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June 29, 202028 comment(s)
Tom: Yeah, news!
Ava: … News?
Ava: Yes. Let us news.
Tom: I can’t believe someone has so blatantly taken the Alien from Nemesis and made it into a board game (pictured above)
Ava: Tom, I think that…
Tom: The obviously copyright infringing ‘Aliens: another glorious day in the corps’ sees players fighting through ‘their favourite scenes in the film’ as the designers attempt to inception their blatant theft into your mind via a film that clearly doesn’t exist, a la Shazam and the Berenstein Bears.
Ava: No, Tom, there really is a…
Tom: We don’t really have much detail, just some vague promises of a dynamic co-op game, aliens you can kill and two already lined up expansions. And yes, those expansions are apparently really called ‘Ultimate Badasses’ and ‘Get Away From Her, You B***ch’ (their censoring, not ours). All snappy and perfectly okay and also good names for expansions for the boardgame that is the Aliens, the boardgame.
Ava: Sometimes this hobby/job(/jobby???) is a delight. I stumbled upon this design diary never having heard of the game, only knowing a little about the publisher Hollandspiele, and knowing absolutely nothing about the historical event the game is based on.
The Field of the Cloth of Gold aims to arrive on the five hundredth anniversary of the ‘essentially a party’ of the same name, a three week festival of Kings showing off that spent a third of the wealth of England at the time. King Henry VIII (yup, that one) and King Francis I of France basically had a renaissance rave-up to show off just how swish they were.
Tom Russell describes the main problem with designing a game about the event is that basically nothing happened, but honestly it sounds like he’s built quite a treat. A lightweight filler inspired by ultra-classics El Grande and Tigris and Euphrates, players will face a simple choice every turn, to collect tiles (which gives a random bonus to your opponent) or score the tiles you’ve already collected, limiting your ability to gain more in the future. It could be sharp, it could be nonsense, but with a theatrically bombastic manual, I’m curious about it.
Tom: I hope this turns out to be really, really excellent so that we can review it, otherwise it might be another one of those games where I’ve got at least, like, 8 jokes written and then Matt says ‘yes Tom but it’s not a good game is it’ and I say YEAH BUT I’VE GOT ALL THESE JOKES and then Matt says ‘these are just pieces of paper with the word ‘jokes’ written on them’ and I say ‘It’ll work better in a visual format rather than written! This paragraph is a mess of punctuation and the readers probably hate how self-indulgent and silly this is’ and then Matt edits the end of this paragraph to stop it from going on forev-
Canopy sees two players vying for the fanciest and most biodiverse parts of the rainforest, drafting trees, weathers, animals and plants, each with their own bonuses and methods of scoring. It sits squarely in the territory of ‘that sounds nice’, and reminds me a little of the surprisingly ruthless push-your-luck set collection of Herbaceous. Though maybe that’s just the prominent foliage playing tricks on me.
In other news, I’m so disappointed to find out there isn’t actually an Italian chamber orchestra providing scores for live action role playing. Sad.
Crescendo Giocoso Ritornello is a ‘playlist’ of several games by an orchestra-themed larp group. I’m never going to get past that disappointment, even if some of the things here sound great. Sorry Crescendo Giocoso Ritornello, you’ve clevered yourself out of a fair shake. Unless Tom can rustle something up?
Tom: Ava I am struggling to understand this concept at its most fundamental level. The clash of Italian and Acronyms is making all the thinking juices trickle out my nose.
Ava: Wait, wait, wait. I’ve slept on this, and had a closer a look, and I think beyond the quirky framing, this looks like an intriguing twelve games. On a quick glance through, one of them is about caring for a person with Alzhimer’s disease, and looks genuinely heartbreaking, and another is played in complete silence and asks players to try and recall an impossible, imagined childhood through movement and invented ritual. Maybe these are exactly the sort of people who should pretend to be a chamber orchestra, and maybe, one day, we can all do the same. The Kickstarter closes very soon, so jump on quickly if it sounds like your thing.
Honestly, I just watched the video and entirely zoned out enjoying the Barber of Seville and then thinking about the Tom and Jerry take on the same. I always forget that classical music is often actually quite affecting. I’m also glad I googled to double check I’d got the right piece, as it turns out the song that goes ‘Figaro’ lots, ISN’T from the Marriage of Figaro.
