Games News! 26/06/18

a celebrity guest, the old ursus spelaeus, our troyes screenplay
Quinns: Last week we wrote the news in a cider pub, tapping away at our keyboards to the merry belching of a few old men. Today, we thought we’d write the news in a fashionable local coffee shop.

Paul: This is a disaster. Why can’t people put their mugs into the saucers gently. Why are they all bashing them together like toddlers.

Quinns: There are at least two women within ten feet of me who think they’re Carrie Bradshaw. I’m friends with a lot of writers and none of them look this stylish or pleased with themselves as they write. They all put their hair up and enter a kind of sticky and hypnotised state.

Paul: I did like that yappy animal that was behind you though. The one that looked like a Normal Dog that a level 5 wizard had cast Reduce Dog on.

Quinns: I don’t want to ever come back here. Why would anyone come here instead of sitting snug in the shadowy confines of a quiet pub. I feel like I’m in an iPhone advert.

Paul: Top of our Kickstarter kollection this week is Jenn Sandercock’s Play With Your Food, a cookbook and rulebook of edible board games. You may remember Pip getting a taster of these on SU&SD just over a year ago, looking at games like The Order of the Oven Mitt and J-Wobble. These are as silly as they sound but, more importantly, as inventive as they sound and Sandercock’s use of food as a medium for play is terrific.

We played a demo game with Jenn as FRENCH PASTRY SPIES at the Games Developer’s Conference this year and it was proper puzzle solving. With added sugar.

Quinns: And I don’t think it’s the sugar talking when I say that it was absolutely terrific. What an amazing gift this book would make! What a showstopper any of these games would be at the end of a dinner party (I don’t know I don’t host dinner parties), or as a lazy Sunday thing to do with kids (I don’t know I don’t have kids).

An incredible amount of time, love and expertise went into this book, and if you’re thinking of backing it, let SU&SD be the first to tell you that you definitely, definitely should.

Quinns: Also on Kickstarter this week is the excellently-named Monikers: More Monikers.

Have you got too many Monikers expansions and you’d like – in the words of J.R.R. Tolkien – one box to hold them all? Would you just like 400 more Monikers cards? Have you previously let this excellent game pass you by? This Kickstarter can help!

Paul: Since we’ve previously contributed to Monikers, we won’t be reviewing this expansion as it’s a conflict of interest, but we can still nod towards our work and so very politely ask you not to forget to pick up the SU&SD Nonsense Box with your order. It’s the only way you’ll get a Brexit card in your set and that’s basically the Black Lotus of Monikers.

Quinns: But the Kickstarter this week that’s raised by far the most money is Tang Garden, a stunning-looking game of creating a Chinese garden in the year 700 C.E.. With 7,000 backers at the time of writing, Tang Garden has already sold more than most board games ever do and it isn’t even out yet.

As always, Shut Up & Sit Down would like to caution away our readers with less disposable income from being swept away on a tide of hype. If a game’s really good, you can always buy it later, and if it’s not really good, you’ve dodged a bullet.

Also, this Twitter thread on the game’s problematic elements makes for thought-provoking reading. We’ve emailed the publisher asking if they’d like to reply to Calvin’s comments, but have received no response.

Paul: Quinns that tiny dog next to us just made the noise of television static. Quinns that is not good.

Quinns: Chihuahuas are basically Lovecraftian creatures anyway. “Bred in Mexico to hunt rats”? A likely story. The first Chihuahua probably emerged from an egg in the sea.

A second edition of Games Workshop’s rebooted Warhammer Fantasy, Age of Sigmar, arrives in shops this week, along with a new starter set titled Age of Sigmar: SOUL WARS.

For the real scoop, I dropped an email to a personal friend of mine and ex-employer, Kieron Gillen. When he’s not writing hit comics like The Wicked and the Divine and Star Wars: Darth Vader, he plays lots of Warhammer. Also, he’s gotten really quite good at painting miniatures (see here), which is a bit like finding out that a Boston Dynamics robot (fig. a) can now use a paintbrush better than me. It’s unsettling and I need it to stop.

Take it away, Kieron!

Kieron: I generally like Age of Sigmar. It’s kind of the petri dish where Games Workshop try things out and then work out whether or not they’ll import into the main money-making universe of the Far Future. 8th Edition 40k was a delight in taking exactly as much from Age of Sigmar as it could without exploding the fanboy’s heads. AoS? It worked off a tightly compressed 4-page core rule-set, which adds modules to special-case all the weirdness in the world. It also motored along incredibly quickly! It’s the game I play when someone asks me show off the giggling dumb-ass thrill of a table full of little folk bashing the living shit out of each other and generates masses of heroic and hilarious narrative.

