Games News! 06/06/16
As for the spicy slivers of news I’ll be dishing up like a powerful dad, we begin with the announcement of 2016’s Spiel des Jahres nominations! A shadowy council of German board gamers has once again met to hand out board gaming’s most prestigious award, and the only one that can multiply a game’s sales 100 times over. But this year we’ve played all the nominees!
I wonder what we shall think…
For the main prize the nominees are the spectacular Codenames, as well as two games you might not have heard of. Imhotep, pictured above, and Karuba, seen below.
Imhotep (see our extensive video coverage here) is an odd little box of blocks. Players are all Egyptian engineers earning points by placing bricks of their colour into different stone structures, and on your turn you either place a brick in a boat or set a boat sailing off (a boat you might have nothing to do with!) to one of the structures, whereupon (a) it unloads the bricks in the order they were placed onto it and (b) your friends start moaning like banshees that have stubbed their toes, because those bricks weren’t supposed to go there.
And it’s… ok! It’s a fine puzzle with fine art design. Neither dull nor exciting, it’s a colossus of mediocrity, ceremoniously straddling the rivers of excitement as their frothy waters barely splash its toes.
Karuba (see our comprehensive video review here) is more electric, though not much more. Pip and Matt liked it more than Paul or I.
In this game players all start with an identical randomised puzzle – four explorers who have to navigate to four matching temples – and you must all place tiles to create paths for them. You all place the same (randomly drawn) tiles in the same order, so you’re actually all facing an identical puzzle!
While the puzzle’s good, I found there to be a slightly unpleasant edge to it. Your only interaction with your friends is to look up and see how far they’ve progressed, and if you’ve lost, you’ll know it long before the game’s over.
In other words, our whole team’s hoping Codenames wins. Which it might not! Because Spiel is a very, very weird prize.
As for the more complex games nominated for the Kennerspiel des Jahres (or “enthusiast game of the year”), this year’s nominees are Pandemic Legacy, which we called the greatest game of all time, Isle of Skye, which Paul recommended, and T.I.M.E. Stories, which seems to leave people quite cold or they absolutely adore it. We were pretty cold on it, although since all the packs have different designers we might end up preferring the later cases, were we to play them.
On the subject, they’ve just announced the fifth adventure for T.I.M.E. Stories! Expedition: Endurance is set in an expedition to Antarctica during WW1, though if it’s anything like the game’s other jaunts in time you can expect a few surprises along the way.
Fantasy Flight has announced the ninth wave of ships for the X-Wing Miniatures Game, and oh boy! We sure are getting into ships that I don’t recognise anymore. Tell you what, though. If you’re like me and think the left-most one (that looks like a sort of angry flower) is the coolest, you’ve actually picked the only one that was designed for the hated Star Wars prequel movies. How about that?
Did you guys know that according to industry analysts ICv2, X-Wing is now selling more than Warhammer 40K? On the same chart Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars: Armada is a close 3rd, putting Warhmachine in 4th place.
Photo courtesy of BGG User Gary James.
I might only be putting this next story in the news because it has wooden lemons. I honestly couldn’t tell you.
So there’s this game called Finca, right, and it’s been rated fairly highly on Board Game Geek by more than 5,000 people, and publisher Crash of Games has acquired the rights and will be doing another print run,bringing wooden lemons, oranges and figs back to the masses.
Interestingly, Crash of Games (previously Crash Games) were just acquired by luxury gaming table manufacturer Geek Chic. The two companies say that this won’t mean much in terms of what they do for a consumer, but I’d find it really funny if Crash Games started publishing games that basically need a felt tabletop and player drawers.
I suppose that wouldn’t be very funny after all. Oh boy I’m tired. At one point in the con I went mad and tried to fasten a piece of swiss cheese to my face as if it were an eyepatch. Pray 4 quinns
And finally! We really like Letters from Whitechapel, and there’s a good chance lots of you haven’t seen our ambitious review, tucked away as it is in an old Halloween Special Episode. It’s an excellently thoughtful and grim game of hunting a real-life serial killer through London’s city streets. Well, it turns out that now there’s going to be a sequel! Jack the Ripper and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
No hang on that’s wrong. It’s going to be called Whitehall and will depict the events of The Whitehall Mystery, an entirely separate murder from Jack the Ripper’s handiwork despite it happening in London at the same time.
What a macabre city this is. I kind of love it.