Origins is at the end of this week, and Andrew and Jason will be there (demoing games in the Asmodee booth). Say hello if you see them! Until then, the NEWS:
Matt Leacock (Pandemic) prepares Thunderbirds game [Link] Remember the show Thunderbirds, the one with marionettes saving the world from mischief? Well, Matt Leacock of Pandemic fame is preparing a cooperative game to celebrate the show’s fiftieth anniversary. I may need to track down a copy of the show to watch in anticipation.
Dave Chalker (Get Bit!) writes about stealing from games and a game about stealing [Link] Chalker writes about stealing ideas in game design and why it’s a good idea (because they usually morph into something completely new by the time the design is finished anyway). This post is also somewhat of a shill for Heat, his game currently funding on Kickstarter. (Not that I’m complaining: Heat looks awesome, and it’d be great if it hit some stretch funding goals…)
Ortus Regni launches on Kickstarter [Link] I know what you’re thinking. Why don’t I just include this in the Kickstarters of Note section below and be done with it? The reason is this campaign is utterly baffling, much like the game that is being funded (yet already in production?). The game/designer is a Gen Con sponsor (presumably meaning there’s money involved, enough for Gen Con to tweet about the game’s launch on Kickstarter to its almost 14,000 followers), and the ads running on Board Game Geek for the last several months have whet the appetite while offering few, if any, details. The art is unquestionably gorgeous, but I’ve never seen a campaign so interested in obfuscation. The first barrier to entry is the name, which is utterly opaque if you’re not in the know. Then there are the game’s components–again, beautiful, but bearing absolutely no text. The barriers to play this game are many, but the designer insists that it’s worth overcoming them in the long run. In some ways, I can sympathize with this: Glory to Rome is a hard game to get into, but it’s worth the investment because it’s brilliant. Still, in today’s crowded game market, I suppose we’ll see the results of this gamble soon enough. The designer will be at Origins if you want to see this game in person.
Kevin Nunn (Rolling Freight) discusses adapting source material to board games [Part 1, Part 2] Nunn discusses what makes a good adaptation. This series was born out of his proposal to adapt comics to board games (something he has already done–kind of–in the Sentinels of the Multiverse tactics game).
Daniel Solis (Belle of the Ball) offers tips for editing large blocks of rules [Link] Yes! This needed to be said. Seriously, folks: I realize not every designer is trained as a technical writer. But maybe that’s why you should hire someone to edit your rulebook. (I wrote a similar post on writing rulebooks.)
Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Parade review, Fantasy Frontier review, Under the Table episode 3, Introduction to our new writers, Mice & Mystics review, Why Why WHY?! #7 on fancy components] We had an overstuffed week, including a new episode in our webseries and an introduction to two new writers (one of whom, Meghan, posted her first review). Jennifer’s first review (of CV) will go live tomorrow, and we’ll have more great stuff up throughout the week. Keep slaying!
Kickstarters of Note
- Heat: Asmadi Games has a new Kickstarter for Heat, and it looks awesome. The game is from designer Dave Chalker (Get Bit!), and it involves simultaneous action selection as players try to make heists and avoid the police. The art is fantastic, and Asmadi makes great games (and delivers Kickstarter campaigns on time). $19.
- Copper Country: I found out about this one close to the end of its campaign, but it looks cool. It’s a Euro game about copper mining in my home state of Michigan (which is awesome, by the way). $48.
- 12 Realms: Ancestors Legacy: This is for the expansion and reprint of 12 Realms, a cooperative game set in a storybook world. (We interviewed Alex Argyropoulos of Mage Company here, and we reviewed the first edition of 12 Realms here.) $45.
- Evolution: This campaign is for North Star Games’ first strategy game for gamers, and it’s a revamp of an older design. (We reviewed the old version, but the new one looks nothing like it.) The art looks great, and the gameplay looks interesting. $50.
- Luchador: Mexican Wrestling Dice: I’ve seen lots of great comments about this game after last year’s Essen, but it hasn’t really been available stateside. Game Salute is working to bring the game to the US with upgraded components in a fancy second edition. $35 (or $25 if you’re upgrading your first edition).
- Essen: It’s a board game about the Essen board game convention! If that’s not too meta for you, the game looks cool, and the price is reasonable for the small print run. $50.
