Board Gaming in Cyprus. By Joel Wright

13 days, 20 games, 6 peoples in the 30oC heat

So, if you don’t listen to my podcast you wouldn’t know that I have been in Cyprus for the last couple of weeks with family. It was a planned family holiday for the four of us: me, the wife (Claire), and our kids: Caitlin and Isaac. And we were staying in Claire’s parents’ apartment, and once we told them our plan they decided to join us too…

…Oh well, extra child care.

We couldn’t really complain too much as we didn’t have to pay to stay and they kept the fridge well stocked, which was a good thing as the kids seemed to be eating like gannets, which they never do at home. Our home from home for the next 2 weeks is in a small town near Paralimni and the ghost city Famagusta, located in an apartment complex which has its own private swimming pool in the grounds. It’s a lovely and quiet place to stay, but our days and nights were sometimes filled with stray cat gang warfare, some of which was quite entertaining.

Weeks before, while the wife is agonising over what to pack, for who and how, plus the thought of how to condense into suitcases that are acceptable by the airline, I am having major anxiety attacks over what games I wanted to take and how the hell am I going to fit all of them into the one suitcase the wife had allocated me.

“It’s fine because I will only need my swimming trunks, maybe a t-shirt, and toothbrush!”

In the end, I came to realise I won’t be getting anything heavy played in the holiday or even medium complexity to be truthful. So most of my collection is safe from man-handling of Heathrow and Larnaca luggage staff. It also crossed my mind that I might not get any gaming time in at all, because, well we are on holiday.

Who am I kidding!!! I would die trying or get into a massive grump, due to withdrawal symptoms.

I did know that little light games will come in handy and I want to bring most of the ones I had in my plastic container, that sits in my car, for those on the spot “we need a game” moments. I also wanted them handy in my carry-on, just in case of any hold-ups at the airport (in light of the latest BA meltdown I might have needed them). I could have used deck boxes and plastic bags, but this can get messy and annoying at the best of times. I have been eyeing up a couple of new cases for my small games and 3 days before flying I invested in a Quiver Time Carry case and was able to squeeze in 11 games. I have to thank Amazon Prime for some my insanity.

So what did I get in:

There were a few that didn’t make the cut and are sitting on the reserves bench. But newly added now too is Temp Worker Assassins.

I also picked up a cheap copy of Ticket to Ride off Amazon in the thought that this will go down well with everyone if we are having an evening in. I took the insert out and was able to put Friday, Game of Trains and Blood of an Englishman inside and stick that all in my big suitcase.

The kids also packed their own games. We gave Isaac two starter decks of Pokemon CCG which he brought along and Caitlin always has her copy of Timeline: British History with her.

I won’t go into any rules details of the games I talk about, but I will put links throughout this article to places you can read more on the games. But let us get into what I played.

There are Cypr-annibals on this ‘ere Island,

So you find yourself marooned on an island, and it’s a Friday! What game should I play first; Friday by Friedemann Friese. And I didn’t plan this, it only occurred to me when I started writing. We were all a little tired and it took a few days to acclimatised, so I started off with Friday as this is my go-to solo game when we go camping and on holidays. This offers me my gaming fix of deck building and also boldly beats me around the head. I have only beaten this once on easy mode a couple years ago when camping in France. However, I couldn’t seem to recreate my tritium again this time round, and after the second night of failing to get off the island, over 10 consecutive games, I had to accept that I will have to live out my holiday on the island after all.

Pokemon No!

Ok, Ok, this is not on the list or even a board game, but for some reason I still play Pokemon Go. And up until we were leaving I have been setting myself up with a good standing and left with 8 Pokemon on gyms and was holding them until I was leaving town and lost one.

