Top 50 Games 2017

Posted: February 2, 2017 in Games
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As we begin the month of February it is time for me to make my latest top fifty games list. So, without any further preamble, here is the list:

  1. Five Tribes (up 2)
  2. One Night Ultimate Werewolf (down 1)
  3. Castles of Mad King Ludwig (up 2)
  4. Dead of Winter (down 2)
  5. Small World (new)
  6. Suburbia (up 24)
  7. Istanbul (new)
  8. Pandemic Iberia (new)
  9. Pandemic (down 5)
  10. Mysterium (down 4)
  11. Freedom: The Underground Railroad (down 4)
  12. Ticket to Ride (down 4)
  13. On the Underground (down 2)
  14. Courtier (new)
  15. The Little Prince: Make Me A Planet (unchanged)
  16. Die Macher (down 7)
  17. Roll for the Galaxy (down 5)
  18. Fresco (down 5)
  19. T.I.M.E. Stories (new)
  20. Bang! The Dice Game (up 4)
  21. Medieval Academy (down 7)
  22. Airlines Europe (down 6)
  23. Hanabi (down 13)
  24. Codenames (down 7)
  25. Between Two Cities (new)
  26. Firenze (new)
  27. Power Grid (down 9)
  28. Pandemic: The Cure (new)
  29. Ca$h ‘n Guns (new)
  30. Mission: Red Planet (new)
  31. Dixit (down 8)
  32. Paperback (down 10)
  33. Splendor (down 13)
  34. Forbidden Desert (down 13)
  35. Love Letter (down 9)
  36. Keyflower (down 9)
  37. Ultimate Werewolf: Inquisition (down 9)
  38. Evolution: Climate (new)
  39. The Grizzled (new)
  40. Mr Jack Pocket (down 8)
  41. Hive (down 8)
  42. Kodama: The Tree Spirits (new)
  43. Time’s Up! (new)
  44. 1960: The Making of the President (new)
  45. Innovation (new)
  46. Elysium (new)
  47. Alhambra (down 13)
  48. Wits & Wagers (down 12)
  49. Tiny Epic Galaxies (down 12)
  50. Linie 1 (down 12)

Last year half of the list was made up of new entries, whereas this year only seventeen games appear on the list for the first time. Only one game keeps its position on the list – one of my perennial favourites, The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet.

Four games (one less than last year) climb up the list: Five Tribes, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Suburbia, and Bang! The Dice Game. One of those climbing up the list is my new Number One: Five Tribes. This is one of those games that brings so much to the table with every play. There is so much going on in the game, while at the same time it is not overly complicated. The game that climbed the most was Suburbia, which rose a total of twenty-four places.

A total of twenty-eight games fall down the list. The biggest fall of thirteen places was shared between four games: Hanabi, Splendor, Forbidden Desert, and Alhambra.

So, once again a number of new entries make the list, a few climb, and more than half fall. It will be interesting to see if the high number of new entries continues in future years, or whether the games find a natural level.

As ever, check back next year to see what changes there are.

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Deep Sea Adventure

Posted: January 30, 2017 in Games, Reviews
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Deep Sea Adventure is a small box game published by Oink Games. It is a push-your-luck style game played over three rounds, with players attempting to recover the most valuable collection of treasure from the ocean depths.

The game literally comes in a small box.

The game can be played by two-to-six players, and each player selects a meeple of their colour. The meeples are not standard form, but are little models of deep sea divers, complete with diving helmet.

The submarine, with air supply marker, is placed on the table. Then treasure tiles are placed, face down, in a trail leading from the underside of the submarine. The path begins with the triangular tiles and progresses through squares and pentagons to hexagons. The circular tiles, which are space holders, are kept to the side for the time being.

An example of the initial set up

 

Once everything is set up and a start player chosen, the game begins. On their turn each player rolls two dice. Each die has the numbers 1, 2, & 3 printed on them twice; thus any given roll will obtain a score between two and six inclusive.

Players move down along the path the same number of tiles as the number shown on the dice. Only empty tiles are counted when moving; occupied tiles are simply passed over without being counted. Once a player has moved their meeple, they have the choice of doing nothing or picking the treasure tile they have landed on up. If a player picks a treasure up, they place it in front of them without looking at it, and fill the space in the path with one of the circular space holders.

