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GAMES NEWS! 21/09/20

Quintin Smith 29 comment(s)

Ava: Tom, Tom, wake up, I’m really sad about disco again.

Tom: Whabuhhuh?

Ava: Turns out the first line of that song is ‘do you remember the twenty first night of september’, but we already used that joke already earlier this month even though we were due to do the games news on the actual 21st of September. We wasted the joke! It wasn’t the right time!

Tom: At least you aren’t calling me Ronald, like last week.

Ava: Go back to bed Ronald. It’s time for a games news disco.

Oh oh To-ba-go! To-ba-go with volcano!

In case that wasn’t one hundred percent clear, Tobago, a game made a million years ago in 2009, is getting a volcanic expansion.

Tobago is a game of searching an island littered with stone statues looking for treasures. Players take turns driving adorable little jeeps across the island and playing cards that slowly round down the number of possible places the treasure might be in. Both of these elements create a race to get to the right space, at the right time: once it is the only place the treasure could be. The expansion adds a volcano to the treasure hunting deductathon, which means there’s hot new ways of getting in each other’s way.

Why do I bother mentioning an expansion for the ancient game of Tobago? Well, it’s because I have beef with Quinns for his pre-Shut-Up-&-Sit-Down-historical recommendation of the damn thing on Rock Paper Shotgun. That review meant Tobago was literally the second board game I bought as an adult, and I think it’s rubbish. Damn you past-Quinns!

Quinns: Let’s give Tobago credit where it’s due, though.

Ava: Go on.

Quinns: Even today the… it… the board is a really interesting shape.

Ava: You owe me £40.

Tom: To put a pause on this beef for a rare minute, we should probably talk about what this expansion is actually bringing to bago. Spoilers; it’s mostly to do with lava. In this expansion, players will have their treasure hunting periodically interrupted by spicy water, which will shunt treasures around by changing the very clues that you’re using to deduce the location of said treasure.

For example – a clue might be that the treasure is ‘in the largest forest’ – but after a cascade of the Good Hot Juice, that forest could be naught but cinders, teleporting the træsures somewhere else entirely.

Ava: It’s exactly that sort of treasure-teleporting nonsense that makes me freak out. GRUMP.

Tom: Silencio is a new co-operative game of not talking and trying to figure out exactly where to put cards, in the vein of The Mind and The Crew. The Silencio, however, asks you to put some cards in order…. But not too in order?

The game dishes out penalties for getting your numbers too close, and bonuses for risking slightly higher cards that might prevent a teammate from being able to place theirs. There are also some shrines that’ll give you one-off benefits, and a couple systems for making the game easier or harder based on how your group is scoring.

It sounds a bit more deductive than The Mind, and a slice more faffy than The Crew – but on the other hand, I could yell ‘SILENCIO’ at the beginning of each game.

Ava: Kniz Kniz Bang Bang! The Long Kniz Goodnight! I left my Kniz in San Francisco! Knizzy, Wizzy, Let’s Get Busy!

Okay, it’ll be released this coming Friday, but the next Podcast includes an absolutely storming bundle of big beef relating to fabled board game designer Reiner Knizia, and as such I’m feeling pretty positively disposed to the Good Doctor.

Sumatra is the latest Knizia joint, and as with many of his games, it’s hard to parse at a distance, but could be interesting. We’ll never know (unless we play it, I guess). It’s a game of trying to make sure you’re well prepared enough to handle a volcano, or have enough GPSes to find a particular village.

The fun weirdness comes from an exploration puzzle where you appear to be…chasing after a sentient notebook? Depending where your character is in relation to that notebook, you’ll be able to move forward, shuffle tiles or just run to catch up. However you’re moving around the board, you’ll get the opportunity to add information tiles to your own little notebook of a player board, where you’re trying to arrange the information into something that will actually help you.

It sounds like an odd mix of set collecting, with careful placement of those sets and all the notebook chasing nonsense I don’t entirely understand.

Tom: I really love that as well as collecting research on local flora and fauna, you’re also set-collecting as much (what looks like) WiFi as possible.

It’s like being in my house right now – there are far too many of us, and the internet is a precious commodity; hoarded by the greedy few and fought over by the hungry many. I’m the greedy few. I’m playing the game already. And I’m winning.

Ava: Cas-cad-ia. That lovely tasting land!

Cascadia is the latest from Flatout Games, who brought you Calico, which is a legitimate reason to prick up your ears. Even more heartening, there’s a little web app version of the game that means you can try the solo version right now! It was simple enough that I figured out two thirds of the rules just by opening it up and messing around! I then got a terrible score because of the other third that was actually important.

Cascadia promises a two-layer tile-laying puzzle, with each adorable hexagon representing different habitats and biomes. Each tile can house a small range of species, but only one per tile. Each of those animals scores differently according to how you arrange them. When you take a tile, you also take the animal that was placed beside it, and can place it on a valid tile that doesn’t have another animal already.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL. Underneath all the animal shenanigans, you’re also trying to score points by creating the largest possible corridor of the same-coloured landscape. It’s cute, straightforward and I’ve literally just taught you the whole game (I think), so I’ll be honest, I think this is ace.

In other news, it always surprises me that I’m actually a sucker for anthropomorphised fantasy animals.

Untamed Feral Factions Spirit Strike Edition has too many words, but the correct amount of fantasy animals, according to my increasingly convoluted yardstick. It’s a card battling beat-em-up so you’ll be facing foes and flinging feral fighters in the form of cards on the table. The bit that grabs my eye is the ‘pick three faction decks and shuffle them’ bit, so you could be sending chameleons, deer and bears to mess up snakes, rhinos and raccoons.

It’s quite possible I’m just missing Champion of the Wild, now I’ve said that out loud.

Tom: You know, it sounds a bit (a lot) like Smash Up? A game I bought when I was but a board game boy – and as such I have no idea if it holds up at all .

What does hold up is the art for Untamed: Words Words – Words Words Words. Judging by some of the cards they’ve got on show, the factions have distinct personalities with neat variations between each card – and the more unusual animals (Chameleons! Snakes!) are extra exciting. This could be nice, if goading animals into hand-to-hand combat is your thing, you monster.

Ava: I didn’t know you used to be a Nintendo GameBoy™

Tom: I think you’ve misunder…

(Ava prods Tom’s A and B buttons, hoping to play the music from the second level of Super Mario Land on loop.)

Tom: Owwwwwwwwwwww

Ava: Just a little digital news nugget for you here. We don’t often cover so-called ‘video games’, but we thought it was worth a mention that the Wingspan app has now been launched, and you can take a peek at an earlier build at the beginning of our lovely Let’s Play of Wingspan with designer Elizabeth Hargrave. So I’m plugging the app as an excuse to plug one of our own videos. What a plug-fiend I’ve become.

Tom: In other app news, Root is coming to YR PHONE (be it a ‘pple or an droid) on the 24th! That’s… three days! This isn’t really news, it’s just me being an excitable child who wants more Root.

Ava: I also got an email today saying that there’s now multiplayer online co-op in the Gloomhaven digi-version, a feature I would’ve assumed it already had. That’s alongside new apps for Game of Thrones and Blood Rage. Everything’s gone very digital, is what we’re saying. Even these words are actually, secretly, digits.

Tom: Woah.

Ava: Whatever you do, don’t look at your fingers.

Our ‘and finally’ is probably the most traditionally newsy “and finally” that you’ll ever and finally. Yup. It’s the oldest person in the world celebrating being the oldest person in the world, and Japan’s oldest person ever.

Is this board game news? Only barely. Tanaka Kane is 117 and still playing board games with her pals, along with a tastily non-specific cola beverage. I can only assume she spent her birthday absolutely wrecking a 112 year old’s plan to take King’s Landing with a more nuanced understanding of the rules for ports in the Game of Thrones board game.

