Games News! 10/09/2018

a tangential experience, a tiger squirrel, a robot dinosaur, please no not county jail
Paul: Today’s Games News comes bursting through your front door like a SWAT team seizing all your pirate DVDs. Why DO you have quite so many pirate DVDs? Why haven’t you moved on to Blu-ray? These are questions we’ve all been asking and I guess you’ll have plenty of time to ponder them in the COUNTY JAIL.

ANYWAY, Pandemic: Fall of Rome is on the way from Z-Man Games, it puts a new spin on the the classic cube-busting series and… I can also reveal that I’ve already tried it.

I had the chance to play a top secret prototype at the Gathering of Friends earlier this year and found Fall of Rome to be for sure the most interesting re-interpretation of Pandemic bar Legacy. It keeps the same cooperative chaos management, but this time players must fight back five hostile tribes that are marching on Rome. They have a limited numbers of legions they can raise and move around Europe, but ultimate victory is achieved via negotiating peace with each tribe, something that comes about through Pandemic’s classic set-collecting mechanic.

As legions dash about, trying to beat back barbarians, battle is resolved by custom dice, something that adds a new dash of uncertainty to Pandemic’s usually more reliable mechanics, while the swelling onrush of beardy bad guys follow particular routes as they try to sack the capital, meaning careful strategic placement is key. This is a game I’m definitely keen to try the final version of.

The fertile fields of Kickstarter rarely fail to deliver and this week we have the classic combination of a curious indie RPG and another mega money-maker. So let’s start with the more interesting one! Something Is Wrong Here is inspired by the surreality of David Lynch’s work and encourages what its creator, Kira Magrann, calls “roleplaying meta-techniques,” including monologuing and blurring the line between player and character. In one session of two acts, players wrestling with dark pasts, inner demons and the dream-like nature of the realities slightly removed from our own.

I’m a little bit fascinated by the premise that “the only props needed are a mirror and a box” and, while this certainly sounds like an acquired taste and a very adult, subversive take on roleplaying, I can see this definitely finding an audience who will have a very happy (or at least consensually unsettling) Halloween.

Quinns: Oooh, so what Fiasco is for Coen Brothers movies, this could be for David Lynch? Sign me up!

This week’s million dollar success is the cooperative/competitive cardboard incarnation of Horizon Zero Dawn, which has players taking the role of robot dinosaur hunters in a post-apocalyptic future (the dinosaurs are the robots, not the hunters). Like so many of its peers, it’s so successful already that it’s impossible to ignore, but also it’s a hundred pounds for another miniatures-heavy game collapsing under the weight of its own stretch goals.

Paul: The card-based tactical combat looks interesting and, yes, those miniatures are great, but could this another mediocre game coasting on its own franchise and frippery? We keep our minds open, but we can’t say we’re hugely inspired.

Quinns: If you were after a plastic-packed Kickstarter that’s a bit more of a sure thing, Nanty Narking is a deluxe reskinning of Martin Wallace’s Discworld: Ankh-Morpork. The original game didn’t impress us as much as it did some people (you can read our old review through that link), but… um… I apologise, the phrase “deluxe reskinning” has set my imagination racing.

Paul: For fans of the long-out-of-print Ankh-Morpork, the emergence of this Kickstarter must be a heck of a treat. We’ve got plastic miniatures, metal coins, a double-sided board and much-improved card art. Lovely stuff.

Quinns: Imagine it. A taxidermist who dresses up squirrels as little tigers.

Paul: I will NOT

Paul: Today’s curious gaming gossip comes from famed designer and former Hasbro employee Rob Daviau, who recently let Tabletop Gaming Magazine know that Betrayal at House on the Hill almost became a Stephen King tie-in title, with Daviau’s love for his local horror writer influencing its development. It’s not hard to see how the inspiration bled (har har) into a game about haunted houses and twisting narratives, and while the final result is a little more Evil Dead, the line between King and bonkers b-movies is often as blurry as a smudged bloodstain.

While King never got on board with the idea, he seems to at least know about (and not have stood in the way of) an adaptation of The Shining, a game that lets players take on the role of either the Torrance family or a killer hotel. Winning the Microgame Design Contest in 1998, it now exists in a print-and-play form and, while rumours abound that King was at least tangentially involved in playtesting, King has apparently denied this himself.

Quinns: What authors have you had a tangential experience with, everybody?