Tom: In today’s news we’re heading to the NEWS FACTORY WHERE NEWS IS MADE. I guess? What’s the introductory goof here? We’ve got to have that sweet narrative wrapper or else people will think we’re really boring.
Ava: I’ve got no idea today. Though maybe news factory is a bit overdone? I certainly know I’ve said ‘news-spigot’ far too many times.
Tom: Damn. I guess we’re not doing a theme this week then. Does today’s news exist in a joyless void?
Ava: I’m definitely team joyless void.
Tom: That makes two of us!
Ava: When I say Joyless – you say Void! JOYLESS! …
Tom: … that’s already too much joy for me, I’m going to crack on with the news. This week, it’s The Roxley Round-Up! Gorilla Marketing is their first offering, slated for a March 2020 release – and we’ve got an exclusive SUSD scoop on this one, as I played it LAST NIGHT.
Ava: You’ve finally accrued enough journalist points to get your hat with a ‘press’ tucked into the brim. (We’ve no brim-budget left though, so you need to provide your own.)
Tom: Gorilla Marketing is an advertising simulator where players take it in turns to roll dice to make acronyms for various kinds of products. These then get placed into different judging categories like ‘made with least child labour’ or ‘most frightening side effects’ – with the victor gaining precious, precious bananas. Having given it a whirl at the pub last night, this one is a pretty good light party game for people who enjoy a slice of wordplay – I especially enjoyed the second round, where you make up acronym-based taglines for the products you designed the first time round.
Ava: Next up from Roxley is Skyrise, a remake of Sébastien Pauchon’s Metropolys. Skyrise promises an intriguing spatial auction system. You’re bidding to build in a particular lot, but each bid has to be placed on the board where you want to build. The twist is that new bids have to be placed on new places, so you’ve got to balance bidding to raise the prices, with leading the bidding towards the place you actually want to build. It sounds weird? And maybe annoying? Time will say whether it’s annoying in a good way or annoying in an ‘I’m bored of this’ way.
Tom: And lastly, we’ve got a standalone expansion for Steampunk Rally coming out – Steampunk Rally: FUSION. This will add new TRACKS, new ‘PART ABILITIES’ such as OVERCHARGE and GEAR UP, SECRET PROJECTS and FUSION ENERGY. IS MY ENTHUSIASM HIDING THE FACT THAT I HAVEN’T PLAYED THE ORIGINAL?
Ava: NO! You just included this so you could use the phrase ‘Roxley Round Up’!
Tom: You can’t have a ‘round-up’ that only features two games!
Ava: You want to know four words I didn’t expect to see together today? Reiner Knizia Legacy Game. But that’s right folks, it’s happening.
Ava: My City is a game of twenty four linked scenarios, where players will lay tiles to build cities. Depending on whether you win or lose, you get to add stickers to your board to make your city easier or harder to build in the next game. It looks pleasingly light, and comes from the most prolifically inconsistent designer in board games. Judging from his classics this could be a nearly perfect work of ludic art. Judging from his misses, this could be utterly forgettable.
One nice touch is that the game has alternate maps on the back of the player boards, that leave you with a standardised, non-legacy version of the game if you just want to give it a try, or want to play with a mixed bag of players.
Tom: You know, as a competitive legacy city-building game, this might end up scratching the itch I hoped Charterstone would when I naively bought it over a year ago. That game managed to hook in some of my less cardboard-inclined housemates, but My City’s promise of progressing through the ages could manage to hook in my more cardboard-inclined housemates – i.e: me. I think I want this game.
Ava: Sticking with the Big Kniz, we’ve got a new edition of one of his older games, Times Square, with a new box art that’s lovely lovely lovely.
Royal Visit sees two players taking opposite sides of a tug of war over six colourful characters. Playing coloured cards pulls the matching piece towards you, but you’ve got to stick within the restrictions about where those pieces like to hang out. One piece can only move in between its guards, whilst another is good at summoning other pieces, and the such.
Honestly, I’m partly here because before it was called Times Square, it was called ‘Auf der Reeperbahn nachts um halb zwei’ and the characters were called things like Brilli-Lilli, Blond Hans and Schampus Charlie. I just love saying German words. I might see if I can dig up an old edition at some point. Brandishing it up to the table whilst yelling ‘it’s nachts um halb zwei, let’s gehts auf der Reeperbahn’.
Tom: The names from Times Square are wonderful too though – Saucy Sue, Handsome Hal and Champagne Charlie. Let’s hope Royal Visit brings even more delightful nomenclature to the table.
Ava: I like that Champagne Charlie encourages you to maintain the alliteration by pronouncing either Champagne or Charlie ridiculously.
Tom: Completely irrelevant news to add here – near where I live there are two rival businesses – ‘Champagne Charlie’s’ and ‘Charlie’s Bargain Booze’. After what the owner of the latter has described to me as ‘underhand tactics’, they’ve had to change their name to Charlie’s [REDACTED] Booze. I’m not making this up, I swear. I’ll go out there today and whack an image in the comments.
Ava: None of this is news.
Tom: The people need to know.
Ava: Promising another colourful puzzle are Asger Harding Granerud and Daniel Skjold Pedersen, a double barrelled double act I keep seeing attached to intriguing ideas and strong games.
