Posted on

GAMES NEWS! 24/08/20

Matt Lees 17 comment(s)

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

Posted on

SU&SD Podcast: UKGE Show Later Today!

Matt Lees 1 comment(s)

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

Posted on

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

Posted on

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

Posted on

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

Posted on

GAMES NEWS! 27/07/20

Matt Lees24 comment(s)

Tom: Hello Ava! How is your day so far? I indulged in having a rare THREE slices of toast this morning, 33% more than my usual breakfast.

Ava: Oh dear. Returning to the homestead has lowered your standards for excitement?

Tom: I’m gearing up to film a review in a garage, Ava. It’s all downhill from here.

Ava: I got a bit dazzled last Monday when I found myself accidentally watching Reiner Knizia wearing a hard hat and matching bow tie. He was there to not win the biggest award in board games, the Spiel Des Jahres. I’m a bit sad he dressed up for nothing, but he also looked like he was having a whale of a time.

Tom: He also looks like a rogue trader pretending to be a magician.

Ava: The winners were in fact Daniela and Christian Stöhr designers of Pictures, a game of drawing things without pens. Instead you’re recreating photos using building blocks, pixelated cubes and bits of shoelace. I’ve not found myself particularly intrigued, if I’m honest, but often the details are what makes a party game sing and I’d like to give it a pop.

Ava: The slightly fancier Kennerspiel award was deservedly won by Thomas Sing’s The Crew, a delightfully tough co-operative trick taking game of going to space by making sure the right people win the right cards in the right order. I’m just now realising it should have been called The Right Stuff.

Ava:The thing that entranced me as much as Kniz’s bowtie was the winner of the children’s Kinderspiel award ‘Speedy Roll’. Also known as Hedgehog Roll, this winner offered a delightful video of some very serious germans talking about rolling a furry hedgehog ball into a field of paper mushrooms to make a fox chase a different wooden hedgehog.

Matt: Sorry to bust into the news-shack wielding two hammers, but this is a game where you roll a TENNIS BALL around in the hope that things will stick to it? I’m unsure I’ve ever been this sold this fast. Oh to be at a games convention, scrambling underneath neighbouring tables in the hope of retrieving a missing hedgehog…

Ava: Friedmann Friese’s 2F games are finding themselves without a convention to launch their latest green box, so are self publishing a small print run of Finishing Time, a game that sounds remarkably depressing.

In Finishing Time players take the role of a group of workers, who are looking to acquire the maximum amount of leisure time, but forced to balance the fun with doing extra jobs to be able to afford holidays later, but only if you spend some other time unionising and lobbying for holiday time.

Tom: ‘After all your workers have been placed and taken their after-work actions, they are forced to return to work. You place them all in your factory where they then suffer stress, earn income, and gain strike tokens from the union, depending on the current working conditions.’ Good to see boardgames continuing to offer much needed forms of escapism.

In all seriousness though, Friese seems fairly keyed into this game being ferociously solo-able – and of course all the miserable theming is in service of what’s shaping up to be a neatly satirical little box, and one of those euros with licks of depressing realism to make those worker-placements feel extra-grounded-in-the-harsh-realities-of-the-world-at-large.

Matt: There’s a fiendish streak within a lot of their work, so it’s fun to see more bite bubbling to the surface. I still clearly recall an evening I spent playing Fast Forward: Flee in a pub with Quinns – I don’t think I’ve ever felt so aggressively, purposefully trolled by a game?

Ava: The most prolific game design duo of all has got another thing coming soon, and it sounds a little reminiscent of some of their finest work.

Kramer and Kiesling’s Renature is a domino game of area control and mischief. Each turn you have to place dominos with matching animal symbols, and then place plants next to those dominos. Whenever an area gets fenced off points are awarded for whoever has the most plants there, with ties being completely ignored. Crucially, players can place neutral plants to force a tie – leaving everyone’s work seeming wonderfully pointless.

To me, that doesn’t sound entirely dissimilar to their canal-building masterpiece, Mexica, but with fewer friendly ties and more focus on border building. It sounds like a pettily ruthless thing: nasty, brutish and beige.

Ava: With some suitable disclaimers about the fact that we’ve worked with Alex Hague on Monikers expansions (actually one of my first jobs with Shut Up & Sit Down was helping write some card descriptions for our second box of tricks), it’s hard to ignore a new party game from the makers of two of the last decade’s best party games. This is their second collaboration with Wolfgang Warsch after Wavelength, but I struggle to see what role ‘the big WW’ actually had in a fairly simple game of stacking fuzzy things.

Tom: He gives each one a little kiss before it gets sent off to backers.

Ava: The Fuzzies is essentially tribble jenga, with tiny round furry things that inexplicably stick together in a tower precisely until they don’t. It comes in a little cup that means you’re set up in seconds and it’s bright and colourful and silly and I dread what happens when one of those fuzzy things drops into a puddle of beer at the pub.

Tom: The gif of this thing being set up and promptly collapsing is an absolute joy, and sells exactly why this thing might be a slice wonderful (even if it’s not exactly the party-game powerhouses that are Monikers and Wavelength). You just whack it onto the table and… it’s set up? And then you scoop it all up and it’s… packed away??? Gosh darn it Mr Monikers you’ve done it again.

Ava: There’s some nice touches here, like a punishment for just knocking a few of the fuzzies down, but not collapsing the stack. But I’m not really finding enough here to tug on my excitement whiskers, although it does appear to be very, very cheap.

Ava:Anybody who’s spent more than three hours with me will know that I’m incapable of letting a three syllable phrase get by without singing it to the tune of Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel. It’s great because if you do the fanfare and pause, people can actually join in. It is with heavy heart that I spot that we nearly let Whale Riders slip off kickstarter before I’ve had a chance to go: “Duh daaaah …… Whale Riders.”

Tom: Pack up the games news and bring me a Peter Gabriel, we’re going on tour.

Ava: Whale Riders is the latest collaboration between Reiner Knizia, Vincent Dutrait, and Grail games, who’ve been publishing pretty new editions of the Kniz’s biggest auction games for a while now. Whale Riders is something new, but with that classic Kniz glitz (or anti-glitz, depending on how you feel about careful calculation of value). Players will race up and down the coast, buying things from each port to fulfil contracts, initially to earn money for the buying of stuff, and later to acquire pearls, which is what wins you the game. It sounds like an interesting balance of racing, jostling, shifting markets and careful timing.

Ava: Also available only through the kickstarter, is a card game version of Whale Riders, that’s actually a reimplementation of an older Knizia design called Trendy. I don’t know anything about it, but I’m instinctively much more hype for a game called Trendy, because I love calling people trendy when they’re wearing some nice clothes, because it makes me sound like my mum.