On subsequent turns, before rolling the dice, a player has the option to ‘turn around’ and head back towards the submarine. Returning to the submarine before the air supply runs out is the only way to keep any treasure that a player picks up. However, a player may not return to the submarine empty handed. If a player does not declare a change of direction before rolling the dice, then they must continue on down. Only one change of direction is allowed per dive.

Whether or not a player continues on down, or starts to ascend again, if they are carrying treasure two things happen. The first is that for every treasure they are carrying, they must reduce the amount of air available by one. The second is that they must subtract one pip from their die roll for every treasure they are carrying. Thus it is that picking up treasure both reduces the communal air supply and makes it harder to move. Players may continue to pick up treasure as they ascend as well as descend.

Once a player reaches the submarine, they are safe and their treasure can be kept. When the air supply reaches zero, then the current player may finish their move, but once they have finished their turn all players still in the water fall unconscious and drop the treasure that they were holding. Treasure that is dropped in this way is placed at the bottom of the path in piles of three tiles. Players are then rescued and able to dive in the next round as normal. The player that was furthest from the submarine when the round ended starts the next round.

A game in progress

At the end of three dives, the player with the highest total of treasure safely collected is the winner.

This is a fun little game. Push-your-luck games are always a hit with me. They are usually quick to play and cause frustration and laughter in equal measure depending on whether it is you, or an opponent, that comes unstuck.

This particular game has the added aspect of the value of the treasure being collected being unknown until after it has been salvaged. While it is known that the more valuable treasure is deeper, the precise value of a tile is not known. This keeps the game exciting and tense.

The other anxiety causing element is the communal air supply. At first glance this seems to be plentiful, but as soon as players start to gather treasure it soon begins to deplete. This means that greediness, or simply an unlucky die roll, can cause you to start panicking as the air begins to run out and the submarine still seems very distant.

All in all this is an excellent little game. The only downside is the cost. While all games are expensive, this game (which comes in a box approximately 4*2*1 inches) is very expensive for what you get, even if the components are of a decent quality. If you’re happy to pay the price and you like to gamble in your game play, then this is a game that I would strongly recommend that you add to your collection.

Pandemic Legacy – November

Posted: January 14, 2017 in Pandemic Legacy

Let me begin with an apology for having left it so long since the last report. My intention was to write these reports up soon after playing the relevant month. However, I’ve let that slip somewhat as we actually finished playing Pandemic Legacy way back in November 2015. This means that, although I took some notes as we played, my memory of exactly what happened is a little hazy to say the least. I will, however, try to give as full an account as I can.

As usual, if you haven’t actually played the game yet, then this report will contain spoilers so navigate away if you don’t want to read them.


November began with our confidence high due to the two previous months both being successful. Our objective now was to build vaccine factories and get on with the task of vaccinating the faded cities. We were also being asked to destroy any military bases that we could.  At they same time, of course, we had to keep the rest of the world free from the danger of ‘normal’ diseases.

Our team for the month was made up of the Immunologist, Quarantine Specialist, Dispatcher, and Operations Expert.

And what a rollercoaster of a month it was. We succeeded in completing our objectives and winning, but the cost was high. 

We struggled to keep the diseases in check. In actual fact they almost had us beat. We suffered a total of six outbreaks, which almost took us to the very limit of what we could cope with.

Santiago became unstable. Lagos began to riot. London increased its level of rioting. And worst of all, Delhi not only began to collapse, but went further into darkness and fell.

Our successes were in building a total of three vaccine factories; destroying the military bases in Paris and Johannesburg; and vaccinating Istanbul and Algiers.

Our game end rewards were given to the Immunologist. He took on Multiple Identities to help him move around more easily; and he was also discovered to have a Shady Background, which would help him sabotage Military Bases. The win would also allow us to begin December with a stock of vaccine in one of our vaccine factories.

For the second time in the year we had won three months in a row. As we headed into December, the final month of our long and arduous campaign, we were feeling positive and certain that we could finally save the world.

