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GAMES NEWS! 16/03/20

Matt Lees38 comment(s)

Tom: … So I’ve got all these because I thought you said ‘Games Newts’, it’s just a simple misunderstanding.

Ava: Look, it doesn’t matter, we’ll just get on with the news and absolutely nothing will happen, and nobody will notice and nobody will tell Matt and we’ll all keep our jobs, and you can put them in the Shut Up & Sit Down pond after we’ve finished.

Tom: Oh dang I think two of them escaped, and I think one had a bottle of whiskey and the other was carrying a tiny gun.

Ava: Uh oh. That’s some really bad newts.

New York Zoo is Uwe’s latest attempt to re-bottle the lightning of Patchwork, with a lovely looking tile laying zoo builder. You’ll be filling tiny zoos with tiny animals, and trying to best your opponents in this hopefully sharp family friendly game. Each turn you can either expand your zoo with new tiles or pull more tiny wooden animals onto your board, provided you’ve got the space to house them. On top of this, New York Zoo borrows a bit from some of Uwe’s big farm themed games. Just like in real life, animals will breed when the shared elephant crosses certain thresholds on the central board, helping you fill up enclosures to grab bonuses. It’s like a little Uwe’s greatest hits. Capstone Games is publishing in collaboration with Feuerland and they always make things look pretty.

I was definitely pretty disappointed with the first wave of post-Patchwork polyomino output from Herr Rosenberg, but I have hopes for this having a bit more refinement and simplicity. Plus adorable animals, and iffy New York accents are a winning combinati-

New York Tom: EY BUDDY WELCOME TO NEW YOYK ZOO. I GOT ALL THESE SLAWTHS. ALL THESE GOOOSES. ANYONE WANNA SEE MY LOIYON.

Ava: Oh cripes not this again – who are you, how did you get in here, and what’s happened to Tom.

Tom: Not to worry Ava, that wasn’t a real new yorker! It was just two buckets of clam chowder inside a trenchcoat!

Ava: But… you’re inside the trenchcoat.

Tom: ….And all that clam chowder is inside me! I think I’m going to be sick.

Ava: I don’t think I’ve ever actually been tempted to link to a new version of Love Letter on here, at least not since the expanded version of the original. Most of them just look like reskins with a tiny change, and that’s not interesting enough for me. This one, however, had me going ‘bwuh?’ and ‘huuuuh?’ repeatedly as I looked down the page In a good way.

Infinity Gauntlet is yet another Marvel tie in, remixing the evergreen micro game Love Letter. Seiji Kanai’s tiny masterpiece has been rebuilt by Alexander Ortloff, and frankly, I’m excited. To fit with the theme of a superhero gang trying to overwhelm the big purple boss bloke, the game takes a one-versus-many format. Thanos has a whopping two cards (plus the one you draw on your turn before playing) in hand, and his own deck, while the heroes have more limited shared resources. The evil player will be attempting to knock out all the heroes, while the gang are attempting to stop him getting enough gems to end the world. The heroes will be chaining together abilities to gain information and land blows on the mad titan.

Will it be as taut and sharp as Love Letter? Or is that too much to add to the micropot?

Tom: This does look nice and interesting, but twisting the unique theming of Love Letter towards a Marvel direction makes me sad, in this case it’s mainly because there’s an unbelievably wasted opportunity here for an enticing game about the Avengers sending secret little love poems to Thanos in order to win his massive purple heart to their cause. ‘Dear Thanos. I wish you would pay attention to me as much as you did to those shiny power rocks. Then we could uh… uh… avenge the… uhh…

Ava: You don’t know enough about Thanos to write a half-decent goof here, do you?

Tom: Not really… but you know what war won’t take an infinity?

Ava: Very close, we’ll take it.

While the full blown sequel Imperial Struggle slowly lumbers towards construction, Jason Matthews, one half of the design team for wargame stalwart Twilight Struggle, has been working on a stripped down version of the classic.

Twilight Struggle: Red Sea – Conflict in the Horn of Africa has too many subtitles and taught me that the Horn of Africa isn’t where I think it is.

Boiling down the cold war to one region, and playing over only two turns, this stripped down version of Twilight Struggle borrows many of the rules: playing cards for events, consolidating power, coups, or throwing them into the space race, and so works as a teaching scenario. It’s also part of GMT games lunchtime games series, so should be playable in about an hour. The key problem of getting a hand full of your opponents cards and having to play them in the least bad order is still present. This might be a much nicer way to learn the ruthless shenanigans of the bigger game than having your commie ass handed to you repeatedly as someone tries to show you just how careful you have to be about the formation of the CIA.

Tom: There’s so much to love here – but I think the real standout is the idea of this as a ‘teaching scenario’ for the main game. As someone who has had ‘A Distant Plain’ in their collection for a good while now and still doesn’t really understand how to play it, GMT having a learning curve rather than a learning cliff for these dense, complicated beasts would be a great way of making their enticing designs more approachable. Now I just need another member of staff in my hastily arranged home office to go on lunch break with.

Ava: Stick em sounds intriguing, though it’s always really hard to sell trick taking games as they all sound fundamentally similar. Capstone Games’ first small box card game is a reboot of the german Sticheln.

As is de rigueur, you’ll be trying to win as many tricks as possible except the ones you desperately don’t want to win. At the beginning of each hand, each player chooses a ‘pain colour’ from the suits. From then on, every card you win not in that suit will win points, but those pain points? They get deducted. This looks like a VERY SPITEFUL game, and I am here for it. Especially after playing a fair chunk of the weekend getting really stressed with The Crew.

Tom: I’m interested to see if this is a nice little bitey box, but it really does seem like a hard sell. The cover looks like an accident in a wordart factory, and the colours are making me feel all kinds of ill. The lime green is violently uncomfortable, and the dark purple can only be described as positively ‘8a66a5’.

Ava: That seems a touch harsh.

Tom: They’re my ‘pain colours’.

Ava: Whistle Stop has such lovely art that I consider buying it everytime I walk past it, but I still haven’t heard enough to actually stop at that station.

Whistle Mountain is a stand alone follow-up with a slightly confusing name, (not least because Whistle Stop has a Rock Mountain expansion). Replacing the trains and route-building of the earlier game with airships and balloons and worker placement, Whistle Mountain definitely sounds like it’s own thing. With a board that you slowly fill with machines and buildings, but that also slowly fills with water as the ice on the mountains melt and the seawater rises. It sounds unusual, and I’m adding it to my metaphorical ‘keep an eye on this’ list.

Tom: “The engine builder that slowly drowns you” is quite a sales pitch.

Ava: It’s evocative? Like trying to get a furnace working in a slowly flooding basement and oh my god I don’t want to play this it sounds too much like the world and oh no.

Tom: Whistle Stop that panicking right now.

Ava: Whistle Okay, Whistle Tom.

Tom: Robot fight club! Robot fight club! Robot fight club! Robot fight club!

Robot Fight Club is on Kickstarter now, with players building customisable robots and then getting them in a brawl on the factory floor. You can live out your dream of being a school kid sneaking into a robot lab and starting a clandestine fighting league!

Simultaneous action selection and head to head combat are the order of the day here, making this curious contraption look like the chrome lovechild of RoboRally and Robot Wars – with some lovely illustration to boot. The designers have worked on games for other companies including Blitzbowl and Hellboy, ahd one of them worked on recent Games Workshop titles including the arena battler, Gorechosen. It’s a strong pedigree, and lovely to see folk going independent. This could be interesting!

Ava: If I was a robot, I wouldn’t fight anyone, I’d just roll around the hills walking dogs for people and using my extendable arms to help people get stuff off high shelves, and keep people company like those little robot seals.

Tom: Robot friend club! Robot friend club! Robot friend club! Robot friend club!

Ava: Monuments is also on Kickstarter, and promises a streamlined civilisation game that focuses mostly on building wonders. There’s some promising minis, only half the factions are based on the mediterranean, and a promise to add in Asia and Australia at some point. The core game is based around a Concordia-style deck of action cards that each player holds, and can recall at the expense of a turn. It’s a solid mechanism, but once you start comparing yourself to Concordia, I start looking for an elegance and solidness that I’m not sure is present here.

Tom: I’m a little sceptical of any games that feature big plastic monument construction, as recent games that featured such things (Lords of Hellas and Vindication being the ones that most immediately spring to mind) have had this feeling of all buildup, no payoff. The idea of building a monument sounds great, but the process never seems satisfying, and is usually instead just inevitable, and a little boring. The fact that building them seems the sole purpose of the game also means that presumably the monument only stays fully constructed in the small window of time from finishing the game to packing it away?

Ava: Could you summarise that in all caps for me please.

Tom: I DON’T THINK I LIKE THE LOOK OF THIS BECAUSE THE BIG PLASTIC MONUMENTS MAKE ME SAD.

Ava: The wood tokens look like little poops.

Tom: WHERE DO I BUY IT.

Tom: In news-adjacent news, there’s been lots of sweet gestures from various publishers and designers in response to the covid-19 outbreak. We’ve got Lone Shark Games slashing the prices of their solo games, Button Shy made a selection of their games free to print and play through PnPArcade over the last weekend, and one lunatic on reddit is using the situation to reboot their project to make Cones of Dunshire real. I guess that’s nice?

Ava: There are countless more examples out there of the hobby doing nice stuff for those who are worried about the situation – share ‘em if you got ‘em.

Tom: It’s good to see solidarity over cardboard in such tumultuous times; maybe one day I can even convince Matt that there’s something sweet about solo games.

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

Posted on

GAMES NEWS! 09/03/2020

Matt Lees23 comment(s)

Tom: I hate visiting the news nurse’s office.

Ava: Look, you’re lucky that we’ve got the News Health Service so it doesn’t cost you a penny – maybe you should do something to take your mind off the growing, creeping pain from that nasty news infection? They’ve got some light reading here. Would you like a newspaper?