- BattleCon: War of Indines Remastered: Board games simulating 2D video games are all the rage right now, but BattleCon is rated one of the best on Board Game Geek. It has garnered lots of praise, and even though it isn’t my kind of game, I’ve been interested in checking it out. This is a revised reprint of an earlier version of War of Indines. $50 (although there are various other options available).
- Ortus Regni: All I know about this one is that the art is beautiful and the game is baffling. $45.
- Beowulf: No, this isn’t one of the Knizia Beowulf games from Fantasy Flight. Rather, this is a super thematic literary game from the same company that successfully funded the Moby Dick card game last year. Doesn’t look like my thing, but I’m a huge fan of the theme and look. $45.
What We’ve Been Playing
- Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island: This week marked my tenth and eleventh games of Robinson Crusoe, all solo, but only my third victory. This week I was attempting to beat the “rescue Jenny” scenario, which has thus far eluded victory. I was the Cook, and everything that could possibly go wrong in the first game went wrong. I tried to divide my attention between multiple tasks to get things done, but every time I rolled, it seemed, I missed victory. Finally, I got a discovery token that gave me a free treasure from the mystery deck. Relieved, I uncovered my treasure–only to find a ceremonial bowl that required me to reroll the die every time I rolled success during my tasks. (So much for the positive connotation of “treasure.”) Naturally, if I passed the success roll the first time, I failed the second. Jenny likely died on her rock that day; I can’t say for sure, because the Cook didn’t make it through to find out. I immediately reset the scenario with new cards, and this time, it looked like my fate would be similar. I rescued Jenny, which was a boon, but my health idled at dangerously low for the greater part of the game. The sixth round event required that “all players” required double food, meaning that instead of two food I had to have four. This did not bode well, but through some fancy finagling of resources and through starving Jenny a bit (sorry, Jenny), I was able to make it into the seventh round. I didn’t have an exit strategy, but by the time I reached the action phase, I realized that I somehow had all of the materials required to build the life boat and get off the cursed island. It was a victory, but I was almost too exhausted to enjoy it. Robinson Crusoe continues to delight, and it’s surprisingly awesome as a solo game. It’s a bit expensive for just a solo game (as it has remained to this point), but when you consider the price of video games and the hours of entertainment I’ve gotten out of it, I think it pays itself off. Now on to Volcano Island… (FarmerLenny)
- Ra: This was my first week back at work after vacation, so I had some work to take care of. The only lunch game I was able to play this week was Ra. And what a game it was! There were four of us playing, and in the first round, most of us were rusty, and the other three players were (in my opinion) too lax in what they were allowing to fill up the auction track. At the end of the first epoch, I was at the top of the bottom tier…and I stayed there for the rest of the game. I tried to cobble together a Nile strategy in the second epoch, but flood tiles were scarce in the third epoch, and another player was aggressively depriving me of them. (Which was to his benefit and not just my scorn–he ended up winning the game.) All of us at the table agreed that Ra is awesome and weren’t sure why we didn’t play it more often. Me? I blame the extremely negative opinion that Wolfie has of the game, which has stayed over at my employer even though everyone else loves the game. Oh, and if you needed more evidence that Wolfie’s opinion is incredibly wrong about Ra (from his admittedly small sampling of games), the high number didn’t win the game. And in fact, the player with the highest starting sun hasn’t won the last several games I’ve played. So: don’t listen to him. Ra is awesome. (FarmerLenny)
- Cube Quest: My wife wanted to play a game this Friday, so I suggested Cube Quest. I wasn’t sure how she’d react to it: it’s a dexterity game, which she usually likes, but it also has a somewhat masculine look, which I thought (rightfully, it turns out) might be a turn off. Still, she obliged, and we played the first two games with the standard set up. I won both games, but it was hard fought. Then I told her about the army building in the game, and although she was skeptical, she gave it a try. I tried fielding an army full of grunts (they died miserably) and an army full of expensive stuff (they fell just as easily), but to no avail. My wife had discovered the power of her flicks. Of course, we had to play a tiebreaking fifth game, for all the Cube Quest, and my wife destroyed me within minutes. She decided she likes the game. I do too. Maybe next time I can beat her fair and square (or cubed [!]). (FarmerLenny)
