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GAMES NEWS! 15/06/20

Matt Lees9 comment(s)

Tom: Hey there, reader. Are you excited by news? Do you like boardgames? Do you want to make a fortune through-

Ava: What are you doing.

Tom: Shh! Let me finish my pitch.

…As I was saying – you, the reader, stand to gain cardboard riches beyond compare. How? Well, it’s as simple as the power of positive thinking, and SU&SD’s patented Pear-Shaped Marketing Scheme.

Ava: You’re not meant to tell them the SHAPE of the scheme! They’ll put the pieces together!

Tom: But that’s just the shape of the company! You hired me and Mart, and now I’m hiring the… wait… a moment… Is this a pyra-

Ava: STREAM SCHEDULE! We all love the stream schedule and there is nothing shady to be discovered within it. This week, Matt will be deviating from boardgames to play some Slay The Spire on Tuesday, and then Matt and Tom will duke it out in Dice Throne on Thursday. Then, next week, we’ve got some real corkers – we’ll be playing some Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion on Tuesday, and continuing through MOTHERSHIP on Thursday. Isn’t that all so exciting! Follow our Twitch page now, and you’ll never miss a show. Until you obviously, ineviatably do.

Tom: Ava, it’s so exciting that I’ve forgotten whatever I was just talking about. It’s so exciting that YOU should be a part of it, reader! You just have to mail your entire boardgame collection to the Shut Up and Sit Down offices and soon you’ll be working your way up the corporate ladder that we call home.

Ava: It’s movie cash-in time, and a little more detail about the Back to the Future game I think I skipped over a few times for newsworthiness. I like those films, and this game attempts to pit you against the paradoxes of all three films at once.

Tom: The core action of the game sees players co-operatively returning items to their rightful places in time, by racing their DeLoreans (there are more than one DeLorean?) through tiles that represent the timelines depicted in each movie. Each player will have to resolve events using icons on dice – but if they don’t have quite the right icons showing then they can drop their dice in place, leaving them for a future self (or co-operative partner) to come and pick up in a different timeline. As well as this, you’ll have to contend with the ever-present Biff that haunts each of the tracks, appearing at a different point in time whenever you dispatch him – like quantum breadcrumbs falling out of a quantum toaster all over your quantum countertop when you want to do some quantum cleaning.

… but wait, there’s… TWO Back To The Future Games? And they’re BOTH coming out in June? In fact, Back To The Future: Dice Through Time wasn’t even the one we mentioned in games news last time! We were in fact talking about Back To The Future: Back In Time! What a chortle-worthy incident.

Ava: I can’t believe that’s really what they’re calling them to differentiate from each other.

Tom: The description of ‘Back In Time’ states that the game ‘forgoes any time-travel elements to instead give you the chance to replay the climax of the first Back to the Future movie’ – and that’s awful telling, to me – especially when combined with the fact that the game is being developed by Funko Games. Are we to expect the facsimile of the Back-To-The-Future experience, in cardboard form, or a hollow, lifeless collectible? How am I to know? I have never seen Back To The Future. I don’t think I’m particularly enthused by the ideas presented by either of these games, but the string of buzzwords accompanied by a scattering of dice rolls that make up the description of ‘Back In Time’ isn’t all that inspiring – you go somewhere, you roll some dice, you get excited by the pang of familiarity that comes from Recognising That Thing You Like.

Ava: Back to the future, more like stay in the past, am I right? *waggles eyebrows*

Honestly though, I also can’t believe that the one that’s called ‘Back In Time’ is the one where you don’t even go back in time. You just stay in one time. Where’s the fun in that?

Tom: That is how time works, to be fair.

Ava: Up yours, time.

Matt: Sorry, you’ve NEVER SEEN Back to the Future? We’ve got to go back, Tom! Back… to The Hiring Process!

Tom: oh no

Ava: Fire! Tower! I thought it was going to be about a skyscraper, but actually it’s about forest fires, which immediately put me in mind of the eminently creepy Firewatch, and the board looks pretty gorgeous.

Tom: I thought Fire Tower would be a game about cooperatively fighting fires a-la Flash Point (or similar) but really it’s a game about sending patterns towards the fire towers of other players, who will extinguish said patterns with splashes of water, and the last tower standing wins? I went from ‘eh’ to ‘Oh YeAh’ in an instant – it’s kind of like… A Blokus made of fire? This is all without mentioning the lovely, painterly art style and spicy twists like wind strength and fire breaks. Other major highlights here include the absolutely delicious fire tokens, and that’s all I have to say on this one.

Ava: Don’t you mean delicious-looking fire tokens?

Tom: I mMKnow… *crunch* whot I uh *gulp* said.

Ava: Disgusting. This is actually a Kickstarter for a reprint and expansion of a 2019 game. The expansion promises ‘Fire Hawks’ that can circle around your tower and transplant fires to pastures green, as well as all new cards, a solo mode, and the opportunity for eliminated players to become the ‘Shadow of the Wood’ (whatever that means).

I can’t believe that we’re already so deep in 2020 that a game about forest fires can feel like a vaguely reassuring thing, and not the genuinely terrifying horror of recent (but feels like a million years ago) history. Oh and also I guess the odds are there’s a forest fire happening right now and I don’t even know about it. Wow, I’m sad.

Ava:  On the subject of sad, we’re looking at kickstarter ‘Your Friend is Sad’. Is this too sad for a Monday? Or is it just an overly simplistic game with an overly simplistic representation of solidarity and mental wellbeing?

Tom: Yes.

Ava: Okay, okay, so I don’t think this above is untrue, but I do also want to give the game a little bit of a fairer shake.

Your Friend is Sad is a simple enough hand management game about trying to match the colours of ‘brain goop’ cards in your hand with a series of mood boosting activities laid out in the centre. The first person to cheer up the collective friend eleven times wins. There’s some cute drawings and some really strong simple copy on the cards. This is the genre of kickstarter that has a billion stretch goals of different webcomic artists who may do some nice art for it if things go well. Further down the page the game also has a note about actual depression, and how just saying ‘cheer up’ isn’t helpful. I think it still remains more than a touch un-nuanced, but maybe there’s something sweet here.

Tom: The phrases ‘simple enough hand management’ and the fact that ‘your friend is sad’ are two things that, in my mind, aren’t exactly compatible. Depression is a strange thing to game-ify, and certainly not a subject matter that begs for simple mechanics. Ah well. It looks like their heart is in the right place, at the very least.

Matt: It’s a capital H “hmmm” from me. HMMM.

Ava: Right. So. There’s a fair few games about tea, and I always do a bit of a wince as despite my recent stream obsessions, I’m actually quite uncomfortable with the weird British patriotism attached to the love of tea, a product mostly associated with Britain because of the gross horrors of colonialism.

Tom: Ahh, the great british taste of yorkshire tea. Grown by good british yorks from the roots of the york plant, native to yorkshire.

Ava: You joke, but I do remember a few years ago someone on twitter quitting Yorkshire Tea when he found out it wasn’t actually grown in ‘god’s own county’. Though it is a blend designed for the local water supply, so does not taste as good if you drink it somewhere other than Yorkshire!

Anyway, I think Chai, and new expansion High Tea, dodges some of those problematic bullets by actually trying to be about the varied tea drinking cultures of the world, and that’s quite sweet.

Ava: The game itself has you collecting colour matched groups of ingredients from the market, rooting around the pantry, grabbing customers and fulfilling their tea needs. I like the look of the market, which features chunky plastic tiles that slide along to create match three style groups and a tasty little puzzle. The High Tea expansion adds that diversity I was looking for, giving each player a unique tea culture, with a specific bonus action to help them on the way. From Turkish Samovar to Tibetan Butter tea, there’s a lot of lovely art and honestly I do really want some tea now.

Tom: Quick, Ava, say something negative so we don’t get accused of shilling for Big Chai.

Ava: About halfway down the page they nonchalantly use the pun ‘diversi-tea’ and even as a professional purveyor of terrible, terrible puns, that was beyond the pale.

Tom: Tea is CANCELLED.

Ava: Oof. This actually looks pretty ugly and the game sounds a little bland, and I lost a close friend to a car crash so the theming actually is a bit upsetting to me. So why am I still talking about Crash, on Kickstarter now by Czacha games? Well, it’s because it’s by my favourite designer, and I just can’t ignore that weird, lovely man, and his strange, convoluted games.

Crash is a trick-taking-ish game of player created multi-car pile-ups, where you attempt to derail other players as everyone escalates until everything has gone too far. Cards played have to increase in value whilst matching symbols to indicate that they are doing..the right kind of crash? Once you’ve played a card you nominate the next player, and if they can’t place a card, they’re out of the round. It sounds like nonsense! But it’s also pretty cheap and it’s by my darling Carl, so I’m not sure I can steer clear of this one.

Tom: The trouble with trick taking (ish or otherwise) games is that it’s frightfully tricky (hah) to make them sound exciting or understandable to me, a trick-taking novice – and the only way to decide if they’re worth your money or not is to have a bit of a play. It’s nice, then, that Mr Chudyk has personally printed and played the game just for you – it’s available as a pdf on the Kickstarter, and would likely be fairly easy to homebrew. Rumour has it that if you say ‘Carl Chudyk’s Crash’ three times into a mirror he will send a copy paper version to your home address – complete with glitter-glue, stickers and felt tip pen.

Ava: Hey look, there’s an interview with Frank West, the creator of Isle of Cats, a game that my caveated positivity has led people to think I didn’t like. Am I linking this just to point out that I do actually really like cats?

Tom: This interview was really amiable until Frank West brought up your podcast appearance right at the end, continually referring to you as ‘Hater of Games; The Villain Ava Foxfort’. It all got a bit sinister.

Ava: I do hate games. It’s a good interview though. Frank seems like a nice enough guy, and I’m glad Isle of Cats has been so successful. It’s the sort of solid, accessible game that thanks to the family variant, you could put in front of literally anybody and get started, and while I think the drafting and buying process is a little faffy, it does mean that there’s a more complex and point salady game there for those that want it.

Continuing our ongoing journey through the ‘things that you can play for free, because everybody’s a bit worried about people needing to stay stuck at home’ zone, Asmodee have thrown out a print and play mini expansion for Ticket to Ride that’s literally about staying at home. Building little routes around the house like some kind of over ambitious model railway enthusiast. You’ll need a copy of one of the standard editions of Ticket to Ride to play, so you can borrow the trains and the cards, but that doesn’t stop this being a bit sweet.

Matt: My brain skipped a beat here and somehow simply read aloud: Alan R. Moon, Stay at Home. No further comment, your honour.

Ava: Taking the lockdown freebies one step further by requesting a donation to the NAACP if you download it, CMON has put up a complete print and play version of their game Foodies, which had been flying under my radar for a while. It’s a nice gesture, and Eric Lang was a bit into it on twitter saying it was one of the first games he guided through the CMON development process when he became their head of designy stuff. Maybe I should look up his actual job title. Or find something out about this game.

Tom:It’s about food! You’re managing a food court, hiring chefs to make exciting dishes that’ll get slotted into a grid so you can draw in various patrons for, you guessed it, POINTS – the most delicious of all currencies. It looks fairly straightforward, but also has an absolutely lovely Pixar-esque illustration style that makes me want to be friends with every chef in the game.

Ava: Magic: The Gathering is trying to be less racist by removing some troubling images from its enormous online database, and making certain cards unavailable in tournament play. It’s a simple bit of news and only a small number of cards, but it’s a start! Good to see the big players taking action, and I hope we continue to see people thinking about the way their representation affects the lives of their players, and how welcome (or not) they make everybody feel at the table. They’ve also been reaching out with the aim to commission more work from BIPOC writers. It is however important to note that Wizards of the Coast have been under fire lately for much wider racism problems, as in this open letter from Zaiem Beg, a member of the Magic The Gathering community.

