Games News! 15/05/2017

a sticky heist, a brief and wondrous life, two detective
Paul: Quinns! The oven timer has gone off! What have you got in there, exactly? It looks like… bread.

Quinns: No, that’s not bread that’s rising. It’s THE EMPIRE.

Paul: Is it going to take long? I wanted to put a pizza in.

Quinns: SU&SD regulars may remember that I didn’t quite fall for Rebellion, Fantasy Flight’s enormous, head-to-head Star Wars experience, but the announcement of an expansion, hot on the heels of the variously admonished and adored Rogue One–

Paul: I really liked that movie.

Quinns: And you’re exactly half right, because the first 60 minutes of that movie are good!

Paul: Harumph!

Quinns: As I was saying, Rise of the Empire has me wondering if I want to haul Rebellion’s daunting box out of my attic to try it again (and certainly I’d love to play with the hidden rebel base one more time, which is an unspeakably cool system). This expansion doesn’t just add all those Rogue One characters and units to the game, it adds to Rebellion’s weak combat by bringing in a new deck of “tactics” cards. Units, leaders, missions and tactics can now come together in new combinations that might well have you creating exciting and extraordinary narratives.

Rebellion has always been a lot of pieces, but not pieces that always united in an exciting way. Could this be the glue that–

Paul: Maybe. I mean, I’m not sure. I think your criticisms of Rebellion are valid and, while this expansion has a bunch of cool new things for the game, I worry that it won’t change it enough to make us feel measurably more excited or energised. BUT I will be happy to be proved wrong, if this is the case.

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Quinns: Here’s an announcement that excites me a lot more. Paul, do you remember a few weeks ago we brought news of Detective: A Modern Crime Boardgame, a 2018 release that might just drag the excellent Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective into the 21st century? Well, Detective: City of Angels sounds set to tug it into the 20th century. Although the two games share a name they’re in no way related, which I’m sure will confuse the shit out of a whole lot of people.

While the twist in Detective: A Modern Crime Boardgame will be an accompanying app, the twist in Detective: City of Angels is that one player will (for want of a better word) represent the crime, working against the players and voicing the suspects that the players interrogate(!). I know it’s in vogue now for games to do away with dungeon master/referee/invigilator-type figure, but I’m not a fan of that myself. I love having a player who’s the odd one out.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that Consulting Detective has done the L.A. Confidential thing – SU&SD reader Travis Waddington actually wrote in this week to tell us about a 1985 game called Gumshoe, which is what the original designer of Consulting Detective did next. It was a more ambitious game than the Sherlock Holmes original, and even tracked how long players spent travelling between each clue.

 

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Paul: Next up, in news that Quinns and I can agree is just plain weird–

Quinns: Yep!

Paul: The latest expansion to Dead of Winter, titled Dead of Winter: Warring Colonies, adds not just some new events and items but (WAIT FOR IT) A WHOLE DIFFERENT GAME MODE where you can pitch two colonies against each other and yet also have a separate LONE WOLF character who has their own interests at heart. In other words, it’s two concurrent games of Dead of Winter but where the locations are all shared.

Quinns, you look angry. Is it because, sometimes, these colonies will find themselves forced to co-operate instead of being at loggerheads? Is it because you might want up to eleven players to get the most out of this?

Quinns: No.

Paul: …Is it because when you bought Dead of Winter: The Long Night, you threw away all the duplicate components that you need to combine with the base game in order to play Warring Colonies?

Quinns: Hey I’ve got a cool idea let’s move on

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Paul: Also announced this week were the winners of the 2017’s 200 Word RPG Challenge, one of which is my former Paranoia colleague Grant Howitt, also the creator of 1 page bear RPG Honey Heist.

Oh God look at the amount of games in here, all RPGs will rules sets of two hundred words or less. There’s some astonishingly concise and interesting ideas in here, including finalist Nightblind, which everyone plays with their eyes closed except for one Sightseer, who has to read out the results of dice rolls but can lie about it and be called out. RPGs are just fantastic.

Quinns: Oh my god, I know. There’s a new RPG Kickstarter I’m pulled towards every week. This time it’s The Quick, an RPG that asks “What if Scandinavian crime fiction but ghosts?”

brb, I’m off to back it right now.

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Paul: An article I enjoyed this week is Dragons Are for White Kids with Money: On the Friction of Geekdom and Race. When I was young I wanted everyone playing games, just because I wanted more people enjoying a hobby that was so niche. I’ve never wanted people to feel left out and we should always be as inclusive as possible, in every way that we can be.

Quinns: Yeah. And in fact, you’ll never see the exclusivity that the article talks about more clearly than in my friendly local game shop. You see kids of colour enjoying dorky card games all the way through to the age of 12 or 13, and then society starts making us all aware of our prescribed norms and the black kids just vanish. It’s brutal.

(I’ll also mention that the author quoted in that article, Junot Diáz, is a total jewel, and The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a masterpiece of a story about being a nerd.)

Paul: FINALLY, I’ve been having a really good time returning to D&D lately. While I am keen to try new RPGs, I’ve not had a chance to settle back into something familiar for a while. It’s been like putting on an old and comfortable leather coat. That said, I always like it when the game grows and gains new additions and so I was extremely happy to find out that research scientist Janelle Shane had come up with a few new spells… with the aid of a neural network. She has given us, among other things, the Barking Sphere.

Quinns: I am famished! I cast True Steake.

Paul: Don’t worry everybody! I cast Hold Mouse!

Quinns: What a time to be alive.