Good save, Ava.
Next up on Kickstarter, a dicey take on the International Space Station.
Intrepid gives you massive handfuls of dice, and asks you to sort them between all the players at the table, each a character from a different country, with a different goal, a different way of manipulating dice, and their own lovely face. Actual faces may vary.
Carefully communicating and collaborating to keep the station ticking, with upgrades that will help you find some resources at the cost of others, it all sounds a little on the chaotic side for a carefully planned space mission. It also reminds me of some of the best bits of explosively-collaborative dice defuser FUSE.
Tom: Having never played Intrepid or Sidereal Confluence, I am inclined to compare the two in a way that you can feel free to completely ignore. Maybe, if you’ve played them, you might be able to tell me if Intrepid is kind of like a co-operative version of Sidereal Confluence with Dice instead of… Other… Bits? I don’t know, it’s the vibe I’m getting with the clunky graphic design and asymmetric ways of interacting with the same components – and honestly I’m quite intrigued with what looks like a rather chunky puzzle.
Ava: It wasn’t a comparison that had occurred to me, and I doubt it’s got the enormous asymmetry and wheeler-dealering of Sidereal, but if it comes close to that games ‘I’ve got an engine you don’t understand, so you’ve just got to trust me except I have no way to make you trust me’ then maybe that’s a bit of a win for a co-op? Also, the ‘other bits’ in Sidereal Confluence are mostly just bits. Lots and lots of bits, each with a specific name that gets entirely ignored in favour of just yelling the colour and shape out.
Yura Yura Penguin’s wobbly papercraft iceberg looks like a curvier Rhino Hero, and honestly, that’s nearly me sold already. The oddly-translated kickstarter page is a delight, and the game looks very silly. I’m glad it has upgraded to little wooden penguins from card ones, because little wooden penguins are adorable, and look like they’ll make this card stacking dexterity game almost impossible to win. Lovely.
I’ll bundle that Japanese weirdness together with BoardGameGeek’s latest round up of games that would’ve been released at the Tokyo Game Market.
Tom: There’s games about being a haunted Antiques dealer, a watch dealer, and even a game about being a games dealer. There’s a game called ‘Suzie-Q’ that has an absolute disaster of a central mechanic for someone like me (who doesn’t understand numbers or reasoning), and there’s a game about naming as-yet un-named, specific objects (such as ‘staples that have failed to be stapled’).
There’s even a game that’s basically ‘Guess Who’ but for underwear. Honestly I want all of these delivered to my home as soon as possible because they all sound like delightful little filler games that will draw people in on their central gimmicks alone.
Ava: In news that’s got all the most irritating people’s hackles up, Dungeons & Dragons is finally trying to remove some of the baked-in racism from its settings. They’re removing the concept of ‘Evil Races’ entirely from the game, and are planning a host of new books with more empathetic portrayals of factions previously only ever seen on the bad side of the table.
In particular, after criticism of The Curse of Strahd’s portrayal of the Vistani, which drew on various stereotypical ideas about the Romani people, new editions will have some of that content edited in consultation with members of the Romani community, who are also helping work on a new adventure with more positive rep of the same.
Honestly, I’m consistently appalled at the casualness of racism against traveller and Roma communities in the UK, so I’m really glad to see some reparative work being done here, not least because this sort of diversity tends to lead to much more interesting stories.
Tom: I’m trying my best to ease ‘DnD’ out of my vocabulary, when what I really mean is ‘RPG’. To most onlookers to the hobby, and many of those within it, the two are almost used as synonyms, I’ve found – and having recently started perusing the indie RPG scene I can’t imagine the frustration that arises from producing unique, diverse art and having it immediately posted under the banner of something so trite and tired. There’s so much out there, so rather than waiting for Wizards to get better, one can always start looking at what’s doing their ‘bit’ considerably better.
Ava: In blast from the past news, there’s a new Fighting Fantasy book coming out! Continuing the series of solo rpg style branching narrative books, Crystal of Storms is written by Rhianna Pratchett, and will have players flicking from page to page and leaving as many fingers in the past as they can manage.
Tom: Oi, that’s cheating!
Ava: I don’t care, I just want to get to the end before I’ve written too many numbers in the ‘stamina’ box at the front to be able to continue playing.
