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GAMES NEWS! 12/10/20

Matt Lees 32 comment(s)

Ava: Worms, worms, worms! We’re looking for a good worms!

Tom: Are we really just going to make the intro about worms again? Is worm month just an excuse for lazy news introductions?

Ava: Not at all. It’s also a way to devalue the literally phenomenal amount of work going on behind the scenes to make an actual online convention happen, by pretending that we’re not putting out videos because we’re worms, rather than because Matt is now surrounded by so much tech that he’s starting to look like the robot lady from Metropolis.

Tom: Ah…. Worms.Ava: Okay, we’re going to kick off the news, and hog most of the news, with the sheer, burgeoning excitement that is it only being a few days until AwSHUX. It’s our very own convention! Blasted directly into your living room, bedroom, or wherever else you might stash your electronic devices.

Friday to Sunday, this weekend, 24 hours a day of hot, steamy boardgame previews, plays and chat will be filling the digital airwaves. To be fair, and for our own safety, we’re doing 8 hours live and looping it twice so that you can enjoy it whatever timezone you’re in. You’ll be able to chat and meet people in the convention discord or Twitch chat, and if you find people to play a game with we’ll be giving out free access to Tabletopia for the weekend (the coupon code ‘AWSHUX‘ will be valid from Wednesday to Wednesday). It’s all absolutely free, and you just need to go to awshux.show from Friday to Sunday to take part.

We’ve got so many exciting previews of games, including some being dropped a week ahead of their official launches at Essen Spiel’s online convention. Publishers are coming from everywhere from South Korea to Hungary to somewhere called ‘Canada’. Many of them will have digital booths for you to tour, with videos, live streams and chats for you to get hot and bothered about. We’ve not charged publishers for that, to help them through a difficult year. There’s even going to be an AwSHUX shop where you can buy stuff in a way that gives more direct support to the publishers, and to us! And that’s before we even mention the new merch that will be available online for the first time in years! There’s just so much!

Matt: I think it’s pretty neat and worth mentioning that all of the new merch has been hand-designed by myself and Tom, too! And OH GOSH I can’t stay for long as there’s so much that needs fixing up for this weekend, but I’m LEAPING into the news to share some brief bits of excitement…

We’ve got a killer selection of live shows over three days, with some fantastic guests: Tom Vasel(!), Mandi H, Paula Deming, Our Family Plays Games, Philippa Warr, Omari Akil, SungWon Cho (aka ProZD), and MORE MORE MORE! We’ll have a full schedule with details later in the week! I must return to my planet now, goodbye!

Ava: Not only all that: I’M going to be there. I’m pretty excited to be podcasting, late night chatting, and even playing some games on stream. I’m also disproportionately hyped to see the new Sidereal Confluence be shown off, which makes no sense when it’s a game I’ve already played.

Matt: It’s under my desk right now, Ava – and honestly it is LOVELY.

Ava: Ahhhh! I wannnaaaa sseeeeee theeeeee sstttttaarrrrrrrrrrrrssssssssss!

Ahem.

Check out twitter for more details of our own star-filled confluence. There’s an early schedule and a never ending stream of excitement. You can also take part in a survey to tell us exactly which of the games you’re most excited about – those games will then see more prominence within the digital convention-o-sphere.

Matt: Honestly, we do hope that people have a nice time poking around and playing a few games. As champions of the physicality and social proximity of our hobby, we know better than anyone that can’t simply take the magic of a great convention and “put it online” – but we’re putting together something we’re all proud of. Come along and have a look! It might be awful! Hopefully not??

Ava: Right, we’d better actually do some actual news. What’s that red light flashing on the news console?

Tom: INCOMPREHENSIBLE FELD ALERT.

Ava: Oh dear. Put your lifebelt on and follow me through this expository sentence and tell me how it makes you feel.

Ava: Bonfire is a game about building bonfires (of course), to lure back to the guardians of light (what), to defend the cities from darkness (I guess) and by the way everyone is gnomes (yes).

Of course, it doesn’t matter at all what the story is. it’s a Stefan Feld game, so the reality is it’s a game of collecting tiles so you can collect more tiles and move a little ship between tiles you’ll then flip.

Tom: I just watched a ‘How to Play’ video for this game at 2x speed and I have a headache BUT I understand the game a little more. Here’s what I can tell you; there are possibilities in this box the likes of which my mortal brain cannot comprehend. There’s tasks you’ve got to complete (simple) that you achieve by making a pattern of tiles on a grid (seems fine) and collecting resources (normal stuff) before slotting those tasks into bonfires (okay) which need to be staffed by guardians (no) but only if you’ve got the right portals (help) that have to be slotted into your board in reverse order (get me out of here). It looks like what those in the industry call ‘Fun’.

Ava: It’s easy to joke about this stuff, but honestly, it’s SO HARD to try to parse whether a european style resource shuffler is actually interesting at a distance. The precision chewiness of a mathematical puzzle like this is an arcane mystery, and even as literal professionals, it’s so hard to tell the dull from the superb. The devil is in the details, and the ways those details are obfuscated, clarified and explained by the narrative and illustrative systems. Don’t mistake our confusion for disdain, but also, don’t jump face first into something assuming the Feld name is a guarantee of thrills. We need to get hands on this before we can tell you if it’s bobbins or anti-bobbins.

Matt:Scientists still aren’t even totally sure the anti-bobbins particles exist.

Tom: If I know one thing, it’s that the art on this one is giving me all kinds of Terra Mystica in my bones – it’s got that thick, grungy, dingy, pulpy style of fantasy that I really appreciate and… Hang on… It’s literally the same artist? And that artist (Dennis Lohausen) has done the art for basically every single pulpy-fantasy eurogame that I’ve uttered ‘this is neat’ at? I need to have a lie down.

Ava: At least we know your bones have decent pattern recognition?

Ava: Hey! It’s a game I’ve played and really like, so I can actually give you an opinion for once!

Herbaceous Pocket Edition is a new tinier version of the already relatively compact card game Herbaceous. What’s my opinion? I think it might be too small!

Tom: What!? And you called Quinns ridiculous for getting annoyed he couldn’t hold cards in this game! And you’re saying the pocket edition is too small ?

Ava: YES. That said, the game here is a crackingly passive aggressive little herb collector. My headcanon has players sharing a community garden with an absurdly specific resident’s association dictating who can pick what, and when.

Each turn sees you filling up a shared community garden – as well as your own private stash – hoping to grab exactly the right herbs for your personal one-use pots. This makes for a simple game of pushing your luck and getting pipped to the post by people nabbing herbs you were waiting so eagerly for.

Tom: Ava I feel like the ‘how to play’ video from the designer’s mother in the Kickstarter is exactly the kind of wholesome content you need right now?

Ava: Aww, that’s lovely. It absolutely is the sort of game I could teach to someone’s proverbial mother. It’s simple and sharp and a little mean but also so quick you can just play it again: that way you only have to explain once that an American ‘herb biscuit’ is basically a scone. I’m also likely on the hook for this just because it adds some SPICES to the mix. I don’t know if it’s possible to grow star anise in a block of flats, but I am definitely excited to try.

Another kickstarter getting a second time around is Gil Hova’s High Rise.

After High Rise’s success, the Ultraplastic edition is offering a fancified version of the game with some ludicrously clever plastic skyscraper pieces. The game is essentially a giant rondel of actions, with some tricky decisions about what you’re going to pick up as you try to gather resources to build super towers, house some tenants, and potentially be corrupt and dodgy on the way. I’ve heard some pretty good things from people I respect, but haven’t had a chance to try it.

Tom: I’ve also heard lots of good things, and think I’ll be looking to bag a copy of this at some point in the near future… but I think I’ll go for the original, cardboardy version over the fancy new plastic stuff. It reminds me of when Matt and I played the ’even more plastic’ 20th anniversary mega version of Big City, which had some gorgeous and chunky resin miniatures but left us feeling like it was a game we’d only ever keep if it came in a form that were smaller and more cardboardy.

Ava: Eesh. And don’t get me started on my version of Container that weighs a tonne, despite being a game that is actually quite minimalist in terms of rules and structure?

It’s interesting though. Normally I’d be one hundred percent on your side, although my biggest sadness is reserved for when plastic replaces lovely satisfying wooden bits, like the newer Tigris and Euphrates. But in this case, I just adore the way those skyscrapers stack,and I always thought the cardboard skyscrapers looked weirdly sad? That said, I’m also worried those tall plastic things will fall over as you reach around them to move along the rondel, turning the whole city into an unappealing dexterity game.

Buying things is hard! Materials are complicated! Plastic is killing the oceans! I don’t like decisions!

Tom: Okay, it looks like Ava’s going to collapse, I’m going to put her to bed so she can get some rest before the weekend. We’ll see you at AwSHUX.

Ava: Aw Shucks.

Tom: OH! NOW I GET IT!