Tom: Absolutely brutal stuff.

Ava: A heartwarmingly brutal betrayal.

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

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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

Aaaaaaaaargh. AAAAGH. PNNNFFFPRBTGH!

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.

Ava:

Ronald:

Ava:

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

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Games News! 07/08/20

SU&SD 4 comment(s)

Tom: Do you re-mem-ber!

Ava: No.

Tom: The fact that it is now September!

Ava: No.

Tom: Onwards to Newsville!

 

Ava: Glow, from publisher Bombyx, will have you going on an adventure across a broodily illustrated board. Players will be acquiring a new friend every turn, in the form of a card-drafting game with added dice. You’ll get more ‘companions’ and you’ll roll more dice, controlling the random chance with clever combinations
of cards.

This is especially important as some of the companions will come with disadvantages that may crop up when you roll the dice. The splash of colour on black and white illustrations looks really nice, and I love the idea of a gang of adventurers slowly katamari-ing across the land, scooping up friends and arseholes along the way. Even if that does sound like a terrible pub crawl?

Tom: Please, Ava, this is a family show!

Ava: Still baffled by your profound belief that Katamari is 18+.

Ava: Also from Bombyx, Codex Naturalis looks sharp: It’s a card game of building a web of interlocking document fragments. Each card gives you resources or game-winning prestige, but has to be placed so it covers the corner of a card that has already been played – taking away some of your previously acquired stuff. This looks pretty, might be interesting and could potentially eat up your entire table. Curious.

Tom: I’m imagining the organisational horror already, and the inevitable moment where you have to make a perfectly good card completely useless in service of the engine you’re continually adding to. Why am I sweating already? Help.

I’m loving the graphic design here too – making ‘a large pile of documents’ look exciting has got to be tricky, and artist Maxime Morin seems to be positively slaying it with these vibrant little artworks that are unique and lovely without sacrificing readability. I hope. I haven’t played it. This is just news.

Ava: Monasterium leaves us with our second week in a row of flagging up a hot medieval monks game.

Tom: Readers will be saddened to hear that last week’s ‘Monks In A Sauna 3’ has unfortunately been cancelled due to blasphemy and historical inaccuracies.

Matt: Shame, seemed truly innovative to replace the Monk Track with Monk Crack

Tom & Ava: THIS IS A FAMILY SHOW.

Ava: Anyway, this one’s all about the dice. Each turn you’ll be rolling a bundle and looking for duplicates, putting any matching sets towards a menu of different monastic actions. Each time it comes to your turn again, you’ve got to re-roll what’s left – so you never know what you’re getting next. You’ll be pushing a messenger across a board to make introductions so you can stuff novice monks into as many weird churches as possible, whilst also making some lovely windows.

Tom: I’ve never even played HeroQuest, but the brightly coloured rooms here have me reaching for a broadsword?

Ava: I believe that’s the Henry VIII approach to monasteries.

I am torn about Philosophia: Floating World! It uses public domain Japanese art so it looks bloody gorgeous, but I’ve got no idea how well researched and refined it is. It makes some bold choices, promising a sandbox adventure built around not only deck building, but also each turn your opponent splits your hand in half and you’ve got to decide which ones you actually want. Finally, the game plays entirely simultaneously. This sounds an odd mix of chaotic, innovative and just… weird?
Matt: One of the stretch goals is A TEA POT. Is this real? This doesn’t look real.

Tom: I am utterly perplexed by what this box even is, but maybe it’s weird enough to work? That card-splitting mechanic that Ava mentioned could either be a great quirk or an unnecessary bit of faff – the simultaneous play could make a sprawling game pacier, or lead to total chaos. If one thing’s for certain, I really do wish that they’d let the absolutely gorgeous art on the cards not be sullied a little by the graphic design and text – there’s a gif in Kickstarter that shows the art being turned into the cards and they’re looking more interesting pre ‘remaster’. But maybe I’m just being grumpy.

Matt:No, I think I’m with you there – this seems to be taking beautiful things and smushing them into a form that’s quite ugly.

Ava: I’d love to hear from anyone who’s tried the previous Philosophia game to see whether this is something worth getting curious about.

Ava: There’s no reliable trick to get me to take a closer look at your kickstarter – in this case it was just because the location was ‘somewhere very near me’. I took a poke, and I’m glad I did.

The Wretched is one of that growing niche of solo RPG experiences, but this one has some strange prerequisites: to play you’ll need a ‘tumbling block tower’, and a microphone. Yup. This an atmospheric opportunity to play Jenga with yourself, as a metaphor for being very alone in space.

Tom: I’ve actually got a copy of The Wretched’s first print run sitting on a shelf next to me, just itching to be played. It’s the first in a series of games that use the ‘Wretched and Alone’ system, and I’m just as excited to try out ‘The Sealed Library’, another game with the same stressful theming but you’re trying to protect all of human knowledge rather than just your own internal organs.

Out of Space and A Library I know where I’d rather be, and it’s neither of those two places. Either way, I shall go off into space sometime soon and report back on my findings.

Tom: Also in RPG games news, ORBITAL has got just 19 hours left on its Kickstarter at the time of writing.

Nevertheless I want to drop a mention for it here as I really, really enjoyed designer Jack Harrison’s previous solo game, Artefact. ORBITAL looks to have the same penchant for svelte design and gorgeous artwork, but with *gasps* multiple human people.

Players take control of various characters onboard a space station in the middle of nowhere – fending off threats and trying to maintain the sanctity of their cold metal home. Mechanically, ORBITAL is lifting the ‘No Dice, No Masters’ approach from Avery Alder’s Dreams Askew and placing it into a very different setting with a very similar focus – and to top it all off, this one has artwork from Torben Bökemeyer, better known on the internet as turbo.turbo, with a front cover that’s as stunning as it is promising. I’m quietly pumped.

Ava: Okay, I’ll admit it, I grimaced when I saw something claiming to be the first ever poker board game, and a combination of space exploration and actual poker. I’m also not entirely sure that grimace ever left me, but it was eventually joined by a quizzical eyebrow.

Antematter has players shuffling across the galaxy with some abstracted space movement, alternating with hands of texas hold em poker. So far, so chess-boxing. What actually got me interested was that players will be shuffling some extra oddities into the poker deck, encouraging players to play a big bluff or allowing people to mitigate some luck of the draw. Taking the core of poker and encouraging people to play outside their normal habits sounds like it might be fascinating, I’m just not sure I want it attached to a space exploration game. My curiosity wattle is tickled though, so I’ll be keeping an eye out.

Matt:I’ve gotta say, I think I DO want it attached to a space exploration game? Colour me interested.

Tom: Oh I GET IT! Like ante! Like in poker!

Matt: Tom it’s too late, we’ve already packed up this part of the news.

Ava: Finally, I want to briefly mention that the ‘just one small slice, please’ version of Lisboa – Mercado de Lisboa – has hit kickstarter, and we’re doing a stream, which is lucky timing for both the kickstarter and people who want to see it in action before they buy.

Matt: Absolutely! Myself and Tom will be tinkering with Mercado de Lisboa tomorrow from 7pm UK time. Pop along and peer into the room as we squeal with economics-based delight and/or horror.

Ava: And finally, something from a few weeks back that tickled me. Mike Selinker of Lords of Vegas fame did a twitter thread brute forcing a riddle he’d already solved from the The Batman batman trailer, and it got picked up by Forbes. It’s just a sweet thing, like when someone you remember from school shows up in the paper having one a prize.

Tom: Mike’s Twitter is also a continual, wonderful reminder that there’s a whole community of people that REALLY LOVE crosswords. I was recently reading a thread about a particular crossword that got some mixed reviews, and was delighted to learn that a.) crossword reviewers exist and b.) crossword reviewers have a lexicography to describe their art that I absolutely do not understand. It was so confused, it was delightful.

