Across the Board #5 was all about teamwork and co-operation. The works of top games designer Matt Leacock made a strong showing, and I'm happy to say that the world was successfully saved from four deadly viruses by a crack team of experts in king of the co-op genre, Pandemic. The outcomes at escaping from the Forbidden Desert were a little more mixed, with the odd death from dehydration here and there, but at least one team made it out in the magical flying machine!
An interesting time was also had with Hanabi, where players are a team of Japanese pyrotechnicians (of course!) whose fireworks have got jumbled (oh no!) hours before the big display. Each firework is represented by a card of one of five suits, which everyone is given a hand of at the start of the game. The catch is that you have to hold your hand of cards facing away from you, so you can see everyone else's cards but not your own, and the amount of information you're allowed to reveal to other players about what they're holding and what they should do about it is extremely limited. One of the biggest challenges with this game is not 'dishonouring yourself' by grimacing or sucking your teeth at the wrong moment. But, if you're successful, your firework display will receive a glowing review from the audience :-)
Beyond Baker Street uses a similar mechanic to Hanabi, but translates the challenge to Victorian London with a Sherlock Holmes theme, adds some additional twists and turns and packages it beautiful artwork. Personally I think the quirkiness of Hanabi's theme and simplicity of its design gives it the edge, but Beyond Baker Street wins hands down on looks.
The big finale of the evening was Captain Sonar, a team game where two submarine crews, each comprising four players, chase their opponents around a map and try to blow them up with torpedos. This game is Battleship's cleverer, beefed-up, adrenaline junkie cousin, and it is sooo much fun. To understand why, we strongly recommend watching Shut Up and Sit Down's excellent review, here.