Games Played in 2016

Posted: January 3, 2017 in Games

Following on from my previous post detailing the books that I read last year, here is the post that provides the details about the games that I played in 2016.

The statistics break down as follows: Over the course of the whole year I had a total of 985 plays of 136 different games.

This year, my most played game, with 54 plays was Dominion. Next came Dead of Winter (which includes plays with and without the Long Night expansion) with 50 plays. Tied for third most played games with 42 plays each were: Bang! The Dice Game and Pandemic: The Cure.

The rest of the games that received more than twenty plays were:

  • Qwixx (40)
  • The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet (36)
  • Mysterium (35)
  • Codenames (including Codenames: Pictures) (30)
  • Between Two Cities (29)
  • Wits and Wagers (27)
  • The Grizzled (24)

The list of games that were played ten or more times continues thus:

  • Lost Cities (16)
  • Hanabi (16)
  • Port Royal (16)
  • On the Underground (15)
  • Mr Jack Pocket (15)
  • Viceroy (14)
  • Castles of Mad King Ludwig (14)
  • Fungi (14)
  • One Night Ultimate Werewolf (13)
  • Guillotine (13)
  • Sushi Go! (12)
  • Medieval Academy (12)
  • Coloretto (12)
  • Dixit (10)
  • Kodama (10)
  • Ca$h and Guns (10)
  • Ninja Camp (10)
  • Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective (10)

That completes the list of the games that received ten or more plays. It comes to a total of 29 games. There are, therefore, another 107 games that were played over the course of the year, but I won’t proceed to list them all here, as I’m sure that it won’t really be of interest to anyone else.

Since I started recording details of the games that I have played (which started at the end of 2014), eight games have received 50 or more plays. They are:

  • One Night Ultimate Werewolf (83)
  • Coloretto (59)
  • Dominion (54)
  • Lost Cities (53)
  • Bang! The Dice Game (52)
  • Qwixx (51)
  • Dead of Winter (51)
  • Hanabi (50)

2016 was a great year of gaming for me. I have played games with sixty different people. Those games have been many and varied, but I am not the sort of gamer who only likes to focus on new games, so it’s good to see that there are a number of games that are getting multiple plays.

Books Read in 2016

Posted: January 2, 2017 in Books

As a new year begins the time has come for me to write those blog posts that focus on the books and games that have filled my life for the past year. In this particular post I look at the books that I read during the year. Thankfully, even though my gaming was, once again, high, I read more books than last year’s low total – twice as many in fact. The list of books that I read are as follows:

  • The Titanic’s Last Hero by Moody Adams
  • Two Girls, One on Each Knee by Alan Connor
  • The Wall: The People’s Story by Christopher Hilton
  • Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie
  • Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet by M.C.Beaton
  • The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat
  • The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
  • Killers of the King by Charles Spencer
  • Peace Work by Spike Milligan
  • The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie
  • Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener by M.C.Beaton
  • Adventures in Human Being by Gavin Francis
  • To Reach the Clouds by Philippe Petit
  • Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
  • Shakespeare by Bill Bryson
  • Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs
  • Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
  • Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie
  • Master & Commander by Patrick O’Brian
  • Inside Hitler’s Bunker by Joachim Fest
  • Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie
  • SS-GB by Len Deighton
  • Parker Pyne Investigates by Agatha Christie
  • Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembly by M.C.Beaton
  • The Perfect Nazi by Martin Davidson
  • Margaret Thatcher: Power and Personality by Jonathan Aitken

Top Ten Gateway Games

Posted: March 13, 2016 in Games

Making a list of gateway games is an interesting task because gateway games are so vital to the hobby. For those who don’t know, a gateway game is a game that someone would choose to play with a non-gamer to introduce them to the idea of gaming and show them that there are other games out there other than chess or Monopoly. So, because a gateway game is to be introduced to possible new gamers, it must be easy to learn and ways to play; it must also be appealing and not likely to have a game become long and drawn out.

These are the ten games that I think are the best gateway games known to me.

