Dumb Games, or “Why I Sometimes Yearn To Punch You”

or "the steady self-destruction of an irish boy" take your pick
Rooky Errors: A Story of Chess
[Brendan returns! The author of Rooky Errors: A Story of Chess and The Correct Way to Scratch is back, this time talking about Dumb Games. Enjoy, everyone.]

“Did you ever play ‘Butt Comin’ at Ye’?” said Colly. We were walking through Lurgan, my hometown, and we had begun to talk about some of the more esoteric memories of our shared childhood. Fifty metres away, the town’s police station rose like a fortress out of the street, surrounded in green sheets of amoured metal, steel grates and breezeblock walls the colour of the Irish sky. We walked on past it.

“Butt comin’ at ye?” I said.

“Dave and I used to play it. You finish smoking your cigarette and you say ‘here Dave, butt comin’ at ye’ and then you just…”

He mimed flicking a cigarette. I laughed.


Rooky Errors: A Story of Chess

the algebraic notion, beware the back rank, teleporting ninjas, fearsome coffee, cpu 3
Rooky Errors: A Story of Chess
After discovering everything he was taught about chess to be wrong, Brendan goes on a quest to learn the game properly, in this special feature on the ancient pastime.

Brendan: Amar moves his knight to c6 and I feel my lungs seize up. It is my first game of chess against another human being in over 10 years and remembering to breathe has become a problem.

When I first arrived at the chess club, hidden away on the shadowy second floor of an old school hall, like some secret society, Amar greeted me with a kind smile and a friendly handshake. He had a soft voice and an Einstein moustache. Now he is moving his knight to c6. Sometimes Amar makes his moves slowly, thoughtfully. Other times, he takes seconds, as if the order of play was pre-ordained and he was just there in some formal capacity as piecemover. What else can I say about Amar? Oh yes. He is destroying me.


Review: Out of Dodge

guys i'm dying, guys listen to me, i'm dying, oh god, oh no, guys
Review: Out of Dodge
Brendan: Out of Dodge is a game that understands one of the golden rules of the criminal genre: a botched heist is a good heist. As four outlaws on the run from a job that went terribly wrong, there is room here for hi-jinks, comedy, seriousness and treachery. It is a short, one-shot RPG from Jason Morningstar of Fiasco fame and it has a dastardly fun set up: you arrange four seats in the shape of a car (or use an actual real-life moving car), get in and argue about what went wrong while you speed away from the crime scene with a bag of loot much lighter than you expected.

Oh yeah, and watch out for all the blood because one of you is dying.


Review: Colt Express

incentivisation of the workforce, varmints, [bang bang]
Review: Colt Express
Silas: Yeeee-hawww! Hello, pardners. My name is Silas McCoy and I’m here to tell y’all about Colt Express, a game of action, danger and the free life of a train-robbing outlaw. Yeeee-haw!

Brendan [exhausted]: Ah. Ho. Ho boy. Hi, everybody. I hope this man didn't frighten you. This is Silas, a fictional character I invented when I realised I was going to be late for the review. I sent him ahead with his horse, which I also created. Such is the power of the board game journalist. Phew. But now that I have arrived, I can-

Silas: Stick 'em up.

Brendan: What? Hey, that’s my wallet! No, Silas! Come back here, or I swear I’ll... Hey! Stop riding around on that thing. And stop firing your gun in the air, it’s irresponsible. Don’t make me invent a sheriff, Goddamn you!


Brendan’s Correct Way to Scratch

scratch theorists, aryan myths, come ooonnnnnnnnnn, nnnaaaaghh, the tear
Brendan's Correct Way to Scratch
[We're trying something a little different here. Brendan recently wrote an article about scratchcards on his blog which we thought was rather special. He's kindly let us republish it here as text (below) and as an improbably transporting spoken word piece in our podcast section. Take your pick, everybody! And enjoy.]

Brendan: Scratchcards – the most worldly and humble of the lesser gambles. Although I am far from being one of the people who are inexplicably and tragically addicted to them, scratchcards nevertheless maintain a power over me. I was talking about them with some friends recently and concluded that my enjoying a scratchcard has more to do with ritual than money. Although, let’s be honest, like all forms of gambling, the money is at the nucleus of its strange charm.


Review: Anomia

pulling a wild one, bellied laughs, tongue springs, hot team quillian and deen
Review: Anomia
Brendan: Oh man, since Paul and Quinns left at the end of the sci-fi special I have nobody to play board games with. Hey, Supercomputer, do you want to play Anomia with me? It’s a quick-fire party game about blurting out words under pressure and beating your friends to the punch. You’ll like it!

Supercomputer: Anomia. Latin origin. Meaning “without name”. Would you like me to run a simulation of the universe without names, nouns, pronouns, designa—

Brendan: No! I mean, no Supercomputer, but thank you. I just want to play this simple card game with someone. I’m sad that my friends left. You remember what we talked about? Sad? It’s an emotion.

Supercomputer: Runtime error. Do you mean when those called Paul Dean and Quintin Smith inexplicably abandoned you to become an accountant and a low cost assassin respectively? Reducing the number of your human friendship circle from 2 to 0?

Brendan: It’s not zero! Matt is still my friend.

Supercomputer: Initial and ongoing analysis of his facial expressions indicates that the one called Matt Lees regards you as subhuman and without merit. Would you like me to run a simulation of some friends?

Brendan: ...


Review: Snake Oil

the desire mouth, murder by pyjamas, "custard creams", surprise scorpions
Review: Snake Oil
Brendan: Hey, Paul. Would you like to buy some of this?

Paul: What is it?

Brendan: It’s Snake Oil. It is made from snakes and it is an incredibly potent remedy for all sorts of ailments, from headaches to baldness.

Paul: I’ll take ten!

Brendan: But wait because all is not as it seems. You see –

Paul: Twenty!

Brendan: No Paul, because Snake Oil is not actually –

Paul: Just take my wallet, my PIN is 1234! Now give me that!

Brendan: No, Paul, stop! Just listen to me for one second! Come back. I need that box. It’s a board game I’m supposed to review. Paul! Paul? Nope, he’s gone.


Review: Concept

charahhdes, feverishness, below house, down cone, our lord satan
Review: Concept
Brendan: It’s simplicity week here on Shut Up & Sit Down and I am celebrating with margherita pizza, simplest of the foods. But also with a board game. Concept is a new party game from the French publisher behind Mascarade and City of Horror. But it is about as far removed from those games as you can get.

This is a game all about guesswork, language and stifled communication, about creating brilliant new ways to express old ideas – oh, I forgot the game. Hang on, I’ll go get it. Quinns, don’t eat my pizza while I’m gone.

Quinns: Of course not!

Brendan: Okay, I’ve got the ... You’ve eaten my pizza.

Quinns: ...


Hive Mind: How To Win At Hive Like a Master

the pemberton maneuvere, use of milk, untied abstracts, brendan
Hive Mind: How To Win At Hive Like a Master
Paul: Hello. You may not think it to look at him but Brendan is a Hive Grandmaster of a hyper-unbeatable calibre. It’s the truth. To bring this insectoid chess-alike closer to everyone’s hearts and deeper into their viscous, nutrient-rich brains, Shut Up & Sit Down has asked Brendan to guide our readers through the more complex and obscure manipulations of this brain-breaking game.

Here then, is a set of problems for you to ponder. Can you discover the correct move(s)? Or maybe even better Brendan’s efforts? There is only one way to find out. Read on for the problems! (Note: If the only problem you see is a mess of abstract shapes untied to rules or regulations, please check out our review of Hive, which is a lovely game about creepy crawlies.)