Games News! 10/12/18

dad's wrong again, one million million dolars, bring back pluto
Quinns: Good morning everybody! How are we all? Are we feeling Christmassy yet?

On second thoughts, perhaps we shouldn’t waste our energy on chit-chat. We have a dense and fibrous stack of news to get through, you and I. We’re going to be bloated with announcements by the end of this. Stuffed with stats. Packed with press releases.

Let’s start with the smallest announcement and see how we fare, eh? I’m talking about the tiny towns of Tiny Towns.

This is a new game coming from AEG that I had the pleasure of trying at PAX Unplugged. Simply put, it asks “What if smash-hit mobile game Triple Town was a board game?”

In a round each player takes it in turn to choose one of the game’s five coloured resources, and every player has to immediately put the chosen resource on their board. By creating distinct patterns of specific cubes, players can then remove the cubes from their increasingly-crowded board and replace one of them with a specific building. For example, you might make a house, which scores extra points if you place it next to a well, so now you should start making a well, but you should also build a farm at some point to ensure your houses are fed, and then you’ll want to cap off that row with a theatre… And oh god, your friend has just declared “Red” for like the fifteenth time and you have *nowhere to put it*.

My play of Triple Town was immediately exciting and engrossing, and was finished in a smooth 15 minutes. But what really excited me was the ability to look over at my opponents’ boards, see the strategy that they were going for (in three dimensions, no less!), and so be able to guess at what colours would be hurtling towards my hamlet.

I’ll be snagging a review copy of Tiny Towns as soon as it arrives in the UK, although I suspect future plays will see Matt demolishing my score. That boy devours mobile puzzle games and spits them back out the way a machine gun gobbles bullets.

Meanwhile, the announcement of Wingspan by Stonemaier Games is so far up my street that it could be fluffing my pillow and chewing on my toothbrush.

Did you know I like birds? Big ones, little ones, pretty ones, ugly ones. In a very real way, I am here for birds. Well, so is Wingspan, a game about “attracting the best birds to your aviary” that will ship with a huge deck of unique birds, as well as egg miniatures, a birdhouse-shaped dice tower and lots more. Eee!

Usually, games with gentle, natural themes tend to be on the simpler side. Not so here. A quick browse of the manual actually reveals this to be a fairly complex tableau-building game where – just like real life – the birds you acquire for your aviary will join you as indentured, feathered henchmen in your bird-collecting enterprise.

At the risk of staining my integrity, I almost don’t care if this game is good or not because it will let me own a vulture. I can’t wait!

In yet more news of games I’m excited by, we’ve also got news of the first expansion for Space Base (which I gave a glowing review here), titled Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto.

The expansion will (obviously) add new ship cards to the game of rollin’ flashy dice and buyin’ flashy ships, but I like the sound of how it’ll go about introducing them:

“The Emergence of Shy Pluto is the first installment of Space Base “Saga Expansions”… a collection of story-based scenarios that introduce new content to the game via a narrative structure. Not only are new ships added, but new scenarios are included as well. Once the story is completed, it may be replayed or the contents may be added to the Space Base base set.”

I think that sounds ace. Usually, when you get an expansion that adds content to a game, you just shuffle the new content into the base game, sometimes seeing new stuff, sometimes not.

That’s not quite as dramatic or as directed as I think it could be. The idea of instead having special set-up instructions to shine a spotlight on the new content sounds ace.

Our final new game announcement for the week is Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated.

That might be the most awkward title we’ve seen all year, so let me break it down for you. This will be a new version of popular fantasy dungeon romp board game Clank!, although this new box will have a legacy-style campaign (like in Risk Legacy or Pandemic Legacy), and it’ll be set in the world of Acquisitions Incorporated, which is the Dungeons & Dragons actual play series hosted by Penny Arcade.

Here at SU&SD we’ve always said that we like Clank!, but felt that the design needed a little somethin’ somethin’ to make it a game that we’d actually want to buy. Who knows? A persistent legacy-style campaign could be that somethin’ somethin’.

Moving on to this week’s Kickstarters, Ragusa is a project that some of you won’t wanna miss.

We’ve covered this eurogame in the Games News before, but the final proofs have it looking better than ever. This design seems confident without being overcomplicated, attractive without being busy, all of it coming from a designer and a publisher with great pedigrees.

So that’s our safe pair of hands for this month. Now, for the wild card…

This Kickstarter is bananas *and* bonkers. It is banonkers.

Titled “QE”, an abbreviation of Quantitative Easing, this is an auction game where players represent central banks capable of printing any amount of money. Want to bid £6,000,000,000,000 and blow your friends out of the water? You can do that! Better yet, only you and the auctioneer will know how much you bid.

There’s just one catch. At the end of the game, the person who spent (or should that be “created”?) the most money is eliminated, and everyone else tallies their scores based on the industries they were able to win at auction.

It sounds a little bit like the game that I wanted High Society to be, plus the art by Anca Gavril looks absolutely awesome. It also sounds like it could be the most frustrating game in the world, or the funniest, or both?

Earlier this year we published part 1 of Dinesh Vatvani’s fascinating analysis of Board Game Geek’s collected data, which revealed all kinds of stuff, including the growing and lessening popularity of individual mechanics.

This week Dinesh has published part 2, and it’s all about BGG’s complexity bias- in essence, games that are more complicated tend to score disproportionately higher with BGG’s users. To BGG’s audience, a good complicated game is somehow better than a good simple game.

Dinesh then corrects for this, creating a new BGG top 100 that, to a startling degree, reads like the kind of top 100 that SU&SD would make! Gloomhaven is still in the top 10, but so are Codenames and Crokinole. Jaipur rests beside Star Wars: Rebellion, and PitchCar sits snugly with Kingdom Death: Monster. Oh, yes please. I want to live in that world. Board games would be that much more accessible!

Finally, I’m happy to announce that nominations for the 2018 Pearple’s Choice Awards opened this week! Please, everybody, drop in and make suggestions for this year’s candidates, as nominations will close *tomorrow*.

Huge thanks to clg6000 for once again organising SU&SD’s community-powered award ceremony. I look forward to once again recording a podcast about who you chose for the year’s best games, designers and artists. Or, to use Matt’s words, “Whether you think Mum and Dad are bad and wrong.”