Tom: … and then once both of your time tokens reach the end of the track, the game is over! You’ll score based on the number of buttons you have left, and any empty spaces on your quilt will be scored negatively.
Mart Leez: When do I eat the buttons?
Ava: Mart, for goodness sake, if you’re going to be part of the team you’ll need to understand Patchwork, at least. We’ve been trying to teach you for a whole week, I’m starting to thi-
Mart Leez: Hello to the folks at home! This week we’ve got an exciting bunch of streams for you, fresh from the LeesCorp streampipe-
Tom: Ava why is it doing that
Mart Leez: This week we’ve got the final part of the Gloohaven stream, where the original LeesCorp drone will continue its sisyphean task, compiling the box in which it will eventually be buried. Tune in on Tuesday! Then, later in the week, we’ll be testing the machine-learning capabilities of our other models by continually achieving consensus. That’s right, it’s Wavelength with SU&SD, live on Thursday!
Mart Leez: Can I eat the buttons yet?
Ava: … that’s enough of Mart for today… Let’s power you down and get on with the news.
Ava: ‘Wait what’
That’s the entirety of the notes I made for this game during my initial trawl for news. I’m still not entirely sure my credulity level has changed, even after I got Google Translate to make some sense of what’s going on.
Tom: Right?? I had exactly the same experience – I thought I understood it… kind of… until I clicked that google translate button and all hell broke loose. Google Translate is great in a pinch but pitting it against Japanese often results in wonderful sentences like ‘I am squeezed by the dilemma that requires me to move slowly, but I am unable to hold back my laughter and become incapacitated.’
Ava: I don’t know what you mean. That is a clear statement of an experience we’ve all shared.
Ninja Catfoot and the Covert Action is a lovely little Oink box with a very unusual promise. The game appears to be as simple as grabbing numbers from a central space, but there’s an important detail that will make you go ‘wait what’ even more than the adorable name. Included in the game’s tiny box is a few elastic straps, which players use to attach their smartphone to their arms, to track how fast they’re moving, and tell them off if they move too fast.
That’s it. That’s the game.
Well done Oink.
Ava: As an ex-librarian of sorts, I’m duty bound to report any links I come across to mystical libraries. I don’t make the rules, I just press a finger to my lips and point at the sign with the rules on.
Atheneum: Mystic Library is, perhaps sadly, simply a board game about a library, and not actually a magical library. Players will be collecting tomes and organising shelves, and just like in real life, whenever you do something, the students nearby get to do something too. Personally, I’m nervous about the number of candles on display. I’m perfectly happy to have magic in a library, but open flames are a step too far.
Tom: You know, something about your description of the students reacting to the librarian’s movement reminds me of Hakko Onna, a game I played recently about a bunch of people traipsing around a house haunted by the spirit of an evil child – that, get this, features a dexterity element! Fail at the dexterity game, and the evil child ghost gets to take their turn and wreak havoc on the gang. I want that system, but with a librarian in a spooky horror library. It’s already got the candles!
Ava: True fact, the library I worked in had a rare books room that didn’t just contain a book bound in human skin, but also had a fire safety system that promised to fill the entire room with inert gas if fire was ever detected inside. There was a terrifying red button by the door that was basically an ‘in an emergency, this will stop all the oxygen being pushed out of the room’ button.
Tom: It sounds like you worked in a library on board the Ishimura from Dead Space.
Ava: To be fair, I would play the survival horror game set in any library I’ve ever worked in.
Inappropriately named maker of lovely games, Horrible Games, has got two new versions of Railroad Ink coming out, in green and yellow flavours. These promise to be a little bit more challenging by adding the subtitle ‘challenge’, which strikes me as unnecessary when they’re already differentiated by the colours and themes.
Tom: You can have Railroad Ink: Lush Green or Railroad Ink: Shining Yellow! The former has ‘placid forest landscapes’ to place around your railway for point-scoring opportunities, and the latter has a smattering of cacti and oases to jazz up your desert train tracks. That ‘challenge’ subtitle doesn’t seem to be totally redundant though, as they’re including a bunch of other bits and bobs to make the game a little more complex for those that felt Railroad Ink didn’t melt their brain quite enough. New goal cards and new weird symbols will join buildable factories, universities and villages in a landslide of new mechanics. There’s lots going on here, and I’m quietly buzzing for it.
Ava: They’ve got a sign up page for getting notified about the kickstarter, which bags you a bonus ‘teleport expansion’ if you also pledge! The previous little boxes of railways, dice and drawing come pretty highly recommended, so hopes are high for these lime and lemon opal fruits.
