In other words we’re one year on from 2015’s Corner Awards and I still haven’t figured out a better solution for review copies than letting them pile up in the corner of my flat. I bet Tom Vasel doesn’t have this problem. Not to worry! Once again I’m dispensing awards to all those games that didn't suit a full review, but were too weird to eject from the corner.
I’ve heard the rumours. “Quinns is getting too old to review seven games in one article! They already use CG for any scenes where he has to bend his knees.”
To which I say: Ha! Watch and learn, kids.
Between 1 and 6 players are the survivors of a crash-landing on a wild alien world. This team (possibly made up of just one nervy player) is opposed by one final player controlling the beast that lives there. A long, thin board measures the progress of each team: The humans win if they can survive until help arrives, the beast wins if it can wear down the humans and absorb them into the ecosystem like beer into a shag carpet.
Each turn, each human player plays a card face-down showing where they’re going, and the beast has to second-guess their movements and slap fat poker chips onto those locations, invalidating your turn or worse. If the beast itself catches you then it devours a precious “Will” cube.
Do I have your interest? Of course I do. You’re a weak-willed human, and this game is a seductive new land. Let’s go exploring.
It takes a lot to excite me these days, but Vinhos Deluxe Edition managed it. Contained in this box is nothing less than a torrent of beautifully-illustrated tokens, a board that’s positively threatening in scale, and a fat, clean manual written with wit. It even has nice fonts! In a board game!
But it takes very little to make me nervous, and Vinhos Deluxe did that too. The rules that make sense, like buying vineyards or aging wines, contrast fiercely with the more arcane regions of the board, where players claim score multipliers or manoeuvre their action-selectors.
Any inference you want to draw from the header image of this article is correct. This game’s a beast to play, it’s tougher to teach, and it’s even harder to review.
Obviously, I couldn’t be more excited.
And so! Here's a brief explanation of the base game in case you're unfamiliar: Cash 'n Guns is a party game about dividing the loot from a heist. You all play one of the ne'er-do-wells involved in the heist, each armed with a foam weapon, and you're trying to end up with the most loot. Every round loot cards are dealt onto the table, the players pick a live or fake bullet which they play face down, and then point their foam gun at another player. They then have the choice to duck out of the round, avoiding injury but missing out on loot or staying in and risking injury but also potentially being part of the loot-sharing. There's also a godfather role which can move around between players and does things like giving that player the ability to tell someone to shoot at someone else.
You can imagine that the foam guns help with the role-play and people get really into the theatricality, pretending they're in Reservoir Dogs or attempting accents. (I don't do accents because I know my limits. Cockney ends up somewhere in the West Country, Welsh is somewhere between Indian and Northern Irish, and Russian is some kind of pan-European road trip as the sentence goes along.)
Paul: Quinns, it’s okay. You can confess and be absolved. Our world is one that still has room for forgiveness. Come and tell-
Quinns: I might have accidentally fed one of my students a pint of poison.
Paul: Ah. It’s all right. You’re not the first person-
Quinns: Also I misled an adventurer and sold them a flask of soup instead of a healing potion, then I published an academic theory that I knew was a lie.
Paul: Right yes well. The thing is-
Quinns: But worst of all, I forgot how funny Czech Games’ board games can be.
Paul: Quinns, I am so excited to write this review that I have got cracker crumbs all over my keyboard. Let’s go.
More specifically, it’s Sushi Go Party! that we play. This is the enlargened, deluxe-ified version of Sushi Go! that offers all sorts of new takeout boxes, rueful rolls and playful puddings for you to experiment with, as well adding a board and little soy sauce score-trackers. The original Sushi Go was a delicious-looking package, but Party is positively mouthwatering.
But here’s the thing. I’m not sure Sushi Go Party! is as good as other simple, small-box classics you might end a night with, games like Welcome to the Dungeon, Incan Gold or Parade. So why do I keep playing it... ?
It’s a frosty Wednesday, I have a hot cup of coffee and I’m feeling optimistic. Let’s go deep on this one.
Pip: Summary for the super spoiler-conscious: League of Legends – a videogame with a frankly enormous player base – has made a first foray into board gaming with Mechs vs Minions.
Mechs vs Minions is REALLY good! The developers bill it as Robo Rally meets Descent to give you an idea of how it plays. I've been playing through the campaign with Chris Thursten. We're having a blast and I'll get into the more detailed explanations in a moment BUT!
I wanted to say how much we're enjoying it up here because the game is an episodic campaign with each mission coming in its own envelope so as to deliver a few surprises as you play. With that in mind I figured it would be best to say "It's so good!" up front in case you wanted to go in with as close to zero knowledge of the contents of the game.
Everybody else? Come stomping this way.
We’ll get to what I thought of it, but first I owe this game an apology. I realise now that I’d mentally compartmentalised Lancaster in the same place as Alhambra- a weird box that was continually being printed by Queen Games long before Shut Up & Sit Down began, that would be printed long after we’re gone.
I remember finding a copy of Alhambra Big Box in my friendly local game store in 2013. “What is that game?” I asked a staff member, and we both gawped at it as if it were the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
After looking in the box, I pulled the sheath off my craft knife for the first time in a decade and immediately slit a digit open. It didn't bode well for the three-hour assembly time I'd heard boasted of on the internet.
What you get in this box is a literal plastic kit with assembly instructions, like scale models of tanks and planes. There is even a dwarf with a multi-part beard to glue together. But I was swayed by the fond memory of twisting whole plastics off sprues in my Warhammer days, so I figured I could handle it. Plaster on finger, I dusted off my other modelling tools and set to work with one simple question in my mind. Could this board game be worth it?
Review Soundtrack: Beat the Champ by The Mountain Goats
Bolds: A siren call of my youth. The gravel-voiced radio or television announcer chanting “Sunday!” and pointing you at an arena of legends. A contest of champions. A wholly made-up, entirely absurd, totally fixed contest of champions. If you did not grow up with it, if you’re just a roleplaying game enthusiast, well, I have an experience for you.
In an entirely approachable, well-laid-out 160-page volume, World Wide Wrestling gives you a set of rules that drive you into a world of entertainment and drama, screaming and spandex, costumes and camel clutches, masks and monsters. In the game, players are archetypal wrestlers - working people who play a role in a show, but also have to live their own lives. It adapts well to either small-scale independent wrestling or the big, media-frenzy contemporary wrestling that gave birth to people like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Hell, allow me some contradiction: I think it’s so precisely designed that it reaches beyond the world of wrestling.