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
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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.


Review: Deception: Murder in Hong Kong

give me your badge and your gun and that rock you keep in a plastic bag
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Quinns: After playing co-operative social deduction game Deception, the proof is insurmountable. The 21st century police force is the greatest board game theme of all time, not because it works so well but because it doesn’t work at all.

Back in our eighth ever podcast we talked about Police Precinct, and while we had a terrible time with that game we were endlessly amused because we seemed to be playing the cast of Reno 911 on the set of The Purge. Then last year I finally got to try Good Cop Bad Cop, where in one memorable turn I confiscated my colleague’s coffee as evidence, downed it in one gulp, then shot them.

But with a name like “Deception: Murder in Hong Kong” and brooding, maroon box that includes a handful of plastic bullets, you might assume that this, at last, is a serious game about law enforcement.

You couldn’t be more wrong. I’m thrilled to say that Deception is every bit as silly as those others, and it's also the best game of the three. Come for a ridealong with me! You're statistically unlikely to be shot.


Review: Tyrants of the Underdark

Tyrants of the Underpants, That's Drow for Now, shoving a dragon
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Paul: I have a confession to make. I have a profound prejudice toward purple and it very much affected my first impression of Tyrants of the Underdark. When my review copy arrived, I was a man with plenty to do. I opened the box that evening, saw the almost monochrome palette of so much grey, black and violet, flipped through the manual and then put this in a cupboard.

Sure, it’s game set in the murky bowels of the Forgotten Realms, Dungeons & Dragons’ most famous setting, but did it really need to be so drab? I was squinting at the card art, groaning at the board and then, suddenly, some long-sealed vault in my mind was opened and a memory of the most monstrous mediocrity suddenly burst forth: Defenders of the Realm. Oh God. This is why I don’t play D&D board games. They lack all the spirit that the RPG inspires. "Tyrants of the Underpants," I thought.

I was so wrong about Tyrants of the Underdark.


Review: Ten Candles

these things are true: the world is dark, and we are alive
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[Introducing RPG columnist Cynthia Hornbeck! As a former Utahn, temporary Minnesotan, PhD dropout and current public school teacher she is radically overqualified for a job with SU&SD. Please, nobody tell her.]

Cynthia: Hello, dear readers! I'd like to invite you all to accompany me to the end of the world, and to your death. Don't worry! I assure you that you're perfectly capable and prepared for the end – as it manifests in the phenomenal indie storytelling game Ten Candles, that is.

Ten Candles is a flexible, firelit game of "tragic horror" designed by Stephen Dewey and published by Cavalry Games. And I'm so totally in love with it. It's many scenarios take place in a variety of apocalypses where thick darkness blankets the earth and an evil force known as "Them" threatens humanity. Oh I know, there are plenty of post-apocalyptic games out there, and I imagine you're all raising your hands to ask what's so special about this one. Well, let me show you. Because what's special about Ten Candles is pretty much everything.


Double Review: Blood Bowl and Guild Ball

sport, sports, blood sports, mind sports, spoooooorts
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Eric Tonjes, our esteemed miniatures game correspondent, has returned and the CROWDS HAVE GONE WILD! Vendors are sobbing into their hot dogs! Babies are being tossed in the air by baby-tossing machines! Everybody, let the man speak...

Eric: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we're here to talk about sports! Sports are perhaps the ur-games. Probably organizing alongside early militaries as tools for training and proving of skill, they have grown to eclipse armed conflict for many, serving as a sort of proxy for violent aggression. But what happens when sport seems unnecessarily violent, and we need a proxy for that?

Today we're looking at two possible solutions. Blood Bowl is the grandparent of sports miniatures games. It's a rollicking high fantasy version of North American football in which you can violently maim opposing players. Guild Ball, meanwhile, is a newcomer to the scene which has quickly gained a following. It is a gritty low fantasy version of soccer (or "actual football") in which you can violently maim opposing players. While there are nuances to the themes, both games are clearly competing for similar space. So, in true sports fashion, let's put them in a ring and see which one scores the most points. Or violently maims the other player.