Clinic got a bit of a shout out on the podcast a while back, and the deluxe edition is once again available (in limited amounts) on Kickstarter, alongside a special Covid 19 expansion, that promises to raise funds for vaccine development, whilst turning the game co-operative. The game features Ian O’Toole art, a bleak medicinal theme, multi layered hospitals and a heck of a lot of moving parts. The expansion promises to set the difficulty based on the infectiousness of the disease and the level of lock down the country you’re in is in at the start of the game. Which makes me angry to live under a wilfully hard mode government.
Tom: I’m intrigued to see what Clinic is like as a co-op experience, because last time I played it the game mainly revolved around me getting increasingly angry that my partner stole the only space that allowed her doctors to … stay qualified? Mine all just got increasingly tired and angry with the situation they found themselves in, with a growing demand for their services and a lack of staff to fulfill that demand, leading to patients untreated and facilities underdeveloped
Ava: I mostly get distracted every time I look at it as I think about the time I saw Clinic perform as part of a night of music performed by a very odd range of people, all playing pieces by faux-viking, canon-firing classical street-musician Moondog. The main thing I remember is that the band took about twenty minutes to set up, performed for two minutes, and then it was time for the interval. It was an odd experience, and entirely unrelated to the game. Sorry.
Tom: Your anecdote has done well to remind me of the simple joys that will return once this is all over. Let’s move on.
Ava: The Defence of Procyon III is, thankfully, not the third part of a trilogy. It’s the latest Kickstarter from PSC Games and it’s got space battles and planet battles and asymmetry and David Turczi. Two versus two team play is the order of the day, with one person on each team in charge of spacey pew pew, and the other in charge of the away team, who I believe will also be saying ‘pew pew’ just with more atmosphere. Each of the four players has their own unique goals, abilities, and even mechanics. You could be playing a deck destruction game, a bag builder, managing dice or programming your moves in advance. It sounds like a lot.
I detect more than a smidgen of Starcraft’s influence on the art and design here, with the humans looking like grim power armoured cowboys and the aliens looking halfway between the organic Zerg and the excessively well-lit Protoss.
Tom: This might tickle the same part of my brain that adores Root despite its flaws – a game where you watch the different cogs slowly come together in a way that’s as interesting to pick apart as a design as much as it is to play. The idea of having a totally different set of systems for each piece of the puzzle is absolutely intriguing, but it could be a big, big mess.
Ava: In the meantime, I’d like to have a moratorium on putting numbers on the end of the names of planets to make them sound more spacey. I recognise the benefit when looking at elaborate star maps in 4X computer games, but the idea that every single planet people find won’t end up with a ludicrously specific name is absurd. People love naming things.
If you’re looking for something weird to do this weekend, you probably couldn’t get much more particular than watching ten hours of in depth play of one of the world’s most hyped social deduction games, Blood on the Clocktower. If you’re still curious to know more about this site’s most controversial recommendation of recent years, there’s an opportunity to watch games from the storyteller’s point of view, or with audience participation, or a massive 20 player game to wrap up the stream. That’s a lot of social deduction for a Saturday afternoon. Good luck to anyone who gets stuck into that.
Tom: Oh no oh no not again. Watching any kind of gameplay for BoTC is going to give me flashbacks to my pathetic performance when I played that game at SHUX. Everyone knew how to play! I spent most of the game being untrustworthy and/or dead! I’ve since made my own copy of that game from felt, glue and cardboard but it still carries the faint scent of horror at my own inability to tell good lies.
Ava: Ugh. Tell me about it. I played a game at Airecon just before the world went weird and my ability to mistrust my own information was almost impressive. We did not win, and it was definitely my fault.
Ava: In good news: people are still giving away free things!
Under Falling Skies is a solo game that won a boardgamegeek nanogame competition for a game made of just 9 cards. It later got picked up by Czech Games Edition, who are now offering a print and play of their modified version. It looks a bit like a dice-placement space invaders. You’ll be rolling dice to add to rooms in the alien-besieged city, which will determine how far the aliens move and how you’re going to fight back. It looks interesting, and acts as a demo for a full official release with miniatures and twenty different city set ups and Kwanchai Moriya art. Lovely!
The returning Space Cowboys have also got some freebies, in the form of a free scenario of the second wave of Time Stories content.
Time Stories Revolution is a new set of scenarios and boxes for the quantum leaping shenanigan simulator, and a shortened demo version is now available free on their website. The print and play story is called Damien and is set in 1958, and acts as a prologue to one of the boxed scenarios coming out later in the year. Take a look if you like stories and/or time.
Tom: I’m just flicking through the rulebook, and apparently one of three Time Stories golden rules is ‘The Time Captain is always right.’
Time Captain: Huzzah! It is I! The Time Captain! I foresaw my mention in this, the games news, and have planned my entrance accordingly, and am now ready to-
Ava: NO WE’RE NOT INTRODUCING MORE CHARACTERS INTO THE NEWS-IVERSE.
Time Captain: 🙁
Mart Leez: 🙁