Tom: My mum is continually amazed at how often I say ‘natty’, a word that has seemingly slingshotted itself in and out of the orbit of acceptable adjectives within her lifetime. ‘Natty’ is a great word and I stand by my use of it. I hope she reads this.


Ava: Omari Akil has a cracking opinion piece over on Dicebreaker, providing concrete examples of ways that a more diverse (and specifically, more Black) games industry would make tabletop gaming better for everybody. I still want to try his first game Rap Gods, and I firmly agree that it would be great to hear more Black stories in the games we’re making. He offers some very specific examples of things he’d like to see, and I hope we get some of them.

Matt: And that’s the wrap on the news for this week! Finally though, a quick update on this week’s Twitch streams. Tomorrow myself and Tom will play Hanamikoji, while on Thursday we’ll be joined by Ava for some fun with Consulting Detective: The Baker Street Irregulars! (we’ll be playing the free demo, so no worries about spoilers.) See you there!

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

Posted on

GAMES NEWS! 20/07/20

Matt Lees34 comment(s)

Tom: I’m doing it! I’m finally piloting the newscopter! I can see so many games from my perch in the sky! I’ve dialed down the whimsy-ometer, and the daftosphere has been calibrated. All the news is trickling out the newspipes – I can see my NEWS from here!

Matt: OK Tom, gosh. Fine – you can keep flying the newscopter for a COUPLE OF MINUTES, but for heaven’s sake – crank the Reprint-Rotor before we have a terrible accident?

Tom: Yessir!

Queen Games’ delirious Twitter teasing has finally led us to its natural conclusion. The cities have been revealed, the mystery is gone, you can all go home now thank you very much that’s quite enough. The first of the City Collection is Hamburg, a reimplementation of 2013’s Bruges – which, as you can tell, is not Hamburg. It’s Bruges.

Matt: Yeah, switching from Bruges to Hamburg isn’t exactly the most enthralling re-theme?

Tom: In what was Bruges and is now Hamburg, you’ll act as the mayor of Hambruges, avoiding brugetastrophes or dishamsters.

Ava: Is everything okay in here Tom? You seem to be-


The BGG description is a nonsense cluster of boardgame words, to my eyes, but Bruges (pre-Hamburg) has an average rating of SEVEN POINT FOUR on BGG, which means it is positively… good. Check it out if you’re into ‘cards with five different uses’ and also ‘cleverly choosing the best use for each one’ – and you should DEFINITELY take a peek if you enjoy ‘avoiding disasters and racing for different objectives’.

Matt: Tom’s obviously still too young to wholeheartedly embrace stuff that’s openly quite boring, but Bruges’ combination of brightly coloured wood and muted esoteric history-stuff is like an immediate soothing balm for my brain. Prosperity amidst FIRES and RATS? That’s the stuff that board game dreams are made of!

Tom: The second revealed so far is Amsterdam, a reimplementation of 2009’s Macao, but unfortunately I’ve used up my quota of glib euro-teasing.

Instead, you’re getting the cut-and-dry boring description of what Amsterdam is going to be – a Eurogame that chiefly tasks players with ‘building combinations of abilities, as well as to correctly calculate the advantage of delayed gratification for actions.’ Wahoo. We’re going to get more information on the next two in the collection, New York (another reimplementation) and Marrakesh (a new design) shortly – so stay tuned for more high quality reporting on those in the near future.

Matt: I’d chastise you for a lack of enthusiasm here, but even as a begrudging defender of drab, quasi-mathematical puzzles – I can’t say there’s much here to be jazzed about, so far? When the boards and components get shown off, perhaps, but there’s something seriously disappointing about what we’ve seen of this project so far. To appreciate the wonderful potential of a stylised ‘set’ of games like this, you need only look briefly at the world of book publishing. There’s a lack of vision here that I guess feels like a missed opportunity – perhaps I’m being overly cynical, but this feels more like a different flavour of the modern tendency for Kickstarters to sell you a broad collection of things rather than simply A Thing.

Tom: Chip Theory (the ones that make the conveniently waterproof games) have come out with a standalone solitaire addition to the Hoplomachus family of games – Hoplomachus Victorum.

Matt: What’s your favourite Hoplomachus game, Tom? Mine is “Hungry Hungry Hoplomachus”.

Tom: Don’t be ridiculous Matt, this is a sensible news article. It’s clearly “Hoplopoly”.

As expected from Chip Theory, this is a game that involves an awful lot of thick plastic chips – this time representing warriors fighting against one-another in arenas of neoprene, tactically lobbing legions of minions at one-another to make sure that their champion is the last man standing. For a series that people have continually praised for its solo rules, making them effectively Roman Canon is going to bag Chip Theory a fair few wallets, and probably sharpen up some rough edges along the way.

Matt: The placeholder cover art they’ve gone with is a tremendous improvement on what we’ve seen before within that series – I’ll definitely be keeping a closer eye on Chip Theory in the future.

Tom: Oh. I mean let’s be honest, I’ve mostly only mentioned Hoplomachus to carve a roman-related cul-de-sac: down this road we’ll eventually come to a fancy new edition of Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery from Gale Force 9. I’m honestly disappointed that they didn’t keep the dizzyingly B-movie cover art from the original – especially the ‘mature content’ sticker on the box. It’s freakin’ badass, Mum.

Matt: That’s it, Thomas – I’ve had enough of that language. You’re grounded for a week.

Tom: Gale Force 9 hasn’t mentioned any changes to the mechanical core of the game, so the basics of players scheming against one another in grisly arena showdowns is likely to be exactly what’s on offer here. Where Hoplomachus has you personally getting all bloody and sandy, in Spartacus you’re the figures behind the curtain – pitting fleshy beyblades against one-another for maximum profit and prestige. This means that seemingly most of the game is played in the arena of the free market, baby, with players bidding against one-another to ensure you’ve got the beefiest boy of them all. It’s like meat pokemon.

… and last but not least in reprint and reimplementation news, we’ve got Tammany Hall – a palpably slimy box about accruing political capital in the big apple. The site reviewed this a mere six years ago, and since then the man on the box has become considerably larger – sated by the sweet profitable nectar of sheer, unrefined business.

Matt: Please stop feeding grandfather nectar, he is too powerful

Tom: For those not in the Tammany Hall know-how, a quick meander down its BGG page will likely provide you with a meagre ration of ‘ooh yes i would like to play this please’. It’s a shady worker area control and negotiation game where each player tries to sway the New York public (most notably its new immigrant population) into voting you in as mayor – and whoever wins that vote then has the honour of appointing their fellow players as officials in their cabinet – who, in turn, will use this position of power to lunge upwards for your throne in an ouroboros of bickering. Less ‘dudes on a map’ and more ‘political constituencies on a map’.