Tom: ARGH. I need a holiday. Matt’s been having me play boardgames all day and then we’ve had to talk about them afterwards? Honestly it’s been my absolute worst nightmare.

Ava: Sounds terrible, how about a Segue-Class flight to Santa Monica? This is one of Alderac’s big releases of the year, promising a delightfully pastel worker-placement drafting game about the titular town. It looks soothing, and could be interesting. Josh Wood previously designed Cat Lady, so has an eye for a quirky relaxing theme. Key choices are about whether your bit of the seafront will be more for tourist bustle or a break from the hustle. To be honest, we don’t have much to go on here, I just really like the art.

Tom: The art is gorgeous – this looks like the kind of game where I’ll get distracted from my beachfront planning by looking at all the adorable details of what I’ve already built and chuckling to myself. The game features a building called the Joan of Arc-ade? This is a level of twee never before seen by humankind.

Ava: It’s not even the only arcade in the news this week. Super Skill Pinball 4-cade has a terrible name, but a strong conceit. It offers four pinball tables for you to play as individual roll and write games. That’s a very smart choice for attempting to realise a very tricky theme for a table top. Dice can bring in the random chaos of a small shiny ball, while ticking off boxes is exactly the sort of combo-building, ramp unlocking strategy that makes a good pinball table so interesting. Add that Geoff Engelstein is manning the flippers on this one, and I can actually see different parts of my face lighting up rhythmically.

But its such a horrible name. 4-cade sounds like someone’s made me some fizzy pop out of freshly squeezed cutlery.

Tom: And as for the first part – I’m not ready for super skill pinball! Just regular, unskilled pinball for me please. Suggested for ages 12+? What kind of pin-prodigies has Geoff Englestein been spending his time with? I demand answers!

Ava: Tommy?

Tom: Yes, Avey?

Ava: You know who else demands answers? Detectives.

Chronicles of Crime, already given a complicated recommendation by Matt, is getting three new standalone sequels. Each works independently, but there may be some narrative threads linking them together if you go completionist and like easter eggs. It’s going to be a long thread though, as the Millenium series is scattered through time. Offering cases to solve in 1400, 1900 and 2400, it’s like a crime-solving back to the future. Whether you want to get your mystery monk on, fin the sieclé, or punk some cybers, you’ve got options.

Tom: I can’t wait to solve some medieval shoplifting, an art deco fraud and a future horrible, horrible murder. I just can’t believe the tagline isn’t ‘lots of crimes in different times.’

Ava: Solve a mystery with some history?

Tom: Put ‘em behind bars in the future and the… parst?

Ava: You’re fired. In three different timelines.

Tom: But you know what exists outside of time, and is also (probably) unable to be fired? God.

Endogenesis is getting a zesty second edition, and expansion to boot – promising to put players in the non-euclidian boots of alien guardians vying for cosmic godhood! I looked through the Kickstarter and got mighty confused as to how you actually play the game, but I know for certain it features cards, skills, and the realm of chaos. You can visit those discordian fiefdoms competitively, cooperatively, or on your lonesome. The original game has a fairly mixed reception over on BGG, and the second edition promises to fix a lot of the complaints people had with the original; particularly in terms of downtime, balance and rules clarity.

What can’t be complained about though is the art, which looks like a bucket of glowsticks got ideas above their station. Or like Darwinia looked actually nice. Just take a peep at those boxes! Oh MY.

Ava: I don’t care what it looks like, you’ve given me an idea. Fetch me a space car, some glowsticks and a P45, I’m off to fire god.

Tom: Oh no, not this again. Somebody distract Ava with something pretty and wooden.


Ava: We’ve got some very unusual kickstarter picks this week, starting with a wooden puzzle box, and ending, like all things, with death.

Codex Silenda is the return to kickstarter of an unusual project. It’s a laser cut wooden puzzle box, with five to seven unique mechanical puzzles bound together in a beautiful wooden box, each puzzle sealing off the next. The mechanisms (literal, for once) here look gorgeous, and while I’ve absolutely no way to judge the quality of the puzzles, there’s definitely a lot of love, craft and attention on offer here.

Obviously, they’re quite expensive, but I wish good luck to Codex Silenda and their lofty goal of keeping mechanical puzzle making alive and innovative.

Tom: I’ve heard you can solve them all with a chisel, half an hour and some determination.

Ava: I’ve heard anything can be solved with a chisel, enough time and determination, but I might just know some very optimistic and/or violent woodworkers. Woodwork aside, reader Adam Birch pointed Quinns in the direction of another unusual kickstarter, and Quinns passed it to me. Anyone want to play ‘the inevitability of death: the game’?Ava: To live is a meditative solo experience about living life to its fullest, designed in response to grief. It’s as simple as a deck of cards that almost all say ‘live’ on, but one is left blank. You shuffle the deck, and draw cards. Each live card you pull gives you a chance to meditate on the meaning of life, the people you’ve lost, and the nature of death. When you draw the blank card, the game’s over.

Essentially, this is the card game equivalent of saying ‘you might get hit by a bus tomorrow’, and asking you to live life to the full. It’s a sweet, hard, and melancholy idea.

Tom: All this talk of death, doom and gloom has got me feeling existential. I’m really glad I’m getting to seize the day with people I care about, people who share this passion for games, the humanity of socialising with friends and loved ones, and bringing people together to tell stories and laugh and really feel something, you know? I really appreciate you two. You mean a lot to me.

Ava: Okay.

Matt: Okay.

Tom, through tears: Okay.

Actual Matt: I didn’t write this, Tom. See me after class.

Ava: We’ve already covered Ettin, a team based, simultaneous play, card-drafting battler that promises ludicrous player counts if you buy enough copies. I enjoyed reading designer Ken Shannon’s thought process as it went through multiple iterations. Focusing hard on the initial goals of making an accessible non-social deduction game that could play over eight players, be welcoming for newbies and involve team play led to something sharp and simple that I’m looking forward to trying. Not least because he’s hoping to crack a hundred simultaneous players at a convention one day. If the game succeeds in half of what it’s promising, then this could really be special.

Tom: I really like the look of this, as my gaming group is getting exponentially larger these days – mainly because the realisation that everyone is moving away from the sweet embrace of student living is beginning to set in. Just last weekend we had a six player game of King’s Dilemma (pushing it a little) which was then joined by three other people – summoned by the sounds of everyone debating if they should [SPOILER] the [SPOILER] because otherwise the [SPOILER] will [SPOILER]. Needless to say, I’d appreciate a non-party game that’ll elegantly cater to the newfound volume of players crammed around my kitchen table. Of course, as with everything in the games news, unless we specifically say otherwise, we haven’t played it, so it could well be bobbins.

Ava: Potentially bobbins!!!!

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

Posted on

GAMES NEWS! 02/03/2020

Matt Lees33 comment(s)

Tom: Ow ow ow ow. I got my hands stuck in the news cookie jar.

Ava: Tom, that’s not the news cookie jar, that’s just a mousetrap. What were you even thinking? Let’s get you some nice soothing news before your hand swells up.

Tom: It’s too late! I think I’ve got a news infection!

Ava: Don’t worry about that, get your suit on: we’ve got some business news this week, as what used to be my favourite publisher jumps back to independence. Plaid Hat Games was bought by Asmodee Group in 2015, and has now been bought back by its founder, Colby Dauch. Several of their big titles will be transferred to Fantasy Flight and Z-Man Games, and Plaid Hat will go back to being a (relatively) small fish.

I’m all for this, to be honest, as I’ve not been wowed by anything Plaid Hat for a while, and hopefully switching to a smaller scale and maybe a slower rate of release could be good for them. Back in the day they were absolute faves, with Summoner Wars and City of Remnants punching well above their weight and the latter still sitting proud in my top ten.

I actually discovered this news from Isaac Vega’s twitter feed, announcing that he wasn’t going to be jumping to the same ship as the rest of the team. It sounds like he might be setting up his own thing soon, and I’m very, very excited about that possibility. A few years ago I would’ve told you he was my favourite designer, but I’ve lost track of him over the last few years. Neon Gods is still sitting on my shelf unplayed, longing for an expansion to make it as crunchy as City of Remnants without losing that gorgeous queer eighties aesthetic.

Matt: It’s been interesting to watch the dust settle after Asmodee snaffled up oh so many companies and left many worried about what might come next. We suspected at the time that a lot of those purchases were mostly about securing a small handful of valuable IPs from across the industry, but possibly even more important than that – it would allow them to neaten up the processes behind global distribution, with game most older board game publishers like ancient spiders in a sticky web, having long ago collected the obscure rights to publish Game X in Continent Z – a neatly wrapped package is always better for a sale.

Still, while it’s been broadly exciting to see the vacuum it created being filled up with exciting new designers and publishers, it’s only now starting to feel like the end of an era. With Fantasy Flight’s Andrew Navarro moving on to new pastures,  Plaid Hat going it alone, and Asmodee NA discontinuing their component replacement service – I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that the company as we once knew it likely won’t be coming back. But everything is in flux and life is a rollercoaster, and with that I whip off my business cloak and theatrically leap onto a moving stagecoach.

Tom: Sorry, what happened I was buying a nice spacious business suit for all of this business.

Ava: No time for that Tom, go get your plaidest pirate hat.

Tom:Why would I have a… *sigh*

Ava: Sticking with Plaid Hat, I’m a bit tempted by their latest announcement. It’s presumably not a game about that feeling when you get on a hot, busy train and realise your water bottle is still at home.

Forgotten Waters will be Isaac Vega’s last game with the company, and his return to the Crossroads system of ‘interrupting story elements’ first seen in Dead of Winter. This time he’s working with J Arthur Ellis and Mr Bistro. Magical pirates, story-telling, a wee book of adventures and a companion app are the order of the day. There’s some big promises here, like being able to come up with a unique backstory for your character, and a fully voice acted narrative, presumably to stop me reading everything in a bad west country twang. It also promises to hold 3-7 players, which seems like a lot for a campaign, but might be useful for anyone who’s accidentally accrued too many friends.

