GAMES NEWS! 06/10/20

combopolo, too many stage directions, worms, a generous box
Matt Lees 49 comment(s)

Ava: Tom, why are there worms everywhere?

Tom shovelling worms: Worm month.

Ava: Right. Do we still do the news in worm month?

Tom hurling worms into a barrel: News for worms.

Ava, grabbing a worm spatula: Makes sense. Let’s get to it. Buffy! Coming soon to Restoration Games’ Unmatched is the slayingest vampire slayer. I would like to formally recognise I am marking myself out as a very particular age by the fact that I consider this news, and had to edit out a Spaced reference.

Tom: I saw that Spaced reference first hand, and let me tell you kids; it wasn’t pretty.

Ava: Too orangey for crows. I guess.

Ava: The dueling miniatures/card game will get four new characters and a new map in a starter pack that can be combined with any other Unmatched set. Buffy, Spike, Angel and Willow are the playable heroes with each with a deck full of supporting characters. So you can be a witch, two types of vampire, or Sarah Michelle Gellar. It’s hard to say anything about the specifics of this standalone expansion, but Quinns reckons the system is solid. It’s really a question of whether vampire slaying is your preferred jumping-on point.

Tom: Other options include *checks notes* varied public domain characters, Victorian public domain characters, Jurassic Park, and Bruce Lee.

Ava: I realise this is one of those games that everyone has an opinion on, but I’ve just never played The Last of Us.

Tom… someone… tell me if I should care that CMON is making a board game version of that video game with the people and the…zombies? I think? I don’t know. Sorry.

Tom: I’ve not played either of The Last Of Us games, but I have absorbed sufficient discourse about them to give you my tepid take: a board game version of The Last Of Us is not going to be good in the same way that the videogames are, if it is good at all. Those games are about emotional bonds forged with complex characters over long stretches of inhabiting their world, and CMON’s games are about Cool Minis – unless, perhaps, this is the prophesied ‘Or Not’ entry into their oeuvre. It will probably be fine, there will probably be dice, it will probably feel like Dead Of Winter But Worse. I’m very much judging a book by its cover here, and I’m also probably the least qualified to talk about these things. Somebody, please, cut the mic on me.

Ava: There’s not a lot of info beyond the cover to judge by here. So far I’ve only seen CMON’s video game tie-ins sink without a trace, but they’re an interesting publisher with a few brilliant ‘or not’ games in the back catalogue, so it might just be worth reserving judgement until someone’s actually played the thing.

Matt: Hello! Resident vibeogame expert number 1 of 2, here: The Last of Us is a game that hinges heavily on traditional cinematic storytelling, with playable bits of suitably distressing horror and hyper-violence bits to emphasise the dire straits the protagonists have found themselves in. It was pretty brilliant, 90% of people had a frankly terrible reading of the narrative and its implications, and be absolutely stunned if this CMON adaptation isn’t surface-level tosh. GAMESBOY, OUT.

Ava: Ooh hoo hoo! The perfect antidote to last week’s enormous boxes of pieces of kickstarters? It’s one of them there Button Shy wallet games.

Agropolis is a standalone follow up to Sprawlopolis that promises roughly the same game, with a whole new set of scoring rules. It also ships with a mini expansion that lets you combine both games. Even better than that, the unifying expansion is called COMBOPOLIS. Which is a word that pleases me so deeply that I’m going to go and have a lie down while Tom explains the game to you.

Tom: How to say such a word? A plosive, rumbling flourish (com-BOPO-lis)? A staccato assault on the cochlea (COM-BO-PO-lis)? Or a staggered, Brulian slurry (cromborprolis). Such delights. What game were we talking about again?

AGROPOPOLIS! An iterative sequel on Sprawlopolis’ excellent co-operative groundwork which Quinns was somewhat smitten with in his Solo Print and Play Roundup.The big change is the theme, which swaps the winding streets of a bustling city for the winding streets of a bustling farm. Like Sprawlopolis, players are laying cards next to and over previously placed cards, slowly building up a patchwork of different areas. Each card in the game has a set of scoring conditions on the back, so you’ll be chasing after a different set of criteria each game, but always dreading the woeful ‘road tax’ that means you lose points for each separate route you create. Agropolis adds some optional livestock scoring criteria, which gives you even more to worry about.

