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GAMES NEWS! 04/11/19

Matt Lees29 comment(s)

Quinns: Ava, before we get started on the news, I have to tell somebody. I had the most fabulous time playing Don’t Get Got last night.

Ava: Oh yeah?

Quinns: Oh my goodness. The paranoia. The guile. The outraged howls outside the pub when I managed to win just before we all went home by getting another player to say “I love you.” It was exactly like someone scoring a goal in the closing seconds of the match.

Ava: Wait, what? Are you sure this was a game, and not just a creepily competitive take on date night?

Quinns: Never you worry! I just need to find a place on the site to examine it in earnest.

On with the news!

Quinns: Iello has announced King of Tokyo: Dark Edition, a “collector’s edition” that takes the popular game of dice-rolling monster mayhem and makes it… erm, dark. Or, more accurately, gives the game a kind of Sin City aesthetic where strips of lurid colour punctuate a black and white backdrop.

Ava: I never really got on with King of Tokyo, although I think it’s just because I always play too risky and get knocked out early. I’m not sure ‘making things a little harder to see’ is what will fix my issues. I guess maybe I should be playing with my therapist rather than waiting for a special edition.

Quinns: You know, I never got along with it either. In hindsight, I think I found it haunted by the ghost of more traditional games where you “Wait for your turn to roll the dice.”

I do wonder what other board games would benefit from a “dark edition”. Agricola? It could take on a sort of Children of the Corn vibe. Sushi Go Party? Sultry sushis winking at you from ill-lit plates?

Ava: I’m after Mage Knight directed by Ingmar Bergman.

Ava: I’m not convinced that boardgamegeek’s hotness chart is a useful metric for ludo-enthusiasm, but I do pay attention when something jumps to the top of the charts immediately after a big convention. The Magnificent did just that, and was apparently at the top of BGG’s ‘geekbuzz’ chart by the end of the enormous Essen Spiel convention. So maybe it’s worth a look.

In a brooding fantasy world, players will be managing rival circuses. You’ll be placing tiles to build an encampment of entertainers, and competing to put on the best shows. The Magnificent promises to be a taut economic game of tetrominoes, dice drafting and special abilities. A nice touch is that if you draft multiple dice of the same colour over the course of the turn, you add them together. So if you focus on one type of action, you get stronger and stronger, at the risk of dropping other spinning plates. And the cost you pay at the end of the round is the total of your highest dice colour, so you’ll never stop juggling costs and benefits.

I’m curious to hear more about why folk are so excited for it. Is it Magnificent? Are goth circuses the new zombies?

Quinns: Oooooooooooh. Oooooh. Ooh. Ava, this is from the creators of the really-quite-good Santa Maria! Except this time they’ve chosen a theme that’s sexy and striking, instead of one that, if it was a man, would smell of mothballs and hug you for slightly too long. I’m excited!

Ava: I can’t say that I’m genuinely excited by this, but I think it’s such a bizarre move that it warrants a mention.

Queen Games, publisher of brilliant Escape: Curse of the Temple and pretty good Fresco is celebrating its 30th birthday. Happy birthday, Queen Games! 

As a birthday treat, they’re making a limited edition game about their games called ‘The Queen’s Collection’. Cards will be laid out showing a selection of their back catalogue, and players will be moving pawns around the collection to put the right pieces into their boxes after everything’s got jumbled. The game can be played solo, co-operatively or competitively, and I have no idea who would love a publisher enough to buy a game about organising games, but presumably they think somebody will be keen.

Quinns: Ooh. I would have been here for a special Queen Games game game where moves in this little collectible game would then be settled by whole games of Shogun, Fresco, Lancaster, Franchise and Luxor.

Ava: Ooh. I forgot about Franchise. What a great bowl of economic spaghetti to drown in. They do definitely have quite the back catalogue.

Matt: Just to interject here as a News Interloper, I honestly can’t stand the aesthetic of this. It’s like a children’s TV nightmare fuelled by over-the-counter flu medicine: I never want to see it again, if possible. Thanks.

Ava: Deranged looks like an interesting little beast, and has just found a US publisher in Semi-Pro.

Players will navigate some horrific city to complete a hidden objective, constantly at risk of turning titularly ‘deranged’. Once a player goes evil they have to kill another player to turn human again, but each time someone dies, the situation gets worse for everyone. It sounds like an interesting take on semi-co-operative nonsense, with a combination of hidden goals and heel turns.

It could be interesting, but I only want it so I can put on Bowie’s ‘I’m deranged’ and sing it badly every time someone turns. Neither song nor game is exactly the best treatment of mental illness, but at least the song comes from a ludicrous album from Bowie’s bizarre 90s multimedia era.

Ava: Multi-classed writer/actor/games fan Calvin Wong has been digging underneath the Essen hype machine to uncover some unusual oddities. He’s written a piece on three of his favourites from the convention that other people aren’t talking about.

I’m particularly intrigued by the uninspiringly named ‘Geometric Art’. Another drawing game with players simultaneously trying to communicate a concept to the collective. The smart thing about this game is that all players will be limited to the same randomised set of shapes. Using two triangles, a circle and a hook to make a horse, hearse or horticulturist sounds like exactly the sort of tickly little wrinkle to a common gaming structure I like.