Matt: It’s great to see action like this, absolutely – but my gut tells me that the culture of Wizards still has an awfully long way to go… We’ve always been reticent to give too much coverage to Magic: The Gathering on the basis that the community they’ve fostered attracts so much toxicity, and it’s clear that internally they don’t take problems nearly as seriously as we’d personally expect: Despite multiple, serious accusations of covering for alleged abuser Zak Smith in 2019, Mike Mearls then distanced himself by downplaying the involvement of Smith as a playtester on D&D 5th Edition (despite crediting them in print as a consultant). No official statement was ever made by Wizards of the Coast, and it remains unclear if any action was ever taken internally – with Mearls now working with a different role within the company that as far as anyone external is aware may well have been a promotion. On that basis it frankly doesn’t seem right to applaud Wizards for cleaning up their act when it comes to their copyrighted archive of assets – or for moving to offer work on a freelance basis – when frankly the recent silence of the company hangs heavy around their necks, like a massive brass albatross.

Ava: I  do hope that Wizards are really listening and making changes as this stuff gets raised, but I also know how bad large organisations are at changing this sort of culture. Heck, it’s hard for small organisations to change their culture.

Matt: Absolutely! It’s hard as hell. I just hope they’re recognising at this point that any problem at the bottom usually slides down from the top.

Ava:Dropping into our inbox this week was a press release from Dissident Whispers, a collective pulling together a collection of RPG scenarios raising money for Black Live Matters bail funds. It looks like a nice project, and may be worth taking a look at.

Tom: The renders of the anthology itself look absolutely gorgeous, with an avalanche of exciting graphic design that’ll propel you headfirst into about a billion oneshots. One of those is a fresh new one-shot for Mothership – which we’ve been having a jolly old time playing on stream- exciting!

Ava:And on a similar note, it was mentioned in the comments last week, and I’m pretty sure everybody knows about it now, but just in case, there’s still some hours left for the incredible 1500 game itch bundle of games donating proceeds to NAACP and the Community Bail fund. It’s a ludicrous bargain, and the reason I skipped over it last week was because I thought it was all video games, but there’s some juicy role playing PDFs in there too.

Tom: To take a dip into videogames-mode for a moment and give my personal recommendations – this bundle has got some corkers. A Mortician’s Tale, A Short Hike, Celeste, Minit, Diaries of a SpacePort Janitor (my personal fave), Nuclear Throne, Pikuniku, Hidden Folks, Glittermitten Grove (better known as Frog Fractions 2), Quadrilateral Cowboy and The Stillness Of The Wind and Starseed Pilgrim. GOSH. All wonderful works.

Ava: There’s now so many games in the bundle that it’s actually quite hard to dig out the specific pen and paper stuff, but I do know that Blades of the Dark, a masterful whalepunk sneaky theivey simulator and Lancer, a big robot shooty bang with drama game are available. I suspect digging will find a whole load of smaller names with interesting ideas, like ‘the anthology of cosy RPGs’, a collection of smaller pieces from a 200 word game jam. Honestly, I’m hoping that the strange happening of a huge number of people suddenly getting the same thousand games dropped on to their hard-drive leads to some people getting to see stuff they’d never see otherwise. I wonder if anyone’ll get lured over to the tabletop by these RPGs.

Either way, it’s made millions of dollars for some important causes, and that’s obviously, utterly, marvelous.

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

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SHUX’20 Update

SU&SD5 comment(s)

Hello everybody. Today we’ve got an announcement about this October’s SHUX, the Shut Up & Sit Down convention. To state the obvious, hosting an event where thousands of people from all over the world can meet and sit in close proximity is no longer “a great idea”.

If you were planning on attending SHUX in 2020, or even 2021, here’s everything you need to know. And if you weren’t planning on that, scroll down to the next image on this post for a fun surprise!

Local health officials have ruled that cons like SHUX will not be allowed until a date yet to be determined, conditional on at least one of the following: widely available vaccination, “community” immunity, or broad successful treatments – none of which look likely to happen by October 2020. This means that SHUX, as we currently know it, will take place in 2021 instead. We are locking in the exact dates as we speak, and hope to be announcing them very soon.

Our team is pretty excited to have extra time to plan our big, yearly show, and, drum roll please, we’re also planning a special digital convention that will be free of charge in 2020!

For more information on this, as well as what this all means for people who already bought a ticket, read on!

If you’ve already purchased a SHUX’20 badge it is now a badge for SHUX’21. You’ll receive an updated ticket via email when we have confirmed the new dates, and you do not need to worry about a thing.

If this change of plans doesn’t work for you, we absolutely understand, which is why we’re maintaining our policy of honouring refunds anytime up until 30 days before the actual event (meaning we will offer refunds through at least the end of this year). Details here. However, we’d love for you to hold off on that refund if possible – those sales have been used for our deposits on the convention centre next year, and continued sales would help us in planning SHUX’21. We promise we’ll make it up to you!

As past attendees know, we give away a free game and some goodies to everyone when they come in – for the next show, everyone who bought their ticket for SHUX ‘21 in 2020 (tickets for SHUX’21 still on sale here!) will get additional treats we’re cooking up as special thanks for championing our event and carrying us through this extraordinarily cursed moment in time.

For our partner hotels:
Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown Hotel +1 800-207-4150 (toll-free) – Cancellation InfoHow to CancelFor guests with existing reservations for any future arrival date, Marriott Hotels will allow full changes or cancellation without a charge as long as the change or cancellation is made by July 5, 2020.

Coast Coal Harbour Vancouver +800.716.6199 (toll-free) – Cancellation InfoShould you have an existing reservation (made before March 12, 2020) Coast Hotels will accept cancellation of individual bookings until June 30, 2020.

So long as we can prioritise the health of our attendees, not only will SHUX ’21 happen, it’ll be the best SHUX yet. It might also be the last SHUX we’re able to do, since if this year has taught us anything, it’s that the future is a haunted forest. All the same, we can’t wait to once again host you all for a few incredible days. We’re going to build on everything we learned over the last 3 years, and add a dash of the unexpected to the already-tasty mix of friends, games and SU&SD that you love.

But what about October 16-18, 2020? I’m so glad you asked! Today, we’re also announcing AwSHUX, short for “Away SHUX”. A digital event where we bring a few of our favourite bits of the physical show and contort them into an online world, 100% free for attendees and publishers.

Luckily, doing things “on the internet” is where it all started for SU&SD, so we’re on very comfortable footing. We also can’t wait to bring SHUX to all sorts of people who would never normally be able to travel to Vancouver. An online show opens up some “dream” opportunities for us that we might never have otherwise had with geographic and budget impossibilities – we’re hoping to blow the doors off this one.

This has been an especially tough year for publishers and we’re going to do all we can to give back to those folks who give us all so much, and we’re going to give our attendees an opportunity to do the same. Here’s what we’re planning:

1. Community

· We’ve heard over and over again that what sets SHUX apart is how friendly and welcoming all of our attendees are. Naturally, we’ve put our top scientists on figuring out how during AwSHUX you can all connect and chat together, over the internet. Can it be done?! We think so, yes.

· SU&SD has always stood for having fun, but that can’t happen unless everyone feels comfortable. Our goal is to create the safest and most inclusive space ever seen online. If you’re rolling your eyes, you’ve never been to SHUX, because this event truly is about every single person in attendance looking after each other.

· People travel from around the world to come to SHUX, and now you can bring your favourite chair from home, because this year the world is coming to you!

2. Playing board games

· Playing our favourite games and finding new delights is what cons are all about. We’re partnering with Tabletopia to bring you thousands of games for you to play with other attendees, for free. Whether you’re on your own or traveling in packs, we’ll be using all the tools at our disposal to get you online and playing games in a silky-smooth fashion.

· We’ll ensure loads of volunteer matchmakers and teachers are on-hand to help you understand the tools and to get you setup and playing as quickly and easily as possible. Do you have the “Pearagon” spirit, and want to help with this? We’d love you to join us! Send “Count me IN!” as the subject line to [email protected].

· Play from home with the SU&SD team! We’ve had some awesome experiments on Twitch, and we’re ramping that up to 11.

· What if we told you that in playing games online (or from home during the show), you could win prizes? It’s the truth!

· Want to get in on an RPG? We got those.

3. Incredible live events and special guests

· We will be running ONE Twitch channel 12 hours a day (with a replay of those 12 hours over the following 12 for a truly 24 hour, international event), 3 days in a row, with incredible live content:
1. Panels with the wildest industry personalities.
2. Massive live games we will play with everyone watching.
3. Live plays of some of the show’s hottest launch titles.

· Many of our favourite convention memories are playing a game with a designer or a board game personality I admire – and we’ll make sure all our special guests are out there mingling and playing games, so keep an ear out for that recognizable voice in the games you’re playing…

4. An online Expo hall brimming with potential and excitement

· Seeing, trying, and buying the newest games the industry has to offer is a buzz that’s very hard to capture outside of a physical convention. But we have a plan! It involves a ‘virtual’ hall where scrolling down the page feels kinda just like walking down the concourse.

· Stop in when a game catches your eye to see a demo, ask a question, or sit down and play a couple rounds!

· Add a game to your shopping cart, and batch a basket of incredible new games knowing the publisher is getting a MUCH better cut of that sale than they would via the big online retailers, and support AwSHUX with that same purchase!

· SU&SD merch, available to buy online, for the first time in 4 years. The curse is broken!

– – –

Shut Up & Sit Down was founded to highlight & amplify the countless incredible folks who make up this hobby, and we see AwSHUX as a perfect opportunity to do exactly that. We’ll be working closely with exhibitors, indies, guests, and creators so that their work pops off the page and into your home.

Of course we’re disappointed to not be neck-deep in planning the usual convention that we and you love. However, we take heart in knowing that the people who mean so much to us in this hobby – in this community – will still be able to meet up, safely, from their homes this October.

We greatly look forward to a future where we can all be together again, laughing and making new friends over the gaming table. We know that this hobby that’s done so much to bring us all together has the power to reunite us once more.

Be safe, be kind, and stay well. Keep an eye on Twitter and the SHUX website for more AwSHUX and SHUX’21 announcements, and as always we’re just an inbox away if you have any questions or comments. Connecting has never been more important, and as a platform that aims to bring people together, we want you to know that we are here for you.

– Team SU&SD

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

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GAMES NEWS! 08/06/20

Matt Lees36 comment(s)

Ava: There’s just too much news, Tom.

Tom: Yes, but most of that isn’t actually about games is it.

Ava: I know, but it feels super weird to be focussed on one narrow stream of stuff when so much huge other stuff is happening.

Tom: How about this. We’ll pick a few fruits from the kickstarter tree, oggle a few upcoming intrigues, then try and be thoughtful and highlight some good work, good links, and ways to help?

Ava: Maybe a teensy bit of stream promotion first? Just a wee dram to get the cockles warm?

Tom: A little stream promotion; as a treat.

So! All stream donations/subs for the next month are going to Black Lives Matter and the Stephen Lawrence Trust – so your regular scheduled boardgame buffoonery now comes with a small side of potential positive change. This Tuesday we’re playing Oceans with Dominic Crapuchettes, and on Thursday we’re going to be playing MOTHERSHIP – a roleplaying game! Imagine! That will feature myself, Ava, Matt and Pip and I’m super excited for it. Then, next week, we’ll be playing Dice Throne on Tuesday and [something else] on Thursday! Tune in, it’s always a cosy time.

Ava: This kickstarter makes a lot of bold claims about exactly what people want in a board game. And it simultaneously wound me up the wrong way, and made me go ‘ooooh, yes, I do want that’.

Dice Miner is using animated gifs to full effect by showing a load of colourful dice pouring into a little cardboard (or plastic if you’re fancy) mountain. I’ll be honest, I want to see video footage of someone successfully rolling into the mountain before I dig into this one, but, still, I did an oooh. The dice filled mountain is there to facilitate a dice drafting game with a little extra strategy as you’ll be grabbing dice from the mountain, and so taking from the top lets other players take dive from further down. Initially the dice are stuck as they were rolled, but you’re also setting yourself up for later opportunities to re-roll and do exciting digging things.

Tom: Is it bad that I’m entirely put off this and any enjoyment of it because Kickstarter mentions that ‘every gamer loves dice’ about forty-six times in as many seconds? It feels like that sentence was the six-sided building block of the whole game – if we build it/make it full of nice pretty dice, they will come. It looks like a roll and write, but without the write and way more of the roll. It’s a roll. A roll.

