GAMES NEWS! 20/07/20

Kemet: Tory Edition, Stefan Feld’s Euro-Teasing, Mincemeat Geodude, The Newscopter has Landed
Matt Lees 57 comment(s)

Tom: I’m doing it! I’m finally piloting the newscopter! I can see so many games from my perch in the sky! I’ve dialed down the whimsy-ometer, and the daftosphere has been calibrated. All the news is trickling out the newspipes – I can see my NEWS from here!

Matt: OK Tom, gosh. Fine – you can keep flying the newscopter for a COUPLE OF MINUTES, but for heaven’s sake – crank the Reprint-Rotor before we have a terrible accident?

Tom: Yessir!

Queen Games’ delirious Twitter teasing has finally led us to its natural conclusion. The cities have been revealed, the mystery is gone, you can all go home now thank you very much that’s quite enough. The first of the City Collection is Hamburg, a reimplementation of 2013’s Bruges – which, as you can tell, is not Hamburg. It’s Bruges.

Matt: Yeah, switching from Bruges to Hamburg isn’t exactly the most enthralling re-theme?

Tom: In what was Bruges and is now Hamburg, you’ll act as the mayor of Hambruges, avoiding brugetastrophes or dishamsters.

Ava: Is everything okay in here Tom? You seem to be-

Tom: Everything is FINE AVA ALL MY WORDS ARE IN ORDER AND UNDER CONTROL.

The BGG description is a nonsense cluster of boardgame words, to my eyes, but Bruges (pre-Hamburg) has an average rating of SEVEN POINT FOUR on BGG, which means it is positively… good. Check it out if you’re into ‘cards with five different uses’ and also ‘cleverly choosing the best use for each one’ – and you should DEFINITELY take a peek if you enjoy ‘avoiding disasters and racing for different objectives’.

Matt: Tom’s obviously still too young to wholeheartedly embrace stuff that’s openly quite boring, but Bruges’ combination of brightly coloured wood and muted esoteric history-stuff is like an immediate soothing balm for my brain. Prosperity amidst FIRES and RATS? That’s the stuff that board game dreams are made of!

Tom: The second revealed so far is Amsterdam, a reimplementation of 2009’s Macao, but unfortunately I’ve used up my quota of glib euro-teasing.

Instead, you’re getting the cut-and-dry boring description of what Amsterdam is going to be – a Eurogame that chiefly tasks players with ‘building combinations of abilities, as well as to correctly calculate the advantage of delayed gratification for actions.’ Wahoo. We’re going to get more information on the next two in the collection, New York (another reimplementation) and Marrakesh (a new design) shortly – so stay tuned for more high quality reporting on those in the near future.

Matt: I’d chastise you for a lack of enthusiasm here, but even as a begrudging defender of drab, quasi-mathematical puzzles – I can’t say there’s much here to be jazzed about, so far? When the boards and components get shown off, perhaps, but there’s something seriously disappointing about what we’ve seen of this project so far. To appreciate the wonderful potential of a stylised ‘set’ of games like this, you need only look briefly at the world of book publishing. There’s a lack of vision here that I guess feels like a missed opportunity – perhaps I’m being overly cynical, but this feels more like a different flavour of the modern tendency for Kickstarters to sell you a broad collection of things rather than simply A Thing.

Tom: Chip Theory (the ones that make the conveniently waterproof games) have come out with a standalone solitaire addition to the Hoplomachus family of games – Hoplomachus Victorum.

Matt: What’s your favourite Hoplomachus game, Tom? Mine is “Hungry Hungry Hoplomachus”.

Tom: Don’t be ridiculous Matt, this is a sensible news article. It’s clearly “Hoplopoly”.

As expected from Chip Theory, this is a game that involves an awful lot of thick plastic chips – this time representing warriors fighting against one-another in arenas of neoprene, tactically lobbing legions of minions at one-another to make sure that their champion is the last man standing. For a series that people have continually praised for its solo rules, making them effectively Roman Canon is going to bag Chip Theory a fair few wallets, and probably sharpen up some rough edges along the way.

