This week Paul and Quinns are excited to examine Lowlands, a svelte and confident sheep farming game in the style of venerable designer Uwe Rosenberg, BUT WITH A TWIST. At the end of the game your herds might wash away in a dreadful storm.
Only one question remains. What wool they think of it?
Quinns: Hey all! Some final reminders of where you can see us at this week’s big show in Indianapolis.
Our extravagant live stage show will be on Thursday at 10am. The good news is, they gave us the main stage that seats 1,200 people! The bad news is, that’s the same exact time the main hall opens. You know, the one with all the games in?
To make the most of what we’re calling “the death slot”, we’re planning to give you our early impressions on some VERY hyped games, like Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, Disney’s Villainous, even the bizarre creation that is Cryptozoic’s Wallet. Why not come along to this first, and THEN hit the hall when you know which games to queue for?
At 3pm that same day we’ll be doing a bit of work as presenters, revealing some upcoming videogame adaptations of board games at What’s New at Asmodee Digital With Shut Up & Sit Down. Come along for at least one announcement that blew my mind when I first heard about it…
Paul: Welcome back once again, dear readers, to the Games News lab, where fresh Games News stories are grown in special hydroponic vats and tended carefully until, at last, they are ready to be released to-
Quinns: ANOTHER ONE’S ESCAPED.
Paul: QUARANTINE PROTOCOL GAMMA. ENGAGE DEFENSE TURRETS. EVACUATE THE BIODOME. THE WORLD ISN’T READY FOR THE NEWS OF GEN7.
Good grief, this is two weeks in a row that Plaid Hat games are leading our Games News, but Gen7 is none other than the second “Crossroads” game. In other words, it’s the long-awaited spiritual sequel to Dead of Winter.
Quinns: Gen7 will tell a branching story about the 7th generation on a generation ship, bound for a distant planet. Difficult moral and tactical choices will abound, and I daresay the different players might have different ideas about what will be best to do.
Paul: And that’s not all from Plaid Hat!
Following in the footsteps of storybook-based Stuffed Fables, Comanauts sends “more mature” players on a narrative-heavy journey through the mind of a man in a coma, with the objective of waking him so he can save the world from a black hole. Like Stuffed Fables, it’s also a co-operative game and again the work of designer Jerry Hawthorne, also the mind behind Mice & Mystics.
Quinns: While nothing Plaid Hat has produced recently has blown us over, there’s no doubt that their strong narratives and polished presentation has appealed to many. Will Comanauts, Neon Gods or Gen7 capture our hearts once again? We’ll just have to see.
GenCon is just around the corner, Paul! Is there anything on show you’re particularly looking forward to?
Paul: I’m keeping my mind (and my soul) open, because I like surprises but, like infamous Italian architecture, I am already leaning slightly. Follow my motion and you’ll see me inclined toward Expancity, a game of city-building in both the horizontal and the vertical.
After players lay down commercial and residential districts, they can gradually build skyscrapers and condos, scoring points for coy placement, as well as gigantic construction. I like laying tiles and I also kind of like towers, so this immediately appeals.
Quinns: This week I was VERY happy to see the announcement of an expansion for Meeple Circus, The Wild & Aerial Show.
As you might have guessed from our Let’s Play of Meeple Circus, I think this game is pots of fun. I just wish it was a little longer and trickier, with just a little more stuff in the box. The Wild & Aerial Show looks set to fix all of that, and early copies will be available at Gen Con this week. Excitement!
Paul: I tell you what other news might appeal to you this week, and that is the Kickstarter for Tim Fowers’ Sabotage. After we so roundly enjoyed Paperback and Hardback. Burgle Bros and Fugitive, we can’t help but have one eye on Sabotage. This is a game for two teams of two, one team sneaking into the lair of the other, and it promises to be “completely asymmetric,” with the sneaky saboteurs trying to subvert the villains’ trap-filled lair.
Predictably, it’s comfortably exceeded its crowdfunding goal and there appears to be quite an appetite for all that sneaking, hidden movement and wide array of special abilities. I’ll be looking forward to trying this one out.
Courtesy of Photographer Ben Broomfield benbroomfield.com
Quinns: It’s a short Games News this week, but before we wrap it up, we’d like to remind all you GenCon-goers that we’ll be back and recording another live podcast, this time on Thursday the 2nd of August at 10am. The good news is, they gave us the main stage that seats 1,200 people! The bad news is, that’s the same exact time the main hall with all the games in opens. Hilarious, eh?
To make the most of what we’re calling “the death slot”, we’re planning to give you the scoop on some VERY hyped games, like Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game and Disney’s Villainous. Rather than queueing to play some of the year’s most hyped games, come take a seat and listen to us give you the scoop!