Ava: Some of my best lunches have been rolls.

Alice is Missing offers a pretty strong elevator pitch. A silent role playing game about a missing teen, played entirely via text message, representing the group chat of the friends of Alice (not a euphemism). A shared table of cards are required, but Roll20 will facilitate remote play, and obviously, text messaging is more accessible than tables right now.

Tom: This looks super, super interesting and I’m certainly going to be getting my thumbs on a copy as soon as possible. I suppose a by-product of a purely text-based roleplaying game means that you can fully embody your character, and players won’t know who the person ‘behind’ each member of the group is – which sounds almost frighteningly immersive. On the flipside, though, looking through this Kickstarter has made me realise how much ‘roleplaying’ goes on in my actual group chat with my friends, and how many strange minigames, in-jokes and groupthink vernacular arise from typos and ‘bits’ that go off the rails. We’re currently in the final ‘circle of snow patrol’ after descending through the first six with only two members getting ‘flushed’ due to ‘posting’. There’s rich, twisted history there – I still don’t quite understand why three members of the group are listed as [POISONED] and one is a [TRAITOR]. And even MORE than that, this is all reminding me of my favourite text-based ‘roleplaying game’ of all time – Stackswell and Co.’s Facebook page – once gloriously investigated by Reply All in this wonderful episode. It’s a delight.

Ava: Another role playing kickstarter on offer at the moment is Roll and Play, a games masters toolkit full of prompts and tables to help a GM with the challenge of creating worlds on the fly.

Tom: This looks great if you’re someone like me, whose brain short-circuits as soon as players decide to diverge from the path after they’ve already diverged from your planned divergence? What if you have to *gasp* make up a name?? Roll and Play seems to have a nice, robust and beautifully presented system for the GM who is just tired of players refusing to fit into the nice little box you’ve made for them.

Ava:To be honest my instinct is to save your money and work with the much cheaper advice I’m about to give. Spend ten minutes of your first session getting your players to write down lists of people, places and oddities that they’d like to see in the sort of world you’re building. This gives you an instant list of names, places and oddities to call on when your mind goes blank. During the campaign, they may see a familiar name crop up, and be delighted. As a bonus, you’ve just got out of the way of your own writer’s block, utilising that one weird trick that it’s easier to come up with twenty things than one, because if you’re coming up with twenty, you know they don’t need to be perfect.

This will probably come up again when it actually hits kickstarter, but I was pretty intrigued by the promise of Seize the Power, a collaboration between Bez Shahriari and Tiz Creel. Looking at the structural power dynamics of inequality, through the lens of aliens with specific physical differences, it promises to highlight the real world dynamics of privilege by making the game easier for some players than others through cruel luck of the draw, but encouraging the disadvantaged to band together in solidarity and challenge those holding onto power. There’s obviously some very prickly ideas here, and it’s well worth taking a look.

Tom: It’s the Sidereal Confluence of bigotry! I love the idea that the main ‘auction’ of the game is seemingly for actual RULES being added or changed from the game; that’s huge, and is honestly making me all kinds of excited for this thing. The chaotic elegance of a system where you’re investing your chances of ‘winning’ not straight into ‘points’, but into potential, structural change that can alter your position within the ‘system’ that the game is presenting? This might be a case of looking a little gimmicky at first blush, with a game behind it that’s a ruthless and complex negotiation engine that’s educational and unfair. On the other hand, we don’t know much yet, and the game design devil is in the game design details.

Ava: I never want to meet the game design devil.

Tom: Spoilers; it’s all the staff at Splotter Spellen.

Ava: I still have a little bit of guilt on my shoulder over the fact that we covered Abandon All Artichokes by doing a list of Artichoke facts instead of actually talking about the game at all. Thankfully, I’ve found an excuse to rectify that, as a design diary has gone up. Finding its origin in an alliterative game name bit of play (remember what I said about lists of 20 things?), Abandon All Artichokes is actually a real thing now. Emma Larkin takes us on a pretty in depth and insightful tour of the game design process, and I’m getting increasingly intrigued by this edible thistle dismisser. A simple fast paced deck building game where you’re trying to get rid of your starting hand of artichokes, replacing them with a bevy of more exciting fruit and vegetables.

Tom: Hey, did you know that the edible part of an artichoke is the part th-



Ava: Although actually i do feel like I need to point out that artichokes are a type of thistle to explain the joke above.


Ava: Also I want a little shout out to the comments section to tell me what the hell I’m supposed to do with the artichokes that arrived in my veg box. They’re a daunting prospect! So spiky! So many leaves!

Tom: Shall we…

Ava: Abandon all this thistly business? Yes.

Ava: I’ll level with you, it feels really weird writing out a list of news items and digging for games announcements when the world is rising up from years of racist abuse and brutality, and we’re seeing protests of a scale, power and effectiveness I’ve not seen in years of working in the background of activist scenes. Seeing Minneapolis council members ready to actually debate dismantling the police force and replacing it with new forms of community work and protection is something I didn’t think I’d see in my lifetime. But it’s horrific that this is coming from the subjugation, oppression, and implicitly authorised state violence against black people and other minorities (and intersections of the above). It’s a wake up call, to realise the scale, the scope and the horror of it all, even as someone who tries to be on it about these things,

Tom: It certainly feels like ‘continuing as normal’ feels irresponsible – producing harmless and joyful content may help to alleviate ‘that 2020 feeling’ but does nothing to address and confront the issues in our corner of the world. I’ve seen a frightening number of people on social media talk about how they ‘don’t see the value’ of their entertainment journalism sources discussing matters, and it feels like that statement is coming from the same crowd that want ‘politics out of their games’ – a sentiment that is improbable and ignorant.

Ava: It feels weird writing about games, and I’m struggling to find a way to talk about the bigger picture that feels effective, interesting and meaningful. We’re going to try and link to some things that might be useful. I hope it makes sense.

First up, I encourage people to seek out Black game designers, look out for their work and give it a try. I found a few lists of Black designers, one starting as a list on Elizabeth Hargrave’s twitter before moving to her website, and another on boardgamegeek.

This news is too late to point you to Rap Godz, a game by Omari Akil that received matched donations meaning that for a while last week, every game they sold for $55 was creating a $100 dollar donation to Black Lives Matter, bail funds and associated charities and organisations. The game sold out pretty quickly after that. However, it’s put Omari on my radar, and I’m looking forward to hearing more about upcoming Graffiti Knights.

Tom: How the knights are going to tag anything successfully in all that armour is absolutely beyond me.

Ava: He says, while I spray rude words on his breastplate.

Matt: Breastplate IS a rude word if you mumble the second bit

Ava: I found some other games and people I’m curious about, like Wan Wan Touch, a football dexterity game from Nigerian designer Kenechukwu Ogbuagu. Four player football played with sticks, pucks and a little cardboard box is an intriguing offer – especially when you only get one touch to win. Kenechukwu also had a huge part in organising what might be the first board game convention in West Africa.

Tom: I tried so hard to make a joke about the LCD Sound System song ‘One Touch’ here (draft jokes include; ‘Wan touch / is never enough / people hitting pucks in / a cardboard box’) but (evidently) nothing was working. I’ll do better next time.

Ava: Tattoo Stories by Eric Slauson sounds intriguing too, promising to mix two of the most challenging party game elements, drawing and storytelling. Tattoo stories asks you to create tattoos and tell the stories behind them sounds like a strong cocktail. Often people are put off drawing games because they can’t draw, or put off story games because they can’t tell stories. I can’t tell if asking for both at once is going to put off twice the number of people, or make it so much easier to be bad at either, because so many more people are likely to struggle with one or the other. Either way, it looks neat, and will likely sing with the right group.

Matt: I’ve got a copy of this burning a hole in my house, taunting me that I’m currently unable to play party games and/or tattoo strangers.

Tom: Every box comes with a tattoo gun, and the winner is strongly advised to get their victorious tat permanently etched into their body. It’s the right thing to do.

Ava: This is just not true.

Tom: Then WHY do I have this terrible depiction of Matt and Quinns on my left leg?

Ava: What you did to get this job is none of my business.

Matt: He wrote it into his contract, not us.

Ava: Moving very swiftly on, I’d also like to give a prominent shout out to Eric Lang’s twitter feed. Eric’s one of the biggest names in the industry, with hugely successful kickstarters Rising Sun and Blood Rage in his back catalogue, alongside classic favourites like Chaos in the Old World. He’s also been writing eruditely, precisely and brutally on the current wave of activism, his own experience of racism, and the troubling equivocation of attempting to be moderate in the middle of that. He’s brilliant, and well worth a follow.

Matt: He really is brilliant. I like and admire and respect Eric so much – he’s an absolutely vital voice in this industry.

Ava: And finally, a link to an important piece on race and board games. The piece focuses on the benefits for children and young people of playing board games, socially and culturally, and some of the barriers to getting those benefits. It’s also a call for more students of colour to work on their own designs, and challenge some of the prevalent colonialist themes. The article expresses justified anger at the oft-lauded Freedom being treated as an educational game, when it focuses largely on white abolitionists, rather than offering a full picture of the fight against slavery.

And finally finally, please, if you have spare money for kickstarters and new board games, remember that there may be some more important places to throw your hard-earned. Money doesn’t fix everything, but applied correctly it can help get someone out of jail, keep someone fed, match protest with legal challenges and political will, and save lives. It is not okay to live in a world where the police can kill and harrass so many people and go unchallenged. Try and do something different. I’ve personally found it useful to look at this list of organisations supporting Black trans people. But you’ll know best what sort of work and activism you’ll want to support.

Tom: For our part, our immediate response is donating any money raised through Twitch – but that being said, this is definitely not the most efficient way for you to donate, so we’d encourage you to please give directly to the causes themselves so that your bucks don’t get run through The BezosFilter.

Ava: Whether you donate or not, please remember that if you’re white, dismantling racism in yourself and your networks is your responsibility. It’s a very long term process and I hope we’re all trying our best, but we’ve got to not let up until we live in a very, very different world. Here’s hoping we can make it there.

Matt: I couldn’t agree more: this is our work to do. As alluded to in a post on the main page last week, however, charity isn’t where our involvement ends. Taking the money we’d be earning from streams and directing it to relevant causes makes us feel more comfortable about spending time being flippant and fun during these times, even though we recognise that they do in themselves provide a welcome respite for those exhausted from protesting or simply caring quite deeply. Because right now everything is understandably exhausting, and endurance is the quality we need to cultivate where we can. Charity donations are a good place to start, but as editor I’d like to assure you that we’ll be taking further action in the following months to ensure we push more directly towards systemic change within our own industry. This might take a little time to shape up, so we’ll ask for your patience – as I’m personally determined to avoid temporary or tokenistic measures. Take care of each other, and donate some money if you can.

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

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A Message from Our Team

Quintin Smith60 comment(s)

Everybody at Shut Up & Sit Down is finding it very hard to work this week, and we’d imagine that many of you feel the same. We offer love and solidarity to those currently struggling in the face of police brutality – we stand unequivocally with those who rightly demand justice. While the severity of violence towards peaceful protests isn’t an issue our country shares today, Great Britain is equally guilty of allowing systemic racism to thrive – and the culture of our hobby is far from exempt.

As a small show of immediate support, we will be donating all money raised through Twitch streaming this month to Black Lives Matter and The Stephen Lawrence Trust. This is a start, but it is far from enough. This need for action extends beyond this week or this month, and the team remains in serious conversation about how we can make a difference on a more long-term basis. If you already donate via Twitch – you don’t need to do anything. If not, we would ask that you donate directly via the links above.

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

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GAMES NEWS! 02/06/2020

Matt Lees88 comment(s)

Ava: Come on, come on! That games news needs to be piping hot when it goes to the serving hatch or table four is going to send it right back! Have you chopped those opinions yet? Peeled the puns? How’s the reckon roux reducing? Have you even basted the takes?

Tom: Oh darn, I’ve made a ramble roux instead; and these takes are absolutely underdone, let alone properly basted! I’m going as fast as I can, chef, but we really need a news potwash – I’m still doing the dishes from last week!