Matt: The placeholder cover art they’ve gone with is a tremendous improvement on what we’ve seen before within that series – I’ll definitely be keeping a closer eye on Chip Theory in the future.

Tom: Oh. I mean let’s be honest, I’ve mostly only mentioned Hoplomachus to carve a roman-related cul-de-sac: down this road we’ll eventually come to a fancy new edition of Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery from Gale Force 9. I’m honestly disappointed that they didn’t keep the dizzyingly B-movie cover art from the original – especially the ‘mature content’ sticker on the box. It’s freakin’ badass, Mum.

Matt: That’s it, Thomas – I’ve had enough of that language. You’re grounded for a week.

Tom: Gale Force 9 hasn’t mentioned any changes to the mechanical core of the game, so the basics of players scheming against one another in grisly arena showdowns is likely to be exactly what’s on offer here. Where Hoplomachus has you personally getting all bloody and sandy, in Spartacus you’re the figures behind the curtain – pitting fleshy beyblades against one-another for maximum profit and prestige. This means that seemingly most of the game is played in the arena of the free market, baby, with players bidding against one-another to ensure you’ve got the beefiest boy of them all. It’s like meat pokemon.

… and last but not least in reprint and reimplementation news, we’ve got Tammany Hall – a palpably slimy box about accruing political capital in the big apple. The site reviewed this a mere six years ago, and since then the man on the box has become considerably larger – sated by the sweet profitable nectar of sheer, unrefined business.

Matt: Please stop feeding grandfather nectar, he is too powerful

Tom: For those not in the Tammany Hall know-how, a quick meander down its BGG page will likely provide you with a meagre ration of ‘ooh yes i would like to play this please’. It’s a shady worker area control and negotiation game where each player tries to sway the New York public (most notably its new immigrant population) into voting you in as mayor – and whoever wins that vote then has the honour of appointing their fellow players as officials in their cabinet – who, in turn, will use this position of power to lunge upwards for your throne in an ouroboros of bickering. Less ‘dudes on a map’ and more ‘political constituencies on a map’.

Matt: We’re losing ‘em Tom! Hit the Kickstarter Killswitch! We’ve got to turn this newscopter around!

Tom: Night Cage! Ah-ahh-ahh! Fighter of the Day Cage! Ah-ahh-ahhhhh!

First in our scheduled Kickstarter Roundup segment, Smirk and Dagger are seeking the investment of the ever-generous boardgame public for The Night Cage, a giant metallic structure designed to contain Reiner Knizia, lest he be unleashed upon the unworthy.

I kid, of course. The ‘Kniz cannot be contained. The Night Cage is in fact a tile-placement co-op game about staggering around a dark labyrinth with only a tiny candle and a gang of lost friends to keep you company.

Players are tasked with wandering the labyrinth by placing tiles on a big grid, ultimately in the hope of finding a set of keys that’ll let you congregate at the exit to leave the titular ‘orrible dark prison. The twist here is that the tiles you placed on previous turns will disappear into the dark as soon as you turn your back on them, leading all of you into a nightmare of twisted tunnels and haphazard planning from the get-go if you don’t carefully plan where your light is going to be shining. I love the art here, and the core conceit could cook up some spooky surprises, but I’m not sure if it’s going to blow anyone’s socks off. It looks like one of those things that’s going to be better in practice than in theory, perhaps? Only time will tell. I’ve come over all unsure.

Matt: It could be interesting, but I know what you mean. I’m almost definitely not a good indicator of what most people will personally buy, but I’m honestly slightly put-off by the inclusion of stretch-goal miniature LED candles? Perhaps that’s ridiculous? Oh gosh, Tom – your temporary lack of conviction might be contagious?!


Tom: HEY. What’s Dad been up to? He’s hiding all the family secrets in a big leather book that’ll ship to backers in early 2021, of course!

We’ve talked a few times about Kickstarter’s fine array of chunky escape room puzzle-box thingies, and Legacy seems to be a contender for the chunkiest and thingiest so far. It’s a narrative adventure investigation game, where you and maybe some pals will be tasked with finding out where in the world their fictional Dad has stashed his fictional cash – cross-referencing clues from Paris and Greece across two different time periods to get to the bottom of it all.