Matt: I’ve heard really interesting things about this one from my shady network of behind-the-curtain contacts, and hope to have a copy of this winging its way to the office very soon…

Ava: Honestly, one of the pirates is called Claudia Stroopwaffel and I’m already entirely sold on the basis of that.

Tom: With names like that framed as normal by the game’s standards, my typical names for characters in these games (lifted straight from the annals of Toast of London) honestly seem completely at home. Welcome to my crew. Have you met Phillip Bilge? What about Ray Interruption, or his partner, Anne Pulverise? They’re a lovely bunch. I also adore how one of the game’s selling points is to ‘Thrill as your failures are played out by professional actors!’. I can’t wait to watch Ryan Gosling accidentally drink two whole pints of out-of-date milk and then be violently sick.

Ava: Wait a second, is Ryan Gosling a real name?

Tom: He’s one of the world’s most famous actors.

Ava, googling frantically: Oh my. And you’re hoping to have him play you in the film of your life?

Tom: Don’t tread on my dreams.

Ava: Exciting expansion news comes in the form of an upcoming kickstarter and reprint for the ugliest game that I love.

Lords of Vegas is a proper treat. Players take the role of gangster painter decorators, building, remodelling and bullying their way through the city of lost wages. It’s a cruel dance with lady luck, pocketsful of dice, some mildly convoluted counting, and some generalised wheeling and dealing. The game is built on the same gambler’s fallacies as the infamous well-lit city, and it’s a bit of a joy. It’s also got box art that looks like it’s the cover of a budget reissue of an old Sierra adventure game. It’s bad. Honestly, I’m embarrassed to bring it to game night.

It doesn’t look like they’re fixing the art. But instead they’re doing something even more thrilling; bringing back into print the hard to find Up expansion, which adds extra players by allowing you to build your casinos with extra height. Not only that though, there’s going to be a new expansion: Underground. This news is slightly disconcerting, as if it’s as literal as the first expansion, that means you’re going to have a second board under the table. I can’t wait to see what’s actually going to happen with that. Colour me hyped and covered in dice.

https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/news/2020/2/20/atomic-bonds/

Review: Fallout – The Board Game

Ava: Matt was a touch on the scathing side about Fantasy Flight’s Fallout adventure game, including a note that it should probably have been a co-operative game. Well it looks like someone’s listening, and they’ve got an ear for a pun.

Fallout: Atomic Bonds is a cheeky little co-operative add on that adds a range of collaborative scenarios and a few new mutations and options. The opportunity to start the game by picking a side in the factional wars that are already playing out in the main scenarios is a smart fix. I doubt it fixes all the issues with the base game, but if you enjoyed yourself but wanted a bit less arbitrary narrative competition, then this could shave off a rough edge or too.

Tom: Ava left this part of the news with a little tag saying ‘tempted to ditch this unless you can find something interesting to say. I obviously can’t!’ and honestly that sort of sums up my feelings about the fallout franchise (be it set in code, or cardboard) since Fallout 4. The promise to ‘fix’ Fallout: The Board Game with expansion content seems to err worryingly close to the lifecycle of the much-hated video game Fallout 76 – and personally I can’t be bothered with the promise of things being maybe a bit better if you can just wait and also pay us a little more money please when it comes to this kind of thing. Give me some zesty new post-apocalyptic settings to romp in. When are we going to get a Metro board game? I bet that’ll at least be decent first-time round, and beloved by all the lovely denizens of the internet.

Ava: Tom, Tom. Look on BGG.

Tom: NEVERMIND LET’S MOVE ON.

Ava: Funko Games are continuing to work with Prospero Hall to create all the weirdest tie-in games possible, and I’m not letting this one slide, because of some very niche beef.

First up is Yacht Rock, a game of soft rock and floral shirts with very little details. I’m leaving it here because I’m utterly baffled as to who would want this to exist, and I say that as one of the UK’s leading Steely Dan apologists.

But that’s not even their most ridiculous theme. Pan Am, is literally a game about Pan American Airlines, covering forty years of airline shenanigans. It sounds a little unusual, with players playing rival airlines against a non-player Pan Am, but if you think they’re going to come out on top, you can actually buy stock in the neutral team. Auctioning landing rights, buying planes, and flying them about is the chief business of the game, and it could be interesting.

I bring these up together mostly because I really hate the actual airline Pan Am, for a fairly ridiculous reason, related to weirdo music of the crossover from the sixties to the seventies.

Silver Apples’ early use of homemade oscillator synthesisers means they sounded eerily ahead of their time, and produced one of my favourite love songs, featuring the most heartfelt synth since my heart first heard synths. Why’s that relevant? Because they got knocked out of the music industry by Pan Am. The front cover of their second album featured them rolling joints in the cockpit of a Pan Am plane. While the back cover had a picture of a crashed plane. Pan Am accused them of attempting to sully their brand. The ensuing lawsuit destroyed the band, and left us without one of the weirdest and wonderful sounds of the era.

Boo Pan Am! Stop stealing my apples!

Matt: Can’t say I’m fond at all of the 56k dial-up modem aesthetic of that song, Ava, but I’m all for  minesweeper moments of unleashed pocket-beef. Who could have known that this juxtaposition could fire off such a beautiful little rainbow of frustration?

Tom: Ava, have you seen this? It looks as though Avalon Hill patiently waited whilst we burned through every goof we had when covering last week’s scoob-based entity, and have now seized the opportunity to manufacture their own Scooby Game whilst we weren’t looking? We’re all out of ammo on this one, boss.

Ava: I suppose you’re going to have to do some entirely goofless reporting for this section, Tom.

Tom: Betrayal at Mystery Mansion is taking the rickety foundations of Betrayal at House on The Hill and building another mansion right on top of it. You get to play as Scoob-Doo, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne or Fred. You explore the mansion. You search for clues. There’s a haunt where one of you turns into a monster. It looks enjoyable. I’m personally excited for someone to play as Scooby, and to find an item that’s incongruous with the general limb-layout of a dog. Perhaps a big silly gun.

Ava: That last part was ticking dangerously high on the goof-ometer, but we’ll let it slide just this once.

Honestly, this is a perfect tie in, and the kind of ridiculousness Betrayal generates might be a much better fit for this. I hate the game with a passion off the back of one horrible anecdote and a firm belief that if a game can be that bad sometimes, it doesn’t matter if sometimes it’s great. But somehow, if that was all dressed up in Scooby-clothes, I might be up for it.

Tom: Does the existence of Scooby Snacks imply the existence of Scooby Meals? Scooby Starters? Scooby Puddings?

Ava: I Scooby do hope so

Tom: Ouch.


Ava: Anyone want a little war in their pocket? How about two? Following on from The Cousin’s War, a well regarded half hour wargame using a version of Liar’s Dice for combat, Surprised Stare games are continuing their Pocket Campaigns series with two new games on Kickstarter

The Ming Voyages and The March of Progress promise two very different two player games that play in under an hour and come in small boxes. The Ming Voyages casts one player as a Chinese emperor, attempting to complete seven treasure voyages whilst holding your borders against your opponent’s invading Mongols and Manchus. It sounds pleasingly asymmetrical and offers a one player mode for those with invasion fantasies they need to work out.

The March of Progress has a few scenarios, promising two player warfare in the thirty years war, some napoleonic conflict, and the western fronts of both world wars. It’s built on simultaneous action selection, and the thirty minute thirty years war acts as a training scenario so it should be easy to jump straight in. I do find that the main charm of wargames is how they bring out the details of unusual moments in history, so I’m not sure if I’m more or less into a game that promises multiple very different wars. I’m curious how each scenario will mark itself out.

Tom: Straight from the maw of the NY Toy Fair, we’ve got Bear Down!, the English version of Grizzly: Lachsfang am Wasserfall. You get to be a bear! A salmon-loving bear! A salmon-loving bear teetering dangerously on the edge of a waterfall, trying to hoover up said salmon without plummeting hundreds of feet down into the icy water below! Oh.

This all sounds very sininster when written like that, but don’t worry – the mechanics looks positively delightful; taking notes from those coin-pushing machines you might find at a carnival, a pier, or any other British totally-not-gambling emporium. On each turn, you can hoover up the fish you’re already sitting on, or inch closer to the edge, hoping to snarf down the newest batch of salmon entering the board. Stay too close, though, and a little trickle of water might push everything you know and love over the edge. One thing I very much like about this game is that it could settle for a board where some spaces are just ‘spaces where the bear leaves the board on account of their falling off of the waterfall’, but instead of that, we’ve got a tiny slope to tumble down, creating a modest pool of cardboard soup.

Ava: I hope this is the right balance of anxiety inducing and adorable, because it really does sound like a winner.

Tom: This is the kind of game I can imagine my youngest sibling cackling at as she purges bears from the table in an act of rebellion against nature itself. The rest of the family watch on, terrified by the plight of the bears under the evil eye of an insane ten-year-old.

Ava: Sounds like the right balance of anxiety inducing and adorable to me!

*snap*

Tom:OUCH!

Ava: Sigh. What is it this time, a weak pun or another mousetrap?

Tom: Both! And look, the original wound is starting to go all green and lumpy! With bits of purple! I think I’m going to need a more effective antiseptic than the news.

Ava: Alright, keep your hat on. Let’s get you to the news-nurse’s office.

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

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GAMES NEWS! 24/02/20

Matt Lees36 comment(s)

Tom: Where are we going today Ava?

Ava: It’s a whole new world! A new fantastic point of view! We’ve got street magic, unionised superheroes (real and fictional), smells you can touch, sand enthusiasts, at least one very bad joke and games that ask you to escape from both Nottingham and your very own kitchen table.