  1. The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet – simple tile drafting and laying game that has hidden depths to its play.
  2. Between Two Cities – another simple tile drafting and laying game which provides close scoring games.
  3. Incan Gold – classic, simple push your luck game.
  4. Camel Up – delightful camel racing game that has more than its fair share of luck, but which makes up for that through the sheer fun of the game.
  5. Codenames – simple but clever team game of giving and solving clues.
  6. Wits and Wagers – fun quiz game that players don’t need to know any answers to be able to enjoy.
  7. Dixit – fun story telling game that uses picture cards.
  8. Forbidden Desert – simple cooperative game where players are trying to escape the desert before they run out of water, or the storm buries them.
  9. Hanabi – cooperative card game where the twist is that you can’t look at your own cards.
  10. Bang! The Dice Game – enjoyable semi-hidden role game using dice to shoot your enemies.

Pandemic Legacy – October

Posted: February 3, 2016 in Pandemic Legacy

As we move into the final three months of the year and the dénouement of the story, let me remind you that if you don’t want your game of Pandemic Legacy spoilt then you shouldn’t read this blog post. If you’ve already played the game, or know that you’re not going to, then go right ahead and find out what happened and how we dealt with it.

 

Our regular briefing began with the less than encouraging information that the Faded are a mystery to science. There is a clear and identifiable contagion, yet at the same time this contagion does not lead to death in the majority of cases. This has led to the violent explosion in the Faded’s population that we’ve witnessed, and increases the opportunities for the disease to spread.

Our new task, in addition to those we are already attempting to complete, is to head back to Kolkata (City Zero) and locate the person who was the first person to be infected, i.e. Patient Zero. We need to find him/her because Patient Zero could hold the key to unlocking an effective vaccine against COdA.

  

As we set off our team needed rebuilding following the revelations about, and then subsequent disappearance of, the Soldier. We kept the Operations Expert, Scientist, and Quarantine Specialist on our active team, and they were now joined by the Colonel. He provided us with some extra mobility and had some skill in dealing with the Faded.

  
The month began well. Once again we were able to complete our search quickly. Patient Zero was located and we were, at long last, able to develop a formula to prevent the further spread of COdA. From now on we were not going to be spending time with quarantine measures. Instead we were to shift our attention to building vaccine factories and then vaccinating Faded cities.

  
After that we continued through the month successfully. We had a minor setback in having the Colonel take a scar. He became germophobic and now needed to discard a card whenever he entered a research station.

The rest of our work for October consisted of achieving our objectives. We destroyed a military base in Montreal. We were successful in not only locating Patient Zero in Kolkata, but also vaccinating the city as well. Sadly, it was not all good news, as an outbreak led to greater panic in Tehran which in turn led to it becoming fallen. However, we were successful with our objectives and we finished the month with a win.

Now we are only two months away from the end of this difficult year. We’re in a good position having created a vaccine for COdA and we are possibly beginning a new winning streak. It would be great if we could keep this momentum going through November and December. If we managed that, then I think that we could say that we had succeeded in saving the world. However, although it’s only two months away, a lot could still happen before we reach the end. We mustn’t get out hopes up too much, nor should we become complacent.

Top 50 Games 2016

Posted: January 7, 2016 in Games
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As 2016 begins I thought that I would produce my latest list of the games that I consider to be my fifty favourite games. From now on, unless something dramatic happens, I don’t propose to update the list more than once a year. My intention will be to publish the new list near the beginning of each year.

So, without further ado, here’s the top 50:

