Tom: I hate visiting the news nurse’s office.
Ava: Look, you’re lucky that we’ve got the News Health Service so it doesn’t cost you a penny – maybe you should do something to take your mind off the growing, creeping pain from that nasty news infection? They’ve got some light reading here. Would you like a newspaper?
Tom: ARGH. I need a holiday. Matt’s been having me play boardgames all day and then we’ve had to talk about them afterwards? Honestly it’s been my absolute worst nightmare.
Ava: Sounds terrible, how about a Segue-Class flight to Santa Monica? This is one of Alderac’s big releases of the year, promising a delightfully pastel worker-placement drafting game about the titular town. It looks soothing, and could be interesting. Josh Wood previously designed Cat Lady, so has an eye for a quirky relaxing theme. Key choices are about whether your bit of the seafront will be more for tourist bustle or a break from the hustle. To be honest, we don’t have much to go on here, I just really like the art.
Tom: The art is gorgeous – this looks like the kind of game where I’ll get distracted from my beachfront planning by looking at all the adorable details of what I’ve already built and chuckling to myself. The game features a building called the Joan of Arc-ade? This is a level of twee never before seen by humankind.
Ava: It’s not even the only arcade in the news this week. Super Skill Pinball 4-cade has a terrible name, but a strong conceit. It offers four pinball tables for you to play as individual roll and write games. That’s a very smart choice for attempting to realise a very tricky theme for a table top. Dice can bring in the random chaos of a small shiny ball, while ticking off boxes is exactly the sort of combo-building, ramp unlocking strategy that makes a good pinball table so interesting. Add that Geoff Engelstein is manning the flippers on this one, and I can actually see different parts of my face lighting up rhythmically.
But its such a horrible name. 4-cade sounds like someone’s made me some fizzy pop out of freshly squeezed cutlery.
Tom: And as for the first part – I’m not ready for super skill pinball! Just regular, unskilled pinball for me please. Suggested for ages 12+? What kind of pin-prodigies has Geoff Englestein been spending his time with? I demand answers!
Tom: Yes, Avey?
Ava: You know who else demands answers? Detectives.
Chronicles of Crime, already given a complicated recommendation by Matt, is getting three new standalone sequels. Each works independently, but there may be some narrative threads linking them together if you go completionist and like easter eggs. It’s going to be a long thread though, as the Millenium series is scattered through time. Offering cases to solve in 1400, 1900 and 2400, it’s like a crime-solving back to the future. Whether you want to get your mystery monk on, fin the sieclé, or punk some cybers, you’ve got options.
Tom: I can’t wait to solve some medieval shoplifting, an art deco fraud and a future horrible, horrible murder. I just can’t believe the tagline isn’t ‘lots of crimes in different times.’
Ava: Solve a mystery with some history?
Tom: Put ‘em behind bars in the future and the… parst?
Ava: You’re fired. In three different timelines.
Tom: But you know what exists outside of time, and is also (probably) unable to be fired? God.
Endogenesis is getting a zesty second edition, and expansion to boot – promising to put players in the non-euclidian boots of alien guardians vying for cosmic godhood! I looked through the Kickstarter and got mighty confused as to how you actually play the game, but I know for certain it features cards, skills, and the realm of chaos. You can visit those discordian fiefdoms competitively, cooperatively, or on your lonesome. The original game has a fairly mixed reception over on BGG, and the second edition promises to fix a lot of the complaints people had with the original; particularly in terms of downtime, balance and rules clarity.
What can’t be complained about though is the art, which looks like a bucket of glowsticks got ideas above their station. Or like Darwinia looked actually nice. Just take a peep at those boxes! Oh MY.
Ava: I don’t care what it looks like, you’ve given me an idea. Fetch me a space car, some glowsticks and a P45, I’m off to fire god.
Tom: Oh no, not this again. Somebody distract Ava with something pretty and wooden.
Ava: We’ve got some very unusual kickstarter picks this week, starting with a wooden puzzle box, and ending, like all things, with death.
Codex Silenda is the return to kickstarter of an unusual project. It’s a laser cut wooden puzzle box, with five to seven unique mechanical puzzles bound together in a beautiful wooden box, each puzzle sealing off the next. The mechanisms (literal, for once) here look gorgeous, and while I’ve absolutely no way to judge the quality of the puzzles, there’s definitely a lot of love, craft and attention on offer here.
Obviously, they’re quite expensive, but I wish good luck to Codex Silenda and their lofty goal of keeping mechanical puzzle making alive and innovative.
Tom: I’ve heard you can solve them all with a chisel, half an hour and some determination.
Ava: I’ve heard anything can be solved with a chisel, enough time and determination, but I might just know some very optimistic and/or violent woodworkers. Woodwork aside, reader Adam Birch pointed Quinns in the direction of another unusual kickstarter, and Quinns passed it to me. Anyone want to play ‘the inevitability of death: the game’?Ava: To live is a meditative solo experience about living life to its fullest, designed in response to grief. It’s as simple as a deck of cards that almost all say ‘live’ on, but one is left blank. You shuffle the deck, and draw cards. Each live card you pull gives you a chance to meditate on the meaning of life, the people you’ve lost, and the nature of death. When you draw the blank card, the game’s over.
Essentially, this is the card game equivalent of saying ‘you might get hit by a bus tomorrow’, and asking you to live life to the full. It’s a sweet, hard, and melancholy idea.
Tom: All this talk of death, doom and gloom has got me feeling existential. I’m really glad I’m getting to seize the day with people I care about, people who share this passion for games, the humanity of socialising with friends and loved ones, and bringing people together to tell stories and laugh and really feel something, you know? I really appreciate you two. You mean a lot to me.
Tom, through tears: Okay.
Actual Matt: I didn’t write this, Tom. See me after class.
Ava: We’ve already covered Ettin, a team based, simultaneous play, card-drafting battler that promises ludicrous player counts if you buy enough copies. I enjoyed reading designer Ken Shannon’s thought process as it went through multiple iterations. Focusing hard on the initial goals of making an accessible non-social deduction game that could play over eight players, be welcoming for newbies and involve team play led to something sharp and simple that I’m looking forward to trying. Not least because he’s hoping to crack a hundred simultaneous players at a convention one day. If the game succeeds in half of what it’s promising, then this could really be special.
Tom: I really like the look of this, as my gaming group is getting exponentially larger these days – mainly because the realisation that everyone is moving away from the sweet embrace of student living is beginning to set in. Just last weekend we had a six player game of King’s Dilemma (pushing it a little) which was then joined by three other people – summoned by the sounds of everyone debating if they should [SPOILER] the [SPOILER] because otherwise the [SPOILER] will [SPOILER]. Needless to say, I’d appreciate a non-party game that’ll elegantly cater to the newfound volume of players crammed around my kitchen table. Of course, as with everything in the games news, unless we specifically say otherwise, we haven’t played it, so it could well be bobbins.
Ava: Potentially bobbins!!!!