Mart Leez: Peoplethings! If you need a scheduled entertainment respite phase in and around your mandatory working and/or worrying hours, then fear not! Well actually, fear just a little. Our stream this Tuesday featuring Isaac Vega and the much talked-about Forgotten Waters has been pushed back until next Thursday, May 14th – but we’ll be live this Thursday with Ava, Quinns and The Real Matt Lees for a live game of Hansa Teutonica! Lock up your wooden discs, it’s all kicking off!
Ava: Mart, you can’t just start the news off by yelling at the peoplethings! We try to ease in with a gentle bit of repartee. Some bon mots, and at least one compound news-word. We’re a respectable news outlet, not some kind of angry town crier.
Tom: Ava, that’s bobbins. We just write the news and then come back here and blurt out the first thing that comes to mind.
Ava: Maybe, but we don’t shout.
Mart Leez: Apologies for the incorrectly pitched thought-velocities. I will try to bon up my mots for next week, and if there’s space I’ll pop a repartee up there as well. How’s this as a sample? “Hello Readers and welcome to the news-bike. We’ll be peddling this all the way through news-ville dispatching news-bundles into the laps of the populace, waiting and ready for their news-breakfast”
Tom: Ava, I have to kill it. It knows too much.
Ava: I’ll get the axe.
Mart Leez: 🙁
Ava: Spielworxx continues to be my go-to for impossibly heavy games with ridiculously particular themes, and they certainly don’t appear to be slowing that down.
The Cost is coming out later this year, and has players as rival asbestos industrialists. Each turn players will have to decide if they’re willing to pay a cost in human lives to make their factories and mines more efficient. This is even bleaker than the ruthless political flip-flopping of Die Macher. The game has four rounds unless you’re shut down for breaching health and safety regulations. You already know whether this is more melancholy than you can handle, and I’m just in awe that it exists.
Tom: There’s always a lot of room to laugh at eurogames with depressing themes; putting a care home next to a cliff-edge in Suburbia, for one example. But The Cost has a core risk that’s both unbelievably nefarious and brutally mundane, and stands uncomfortably close to real life in a way that’s kind of strange when you’re used to the occasional lick of bleak theme being something of a USP. It seems as though the game is at least taking itself pretty seriously though with that title – at least it’s not calling itself ‘As-BEST-os; Our Condolences To The Family Of The Deceased!’ or something.
Ava: Agreed. ‘Making the as-best-os of a bad situation’ may be the name of the game, but absolutely shouldn’t be the name of the game.
Quinns dropped a link to this drunk little Krakenfeeder in the company slack, and I think I share his curiosity.
Feed the Kraken promises social deduction and a constant struggle to steer the ship either away from or towards a giant sea monster, depending on what floats your boat. Or doesn’t, I guess. There’s actually three factions, with pirates trying to steal the ship, sailors trying to get home, and a lone cultist trying to feed the beast. The cultist may be able to win people on side over the course of the game, which sounds like just the sort of mess to mix up a game like this.
Tom: The ‘Whom Shall We Trust’ section on BGG has a wonderful bit of flavour that makes me irrationally excited for the theming of the game; ‘After each navigation, the lieutenant and navigator go off duty, and the captain has to find somebody sober enough to take their spot instead. Everyone can discuss how well that last navigation went, who is to blame for the current course, and who should be in charge in the future instead.’ It seems like this game is going to get to a ‘The Lighthouse’-level fever-pitch in which the table dissolves into a drunk, arguing mess, with players gradually getting grumpier and grumpier with eachothers questionable sailing choices. I may be slightly biased as to the quality of this box though – I’ve been playing bucketloads of Sea of Thieves recently and I think I just want revenge on my crewmates for continually locking me in the brig.
Ava: If the puzzle battle poodle’s doing battle with paddle in a puzzle battle bottle, that’s a puzzle battle poodle bottle paddle puddle fuddle muddle, right?
Bullet♥︎ is somehow getting a mention just because the phrase ‘battle puzzle’ tickled me. I’m not sure I like the anime lady laden setting of this new offering from Level 99, but with Battlecon and Pixel Tactics under their belts, they are a company that knows a bit about niche fighting games. This promises a real time battle royale, or various co-operative modes, and it requires an emoji to write about, which is annoying. I’m still not entirely clear if I’m supposed to call it Bullet or Bulletheart. I guess the choice will be yours. I’m going to stick to my Doctor Seussing.
Tom: In more ‘Strange Sentences in BGG Descriptions’-news, this one’s making headlines; ‘Each heroine’s powers manifest in a different form, with players controlling sound, paper, technology, gravity, triangles, and more’. What’s the ‘and more’? It could literally be anything and I wouldn’t be at all surprised. I agree with Ava on this one though, I think that ‘anime lady’ setting is bottom of the pile for me, below the other three boardgame themes, ‘Fantasy’, ‘Cthulhu’, and ‘Beige’.
Ava: Hey, would you look at that, the long awaited fourth installment of the Dale of Merchants series, Dale of Merchants 3 (don’t ask), has landed on Kickstarter. It remains adorable, and does some fiddly but clever things with deck building.
The game is built around a standard deck building core: adding cards to your deck from a central market, but slows things down by forcing you to remove cards from your deck to actually win the game. It also doesn’t make you discard at the end of your turn, giving you more opportunities for both planning and ruining your own turns. With almost every card in the deck coming with a special ability, and each game being made up of your choice of four specialised ‘animalfolk’, there’s a lot of moving parts. Dale of Merchants 3 is a standalone selection of six decks, including echidnae and tree-kangaroos. You can also now finally get the whole range of adorables.
