Cardboard Diaries: A Change Of Pace

Hello youse,

The first thing you’ll notice is that the column isn’t called Cardboard Children anymore. From here on in, it’ll be called Cardboard Diaries. And after the jump, you’ll understand why.


Today I started filming on Burnistoun. It’s a sketch show, and I’m in almost every scene, so it’s hard work. But it’s great fun. Like a six week holiday camp. Because of the filming, we’re switching our regular board game night to Saturday instead of Sunday. Louise and Richard (I’ll tell you all about those two in the weeks ahead) are also in the show, so we’ll all be up early on Monday mornings. Late night sessions of big Fantasy Flight games are certainly a bad idea when you have any ideas about getting up early. My biggest concern is finding time for midweek board gaming. We’ll see how it goes.


Today it happened. There was a little bit of downtime between scenes, and I was on the lunch bus with Richard. What’s the lunch bus? Well, it’s a bus with tables inside, and it’s where cast and crew have their lunch when you’re moving from location to location all the time. So, there’s me and Richard having a coffee. And I say “We could have been playing a wee game of Magic right now.” And he goes “I have some decks with me.” And he did.

See, that’s the thing about gamers. ALWAYS PREPARED. You should always try to have some kind of gaming shit on hand in case the opportunity arises. Now, I don’t mean that you should carry a board game wherever you go. You don’t want to be that dickhead who turns up at people’s houses and says “HEY GUYS! WE’RE DOING THIS TONIGHT!!” But when you think you might be around other gamers, and think there might be a bit of downtime, be prepared. There are a lot of small games out there that you can slip into a pocket.

Some suggestions? Sure!

1. MAGIC: THE GATHERING – We’ll talk about this in a minute, but, yes. DAMN yes.
2. YOMI – The brilliant Yomi is a card-battle game styled after 2D beat-em-ups like Street Fighter or King of Fighters. You can learn how to play Yomi in minutes, and what’s left after that is a game of psychology. It’s all about anticipating your opponent’s next move, just like in those video games we mentioned. You can also use the cards as normal playing cards if you like, which basically means you have a hundred games in your pocket if you have Yomi with you.
3. BUZZ IT! – I’ve mentioned this brilliant party game before. It’s an electronic timer and a deck of cards. The cards say things like “WHAT YOU LIKE ABOUT YOUR PARTNER” and then you quickly leap around the table asking people for answers against the clock. It’s hilarious.
4. WARHAMMER: INVASION – More cards, sure, but maybe the best two-player card battle game of them all. Buy the base game, make a couple of decks, and ram them in the pocket. You can easily play without the players’ capital city boards if you know the game well enough. Great stuff.
5. WEREWOLF – There’s about a million versions of Werewolf out there. Ultimate Werewolf, Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow – any of them will do. If there’s a big bunch of people, and they’re people who are up for some fun to pass the time, you can pull this out of your trousers and save the night. You probably all know how to play this. Many of you “internet people” will have played it as Mafia on an internet forum or something. Some players are werewolves, and everyone else is villagers. At night, the werewolves kill a villager. During the day, the villagers vote to hang a suspected werewolf. A great game that gets everyone involved. And it fits inside your underpants.

Yeah, so, back on the bus. Richard says he has a couple of decks. It turns out it was a couple of duel decks he’d bought. Knights vs Dragons. And they’re great decks. Great fun. I don’t have to explain anything about Magic, do I? Here’s what I will talk about – something that is often ignored in all the chat about new release blocks and tournament legal standard draft mana screw deck nerf broken power cards. Magic is an incredible game. It’s still an incredible game. It’s been around for so long now that we’ve all started to take it for granted, but Garfield’s design is still a miracle. Man! The great thing about playing around with theme decks and duel decks and such is that you have that nice little initial period of unlocking the strengths of the deck. “Okay, so this power can pump this to do that and then this can do this… nice.” And it’s through doing this that you realise all over again how great the game is.

