Review: Cockroach Poker Royal

Review: Cockroach Poker Royal

Quinns: Catch Team SU&SD at our most tired and soul-blasted, when we’re done walking the halls of a giant convention, and there’s a single game we’ll always still be able to play. It’s Skull.

It’s the arsenic-laced wafer thin mint of board gaming, and there’s always room for its lies and laughter. The one thing more impressive than Asmodee daring to call Skull “the very quintessence of bluffing” is that actually, I don’t think they’re wrong.

Two months ago I was in a pub with a friend who I trust completely. “If you like Skull,” he said, “Then write this down. ‘Cockroach Poker’. Best £10 you’ll ever spend.”

Today I’m the proud owner of one “Cockroach Poker Royal”, the en-complicated 2012 sequel to 2004’s Cockroach Poker. And I’ll tell you what! It’s not just a great game of lying to your friends. It’s a great game of lying with your friends.

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Spent: The Story of a Poker Tournament

Spent: The Story of a Poker Tournament

Paul: I can’t count the number of chips I have. There are too many.

The croupier has smeared them across the felt toward me and I’m hurriedly scooping up these coloured disks as if they were spilled bonbons. I’m trying to arrange them in piles of five so that I have some idea how much I have, how many I have, except I’ve forgotten to return my cards and now the croupier is reminding me that he needs them before he can deal out the next hand. So I’m now trying to collect my chips, arrange my chips, return my cards and also put in my blind bet. If I was an octopus I could pull this off. Instead, I’m more of a puppy, flailing at my winnings. I must look so clumsy and everybody can see.

The noise was the first thing that got me. Forty-seven people entered this tournament, spread across five tables of ten or nine players. Before the first hand came out there was nothing but the sound of chips clacking. So many chips clacking as dozens of players flipped and fingered and meshed them together like mantis mandibles. I was pretty sure the young man in a black hoodie to my right was good, but I couldn’t quite explain why. Opposite me sat someone who could have just slithered off a Harley Davidson. His face was the greying crags of a cliff. His rings would mangle anybody he swung at. His top was as ragged as his features. His clothes were worn. His cap was worn. His face was worn. His indifference was underlined by a mustache that never, ever moved. He looked like Danny Trejo.

Hello, Danny Trejo, I am English, what what. I weigh less than 130lbs and yesterday I was so tired during my fencing class that I couldn’t hold my sword up.

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Review: Cards Against Humanity

Review: Cards Against Humanity

Paul: I’d like to talk about Cards Against Humanity, one of our hobby’s biggest breakout successes.

The best way to describe Cards Against Humanity is “Lego for jokes”. It gives its players setups and punchlines, all ready to click together in one-step assembly. It’s easier than microwaving food or boil-in-the-bag rice. Almost no creativity is required, and because the powers of chance deal you your cards, it’s not as if you can even help the sort of combinations that present themselves, right? As well as creativity and effort, who even needs responsibility?

It’s important that we provide a trigger warning for what follows. A warning for, well, just about anything: abuse; violence; racism; rape.

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Review: Mysterium

Review: Mysterium

Quinns: Everybody, stop! STOP!

[Montage of factory workers looking up from industrial machinery. Doctors and nurses looking up from their surgery. Soldiers locked in deadly hand-to-hand combat, who freeze and turn to face the camera as one.]

I’ve played a new board game and it’s really, really good!

[Amiable mumbling as factory workers loosen their aprons and turn to face the camera, doctors take five on the edge of the operating table as blood spurts into the air, soldiers dust one another off and sit cross-legged like toddlers.]

Mysterium is a co-op game of ghosts, murder and hilarious incompetence, in that order. All but one player is a psychic spending the night in a horrid house where a killing took place. The final player, who may not speak, is a ghost sending everyone else horrible dreams. The ghost must guide the psychics to the correct murder weapon, crime scene and culprit before the week is over, or… well, I’m not sure. Maybe the psychics have concert tickets. It doesn’t matter, and you won’t care. You’ll be laughing too much and thinking too hard.

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Paul’s Greatest Gaming Memory

Advanced HeroQuest

Following the lovely responses we’ve had to our other spoken word pieces (see Brendan’s Correct Way to Scratch, Leigh’s Month as an Assassin and Quinns’ favourite drinking games) this week in the podcast section we have Paul telling us about the quite singular way that he remembers the most influential, most important board game in his life. And how it lead him astray.

Here’s the story of how I bunked off school to play a board game and how that board game changed my life.

Saying that immediately makes me excited to tell it.

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Rooky Errors: A Story of Chess

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.

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A Guide to Cosmic Encounter’s 5 Expansions!

A Guide to Cosmic Encounter's 5 Expansions!

Matt: What a wonderful world of Cosmic Encounters! If we only had spaceships and SPACE (in our hearts) then we might be able to build a better society on the fringes of our fragile galaxy.

Quinns: What are you doing Matt, this is a board games thing.

Matt: I’m getting everyone in that feel-good 1970’s vibe, when peace and hope and good-vibes ruled the planet and Cosmic Encounter first came out. A decade when man first stepped upon the moon, a famous rock band called Beatles was formed, and everyone had a nice time with flowers.

Quinns: I haven’t got time to fix you, Mattt, so let’s move on. Cosmic Encounter is a brilliant thing. Possibly THE BEST thing, as concluded in our gargantuan Top 25 list at the end of last year, and people who haven’t heard of it should check out this review. But the time for twenty-fives and tops is behind us, and we’re deep into the fog of a cruel Expansionanuary.

Matt: That’s true! I can’t even feel my fingers and fear that my extremities may soon be gone. But that darkness is being somewhat tempered by the fact that we now get to write a HOT ARTICLE about every single Cosmic expansion that’s been released to date. Five different boxes of madness that add a total of 115 (that’s one hundred and fifteen) new aliens to the base game – a staggering increase of 230% to the base game’s already ludicrous wad of 50 aliens.

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Review: Dog Eat Dog

Review: dog eat dog

Brendan: Dog Eat Dog is one of those rare games we come across that do not necessarily have ‘fun’ as the end goal but, like Freedom: The Underground Railroad, try to impart some wisdom on their way through your life. It is thoughtful and intelligent and just a little uncomfortable. It’s a game with a point to make and it makes it worryingly well. If I were to describe it using SUSD’s internal style guide, “Rulez, Regulationz and Ztuff” I would call it an indie RPG about the colonisation of an island and the resultant back ‘n’ forth between ‘native’ and ‘occupier’. But since I already burned my style guide when it suggested I use ‘paragraphz’, I will have to settle for this description:

Dog Eat Dog should be taught in schools.

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Review: PitchCar

Review: PitchCar

Matt: I don’t know if this is by far the silliest thing we’ve ever reviewed…

Paul: …and I don’t even know if that matters or not. Is PitchCar silly? Is it also possibly the simplest game to ever grace our (web)pages? Is it even a board game?

Matt: Do we even care?

Paul: Will we ever stop using the word “even”?

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Review: Anomia

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: …

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