Review: Fresco

i got you blue, she doesn't want blue, THE BISHOP!
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Paul: Here are two things that are absolutely and irrefutably true: 1) I love art. 2) I hate getting up early. Here are two more things that are painful in their truth: 1) Sometimes you have to get up early in the service of your art. 2) This feels awful.

Here are three other things that feel awful: 1) When the guy at the market has nothing to sell but combinations of the same sickly yellow paint (“I’ve got a bit of yellow, some yellow, or lots of yellow.") 2) Mixing colours that you can’t then use because someone beat you to the cathedral again. 3) When the bishop buggers off. Honestly, what is the point of bishops?

Here’s something that’s great: Fresco.


RPG Review: The Firefly Role-Playing Game

Befuddled with love, a leaf on the wind, feminine wiles, stabbed!
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Cynthia: The television show Firefly, one of Joss Whedon's series, has wriggled deep into the shared geek consciousness since it aired in 2002-3. Phrases such as "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal", "I can kill you with my brain", and "Yessir Captain Tightpants" now serve as entry passwords into secret geek spaces, flashes of color that we use to recognize each other in the wild. As much spaghetti western as science fiction, full of Chinese swear words and sexually-charged tea ceremonies, Firefly had Buffy's wit and black humor, Dollhouse's dark maturity, and something else that characterised neither: freedom. Five stars' worth of planets, moons, frontiers, and open skies.

In other words, if you haven't yet watched Firefly, you need to get on it.

But enough of that! The real question here is whether the Firefly roleplaying game is any good.

Readers, friends: yes. Yes it is.


Review: Android: Netrunner – Terminal Directive

unsightly beans, matching tattoos, quinns are you crying
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Quinns: Oof, reviews don't get much tougher than this.

I've just finished playing an advance copy of Terminal Directive, the most dramatic expansion that Android: Netrunner has ever received. This big box introduces not just a campaign to the superlative cyberpunk card game, but the dramatic "Legacy" elements that you might remember from Pandemic: Legacy. As the story unfolds players open new packs of cards, but also destroy cards and cover them with stickers.

Best of all, Terminal Directive is a long-awaited stepping stone for new Netrunner players! Previously if you bought the core set and liked it, you then faced the intimidating proposition of simply starting to buy up Netrunner's forty-two expansion packs. Now you can buy the core set, and then enjoy Terminal Directive's campaign, and then - erm - begin buying forty-two expansion packs.

There's just one problem. After being a zealous advocate for this game for years on end, today I don't play Netrunner anymore. Let's talk about why.


Review: Cry Havoc

a dead prince, a drifting stick, a strong spine, steve holt
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Quinns: Oh my god. Where do we start?

Maybe just gaze into the above image. Try and take it all in. Crystals! Robots! Colours! Cards! Three dozen unique kinds of token, each with a different shape, as if they were all so scared of this primary-coloured scrum that they started to collapse in on themselves.

This is Cry Havoc, one of 2016’s most striking and well-received war games, and if you take anything from its Shakespearean name it shouldn’t be wry sophistication, but that this design is as wild and energetic as a pack of dogs.

"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!" Let me tell you what I think of this grand box.

That was another quote from Julius Caesar, you see. I might even do another before we're done. Brace yourselves!


Review: Diamant

Conversational sex act, Danny DeVito, No no no no no
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Paul: QUINTIN. I know we want to tell people all about Diamant and how this cute-but-cruel game of pushing your luck can make you either rich or dead, but I’ve got to say one thing right thing right here, right now, right off the bat. Right?

Quinns: I'll allow it!

Paul: Diamant is probably the most fun I’ve had for the least investment of time and energy SO FAR THIS YEAR. I’m so sorry. I just had to blurt that. It’s a petite wonder. PETITE. WONDER. Like… Danny DeVito. Or... a teabag?

Quinns: You’re arriving at this party a little late though, aren’t you? Last year I called Incan Gold the best little push-your-luck game I’d played in forever. Diamant is just a beautiful new edition of the same game! You can’t talk about it like you’ve just found a dead sea scroll in your back garden.

Paul: All right, all right, back that boulder up, snarkaeologist. Incan Gold? The 2006 game? And when did you come to it, exactly?

Quinns: Erm. 2016.

Paul: An entire decade of incompetence.