You’d hate it, Quinns. Last time I played my Axe Dude sent multiple Enormous Tree folks screaming into another dimension and it had me saying “Man, Quinns would have hated that” which means “That is excellent and I love it.”

Looking at the core new rule changes? There seems a slight increase in complexity in some areas, but they seem to be “Natural” rules which are always easier to remember. It seems to be a general tightening of an idiosyncratic game system. What we really should be looking at is the weirdo experimental stuff. The huge new spell effects? They’re hilarious and I want them. The Warhammer-Quest-esque individual datacards? A helpful boon to keep the telescoping modularity of the system under control.

Plus we have a quiet continuation of GW’s attempts to try and drag their games into the 21st century. I like how you can argue they’ve done a Metroid and show a armoured Sigmarite on the box, but on the rule cover you have an equally heavily-armoured sigmarite without the helmet, showing she’s a woman, so by implication making any masked Sigmarites possibly be a women, if you wanna.

The minis are great. Like most of GW’s starter kits, it’s pretty good value and I fear I’ll be buying it shortly, despite the fact I have all the miniatures in the world to paint. Downsides? I dislike that Games Workshop have not yet found a way to make me a real Skaven, who can be my friend and I can pet and hold. In conclusion, Age of Sigmar excites me, as it means Quinns mails me and that always makes me happy. I look forward to another mail from Quinns when Age of Sigmar 3rd edition happens. That will be a nice time.

Paul: Over on BoardGameGeek, there’s a wonderfully charming and colourful collection of photography by Steph Hodge that shows off some tantalising new titles from this year’s Origins Games Fair. Sometimes I wish publishers would take more fancy photos of games that they’re promoting and THIS IS EXACTLY WHY.

There are so many games on this list I want to know more about.

Take, for example, Sailing Toward Osiris, where players compete to build the most glorious monuments they can to a recently deceased pharaoh, including obelisks and sphinxes (that’s a plural I don’t get to use much). The more monuments that are built, the harder it becomes to collect resources for the next ones which, as all of us monument-makers will know, is a classic problem when you’re putting together endless collections of giant sandstone statues.

Then there’s MAMMOTH where you all play MAMMOTHS and spend your time MAMMOTHING AROUND in prehistory, gradually shaping the environment around them with the tiles that they lay, bringing life to the frosty tundra. Mammoths also features “other prehistoric mammals,” but is coy about what those are. Perhaps we’ll see a prehistoric cave bear (the old ursus spelaeus) or even a sabre-toothed tiger. What’s your favourite prehistoric mammal and was it cute or cruelly carnivorous?

My nose has also caught the scent of Shifting Realms, an attractive game of fantasy urban planning from the same publisher as MAMMOTHS, Soaring Rhino. Shifting Realms offers five different factions, including priests and pirates, each with a different board for you to rule over, and at the very least I’m interested to see what a city run by (or even entirely populated by) priests looks like. I mean, we know the pirate one will be just taverns and ports and 24/7 partying, right?

Quinns: AND FINALLY, we’ve got a Troyes Story for you.

Paul: Did the creators of Toy Story ever get back to you?

Quinns: They didn’t, NOR did they mail my script back.

Paul: It’s a shame, I really wanted to see what they’d do with the idea of Mr. Potato Head as a shapeshifting serial-killer. “Spud Slaughter” was a masterpiece.

Quinns: Anyway, the Troyes franchise (if you haven’t seen it, don’t miss our Troyes video review) now has my favourite naming conventions ever. First we had the Troyes expansion, Ladies of Troyes, a name which still make me laugh. Now we have news that the designer is working on a 2 player Troyes game called – are you ready? – Troyes 2.

Paul: Oh, that’s just crying out for a subtitle. TROYES 2: A KNIGHT AT THE OPERA.

Quinns: Or TROYES 2: BACK IN THE HOOD.

Anyway, the exciting news is that it’s going to be a roll’n’write, officially making 2018 the year that the roll’n’write became cool again. At the time of writing, Welcome To is sat at the top of the BGG hotness, and I can’t wait to do our review of that game when it comes out later this year.

Paul: I guess we’ll just have to (roll and) write that review soon, eh? How does that work? Do we roll around on the beach or something? No, wait, the beach is all stones and pebbles. That’s a very painful idea.

Quinns: Sometimes pain is the only route to truth.

Paul: I recognise that line! It’s a quote from your Troyes screenplay.

Quinns: It is indeed, Paul.