- Star Realms: This game continues to delight and surprise me. Honestly, after the first game I played, I enjoyed it but wasn’t sold on the praise it was getting from others, including Farmerlenny. The more I play, though, the more I see the good stuff in this game. I taught the game to two friends and even my wife, who all really enjoyed it. I saw a lot of strategies in play and every game felt interesting. (Incidentally, my winning streak was only broken by my wife’s impenetrable wall of outposts). This game impresses with sleek design but a wide variety of strategies, a game that is unique every time you play due to the thick deck of cards, and a game that has come closer to the pure strategic-level deckbuilding experience that Dominion captured than any other deckbuilder. Despite the lack of limits on actions and buys, it always feels like the deck you craft is what wins or loses the game, even though the center row is always different. And it always lets you do really cool, fun stuff with your card combinations. I don’t know how long this game will feel fresh, but I will continue enjoying it until then. (Futurewolfie)
Star Wars X-Wing: It’s been too long since I’ve gotten a real game of X-Wing to the table. My friend had a week of vacation this week so he came over and we sat down for a duel of the ages. I decided to build a tanked-out Millenium Falcon, supported by the HWK-290, maximizing upgrades, modifications, and titles on both ships. Yes, this was a 100-pt build. My opponent armed a TIE Bomber with support from the shuttle and 2 TIE fighters. In the first few rounds I realized I had accidentally chosen some upgrades poorly – I had swapped out a set focusing on a particular strategy but left a card or 2 in there that became quite useless – and some early hits by my opponents fleet had me worried I was going to lose my HWK quickly leaving the Falcon vulnerable. Fortunately for me, my enemy ran into a spot of trouble with the asteroids on the table, misjudging a couple maneuvers that resulted in nasty nasty damage and allowing me to pick off his TIE Bomber before its missiles and bombs inflicted their damage. The turrets on both my ships served me well for the rest of the game, as I was able to maneuver more freely while firing every turn, whittling his forces down to nothing. If there’s one thing I could wish differently about X-Wing, it’s that I wish I could play it more often.(Futurewolfie)
- Rex: Though I had planned this night before reading this article from Grant Rodiek – http://hyperbolegames.com/2014/05/30/the-evolution-of-dune-to-rex/ – it certainly did no harm to my excitement level . This turned out to be the best game of Rex I’d ever played, with a full 6-player count. After a messy round or 2 with lots of violence, a temporary ceasfire resulted in a 3-way alliance, a 2-way alliance, and a lone gunman (I should say gunwoman) in the Hacan. At first it seemed like she had confidence in her forces and cards, as she already held 2 stronghold, but when we destroyed her second stronghold’s shield ripping it from her grasp, she seemed unphased. It was halfway through the game that I remembered the Hacan win the game at the end of 8 rounds if no one else does, so my 3-way alliance scrambled to get organized. We used our alliance powers well – allying with the Lazax, who receives all money from bids, also grants the Lazax the ability to give away his money during the bidding phase, allowing us to constantly outbid our opponents for the best cards (since we also had the Jol-Nar to tell us when to not give up on a card). Still, the Hacan player held her ground and kept her forces safe but meddlesome allowing to keep a strong economy. In the 7th round, the game was still up for grabs by any of the Alliances – the Sol/Xxcha could have won via the endgame Sol victory, the Lazax/Jol-Nar/Letnev alliance I was part of had means and opportunity to take the 5 strongholds, and all Hacan had to do was ruin everyone elses plans for 2 more rounds. At the end of the 7th, a well-timed Intel Report moved the Sol Fleet halfway across the board, clearing the Hacan troops as well as the Sol army determined to launch an offensive on their last needed base (unfortunately, knocking them out of the game). In the final round, my alliance maneuvered to keep Hacan forces off the board, captured the 5th stronghold, held on to one contested stronghold, and everything came down to one final, intense battle between a massive Sol army and an equally massive Lazax army. Sol couldn’t win, but could prevent the 3-way alliance from achieving victory allowing the Hacan to win, so she chose that moment to reveal that his top-level Leader was in her hand and thus safe to use against the Lazax. That tipped the balance, allowing the Sol to beat out the Lazax by just enough to win the battle. It was epic and exciting and I love it when games come down to that final moment. Awesome! (futurewolfie)