One down still 7 sitting tight and carried onto the hotel for the night. The day when we are flying out and a new event had started and I was looking forward to this and I was hoping for a 1st gen Pokemon to pop up so I evolve it and complete the 1st gen Pokedex. I was right, outside there was one and I quickly throw a ball at it. Now, I also try to make a point of coaching a Pokemon and spinning a poke-stop each day for the streaks and the thought was I was sure to get a poke-stop at Heathrow, there was PS, but I was struggling with GPS signal so I was going to wait until Cyprus and see what’s there. I don’t know what I was expecting, I had this thought that Pokemon ring in Cyprus might be fun and add a bit more excitement. When reaching Larnaca Airport I remembered to turn on my app while waiting for the rental car to roll up and luckily I was standing under a Poke-stop. This could be good after all. when we reached the apartment and were all unpacked I turned on the app again and scanned the area and was slightly shocked there was nothing around me, one wild Pokemon did pop up. The next day we went to the beach and there was nothing there either. In the evening I thought I need to find a Poke-stop and took myself on 10 minute drive to find a stop and the thought crossed my mind this could a pain to carry on. The next day I went with the father-in-law to the shops to stock up the fridge and on the way came across 2 stops, but couldn’t spin them so afterwards, before dinner, I went for a walk and found the stops again and nearly got lost on the way back and nearly didn’t get dinner. These stops were also rammed with Pokemon. Also by that day, back home, I had lost 3 more gyms in the same area, so I concluded that this new event had brought out old players again and they were sweeping through gyms.

The days afterwards I was finding more poke-stops and also taking myself for runs in the morning, to these stops and collecting good Pokemon, just so I kept everything ticking over. Also Buddy Candy was halved for this event and I was building up my Polygon to evolve it. But the event is now over I am down to 2 gyms, I am nearly out of items and my last few megabytes of data and now I am just catching and spinning when I can and for a lot of the days I have even forgotten to cast in my gym coins.

No Thanks! I’m British!

On a night out eating, of course, I took along a couple of games just for that moment when one of the kids said, “I’m bored.” Caitlin was the one that broke first and I offered her a game of No Thanks! by Thorsten Gimmler. Caitlin did try and protest at first because we played this before in France. But I convinced her to give it another go and she roped in mum and Baba (Grandma). We played a couple games and on the second game, Isaac jumping in on Mum’s turn and enjoyed every opportunity to shout No Thanks! and chucking in his chip. This opened a can of worms, and after that night the kids kept asking to play it every day, nearly every moment. Even Baba used it as a distraction for those eye of the storm moments when the flurry of excitement and adventure had stopped and the kids were limbo.

The kids did have issues with No Thanks!; Caitlin wants to be the mean person and take cards that another wants, for no reason other than to be spiteful. That was mainly because she witnessed her old man do this once. Isaac, on the other hand, thinks it best to collect the chips even if his score is high, but he will have all the chips.

Lord of Cyprus Beach

We spent quite considerable time worshipping the sun god and soaking in the salt water of what Cyprus has to offer*. There were times when, after copious amounts of snorkelling and drinking coffee, everyone seemed to put their head in a book or fall asleep. Then I am left contemplating life, or more to the point, getting excited about the UK Game Expo on our return to the UK.

To stop me thinking too much more about this and slowly counting the day away from our vacation, I have been claiming my stranglehold as a Lord of Waterdeep on the iPhone and maintained my winning streak, trying out new routes and opportunities. I really could have done with downloading a couple more apps as I find this now a little mundane. I did have Pathfinder the Card Game, and tried to play it again, but like many attempts before, I was really struggling to get to grips with it. Maybe if I play the real thing I would get a better understanding of the game and play it more. I did try and download Colt Express and Onitama, when sat in a restaurant that had WiFi, for a different option. However, I think the bandwidth was restricted, to allow me to complete the download of a file that size.

*Half the time, it felt like Claire and I had been played by the older generation, with the line, “we’ll go for the morning and do something different after lunch!” tactic.

Pokemon 2 players

So as stated, we got Isaac Pokemon cards for his birthday mainly because his friends have started to collect them and I thought this would be a good game to play with him. The first rule of Pokemon, we had to set out: there is no trading cards with his friends! It became clear to me that his friends are getting fakes off eBay. That said, I still had to hunt down a missing card from his collection after he took them out and Caitlin told me he had given it to a girl because she liked it.

The second rule of Pokemon cards: there is no trading cards with friends.

That’s an awkward moment when I had to knock on said girl’s front door to ask her mum for a piece of paper back.

But we finally did get a game in, well Caitlin and I did, and got to grips with the rules; which are really simple and clear. We played a couple times and I beat her twice, and we were on the way for a rematch, swapping decks all that, when grandma tried to walk through the game with her head in a book and combine our decks into one and nearly breaking her hip. Caitlin and I are still looking forward to playing more once I can put right cards into the right decks.