Ava: Gah! Do I have to do everything myself? Please tell me that you’ve at least properly prepped the stream schedule?

Tom: Yes Chef! Tuesday we’re serving a seafood course – a pan-fried Oceans with guest chef Dominic Crapuchettes, and on Thursday we’ve got some survival space food courtesy of Galaxy Trucker with Matt and Tom! Then next week? Tuesday sees us crunching some cuboid croutons floating in joke soup – hastily whipped up by Matt and Tom over some delicious Dice Throne. And then Thursday has us sitting down to the main course! MOTHERSHIP! A LIVE RPG WITH TEAM SU&SD!

Ava: You let the goof slip a little at the end there.

Tom: It’s just too exciting, chef!

Ava: The thing I love about Kickstarter is that people have to put in their location, which means I can make a joke about this being not just a board game, but a Bordeaux game. *waggles eyebrows*

Tom: That’s so, so bad, Ava.

Ava: Kemet is back on kickstarter in a new swish edition, with an even swisher subtitle. Kemet: Blood and Sand promises a revised version of the classic classical combat cartography, or put plainer, a mythical Egyptian ‘fights on a map’ game. There’s a soupcon of additions previously available in expansions, and a plethora of usability and balance changes. That’s before we even go on to mention the gorgeous art, and a campaign that has already responded pretty well to criticism in making changes to such problems as ‘too many boobs’ and ‘not enough colours’. They’ve even got around the awkwardness of having to say ‘white power tiles’ and sounding like a racist mosaic maker by referring to all the pyramids and associated powers as Onyx, Ruby, Diamond and actually I don’t know what they’re calling the blue ones.

Tom: The fact that we’re getting bags of both blood and sand to make Kemet even more immersive is an incredibly welcome change – as much as I adore Kemet it did never really truly feel like I was being ripped in two by a giant scorpion. In all seriousness, though, just looking at those nice twinkly changes is really really making me want to play Kemet again after a recent, gruesomely clunky experience playing it on TTS, and it feels like this new edition might make good on that promise of being the ‘Ur-version’ of a game that always plays better in my head than it does on the (digital) table.

Ava: I think we already did the blood and sand joke last time

Tom: It’s been a long week.

Ava: Also Ur was in Sumeria, not Egypt.


Ava: It’s Monday?


Ava: At the risk of the news becoming a bit of a ‘hey a game we like is getting reissued or expanded on kickstarter’ fest, it seems pretty important for us to note that Nemesis is coming back to kickstarter. The definitely not Aliens board game we reviewed quite recently is getting a new standalone expansion, and a whole host of options for getting new and old add ons. Nemesis Lockdown moves the xenomorph battling action from an old space ship to a haunted martian base, and includes a new species of alien that is capable of swinging from conveniently located lamp-posts. Terrifying.

Tom, tell me what you think, and whether I should spend seventy million pounds on getting every single available Nemesis box.

Tom: No.

Ava: Great! It’s always nice when my bank balance survives to the end of payday.

Tom: Here’s the thing – My gut reaction to ‘should you buy Nemesis’ is basically always a fairly resounding ‘No’. It’s an absolutely brilliant game, but weighing its cost against something like Twilight Imperium always ends in the same resolution – you’re going to have higher highs with Nemesis, but fewer of them before retiring the game. Having said that, I did just scroll through the Kickstarter for lockdown and said ‘aw cool’ under my breath for basically every single thing on that list, and now I really, really want to play Nemesis again – and I’m remembering the absolute glee on the faces of my friends when each new mechanic of this game sprung out the box like a firework made of crikey. And Lockdown (unfortunately timed title aside) is looking to have those shock reveals in absolute spades – especially if you’ve already played the base game. Ugh, this is turning out to be an expensive games news.

Matt: Yeah, I think I actually want this quite badly.

Ava: Wait so… I should spend seventy million pounds on getting every single available Nemesis box?

Matt: Sure why not

Tom: Yes

Ava: Great! It’s always nice when my bank balance doesn’t survive to the end of payday.

Ava: I’m getting increasingly fond of Button Shy Games despite not having actually got around to playing any of the games I’ve bought.. Hopefully their most recent kickstarter will change all that. Wait, not all that: the not playing it, not the fondness. I want to keep the fondness.

Tom: That’s a pretty knotty paragraph you’ve got there Ava, do you want to start again?

Ava: Yes please.

Food Chain Island is new from Button Shy and Scott Almes, designer of the tiny epic series, and it looks like a lovely little puzzle of a solo game. You shuffle the deck, and lay out an island of animals with different numbers and special powers listed on each. Each turn you can move a card to make it ‘eat’ a lower numbered animal, but doing so triggers the power on the card that’s sated its hunger. The puzzle is trying to work out a chain of digestion that will eventually clean up the whole table. I have to say, I love a kickstarter where I can read a two sentence explanation of the rules and instantly work out why it would be interesting. It’s a pretty rare treat!


Ava: Oh god those eyes. Thanks for ruining this for me Tom.

BoardGameGeek has a news post dedicated to three otherwise unrelated games from the Big Kniz, so I thought I’d similarly bundle them together, because I remain incapable of making a judgement about a Reiner Knizia game from a distance. Some of them are the best, lots of them aren’t! It’s always really hard to tell from a high level summary.

Ava: Whale Riders has players riding whales. Phantom Seas includes some ghosts and some water. And Tutankhamun is a remake of a game that was spelt differently before. They will all contain maths and weirdly specific rules. I reckon on average they’ll all be passable, and one of them will be good. There’s about a one in ten chance that one of these three games will be brilliant. I wouldn’t hold your breath, though.

Has it been long enough since I last yelled about a difficult wargame? I can’t remember how often I’m allowed to do this.

Border Reivers is new from Ed Beach and GMT Games. This is the same Ed Beach that made my favourite reformation simulator, a sequel that literally broke Quinns and the latest iteration of the enormously popular and increasingly inaccurately named Sid Meier’s Civilisation (VI, in this case). Border Reivers excites me because it is nothing like any of them, but Ed’s claiming that it’s effectively in a series with Here I Stand and Virgin Queen, because it’s in the same era. This reminds me of the claim that all the movies about NASA are in the same ‘cinematic universe’, because real life history is basically the same thing as a cinematic universe.

Border Reivers will cast the players as the ‘riding families’ of the Anglo-Scottish borders, constantly arguing with each other, and winning the game through a combination of successful battles, gaining notoriety and amassing large herds of sheep. A combination of card drafting and a seasonal cycle of turns make for some unusual decisions for a wargame like this. I’m mostly here for the map, which as well as having gaols and counties labelled, also has little patches of countryside called ‘debatable land’. Honestly, I’ve taken a lot of trains through those bits of the borders, and I’ve spent a lot of time debating where I actually was.

Tom: GMT games tend to have settings where the stakes are high and the morals are dubious – so seeing one of their games being primary concern being the rate at which you can pilfer sheep honestly fills me with joy, and seems wonderfully at-odds with the dense, interlocking systems that the publisher is famous for. I really, really want to play this, even though I already know that I’ll find it just as frustrating as any other GMT game.

Ava: Have you managed to try Time of Crisis? I think it’s really a fair notch more straightforward than a lot of their stuff, and ‘Decaying Roman Empire King of Tokyo Deckbuilder’ is a pretty great elevator pitch.

Tom: This is the thing: I get suckered in by the elevator pitches of GMT games and the fact that they claim to be ‘low complexity’ on the product description – and then I remember that ‘low complexity’ for GMT is one step below ‘incomprehensible gibberish gamewords’. I’ve been burned too many times before. Not today, sheep. Not today.

Ava: I’m not entirely clear on whether this is new news or not, but I thought it worth mentioning, as I particularly liked the way it was framed by publisher Evil Hat Games.

The entire Fate role-playing system, and all of Evil Hat’s setting publications for it, are currently available on a pay what you want basis. So if you’re wanting to dive into some digital pen and paper action, and are put off by pricey PDFs, you’ve now got an exciting place to start, and a whole whaleful of worlds to explore. I think that’s quite nice, though I don’t know anything about the Fate system itself. Is it bonzer or bobbins? Let me know in the comments.

Tom: I used to run little RPG sessions in Fate when I was a YOUTH and dipping my toes into the bottomless waters of role-playing games. It’s a lovely little flexible system if you just want to get started, and find the prospect of reading one Encyclopedia Britannica’s worth of rulebooks a little daunting.That being said, I now exclusively play solo RPGs. Make of that what you will.

Ava: Another lovely freebie I spotted while cruising for a(n emotional) bruising on the twitters, was this from Tim Fowers, a lovely free online implementation of tidy briefcase of deduction and puzzling, Fugitive.

Tom: Matt played this against Tim on stream last tuesday! The VoD should still be hanging around, and it will be on YouTube eventually – I didn’t stick around in chat for the whole thing but Tim was certainly on the receiving end of some potent LeesLuck™ at the start of the game.

Matt: Oi!

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

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GAMES NEWS! 25/05/2020

Matt Lees742 comment(s)

Mart Leez: is it time for news? I’m always up for newsing the news, but I’m worried my newses might be sad news or old news. There’s plenty more news in the sea. You salty newsdog. News of the World is my favourite Queen album. There’s no news without fire! I’m tired.

Ava: I think it might be time to put Mart to bed. Maybe you should read its favourite bedtime story. You know, the one about what streaming is happening over the next two weeks.

Tom: Ah yes, let me get that one down from the shelf. It’s called ‘This Tuesday We’ll Be Playing Fugitive with Tim Fowers, then on Thursday Matt will be playing some solo Print and Plays’. After that we could read the sequel? That one is called ‘Next Tuesday it’s Oceans with Dominic Crapuchettes.

Ava: Classic titles, one and all. Goodnight, sweet Mart. You were such a convenient joke.

Tom: I’ll get the pillow.

Ava: Hey everybody! It’s time for some news! Probably the biggest (games) news of the last week has been the most grimly inevitable. Yup, it’s official that both Gen Con and Essen Spiel are not going to happen this year, at least not in their traditional form.

Gen Con and Spiel join UK Games Expo and a whole host of other conventions taking the hard but necessary decision to accept that getting huge bundles of people into some big rooms and getting them to hand each other pieces of card and plastic probably isn’t a great idea right now. Gen Con is going digital as is UKGE and many more so there will be some new ways to get your game on over the coming months. Gen Can’t is also remaining distinctly digital, and that’s a nice little project that perhaps has a bit more experience of keeping things online.

I’m definitely finding it pretty strange to have a hobby that brings me so much joy and connection suddenly become something dangerous. I went to Airecon the weekend before lockdown, and spent the whole time a bit nervous that we shouldn’t really be risking it, even if it was technically still allowed.

I’m enjoying getting more involved in the site now that digital gaming removes some of the geographical downsides of my lovely Yorkshire town (I love it here, but it costs a fortune to get to where the rest of the team are), but I’m also really missing my regular pub meet, having people over for games, or travelling to weird cons or pubs or events and just playing games with strangers.

Tom: I know exactly what you mean – I’m enjoying playing games with the rest of the team digitally. I actually omitted a stray thought from the last podcast – namely that I might have enjoyed The Defence of Procyon III a lot more than I would have otherwise just because I was playing it with you lot. But equally I miss the ritual of having a ‘games night’, or going to my local board game cafe. I think the root of what’s bittersweet about it all is that after a digital game, people are just keen to get away from their screens. Personally I find that sitting in a position I most associate with ‘working’ for a long period of time means I just want to be horizontal as soon as possible afterwards – so things tend to end rather abruptly. With game nights, the pre and post game chatter goes on as long as you want it to – the human contact is the heart of the experience – when it’s all digital, the games take precedence over the connection over them and lose something in the process, if that makes sense. Dang. I’m sorry for the doom and gloom.

Ava: You did actually just make me tear up a little. Those post game catch ups are the best.

Matt: Yeah, I used to meet up weekly with a mate and do this – I’d cook dinner, we’d play, then chat. As time went on the games hot shorter and the dinners got bigger. Human stuff is pretty great, you know? Definitely going to do more of that in the future. You heard it here first.
Ava: Just as inevitable and not quite so grim is the Spiel Des Jahres, probably still the biggest award in games.

