What To Do In The Winter

 
I always think winter is the hardest time of year to live in Cornwall. It’s dark not long after you leave work, so evenings fishing or on the beach become almost impossible. It’s not all bad though and as long as you keep your eyes peeled, there is a lot of stuff to do and keep you occupied. Here are a few things we’ve been up to as well as games we’ve been playing to stop us going stir crazy inside.

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Back at Halloween we went to see Rogue Theatre’s scary Halloween performance in the woods. The small band of creatives performed music, dance, drama and song. The evening started off with a walk through the woods, along the way you bumped into all the main characters from the 5 mini performances. They performed small pieces of theatre to get you interested and excited to see what happens. It was totally incredible and a really brilliant way to spend a dark evening. They do various performances throughout the year and they are all as good as the Halloween show.

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At the very start of November there are loads of firework displays all around Cornwall. We went to see two – one on Saturday night in a nearby village and another on Sunday night, really close to us, on the beach at Porthtowan. I can’t get enough of fireworks and watching more than one display is definitely a good way to get your annual fill of fireworks.

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Keeping your eyes peeled and spotting everything that is on is a must do over the winter. Not a great deal of acts do really come to Cornwall compared with the rest of the country, so you must keep a close eye on the newspapers, internet and flyers and get to see every decent act you can. Vicky booked tickets for us to go to see Ross Noble ages ago. So long in fact that I had totally forgotten about it. I’ve seen Noble close to 10 times and he has always been literally jaw achingly funny. In the past I’ve seen more than one show on the same tour and as he improvises a lot, about 90% of the shows were totally unique. Each show it totally different from the others and I would recommenced everyone goes and sees him, even if you think you don’t like him!

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Cornwall was clearly bringing in all my favourite acts over and the very next weekend, Frank Turner came to Falmouth to perform at the Princess Pavillions. We had seen him here a year ago and he had been absolutely fantastic. One of the best performers ever for getting the crowd pumping! Being an old Million Dead fan I really like how his songs get a bit of added oomph for his live shows.

One final thing that must be mentioned when talking about events over the Cornish Winter is Truro’s City of Light Procession, which for me signals the start of Christmas. It’s a must see event which I avidly try and attend every year. It’s a great community event and is just such a great way to spend a winter’s evening.

The other way we spend time in the winter evenings tends to be pub quizzes, karaoke and games nights with our friends.

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Buzzed Out!

What a fantastic game we have recently bought. Buzzed Out is brilliant fun and went down so well with our friends. It was super easy to pick up, and after round one we knew exactly what to do.

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For anyone who likes the game Articulate, you will be a fan of this just like me. You begin by splitting up into two teams. Each team then allocates someone to read off the card – I will call this person the ‘Describer’ – the remaining players in each team are the ‘Guessers’. Once they have been chosen, everyone decides how many points a team needs to get to win the game. We chose 10 points and I’d recommend this as a place to start.

Before game play commences, shuffle the cards and choose which coloured side you will play from. Each card has 10 common words or phrases written on both sides. Once you are ready, place the deck face down on the table.

Round 1 begins when the enclosed timer is pressed. Team 1 will start by picking up a card from the deck and choosing one of the 10 words or phrases to describe to their team. The Describer must describe that one word or phrase verbally, no gestures/actions allowed. They cannot say a word that rhymes or say any part of the word. Once their team have guessed it correctly, the Describer from Team 1 gives the card face down to the Describer from Team 2 who then chooses a different word or phrase to describe from the same list of 10. Once Team 2 have guessed the word or phrase correctly, the Describer from Team 2 passes it to Team 1’s Describer. Round 1 continues until the Buzzer sounds. Whoever is in possession of the card when the buzzer goes off, that team are the losers and the other team gain one point.

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If all of the words or phrases on a card have been guessed correctly before the buzzer sounds, both teams win 1 point. Once round 1 is finished, each team chooses a new Describer. A new Describer chooses a new card to begin Round 2. Game play continues in the same way until one team has reached the target number of points i.e. 10.

It really is that simple. My friends and I got really competitive, especially as some people take ages to pass the card to the opposing team, trying to drag out the time. However, this did backfire as you cannot predict when the buzzer will sound and goes off at random.

As it’s a very quick-fire game, it was hilarious how difficult it was to describe anything with the pressure of the timer ticking away. I loved how involved everyone became. I think it is a great game for any age group, and would be perfect for dinner parties, Christmas day fun and any other time you are with family or friends.

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The Best of British

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Just like a pub quiz, the Best of British board game works best with a mix of ages so you have a variety of knowledge. What I like about it, is the fact you can either play in 2 teams or individually (you can have up to 6 players playing individually). We decided to play in teams for the first game so we could stick together and learn how to play. It was very easy to follow, the rules were very clear.

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As well as a board, the game contains three types of question cards-

Picture cards – each card has a picture which relates to that particular question. When this is drawn, it is shown to both teams.

Common Theme Cards – all the answers are linked by a common theme. When this is drawn, it is read to both teams.

Pot Luck Cards – These have random Best of British questions.