Matt: We’re losing ‘em Tom! Hit the Kickstarter Killswitch! We’ve got to turn this newscopter around!

Tom: Night Cage! Ah-ahh-ahh! Fighter of the Day Cage! Ah-ahh-ahhhhh!

First in our scheduled Kickstarter Roundup segment, Smirk and Dagger are seeking the investment of the ever-generous boardgame public for The Night Cage, a giant metallic structure designed to contain Reiner Knizia, lest he be unleashed upon the unworthy.

I kid, of course. The ‘Kniz cannot be contained. The Night Cage is in fact a tile-placement co-op game about staggering around a dark labyrinth with only a tiny candle and a gang of lost friends to keep you company.

Players are tasked with wandering the labyrinth by placing tiles on a big grid, ultimately in the hope of finding a set of keys that’ll let you congregate at the exit to leave the titular ‘orrible dark prison. The twist here is that the tiles you placed on previous turns will disappear into the dark as soon as you turn your back on them, leading all of you into a nightmare of twisted tunnels and haphazard planning from the get-go if you don’t carefully plan where your light is going to be shining. I love the art here, and the core conceit could cook up some spooky surprises, but I’m not sure if it’s going to blow anyone’s socks off. It looks like one of those things that’s going to be better in practice than in theory, perhaps? Only time will tell. I’ve come over all unsure.

Matt: It could be interesting, but I know what you mean. I’m almost definitely not a good indicator of what most people will personally buy, but I’m honestly slightly put-off by the inclusion of stretch-goal miniature LED candles? Perhaps that’s ridiculous? Oh gosh, Tom – your temporary lack of conviction might be contagious?!

Tom: HEY. What’s Dad been up to? He’s hiding all the family secrets in a big leather book that’ll ship to backers in early 2021, of course!

We’ve talked a few times about Kickstarter’s fine array of chunky escape room puzzle-box thingies, and Legacy seems to be a contender for the chunkiest and thingiest so far. It’s a narrative adventure investigation game, where you and maybe some pals will be tasked with finding out where in the world their fictional Dad has stashed his fictional cash – cross-referencing clues from Paris and Greece across two different time periods to get to the bottom of it all.

So far, so escape room, but the USP here is surely the sheer amount of physical gubbins that come with it – a tiny model of the eiffel tower, some 3D glasses,and what looks like a message in a bottle? Once you’re done with the game you can decorate an entire student flat with that calibre of leftovers.

Matt: I’m disappointed it doesn’t ship with An Actual Dad.

Tom: Fair, but it’s got the next best thing? A companion app! One of the promo images appears to show a player scanning through the menu of a greek restaurant to find clues, which would be delightful – but maybe they were just getting takeout during the photoshoot, who’s to say?

Well, I’m to say, and I’m willing to bet my entire career that it’s the latter.

Matt: Unable to confirm Actual Dad – mild possibility of Accidental Kofte.

Tom:And finally on the Kickstarter roundup, we’ve got an odd little RPG about making ends meet in a family restaurant. Also: vampires.

Jianshi: Blood In The Banquet Hall is a boxed roleplaying game where players assume the role of family members running a restaurant – doing chores to keep things running smoothly, chatting amongst themselves, serving customers, and then discussing what nightmarish visions they had during the night. This all comes before Jiangshi, ‘hopping vampires’, descend upon the restaurant and attack members of your family – making them a whole lot worse at both preparing food and/or being alive.

Matt: I adore the art for this one – and WHAT A THEME!

Tom: It all looks pretty wild! I’d be very down for giving this one a big ol’ whirl when roleplaying games are permitted under UK Law. Nothing to do with Covid, they were banned after ‘the incident’.

Matt: It isn’t that they’re illegal, Tom – you just aren’t allowed to play them when you’re at my house. I’m not made of money, and curtains are expensive. Anyway, congratulations on keeping the newcopter mostly in the air – let’s bring her into land.

Tom: Wahoo! The training manual said to apply a thick layer of ‘Misc-Gubbins Grease’ to the landing gears after every flight – I’m cracking open a fresh jar of the stuff RIGHT NOW.

Tom: The first thing I quickly wanted to drop a mention of is that Root is coming to PC, IOS and Android. This is potentially what’s known as ‘old news’ in the bizz, but nevertheless i’m rather excited to have Root on my phone so I can get in more of that wonderful puzzle box whenever possible. I’ve been playing a ferocious amount of Twice as Clever on mobile recently, so anything that can take me away from that will be an absolute godsend – the ‘wahoo’ sound effect upon doing literally anything positive in that game is driving me over the edge.

In a similar vein of not-so-news, there’s also an upcoming Brass Birmingham digital implementation to look out for as well, developed by Phalanx – the team behind the app implementation of the original Brass. This is absolutely wonderful news, as Matt’s copy has sat on my shelf for half a year and I’ve played it approximately once. It’s on track for early 2021. The app, not my next play of Brass Birmingham.

Matt: HOT JAZZ ON A UNICYCLE, that may not be new-news, but it’s new-news to ME! Digital Birmingham is what I need in my life right now, and if there’s any publisher out there I trust to handle a conversion with detail and love, it’s Roxley: those goggled chickens are a meticulous bunch. Root could be pretty app-happy too, to be fair – I’d love to bash my head against some custom AI challenges while collapsed on a sofa.

Tom: AND LASTLY BUT NOT LEASTLY, we have the ever-flowing stream of sumptuous design diaries and interviews from BoardGameGeek. They’ve been doing a bunch recently, but I especially enjoyed reading Rita Modi’s interview on Men At Work and family games, and I managed to squeeze an ounce of vicarious satisfaction from Rob Newton’s excellent design diary on his upcoming flick-and-write Sonora.

Matt: And just as we finish up with today’s flight logs, I should remind you that tomorrow myself and Tom will be playing Hanamikoji on Twitch. No Mothership this week I’m afraid! Ava is taking a well-deserved break from SU&SD bits. More stuffs soon!

Tom: … alright! The newscopter has flown, landed and essential maintenance has been completed. Nothing went wrong! It’s a Christmas miracle!

Matt: Thomas! You’ve clogged up the new-rotors with my patented GubbGrease!

Tom: Will I be flying it again next week?

Matt: Absolutely not!

Tom: Thank heavens!

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

Posted on

GAMES NEWS! 13/07/20

Matt Lees20 comment(s)

Tom: Fictional scenario with humorous implications!

Ava: Harmless pre-amble with light twists of jokery!

Tom: Slight pun, sensible query?

Ava: Query resolved, questionable segue into the news!

Ava: I can’t not talk about that teaser trailer for Pandemic Legacy Season 0. My understanding is that if I’d tuned into the stream last tuesday, I would’ve been able to watch Matt complete a teaser jigsaw with a secret code on the back. I’m really hoping Tom was watching and knows if we’ve gleaned any exciting spoilers.

