Ava: Hlph um kumphlll. Mummph blumph fulmph bugublfu
Quinns: What was that, Ava?
Ava: *large tearing noise and a series of ragged gasps* Help me, Quinns, I’m stuck inside this baseball!
Ava: It’s an allegory, Quinns, and a warning that this week’s games news is a bit more inside baseball than usual.
Quinns: I can just about understand that, but how did you get in there!?
Ava: Never doubt my commitment to a bit, Quinns. Also, I’m sorry I ruined your baseball.
Kickstarter’s Brooklyn offices.
Ava: It’s impossible to ignore the big news this week, which is that Kickstarter has been accused of union-busting after three employees were sacked in rapid succession. The workers say there’s no clear reason given for their firing, and it’s hard to ignore the common factor being union organisation. Over a hundred Kickstarter creators (this site included) have signed an open letter in condemnation of the crowdfunding company, standing in solidarity with the fired workers and the rest of the union.
Quinns: It’s certainly a reminder that beneath all of the glossy PR, Kickstarter is still a tech company. SU&SD will be monitoring the situation closely, and we’ll be thinking twice before using the platform for any future projects.
SU&SD has a strange relationship with Kickstarter. It’s the source of a couple of fun news stories a week, yet we often find ourselves warning people away from the most hyped projects. Despite this, there’s no doubt that Kickstarter has helped bring new voices and unusual projects into the world, so it’s hugely disappointing (if predictable) that a company that theoretically supports grassroots projects appears opposed to the rights of its workers.
Ava: Of course, I would point out that a company that uses its platform to extract a percentage from as many people’s creative labour as possible is a precise definition of exploitative capitalism, but so is pretty much all labour in our economic system!
Ava: Back to news about actual board game boards. Days of Wonder has announced the destinations for the seventh(!) map pack of the enormously successful Ticket to Ride.
Ticket to Ride: Japan and Italy offers two new maps, each with their own special features, and some of the most adorable little bullet train minis we’ve ever seen. Look at that lovely snub nose locomotive. I’ll take ten!
Quinns: You can’t, I’ve taken them all, they are mine now
Ava: Quinns’ bullet trains are (were?) part of the Japan map, representing a joint infrastructure project that players can contribute too, but are then shared by everyone. If you do the most work on the bullet train network, you’ll be rewarded, but drag your heels and you might find yourself losing points. It’s a nice little twist! Italy will have you touring the country’s regions to gather bonuses, whilst wrestling ferries over stormy seas.
Quinns: Chrono Corsairs has been announced by Tasty Minstrel Games, and it will be the greatest board game ever made.
Ava: Are you sure about that? It sounds like someone fell asleep drunk in front of Time Bandits and woke up to find themselves shaping mashed potato into the shape of a game board.
Quinns: Ava, how dare you. Sometimes a games writer has to pin their colours to the mast. Chrono Corsairs is a game of several pirates crews trying to collect the most treasure on Ouroboros Island, where time forever loops, and when it releases I will never need another game ever again
Ava: I can’t hear the word ouroboros without thinking of the Red Dwarf bit about it being a baby in a cardboard box called ‘our Rob, or Ross’.
Quinns: Essentially, Chrono Corsairs is an iterative programming game. Each turn players all place a new event card in the timeline, and then you play out these event cards, reset the board (but leave the event cards!) and add another action to the queue. I’m being silly up above, but I actually think this sounds like an elegant way of modelling Hollywood timeline-twisting shenanigans.
Ava: Some other pop culture reference masquerading as a joke.
Quinns: How about, “So it’s Primer meets Robo-rally?”
Ava: *Celebratory air horn* We’ve got a news!
Quinns: I was pretty excited this week when I got an email from Askhan Javaheri, CEO of Iranian publisher Dorehami Games. He wrote with information about two new games, The Last Station and Two Khans, and both sound like intriguing prospects.