The original article can be found on the fantastic Shut Up & Sit Down

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GAMES NEWS! 06/10/20

Matt Lees 2 comment(s)

Ava: Tom, why are there worms everywhere?

Tom shovelling worms: Worm month.

Ava: Right. Do we still do the news in worm month?

Tom hurling worms into a barrel: News for worms.

Ava, grabbing a worm spatula: Makes sense. Let’s get to it. Buffy! Coming soon to Restoration Games’ Unmatched is the slayingest vampire slayer. I would like to formally recognise I am marking myself out as a very particular age by the fact that I consider this news, and had to edit out a Spaced reference.

Tom: I saw that Spaced reference first hand, and let me tell you kids; it wasn’t pretty.

Ava: Too orangey for crows. I guess.

Ava: The dueling miniatures/card game will get four new characters and a new map in a starter pack that can be combined with any other Unmatched set. Buffy, Spike, Angel and Willow are the playable heroes with each with a deck full of supporting characters. So you can be a witch, two types of vampire, or Sarah Michelle Gellar. It’s hard to say anything about the specifics of this standalone expansion, but Quinns reckons the system is solid. It’s really a question of whether vampire slaying is your preferred jumping-on point.

Tom: Other options include *checks notes* varied public domain characters, Victorian public domain characters, Jurassic Park, and Bruce Lee.


Ava: I realise this is one of those games that everyone has an opinion on, but I’ve just never played The Last of Us.

Tom… someone… tell me if I should care that CMON is making a board game version of that video game with the people and the…zombies? I think? I don’t know. Sorry.

Tom: I’ve not played either of The Last Of Us games, but I have absorbed sufficient discourse about them to give you my tepid take: a board game version of The Last Of Us is not going to be good in the same way that the videogames are, if it is good at all. Those games are about emotional bonds forged with complex characters over long stretches of inhabiting their world, and CMON’s games are about Cool Minis – unless, perhaps, this is the prophesied ‘Or Not’ entry into their oeuvre. It will probably be fine, there will probably be dice, it will probably feel like Dead Of Winter But Worse. I’m very much judging a book by its cover here, and I’m also probably the least qualified to talk about these things. Somebody, please, cut the mic on me.

Ava: There’s not a lot of info beyond the cover to judge by here. So far I’ve only seen CMON’s video game tie-ins sink without a trace, but they’re an interesting publisher with a few brilliant ‘or not’ games in the back catalogue, so it might just be worth reserving judgement until someone’s actually played the thing.

Matt: Hello! Resident vibeogame expert number 1 of 2, here: The Last of Us is a game that hinges heavily on traditional cinematic storytelling, with playable bits of suitably distressing horror and hyper-violence bits to emphasise the dire straits the protagonists have found themselves in. It was pretty brilliant, 90% of people had a frankly terrible reading of the narrative and its implications, and be absolutely stunned if this CMON adaptation isn’t surface-level tosh. GAMESBOY, OUT.


Ava: Ooh hoo hoo! The perfect antidote to last week’s enormous boxes of pieces of kickstarters? It’s one of them there Button Shy wallet games.

Agropolis is a standalone follow up to Sprawlopolis that promises roughly the same game, with a whole new set of scoring rules. It also ships with a mini expansion that lets you combine both games. Even better than that, the unifying expansion is called COMBOPOLIS. Which is a word that pleases me so deeply that I’m going to go and have a lie down while Tom explains the game to you.

Tom: How to say such a word? A plosive, rumbling flourish (com-BOPO-lis)? A staccato assault on the cochlea (COM-BO-PO-lis)? Or a staggered, Brulian slurry (cromborprolis). Such delights. What game were we talking about again?

AGROPOPOLIS! An iterative sequel on Sprawlopolis’ excellent co-operative groundwork which Quinns was somewhat smitten with in his Solo Print and Play Roundup.The big change is the theme, which swaps the winding streets of a bustling city for the winding streets of a bustling farm. Like Sprawlopolis, players are laying cards next to and over previously placed cards, slowly building up a patchwork of different areas. Each card in the game has a set of scoring conditions on the back, so you’ll be chasing after a different set of criteria each game, but always dreading the woeful ‘road tax’ that means you lose points for each separate route you create. Agropolis adds some optional livestock scoring criteria, which gives you even more to worry about.

Also contained in the Kickstarter are a nice little wallet-game-storage bag (which, controversially, is not a wallet) and the option to subscribe to a monthly wallet-game delivery service! How charming.

Ava: Charmopolis. ARGH! I’ve dropped a second edition on my foot.

Ava: Kingdom is a game of community, asking big questions about the historical or futuristic society of your choice. With no prep and no GM, everything happens at the table with each player taking characters that also represent larger forces within the community, with specific capacities for affecting the story. It’s a role-playing game that I’ve been super curious about for ages. I got the book, tried to grok it, and got lost in a spiders web of fascinating but hard to grab threads. This makes me deeply ambivalent about the new kickstarter for a second edition. Designer Ben Robbins always thought the original book was a bit too dense and not as easy to grasp as the game deserved.

This new edition is a thorough scything of the community-based history-builder, shaving it into something that promises to be easier to get to the table. The one thing worse than seeing a second edition of a game you own and haven’t played yet, is one that sounds like it solves exactly the problem you bumped into when you tried it the first time around.

Does anyone want a copy of the old edition of Kingdom? I might be backing a kickstarter. Sigh. Let’s continue this kickstarter ambivalence with another contradictory preview.

Ava: Mother of Frankenstein looks absolutely ludicrous, and tickles so many weird itches that I know I would never, ever scratch. Promising a look at the life of Mary Shelley, and guaranteeing an opportunity to make an ‘actually, Mother of Frankenstein is the name of the Mother of the Doctor, and the Mother of the Monster is actually called Mother of Frankenstein’s monster’ joke. I say joke, i guess it’s more of a tongue-twister. ANYWAY.

This isn’t your grandmother’s board game, and may itself be a frankenstein of literally too many ideas. It’s a [deep breath] escape-room immersive-theatre board-game puzzle experience. Asking you to piece together literal puzzles (one of which is an entire 3D castle) whilst solving figurative puzzles. No wait, those are still literal puzzles. This game is hard to talk about. It actually does promise ‘the narrative complexity of a good novel with the physicality and challenge of a puzzle-filled escape room’, which would be so incredibly hubristic if they’d picked an adjective more extreme than ‘good’.

I’m so enthralled by the idea of this, and I want someone to buy it and invite me to their house for a weekend, because I have absolutely no idea who would actually be willing to put the time into something this obtusely over the top. Wonderful. Terrible. Maybe I just like puzzles more than I’m willing to admit?

Tom: The ultimate edition is even more bananas – arriving to your home in the ‘auction style packaging’ of a massive wooden crate, with a ‘blank-ish notebook’ and a bunch of vinyl records (for actual gameplay and ‘mood setting’)? Apparently all the backer levels also come with a bonus serving of ‘undying love and gratitude’, if you’re into that.

Ava: And finally, here’s a little treat for tricksy trick-taking fans. It’s a bonus freebie for anyone who already got one of the most generous little boxes of the last year.

The Crew: The Deimos Adventures has a whole new set of missions for anyone who already managed to trump the 50 included in the base game. Considering I’ve only got past eleven once, I don’t know if that’s ever going to be me. But I had a little peek at a few of these and there’s some really playful ideas here. This was already one of the smartest takes on trick taking I’ve ever seen, and it just got trickier. I won’t spoil the challenges though, as I suspect a lot of folk will be looking forward to making their friends groan with slowly dawning comprehension.

Tom: That box is so magic. I played a few games of it the other day and the ‘ooh just another one’ factor is through the roof as you all wait to see what fresh, but slight twist to the formula awaits overleaf after every mission. Adding more of ‘that’ to a box that already has ‘it’ in spades at no extra cost is a fine move, Kosmos. A fine move indeed.

The original article can be found on the fantastic Shut Up & Sit Down

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GAMES NEWS! 29/09/20

Matt Lees 31 comment(s)

Ava: Tom, Tom, What’s a good two-syllable word to come after ‘wet news…’ in a song pun for today’s intro?

Tom:

Ava: Oh dear. I’ve been left on my own and we may never find out what happened to my “wet news quizzy”, which is what I call questions now. I guess it’s time to leap atop of the tremendous pile of crowdfunders that are clogging up the news-pipes. Give me a sec, I’ll need a run up.

Kicking off outside of Kickstarter, we’ve got literally the biggest name in board games purporting to need a crowdfunding pre-order system in order to be able to publish one of the biggest nostalgia kicks in the world. Yes. It’s Heroquest.

Ava: Heroquest is the ur dungeon-crawler: asking you to grab a barbarian, dwarf, elf and wizard to run through a loosely-linked campaign against a dungeon master – whose job it is to throw increasingly ugly people at you, and lay out quite a lot of nice furniture. They are getting some people to design new quest books as stretch goals, which might expand the scope a bit beyond the original, but otherwise this looks like the game you remember from those adverts, with a pre-order bonus of some gender balance.