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

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GAMES NEWS! 31/08/20

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Quinns: Morning Ava! I am wearing my Tom suit and Tom hat and am happy to help you with the news today

Ava: Quinns, have you just glued a rat to your face and stapled bacon to your clothes? I don’t even understand why you would think that was a Tom Suit.

Quinns: Wait, no. The suit and hat was just a bit of the theatre of the mind. You would just pretend I was dressed like Tom and we could start the news after some light banter.

Ava: So what’s the deal with the bacon and the rat?

Quinns: Let’s roast us some news!

Ava: Sit Down games just never shut up with their constant weird ideas, and I’m into it.

Dive features an unusual blend of see-through cards and diving for treasure. Players build a stack of these clear plastic cards, then peer down into them and try to judge how far down certain obstacles and treasures are. You’ll use oxygen to program a safe route down, hoarding valuable tokens on the levels where they think there’s something particularly tasty. Once everyone’s built their route, you’ll be removing cards to see how far everybody got. Get the furthest with the most treasure and you’ve won the dive. I can think of several ways this might be really boring or awful, but if it works, it could be a really lovely unique game.

Quinns: I don’t know what’s more ridiculous- that board games have only just discovered translucent plastic, or that this morning I am personally pretty excited about translucent plastic.

Think about all of the things it will let us see, or not see! Or both! Truly, translucent plastic is the most naughty plastic. It’s been a very bad plastic and needs to be punished.

Ava: Do you need some alone time?

Quinns: I actually think I need to not be alone today at any point

Quinns: Publisher Rio Grande has announced a new game set in outer space. Truly, an idea for a setting that is… out of this world!!

Beyond the Sun is a space colonising game of building your own tech tree, and racing up it to get the biggest populations to the furthest reaches of spaaaace. Each game will have its own tech tree that players can add to as they go, knowing only what type of technology they’re initially researching, not what it’ll give them. In theory this means that games will all play differently, and players will have to react to a shifting strategic situation, which could be interesting.

Ava: Quinns, you dropped this into the company slack saying it was something gorgeous from Rio Grande Games, who quite often release games that look not so gorgeous. I say to you, this doesn’t actually look very gorgeous?

Quinns: Hmm. No, but you know what they say- cleanliness is next to gorgeousness, and Beyond the Sun’s presentation is awfully clean. Little clusters of bright plastic components that socket into white player boards. Gently glimmering flowcharts! Don’t you think it has the charm of an unexpectedly-fancy Powerpoint presentation?

Ava: Yes. But I’d put it to you that it also has all the charm of an unexpectedly-fancy Powerpoint presentation?

Quinns: Ava, Rio Grande’s logo makes it look like they rent homes for assisted living. I’ll take what I can get.
Ava: Hobby World sent us an email to say that they’re only releasing one game in time for this year’s digital Essen Spiel, and it’s going to be a hot one.

Furnace mixes up a shared auction with some busy engine building, with players as 19th century industrialists vying for fancy businesses and using them to convert and upgrade resources. Players distribute just four discs across the range of cards on sale each auction round, hoping to grab some tasty bits, but getting compensated if they’re outbid. Then players get to activate the cards to convert resources, with some classic production chain shenanigans on offer.

Quinns: Ooh, but Furnace is designed by Ivan Lashin of Smartphone Inc., a 2018 game that I’ve heard very good things about. If Ivan put the ‘hone’ into Smartphone, maybe he’ll put the ‘ace’ in Furnace.

Ava: I’m really glad you stole my joke here, so that I can be the one who looks sternly at you for making such a bad joke.

Quinns: I should have seen that coming. You just put the ‘wince’ in Quinns.

Ava: Here, have a quince.

Quinns: Now I’m wincing and I have to google what a Quince is.

Ava: My work here is done.

Quinns: Tory Brown’s Votes for Women is on kickstarter now promising a co-op, solo or competitive take on the suffragist movement in America. Seeking ratification of the 19th amendment across enough states to make it constitutional, players will be playing cards for events or to move activists, gain support or hold votes across America.

Ava: Having watched Mrs America recently, about the more recent battle to ratify the Equal Rights amendment, I have to say that I’m utterly baffled at the specific process for constitutional amendment in America. I reckon it’s just weird enough to elicit an interesting game.

Quinns: Hopefully! There’s not a lot of detail currently about how Votes for Women actually plays, but the presentation reminds me of Academy Games’ Freedom: The Underground Railroad, which is surely a strong start.

Ava: I know that Freedom’s been criticised for presenting a ‘white saviour’ narrative of abolitionism, and we’ve been called out for not flagging that up in our coverage of the game. As such I was pretty heartened to find the publisher in the comments of this kickstarter talking about how they tried to present the diversity of the suffrage movement and showing more than just the best known (white) faces. They also explicitly criticise ‘the southern strategy’ in the mechanics, whilst having the opposition exploit divisions between the suffrage and abolitionist movements.

Ava: Dr Finn’s Games is releasing four entire games in one kickstarter, to save you on postage and nudge you into buying at least one more game than you would’ve initially signed up for.

The star here is Biblios: Quill and Pen, a roll-and-write alternative to the damn-near perfect Biblios. The games share a monks-in-a-library theme, and a chase after items of ever-shifting value. On scanning through the manual I was ready to write it off as just another dice chucking box ticker, but the second phase brings back some of the original’s unlikely dynamism, with a hard-to-please Abbot and a series of auctions for rows of action dice.

Unfortunately this also brings back the weakest part of the first game, that you’ll be halfway through the rules explanation, and then realising you need to explain what feels like a whole second game, and it’s impossible to make decisions in the first if you haven’t understood the first. That worked when Biblios was fundamentally pretty straightforward, but I’m not so convinced by the Quill and Parchment version.

Ava: Nanga Parbat also looks intriguing, featuring some two player Himalayan mountain climbing. Just like real mountains, each turn there’ll be a guide watching over a group of animals, which you then steal one of, causing the guide to move somewhere else, where your opponent will have to start their turn. The game isn’t a race to the top though, players will trade in animals and set up camps, and that’s what wins you the game. You can also ‘activate’ animals for special abilities, which is exactly the sort of board gaming phrase I find unsettling.

We’ve not got space to dig into Mining Colony, a game of excavation on Mars, or Butterfly Garden, a new edition of an older game about collecting butterflies. Honestly, it’s just too many games at once, making it very hard to assess if getting all of them is actually good value or not. Hopefully that gambit pays off for Dr Finn and company.

Quinns: Finally on Kickstarter we have Die of the Dead, which is a name that pleases me to my very bones.

Inspired by Mexico’s Day of the Dead holiday, the game features a rack of four caskets, a stairway to the land of the living and a lot of dice. Players will take turns to take the action associated with a casket, letting them manipulate dice, shake those caskets, shuffle the whole row along and hopefully, eventually, get enough dice on those steps to reach the top. A bit like Sid Sackson’s Can’t Stop, except dead. So maybe more like “Have Stopped”, or “Please Stop”.

Best of all, the creators are working with a Mexican artist and cultural consultant, so not only do you know this project isn’t stepping on any cultural toes, the whole endeavour is drenched in colour and confidence.

Candidly, this is something I hope becomes common knowledge in the board game scene- working with cultural consultants doesn’t have to be an intimidating necessity for the modern publisher, it’s an opportunity to make your game even more exciting.

Matt: And last but not least, to put a tiny night-cap on the news for this week (and send it to bed with a tiny milky drink) – here’s a cheeky update about our new streaming schedule! Over the next month we’ll be playing some digital versions of new or upcoming and exciting board games – many of which you’ll have only recently read about here, on the news! We’ll be starting tomorrow evening with Renature – tune in and say hello, or look forward to impressions in future episodes of the podcast. Have a good week!

