Review: Spirit Island

persnickety poltergeist, quirky quickstep, germophobe’s whistle
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Paul: The invaders are coming. They’re a white tsunami sweeping across the land, surrounding and engulfing everything in their wake, threatening to drag it all beneath the waves. They settle and they spread, they capture and they conquer. Gradually, methodically, they destroy everything.

You and your fellow spirits are all that stands in their way. Together, you will burn, drown and starve as many of them as you can. But, more than anything else, you’ll horrify them, with the hope that your actions are so soul-rendingly awful that their like are never seen again. It’s time to be terrifying.


RPG Review: Star Trek Adventures

splinching Spock, good space weather, the mirror universe and all its evil beards
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Cynthia: "Space. The final frontier." As a kid, whenever I heard Patrick Stewart utter those words, I'd drop everything, leap into my favorite chair (from the back, à la Riker) and watch. Star Trek: The Next Generation is more deeply rooted in my nerdy American psyche than pumpkin pie, Marvel superheroes and football combined. So when Modiphius announced they were publishing the first Star Trek roleplaying game in fifteen years, I began tugging Quinns' sleeve like a kid passing an arcade. "Can we review that? Please?!"

But does it provide that perfect blend of discovery, combat, philosophy and cheap humour that characterised Star Trek at its strongest? Can it submerge us the suffocating moral ambiguity of Deep Space Nine, inspire us like The Next Generation, or make us squee with dread like the tribbles of The Original Series? Does it boldly go where no science fiction RPG has gone before?


Review – Star Wars: Rebellion: Rise of the Empire

quinns' toothy heart, a sad birthday, 8 more complexity
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Quinns: Matt, are you ready to review the Rise of the Empire expansion for Star Wars™: Rebellion? To bring everyone up to speed, Rebellion is a grand 2-4 player game set in the Star Wars universe, which I reviewed and said it was fun, but I couldn't quite recommend it.

What does the expansion add? Well, let me just quote the press materials: “Rise of the Empire isn't just inspired by Rogue One; it follows the movie's example, adding new depth and story to the Rebellion game experience just as seamlessly as Rogue One provided new insight into the Galactic Civil War presented in the original Star Wars trilogy.”

Matt: I just did a big vomit out of a window. In Real-World Terms™ it’s an expansion that adds quite a bunch of stuff: new leader characters, new cards, a whole new combat system, more unit types and plastic figures, and a brand new planet: EWOK-HOTH, HOME OF THE CHILLYBEARS.


Review: Flipships

Hoth on highballs, subtle seasoning, flicked to the full
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(This review contains gifs. Viewing it on a mobile device may use a lot of roaming data. If your usage is metered, consider reading this at home!)

Paul: The aliens are coming. Aggressively advancing, ever encroaching, nothing seems to stop their dreadful descent. The sunlight shines off their silver spacecraft as they pierce the heavens and prepare to bring down so much death and destruction onto the city below.

You and your friends are all that stand in their way. Together, you will use a small flight of fighters and the most precise cardboard-flipping skills the galaxy has ever seen to win the hour. You will flip them round the moons. You will flip them in low orbit. You will flip them in the atmosphere. You will never surrender.

Or you’ll flick a state-of-the-art starfighter straight across the room and lose it behind the sofa. Who’s to say?


Review: Modern Art

Machiavelli-maths, i've made a huge mistake, Rafael Silveira is rubbish though
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Quinns: With CMON’s new edition of Modern Art, a game of blisteringly quick and dangerous art auctions, Shut Up & Sit Down continues its exploration of classic Knizia. Just who is Reiner Knizia? Where did he come from? What is he doing? We’ve interviewed him and I still don’t know. All I can tell you is that he’s responsible for more than 500 games, literally some of which are good.

But Modern Art isn’t just the oldest Knizia game we’ve ever reviewed. With the exception of 1981’s Consulting Detective, I think this is the oldest game we’ve reviewed, period. It came out way back in 1992, when Paul was celebrating his 30th birthday and Matt hadn’t even been born yet.

Can you feel it? This site is trembling with time right now. Slip inside my cardboard Tardis. Let’s see if the years have been kind.


RPG Review: Unknown Armies

poisonous cat masks, erotic pastries, trains that literally go to hell, inhaling rules
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Cynthia: The third edition of Unknown Armies appeared in May of this year and got my attention with this pitch: "An occult game about broken people conspiring to fix the world."

Alright, I thought, I'm hungry for games set in the actual dumpster fire world we live in, and I enjoy creepy, occult things, and I always want to investigate characters with secrets, traumas, and unsolvable problems. So I gathered a small cabal and led them into a morally ambiguous underworld of deadly rituals, paramilitary organizations, ancient crypts that appear only at midnight, young women without tongues, and murder. I plunged them into an international struggle for the future of the TransCanada oil pipeline, of Vancouver real estate, of the White House, and the world.

