Ava: It’s getting news in here, so take off all your news. I am, getting so news, I’m gonna take my news off.
Tom: Whoa, nelly! Cool your news boots. That’s just a bit too news.
Ava: I know Tom, I know. But GenCon Online has given us so much news, that I think we are literally going to take our news off, saving some for next week. As is semi traditional, this week focuses mostly on the big players (who get their details online the quickest), as it takes a week or so for the more interesting oddities to start shining through. And oh my word, the biggest game is getting bigger. I nearly put my hype-drive into ludicrous mode for this one.
Ava: Twilight Imperium is getting a brand new expansion in Prophecy of Kings. Chucking an enormous box full of goodies at a game that already ate half a table seems bordering on monstrous, but if you are one of the lucky ones who can find a way to get this one to the table, there’s probably something here for you. Two new sets of miniatures means you can play with eight people, seven new factions, little tiny mechs with super powers, unique leader cards for every faction in the game, and a load of extra cards to find, trade and shuffle.
I am most excited because (a) I can be pink, (b) there’s some new factions and (c) there’s more hexagons to give maps more variety and weirdness. My biggest worry is that the fourth edition did so much glorious work streamlining the experience, that I’m not entirely sure I want to be chucking any extra moving part in, but I guess these options will be a delight for some.
Tom: Despite quaking in my little space booties at the prospect of having an 8-player game of Twilight Imperium (I’ve only managed to get a 6 player game in once) and the shadow of Covid continually looming over the near future, I’m already planning the 8-player-weekend-spanning monstrosity that will be my next game of TI, even if it takes place in 2022 and also kills me. Which table will I use? Which city will the game be hosted in, and who by? And most importantly – how am I going to sell this experience to 7 autonomous humans with actual jobs?
Ava: Ah my sweet summer child. You think there’ll still be cities, jobs and autonomy in 2022?
Ava: You know what we will have in 2020 who loves helping? Mutants. Sticking with Fantasy Flight, who’re further exploiting their Marvel license by releasing a new X-Men Game.
X-Men Mutant Insurrection looks like most superhero games: co-operative, various villains to battle against, and a decision about where and how you’re going to split your resources. There’s a little plane, and a little stairway of danger. It looks cute, but I can’t say that anything here gripped me
I’d normally be disappointed with myself for not being able to figure out what’s special about this game apart from ‘there’s some custom dice’, but there’s something about superhero games where they all, at least on the surface, look identical. I decided not to cover the Umbrella Academy game on kickstarter this week, because, apart from the gorgeous art, there’s literally nothing I can point out about it that means anything.
Matt: Oh cor yeah, that looks like nothingness & guff.
Tom: The X-Men game feels like one of those games that i’ll be aware exists. And that’s it. Like the Star War ones. There’s lots of them, they’re out there, and are probably quite fine.
Ava: It’s kind of disappointing considering this was FFG’s only completely new game announced in their GenCon schedule. That said, there is a plague out there, so maybe slowing down a little is pretty reasonable.
Tom: The one thing I’m VERY into is the pull quote underneath the picture of the box on the website: “Attention X-Men! This is Professor Xavier calling! –Professor X, The X-Men #1 . It’s like announcing a Superman game accompanied with “Hello, it is me, Superman” –Superman, Superman #1 .
Ava: Just to fill in the gaps, I wanted to drop the whole Fantasy Flight Inflight Report. There’s a cavalcade of expansions for the miniature games occupying the first thirty minutes or so, then the two things above, but the main reason the whole video snuck into the news is the ‘hilarious’ ‘accidental’ last thirty seconds, where they show a box that’s going to make a lot of people curious. A new edition (although I’ve heard rumours it’s a complete redesign) of Descent: Journey’s in the Dark. It’s just a box, as of yet, so we’re probably going to move on, and cover it in more detail when we actually know a thing.
Tom: I hadn’t seen the ending of this stream (I’m ashamed to admit I, like many ravenous fans, skipped straight to the TI stuff) but those last 30 seconds made me HONK with laughter. What a charming moment.
Ava: Repos Productions has also been in the business of dropping new game details via video, and so we’ve got a few little previews for you here.
Absolute classic 7 Wonders is getting a new edition that somehow looks more square? I’m not sure I like the new design, but there are shiny bits and the boards are bigger, so that might float some boats (and sink them if there’s not a handy Pharos?). This card drafting civ builder is one of those games that I keep on forgetting how sharp and lovely it is, particularly with low player counts of experienced players, where the whole thing is just a breezy cocktail of combos, quiet passive aggression, and counting out bonuses.
