Sorry for the lack of posts this past week, I was traveling and learning the ins and outs of what’s involved in buying a house (apparently, it’s a whole lot. Kind of like people care when dealing with large sums of money).
Here’s a quick little piece by New York’s NPR station on board games:
The folks behind Cards Against Humanity have set up a game design contest called Tabletop Death Match. What they did was put out an open call for game designs. They got over 500 submissions. They picked their top 16 games that intrigued them from that giant pile and invited the creators to pitch their game at GenCon last year. They got to meet with the other finalists, get some play tests done and pitch their game. That pitch was recorded and have been put out as episodes (I think it was 2 a week for 8 weeks).
All 16 pitch episodes are out. They only thing left is to reveal the winner and give them a part of the CAH booth at this year’s GenCon in August. I figure before the final episode is aired today, I’d give my thoughts (one or two sentences) based solely on watching the videos.
Outer Earth – The art design is super early, but I really like the way the cards work together: The whole pipe thing and the connections.
Jupiter Deep – These hipsters didn’t really excite me with their pandemic in space game.
Grow – The whole model building and growing thing looked really cool. It’s probably not a game I’d play, but it looks nice.
Rocket Wreckers – Meh. The theme and the game both don’t appeal to me very much.
Pack the Pack – Could be an interesting little Tetris-like filler game.
Cool Table – OK theme and OK rules. Nothing stands out for me.
Discount Salmon – The designer team is very cute, but I hate simultaneous speed-based games.
Right of Succession – Seems like one of those complicated games that I would like and find nobody to play with. The idea of having an evolving family where you keep part of the previous generation moving forward is cool.
Penny Press – The theme seems really cool on this one. There may be some gameplay issues to work out with more playtesting, but I think there’s some good bones here.
Installation 42 – I don’t know how I feel about the idea of a battle deck builder game. I do like shifting way to add cards to your deck. Could make for an interesting game.
Wizard Dodgeball – I love the idea of a wizard dodgeball game, but I don’t know if this game is the way to do it.
The Shadow over Westminster – I don’t know why, but this game just doesn’t grab me. Just a co-op you vs. the game. Maybe it needs a traitor in the agency… Cuz then I’d be all over it.
The Jane Austen Card Game – I don’t know how well the game works, but the theme of being a Jane Austen lady trying to out-do the other ladies for the best man.
The Amberden Affair – Looks like a game I’d play… You can play with a British Accent and there is a traitor among your ranks. What I don’t like is the whole simultaneous play, but at least it’s not speed based.
Now I wait to see if they reveal the winner in the final episode…
The Fluxx card game has existed for a while, and for what it is, I’m a fan. What the card game is, is a light, very random game that you can play almost anywhere in a shortish amount of time (10-30 minutes). The game has a bunch of different themed versions (Pirate, Zombie, Monty Python) that add a small amount of dressing to what the original is.
At their core, the Fluxx games are about having the “rules” change as the game is played. For example: the number of cards drawn at the start of the turn or the number of cards you can keep in your hand at the end of a turn. The difference between the board game and card game, is that in the card game, part of the randomness is your card draws of “Keepers” or the cards to be combined for a win, but in board game you move your pieces on to symbols that represent these keepers. This, of course makes it much easier to accomplish the goal. To make up for this, in the board game you have to do this 3 different times. But in the end, it’s still doing something pretty simple 3 times with the slight inconvenience of trying to do it before the other players or with them futilely trying to get in the way.
To win, just be the first player, and with your pre-game rule adjustment increase the movement by 1. Then just waltz through a few turns collecting the wins and game over. This removes all fun from the game. There seems to be no strategy that can be attempted to combat this tactic more than a slight delay. And the random cards and rule changes don’t affect the outcome so are therefore adding nothing to the game.
Final Rating: 1 “You Sunk My Battleship” out of a broken pop-o-matic Trouble bubble.
