Matt: Contrary to popular belief, I am not a man of infinite luxury. Paul has an entire cupboard just for games - Quintin has a cavernous loft to explore. Many have climbed that ladder and never been seen alive again, fading away to become a new addition to the dark and dusty collage of cardboard and bones. Basically those boys have space to play with. I however, have a shelf.
But it’s a big shelf! Oh my. There’s plenty of room in the rest of my flat, but my wife is a bit of a cheery dictator when it comes to interior design - so the sins of the husband must be tidied away. It’s occasionally annoying, but it does mean I get to live in a genuinely beautiful, tidy place? Swings and roundabouts, life is compromise.
Restoration Games is actually a trio right now: attorney, Justin Jacobson; designer, Rob Daviau (of Risk Legacy and Pandemic Legacy fame); and graphic designer, Jason Taylor. They've also just announced their initial slate of games to restore – Dragonmaster, Top Race and Stop Thief! I caught up with Justin Jacobson to find out more about the project – particularly what "restoration" even means when it comes to board games and why these three made the cut...
Justin, as I mentioned above, is an attorney. He's based in South Florida and had the kind of family I definitely didn't – one which was into board games. "My father and uncle were always regular game players, and we lived nearby growing up," he says. "So, unsurprisingly, my cousins and I played games constantly. We played a lot of D&D and a lot of video games, but mostly we played board games. Tons of them. All kinds. I guess I’ve always been around games and so I’ve always had a passion for them."
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.
Exploration is a board game with a box I prop up to display the cover, like it's some kind of dramatic photo I want to casually lean on the mantlepiece. It's not something I suggest playing when people come over but I just love seeing on my shelf. It brings me enjoyment through its art and aspirations rather than anything it achieves through play. It also shows this moment in board games from the past. There are so many of those moments – weird blips in terms of theme or odd shaped pieces or bizarre ideas that together make up the whole history of boardgames, with some becoming popular and others quietly retiring from print. I love catching sight of these moments. Exploration is this extinct thing. It's a box that just demonstrates the moment someone went "what if we do dice rolling but ALSO somehow mountaineering AND diving AND there are ziggurats?"
He was fond of cards in that way that doesn't seem to be common now. My mother tells me that he had a bridge group. My grandmother would also attend, but more for my grandfather than her own amusement. Cards were also a source of entertainment and distraction during his time in Egypt in the second world war and a valuable pastime while he was a prisoner during that war.
None of this ever came into what he was sharing with me – I learned all of that far later during a phone call with my mother as I wondered whether it had just been a way of keeping me occupied during long visits. It was a relief to realise he'd enjoyed it as neither of my parents can stand card games. That's part of why it was my grandfather who taught me; we didn't even have a deck of cards at my parents' house unless one sneaked past the front door as part of a Christmas cracker.
You guys will have seen my collection in the background of loads of SU&SD videos, but I don't think you've seen the work that goes into it. Come with me today as I perform... a CULL.
Gav: It's 6:45 on a Friday night, I’ve just got off a flight from Cologne to London and I'm attempting to tether the internet from my phone to my really old, really rubbish and currently really unresponsive laptop. This would be annoying enough if I wasn't also attempting to manoeuvre through some horrendous London traffic in a beaten-up old jallopy. I know even using your phone (no less a phone AND a laptop) whilst driving is reckless and stupid but there's an excuse for my idiocy: it's the evening of my NFL Fantasy Draft.
Before I lose you, let me just say I know how you're feeling, but stick with me as I explain why game fans will find a fantasy football league interesting.
If you enjoyed literally anything we did this year, don't thank us. Thank the people who support SU&SD's ad-free status with donations and make our work possible. Or better yet, join the Gold Club yourself with that big button on the right! Every dollar makes a difference, and guarantees a uniquely British encounter if you meet us at a convention as we thank you profusely without managing any eye contact.
Following in the tradition of 2014's roundup, after the jump you can enjoy a look back on the best, brightest and silliest work we did this year. Also, a tease of what to look forward to in 2016!