So yeah, a couple of games on the bus, with the 3rd AD looking on and saying “Fucksake! Goblins and dragons?!” Magic. Magic.


So sore today. We did a bit of filming on Monday with a coffin, and it had clattered off my shoulder and forearm and ear. Don’t ask how. Anyway, Richard wasn’t in, so there was no opportunity for some Magic. I did have some time to check out what’s been happening in the wide and wonderful world of board games, though. Excitingly, the rules for the new Cosmic Encounter expansion have hit the web, and that means that the release is just around the corner. The new expansion is called Cosmic Alliance and as well as bringing yet more new aliens into the game, and some white spaceships for an EIGHTH player, there are rules for team games. I’m not sure how I feel about the notion of playing in teams in a game as vicious as CE, but maybe it’s there to make those enormous eight player games run a bit more smoothly. I dunno. We’ll see soon enough. It’s something I definitely need to organise, though. Take over the back room of a pub, get eight bodies together, and stab each other in the back for a few hours. That’ll be my summer.


Exhausted. Amazing day’s filming, though. Kung-Fu fight scenes, stunts, the whole shebang. Lying in bed, knackered. I had a read on boardgamegeek about Republic of Rome, a board game I’ve had for a long time. I’ve never managed to get it on the table. It’s too intimidating. Some people say it lasts for ten hours, and the rulebook is just impossible to get your head around. It’s this big, dry, densely written thing. Ugh. I quite often open the box and look at all the stuff. It looks amazing, and by all accounts it IS amazing. I just can’t drag myself through those rules. And so this is what I do – every few months I do some reading up about it until I fall asleep. One day. One day.


More Magic. Another game of Knights vs Dragons, and then a game with some other duel decks I can’t remember. One deck was Black, with lots of sacrifice combos, and the other was a multi-colour deck that was really annoying to play against. I didn’t enjoy those decks as much, despite Black being my favourite colour to play with. My own black decks are always annoying themey things. I rarely play Magic to win – I enjoy coming up with cards that work together in funny and weird ways. (My favourite Magic cards are the ones from the Unglued and Unhinged sets – these are comedy cards that turn the game into a hilarious, chaotic party game. Even shuffling a few of the cards into each deck can make for some great fun. Here are a couple of my favourite cards from these sets – and )


No filming over the weekend. Long lie-in! This was supposed to be our board game night, but we had to switch it over to an early Sunday game because Kenny wasn’t available. So, I decided to take a trip to the board game shop. Now – here is my essential list of board game shopping advice.


1. NEVER EVER go to the board game shop when you’ve just been paid.
2. That’s it.

Oh boy. I came home with a lot of games today. Too many games, to be honest. Before you all think I’m mentally ill, I’ll say that there was a sale on. And hey, I’d just been paid. Here’s what I picked up…

SENTINELS OF THE MULTIVERSE – Reviews have made this co-op superhero card game sound interesting. First impressions are that the art is just awful. Awful. I mean, really awful. Maybe the art style will grow on me.

VOLTRON: DEFENDER OF THE UNIVERSE – This will be the first time I’ve played Monsterpocalypse. This set is a self-contained two-player game that lets Voltron and Lo-Tron battle each other, and is fully compatible with other Monsterpocalypse stuff. First impressions? Cool toys. Cool toys, baby.

RA – This is a Reiner Knizia game, from before he just started slapping his name on any old shit. Some say it’s his best game. As far as I know, it’s an auction game of some sort. If it’s his best, that means it must be better than LOTR: The Confrontation, which means it must be amazing. First impressions – beautiful components. Big wooden Egyptian tokens. Lovely.

NINJATO – I know next to nothing about this, other than the fact that it has a Ninja theme. It’s from Z-Man Games though, and most of their games have been fantastic of late. Nice board and lovely card art. I’m looking forward to trying this one out.

SUMMONER WARS: MASTER SET – I’ve spoken many times before about how wonderful Summoner Wars is. The new Master Set introduces a bunch of new armies inside a big awkwardly sized box that is going to give me some serious shelving headaches. If you haven’t played Summoner Wars yet, you’re crazy.

