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GAMES NEWS! 23/11/20

Quintin Smith 31 comment(s)

Ava: I don’t think you’re ready, for this jelly.

Tom: I don’t think i can handle this.

Ava: It’s just jelly Tom. It’s all just jelly.

Tom: And news, right?

Ava: Yeah, sure, you can call it that if you want!

Oh my word, it’s award season again!

The Pearple’s Choice is currently open for nominations in the unofficial, but still lovely, Shut Up & Sit Down forums. I’m really glad I’ve got an obvious excuse to highlight the forum and hopefully take more of a dip in myself. These are some wonderful awards voted for by the loveliest community in gamesing.

I’m glad to see the return of “The Erik Tengblad award for a game that you played this year but came out earlier”, if just because it reminds me of the lovely and horrible licorice pepper sweets Erik used to feed me annually. I got a bit tearful seeing the MinuteWalt award for best socially distanced game. I’m also super curious what people will vote for in the pillbox award for the game you’re most excited to play when you can get enough people in your house.

It’s nomination time until 14 December, after which voting will run to 11 January with the winners announced in the new year. I’m personally particularly excited to get to take part in the online vote and (hopefully) chat, but then maybe get to appear in the podcast and have additional opinions.

Honestly though, I think it’s really lovely that there’s this entirely volunteer run award show running in the background. So many thanks to everybody running it, nominating, voting and generally sharing their passion for games.

Tom: In further ‘cool awards’ news, a jam-packed board of industry vets have banded together to create ‘The Zenobia Award’ – a game design contest that’s laser-focused on bringing designers from marginalised groups into the historical games space with a cash prize, but perhaps more importantly, a mentorship from the design heavyweights behind it.

Perhaps the most important thing is that it’s not an award where everyone applies and then one person wins and it’s over. Promising applicants are selected and paired with a mentor early on, who will then develop ideas in collaboration before a de facto ‘winner’ is chosen some time in 2021. I’m really excited to see who gets brought on, and what ends up being produced as the cogs of design turn.

Ava: I think historical gaming is one of the places that could really do with better representation and different perspectives, so I’m really excited to see what comes of this. I love historical games for shining lights on periods I could never have gotten interested in any other way, but it’s no secret that the perspectives offered are often through narrow lenses. Anything that gives me a chance to dive into a piece of history from an entirely new angle sounds wonderful to me. I’m going to be keeping a close eye on what comes out of this mentoring process.

Ava: Maybe let’s look at some actual games.

Village War: The Calamity is a Nigerian boardgame about the history and mythology of the Igbo, designed by Kenechukwu Ogbuagu. The art looks striking, and its boardgamegeek description pitches it as a card-drafting, resource management spirit war game (I am so up for spirit war being the new hot genre).

Players will be choosing from an initial hand of ten cards which warriors will be going to their village to be targeted by your opponents, and which will be staying in hand to get aggressive. Cards are played back and forth to defend and attack, until someone has won the war and/or claimed the most resources. Players are also able to use artifacts and tributes to disrupt the back and forth and take special actions.

Tom: There’s quite a lot of war going all over the place in that cover art! I hope the game delivers in-depth systems for every one of the natural disasters, creatures and buff dudes depicted.

Ava: Well this looks thoroughly bizarre, and completely unlike the usual historic fare I associate with Academy games.

Reality Shift features sci-fi style lazer-cycle maze-racing across a board made up of chunky magnetic plastic cubes that can be reoriented and moved around during the game. This means you’ll be racing on the sides of cubes, getting squashed by cubes and reconfiguring the race course to bring the finish cube closer. It looks ridiculous. And very cubey.

Tom: The higher Kickstarter pledge levels here are just multiple (occasionally deluxe) copies of the game, so that you can build an 18-cube Reality Shift race-track that extends into the heart of the sun. Which y’know. Might… be… fun?

This looks a tiny bit like ‘Ctrl’ – partly because they’ve both got big ol’ cubes, but mostly because they’re both built out of gimmick and potential. The only way I can envisage Reality Shift practically working in most people’s human rooms would be to seat it atop a turntable so the whole thing could actually be visible. Add that to some bog standard roll-and-move with card powers to extend your reach, and it could just be a big magnetic crapshoot.

