Paul: Quinns help me I have Kickstarters coming out of my-
Quinns: OH MY GOD WE NEED TO GET YOU TO A DOCTOR.
Paul: Yep. Maybe that doctor could help me with Star Realms Frontiers. This beloved tiny card game that you first wrote about in your 2015 Corner Awards has grown so large! Perhaps it needs to be lanced? It’s up to nearly five hundred thousand dollars. Half a million!
That’s a lot of money, but then this is no small deal, is it? No sir, this Kickstarter is offering a whole new wave of Star Realms products, from a new standalone expansion that can be combined with the original game or Colony Wars, to a whole load of other, smaller card sets, all of which can be freely intermingled to create a (wait for it) STAR GALAXY of cards. This is an absolutely colossal edition to a game that’s already a) not small and b) ever-growing in both scope and popularity.
Quinns: This is too much. These are too many cards.
Paul: I feel it’s like that bit in Return of the Jedi where a pilot yells “THERE’S… TOO MANY!”
Quinns: It’s kind of unsettling to see a game that we recommended when it was so small grow so big. It’s like dating someone when they were a teenager and then being asked to provide a character reference twenty years later. “Um, they’re nice, I think? They liked milkshakes?”
Also on my radar this week is your Paranoia co-designer Grant Howitt, with yet another RPG in the form of Spire. The grim world of Spire casts its players as a subjugated underclass of elves trying to foment and manage a rebellion in a fantastical metropolis. It’s looking rich and very, very dark, with a Gormenghast-like gruesomeness throughout.
I’ll be backing this one for a few reasons. First off, it’s designed to be finished in about six sessions, which strikes me as the perfect length when there are so many great RPGs these days, begging for your time. I’ll also be backing it because the character classes are all absolutely bonkers. At a high level, one of the character classes can become a meme, and materialise whenever that meme is spoken. And finally there’s the above map, drawn by Tim Wilkinson Lewis. You can click on the above image to see it a bit bigger, but to get the full-sized thing you’ll need to back the Kickstarter. For more map pornography, the team just tweeted the A0-size version they printed as a detail test. I want it so bad.
Paul: I don’t know how Grant is constantly designing new games. He seems to be working on a something new, large or small, every other week. I appreciate that for this, bigger project he has two co-designers in Mary Hamilton and Chris Taylor, but in a fortnight I can barely put together ten hot meals, five features and a load of laundry. Grant drops games like a pigeon drops feathers.
We should talk about how fascinating this next Parsely Games Kickstarter is. “A collection of live-action, text-adventure games,” these are all inspired by the text adventures of the early 1980s, the sort where you’d type in GO EAST or GET BOOK or LOOK INSIDE WIZARD’S EAR, while your computer responded YOU CAN’T GO THERE or I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THAT or WHAT IS LOVE.
Fast forward to the present day and you can replace that command line with players giving verbal commands, as well as replacing the computer with a real person interpreting them as they think a perhaps slightly sassy program would. This is like a really interesting spin on co-operative roleplaying, one where you may well find yourself restarting multiple times, either because you died or you’d like to achieve a higher score.
Quinns: This is another insta-back for me, I think. My wife grew up with these games, and the idea of playing through a little text adventure with her in bed as we wind down to sleep is far too adorable.
Paul: “I understood you as far as wanting to bed”
Quinns: And with that, let’s move away from Kickstarter. It is a silly place.
Remember our review of AEG’s “Card-crafting” game Mystic Vale, a title which harnessed revolutionary card technology (a.k.a. card sleeves and perspex cards)? I liked it enough that this year I found the time to try both expansions for it, though neither one quite nudged the game up into “SU&SD Recommends” territory (though if either one had been included with the base game, that might have been a different story).
But nevermind that, because AEG’s next card-crafting game is almost upon us. Custom Heroes is a small-box game that wants to offer players the experience of simple climbing card games like The Great Dalmuti, except with cards that can “ascend” and get bettter as the game progresses.
My takeaway? I have absolutely no idea what to expect! And as always, that’s the most exciting thing in the world to me.
In further news of “weird, weird games” (sung to the tune of UB40’s Red Red Wine) Bob Ross: Art of Chill will soon be available from the U.S.’s Target retail chain.
Paul: For those unaware, Bob Ross was a supernaturally serene American TV personality and painter. Most recently he was back in the news after Twitch decided to stream some of his old series, which was so popular it became a permanent fixture.
I’m not sure about this board game (I expect Bob Ross would frown in his grave at the idea of painting having a “winner”), but I can wholeheartedly recommend spending some time in that Twitch channel.
Quinns: Oh my god. The chat’s cry of “RUINED” whenever Bob does something questionable still makes me laugh.
Paul: Meanwhile, increasingly prolific publisher CMON has announced a new version of Dojo Kun, pictured above. What am I looking at here, Quinns?
Quinns: Oh, it’s such a cool pitch. This is a board game where 1-4 players run their own martial arts dojo, first training their students in a game of worker placement and resource management, and then sending the same students to duke it out in a dice-based tournament, and even betting on who’s going to win.
The first edition didn’t make much of an impact in 2015, but some of SU&SD’s favourite games ever are later editions, when the original game’s wrinkles have been ironed out. I’ll be playing this at the earliest possible opportunity.
Paul: What is it Quinns.
Quinns: Well, we got sent in a photo for our Reader Gallery by one Adrian Smith. And… look, it’s best if I just put it up as quickly as possible so that we can get this over with.
Paul: OH MY GOD. Is that… is that what I think it is?
Quinns: Yes. Adrian writes, very simply, “I was bored one day, so I set up a game using components from every game in my collection. I have 84 games/expansions, so the result was pretty sweet/horrendous lol. I call it Everygame! Can you name all the games?”
Do you want to see some close-ups, Paul
Quinns: HERE YOU GO
Paul: MAKE IT STOP
Quinns: In the above photo, “Player C is kind of screwed, those gems aren’t worth anything and not even a buddha-diagonal-misfire beats a rat-5 combo. He could try a Hail-Mary play and slam OW down on the single free Space Villain Treasure Sideboard space, but a Good 1 beats a Poor 3, and so he’s looking at claiming a crown at best with 2 mutation tokens in play. Clearly a noob to have not grabbed the Clue yet.”
The thought of setting the whole thing up and packing it away makes me feel genuinely ill. Excellent work, Adrian. And remember, if you have a pic you’d like for us to include in the news, email it in to [email protected].
Paul: I need a lie down. I definitely don’t need to look at this and see how many games I can identify.
Quinns: That would be a terrible use of your time, yes.
Quinns: …you’re doing it now, aren’t you.