(AKA The Day of the Awesome Meeple!)
Thirsty Meeples is a board game cafe in the centre of Oxford. With lots of tables, an extensive board game library and lovely coffee, I thoroughly recommend a visit if your nearby.
We had a three hour time slot so preparation was necessary. The group consisted of my wife and another married couple who are seasoned gamers and myself. We had to juggle a couple of dilemmas, the first: we play ALOT of games and so finding things we wanted to play but hadn’t already played and the second: most of our favourite games are in the 1-2hour range and with only three hours, time was not going to be on our side.
After settling down to our table I was off to find our first play:
Known for their kids games, Haba put this game out as their first ‘family strategy game’. It is a game that has some simple mechanics, you have 10 meeples (which are shield-bearing, sword-waving knights in this game!) that surround a 10×10 grid. The grid is decorated with forests, mountains, cities, fog lands, marshes and a river. On your turn you flip two cards that show a co-ordinate and an item or monster that shows up in that square. Then you have a choice to move one of your meeples down or right as many squares on the grid as you like or two meeples one square. The catch is you can never move your meeples left or up so at some point you may never be able to move your meeple again! Also when two or more of your meeples meet, they form an adventuring group and can not be split so limiting your choices but growing your strength. Then depending which of the three scenarios you play depends on the winning conditions. We played the advanced rule so points were scored only at the end of the game; for area control, monsters vanquished and gold collected. This game was a lot of fun squeezed into a 45 minute time-frame. With the three different scenarios it makes it seriously adaptable for different ages. The simplest scenario allows you to score for everything as you get it so you can see (and help?!) what your opponent needs to achieve. I would recommend this for a gamer who plays with many different ages and loves a bit of the traditional fantasy theme!
We were getting thirsty and so a standard latte, maple latte and peanut butter mocha (!) later we were ready to take on our next game.
Lost Cities the Board Game
Lost Cities is a fun card game for two players where you simply attempt to stack different coloured cards on separate piles in numerical order. You can always place any higher number on its respective pile but you can never place a lower number on a higher one! The strategy here is trying to advance each pile enough that you score without tripping up by playing too high a number. The Board Game allows 4 players to compete and it is very similar. You are attempting to reach the end of each ‘expedition’. Each time you play a card, irrespective of it’s number, you move forward one square on the track. At the end of the game whoever has gone forward on the most amount of tracks and collected victory points and artefacts along the way is the winner!
I thought this was a nice implementation of the card game and made for a frustrating yet casual play! Really easy to pick up and play straight out of the box and the meeples were awesome – Indiana Jones style! Rating: B
After this game we had an hour and twenty minutes left so I asked a member of staff what they would recommend in this time. I warned them I had played many games and after a bit of deliberation they recommended our next game.
When the assistant said this was designed by the creator of Splendor but meatier and playable in 45 minutes, my heart went a little pitter patter as my wife adores Splendor. He said he would teach us but because of the busyness of the cafe never did. This did not matter as the rules were in just 3 sides of A5 and we were up and playing in minutes. You have a choice of 6 actions on your turn, recruitment, build, explore, move, upgrade and Nobility (or something like that!). You take one action and finl round begins when one person has played the nobility action enough times that they are crowned King (or Queen)!
This game was super simple to pick up and looked amazing! (Meeples this time were on horse back with textured city pieces!) The game does take 45 minutes and there is tonnes of replayability so I think the £29 is an absolute bargain! Also the production quality is out of this world. We all loved this game so watch this space as I’m tempted to snap it up as fast as humanly possible!
We had 20 minutes left and I wanted to get the most out of our time, so I ran and got our next game.
Fuse is yet another timed dice-rolling group game with everyone shouting at each other whilst trying to complete a common goal. This time you are defusing the bombs on board a boat and the way you do this is rolling dice and attempting to complete the challenges depicted by the symbols on the cards, either using maths, colours or formations.
Again it was super simple and we had a lot of fun attempting to beat the clock. However due to time our endeavour was stopped abruptly as our time on the table ran out. So we will never know what happened to that boat!
As we didn’t finish I couldn’t honestly give it a rating however I would REALLY like to play this again!
Thirsty Meeples is great! If you want to introduce some people to games, this would be a great place to take them. I also spied some seasoned players and because of the extensive gaming library you will always find something you haven’t played yet. Every table has someone who is passionate about this great hobby teaching their group a new game, some of these are employed!
We had tonnes of fun and got our monies worth! A great day with great people. I love this hobby.