Tom: I was not present for the assembly, though I did pop in to quickly clip Matt looking his daftest.

Matt: In my defence, I am incredibly daft. It turns out I’d vastly underestimated both the time and energy required to ‘Do A Jigsaw’ – five hours of live-streaming a muddy brown puzzle left me shamefully too wiped out to actually solve the mystery behind the clues I’d uncovered. I still don’t know exactly what I missed, but I gather I missed *something* quite vital – the next day I even went so far as to heat up the accompanying note in a wok in the hope that a heat-sensitive message would reveal itself. You can’t mark me down for effort, I guess?

Ava: So it seems like the new Pandemic Legacy is a prequel, taking place in olden times. Quinns shared something in the company slack that I don’t think I’m allowed to say anything about, but it was accompanied with statement that “Matt Leacock and Rob Daviau are clearly having a lot of fun here”. Frankly, that’s exciting enough for me (as someone who failed to get through a season 1 campaign for interpersonal issues I am IN NO WAY BITTER ABOUT.)

Matt: It’s amazing how many people I know who found their Season 1 playthrough unfortunately torpedoed, usually just before the bit in the campaign where things really get REAL.

Tom: I’m having such a strange time of all the Season 0 announcements – It’s an event that I should be incredibly excited for, having effectively used Season 1 and 2 as a cardboard bonfire around which my closest friends of University gathered. With Season 0 on the horizon, though, I’m physically willing myself not to be excited for it – because I know there’s no way I can meaningfully get that same group together again consistently, maybe forever.

Matt: I felt the same way when Jaws of the Lion arrived.

Ava: This is an awfully glum start to the news.

Tom: Agreed.

Let’s talk about Beans.

Ava: Is it okay to just keep releasing variants of the same game forever with increasingly tenuous puns? No. But I’m going to let this one slide because Excalibohn is extremely fun to say.

Tom: They missed a trick – I think Excalibohnanza is WAY more fun to say – but only if you stress and savour the beginning before a swift crescendo of speed and ferocity towards the end, with an appropriate level of theatrical pizazz to boot.

Matt: Tom, you have my vote.

Ava: After Bohnaparte, I think they’ve fully committed. Consistency is as important as pizzaz in the seamy underworld of pun-branding.

Excalibohn is the newest entry to the Bohnanza bonanza, and promises the same game of planting, trading and desperation, only now the beans are magic. Special powers and magic potions can be triggered on your turn to manipulate the core game’s simple but tight trading mechanism. I suspect it has to walk a pretty fine line to keep the game functioning while appealing to those who want a bit of extra fiddle? Otherwise this might just be bean trading with added take that, which would be awful?

Matt: MAGIC Bean-Trading with MAGIC Take That.

Ava: That’s still awful though, isn’t it?

Matt: In my mind it was easily their best album.

Tom: Before that mammoth 6 hour Lords of Vegas stream, Mike Selinker said something to the tune of ‘Bohnanza is the best game ever made’. Now, I don’t remember exactly what he said afterwards, but I’m almost certain that it was ‘I can’t wait for them to add magic potions to it though, because that would be VERY cool and good’, and I thiiiink that’s perfectly fine to use as a pull quote for the box, Uwe.

Matt: Gosh though, THAT GAME! I’ve yet to do a little post about it on the main site, but that’s easily the best game of Lords of Vegas… ever? A very long video, but what a ride.

Tom: You know what I need in my life right now? More thoughts. I just can’t get enough of the blighters! They’re always scurrying around, hiding under important events – I just want some good clean thoughts for my brain canals! What’s a boy gotta do to get some THOUGHTS around here?

I jest, of course, thoughts are mostly horrible things I want to reduce, re-use and recycle.

Tom: Our Innermost Thoughts asks the question ‘What if thoughts; but good?’ This Kickstarter looks to be a dinky little zine containing a collection of (mostly) solo RPGs about self-discovery and reflection in times of turmoil – which is right up my proverbial alley, at the moment. Of the bunch, I think I’m most intrigued by ‘Frequency’, the only two-player game in the series, which is chiefly concerned with the difficulty of communication between different languages and ideologies. As well as that, I’m tickled by ‘Letters From A Book Binder’, a game about writing synopses of fictional books and sharing those stories with others.

Matt: I’m only slightly disturbed that the image they’ve gone with reminds me immediately of ‘The Cabin In The Woods’ and the fantastically stylish German Misery-’em-up ‘Dark’. Please can I instead have these thoughts in a leisure centre cafe with a mug of hot chocolate, thanks.

Ava: I think I covered Dead Reckoning super briefly a long time ago, but that was when it was just a little twinkle in the publisher’s eye. Now we’ve got the full thing on Kickstarter, and we can form some hasty opinions on the basis of superficial information.

Matt: As first-mate aboard the HMS Hasty, I’ve gotta say I reaaally dig the use of colour in that box art?

Ava: Dead Reckoning is a piratical ‘4X’ game with card-crafting crew and a dice-ship battle-shenanigan. You’ll be sailing the high seas while sliding cards into sleeves to show your crews equipment and stats. If you ever get into a fight you’ll be pouring little cubes through a cardboard boat and into a little walled board that will tell you how battling you’ve been. There’s a lot of odd touches here, that make it harder and harder to assess if this is exciting or not. My fancy is tickled, but so is my meh.

Tom: The fancy bone’s connected to the… Meh bone! The Meh Bone’s connected to the… Excalibohn! The Excalibohn’s connected to the…

Ava: Tsukiji Market and Tokyo Metro, both from Jordan Draper’s Tokyo series, are getting expansions. The former’s precise economy will now have a whole load of new fish. While Metro’s worker placement route navigator will relocate to Osaka and promises a quicker game.

It’s probably not quite worth linking to a set of kickstarter expansions, and I’m essentially just trying to goad myself into not buying them. Covering stuff in the news tends to deflate my hype for things- maybe more than makes sense. Is that okay? I don’t know if that’s okay. I do however know that I’ve already bought both games being expanded here, and both times the exact same thing happened.

The game arrived, I admired the lovely pieces, and then I started reading the rulebook – at which time I’ve then glazed over in a way I can only describe as unprofessional. I don’t know what it is about these rulebooks? I’ve tucked into GMT rulebooks that would make Tom Brewster cry. But these tiny rule books never quite go properly into my brain.

Matt:I don’t know if that’s unprofessional, really? Rulebooks are so rarely universally readable, and it’s definitely the part of the job I struggle with the most. Teach me a game and I’ll get it all perfectly, no further questions. Focussing on a booklet for more than two minutes? Eep. Still, good to know which designers your rulebook-brain doesn’t quite gel with?