As is traditional this year’s main prize nominees are ones I don’t know enough about to form a strong opinion. My City, Reiner Knizia’s family friendly legacy polyomino city builder, looks like an interesting hodge podge of recently popular ideas. Nova Luna is a collaboration between Uwe Rosenberg and Corné van Moorsel, in which a new moon orbits a board of tiles that are both your tasks and the colours you’ve got to fulfil those tasks with.

Matt: Ooh! I played Nova Luna – but I literally have nothing to say about it, other than that it was abstract and quite nice?

Ava:  Finally, Pictures, by Daniela and Christian Stöhr has players recreating images with blocks, shoelaces, symbols and other oddities. I will say that I’m actually genuinely curious about all of these, which is a good sign.

More significant for most of our dear readers is the Kennerspiel prize, for knowers. It still cracks me up every time I see translated as connoisseur games and remember that’s also what connoisseur means.

Here we’ve got some very familiar faces, with King’s Dilemma already having the full Quinns enthusiasm treatment, and The Crew, which I had five hours of wonderful time with just before the lock down started to kick in, it also crops up in Quinns’ card game compilation video. The final knower’s treat is Cartographers, a lovely game of roll and write fantasy geography, which showed up on stream recently.

I’m calling this one for The Crew. King’s Dilemma feels a little too fiddly to make it past the SdJ jury and Cartographers is nice and smooth but not exactly mind blowing. It’s the SdJ though and they do tend to favour nice and smooth over mind blowing, so I’m probably wrong.

But you should get The Crew. It made me emit all the best noises I’ve made this year.

Tom: As someone who has played both The King’s Dilemma and Cartographers, but not The Crew, I’m almost certain that The Crew will bag it; you’re absolutely right in your observation that the King’s Dilemma is too fiddly and Cartographers is just very, very nice. To that end, I’m going to be acting as your humble Kennerspiel bookie. $5 for one bet on The Crew taking pole position! 2:1 odds on King’s Dilemma NOT winning? Huge payouts! Bet on both and you can’t lose!

Ava: Is this a good time to let readers know that you don’t understand gambling at all.

Tom: Just because it’s something I don’t understand doesn’t mean I can’t profit from it.

Ava: There’s also the Kinderspiel, with Photo Fish, Speedy Roll and We Are The Robots nominated. I know nothing about this and this segment is already far too long. I might just try and see if I can persuade the bosses to get me copies of these so I can throw them at some children and see what happens.


Ava: Not literally.

Tom: I’m often placing boardgames in front of a small collection of younger siblings, and I can attest to the fact that it’s more often the children that are doing the throwing. Also those names are so much more exciting than in the kennerspiel category – we get ‘dilemmas’ and ‘cartography’ and a whole bunch of ‘the’, whilst the kids are getting snappy PHOTO FISH and SPEEDY ROLL. Those sound way more exciting. My siblings have actually found great amusement in my new job, and have taken every opportunity to send parodical versions of my reviews to the family group chat – complete with a fake beard and inability to look directly into a camera lens. Maybe I’ll have to get them to act as Kinderspiel correspondents.

Ava: This sounds genuinely amazing. I’m well up for watching you get owned by toddlers.

Matt: Same, please do provide evidence.

Ava: It feels like something approaching a public service announcement is required to flag up that War of Whispers is back on kickstarter.

War of Whispers was breathlessly reviewed by Matt this year (or a thousand years ago, it’s hard to say which) and joined The King’s Dilemma as the other ‘best Game of Thrones game since sliced dragons’. Officially the kickstarter is for an expansion, but there’s plenty of opportunities to get the standard game. There’s some frustrating deluxe business going on, with twenty cards of mini expansion are only available in the twice as expensive mini-laden pledge level. This seems like an odd choice for a game that I keep hearing Quinns say is ‘the best thing that’s happened to cubes since dice’.


Ava: Nobody said that. I’m making it up.

For all my complaining, the base box is reasonably priced (though beware taxes and shipping), and there’s a survey in one of their updates to chivvy for a mini-expansion of just the cards. Or just the minis, if you’re a pervert.

Ava: Escape: the curse of the temple is a wonderful real time co-operative dice roller that is getting rebuilt as a less real-time roll and write.

It looks a bit charming and might be the first time I’ve seen a co-operative roll and write? Players will take turns rolling dice and ticking off boxes on their personal dungeon sheet, leaving a pool for other players to pick scraps from. All this is to further tick off progress on a shared adventure sheet, keeping track of gem collection and that titular escape.

Tom: I feel like they’ve missed a trick with not including a timer (as far as I can see) in this Roll & Write version of Escape. In my head I was conjuring up a real-time roll and write, and gleefully daydreaming about how deliciously horrible that could be – your mistakes now indelible marks on paper sheets that catalogue each and every one of your many failures. How exciting! Instead… Well I’m not sure what we’re getting instead, right now. I don’t want to be the person that wants constant re-iterations of ‘that one thing i like’, but Escape is a game I wish I got to the table more, and the roll and write version looks like something that isn’t exactly going to capture that same spirit of begrudging co-operation and breathless excitement that’s in the original box. This is all conjecture, of course. Queen Games could deploy a sand timer out of nowhere – like a gritty dagger between my critical ribs – and I would look like bobo the fool.

Ava: Honestly, it’s notable that both of us have pored up and down that kickstarter page repeatedly and are not entirely confident whether the new game is real time or not. It’s much more interested in selling us expansions to the original game than actually telling us how the new one works. It’s odd.

Another tiny epic game! Pirates! On the sea! With a little build your own rondel mechanic! This could be quite neat, but I find it so hard to tell the great from the grot with these tiny epic games. The space one was sharp enough, but I’ve bounced off the few others I’ve tried to engage with and I’m not sure I can get excited about this one? But it does have cute little boats.

Tom: BYO…R? BUILD YOUR OWN RONDEL. I’ve never been more excited about a rondel since Glenmore: Chronicles II, and NEITHER HAS THIS KICKSTARTER. We seem to be featuring some kind of pirate game in every single games news recently, and so far nothing has dethroned my excitement for Forgotten Waters (and maybe that’s cheating a bit, because I’ve already played it). This thing does look like it crams a pretty expansive game into a pretty tiny box, though, with players blasting each other to bits, burying mountains of treasure and hiring swathes of dodgy crewmembers to make their ship the finest on the water. It’s looking pretty charming, so maybe this will be a quick pirate fix for your game nights when one of these larger pirate games just isn’t enough – like an injection of grog straight into your eye(patch).

Ava: I know literally nothing about Capital Lux, but it’s getting a sequel, so it must have some fans, right?

Matt: I played it in a bar once and really enjoyed it! Gorgeous art too – I’d definitely dip back for a second look at this colourful card universe.

Ava: I probably shouldn’t be making space in the news for this but it’s by the designer of Die Macher, a political area control game that appeared to have come from another dimension. A dimension that really, really liked maths. I’m slowly getting weirdly attached to Spielworxx’s unusual themes and idiosyncratic classics.

Tribune is a deluxe reprint of a classic, and offers a convoluted take on worker placement, where players take the roles of Roman families attempting to please the various factions of Rome. Collecting the cards of the right faction lets you boost the related actions, or get in the way of other people doing the same. The new edition includes the expansion where one player is using an entirely different set of rules to everyone else, using powerful action cards instead of placing their family members on the board.

There’s a video of the designer of the expansion singing a song in German about the special abilities of all the different factions. I was just about to cut out this whole item as I can’t figure out how to make Tribune sound exciting, and then it threw these acoustic guitar stylings at me.

Tom: That video radiates a powerfully strange energy. I’m here for it. All games should come with musical versions of their rules for the audibly-inclined – it sounds like something that Vlaada Chvatil would be fully on board with; A rock-opera version of Through The Ages, please – I promise it’ll make the game easier to understand.

Matt: Fair! If there’s ever been A Teach that needs an interval…

Ava: In the grim darkness of the 41st Willenium, there is only jiggy.

No. Wait. That’s something else.

Warhammer 40,000 is getting a new edition and I am struggling to figure out what is new about it. There’s an aggressively over-excited video by ‘James Workshop’ (a pseudonym I can get behind, or an incredible piece of nominative determinism) yelling about 9 things I should be excited about in the new edition. There’s a new crusade system for linking battles together with slowly improving troops, a more detailed approach to terrain, and apparently tanks are more tanky. Half of it made no sense to me and the other half was just superlatives, but Warhammer 40,000 is one of the biggest names in the business and a new edition is always an interesting prospect.

Tom: Does the new edition include cool new painting techniques? I never enjoyed Warhammer for the game, but I LOVED painting the miniatures. I remember spending money from my short-lived paper round on paints, paints, paints – so each of my little imperial guardsmen had personalities all of their own. Then I had to play the game with people, and I got to watch all my hard work get immolated time and time again due to my gross inability to understand numbers.

Ava: I was the opposite. I was so bad at painting that it was embarrassing to play the game I so desperately wanted to pour my heart and soul into. If we’re honest, I mostly just read my brother’s hand-me-down out-of-date rulebooks for a mix of the story and getting lost in imagined campaigns I’d never be able to persuade anyone to play with me. So glad everything’s different now! *stares balefully at a shelf full of unplayed role playing games.*

The Sisters of Battle are prominent in the dramatic announcement video, which is notable as I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman in a Games Workshop video before, especially not one that isn’t scantily clad. Unfortunately, it also leans into the idea that the Space Marines are the good guys, which is a habit of latter day Games Workshop that makes me feel more than a little sick.

Perhaps contradicting that, I’m also pretty excited by the tucked away video advertising some animated series including one that looks a bit like the new She-Ra, and my word, if they’ve done a super gay 40k reboot cartoon I’m delighted. (I doubt they’ve done this.)


Ava: No I’m not telling you my theory about Space Orks as queer icons.

Tom: Does anyone know how to make an ellipsis bigger?

Mart Leez: There’s an option to make them bigger in the settings menu – I will be happy to show you how now I’m fully rested and recharged!

Tom: Thanks Mart, I’m glad to hear you’re feeling well rested. All that struggling earlier – it looked like you were having some particularly turbulent dreams!

Ava: This is worse than Dallas.

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

Posted on

GAMES NEWS! 18/05/20

Matt Lees60 comment(s)

Matt: Hello! Before I hand over to my fictional robotic counterpart, I just wanted to point your attention towards the home of the new unofficial Shut Up & Sit Down forum. We unfortunately had to shut down the servers we were running ourselves, but we wish the new forum all of the best and would highly recommend getting over there for a good old gander – they really are a very lovely bunch. And without further ado, here’s a robot with my face and voice:

Mart Leez: This Tuesday, we’ve got Wingspan with Elizabeth Hargrave, and on Thursday Tom and Matt will be playing some “board games”! Then, next Tuesday, Matt will be playing some Fugitive with Tim Fowers, and having a cosy print-and-play session on Thursday. That’s all from me, your favourite LeesCorp information dispenser. Have a pleasant week!

Tom: Huh. It seems a lot more sprightly this week. Guess the repairs worked after all – I was worried that we’d have to naturally end Mart’s character arc after a slow degradation through relentless employee abuse. But hey – seems like it really is a ‘joke too convenient to kill’.

Ava: I guess that’s the benefit of having complete authorial power over a fictional construct.

Mart Leez: You know I can hear you, right?

Tom: Back in your box, Mart, there’s a news going on.

Ava: Small World of Warcraft is a strong name, and the most inevitable outcome of Days of Wonder collaborating with Blizzard. This very much does what it says on the tin: a new version of Small World, set in Azeroth. Small World’s central conceit is a menu of mix and match special abilities and the factions that love them. It makes for a really nice sense of movement, as each player shifts between various different factions over the course of the game, with each one rising and falling in overlapping waves of history. I’m left sitting here wondering how much it’ll attempt to tweak Small World’s odd cocktail of simple warfare and pedantic rule interactions. It’d be nice to see a whole cross compatible new set of abilities and peoples, but coming up with yet another variant set is a tricky design challenge, especially when even the base game came with rules that required a little bit of lawyering to get through.