Tom: I think you’re slightly misremembering the plot of Aladdin.

Ava: Get back in your lamp, evil Mr Jaffa Cake!

Tom: Does that count as one of your wishes, or is that for me to decide?

Ava: Hang on a moment, I need to find my union rep.

Ava: Huzzah. After a media blackout of a couple of months, Kickstarter United has been officially recognised as a union.

Kickstarter’s new union had a rough ride, but a lot of support from creators, backers and media. This led to a media shutdown while the company and union campaigned internally, and a vote on union recognition that was narrowly won. This is being hailed as a big step for Silicon Valley tech unions in general, and will hopefully make it easier for workers across large tech companies to come together in solidarity.

At the very least, we know that workers at Kickstarter have a strong collective voice. It’s unclear if the people who allegedly lost their jobs for union organising will be brought back. The union has said its first job will be to fight for equal pay and inclusive hiring practices, which sounds like a good start.

Tom: I can’t wait for someone to bash Mister Kickstarter right on the head with a ferociously oxymoronic oversized miniature.

Ava: That’s not quite how unions work.

Tom: Very well. I shall continue this quest on my lonesome.


Ava: There’s an absolute glut-load of movie and comic tie in games being announced in time for the New York Toy Fair. Prospero Hall have announced a Wonder Woman game and a Back to the Future game.

Tom: There’s little in their descriptions aside from references to the media they’re based on, so if you’re a real fan of ‘accelerat[ing] the DeLoreon to 88 MPH down Main Street before the clock tower strikes 10:04 pm!’-based games, then I’m sad to say the Wonder Woman game is probably not for you.

Ava: One tie-in announcement did stand out a little bit though. Scooby Doo! Escape from the Haunted Mansion sounds a little off the beaten path, promising a one off escape room vibe that the publishers are calling a Coded Chronicle (with a little ™ beside it, so you know it’s fancy). With clues scattered across the board, cards and secret envelopes you’ll be solving a shared mystery with the actual Scooby gang.

There’s a fair few of these escape room tabletop things available now, and I’ve not made the leap. Will this one mark itself out? The branding promises a unique code breaking system that could see this being the first of many. Colour me curious, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you pulled the mask off this and just found a caretaker trying to pull yet another insurance scam.

Tom: Ava, Ava, Ava, Ava, Ava, Ava, Ava. What did the Scooby Doo villain say when he overpaid for the fusion power plant in Power Grid.

Ava: I don’t know Tom, What did the Scooby Doo villain say when he overpaid for the fusion power plant in Power Grid?

Tom: And I would’ve gotten away with it if it wasn’t for your pesky meddling bids.

Ava: MOVING ON!

Ava: Meanwhile, in Kickstarter cash-ins, we have Marvel United, sadly not a unionised force of superheroes (though I would love to see it).

Marvel United promises cute anime miniatures of some of your favourite comic book characters and has already made a bucketload of dosh. Tiny miniatures and an excessive amount of stretch goals are the order of the day here. The game asks you to build a timeline of hero cards to make moves against a supervillain with their very own masterplan. It could be great, it could be nonsense!

Tom: To me, this just looks like a way to push (admittedly wonderful) miniatures onto Marvel fans. It’s fitting that a robot relays the rules of the game to you in the video, because it feels to me like a bloodless, plastic collectible.

Matt: Sorry Tom exactly how much blood do you expect?

Tom: That’s a great question, and one I’m going to ignore. I must say though, even if stuff like this  floats your boat there are so, so many KS exclusive miniatures that all have names and faces and are presumably important in some Marvel films sometimes. My favourite is MODOK. What is it? It’s cute by way of horrifying. I’ve not watched a Marvel film since one of the Thors. Please someone help me I’m awfully lost.

Ava: There’s a lot of Marvellous options out there right now, with Quinns reviewing the Fantasy Flight’s Marvel Champions card game recently and Atomic Mass’ Crisis Protocol miniatures game out in the wild. The licensing love has certainly been spread around a bit, I do wonder which will come out on top.


Ava: Friends, Romans, Countryfile, lend me your ears! Except don’t, lend your money to this kickstarter, and hopefully get a great game at the end of it. But only if you want to, I’m not the boss of you.

Gladius is new on the colosseum block, with cute art, a woman-led design team, and a promising mix of gambling and fighting. Players will choose from five spectator characters, and throw a deckful of gladiators into randomised line-ups of events. Each player will be able to bet on the winner, as well as throw in influence cards to throw the game. So a mix of betting, bluffing, battling and shenanigans. There’s some intriguing stuff here and it might be nice.

Tom: A $32k stretch goal promises an official Gladius song, no less! I also took the ‘Which Gladius Character are you?’ quiz at the bottom of the page, which was a fun little diversion.

Ava: Ooh, what did you get?

Matt: I’m “Mr Gladius”. I don’t need a test to tell me that, and you can’t make me take it.

Tom: I got BIGGEST FAN. ‘You are boundlessly enthusiastic about your favorite things!’. This is an unprecedented level of positivity for a Monday morning and has made me Gladius’ BIGGEST FAN.

Ava: I got the same, but in the process crashed a billion browser tabs and generally got in a bit of a mess. This feels like the correct amount of positivity for a Monday morning.

My new favourite genre of Kickstarter is one that immediately launches into telling you that it isn’t what I thought it was when I clicked on it.

Choss is NOT a chess rebrand, and I am mildly disappointed, but it makes up for it by being something quite lovely. Choss is Japanese for touch, finger or feel and the game is played with eyes closed, using only your touchy feely fingers. A fairly simple pattern matching puzzle built from tactile pieces designed to be recognisable by touch, levelling the playing field for players with visual impairments. The pieces can be used in other games that require a distinct range of pieces, making them more accessible too. It doesn’t look like the most thrilling game, but it still looks like a nice thing! I particularly like the option to build your own version using bottle caps and a few ceramic ornaments they’ll post you. A Pop and Play, if you will.

Ava: This week’s ‘game that’s making the news because I love the name, even though it feels a bit ill-suited to the game’ is a stonker.

I’m sorry, did you say street magic is an absolute belter of a name, and promises a vignette based story game, about building a mystical city together. The game doesn’t need a GM, and allows you to build cities of any kind of genre you please. You could be building castles in the sky, boulevards under the sea, or you could be building an alternate Eastbourne. The choice is yours, and your table will overflow with note cards representing buildings, places, people and stories that are taking place in your every growing world.

It sounds lovely, but I can’t help but read the title in the voice of GOB Bluth.

Tom: This has weirdly made a connection in my brain to the upcoming not-at-all-board-game ‘Tales From Off-Peak City’ from Cosmo D, the latest in a series of delightfully surrealist explore-em-ups set in cities made from jazz. If this is a tabletop version of that game, then colour me interested, but most likely I’ll get all excited about it – only for my friends to drag me straight back to ‘Bogtown’, our much-maligned Quiet Year world. We promised we’d never go back on account of the bog, and what lies therein.

Ava: What’s in the bog that you’re so scared of?

Tom: Big Lizard.

Ava: Good to know.

Ava:Here’s a curious oddity that tickles my bolter.

Tom: Ava! This is a family show!

Ava:Don’t worry. It’s a news bolter.

Escapogic have built a Warhammer 40,000 escape room in Nottingham. If you’ve ever wanted to get trapped in a space hulk with an inquisitor then your kink is not my kink but your kink is okay, and now achievable, provided you can get to Nottingham (good trams, weirdly oversized train station, some nice parks). In Immaterium you will be playing pilgrims on a trading ship, getting into some deep warp trouble, and trying to find your way out. The room has been designed in collaboration with the neighbours, actual Games Workshop, so should at least be satisfyingly on brand.

Tom: This room promises players that they will be able to ‘touch, smell and feel all areas of the ship and everything on it’. With two of those being functionally identical, I can’t wait to experience first-hand what scents they’ve cooked up just for this experience. Will it be the invasive tang of blood and oil? The reek of mutated, scorched flesh? Or will it be more true to my Games Workshop experiences, and smell of solvent and the subway nextdoor? One only needs to make the trek to Nottingham to find out.

Ava: In the grim darkness of the far future there is only touch. And a little bit of feel. And maybe a smell sometimes.

Matt: There will always be a smell, I’m afraid. I can’t get rid of it.

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

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Tactics & Tactility #6 – Caverna’s tiny architectures

Matt Lees8 comment(s)

[Tactics and Tactility is our column about the feelings, details and pleasures of tabletop gaming. This week Ava is looking at Caverna, and the gentle joys of piling up rocks.]

In front of me is a little board. Half of it is forest, half of it is mountain.

I do not understand the intricacies of the game I’m playing, Caverna, but I do understand that this tiny cardboard fiefdom is mine. Within the context of the rules, I can do what I want with it.

The game in Caverna comes from competition for the best spaces, picking the right order to do things in, making sure you can be as efficient as possible, and always having a back up plan. There’s a load of clever decisions to be made on the central board, and a few on your player board. Where you put things matters, but not as much as how quickly you got there, and just the simple binary question of whether you have enough space or not.

That’s the game. That’s the puzzle. That’s the beating heart of the design.

But that’s not what makes me love my time with it.

Caverna is a treasure trove of little wooden objects. Animals and resources all come in tiny wooden images. Rooms and fields are little cardboard tiles. You lay the tiles out, you find the right spaces for things, and then you’ve built a thing.

A home.

Caverna has a whole page full of rules for what animals can be kept where, and doesn’t really care about where you keep your raw materials.

I follow the rules to the letter, but then make my own rules for everything else. My rocks end up in a little stone circle deep in the forest. A pile of rubies sits in my cave. An entire forest of woods shoots up along the edges of my fields. The dogs can go anywhere, provided they aren’t looking after sheep, so they run free, along edges and corners, darting in between the strictures and structures that tie other animals down.