The nerds over at American Mensa have come out with their 2014 list of new tabletop games that they find fun, challenging, and a good value. It’s their Mensa Select list of games.
Gravwell: Escape from the 9th Dimension (Cryptozoic Entertainment, cryptozoic.com) – Your starship has been sucked through a wormhole, you’re being sucked toward a black hole, and you’re out of fuel. With some quick mining of nearby astroids you’re able to get some kind of fuel, but it doesn’t work the way you’d expect it to… Gravwell is a race game, so it’s all about getting to the finish line first. The unique part is how ships move. Your movement is based on proximity to other ships on the board where you either want to move toward or away from the closest ship, but since moves are reveled simultaneously, and cards have a set priority, ships may not be where you expect them to be when you start moving.
Qwixx (Gamewright, gamewright.com) – Do you like Yatzee? If so, then this may be another dice game for you. It’s stupidly simple, roll some dice and cross some numbers off on your score pad. The trick is picking which numbers to cross off and how your dice luck will favor you in crossing more off.
Pyramix (Gamewright, gamewright.com) – There’s a pyramid of cubes (like dice, but with Egyptian symbols on the sides) and the goal is to get points by collecting these cubes from the pyramid. The cool mechanic is the way cubes slide as ones below it are pulled out. The strategic element is for the big score, you want to have the most of a certain color and that’s worth what’s left of that color on the base. So focus too much on the color, and there won’t be much left, or focus too little and someone else will take those points.
The Duke (Catalyst Game Labs, catalystgamelabs.com) – Think of chess, but each piece is a tile. Then realize you only start with the king (The Duke) and 2 pawns (Footmen). Each turn you can move (or activate with some special pieces) these tiles or you can pull a new random tile from your reserves and add it to your team next to The Duke. To add to the interesting strategy, each tile is labeled with how it moves, and that’s because after you move, the tile is flipped and it shows some slightly different movement. It’s only a 2-player game (like chess) but seems to be a good abstract strategy game for when that’s what you’re looking for. Also, if you want to try it out, Catalyst Game Labs has a free print and play version of the game on their website.
Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia (Stonemaier Games, stonemaiergames.com) – “You find yourself in a dystopian cityscape with a few workers at your disposal to make your mark on the world. Like most people in dystopian fiction, your workers are oblivious to their situation. This world is all they’ve ever known. You may use them at your whim.” This is a pretty heavy worker-placement game. The like most games of this type is to use your workers to get what you need done to take over. Some of the interesting things that Euphoria does, is that workers are dice and every time you pull them off of the board, you roll them. Add up the values of the dice, and if it’s too high (their intelligence), one of them leaves (she figured you out and doesn’t want part of your schemes). Also each player gets specific people cards who can slightly help them with certain factions that control parts of the board.
Qwixx seems pretty stupid for this list, I guess I need to give it a go, and see why it’s on the list.
I’d like to start a weekly feature for boardgames up in this nerdy and sporty place. It’s not like anyone is reading this blog, so I can pretty much shout into the dark voids of the internet whatever I want. Let’s start this new feature this week with a game that almost everyone has played: Monopoly.
Monopoly is a weird game, since almost everyone has played it, we all have differing memories and opinions on the game. Now, before you go about giving me your opinion of the game, you should read the rules and realize that you played the game wrong (Was there money on free parking, or no auctions, or maybe you traded for future rent immunity – All wrong). How would you like someone judging your favorite game if they didn’t play by the rules — Football is stupid & boring, we just passed the ball back and forth until we got to the endzone untouched.
What I’m saying is that perhaps you need to look at the good parts of Monopoly. The wheeling and dealing of properties and cash between players. The game is almost completely about making the right trades and having the dice luck pay out for those trades. Hell, there’s math and statistics on the optimal strategies of the game. The thing with that being the good part of the game is that it’s also what makes the game terrible. If you’re lucky with dice, your trading skill can kill the game for you and vice versa.