GAMES NEWS! 01/07/19

quinns' indecent wrist, megafauna friends, a cylindrical hydra, and grief
Ava: Quinns, Quinns? I’ve been wondering…

Quinns: Oh no.

Ava: No it’s fine. I’m just wondering, where does news come from?

Quinns: Well, Ava, when two people love news very much, they get together and…

Ava: I’ve heard enough. Let’s make like Cole Porter and do it. Let’s fall in news.

Quinns: Here we go.

Ava: Cities: Skylines – The Board Game finally has a bit more detail attached to it, with some exciting concrete morsels to chew on. Kosmos games is working with Paradox entertainment and Rustan Håkansson to bring your table a take on the computerised infrastructure fiddler of the same name. The idea of trying to take that depth of simulated transport modelling and recreating it in cardboard is ridiculous, so I’m pretty glad Rustan has gone down an even more curious route.

Combining weirdly shaped tiles onto modular boards with a prebuilt road layout while looking after the needs of your citizens is an intriguing prospect. Doing it co-operatively with a few of your terrible friends making horrendous mistakes on your behalf sounds like a recipe for grumpy delight.

Quinns: The fact that this is a co-operative game has made me instantaneously excited. Just imagining someone laying a tile in an awkward way that prevents any other buildings going in that block was enough to make me put my face in my hands.

Ava: Doing things wrong is a team sport, and the best city-builders let you build accidental hellscapes. This has all the planning documents necessary to be a beautiful disaster.

Quinns: That’s especially true because players will share a single bank balance, and lose the game if they go bankrupt. Is this approaching the category of games that are “Too Real”?

Ava: As long as nobody actually has to live in Pearhampton-under-Lime, it’s just real enough.

Quinns: Here’s a saddening little newslet (newsling?).

The box and board for the new edition of classic co-operative puzzle Ghost Stories have been revealed. The relaunch will be titled Last Bastion, and instead of you playing as monks fending off colourful ghosts in rural China, you’re now generic Fantasy archetypes defending a fantasy castle from fantasy monsters.

I never claimed to be a reasonable man, but Ava, I loathe this. Rather than doing a sensitivity pass on the old edition’s depiction of China, they’ve dropped the old theme like a hot stone.

Ava: To be fair to Last Bastion, the bright colours look really inviting, and I am definitely less worried about appropriation in this version. But I’m not surprised people aren’t pleased. I’ve just never played the game so I’m not hugely attached.

Quinns: It was one of the few games in my collection before we began Shut Up & Sit Down!

Look, here’s our old review! Oh, leave me to my grief…

Ava: Following on from last week’s news of Jaws, we’ve got another monster from your childhood, resurrected and shoved onto the shelves at Target.

Kenny G – Keeping it Saxy comes from the same school of thought as the Bob Ross: Art of Chill board game. That school being “Slapping a meme-friendly celebrity on the cover and building a game around the collective sense of irony and the nostalgia high”. You’ll be keeping Kenny in the smooth jazz groove by playing sound cards in this co-operative game that makes me wish I didn’t have ears. It’s recommended you put some Kenny on in the background, and do vocal scat as you play the cards.

Maybe that’ll be fun. Maybe I’d rather be eaten by the shark. There’s only one way to tell.

(Wake me up when someone’s made a Kamasi Washington game.)

Ava: Do you know what I like more than I like smooth jazz saxophone? Tubes. That’s why I’m intrigued by Ludicreations reprint of On the Underground, on kickstarter now. On the Underground lets you build your own subsurface rail network in both London AND Berlin. Those are two very tubey cities.

Quinns: The game seems fairly straightforward. In the tradition of route-building games like Ticket to Ride and Through the Desert, players take turns to extend their lines in order to claim certain objectives, or they can spend precious “Branching Tokens” to birth a new head for one of their tubes, like a cylindrical hydra.

Ava: I’m kind of worried that I’ll feel awful rebuilding the London Underground wrong.

Quinns: I’m just cracking up at the single beleaguered wooden passenger on the board that you all want to shunt around for additional victory points. There’s something very sad about that.

Ava: I’m pretty sure we’ve all had a day on the underground that felt like that, to be fair.

Ava: There’s a dinosaur.
And it’s really small.
In a min-i-a-tures board game.

Quinns: ….

Ava: This would make more sense if you could hear me singing. It’s beautiful Quinns.

Quinns: That’s as maybe, but have you looked at this kickstarter? I can’t see anything there to excite me, and it’s about dinosaurs, the most exciting creatures that ever lived.

Ava: What about the giant sloth? I reckon that’s more exciting than a dinosaur.

Quinns: You’re a fan of megafauna too?! We should talk after the news.

This Kickstarter is proper bobbins though. We should have stopped after On The Underground.

Ava: Since I started writing news, I’ve wondered: what would it take for me to actually link to an announcement of a new version of Monopoly? It turns out that the answer is ‘remove the one thing I like about Monopoly’, the tactility. The new Monopoly: Voice Banking game is a straightforward take on the game, but replaces your cheaty sibling as the banker with…a giant top hat that sits in the middle of your game and talks to you.

I’m all about touching experiences, and my fondest, fondlingest memory of Monopoly is the time I attempted to break the system by hoarding all the one pound notes. The idea of taking out the wodges of cash and replacing it with a cut price robo-pennybags is utterly deflating.

Though actually, it’s potentially a really useful accessibility tool, so I shouldn’t be such a snob. I just wish it could be customised for other games. Meeple Like Us did a great breakdown of accessibility in this game that concluded that it’s mainstream status had helped the designers polish up every aspect of the game until pretty much anyone could play. There’s definitely something to learn there.

Quinns: I like Monopoly: Cheater’s Edition, where you can handcuff your children to the board.

Ava: Are you still walking around with a monopoly board hanging off your wrist, Quinns?

Quinns: I will neither confirm nor deny that!

…Though it has been a real pain keeping my left hand off-camera in videos.

Ava: In possibly the most unusual piece of games writing I’ve ever read. Ars Technica have the story of three researchers, Alex Churchill, Stella Biderman, Austin Herrick, who have established that it’s possible to build a computer out of Magic: The Gathering. In attempting to assess if the game is ‘Turing complete’ and therefore ‘unsolvable’ the mathsy wizards have turned the collectible card game into a Turing machine, theoretically capable of conducting any computation.

I have even less idea what’s going on that in a regular game of Magic, but I’ve got to say, I love it when people bewilder so very specifically. It’s a lovely read.