I’m honestly bewildered at the press release stating that Fighting Fantasy came out ‘before gaming gripped the imagination of children worldwide’ in a fairly ridiculous attempt to argue that Steven Jackson and Ian Livingston literally invented the concept of games for children. Presumably before that children had only ever been serious, pragmatic and realistic.
Tom: My first interaction with the work of Steve Jackson was spending my bus money on Munchkin expansion packs (i was young, okay) – and believe me, the daily 7 mile round trip to school that decision incurred (along with the detention I would receive for inevitably rocking up late) was most certainly the least pragmatic decision of my younger years. I guess this is the long way of saying that Steve Jackson did in fact free my childhood self from the shackles of normality. Thanks for the blisters, Steve.
In further reading material news, Warhammer 40,000 is getting its first Marvel comic, and it’s being written by the often lovely Kieron Gillen. Telling the story of Marneus Calgar, I’m disappointed it’s going to be a bluespaceboy story, and not something a bit Orkier, but that’s probably just me.
Tom: We’re ALL still waiting on Ava’s Queer Ork Theory 101
Ava: You might be waiting a little while longer. The last time I tried to explain it to someone we started off with discussions of Orks’ asexual reproduction and lack of gender, and ended up googling ‘Do Tau ****’. Eventually we were even asking whether, if the astartes have genetically engineered their ‘unnecessary’ sex organs away in favour of extra hearts and lungs, does that mean space marines sweat piss.
Tom: HAVE A GREAT WEEK EVERYBODY!
The original article can be found on the fantastic Shut Up & Sit Down
3D printable files optimized for detailed resin tabletop miniatures – [currently $3,266 (653%) of $500 goal] This article has been syndicated from the ever interesting Kicktraq.
Accessory packages for D&D players of all experience levels, with completely customized items including dice tins, trays, and more – [currently $146 (29%) of $500 goal] This article has been syndicated from the ever interesting Kicktraq.
Skeleton Dwarf, Gnome, Dragonborn and Centaur Miniatures – [currently £249 (12%) of £2,000 goal] This article has been syndicated from the ever interesting Kicktraq.
A new RPG set in an anime world. Designed for any kind of anime you would like to recreate, or create from scratch. – [currently $1 (0%) of $1,500 goal] This article has been syndicated from the ever interesting Kicktraq.
Myrrk is an Adventure Gamebook with unique isometric illustrations. Set in a chaotic Fantasy world where you play the part of the hero. – [currently £2,279 (91%) of £2,500 goal] This article has been syndicated from the ever interesting Kicktraq.
Conoce a cuatro guerreros que luchan contigo para resolver algunos de los grandes retos del agua. – [currently MX$19 (0%) of MX$455,800 goal] This article has been syndicated from the ever interesting Kicktraq.
A co-op card game in which you play the zombies seeking to eliminate humans in a post-apocalyptic setting! – [currently $411 (8%) of $5,000 goal] This article has been syndicated from the ever interesting Kicktraq.
June 22, 202016 comment(s)
Tom: Tickets are now available to purchase for the first Games News Gig. Our genre is cardboard and our instruments are words. Join us for a little ditty we like to call ‘The Games News This Week, On The 22nd of June 2020’. It’s going to be OUT THERE.
Ava: Give me a second, I need to look up a very, very, very, niche reference.
Tom: I’ll do a sound check. Let’s play that old classic – ‘The Stream Schedule For The Next Two Weeks Starting On The 22nd of June 2020, Also’.
And a one, and a two, and a one two three four TUUUUESDAY!! PLAYIN’ GLOOMHAYyYY(ven jaws of the lion) THEN THURSDAYYYY!! PLAYIN’ (an rpg called Mothership episode two, catch up on the first episode live on youtube today) TAKE IT AWAY, AVA!
Ava: I’ve lost the words!!
Tom: Huh. I guess we’ll just have to improvise when we get there.
Ava: This one’s for Brian Jones and all the other dinosaurs that got kicked out of the band! 1-2-3-4!
Ava: Capstone Games teamed up with designer Ryan Courtney for last year’s Pipeline, a combo-tastic, oil-filled matrix of mechanics that gave rise to Matt and Tom’s weirdest review yet. Well they’re at it again! Capstone and Courtney that is. Matt and Tom remain safely isolated and entirely unable to cover each other in oil for the foreseeable future.