RPG Review: Numenera

A sentient saw, a song from aladdin, a giant map, seriously you gotta see this map
Obelisk
Cynthia: Imagine rising to the top of a valley and discovering the above vista: green hills, snowcapped mountains, seemingly pristine waters, and an obelisk, tens of thousands of years old, humming with magical (or mechanical?) power. You could be the first to learn all of its secrets, or simply find out how it works, and harness its power. And that could be just the beginning of your earthly adventures.

For this uncanny place is our Earth, far, far, far into the future, after our civilization and seven others have climbed, peaked, fallen, and been rusted over. More than one alien invasion has occurred, and more than one alien species has mingled genes with humanity. A new civilization has arisen, but hasn't really gotten past the middle ages. The perplexing debris of past civilizations, from humming obelisks and transdimensional portals to enchanted amulets and portable CD players, is everywhere. The people of earth call these weird objects "filled-with-power-things": numenera.

Welcome to the Ninth World, the setting of Monte Cook's Numenera. I would say, "come on in, the water's fine," but it's probably filled with flesh-eating microdroids or laced with bubble-gum flavored psychotropic drugs or something. But forget the water, there's so much here. This place is so ancient, and vast, and tremendous. Let's explore!


Review: Quartermaster General: 1914

oily eels, a kick in the rules-testicles, why is ireland even on the board, oh no
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Quinns: It can be lonely reviewing games by yourself. Matt and Paul might be at the Game Developer’s Conference, but I have a solution!

Matt's head made from papier-mâché: that’s because you're great quinns

Quinns: Ha ha, you flatter me! Let’s get down to business, Matt.

Matt's head made from papier-mâché: i love business

Quinns: Today we’re reviewing Quartermaster General 1914, the third (and most highly-rated) entry in the Quartermaster General series. Like Memoir ‘44, these games might look like stodgy wargames, but don’t be fooled! 1914 is a tricky, playful card game that lets you get stuck into the drama and anxiety of WAR without having to measure any distances or frown at charts.

Now, our site has said over and over again that there aren’t enough team-based board games -

Matt's head made from papier-mâché: oh goodness no, nowhere near enough

Quinns: Don't speak, you're getting flakes of glue on the table. So team play is exactly what the Quartermaster General series is all about. In our case, 1914 is a five player game where three frail players take on two wealthy ones. It’s a tremendously exciting hook, and we're just getting started.


Review: Robo Rally (2016 edition)

clusterpickles, electric bimbling, bum-first into the robo-bin
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Pip: When living with a fellow board game enthusiast you have the benefit of a ready-made companion for cardboard adventures – HOORAY! – but you also start to realise that, for a lot of games that say they're for 2-to-however-many-players on the side, there's this disproportionately large leap in enjoyment between the two-player version and the three-or-more-player outings.

Robo Rally might be the ultimate illustration of this. With three people it's a rambunctious clusterpickle of robots and conflicting agendas where your neatly programmed sequence of moves gets nudged hilariously and disastrously off course. With two we ended up trying to house-rule it so we could ginger up the experience and keep our momentum. Quinns informs me that SU&SD is all about reviewing board games in their favoured conditions, though, so consider this a review of Robo Rally the beloved 3-6 player omnishambles, and not Robo Rally the 2 player compromise-simulator.


Review: Mouse Guard

RACCOON ANXIETY, OXYTOCIN, THE GORDON RAMSEY OF MICE
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Cynthia: There's something extra lovely about roleplaying games in the winter. Where I live in Minnesota, going outside can often be quite deadly, so I prefer to huddle around a table with friends and food and drink. The problem is, being trapped indoors makes me crave adventure.

Review: Honshu

horror-fallow, delicious finland, a lego boondoggle
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Quinns: Alright. You see Honshu, pictured above? You’re looking at one of the most desirable boxes on the planet.

The best thing to come out of Finland since karjalanpiirakat, Honshu made a name for itself during the American convention circuit last year. Contained in its small, peach-tone box are some cards and cubes, and contained within them is a simple card game, and contained within that are Japanese towns of your own design. Players draft cards and tuck them under and over one another in a gentle jigsaw, probing and pondering different arrangements, searching for a high score.

This site’s own Paul Dean was convinced after a quick play. So many people were convinced, in fact, that a publisher is finally bringing a shipment of Honshu to America next month.

But should you buy it? Ah, let me help you with that as a European, from the land where copies of this game are considered weeds, and I often have to throw away four or five mouldering copies of Honshu before my breakfast of limppu and kissel.

Honshu is good, but is it "SU&SD Recommends" good? Let’s find out.