Ava: But here’s the problem. I’m still tempted. More fish for the market! More moves on the metro! I want it. I shouldn’t want it. But I want it. Urghhhhhhhh.

Tom: If it helps, I also found that the tiny Tsukiji Market rulebook burrowed its way into my brain with the elegance of a whisk through bricks. But Clams, Nori, and Swordfish? Maybe a swift kick in the expandable backside will get me to actually play the damn thing. This is the kind of logic that crumbles empires. What do I want?

Ava: If you want even more punishing decision making, pretty much the entire Jordan Draper back catalogue is available as add ons. I can only speak to Import/Export, which I would describe as ‘a great game if you already know you like Carl Chudyk-style confuse-a-thons.

Tom: I can equally speak for Tokyo Game Show, Colourful and Praise as being wonderful little boxes, also – The first of those exuding vast quantities of Warioware-esque charm when unleashed upon any unsuspecting family, but your own will provide the best results.

Ava: Ooh ooh. Some odd little news, in an article about people trying to teach a computer to play the infamously ruthless backstabbing negotiation wargame Diplomacy.


Ava: This is the same people who famously beat expert Lee Sedol at Go, but now they’re moving into what I’m going to describe as a much wobblier game. Teaching a computer how to lose friends seems somewhere between cruel and ridiculous, but I’m kind of curious as to where this is going, even if I’m somewhat skeptical about just about every claim I hear made about AI ever.

Tom: Next up: Blood On The Clocktower.

Ava: It turns out, that really the focus here is not so much on betrayal, lies and manipulation, but is actually more to examine ways for AIs to collaborate with other systems and actual humans. Of course, I would’ve thought a game that didn’t rest upon inevitable backstabs might be a better way to teach collaboration. This is training an AI to work with humans right up until the optimal moment of betrayal. The more I think about this, the more ominous it seems.

Tom:Cruisin’ for a skynettin’?

Ava: With puns like these, who needs terminators.

Matt: I’m screengrabbing this for the pun-police, fyi.

Ava: Twitter this week has been a tiring mess. Twitter this year has been a tiring mess. Twitter is a tiring mess. There, nailed it.

This week has been hard, though.

Prominent Black game designer Eric Lang got suspended after being the apparent target of bad faith trolling for his eminently reasonable views on racism. He’s been reinstated, and he’s had some brilliant words to say about how we need to be working on fixing the culture of social media so that we don’t leave the space to be a place where trolls manipulate systems for abuse. Honestly, it’s big important stuff (and I say that whilst also wrestling the most successful author of all time appearing to have been love-bombed into a cult obsessed with stopping me from going to the toilet ever, which is fun). It’s our responsibility to make sure game spaces (and the social spaces that surround them) are welcoming to everyone welcoming, and intolerant of everyone intolerant.

Matt: That’s the crucial part of it, really – we’ve always managed to keep Shut Up & Sit Down’s community quite broadly kind-hearted, but it’s a softness that is primarily crafted with hammers.  And even then, we’re constantly getting stuff wrong, all of the time! I hope we’ll continue to be open to recognising that, and striving to be better. I worry that social media as it currently exists may be a lost cause though, if I’m honest. Still – solidarity with those finding the current cultural climate tough. Having come over to this industry from Video Games, I’m steeled for this stuff more than anyone should have to be.

Ava: There was another pretty important thread to highlight, considering we’ve been cautiously hopeful about small improvements from the Wizards of the Coast’s D&D team. Orion D Black reports their experience as a freelancer being ignored by management that didn’t really want anything apart from the appearance of diversity. Wizards of the Coast have tweeted apologising and taking the criticism seriously. That said, everybody I’ve seen talking about this has been noting that words are not enough when there have been clear and consistent demands made for a long time. I’m increasingly glad we’re spending our RPG stream time working on a smaller indie game, and hope we continue to shine more light away from the big, unwieldy behemoth that most people think of when they hear the words pen-and-paper role-playing.

Tom: More like pen and paper TROLL playing AMIRITE? I’m not particularly active on twitter (I haven’t even got the app – I just access it through a google homepage that’s set to ‘Duck Game’ developer Landon Podbielski’s Twitter page after I googled him one time ages ago) but even then, when I do check my feed it’s nothing but nihilism and anger towards those using their huge, profitable, and ultimately stable platforms in ways that are less than savoury.

Matt: I will be unbelievably happy when Twitter shuts down, and yet I also can’t stop using it?

Ava: IT’S SO GRIM! I wish I could walk away from twitter but it’s always been a useful way to stay connected to the communities I care about, and it does do that, it’s just hard when those communities feel steadily under attack. As a more positive end note though, I’ve now got an official email address, so if anyone wants to send news tidbits to highlight, I’d really like to increase the diversity of the games news, both in the sense of highlighting more work from marginalised creators, but also in bringing a spotlight onto a wider range of curious board game adjacent media, business or other larks. Give me a shout on [email protected], we want to hear from you about the people we’ve never heard of, the things we aren’t aware of, and the stuff that never happened.

Wait. Maybe not that last one, although I am totally here for impossible gossip.

Tom: Impossigoss.

Matt: The Impossigoss Engine has been activated?! But that’s IMPOSSIGOSS? If you’re at a loose end this week and fancy listening to our voices, tomorrow myself and Tom will be hanging out with Twitch chat for “Through The Ages and Chill”. You are all invited. And this Thursday should be a lot of fun – we’ll be doing another Print & Play Along session with Metro X. Grab a copy of the file here.

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

Posted on

GAMES NEWS! 06/07/20

Matt Lees25 comment(s)


Ava: No. Today’s news will be presented in a bland monotone with absolutely no musical interludes whatsoever.

Tom: Sad.

Ava:. Don’t be sad Tom, I’m obviously lying. Have you met Shut Up and Sit Down? Pretty much everything we say ends up sung to the tune of some soft rock classic or another.

Tom: We did a musical count in last week too, didn’t we.

Ava: There’s a pandemic and a climate crisis going on, we’re allowed to recycle. One! Two! Many! Lots!

Stonemaier games haven’t quite landed a perfect hit with the review squad here at Shut Up and Sit Down, but they’ve knocked out some beautiful shots, and it’s hard to ignore when they announce something new. Their latest game evolved out of one of their open design days, apparently their highest ever rating prototype, and is now getting the full Stonemaier treatment.

Pendulum promises simultaneous play, sand timers and worker placement strategy. The details are being slowly dribbled out over the coming weeks because hype-building is a dribbly business. So far we know, well, mostly what I’ve already said. The timers provide time pressure as you try and work out where you’re going to put your next batch of workers with tasks to convert, buy and trade resources. With three worker sections, each with their own timer, but also regular breaks to pause for breath, it’s more about slow pressure and careful planning than fast reactions. It sounds like it’s mostly about building an efficient rhythm: making sure that the thing that finishes after forty five seconds will be done enough times before the thing that takes two minutes but needs those resources ready as soon as it’s done.