It’s a simple, physical joy. To take a break from the mental labour and lay out my pieces in a way that pleases me. Caverna knows this, and gives you lovely objects to play with. Pieces to pile up and places to put them. Your board fills up with rooms and fields and tunnels and caves and pastures. All of those fill up with the very specific pieces of wood that the rules permit.

We play games to feel clever, to compete, to tell stories, to win, to laugh, to be baffled, to talk trash and share joy.

But sometimes, I just want to make a big stack of rocks.

There’s a reason this column has tactility in the name.

Cosmic Encounter knows exactly how satisfying it is to clack those spaceships on top of each other. Games with weighted poker chips are just begging you to pile them up and tap them together.  Even simple stacks become playful skyscrapers. I often put my money into piles of what I want to do with them, each a little monument to next turn’s hopes and dreams, a memento of my mathematical margins.

Playing Imhotep recently, as one person laid out the ships and the desert and prepared to teach, me and two other players got lost in the chunky wooden blocks of our quarry. I build a flattened pyramid, Will was more ambitious and stacked tall, while Jess made a little columnated temple. Nothing to do with the game, none of us had noticed the others until we were finished, and all of us, absolutely had to build a something. We were engrossed in our edifices. The teacher waited patiently for us to be ready to start.

A beautiful thing about board games is that we can touch them. They are objects we venerate, adding the ritual of rules to give them a meaning and purpose. But there’s a more profane wonder at play: grabbing for the pieces and stacking and piling and fiddling.

We build little buildings on the outskirts of the game, and slowly dismantle them as we play. It’s not the reason why anyone’s at the table, but it’s a lovely activity to excuse. How often do we get to just play with some little wooden blocks and build something? We jump back to our childhood, to tiny towns and wooden worlds spread out on carpets.

Humans like putting things on other things. We are builders. We are destroyers. We are rebuilders. Over and over again.

Maybe it’s just a thing we do to pass time from turn to turn. Maybe it’s a sign we’ve got distracted, that the game’s not thrilling enough.

But maybe, just maybe, it’s a part of the magic.

***

So folks, what’s the biggest thing you’ve ever built out of board game bits? What game has the most pleasing pieces to play with?

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

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GAMES NEWS! 17/02/20

Matt Lees43 comment(s)

Tom: Come one, come all! Hear two-and-a-half bundles of electrified meat ramble about board games, for exactly 1,736 words! I’ve had one coffee and now the world feels like it is made of bees and thinking.

Ava: Business as usual, then?

Tom: Bees knees as usual? Do bees have knees? How many? Ava this is too much for a Monday.

Ava: Let’s just shout lots.

Tom: GLASGOW!

Ava: New from Lookout Games, is Glasgow, a twenty minute two player roundabout of resource gathering and buildings building. Like Tokaido and Patchwork, being behind means it’s your turn, so you’ve got to weigh up jumping ahead for the best bits against giving your opponent everything you turned your nose up at. The buildings you choose to build will form a shared grid that dictates how you’ll score. It looks simple, variable and not very much like Glasgow.

Ava: I’ve visited Glasgow a lot, and the line from the description ‘travel the city (in an abstract manner)’ is fundamentally accurate. I have only ever travelled Glasgow in an abstract manner. The city centre is incomprehensible to the point of breaking the rules of geometry. ‘It’s kind of a Z shape’ says my exploratory partner, and I can only respond with ‘how is that possible, and how are we on this road again’. Lovely town. Would get lost in again.

Tom: I like the ominous threat of ‘Who has contributed more to the current state of Glasgow?’

Ava: That’s a question best left to the philosophers, the poets, the shipwrights and the people who put that traffic cone on the Duke of Wellington’s head every night.

Tom: CAPIO!

Ava: ROLL FORTY DICE TO BEGIN! I’m kind of already sold on the basis of that, Capio is a dice grabber where an enormous platter of dice are yours for the taking. Players are racing to complete their own task cards before their players, all grabbing from one enormous puddle of dice. Nice!

Tom: This is one of those games that will surely fit in the ‘prone to accidents category’. A real-time game which involves throwing forty dice across the table and racing to pick them up? What could go wrong? With an advertised age range of 8-99 years, it’ll surely begin with a pensioner crawling around under the table looking for a yellow four.

Ava: It’s certainly a game that could be made more exciting by not playing with a table, and just asking people to rush around a dice filled mansion.

Tom: Throw them into a swimming pool for extra ridiculous points.

Matt: How many times to I have to assure you that we do not have the budget for a dice filled mansion. Why can’t you trust me on this, the most basic of my many financial facts.

Ava: AZULO!

Tom: Continuing in the long line of Azul-adjacent products, we have a small, sweet card game picking up the ‘Zul mantle. This particular piece of portuguese porcelain is a reskin of 2017’s 5 Colours – and in 2019 is called 5211, for simplicity’s sake.

Here, players will take cards from their hands and play them simultaneously over a number of rounds, hoping that the cards in front of them are the most common around the table – but not too common. If there’s too much of one colour, the second most common will score instead. Unless that colour is too common, in which case the third most common will score. And so on.

This looks like a nice little game, even if it is a perhaps too abstract to explain properly – but I don’t have much to say about it. I mainly wanted to include it in the news because the first picture on BGG shows W Eric Martin setting up the game between a knife and fork, with wine glass ready and waiting to one side – confirming my long-held belief that Azul is considered a classic because everyone ‘in the know’ secretly buys it with the sole purpose of eating it. I knew those pieces were meant to be swallowed as soon as I put them in my mouth.

Tom: That’s all for Azul news this week, but stay tuned for when we’ll inevitably report on an Azul 1 remake that, akin to hollywood naming conventions, will be titled ‘Azul’. Or maybe ‘The Azul’. It’s for simplicity’s sake.

Ava: VILLAGO! Osprey games have been doing great work lately, and I really enjoy following Peer Sylvester on the old twitters, so I’m obviously going to mention their latest collaboration, especially as it gives me a chance to sing some Kinks.

Matt: God bless royal ducks, orange queens and sobriety!

Ava: Village Green promises a parochial pastoral theme, pitting players as potting-shed potterers. You’ll be building statues, flowers, ponds and putting them all in for county council competitions. Will your village be the greenest green? I don’t know, but I know there’s nobody more passive aggressive than a small town conservationist, and I feel there’s ample room for rural beef here

Tom: My village green is going to have a wrestling ring and a vape shop.

Ava: Have you drawn those onto the board with sharpie?

Tom: It’s actually crayon, but thank you – I’ve been thorough.

Tom: DINOSO!

Ava: Does anyone know how to tell if a game has too much game? Perseverance (pictured at the top of this post as today’s lead image) promises story-driven dice-drafting worker placement, with area majority city-building.

Tom: Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

Ava: And survival.

Tom: Wait what.

Ava: AND DINOSAURS.

There’s a lot going on there, and there’s a lot of designers in the credits: Richard Amann, Thomas Vande Ginste, Anthony Howgego, Viktor Peter, Wolf Plancke, and Dávid Turczi. That said, Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles is actually a series of potentially interlinkable standalone games. You’ll be building a world and going on dangerous journeys with a variety of different narrative episodes of dice fiddling and resource gathering. Four games will take you on the full journey, with each one affecting the next if you choose to string them together. Apparently you’ll be going from island castaways to builders of civilisation, all under the watchful gaze of some hungry dinosaurs. It sounds weird!

Tom: Maybe towards the end of the game you’ll integrate the dinosaurs fully into your society, finally working in peace. GASP What if you could have a DINOSAUR MAYOR? My mind is running wild with the possibilities. The colour palette of this one was not what I was expecting – think Cerebria but with grey dinosaurs rather than grey emotions. I know which I’d rather have follow me around 🙁

Ava: You’d rather be chased through life by a pack of velociraptors than mild anxiety? That seems rash.

Tom: The dinosaurs are metaphorical!

Ava: In that case, I’m not entirely sure I could tell the difference.

Ava: WARO!

Tom: That one doesn’t really work.

Ava: We’re drawing the line at ‘WARO’ when ‘VILLAGO’ was totally okay?

Tom: ‘VILLAGO’ was charmingly bad, whereas ‘WARO’ just reminds me of my least favourite Mario relative.

Ava: Never mind this poorly conceived goof. I’ve come over all mimsy. Wonderlands War is on kickstarter right now, and it’s another colourful take on Reverend Dodgson’s (aka Lewis Carrol’s) gloriously out of copyright (and so somewhat overdone) surrealism. You get to be a jabberwocky! Somewhere between a wargame and a dinner party, the game sees players vying to bring whimsy back to Wonderland whilst also fighting each other for some reason?

Tom: It’s your bog-standard asymmetric bag-building area-control affair, this one. Players are visiting the various factions seated around ‘The Tea Party’, adding the corresponding poker chips to their bag of supporters, which they’ll then presumably hurl at each other in a fight to the death over various wonderland locations. I know this description is vague but I’m doing the best I can from the six gifs on the Kickstarter. The board looks like a wonderful component-salad, with miniatures and cardboard and tokens, oh my!

Ava: I’m partly just bringing this up because I want an excuse to tell everyone to read Alice in Sunderland, Bryan Talbot’s ludicrously inventive mash up of biopic, local history, North West England rivalry and literary criticism. Find out more about Alice, Lewis, Sunderland and Bryan.

Ava: COOKO! This week’s very niche kickstarter is an imaginary cookbook!

Dragon Stew is a supplement for Dungeons and Dragons that’s all about more culinary adventures. If you want to add flavour to your campaign or spice to your backstory, or just run a dungeon crawling version of Ready, Steady, Cook, this could be the book for you.

