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What are you playing this weekend? Here’s what we’ve been playing!

Suffragettes, legends, Romans and mice.

Image credit: Glass Cannon Unplugged

To celebrate the start of the MCM London Comic Con weekend - which is hosted by Dicebreaker’s parent company, Reedpop - we’re going to chat about some great tabletop games we’ve been playing this week.

This latest entry in the What you’re playing/what we’ve been playing series features contributions from Matt, Wheels, Maddie and myself. Whilst Matt and Wheels recounts their experiences with the historically-inspired board games Votes for Women and Rome in a Day, Maddie shares her thoughts on the wholesome RPG Fox Curio’s Floating Bookshop and Meehan weighs in on the upcoming Apex Legends board game.

But it’s not just about what we’ve been playing, it’s also about what you’ve been playing and what you’re planning to play! If you’ve played a tabletop game - or you’re planning to - please share it with us via the comments below, or on Twitter @joindicebreaker.

If you happen to be at MCM London Comic Con this weekend, you can catch Dicebreaker at the Centre Stage today from 12:30pm to 1:30pm and at the Centre Stage tomorrow, at 5:40 pm to 7pm. See you there!

What We’ve Been Playing - May 26th 2023

Votes for Women

Players will learn some history as well as enjoy some captivating gameplay with Votes for Women.

I haven’t played much this week, due to being busy with our plans for the Tabletop Creators Summit and MCM this weekend, so I wanted to take the chance to talk about something I played a few weeks ago: Votes for Women.

As Chase put so eloquently in a previous instalment of this feature, Votes for Women captures the struggle to pass women’s suffrage in the United States. We played competitively (there is the option for solo and co-op variants), where I was the Opposition - and let me tell you, it felt BAD. With cards full of historical sexist dick’eads (and racist wrong’uns to boot), along with concepts like literal Xenophobia, it feels suitably icky to represent the group trying to shut down the efforts of US suffragettes during the late 19th century and early 20th.

Happily, what doesn’t feel bad or icky is the game itself. Designer Tory Brown’s smart ruleset blends the card-driven play of classic historical sims like Twilight Struggle - where cards represent real people, events and motions, loosely tied to the progressing eras over multiple rounds - sprinkled with the spicy unpredictability (without being too over-reliant on luck) of light dice rolls.

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Despite knowing a pitiful amount about the period and individuals involved, I was able to get up to speed with both gameplay and setting in a matter of minutes. (Helped by the delightfully generous helping of recreated historical documents in the box, which serve exclusively as additional reading on the game’s background.) Because almost all of the actions are driven by the cards themselves, things move at a pacey clip - turns slide quickly by, and we completed a full game (while learning the rules) in well under two hours.

As Chase and I wrestled over the states’ political siding, I came to appreciate the real-life way (with the aid of Chase’s American insight) that the post-Civil War south remained staunchly against the idea, while the suffragette movement swept across from the more progressive west coast. Brown’s insightful design manages to feel balanced - our tight first game came down to the final state, Rhode Island - while managing to remain faithful to real-life events, sitting perfectly between being an engaging game to play and an effective exercise in educating an ignorant Brit like me.

Votes for Women is, frankly, a triumph of gameplay design for an accessible, historical board game. It’s immaculately judged between historical realism and strategic complexity, without feeling like a chore to get to grips with. It also looks gorgeous, with wonderfully clear art and components - including the pleasing inclusion of multiple meeples, solely to provide variation (and, in the case of the suffragettes, reflect the combined efforts of multiple groups).

Without overstating it, this feels like a true modern classic in the making: a board game that belongs on every shelf and in every classroom.


Rome in a Day

The cover of Rome in a Day
Scoring points in Rome in a Day requires the strategic placement of coloured tiles.

Maddie and I sat down over lunch the other day to try out some rapid fire games that had been sent our way, one of which was the colourful Rome in a Day from Alley Cat Games. In Rome in a Day, a group of players sit in a circle and grab a selection of tiles in their colour and some gems, each turn revealing five of their hexagonal tiles behind a secret screen and popping two buildings on the first tiles that flip.

Scoring points is easy: If you’ve got a group of same coloured tiles, like a batch of purple vineyards for example, you’ll score a point for each tile if there’s a building of the same colour either on or adjacent to the group. Multiple buildings of the same colour can score the same patches as well. On your turn you’ll just need to slot these hexes onto the little map that you’re building as efficiently as possible to try and score the most points.