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

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GAMES NEWS! 24/08/20

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Ava: Welcome to Board Game Celebrity Squares! The quiz where all the biggest names in board games have games coming out soon, and they’ll probably mostly be coming out in boxes that are square shaped. Hence the squares.

Tom: Ava, I don’t think that sounds much like a game show.

Ava: What’s a game show?

Ava: There’s a fair bit of buzz around Alexander Pfister’s next big box game, as the designer of Great Western Trail, Oh My Goods and Maracaibo reaches for the future, and the skies.

Ava: CloudAge doesn’t have a huge amount of detail as of yet. But what we do know is intriguing. Players will be exploring the sky and digging through clouds to find resources as part of an engine building, deck building campaign extravaganza. In particular, cloud obscuring card sleeves will be covering up the details of exactly what the reward is for some of the actions, meaning you have to actually get there to work out if it’s the most efficient option for you. The marketing blurb describes this as ‘immersive’ which is the sort of word that makes me wince, but I am curious.

Tom: The immersion comes from the colossal vape pen that comes in the box.


Ava: Mr Pfister isn’t the only big name with a big box on the way.

Hallertau is a region in Germany that hasn’t yet received the big box treatment from Uwe ‘Big Farm Boy’ Rosenberg. The titular hop-cropping German region will be home to an upsettingly large number of player boards, including fields, stables and an entire community centre per player. Wrinkling his traditional worker placement with actions that are always available but cost more as other players choose the same thing, there’s also a dizzying array of cards here to ensure variety between games. I’m disappointed to find that the community centre isn’t actually communal, as Nusfjords central fish dish filled table was such a delight.

Matt: I adore those fish.

Tom: A game set in the ‘largest contiguous hop-growing area in the world’ is Total Rosenburg, but like all of these designs, is tricky to extract any exciting opinion juice from. Oh, wait! I take that back! The game also thematically implements ‘the traditional two-field crop rotation and thus offers the players an interesting historical background’? Colour me sold, I’m going to be a hops expert.

Ava: Honestly though, that Uwe’s found another way of making putting stuff in a field and getting it back later’ interesting is kind of amazing to me. The fields in this game actually get more fertile when you leave them fallow and empty, and less when you grow stuff on them, so you’ve got to be super careful when you plant to maximise your output.Sometimes board games are the most boring thing in the world and I love them for it.

Ava: I think we’ve definitely mentioned Queen Games’ Stefan Feld City collection too many times, so I’ll keep this brief. The Kickstarter is now live, and I’m bringing it up again because Amsterdam, one of the two games being reprinted and transplanted to a new home was formerly Macao, was one of the last new games I got to try before the apocalypse.

I’m so delighted its cruel resource rose is coming to thorn-up our tables again, with a less colonial theme to boot. Amsterdam’s beating heart is a dice draft at the beginning of each round where multiple coloured dice are rolled. Everyone gets the same choice, two dice, which let you take as many cubes of that colour. Simple huh? Except: nuh. If you take a juicy six? You aren’t getting those six cubes for another six turns. If you want something quick, you get less. It’s a simple, sharp decision to build a solid game of combo-chasing and point racing around.

This paragraph is almost entirely brought to you by the time that I had the week off, and we just announced Amsterdam with a cover of the box and the words ‘it comes in a box’. Or something.

Ava: Our next designer is Peer Sylvester. I accidentally ended up with two versions of the same game, The King is Dead and King of Siam, and I can’t bring myself to part with either. I didn’t like The Lost Expedition so much, but I think Wir Sind Das Volk is probably the most particular game of cold war infrastructure battling you’ll ever ever seen. In a good way. He also crops in the comments with lovely nuggets of wisdom pretty often. Hi Peer!

Anyway, he’s done a design diary for an upcoming game, and I’m kinda excited.

Ava: Polynesia is a game of island hopping, representing the early days of Polynesian people across the archipelago. It focuses on indirect competition and currencies that spoil, with players getting to hitch rides with each other, potentially putting opponents where they do or don’t want to be. I’m intrigued! Peer reckons it’s a similarly tight abstract to those duplicated King games I mentioned earlier, which is a promising weight, as those games are very pointy but easy to teach.

Tom: That design diary is ultra-encouraging – a speedy tour of the games mechanics where each rule is bristling with possibility and simplicity. I’m getting that lovely Hansa Teutonica vibe from this one, where ‘putting cubes on a board’ becomes a bustling hive of crossed strategies and pointed plays that’s over in just the right number of minutes.

Ava: It’s also nice to see a Pacific island theme that’s not focussed on western colonisation, but the feats of navigation of the indigenous people of the islands. I’m not qualified to say whether this game passes any representation test, but I did get to ask a friend of mine, who did a PhD in climate change resistance and activism on a few Pacific Islands, what she thought. Hannah said that while simplistic, the emphasis on non-combative ethos, navigation and discovery lines up with the celebration of that voyaging that was key to 1980s and current Pacific Liberation movements. Also, the volcanic eruption Peer notes as an ahistorical catalyst for the travel of the game is better than the false resource mismanagement narrative that often gets attributed to Rapaniu.

Obviously this isn’t as good as talking to the indigenous people themselves, but it gives me a solid chunk of hope, as I know Hannah did a hell of a lot of exactly that sort of talking.

Ava: If you want further reading from an actual islander, she recommends Epeli Hau’ofa’s ‘Our Sea of Islands’, a rethinking of power and strength in the Pacific. He asked people to start seeing the islands as a large continent of land, sea and air, that was criss-crossed and connected by the voyages of the ancestors. He said if we do that we see that ‘the world of Oceania is not small; it is huge and growing bigger every day’. If this game acknowledges that heritage of unrivalled maritime exploration, even in simplified or romanticised ways, it may be a chance to challenge the belittlement of the Pacific.

Ava: Relevantly, as Aotearoa (aka New Zealand) is the largest pair of islands in Polynesia, I saw on twitter that Three Minute Boardgames is promoting and working with local co-operative of Māori game designers on some unannounced projects.The Papa Kēmu Co-op is working to challenge poor representations of Maori culture in board games, as well as making some games of their own. I’m pretty excited by this beyond the obvious, for the nerdy and off-topic reason that my other job is helping out worker and housing co-operatives, so i’m always just a little more perked up to hear about a new worker owned project. We don’t have any details yet, but I’m going to be keeping an eye on these folks.

In lovely little ideas news, Elizabeth Hargrave, designer of Wingspan, shared this fan made app that scans the bird cards to give you a little sample of their bird call. I’ve been saying for years that I was going to have a laptop beside a game of wingspan to slowly build up a soundscape of all the birds we played until we hit Full Cacophony and started pecking each other’s eyes out. This apparently only plays one bird at a time, which is probably a win for the sanity of anybody I’m playing Wingspan with. Lovely.

Tom: I want this for every single game. Madlib samples for ‘Rap Godz’. Long stretches of deafening dread for ‘Twilight Struggle’. The possibilities are so endless that I’ve only come up with two.

Ava: Maybe I’ll go play Brass in the Calderdale Industrial Museum when they’ve got the MASSIVE ENGINE running in the basement.

Tom: Oh, and finally for this week – tune into Twitch tomorrow to watch me going head-to-head against Matt in Tak and Santorini. Have a lovely week!

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

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SU&SD Podcast: UKGE Show Later Today!

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Hello there folks! Happy Saturday. Just a quick heads up that at 8pm UK time today we’ll be hosted on UKGE’s digital internet channels to broadcast a LIVE edition of our famous* podcast. We’ll also direct our Twitch channel to point at it for the duration that we’re live – so if you’re already following it, the machines will give you a PING. Have a great day – we’ll see some of you later!