Also contained in the Kickstarter are a nice little wallet-game-storage bag (which, controversially, is not a wallet) and the option to subscribe to a monthly wallet-game delivery service! How charming.

Ava: Charmopolis. ARGH! I’ve dropped a second edition on my foot.

Ava: Kingdom is a game of community, asking big questions about the historical or futuristic society of your choice. With no prep and no GM, everything happens at the table with each player taking characters that also represent larger forces within the community, with specific capacities for affecting the story. It’s a role-playing game that I’ve been super curious about for ages. I got the book, tried to grok it, and got lost in a spiders web of fascinating but hard to grab threads. This makes me deeply ambivalent about the new kickstarter for a second edition. Designer Ben Robbins always thought the original book was a bit too dense and not as easy to grasp as the game deserved.

This new edition is a thorough scything of the community-based history-builder, shaving it into something that promises to be easier to get to the table. The one thing worse than seeing a second edition of a game you own and haven’t played yet, is one that sounds like it solves exactly the problem you bumped into when you tried it the first time around.

Does anyone want a copy of the old edition of Kingdom? I might be backing a kickstarter. Sigh. Let’s continue this kickstarter ambivalence with another contradictory preview.

Ava: Mother of Frankenstein looks absolutely ludicrous, and tickles so many weird itches that I know I would never, ever scratch. Promising a look at the life of Mary Shelley, and guaranteeing an opportunity to make an ‘actually, Mother of Frankenstein is the name of the Mother of the Doctor, and the Mother of the Monster is actually called Mother of Frankenstein’s monster’ joke. I say joke, i guess it’s more of a tongue-twister. ANYWAY.

This isn’t your grandmother’s board game, and may itself be a frankenstein of literally too many ideas. It’s a [deep breath] escape-room immersive-theatre board-game puzzle experience. Asking you to piece together literal puzzles (one of which is an entire 3D castle) whilst solving figurative puzzles. No wait, those are still literal puzzles. This game is hard to talk about. It actually does promise ‘the narrative complexity of a good novel with the physicality and challenge of a puzzle-filled escape room’, which would be so incredibly hubristic if they’d picked an adjective more extreme than ‘good’.

I’m so enthralled by the idea of this, and I want someone to buy it and invite me to their house for a weekend, because I have absolutely no idea who would actually be willing to put the time into something this obtusely over the top. Wonderful. Terrible. Maybe I just like puzzles more than I’m willing to admit?

Tom: The ultimate edition is even more bananas – arriving to your home in the ‘auction style packaging’ of a massive wooden crate, with a ‘blank-ish notebook’ and a bunch of vinyl records (for actual gameplay and ‘mood setting’)? Apparently all the backer levels also come with a bonus serving of ‘undying love and gratitude’, if you’re into that.

Ava: And finally, here’s a little treat for tricksy trick-taking fans. It’s a bonus freebie for anyone who already got one of the most generous little boxes of the last year.

The Crew: The Deimos Adventures has a whole new set of missions for anyone who already managed to trump the 50 included in the base game. Considering I’ve only got past eleven once, I don’t know if that’s ever going to be me. But I had a little peek at a few of these and there’s some really playful ideas here. This was already one of the smartest takes on trick taking I’ve ever seen, and it just got trickier. I won’t spoil the challenges though, as I suspect a lot of folk will be looking forward to making their friends groan with slowly dawning comprehension.

Tom: That box is so magic. I played a few games of it the other day and the ‘ooh just another one’ factor is through the roof as you all wait to see what fresh, but slight twist to the formula awaits overleaf after every mission. Adding more of ‘that’ to a box that already has ‘it’ in spades at no extra cost is a fine move, Kosmos. A fine move indeed.