Honestly, I think this box is expensive, especially when you’ve just seen an advert for the 1991 price of £21.99 (which to be fair, is nearly fifty quids in today’s inflated money). That box has got a lot of nostalgic things in it, and I think for half the price it would be a fantastic set of bits to launch you into the world of role-playing miniatures. I wish they’d included more role playing stuff in the new edition, rather than just polishing up the old rules and shaving off the Games Workshop. The latter results in Chaos replaced with Dread, and getting rid of Fimirs because nobody ever really knew what they were anyway. If money is no object, and you want a great box of fantasy furniture and nostalgic minis, this could be a treat. Though I suspect the game itself isn’t going to hold a candle to your memories.

Matt: I’m aware this is one of those games where the nostalgic love is deeply incendiary, so I’ll tread carefully, but yes – I really don’t recall much about this game other than adoring the tiny furniture that sometimes adorned the rooms. It was deeply atmospheric, I think? But largely I feel like HeroQuest’s shine came from the fact that other games were just dreadful. The best alternative was Talisman, maybe? Otherwise my options back then were Monopoly or Mousetrap. Grim times.

But buying this in 2020 instead of something like Gloomhaven, or Jaws of the Lion, or even Descent, maybe? Well, I know that those games are all substantially fiddlier, but honestly that still just feels like an overall bad decision? I think that’s a hill I’m willing to die on? Another hill I’ll cheerily die on is that the art for this remake is absolutely rubbish – stripping away all of the soul of the original stylings in favour of the Post-World-of-Warcraft chunky sheen that seems to have glazed over literally everything. BOO.

Ava: My memories of HeroQuest are mostly of reading my big brother’s custom quest map that included a tunnel coming out of the side with a dragon in it, and so desperately wanting to play that game, and not the one in the box. I ended up settling for the Amiga adaptation, which did at least have some amazing ominous midi.

Matt: I think “wanting to play the game depicted on the box” was very much par for the course with a lot of these Games Workshop board games. I must have been about seven years old when I saved up my pocket money to buy Dungeon Quest, a game that had possibly the most RADICAL box art I’ve ever seen in my life, and was disappointed to discover a game where you mostly just repeatedly died in a tunnel looking for trinkets. Mind you, I’ve since become a tremendous fan of Dark Souls, so maybe it was an experience I just wasn’t ready for?

Ava:Ooh, look, it’s another expensive box of stuff!

Planet Apocalypse is coming back to kickstarter for a reprint, some new expansions and a D&D role-playing book. It’s a co-operative dice chucker from Sandy Peterson, designer of the Call of Cthulhu RPG and Cthulhu Wars – so someone you can actually rely on for both role-playing and board game chops, which is nice. Quinns actually talked about this in a podcast, and you can get your recommended daily intake of reckons there. Let me just copy and paste a bit of Quinns from the company slack so you’ve got a sample.

A bit of Quinns: I had a lovely time playing this but it’s too expensive considering it’s only a good and not phenomenal co-op game. But it is good.

Ava: Well said. As I was just saying to Hasbro, I think there’s something smart in including a role-playing game with your board game bits, as it really lets people get the most out of their very expensive toys. If you love the (end-of-the) world, love the bits, and want to do some demonic apocalypse role-playing with some fancy minis, maybe this is a good, if pricey, way to scratch a lot of itches at once?

Demonic itches don’t sound great. Maybe get some demonic cream? Hopefully that’s a stretch goal.

Ava: Argh, no. Why is everything so big!

The 7th Citadel is pretty huge, and a follow up to an entire continent (or the 6th citadel? I guess, I’m not quite certain). The 7th Continent was a story-heavy tile-based exploration game that gave you a sprawling continent and a big binder full of cards with numbers that let you go on a story-puzzle-dice-filled adventure. The 7th Citadel is….basically the same thing, in a white box?

Matt: Thankfully though they’ve moved the setting to ‘the collapsing lands’ – the perfect holiday for a man currently trapped in The United Kingdom.

Ava: This game promises an absolutely obscene amount of cardboard bits, which I guess is a breath of fresh air compared to all the minis elsewhere. I feel like this is one of those things that took a lot of the hobby by storm but just never grabbed me? Or possibly anyone on the team? I’ll be honest, when the video said ‘to achieve your goals you’ll have to resolve hundreds of different events’ I did a massive sigh and thought about my to-do list.

Matt: AVA TOO REAL, PLEASE, NO. As a broad reminder, AwSHUX is our online convention – taking place on the 16th to the 18th of October! *slowly inserts knuckle into mouth*

Ava:Right. Listen: this has all been far too cynical. Let’s chuck an octopus in, see if that cheers me up.

Crash Octopus looks like it could be a bit pants, but I don’t care because (a) it’s called Crash Octopus, (b) it’s got a ruddy octopus in it and (c) it’s a dexterity game that asks you to flick stuff around your table with a tiny flag on a cocktail stick.

Matt: I’m just so relieved this game isn’t being designed by David Cronenberg.

Ava:Everything about this looks ridiculous, and probably not quite deft enough to be a truly superb dexterity game. You literally set the game up by dropping all of the other bits on the octopus’s head. The octopus also moves around the table randomly, according to a dice – which is dropped on its head. If you successfully collect treasure by flicking it at your boat, you have to keep it physically on your boat, which means it could all fall back in the water at a moment’s notice. This kind of silliness is just adorable.

Matt: I think I might be a HUGE fan of this? The box pops, the pieces look incredible, even the use of blue string with beady-bits on it as a perimeter for the game is delightfully nautical AND an elegant bit of design – the fact that rolling the dice is also an opportunity to try and bounce it off the octopus’s bonce and into another player’s ship? This very, very silly and I absolutely want to play it.

The original article can be found on the fantastic Shut Up & Sit Down

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GAMES NEWS! 21/09/20

Quintin Smith 29 comment(s)

Ava: Tom, Tom, wake up, I’m really sad about disco again.

Tom: Whabuhhuh?

Ava: Turns out the first line of that song is ‘do you remember the twenty first night of september’, but we already used that joke already earlier this month even though we were due to do the games news on the actual 21st of September. We wasted the joke! It wasn’t the right time!

Tom: At least you aren’t calling me Ronald, like last week.

Ava: Go back to bed Ronald. It’s time for a games news disco.

Oh oh To-ba-go! To-ba-go with volcano!

In case that wasn’t one hundred percent clear, Tobago, a game made a million years ago in 2009, is getting a volcanic expansion.

Tobago is a game of searching an island littered with stone statues looking for treasures. Players take turns driving adorable little jeeps across the island and playing cards that slowly round down the number of possible places the treasure might be in. Both of these elements create a race to get to the right space, at the right time: once it is the only place the treasure could be. The expansion adds a volcano to the treasure hunting deductathon, which means there’s hot new ways of getting in each other’s way.

Why do I bother mentioning an expansion for the ancient game of Tobago? Well, it’s because I have beef with Quinns for his pre-Shut-Up-&-Sit-Down-historical recommendation of the damn thing on Rock Paper Shotgun. That review meant Tobago was literally the second board game I bought as an adult, and I think it’s rubbish. Damn you past-Quinns!

Quinns: Let’s give Tobago credit where it’s due, though.

Ava: Go on.

Quinns: Even today the… it… the board is a really interesting shape.

Ava: You owe me £40.

Tom: To put a pause on this beef for a rare minute, we should probably talk about what this expansion is actually bringing to bago. Spoilers; it’s mostly to do with lava. In this expansion, players will have their treasure hunting periodically interrupted by spicy water, which will shunt treasures around by changing the very clues that you’re using to deduce the location of said treasure.

For example – a clue might be that the treasure is ‘in the largest forest’ – but after a cascade of the Good Hot Juice, that forest could be naught but cinders, teleporting the træsures somewhere else entirely.

Ava: It’s exactly that sort of treasure-teleporting nonsense that makes me freak out. GRUMP.

Tom: Silencio is a new co-operative game of not talking and trying to figure out exactly where to put cards, in the vein of The Mind and The Crew. The Silencio, however, asks you to put some cards in order…. But not too in order?

The game dishes out penalties for getting your numbers too close, and bonuses for risking slightly higher cards that might prevent a teammate from being able to place theirs. There are also some shrines that’ll give you one-off benefits, and a couple systems for making the game easier or harder based on how your group is scoring.

It sounds a bit more deductive than The Mind, and a slice more faffy than The Crew – but on the other hand, I could yell ‘SILENCIO’ at the beginning of each game.

Ava: Kniz Kniz Bang Bang! The Long Kniz Goodnight! I left my Kniz in San Francisco! Knizzy, Wizzy, Let’s Get Busy!

Okay, it’ll be released this coming Friday, but the next Podcast includes an absolutely storming bundle of big beef relating to fabled board game designer Reiner Knizia, and as such I’m feeling pretty positively disposed to the Good Doctor.

