Saturday, 21 December 2013

An Unexpected (Killing) Party

Stanley was given The Hobbit boardgame for his birthday* and today we broke it out and played its debut game in the Morrison house. I think I was under the illusion that this is a Knizier game - it's not. Or at least it doesn't seem like it. And it doesn't credit the designer - at least not openly. I haven't checked the small print. All of which preambularly leads us to the game itself.

There seems to be quite a few Hobbit games knocking about (not to mention the ubiquitous Lord of the Rings) but this is the one allegedly suitable for kids. From a strategic perspective it is - it's rolling dice and picking up cards. Thematically however it's pretty brutal, as the game is all about killing monsters - no ring, no Smaug, no Battle of the Five Armies and not much of a narrative.

Basically each player starts with a character (Stanley was Gandalf, Joe was Bilbo and I was Thorin) and together we travelled through four realms, adding extra capacity to our initial weapon, armour, and power levels (power being skill, strength and health). Then when we feel ready one of us takes on the monster in that realm, hoping our levels will outperform theirs in a set of three battles.

If you play the proper rules then every player has to defeat every monster, which could take some time, so I adapted it so as long as one of us defeated them we could all move on to the next realm. Which also made it a co-operative - not something the boys find satisfying at the end, but easy to table-manage. As it was Joe abandoned us in the third realm when he learned Sally was making cake, and whilst his cries of chocolate fuelled delight echoed through from the kitchen Stanley despatched the final monster (a Warg Rider).

I don't see this coming out on a Tuesday night unless we collectively regress 180 years, but it was fun to play with the boys. I didn't know whether to be pleased or worried when Stan said "It's my very-first board game!" with the clear implication that there would be more...

*also a stunt scooter, which he is admittedly more pleased with

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