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Each team chooses a Question Master (play begins by the team with the youngest player) who picks up a question card which will either be card 1, 2 or 3 (see above).

Play begins with each team or player placing their coloured counter on the starting square on the board. The board is made up of coloured squares, which correspond to the 4 colours on the question cards: red, light blue, dark blue and green. The Question Master from Team 1 begins by reading the red coloured question on a card to the opposing team. If they get this correct they move their piece to the first red square. The Question Master continues reading the questions in the order they appear on the card and Team 2 move their piece to the corresponding colour on the board. However, if they get it wrong, the Question Master gives Team 1 a chance to answer the same question. If they get it correct, they move to the corresponding colour on the board. Team 2 will then continue to answer each question on that specific card until all 4 questions have been answered. It is now Team 1’s turn to answer questions read by the Question Master of the opposing team.

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What makes this game get really competitive is the fact that although the first four squares on the board are in the same order as the colours on each card, the rest of the board is coloured in a random order. This means that each team have the chance to jump a few squares if they get a question correct. The winning team or player is the first to get to the end.

This game is absolutely a must have for every British household. With questions like ‘What is the most popular fish used for Fish & Chips? Cod’, it makes you remember why we love being British. There are lots of different themes such as Shakespeare, the Royal Family and television, so everyone can get involved. We have played this a lot of times now – it is definitely up there with games like Logo and Cranium. I’d definitely recommend this to all!

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Codenames

Although Codenames is a lesser known game in the mainstream, watch this space. It won the Spiel des Jahres – Game of the Year 2016 award and joins such other games as Ticket to Ride and Dixit. The game is all about the Spy Masters communicating in code effectively to help their team mates identify their agents in the field (split the group into 2 teams- it works best with 4 or more players).

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In the box you get double-sided ‘Codename’ cards! The codenames/agent words are printed in both directions so every can read the words regardless where they are sitting. Once these are shuffled, choose 25 of these and place them in a 5×5 grid

Each team is allocated as either the Blue Team or Red Team, then each team chooses a Spy Master. Spy Masters sit next to each other, the rest of the players sit opposite.

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You will get a pack of ‘Key Cards’: on one side there is a 5 x 5 grid printed on it (the same as the 25 cards laid on the table). The Spymasters chooses just one ‘Key Card’ and place it in the plastic holder facing them in any orientation.
The Key Card works just like a map, corresponding to the agent names in the 5 x 5 gird on the table. The blue squares on the Key Card represent the agent words the Blue Team are trying the guess and the red squares are the agent words for the Red Team. There are also pale squares which are the ‘Innocent Bystanders’. The Black square with a cross on it is the ‘Assassin’. The Key Card has either blue or red lights printed around the edge which indicates who goes first.

The aim of the game is for a team to identify all of their agents first. The Key Card squares indicate where the agents are located in the grid. It is up to the Spy Master to give clues to their team in order to find which agents are theirs. The first Spy Master (let’s say the Blue Team go first) looks at all of the agent words on the table grid that they know are theirs, based on the Key Card they have in front of them. They then have to think of a one word clue that relates to the meaning of one or more of their agents and say this out loud along with a number. This is a number of agents that they think are related to that clue. You can give a clue to just one of the agents, however, as this is a race for a team to find all of their agents first, it is way more fun to think of a clue that relates to more than one. The more a team can identify, the better! This clue must be only one word and cannot be any of the words that are already on the grid until they are covered up.

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Once a clue and the number of agents has been given, the Blue Team then discuss between them to try and work out which agent/s the clue relates to. When ready, the Blue Team points to an agent word they think is theirs. If this word is correct, the Blue Team Spy Master covers that word with a blue ‘Agent Card’. The Blue Team then continue guessing until they have located the number given by the Spy Master. However, if they incorrectly guess the Red Team’s agent, the Spy Master from the Red Team covers this word with a red ‘Agent Card’ and it is now the Red Teams turn to guess. If a team chooses an agent word that is actually an Innocent Bystander, this card is covered with an Innocent Bystander card and their turn is ended. Worst case scenario, if a team chooses the Assassin, this word is covered by the Assassin card and the game immediately ends. The team that touched this card are the losers, the other team are the automatic winners (a bit like potting the black ball in pool).

As the Spy Master, be extra careful not to give a clue that may lead to your team to choosing the Assassin card.

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So, we had the cards laid on the table and it was my turn as the Spy Master to give some clues. Under pressure it can be quite difficult to find a link/clue for more than 1 card. One example I had were the agent names ‘Head, Palm and Thumb’. The clue I gave was ‘Body 3’. In my head this made perfect sense, but it was also tricky to ensure that the opposing team did not have any cards that could be linked to my clue. After a few goes though I got really good at it. Hopefully, your team manages to think just like you! If not, it could be the end of your turn and the possibility of losing the game altogether.

Although it got a little heated (in a good way), everyone absolutely loved it. It is a fantastic team game, where you have to think a bit outside the box. We have played this a few times in a row, and because each Key Card is different, and there are 400 different agent names that you could have in your 5 x 5 grid, no game is ever the same. A game that is tough to master, but very easy to play and anyone can join in.
 
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