Fringers is a co-operative puzzler that features players rooting around in a bag for rings of a variety of colours, then trying to arrange them in a particular pattern, while only able to put rings on the fingers of the player on their left. It looks simple, silly and unique.
Tom: It’s real time, to boot! Or to glove, I suppose.
Ava: And what’s not to glove?
Matt: My brain will only read the name of this game in the voice of Steve Brule. Is this a feature or a bug?
Tom: Dodo! We have to talk about Dodo! WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE IDIOT BIRD.
Ava: Sigh. Okay, Tom, Let’s do this.
Dodo is the perfect combination of real time gaming and the latest innovation in eggs. And I’m not even joking. Featuring a deftly designed egg that steadily rolls down an incomplete mountain path, players will be scrabbling in a puddle of face down tokens, looking for the components they need to build the next bit of the little ramp. If you complete every section of the mountain in time for the egg to roll safely down to the ship waiting at the bottom, then you win, if you don’t, you’ve got egg on your face.
I’m not sure the game itself looks particularly rich, but I am genuinely impressed by the ability to make real time drama ever more real by adding a slowly rolling egg to proceedings. What’s more nerve-wracking, a countdown timer, a sand timer, or a big blue egg rolling down a mountain.
Time will tell which time teller truly terrifies and whether one weird egg is enough to carry a whole game.
Tom: I will give you my word that egg game will be the finest game ever released.
Ava: Why have you given me an egg with the word ‘NICE’ written on it.
Tom: It’s all I had on me.
Matt: It’s understandable that Tom – that newest addition to the SU&SD team – is immediately optimistic about a game that includes A Physical Egg. I’m personally still psychologically scarred by the intensive games of HABA’s Dancing Eggs that we played at a conference one year, until we eventually had to ban the game when it became clear that several adults accidentally smashing through a glass balcony to their deaths was at that point more of an eventuality than a possibility. Still, I too am All For Egg.
Tom: Whatever you do, don’t watch the video on the Kickstarter for Frutticola.
Frutticola looks pretty sweet on the theming front. Players are harvesting adorable miniature fruits to squeeze into adorable miniature jamjars to make adorable miniature money. You’ll be choosing where to send their limited workers and farmers while balancing an economy of development, fruit-processing, digging and warehousing with cardboard trees and plastic fruits watching on in abject horror as their eventual fate unfolds slowly in front of them. You know, I’m ashamed to admit that the theme is basically all that’s captured me on this one. Who gave me the keys to the newsvoid?
Ava: No, really Tom, what did I just watch? Why are trees vomiting fruit to the sound of mild electroswing?
Tom: I explicitly said not to watch the video on account of the little jamlets.
Ava: Everyone knows it’s impossible to resist forbidden fruit preserves.
Tom: You can’t make a jamlet without breaking a few…
Ava: Of the rules laid out in the garden of Eden leading to mankind being eternally born into sin?
Ava: Meanwhile, tucked in an even weirder corner of kickstarter, we’ve got a solo rpg zine that’s not about people, but objects.
The Artefact will have you sitting alone, going through a zine and answering prompts about a storied magical item of your own imagining. You’ll tell the story of its origins, and the people who wield it over the course of its life. As much an exercise in creative storytelling and reflection as it is a game, this looks sweet, and I’m glad to see it doing well.
Tom: This is wonderful, and reminds me of the many many hours I spent with The Quiet Year – a fantastic ‘cartography RPG’ for any budding worldbuilders out there. You could almost certainly combine the two games to create the most decadent of worlds for your interested, but ultimately baffled friends.
I’m super excited for this one both because I love anything that pushes me into creative-writing territory (the english graduate is alive in me, somewhere), but also because I can add it to the small collection of games that are totally fine to play sitting in bed on a Sunday morning. It’ll fit right between A Distant Plain and Cash and Guns.
Ava: This bedroom counter-insurgency is a glimpse into your lifestyle that the people did not need to know.
Ava: In other ancient item news, we’ve found out that Vikings invented stretch goals, and not the huguenots, as previously believed.
Matt: I’m just jumping in here to drop the same joke I made in the SU&SD Slack channel: “Cool Mini or Norse”. I’ll let myself out.
Ava: Archaeologists on the Scottish island of Lindisfarne have uncovered a particularly fancy carved glass piece from a game of Hnefatafl, and are speculating about what this means for the history of the island and the folk who lived there.
Were the Viking invaders actually really fancy? Were the anglo-saxon monks prey to the trendsetting of Viking influencers? We don’t know! It’s all really interesting guesswork. History! It’s complicated!
I’m left wondering whether in a few hundred years there’ll be an archaeologist digging up my board game collection and saying ‘“the sheer quality of this piece suggests this isn’t any old gaming set. Someone on the island is living an elite lifestyle.” Little do they know, I’ve eaten nothing but cheese on toast and stale crumpets for days. ‘Elite lifestyle’ indeed.
Tom: It’s time to return to whence you came, Ava. The void is calling. Do you hear it? Echoing across space and time. A call that reaches out from long before, a cry without an answer, a neverend-
Tom: Hey! That was my line!