Games News! 23/06/14

bulging erections, aquatic guts, dusty basements, crazy lazers
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Quinns: Hello Quintin’s kittens, or my quiddens! Is that a good intro? It’s the worst, isn’t it. Let’s never do that again.

Our big news this week is that Days of Wonder has unveiled the box and artwork for Five Tribes, and you can see it above! We covered this classy collaboration with Bruno Cathala, designer of such unapproachably perfect games as Shadows Over Camelot and Cyclades, back in February. And as you can see above…

(The turn order tokens look like penises. Don’t say that. But what else can you say? It’s the elephant in the room, except it’s a neat row of penises pointing RIGHT AT ME)

…the board is, um… ah…


No, I can’t do it. The turn order tokens look like tumescent, nay, BULGING erections.

Games News! 23/06/14

There, I said it. And now I can’t talk about how much wood you’re going to get from this box, or how one card depicts a basket full of big horns. Let’s just try and get on with our lives.


Perfect! Board Game Geek news has posted a nice, big preview of Aquasphere, Stefan Feld’s upcoming hot release.

Actually, this should calm us all down. It’s hard to imagine a bigger turn-off than experimenting on octopuses in a pressurised undersea facility. Or is it?

You’re in the dissection room. The intern passes you a sanitised plunger. You catch the scent of her perfume over the powerful smell of decaying cephalopod. Your eyes meet. You slip a gloved hand behind her neck, coating it in a thin film of aquatic guts. You kiss.

Where was I? Ah yes. Aquasphere sounds delightfully tricky, if not as thematic as I was hoping. The preview talks about lots of thoughtful stuff to do with claiming credit for research, developing your bathysphere, programming tiny undersea bots and (most importantly for a strategy game) regretting your poor decisions, but nothing I read sounded… wet?

Feld seems incapable of making poor games, but it’s saddening to hear that after announcing such a great theme, the players of Aquasphere could really be anywhere, researching anything.

Now HERE’S a colourful idea. Z-Man Games is releasing The Battle at Kemble’s Cascade at Gen Con this year, which turns 1980s arcade shoot-em-ups into a strategic, turn-based board game. What!

The Battle at Kemble's Cascade

The debut non-family game from Swedish designers Anders and Olle Tyrland, Kemble’s Cascade offers not just a new idea, but a new theme, and Z-Man’s components look out of this world.

It sounds like a generous box, too, with missions, dynamic difficult levels, upgrades, asteroids, black holes, bosses… man. Can you imagine? Forcing your friend into a black hole as you steal the killing blow on a disgusting galactic-terror, only to re-invest your winnings into STILL-CRAZIER LAZERS?

Oh man. I’ve just remembered the lot of us are actually going to Gen Con. Day 1, I’m giving Brendan my NERF rifle and reflective shades and telling him he can only come back when he’s “acquired” a copy.

Space Cadets: Dice Duel

Ooh, here’s more fun in space! Remember our Space Cadets: Dice Duel review? It’s the game where two teams of player panickedly fly ships at one another in real time using (a) dice and (b) shouts.

Remember how we said it was getting an expansion where a player can take off in a tiny fighter craft, powered by their own dice? Pre-orders have just this second been opened at 30% off suggested retail price.

I knew the Die Fighter expansion was shippingwith a load of experimental tech cards to embiggen the base game, if you’re a pro. What I didn’t realise is that it also includes a mode where two fighters attack a team of players piloting one of the base game’s capital ships. And that put me onto an even cooler idea. Now, when I’m done teaching the game to friends, I can warm them up by letting them fight a single fighter carrying their flight instructor.

Man. Doing this job, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of victory points and perfect designs. Sometimes it’s nice to just have fun, you know? Space Cadets designer Geoff Engelstein is very good at fun. Here’s our interview with him, in case you missed it.

Escape: Zombie City

Speaking of stuff we’ve played and loved going on to evolve (and make our past reviews irrelevant but THAT’S FINE), the kickstarter for Escape: Zombie City has launched and is positively throbbing with money! It’s sounds similar enough to SU&SD favourite Escape: The Curse of the Temple that nobody needs both, but if you thought Curse of the Temple looked a bit dry and love you some zombie flavour, this could be your boy.

You’re also wrong, though. As Brendan will testify, nothing is more exciting than searching for a way out from a dusty basement.


AND FINALLY! We have this fantastic Grantland article titled The Board Game of the Alpha Nerds, which covers the writer’s experience participating in the American Diplomacy Championships. As in, Diplomacy, the famously cutthroat 1959 board game that takes some six hours to play.

I won’t spoil anything, but it’s a lovely little slice of life. Key quote:

“You want some?!” he yelled, loud enough to wake the entire dorm. “You don’t know me! Bring it. BRING. IT.” As he stormed out of the room, Buffalo shouted, “I’ll play all night. I don’t give a damn.” Nolen and I looked at the older, affable Stegeman, she with irritation, me with fear. This was no longer fun. It was just tense and weird.

Absolutely worth a read, or at least a bookmark for your commute home. It stops just short of confronting an intriguing question with Diplomacy, which whether an allied win should be considered as worthwhile as a solo win, and if it is, then why should the players fight at all?

Honestly, my gut feeling is that in all we’ve learned about game design in the last 54 years, Diplomacy is due an update. Something like how Risk: Legacy made Risk playable. I’m not saying Diplomacy should be made quicker, or “more fun”. But I’d like to see new iteration where more than 10% of people want to play it again after their first match.