Paul: Tis the season to be wet, for many of us in the Northern hemisphere, and as the clouds swell and the sky cascades, we need all the Games News that we can get to keep us toasty and dry. Thank heavens, then, for Rob Daviau, whose warm and welcoming announcement of Betrayal Legacy is like a sizzling space heater against the cold November rain.
So, are you ready to stumble through haunted houses again and again and again? It’s time to get spooked. Repeatedly.
For thirteen years, Betrayal at House on the Hill has been a genre classic. Some board gamers want the bigger, more complex terror of Arkham Horror or Mansions of Madness, but Betrayal’s relative simplicity and unpredictable outcomes have kept it both evergreen and accessible. As with Risk and Pandemic, simpler titles also seem to be a better choice for the ol’ Legacy treatment, which turns a board game from a single, standalone experience into something ongoing and evolving.
To that end, Daviau has cooked up a thirteen-part story that will span generations, with players taking control of whole families as they return over and over to the game’s titular haunted real estate. Daviau has worked with several other contributors and it’s my hope that he’ll keep Betrayal’s unpredictability without things becoming as imbalanced and ramshackle as they do in some scenarios, such as several in last year’s Widow’s Walk expansion. Curiously, the box image provided by publisher Avalon Hill says the game will be “re-playable”, suggesting there’s more than one campaign to be had.
Our news cockles are further warmed by the announcement that Bruno Cathala is a co-designer on Matagot’s next release, Micropolis. Cathala has worked on such Shut Up & Sit Down favourites as Cyclades, Mundus Novus and Five Tribes, while just about everything Matagot touch seems to turn to gold. Oh, plus this game is all about ants. And ants are great.
Micropolis gives you control of a colony, from the queen right down to the soldiers, and has you scuttling out to find food, fighting other colonies and drafting tiles that will shape your snug little anthill home. There are categorically not enough games about ants in the world and I’m very keen to see where Cathala, his co-designer Chevallier and Matagot will take this.
As I’ve said before, I’m interested to hear about any new board gaming ambitions Games Workshop have, and so the announcement of Necromunda: Underhive brought me right back to the mid nineties faster than a TARDIS full of Spice Girls. A game of far-future punky gang warfare, Necromunda was GW’s more elaborate alternative to Warhammer 40,000, offering smaller fights, but with more complex characters and mechanics.
Underhive is looking comparable to Imperial Assault in its scope and scale, offering board-based skirmishes instead of pitched battles, and GW stating that this big box re-release will “get you started” suggests they plan to expand this world of hand grenades and haircuts. No surprises there.
Games News wouldn’t be Games News without a bulging Kickstarter trying to wiggle its tentacles through our letterbox, and today that Kickstarter is Evil High Priest, a game about being an evil high priest. The particularly evil thing about your elevated priesting in this case is that you’re priesting for Cthulhu who, as we all know, is the Elder God of Complex Board Games, determined to destroy the world turn by turn.
Evil High Priest comes from veteran designer Sandy Petersen, also responsible for the hugely successful Cthulhu Wars (as well as contributing to the original Doom video game), and though I was initially rolling my eyes at another Lovecraft title with so many complex pledge levels and add-ons, there’s a few touches here that impress. The game features multiple cult boards, each changing how the game plays, as well as unique personal priest boards. Then there’s the forces of good, who will come crashing through your front door to try and stop you, fighting through your defences Dungeon Lords style.
I’m always delighted to see board games in the mainstream news, not so much because of the increased coverage, but because it’s inevitably going to be an unusual story and this week we have the most perfect example. Scrabble superhero Allan Simmons has been banned from the venerable Association of British Scrabble Players after he put his drawing hand back into the bag during a game, a move as callous as hiding a Catan sheep up your sleeve or eating another player’s poker cards.
Curiously, though the story says that the matter was discussed during the world championships, it’s not clear if that’s when it happened and it seems the Scrabble authorities have been discussing several related incidents for some time now. So when exactly did Scrabble player and author Simmons perform this double dip? Was it just during a casual game? At his home? Are Scrabble referees watching him all the time? Even when he sleeps? ARE THEY WATCHING US ALL?
(Also, I can’t help but think that all of that could be avoided if an independent party drew and dealt tiles, like a dealer in a card game, but what do I know?)
I must abandon you now, before the day’s deluge sees me swept away, but let me leave you with one final and rather impressive tip. Dialvision is a fan-created augmented reality app that overlays targeting and maneuver information over your X-Wing games, showing you which targets are in range and where you might be at risk of a collision. It’s becoming increasingly popular and I’m not surprised, since it does a fine job of looking like a Star Wars-style tactical display.
The work of developer Melissa Ludowise, it’s not endorsed by Fantasy Flight Games and I can’t see them letting competitors use this in official tournaments, but it’s surely an excellent practice tool for new players. If you give it a try, tell us what you think.