Tom: This sounds like it could be a wonderful, snappy and unique experience on the one hand, or a total NIGHTMARE on the other. The physical sand timers could provide the sense of urgency and ‘no-take-backsies’ that we’ve observed to be the best feature of playing digital games on BGA, but equally the idea of trying to navigate a chunky euro under time pressure is absolutely horrifying. Whatever it ends up looking like in the end, it’ll most likely be fascinating regardless.

Ava: Looking up details for Pendulum also nudged me towards Rolling Realms, a Stonemaier-retrospective roll-and-write game that mashes up elements from their previous games. It’s one of these lovely print-and-play freebies that publishers have been putting out and now they’re running a survey to see whether people would like a properly published edition. Maybe give it a look if you like rolling dice and referencing games you may or may not have already played.

Tom: You can also play it D I G I T A L L Y or P R I N T E R L Y if you so desire – both versions are available through the above link and it does all look quite charming. It’s also rather sweet that another designer, Seth Jaffee, has also made a Rolling Realms tour through his own designs using the same iconography and core idea of condensing complex systems into little tiny boxes. I’m waiting with bated breath for the Vlaada version. Roll a 6 and make bunny ears above your head to score 8 points – or roll a 3 and chart the rise and fall of an entire civilization for 9 points.

Ava: Staying Vlaada-adjacent but jumping back to unusual modifications of the worker placement genre is the latest deckbuilding resource-fiddler from Czech Games Edition

Lost Ruins of Arnak is designed by the mononymous duo Min and Elwen, new to the CGE fold. It’s built on small decks of cards for each player and a big board of resource gathering and utilising options to go and do an expeditions on the titularly ruined island. I’m once again wondering whether I’m overly excited by CGE because of their highest highs, with no evidence anything actually interesting about this one. The promise of being able to use some of the cards as workers in the worker placement is technically intriguing, but I’m not thrilled by the entirely devoid of information trailer video.

Oh dear, I do appear to have become a bit hype-cynical. I’m sure that’s not going to get irritating or be very inconsistently applied over the course of the news.

Tom: There’s not much to go on here, so take that cynicism and hold onto it for as long as possible, lest ye be swayed by the tumultuous hype-tides.

Ava: I helped Quinns with the playtesting and a little bit of script beavering on his lovely Undaunted: Normandy review, and fondly remember our afternoon of deck building duelry in an actual pub, a million years ago, just before Christmas. It’s a sharp and clever re-invention of deck building, and makes for a dramatic take on World War Two with less rules and faff than I’ve ever seen in a wargame, but quite a lot of the precision. Lovely! It’s since been expanded with a North Africa sequel, which I’m eager to explore, and now BOTH of those games are receiving Reinforcements.

Undaunted: Reinforcements adds new cards, scenarios and bits to both games, and offers a new solo mode, as well as a four player variant. I’m pretty excited, but worry that something so sharp might get a bit wobbly when it tries to expand to four players. That said, when tables are allowed to get a little bit bigger, I’ll be well up for giving it a try.

Tom: We can get the whole gang together post-lockdown to mourn the losses of our favourite soldiercards. Honestly, the meanest thing I can say about Undaunted: Normandy was that I was upset I couldn’t share it with more people. Once I started playing it with one person, it became too much of a grudge-match game to play with anyone else – it’d be unfair ‘Training’ for our next showdown. Playing it with 4 might turn it into a right royal rumble – a cosier alternative to Memoir 44 Overlord, perhaps.

Ava: If I ever brew a beer I’m calling it ‘Cosy Overlord’. In barely-even-news news, Armata Stigoi, a team game of fortress assaulting werewolves ganging up on immortal vampires, is getting a wider publication, but I just want to hear what Tom has to say about Powerwolf, the band that inspired the game.

Tom: I wasn’t aware of Powerwolf until now, but they look like a band that take themselves EXACTLY as seriously as they should. This is very much a stream-of-consciousness ramble at this point, but I just went to the Wikipedia page for Powerwolf and very much enjoyed this quote; ‘When asked if he was a Christian or a Satanist, Matthew Greywolf answered: “I am a metalist, a metal fan. Metal is my religion’, which is hilarious. But more intriguing than that, when I started googling a suggested search was the Wikipedia entry for the ‘Sugababes’, from our recent Mothership stream. What struck me though is the fact that there isn’t an R iN ‘SUGABABES’? I THOUGHT IT WAS ‘SUGARBABES’ LIKE YOU SHOULD SPELL IT. THIS IS THE STRANGEST MANDELA EFFECT???

Ava: It’s definitely always been suga, babes.

Tom: Now I’m thinking about what other musical acts would make good board games. A Nick Zammuto T’Zolkin-alike but it’s about time signatures carved into vinyl? A Moonsick solo RPG about the wistful days of your youth? A cluedo-like that’s set in Pottery’s album, ‘Welcome To Bobby’s Motel’, where you have to collect as many cowbells as you can muster. ! A Godspeed You! Black Emperor Eurogame that takes a literal week to get through, with a cluttered (if wholesome) anti-capitalist tone. A Jai Paul print-and-play! The possibilities are well and truly endless.

Ava: You could remake Fog of Love as a nightmarish five player Fleetwood Mac tribute, entirely about making horrible breakup songs about your band mates. Or how about a deckbulding version of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies? Maybe a Chassol game that’s just a big French role-playing game with an app that plays piano in tune with whatever’s being said and takes poignant loops and lays them over lovely drums. I’m genuinely surprised I can’t get a Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds game already, with a big glitterball and an apocalyptic Victorian London to fight over. I’d also take a role-playing game where you play as your favourite Beach Boy (Dennis) and have to avoid falling into Charles Manson’s cult while going surfing.

Tom: William Basinski: Legacy?

Ava: Environmentally friendly, as you don’t even destroy the cards, you just keep writing things over them again and again forever.

Tom: We probably should have used this time to talk about the game.

Ava: Oh yeah. There’s a game about werewolves and vampires. Maybe read the design diary if that tickles your Powerwolf?

Ava: An Alhambra Roll & Write is on Kickstarter, promising an paper-scratching version of the sprawling palace building original. The games share a scoring system based racing to build the most of certain coloured buildings.. The dicier version features you taking pairs of dice to cross off those buildings, and passing on the leavings to the next player, who gets to do some of their own rolling and taking.