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

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GAMES NEWS! 17/08/20

Matt Lees 19 comment(s)

Matt: Monday humans! Hello! I am temporarily kidnapping the news with a little SU&SD Official Announcement: famously shuffling around like a dad on a wedding dancefloor, our Twitch streaming has now settling on “Tuesday Evenings”. Starting tomorrow – where you can tune in to see me dabble with Warp’s Edge – a solo space adventure! As we mentioned super-briefly in our recent video about how people can support Shut Up & Sit Down, the easiest way by far for those who have Amazon Prime is to link their account with Twitch Prime, and press a button once a month that creates *free money*. It’s a faff, though so we really appreciate it! Either way, we’ve been having a lot of fun hanging out with some of you on the internet – in a year without conventions, it fills a fun space! Anyway, I hope to see some of you tomorrow…. IN SPACE.

Ava: Oh dear. Aside from that pre-baked chunk of text from the bosses, it seems that this week I’ve been left on my own for the news. That means there’s nobody to stop me from shoehorning increasingly tenuous musical references into, well, everything.

I mean, there is. Matt’s the editor, and he gets to delete whatever the hell he likes. But if I leave him with an intro that directly references it, he’s stuck with it, right? That’s how this works? Right?

Matt: That’s sadly not at all how it works. Fortunately, most references you make to music in these posts are so alien to me that I’ll likely just not notice them.

Ava:Welcome to the games news, we’ve got news and games.

Matt: Thank you for properly welcoming the readers, Ava. And thank you for doing so with a statement wholly unrelated to music.

Ava:Gods Love Dinosaurs, so put another dime in the jukebox baby.

In Gods Love Dinosaurs, players will be the aforementioned dinosaur-loving gods, adding tiles to an ecosystem entirely for the purpose of making food that dinosaurs will then come along and eat. Tiles will let you add predator or prey animals to your board, which will occasionally be activated: Prey will expand into new territory, while predators will need to find prey to eat.

Occasionally, you activate dinosaurs, who come roaming down from the mountains, eating any other animals they come across and turning them into eggs that can either become new dinosaurs later, or obviously – because board games – will count for points at the end of the game.

Honestly, I’m mostly here for the name, but this is also from Magic Maze designer Kasper Lapp, and so could be curious. My main question here though, is did God really love the dinosaurs? I feel like you don’t normally asteroid the ones you love.

Matt: He also let us make the movie “Armageddon”, Ava. I’m not entirely sure mysterious covers it, at this point.

Ava:My love is like a storybook story. But I don’t want to let Mark Knopfler anywhere near it.

Matt: I can only presume Mark is a famous board game designer, but can I just say how thrilled I am that you’ve avoided musical references this week? Thank you, Ava. I don’t even want to think of how dire things might have been.

Ava: The Princess Bride Adventure Book game is Ravensberger’s latest licensed collaboration, and promises a book full of scenarios and situations for a co-operating team of players to find their ways through. There’s something quite sweet here. While you’re trying to wrestle the characters into position for their most important scenes, there’s a constant risk of the interrupting Grandson. Pretty sure this is the first time a game has featured a bored Kevin from the Wonder Years who can’t be arsed to listen to Columbo any more.

I actually have a soft spot for the weird metanarrative nature of the novel, so it’s nice to see that coming into play (although I was saddened on a recent re-read to find some fat-shaming and homophobic slurs in William Goldman’s increasingly elaborate quasi-fictional prefaces.)

Matt: Wait, it’s a NOVEL? I thought it was just a film! Not gonna lie, The Princess Bride was a huge favourite of mine as a child, so I’ve automatically got a soft spot for this game. This is literally how these products work, isn’t it?

Ava: Nachtswärmer, deserves a quiet nacht. When I woke up this morning I did not expect the hot new board game mechanic to be moth rotation, but here we are.

Welcome to Nachtswärmer, by Sabrina Von Contzen. The title is German for Night Owls (not nacks warmer, as I expected, apparently the umlaut is very important). Obviously though you aren’t actual owls – that would be ridiculous. You’re moths.

Like all good moths, you’re heading towards the light, but incapable of moving in a straight line. Players will be rolling dice to get permission to push little beermat-moths around a round measuring mat to either try and get your moth to the central light, or push other people’s moths away from it. This is officially adorable. Hopefully it won’t be pants.

Matt: Oh gosh, I want that. It’s such a gorgeous little thing – perhaps I’ll grab it as a totem of sorts, to remind me that at some point again I’ll be cosy in a pub, huddled around a small table. I think it’s a nice enough combination of objects that I could still be happy with it even if it is pants. Mostly though I’m glad we’re calling things PANTS, I feel like I’m 12 again.


Ava: It’s only petrichor, but I like it.

Petrichor is a cloud-stuffing rain-sniffer kickstarting a deluxe edition – including fancier clouds and a new expansion that adds cows and climate change. Players take turns adding cubes to clouds, moving the clouds around, or pouring the rain out of the clouds onto the fields where they’ll score or lose points, depending on how much the crop in question needed that rain. This allows for delayed action area control, and no small amount of climactic mischief.

Matt: Science Fact: There’s nothing that makes clouds sadder than dropping their best rain on the crops that don’t deserve it.

Ava: It’s named after the smell of rain falling on soil after a dry period, too – which is lovely. I heard about this one from Matt Thrower’s review on There Will Be Games (formerly Fortress Ameritrash) and it’s got some wonderfully tickly ideas in it. I’m glad to see it getting a new edition, and I’m a little tempted to dip my toe in its waters.

Ava: Morning soup can be avoided if you take a route straight through what is known as: Arkwright the card game.

Ava: New on kickstarter, this is an attempt to abbreviate the enormous economics of Arkwright into something shorter and easier to learn. It still looks enormously convoluted, though, including an entire stock market alongside a cribbage board of product appeal and demand.

Overall this looks like quite a lot of industrial maneuvering for your money, and it’s more colourful than the big box original’s brownathon. If you’ve dabbled in vanilla Arkwright, designer Stefan Risthaus’s diary on boardgamegeek might be a useful tour through how the game has been compressed, though I found myself a bit lost in the weeds while reading.

Ava:Look. Seriously. There’s literally no song you can sing ‘Sniper Elite the Board Game’ to, so I’m just going to abandon the bit. It’s that or I try to howl ‘sniper elite’ to the tune of Grandaddy’s Summer Here Kids, and I think that’s a step too far, even for me.

Matt:WHOA NOW, AVA – I told you, no song references! And you’d been doing so well. I’m furious, frankly – if you need me I’ll be under the western freeway.

Ava: Sniper Elite could be an intriguing set up for a hidden movement game with the titular gunman sneaking around on their own dry-erase version of the main board. They’ll be pulling tokens from a bag to see if they hit things and how noisy they are while doing it. They then inform the defending player where they can hear shots, what’s been shot, and if they’ve moved near any guards. The defender is trying to track down the invisible troublemaker and make some trouble of their own.

Quinns dropped this in the company slack with a note that he was optimistic about it, purely on account of it having less components than your average video game tie in kickstarter. That hopefully shows some confidence there in a solid core game. I can only really add that seeing David Thompson, co-designer of Undaunted, among the designers for this feels like a safe pair of hands for an unusual take on World War 2. Hidden movement is all about tone, and that’s something that’s very hard to read at a distance, but I’m definitely intrigued.

Let’s wrap up with something a bit silly. The folks over at Board Game Atlas have been spending their lockdown perfecting some immensely satisfying ‘board game trick shots’, which is mostly made up of putting components back into their boxes at high ranges. It’s sweet, pleasing and very, very lockdown.

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

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GAMES NEWS! 10/08/20

Matt Lees33 comment(s)

Ava: Expelled? From board game school? But I played by all the rules! And you’re not even the head of board game school, you’re just a janitor! Surely you can’t have expulsion privileges?!

