Games News! 10/07/2017

a terrier in a tarpit, keiko's bowels, bitch planet, escaping a octopus
Quinns: Paul have you had enough of game of thrones yet

Paul: The honest, complex and difficult answer to that question is both yes and no.

Quinns: Paul would you like another game of thrones board game

Paul: no

Quinns: Terrific because here comes A Game of Thrones Catan Brotherhood of the Watch!

Paul: I’m glad they picked a name that rolls off the tongue.

Quinns: So! Soon we’ll have a Game of Thrones version of million-selling board game Catan, though this looks like more of a thoughtful adaptation than a simple re-skin.

The Iron Throne, Fantasy Flight’s Game of Thrones re-theming of Cosmic Encounter, differed more substantially from Cosmic than anyone expected. Judging from all the additional stuff you can see in the above preview, it seems that once again, Fantasy Flight have put more thought than was strictly necessary into these Games of Game of Thrones. More power to ’em.

Paul: Yep, although this preview article doesn’t seem to be trying to sell us on just how much Brotherhood of the Watch is going to deviate from vanilla Catan. Sure, it might offer some significant changes, but I still have no idea what those will be. There’s no picture of the the full setup, so I’m confused as to how all these boards are combined. Am I just missing something here?

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I was definitely missing something when I looked at the news of another futuristic game of bluffing and deception, offered in Plaid Hat’s small box game Crossfire. My immediate thought was that someone was remaking or re-releasing this Crossfire, which is an entirely different game about what the centuries ahead may offer, but instead we’re getting intrigue and improbity.

It seems to me that at least 40% of our time in the years to come will be spent lying. You’ve had a chance to try this already, aye?

Quinns: Yes! Matt and I got to try a very early prototype. Hilariously, we played just one game and it lasted one minute, and while that wouldn’t seem like enough time to get a handle on a game the truth is that Crossfire is so pacy that I totally “got” what Plaid Hat were doing here.

Crossfire is in the vein of One Night Werewolf, where players have precious little time to try and unpick (or muddy) a social deduction puzzle depending on the role that they’re dealt when the game begins, except while you and I were a bit disappointed in the sequels to One Night Werewolf (One Night Vampire and One Night Alien), Crossfire felt like quite a different idea and more than a little sexy. You’ve got bodyguards trying to protect a VIP, a bomber trying to blow up the VIP, a sniper trying to take out the bomber and more besides.

I can’t tell you if this is a good game, but I can say that I enjoyed every one of the 60 seconds I spent with it. I’ll be bringing the good people of SU&SD the earliest possible impressions of this one.

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Speaking of the earliest possible impressions, oh my gosh I want this game SO BAD.

Paul: Haha. Pulling us right back to the present is the news that the 10th anniversary “Jumbo” Edition of Container will be arriving on Kickstarter any week now.

This is a game that I’ve now heard so many designers say is one of their absolute favourites. It manages to both evoke a very particular kind of reverence and yet also remain rare enough that a great many people have never had a chance to try it, myself included. Previously a game of modest components, this new edition ha decided it wants HUGE SHIPS and REALISTIC CONTAINERS. All of these look like Tonka toys and I am ABSOLUTELY FINE WITH THAT.

Really, I am very excited to see a well-loved game I missed the first time around not only back on the shelves, but living its best life. I was struck the other day by just how much board games have been getting prettier in the last decade or so and I think the occasional lick of paint on aging classics is a great way for them to win new fans.

Quinns: Yeah. And as we saw just recently with Tigers & Pots, going back and playing some stone-cold classics is a great way to clear your palette and remind yourself of just how good board games can be.

I just hope these theoretical new customers of Container know what they’re getting into. The intimidating thing about Container isn’t that it offers players a lot of options. Container is intimidating because the strategy involved is as weird as globalised capitalism can be. Players first decide what products they want to produce, then you pick which goods belonging to other players that you want to ship to the island where the game is set, and then you auction off the containers that you shipped to the island. In other words, players mustn’t get attached to (a) anything they make, (b) their plan or (c) their grasp of reality.

Sadly, the upcoming Kickstarter won’t include the expansion for the original game, titled The Second Shipment, so this won’t yet be a definitive edition (though it will contain an all-new module titled The Investment Bank). Instead, the publisher has tentative plans to bring a Jumbo version of The Second Shipment to Kickstarter in a future crowdfunding campaign.

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In other news of JUMBO EDITIONS, I’ve just seen news that the 6th edition of the Carcassonne Big Box will soon be available for purchase.

Collecting the base game that so stole Paul’s heart, the sizeable Inns & Cathedrals and Traders & Builders expansions and eight mini-expansions, this Big Box will enable you to go from having No Carcassonne to Altogether Too Much Carcassonne with just one purchase. Here’s a quote I like a lot from your review, Paul…

Paul: Oh no. What is it?

Quinns: “Carcassonne was a gateway game for a lot of my friends and the gradually-growing community of board gamers in my life. I owe quite a lot to Carcassonne, and if you enjoy Shut Up & Sit Down you owe a lot to it as well. It doesn’t mean you’re obligated to buy it or do anything. But… look, just play Carcassonne.”

