We Thank Stonemaier Games for their donation to St Thomas Hospital and the Evelina Children’s hospital.

BETWEEN TWO CASTLES it is fair to say, rocked our world! Under appreciated in the main, we loved in and you can read our review here . A delightfully simple mix of two other games. Drawing the best elements of those and delivering something else. Now the expansion SECRETS AND SOIREES is here, promising solo game play (two separate versions of the solo game) and an upscale to 8 players. So we decided to take a look.


The thing about Stonemaier boxes are they are solid. The other thing is, they fit together with others. So the items in this expansion, link together to fit into the main box. Genius. It will make any obsessive, overjoyed. You get a case, new tile cards (24 Activity cards, 16 Ballroom cards which are double sided, 21 regular room tiles and 16 secret room tiles). A throne room for the new 8th player is also included. There are a bunch of tokens, which is a new feature. 48 in total. 8 new bonus cards. 1 new castle that adds up for the 8th player. 8 New player aids which cover both games, 1 new scorepad and in mine 2 promo tiles with my fave being a saxophone room. Groovy. All illustrated by the same previous team and all being faux fairy tale and some a little hum drum to be honest


There is a 2 player variant and a 3 – 8 player usual version. Today though, I will focus on the Automa solo game version 1. This uses the Automa system (I am not a fan open hand there). Shuffle the Automa cards, Have two castles as signal tokens (the booklet suggest the blue and grey). Take the room type cards and form a base (the booklet outlines this). These drive the room tile selection and the game, so pay attention to them. Place the turn order card on the table and put it to round 1. Each player will place a tile in a designated location Finally, add the red castle onto the your player marker symbol. Lets start! It works like this, give 2 hands of 9 or 18 tokens face down to the side. You draw 2 and then the Automa does, until 1 is left. You move the castle round to indicate who is doing what at this point. You do as in the ordinary game. Lay a tile. On the Automa’s turn however, you follow their preference and the location they are playing in. Once you are down to one tile, discard it and redraw 18 in two sets. It ends when you have exhausted the rounds. This under sells the solo play experience, which I hope to make a video of on


SECRETS AND SOIREES does what a good expansion does. It adds to the originals depth, without creating undue baggage. This is a remarkable thing to say for some as they want an expansion to add layers on layers. This is not what I feel good additions to good games do. The new room types add substance and flavour with diversity of content. The introduction of the activity rooms, as an example, makes rounds more dynamic. Then bringing in the ballroom action, makes the games buzz and gives play hue. Other newer rules for say, sleeping rooms for instance, benefit play essentially. And it is such a subtle thing that it still plays well in both versions. A nice way for me to say, this is its own thing and plays well for it.


Ok, Automa. I am still not a fan. Solo play feels so heavy. I wanted to outline the system and it reads heavy and plays almost excessively so. I am so sorry. I wanted it to be amazing but it wasn’t. Outside of this, it is excellent.


A very good game. A very good expansion. Lots to really like and even more to want you to play. If you liked the original base game, then this is a beautiful addition. Textured, unobtrusive mechanical additions and the draw and place system still flows.

Great stuff!



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