Games News! 14/08/2017

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Quinns: Hold onto your hats! Twilight Imperium 4th edition wasn’t the only news-belch to erupt from Fantasy Flight Games’ silky gullet this week. For many folks the bigger announcement was Fallout: The Board Game. The world’s most popular post-apocalyptic video game franchise is finally coming to tabletop*.

Releasing in just a few months, the game will offer 1-4 players the chance to steer a tiny plastic miniature through the wasteland, racing the other miniatures to complete objectives and thereby acquire the most “Influence”.

Reading the preview, it sounds like the game’s trying to offer an irradiated sampler platter of what you do in the video game: Scrounge rare loot, level up, tangle with radscorpions, align yourself with factions and resolve the occasional moral quandary.

Sounds good, right? Well, here at SU&SD we’re keeping our feet off the excitement-ometer for the time being, and here’s why.

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First off, video game franchises haven’t represented Fantasy Flight Games’ best work in recent years. They all look great (FFG’s art department is just going from strength to strength), but XCOM was a fantastic idea that ended up a shade less fun than it should have been, and we didn’t like The Witcher or the new edition of DOOM much at all.

But that doesn’t mean much. What’s really got my Vault jumpsuit in a twist is that Fallout: The Board Game more resembles Runebound than anything else. Runebound, if you remember, is Fantasy Flight’s game of players racing around a map, collecting items, levelling up, tangling with razorwings and completing quests. It’s an exciting concept, but in play these thematic questing games of FFG’s have enough randomness that (at this site) we find the competitive element frustrating, and enough fluff that we find waiting for other players to take their moves quite tedious.

We’ll give Fallout a play as soon as possible to confirm or deny our sordid suspicions.

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Fantasy Flight’s third and final announcement was Legacy of Dragonholt. Now HERE’S something new and exciting!

A quick way to describe this would be a fusion of Dungeons & Dragons and Consulting Detective. Or maybe we should think of it like a choose-your-own-adventure book that’s been injected with human growth hormone?

Basically, it’s a game where players create a party of fantasy characters who then go on a series of quests together, sometimes doing battle with bandits and trying to pass skill checks, and sometimes trying to pick their way through a mystery. But most excitingly of all, “it is not about winning or losing, but immersing oneself in a narrative of your own creation, and presenting players with a living and ever-changing universe.”

It sounds a lot like FFG are trying to offer a lot of the thrills of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, but without a GM? That worked pretty well for Gloomhaven, and I’m excited to see how it works here.

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Meanwhile, Games Workshop dropped a bombshell of their own. Beloved GW gang warfare game Necromunda is coming back!

When’s it coming out? Let’s see here… oh, they haven’t said. What features will the new edition? Let’s take a look… ah, there are… no details at all, in fact. Although the picture of the rulebook is ludicrously high-resolution, so feel free to go to the announcement and click on that and marvel at just how big it is on your monitor. Huge!

Despite this total lack of information I’m honestly as excited as anybody. I’m a huge fan of the “league” style of play in Necromunda (also seen in Mordheim, Blood Bowl and Gorkamorka) where each individual game represents just one fight in a bigger story of gang warfare. Gangs could gain territory and experience, and individual gangers could even be shot and killed, though that happened less frequently than you’d imagine considering this is a game of torso-sized guns being shot at targets about five metres away.

If you’re interested in learning more about the original game, this BGG review is a good place to start.

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In further news of humans doing questionable things to survive (a) Wizkids have announced yet another board game and (b) it’s about eating your friends because you’re hungry!

Who Should We Eat is a “lighthearted social game” for 4-10 players where “food is scarce and people are edible”. We don’t have any component pictures just yet, but so far we know that it sounds a little bit like Werewolf but with a management element. Players can draw actual straws included in the box, kill one another and then have the dead players come back as ghosts, but also you’re going to be keeping track of the group’s sanity, food and the size of their raft, utilising the hundreds of cards included in the box.

As the game points out, if there are less of you, the raft doesn’t have to be as big. Hooray!

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Phew. As we say in England, all these announcements have been a bit full on so far, haven’t they?

Here’s some news that’s nice and sedate. An expansion has been revealed for tile-laying game Isle of Skye (which Paul was a big fan of, awarding it the SU&SD Recommends seal of quality).  Isle of Skye: Journeyman will give each player an additional player board, tracking their clan’s strength, popularity and prosperity, but to unlock these bonuses players will have to move a little journeyman pawn around this map of Scotland you’re creating together. What a lovely idea!

Frankly, I fell in love with this expansion as soon as I saw that it comes with little cardboard paths for you to place across bodies of water. That’s so cute.

I’ve not played Isle of Skye yet, but I’m pretty desperate to. This expansion will make a top-notch excuse.

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Over on Kickstarter this week we’ve got quite the thing. Arranged! by Nashra Balagamwala is less of a funtime family game than it is a way to create a discussion around a difficult topic, while also having a bit of a giggle.

Using Balagamwala’s own experiences as a Pakistani woman as a foundation, Arranged! sees one player taking the role of an aggressive matchmaking ‘Auntie’ while everyone else plays girls who are desperate to avoid being paired off by her. Cards allow the girls to gain weight, blackmail Auntie, hang out with male friends and so on, making it harder to find them a husband… until Mr. Right actually comes along, that is, at which point the girls must about-face and start competing for his affection.

Not only is Arranged! more interesting than 90% of the games that arrive in the SU&SD inbox, it’s also just one of several cool analog projects by the designer. Take a look at her portfolio, eh?

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AND FINALLY, Pandemic designer Matt Leacock this week drew attention to this excellent crowdfunding campaign to bring board games to rural communities in Uganda as part of a larger effort to train kids in decision-making.

Leacock and his family discovered the Ugandan board game scene while they were visiting, and he’s made an appealing offer to anyone who donates- leave a comment on this blog post and he’ll send one donator a rare care package, including a hand-made “Box 9” for Pandemic Legacy Season 2. What a prize! And what a guy.

Have a great day, everybody.

*Not counting upcoming miniatures game Fallout: Wasteland Warfare.**

**Or the fact that the first Fallout video game drew its inspiration from the tabletop scene. From Wikipedia:

“Fallout was originally intended to run under the GURPS role-playing game system. However, a disagreement with the creator of GURPS, Steve Jackson, over the game’s violent content required Black Isle Studios to develop the new SPECIAL system.”

To be fair, the violence in the first Fallout was pretty harrowing. Who here remembers the end-credits sequence if you played a character with negative karma?