Paul: And I stand by EVERY WORD

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Quinns: Following on from our review of the first three rooms of Escape-the-Room board game Unlock!, Asmodee has teased the next three rooms in the series, set to arrive just before Christmas.

There are official descriptions of these upcoming rooms on Asmodee’s site, but instead of reading those I’m going to draw all of my conclusions from the above box art and say that I’m very much looking forward to the one where we have to find our way out from inside an octopus.

It’s now been an entire year since Pip and Chris Thursten reviewed gorgeous card game The Bloody Inn and told us how much they enjoyed murdering guests, making us all certain that we’ll never, ever stay the night with them. This morbid anniversary was perhaps no better time for us to tell you that an expansion is on its way, sinisterly titled “The Carnies” and, as you’d guess, introducing guests from a travelling carnival. Is a knife-thrower a dangerous guest? You bet. And a bear tamer?

Paul: You can’t tame bears. That’s a terrible thing to even try. I’d feel safer trying a night in The Bloody Inn, even with the fifty-two new card this multi-module expansion adds. There aren’t just carnival guests, there’s also new way guests can die, new nobles and what’re known as “Aunt Ginette’s Tips & Tricks.” I assume these are murderous ministrations, so that’s nice.

Another news bite that I wish was a little bigger was this reveal of Stefan Feld’s Merlin, a huge Arthurian game of round tables and magic and oh-boy-I-wish-I-could-tell-you-a-bit-more. Being a fan of Feld’s Castles of Burgundy and then really, really enjoying Bruges recently, I am very keen to find out more. So keen. Really keen. If you’re perhaps someone at Queen Games who can tell us anything, I am all ears.

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Quinns: In RPG news, Modiphius’ long-awaited new Star Trek roleplaying game was released last week, and any eager Starfleet recruits can now buy the full .pdf in English pounds or Yankee dollars. The physical book itself, accessories and an astonishingly overproduced Borg Cube Edition will be out any day now, and after that Modiphius are planning to release a series of sourcebooks exploring different quadrants of the universe.

I browsed my copy of this over the weekend, and it seems very strong. These days I’m all about weighty roleplaying books that still have the hundreds of pages of traditional RPGs, but that incorporate a lot of indie RPG storytelling techniques and sleight of hand. Star Trek Adventures feels like that to me- equal parts big, beautiful and full of possibility, but with rules that work smarter, not harder, with a focus on relationships and emotional character development, as well as numerical character development.

But the part of Star Trek Adventures that I’m really enamoured of is that the players don’t simply play the highest-ranking crew of a U.S.S. Starship (although those are your primary characters), but the entire crew. So when we have a scene down in engineering with the Chief Engineer, everyone else has to quickly create characters representing that player’s subordinates down in engineering. Then, each time someone’s supporting crew member re-appears in a future session of the RPG, you’re allowed to boost one of their stats or give them a special Talent. Just like in the TV series, a character who gets a single line of dialogue in episode 2 might gradually grow to become a likeable member of the cast, in the manner of Miles O’Brien. Or they might get disembowelled by a Klingon, in the manner of Keiko O’Brien. Play to find out!

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Paul: Speaking of indie RPGs, I’m going to spin you right around and back toward our more typical programming, with the Kickstarter for Damn the Man, Save the Music!, an RPG that is all about, well, being independent and maybe slightly alienated in the 1990s. The core concept described here is a small group of people trying to save their record store, but it’s more generally about a particular period’s counterculture and alternative communities.

It’s actually so strange to look at this now and think about how some of the things that were one unpopular are now mainstream, while others have become terribly untrendy. Designer Hannah Shaffer has a great concept here, something that really threw me back twenty years in just twenty seconds, and I’m glad to see this is already funded.

Quinns: People interested in counterculture RPGs could also look at the Kickstarter for a new, updated edition of Misspent Youth. This is a beloved game of teenagers fighting The Man, gradually selling out what they believe in one after another, and generally slowly descending into young adulthood like noisy terriers into a tarpit.

For anyone wanting to see what that looks like, there’s now a TableTop episode showing Misspent Youth, starring superb writers Kelly Sue DeConnick, & Matt Fraction. Speaking personally as a fan of DeConnick’s Bitch Planet and Fraction’s Casanova, I’m going to try and find the time to watch this tonight.

AND FINALLY, remember how just last month when we said Ethnos was an excellent game, but was a little drab when it came to first impressions and presentation? Well, one player has found a great way to get past that problem, custom making their own playmat for the game and using poker chips for control markers. Not only is everything bolder, it’s also bigger, scaled up to a size that makes it feel less cramped and thus far more befitting a game of mighty mythical races. But most importantly, you get to fondle weighted poker chips, and anyone who’s played Splendor knows how that feels.

Paul: I thoroughly endorse this. I appreciate that not everyone has the ability to easily redesign components, or make new versions, but if you can tinker with your games in any way at all then you absolutely should. Nobody said you were limited to using what they give you in the box. Jam the system. Break with convention. Vive la révolution.