On diving into the details, it turns out they’ve used all the same cookery puns as me, and I’m pretty bitter about it. On the other hand, they’ve added a stretch goal of a ‘War Cook’, a sub-class for the fighters.

Tom: This is fantastic. Imagine running an entire cookery campaign – it would end up looking alot like Battle Chef Brigade in tabletop form, which I am ferociously down for. This also has some adorable art for some adorable familiars like the ‘Mochat’ and a ‘Craboissant’ – creatures made of pastry that you can cook up rather than summon or tame. You can cook your own familiars!

Ava: *GASP*

Tom: Wait, no, not like that!

Ava: HISTORIO! I really enjoyed scouring the pictures from W Eric Martin’s recent tour of the Deutsches Spielarchiv, in Nürnberg. Got to love a german board game museum, and all the weird delights and oddities held within. I hope I can make a visit.

Tom: I especially enjoyed reading about the prototype of Ketchup, which eventually became the industry classic and household name Jagd Der Vampire in 1991. If you haven’t basked in the glow of this absolute essential, you play as a vampire who has given up blood for ketchup, and throughout the game you’re trying to traverse the board on a search for the great tomato. Board game historians like myself note that this was the first game to feature a hidden onion mechanic, with four of the cheeky chaps hiding in the game’s plastic towers. Of course, the hidden onion mechanic has been re-implemented by many games since…

Ava: Such as?

Tom: Uhhh…

Ava: Hold on, you’re not a board game historian at all! You’re just two dice inside a trenchcoat!

Tom: THAT’S HOW I ROLL!

Ava: That’s so bad I’m going to do a little cry.

Tom: Aha! The hidden onion mechanic!

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

Posted on

GAMES NEWS! 10/02/20

Matt Lees47 comment(s)

Tom: In today’s news we’re heading to the NEWS FACTORY WHERE NEWS IS MADE. I guess? What’s the introductory goof here? We’ve got to have that sweet  narrative wrapper or else people will think we’re really boring.

Ava: I’ve got no idea today. Though maybe news factory is a bit overdone? I certainly know I’ve said ‘news-spigot’ far too many times.

Tom: Damn. I guess we’re not doing a theme this week then. Does today’s news exist in a joyless void?

Ava: I’m definitely team joyless void.

Tom: That makes two of us!

Ava: When I say Joyless – you say Void! JOYLESS! …

Tom: … that’s already too much joy for me, I’m going to crack on with the news. This week, it’s The Roxley Round-Up! Gorilla Marketing is their first offering, slated for a March 2020 release – and we’ve got an exclusive SUSD scoop on this one, as I played it LAST NIGHT.

Ava: You’ve finally accrued enough journalist points to get your hat with a ‘press’ tucked into the brim. (We’ve no brim-budget left though, so you need to provide your own.)

Tom: Gorilla Marketing is an advertising simulator where players take it in turns to roll dice to make acronyms for various kinds of products. These then get placed into different judging categories like ‘made with least child labour’ or ‘most frightening side effects’ – with the victor gaining precious, precious bananas. Having given it a whirl at the pub last night, this one is a pretty good light party game for people who enjoy a slice of wordplay – I especially enjoyed the second round, where you make up acronym-based taglines for the products you designed the first time round.

Ava: Next up from Roxley is Skyrise, a remake of Sébastien Pauchon’s Metropolys. Skyrise promises an intriguing spatial auction system. You’re bidding to build in a particular lot, but each bid has to be placed on the board where you want to build. The twist is that new bids have to be placed on new places, so you’ve got to balance bidding to raise the prices, with leading the bidding towards the place you actually want to build. It sounds weird? And maybe annoying? Time will say whether it’s annoying in a good way or annoying in an ‘I’m bored of this’ way.

Tom: And lastly, we’ve got a standalone expansion for Steampunk Rally coming out – Steampunk Rally: FUSION. This will add new TRACKS, new ‘PART ABILITIES’ such as OVERCHARGE and GEAR UP, SECRET PROJECTS and FUSION ENERGY. IS MY ENTHUSIASM HIDING THE FACT THAT I HAVEN’T PLAYED THE ORIGINAL?

Ava: NO! You just included this so you could use the phrase ‘Roxley Round Up’!

Tom: You can’t have a ‘round-up’ that only features two games!

Ava: You want to know four words I didn’t expect to see together today? Reiner Knizia Legacy Game. But that’s right folks, it’s happening.

Ava: My City is a game of twenty four linked scenarios, where players will lay tiles to build cities. Depending on whether you win or lose, you get to add stickers to your board to make your city easier or harder to build in the next game. It looks pleasingly light, and comes from the most prolifically inconsistent designer in board games. Judging from his classics this could be a nearly perfect work of ludic art. Judging from his misses, this could be utterly forgettable.

One nice touch is that the game has alternate maps on the back of the player boards, that leave you with a standardised, non-legacy version of the game if you just want to give it a try, or want to play with a mixed bag of players.

Tom: You know, as a competitive legacy city-building game, this might end up scratching the itch I hoped Charterstone would when I naively bought it over a year ago. That game managed to hook in some of my less cardboard-inclined housemates, but My City’s promise of progressing through the ages could manage to hook in my more cardboard-inclined housemates – i.e: me. I think I want this game.

Ava: Sticking with the Big Kniz, we’ve got a new edition of one of his older games, Times Square, with a new box art that’s lovely lovely lovely.

Royal Visit sees two players taking opposite sides of a tug of war over six colourful characters. Playing coloured cards pulls the matching piece towards you, but you’ve got to stick within the restrictions about where those pieces like to hang out. One piece can only move in between its guards, whilst another is good at summoning other pieces, and the such.

Honestly, I’m partly here because before it was called Times Square, it was called ‘Auf der Reeperbahn nachts um halb zwei’ and the characters were called things like Brilli-Lilli, Blond Hans and Schampus Charlie. I just love saying German words. I might see if I can dig up an old edition at some point. Brandishing it up to the table whilst yelling ‘it’s nachts um halb zwei, let’s gehts auf der Reeperbahn’.

Tom: The names from Times Square are wonderful too though – Saucy Sue, Handsome Hal and Champagne Charlie. Let’s hope Royal Visit brings even more delightful nomenclature to the table.

Ava: I like that Champagne Charlie encourages you to maintain the alliteration by pronouncing either Champagne or Charlie ridiculously.

Tom: Completely irrelevant news to add here – near where I live there are two rival businesses – ‘Champagne Charlie’s’ and ‘Charlie’s Bargain Booze’. After what the owner of the latter has described to me as ‘underhand tactics’, they’ve had to change their name to Charlie’s [REDACTED] Booze. I’m not making this up, I swear. I’ll go out there today and whack an image in the comments.

Ava: None of this is news.

Tom: The people need to know.

Ava: [REDACTED]


Ava: Promising another colourful puzzle are Asger Harding Granerud and Daniel Skjold Pedersen, a double barrelled double act I keep seeing attached to intriguing ideas and strong games.

Fringers is a co-operative puzzler that features players rooting around in a bag for rings of a variety of colours, then trying to arrange them in a particular pattern, while only able to put rings on the fingers of the player on their left. It looks simple, silly and unique.

Tom: It’s real time, to boot! Or to glove, I suppose.

Ava: And what’s not to glove?

Matt: My brain will only read the name of this game in the voice of Steve Brule. Is this a feature or a bug?

Tom: Dodo! We have to talk about Dodo! WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE IDIOT BIRD.

Ava: Sigh. Okay, Tom, Let’s do this.

Dodo is the perfect combination of real time gaming and the latest innovation in eggs. And I’m not even joking. Featuring a deftly designed egg that steadily rolls down an incomplete mountain path, players will be scrabbling in a puddle of face down tokens, looking for the components they need to build the next bit of the little ramp. If you complete every section of the mountain in time for the egg to roll safely down to the ship waiting at the bottom, then you win, if you don’t, you’ve got egg on your face.

I’m not sure the game itself looks particularly rich, but I am genuinely impressed by the ability to make real time drama ever more real by adding a slowly rolling egg to proceedings. What’s more nerve-wracking, a countdown timer, a sand timer, or a big blue egg rolling down a mountain.

Time will tell which time teller truly terrifies and whether one weird egg is enough to carry a whole game.

Tom: I will give you my word that egg game will be the finest game ever released.

Ava: Why have you given me an egg with the word ‘NICE’ written on it.

Tom: It’s all I had on me.

Matt: It’s understandable that Tom – that newest addition to the SU&SD team – is immediately optimistic about a game that includes A Physical Egg. I’m personally still psychologically scarred by the intensive games of HABA’s Dancing Eggs that we played at a conference one year, until we eventually had to ban the game when it became clear that several adults accidentally smashing through a glass balcony to their deaths was at that point more of an eventuality than a possibility. Still, I too am All For Egg.

Tom: Whatever you do, don’t watch the video on the Kickstarter for Frutticola.

Frutticola looks pretty sweet on the theming front. Players are harvesting adorable miniature fruits to squeeze into adorable miniature jamjars to make adorable miniature money. You’ll be choosing where to send their limited workers and farmers while balancing an economy of development, fruit-processing, digging and warehousing with cardboard trees and plastic fruits watching on in abject horror as their eventual fate unfolds slowly in front of them. You know, I’m ashamed to admit that the theme is basically all that’s captured me on this one. Who gave me the keys to the newsvoid?

Ava: No, really Tom, what did I just watch? Why are trees vomiting fruit to the sound of mild electroswing?

Tom: I explicitly said not to watch the video on account of the little jamlets.

Ava: Everyone knows it’s impossible to resist forbidden fruit preserves.

Tom: You can’t make a jamlet without breaking a few…

Ava: Of the rules laid out in the garden of Eden leading to mankind being eternally born into sin?

Tom: …jams?

Matt: Jameggs

Ava: Meanwhile, tucked in an even weirder corner of kickstarter, we’ve got a solo rpg zine that’s not about people, but objects.