RISK: METAL GEAR SOLID – I had to. I had to. I love Risk Legacy so much that it’s changed my mind about Risk to a great extent. And MGS is maybe the best IP in video games. Apparently, this plays in a couple of hours and allows you to recruit Bosses into your army. If Snake is your Boss, for example, he can sneak troops through enemy territory. There are also cards you can purchase – you can take control of Metal Gear Rex and nuke opponents’ territories, and you can hide inside cardboard boxes. It’s Risk with that weird Kojima twist. I can’t wait to play it.

In the weeks ahead I’ll be trying all these games out, and more. I’ll also be telling you about who I play with, photographing our board game nights, and making some videos where we ALL give our opinions on the games we play. This week I’m going to try to introduce some non-gamers to board games, and see how we get on. I’ve got big plans for these diaries – I hope you’ll stay on board! And please, talk about anything that’s come up in the comments section below. Any of you played any of these new games I picked up?

Signing off. It’s Board Games Night tonight. Can’t wait. See you next week when I’ll tell you all about it!


  1. AlwaysRight says:

    Woo, more Burnistoun!

    I wish this article had been out earlier, I’m off on a family hol tommorow and could have done with advice on quick small games to play. I ended up buying Mystery Express as I thought people would relate to its similarities with Cluedo.

    Also, excellent article as usual.

    • realmenhuntinpacks says:

      I FUCKING LOVE BURNISTOUN. Too much. Also Rab, I met an Irishman this weekend who looked exactly like you. Sadly my attempts at insemination failed, but at least now I have a restraining order to remember him – and, by proxy, you – by. Is that weird? No.

    • Quinnbeast says:

      No really, whose shoes were they?

    • masfdusaui says:

      Earphones 48% discount for the IPod the IPhone Free Shipping!

      Original price $ 1.23! Price of 0.68 U.S. dollars! Discount 48%!

      You might like this! link to

  2. President Weasel says:

    Woo, more board game talk from R. Florence, Esq.!
    I strongly approve of this turn of events.

  3. Mehall says:

    Awesome! More board games!

    Wish I knew more Glaswegian board/card gamers ):

  4. Lars Westergren says:

    >See, that’s the thing about gamers. ALWAYS PREPARED.

    For instance, if a bear attacks you, you could poke it in the eye with a Warhammer orc figure. Unless your meticulous paintwork would be ruined by getting bear ocular fluid on it.

    • AlwaysRight says:

      I always carry a stack of Eldar Falcons to throw like shuriken.

    • Sami H says:


    • Skabooga says:

      That anecdote reminded me of my brother. Wherever he goes, a backpack of Magic cards goes with him. Admittedly, the strategy works well for him, and he has started a number of pick-up Magic games. You can always count on there being one or two people at a gathering who have played Magic in their past.

  5. GallonOfAlan says:

    What game is that vectory map on the banner from? Because it’s wrong.

  6. Doomsayer says:

    There are URLs in this diary that are in plain text form. This is an outrage! Forcing everyone to copy and paste the text string is ludicrous when you should instead have made those hyperlinks.

    • devlocke says:

      In Chrome, you can just select the text and right click on it to open the links. I haven’t used another browser in a year or two, so I don’t really know if that carries over into others, but it would be retarded if they hadn’t added that. It means you have to touch your mouse, still, which is annoying, but at least you don’t have to use the mouse AND the keyboard.

  7. Lambchops says:

    Nice to hear BBC Scotland has funding for kung fu and stunts and everything!

  8. Severian says:

    I was just able to get Ninjato to the table a couple weeks ago with 2 buddies. Really enjoyed it even though I got slaughtered. Clean Euro-mechanics nicely integrated with an Ameritrash-theme. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it once you get a few plays, but I’m thinking I’ll keep this one in my collection for a while.

  9. Synesthesia says:

    “you can pull this out of your trousers and save the night.”

    okey. Can i quote you on that?