Sumatra is the latest Knizia joint, and as with many of his games, it’s hard to parse at a distance, but could be interesting. We’ll never know (unless we play it, I guess). It’s a game of trying to make sure you’re well prepared enough to handle a volcano, or have enough GPSes to find a particular village.

The fun weirdness comes from an exploration puzzle where you appear to be…chasing after a sentient notebook? Depending where your character is in relation to that notebook, you’ll be able to move forward, shuffle tiles or just run to catch up. However you’re moving around the board, you’ll get the opportunity to add information tiles to your own little notebook of a player board, where you’re trying to arrange the information into something that will actually help you.

It sounds like an odd mix of set collecting, with careful placement of those sets and all the notebook chasing nonsense I don’t entirely understand.

Tom: I really love that as well as collecting research on local flora and fauna, you’re also set-collecting as much (what looks like) WiFi as possible.

It’s like being in my house right now – there are far too many of us, and the internet is a precious commodity; hoarded by the greedy few and fought over by the hungry many. I’m the greedy few. I’m playing the game already. And I’m winning.

Ava: Cas-cad-ia. That lovely tasting land!

Cascadia is the latest from Flatout Games, who brought you Calico, which is a legitimate reason to prick up your ears. Even more heartening, there’s a little web app version of the game that means you can try the solo version right now! It was simple enough that I figured out two thirds of the rules just by opening it up and messing around! I then got a terrible score because of the other third that was actually important.

Cascadia promises a two-layer tile-laying puzzle, with each adorable hexagon representing different habitats and biomes. Each tile can house a small range of species, but only one per tile. Each of those animals scores differently according to how you arrange them. When you take a tile, you also take the animal that was placed beside it, and can place it on a valid tile that doesn’t have another animal already.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL. Underneath all the animal shenanigans, you’re also trying to score points by creating the largest possible corridor of the same-coloured landscape. It’s cute, straightforward and I’ve literally just taught you the whole game (I think), so I’ll be honest, I think this is ace.

In other news, it always surprises me that I’m actually a sucker for anthropomorphised fantasy animals.

Untamed Feral Factions Spirit Strike Edition has too many words, but the correct amount of fantasy animals, according to my increasingly convoluted yardstick. It’s a card battling beat-em-up so you’ll be facing foes and flinging feral fighters in the form of cards on the table. The bit that grabs my eye is the ‘pick three faction decks and shuffle them’ bit, so you could be sending chameleons, deer and bears to mess up snakes, rhinos and raccoons.

It’s quite possible I’m just missing Champion of the Wild, now I’ve said that out loud.

Tom: You know, it sounds a bit (a lot) like Smash Up? A game I bought when I was but a board game boy – and as such I have no idea if it holds up at all .

What does hold up is the art for Untamed: Words Words – Words Words Words. Judging by some of the cards they’ve got on show, the factions have distinct personalities with neat variations between each card – and the more unusual animals (Chameleons! Snakes!) are extra exciting. This could be nice, if goading animals into hand-to-hand combat is your thing, you monster.

Ava: I didn’t know you used to be a Nintendo GameBoy™

Tom: I think you’ve misunder…

(Ava prods Tom’s A and B buttons, hoping to play the music from the second level of Super Mario Land on loop.)

Tom: Owwwwwwwwwwww

Ava: Just a little digital news nugget for you here. We don’t often cover so-called ‘video games’, but we thought it was worth a mention that the Wingspan app has now been launched, and you can take a peek at an earlier build at the beginning of our lovely Let’s Play of Wingspan with designer Elizabeth Hargrave. So I’m plugging the app as an excuse to plug one of our own videos. What a plug-fiend I’ve become.

Tom: In other app news, Root is coming to YR PHONE (be it a ‘pple or an droid) on the 24th! That’s… three days! This isn’t really news, it’s just me being an excitable child who wants more Root.

Ava: I also got an email today saying that there’s now multiplayer online co-op in the Gloomhaven digi-version, a feature I would’ve assumed it already had. That’s alongside new apps for Game of Thrones and Blood Rage. Everything’s gone very digital, is what we’re saying. Even these words are actually, secretly, digits.

Tom: Woah.

Ava: Whatever you do, don’t look at your fingers.

Our ‘and finally’ is probably the most traditionally newsy “and finally” that you’ll ever and finally. Yup. It’s the oldest person in the world celebrating being the oldest person in the world, and Japan’s oldest person ever.

Is this board game news? Only barely. Tanaka Kane is 117 and still playing board games with her pals, along with a tastily non-specific cola beverage. I can only assume she spent her birthday absolutely wrecking a 112 year old’s plan to take King’s Landing with a more nuanced understanding of the rules for ports in the Game of Thrones board game.

Tom: Absolutely brutal stuff.

Ava: A heartwarmingly brutal betrayal.

The original article can be found on the fantastic Shut Up & Sit Down

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Quinns vs. Tom Vasel: Who is more wrong?

Quintin Smith 169 comment(s)

Quinns: Morning everybody! We can’t offer you a new video this week, but we can offer you something significantly more stupid.

This week BoardGameGeek user ThunderCat23 sent me quite the gift! ThunderCat23 wanted to chart the BGG game ratings of Tom Vasel, pater familias of popular board game content network The Dice Tower, against the ratings of the Dice Tower’s Mike Dilisio.

Entirely by accident, ThunderCat23 ended up charting Tom’s BGG ratings against my BGG ratings. Not wanting to waste their work, they then sent me this data, letting me write an article listing all the games Tom and I disagree on the most.

Strap in, folks! The opinions are gonna fly hard and fast. Someone could lose an arm.

Note: The following might not accurately reflect the current opinions of Tom Vasel. We could ask him, but that would take the fun out of it.

#1: Twister
Tom: 4/10
Quinns: 10/10

And with that, we’re off to the races! If the races featured a horse with an opinion so bad he had to be put down.

Please, just let me explain my thought process (why do I get the feeling I’m going to be typing that a lot?). Vanishingly few board games stick around for decades, and even less can be said to have touched the culture of the times. Twister was a controversial game that swept the world in the late ‘60s, and played a role in our culture’s sexual liberation! Milton Bradley’s competitors went so far as to accuse the company of selling “Sex in a Box” (which, coincidentally, is how I’ve always described Terra Mystica).

#2: Cockroach Poker
Tom: 5/10
Quinns: 10/10

I could absolutely see somebody playing Cockroach Poker a couple of times and deciding it’s a 5 out of 10 game, in the same way I could see someone trying to kick a football twice and declaring that soccer is a 5 out of 10 game.

In both cases, I just don’t think you can argue against the sheer quantity of joy that the game generates. By now I must have played Cockroach Poker with fifty different people, and it’s been a source of smiles and giggles every single time. The rest of Drei Mager’s “Ugly Animals” series is well worth checking out, too- Cheating Bee and Cockroach Soup (also available as Cockroach Salad) are fab games in their own right.

#3: Food Chain Magnate
Tom: 4/10
Quinns: 9/10

I don’t actually think that Tom is wrong here. In a sense, I think all of Splotter’s games – Food Chain Magnate, Bus and Roads & Boats are the ones I’ve played, and Ava had some thoughts on Antiquity in podcast #111 – feel like 4s as much as they feel like 9s.

That’s because of a sense of liberty that accompanies Splotter games. This company is going to make the games they want to make (with almost with no regard for what people might want to buy), and in those games players will be free to do anything they want. And yes, that includes “losing on the first turn of a 4 hour game”.

I forget where I was going with this. Onto the next game!

#4: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
Tom: 5/10
Quinns: 10/10

Again, I’m not sure either of those ratings are wrong. I’ve played cases of Consulting Detective that made for 10 out of 10 experiences. I’ve also played cases where when my group read the finale aloud and fell into a tense silence as we all took a second to absorb just how crap that was.

I guess it comes down to how much you’re willing to forgive this game it’s foibles. Seeing as SU&SD had such a farcical experience playing Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, I expect we’re going to stay pretty forgiving for the time being (although I’m looking forward to trying the next game in that series).

#5: Flamme Rouge
Tom: 6/10
Quinns: 10/10

Aaaaaaaaargh. AAAAGH. PNNNFFFPRBTGH!

I’ll keep this simple. Matt and I think that this might be the best racing board game ever made, it only gets better with every expansion (especially the app that lets you play in a campaign), and for years we’ve had to watch the rest of the games press dismiss it as “simple but unexciting”.

I don’t want to exaggerate, but that is literally the worst feeling in the world.

#6: Container
Tom: 4/10
Quinns: 8/10

I’ve got to admit, since publishing our review I’ve played Container twice, and both times it wasn’t as fun as I was expecting.

You didn’t hear it from me, but Tom might have me beat on this one.

#7: Hive
Tom: 5/10
Quinns: 9/10

Who gives Hive 5 out of 10!? The most portable AND one of the most intelligent little abstract games ever made?

There’s only one answer. I think when Tom was very little, a bee must have stung him somewhere very private, forever souring him on the very notion of insects. I’m not going to say where he must have been stung, Tom deserves more dignity than that. I’ll just say it rhymes with “benis”.

