Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician – A Solo Print and Play Board Game

Bored? Don’t want to look at a screen? Solo print and play board games to the rescue! I’m a casual gamer at best — I probably only get to play a lightweight board game once a week, and maybe a heavy board game a couple of times per year. I love games. I love the systems, the design that keeps things tight and engaging, and the social interaction. Solo games are a great way to scratch the itch when you just can’t get your friends together for a game night.

Here’s my first impression of the print and play board game Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician.

Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician
Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician – finished up my second game! (and lost again…)

This print and play game only requires two pieces of paper, six six-sided dice (6 d6), and something to write with. You’ll play the role of historical figure, Ada Lovelace, and try to collect enough evidence and scour enough rooms to solve a crime. You’ll chuck dice and choose polyominios to draw on the floor plan — Tetris style. While placing your polyominos to fill rooms is one way to earn points, you’ll also attempt to surround special blocks that contain pieces of evidence in order to gain special abilities. You’ll loop through this cycle of anxiously anticipating dice rolls, mulling over which polyomino to pick and where to place it, and considering whether to simply fill the room or shoehorn the polyominos to try to surround a piece of evidence. You’ll do this this across four rounds before time runs out and the game is over.

Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician has a great flow, and the way it is laid out helps you save the game state in case you need to do something else for a bit during your game. You’ll use a printed Dice Manager as a place to set your dice and easily visualize your polyomino options. By looking at that Dice Manager you’ll know if they are reserve dice, dice you already rolled and put away, or if they have already been assigned to the Dice Wheel. I found this set up to be very useful, as I could roll the dice, place them on the dice wheel, and quickly understand the game state as a glance.

“You have a case, but it is unconvincing. Your reputation is in tatters.”

I only got 40 points on my first attempt. My second attempt I managed to get 39… According to the score chart in the rule book that puts me at… “You have a case, but it is unconvincing. Your reputation is in tatters.” To win you need 75+ points. Not easy! I’ve only played once, but next time I play I think I’m going to pay more attention to my polyomino placement so that I don’t make it impossible to complete rooms. I had a few rooms that could only be completed by the “wild shapes” that I just never happened to grab before the end of the game. In my first run I found seven pieces of evidence, and completed two rooms (the two halls). I also managed to get some extra points from evidence abilities.

There you have it. Try it out, it might be fun! Some more links on the game follow.

Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician on BoardGameGeek.com has links to more reviews, the printable files, and forums with answers to common questions — and more!

The developer’s website has some interesting tidbits about the developer and some of his other games.

Check out my introduction of Raging Bulls, another simple yet fun print and play game!


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Der Clou: Roll & Heist – A Print and Play Board Game

Der Clou: Roll & Heist is a solo or cooperative print and play roll and write board game. That was a mouthful. All you need to play is to print out a few files, a pencil, and three six-sided dice.

A snapshot of part of one of the character sheets

BoardGameGeek.com rates this game highly. It’s definitely worth a look, especially since it’s free!

To put it simply, in this game you will find yourself rolling dice, and deciding how to use the values to carry out a heist. Get as much loot as you can to maximize your score before you run out of time and set off the alarms. There are different characters and character sheets, and different scenarios which adds to the replayability.

Here’s a thorough review by someone who has played the game several times.

Ready to give it a try? Head over to the official English page for Der Clou: Roll & Heist or BoardGameGeek site to download the files you need, print, and play!

Here’s some videos featuring Der Clou: Roll & Heist.

If you’re looking for another print and play board game that is just a little less involved, try Raging Bulls that I blogged about before. It’s a solid game!

Finding Board Game Deals Online

Board games are great. I have bought, sold, and traded for quite a few over the past few years. One thing to know about board games is that their prices can fluctuate wildly. It’s not uncommon to find relatively new games on sale for 30-40% off of the MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) on major online shops like Target, Walmart, and Amazon.

Of course, it’s always best to support your FLGS (Friendly Local Game Shop) if they have the game you want. These local shops keep the hobby alive and build the community.

CamelCamelCamel.com: This website provides price history graphs for most products listed on Amazon. You can also specify a price point and receive an alert when the product price falls to that point or lower. If you’re not in a hurry to buy something you can set an alert and pick it up when it reaches an all-time low price. You can see in the screen capture below that Skull (awesome game) fluctuates between 25$ and 15$ quite frequently.