But there’s a catch. Before any tiles are placed, every player will need to secretly divide their five tiles into two groups of any quantity. You could have two and three, one and four, or even zero and five if you’re feeling spicy. Then you’ll place one of your gems on the smaller of the two groups. After everyone reveals, you’ll be stealing one of the two groups of tiles from your neighbour, and another neighbour will do the same to you. Pick up the gem and you’ll add it to your collection and those gems get more valuable with each one you pick up! Any tiles you grab you’ll be able to place on your map with the ones that were left behind. With that, Rome in a Day turns into a game of cutting the cake at just the right angle to incentivise your opponent to grab the pile you don’t want, whilst also leaving you with all the bits you do. It’s fun, quick and I enjoyed it a lot!


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Fox Curio’s Floating Bookshop

The cover of Fox Curio's Floating Bookshop
Manage your own fictional bookshop in this cute solo roleplaying game.

I’m currently focusing a lot of time and attention on solo RPGs which you’ll get to see over on the Dicebreaker YouTube channel in a few weeks time. One game that I had to start with though is the recently released Fox Curio’s Floating Bookshop by Ella Lin. As someone who spends a good 80% of any given day dreaming about running away to open a tiny bookshop, it was made for me. You play as a little creature who runs a bookshop that travels along a great river. I picked a harvest mouse called April who discovered the book boat abandoned - she dusted it off, started organising the shelves and got to work bringing stories to the other folk who pass by on the water.

I haven’t gone too far into my year of bookselling yet, but it’s already been a lovely cosy experience that even has a printable floorplan to allow you to design your boat! There seem to be a lot of mechanics to explore as you journal, from filling in hearts with customers, to repairing your boat, stocking up on supplies, and even a spot of fishing! No wholesome life sim is complete without fishing afterall. I’m excited to delve further into my life as a mouse bookseller and see what stories unfold as I explore the river bends.


Apex Legends: The Board Game

Each Legend has their own unique set of abilities and feats. | Image credit: Glass Cannon Unplugged

This week, I was invited by the video team to play a prototype version of the upcoming board game, Apex Legends: The Board Game. Based on the battle royal team shooter video game, Apex Legends: The Board Game sees players controlling characters, or Legends, who each have unique abilities. We played the two-versus-two mode of the game, where teams of two players go head-to-head against each other to be the first to down each member of the opposing team once.

I’ve never played Apex Legends myself, so I can’t speak to how accurate the board game version was to its video game predecessor. However, the tabletop title did feature several interesting gameplay mechanics that definitely invoked a battle royal-style video game. For example, the board - which was made up of a series of tiles, levels of cardboard terrain and various obstacles - featured four mini-walls in its corners, which would move in response to a randomly drawn diagram. Any character sitting outside the walls of the dome would take damage every round, much like characters who step outside of the ever-decreasing dome in the original video game.

Another way the video game board game mirrored gameplay mechanics from the original Apex Legends was through its spawn system. As players spawn into the game, they can choose a direction to enter onto the board from, with each side granting a particular bonus: such as a collection of random loot or the ability to move two spaces before the game begins. Players are able to collect more loot by opening one of the unopened crates scattered across the board, giving them the opportunity to draw a potential new weapon enhancement, piece of armour or ammo.

Obtaining loot is essential to success in Apex Legends: The Board Game, as it’ll give you and your team-mate offensive or defensive advantages. Modding your weapon can increase its damage output or accuracy, whilst armour pieces help to prevent you from taking damage or even from dying.

Shooting in the video game board game requires players to have line of sight of their chosen target - which can be blocked by walls or obstacles - which makes the board’s higher levels much more desirable. Players will then randomly draw a number of cards from a deck, with the goal of hitting or surpassing a target number - which will depend upon various factors, such as the weapon being used and the location of the target. As players draw, they will face higher number penalties to their accuracy, with each shot within a single attack getting harder to hit. This makes combat more interesting than just rolling a set of dice and adding or subtracting a fixed modifier.

Each playable character in Apex Legends: The Board Game has their own combination of tactical and ultimate abilities that reflect how they work in the video game, as well as a deck of feature cards that can be used both during and outside of their turns. Though it feels like more could be included to make these characters unique from one another, it was cool to place Gibraltar’s Dome of Protection and set up their Defensive Bombardment.


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