Apologies in advance, because we’re going to be posting all of this info again tomorrow. 310 tickets sold, 890 to go! Haha. Ahh…
Quinns: On the plus side, if neither of these appeal to those of you making (or not making!) the trek to Indianapolis, there’s always, y’know, our own convention.
Paul: As lots of you will have seen over the weekend, SHUX is shaping up to be a heck of a show! We sold a bunch more tickets this weekend, so don’t be disappointed and CLAIM YOUR PLACE AT SHUX.SHOW BEFORE IT IS SNATCHED FROM YOU. Don’t make us have to set up Hunger Games-style tournaments for the final spot.
Everybody, pick up your pencils! No, you’re not having another stress dream about being back at school. We’ve just finally found a roll-n-write game that we absolutely love. It’s called Welcome To, and podcast #82 starts with an explanation of what it is, and why you should get excited for the release date in September.
And that’s just the beginning of this… peculiarly positive cast. Paul and Quinns soon move on to the happy kitchens of Wok Star (3rd edition), there’s talk of the fun they had in Fungi, and of the surprisingly strong Champions of Midgard. There’s also some disappointment about Village Attacks, but it wouldn’t be a SU&SD podcast without some vigorous complaining, would it?
Finally, the pair end with a particularly sticky reader mail. Has their taste in games changed with time? And if so, how?
Paul: Quinns, what is it that you have there, under one of your many board gaming arms?
Quinns: What, this? This little thing under my tertiary limb? Why, it’s only the latest announcement from Plaid Hat games, their fancy new Neon Gods. Doesn’t it look pretty, Paul? Doesn’t it look like an imaginative cross between roller derby, cyberpunk and Adventure Time? Doesn’t it also look… CURIOUSLY FAMILIAR?
Quinns: Ha, you’ve figured it out, haven’t you? Yes, I believe that Neon Gods is nothing less than the mutant child of early Plaid Hat classic City of Remnants, a game we were delighted by all the way back in 2013.
Paul: Good crumpets, you might just be right. Look, there’s even a familiar icon used to represent police officers! In a comment thread on this article, a member of Plaid Hat acknowledges that “Neon Gods grew out of a desire to build a reimplementation of City of Remnants,” and browsing the rulebook certainly brings back memories. Neon Gods looks a little more distilled and, well, sillier to boot, plus it offers several different scenarios to try. I’d be interested to see if this feels like a pleasant re-implementation or something slightly too familiar. We’ll let you know once we get our cardboard-hungry hands on it.
Quinns: Ooh, I’m eager. While we thought City of Remnants was great, it wasn’t a game that sold very well. In fact, for years I’ve been referencing our City of Remnants review as the most painful example of a SU&SD review that failed to help a great game.
In the meantime… Paul, would you like to play a game about managing oil pipelines?
Paul: Uh, no. And yet… weirdly, yes…?
Quinns: Revealed in this cheeky tweet from Capstone Games, Pipeline is a game about just that, looking like a curious mix of tile-laying, to connect pipes, and resource management. Capstone Games have published some really strong games in the last few years, like Lignum and The Climbers, but this is actually their first internally-developed title.
Paul: Living in British Columbia for several years, I have mixed feelings about pipelines, especially as in Canada they tend to be built across native land without proper consent or compensation, but I think I can enjoy them in the abstract on my tabletop, not least because some demented part of my brain suddenly wants to LINK LOTS OF PIPES TOGETHER. This looks like resource management plus puzzle and some part of my mind, perhaps the part that loves Galaxy Trucker, also wants this.
Quinns: And as always, it’s nice to see more art from Ian O’Toole. Speaking of Ian…
The next Ian O’Toole / Vital Lacerda collaboration, Escape Plan, went live this week on Kickstarter. We got a brief look at this game of fleeing the cops in the Games News ages back and now it’s a reality, not least because the Kickstarter was funded mere minutes after going live. You might remember this pair working together on The Gallerist, Vinhos Deluxe and the infamous Lisboa. Well, in what will be good news for most of you, Escape Plan is a significantly simpler game than any of those monsterpieces.
Paul: This is absolutely something I have to try when it comes out. The concept alone is fantastic and, while I didn’t get along much with Lisboa, I did enjoy The Gallerist and I think, when these two combine their powers, there’s no doubt that what they create is interesting.
Quinns: Yes. Both of them seem to like games that are beautiful but almost too busy. I think they’re both good and bad for each other in equal measure, but the only thing I’m sure about is that I want them to keep making games together.
Paul: AND I’ll tell you what else has interested (and surprised!) me recently. Did you spot the news about Villainous, a board game all about Disney villains? Not only did this tickle my pickle because it was about playing a villain, and because it made me wonder if Disney may dive deeper into more curious tabletop projects, but also because the design does look interesting and unique.
