GAMES NEWS! 22/07/19

that's one small turn for man, a solvents festival, the funkopocalypse has begun
Edmund 71 comment(s)

Ava: Quinns, Quinns, there’s a news emergency! The news pumps are overflowing.

Quinns: Don’t worry, Ava! That’s what they’re supposed to do.

Ava: But no, Quinns, you don’t understand, my cynicism valve has got wedged to ‘can only be excited about cats, Queen and civil disobedience’.

Quinns: Oh dear.

Ava: I’m even a bit surly about the moon!

Quinns: Well, that’s no good. Let me see what you’ve written, then you can report to Decontamination Chamber B for De-Grumping.

Ava: If there’s one thing I know about space, it’s that it’s always been exactly the same size and could only get smaller. You can imagine my shock to find out that actually there are now more stars, and the wars have got bigger.

Lovely commenter Enkufka pointed us towards the latest announcements for the second edition of spacey-pew-pew dog-fighter, the X-Wing Miniatures Game. There’s bigger ships? One is called Croc like a crocodile, presumably because of it’s powerful yet delicate jaws.

I clearly don’t know what I’m talking about. Help me Obi Wan Quinobe! You’re my only hope!

Quinns: Ava, you’ve lost the news!

That huge ships are being updated for the 2nd edition of X-Wing isn’t a particularly huge story, but the announcement of the Epic Battles Multiplayer Expansion is most intriguing. This box will attempt to snap open this beloved 2 player game like so much hardshell crab, creating a combat buffet for 2-8 players.

Epic Battles will contain a variety of scenarios, “From team games to chaotic, eight-player, free-for-all battles”, as well as new rules for squadrons of small ships flying in perfect formation. X-Wing players have flown ships in formation since the start of the game, most famously by tucking TIE fighters into a mean little laser porcupine, but with the Epic Battles expansion tight squadrons will get some official support, with rules, dedicated “Wing Tools” and special upgrade cards.

Ava: In very immediate, fairly predictable news, the games industry’s biggest award, the Spiel Des Jahres, was just won by Just One. This is a lovely, simple party game of desperately hoping everyone’s minds work slightly differently to yours, and it’s a delight. It’s a well earned victory.

The ‘connoisseurs’ Kennerspiel prize went predictably to the lovely flock simulator Wingspan. Again, it’s pretty well deserved, being a beautiful, accessible, cosy and enjoyable game. It’s an enormously inviting meal to offer people new to the hobby, and is still interesting enough for veterans. Remember when all we had to get new people excited about joining the hobby was sheep trading and medieval walls? I’d much rather hurl a flock of beautiful and curiously named birds at a newcomer.

Also, this news has clued me in that the German edition of Wingspan is called ‘Flügelschlag’ which makes me want to keep it directly on top of my German copy of Power Grid just to confuse people.

I can’t say anything about the children’s kinderspiel winner, Tal der Wikinger, but it does involve rolling a giant ball.

Quinns: Ah, and with the announcement of the winners, one of my new favourite pastimes has come to an end- listening to board game podcasters give unusual grand prize nominee LAMA a fair shake, at once positive it’s not great and nervous that they’re missing something.

If people aren’t aware, we should point out that the Spiel des Jahres is among the biggest financial rewards available to board game designers, as winners can expect to sell as many as half a million extra copies. This makes the announcement of nominees and winners a bit fraught for me, as a forgettable game being distributed to 500,000 families causes something like a papercut on my soul.

Ava: I just want to highlight that I had to translate the German ‘kenner’ into the French ‘connoisseur’ whilst fully aware that both basically mean ‘knower’. The knower’s game of the year. What a world.

Ava: Quinns, Quinns! Please don’t make me talk about the Funko Pops game! Can’t we just link to W Erik Martin’s thorough explanation and quietly walk away?

Quinns: Ava… there’s no reason for us both to lose our innocence. I’ll handle this.

Urgh. So, earlier this year we received news that the bobblehead-mongers at Funko had acquired Forrest-Pruzan Creative, a tabletop studio behind a lot of better-than-average licensed board games.

This week, the first fruit of this ill-fated marriage was revealed: The Funkoverse Strategy Game will be a series of branded sets where players can run Funko figurines around a board, roughhousing for supremacy in contests of capture the flag, area control, and the like. Players will also be able to combine sets, so your Rick & Morty funkos can fight your Harry Potter funkos, and so on.

The fact that this is coming out in the same year as Restoration Games’ gorgeous-looking Unmatched series, which in turn is a collaboration with pop art company Mondo (and which just recently announced some Jurassic Park expansions), has given the announcement of The Funkoverse Strategy Game an unexpected air of competition.

I feel like the editor of a newspaper who has to decide between supporting an actual political candidate and a Funko Pop. Which is to say, it’s not really a decision, but the stakes have never been higher.

Ava: Watch this space for brand new ‘political candidate’ funko pops, complete with ‘baying rally’ accessories.

I’m making that joke, and then immediately dreading what would happen if I googled to find out whether it was real or not.

