allied players share the capital.

Ruins: Ruins are treated the same as other regions for war and expansion.

When collecting resources, a player may collect one resource of her choice when occupying a ruins region.

Armies in ruins at the end of the game are considered lost and removed from the game before scoring.

An army may only be moved out of the ruins by the active player. 

End of game conditions:

At the end of each turn, the active player must check for end of game conditions. These can be any one of the following:

  • A player has all 7 armies in play
  • A player has built the 6th level on the Tower Card
  • A player has reached all 5 levels of magic on the Faction Card

When any one of these conditions is met, the end of game is triggered. Play continues as normal until the next time the Action Card is cleared. Then the game ends immediately and points are calculated.

Scoring

1 point for each army in play (except those in the ruins)

1 point for each level of magic reached (plus bonus for 5th level)

Points as indicated per level on the Tower Card

2 points for each occupied capital (1 each for allied)

The player with the most points is the winner. In the event of a tie, check the tie-break conditions:

  • Most armies in play
  • Highest tower level
  • Highest magic level
  • Highest total combined resources

 

Table Goth Rating: 7/10

I give this game 7/10 because it has a number of elements which make it fun to play, but it can seem a little daunting to new players because of having to do different things on each turn.

It is not a difficult game to play. Being a game of strategy, it is something which can be played, practised, and improved upon. It is also interesting to play the different factions and learning how to use their strengths to your advantage.

 

See more about Tiny Epic games at Gamelyn Games.

 

Fluxx – game review

https://vocal.media/profile

There are numerous variations of Fluxx, which may contain additional card types and rules. More than 60 versions of the Fluxx card game include Doctor Who, Nature, Star, Holiday, Firefly, Chemistry, and Chthulu, Monty Python, Pirate, and Zombie as well as international games including French, German, Japanese, Polish, Dutch, and Italian. There is also a Fluxx board game as well as Fluxx Dice. The board game is a stand-alone game while Fluxx Dice is an expansion to be used alongside the card game.

Continue reading Fluxx – game review

Tabletop Gaming

I have been in a little barren in the writing department lately. What I want to do is write regularly. I didn’t think I had much about which to write. However, I was also looking for my passion and trying to find something at which I am really good.

I was getting myself a little down because, while there is very little I am unable to do, I don’t really consider myself really good at any particular thing. There is also the issue of getting bored easily or losing focus.

Well, along came the inspiration which began with the following thought: “I can write a review of Fluxx” which then led me to realise that I do, in fact, have a passion and that passion is all things gaming – board games, dice games, card games. You name it, I’ll play it. So, to combine my two favourite pastimes of writing and games seemed like something that I don’t understand why I never thought of it before.

Continue reading Tabletop Gaming

The Etymologicon – book review

 

The Etymologicon, written by Mark Forsyth, is, according to its subtitle, “a circular stroll through the hidden connections of the English language”.

 

etym

 

Etymology

While many readers may already know what etymology is, it is worth explaining to those who do not. Etymology is the study of origins of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history.

 

Why I Read It

For me, the book was a gift from my nephew and his girlfriend at Christmas 2016. As a wordsmith, lover of words and their origins, and all things lexical, this was a highly appropriate and much-appreciated gift. One thing I particularly liked is the way it is laid out. Read The Etymologicon as a light but educational book or solely for entertainment. Read it from cover to cover or pick out a short chapter on a particular word.

 

Mark Forsyth – About the Author

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Forsyth
Mark Forsyth

 

Who is Mark Forsyth? He is an English writer, author of not only The Etymologicon but also The Horologicon (“A day’s jaunt through the lost words of the English language”) and The Elements of Eloquence (“How to turn the perfect English phrase”) and moreHe is also known for his blog ‘The Inky Fool’ in which he waxes lyrical about all things grammatical, lexicological, and etymological.

Born in 1977, Forsyth studied at Winchester College and is a Lincoln College, Oxford alumni. The popularity of his blog led to the publication of The Etymologicon. He describes himself as a journalist, proofreader, ghostwriter, and pedant.

 

The Book

The Etymologicon is a rather interesting stroll through various words and phrases, and their meanings. From a “turn up for the books” via “cynical dogs” to “the buck stops here.”

The English language is certainly a very strange and ever-changing creature. Mark Forsythe has a way with language — well, two ways, if you like — as he peppers this interesting anthology with his quirky humour.

In its 250 pages, The Etymologicon includes over 100 lexicological entries. Here are just a couple of my favourites:

‘The Anglo-Saxon Mystery’

These pages detail how language was acquired and changed (or, more to the point, how the Angles and Saxons barely took any words from the Celts who had occupied the land before them) but my personal favourite is an example of how some of the words in our beautiful language are made up of other words which all mean the same thing (like calling a river ‘Avon’ which means river).

This particular entry talks about hills.

“…pen was a Celtic word for hill. Yet when the Old English came across a hill called Pen , they decided to name it Pen hul, hul being the Old English word for hill.”

“Names were doubled up, such as Bredon (hill hill) or the River Esk (river river) […] it also makes for some very amusing etymologies. Pen hul became Pendle and then a few hundred years later […] changed the name to Pendle Hill which means Hill-Hill Hill…”

 

‘Cynical Dogs’

This entry explains how Greek philosopher Diogenes became a cynic via, etymologically speaking, a dog defiling a sacrifice at a gymnasium.

“…gymnasiums were also places for socialising and debating and teaching philosophy. Diogenes’ gymnasium was known as the Gymnasium of the White Dog or Cynosarge because a white dog had once defiled a sacrifice there by running away with a bit of meat.

Diogenes, not being a native Athenian, was forced to teach in the Dog’s Gymnasium, which is how one hungry and ownerless canine gave his name to a whole philosophical movement. A fun little result of this is that any cynical female is, etymologically speaking, a bitch.”

 

Summary

So, there you have it. Just a couple of examples of our linguistic history and evolution.

Aside from the gigglesome titbits of etymology, there is a quiz section at the end of the book. A quiz in which the questions involve etymological names of famous people, whose real names the reader must work out.

All in all, a great read for those interested in the roots of our language as well as anyone who enjoys reading.