So far, so escape room, but the USP here is surely the sheer amount of physical gubbins that come with it – a tiny model of the eiffel tower, some 3D glasses,and what looks like a message in a bottle? Once you’re done with the game you can decorate an entire student flat with that calibre of leftovers.

Matt: I’m disappointed it doesn’t ship with An Actual Dad.

Tom: Fair, but it’s got the next best thing? A companion app! One of the promo images appears to show a player scanning through the menu of a greek restaurant to find clues, which would be delightful – but maybe they were just getting takeout during the photoshoot, who’s to say?

Well, I’m to say, and I’m willing to bet my entire career that it’s the latter.

Matt: Unable to confirm Actual Dad – mild possibility of Accidental Kofte.

Tom:And finally on the Kickstarter roundup, we’ve got an odd little RPG about making ends meet in a family restaurant. Also: vampires.

Jianshi: Blood In The Banquet Hall is a boxed roleplaying game where players assume the role of family members running a restaurant – doing chores to keep things running smoothly, chatting amongst themselves, serving customers, and then discussing what nightmarish visions they had during the night. This all comes before Jiangshi, ‘hopping vampires’, descend upon the restaurant and attack members of your family – making them a whole lot worse at both preparing food and/or being alive.

Matt: I adore the art for this one – and WHAT A THEME!

Tom: It all looks pretty wild! I’d be very down for giving this one a big ol’ whirl when roleplaying games are permitted under UK Law. Nothing to do with Covid, they were banned after ‘the incident’.

Matt: It isn’t that they’re illegal, Tom – you just aren’t allowed to play them when you’re at my house. I’m not made of money, and curtains are expensive. Anyway, congratulations on keeping the newcopter mostly in the air – let’s bring her into land.

Tom: Wahoo! The training manual said to apply a thick layer of ‘Misc-Gubbins Grease’ to the landing gears after every flight – I’m cracking open a fresh jar of the stuff RIGHT NOW.

Tom: The first thing I quickly wanted to drop a mention of is that Root is coming to PC, IOS and Android. This is potentially what’s known as ‘old news’ in the bizz, but nevertheless i’m rather excited to have Root on my phone so I can get in more of that wonderful puzzle box whenever possible. I’ve been playing a ferocious amount of Twice as Clever on mobile recently, so anything that can take me away from that will be an absolute godsend – the ‘wahoo’ sound effect upon doing literally anything positive in that game is driving me over the edge.

In a similar vein of not-so-news, there’s also an upcoming Brass Birmingham digital implementation to look out for as well, developed by Phalanx – the team behind the app implementation of the original Brass. This is absolutely wonderful news, as Matt’s copy has sat on my shelf for half a year and I’ve played it approximately once. It’s on track for early 2021. The app, not my next play of Brass Birmingham.

Matt: HOT JAZZ ON A UNICYCLE, that may not be new-news, but it’s new-news to ME! Digital Birmingham is what I need in my life right now, and if there’s any publisher out there I trust to handle a conversion with detail and love, it’s Roxley: those goggled chickens are a meticulous bunch. Root could be pretty app-happy too, to be fair – I’d love to bash my head against some custom AI challenges while collapsed on a sofa.

Tom: AND LASTLY BUT NOT LEASTLY, we have the ever-flowing stream of sumptuous design diaries and interviews from BoardGameGeek. They’ve been doing a bunch recently, but I especially enjoyed reading Rita Modi’s interview on Men At Work and family games, and I managed to squeeze an ounce of vicarious satisfaction from Rob Newton’s excellent design diary on his upcoming flick-and-write Sonora.

Matt: And just as we finish up with today’s flight logs, I should remind you that tomorrow myself and Tom will be playing Hanamikoji on Twitch. No Mothership this week I’m afraid! Ava is taking a well-deserved break from SU&SD bits. More stuffs soon!

Tom: … alright! The newscopter has flown, landed and essential maintenance has been completed. Nothing went wrong! It’s a Christmas miracle!

Matt: Thomas! You’ve clogged up the new-rotors with my patented GubbGrease!

Tom: Will I be flying it again next week?

Matt: Absolutely not!

Tom: Thank heavens!

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