The Artefact will have you sitting alone, going through a zine and answering prompts about a storied magical item of your own imagining. You’ll tell the story of its origins, and the people who wield it over the course of its life. As much an exercise in creative storytelling and reflection as it is a game, this looks sweet, and I’m glad to see it doing well.

Tom: This is wonderful, and reminds me of the many many hours I spent with The Quiet Year – a fantastic ‘cartography RPG’ for any budding worldbuilders out there. You could almost certainly combine the two games to create the most decadent of worlds for your interested, but ultimately baffled friends.

I’m super excited for this one both because I love anything that pushes me into creative-writing territory (the english graduate is alive in me, somewhere), but also because I can add it to the small collection of games that are totally fine to play sitting in bed on a Sunday morning. It’ll fit right between A Distant Plain and Cash and Guns.

Ava: This bedroom counter-insurgency is a glimpse into your lifestyle that the people did not need to know.

Tom: [REDACTED]

Ava: In other ancient item news, we’ve found out that Vikings invented stretch goals, and not the huguenots, as previously believed.

Matt: I’m just jumping in here to drop the same joke I made in the SU&SD Slack channel: “Cool Mini or Norse”. I’ll let myself out.

Ava: Archaeologists on the Scottish island of Lindisfarne have uncovered a particularly fancy carved glass piece from a game of Hnefatafl, and are speculating about what this means for the history of the island and the folk who lived there.

Were the Viking invaders actually really fancy? Were the anglo-saxon monks prey to the trendsetting of Viking influencers? We don’t know! It’s all really interesting guesswork. History! It’s complicated!

I’m left wondering whether in a few hundred years there’ll be an archaeologist digging up my board game collection and saying ‘“the sheer quality of this piece suggests this isn’t any old gaming set. Someone on the island is living an elite lifestyle.” Little do they know, I’ve eaten nothing but cheese on toast and stale crumpets for days. ‘Elite lifestyle’ indeed.

Tom: It’s time to return to whence you came, Ava. The void is calling. Do you hear it? Echoing across space and time. A call that reaches out from long before, a cry without an answer, a neverend-

Ava: VOID!

Tom: Hey! That was my line!

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

Posted on

GAMES NEWS! 03/02/20

Matt Lees40 comment(s)

Tom: See Ava, I told you that a board game camping trip would be a valuable team-building exercise for the two of us – isn’t this wonderful? The great outdoors, a roaring fire –

Ava: This isn’t anything to do with camping or board games. We’re just sitting in an underpass throwing dice into an empty KFC bucket.

Tom: Look, it might not be ‘fun’ or ‘a game’ but I’ve got to playtest Bargain Bucket Quest before it hits Kickstarter. Fancy a s’moredgame?

Ava: That’s just a marshmallow wedged between two Catan hexes.

Tom: Fine, if you’re going to smash my dreams one-by-one, then at least have the decency to do so whilst telling me about the latest board game news!

Ava: First up is the news that Castles of Tuscany is a thing that exists. This is a follow up to Stefan Feld’s Castles of Burgundy, but we have yet to see how similar it is, or how different it is, or just about anything about how it is. It’s coming soon from Alea, and I’ve rarely been so excited by simply the NAME of a thing.

Tom: I’ve never played Castles of Burgundy!

Ava: Second up, there’s a big box new version of Hansa Teutonica, which has always felt to me like the archetypal German-style box of beige historic passive aggression we tend to call ‘eurogames’. I’ve not actually played it, but I’ve always been a little curious, and when ‘the boys’ discussed it in a podcast recently, I was like ‘oooh, that sounds nice’.

Matt: It was nice! It’s one of those games that I specifically remember a handful of the mechanics for, but the rest is just a warming glow of probably monk-related theme.

Ava: Wait, Tom – did you say you’d never played Castles of Burgundy? You’ve never known the sweet agony of being just one worker short of the perfect move? Never puzzled over the arcane science of its rule-bending iconography? Never felt the power of getting to roll the white die because you’re first in turn order? How did you get here?

Tom: No idea! It’s almost definitely a mistake! Let’s keep going before anyone notices!

Ava: Finally in this whirlwind expansionebruary roundup, we’ve got ‘the photogenic one’, the imaginatively titled Era: the Medieval age expansion. You guessed it, it’s an expansion for roll and build, clip it together, medieval city builder Era: The Medieval age. Why is that exciting? Well LOOK AT THAT BRIDGE. Like a bridge over troubled waters, I would play that game. The base game was a re-imagining of Roll Through the Ages, with players rolling dice to acquire buildings to slot into their big plastic player board. There’s something of a mismatch between depth and price, as a result of all the big chunky lumps of plastic, but I’ve heard good things about the game itself. Maybe an expansion can add the chewiness it needs (although of course, it’s raising the price even further, if that is the case).

Matt: This is the Catch-22 we talked about on the podcast we recorded just the other day (online next Friday) – it’s not even nearly grand enough to justify the pricetag, and yet it’s hard to see how much it can meaningfully expand on that without ramping up the costs to new levels of discomfort. Having said that, the transparent plastic rivers are making me feel nice and gooey in my brain – so anything is possible in boardgame world. Can I just point out too that it’s amazingly amusing that the 3D mock-up they’ve shown so far doesn’t model any of the marks engraved into the game’s pegboard? It’s funny you see, because the marks on the actual game board aren’t visible at all in the actual game – and here through omission they are now literally invisible. It’s funny, Ava. You’re supposed to laugh – it’s funny. Why are you looking at me like that.

Ava: Something hot is coming out of the brain of Győri Zoltán Gábor, and that’s a bluffing card game called Spicy. If I was a tabloid headline writer, I’d be leading with HOT STUFF BLUFFS TOUGH. Spicy gets into the news on the back of a bizarre conceit and some delightful art. Players take the role of rival big cats, who have given up on mauling each other in favour of holding a deceitful spicy food battle. You’ll be playing wasabi and chili peppers and other hot stuff face down, and making claims about what hots they actually are, at permanent risk of getting called out as some kind of big cat hot sauce fraudster.

Tom: Get this to the top of the BGG Hotness ASAP.

Ava: As Spicy As Possible?

Tom: Here’s hoping.

Ava: I find it genuinely weird that the appropriate term for big cats is just ‘big cats’. I really want there to be a proper collective term for lions and tigers and panthers and such, and not just ‘oh yeah, they’re cats, but big’. It’s possible a board game news column isn’t the right time to figure this out.

Tom: I want the opposite – more ‘BIG’ as a prefix please. Oil tanker? BIG BOAT. Giraffe? BIG DOG. Dinosaurs? BIG FROG.

Ava: Okay, we definitely need to talk about this outside of the news.

Tom: Ava, do you reckon one day we’ll be able to do….BIG NEWS?

Ava: We can dare to dream.

Matt: You are both contractually obligated not to dream.

Ava: Retiring to the garden of a local monastery, we’ve got a contender for ‘most parochial theme of the year’ coming in with Genotype, an exploration of Gregor Mendel’s monastic allotment, and the discovery of genetic inheritance.

Ava: In Genotype, players will be placing workers into a shared garden and arguing about which particular peas get planted where. This dictates the outcomes of what happens when you watch the peas grow and roll the offspring dice to see where their genes land. You’ll then be drafting those dice to try and meet the goals laid out on cards, representing the empirical proof for the concept of genetics you and Gregor have been looking for.

It took me a while to work out why it might be worth having to explain punnet squares to your fellow players, but as soon as I saw that you could overlay the edges of the matrices with your own genetic hooha, it clicked. There’s some clever probability bumping going on here, and it could be interesting.

Tom: I’m on a bit of a nature-themed high after playing the Evolution sequel-em-up Oceans the other day and being suitably charmed by the way the game really does feel like a delicate ecosystem that you’re all collectively trying to nurture. Hopefully Genotype will stir up some nice thematic feelings as you roll your ‘offspring dice’; echoing the real-life way that babies are made.

Ava: Can’t make an omelette and/or baby without rolling a few dice. Also on Kickstarter, but with less points for originality, yet another mission to Mars is being mounted.

Migration: Mars combines resource gathering and hexagonal habitat building. A pleasing grid and some lovely little plastic lumps are the core of this latest Mars maker. Plenty of people will be put off with what appears to be a roll and move circuit of the board as players move their rover around the outside of the board, gathering resources to help them build enough habitats to house six people and win the game. There’s some curious touches here, but I’m struggling to see what will make this stand out on an increasingly crowded red planet.

Tom: I was also struggling to see the appeal of this one – it looks like pretty light fare to me, and I was ready to dismiss it as kickstarter bloat. But then I realised: it has impact resistant domes, Ava! Don’t you just hate to see it when the plastic domes in your mars colony games just haven’t got the bulk, the grit, the chutzpah to resist a good whacking? Migration Mars is promising to have the strongest domes in the bizz. It’s huge.

Ava: The Biz.

Tom: It’s short for ‘the business’.

Ava: No, Tom, I was singing in a Batman style deep, gravelly voice, in honour of a nineties kids TV show I doubt anyone but me can remember.

Tom: Nobody is the same age as you, Ava. You’re basically a temporal anomaly.

Ava, sadly: The Biz.

Ava: Also taking flight on Kickstarter currently is Rocketmen, sadly not a game about competitive Elton Johnning.

Tom: Oh no. I need to rescind my pledge immediately.

Ava: Martin Wallace’s Rocketmen is another space race simulator, with players vying to be the first to be the most space. Rocketmen sees players buying cards, adding them to launch pads, and eventually sending missions to low-Earth orbit, the moon, or Mars. The game includes a lunar hodge-podge of mission bonuses, secret goals, saving the planet from asteroids or pandemics, variant rules, and an optional miniatures set.