Ava: The Last Station tickled my wick quite emphatically by promising a storytelling social deduction game set in Veresk, the last train station before Tehran. The outlaw Marvan is being sent to trial, and some players will be trying to rescue him, while the rest try to keep him at the station until the train is ready to take him to his trial and execution. Players will have secret roles with some shared information, but it sounds like a more narrative concept than most Werewolf-alikes. Your character is not tied to your secret faction, and you’ll play through a series of events to attempt to uncover who is who, and what will happen in a slowly escalating confrontation. It sounds like a lark, and the art is gorgeous.
Two Khans looks like a deductive version of the Spin Doctors’ ‘Two Princes’, with two teams vying to kill competing heirs and leave their chosen Khan as the holder of the throne by dawn. Again, it feels like a nice twist on social deduction, and I’m keen to find out more.
Please get in touch, publishers from further afield! It’s lovely to hear from you!
Quinns: I am *so* here for Iran joining the international board game scene. I was lucky enough to do a lot of travelling when I was younger, and Iran was the friendliest place I’ve ever been. Even if part of my sightseeing was this “Tower of Silence”, which I believe arrived on Earth from the Dark Souls universe.
Ava: It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of historical games, and all the best details of history come from people who have lived near to it. All history is local history to somebody. I really hope we can start a trend for regional publishers making games out of weird little incidents we’d never otherwise hear about. More perspectives always means better angles!
Ava: Perhaps you thought legacy games were over, but maybe it’s just time they learnt a new trick or two. You’ll get this joke in exactly one more sentence, I promise.
Trick Legacy will take you on a tour of some of the most popular trick taking card games, using two perfectly normal decks of playing cards and a fantasy ruleset that changes as you play. It sounds like a campaign version of our card games that don’t suck series, and that alone is an intriguing prospect. The subtleties and peculiarities of trick taking games is a subject I could get lost in for hours, and the chance to play through that discussion as a legacy game is something I never expected to be offered.
That said, it might all be bobbins, and for trick-taking games I already have Skull King, The Fox in the Forest, and as many games as I can throw a standard fifty two card deck at.
Quinns: I’ve never been simultaneously so repulsed and so onboard as I was watching this short explanatory video. I think you’re dead right that this game faces some humongously stiff competition. Just a couple of weeks ago I discovered the fantastic Tournament at Camelot, which is also a trick taking game of fantasy combat that threatens to spiral into madness at any second. But equally, a legacy game that modifies a 52 card deck is SUCH a good idea, and in this one I can play a skeleton
Ava: That video is incredibly off-putting. I was quite heartened that they’ve found a way to get out of the replayability problem of Legacy games, in that actually you can reset the game with two standard card decks, which is the cheapest reboot kit I’ve ever seen.
Quinns: Why do they *sell* those reboot kits? Can you imagine anyone finishing a legacy game and going “You know what? Let’s reset this baby up a notch and go again!”
Ava: I imagine it’s one of those things that you only manufacture two of, so you can claim you’re selling it, so that people feel reassured that they could reset it if it came to that? Answer the perceived criticism, knowing you don’t actually have to fix anything? Maybe they’re all just empty boxes.
Ava: Heading back inside that baseball, Nathan McNair of Pandasaurus games has had a fascinating dive behind the scenes of publishing probabilities reblogged onto boardgamegeek. He’s talking about “the Superstar effect”, and how the risks of publishing and distributing games cause scarcity and gaps in demand. It’s an interesting read, especially in light of Stonemaier Games’ Jamey Stegmaier announcing that he feels damned whatever he does, while discussing the accusations of artificial scarcity around Wingspan and Tapestry. It’s a cutthroat world inside that baseball, I’m glad I’m mostly on the sidelines, and not being pitched past the stiff wooden bat of potential success, into the waiting leather glove of over-eager, impatient fans.
I know absolutely nothing about baseball, by the way.
Quinns: Whoever thought inside baseball was a good idea? There’s hardly enough room to swing the bat and you’ll get mud on the sofa.
Ava: But at least it’s easier to get…..A HOME RUN.