Quinns: It’s still Simplicity Week here at SU&SD! While I have no control over what the news is (such things are beyond the grasp of mere mortals, like the weather or burning oven pizzas), I will be rating each news story on how wonderfully simple it manages to be.
Our top story is the announcement of Lords of Xidit! Seen above, this is a re-invention of award-winning 2002 release Himalaya, set in the universe of Seasons. They are taking a game about managing yak caravans, and turning it into a game where you play an Idrakys in the realm of Xidit working together but also competing to fight The Black Southern Host while hiring bards and not forgetting to build sorcerer’s guilds.
SIMPLICITY RATING: An abomination, burn it with fire.
This announcement tugs me in so many directions at once. I want to be happy, because the Seasons art is marvellous, but I also loved how abstract it was, and this makes it sound like a trad fantasy world. On balance, I’d prefer to play a game set in the Himalayas trading barley, tea and jade.
But then the actual 2002 game of Himalaya sounds like something I’d LOVE. Player plot pathways for their caravan six moves in advance, forcing you to second guess your opponents. Then the actual scoring sounds bonkers. First, you eliminate the player with the least religious influence. Then you eliminate the player with the least political influence. Then the player with the strongest economy wins. As a whole, it sounds like the kind of puzzle you could pop in your pocket to keep you warm up a cold mountain. Heated, dense, comforting.
Ah, here’s something much simpler, albeit because we don’t know anything about it yet. Antoine Bauza (7 Wonders, Ghost Stories, Hanabi) and publisher Funforge are now teasing Samurai Spirit, a pacy co-operative game for up to 7 players.
I couldn’t be more excited, but that’s because I could have sworn I read somewhere that Bauza called it a mashup of Ghost Stories and Hanabi’s communication restrictions, but now I can’t find it. I’ll be honest, I just ate two Double Deckers. The entire Games News could be a figment of my imagination at this point.
SIMPLICITY RATING: Nine.
Here’s another new announcement that couldn’t be more SU&SD if it shipped with a standard-size Reference Pear. I’m going to take a run-up to this name, for full effect: FATAL RENDEZ VOUS: MURDER PARTY IN PARIS is a party game and Werewolf-alike for 5-20 players, but where most of these games try and evolve or “fix” Werewolf, Fatal Rendez Vous has the laudable aim of trying to make it more fun.
Hence the handcuffs, which are used to cuff two suspects together. That’s important, because the way the “Assassin” players eliminate someone is by everyone closing their eyes, then them creeping over to them and tapping them on the shoulder, then creeping back in the 10 seconds before that player screams and falls over, dead.
It’ll have special roles, of course, and the two they’ve spoiled are great. Vampire players are bystanders that become assassins after being assassinated, seeking revenge. Another character has a weak heart and dies after five seconds, instead of ten. Cue everyone opening their eyes to see the assassin paralyzed with indecision, mid-sneak, like something out of a cartoon.
All too often with these games, the “traitor” roles let you feel in control and sexy. You know what’s going on! Nobody else does! You’re Benedict Cumberbatch in a towel! I love the idea of a game where all the rules make the assassin’s existence a joke.
SIMPLICITY RATING: B+.
Speaking of being a joke, a new game from Bruno Faidutti (Red November, Mascarade) can be relied on to be funny, but the upcoming Animal Suspect (developer diary here) sounds… I’ll be honest, there’s no way I could best the matter-of-fact description from the publisher.
“To set up Animal Suspect, lay out six animal cards and six expression cards on the game board next to the die faces numbered 1-6. On a turn, one player rolls two dice in secret, looks at the cards matching the numbers rolled, then imitates this particular combination as best she can. Will she be a shy mosquito? An attentive walrus? An amorous octopus? Whoever guesses the proper combination first wins a card, along with the imitator, and whoever collects the most cards wins.”
If just one Friday night in 2014 has me watching Paul pretend to be an angry pony, the whole year will be a success.
SIMPLICITY RATING: An angry pony.
Let’s move onto a couple of Kickstarters. There’s nothing simple about Tuscany: Expand the world of Viticulture, an expansion that expands the game of Viticulture. Viticulture, in case you’re not aware, is a Kickstarter game of winemaking that got Kickstarted in 2012.
This is interesting, just from a money standpoint. The old Viticulture kickstarter raised a total of $65,000. Now, a year and a half later, the Tuscany expansion kickstarter (that lets you pick up Viticulture as well) has raised $212,000 after one week. I guess that’s what happens when a good game builds up a lot of hype, is available nowhere, and then resurfaces on Kickstarter like an elusive sea otter.
I’ve got a copy of Viticulture behind me right now. It weighs about 120lbs. I never played it, because Viticulture was never available outside of the free print’n’play version. I guess I should play it now? Over the next few weeks, before this second Kickstarter ends?
SIMPLICITY RATING: What’s my job again?
Ah, now here’s a theme I can get behind! Pay Dirt is a game of running of a gold digging operation with a gritty, grubby Alaskan setting. Perhaps more importantly, it’s also designed by Tory Niemann, the man behind the excellent Alien Frontiers (another game we never reviewed because our readers couldn’t buy it after the Kickstarter).
But yeah, this looks lovely, with rules for hardening ground as the weather gets colder, and a player board where all your awful starting equipment has the prefix “old”? That’s my kind of thing! And the Kickstarter has some strong recommendations from Rahdo and Michael Fox. Worth a look, I’d say.
SIMPLICITY RATING: 50%.
This reached us on Twitter last week. SU&SD fan @phil_standen turned his die from the last Gold Club bag into a set of cuff-links (stunned Twitter conversation and step-by-step pic here), thereby proving he is the actual best guy.
…But sadly, also breaking the terms of the contract that shipped with the die. Phil, if you’re reading this, your wrists are now technically a number 5 and as such belong to the Pretend Money corporation. Please put yourself on a plane to London immediately.
SIMPLICITY RATING: Denied.
Until next week, everybody!