Ava: In ‘things I keep seeing linked to on twitter’ I’ve been enjoying the creations of this algorithmic dungeon generator. 

One Page Dungeon will draw a randomised dungeon for you, but the most pleasing touch is the way it adds little plot hook style descriptions to each room. Honestly, if I was in a pinch, and didn’t have a session planned, I’d be happy DMing with just one of these maps to give me the nudges I need. Which is quite an impressive promise from a lovely tiny free thing.

Quinns: Actor and comedian Paula Deming is an industry treasure, and this week she released quite the treat from her creativity pipes. Do you remember the song Part of your World from The Little Mermaid? It doesn’t matter. Click play, and enjoy.

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

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Co-op Case Study: Blood Bound

We’ve just passed by the night of masks and false faces, so it seems appropriate that we’re talking about another hidden teams game (and one that feels like a natural successor to Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space, which we discussed two weeks ago).

As it happens, we’ve played a number of hidden team games since the publication of Meeples Together, and we’ve still got a few classics to touch upon as well. We don’t want to take away from the full co-op games that are the core of the book, but we will be returning with a few other games of this sort in January. 

This article was originally published on the Meeples Together blog.


Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games (2013)
Cooperative Style: Hidden Teams
Play Style: Take That

Overview

You’re a vampire of the secretive Rose or Beast clan. They’re so secretive that you don’t even know who the other members of your clan are! Instead, you must engage in deduction by stabbing the other characters with a knife. Your eventual goal is to identify the leader of the opposing clan and capture them — but if you capture the wrong vampire, your whole clan loses!

Cooperative System

Blood Bound is obviously a descendent of team games such as Werewolf (1986, 1997) and Bang! (2003), but it may share the most interesting similarities with Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space (2010): both are elimination-focused hidden teams games that layer a second level of deduction atop the typical role deduction.

Role deduction is always a core element in hidden teams game. Unlike games such as Bang!, Saboteur (2004), and Werewolf, which only support role deduction through assessment of game activity, Blood Bound has an actual deductive system: each character has two  affiliation tokens and one rank token that identify that character. The core action of the game, stabbing another character, reveals one of these identity tokens each time a character takes a wound. It’s a simple system, but the ambiguity of some of the tokens means that many of the characters are never entirely identified, requiring players to meld this mechanics-based deduction with the more typical assessment of player actions.

On its own, Blood Bound’s role deduction would be interesting, but it rises up to the next level because the game also contains rank deduction: each character has a rank between 1 and 9, with between three and six ranks appearing on each team in a game (depending on the number of players). The players know that the lowest ranked character is the leader, but not only don’t they know what everyone’s rank is at start, but they also don’t know which rank is the lowest. In an eight-player game, with four players per team, the rank “2” character is probably the leader (unless there’s a “1” in the game), but and less obviously a “6” could be. This means that players often have to weigh what they know and what they’ve deduced against probability — which is a good design for a hidden teams game because it forces players to make decisions when everything is shades of gray. (In our opinion, a hidden teams game where you’re able to deduce most of the roles by the end of the game is superior to one where you always deduce all of them.)

The other major element of hidden teams games, the ability to work together, does get some attention in Blood Bound, even if it isn’t as intricate of a system as the deduction. Obviously, players can work together to kill (capture) their opponents, just like in Bang! or Werewolf. There’s also an ability to “intervene”, throwing yourself in front a knife meant for someone else, which can help keep your leader safe (assuming you’ve deduced correctly). Finally, each player has a special ability, and a number of these can be used to help fellows or hurt opponents — and again are made more interesting by how often players are not 100% sure of their assessments.

Finally, Blood Bound contains a “deductive cue” to get things started: at the beginning of the game each player grants a “clue” to the player to his left: he shows them a corner of his card, which contains an icon that probably shows which team he’s on. Giving player this sort of starting cue helps them make more thoughtful deductions and take more meaningful actions; it compares favorably to a more classic game like Bang!, where the first player is forced to take a shot, not knowing who most of the players are.

A deductive cue also offers the ability to provide information (or misinformation) to the rest of the table. Players assume that their fellows will take certain actions based on what they know — and that can be used to benefit one team or hurt the other, but it can also be used to throw the rest of the players off the scent.

No Challenge System Elements. Hidden Teams.

Adventure System

The theming of Blood Bound as a vampire fight is very shallow. Though there are nine ranks, each with their own title and special ability, neither that nor the game’s theming makes it much of an adventure game.

Final Thoughts

Blood Bound has a strong deductive system that shows what you can do when you focus a game entirely on deduction. In particular, it shows how much uncertainty you can allow in a game that focuses on hidden teams (or traitors), while still allowing players a good chance at figuring things out, and it demonstrates the benefits of doing so.

Kalle Krenzer

Kalle Krenzer has designed just one game: Blood Bound for Fantasy Flight Games. It received good attention when demoed at Heidelberger Spieleevent 2012 and was a 2014 Kennerspiel des Jahres Recommended game.

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The original article can be found on the great Mechanics & Meeples