Ava: How about CMON launching an app assisted board game platform? Brewed in collaboration with Xplored, Teburu offers a digital tabletop which can be filled in with the boards of compatible games. The digital underlay will read whatever miniatures and pieces you move around the board, and even the dice you roll, and corresponding information and options will be displayed on a shared tablet, and each player’s phone.

Theoretically, the possibilities are endless. That said, I struggle to get excited about scanning technology that makes the answers come up on a screen. I worked in a library for seven years, I’ve seen barcodes, RFID or otherwise. I don’t want to sound like some kind of prudish curmudgeon, but I mostly got into board games to fiddle with little bits, not muck about on screens. And if I know one thing about user interfaces, it’s that making one licensed solution promising to offer an infinity of different experiences is an astronomical challenge.

Teburu will launch with a fully compatible new edition of CMON’s Zombicide, which may well put it in front of a hell of a lot of people. I do look forward to hearing what those people say about it, even if it isn’t for me.

One day, one of these doodads is going to do things I can barely imagine. It’ll take over the world and introduce a whole wealth of people to the hobby, and I’m going to be sat grumpily in a corner, eating humble pie and fiddling with my…

Quinns: AVA!

Ava: Maybe you’re the prude. Let’s have a look at some kickstarters.

Ava: It sounds like a solvents festival to me, but there’s got to be something in it, as Etherfields has already raised almost $3 million, storming across the land like so many woozy blokes in bad hats. That’s miles from the point, as in fact everybody in this kickstarter has very good hats.

Etherfields is co-operative smorgasbord of ideas. The production value is through the roof, with optical illusion game boxes, a huge pile of weird and inventive miniatures and strange cardboard masks. It looks like a treasure trove of hallucinogenic monstrosities for you to wade thoough, and they’re calling it a ‘Dream-crawler’. Which I assume is a dungeon crawler where the doors don’t have handles and everyone looks like a friend from school you haven’t seen in twenty years. I’m faintly worried the whole thing is as much of a trick of the eye as that box (which I imagine won’t look nearly as clever in person).

Quinns: It’s certainly a shockingly ambitious proposition- one part Escape Room, full of riddles and hidden puzzles, one part Arkham Horror Living Card Game, with characters being developed via deckbuilding, and one part Kingdom Death: Monster, with a 50 hour campaign just in the core box.

Ava: It’s from the publishers of the This War of Mine board game, which I’ve heard mixed things about (and is gathering dust on my shelf of shame). I’ve got faith that Awakened Realms are willing to put some time in making a strong and weird narrative experience, on top of any straightforward monster-battling. That said, the reason This War of Mine sits unopened is because I can’t quite bring myself to dig through the interactions between the many different decks and books that build that narrative. I went a bit squiffy eyed as this kickstarter video told me just how many decks you’d be deckbuilding in the game.

Quinns: Maybe that was just you being sucked into the Dream Realm?

Ava: If you mean did I have a nap whilst writing the news, I couldn’t possibly comment. But I am in a very nice sun beam right now, and I might just put my feet up for a second.

Quinns: Meanwhile, back in space, but somehow still on kickstarter, Academy games has added One Small Step, a team game about racing to the moon.

Ava: Actually, this game features you taking multiple turns to step closer and closer to the moon. Team-based worker placement gives you the opportunity to annoy your friends and your enemies. Will you and your administrator beat your ideologically opposed counterparts to the moon? Only this game will tell you. (Alongside a fair few other games that I’ve seen covering the same theme, from High Frontier to Leaving Earth to Space Race to the other Space Race. Looks like we’re going to need a bigger shuttle, eh?)

Quinns: This week a lot of my friends have been struggling to get their heads around Pax Pamir 2nd edition, and this Kickstarter is timely a reminder that for me personally, Academy Games hits the sweet spot between historic wargames and accessible fun. The Birth of America Series, Freedom: The Underground Railroad, and even the not-at-all-bad Mare Nostrum make me feel quietly confident about One Small Step.

(I’m browsing the manual right now, and sure enough, it’s just 20 sparse pages with more big headers than a football match.)

Ava: It’s conflict of interest time! I’ve only met SU&SD co-founder Paul Dean twice, but we have talked about Queen a lot, so I totally feel qualified to say ‘he used to work here’. He also worked on Atlas Games’ latest kickstarter RPG, which I promise I’d be covering anyway, if only because someone would be furious at me if I didn’t link to a thing called ‘Magical Kitties Save the Day’.

After a weekend where everyone’s been panicking about creepily CGIed singing cats, it’s nice to have some cats on the right side of the uncanny valley. On the other hand, I just noticed that one of those cats on the box has wings. To distract you from that I’m going to point out that of three Queen songs about cats, only one of them features anyone singing the word ‘Meow’.

Ahem.

Ava: And finally!

Leigh pointed us towards this absolutely fabulous piece about ‘Suffragetto’, a board game of civil disobedience, feminism and criminal incitement! I’ve seen mention of this game in places, but this is the deepest dive I’ve ever read. Being given a taste of the rules, and how they feed into the still relevant ideological inequalities of state violence versus civil disobedience, makes for a cracking read. If not just to remember how hard the Suffragettes fought. The game sounds reasonably ruthless, too (and looks to have been made significantly more fair than the real fight was).

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