Right next door, 7 Wonders: Duel, is getting an expansion. The Agora box will add senators, conspiracies, and area control to the 2 player alternative to the bigger boxed card drafter. Weirdly I actually find myself in the same territory I was in with Twilight Imperium, in that I’ve barely tried any expansions to either 7 Wonders game, because for me the joy is in the elegance, and adding extra things to get distracted by isn’t exactly what floats my boat. That said, like my Nanna used to say: ‘every folk’s totes got their own float-boats’. You may want to plunge into this one.
Tom: Ava, you’re literally using the ‘float your boat’ idiom twice in one segment, and it looks like you’re getting a bit deeper every time.
Ava: Don’t sink my boats unless you really want to go deeper.
Tom: I hope you capsize.
Ava: Aye Captain.
Ava: I’m annoyed that I saw someone on twitter make the same comment I had already written in the games news notes, but I’m going to say it anyway: I don’t think it is acceptable to make a follow up game using the title format ‘place name: other entirely unrelated place name’. It meant that googling this actually left me looking at the prices of flights from America to Greece. But I’m not in charge, so it’s happening.
Santorini: New York is a follow up to the very successful Santorini: Not New York. This time the game takes place not in Santorini, but in New York. This looks to beef up the complexity of this tower building, roof topping abstract game.
Tom: As well as transplanting itself from NNY to NY, there are a few little additions and rules tweaks from Roxley in the… Boxley. Now you’ve got to have a whole statue of liberty in your possession to win, and the player count has been bumped up to 5. There’s also a slew of new roles for everyone to have a stab at that are aptly New York themed – instead of Athena, you’re now Mr Business, Hades has been turned into a big deep dish pizza pie, and if you’re a fan of Zeus you can now play as The Mets.
Ava: You’re actually picking a new role card every turn in this new edition, which determines turn order, as well has who is currently holding the Statue of Liberty, which you need to win the game. With simultaneous action selection that makes for a quite a lot of weird wrinkling to what’s otherwise a fairly straightforward abstract.
Oh god, I’m about to complain about people adding complexity to things that are good because they’re elegant again. STOP IT AVA, IT’S OKAY FOR THINGS TO CHANGE SOMETIMES.
Tom: Sounds like someone needs a holiday to Not New York: the city that never gets complicated. The city so simple, they didn’t name it twice. The Big Not Apple.
Ava: Wait a second. Is Not New York actually just York? Because I could actually get a train there?
Tom: Stop slacking and get back to news!
Ava: Tutankhamun is a new edition of an old game by Reiner Knizia, and it’s on Kickstarter now. A simple game of drifting up river, grabbing sets of objects, and hopefully getting a majority so you can claim the prize by running out of money first.
Tom: The Kickstarter video makes it clear that you’re priests purchasing all kinds of tributes to donate to the boy, but I think i’d rather imagine it as priests dredging up whatever weird rubbish they find in the nile to throw into the sarcophagus and call it a day. Quite frankly, a UK edition where you’re travelling by barge up the Thames to put a shopping trolley and a traffic cone in Thatcher’s tomb would go down a treat.
Ava: Honestly, it’s the sort of game where the closer you look at any part of it, the less it makes sense. Maybe I’m only here because it’s got the phrase ‘wooden canopic jar score markers’ on the page.
Tom: SCREEN-PRINTED wooden canopic jar score markers, no less.
Ava: I just had to read the entire rulebook and watch the video to establish that the sarcophogus is there for no mechanical reason whatsoever. It’s just there to sell the theme: so that when you’re chucking stuff in the box you can call it the pharaoh’s tomb.
It’s a Brewster’s Millions priesthood challenge to sail up the Nile (which is slowly disappearing into the underworld), buying as much stuff as possible so you can put it in the ‘tomb’ and spend the money. It looks simple, and a bit reminiscent of Bites, a little ant shuffler that I really enjoyed, but the set collection feels a bit more faffy, and i’m not convinced it’s more interesting. I still can’t get over the picture where it looks like King Tut is pooping out a little blue river. Maybe that’s just me.
Tom: I’ve looked at the picture at least 4 or 5 times now and I can confirm that it is just you.
Ava: This week’s further reading is this design diary for Undaunted: North Africa, the sequel I’m most eager to find someone to play with, as I loved the first box.
Tom: This was a weird read as someone who is sorting through their thoughts and feelings on the game in question (more on that in the latest episode of the podcast). It’s such a strange box for someone that adored the original and wants to adore its sequel – and reading the design diary has just further entrenched the nagging thought that I might just be missing something. WHO. KNOWS.
Ava: Well that’s great, we’ve basically assigned homework for people who want to get some extra podcast credit.
Tom: It’s not required reading, but it may help with the end-of-term assignments. Professor Smith isn’t a generous marker, and you’ve been slacking. In fact, I’ll see you after class. You’ve been expelled. From boardgame school.