#8: Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends
Tom: 4/10
Quinns: 8/10

This is just exactly what happened with Hive, except slightly more egregious because I don’t think we can speculate that Tom was stung on the benis by a centaur.

In all seriousness, I think that Tash-Kalar is a great game that never quite took off in the way the design deserved. I could deal with Tom giving it a 6, but a 4 is very mean.

…And now we’re moving onto the games where Tom’s ratings are higher than mine. Up till this point, I hope I’ve had the crowd on my side. By the end of this list I’m expecting to have to flee the stage while people throw cups of pee.

#9: Arcadia Quest
Tom: 10/10
Quinns: 2/10

This is the single game where Tom and I deviate by a stunning 8 points, and I can only speculate that I was playing Arcadia Quest wrong, or that gorgeous miniatures carry a lot more sway with Tom than they do with me.

Actually, that’s something worth knowing about me- I’m struggling to think of a case where the quality of a game’s miniatures would have changed my mark out of 10 by more than 1 (e.g, a 7 changing to an 8). I’m all about the design of the game itself, baybeeee.

#10: Concordia Venus
Tom: 8/10
Quinns: 3/10

No, no, no, no, NO, NO, NO.

I’m not sure that there’s ever been an expansion that I loathe more than Concordia Venus. I’d love to see someone pull off a team-based eurogame, but I think that would have be designed from the ground up. The act of playing Concordia with a partner is a very small change that nonetheless turns the original game’s smooth sailing into a rattling carnival ride.

(Or maybe this is just me being an only child and not wanting to share my toys? Who can say (My therapist, probably))

#11: Zombicide: Black Plague
Tom: 7/10
Quinns: 2/10

Again, I think the miniatures explain this deviation. In the case of Zombicide, I bet that Tom, like most people, feels that the cool miniatures justify a dull game. On the other hand, I just see a dull game made more expensive and taking up more shelf space because of its clutch of minis.

To clarify, I love nice components! I love miniatures and nice cardstock and poker chips. But when you ask me to weigh up the value of “cool game design vs. cool components”, it’s like asking me which I prefer, the act of eating or guacamole. One is a quasi-spiritual passion that I was put on this earth to enjoy, the other is guacamole.

#12: Lords of Waterdeep
Tom: 9/10
Quinns: 4/10

Haha. Oh dear.

Look, SU&SD has always marked games harshly, but I feel like we mark especially harshly when it comes to eurogames. Remember when we told people not to buy Marco Polo because it was missing that magical je ne sais quoi? Well, I’ll happily admit that Marco Polo is a masterpiece compared to Lords of Waterdeep.

Also, I hate contract fulfillment! Who gets out of bed and says “You know, what I really want to do today is fulfill some contracts”? Those people are cHUMPS

#13: Blood Rage
Tom: 10/10
Quinns: 6/10

I almost didn’t choose to mention this game for fear of retribution. Look, I don’t like Blood Rage! I don’t like Rising Sun! My favourite Eric Lang game is Chaos in the Old World. I’m not trying to be difficult, I was just born this way and it’s a problem for us all

#14: Downforce
Tom: 9/10
Quinns: 5/10

Right, listen! LISTEN TO ME!

I wanted to like this game. I still want to like it. It’s got simple rules (check!), it’s got a wicked new lick of paint from Restoration Games (check!), and it’s by Wolfgang Kramer (check!).

But I’ve played it twice, and both times we got unlucky with how the race shook out and the game ended up being underwhelming. The same thing happened when we played Tim Fowers’ Sabotage- we played it twice, and both times the random elements of the game conspired against our ability to enjoy ourselves. It was just bad luck. But the fact is, if we get unlucky in our first two plays of a game, we have to conclude that the game isn’t robust enough for us to justify continuing the review process.

That said, those expansions for Downforce sure do look good… maybe I’ll pick them up and try this game just one more time. Maybe I can FORCE myself to be UP on DOWNforce(?)

#15: Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
Tom: 9/10
Quinns: 5/10

Oh dear. We close with another beloved game I find as appealing as a box of bees.

I’m sorry! My problem with Robinson Crusoe is that as a co-op game, the puzzle is totally opaque. It’s impossible to know how to win without first playing the game and going crashing through a series of unexpected, unpleasant systems like you’re riding a cart through the weighty double-doors of a ghost train.

But that then means that this is a game that’s uniquely susceptible to quarterbacking- anyone around the table who’s played more Robinson Crusoe will have a way better handle on when to explore, what to craft first, and when to take chances. And that’s just not what co-operative games are about for me. I want ingenuity and teamwork, not experience, to determine what our table should do.

You know what? Explaining why we don’t like popular things is a lot less fun than explaining why we like unpopular stuff.

So let me ask you this, dear readers- what games do you love more than everybody else?

The original article can be found on the fantastic Shut Up & Sit Down

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GAMES NEWS! 14/09/20

Matt Lees 15 comment(s)

Tom: Ahhhh. Don’t you love the fresh air, the rolling hills, the dry stone walls, the tiny paddocks? The babbling brook, the adorable bleats, the bark of the collie hard at work? ‘Tis a fine day to work the fields.

Ava: I don’t know why you’ve brought me here, but I’m pretty sure there’s a terrible joke coming.

Tom: It’s time to round up the Games Ewes.

Ava: Yup. There we go.

Ava: I wasn’t particularly gripped by the pitch for Disney Shadowed Kingdom in the press release, but at the last minute it said that this was going to be followed up by Disney bits for Unmatched, and realising Mondo was the same publisher almost made me curious. After all, Quinns recently gave Unmatched a pretty glowing review.

Ava: Disney Shadowed Kingdom offers a quick two-player co-operative card game of fighting shadows and finding magic, set in a very purple version of the disney ‘universe’. Illustrated by Marcel Mercado, it promises the start of a narrative that will be expanded in further, um, expansions.

The press release sometimes reads more like a business model than a game, but there’s hints of exploration here: Players will be playing cards face down into a central grid, pushing out other cards in the same row or column. Cards that fall off the edge of the grid will be activated, being ‘dispelled’ if they are pushed out the side, or ‘discovered’ if they are pushed towards a player.

You’ve got to keep track of what’s been placed where, which cards you want to discard, which you need to use, and in which order. It sounds like… a memory game. Each card has particular effects that mix stuff up, and this could make for an interesting family game for kids who’ve grown a bit beyond Pairs.

Ava: I’ve been sitting on the news about Troyes Dice for almost as long as I’ve been writing the news here. Sadly for most of that time we’ve had nothing to say except ‘they’re making a dice game of a game that already had loads of dice in it’. Now we’re closer to release and the rulebook is out, I can actually tell you something about it!

Troyes Dice gives one player the role of town crier, tasked with rolling dice and laying them around a circular board from lowest to highest – bellowing the destruction that falls wherever that one black dice falls. The rest of the dice are transparent, taking the colour of the space they’re placed on.

Players will then choose from the now-coloured dice to tick boxes, circles, or cross off resources and draw buildings onto their personal piece of paper. At this point the rules become exactly as byzantine as I would expect for a game based on Troyes, with multiple building types and various ways to exploit the people of the fine city of Troyes. And of course, a lovely cathedral. The game comes with a mini-expansion that adds banquets and raids to the list of things you can be rolling and writing on.

Tom: I’m just shocked they didn’t call it ‘Roman-Write’!

Ava: Troyes isn’t in Rome, or even Italy.

Tom: It sounds Roman. Or at least Greek.

Ava: It’s definitely in France, and it’s actually pronounced ‘twah’, similarly to ‘trois’.

Tom: WAIT HOLD ON. I’m getting out of my clueless character suit to reveal that I was, in fact, actually clueless this whole time. I’ve been listening to various board game podcasts talk about “this great game called ‘Trois’”, and steadily becoming more and more confused by my googling around to find said game and NOW I KNOW WHY?! This is a prank. It must be a prank. Tell me it’s a prank.

Ava: Sure, why not, it’s a prank.

Tom: Phew! I’ll put my clueless suit back on.


Ava: It’s a good week for convoluted but intriguing games, with Friedmann Friese’s Faiyum getting a decent write up by BoardGameGeek, who will be distributing it in America.

Faiyum offers an ancient Egyptian theme and a few ideas poached from other games. Friese’s own Power Grid’s market mechanic and deck building core have both been borrowed here, but it does add at least one potentially brilliant innovation.

Each turn you’ll be discarding cards from your hand as you play them. You can buy cards, build markets, scare off crocodiles and generally handle Nile-based infrastructure shenanigans. Once you decide you want your discarded cards back, you’ll earn income based on how few you still have in-hand (a la Concordia).

The difference here is that you get to pick up cards from the top of your discard pile. The first three are free, but any more will cost you, so the order you do things in is incredibly important. I love W Eric Martin’s comparison between traditional deck thinning and this game’s ‘card composting’. This provides scope for some very weird engine building and brings a clever time warpiness to the table.

