Games News! 24/03/14
I wanted a game from Bruno Cathala, the designer of Shadows Over Camelot and Cyclades, where the players all control wizened undersea lords. A game of politicking and pushing your luck, where you can ally with crabs, control the algae trade and stockpile pearls. A game with beautiful art that’s at once ridiculous, otherworldly and beautiful.
YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHAT HAPPENED.
Oh, yes. Abyss (seen above) will be arriving this summer, and it just swum (swam? swimmed? swammed?) to the top of my most anticipated games list.
Despite that dark, suffocating theme and artwork, it actually sounds pretty abstract. You’re not going to be moving moist little legions on a board, but rather drafting cards, bidding for alliances, and timing the powers of your Undersea Lords very carefully. And that’s just fine! Shadows Over Camelot is a perfect example of Cathala’s ability to turn an abstracted net of numbers and cards into a transporting story.
Also, look at that horrible little eel / barracuda token! Nasty. I love it.
Now, if I’ve trained you guys right, the announcement of an X-Files game should have you so disinterested that almost you pass out at your chair. Much like playing dead when attacked by a gorilla, if you stay calm when shown licensed games like these, you’ll avoid purchasing a game that’s probably a bit disappointing. (Says the man who got just got suckered into a game because it featured octopi.)
That said, you could make an exception for the X-Files as new publisher IDW has brought in Kevin Wilson to do it. This guy is the co-designer of the fantastic Game of Thrones board game, as well as the new (and best) edition of Cosmic Encounter.
Also, THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE about how this game will play (leave me alone). 2-5 players will control Mulder, Scully and other FBI agents, taking on an antagonistic player who controls the Smoking Man and the Syndicate. A structure born of Wilson’s years spent working on the similarly all vs. one game of Descent? Or spooky coincidence?
But let us leave this realm of the unknown, with its mysteries and crab-men.
These days board gamers can’t turn around without knocking over a stack of really good, really complicated resource management games. What Kanban sounds like, though, and what I’m hoping, is that it’ll distinguish itself by being a total dick.
Most management games see players always expanding, building, growing and winning from turn one, just at varying speeds. Kanban? Kanban will feature a factory manager who players must put on either “nice” or “mean” mode. It’ll then see them taking on work orders to develop different cars, but always with the very real risk of running out of materials, failing to complete the orders in time, or generally getting their shirts caught in their own heavy machinery. I’m loving this line in the publisher description: “Production doesn’t wait for you to MAKE MISTAKES.” The horror!
Kanban’s actually yet another project in today’s news from an esteemed designer. This time it’s Mr. Vital Lacerda, creator of the really good (and really complicated) Vinhos and CO2.
Oh JEEBUS. Remember Operation: Overlord? The expansion for the stunning game of Memoir ’44 that evolves it from the cutest of 2 player wargames into a hulking, epic, eight player experience? We played it in this video dressed like the national army of a charity shop.
As if responding to the consensus that the best thing about Memoir ’44 is “when it gets big”, Days of Wonder have just announced D-Day Landings. Six “extended breakthrough” battle maps which are twice as deep as the usual Memoir ’44 maps. These can be played one at a time by just two people, but can also be arranged side by side for a game that is 400% OF THE SIZE of Overlord, supporting up to twelve players.
In other words, it’s the perfect game to play on your eight foot long, dogleg-shaped table that you definitely own.
What the shit are you doing, Days of Wonder? I love you.
Dakka dakka! That is a noise made by orks in the universe of the game that is the newly announced Warhammer 40,000: Conquest. A collectible card game of orks and the men who fight them that is probably going to be bought by a lot of 40k fans and nobody else.
More accurately, this is one of Fantasy Flight’s profoundly palatable Living Card Games, like Netrunner or Game of Thrones: The Card Game. With LCGs, fixed packs come out each month that act as little expansions, and as a result the game prevents its metagame from evolving in a toxic bog of rare cards and wealthy players.
Much as Fantasy Flight seem to be making a killing on these card games, it’s fantastic how every one of their LCGs does something wonderfully innovative. Whether it’s Game of Thrones’ 4 player and 2 player modes, Lord of the Rings being entirely co-operative, or Star Wars having the most accessible deckbuilding ever.
In Conquest, each turn will see playerrs simultaneously deploying units to different planets, which they’ll select via a secret dial. Players will also get a helping hand in deck-building because the gore-flecked Commander card that they pick will come with a signature squad of eight more cards, providing you with the foundation for a deck.
Sounds very smart! A smart game. A smart game for 40k fans. And nobody else.
EDIT: I should clarify my grumpiness. Plain ol’ fantasy is a hard sell for a lot of people who are new to board gaming and want to avoid geeky stuff. When you put the Warhammer imagery on a game box? Space elves, orks with guns, power armour? You’re appealing to a very specific audience, and shutting everybody else out.
We now have some details about the second expansion for Cyclades, Cyclades: Titans! It’s going to feature Titans.
…but also, an entirely new board that’ll see players sharing large islands (in a very temporary way, I’d imagine, as they punch one another off it), and components for a sixth player! Much as we consider Cyclades one of our favourite strategy games we actually weren’t fans of the first expansion, so it’ll be interesting to see how this one turns out. Do have a read of that link if you’re curious as to how an expansion can make a game worse, in our humble opinion.
AND FINALLY! Let’s round off a day filled with wonderful news with an unquestionably wonderful Kickstarter.
Way back in the mists of time, when Paul was drumming for Status Quo and I was but a chrysalis hanging from a London lamp-post, we reviewed a game called Catacombs. A glorious dexterity game that turned all the heroes and monsters you’d expect to find in a dungeon into wooden discs, and where attacking anything was as simple (and as complicated) as flicking your character at it.
The art was also hideous, in a charming sort of way. As in, none of the heroes had elbows or knees that pointed in the right direction. Worst of all, the game’s been out of print for an age.
But no longer! Because this Kickstarter wants to mail you a new edition of Catacombs, with lovely art and bigger boards.
Don’t hesitate with this one, people. Get involved! Get the game. Get drunk. Shout at your friends. Laugh at your friends. Everything that made us want to start SU&SD is in this box.