Tom: I’m sad to say that in my patent-pending Kickstarter goodness-ometer, Rocketmen failed with flying colours. 30 scrolls of the mouse to get to the gameplay, and 16 mentions of the word ‘exclusive’ or ‘deluxe’ before that point, giving it a rough score of 3.26/10.

Ava: What kind of maths is that?

Tom: It’s not maths, it’s mathscience. The two greats, married at last: a match made in heaven.

Ava: You know what else is a match made in heaven? The contrast of soft marshmallow filling and crisp, wholesome cardboard. These ‘s’moredgames’ are really tasty.

Tom: Thanks Ava, I really appreciate the honest feedback from your real human voice. Thank god I’m not fooling myself into thinking we’re on a camping holiday together. It would be awful if i was just projecting an idealised version of this conversation as I sit alone in an underpass shovelling cardboard and marshmallows into my mouth.

Matt: Do not worry Tom, I am here.

Ava: I too am definitely here. And just to let you know, I’d back Bargain Bucket Quest as soon as it hit Kickstarter, such is my faith in its brilliance as both a design and snack. You’re my hero, Tom.

Tom: That’s exactly what I wanted to hear! I’ll start working on the grease’n’gravy expansion immediately!

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

Posted on

GAMES NEWS! 27/01/20

Matt Lees35 comment(s)

Ava: Tom, Tom, bring me a mug of hot lemon and ginger, a feather boa and five microphones.

Tom: Oh no.

Ava: That’s right! It’s time for BOADGAMESMNEWNS KAKAOAROAKE

Tom: Those aren’t real words!

Ava: When you flick at a fox and you write in a box

Tom: THAT’S SO-NO-RA!

Ava: Sonora is new from Pandasaurus and does mark itself out from the crowd, promising an unholy mix of crokinole and a roll and write. With gorgeous desert theming and a ‘flick and write’ structure, I’m excitedly baffled. You’ll be flicking pieces onto a central board, and where your piece lands decides which quadrant of your own little sheet of options you’ll be scribbling something in. Each quarter-page of the write-y bit is named after a different desert animal, and promises its own little lump of game: we’ve got something looking a bit like a crossword, a route builder, and two different flavours of numberwang?

Tom: Having the numbers printed on the discs you’re flicking is a fun way of tempering the randomness that can put some people off these games – if you’re good enough at the flicking minigame, you could provide yourself perfect ‘rolls’ for the writing bit. Well, until your friend pings your nice discs into other sections of the board, leaving you stuck playing owl bingo instead of sweet, sweet lizard tetris. Ugh. I hate nature.

Ava: Roll and writes tend to be pretty inscrutable at a distance, so it’s really hard to say whether this one will sing, but it does promise something unique. I’ll be keeping an eye to see if that’s ‘uniquely great’ or ‘uniquely rubbish’.

Ava: Cut my cards into pieces.
This is my last game board.

Cutterland’s press release really labours the pun of its ‘cutting edge mechanics’. I recognise I should be here for that sort of funny business, but ouch. It’s not even the first game we’ve covered about slicing up paper and divvying them up amongst the players. That’s what’s on offer here, with the cards themselves being chopped up and distributed, whilst everyone tries to build their own 8 bit inspired landscape.

Tom: It’s the Kingdomino: Legacy that no-one asked for! Except the Legacy element isn’t a legacy element at all – it’s just pure, untempered destruction.

Matt: I don’t plan on leaving behind a legacy that stretches much further beyond untempered destruction? I mean, if you’re lucky I might also leave behind a really quite high quality non-stick pan?

Tom: Going back to the game – I like the way that the drafting mechanic of the snipped-up pieces reminds me of the way I share things with siblings; I’ll divide – you choose.  Although it’s pretty worrying to see the rough rules explanation wrongly asserts that ‘nobody likes frogs’.

Ava: RUDE! Frogs are great.

Matt: I literally only chipped in to this bit to pop up and say how much I like the smug ‘n’ cheeky frog.


Tom: Oh! You city thing!

Ava: (Oh you city thing?)

Tom: Don’t you know you’re tiny and driving kickstarter insane!

Matt: I feel I should step in at this point at make it clear that a lot of these don’t scan terribly well, and are arguably “A Crime Against Music”. I won’t be taking action at this point, but the Bassoon of Damocles is hanging above the pair of you.

Tom: Micro City looks cheap and cute as all cut-price heck. A new edition of the original 2018 title, players take the role of architects building a miniature metropolis out of cards, dice, and one trusty engineer – with the twist that they can play this game in whatever small space they deem suitable. Airplane tray table? Sorted. In the cupboard under the stairs? Sure thing. Amongst a half-eaten breakfast burrito, three crushed cans of special brew, and a small pile of board game manuals? I really ought to clean my desk, but we can make it work, darling.

There’s a print and play version for just £2 if you want to dip your micro feet into the tiny waters before going all in. Mint Works feels like the microgame for me after playing it a tonne on a holiday a few years ago. I’m curious to see if this fresh challenger can take the throne.

The game is so small that the higher Kickstarter reward tiers are just… more copies of the game? The top tier is 20 copies of Micro City – which you could distribute to your friends, family and foes like business cards, or perhaps throw them from the top of a bus like a cardboard philanthropist. It’s your cardboard, baby, make it rain.

Ava: Shut Up & Sit Down does not endorse the hurling of microgames from heights into crowds.

Tom: I am the mayor of this [micro]city, I do as I please!

Matt: The last mayor of microcity went to jail for 12 years.

Ava: Cash rules everything around me. BEEZ! Get the honey. Stripey stripey bee y’all.

Tom: You know you could have done ‘Wu-Tang killer beez, we are the swarm’ there, right?

Ava: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Beez is new from Next Move games, publisher of the superlative Azul. You’ll play as the titular bees, finding routes to bounce from flower to flower and storing nectar in your hive. Details are scarce, but art from Chris Quilliams is a good sign, and the flight of the bumblebee is a pretty adequate soundtrack.

Tom: Ava, we know so little about this game that W Eric Martin referencing the designer saying ‘your movement dial also controls how you store nectar and affects how you score points’ is actually the most detailed information available.

Ava: I know Tom, but from now on every time I hear one of my favourite raps my brain is going to shout bees. I think spreading that particular neurosis is worth a little vagueness.

Matt: Cutting through your vagueness like a hot spoon through honey, I actually played a prototype of this game in Denmark last year – it’s a nice and sweet little thing. For the record, this is also the only time within 2020 that I will tolerate the usage of a Z in a place where an S should be, thanks.

Tom: Oh oh here she comes.
Watch out boy, she’ll code you up.
Oh oh here she comes.
She’s an Enigma.

Ava: It’s genuinely painful how heavily you have to stress that en to make it work.

Tom: Always happy to make you suffer for my art.

Matt: I’m not sure why you’re acting as if you won’t be both be facing the consequences for all of this?

Ava: Enigma: Beyond Code wins some kind of prize for most elaborately misrepresenting the goings on of Bletchley Park during World War Two. One player will be trying to break the Enigma code while everyone else is just pretending. Oh, and it’s all haunted and monsters and stuff.

I’m intrigued by the promise of 5-10 minute games of deduction, bluffing and puzzling, so long as it squeezes some depth into that short play time. Players will explore the mansion and reveal details of the items held in the room they draw from a random deck of rooms, except they might be lying to hinder you, while they attempt their own secret objective.

Tom: The description seems to have nothing to do with cryptology or codebreaking – just a bunch of dudes stumbling around a mansion whilst trying to put a stop to ‘a non-measurable force lurking beyond the boundaries of our world and eager to consume all its flesh’. Perhaps the “yes, and…” impulse ran unchecked with this one, or maybe a creative hijacking similar to that sketch from ‘I Think You Should Leave’?

Matt: I was utterly bamboozled by everything about this, right up until the point I started taking a good look at the box art for the game? Now I’m 100% sure that what we’re looking is literally just a dream someone had that’s been sucked into reality because of bad, weird magic.

Ava: I’d be interested to see if this game can avoid just being roundly frustrating, because ‘one person trying to take their job seriously while everyone else just mucks about trying to look busy’ is a pretty accurate description of every office environment I’ve ever worked in.

Tom: Were you ever the one taking the job seriously?

Ava: No comment.

Ava: The Shareef don’t like it [plonky plonk plonk plonk] Clash of Cultures, Clash of Cultures.

Tom: ….

Ava: That’s a double one, because it’s by the Clash, see.

Matt: Ava, I’m going to need your badge and your pun.

Ava: Clash of Cultures is a game I played once a very long time ago and can’t remember what I thought about it, sorry. Somebody must have liked it, as it’s getting a new ‘monumental edition’ from WizKids, with the core game and all the expansions wrapped up in a monolithic box. It’s a fancy civ game with some pleasing streamlining and quite a lot of interaction, although I remember it suffering from being a bit of a ‘how well have you grokked the tech tree’ take on the civ genre, rather than one where you feel like you’re ruling an actual civilisation. That said, I do love hunting for combos.

Tom: The BoardGameGeek description of this game literally made me fall asleep in my chair.

Ava: But Tom, you can ‘Grow your civilization, advance your culture and tech, and leave your mark by building wonders!’ It’s what board games are made for. I’m going to leave Vice’s recent criticism of the civilisation video game genre’s approach to history right here. Not because it’s necessarily relevant to Clash of Cultures, but because I’ve been looking for an excuse to link to it for weeks. It works as our ‘and finally’ link to something that isn’t just a game being announced.

Tom: Well, thank goodness that’s the end of board games karaoke. I feel a deep seated embarrassment about my performance and it’s only Monday. Next week I get to choose where we go for the games news, okay?

Ava: Oh no. Why have you got a mallet?

Tom: That’s right Ava, we’re going camping!!

Ava: Cripes Tom, it’s the middle of winter!

Tom: Don’t worry. I’ll bring a thermos of hot, hot news.

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