That said, Academy Games have a history of making solid and interesting dice-chuckers, so maybe it’ll be okay.

Ava: Social deduction medieval alchemical biology? Sure, why not.

Four Humours is a game of unseen information and hopefully working together or outwitting your opponents by placing the right pieces in the right places.

Players are medieval pharmacists, prescribing potions to various characters on cards associated with particular locations on a map. Each person has a range of slots to fill with the humours of your choice, so you secretly place potions in them. There’s a hierarchy of humours dictating who wins with which combos, made up of the pieces placed by you AND your opponents. Each card is a different take on the Prisoner’s Dilemma, played over and again, in an attempt to race to meet specific objectives.

It’s one of those things that could be nice and fluffy or ruthlessly complicated, and I honestly can’t tell which from this angle.

Tom: I adore the art style for this one, and it does do a lot of work in making the game look fluffy and gentle – but I bet it’s a tiny bit brutal? It’s the kind of game I can imagine Matt being really good at in a way that makes me want to not talk to him ever again afterwards? I’ve got a lot of time for ‘Routes on a Map’ games and the collision between that and cold hard distrust has me right intrigued.

Ava: And finally, in what I’m thinking of as the second movie in an odd-couple buddy road trip series, Quinns has guested on a Dice Tower top ten! If you want an hour and a half of him gently ribbing (and being ribbed by) Zee and Tom of that parish, you’ve got a treat in store. They’ll be picking out their top 10 unique games, which means it’s actually like a top thirty of uniquingest games?

Given the surprising loveliness of the AwSHUX session where Quinns and Tom beasted each over about the games they disagreed on the most, I’m expecting this to be an enjoyable watch.

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

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GAMES NEWS! 16/11/20

Matt Lees 40 comment(s)

Tom: I need to kick-back, relax, play on some slide guitar, drink a bit too much too cheap whiskey and sing a song about my problems.

Ava: It’s 11am on a Monday. Where is this going?

Tom: We’ve done the heavy lifting here, they can put the pieces together this time. Let’s crack on-

Ava: -WITH THE GAMES BLUES!!

Ava: OhMyGOSH there’s just so much over on the boardgamegeek blog pouring out of the Tokyo Game Market. A lot of this is stuff that may not see a European or American release, but there’s so many lovely things that I have to link you to three, separate, round-ups of all the best Japanese games.

The one I’m most curious about is Hey Yo!, a version of Five Lines, which has players slamming down cards in rhythm, creating something like a musical stave, glistening with notation in different colours and symbols. Once all the cards are laid out, only then do you get to start running pieces along the lines, interacting with the notation to score points and build combos. High scores rely on high collaboration, and spotting when someone’s made a mistake and whether or not you can fix it. This one is from Oink, so will hopefully see a wider distribution, and features two decks, so that instead of just playing co-operatively, you can double the player count and play two rival games. This is so nice! It includes a little music device to play with, but you can also just put on your own tunes and play with those beats instead. I’ve only just realised how much I want to see more rhythm games on the tabletop, because my word, is that a great way to add the time pressure to decision-making that makes mistakes inevitable and hilarious.

Tom: If that doesn’t float your boat then don’t worry, there are a couple more exciting bits and bobs to peruse. Nessie’s True Identity has your mates excitedly yelling nouns that could be the name of an ancient sea-beast, and comes with my new favourite game component ever – a series of plastic letters spelling out ‘WHAT?’.

Meanwhile, Yakatabune is a little card-driven-two-player box where you play as rival pyrotechnicians trying to impress nearby houseboats with many a colourful display. In a nutshell; it’s kind of like Schotten Totten but with explosives! In a tortoiseshell; it’s like Schotten Totten but playing the cards will give your opponent ways of manipulating the cards once they’ve been placed down, and secret ‘program cards’ will let you combo bonus actions together and GOSH it all sounds rather dizzying but EXCITING.

Ava: This isn’t really news but I’m so very excited!

There’s a new Tiefsee edition of The Crew on the way. We all know that Tiefsee is german for Teeth See, so this edition is presumably about the Pope of Teeth, so I’m really not sure why there’s a deep sea theme on the cover. I guess that’s where the holy-father of dentistry lives. I still think The Crew is the best trick taking game I’ve ever seen, and I’ve developed an increasing passion for taking tricks over the last few years, so I’m as hyped up as a deep sea diver who’s just found Kate Winslet’s necklace.