Have Trains, Got Game

I only brought this along because I needed to write the review and what’s a better time to do such a thing, but when nothing is happening because it’s too hot or everyone is asleep. Playing the game happened by accident. When I sat down to write, Caitlin was next to me on her iPad and I started laying out the cards to give me some more thought process and Caitlin asked how you play. So I told her and we played 4 games in a row, you can read the review here.

Kids Vs Grandparents Vs Monopoly

As you will likely find a bible in any hotel room, you will probably find a copy of Monopoly in a holiday letting. There must have been an evening when the in-laws had finished all their crosswords and sudokus and went out and bought a copy of Monopoly Revolution. I spotted this instantly and considered removing it from eyesight before the kids noticed. Now, Caitlin seems to be attracted to Monopoly like a dog is to food even if that food is rotten. And over the period of a few days, inched her way closer and even in a quite moment said: “oh, Monopoly, maybe we can play that.” Hoping someone would agree with her. I chose to pretend I didn’t hear and contemplated throwing it in the swimming pool before she got to the stage of opening the box. But again she beat me to it and had Isaac play along with some form of bastardised rules that made no sense, but might have made the game better.

On one of the nights, Claire and I were offered a chance to dine without the munchkins interrupting us every time we try and hold a conversion with one another. I saw this as an opportunity for Caitlin getting a game of Monopoly out of her system. Which had been added to the long list of activities along with more swimming in the pool, drinking hot chocolate and going clubbing in Ayia Napa. One of those was not going to happen as the pool gets quite cold in late afternoon.

After regretfully returning from a lovely night out knowing full well the night is over once we walk through the front door, we were meet by grandparents trying to sneak off to bed and the kids dancing on their beds (too much hot chocolate). Their night was full of eating food, dancing to the classics of grandad’s iPod, a couple rounds of No Thanks! and a very long game of Monopoly which had to be cut short after the babysitters realised it was never going to end and they had missed their curfew.

I tried not to get too deep into a decision why the game went too long and the rules they were playing to. I know they weren’t putting properties up for auction if they were not purchased but there also some rule of only being able to buy houses if you landed again the road you owned. (I feel like I need to read the rules of this set but I am pretty sure they are still the same). The gimmick the kids like with this is that the money is dealt with an electronic card machine and it also spits out random Chance and Community Chest events at you when you use it. This is fine, but it is still a roll and move game and random as you like. But when you hear that machine whizzing and binging and spurting out random songs at 6 am in the morning, it was the moment I was waiting for and it has been hidden away with the other confiscated items. Funnily enough, the kids have not mentioned Monopoly at all since its banishment.


Deep Blue Sea Adventures

With Monopoly now out of sight and mind, I thought it would be a great idea to show off Deep Sea Adventure by Jun Sasaki, Goro Sasaki and bring it to the table to replace the Big M. This had troubles finding its place with everyone, apart from Isaac who seemed to love playing it and wants to play at every opportunity. He would also have a big sulk about

not scoring anything because his motto seemed to be “dive, grab all I can and become too heavy to surface” by a code of some sort. Grabbing every token he stumbled over until he could not move another space. Even if we coached him to not pick anything the first 2

rolls and when I said it was ok to do so, but now you need to turn around to head back to the submarine he would continue to collect stuff on the way up.


With the others it felt they were having a love/hate relationship with it. It seemed a fun and simple game at first glance but boy was it difficult to return to base before the air run out. They seemed to struggle with the strategy of how to get the big stuff and return before your air is out. There were some very low scores in the games we played.

Ticket to Ride

One of the challenges I set myself was to play Ticket to Ride (by Alan R.Moon)at some point, seeing as I had brought it all the way here. The other was to get the in-laws playing it as well. The latter was more difficult, but I wasn’t expecting this to be an easy ride. It has been very difficult in the past to get the father-in-law to play my games and I have stopped trying to pursue it. But there might have been a chance at some point where we all sat twiddling our thumbs and it could have been that moment. But that never happens!