Tom: Ava, everyone has expulsion privileges at board game school. It’s a loophole in the rules – the only way to get back in is to write a compelling 2,000 word essay on this week’s hot games news. Either that, or eat a whole copy of Roads and Boats.

Ava: Hmm, I had Bus for breakfast. I guess it’ll have to be the news.

Ava: Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn took quite a few by storm back in 2015, and wrapped up with a big finale after a successful run of expansions. Now it’s all happening again, like a groundhog-flavoured phoenix.

Ashes Reborn is notable for an unusual distribution model, perhaps a sign of Plaid Hat Games’ shrink back to indie status after separating from Asmodee’s all-consuming lumpiness. Isaac Vega’s dice-and-card-comboing collectible game will be released in partnership with Team Covenant, with a model of only printing anything once enough people have subscribed. It’s unclear how neat the process will be, but in the coming weeks they’ve promised details on a special pack you can magically use to upgrade your old copy to fit the new rules. Oh, and as Isaac has moved on from Plaid Hat Games, Nick Conley – the original game’s lead playtester – is taking the helm for this upcoming refresh.

Tom: I’m not entirely sure I could ever love a game enough to literally subscribe to it, but equally receiving things in the post is a joy that few others can match. One of the greatest parts of record collecting is listening to something a million times, then thinking ‘oh yeah this is collection-worthy’ and THEN having it arrive in the post, and THEN listening to it all in one go in an entirely new context. I’m doing it RIGHT NOW!!

Ava: Wow. I built my record collection in a very different time, out of second-hand dregs and over-priced electronica you could only hear snippets of before you bought. Only in the last few years am I getting round to actually parting with things that aren’t strictly collection worthy. I still have ‘The Other Side of the Dragon’, though, a collection of choral covers of pop classics sung by the 1981 Welsh Rugby team interspersed with excerpts of famous match commentary. Can’t get that on Spotify.

Matt Arguably that’s for the best?


Ava: I’m annoyed I can’t justify talking about the second Quacks of Quedlinburg expansion – we just don’t have enough detail. It promises nightmares, hysteria and obsession, which apparently you’ll be fighting as they sweep through the city. We really don’t have much to go on here, but it’s still pretty exciting – as if that game needed additional hysteria?

Tom: WHOOPS! Looks like we accidentally talked about it anyway? I guess readers will have to mop up this news-spillage with their eyes and then carefully wring it out of their brains.

Ava: Blood Bowl, Games Workshop’s riotous, unforgiving american-football-with-orcs-and-violence simulator is getting a new edition. Pitched as a ‘second season’ it’s presumably not shifting too far from the most recent edition. It claims to have been designed with the ethos of ‘bigger, better, and 100% Blood Bowl’, which I guess is very, very on brand..

I was a bit disappointed because while I’ve had plenty of reasons to knock Games Workshop over the years, I’ve never seen them under-write a piece of copy, and the announcement kicks off with some commentary from ‘Jim’ and ‘Bob’. I’m sure previously the commentators would have all been called ‘Khazrak Von Grimward’ and ‘Ugg the Scumpulump’ or something.

Tom: Yeah! You know, we should let the readers in on OUR overwritten fantasy Games Workshop character names that have been HIDDEN FOR SO LONG (???)

AvArgh Badfang: Absolutely.

Tominus Rex: Anyway, it turns out that Jim and Bob have been commentating on Blood Bowl since 1986, and while it’s a shame they reduced Bob ‘The Biff’ Bifford to just ‘Bob’ on this one, it is at least a nod to thirty-four years of in-joke.

AvArgh Badfang: I did actually recognise their faces immediately on googling, but I’d never twigged that they had normal names. I guess in a universe where almost everyone is called Bugskull Thrumspooker or Wordlord the Redespoiler, actually just calling them Jim and Bob is the joke. Like they found the only two normal people in the whole continent, and even they’re a vampire and an ogre.

AvArgh Badfang: Quest promises a streamlined take on the core play of The Resistance: Avalon, and if you back the kickstarter it comes with a beautifully illustrated version of Avalon in the box. Quest promises to extract the team voting portion of the social deduction skullduggery game, for something that runs a little bit quicker and potentially with less players. You will still be taking turns to decide who is going on quests, with those quests sabotaged by evil players who get sent. Removing voting takes a hefty chunk of information and debate out of the game, which is getting replaced with amulets that grant players a little more information than they would normally have. I feel like taking out an element of the social and trying to make up for that with more deduction is a risky business, but at least if you back the kickstarter you’re getting at least one crowd pleaser. Avalon isn’t flawless, and I haven’t given it a spin in a long while, but a (much) prettier box might give me the excuse to take it for a spin.

Tominus Rex: Have you also seen that they’ve got a frankly gorgeous edition of Coup in the rewards? It’s using the 2016, Brazilian edition’s art, with unique variants for each of the roles illustrated in this inky, angular style. The only possible problem here is that those stark white cards will look positively repulsive if it gets played and handed around as much as my copy of Coup, which I think is about two more plays away from disintegrating. Anyway, the bonus coup is functionally exactly the same game, and includes the expansion, too, although it trades the theme from trad sci-fi for trad… religion?

AvArgh Badfang: Making the reformation expansion be about the actual reformation definitely makes a lot more sense, although I’m pretty sure that changing sides willy-nilly at that point general led to being set on fire or getting your monastery dissolved.


AvArgh Badfang: I struggle to get excited about CMON’s big box games, but they tend to do very well indeed. Massive Darkness 2 is a dungeoneering game that looks to share a lot of genes with Zombicide and its many undead siblings. This take on the system features asymmetrical mini-games for each character, like a ranger who can keep drawing cards to take ever more accurate and deadly attacks, but runs the risk of having their quarry slip away if they take too long. With Eric Lang still at the helm of game development at CMON, I suspect these games will slowly get more and more interesting, but I’ve no idea how to tell when they’ve hit the tipping point into actually getting me excited.

Tominus Rex: Perhaps an unpopular opinion, but I’ve found that so many of these games promise an ‘epic adventure’ that they just aren’t. Everyone knows that the least exciting parts of full-on roleplaying games are the parts where violence happens, but those parts are often the glue that motivates and binds the story together – ubiquitous due to their necessity. These massive box ‘RPG-Adventure-Lite’ games consist of naught but glue, identifying the fighting as the core of the experience in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever found satisfying. The combat is often ‘Not-Quite-As-Good-As-Gloomhaven’ and the characters are never really ‘your own’, so often I just find myself wishing I was in a space made of imagination and conversation rather than miniatures and dice. But who knows, maybe this one will have mechanics that are ‘as good as Gloomhaven’ and I’ll be washing my words down with a refreshing glass of egg. Which is also on my face. It’s just so hard to tell and I’d rather just cut out the middle-miniature and write something silly for my friends to run around in.

AvArgh Badfang: I’ve also never really clicked with a miniatures dungeon crawler, for similar reasons, but there’s definitely a huge crowd of people who love it, and I’m not going to knock them for it. My main problem here is that from a distance they all look uncannily similar. The theming and miniatures here are gorgeous, but that doesn’t tell me much about how it plays. The minigames look sharp, but I don’t know how they tie into the core experience, and whether that core is going to be thrilling. It’s very easy to put a load of tiles together with a load of minis and say you’re dungeon crawling, but what makes that great? Honestly, this is actually part of why I’ve never committed to Gloomhaven. No matter how much people tell me it’s a stellar experience, it still just looks like shuffling monsters around a map.

Mattenox IV: Gloomhaven I adore, but yeah – I totally agree with the above thoughts. Still, there’s a lure to this kind of game that always snags me: the PROMISE of the experience gets me excited every time, but they’re consistently the least compelling type of board game. Go figure. (FOR THE EMPEROR.)

