Quinns: Sorry I’m late to the doc, Ava. I put too many news-chillies on my news-pizza last night, and it has caused problems with my ability to use the news-toilet.
Ava: Hey! Adding the word news to everything is MY thing. Let me make you some news-peppermint tea, while you decide if you need any news-ointment for your poor, spicy news-bum.
Quinns: I thought I’d put you on the back foot by talking about my body, but I just feel like I’ve opened Pandora’s Box. Which isn’t the only thing that’s been opened this morning, let me tell you.
Ava: THAT’S ENOUGH OF THAT! TO THE NEWS.
Ava: I’ve got a soft spot for French visions of the future. I went to a preview of The Fifth Element on my 13th birthday and I thought it was the best thing in the world. A few years later I played Beyond Good & Evil and loved it like a pig in fart-powered jet-boots loves his photo-journalist niece.
All of which means I’m predisposed to be warm to Paris: New Eden. Due out at Essen from Matagot games, this game has you drafting dice to try and survive in an overgrown post-apocalyptic but quite cosy looking Paris. With trees climbing up the Eiffel Trellis, you’ll be recruiting survivors, chasing objectives, and fulfilling secret missions. It looks pretty, but it’s only the art that’s currently setting it apart. I hope the game itself is as charming as Bruce Willis in a rubber vest.
Quinns: I am very enamoured of the question “What if the apocalypse was alright?”
Ava: I’m looking forward to greeting the end of the world with a laissez-faire ‘mais oui’.
Ava: Ooooh. Now this is a thing I’m conflicted about!
The Mind is probably my favourite find of last year. It’s the perfect blend of simplicity, theatre, drama and pulling faces. It’s a delight, it’s elegant, it’s smart, and all that from a game as simple as dealing from a deck that goes from 1-100 and saying ‘we’ve got to put these cards in order, but we can’t talk about it’. It’s a game I can have people playing within thirty second of having suggested it, and that can be understood and enjoyed by anyone but the most stubborn fun-haters.
So obviously I’m excited that Wolfgang Warsch is following it up with The Mind: Extreme?
It’s not obvious. At least half of what I love about The Mind is its simplicity. The idea of tripling the length of ‘the teach’ just to make it harder for people to win a game I’ve never won? Adding a second deck, and some complexities about whether you should be going up or down and some complexities about whether you should be playing the cards face up or face down? It all sounds really interesting, really challenging, and entirely not for me.
That said, if you’re part of a more coherent gaming group than mine, and you’re so synched up with your gang that you need to throw a few wrenches in the works? This might be perfect for you. For me, I’m happy with the game I’ve already got. One I know I can throw at people and have them groaning and cackling and thinking they’re geniuses in equal measure.
Quinns: They recently did this with The Game: Extreme as well. If this site ever has to do some kind of live 24 hour fundraiser, we should spend the stream exclusively playing games that have “extreme” in the title. It would be a hell of a show.
Ava: I’m opening the pool by betting ‘The Game of Life: Extreme Reality’ is going to be the one that breaks you.
Ava: And the award for ‘Ava’s search term of the week’ goes to ‘Sit Down Wormlord’.
Wormlord is coming soon from Sit Down games (still no relation), and appears to be some combination of four player chess and a knot-tying workshop. I’m utterly bewildered by the prospect of a real time game about tying shoelaces and untying your opponents knots. There’s not enough information available yet to find out how this actually works, and if it’ll be as tedious as doing your shoelaces for the hundredth time in a day, ,ut I do know that it is called WORMLORD, and that’s quite enough for me.
Quinns: I don’t want any more worms on this site. I delivered 4,000 carefully-chosen words of analysis and jokes in my Dune review and all the comments said was that they liked the 10 seconds where Matt was a worm.
Ava: Yeah. But I don’t know if you saw Matt’s worm costume? It was pretty cool.
Quinns: IT WAS A SLEEPING BAG
Ava: You know what you need to cut through a gordian knot like the above? You need a lovely pair of scissors. And scissors are exactly why we’re excited about ClipCut Parks, probably the world’s first roll’n’snip.
