Games News! 02/09/14

needless dazzle, neoclassical car warfare, hello snow guy, cheeky quinns
Quinns: It’s the games news! It’s a slow news day, though, where even our top stories are trundling like treacle down a sandy slope, so we’re letting loose a blast of our own news.

Our FORUM (hence the header image, do you see) is now just around the corner. While we’re expecting it to be every bit as kind and respectful as our comments, if the movies of Bruce Willis have taught us one thing, it’s that sometimes polite society needs tough dudes to walk around with no shoes on.

If being a forum moderator is something you think you’d be good at, you’ll find the application email address after the break.

Applicants! Please write us using no more than 150 words via [email protected], including your real name and the name you comment under. This isn’t a job interview, so there’s no need to dazzle us. Just be candid! Say why you’d like to do it and why you think you’d be good at it.

Snow Giant

Hey! Board games! Remember those? Remember the Tash-Kalar review where we said it was fantastic? The first unfinished image from the first expansion has appeared on the internet. It’s a snow guy! Say “Hello snow guy!”

Tash-Kalar is still a rubbish name, though. Czech Games are really on a roll. Tzolk’in followed by Tash-Kalar? Those are both just consonant salads with punctuation dressing. I remember when you put out games with cool names, guys! Like Space Alert and, uh… Bunny Bunny Moose Moose.


You know what has a cool name? CAR WARS! First released in 1981, the fifth edition (noted for its simplification) is being re-released next month under the name Car Wars Classic. Which I also like because it makes me imagine the possibility of neoclassical car wars or baroque car wars.

This is an old-school, cheap’n’cheerful miniatures game about kitting out a car (or truck, or bike) and going to war with your friends. Win, and you’ll earn money for more upgrades, but also the ire of all of your friends, creating a metagame where you have to maneuver so they don’t all just drive you off the road. I say “miniatures game”- you could use toy cars if you like, or just print out and cut up the accompanying sheets (together with print’n’play city blocks).

Neither this print’n’giggle style or the winners-gets-cash format is something we’ve ever covered, come to think of it. Maybe we should find the time to review this one?

Girls on Games

Next up is a Kickstarter! But first, I’m going to tell you a quick story. I recently had a meeting with a UK newspaper to help them start coverage of the hobbyist board game scene. I was doing my thing, pinwheeling my arms and groaning about how fun and clever it all was, and towards the end I was giving them names of famous designers.

“Any women?” asked the section editor. And I suddenly felt about twelve inches tall with my feet dangling off the edge of my chair, because I couldn’t name a single female board game designer. I explained that board gaming culture is basically a boy’s club where games are nearly all designed by men and artwork is frequently ruled by male gaze, but it was clear that there was an amount of respect lost that I’d never get back.

Girls on Games is a Kickstarter for an anthology of essays written by female game industry professionals which, among other excellent goals, wants to collate advice on challenges women will find in the field. I just backed it, and it’d be cool if you took a look too.

Days of Wonder

AND FINALLY! The actual big story this week was French board game publisher Asmodee gobbling up joint French-U.S. publisher Days of Wonder like a big cardboard sweet. It was a merger! They merged. It was beautiful.

It also perhaps explains why both companies were simultaneously releasing designs from Bruno Cathala (Abyss and Five Tribes, respectively), and makes extra bonus sense when you consider that Days of Wonder’s founders actually came from a startup/tech background.

And if I can be just a little cheeky, for all of Days of Wonder’s bravado (see my Kotaku interview with them) they’ve spent the last few years entirely failing to make any more of the brands they’re so good at managing. While Ticket to Ride and Small World have continued to gather attention, their only new titles were the sequential flops of Mystery Express in 2010, Cargo Noir in 2011 and Relic Runners in 2013.

Hopefully, then, this’ll be a match made in heaven. With yearly Ticket to Ride sales recently overtaking Settlers of Catan, does anyone know if this also makes Asmodee the biggest publisher in the world? Eek!