  1. One Night Ultimate Werewolf – (unchanged)
  2. Dead of Winter – (new)
  3. Five Tribes – (new)
  4. Pandemic – (up 2)
  5. Castles of Mad King Ludwig – (down 2)
  6. Mysterium – (new)
  7. Freedom: The Underground Railroad – (new)
  8. Ticket to Ride – (down 3)
  9. Die Macher – (up 14)
  10. Hanabi – (down 6)
  11. On the Underground – (up 15)
  12. Roll for the Galaxy – (new)
  13. Fresco – (new)
  14. Medieval Academy – (down 12)
  15. The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet – (new)
  16. Airlines Europe – (down 5)
  17. Codenames – (new)
  18. Power Grid – (down 8)
  19. Escape: The Curse of the Temple – (new)
  20. Splendor – (down 11)
  21. Forbidden Desert – (down 14)
  22. Paperback – (new)
  23. Dixit – (up 6)
  24. Bang! The Dice Game – (new)
  25. Camel Up – (down 11)
  26. Love Letter – (down 8)
  27. Keyflower – (new)
  28. Ultimate Werewolf: Inquisition – (down 15)
  29. Carcassonne – (down 13)
  30. Suburbia – (down 18)
  31. Guillotine – (down 9)
  32. Mr Jack Pocket – (new)
  33. Hive – (up 13)
  34. Alhambra – (down 17)
  35. Survive: Escape from Atlantis – (new)
  36. Wits & Wagers – (new)
  37. Tiny Epic Galaxies – (new)
  38. Linie 1 – (down 11)
  39. Vikings – (new)
  40. Tobago – (down 32)
  41. Sushi Go! – (new)
  42. Takenoko – (new)
  43. Acquire – (down 19)
  44. Unexpected Treasures – (new)
  45. Queen’s Architect – (new)
  46. Cartagena – (new)
  47. Spyfall – (new)
  48. Noah – (new)
  49. Indigo – (new)
  50. Apples to Apples – (down 35)

So, there we have it, exactly half of the list is made up of new entries. Of the other half, only one game stays where it was before, and that is my number 1: One Night Ultimate Werewolf. This game continues to give great enjoyment when played and is always different, which is why it continues to stay at the top of the list.

Of the rest, nineteen games dropped down the list but managed to stay on it. The biggest fall was for Apples to Apples, which landed at position fifty after a drop of thirty-five places. The other games to fall down the list were: Acquire, Airlines Europe, Alhambra, Camel Up, CarcassonneCastles of Mad King Ludwig, Forbidden Desert, Guillotine, Hanabi, Linie 1, Love Letter, Medieval Academy, Power Grid, Splendor, Suburbia, Ticket to Ride, Tobago, and Ultimate Werewolf: Inquisition.

With the fact that twenty-five games were new entries in the list, twenty-five dropped out of the list, and nineteen fell in the rankings, it is impressive that five of the games on last year’s list actually climbed higher. The game that climbed the most was On the Underground which went up fifteen places. The other games to climb up the list were: Die Macher, Dixit, Hive, and Pandemic.

One game that I have played recently and which is probably conspicuous by its absence is Pandemic Legacy. This is a fantastic game, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing through the year and wrestling with the problems that it threw at us. However, I haven’t included it in this list because I simply don’t know quite how to rank it. It is, without doubt, an excellent game, but its finite playability causes me to shy away from including it in a list like this. I simply feel that there ought to be a different category, or list, for those games that have such a finite playing life. That is not to say that they aren’t good or worthwhile games; they clearly are. But I’m not sure that they can be included in the same sort of rankings as regularly replayable games. I think it is this issue that causes so much angst for many people when they look at the overall rankings for games on BoardGameGeek. It’s not something that particularly annoys or irritates me, but I wonder if that is what lies behind the issues that some people raise about those rankings. For what it’s worth, I think that Pandemic Legacy is an incredible game, but I won’t be including it in a list like this any time soon.

Well, that’s it for this top fifty list. Check back next January to see which games move around, which ones disappear, and which games will appear for the first time.

    Bang! The Dice Game

    Posted: January 6, 2016 in Games, Reviews
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    Bang! The Dice Game is a fun, fast, dice rolling, hidden role, elimination, filler game. The game plays between three and eight players. It is one of the most acclaimed of filler games, and is both simple to learn and to play. It has its origins in a card game that is also called Bang!, but since this dice version has been released, it is fair to say that there is an almost unanimous opinion that the dice game supersedes and replaces the original in every aspect.


    In Bang! The Dice Game each player receives a role that they must keep secret. The exception to this rule is that the person who receives the Sheriff role must reveal their role. All other players keep their roles hidden until they are eliminated. The other possible roles are: Outlaw, Renegade, and Deputy. The number of each role included in the game will depend on the number of players, though there is always only one Sheriff.



