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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


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.




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