d20 has come a long way from it’s humble, kick-started beginnings. Along with Michelle, Mario and Page the café now employs a cast of characters that you might have met.

We are always asked for recommendations and depending who you ask you’ll get a different answer. In that spirit during May I asked all the d20 staff what their favourite games are and why. This is what I learnt

Name: Michelle (Chigs)
Position: Owner/Director
Fun Fact: I can make my toes click!
Favourite Game: Blood Rage
Reasoning: Ever since I first played Blood Rage, it has remained a firm favourite of mine. It is a Viking-themed area-control game all about achieving glory through death – whether it’s your friends’ death, or even your own! There is a drafting element at the beginning of each age, which makes you use different cards and strategies each time you play.

The miniatures are amazing, especially the painted minis in d20’s library copy. Our customer, Matt, did an incredible job painting ours for us; my favourite is the Frost Giant with his bum out! Epic monster battles resulting in victorious glory or crippling defeat? Yes please!

Name: Mario (Supermaz)
Position: Owner/Director
Fun Fact: Used to be a plumber, it’s-a him!
Favourite Game: Settlers of Catan
Reasoning: Catan was introduced to me as a teenager and is what sparked my loved of board games. I had never played a game of that calibre before and I was immediately hooked. I’ll never decline a game of Catan and I’m very competitive.

Catan, or Settlers, is a game where players compete for control of Catan to harvest resources and build settlement and cities, the first player to 10 points is the winner. The game has a modular board for varied plays and can be variously expanded upon.

Name: Page (Bardcommander)
Position: Owner/Director
Fun Fact: According to my doctor, my arms are hilariously short for my body. This explains why I am always having to ask people to move my pieces!
Favourite Game: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game
Reasoning: Battlestar Galactica is a game best played with friends… so you can feel the full weight of the betrayal once your trusted ally inevitably turns on you. With an ideal player count of 5 – 7 BSG is a game that you need to dedicate a few hours of your life too, but it’s totally worth it!

It’s a weighty secret identity game where the humans are running around trying to manage crisis after crisis whilst journeying to the safety of Kobalt whilst all the while the Cylons are secretly trying to send them too their doom. If you like a game with lots going on, various routes to victory and heavy deception, then we should play some time!

Name: Andrew (Androsaur)
Position: Manager
Fun Fact: Is a published poet
Favourite Game: Dominion
Reasoning: Dominion is often described as the Godfather of deck-builders. It epitomises the genre and for me nails down the core rules in an incredibly tangible way. Learning this game is a gateway to so many brilliant games and itself is an excellent game with replay-ability like nothing else.

The base, now in its second edition, has players build a deck of kingdom cards to acquire victory points more quickly and in greater numbers than their opponents. Players contend with Militia, Curses and Spies and make good use of Mines, Chapels and Villages to ensure their kingdom is the most illustrious.

Each play of the game players use 10 of 35 different kingdom cards in the main supply meaning there are thousands of possible combinations. What with the plethora of expansions, promos and fan-expansions there are millions of ways to play and countless more ways to win.

Name: Adam (AdZeBad)
Position: Kitchen Manager
Fun Fact: Once ranked number #1 at Kdice
Favourite Game: Coup
Reasoning: Coup is a game of lying and deceit and not much else. Everyone draws two character cards who each perform different actions, but luck of the draw has nothing to do it, because your cards are whoever you want to be as long as you aren’t caught lying about it.

Assassinate, steal, tax, and bluff your way through to be the last man standing, and claim victory.

Name: Keiran (Mazz)
Position: Chef
Fun Fact: Does a great Tim Allen impression
Favourite Game: Hive
Reasoning: Hive is a great little game with a basic concept that takes minutes to learn, surrounding your opponents Bee. The variety of strategies alone will keep you playing for hours. Each player has a selection of up to 8 different bugs, all of which varying greatly in their abilities, for example, the Spider can only move along 3 edges of the Hive at a time, whereas the Grasshopper can jump in a straight line over the Hive to reach the other side. Keep an eye on those ones or they might really start to bug you.