    Each player is also dealt a character card, which is kept face-up in front of them. Thi character card details the player’s special ability and the number of lives that they begin the game with. Players keep track of their lives using tokens. Curiously the tokens that denote the number of lives a player has are illustrated with bullets, which are the antithesis of life in this game as players mainly lose lives through being shot by other players. The Sheriff always receives two extra lives as denoted on his role card.

    Play is now ready to begin, and the Sheriff always starts. Play then continues in a clockwise direction around the table.

    On their turn each player rolls the five dice. They may then, in a Yahtzee style, re-roll any or all of those dice. They may make two such re-rolls. The only exception to this is if any dice show dynamite symbols then those particular dice cannot be re-rolled. Players may choose to stop rolling and resolve their dice at any time, but must do so after their third roll should they make that many.

    Each of the dice must be resolved, and each of the symbols resolve as follows:

    • Arrow: immediately take an arrow from the supply. If this is the last arrow available, then all players lose one life per arrow collected and all arrows are returned to the supply. Arrow dice may be re-rolled after taking an arrow token.
    • Dynamite: cannot be re-rolled. Rolling three dynamite symbols means a player must stop rolling and lose a life. They may continue to resolve their other dice.
    • 1: the person to your left or right is shot once for every 1 rolled and they lose a life for each one.
    • 2: the person two places to your left or right is shot once for every 2 rolled and loses a life for each shot.
    • Beer: a life may be given to any player (including yourself) for each beer rolled. No player may go above their starting number of lives.
    • Gatling Gun: is only effective with three dice showing this symbol, but if three or more dice do show this, then all other players lose one life.


    The game continues until one of the following conditions is met:

    • The Sheriff is eliminated
    • All Outlaws and Renegades are eliminated

    If the Sheriff is eliminated then all Outlaws win. This is always the case unless the only player left alive when the Sheriff dies is a Renegade. If a Renegade is the only one left alive when the Sheriff dies, then that Renegade wins.

    If all Outlaws and Renegades are eliminated, then the Sheriff, and his deputies (if any), win.


    This is an excellent little filler game. Each game only lasts for about ten to fifteen minutes. This is especially important for a game where people can be eliminated as it means that they don’t have to wait a long time before they can play again. It is also possible that bring eliminated does not mean that your interest in the game is over. Even if you’ve been eliminated, if you’re an Outlaw or a Deputy, then you can still win if your ‘team’ wins.

    The components of this game are great and the fun of rolling dice in order to eliminate your opponents is good fun. As the game begins the only thing known is who the Sheriff is, and so any shots taken are somewhat in the dark. As the game progresses it becomes clearer as to who is on whose side, but you can’t always be sure – especially if people are playing a canny game.

    All in all this is an excellent game that well deserves being brought to the table time and time again. It is quick and entertaining, which is all you can ask for in a filler game. If you’ve never played Bang! The Dice Game then I would highly recommend that you find an opportunity to do so.

    Books Read in 2015

    Posted: January 4, 2016 in Books

    Ever since 1987, and following the example of my father, I have kept a record of the books that I have read each year. To qualify, a book has to have been finished in the year, although it could have been started in a previous year. However, a book that has only been part read in any way does not count. The number of books that I have read has fluctuated over the years with a low point being 13, and the highest point being 43. For 2015, thanks in a large part to my reinvigorated interest in gaming, the total number of books that I read was, once again, 13 (This is actually the third time that I have only read 13 books. The other years being 1991 & 2000).

    Anyway, the list of books that I read are as follows:

    • Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack Adventure by Dave Gorman
    • Peril at End House by Agatha Christie
    • Why didn’t they ask Evans? By Agatha Christie
    • A Nearly Infallible History of Christianity by Nick Page
    • Head of State by Andrew Marr
    • The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
    • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
    • Bare Bones by Kathy Reichs
    • Too Much Information by Dave Gorman
    • The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
    • God Came Near by Max Lucado
    • Howzat? The Six Sixes Ball Mystery by Grahame Lloyd
    • Lucasz Klimaszewski meets the Reverend Roland Blite in unexpected circumstances with unexpected consequences by Phil Cosker