Each Disney villain, whether they’re Jafar or Ursula or Prince John, has their own unique set of powers contained within a deck of cards, which they play in their own distinct province, and also has a distinct set of victory conditions. I don’t know about you, Quinns, but that sounds DISTINCT to me. And I know you like asymmetric games. Could this be a good example of this?
Quinns: It could be! Or it could play like some nightmarish Disney Fluxx. All I know is that those symbolic miniatures are stunning. With Azul winning the Spiel des Jahres award this morning – the biggest prize in board gaming – I wonder if 2019 will become the year of abstract plastics?
Paul: Much as I’m weirdly curious about pipin’ my oil about the place, I also have a strange desire to see if I can avoid dysentery in The Oregon Trail: Journey to Willamette Valley. Based upon a certain video game that is all too well-known to a particular generation of North American players (and maybe a few of us in Europe, too), the challenge is to journey west without dying of illness, being killed by wolves, being killed by bears, being killed by buffalo, being killed by starvation, being killed by snakes or being killed by drowning. Goodness, there must’ve been something very appealing about heading west in the early 1800s, because it mostly seems like a recipe for disaster, a recipe whose every ingredient was poisonous.
Paul: No! But I’m sure someone out there does. This is a very pretty special edition of a very successful game. Look at all those figures, at those classy cards, at that excellent case. If you want the prettiest version of Pandemic yet, and feel like spoiling yourself to the tune of a hundred dollars, this is absolutely for you.
Quinns: Ooh, I tell you what this’d be great for! It’ll be a fabulous Christmas present for a loved one who’s interested in board games, but hasn’t yet taken the plunge.
And finally, as we shuffle our papers, turn one last time to the camera and prepare for the credits to roll, we make a quick nod toward news that a buyer has appeared for Asmodee. The investment firm that created the board gaming conglomerate in the last few years has put their multifaceted monster up for sale, and Pai Partners, a French private equity fund, has pulled them off the shelf and taken them to the cash register for €1.2 billion.
It also looks like PAI want Asmodee to keep being Asmodee for now, stating that they want to “support the current management team in its plans to grow the business further through international expansion both organically and by acquisition.” The deal is still being hammered out, but it looks like Asmodee may have a new owner soon. Does this mean more change ahead, more investment in the company or, perhaps to us consumers, no visible differences on the outside at all? I guess we’ll see.
Quinns: I’m trying to glean anything informative from all of these press releases. All I can find is that Asmodee is now owned by the same investment scheme that includes a company called “United Biscuits” and another called “Roompot”.
I’m going to look into United Biscuits a little more.. Oh, wow. Shut Up & Sit Down can confirm that PAI now control global distribution of both niche board games games and Jaffa Cakes. That’s too much power for any one entity, surely.
Paul: I honestly can’t tell if any of this is a joke or not.
Quinns: It’s not. Paul, the prospect of SU&SD selling out and becoming corrupt just got a lot more delicious.
Paul: Once again, deep behind enemy lines, we light the fires and wave our torches into the cloudy night sky in the hope that our signals will be seen by our brave allies and that they will parachute in the latest drop of vital Games New supplies. The distant drone of an engine, a dark shape in the air. Suddenly, it’s here! Quinns, open the crate! What’s inside?
Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra riffs on the tile-collecting and pattern-building of the original Azul, one of our favourite games of 2017 (see Paul’s review here), but instead of laying out tiles, players are now creating stained glass window arrangements. It looks like it has the same mechanic of taking the elements you need from several central pools, as well as trying to avoid waste or “dropping” anything you can’t use.
Paul: This is like some sort of cross-fertilization between Azul and Sagrada, but hopefully it’s diverged enough from its porcelain parent. There’s two-sided player boards, for more variety, as well as that mysterious tall tower to put discarded glass panes in. Why? What happens in there? I’m going in to find out…
Quinns: I actually have a theory!
Quinns: Azul designer Michael Kiesling has been known to work closely with El Grande designer Wolfgang Kramer. Could this tower for forgotten bits be a repurposing of the chipboard castille found in El Grande? Players in Stained Glass of Sintra might toss tiles into the tower and reveal them all later, probably causing someone terrible pain.
Paul: El Grande! Spanish for THE HUGE. Meanwhile, in space (the opposite of Spain), the new version of the science fiction epic Eclipse is gliding effortlessly through the heavens. The Kickstarter for this second edition has more than doubled its $300,000 goal and the result is, in theory, a shiny sequel that we should all be excited about, except…
Quintin, you said that sensors picked up some unexpected readings earlier…
Quinns: That’s right, Paul. This second edition is not the warp forward you might expect. The rules changes between these editions are are nowhere near as sweeping as those made for the fourth edition of Twilight Imperium (Eclipse’s sillier, more spectacular competitor), the art changes look relatively minor and most of what’s new is chrome: unique plastic miniatures and a buttload of trays. Lots of those stretch goals are only relevant if you back at the deluxe pledge level, too, meaning you have to lay down £128 to really benefit from the changes. Meanwhile, you can get Twilight Imperium for £90, or just buy the original Eclipse for £60?