AvArgh Badfang: This is running very very long, but what we mean to say is, as with all Kickstarters, it’s incredibly hard to look at a game and decide if it’s worth the money you’re putting in. Here you can probably guarantee your value if you’re into it for painting the minis, or if you played and loved the original? Without either of those, I’d be wary.


AvArgh Badfang: I have never understood why any business proposition has been willing to risk calling an iteration of something ‘Ultimate’. It’s the equivalent of saving a file with the word FINAL at the end. You’ve doomed yourself to a future of increasingly invalid nonsense. You’re trapped in a nether-realm of ‘nearly FINAL EX Turbo Plus’.

Tominus Rex: My favourite ritual is renaming any of my edits from ‘Paris Review Final FINAL FINAL (2)’ to ‘Paris Review’ so as to quietly convince anyone in the backend of the channel that I work like a functional human being.

Mattenox IV: So many of my file names contain expletives, but I guess that’s just the reality of working in video.

AvArgh Badfang: Ultimate Werewolf Extreme, then, is a fancy iteration of the allegedly definitive take on the social deduction folk-game Werewolf (also known as Mafia). It comes in collector’s edition and super collector’s edition variants, in case the name wasn’t already a bit much.

There’s a lot of odd things in here, trying to make a game that can be played with scraps of paper and a notepad as involved and easy to play as possible, and I suspect that people more into the scene than I could tell you whether any of it is worth getting excited about. I’m mostly just amused by the description of the ‘warning sign’ in the fanciest edition as ‘life-size’. Surely any object you buy is life size. Surely real life signs can be any size. Surely you don’t really need a warning sign in any board game. I just don’t understand.

Tominus Rex: I do need a warning sign, and stop calling me Shirley.

Mattenox IV: Honestly there’s just SO much to unpack here? The promise of “lifelike” illustrations in a game that largely features illustrations of werewolves? An unlockable 3D sculpture of a sandwich? It’s like staring into the void while the void is having a cheese dream. What I will say though, is that the inclusion of an actual physical wooden gavel is a TERRIBLE idea. Am I the only person who’s toyed with such props and rapidly discovered that they ruin the evening?


AvArgh Badfang: Next up, it’s time for some RPG deep-dive news: Wanderhome is a pastoral rpg about travelling animals and the homes they find along the way. It uses its own take on the ‘belonging outside belonging’ systems launched with Avery Alder’s Dream Askew, and modified Benjamin Rosenbaum’s Dream Apart, which built a fascinating way of running role playing games. Taking the playbooks of Apocalypse World and replacing dice with a token-based mechanic of trading weakness in one bit of the story for strengths in another part. Wanderhome is a game of getting stuck in the weeds, or not: Without a games master, players will be exploring the wilds and creating them as they go.

Tominus Rex: My absolute favourite thing about this is the absolute truckload of incredibly talented artists that have been shipped in to illustrate the game – I believe I saw somewhere on twitter that the designer wanted the product to be as much of an RPG as it is a piece of artwork, and it’s looking like they’ll achieve that goal with such a diverse set of talent behind every piece contained within.

AvArgh Badfang: I haven’t actually read this yet, but Dave Neale, designer of the latest Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective box, has got a lovely diary written in-universe about the conception of the new mysteries. There’s a devotion to the source material at play here and it’s made me even more excited to get on with the new cases – especially after our recent Twitch stream.

Tominus Rex: That stream was an absolute blast, and i’d love to see if we can do a proper case alongside the Twitch chat in the future. Hopefully the rest of them will have a couple more pubs to visit – Tinker is getting awfully thirsty, and I hear he’s managed to scrape together a fake ID from bits of metal from down by the docks. What a legend.

If you’ll allow me a moment of irrelevant diversion, There’s one last thing I want to talk about this week: Last week in the news I was tipped off to the existence of Blaseball by Brendan McLeod (who I would like to thank and also blame for my lack of productivity last week).

At its core, the game is a ‘fantasy baseball’, where you place bets on different teams who will compete in a weeklong season of simulated ‘games’, where victory is determined by the statistics of each team member. The twist is that at the end of each season, players vote in an ‘election’ that will change each team and add new features to the game – and to give you an idea for the tone of the game, the results of the most recent election were to add player interviews and also eat the rich. My team (The ‘Breckenridge Jazz Hands’) literally kidnapped a player from another team in my league.

Tominus Rex: However. It’s a hell of a lot more than any of this might suggest, and that is almost entirely because of the community behind the game. The amount of fanart and fanfiction is honestly astounding, and it all comes to you through twitter accounts for each individual team with custom logos and distinct personalities. It’s been an absolute delight watching important moments in games explode into tiny bubbles of online conversation – like when Jessica Telephone scores her 12th home run, or a fan-favourite pitcher getting incinerated by rogue umpires. It’s just wonderful, and the icing of the cake is that while Blaseball is taking a temporary hiatus due to the massive influx of new players, the hashtag #blaseballcares has been doing the rounds, where each team is urging followers to donate money to a variety of specific charities. Honestly, this mad thing really made my week and I hope it makes yours. If you’ve not already heard about it. It all seems to be a bit out of hand.

AvArgh Badfang: Well, on the one hand, I’m glad someone has actually explained it, so at least I have a clue what a healthy chunk of my twitter feed are talking about, but on the other hand, after that explanation I’m still not sure I have any idea what you’re talking about.

I’m glad you’re having fun, and not a nervous breakdown, which I was briefly worried might be what was happening.

Mattenox IV: Ahhh there’s nothing I love more than people taking unbelievably dry games and making them ludicrous – I’m already imagining a mashup of Cookie Clicker and Cricket. But that’s enough imagination for one week – what can you PHYSICALLY WATCH without the use of your imagination, later this week?

Well! Tom will likely be popping on to solo-stream on Tuesday at an unknown time, but we’ll be Officially now doing a stream every week on Thursday – kicking off from 7pm “UK Time”. This week Matt will be playing a bit of the Magical Digital Card Game “Monster Train”. Tune in and hang out, if that sounds nice.

Have a great week!

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

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GAMES NEWS! 03/08/2020

Matt Lees47 comment(s)

Ava: It’s getting news in here, so take off all your news. I am, getting so news, I’m gonna take my news off.

Tom: Whoa, nelly! Cool your news boots. That’s just a bit too news.

Ava: I know Tom, I know. But GenCon Online has given us so much news, that I think we are literally going to take our news off, saving some for next week. As is semi traditional, this week focuses mostly on the big players (who get their details online the quickest), as it takes a week or so for the more interesting oddities to start shining through. And oh my word, the biggest game is getting bigger. I nearly put my hype-drive into ludicrous mode for this one.

Ava: Twilight Imperium is getting a brand new expansion in Prophecy of Kings. Chucking an enormous box full of goodies at a game that already ate half a table seems bordering on monstrous, but if you are one of the lucky ones who can find a way to get this one to the table, there’s probably something here for you. Two new sets of miniatures means you can play with eight people, seven new factions, little tiny mechs with super powers, unique leader cards for every faction in the game, and a load of extra cards to find, trade and shuffle.

I am most excited because (a) I can be pink, (b) there’s some new factions and (c) there’s more hexagons to give maps more variety and weirdness. My biggest worry is that the fourth edition did so much glorious work streamlining the experience, that I’m not entirely sure I want to be chucking any extra moving part in, but I guess these options will be a delight for some.

Tom: Despite quaking in my little space booties at the prospect of having an 8-player game of Twilight Imperium (I’ve only managed to get a 6 player game in once) and the shadow of Covid continually looming over the near future, I’m already planning the 8-player-weekend-spanning monstrosity that will be my next game of TI, even if it takes place in 2022 and also kills me. Which table will I use? Which city will the game be hosted in, and who by? And most importantly – how am I going to sell this experience to 7 autonomous humans with actual jobs?