Sad face…

I did, however, introduce Claire to it for the first time, when the grandparents decided to go for a walk and then stumble on a bar where the football was playing. When we were putting the kids to bed (well, when Claire was fighting the monkeys into bed) I set up the game and waited patiently for someone to emerge victorious over the other. Fortunately, it was Claire that came creeping out of the kids’ rooms and when she sat and listened to rules and instantly said, “Cool, I’m liking the sound of this already, simple rules.” that’s before I even finished. I mean it wasn’t that straight once we started to play like always there were questions, some repeated again and again. But that’s how she plays, I think it’s how she distracts me and goes on to smash me in the end.

We played again another night when the kids had gone to bed early, and again, straight afterwards because we play the first game so quickly, both times I won but the score were very tight. I can now see this as regular game me and Claire will play the future and I can also now break the seal on my 10th-anniversary edition Ticket to Ride and show off that beauty.


And Finally…

So, that was what I got played. and I don’t think I did too badly, looking at the facts: I was up against kids that just want to be down the beach swimming, a wife was trying her best to get some sort of tan on her legs and a father-in-law that liked to keep a wide berth of any game that is not found in your local Tesco.

I am slightly sad that I couldn’t get the in-laws to play Ticket to Ride, I do believe they would have liked it, but maybe that’s down to me to suggest a game and not sit on my hands and hope for the best. But also comes from how I feel that I have, in the past, tried too hard with friends and family and it might have done more harm than good, or maybe life as changed and moved on.

The game that brought the most joy and fun is No Thanks! It was played the most, almost every day, and any chance Isaac could get people to play with him. Even Caitlin asked a few times. It brought the best interaction between us all, how were playing, and laughing and shouting in the restaurant.

One particular moment, the night before we left Cyprus, we were half way through the game when Isaac went to pick up a card that he didn’t need or was anywhere close to needing. However, he wanted the chips to add to his cup he was holding them in. Claire and I tried ever-so hard to talk him down from this move which will have lost him the game, but he didn’t want to listen and carried on.

Things got a little silly when the next card was turned over and it was a really high number which was still not one for Isaac, but I jokingly said “Isaac, you might as well take that one while you are at it!” So he did and the next card and the next and the next. And would have carried on if I haven’t said enough and play resumed as much as it could have. Needless to say, Isaac’s score wasn’t great and I suggested another round and play it how is was intended to play. But this time Claire and Isaac teamed up and Caitlin got into a bad rut where she was low on chips and wasn’t winning enough back when having to collect a card. Added to that, every card she received was very high and not one made a run to help her out. Her final score is the highest I have seen in No Thanks! 138.

Even the memory of grandma thinking she had won a game by having a score of only 3 at the end and being pipped by her daughter with a score of -1.

If you asked what am I sad about not playing while out here? One would be Blood of an Englishman because it was a 2 player game and I wanted to see if Claire liked it and Temp Worker Assassins but they are coming home so there is still a chance.

I did consider before leaving Cyprus, leaving Ticket to Ride behind, in the thought, the Grandparents might have a look at it at some point but it didn’t have its insert in it, and I felt like I was giving them an incomplete game; I know that sounds crazy! I did really contemplate leaving No Thanks! behind because they already know how to play and it might come out when their friends arrive and the same as we were leaving on. But didn’t, mainly because I didn’t have the box or the rules and chips were missing, so I thought if ever I go back or when they did go back I would buy them a new copy to leave out there.

Overall, my vacation was long enough for all of us and all felt ready to return, where I was practically ready to fly home a few days before. We spent most of our time down on the beach, maybe too much, but it was great to sit out and enjoy the sun, sea and quiet.

We did do other stuff besides playing games and sitting on the beach: a trip the north side of Cyprus (the Turkish side) to have a traditional Cyprus breakfast and a visit to Famagusta Beach to view the ghost town, well as close as we could get to it without being shot at, and that day was finished off by a monsoon rain storm in which we watched the in-laws’ little rental car nearly float off with them in it. I finilly stood up on water skies for 3 seconds before the hire boat broke down again, but Claire and I did go on a jet ski, which was the second highlight of the holiday only beaten by me turning a corner so sharp that the wife was thrown off board.

And on returning we all attended the UK Games Expo for the weekend, but you can hear all about that here

Written By Joel Wright

Edited By Sam Freeman

Most photos by Joel Wright

Big thanks to Colin and Julia for all you did for us in Cyprus