GAMES NEWS! 21/10/19

You can't take it with you when you die except if you're a pharoah in which case you kind of will, Toasted Slippers, Top 10 Biggest Brunos, thick as thebes
Matt Lees 79 comment(s)


Ava: Oooh, it’s that time of year. The cold is starting to bite, but the cosy is always close at hand. Why don’t you make yourself a lovely hot chocolate, put your feet up, chuck a log on the fire, grab a blanket, fill a hot water bottle, watch a leaf turn red, find your loveliest slippers, cuddle the closest consenting cuddle-able, put a scarf on, watch a firework, stomp your feet, get another blanket just for your legs, wear a third blanket as a shawl and listen to the tale of Ava’s very own autumnal games news.

Matt: I’ve filled my mouth with a mixture of marshmallows and leaves and popped my slippers into the fire. Is that still autumnal? My hot water bottle is full of hot chocolate, don’t worry: no sense doing two different tasks with hot water when you’ll get loads more points for a combo.

Ava: Whatever fills your heart with October-flavoured warmth!

Matt: Putting these slippers back on was a bad idea, I’ll see you later bye

Ava: So, this week Quinns popped a little kickstarter vol-au-vent of recommendation onto the revolving newzy susan (But remember, Kickstarter still appear to be resisting attempts of Kickstarter United to unionise, so please do apply pressure to encourage them! See any of the last few news posts for more details.)

Labyrinthos has you exploring the infamous labyrinth of Minos. You’ll be running around looking for your keys, and occasionally get eaten by a bull headed beast. The maze can change at any moment, so you’ve got to balance your own route home with your willingness to mess up the plans of your enemies. 

Just like in real life, actions are limited by the number of hands and feet you picked up on your last turn: Hands help you manipulate the maze, feet let you run through it. The keys aren’t just for unlocking either, they grant special abilities that bump out the ones you start with. It looks pretty and it sounds mean, which are personally two of my favourite things. 

Labyrinthos boasts an all woman design and art team – a notable rarity in the industry – and the kickstarter page also reveals that everyone involved has  good dogs. I’m unable to muster this site’s trademark kickstarter dubiety, but don’t let my hound-susceptibility goad you into risking money you can’t afford!

Taiwanese designer Chi Wei Lin has a lovely diary up at the moment about a game promoting awareness of ocean pollution.

Ocean Crisis is a co-operative clean-em-up where players work together on the beach to prevent plastics piling up at the heart of the Pacific. There’s some interesting conundrums dealt out by an ocean current that will sometimes pull waste towards the beach where it can be fished out and sometimes take the rubbish you haven’t picked back out to sea. There’s also a beach-bound skill tree that unlocks special abilities and optional side missions to save dolphins and turtles and the like. It’s unclear where it lands on the ‘purely educational’ to ‘actually fun’ spectrum, but I am reasonably curious. The designer doesn’t pretend there are simple solutions to the pollution crisis, so it sounds like it might be quite a tough cookie.

It’s a bleak subject matter, but looks like an interesting take. Even though they don’t always hit the mark, we’re always glad to see games try and wrestle with the themes of real world problems.

Boondoggle Hob!

That’s my two word pitch for Meguey and Vincent Baker’s latest role playing game based on the Apocalypse World system they built. Under Hollow Hills is no post apocalypse though, it’s about fey circus performers and the strange world they travel in. Boondoggle Hob is the name of one of thirteen character archetype playbooks, apparently some sort of bolshy goblin heel-dragger. 

Honestly I’m just using any excuse to repeatedly say it. Boondoggle Hob! These are the two words I’ve been most pleased to see next to each other in months. Well, that’s my critical eye entirely boondoggled. You’ll have to see for yourself and decide whether the hollow hill is one you want to be digging and juggling under.

Big fan of games with rotating discs, but the devastation of the natural world isn’t weighty enough for you? How about we weigh your actual heart?

Pharaon appears to be an Egyptian mash-up of the Game of Life and the theology of The Good Place, giving you a limited amount of time to take actions that will eventually evaluate the worthiness of your life. The way you play the game will determine whether you are carried into the afterlife on a palanquin or are dragged kicking and screaming. That’s probably a misrepresentation of both the ancient Egyptian afterlife and the game we’re talking about, but it’s certainly a mood.

With a rotating central disc that changes the cost of actions and some tricky timing to master, this looks like a classic economic efficiency brain burner. Unfortunately, it’s hiding its unusual theme under the trademark ‘eurogame beige’ and a rotating salad of iconography. I guess Egypt was pretty sandy and hieroglyphic, but it’s not the most inspiring board I’ve ever seen. You probably already know if that sort of thing makes your heart feel heavy or light. I’m not sure I’m holding out for a Horus, but I’m curious what people make of it.

Floating at the top of the Hot Spiel Messe hype list on boardgamegeek for the last few months is a curious retro-future civilisation-building game with an optimistic handle.

It’s a Wonderful World looks like a sci-fi Seven Wonders, with players drafting cards by passing them around and grabbing the best ones to plug into an engine of their own making. The critical wrinkle is that each player will be producing resources in a very specific order, so any combos you can build rely on careful planning, and will be different for each player. It’s an interesting touch, but there’s a reason I’ve let it pass through the ‘maybe this week is the time to fish this out of the news vats’ filter every week for a while now. I can’t quite tell if there’s anything here to actually excite me except for some dramatic cover art. I’d love someone to report back on whether there’s enough here to chew on. I’m hoping it’s high on the hype train for a reason.

In disappointing news, A whole host of Iranian game designers have been denied entry to Germany, where they were hoping to attend the enormous Spiel convention.

We’ve been quietly getting hype about the games coming out of Iran that we were hoping would find wider distribution at the convention. We recently covered a few of those games, and enjoyed the story of one of Gaming’s Biggest Brunos trip to investigate the design scene there.

I’m sad to find out the road to distribution has got a little harder. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s borders, and particularly ones that are used to close down collaboration, play and creativity (so, you know, borders). It’s almost certainly too late for German citizens to send their dismay to the German Foreign Office to get them to change their mind, but it may be worth a try.