Review – Hoyuk from Mage Company


Review – Hoyuk from Mage Company

2-5 players, Age 10+

Designer – Piere Canuel

Art – Anthony Cournoyer

Many thanks to Mage Company for providing a review copy of this game.

In Hoyuk, the players clan leaders during the Neolithic period who are trying to build part of a village.  You will be building houses, pens for cattle,  shrines, ovens and populating your houses. Life isn’t so simple as you will be competing to build effectively and strategically as well as dealing with the effects of natural catastrophes.

In essence, this is a tile placement game with extra building twists.



The first thing that you notice about Hoyuk is the physical weight. It’s pretty heavy and the components are thick and chunky and will stand up to a lot of plays.

You get:

1 Game board

5 sets of 25 houses

40 pens, 20 ovens, 20 shrines, 20 villagers, 20 cattle, 1 shaman, 1 player marker, 5 player counters

24 catastrophe cards

15 construction boards

70 aspect cards


The production quality is excellent. The art relates the theme well. The images are clear and illustrate what is required in a functional way. The colours are pretty reasonable although only the red is bright enough. The other colours of the tiles stand out against the game board which depicts the village area. Likewise, the art on the cards is attractive and effective.



Without going into great detail, here is how the core game works.

First player – An unusual feature of Hoyuk is the choice of first player. The first player who holds the starting player tile, must choose who will be the next starting player. And no player can be the starting player for 2 consecutive turns. This is an interesting rule as it brings a decision as to where the current starting player sees the most benefit to giving a carefully chosen opponent the start tile.

Each round has 4 phases –

Construction (x2) – Each player builds a set of 3 Elements in turn based upon the 1st Construction tile, which can include houses, temples, pens, or ovens. Once all players have used their first construction tile, they then do the same again with their 2nd construction tile.

Houses are the core building unit and can have a 2nd story built on top  or pens built alongside. Shrines and ovens are placed on houses. There are rules governing the placements. Adjacent houses of the same colour create families, Blocks are created of adjacent houses, pens and ruined houses, regardless of colour.

This all sounds a bit cozy but then there are catastrophes…




After the first round, the current round’s first player chooses a catastrophe card and all effects are applied. Yes, this is a random factor which you don’t find in too many Euro-style games and for me, it makes sense historically as Mother Nature is unpredictable and can be mean and arbitrary. Each catastrophe will affect 1 or more blocks in the village, ruining houses, an aspect card, etc.

Catastrophes include –

Bad Seasons, Droughts, Epidemics, Earthquakes, Fires, Floods, Locusts, Looters, Sacrifices, Tornados, Volcanos and Wolves. Each with their own effects.

Tip – No amount of planning will protect the players completely so it will be important to diversify and spread the risk by building in a number of areas.


Aspect Cards

Each Block is inspected to determine which player(s) have the lead in each of the 3 aspects (ovens, shrines and pens). These players get an Aspect card corresponding to the aspect they lead in. Aspect cards are only awarded to regarding blocks where more than 1 player has built. So you must connect with other players to create combined blocks to score Aspect cards.

The Aspect cards start in decks for each of the 3 Aspects noted. However, when you spend your Aspect cards, you can place them in any of the piles as long as all cards spent by a player in a turn must be placed in the same deck during a turn.

Aspect cards let you build extra Elements. They can also be used to score victory points by collecting sets.

End of Round

All Aspect cards used are placed in decks. A new start player is chosen.

Game end

When a player places their 25th house, the last round is triggered. Then Final scoring determines which player has won.

Additional rules add villagers, cattle, a Shaman, more Aspect cards and construction cards and finally, individual clan powers.

I’ve only played the core rules version as this was plenty for me (see below).


Did I enjoy Hoyuk?

I must be honest and say up front that I am generally not a fan of most Euro-style games as they tend to do my head in. Having said that, I do tend to enjoy simple Euro games.

The feel of the game is logical and interesting as you are placing tiles and also other Elements in order to get points for majorities. So there are some interesting choices to make. The mechanics and game flow work.

The rules are a bit harder to get through than perhaps is necessary and it does take a couple of rounds to get into the flow of things so it is not an elegant game as such. A “quick start” sheet would not go amiss.

The use of Construction boards is a good mechanic. As you get them randomly, you have to work with what you get and I personally like this. If you like to develop a strategy and planning ahead, you are limited by this randomness.

For me, there are a perhaps slightly too many choices, even with the core rules with the construction boards and later as you build up the Aspect cards and have choices how to use them. It works, but it ups the complexity and slows the game for me.

I certainly wouldn’t add the extra rules beyond the core game as it would increase the time length and and “thinkiness”. I would hesitate to play Hoyuk with non-gamers, definitely not beyond the core rules.

On the one hand, I like the use of the random Catastrophe cards as they level the playing field for those of us who aren’t strategic planners. And they aren’t so much a “take that” mechanism as a risk to anyone or all.  Having said that, because there are a number of choices to be made, some players may feel frustrated with getting hit randomly after investing in a strategy.