Tom: Clearing crocs and building farms isn’t all just for your benefit, though. As subservient imps, all that you actually own is the Pharaoh’s respect – meaning that other players can leap onto your best-laid farms and gang aft them so agley that all you’re left with is a pile of crocodiles and a sliver of respect. Wonderful.

Reading the rules for this one has gotten me quite excited – and that central board has got that ‘perfectly dull’ aesthetic that I’m pining for after a weekend of smushing my brain against Tigris and Euphrates. Equally, though, the fiddly redrawing-discards step is already making me nervous to play this. Still, solidarity with the character called ‘Ronald’ from the rulebook who is continually berated for getting things wrong, as a means of covering any possible misconceptions about how the game works. What a lovely teaching touch. We should start doing that in the games news.

Ava: Are you saying you want me to start calling you Ronald?

Ronald: Yes.


Ava: Seiji Kanai hasn’t yet made anything else as brilliantly concise as Love Letter, but few people have. That game was so close to perfection that my eyebrows will always quirk whenever I see his name.

The Last Brave is part of a new wave of games from Japanime, bringing successful Japanese games to less Japanese places. It can be played as a sneaky team game or a more direct duel. Both revolve around a central mechanic of playing cards into battles that reveal your strengths and weaknesses, but allow you to use those abilities.

Ronald: There’s something neat about that central wrinkle of a wounded opponent getting stronger rather than weaker, but other than that, little is immediately grabbing me here. I suppose the same could be said for Love Letter, though, if it appeared in a segment such as this on a day like today – so take such impressions with a healthy ounce of distrust.


Ava: Atma is on kickstarter with the alluring promise of a simple to play roleplaying game that can be packed into a cosy box, and played in just a few hours. Using decks of cards for everything – from setting the scene to representing players – it reckons a GM can take players on an interesting and somewhat randomised adventure as quickly as shuffling some decks and laying them on the table. I’ve no idea if it can live up to that promise, but it does look cute.

Ronald: It does look cute! What’s more, you can put it to the test in an online implementation for socially-distanced-roleplay-goodtimes, or you can ‘Just Add Printer’ to the downloadable print-and-play version for socially-huddled-in-person-roleplay-goodtimes. Both options are free, so take a gander if you like your roleplaying games pacy and chaotic.

Matt: Both options may be free, but only one of them scans without making my brain hurt.


Ava: Also looking cute on Kickstarter is Streets, a sort of follow up to Villagers – a game that had the same overly bright, flattened appearance. Streets is a tile laying game of building streets to please ‘hipsters, tourists, parents and shoppers’. Just like in real life, these inhabitants will increase the value of places they occupy, but move as soon as they have scored. I can’t work out if I’m being satirical or filthy, so let’s move on.

In ridiculous news, you can now get a ludicrously expensive Louis Vuitton monogrammed dice holder (and I think it comes with dice too!). I don’t really like pointing and laughing at hugely expensive things, because actually it just makes me a bit sad to remember we live in a world where some people could just treat that as an impulse buy. Then I remember that plenty of people would similarly balk at the amount I spend on board games. Maybe this is too sad for the news. We’re all trapped in capitalism and the enormous inequality it creates and I don’t know how to fix that.

Ronald: Sorry, Ava, but ‘The Price Is Dice’ is currently #2463 on the ‘Bad Things Happening in 2020 List’.

Ava: What about ‘Being Trapped inside the Horrors of Capital’

Ronald: Oh, we all know where that one is.

Ava:

Ronald:

Ava:

Ronald: Can I have my name back?

Ava: We’ll talk about it next week.

The original article can be found on the fantastic Shut Up & Sit Down

Posted on

Games News! 07/08/20

SU&SD 4 comment(s)

Tom: Do you re-mem-ber!

Ava: No.

Tom: The fact that it is now September!

Ava: No.

Tom: Onwards to Newsville!

 

Ava: Glow, from publisher Bombyx, will have you going on an adventure across a broodily illustrated board. Players will be acquiring a new friend every turn, in the form of a card-drafting game with added dice. You’ll get more ‘companions’ and you’ll roll more dice, controlling the random chance with clever combinations
of cards.

This is especially important as some of the companions will come with disadvantages that may crop up when you roll the dice. The splash of colour on black and white illustrations looks really nice, and I love the idea of a gang of adventurers slowly katamari-ing across the land, scooping up friends and arseholes along the way. Even if that does sound like a terrible pub crawl?

Tom: Please, Ava, this is a family show!

Ava: Still baffled by your profound belief that Katamari is 18+.

Ava: Also from Bombyx, Codex Naturalis looks sharp: It’s a card game of building a web of interlocking document fragments. Each card gives you resources or game-winning prestige, but has to be placed so it covers the corner of a card that has already been played – taking away some of your previously acquired stuff. This looks pretty, might be interesting and could potentially eat up your entire table. Curious.

Tom: I’m imagining the organisational horror already, and the inevitable moment where you have to make a perfectly good card completely useless in service of the engine you’re continually adding to. Why am I sweating already? Help.

I’m loving the graphic design here too – making ‘a large pile of documents’ look exciting has got to be tricky, and artist Maxime Morin seems to be positively slaying it with these vibrant little artworks that are unique and lovely without sacrificing readability. I hope. I haven’t played it. This is just news.

Ava: Monasterium leaves us with our second week in a row of flagging up a hot medieval monks game.

Tom: Readers will be saddened to hear that last week’s ‘Monks In A Sauna 3’ has unfortunately been cancelled due to blasphemy and historical inaccuracies.

Matt: Shame, seemed truly innovative to replace the Monk Track with Monk Crack

Tom & Ava: THIS IS A FAMILY SHOW.

Ava: Anyway, this one’s all about the dice. Each turn you’ll be rolling a bundle and looking for duplicates, putting any matching sets towards a menu of different monastic actions. Each time it comes to your turn again, you’ve got to re-roll what’s left – so you never know what you’re getting next. You’ll be pushing a messenger across a board to make introductions so you can stuff novice monks into as many weird churches as possible, whilst also making some lovely windows.

Tom: I’ve never even played HeroQuest, but the brightly coloured rooms here have me reaching for a broadsword?

Ava: I believe that’s the Henry VIII approach to monasteries.

I am torn about Philosophia: Floating World! It uses public domain Japanese art so it looks bloody gorgeous, but I’ve got no idea how well researched and refined it is. It makes some bold choices, promising a sandbox adventure built around not only deck building, but also each turn your opponent splits your hand in half and you’ve got to decide which ones you actually want. Finally, the game plays entirely simultaneously. This sounds an odd mix of chaotic, innovative and just… weird?
Matt: One of the stretch goals is A TEA POT. Is this real? This doesn’t look real.

Tom: I am utterly perplexed by what this box even is, but maybe it’s weird enough to work? That card-splitting mechanic that Ava mentioned could either be a great quirk or an unnecessary bit of faff – the simultaneous play could make a sprawling game pacier, or lead to total chaos. If one thing’s for certain, I really do wish that they’d let the absolutely gorgeous art on the cards not be sullied a little by the graphic design and text – there’s a gif in Kickstarter that shows the art being turned into the cards and they’re looking more interesting pre ‘remaster’. But maybe I’m just being grumpy.

Matt:No, I think I’m with you there – this seems to be taking beautiful things and smushing them into a form that’s quite ugly.

Ava: I’d love to hear from anyone who’s tried the previous Philosophia game to see whether this is something worth getting curious about.

Ava: There’s no reliable trick to get me to take a closer look at your kickstarter – in this case it was just because the location was ‘somewhere very near me’. I took a poke, and I’m glad I did.

The Wretched is one of that growing niche of solo RPG experiences, but this one has some strange prerequisites: to play you’ll need a ‘tumbling block tower’, and a microphone. Yup. This an atmospheric opportunity to play Jenga with yourself, as a metaphor for being very alone in space.

Tom: I’ve actually got a copy of The Wretched’s first print run sitting on a shelf next to me, just itching to be played. It’s the first in a series of games that use the ‘Wretched and Alone’ system, and I’m just as excited to try out ‘The Sealed Library’, another game with the same stressful theming but you’re trying to protect all of human knowledge rather than just your own internal organs.

Out of Space and A Library I know where I’d rather be, and it’s neither of those two places. Either way, I shall go off into space sometime soon and report back on my findings.

Tom: Also in RPG games news, ORBITAL has got just 19 hours left on its Kickstarter at the time of writing.

Nevertheless I want to drop a mention for it here as I really, really enjoyed designer Jack Harrison’s previous solo game, Artefact. ORBITAL looks to have the same penchant for svelte design and gorgeous artwork, but with *gasps* multiple human people.

