Quinns: Ava, you have to help me! Following our reviews of Chronicles of Crime and Batman: Gotham City Chronicles, SU&SD fans are desperate to know what the third and final review of Chronicles Month will be. I can’t have a moment’s peace.
You have to hide me in the games news!
Ava: Never fear, noble Quintin. Follow me, and come below the “Read More” button.
Quinns: They’ll never find me!
Ava: Quick, hide under these hats.
Opening the book on Lewis Carrol’s tale of surreal suppers and silly headgear, Thundergryph games are showing off an enormous pile of hats, in a little tea party game called, appropriately, Hats (pictured above).
Hats looks like a simple but intriguing game in the same weight and prettiness category as Parade, the beautiful Wonderland-themed card game. You will spend the game swapping hats with the cards on the table, and making sets of the hats in front of you. Scoring is calculated according to how the central hats are arranged, giving everybody a chance to mess with everybody else constantly. It looks just a little bit ruthless. Also hats!
Ava: What is it now? If you keep making this much noise, the fans will find you again.
Quinns: How could you put so much effort into making a card game look so, so nice, even adding touches like a chocolate chip cookie and a “scoring napkin”, only to commit the heinous crime of putting your game’s logo on the card backs?!
Ava: It’s even worse than you think. Flipping the cards over to turn them into black hats is an actual part of the game. So you’ll be stuck with little piles of Hats with the words Hats on for the whole time. Still, you know what I always say: Don’t hat the player, hat the game.
Ava: I’m pretty sure it’s in my contract that you can’t fire me for puns.
Ava: Sit Down games (no relation) might be stretching the definition of news a little, but it has offered the above glimpse of a game called ‘Magic Maze Mars’. Canny sleuths may be able to work out that this is a version of co-operative, pass-agg shuffle em up Magic Maze set on Mars.
I can’t work out quite how excited I am about this? I have really enjoyed Magic Maze, but ‘dungeoneers in a mall’ was the perfect kind of simplicity and absurdity for a game like this. I can’t say a different theme is what I need?
Quinns: Ooh! Unusually, I actually know a little bit about Magic Maze Mars becauseI talked to designer Kasper Lapp at Fastaval last month. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying that this will be quite a different game. Where Magic Maze was something of a novelty, Magic Maze Mars has… more in common with other games of Martian colonisation. It supposedly uses Magic Maze’s central conceit to create a very different game. And in fact, lots of the new mechanics can be seen right there on the box cover….
I really shouldn’t say any more, except that I’m very excited for it.
Ava: Colour me your reddest, most planetest colour of intrigued.
Digging around to find out more, I did bump into Sit Down’s hidden roles expansion to Magic Maze, available as a beta from their website. Adding hidden roles to a game about silent, frustrated, furious collaboration is either an awful idea or the best thing ever, and I’m pretty tempted to find out where it lands.
Quinns: Alright, try and be cynical about this one, Ava- The Isle of Cats is a new game coming from Frank West, designer of The City of Kings, and it’s a “polyomino cat-placement game” about rescuing cats from an island while keeping their families together.
Ava: You want cynicism eh? *deep breath*
I’m not entirely convinced ‘squeezing as many cats as possible into a boat as possible’ is the best way of representing animal welfare. One of the goals is apparently ‘befriending Oshax’, and I have no idea what that means. The ‘I love/Isle of’ pun has already been used by Isle of Trains at the very least. I don’t want to be forced to decide if I love cats or trains more.
*collapses back into their chair like Rocky at the end of a boxing match*
Ava: Quinns. It’s adorable. There’s no way I’m missing this one. They had me at ‘cat polyomino’.
Quinns: Phew! I was worried you were being serious. Be right back, I’m off to go save some more birds by putting them in a big sack
Ava: Oh dear.
Ava: This week’s nostalgic kickstarter with an uninspiring name is Altar Quest, a lustrous homage to Milton Bradley/Games Workshop 1989 collaboration HeroQuest, which you might remember as the game responsible for Paul’s Greatest Gaming Memory.
I’m not surprised this has shot well past its fundraising target, as it looks like it remembers what was so thrillingly silly about that one vs many dungeon crawling classic. It’s also from the makers of ‘game wot was streamed by us’ Street Masters. I didn’t catch that stream, so am not sure if that helps recommend this one or not. Quinns?
Quinns: Hmm. I feel like I need one of those enormous jewel appraiser’s monocles whenever I’m asked about a Kickstarter like this. Let me take a closer look.
Ava: I’ve just devolved into giggling at how many of the baddies sound like obsolete swears, you Frox Muckslinger.
Quinns: No need to be such a Ragglin Blooder, you Feral Mother.
Ava: How dare you, you Lofflin Belchlord–
Quinns: No, you know what Ava, I need you to stop having fun immediately. I’m actually seeing a few red flags here.
First off, Altar Quest will use the “Modular Deck System” that the designers used in Street Masters and then in Brook City, but Street Masters I thought was good-not-great, and I hear that Brook City was a step down in quality. That’s not a track record that makes me want to drop $109.
Ava: Ouch. That’s definitely a price tag that stomped on my fun a bit.
Quinns: Also, I dunno…. HeroQuest was a seminal design, but since then board games have evolved a great deal. Besides nostalgia, what exactly is the value in faithfully recreating this particular rung on the ladder of adventure games? Then again, I haven’t quite grasped the appeal of old-school revival roleplaying, either.
Ava: Honestly, I never had as much fun playing HeroQuest as I did setting up the board and imagining the stories that could happen in those dungeons. And at that point I had the games connoisseurship of an eight year old. Because I was eight years old.
Ava: Dancing off piste a little (but sticking close to the dungeon), there was a lot of excitement at the announcement of Baldur’s Gate 3, which I’m reliably informed is a ‘video-game’. The detail nudging it on topic is that there’s a Dungeons and Dragons module coming out that’s set in the titular city of Baldur’s Gate and precedes the narrative of the new computer game. That feels like a really lovely tie in.
Quinns: It’s amazing how much fun Wizards of the Coast seem to be having with D&D at the minute. It’s all heists, in-jokes, tie-ins… it’s a far cry from the D&D supplements when I was growing up, which I bought based on how much peril the people on the cover seemed to be experiencing. Lordy, just take a look at my favourite D&D module when I was a teen:
I ran that adventure three times, and my favourite bit was a field of carnivorous grass that ate your feet. Try and joke your way out of THAT.
Ava: In board games on the telly news, designer Jonathan Ying pointed us at the trailer Houkago Saikoro Club, a slice of life anime about a group of school girls finding an after school games club. This could be a really lovely intro to the hobby for some folks, and as we said on twitter, some of our readers will be well up for an opportunity to spot familiar boxes and cards.
I am happy to see people getting as excited about games as I do, even if they’re tiny cartoon people.
Quinns: Finally, mark your calendars! SU&SD will once again be streaming this Thursday. Specifically, we’ll be trialling Concordia: Venus, the new team-based expansion for the legendary game of Concordia.
If you’d like to watch me, Kylie, Matt and Ava do battle (in teams, no less!), you can join in the fun, live, right here on our Twitch page on Thursday the 13th at 7pm UK time, 2pm Eastern Time.
Fun fact: Neither I nor Kylie have ever lost a game of Concordia. This Thursday, someone’s winning streak will be shattered… but whose?