The game, although simpler in nature, can share the same level of intensity as Chess, constantly trying to keep on top of your opponents plans can become quite the task once the Hive starts to take shape! As for the pieces themselves, they are simplistic yet beautifully charming (if you like bugs of course). Hive is an excellent game of strategy that, if given the chance, mite become your favourite too.

Name: Charlie (Cornflake)
Position: Front of House
Fun Fact: Is an amateur singer/songwriter
Favourite Game: Great Western Trail
Reasoning: Great Western Trail is a fantastic game, and one of the most well-balanced I have ever played.
I find myself coming back time and time again in order to traverse the trail, avoiding hazards like flooding, desert droughts, and rock-slides, in order to sell my cattle in Kansas City and send them off to various destinations around the USA.

You are given the option to hire workers in order to place buildings along the trail, offering you strategic advantages as you go. Other workers enable you to purchase better varieties of cattle at the market, or to move your train around the track to reach new cities and to purchase railway stations for even more bonuses.

It can be a long gruelling game at times, (much like I imagine a real western trail to be), but the rewards are worth it. Nothing is more satisfying and tense than tallying up scores at the very end. Best played under the beating sun with a corn stalk dangling from your mouth.

Name: Charlie (Charlie.is.allwright)
Position: Front of House
Fun Fact: Loves painting miniatures
Favourite Game: Dungeons and Dragons (5e)
Reasoning: The core of Dungeons and Dragons is a role playing game where you and your friends create a story and go on Adventures. I’ve never played a game that’s immersed me as much as DnD has. I’ve foiled the plot of a powerful Lich, explored the underground caverns of the underdark, been the only survivor of a deadly attack by a Red Dragon, stole a ship from a group of pirates and lost that same ship to a bunch of thieving wizards!

It’s a very social game and I’ve met some amazing people by playing it. I’d recommend anyone to give it a go if they get the chance too. If fantasy isn’t your thing there are other game systems like DnD such as Call of Cthulhu, Star Wars RPG, World of Darkness and Dark Heresy just to name a few.

Name: Charlie (Rookie Wookie)
Position: Front of House
Fun Fact: Can name all 45 US Presidents in order
Favourite Game: Mafia De Cuba
Reasoning: Fantastic hidden role party game. It’s incredibly easy to pick up and play with the age-old tale of a Crime Boss trying to reclaim all of his diamonds from his (not so) loyal crew. Filled with bluffing, deduction and a LOT of hilarious conflict. Hilarious conflict for a (small) Mafia of 6-12.

Name: Elliott (/error)
Position: Front of House
Fun Fact: Played Defensive Back in American football at university
Favourite Game: Firefly: The Game
Reasoning: Firefly definitely works best if you have a passing knowledge of the TV series it is based off. You fly your little plastic spaceship across and expansive board, picking up crew and gear to complete various “jobs” with the ultimate aim of getting well paid for your trouble.

What makes Firefly so enjoyable for me is how easily a narrative forms around each player. You’ll grow attached to your crew of misfits and imagine the wisecracks that would be exchanged when the job you’re on inevitably goes south. You’ll shake your head in disbelief as the incredibly unlucky captain to your left is once again boarded by space pirates but then ruefully accept that he doesn’t have to pay his crew if they’re dead.

So yes, it’s a big game (break out the extra table for this one) and if you quietly go around completing less illegal and hazardous jobs you’ll probably quietly win the game but will you have an exciting story to tell at the end of it?

Name: Harry (H-Dawg)
Position: Chef
Fun Fact: Once won a hot-dog eating contest!
Favourite Game: Risk
Reasoning: My favourite game is Risk because it satisfies my need to take over the world, it’s really good because you get little dudes you can put in your country and then you can use them to kill all the other little dudes until you win!

Name: Natalie (Mattikur)
Position: Front of House
Fun Fact: Is doing an English degree
Favourite Game: Monopoly
Reasoning: It sounds like blasphemy to work in a board game cafe and say my favourite game is Monopoly, but I’d be lying if I said it was anything else.

It’s the one game that everyone knows how to play. It’s beautiful is in its simplicity, in the way each family adapts it their own way, but essentially it’s always the same. The comfort of knowing that everyone is aware of the rules means that there’s no holding back – people can be as brutal as they like, and they are. You think you know a person until you see them play Monopoly and you realise they have a devil inside them.

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