Players take control of various characters onboard a space station in the middle of nowhere – fending off threats and trying to maintain the sanctity of their cold metal home. Mechanically, ORBITAL is lifting the ‘No Dice, No Masters’ approach from Avery Alder’s Dreams Askew and placing it into a very different setting with a very similar focus – and to top it all off, this one has artwork from Torben Bökemeyer, better known on the internet as turbo.turbo, with a front cover that’s as stunning as it is promising. I’m quietly pumped.

Ava: Okay, I’ll admit it, I grimaced when I saw something claiming to be the first ever poker board game, and a combination of space exploration and actual poker. I’m also not entirely sure that grimace ever left me, but it was eventually joined by a quizzical eyebrow.

Antematter has players shuffling across the galaxy with some abstracted space movement, alternating with hands of texas hold em poker. So far, so chess-boxing. What actually got me interested was that players will be shuffling some extra oddities into the poker deck, encouraging players to play a big bluff or allowing people to mitigate some luck of the draw. Taking the core of poker and encouraging people to play outside their normal habits sounds like it might be fascinating, I’m just not sure I want it attached to a space exploration game. My curiosity wattle is tickled though, so I’ll be keeping an eye out.

Matt:I’ve gotta say, I think I DO want it attached to a space exploration game? Colour me interested.

Tom: Oh I GET IT! Like ante! Like in poker!

Matt: Tom it’s too late, we’ve already packed up this part of the news.

Ava: Finally, I want to briefly mention that the ‘just one small slice, please’ version of Lisboa – Mercado de Lisboa – has hit kickstarter, and we’re doing a stream, which is lucky timing for both the kickstarter and people who want to see it in action before they buy.

Matt: Absolutely! Myself and Tom will be tinkering with Mercado de Lisboa tomorrow from 7pm UK time. Pop along and peer into the room as we squeal with economics-based delight and/or horror.

Ava: And finally, something from a few weeks back that tickled me. Mike Selinker of Lords of Vegas fame did a twitter thread brute forcing a riddle he’d already solved from the The Batman batman trailer, and it got picked up by Forbes. It’s just a sweet thing, like when someone you remember from school shows up in the paper having one a prize.

Tom: Mike’s Twitter is also a continual, wonderful reminder that there’s a whole community of people that REALLY LOVE crosswords. I was recently reading a thread about a particular crossword that got some mixed reviews, and was delighted to learn that a.) crossword reviewers exist and b.) crossword reviewers have a lexicography to describe their art that I absolutely do not understand. It was so confused, it was delightful.

The original article can be found on the fantastic Shut Up & Sit Down

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GAMES NEWS! 31/08/20

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Quinns: Morning Ava! I am wearing my Tom suit and Tom hat and am happy to help you with the news today

Ava: Quinns, have you just glued a rat to your face and stapled bacon to your clothes? I don’t even understand why you would think that was a Tom Suit.

Quinns: Wait, no. The suit and hat was just a bit of the theatre of the mind. You would just pretend I was dressed like Tom and we could start the news after some light banter.

Ava: So what’s the deal with the bacon and the rat?

Quinns: Let’s roast us some news!

Ava: Sit Down games just never shut up with their constant weird ideas, and I’m into it.

Dive features an unusual blend of see-through cards and diving for treasure. Players build a stack of these clear plastic cards, then peer down into them and try to judge how far down certain obstacles and treasures are. You’ll use oxygen to program a safe route down, hoarding valuable tokens on the levels where they think there’s something particularly tasty. Once everyone’s built their route, you’ll be removing cards to see how far everybody got. Get the furthest with the most treasure and you’ve won the dive. I can think of several ways this might be really boring or awful, but if it works, it could be a really lovely unique game.

Quinns: I don’t know what’s more ridiculous- that board games have only just discovered translucent plastic, or that this morning I am personally pretty excited about translucent plastic.

Think about all of the things it will let us see, or not see! Or both! Truly, translucent plastic is the most naughty plastic. It’s been a very bad plastic and needs to be punished.

Ava: Do you need some alone time?

Quinns: I actually think I need to not be alone today at any point

Quinns: Publisher Rio Grande has announced a new game set in outer space. Truly, an idea for a setting that is… out of this world!!

Beyond the Sun is a space colonising game of building your own tech tree, and racing up it to get the biggest populations to the furthest reaches of spaaaace. Each game will have its own tech tree that players can add to as they go, knowing only what type of technology they’re initially researching, not what it’ll give them. In theory this means that games will all play differently, and players will have to react to a shifting strategic situation, which could be interesting.

Ava: Quinns, you dropped this into the company slack saying it was something gorgeous from Rio Grande Games, who quite often release games that look not so gorgeous. I say to you, this doesn’t actually look very gorgeous?

Quinns: Hmm. No, but you know what they say- cleanliness is next to gorgeousness, and Beyond the Sun’s presentation is awfully clean. Little clusters of bright plastic components that socket into white player boards. Gently glimmering flowcharts! Don’t you think it has the charm of an unexpectedly-fancy Powerpoint presentation?

Ava: Yes. But I’d put it to you that it also has all the charm of an unexpectedly-fancy Powerpoint presentation?

Quinns: Ava, Rio Grande’s logo makes it look like they rent homes for assisted living. I’ll take what I can get.
Ava: Hobby World sent us an email to say that they’re only releasing one game in time for this year’s digital Essen Spiel, and it’s going to be a hot one.

Furnace mixes up a shared auction with some busy engine building, with players as 19th century industrialists vying for fancy businesses and using them to convert and upgrade resources. Players distribute just four discs across the range of cards on sale each auction round, hoping to grab some tasty bits, but getting compensated if they’re outbid. Then players get to activate the cards to convert resources, with some classic production chain shenanigans on offer.

Quinns: Ooh, but Furnace is designed by Ivan Lashin of Smartphone Inc., a 2018 game that I’ve heard very good things about. If Ivan put the ‘hone’ into Smartphone, maybe he’ll put the ‘ace’ in Furnace.

Ava: I’m really glad you stole my joke here, so that I can be the one who looks sternly at you for making such a bad joke.

Quinns: I should have seen that coming. You just put the ‘wince’ in Quinns.

Ava: Here, have a quince.

Quinns: Now I’m wincing and I have to google what a Quince is.

Ava: My work here is done.

Quinns: Tory Brown’s Votes for Women is on kickstarter now promising a co-op, solo or competitive take on the suffragist movement in America. Seeking ratification of the 19th amendment across enough states to make it constitutional, players will be playing cards for events or to move activists, gain support or hold votes across America.

Ava: Having watched Mrs America recently, about the more recent battle to ratify the Equal Rights amendment, I have to say that I’m utterly baffled at the specific process for constitutional amendment in America. I reckon it’s just weird enough to elicit an interesting game.

Quinns: Hopefully! There’s not a lot of detail currently about how Votes for Women actually plays, but the presentation reminds me of Academy Games’ Freedom: The Underground Railroad, which is surely a strong start.

Ava: I know that Freedom’s been criticised for presenting a ‘white saviour’ narrative of abolitionism, and we’ve been called out for not flagging that up in our coverage of the game. As such I was pretty heartened to find the publisher in the comments of this kickstarter talking about how they tried to present the diversity of the suffrage movement and showing more than just the best known (white) faces. They also explicitly criticise ‘the southern strategy’ in the mechanics, whilst having the opposition exploit divisions between the suffrage and abolitionist movements.

Ava: Dr Finn’s Games is releasing four entire games in one kickstarter, to save you on postage and nudge you into buying at least one more game than you would’ve initially signed up for.

The star here is Biblios: Quill and Pen, a roll-and-write alternative to the damn-near perfect Biblios. The games share a monks-in-a-library theme, and a chase after items of ever-shifting value. On scanning through the manual I was ready to write it off as just another dice chucking box ticker, but the second phase brings back some of the original’s unlikely dynamism, with a hard-to-please Abbot and a series of auctions for rows of action dice.

Unfortunately this also brings back the weakest part of the first game, that you’ll be halfway through the rules explanation, and then realising you need to explain what feels like a whole second game, and it’s impossible to make decisions in the first if you haven’t understood the first. That worked when Biblios was fundamentally pretty straightforward, but I’m not so convinced by the Quill and Parchment version.

Ava: Nanga Parbat also looks intriguing, featuring some two player Himalayan mountain climbing. Just like real mountains, each turn there’ll be a guide watching over a group of animals, which you then steal one of, causing the guide to move somewhere else, where your opponent will have to start their turn. The game isn’t a race to the top though, players will trade in animals and set up camps, and that’s what wins you the game. You can also ‘activate’ animals for special abilities, which is exactly the sort of board gaming phrase I find unsettling.

We’ve not got space to dig into Mining Colony, a game of excavation on Mars, or Butterfly Garden, a new edition of an older game about collecting butterflies. Honestly, it’s just too many games at once, making it very hard to assess if getting all of them is actually good value or not. Hopefully that gambit pays off for Dr Finn and company.

Quinns: Finally on Kickstarter we have Die of the Dead, which is a name that pleases me to my very bones.

