Games News! 05/08/13

Skirmish: Ostrich, svelte like your mother, tat-mongers, vomiting libraries
Quinns: A few months ago we caught word that Fantasy Flight had a Lovecraft board game coming later this year. Something big that they were expecting to do VERY well. So Paul boiled the kettle and we held an emergency council of team SU&SD, where we all swore that it had to be a new edition of Arkham Horror, an immensely popular co-op game of struggle against Lovecraftian horrors.

It isn’t. It’s something much more evil.

Eldritch Horror is a new game “inspired” by Arkham Horror, allowing Fantasy Flight to sell the two games side-by-side. Arkham Horror, that hardcore horror with its nine (count ’em!) expansions, will soon be joined by Eldritch Horror, a more accessible game of otherworldly apocalypses.

There’s a preview and 13 minute intro video on the above Eldritch Horror site, which can be summarised as follows:

(1) It absolutely isn’t the same game as Arkham Horror nope it’s a totally different game thank you sir.

(2) It’s the same sodding game again!

Look at it! 1-8 players still journey around a board, mostly by themselves, attempting to complete tasks under a ceaseless barrage of cards with crumbs of story written on them.

Eldritch Horror

Thematically, the big difference is that this time you’re not pootling around a town, but scraping cash together for train and boat tickets to travel the world. But in practical terms, the big difference is that they’ve pared down the rules to a “svelte” 16 page manual, compared to Arkham Horror’s tome of a thing, as full of madness as anything Lovecraft ever wrote.

While there are a couple of new features to look forward to, like having to complete different tasks depending on which Old One you’re trying to prevent from awakening, what’s more exciting is that Eldritch Horror might fix Paul and my issues with Arkham Horror. Namely, that as an engine for storytelling it’s like the fiction section of a library vomited in your lap. As a game, it’s unpredictable, too long, too complex and frequently frustrating.

So, yes. We’ll see. We might not have been blown away by Arkham Horror or Elder Sign, but maybe third time’s the charm?

The Doom that Came to Atlantic City

Last week we covered the sad story of another Lovecraft game, The Doom that Came to Atlantic City, or rather the Doom That Came to a Poorly Planned Kickstarter. After raising $130,000 the company operating the Kickstarter declared that due to “every possible mistake being made”, their backers would not be receiving the game. The project was over.

In a dramatic development, this week questionable tat-mongers Cryptozoic announced that they’d “saved” the game. Following negotations with the creators, they’ll be manufacturing the game themselves and shipping it to every one of Atlantic City’s backers.

What surprised me about this is the universal praise for Cryptozoic I’ve seen in every corner of the board game community. I never want SU&SD to be a bastion of cynicism, but I also don’t like the eye-wateringly charitable tone of Cryptozoic’s press release. They’re a business.

In fulfilling 1200 pre-orders using their established infrastructure, they’ve bought themselves priceless quantities of goodwill and press, to say nothing of the fact that they’ve acquired a new, high profile title that they’re proceeding to put in shops worldwide.

THE AGENTS

ANYWAY board games love ’em here’s one that looks rad it’s called THE AGENTS.

Falling into that rare category of Kickstarters we’d actually back, The Agents is a card game with a passionate designer behind it, stunning art, and already has a raft of ebullient reviews from a ton of board game blogs.

Basically you put guys down and they do things but they also do a thing for your opponent but you can spin ’em round. It looks alright!

THE AGENTS

AND FINALLY, in further news of things that look alright, Japon Brand has outlined some of the games it’s publishing later this year from independant Japanese designers.

Interestingly, they’re all simple, yet tricky card games that make prominent use of numbers and psychology, exactly like SU&SD favourite Love Letter. Seems like this is a characteristic of the Japanese scene.

Skirmish! The Scramble, pictured above, sees two players secretly dispatching numbered monster cards to claim numbered treasure cards, then revealing them, with the more powerful monster dragging that piece of loot back home. The twist is that rather than dispatching monsters you can also cast spells, which might steal away an opponent’s weakest monster or such like. See? Tricksy.

Eggs of Ostrich

Eggs of Ostrich, meanwhile, is a 3 player games with an even more unassuming title, but the game sounds like even more of a dick.

Each player is given four bags, numbered 2, 3, 5 and 7, which is the amount of ostrich eggs that bag can hold without ripping open and dumping all the eggs on the floor. On each turn, a card listing a number of ostrich eggs is revealed – 6, say – and players then simultaneously play either a card stating which bag they’re putting it into, or a skip card. Players then reveal and those who didn’t skip divide the eggs fairly. At which point (presumably) it turned out both your friends skipped and they have a great time as you have to take all the eggs and your 3 bag dumps its content onto the floor.

The real reason to like Japon Brand, of course, is the copy on their site. “Enjoy our games and feel Oriental winds of change,” they say. “Gaming is one of the excellent way for world peace!”

You said it, Japon Brand. Marry us?