So where do I stand regarding Hoyuk? Mixed, I’m afraid. I like parts of it, but I essentially wish it was simpler and more elegant. If I compare it to say, Carcassone, for example, I much prefer that game. Hoyuk has too many moving parts for me, even in the core game, for the type of game it is. It leans towards a heavier game and with more players, and advanced rules, is more than what truly works for me.

So overall, its definitely worth a play and some folks who enjoy having a lot of choices will like it more than me but with so many other games competing for my time, I personally won’t be in a hurry to come back to it.

For more information go to –


Boardgames in Blighty News – Press release from Cubiko Games announcing JamSumo for 2015


Boardgames in Blighty News – Press release from Cubiko Games announcing JamSumo for 2015

Gavin Birnbaum, the driving force behind all the games published by Cubiko Games, showed JamSumo for the first time at Essen Spiele 2014. Every copy of JamSumo is handmade in Sapele (Mahogany family) by Gavin, this is why he will only have 32 copies ready for release on 29th May 2015 at The UK Games Expo.

JamSumo is actually 2 different dexterity games, Jam and Sumo. Each game is for 2 – 4 players and will take about 45 minutes to play. Both games are suitable for all gamers as they are simple to learn and simple to play – they’re just difficult to master.

Jam; Set your dice to number 4 so that you start the game with 24 points…bad points. On your turn flick your dice through the hole at the centre of the board to get rid of the bad points. Easy, just don’t miss and don’t make those 4s turn into 6s. When one player gets all their dice out, the rest of the players count up their bad points and the player with the lowest score after 4 rounds is the winner.

Sumo; Set your dice to number 3 so that you start the game with 18 points…good points. On your turn flick your dice to knock your opponents off the board (or though the hole). Easy, just don’t miss your opponents and try and get your dice to change to 6 for a high score. When one player gets loses all their dice, the rest of the players count up their good points and the player with the highest score after 4 rounds is the winner.

Jamsumo costs £30 and will only be available at UK Games Expo. To reserve a copy of JamSumo e-mail Gavin via

Boardgames in Blighty Kickstarter news 23/11/14 – If I had the cash I’d look at…


Boardgames in Blighty Kickstarter news 23/11/14 – If I had the cash I’d look at…

The best I can do are a couple of “maybes” this week, sorry, but its quite an uninspiring week for new projects…



Infiltration, combat and sabotage! Team up with friends and perform daring raids behind the enemy lines.

Looks fun for us war gamers although I’m not so sure about its staying power as I suspect that it will become samey. What I don’t like are all of the expansions that are dangled out there for a lot more money in a zombicide kind of way.  Sorry guys but that is off-putting. It tells me that you had a complete game to offer and are parting out bits of it to drive the cash. So the core game will probably feel incomplete.

Hmmm… not sure its worth a it after all but maybe some of you will want to take a gander.



Be a Viking! Fight Giants! Defeat Loki & Survive Ragnarok! Runecast is a 30-90 minute board game for 2-6 players willing to tempt fate!

Yeah I like my dice of course and Vikings are cool so this co-op game could be fun but I don’t like projects with early pledge deals which cuts me out because I didn’t have a chance to look at it earlier. Note to project owners, this pisses people off.

Also, the turn play video has a seemingly throw-away comment that whatever house rules you come up with regarding the order that you face the Gods could make if more fun for you. Should I be worried that the games is too samey that it needs house rules?

Not too sure…


Boardgames in Blighty News – Spieleschmiede is launching the project Eleven Elves help!, next up in the series of Little’N’Nice games


Eleven Elves help!

Spieleschmiede is launching the project Eleven Elves help!, next up in the series of Little’N’Nice games.

In the quick reaction game Eleven Elves help!, players take on the role of a foreman elf. Every morning this elvish boss lines up all helper elves to do a headcount. But there is always one worker missing. Will the players find out who is absent this time?

They can try, by flipping over a card in each round, then placing it in the middle of the table – and then the search is on for the missing elf and the
lost tool.

Eleven Elves help! is part of a card game series under the title Little‘N‘Nice by the publisher Spieltrieb. At the moment another project of the same series is running simultaneously: The tactical battle game Zep!, which is due to finish on Sunday.

Link for the Eleven Elves help! project:

Boardgames in Blighty News – Press info – Theomachy on Kickstarter in 2015


Boardgames in Blighty News – Press info – Theomachy on Kickstarter in 2015

During the last two editions of the SPIEL fair in Essen, as well as via e-mail and the BoardGameGeek forum, the Historcial Games Factory team was asked many times about the possibility of releasing an English edition of “Theomachy”, a card game from 2012 available so far in Polish and German. Originally published only in Poland, the game was successfully crowdfunded in Germany in 2013 through the Spieleschmiede platform.
Today HGF announced the beginning of the cooperation between the Polish company and Petersen Entertainment, which will result in releasing the English edition of the game next year. It is also intended for crowdfunding, and the Kickstarter campaign will be launched at the beginning of 2015. However, the first opportunity to playtest “Theomachie” in English (under working title “Theomachy”) is this weekend – during BGG Con in Dallas.