CCC Example of Skull
CCC Example of Skull board game price fluctuations

Reddit r/boardgamedeals : The r/boardgamedeals subreddit is full of board game enthusiasts who watch price swings like hawks. You will often see people mention “CCC all-time low” on this Reddit sub. This means that the current price is the lowest price ever recorded on CamelCamelCamel.com.

Here are some of my favorite Social Media Accounts the track Board game deals:

@Tabletop_Deals https://twitter.com/Tabletop_Deals

@Bgl_Deals https://twitter.com/Bgl_Deals

@BoardGamePrices https://twitter.com/BoardGamePrices

@tabletopbellhop https://twitter.com/tabletopbellhop

Facebook Online Board Game Deals Page: https://facebook.com/OnlineBoardGameDeals

These resources are mostly focused on U.S. prices. There are some similar resources available for people in other countries but I am not as familiar with them.

If you’re looking for more (and frankly for practically every reputable price drop source) you can find a list on the r/BoardGamedDeals subreddit page.

Here’s another comprehensive blog post with money saving tips on BoardGameSquad.com.

Of course, if you’re trying to control your spending, or cull your board game collection, avoid all of these sites at all costs. You have been warned.

Patchwork Game Box
Patchwork Game Box and Epic Cardboard Buttons

Review: The Chess Game at Japan Toys R Us by Portable Series

I was looking for a cheap tiny chess set to use with my kid while hanging out at the in-laws. Something that I could leave behind tucked away in a corner that wouldn’t take up much space. Something not heavy that I could bring on short overnight trips. Something so inexpensive that I wouldn’t cry if it got lost.

The Chess Game by Portable Series
The Chess Game by Portable Series. Made in Japan. Like 5 USD.

This is fine. It cost less than 550 yen when I got it in February 2020 in Osaka.

The Chess Game by Portable Series

The fold up plastic board can store the pieces, and it comes with a trifold instruction manual. The manual is Japanese only and unnecessary if you know how to pay chess. You have to punch the pieces out from the plastic mold yourself, but it wasn’t difficult and I didn’t break any pieces in the process. I’ll probably get a small bag of some sort to put the pieces into before putting them inside of the board to prevent everything from rattling around like cheap a cheap baby rattle.

The Chess Game by Portable Series
You need to break the pieces apart yourself

The pieces are easy enough to tell apart. They are extremely light hollow plastic. Not satisfying to move at all, but hey, didn’t buy this for that feeling anyway.

The board has indented plastic spaces to prevent the pieces from sliding around, but the spaces are circles that are much larger than the bases of the pieces.

The Chess Game by Portable Series
Plastic indentations keep the pieces from sliding around. It’s not magnetic.

As it was so cheap this was a worthwhile experiment since I’m trying to keep up my kid’s interest in chess. I mainly set up one move checkmate situations and other chess puzzles that I find online, and my kid enjoys solving them. Soon I think we’ll be able to play a game together! For that sort of training, this cheap set is worth it. If you’re looking for a permanent travel set that you enjoy playing games with, keep looking.

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Raging Bulls – a Print and Play Board Game

Here’s a fun print and play board game called Raging Bulls by Mark Tuck that really only needs a single sheet of paper to enjoy.

Raging Bulls Logo
Raging Bulls by Mark Tuck (2017)

Ideally, you’ll have paper, a pencil, three six-sided dice (3d6), and a straight edge — but you can totally play this using virtual online dice and you can free-hand the lines if you’re without.

The story is that there are all these angry bulls in a field causing trouble. You need to build fences isolating them from each other, and from the rest of the world.

This is a game of chucking dice, making decisions, and pressing your luck a bit. As you play your options become more and more restricted and it becomes quite the little puzzle. It’s broken up into four boards, each one getting slightly more difficult than the next. Your final score is your combined score across all four boards. It’s definitely worth a try at the low low price of one piece of paper!

You can find virtual dice online easily, and there is even this virtual graph paper if you want to try to play on your computer.

Here is a nicely done YouTube review that explains how to play Raging Bulls.

How to play Raging Bulls by Marco Arnaudo

Also, the folks at Shut Up and Sit Down mentioned it in a round up of quality print and play games.

Raging Bulls starts at the 5:18 mark.

Give it a try! Stretching your brain a bit to learn the rules to a new game is healthy, and hey, this might be fun!