    I got summoner wars this thursday! Loving it. I wish they brought the bigger sets, or some expansions to argentina, though. Guess i was lucky enough to get the dwarves starter set! had a boardgame night with some friends on friday.

    I organized a boardgame night at my place this friday, with some people i barely knew from steam, from some stupid source mods, and it was a success! Magic, Last night on earth, and summoner wars till 6 am. Campari, Fernet and Beer helped a lot, too. Horus heresy was a bit too threatening, though.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Florence doesn’t mind as long as you quote him out of context.

  10. pakoito says:

    Quick reminder, people like you and me are playing Summoner Wars online for free using Vassal. Contact me for more info.


  11. Skabooga says:

    Ah, Werewolf (I do know it as Mafia): great for ending friendships in under 30 minutes.

  12. Radiant says:

    Which two Yomi decks do you recommend that play well against each other?

    • pakoito says:

      Grave vs Valerie. Grave is the average Ryu character and can be played by anyone. Valerie’s special is that she can combo anything so the most complicated game mechanic (what combos into what) is gone. Geiger and Setsuki are probably next in list.

    • Radiant says:

      Ah brilliant. They’re selling double packs on Amazon uk.
      rook vs degrey and midori v setsuki.

      Worth picking up?

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      I’d recommend the Geiger vs Valerie double pack for a start, those are two of the more standard characters. Rook and Midori are throw characters, so they have way more throws than usual, takes a bit of getting used to. Setsuki’s game plan is to spam stuff all day long since she can refill her hand easily, which eliminates standard hand management concerns, so it’s a popular choice for new players. DeGrey is awesome, but kind of random. He’s heavily reliant on face cards (the special moves), but that makes having your opponent run into a Pilebunker for TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE DAMAGE all the sweeter.

  13. RagingLion says:

    New Shut Up & Sit Down episode is out. That show really is the best.

    link to

    They’re on top form again.

    • Chris D says:

      It is a great show. Although they do say some harsh things about Fortune and Glory in it. A game which Rab gave a glowing review to not so long ago. Now I’m not saying they have to fight a duel, preferably in an arena of spikey death, over this but…no, actually that is what I’m saying.

  14. Easy says:

    Rab, I’ve been playing a few acres of snow on Yucata (out of print) and loving the hell out of it. So while waiting for the next re-print, I got Gettysburg from the same designer (Martin Wallace). Haven’t played yet, but looks pretty interesting.

  15. PiiSmith says:

    Instead of Yomi try Battlecon.

    • pakoito says:

      Care to explain? I saw it on Kickstarter a lifetime ago but never got to play the free decks.

  16. Wang Tang says:

    Re: BUZZ IT!
    I played that with my friends on two evenings, each evening one half of the deck.
    Sadly, we remember most of the answers we gave (and we would unevitably repeat them), so we won’t play this for half a year or so.
    BUT! The two times we played it we had so much fun and were laughing our asses off that it more than justifies me having bought it.

  17. Brosepholis says:

    This article is redolent with the heady scent of…


  18. Jorum says:

    If we’d told Rob six months ago he’d own two copies of risk…..

  19. Nick says:

    I finally went and bought Mansions of Madness two weeks ago, we played it for the first time last night. Was amazingly good fun, once we got to grips with the rules (sort of on the fly), took a while to set up though and wow there are a lot of tokens that need to be seperated, I had to buy a special compartmented box just to keep them in. Can’t wait to play it again, thanks for the reccomendation.

    • Shadowcat says:

      On the Lovecraft theme, I played “Elder Sign” for the first time yesterday, and it was really neat. The game oozes its theme superbly (the artwork and copious flavour text are just great — reading each card aloud ought to be mandatory for all players).

      I thought there were a few too many components at first, but once you get into the swing of things, it all makes sense.

      It made an excellent first impression, so I can’t wait to play more of this one.

  20. Mo says:

    I read “Outer Haven” and instinctively blurted out, “Hmm… METAL GEAR?!” in my Snake-iest voice.