If you're ready for a game of of vast conspiracies and sleepless nights, a game in which your obsessions give you strength and great power comes with great corruption, in which you'll be haunted by invisible demons with ten-inch claws and compelled to do bloody deeds, where heroes are less Captain America and much more Jessica Jones… then read on. Just be warned: in case you haven't figured it out yet, this game is not family-friendly. Nor is it for the faint of heart.


Review: Rhino Hero Super Battle

the clambering proletariat, doomed societies, the duality of heroism, monkeys
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Quinns: Leigh, thank you very much for agreeing to appear on Shut Up & Sit Down. I hope you won’t be expecting any special treatment as my wife.

Leigh: Not at all! It’s a pleasure to be invited to this forerunning venue for material game criticism.

Quinns: Do you think you’re up for the task?

Leigh: I certainly hope so!

Quinns: Glad to hear it. Today the text we’re looking at is Rhino Hero Super Battle, the outsize sequel to 2011 sleeper hit Rhino Hero. From the box - and I quote - “This time not only does the wobbly skyscraper need to be built & climbed, but there will also be fierce battles between the four superheroes Rhino Hero, Giraffe Boy, Big E. and Batguin.”

In more ways than one, Leigh, the world of Rhino Hero just got bigger.


Review: Legend of the Five Rings

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Quinns: Phew! I birthed two of the year’s toughest reviews last week, but there’s no rest for the wicked. Today we’ve got some coverage that a lot of people have been asking for.

Remember when Fantasy Flight Games bought the rights to 1996 collectible card game Netrunner and released a new edition that took over my life? Well, Legend of the Five Rings (henceforth “L5R”) is them doing that again. This was originally a 1995 card game, but any week now shops will receive FFG’s beautimus new edition using the Living Card Game business model of releasing fixed expansions rather than randomised boosters. This makes it cheap compared to most collectable card games, albeit still expensive compared to board games.

In other words, we could have a hit on our hands. Have Fantasy Flight folded the original game’s steel into a captivating card katana?

Let’s find out.


RPG Review: Blades in the Dark

a georgian george clooney, a ghost whisperer, word-confetti
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Quinns: Remember last month when we reviewed Tales from the Loop, the charming sci-fi RPG of bicycles, bottle rockets and 1980s theme songs? Today we’re going to look at the other new role-playing game that’s been turning heads among my friends, and we’re going as villainous as Tales from the Loop was innocent.

Blades in the Dark is a game by John Harper, who you might remember from Cynthia’s review of superb free RPG Lady Blackbird. But while that game was an improbable 15 pages, Blades is 336 pages. By comparison, it's his opus.

Which is very good news if (like me) you’re a fan of Scott Lynch’s Locke Lamora books or the heist genre in general, because Blades is a game of playing regency-era criminals. Oh, yes. This is a scoundrel simulator, and whether you want to play a crew of classy vice dealers, some down-and-dirty brawlers, or even a worrisome cult is simply the first of one million entertaining decisions that you'll be making.

Blades in the Dark also offers a vast, seductive backdrop to your escapades: The haunted city of Doskvol, which will be familiar to anyone who’s escaped into the gloompunk of videogames like Thief, Dishonored, Sunless Sea or Fallen London.

This is going to be a long review, and not just because this is a huge book. You see, not only is Blades the most fun that my friends and I have ever had playing an RPG, it’s also like nothing I’ve ever played.


A Re-Review? Arkham Horror: The Card Game

a surprise pterodactyl, vomiting into a trumpet, cereal box fiction
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Quinns: So, we’re seven months on from when Matt and I first peeled the delicate outer membrane from the otherworldly Arkham Horror: The Card Game (otherwise known as ‘shrink-wrap’). We were stunned at how much fun we had. After years of rolling our eyes at Fantasy Flight’s Lovecraft products, we found that inside this small, unassuming box was an absolutely electric experience. I was as surprised as anyone when I announced that it was my favourite game of 2016.

Now, you’ll remember that while you can go back and play this game’s scenarios on “Hard” and “Expert” modes, most of the appeal is in the first playthrough, making each new expansion pack feel like a long-awaited episode of a favourite TV show. You call your friends over, microwave some popcorn, put the popcorn in the bin so nobody can get grease on the cards and sit down to see what happens to your characters (and their decks!) next.

Which begs a question. Now that the first full campaign has been published (seven expansions that make up The Dunwich Legacy), how’s this TV show doing?

And I think most players would answer you the same way. A small laugh, a faraway look, and then they'd say “Oh, man. It’s good. And... weird.”