The design works on the game are still in progress, but the publisher announced the introduction of some novelties, among others, three completely new mythologies – the Egyptian one and two pantheons related to the Cthulhu Mythos – Great Old Ones and Outer Gods. In the design of these factions the HGF team is being helped by Sandy Petersen, the author of the legendary role-playing game “Call of Cthulhu” and the boardgame “Cthulhu Wars”.


Boardgames in Blighty Kickstarter news 15/11/14 – If i had the cash I’d take a look at…


Boardgames in Blighty Kickstarter news 15/11/14 – If i had the cash I’d take a look at…

Ok, so this week, I can recommend that you take a look at…


Traveller Ascension

Traveller Ascension: Imperial Warrant places you at the center of one of the most exciting periods in Traveller history. It is the dawn of the Third Age of the Imperium. The dark times of the empire are behind us, and the future is ripe with the promise of rapid expansion, untold adventures, and even danger, on the wild frontiers of the galaxy. But rewards come only to those who are bold enough to seize that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Traveller Ascension: Imperial Warrant is a chance to carve out your own piece of the cosmos. You have been tasked by the Emperor to move into a new sector of the galaxy: Use your newly-acquired Imperial Warrant to Explore, to Expand and to Exploit this new area for the glory of the Imperium…and for your own fame and glory.

As an old skool gamer, I’ve always been interested in Traveller so I am happy to recommend this. Wish it was Euro-friendly though…


The Princess Bride – Three brand new card games!

The much loved film can now be experienced again with three all new card games based on some of your favorite moments!

It seems like everyone has a favorite part of The Princess Bride. This classic movie has become much loved by millions of people around the world, and Game Salute is now offering the opportunity to experience this fantastic story in a whole new way. Last year we created the incredibly popular Prepare To Die party game and now we’re looking to create three all new games based on other sections of the movie! You’ll be able to pick up one, two or even all three, but whatever you decide – we know you’re going to love the games as much as The Princess Bride itself!

Ok so let’s be up front and honest. Yes… I know… it’s Game Salute and they have previous… But before you get your knickers in a twist, my personal feeling is that although Game Salute have indeed, not been perfect and have made mistakes, they have also been very ambitious and taken risks that others haven’t.

A lot of anti-GS comments are by people who don’t know that first thing about running a game publishing business, let alone a Kickstarter campaign and who haven’t ponied up and tried to do it themselves. So I ignore the majority of it as ignorance.

Having said that, GS should have handled some things better. So there you go.

Putting that aside, as a project, I know that the designers are reputable and the topic is The Princess Bride dude so defo worth a look. Tbh, their first game in the series, Prepare to Die looked like horrible crap so I ignored it, but these 3 look pretty good.

And Game Salute does provide local distribution in Europe which is a very good thing…


In a World of Dinosaurs

A board game of paleontological and prehistoric prowess. Battle as dinosaurs and scientist-explorers across time and board space!

Nice to see a lovely looking game with a reasonably different theme. BUT, its not Euro friendly so I can only recommend it to USA backers nor is it clear that the shipping is included. Sloppy really, but worth a look anyway.

Boardgames in Blighty Kickstarter News 8/11/14 – If I had the cash I’d look at…


Boardgames in Blighty Kickstarter News 8/11/14 – If I had the cash I’d look at… (includes a rant at Queen Games and smaller rant at Worthington Publishing)

Yet more zombies, wizards, knights, castles, dragons and dungeons feature in new Kickstarter. Designers and publishers, please try and do something a bit different. PLEASE! You are boring us…

And, Queen Games, a LOT of us are well pissed off that you are putting the squeeze on indy projects as you use Kickstarter as a preorder tool. YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS! You are big enough and ugly enough to do this on your website and get your games published.  You are bad for the hobby and an enemy to its growth!

So folks, please boycott any and all Queen Games Kickstarter projects.

Anyhoo, there’s a Lone Wolf skirmish game which sounds pretty interesting…


Lone Wolf – The Board Game

The Lone Wolf fantasy gamebooks raised a generation of gamers. After 30 years on his shelf, Gary Chalk has a surprise for us.

You are Lone Wolf, the last of the Kai Lords.  Or perhaps you are Prince Pelathar, heir to the throne of Sommerlund.  Or maybe you are the infamous Giak warrior Kootak, sent by the Darklords to raze the land.  Now you can be all of these . . . in a hand-painted tabletop wargame.


Wilderness Empires

Wilderness Empires is a grand strategy game on the French and Indian War. Were we to become English, French or Native American?

A French wilderness empire stretches across vast tracks of the North American forest, along its rivers and the Great Lakes. It is growing, pushing further south and east. They have embraced and supported a Native American empire in the western wilderness. Both depend on each other for commerce and protection. Both are threatened by British expansion from the east. Both have aligned themselves together to stop it. Then a small skirmish on their frontier ignites a world war that engulfs them all and changes their empires forever…..

One point of hesitation for me sadly… Worthington Games, you are well connected enough to arrange local distribution for Europe so we don’t get hammered by customs as well. Why don’t you do this?

I can’t recommend this to those outside the US.