Games News! 27/11/17

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Quinns: Hello everyone! Did our American readers have a nice Thanksgiving? I’m happy to say that I tried pecan pie for the very first time. The sugar is still bouncing around my body like a pinball.

But today I’m handing out slices of something even sweeter. I am, of course, talking about The Games News. We kick things off with the announcement of Decrypto, a team game of announcing coded messages to your team while racing to decypher the other team’s cypher.

…And I have only this second realised that “cypher” is the root word of “decypher”. That’s probably an indication that I’m going to suck at this game.

One thing I have deduced, however, is that Decrypto is almost certainly inspired by Codenames. Not only does it – like Codenames – play up to 8 players on two teams and feature a mechanic whereby a wrong move could instantly lose you the game, you are sending literal codenames to one another.

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Speaking of evolution rather than revolution, Space Cowboys has announced the third volume of their swanky new edition of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Carlton House and Queen’s Park. The new set will once again include some rare out-of-print cases, fixing the typos that have forever dogged the English version of the game, as well as a lot of all-new crimes to solve and two brand-new maps.

Space Cowboys are alleging that this will be the hardest volume yet. That remains to be seen, but SU&SD can offer this exclusive preview of the Carlton House mystery.

But seriously, are you interested in how a designer goes about creating a new case for this venerable game? If so, keep your eyes on this very site. In 2018 we’re hoping to present SU&SD readers with an interview with one of the series’ new designers.

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Paul: You know what’s fascinated me the most this week? Welcome to Centerville, a game of small town politics from Dominant Species designer Chad Jensen. Now, Dominant Species is a fairly complex game, so not only am I intrigued by the possibility of a fairly elaborate game modelling the minutia of something, let’s say, not quite so elaborate (no dig at local government, but it’s not nearly as epic an idea as EVOLUTION), I’m also excited to GET PETTY.

I mean, come on, surely this is going to be all about arguing over parking, or trying to collect votes based on dealing with noise complaints and dog mess on sidewalks, right? Maybe? Okay, perhaps it’s not going to be quite so silly, but it doesn’t mean I can’t play it, in character, as the most persnickety member of the city council.

Quinns: I hate to say it, but BoardGameGeek says that the game will be “very light”. I dig your dream though, buddy. If anyone wants to make Chinatown meets Suburbia, with players bickering about parking rights for two hours? Count me in.

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We move onto the questionable crust of this particular pie, with several Kickstarters to bring to your attention.

Museum is a game of “historical set collection” by first-time designers Eric Dubus and Olivier Melison, but it’s the extensive artwork by Vincent Dutrait that stopped me in my tracks. Dutrait’s lovely work can be found in almost 70 board games, but I’ve never seen it fit a game as perfectly as it does this one. And it gets better- the game’s decks feature 180 illustrations of real-world artifacts, all with their own lick of flavour text. This game looks more educational and pretty than some actual museums I’ve visited.

On the subject of real-life museums, the designers of Museum seem disinterested in tackling the increasingly dubious ethics surrounding museums of this sort- institutions that secure their prestige by displaying the treasures of poorer countries. Being English and a happy visitor the British Museum, it’s something I think about more and more. On the subject, if you’re interested in profiting from the British Museum yourself, the History of the World in 100 Objects podcast is both awe-inspiring and ad-free.

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Paul: The Kickstarter that has intrigued me the most this week is perhaps Christophe Boelinger’s Living Planet. Boelinger is the designer behind one of our very favourite games, the ambitious Archipelago, and so I was interested to see him return to a related concept with space exploration and settlement.

What particularly peeled my peepers was the idea that the planet you’re exploring will start to resist, pushing back as you spread out and try to gather more resources. Sure, at first glance, there’s a lot of apparent similarities to Archipelago here, but I’m confident that Boelinger is cooking up something beyond just a different setting. Are you on board for this particular space mission?

Quinns: I can’t think of space now Paul, WE NEED TO INVADE EUROPE

Paul: Again?

Quinns: AGAIN

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Wisened and wise SU&SD viewers might remember our review of co-op stress-fest D-Day Dice from our Rapid Review Special. While it’s been nineteen metric yonks since I’ve played that game I do remember enjoying it quite a bit, so I’m happy to see the 2nd edition is now doing very well on Kickstarter.

Do you feel up to storming the beaches of Normandy as our grandfathers did, completely nude with a fistful of dice in each hand? Just flingin’ dice at Jerry like it was going out of style? Well, now you can pay a guy on the internet some money and then he will send you a game whereby you can do that.

Ooh, I’ve just noticed that this Kickstarter has unlocked its “Campaign Mode” stretch goal that allows up to 12 players to play D-Day dice concurrently, with everyone working together. Neat! That’ll be a fun thing to organise at board game conventions.

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Paul: Here’s something that both surprised me and yet also made immediate sense. Despite being older than I am (and that’s OLD) Dungeons & Dragons seems to be more popular than ever, and it turns out its continued growth is in no small part due to just how popular it’s become on the internet, with more than 50% of new fifth edition players getting into the game after watching it online.

More than half! It turns out that D&D is a spectator sport of sorts, something that has translated remarkably well to a format in which surely, surely, nobody back in the 70s could have ever imagined it would be played. I hope a lot of other tabletop RPGs also benefit from this growing interest, too. Much as I love D&D, variety is the spice of life and I hope to see many other games played online.

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Quinns: Meanwhile, Vice’s gaming vertical Waypoint has published this thought-provoking article on Kickstarter RPG Dragons Conquer America. That game’s campaign has since been cancelled, but don’t let that dissuade you from reading this fascinating critique of its anti-colonial messaging. Comparisons are drawn with legendary cyberpunk RPG Shadowrun, with the piece looking at where each game succeeds and fails.

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Paul: Also, oh my goodness, the magnetic Carcassonne craze is finally upon us. This week, we were emailed by reader Brendan Hurst, who sent us the above image of their fridge-based fun which, I hope, was inspired by my wondering why this hadn’t been made sooner. Clearly, multiple people have been developing this idea in parallel, as I received a wonderful gift at SHUX last month which was also a custom-made (and slightly more bear-heavy) set.

I hope this is just the start of something. We should have more fridge-based games, no? It’s the perfect canvas for turn-based, asynchronous play. Take a turn before work, then come home and see what your friend, housemate or spouse responded with.

Quinns: The hanging bag for the tiles is the cherry on the cake. That’s all I have to add.

I’m trying to think what else what else would benefit from ponderous fridgeplay. Hmm. Anyone want to impress me with a photo of their homebrew fridge-powered Tash-Kalar?

Paul: That’s a bit extreme, Quinns, don’t you think?

Quinns: You think so?

Paul: Yes. It’s a bridge too Kalar.

Quinns: is this what death feels like