Tom: It really is very good – and I only managed to get up to mission 15 of the 50-strong booklet that guides you through the game’s perfectly pitched difficulty curve. This new box is completely standalone, so I’m keen to see if they double down on the missions that are a little unusual, or try to perfect perfection in just being a ferociously slick trick taker.

Ava: Burncycle sounds like a rhythmic pain, but sadly isn’t a rhythm game. Actually, is it? I can’t make head or tail of this kickstarter. THOMAS! Get out your kickstarter calipers and get the measure of this.

Tom: Yes, Chef!

Tom: BURNCYCLE from Chip Theory has you and a smattering of robot pals doing missions in facilities to complete, you guessed it, objectives! The main board is a sort of a dungeon-crawly map littered with chip theory’s signature… poker tokens? Risk disks? Most of the action seems to take place on your personal player boards, covered in your robot’s spicy abilities, and a ‘network map’ that shows what flavour of ‘science fiction’ corporation you’re facing off against this time. There’s a neat mechanic here where you move pieces around this network map each turn, giving bonuses to possible abilities taken on the main board – a little planning-and-efficiency minigame that makes your dungeon crawl more of a dungeon jog.

I’m explaining this in possibly the driest way possible – but in truth it’s the missions, options and emergent decision making that might make this one sing. I do hear lots of people making GoodNoise about Too Many Bones – but maybe that escapes being described in a dry fashion because you can technically play it in the bath. It sounds fun! It’s got a good name! This one doesn’t have as good a name so maybe it’s not as good? Thank you.

Ava: I’m a sucker for a clever design hack. Top tip for people thinking about running a kickstarter is to do some really clever, silly thing as part of your campaign.

Slugblaster is a role-playing game by Mikey Hamm, on kickstarter with the support of Rowan, Rook and Decard, who brought us Spire, Heart and all those ridiculous one page RPGs. It’s a punky retro sci-fi game about hoverboarding kids that kill monsters with home-made weapons. The tagline is ‘kickflip over a quantum centipede’, which will likely tell you everything you need to know. It’s built on Blades in the Dark and has certainly figured out how to nail a very particular aesthetic.

Ava: What warranted its inclusion in the news, I hear you cry?

Tom: What warranted its inclusion in the news?

Ava: Be quiet, Tom. The deal-clincher for me was that the deluxe edition comes in a pizza box. This will have notes and tables and rules printed on the interior, so you can use it as a DM screen while playing. That’s just brilliant, silly, deeply on brand and I love it.


Ava: Elsewhere on kickstarter Jacob Fryxelius’ next game is crowdfunding now, and I’m curious what ‘Mr Terraforming Mars’ is up to next.

Star Scrappers: Orbital looks a little bit softer on the sci-fi spectrum. It combines engine building and worker placement, and the elaborate card-based systems appear to be all present and correct. I also completely missed the core selling point on my first pass, which is that you’re building a space station with a load of interlinked cards with different abilities. It looks a little like Galaxy Trucker, but with a thick slathering of powerful card combos. I have a lot of faith in Jacob’s ability to build a densely intertwined deck of cards, so this could definitely be one to watch.

Tom: Yespleasethankyou. Anything that has even the faintest whiff of ‘computervideogame’ Offworld Trading Company about it makes me quite pleased – It is, after all, a known fact that when business meets space you get: good. Stocks in zero gravity! Quarterly meetings in orbit! The possibilities are endless. I’m glad the trailer placed some emphasis on the fact that sabotage will play some part in this box – as there’s nothing sweeter than the feeling of disrupting a player’s perfectly-oiled engine with a sprinkling of health and safety violations.

Ava: Ooooh. It’s an Art Attack. Which I realise is a reference only Brits of a certain age will remotely understand.

Katia Howatson has an artists diary up on boardgamegeek in which she talks about her art, her instagram, her recent calendar kickstarter, and just shares a load of lovely mosaics made with board game pieces. It’s exactly the sort of clever idea you wish you’d come up with, executed so immaculately that you don’t get jealous. What a lovely thing.

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