Honestly, I’m focusing on Small World to cover up that I only played WoW for about ten minutes while working in an internet cafe, so don’t know anything about it. (Which is a blatant lie, as actually I dropped SEVERAL MANY HOURS into Warcrafts 2 and 3, so I do just about know my Arthas from my elf-bow).

Tom: All of my knowledge of Warcraft comes from the mouths of heartfelt video essayists talking about how much it meant and means to them, so I have a lot of secondhand sentiment for it. I wonder how those guys feel about the game being shrunk down until it’s the size of an orc’s toenail. How are they going to log on now? With a tiny little keyboard, I suppose.

Ava: … are we reading the same piece of news? Did you just read the headline?

Tom: no comment.

Ava: Deep Vents is new from Ryan Laukat’s fabulously illustrated Red Raven Games. This one had me googling ‘archaea’, the one celled organisms that feed on the weirdly fertile deep sea vents of the title and are the currency of the game. Players will be grabbing tiles, and adding them to their own hot, wet ecosystem, which will continue to grow and react everytime a tile is added. You’ll be picking up archaea, or spending them to activate other fancier animals with special interlocking abilities. It sounds a little bit like a deep sea suburbia, and that’s quite a strong elevator pitch.

Tom: Yeti Crab? Goblin Shark? Scaly Foot Snail? Sign me up for these wild creatures as soon as possible. I’m absolutely pumped. Hot Wet Ecosystem is my favourite Hendrix song, as well.


Tom: Ah, so after some googling I found out that the song I thought I was referencing actually turns out to be called ‘Long Hot Summer Night’?

Ava: It’s good you mention that here before our dear readers make the same mistake I did and google ‘Hot Wet Hendrix’ to find some… questionable reading.

Tom: I can only apologise for the trauma I have inflicted.

Ava: Sticking with the sea (but moving swiftly away from any hot wet bits) Wizkids are releasing a two player follow up to a game I didn’t even notice called Flotilla, set in the same ‘universe’ but with totally new mechanics.

In Seastead, players will fish literal rubbish out of the sea, and pick the best bits for themselves, leaving the leavings to their opponent. On your turn you’re either diving or building, adding to the options and bonuses available on your shared flotilla. Building cobbled together habitats and then floating them across the oceans has always been one of my favourite fantasies that would probably actually be horrifically difficult.

Tom: We talked about Flotilla a little on the podcast, and how we found its party trick, in having an asymmetric ‘two-phase’ structure, to be a little lacking. We also found it a little disappointing that direct competition didn’t seem to be at the fore in something that has the veneer of a ‘slowly expanding territory’ game. Colour me interested, then, as it seems that the former has been completely dropped and the latter given more of a focus here. Flotilla was a game that had a lot of promise, and I very much enjoyed the idea of lording it over a big raft of trash – so I’m curious to see if this will tighten up the loose bolts that were holding it all together.

Ava: I’m kinda tickled that the Wizkids blurb here has not noticed there’s a pandemic, talking almost entirely about lunch breaks, cafes and dates. Perhaps it’s aspirational.

Tom: Clearly a few bolts still a little loose, there.

Ava: Am I better than to link to a game that sounds a bit bland and could be played with any 22 cards just because it’s got a cat-based take on tarot’s major arcana? LET’S FIND OUT.

Major Arcana, The Tarot Game is a set of twenty two cards with feline illustrations of the trump suit of the tarot deck. A simple guessing and memory game where players call out numbers for other players to discard, with you hoping to hold on your cards the longest. Honestly, it looks fine and forgettable, but it’s unique selling point is illuminated cat tarot artwork. I’d like to see more people make games with tarot decks. There’s so many narratives and numbers in those decks, that I hope more designers are up for toying with that magic. Though I imagine the trick remains making something you can market out of a deck of cards that can be acquired in a thousand different variations already.

Tom: I’m reminded of a video from The Infinite Review on Tarot, and how they highlighted the existence of ‘Corporate Motivation’, ‘Hip Witches’ and ‘Mobile Suit Gundam Wing’ decks. If you shuffle them all together then blimey, does your future look like a gathering of suit-clad mechs that listen to Anna Von Hausswolff.

Ava: Slightly concerned that my passion for tarot and Anna Von Hausswolff makes me the hip witch in this trifecta. Bring me a poster of a gundam saying ‘Teamwork makes the dream work’ stat.

After being shown Age of Steam, and its Moon map expansion, I’m faintly obsessed with people making train games set on the moon. I could probably even manage a segue about the Moon card in the tarot with that weird lobster shouting at the moon, but it might be an even deeper cut than hot wet Hendrix.

Ava: 21Moon is a ridiculously named entry in the hobby within a hobby of 18xx games, based on Francis Tresham’s 1829. 21Moon takes infrastructure building business-em-up into the future and onto the moon. It’s not actually about trains (boo) but building road networks between mining industries on our lesbian neighbour in space. The actual core of 18xx games is buying stocks and investing in and manipulating each other’s companies, which I guess is as valid on the moon as anywhere else. Although it does seem like a shame to see space finally corrupted by capitalism. Where will Tim Curry hide now? Sticking with trains, we’re choo-chooing to kickstarter with Railroad Ink’s new challenge editions. I’m not going to dive too deep into this as we already mentioned it, but the kickstarter is live, and the green and yellow editions of this locomotive roll and write look lovely. There’s a whole host of boxes and boards and expansions on offer. Looks like now’s the ideal time to get on board this particular bandwagon.

Tom: You know, I’ve actually started to miss the train, which is something I never thought I’d say. Maybe I’ll play a couple of hours of Railroad Ink before and after work as the closest alternative to being treated to Southern Rail’s finest, most humid carriages. Ahh, takes me back…

Ava: At risk of falling terrifyingly deep into train nerdery, the new Railroad Ink editions are dressed in the right livery for Southern Rail.

Ava: Maharaja is from game design hotties Kramer and Kiesling, and is one of those stuffy looking classics that’s getting a new lick of paint and a few fancier components. It’s a game of bopping around India building shrines and statues to impress the travelling Maharaja. The game offers simultaneous action selection, route navigation where you either have to build your own path or pay other people to use theirs. Points and money are on offer for building the most things in the cities, provided you’re on top when the titular King comes to town. There’s a lot of stuff to tie yourself in knots over, and a kickstarter video that attempts to liven up a dry rules explanation with music that sounds like it’s from an action blockbuster.

I’ve played it! I remember liking it, but I can’t remember why. Sorry that’s not actually helpful.

Tom: Opinions are secondary to our swift delivery of all the finest news. Tune in next week, for a comprehensive list of current kickstarters with one joke at the end, and nothing more.

Ava: Don’t tempt me! I could really do with a Monday off!

Ava: Friedman Friese’s The Fight, is now available as a print and play to support the playtesting efforts mentioned in his lockdown design blog. This is being pitched as being in the same vein as The Crew and The Mind, which puts it in hallowed company, but reading about it, I see it more as a co-operative take on Cutthroat Caverns, with a little splash of Welcome to the Dungeon. Players are trying to play cards into a series of battles with card-based monsters, while not able to communicate, and trying to save enough for the next battle. It sounds simple and I’m not sure it’ll work, but (a) I would’ve said the same thing about The Crew or The Mind and (b) presumably that’s why he’s throwing it out to a wider web of playtesters.

Personally, and perhaps unreasonably, I resent a game that says you can’t communicate numbers but you can make vague statements. The Mind and The Crew are both specific enough that it’s pretty obvious what is and isn’t allowed, but I hate when the rules are any less clear. People quickly build their own language for what’s what, even if they’re trying not to, and I’m never quite sure if that means I’m playing the game right or cheating.

Ava: A bundle of British role playing design folks have put together a discounted bundle of games to raise money for the protective equipment for the National Health Service. Ignoring the fact that I’m furious that the NHS is having to rely on charity to get the equipment it needs to keep its workers alive, this is quite a lovely thing.

Tom: Getting sorely needed protective equipment to our vulnerable healthcare service as they’re continually screwed over by “those-who-shall-not-be-named” is one thing, but what’s in it for me? What’s the GAMEFEEL like? There are systems in here that let you run amok in a Kafka-esque bureaucratic nightmare of a magic school, be cosmically horrified by GM-Less lovecraft dread simulator, or do a tarot-themed heist mission with ‘reality bending monsters that wear skin like a suit’. There’s a lot to love here, and a lot to be deeply confused by. I might have to grab a few of these myself!

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

Posted on

GAMES NEWS! 11/05/2020

Matt Lees59 comment(s)


Ava: What on earth happened to Mart?

Tom: I’ve no idea, it looks like maybe taking an axe to it was a bad idea? It appears to be in some kind of safe mode.

Ava: Once we had a friend, now we have a spreadsheet. Oh woe is Mart, noblest LeesCorp employee, and the running joke too convenient to kill.

Tom: I’ve got a screwdriver, some duct tape and a spare liver in cold storage. I’ll see if we can keep it trucking on until we require its services once more.

Ava: Wait, whose liver have you got?

Time Captain: help


Ava: The latest pandemic promises hot zones in your area.

Oh god it’s too hard to make jokes, tbh. At a time when the US and UK are dreadfully mismanaging a literal pandemic, it’s hard to look at a new edition of Pandemic set exclusively in North America without wincing a little. That said, it’s a game that’s happening, and it’s interesting enough to talk about.

Pandemic: Hot Zone: North America is the first of a series of stripped back versions of the excellent co-operative research-em-up Pandemic. Inspired by the shop distributed demo versions of Ticket to Ride, Matt Leacock has stripped the game back to something that can be played in a much shorter time, with less rules, and less faff. This probably isn’t going to tickle the tickle-spots of many of our readers, but it is a brilliant attempt to reach out to wider audiences.

Pandemic is the game I want to hold the spot Monopoly has in wider society: thousands of iterations of a game where everyone knows the rules and has played it to death. I’m not hugely into it myself, but I think it’s a fine ambassador for the hobby, and a very, very clever design. If this Hot Zone series can make the game even more accessible, I think it could be part of a real step change in how boardgames get seen by the mainstream, and that’s got to be worth something.

Ava: Top of the Kickstarter Blockbusters this week is Sea of Legends, a magical take on Caribbean piracy, adventure and storytelling.

Tom: The Kickstarter video for this one is absolutely baffling – it seems as though they’re trying to condense every possible thing you can do in the game into just 54 short seconds, giving off some fun vibes but I’m struggling to hold onto anything. It’s an adventure? Thing? With pirates? And really, really big miniatures?

Ava: The main selling point here is the huge and diverse range of writers that have been brought on board. Storytelling will take place through a multiple choice app, leaving scope for huge piles of wordstuff. Combined with NPCs that can be either your lover or nemesis, a bevy of optional captains, and an even bevvier bevy of factions to be caught between, there should be a lot of variety and excitement here.

Tom: The binary between NPCs being your ‘lover’ or ‘nemesis’ is really making me chuckle, as is the use of ‘lover abilities’ as a consistent piece of verbiage in the press release ‘Utilize your… “Lover abilities” to gain the advantage’. Oh my.


Ava: You will never find out how advantageous my lover abilities are. Also, eww.

Honestly, I’m a bit baffled at the balance between miniatures and story-telling. This feels like it’s built to let you play with someone else’s dolls and imagination. This looks ambitious and weird and I’m not sure I’m actually as excited about it as I want to be, despite what looks like a lot of gorgeous world and character building. I’m also a bit nervous about any game promising to be a kickstarter exclusive. One of the common refrains around these parts is that any game that is ‘good enough’ will eventually get a retail release. Without that retail release, do they have a proper motivation to make this game solid, reliable and fun?

That said, it’s a stellar line up of writers, and there should be some fascinating stories in this. I cannot decide what I think!

Ava: Adventures in Neverland is also on kickstarter. Another story based adventure game, this one may be a bit frustrated to find it’s up against Sea of Legends, both eating each other’s ‘I wanna be a pirate, but make it magic’ attitude. Adventures in Neverland has you bouncing around the titular island as various characters, either co-operating to tell a story, or, erm, competing to tell a story? More reliant on standees and booklets than minis and apps, this might be the cheaper option, but that doesn’t make it any more reliable a gamble.

