GAMES NEWS! 27/02/17

Boring herbivores, exciting skeksis, the ruddy borg, hot hot hats
Quinns: Good morning sweet shut-upsters! Today is the start of a very solitary couple of weeks on the site. Paul and Matt have gone overseas to run our board game lounge at the yearly Game Developer’s Conference, and then they’re making a top-secret visit to a board game publisher. Like a lighthouse keeper I will be maintaining a lonely vigilAnd maybe talking to myself and going a bit mad. We’ll see.

Speaking of maddening things, our top story this week is the above header image that was tweeted by BoardGameGeek. Looks boring, eh? WELL, you’re actually looking at a prototype of Monolith’s next project, Batman: The Board Game, and judging from the dice and stamina crystals it’ll be an evolution of Conan, a miniatures game that this site loved to pieces.

This adaptation makes perfect sense! Conan’s brutal choreography and breathless heroism would be perfect for Batman. But there’s a problem that has me finding this announcement to be bittersweet.

Monolith’s Kickstarters for Conan ($3.3 million) and then Mythic Battles ($2.6 million) have shown that they know how to run an exciting Kickstarter. Clearly, the page for Batman is going to make millions of dollars. But in addition to the sexism that’s run across their games like an oil spill, in this pundit’s opinion Monolith’s been botching the post-release support that I’ve come to expect from expensive games.

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Here are some early miniatures. Click for bigger! Surprising no-one, Catwoman is more tit than cat.

Anyway, at the end of our Conan review we said that it was amazing, but that you might want to hold off on your purchase until Monolith produced a few more of the scenarios required to play the actual game. Since then they have released exactly one new scenario on their site, and it requires the crossbowmen expansion pack (yours for £15!). It’s also the only scenario you can play with the crossbowmen expansion pack. Not only is that not what we were hoping for when we reviewed Conan, it’s positively embarrassing.

So right now I’m seeing a studio that’s more interested in returning to the watering hole of crowdfunding than it is in building a functioning community around their game. I hope I’m wrong, because I do really love Conan’s design, but if the game’s future is a drip-feed of expansions, none of which include the scenarios that you’d hope for, I might end up telling you to steer clear of the Batman kickstarter in 2018. There’s always the Batman Miniatures Game instead!

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Here’s a new series that’s a little more harmless!

Publisher Ludonaute has announced Oh Captain!, a bluffing game that sounds like a colourful fusion of Sheriff of Nottingham and Coup, excellent games both.

Players are all adventurers rummaging around an island which is overflowing with treasure, and a final player is their Captain, who gets first dibs on what everyone else finds. On each player’s turn they draw a treasure card and then tell the captain what it is (perhaps choosing to lie), and the captain chooses whether to buy it from them or not. If the captain chooses not to buy it, the player can use that card’s power on another player, but the player they’re targeting can announce that they think the player in question is lying about the card they’re holding, which will either keep them safe (if they’re right) or give them an extra penalty (if they’re wrong).

What’s interesting, though, is that this is only the first game in a series that Ludonaute is calling Legends of Luma, which is going to follow the same characters as they trundle around a fantasy world playing game after game. So it’s a bit like what AEG tried to do with their games that were all set in the city state of “Tempest”, which might not have worked out for AEG, but I thought it was a cute idea and I’m glad to see it again.

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Designer Eric Lang tweeted the above photo from Cannes Game Festival this week. It’s a promotional poster for Secrets, Eric Lang’s second collaboration with Bruno Faidutti after the excellent H.M.S. Dolores, and as such I’m looking forward to it immensely.

This is yet another tricksey card game, though this time a table of players are all secretly told whether they’re on a team of CIA agents, KGB agents or anti-establishment peaceniks(!).

On your turn you draw a couple of cards, each with a point value and a special condition attached, and offer one of them to another player. That player either accepts the card and the condition and earns the attached points for their team, or they refuse it, at which point the person giving the card must apply it to themselves. The game ends when someone has five cards, at which point “the teams are revealed, the highest combined score wins, unless a Hippie has the single lowest score (then they win).”

I want to know more! Tragically, this is from a different publisher from Dolores so it’s unlikely to be in exactly the same size box, which would have allowed me to put both games next to each other on my shelf and imagine that they are friends. But I’m interested nonetheless.

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Board Game Geek tweeted the above photo from the New York Toy Fair this week. Click on it for a close-up! The ruddy BORG are coming to Gale Force Nine’s well-received strategy game Star Trek: Ascendancy, and like so many Gale Force Nine designs this expansion sounds wildly creative.

So, traditionally Star Trek: Ascendancy is a board game of “exploration, expansion and conflict”. Each player is a different Star Trek faction like the Klingons or the Ewoks or the Skeksis and you all spread across the galaxy, sometimes coming into conflict with other players, sometimes finding entirely new phenomena, all in a struggle to be the best.

According to BGG, the Borg expansion will introduce these robo-jerks to your game as a peculiarly dangerous hazard that isn’t controlled by any player… at first! But if a particular player becomes weak they can become assimilated, at which point they take over control of the Borg and their entire game plan becomes one of galactic dominion. Amazing.

As donors to Shut Up & Sit Down will know from our top-secret monthly newsletter, I’m hoping that this site will be posting a review of Star Trek: Ascendancy in the near future. The map alone makes me so, so curious. Have any of you played it? What did you think?

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AND FINALLY, we’ve got quite the Kickstarter to point you towards this week. Dinosaur Island is a game of building parks containing Jurassic-era wildlife – “Jurassic zoos”, if you will – with design credits that include Dead of Winter’s Jon Gilmour. It’s also very, very pink. Presumably the common American lawyer can’t see the colour pink, rendering this box invisible. Clever move, Pandasaurus Games!

The Kickstarter description makes it sound like there’s an awful lot going on here, but I’ll just point out this one line:

“Do you go big and create a pack of Velociraptors?  They’ll definitely excite potential guests…  but you better make a large enough enclosure for them.  And maybe hire some (read: a lot of) security.  Or they WILL break out and start eating your guests—and we all know how that ends.  You could play it safe and grow a bunch of herbivores…  but then you aren’t going to have the most exciting park in the world (sad face).”

Personally, the next worker placement game I buy has got to be A Feast for Odin. But if you want nothing more than to amass wooden triceratops figures, it looks like Dinosaur Island has you covered.

What’s your favourite dinosaur, everybody?