Ava: I’ve played some of the earlier games, so can have an opinion! I don’t like how much of the game you have to spend reading the cards, particularly when part of the pitch is the endless recombination of different animals, meaning that you’re even more likely to have required reading each new game. That said, I kinda love it. It’s got an interestingly rigid flow, and a smart curve of deck building and deconstruction in a carefully balanced race with your foes. And the different decks genuinely make for very different games.
Tom: I’m really excited for more games in the animal combination genre – I haven’t played a good taxidermy euro since ‘Splice Up’.
Ava: Don’t stuff my echidnae, Tom.
Tom: Wasn’t that a Guns and Roses record?
Ava: Guards of Atlantis II promises to be a tabletop MOBA, that incomprehensible form of video game where people march around a jungle full of jargon to defend something big from a steady stream of something littles. In case it’s not obvious, I have never understood the sport, despite several attempts to read about it.
Tom: It’s all very simple! All you need to really understand it is around 2,000 hours minimum and the capacity to memorise 119 different sets of 4 (sometimes 5) skills with 4 levels to each as well as a small tree of unique buffs and then 155 items on top of that and how they combine and interact! It’s a cakewalk, and that’s the ONLY REASON I had to physically ban myself from playing DotA 2. It was just. Too. Easy. That’s all.
Ava: Moving on. Everyone on the team loves a team game, and this one has little icons promising zero luck and 100% cutthroatiness. I don’t know how that scale works, but I am worried that that’s a little too much throat cutting for my table. It has got a hell of a lot of strong pull quotes in its corner, and is an actual sequel, so presumably has been through at least one solid round of iterative improvements.
The game features simultaneous action selection, a tug of a war of a central minion battle, and the ability for your heroes to wade into that fray, or just go off and fight the enemy heroes for glory. Teamwork and co-ordination is central, and it does look like there’s some smart ideas here, as well as an absolutely enormous number of heroes to play with if you decide to go all in.
Tom: Despite my moba restriction/addiction, I’m very interested in how this game will translate the MOBA experience to the table. I always felt like the main barrier to my progression in DotA 2 was to do with my sluggish reaction speed, rather than a lack of desire to engage with and learn about its systems – so a game in which the former is eliminated is absolutely intriguing. These games have always been about manipulating and breaking their core systems for optimal play over twitchy reaction times, so perhaps Guardians of Atlantis II could be something that sucks me right back in.
Matt: 100% with you on that one, Tom. Perhaps one to enjoy together in person once CURRENT TIMES ease off a bit.
Ava: Torchbearer has a bit of a reputation as a brutal connoisseur’s take on dungeon delving. So it’s quite exciting to see the role playing game get a fancy new edition. This very parish gave it a grim but glowing (like a torch see, I’m good at writing) review a few years back. This edition comes split into various tomes, depending, I think, on how many extra rules you want to throw into the mix, but possibly depending on if you’re adventuring or running the game. I’ll be honest, the kickstarter isn’t entirely clear on this. It also adds theurges as a playable class.
Tom: I had the urges once.
Ava: Oh dear. Let’s step away from that one quickly.
The campaign video replaces the traditional badly voiced flyover of some components and buzzwords with incoherent imagery and some brooding metal, so that’s something?
Tom: This is quite possibly the wildest, longest Kickstarter video ever. What on earth is going on here. It certainly isn’t making me want to play Torchbearer any more, but it is making me want to listen to Bell Witch.
Ava: May I also recommend the Sunn o))) and Scott Walker collaboration Soused? Absolutely mind melting. I want to see the role playing game built around that monstrosity. ‘I bump the beaky: roll + tapir nosher, on a 7-9 watch garotted, on a 10+ wake nailed to cross.’
Tom: If we’re talking sludge, let me throw another into the pot; I got addicted to the Bongripper album ‘Terminal’ last year, and feel it’s worth a mention just because of that tracklisting.
Ava: Why would anyone need to grip a bon?
Mart Leez: I’m putting them up my mot as fast as I possibly can, I swear
Tom: No no no, it’s French, and is merely congratulating you on an excellent catch.
Ava: That’s the good flu you’ll be catching, presumably.
Tom:I think we’ve gone too far, say something about Torchbearer to make it relevant.
Ava: I held a torch once.
Tom: Bon Gripper!
Ava: The lovely boardgamegeek newsfolks have put together little print-your-own-expansions special. If you’ve ever looked at your game of Carcassonne and thought, ‘I just wish there were some surveyors in this’ then now is the time for your dreams to be fulfilled. There’s also grimly relevant plague doctors for Hadara, and Deep Blue has a new scenario about a returning captain.
Time Captain: A time captain?
Tom: No. Back in your timebox, time captain. Now’s not the time.
Ava: And finally, very clever game designer Geoff Englestein pointed his twitter followers towards an unusual court ruling in Canada, and it tickled me.
In a very expensive case of rock, paper, I’ll see you in court, a judgement has overturned a half a million dollar bet on a game of rock paper scissors. Apparently bets are only legal on a game in Quebec if it is considered a game of skill, with little or no chance involved, and on appeal, the game of fistibluffs has been ruled to not be skillful enough.
I honestly cannot imagine betting more than a fiver on anything, so the whole thing is bewildering to me. Though it does seem bad form to make a ridiculous bet and then spend a fortune arguing in court that you shouldn’t have been allowed to. My head has been shaking for half a week.