Ava: Ah my sweet summer child. You think there’ll still be cities, jobs and autonomy in 2022?

Tom: Help.

Ava: You know what we will have in 2020 who loves helping? Mutants. Sticking with Fantasy Flight, who’re further exploiting their Marvel license by releasing a new X-Men Game.

X-Men Mutant Insurrection looks like most superhero games: co-operative, various villains to battle against, and a decision about where and how you’re going to split your resources. There’s a little plane, and a little stairway of danger. It looks cute, but I can’t say that anything here gripped me

I’d normally be disappointed with myself for not being able to figure out what’s special about this game apart from ‘there’s some custom dice’, but there’s something about superhero games where they all, at least on the surface, look identical. I decided not to cover the Umbrella Academy game on kickstarter this week, because, apart from the gorgeous art, there’s literally nothing I can point out about it that means anything.

Matt: Oh cor yeah, that looks like nothingness & guff.

Tom: The X-Men game feels like one of those games that i’ll be aware exists. And that’s it. Like the Star War ones. There’s lots of them, they’re out there, and are probably quite fine.

Ava: It’s kind of disappointing considering this was FFG’s only completely new game announced in their GenCon schedule. That said, there is a plague out there, so maybe slowing down a little is pretty reasonable.

Tom: The one thing I’m VERY into is the pull quote underneath the picture of the box on the website: “Attention X-Men! This is Professor Xavier calling! –Professor X, The X-Men #1 . It’s like announcing a Superman game accompanied with “Hello, it is me, Superman” –Superman, Superman #1 .


Ava: Just to fill in the gaps, I wanted to drop the whole Fantasy Flight Inflight Report. There’s a cavalcade of expansions for the miniature games occupying the first thirty minutes or so, then the two things above, but the main reason the whole video snuck into the news is the ‘hilarious’ ‘accidental’ last thirty seconds, where they show a box that’s going to make a lot of people curious. A new edition (although I’ve heard rumours it’s a complete redesign) of Descent: Journey’s in the Dark. It’s just a box, as of yet, so we’re probably going to move on, and cover it in more detail when we actually know a thing.

Tom: I hadn’t seen the ending of this stream (I’m ashamed to admit I, like many ravenous fans, skipped straight to the TI stuff) but those last 30 seconds made me HONK with laughter. What a charming moment.


Ava: Repos Productions has also been in the business of dropping new game details via video, and so we’ve got a few little previews for you here.

Absolute classic 7 Wonders is getting a new edition that somehow looks more square? I’m not sure I like the new design, but there are shiny bits and the boards are bigger, so that might float some boats (and sink them if there’s not a handy Pharos?). This card drafting civ builder is one of those games that I keep on forgetting how sharp and lovely it is, particularly with low player counts of experienced players, where the whole thing is just a breezy cocktail of combos, quiet passive aggression, and counting out bonuses.

Right next door, 7 Wonders: Duel, is getting an expansion. The Agora box will add senators, conspiracies, and area control to the 2 player alternative to the bigger boxed card drafter. Weirdly I actually find myself in the same territory I was in with Twilight Imperium, in that I’ve barely tried any expansions to either 7 Wonders game, because for me the joy is in the elegance, and adding extra things to get distracted by isn’t exactly what floats my boat. That said, like my Nanna used to say: ‘every folk’s totes got their own float-boats’. You may want to plunge into this one.

Tom: Ava, you’re literally using the ‘float your boat’ idiom twice in one segment, and it looks like you’re getting a bit deeper every time.

Ava: Don’t sink my boats unless you really want to go deeper.

Tom: I hope you capsize.

Ava: Aye Captain.


Ava: I’m annoyed that I saw someone on twitter make the same comment I had already written in the games news notes, but I’m going to say it anyway: I don’t think it is acceptable to make a follow up game using the title format ‘place name: other entirely unrelated place name’. It meant that googling this actually left me looking at the prices of flights from America to Greece. But I’m not in charge, so it’s happening.

Santorini: New York is a follow up to the very successful Santorini: Not New York. This time the game takes place not in Santorini, but in New York. This looks to beef up the complexity of this tower building, roof topping abstract game.

Tom: As well as transplanting itself from NNY to NY, there are a few little additions and rules tweaks from Roxley in the… Boxley. Now you’ve got to have a whole statue of liberty in your possession to win, and the player count has been bumped up to 5. There’s also a slew of new roles for everyone to have a stab at that are aptly New York themed – instead of Athena, you’re now Mr Business, Hades has been turned into a big deep dish pizza pie, and if you’re a fan of Zeus you can now play as The Mets.

Ava: You’re actually picking a new role card every turn in this new edition, which determines turn order, as well has who is currently holding the Statue of Liberty, which you need to win the game. With simultaneous action selection that makes for a quite a lot of weird wrinkling to what’s otherwise a fairly straightforward abstract.

Oh god, I’m about to complain about people adding complexity to things that are good because they’re elegant again. STOP IT AVA, IT’S OKAY FOR THINGS TO CHANGE SOMETIMES.

Tom: Sounds like someone needs a holiday to Not New York: the city that never gets complicated. The city so simple, they didn’t name it twice. The Big Not Apple.

Ava: Wait a second. Is Not New York actually just York? Because I could actually get a train there?

Tom: Stop slacking and get back to news!


Ava: Tutankhamun is a new edition of an old game by Reiner Knizia, and it’s on Kickstarter now. A simple game of drifting up river, grabbing sets of objects, and hopefully getting a majority so you can claim the prize by running out of money first.

Tom: The Kickstarter video makes it clear that you’re priests purchasing all kinds of tributes to donate to the boy, but I think i’d rather imagine it as priests dredging up whatever weird rubbish they find in the nile to throw into the sarcophagus and call it a day. Quite frankly, a UK edition where you’re travelling by barge up the Thames to put a shopping trolley and a traffic cone in Thatcher’s tomb would go down a treat.

Ava: Honestly, it’s the sort of game where the closer you look at any part of it, the less it makes sense. Maybe I’m only here because it’s got the phrase ‘wooden canopic jar score markers’ on the page.

Tom: SCREEN-PRINTED wooden canopic jar score markers, no less.

Ava: I just had to read the entire rulebook and watch the video to establish that the sarcophogus is there for no mechanical reason whatsoever. It’s just there to sell the theme: so that when you’re chucking stuff in the box you can call it the pharaoh’s tomb.

It’s a Brewster’s Millions priesthood challenge to sail up the Nile (which is slowly disappearing into the underworld), buying as much stuff as possible so you can put it in the ‘tomb’ and spend the money. It looks simple, and a bit reminiscent of Bites, a little ant shuffler that I really enjoyed, but the set collection feels a bit more faffy, and i’m not convinced it’s more interesting. I still can’t get over the picture where it looks like King Tut is pooping out a little blue river. Maybe that’s just me.

Tom: I’ve looked at the picture at least 4 or 5 times now and I can confirm that it is just you.

Ava: This week’s further reading is this design diary for Undaunted: North Africa, the sequel I’m most eager to find someone to play with, as I loved the first box.

Tom: This was a weird read as someone who is sorting through their thoughts and feelings on the game in question (more on that in the latest episode of the podcast). It’s such a strange box for someone that adored the original and wants to adore its sequel – and reading the design diary has just further entrenched the nagging thought that I might just be missing something. WHO. KNOWS.

Ava: Well that’s great, we’ve basically assigned homework for people who want to get some extra podcast credit.

Tom: It’s not required reading, but it may help with the end-of-term assignments. Professor Smith isn’t a generous marker, and you’ve been slacking. In fact, I’ll see you after class. You’ve been expelled. From boardgame school.

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