As in a roll’n’write game, you’ll be rolling some dice to determine your options on everyone’s turn. What marks this out, is that instead of scribbling, you’ll be snipping out little squares of paper covered in landscaping features. The dice tell you how long your cuts can be, and you’ve got to figure out ways to let free the squares you need to build the parks your bosses have asked you to. It’s a weird little twist, and I haven’t seen a physical puzzle like this since the folding mat game Fold-It (and the other folding games that followed it). I’m not entirely convinced the puzzle will be sharp enough, but I’d sure like to find out whether it’s running with scissors, or falling over whilst running with scissors.
Pànjūn will add 4 optional modules to the game of feudal Chinese bribery, and while I love Gùgōng, I’m more than ready for a few complications. “The Peasants Revolt” and “The Summer Palace” will each be new locations that fit alongside the main board, broadening the game considerably, while new gift cards will allow players to offer officials a ludicrously expensive pair of jade knives… as well a new “zero” card representing a terrible, terrible gift. Just awful.
At the time of writing, Gùgōng is competing with Pipeline to be the best new eurogame we’ve played all year, and it’s hard to imagine two more different games. The former is a delightfully colourful patchwork of fruit, paper and jade, and the latter is a grey capitalist behemoth. We’re also hearing very good things about Black Angel, another eurogame with fascinating presentation.
It feels like 2019 is the year that show-stopping eurogames realised that it’s nice to *look* nice, and I’m loving it.
EDIT: Haaang on. I’ve just taken a closer look at this Kickstarter, and it looks like the only pledge options are for the “Deluxe” versions of Gùgōng and the Pànjūn expansion, which include expensive cosmetic upgrades like a slipcase with a velvet finish. Worse, the deluxe version of Pànjūn is incompatible with the standard base game.
How disappointing! Personally, I’d avoid this Kickstarter and wait for the cheaper, standard versions of Gugong and the expansion to arrive back in retail.
Ava: I’ve been ducking out of writing about Merchants Cove for a few weeks, because the only reason it intrigued me was the lovely cardboard dragon boats. But a game cannot float on boats alone, and as the game has sailed through it’s targets, I’ve been wondering if I’ve missed something.
On closer inspection, Merchants Cove appears to share something of Root’s passion for asymmetry, with each player taking a different merchant, and their own entire minigame. You might be matching coloured marbles in the alchemist’s lab, drafting dice in the blacksmith, or pushing your luck as a wandering pirate. All this is attached to a core system of trying to get the right goods for the visiting adventurers.
This could really float *my* boat, but I’m very reluctant to give it a concrete endorsement, as that’s so many moving parts that need to be well-oiled. Root’s asymmetry worked for me because the core of the game could be taught surprisingly quickly, and every faction had the bulk of their rules spelled out in front of them at all times. Root’s been notorious for splitting opinions, and that’s after going through an obviously solid polishing process. I hope Merchants Cove gets the same, and comes out as shiny as one of those easy to bump off alchemical marbles.
Quinns: I read this whole Kickstarter with increasingly disbelieving sputters. If I was wearing a monocle it would have popped out and fallen into my tea. This is very, very ambitious. Designer Carl Van Ostrand is making six distinct games that all fit under the umbrella of a bigger game. Most designers are lucky to design one good game!
But I can’t pretend that I’m not in love with the idea of everyone fretting over distinct minigames, which is something we haven’t seen since the excellently silly Space Cadets.
Ava: Space Cadets didn’t even need to balance those games against each other, as it was a co-operative affair. I’m very worried that someone’s going to feel like they drew a very short straw when they realise they’re getting screwed by an entirely different machine to everyone else.
Quinns: Yeah. Then again, there’s something exquisitely funny about taking an action on the main board that causes your friend to have a bad day at work, when you don’t even understand what they do for a living.
Ava: Let’s hope it gives us all the right sort of groans. Unlike those chillies.
My grandmother passed away. Her funerals were today, but here I’d like to talk about the most important thing I couldn’t spend too much time on in her eulogy: her love for Dungeons & Dragons. #DnD
— Antoine H. (@AntnHz) August 23, 2019
Ava: And while Quinns is hiding in the bathroom, I’ll sneak in a little heartwarmer of a story. Antoine H took to twitter to expand on a eulogy he gave for his grandma, and how she got into Dungeons & Dragons at the tender age of 75. Everything about this story is lovely, and it is inevitable you’ll tear up at the parting words: ‘Never change, never loose your family spirit, and keep on playing Dungeons & Dragons’.
Quinns: Oh my goodness. I’m not crying, you’re crying