  21. Treebard says:

    Ra is fun. Not my favorite game – bidding mechanics aren’t exactly my thing – but as far as bidding games go, it’s one of the best. Very easy to learn.

  22. The Dark One says:

    I love that graphic. Quebec lumped in with the Maritimes as ‘Eastern Canada’, and Kingston through Windsor being part of the Eastern US. That’s enough to throw half the country’s population into a fit.

    • kud13 says:

      so, the entire populated part of Ontario is US now?

      there goes a quarter of the population…….

  23. pertusaria says:

    Chez Geek or vanilla Munchkin also work well as games to carry around – simple rules and enough variety to keep it interesting for a good while. Neither requires more than three people (can be played with two, but not well).

    I know some people are allergic to Steve Jackson games, but I think that’s largely due to the later games where he rode his existing franchises too hard. My favourite is Ninja Burger, but that’s more complicated than either of the two above.

  24. KaL_YoshiKa says:

    Small Box Games does some fine…well Small Box Games that usually suit 2 players. The Silver Box FFG games Citadels and Space Hulk are wonderful games to carry around.

    For casual gamers Coloretto is pretty damn amazing and it works with 2 or 5 players which is some great scaling. Will have to un-recommend most Steve Jackson’s games – least of which because they come in large boxes (so you’re going to have to downgrade) but also because they tend to drag. If you must grab a Munchkin game I’d recommend Cthulhu as the alternate win condition and tighter overall balance make it a superior game to classic Munchkin.

    Something worth considering is a few sets of what’s now called Looney-Pyramids from Looney games. Although do note to play the largest (and frankly better games) you’ll need a set total of 5 of each colour + size. Once that’s done though you can play the majority or games like Icehouse, IcyTowers, Homeworlds, Volcano (will need a 5th colour though >_< ) which can be played on any flat surface.

  25. Gwynor says:

    Ra by Reiner Knizia is one of the best boardgames I ever played (and I have played MANY of them). The maths layer is heavy as usual but masterfully hidden (unlike Modern Art by same author) under the theme.

    Royal Turf is another hidden gem by doktor K that I would recommend.

  26. SiHy_ says:

    When it comes to portable gaming nothing beats Pass the Pigs. The game of champions.

  27. B3tanTyronne says:

    Sad thing is that I have very little gaming free time (and that is spent on the pc/console) and I have to admit I do miss the rpg board games and the ilk which I played with my mates.This was over 22 years ago now (I am 39 years old now and as much as I keep being told `I should know better` I cannot deny the gamer heart I have and no doubt will continue to have until my dying day) and as much as I do not have the chance to play them now, I do like reading about the stuff I have missed out upon and seeing how stuff played out.

    Long may it continue.

  28. jon_hill987 says:

    That Knights Vs Dragons set is brilliant if you want to be able to play a friend without a collection of their own who has not interest in the metagame. I do think the Knights deck a bit weak though, the Knights deck that was put in Duals of the Plainswalkers 2012 DLC is much better, mainly because it didn’t splash green for no reason. All right, not no reason, it was for Knight of the Reliquary, but I stand by the fact that that card (and the few other greens they put in) did not make it worth it. Still fun decks though. I also like the Ajani Vs Nicol Bolas dual deck set, RGW Vs BUR really fun to play.

    Oh, and the other set you played sounds like Phyrexia vs. The Coalition, which I hear was not very well balanced so I never got that one.

  29. Hat_hair says:

    Rather than Werewolf, I have found myself enjoying The Resistance a lot more. It’s similar to Werewolf in that some players are secretly traitors, and the object is essentially to discover these people, but it plays quite differently.
    There are 5 rounds, and people vote to put together a mission team each round, who then each put in a hidden card. If any spies are on the mission team, they can fail the mission. The first side to complete three missions for their side wins the game.
    It only supports up to 5-10 players, but there is no more total player elimination, so everyone stays involved until the end of the game, which was always my main issue with Werewolf/Mafia.