Games News! 03/04/2017
Y’see, everybody is playing a team of FBI agents who know that somewhere in their midst are communists that they absolutely have to rat out. Everybody sports a special pair of glasses and, depending upon which ones you wear, you can read certain secret text written on some of the game’s many cards, while remaining completely blind to other text. This is a wonderfully simple idea and I’m immediately thrilled at the idea of players trying to convince one another of what they can or can’t see, blusteringly bluffing and desperately trying to get someone else to confirm (or deny) that things are (or aren’t) what they seem.
Quinns: What a concept, indeed! I’m very excited to test this box from first time designer Benjamin Kanelos. If you were wondering about the box’s striking appearance, this is actually yet another work from Ian O’Toole, who does the layout and illustration for all the breathtakingly lovely new Vital Lacerda games like Vinhos Deluxe. What a guy.
Are we entering an age where artists get as much kudos as designers? Being an enormous fop, I hope so.
Meanwhile, the award for Quinns’ Most Exciting Game of the Week is Detective: A Modern Crime Boardgame from proud Polish publisher Portal Games.
We don’t have any images of this game besides the box, but Detective will “bring classic puzzle-solving gameplay into the 21st century with the introduction of online elements.” If we just translate that sentence from Publisherese into English, we get this: “Detective will basically be Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective but you use a special app on your phones and Google things.”
Don’t get me wrong, I was as excited as anyone about the announcement of new Consulting Detective cases, but using new tools from new designers in a new setting is even more exciting.
I can’t wait, and that’s a problem because Detective won’t be arriving in shops until 2018. Maybe I should just become a policeman?
Paul: Given its continued popularity, I’m not at all surprised to see a second Scythe expansion drifting toward us. Scythe: The Wind Gambit is not about having indigestion, but instead adds airships for everyone to play with (each one having two randomly combined abilities) and special Resolutions, new ways in which the game can end.
Naturally, the airships are more mobile than your initially restricted workers and mechs, something that makes me rather happy, and they actually come via a fan suggestion through Scythe’s Facebook group. Good on Stonemaier Games for being so attentive to their community.
Kickstarter is a jungle that I must fight my way through every week and I never know what I’ll find next. Will it be a poisonous beast, long forgotten riches or a terrifying triangular laser sight that tells me The Predator is on my tail? What I’m saying here is that Kickstarter is WILD.
Nevertheless, in that humid wilderness we find the glowing treasure that is Bargain Quest.
This is the next game from Imperial Assault and Doom designer Jonathan Ying, and it sees each player running a shop that sells potions, weapons and other fantasy gear to adventurers who are trying to save the town. As a concerned resident and pillar of the community, you’re obviously interested in keeping everyone safe (since that ‘everyone’ includes you), but you’re even more interested in making money.
Which may or may not be some sort of comment on the military-industrial complex. I don’t know. I haven’t had my coffee yet. All this fantasy capitalism reminds me an awful lot of Recettear, but with less negotiating and more not caring about people after they’ve given you their money. Which calls to mind a lot of salespeople I’ve known. Anyway, if anyone can design a game that fits the same niche as Boss Monster but that’s actually a good game, it’s Mr. Ying. Matt actually got to play this one at GDC and had a lovely time.
Also catching my eye like the glint of a distant diamond is a Kickstarter reprint of Dragoon. Sadly, I didn’t get to play this last year, but I heard many good things about it and it this new edition comes enlarged and embiggened. As well as taking on the role of a dragon, defending their kingdom from pesky humans, some players can instead opt to be a barbarian or a rogue, making this rather charming looking game more asymmetrical.
Not only do I really like those metal pieces and the roll-up board, I also like the visual design of Dragoon and the enthusiasm demonstrated in this pitch video. Readers, did any of you get a chance to try the first printing of Dragoon, by any chance? Let us know in the comments if you think it delivers.
Quinns: In news of exciting stuff that you can’t buy, a 1st edition of Diplomacy popped up on eBay over the weekend, one of only 500 copies that were initially printed in 1959. The auction ended with a winning bid of $5,234.
Paul: Oh God so much money. Also I’m keen to hear anyone’s stories of how much they might’ve seen paid (or even paid themselves) for old copies of things like Cosmic Encounter.
Quinns: You know what? I’ve started feeling the pull of old first editions like this. But what’s really weird is that just a few years ago, I had no interest at all.
I think everything changed on the day that I realised I had a serious collection, and only then did I find myself ogling ancient table-treasures. A collection is almost like a self-fulfilling thing, I suppose. The more games you have, the more proud you are of your collection, and the more proud you are the more exciting it is to make your collection even better.
I doubt I’ll ever succumb to the urge to spend silly money, though. I do quite want to buy some old 1980s VHS board games, but I’m hoping that I’ll stop there.
Paul: Fans of the 90s, of the supernatural, of sad and angry metal songs, of the X-Files, or of HALF THE STUFF I HAD TO GROW UP AROUND (well okay some of it was fine) will be pleased to see that new editions of White Wolf’s World of Darkness RPGs are on their way.
Throughout my teenage years, Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse allowed friends of mine to play as the titular characters and experience a mix of existential despair and proto-goth-horniness decades before the Twilight books ever came into being. It was a more innocent time, before everyone learned that Billy Corgan was very odd.
Video game publishers Paradox Interactive snatched this license up a while ago now and so news of a new edition isn’t a huge surprise to us (though hearing that the same people who published Cities: Skylines are also publishing sexy vampire stuff may surprise you). What I’m most keen to see isn’t what’s new for Vampire or Werewolf, the biggest games in the series, but what’s to come for Mage and Mummy, the more obscure and yet also far more interesting corners of the canon.
Quinns: There was a Mummy World of Darkness game?! Googling… oh wow.
The pic you used up tthere of the original Vampire: The Masquerade book really takes me back. I remember finding that in a bookshop when I was about 12 and being absolutely spellbound by it. That marble cover, the size of it, the pages and pages that spoke of darke adventure and black magicks. Apparently it was the first RPG to have that kind of faux-literary, simple design, which certainly had an impact on me.
Finally, we’d like to point you towards an excellent interview that Kotaku did with Mark Rosewater, lead designer on Magic: The Gathering.
This site’s experience with Magic was less than perfect but we still came away somewhat awed by the job that the designers do. This is a game with a deeply mediocre foundation, and there’s no denying that its continued success has come from a broad spectrum of great decisions made by Wizards of the Coast over its lifespan. Rosewater makes a fascinating interviewee for that reason, and I particularly like his namechecking of Escher in the game’s power creep.
What games did you get up to this weekend, everybody?