Tom: I’ve got a super-soaker of vegetable oil ready to go the minute lockdown is lifted.
Ava: Oh dear.
Curious Cargo looks like it’s treading some familiar territory, with a whole web of conveyor belts at the core of each player’s board. A combination of economics, timing and network building gives you a duel-based alternative to Pipeline’s pipelines. Call in a truck at the right moment! Connect an interweaving network of lines! Ship your custom-shaped cargo tokens to your opponent to interfere with their logistics! PVC player boards! It’s all a bit exciting.
Tom: There’s not huge amounts of information on to how the game actually plays, but there are some positively frightening pictures of the board that make the game look like the logistical nightmare that exists in the deepest part of every boardgamer’s amygdala. There are also day and night sides of the board with different difficulties; for when you’re in the mood for a brightly-lit puzzle or a dark and dingy depo. Most of the early days of my internship involved playing plenty of Pipeline against Matt, so an exclusively two-player design from Mr Courtney has me in a state of some kind of imagined nostalgia.
Ava: Star Wars! That was a star war. That was a star, war. That’s a star war.
So goes the theme tune to Star Wars, which I can only assume the app and card based escape room puzzle will belt out at you as you launch into some space wizard hijinks. The cover kind of implies that one of them has you escaping from inside the innards of a tauntaun, and I’ll be honest, I’m here for it. Any puzzle that asks you to carefully tug the correct intestine has to be a winner, right?
Tom: Following that logic, the other two will have you escaping space (difficult, considering it’s what Star Wars is made of, duh) and escaping routine stormtrooper patrol duties. I’m practically salivating.
Ava: Two points of order. Firstly, I had to stop myself going into your sentence and adding ‘duh duh duh DAH duh, duh duh duh DAH duh, duh du duh dah’ after your soitary ‘duh’. Secondly, more escape rooms should be on the theme of just trying to get out of routine duties, it’s highly relatable.
Tom: Coming Q4 2020: ‘Unlock: SU&SD’s Games News’! Escape from bed in the morning, puzzle out some questionable goofery, and tool up for the final boss: Mr Lees.
Ava: Is Mars big? We just can’t tell. It’s too far away for us to know anything for certain, and that’s a fact. What I can tell you, though, is that it’s getting bigger. Or at least, it’s getting a bigger box.
Yes kids, that’s right, Terraforming Mars Big Box has hit kickstarter, and at heart it’s just a big box for all your Terraforming Mars goodies. That’s not quite all that’s going on here, as there’s also some fancy trays for sorting the components and a full set of 3D terrain tiles, to make your Mars more macho. Adding tiny mushroom clouds and adorable forests, it’s all entirely non-essential, but might make your red planet real estate slightly more desirable.
Me? I prefer a small box. This is just too much.
Matt: As someone who was part of the reviewing team for Terraforming Mars, it likely won’t be a surprise that I’m also unexcited at the prospect of More Box. Although oddly, I keep being tempted to buy the App version of the game? Zero box seems my optimal level for this particular beast.
Tom: I like that the first thing you see when you open the webpage is the giant mushroom cloud in the middle of a moderately terraformed mars. I guess nuclear devastation is kind of terraforming…
Ava: Can’t terraform an omelette without splitting a few atoms.
Ava: I am become death, fearer of puns.
Honestly, I’m a bit bewildered that the fourth in the ‘dark cities’ series is set in Bristol. I realise this is just a quirk of geography, but having a series run Salem, Tortuga, Deadwood, Bristol, screams bathos for me. Bristol is most recently a place where statues get rightly thrown in the river, but previously, i mostly associate it with long walks along motorways, a very drizzly hill, and a very expensive whisky in a very unpleasant hotel. It’s weird how exoticism works? I’m sure plenty of people have had drizzly hills in Salem, or been overcharged for liquor in Tortuga, but for me those are sensible places to set a game, but Bristol? It’s like being invited to a music festival in a church hall.
Tom:Ava, you still haven’t told us anything about the game.
Bristol 1350 is a plague cart racing game of dice, deception, and pushing people out of cart and leaving them to die.