The original Alhambra is the sort of game that needs to have it’s maximum player count cut in half, as the one time I played with six it was an absolute dull-fest, but with three players it’s a pointy little diamond. It contains my favourite rule to teach in any game: ‘just like in real life, if you pay with exact change you get to take another turn’. I’m not quite sure how dice-drafting is going to replace the ruthless currency collection of the original, but I am sorely tempted by the revised edition of the base game, also available on the kickstarter. Of course, this is Queen Games, so not only do I have to decide if I actually want both of the core boxes, (in writey and revisedy flavours), but I also have an enormous bundle of expansions to calculate the cost to value ratio of. I might end up not going for it out of sheer bloody-minded indecisiveness. We’ll see. We’ll see.

Tom: Cynicism-ometer seems perfectly in check here, boss.

Ava: While we’re looking at Queen Games though, I can once again get wound up by hype-dribble, as over on twitter they’ve announced a new ‘city collection’: a set of new boxes based on previous Stefan Feld games, but relocated to new cities. In a move I can only describe as ‘deeply irritating, but it does the hype-job’ they’re slowly teasing out the skyline of buildings that will grace the sides of the boxes, asking people to guess what cities the buildings come from and what games they’re based on. Unfortunately, because all the games are now going to be set in new cities, this gives us absolutely no information about what games are getting rebooted.

Tom: Spoilers; they’re all Burton-On-Trent. It’s a risky move but they’ll have the whole town down at their FLGS.

Ava: I’m so infuriated by the lack of information! BUT, I’m also watching closely, because I’m really hoping that Macao is getting a new version, as that games very particular cube-collecting doom-rondel was one of the most excruciatingly beautiful bear-traps of a mechanic that I’ve stumbled across in the last year. Please let me rotate my distress-inducing cube-compass again, Queen Games.

2000AD publishers Rebellion are teaming up with long-time role-playing collaborators Grant Howitt and Chris Taylor to put together the first in a series of ready-to-play rpgs-inna-magazine. The Adventure Presents… series is breaking ground by being cheap as chips (well, maybe more like a couple of fish and chips at the chippy in town I can’t go to because they cook everything in dripping, but the point still stands). The series will be explicitly designed for lockdown play, with digital materials to make distant play work better. It’s also got lush 2000AD style comic art throughout, and the first episode offers the opportunity to be a veteran, scavenger, influencer or graphic designer, which is not a party set up I’ve seen before.

Adventure presents Tartarus Gate is a slim little volume that will give you everything you need to experience some cosmic horror in the depths of space, which sounds a little bit like how I’ve been spending every other Thursday, so maybe this is all a bit too soon.

Tom: Is that a convenient segue to talk about the STREAM SCHEDULE?

Ava: No I just meant to-

Tom: THIS WEEK you can join THE REAL MATT LEES doing a *checks notes* JIGSAW PUZZLE on TUESDAY, followed by PART 3 of the COSMIC HORROR PICTURE SHOW that is MOTHERSHIP on THURSDAY! If you’ve yet to do so already, follow us on Twitch! Oh, and expect a tumultuous return to streaming for me as I try to keep the entirety of my family out of the room while we’re live. Expect many interruptions from the extended Brewsterverse.

Matt: Oh gosh, getting you to role-play live as Juice Springsteen in front of your FAMILY may be the greatest professional joy I’ll ever know.

Ava: It’s the most ambitious cross-over event of all time.

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

Posted on

GAMES NEWS! 29/06/20

Quintin Smith28 comment(s)

Tom: News?

Ava: News.

Tom: Yeah, news!

Ava: … News?

Tom: NEWS!

Ava: Yes. Let us news.

Tom: I can’t believe someone has so blatantly taken the Alien from Nemesis and made it into a board game (pictured above)

Ava: Tom, I think that…

Tom: The obviously copyright infringing ‘Aliens: another glorious day in the corps’ sees players fighting through ‘their favourite scenes in the film’ as the designers attempt to inception their blatant theft into your mind via a film that clearly doesn’t exist, a la Shazam and the Berenstein Bears.

Ava: No, Tom, there really is a…

Tom: We don’t really have much detail, just some vague promises of a dynamic co-op game, aliens you can kill and two already lined up expansions. And yes, those expansions are apparently really called ‘Ultimate Badasses’ and ‘Get Away From Her, You B***ch’ (their censoring, not ours). All snappy and perfectly okay and also good names for expansions for the boardgame that is the Aliens, the boardgame.

Ava: Sometimes this hobby/job(/jobby???) is a delight. I stumbled upon this design diary never having heard of the game, only knowing a little about the publisher Hollandspiele, and knowing absolutely nothing about the historical event the game is based on.

The Field of the Cloth of Gold aims to arrive on the five hundredth anniversary of the ‘essentially a party’ of the same name, a three week festival of Kings showing off that spent a third of the wealth of England at the time. King Henry VIII (yup, that one) and King Francis I of France basically had a renaissance rave-up to show off just how swish they were.

Tom Russell describes the main problem with designing a game about the event is that basically nothing happened, but honestly it sounds like he’s built quite a treat. A lightweight filler inspired by ultra-classics El Grande and Tigris and Euphrates, players will face a simple choice every turn, to collect tiles (which gives a random bonus to your opponent) or score the tiles you’ve already collected, limiting your ability to gain more in the future. It could be sharp, it could be nonsense, but with a theatrically bombastic manual, I’m curious about it.

Tom: I hope this turns out to be really, really excellent so that we can review it, otherwise it might be another one of those games where I’ve got at least, like, 8 jokes written and then Matt says ‘yes Tom but it’s not a good game is it’ and I say YEAH BUT I’VE GOT ALL THESE JOKES and then Matt says ‘these are just pieces of paper with the word ‘jokes’ written on them’ and I say ‘It’ll work better in a visual format rather than written! This paragraph is a mess of punctuation and the readers probably hate how self-indulgent and silly this is’ and then Matt edits the end of this paragraph to stop it from going on forev-

Ava: Canopy comes to Kickstarter from a clever coven of creators, Weird City Games. I’ve had my eye on Tim Eisner and company since March of the Ants marched into my heart a few years back.

Canopy sees two players vying for the fanciest and most biodiverse parts of the rainforest, drafting trees, weathers, animals and plants, each with their own bonuses and methods of scoring. It sits squarely in the territory of ‘that sounds nice’, and reminds me a little of the surprisingly ruthless push-your-luck set collection of Herbaceous. Though maybe that’s just the prominent foliage playing tricks on me.

In other news, I’m so disappointed to find out there isn’t actually an Italian chamber orchestra providing scores for live action role playing. Sad.

Crescendo Giocoso Ritornello is a ‘playlist’ of several games by an orchestra-themed larp group. I’m never going to get past that disappointment, even if some of the things here sound great. Sorry Crescendo Giocoso Ritornello, you’ve clevered yourself out of a fair shake. Unless Tom can rustle something up?