I want to highlight how odd it is that we get so many games about Sherlock Holmes and Cthulhu, because they’re out of copyright, but we don’t get much Peter Pan? I guess it’s more a specific story, than a framework you can dump what you want in, but it’s still nice to see that somebody still wants to visit Neverland. Not that I even really like Peter Pan, or games about just bobbing around telling stories. (Though with the right group and a few tweaks to make the game less atrociously problematic, Tales of the Arabian Nights does still have a place at my table).

Tom: I would put actual real money on Peter Pan being an upcoming hero in the Unmatched series of games – with the ‘lost boys’ acting as a gaggle of sidekicks. He’s just the kind of quasi-relevant out-of-copyright ‘hero’ that will fit snugly in between Sinbad and King Arthur. And if he’s not already in the works? Then I’ve just squandered the best idea I’ve had in years. Dang.

But, you know, out of these two adventure-em-ups I think I’m more intrigued by the promise of Adventures in Neverland – perhaps just because there are fewer jumbo miniatures, there isn’t an app to drive the thing, and that board looks absolutely gorgeous. That being said, the potential for an endlessly expandable experience that comes with the Sea of Legends app means that it could be a better investment, but probably only if you’re also looking to shell out for extra plastic…

Ava: To be perfectly honest, out of the two, my money is on secret third option Plaid Hat’s Forgotten Waters, which hits retail in June and so will potentially dock a lot sooner than either of the above. Not that I’m not waiting for reviews (or at least to check out our very own stream) before I dip my toe in.

Matt: I’m super excited to try it – I’ll let you know my thoughts on the next podcast!

Ava: Praga Caput Regni is new from Vladimir Suchy and Delicious games. You had me at ‘action crane’ and then you added some kind of resource bridge. I don’t know much about Prague, but I know how I feel about infrastructure and things that allow me to sound ridiculous when I’m explaining rules.

Following in Troye‘s footsteps as being a game that makes me disproportionately excited about very old building materials, players will be taking an ever shifting crane-ful of actions to set about various projects, all making Prague as fancy as possible for King Charles IV. The game looks like fairly straightforward economic efficiency engineering, but lifts the game off the table with a few little cardboard structures that are absolutely adorable.

When playing one of these big european engines made up of separate but interlocking moving parts, I’m often left feeling like one part of it is much more interesting than the whole. As such, I’m glad to see Vital Lacerda’s latest announcement takes one slice of massive Portugeuse wig-fest Lisboa, and turns it into a much shorter, tighter game.

Mercado de Lisboa is Vital Lacerda’s lightest game to date. It takes the city building portion of Lisboa, and turns it into a battle for customers in a more modern (but importantly, still Portugeuse) covered market.

I bounced off Lisboa as an intersection of great ideas that gelled together in a way that was somehow both ingenious and unsatisfying, The engine worked beautifully, but I wasn’t particularly excited by how it came together. Each portion of the board just felt like an extra obstacle to doing what I actually wanted to do somewhere else. The idea of just picking one part of that game and honing it to perfection sounds great to me. This has gone straight on the wishlist.

Tom: The double bill of games with brutally dry themes is killing me here, as the resident ‘read Ava’s summary of the game and then goof on it’-ator. You’ve got to give me some good thematic grounding here or else everyone will see right through my total lack of insight.

Ava: I do honestly think that dry themes are fertile ground for ridiculous nights at the game table? There’s something about laying out just how important it is to impress the Holy Roman Emperor with a nice new wall, or explaining the niceties of customer service in one tiny marketplace in Lisbon. Dry is the new wet, I say. Those piratical games above actually have to rely on good writing and smart ideas to be funny and functional, and help them step outside the conventions of the genre. These dryer games can focus on being fascinating puzzles, and let the silliness come from inside the house.

Tom: So what you’re saying is that the goofs were there all along, I just needed to dig them out of the ground and present them to the readers like a prize turnip.

Ava: Just tap your heels together and say ‘there’s no goof like ho(ly Ro)m(an )e(mperor)’.

Ava: The Osaka game market isn’t happening, but my favourite part of the boardgamegeek news blog is when it’s delving into the enormously creative Japanese game design scene. As such I’m pleased with this summary of some of the games that would’ve been on sale. There’s a lot to take in here, but I’ll just note that they led with the opportunity to adjust the size of some tanuki testicles.

Tom: So… This one isn’t funny? Because the goof is apparent, the yucks are self-evident, the gaffe is simply too obvious for the news. We should just acknowledge its existence-

Ava: -and move on.

Tom: You know, I think I’m getting the hang of this. There is nothing funny about Tanuki Testicles.

Matt: What are you talking about, Tom? It’s alliteration!

Ava: There’s another game here called ‘You are the ghost’ that takes the ‘everybody knows something, except one person who’s just got to pretend’ set up of Spyfall and A fake artist goes to New York and applies it to listening to a sound through an earphone! This is ludicrous and I’m here for it.

Ava: We don’t often bring up digital games round these parts, but obviously the present circumstances mean that remote play apps are more useful than ever. As such it’s pretty nice that Humble are offering a giant Asmodee bundle (and also probably sheds some light on why they did a litigious round up of all the iffy ports on Tabletop Simulator a few weeks back). There’s some excellent games to try here, and it’s no doubt a bargain, and I imagine Humble and Asmodee will do pretty well out of everyone demanding that their families buy the bundle so they can all play together. It’s both a canny and nice thing. And if you think that they’re being a little too mercenary, you can always just chuck all the money to charity! Mine’s rigged to throw money at Mermaids, a charity supporting trans kids in the UK, and at a time when the government is threatening to take away their access to support, that’s incredibly important to me!


Ava: I have no idea what’s going on here, and am now worried you’ve already started playing Don’t Get Got without me, which is handy as….

Ava: …now you can play Don’t Get Got, in your very own home.

The makers of Don’t Get Got have released a ‘working from home’ edition of the ludicrous party-metagame to play with your digitally enabled co-workers. Each of six players will have a stack of secret missions to fulfil, but if anyone playing the game ever catches you playing the game, you get got.

I’m not entirely convinced additional paranoia and suspicion is what we need right now, but I suspect a bit of ridiculous fun and drama is worth the risk.

Tom: To that end, I am deeply concerned at this game’s potential to turn my living situation into an endless Pinter play. Stirring a light dash of lockdown into its relatively harmless core will almost certainly make the act of ‘getting got’ into a fate worse than death, and the lack of obvious timespan in which to play the game over means that there’s potential for days of uninterrupted dread.

I’m in! Thanks Big Potato!

Ava: Thig Thotato?

Tom: No.

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

Posted on

Miniatures Game Review – Gaslands: Refueled

Quintin Smith31 comment(s)

Our miniatures correspondent, Eric Tonjes, returns! If you missed Eric’s most recent reviews, don’t miss him on Guild Ball, Necromunda: Underhive and Warhammer 40,000 (8th edition).

Eric: Gentlepeople, start your engines. It’s Eric here, back after a bit of a hiatus to talk about one of the most interesting miniatures games to come out in the last few years: Gaslands Refueled.

While rarely remarked upon, automobiles are deeply violent machines. This is true on the level of raw mechanics, as we strap ourselves into steel boxes that harness explosions in order to drag us at high velocity. They are also some of the most dangerous devices made available to the average consumer – globally, autos cause somewhere north of a million fatalities per year.

Little wonder, then, that they have created a niche genre where this violence is made explicit. In movies like Death Race and Mad Max and video games like the Twisted Metal series I played with gusto as a teen, spikes and guns are strapped to these death machines to make them, well, Machines of Death.

Gaslands seeks to transliterate vehicle violence to the tabletop. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where earth has been turned to a wasteland and its citizens compete in contests of vehicular mayhem in the hope of escape, it simulates the belching exhaust, squealing transmissions and rat-a-tat gunfire that my inner teenager still craves.

Before we talk about the game itself, we need to discuss what makes Gaslands such an exciting proposition: the miniatures. Or, rather, the lack of official miniatures. Originally published as part of Osprey Publishing’s “perfectbound rulebooks with minimal support” Wargames series, it eschews the normal approach of building a business on the back of massive pewter-and-plastic product lines. Instead, it is designed to be played with the Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars sitting in a box in your basement, ideally with a few modifications.

This minimal support does provide one of the game’s downsides. While it requires custom dice and movement templates, the assumption is that you’ll either papercraft them yourself or hunt them down from third-party sellers on Etsy (or use normal dice and consult charts, if you’re a total Philistine). For the consumer used to ready-to-play boardgames or even the tabletop wargamer used to shelling out a few hundred bucks for custom cards and pieces of plastic, this might seem off-putting.

However, if you’re not turned off by a bit of crafting or online cobbling, what Gaslands provides is a wargame at a remarkably accessible price point. You really can just play it with pieces of paper and a few toy cars. If you want to take it up a notch, a pot of brown paint mixed with water and some toothpicks and doodads from around the house will have you fielding a fleet of custom-built rust-buckets in no time. A bit of time on YouTube will turn up dozens of tutorials providing guidance on such custom creations, and with an investment lower than a single box of Games Workshop Space Marines you’ll be good to go. If you want to dig even deeper, there are companies that sell custom bits to make your vehicles even more sexily post-apocalyptic.

Personally, this was one of the elements of Gaslands that excited me. When I started playing miniatures games two decades ago, the do-it-yourself ethos was everywhere. Terrain made from deodorant caps and toilet paper rolls were the norm. It was common for even the biggest game companies to release rules without models to reflect them, expecting the players to indulge in some scratch-building. As the cogs of capitalism have ground onward, more and more of the hobby space was commodified and less and less was expected to be handmade.

This was good sense for those too busy or particular to enjoy scratch-building, but it was also a loss. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I sat down with a box of my kids’ toy cars and started digging for potential gold.

When it comes to the rules, the core of Gaslands is built on the movement template model familiar to anyone who has played the X-Wing miniatures game. Each turn is divided into “gears,” sub-turns in which cars can move if they are that gear or higher (meaning faster cars get to move more often). To make a move, the player places one of several straight or curved templates in front of their vehicle and then slides it to the far end. Gaslands lacks the simultaneous movement of X-Wing but mimics some of its uncertainty with the less elegant but perfectly workable rule that, if you pick up a template, you must use it. This prevents pre-measuring and results in players squinting and muttering, unsure if they will be able to slide into a narrow gap or crumple against an obstacle.

This template mechanic is modified by “skid dice,” which when rolled either help a player go up a gear or introduce some negative consequence like a hazard, slide or spin. Hazards are always bad, while the other results modify how the template is used – a car might slide out to the side of the template rather than arriving at its end, for example, introducing more dynamism. This is also generally negative, but on more than one occasion I have found a lucky slide putting me right where I needed to be. Within the context of the game, pressing your luck with skid dice and managing hazards adds a layer of strategy to the already-tactical movement.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a game of vehicular combat without weapons, and Gaslands provides plenty of guns and gadgets to promote maximum carnage. Each car is a unique creation: you use points (*ahem* “cans”) to purchase vehicles and upgrades. The list of options is quite long, including a number of “fun” options like the Ice Cream Truck and War Rig that come with special rules. In addition, each player has a sponsor who gives unique abilities and promotes specialization.

After some experimenting, I’m not sure all these weapons are balanced, tending to sort into the category of either “really cool” or “good.” Dropping an oil slick to make your opponents spin out is awesome but doesn’t really have the consistency of shooting them with a machine gun. The same is true of sponsors, some of whom provide abilities that are more generally useful while others are pretty niche. That said, there are a lot of viable options, and Gaslands is the sort of game where suboptimal choices can be easily overcome with good driving and a bit of luck.

All of this gets tied together by a series of scenarios. The standard is Death Race, which involves driving through a series of gates to be the first across the finish line. There are other modes, ranging from the straightforward “kill them all” demolition derbies to Zombie Bash, where points are scored for running over “zombies” that are definitely not innocent pedestrians.

Not all sponsors and vehicles are equally suited to every game type, which might leave certain players frustrated with a poorly-chosen fleet. However, they do a wonderful job of highlighting different ways to play and encouraging varied approaches to the game.