I mean, I love Eclipse (see my old review here), but unless I had money coming out of my armpits I’d probably just stick with my first edition, or possibly just wait for a retail released of the second.
Paul: Crikey. That’s a pretty thorough breakdown and suddenly I’m… not quite as excited as I was. Perhaps it’s time to move on to…
Quinns: Ah yes, the Cthulhu: Death May Die Kickstarter. Talented designers Rob Daviau and Eric Lang team up for a Lovecraft game about kicking ass and taking names and possibly being eaten by a god.
Essentially, while Fantasy Flight try and balance the madcap combat of their Lovecraft games (like Mansions of Madness, Eldritch Horror and the superb Arkham Horror card game) with plenty of puzzles and atmospheric wandering, here CMON seem to be doubling down on combat. A game of Death May Die starts at the finale of a Cthulhu story, with the investigators barging through the door of the cultist’s final ritual, shotguns in hand, ready to disrupt it.
Paul: Ah yes, just like in all those Lovecraft stories where there are massive gunfights and it turns out that shooting extradimensional bad guys solves everything (?)! Will this be good? Who knows. But at $100 plus shipping, we would, as ever, encourage our readers to wait for the official SU&SD review before throwing down their hard-earned cash.
Quinns: Gosh, these days I feel like we complain about board game prices every single week.
Paul: As well we should! For some people, cost is a big consideration and board games are getting more flashy and more expensive in an effort to stand out from one another, and that’s only going to make this hobby harder to get into for most people.
Quinns: You’re right. We should stand our ground.
No word on what Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene will be priced at, but it’s arriving in shops this autumn and it’s an asymmetrical 2-4 player game where you can either be park security, customers, raptors or a tyrannosaurus rex.
It seems to be from a first-time board game designer and it’s debuting at comic-con… So, my head is telling me that this will absolutely be the traditional sloppy licensed game with nice miniatures and miserable mechanics.
Paul: But Quinns, that never happens! And what’s your heart telling you?
Quinns: That this will be the greatest game of ALL TIME. I am going to be three raptors
Paul: This week Fantasy Flight announced an expansion to Fallout: The Board Game, Fallout: New California. The box will add all new bits and stuff and things, including five new playable characters, two new scenarios, and will also fill out the scenarios of the original game a little more.
Topically, we have a video review of Fallout going live this Friday, so maybe wait for that before picking up this irradiated box.
Quinns: In more exciting expansion news, Paul! They’ve announced the first big box expansion for A Feast for Odin, one of our very favourite games of 2016!
Quinns: Aaaaaaah! It’s called The Norwegians and it will add beef and more islands and meat and PIGS. We don’t have a picture yet so I’ve just found some viking re-enactment types on google image search
Anyway, this announcement makes me feel very happy and oh-so-silly. There’s a good argument to be made that A Feast for Odin was already too big, too broad, with just too much stuff. I’m thrilled that with this expansion, they’re doubling down on this… well, ha, it’s a feast, isn’t it? A feast of things to try and to do.
Paul: BEEF. I will very much looking forward to the chance to try even more Odining.
And you know what? We’ve saved the best to last. By which we mean the worst. Last week I had to go and lie down in a dark room after I discovered the existence of WARHAMMER 40,000 MONOPOLY. I have absolutely no idea what is going on here but I can nevertheless say, right now, with all confidence, that none of us need another Monopoly game.
After tweeting out my bemusement, one of the replies I received was “In the grim darkness of the far future there is still free parking” and oh my goodness, there really still is. What the hell is going on with a game where you wander about the grimdark future of Games Workshop’s wartorn universe, sometimes buying planets and sometimes going to… space jail? I mean, what?
And yet, as I thought about this even more, I realised it’s probably no dumber than Star Wars Monopoly or (hnggg) Queen Monopoly or anything else that’s out there. These are all yet more hamfisted attempts to wrap another idea around an old game. It’s painful to see The Landlord’s Game buried deeper and deeper under this growing pile of nonsense and just writing this makes me want to go back into another dark room and lie down for a week or so.
GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT! Container, the legendary contest of international shipping, has finally been reprinted. Inside this box are seven-inch resin container ships, it features a new module titled “The investment bank”, and we’ve finally discovered that this game is an utter car crash.
What’s that you say? None of those sound like “good things”!? Pah, our viewers are philistines.