Tom: Ava I am struggling to understand this concept at its most fundamental level. The clash of Italian and Acronyms is making all the thinking juices trickle out my nose.

Ava: Wait, wait, wait. I’ve slept on this, and had a closer a look, and I think beyond the quirky framing, this looks like an intriguing twelve games. On a quick glance through, one of them is about caring for a person with Alzhimer’s disease, and looks genuinely heartbreaking, and another is played in complete silence and asks players to try and recall an impossible, imagined childhood through movement and invented ritual. Maybe these are exactly the sort of people who should pretend to be a chamber orchestra, and maybe, one day, we can all do the same. The Kickstarter closes very soon, so jump on quickly if it sounds like your thing.

Honestly, I just watched the video and entirely zoned out enjoying the Barber of Seville and then thinking about the Tom and Jerry take on the same. I always forget that classical music is often actually quite affecting. I’m also glad I googled to double check I’d got the right piece, as it turns out the song that goes ‘Figaro’ lots, ISN’T from the Marriage of Figaro.

Good save, Ava.

Next up on Kickstarter, a dicey take on the International Space Station.

Intrepid gives you massive handfuls of dice, and asks you to sort them between all the players at the table, each a character from a different country, with a different goal, a different way of manipulating dice, and their own lovely face. Actual faces may vary.

Carefully communicating and collaborating to keep the station ticking, with upgrades that will help you find some resources at the cost of others, it all sounds a little on the chaotic side for a carefully planned space mission. It also reminds me of some of the best bits of explosively-collaborative dice defuser FUSE.

Tom: Having never played Intrepid or Sidereal Confluence, I am inclined to compare the two in a way that you can feel free to completely ignore. Maybe, if you’ve played them, you might be able to tell me if Intrepid is kind of like a co-operative version of Sidereal Confluence with Dice instead of… Other… Bits? I don’t know, it’s the vibe I’m getting with the clunky graphic design and asymmetric ways of interacting with the same components – and honestly I’m quite intrigued with what looks like a rather chunky puzzle.

Ava: It wasn’t a comparison that had occurred to me, and I doubt it’s got the enormous asymmetry and wheeler-dealering of Sidereal, but if it comes close to that games ‘I’ve got an engine you don’t understand, so you’ve just got to trust me except I have no way to make you trust me’ then maybe that’s a bit of a win for a co-op? Also, the ‘other bits’ in Sidereal Confluence are mostly just bits. Lots and lots of bits, each with a specific name that gets entirely ignored in favour of just yelling the colour and shape out.

Yura Yura Penguin’s wobbly papercraft iceberg looks like a curvier Rhino Hero, and honestly, that’s nearly me sold already. The oddly-translated kickstarter page is a delight, and the game looks very silly. I’m glad it has upgraded to little wooden penguins from card ones, because little wooden penguins are adorable, and look like they’ll make this card stacking dexterity game almost impossible to win. Lovely.

I’ll bundle that Japanese weirdness together with BoardGameGeek’s latest round up of games that would’ve been released at the Tokyo Game Market.

Tom: There’s games about being a haunted Antiques dealer, a watch dealer, and even a game about being a games dealer. There’s a game called ‘Suzie-Q’ that has an absolute disaster of a central mechanic for someone like me (who doesn’t understand numbers or reasoning), and there’s a game about naming as-yet un-named, specific objects (such as ‘staples that have failed to be stapled’).

There’s even a game that’s basically ‘Guess Who’ but for underwear. Honestly I want all of these delivered to my home as soon as possible because they all sound like delightful little filler games that will draw people in on their central gimmicks alone.

Ava: In news that’s got all the most irritating people’s hackles up, Dungeons & Dragons is finally trying to remove some of the baked-in racism from its settings. They’re removing the concept of ‘Evil Races’ entirely from the game, and are planning a host of new books with more empathetic portrayals of factions previously only ever seen on the bad side of the table.

In particular, after criticism of The Curse of Strahd’s portrayal of the Vistani, which drew on various stereotypical ideas about the Romani people, new editions will have some of that content edited in consultation with members of the Romani community, who are also helping work on a new adventure with more positive rep of the same.

Honestly, I’m consistently appalled at the casualness of racism against traveller and Roma communities in the UK, so I’m really glad to see some reparative work being done here, not least because this sort of diversity tends to lead to much more interesting stories.

Tom: I’m trying my best to ease ‘DnD’ out of my vocabulary, when what I really mean is ‘RPG’. To most onlookers to the hobby, and many of those within it, the two are almost used as synonyms, I’ve found – and having recently started perusing the indie RPG scene I can’t imagine the frustration that arises from producing unique, diverse art and having it immediately posted under the banner of something so trite and tired. There’s so much out there, so rather than waiting for Wizards to get better, one can always start looking at what’s doing their ‘bit’ considerably better.

Ava: In blast from the past news, there’s a new Fighting Fantasy book coming out! Continuing the series of solo rpg style branching narrative books, Crystal of Storms is written by Rhianna Pratchett, and will have players flicking from page to page and leaving as many fingers in the past as they can manage.

Tom: Oi, that’s cheating!

Ava: I don’t care, I just want to get to the end before I’ve written too many numbers in the ‘stamina’ box at the front to be able to continue playing.

I’m honestly bewildered at the press release stating that Fighting Fantasy came out ‘before gaming gripped the imagination of children worldwide’ in a fairly ridiculous attempt to argue that Steven Jackson and Ian Livingston literally invented the concept of games for children. Presumably before that children had only ever been serious, pragmatic and realistic.

Tom: My first interaction with the work of Steve Jackson was spending my bus money on Munchkin expansion packs (i was young, okay) – and believe me, the daily 7 mile round trip to school that decision incurred (along with the detention I would receive for inevitably rocking up late) was most certainly the least pragmatic decision of my younger years. I guess this is the long way of saying that Steve Jackson did in fact free my childhood self from the shackles of normality. Thanks for the blisters, Steve.

In further reading material news, Warhammer 40,000 is getting its first Marvel comic, and it’s being written by the often lovely Kieron Gillen. Telling the story of Marneus Calgar, I’m disappointed it’s going to be a bluespaceboy story, and not something a bit Orkier, but that’s probably just me.

Tom: We’re ALL still waiting on Ava’s Queer Ork Theory 101

Ava: You might be waiting a little while longer. The last time I tried to explain it to someone we started off with discussions of Orks’ asexual reproduction and lack of gender, and ended up googling ‘Do Tau ****’. Eventually we were even asking whether, if the astartes have genetically engineered their ‘unnecessary’ sex organs away in favour of extra hearts and lungs, does that mean space marines sweat piss.


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