How do these elements come together?

Well, the big news first: Gaslands is ridiculously fun. It moves quickly, it is constantly engaging, and it feels full of meaningful decisions. There is enough luck to elicit groans and cheers while still being a game where skilled drivers have a big advantage. Most importantly, it has an unrivaled ability to bring out the inner child in those playing. Many of my opponents, all adults, end up making vrooming noises, squealing tire sounds and explosions as cars are reduced to fireballs. I’ve also played with my younger children, who find the spatial-prediction element a bit of a stretch but love the mayhem and custom cars.

As a miniatures game, Gaslands does lack a bit of depth. Compared to something like Infinity or Dropzone Commander it feels a bit “beer and pretzels.” That said, don’t hear that as a pejorative. Beer and pretzels are both delicious, and so is ramming your pickup truck into a minigun-equipped schoolbus. If you are seeking a “serious” wargame, Gaslands probably won’t hold your attention forever. That said, I don’t think it needs to – thanks to its price point, Gaslands can easily be the palate cleanser between Very Serious Simulated Battles. At the same time, if you’re a board gamer looking for an easy entry point to the miniatures hobby, Gaslands is about as close a thing to perfect as I can imagine.

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

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GAMES NEWS! 04/05/20

Matt Lees41 comment(s)

Mart Leez: Peoplethings! If you need a scheduled entertainment respite phase in and around your mandatory working and/or worrying hours, then fear not! Well actually, fear just a little.  Our stream this Tuesday featuring Isaac Vega and the much talked-about Forgotten Waters has been pushed back until next Thursday, May 14th – but we’ll be live this Thursday with Ava, Quinns and The Real Matt Lees for a live game of Hansa Teutonica! Lock up your wooden discs, it’s all kicking off!

Ava: Mart, you can’t just start the news off by yelling at the peoplethings! We try to ease in with a gentle bit of repartee. Some bon mots, and at least one compound news-word. We’re a respectable news outlet, not some kind of angry town crier.

Tom: Ava, that’s bobbins. We just write the news and then come back here and blurt out the first thing that comes to mind.

Ava: Maybe, but we don’t shout.

Mart Leez: Apologies for the incorrectly pitched thought-velocities. I will try to bon up my mots for next week, and if there’s space I’ll pop a repartee up there as well. How’s this as a sample? “Hello Readers and welcome to the news-bike. We’ll be peddling this all the way through news-ville dispatching news-bundles into the laps of the populace, waiting and ready for their news-breakfast”

Tom: Ava, I have to kill it. It knows too much.

Ava: I’ll get the axe.

Mart Leez: 🙁

Ava: Spielworxx continues to be my go-to for impossibly heavy games with ridiculously particular themes, and they certainly don’t appear to be slowing that down.

The Cost is coming out later this year, and has players as rival asbestos industrialists. Each turn players will have to decide if they’re willing to pay a cost in human lives to make their factories and mines more efficient. This is even bleaker than the ruthless political flip-flopping of Die Macher. The game has four rounds unless you’re shut down for breaching health and safety regulations. You already know whether this is more melancholy than you can handle, and I’m just in awe that it exists.

Tom: There’s always a lot of room to laugh at eurogames with depressing themes; putting a care home next to a cliff-edge in Suburbia, for one example. But The Cost has a core risk that’s both unbelievably nefarious and brutally mundane, and stands uncomfortably close to real life in a way that’s kind of strange when you’re used to the occasional lick of bleak theme being something of a USP. It seems as though the game is at least taking itself pretty seriously though with that title – at least it’s not calling itself ‘As-BEST-os; Our Condolences To The Family Of The Deceased!’ or something.

Ava: Agreed. ‘Making the as-best-os of a bad situation’ may be the name of the game, but absolutely shouldn’t be the name of the game.

Quinns dropped a link to this drunk little Krakenfeeder in the company slack, and I think I share his curiosity.

Feed the Kraken promises social deduction and a constant struggle to steer the ship either away from or towards a giant sea monster, depending on what floats your boat. Or doesn’t, I guess. There’s actually three factions, with pirates trying to steal the ship, sailors trying to get home, and a lone cultist trying to feed the beast. The cultist may be able to win people on side over the course of the game, which sounds like just the sort of mess to mix up a game like this.

Tom: The ‘Whom Shall We Trust’ section on BGG has a wonderful bit of flavour that makes me irrationally excited for the theming of the game; ‘After each navigation, the lieutenant and navigator go off duty, and the captain has to find somebody sober enough to take their spot instead. Everyone can discuss how well that last navigation went, who is to blame for the current course, and who should be in charge in the future instead.’ It seems like this game is going to get to a ‘The Lighthouse’-level fever-pitch in which the table dissolves into a drunk, arguing mess, with players gradually getting grumpier and grumpier with eachothers questionable sailing choices. I may be slightly biased as to the quality of this box though – I’ve been playing bucketloads of Sea of Thieves recently and I think I just want revenge on my crewmates for continually locking me in the brig.

Ava: If the puzzle battle poodle’s doing battle with paddle in a puzzle battle bottle, that’s a puzzle battle poodle bottle paddle puddle fuddle muddle, right?

Bullet♥︎ is somehow getting a mention just because the phrase ‘battle puzzle’ tickled me. I’m not sure I like the anime lady laden setting of this new offering from Level 99, but with Battlecon and Pixel Tactics under their belts, they are a company that knows a bit about niche fighting games. This promises a real time battle royale, or various co-operative modes, and it requires an emoji to write about, which is annoying. I’m still not entirely clear if I’m supposed to call it Bullet or Bulletheart. I guess the choice will be yours. I’m going to stick to my Doctor Seussing.

Tom: In more ‘Strange Sentences in BGG Descriptions’-news, this one’s making headlines; ‘Each heroine’s powers manifest in a different form, with players controlling sound, paper, technology, gravity, triangles, and more’. What’s the ‘and more’? It could literally be anything and I wouldn’t be at all surprised. I agree with Ava on this one though, I think that ‘anime lady’ setting is bottom of the pile for me, below the other three boardgame themes, ‘Fantasy’, ‘Cthulhu’, and ‘Beige’.

Ava: Hey, would you look at that, the long awaited fourth installment of the Dale of Merchants series, Dale of Merchants 3 (don’t ask), has landed on Kickstarter. It remains adorable, and does some fiddly but clever things with deck building.

The game is built around a standard deck building core: adding cards to your deck from a central market, but slows things down by forcing you to remove cards from your deck to actually win the game. It also doesn’t make you discard at the end of your turn, giving you more opportunities for both planning and ruining your own turns. With almost every card in the deck coming with a special ability, and each game being made up of your choice of four specialised ‘animalfolk’, there’s a lot of moving parts. Dale of Merchants 3 is a standalone selection of six decks, including echidnae and tree-kangaroos. You can also now finally get the whole range of adorables.

Ava: I’ve played some of the earlier games, so can have an opinion! I don’t like how much of the game you have to spend reading the cards, particularly when part of the pitch is the endless recombination of different animals, meaning that you’re even more likely to have required reading each new game. That said, I kinda love it. It’s got an interestingly rigid flow, and a smart curve of deck building and deconstruction in a carefully balanced race with your foes. And the different decks genuinely make for very different games.

Tom: I’m really excited for more games in the animal combination genre – I haven’t played a good taxidermy euro since ‘Splice Up’.

Ava: Don’t stuff my echidnae, Tom.

Tom: Wasn’t that a Guns and Roses record?

Ava: Guards of Atlantis II promises to be a tabletop MOBA, that incomprehensible form of video game where people march around a jungle full of jargon to defend something big from a steady stream of something littles. In case it’s not obvious, I have never understood the sport, despite several attempts to read about it.

Tom: It’s all very simple! All you need to really understand it is around 2,000 hours minimum and the capacity to memorise 119 different sets of 4 (sometimes 5) skills with 4 levels to each as well as a small tree of unique buffs and then 155 items on top of that and how they combine and interact! It’s a cakewalk, and that’s the ONLY REASON I had to physically ban myself from playing DotA 2. It was just. Too. Easy. That’s all.

Ava: ….


Ava: Moving on. Everyone on the team loves a team game, and this one has little icons promising zero luck and 100% cutthroatiness. I don’t know how that scale works, but I am worried that that’s a little too much throat cutting for my table. It has got a hell of a lot of strong pull quotes in its corner, and is an actual sequel, so presumably has been through at least one solid round of iterative improvements.

The game features simultaneous action selection, a tug of a war of a central minion battle, and the ability for your heroes to wade into that fray, or just go off and fight the enemy heroes for glory. Teamwork and co-ordination is central, and it does look like there’s some smart ideas here, as well as an absolutely enormous number of heroes to play with if you decide to go all in.

Tom: Despite my moba restriction/addiction, I’m very interested in how this game will translate the MOBA experience to the table. I always felt like the main barrier to my progression in DotA 2 was to do with my sluggish reaction speed, rather than a lack of desire to engage with and learn about its systems – so a game in which the former is eliminated is absolutely intriguing. These games have always been about manipulating and breaking their core systems for optimal play over twitchy reaction times, so perhaps Guardians of Atlantis II could be something that sucks me right back in.

Matt: 100% with you on that one, Tom. Perhaps one to enjoy together in person once CURRENT TIMES ease off a bit.

Ava: Torchbearer has a bit of a reputation as a brutal connoisseur’s take on dungeon delving. So it’s quite exciting to see the role playing game get a fancy new edition. This very parish gave it a grim but glowing (like a torch see, I’m good at writing) review a few years back. This edition comes split into various tomes, depending, I think, on how many extra rules you want to throw into the mix, but possibly depending on if you’re adventuring or running the game. I’ll be honest, the kickstarter isn’t entirely clear on this. It also adds theurges as a playable class.

Tom: I had the urges once.

Ava: Oh dear. Let’s step away from that one quickly.

The campaign video replaces the traditional badly voiced flyover of some components and buzzwords with incoherent imagery and some brooding metal, so that’s something?

Tom: This is quite possibly the wildest, longest Kickstarter video ever. What on earth is going on here. It certainly isn’t making me want to play Torchbearer any more, but it is making me want to listen to Bell Witch.

Ava: May I also recommend the Sunn o))) and Scott Walker collaboration Soused? Absolutely mind melting. I want to see the role playing game built around that monstrosity. ‘I bump the beaky: roll + tapir nosher, on a 7-9 watch garotted, on a 10+ wake nailed to cross.’

Tom: If we’re talking sludge, let me throw another into the pot; I got addicted to the Bongripper album ‘Terminal’ last year, and feel it’s worth a mention just because of that tracklisting.

Ava: Why would anyone need to grip a bon?

Mart Leez: I’m putting them up my mot as fast as I possibly can, I swear

Tom: No no no, it’s French, and is merely congratulating you on an excellent catch.

Ava: That’s the good flu you’ll be catching, presumably.

Tom:I think we’ve gone too far, say something about Torchbearer to make it relevant.

Ava: I held a torch once.

Tom: Bon Gripper!

Ava: The lovely boardgamegeek newsfolks have put together little print-your-own-expansions special. If you’ve ever looked at your game of Carcassonne and thought, ‘I just wish there were some surveyors in this’ then now is the time for your dreams to be fulfilled. There’s also grimly relevant plague doctors for Hadara, and Deep Blue has a new scenario about a returning captain.

Time Captain: A time captain?

Tom: No. Back in your timebox, time captain. Now’s not the time.

Ava: And finally, very clever game designer Geoff Englestein pointed his twitter followers towards an unusual court ruling in Canada, and it tickled me.

In a very expensive case of rock, paper, I’ll see you in court, a judgement has overturned a half a million dollar bet on a game of rock paper scissors. Apparently bets are only legal on a game in Quebec if it is considered a game of skill, with little or no chance involved, and on appeal, the game of fistibluffs has been ruled to not be skillful enough.

I honestly cannot imagine betting more than a fiver on anything, so the whole thing is bewildering to me. Though it does seem bad form to make a ridiculous bet and then spend a fortune arguing in court that you shouldn’t have been allowed to. My head has been shaking for half a week.

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