Tom: Those little carts do look absolutely wonderful, and I do like that the whole thing folds away very neatly into that dinky little book. You can roleplay a priest hiding a bottle of whisky in a hollowed-out bible – only instead of alcoholism being your sneaky secret, it’s thematically risky boardgames. That or buboes. And speaking of buboes – the main mechanic of the game involves you making sure that you can pass your pustules in regularly scheduled intra-cart ‘mingles’, shuffling your symptoms around like the world’s worst poker dealer – passing off the worst of them off to other passengers so you can gracefully throw them from the cart and onto the street, ready for another cart to take pity on them. With some variable player powers and shaky ‘remedies’ added into the mix, this could be a nice (horrible) little box.
Ava: I don’t know if right now’s the best time to be releasing a social deduction game about whether people have got the plague or not. Though that concern may well be reduced once the box hits the doorstep.
That’s the actual noise I made as I scrolled down The Emerald Flame’s kickstarter page. It’s a box of codes to decipher, mysteries to unravel, and beautiful objects and ephemera to get lost in. The Emerald Flame is a one off puzzling adventure that can be played solo or with friends. It looks like a sumptuous sequence of solvable shenanigans.
Tom: Yeah Ava, sure this is a cool escape room-adjacent experience, but there’s an absolute dearth of tauntaun spleen for the $70 price tag.
Ava: But there’s maps! And alchemical diagrams! And letters with mushrooms on! And wood! Who am I kidding, I hadn’t seen the price when I started rhapsodising. The right kind of person will have an absolute whale of a time with this. By which I mean, a good few hours of studious frustration, which is what everybody associates whales with, right? I’ll trust our dear readers to know if they’ll get enough whalebang for their whalebuck.
Tom: Do you actually look at the words you use after you write them?
Ava: Goonies never say die. Or look back. Or something like that.
Matt: HOT ZONES IN YOUR AREA WANT TO CHAT
The Avril Lavigne: Hey hey, you you, I can’t afford your hot zone. No way no way. Now it’s print and play hey.
Ava: Unsure why The Avril Lavigne dropped in to tell you that the latest micro-edition of the other most awkward game to play right now is available to play for free, but she’s on the money. Pandemic: Hot Zone: North America is now available as a freebie treat, before it’s even hit the shops.
Tom: That title has one too many colons, just like my Uncle Phil! What a story that was, let me tell you-
Ava: -Very much no thank you.
This feels like a canny move for something pitched as the perfect introduction to boardgames. It’s a freely available simplified version of a popular co-op game: anyone could try it! On the other hand, I imagine the type of people who want to try a board game for the first time aren’t the same as those who are up for cutting printer paper into little decks of cards. Either way, it’s a nice freebie.
Meanwhile, Omari Akil, designer of Rap Godz, has a really insightful and challenging piece in The Manifold, a pretty new and pretty exciting board games newsletter. Omari is talking about a set of playtesting feedback that he ignored, because he felt that the systems being criticised were actually an important part of the culture he was representing, and a recognition of the challenges of racism in our culture. It’s a great little read on the assumptions and norms of game design and the things they can reinforce, and be challenged on.
Finally, I want to nod to some brilliant writing talking about unwelcoming spaces, racism and sexism. Fertessa Scott describes some awful experiences at board game shops, and offers ways to make sure this stuff doesn’t happen.
It’s an odd time to be thinking about how to run public game events, as they’re currently pretty much off the cards, but I’m hoping that when we do all come together we’ll all have learnt a thing or two about the importance of challenging norms and hierarchies. We need to make sure we’re welcoming every soul (that’s willing to welcome others without being creeps) to the table properly and consistently.
These last few months we’ve seen the world change overnight, with impossible things happening over and over again. I think we’ve got to keep up that pace, at the gaming table and beyond, and keep making change for better, over, and over, and over, until we live in a world that is the one we really want to live in.
Sorry, I appear to have launched into a ‘Jerry’s final thought’
Ava: OH GOD YOU’RE SO YOUNG
Tom: Matt is consistently existentially horrified when i remind him that i started watching SU&SD when i was FIFTEEN
Ava: Jerry Springer was a minor chaos deity of the nineties. He ran a chat show that was mostly just leering at working class folks and other marginalised groups goaded into yelling at each other. But it always ended with a heartfelt ‘final thought’ about togetherness and understanding.
Tom: Ahhhh I’ve heard of this Jerry. Wait, are we the Jerry Springer of boardgames?
Ava: Hopefully without the leering and goading.
The original article can be found on the fantastic Shut Up & Sit Down