Inspired by Mexico’s Day of the Dead holiday, the game features a rack of four caskets, a stairway to the land of the living and a lot of dice. Players will take turns to take the action associated with a casket, letting them manipulate dice, shake those caskets, shuffle the whole row along and hopefully, eventually, get enough dice on those steps to reach the top. A bit like Sid Sackson’s Can’t Stop, except dead. So maybe more like “Have Stopped”, or “Please Stop”.

Best of all, the creators are working with a Mexican artist and cultural consultant, so not only do you know this project isn’t stepping on any cultural toes, the whole endeavour is drenched in colour and confidence.

Candidly, this is something I hope becomes common knowledge in the board game scene- working with cultural consultants doesn’t have to be an intimidating necessity for the modern publisher, it’s an opportunity to make your game even more exciting.

Matt: And last but not least, to put a tiny night-cap on the news for this week (and send it to bed with a tiny milky drink) – here’s a cheeky update about our new streaming schedule! Over the next month we’ll be playing some digital versions of new or upcoming and exciting board games – many of which you’ll have only recently read about here, on the news! We’ll be starting tomorrow evening with Renature – tune in and say hello, or look forward to impressions in future episodes of the podcast. Have a good week!

The original article can be found on the fantastic Shut Up & Sit Down

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GAMES NEWS! 24/08/20

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Ava: Welcome to Board Game Celebrity Squares! The quiz where all the biggest names in board games have games coming out soon, and they’ll probably mostly be coming out in boxes that are square shaped. Hence the squares.

Tom: Ava, I don’t think that sounds much like a game show.

Ava: What’s a game show?

Ava: There’s a fair bit of buzz around Alexander Pfister’s next big box game, as the designer of Great Western Trail, Oh My Goods and Maracaibo reaches for the future, and the skies.

Ava: CloudAge doesn’t have a huge amount of detail as of yet. But what we do know is intriguing. Players will be exploring the sky and digging through clouds to find resources as part of an engine building, deck building campaign extravaganza. In particular, cloud obscuring card sleeves will be covering up the details of exactly what the reward is for some of the actions, meaning you have to actually get there to work out if it’s the most efficient option for you. The marketing blurb describes this as ‘immersive’ which is the sort of word that makes me wince, but I am curious.

Tom: The immersion comes from the colossal vape pen that comes in the box.


Ava: Mr Pfister isn’t the only big name with a big box on the way.

Hallertau is a region in Germany that hasn’t yet received the big box treatment from Uwe ‘Big Farm Boy’ Rosenberg. The titular hop-cropping German region will be home to an upsettingly large number of player boards, including fields, stables and an entire community centre per player. Wrinkling his traditional worker placement with actions that are always available but cost more as other players choose the same thing, there’s also a dizzying array of cards here to ensure variety between games. I’m disappointed to find that the community centre isn’t actually communal, as Nusfjords central fish dish filled table was such a delight.

Matt: I adore those fish.

Tom: A game set in the ‘largest contiguous hop-growing area in the world’ is Total Rosenburg, but like all of these designs, is tricky to extract any exciting opinion juice from. Oh, wait! I take that back! The game also thematically implements ‘the traditional two-field crop rotation and thus offers the players an interesting historical background’? Colour me sold, I’m going to be a hops expert.

Ava: Honestly though, that Uwe’s found another way of making putting stuff in a field and getting it back later’ interesting is kind of amazing to me. The fields in this game actually get more fertile when you leave them fallow and empty, and less when you grow stuff on them, so you’ve got to be super careful when you plant to maximise your output.Sometimes board games are the most boring thing in the world and I love them for it.

Ava: I think we’ve definitely mentioned Queen Games’ Stefan Feld City collection too many times, so I’ll keep this brief. The Kickstarter is now live, and I’m bringing it up again because Amsterdam, one of the two games being reprinted and transplanted to a new home was formerly Macao, was one of the last new games I got to try before the apocalypse.

I’m so delighted its cruel resource rose is coming to thorn-up our tables again, with a less colonial theme to boot. Amsterdam’s beating heart is a dice draft at the beginning of each round where multiple coloured dice are rolled. Everyone gets the same choice, two dice, which let you take as many cubes of that colour. Simple huh? Except: nuh. If you take a juicy six? You aren’t getting those six cubes for another six turns. If you want something quick, you get less. It’s a simple, sharp decision to build a solid game of combo-chasing and point racing around.

This paragraph is almost entirely brought to you by the time that I had the week off, and we just announced Amsterdam with a cover of the box and the words ‘it comes in a box’. Or something.

Ava: Our next designer is Peer Sylvester. I accidentally ended up with two versions of the same game, The King is Dead and King of Siam, and I can’t bring myself to part with either. I didn’t like The Lost Expedition so much, but I think Wir Sind Das Volk is probably the most particular game of cold war infrastructure battling you’ll ever ever seen. In a good way. He also crops in the comments with lovely nuggets of wisdom pretty often. Hi Peer!

Anyway, he’s done a design diary for an upcoming game, and I’m kinda excited.

Ava: Polynesia is a game of island hopping, representing the early days of Polynesian people across the archipelago. It focuses on indirect competition and currencies that spoil, with players getting to hitch rides with each other, potentially putting opponents where they do or don’t want to be. I’m intrigued! Peer reckons it’s a similarly tight abstract to those duplicated King games I mentioned earlier, which is a promising weight, as those games are very pointy but easy to teach.

Tom: That design diary is ultra-encouraging – a speedy tour of the games mechanics where each rule is bristling with possibility and simplicity. I’m getting that lovely Hansa Teutonica vibe from this one, where ‘putting cubes on a board’ becomes a bustling hive of crossed strategies and pointed plays that’s over in just the right number of minutes.

Ava: It’s also nice to see a Pacific island theme that’s not focussed on western colonisation, but the feats of navigation of the indigenous people of the islands. I’m not qualified to say whether this game passes any representation test, but I did get to ask a friend of mine, who did a PhD in climate change resistance and activism on a few Pacific Islands, what she thought. Hannah said that while simplistic, the emphasis on non-combative ethos, navigation and discovery lines up with the celebration of that voyaging that was key to 1980s and current Pacific Liberation movements. Also, the volcanic eruption Peer notes as an ahistorical catalyst for the travel of the game is better than the false resource mismanagement narrative that often gets attributed to Rapaniu.

Obviously this isn’t as good as talking to the indigenous people themselves, but it gives me a solid chunk of hope, as I know Hannah did a hell of a lot of exactly that sort of talking.

Ava: If you want further reading from an actual islander, she recommends Epeli Hau’ofa’s ‘Our Sea of Islands’, a rethinking of power and strength in the Pacific. He asked people to start seeing the islands as a large continent of land, sea and air, that was criss-crossed and connected by the voyages of the ancestors. He said if we do that we see that ‘the world of Oceania is not small; it is huge and growing bigger every day’. If this game acknowledges that heritage of unrivalled maritime exploration, even in simplified or romanticised ways, it may be a chance to challenge the belittlement of the Pacific.

Ava: Relevantly, as Aotearoa (aka New Zealand) is the largest pair of islands in Polynesia, I saw on twitter that Three Minute Boardgames is promoting and working with local co-operative of Māori game designers on some unannounced projects.The Papa Kēmu Co-op is working to challenge poor representations of Maori culture in board games, as well as making some games of their own. I’m pretty excited by this beyond the obvious, for the nerdy and off-topic reason that my other job is helping out worker and housing co-operatives, so i’m always just a little more perked up to hear about a new worker owned project. We don’t have any details yet, but I’m going to be keeping an eye on these folks.

In lovely little ideas news, Elizabeth Hargrave, designer of Wingspan, shared this fan made app that scans the bird cards to give you a little sample of their bird call. I’ve been saying for years that I was going to have a laptop beside a game of wingspan to slowly build up a soundscape of all the birds we played until we hit Full Cacophony and started pecking each other’s eyes out. This apparently only plays one bird at a time, which is probably a win for the sanity of anybody I’m playing Wingspan with. Lovely.

Tom: I want this for every single game. Madlib samples for ‘Rap Godz’. Long stretches of deafening dread for ‘Twilight Struggle’. The possibilities are so endless that I’ve only come up with two.

Ava: Maybe I’ll go play Brass in the Calderdale Industrial Museum when they’ve got the MASSIVE ENGINE running in the basement.

Tom: Oh, and finally for this week – tune into Twitch tomorrow to watch me going head-to-head against Matt in Tak and Santorini. Have a lovely week!

The original article can be found on the fantastic Shut Up & Sit Down

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SU&SD Podcast: UKGE Show Later Today!

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Hello there folks! Happy Saturday. Just a quick heads up that at 8pm UK time today we’ll be hosted on UKGE’s digital internet channels to broadcast a LIVE edition of our famous* podcast. We’ll also direct our Twitch channel to point at it for the duration that we’re live – so if you’re already following it, the machines will give you a PING. Have a great day – we’ll see some of you later!

The original article can be found on the fantastic Shut Up & Sit Down