Games News! 16/03/15

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Quinns: HELLO everybody! I’m back from running the board game lounge of San Francisco’s Game Developer’s Conference and am now 90% tacos and 10% flu germs. I think my skeleton was confiscated by customs on the way home.

We’ll get to the news in a second, I just have to tell you what we’ve got coming in the next two weeks, because I couldn’t be more excited.

Just to start, we’re playing the biggest UK Megagame EVER this weekend, controlling Japan in a game with no less than 47 game masters. We’ll be bringing that to you guys as a two-part documentary. Paul’s back in the UK this weekend to play it so we’ll be recording two (TWO) podcasts. Then we’ve got reviews of Mysterium, Star Wars: Armada, Imperial Assault and Alchemists all lined up.

My goodness. But let’s start, as always, with the humble Games News.

ONITAMA! It looks good. It feels good. Onitama. “For the woman in you.”

That’s probably what we’d say if Onitama (seen above) was a deodorant, but it’s actually a board game, and what a board game. A two player abstract game originally released in Japan, it’s just been picked up by Arcane Wonders for a worldwide release. That’s a fact I’m excited about because Arcane Wonders are two for two so far, having first published the excellent Mage Wars and then re-published the fantastic 1950s game of Contraband as Sheriff of Nottingham.

Onitama certainly sounds fun. A bantamweight chess, it sees players taking turns to move one of their pieces according to one of four movement cards, with the fifth and final movement card taking the place of whatever card they picked. I’d try that, definitely. And not just because my current brand of deodorant hasn’t been giving me the 24/7 protection I need as a career woman.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Bezier Games has announced the first expansion to Castles of Mad King Ludwig. Titled Secrets of Mad King Ludwig, it will add moats, swans, and secret passages to that most royal & peculiar of tile-placement games, a checklist that any game designer could be proud of. We discussed King Ludwig in our very 24th ever podcast, in case you missed it.

I laughed out loud when I saw Secrets’ cover, though. It’s a beautiful piece of art, isn’t it? And then the room tiles all look like napkin sketches of carpet showrooms.

I was having a conversation with a friend this weekend about Suburbia, the prequel to Ludwig. “You know,” he said, bracing himself against the wind, “I’m not sure it’s deliberate that the tiles in Suburbia are so boring and ugly that they make the game funnier.”

“Yeah,” I said, looking away. Unable to face him. To face the truth.


Open Sesame

IDW Games has announced a new title from French powerhouse Antoine Bauza (7 Wonders, Hanabi, Samurai Spirit) titled Open Sesame.

We’ve got nothing but a box shot yet, but it sounds interesting enough. Players take turns playing as Ali Baba, and must push their luck by stealing as much treasure as possible while still being able to retrace their steps and leave the cave, while everybody else plays a thief trying to memorise exactly what objects Baba pockets.

Burgle Bros.

Speaking of noteworthy designers, this week’s featured Kickstarter is Burgle Bros., a co-operative heist boardgame by Tim Fowers of Paperback and Wok Star.

Players each control a sexy burglar in a race against time to get the loot and get to the roof, and “plot twists” can even change the game mid-way through. The real selling point, though, is the game’s three-dimensional board. Burgle Bros. actually takes place across three boards, each modelling a different floor of the building, and the Kickstarter even has a silly wooden add-on to stack the boards above each other in an actual tower, in the style of the now-legendary Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit.

I say “silly”. I need it, obviously.

Games News! 16/03/15

AND FINALLY, here are a couple of links to finish derailing your Monday afternoon. Did you know that the best time to post a link on Twitter is Monday afternoon? Supposedly everyone’s at work, but lots of people struggle to be productive and are hunting for distractions.

One distraction might take the form of this list an entrepreneurial Board Game Geek user made that ranks games together that have the same word in their description. So while “luck” isn’t a genre, we get a glance of the top 20 games that describe themselves with the word “luck”, and so on. The “Fun” list in particular makes for interesting reading, although we didn’t actually get on too well with Rampage, the list’s #1. “Complex”, “Beautiful” and “Random” are also well worth a look.


Meanwhile, Shut Up & Sit Down contributor and Susie Pumfsk look-alike Leigh Alexander launched a new site this week! It’s called Offworld, it’s about video games as much as it’s about play in general, and it is 100% awesome.

Actually, Offworld and Shut Up & Sit Down are kind of kindred spirits, since both of us want to (a) bust play wide open and make it for everybody, and (b) ignore the conventions of our field in favour of the best, most interesting design we can find.

Though if you’re not interested in video games, Offworld has an article about analog design up already. This is a fantastic piece on Ben Robbins’ world-building RPG Microscope, which you should learn about if you haven’t already (and check out our review of The Quiet Year while you’re at it).

I’ve actually only played one game of Microscope, and it was a quick pick-up game with five adults and one seven year old boy.

So we’re outlining our world. We decide that humanity exists in a single fleet because it’s fleeing a creepy insectoid race, and somebody asks why our relationships with the insects degraded to such an extent. So we zoom into a scene of the first meeting between humans and these giants bugs, divvy up roles, and begin roleplaying.

About a minute into the scene this kid, who hadn’t spoken, steps out into the middle of all our highbrow politicking, mimes zipping open a jacket and blowing up the bomb strapped to his chest. Our group – many of whom were killed mid-speech – just loses it laughing and clapping.

It was about the coolest thing I’ve seen anyone do in roleplaying, before or since.