Tom: Yeah, news!
Ava: … News?
Ava: Yes. Let us news.
Tom: I can’t believe someone has so blatantly taken the Alien from Nemesis and made it into a board game (pictured above)
Ava: Tom, I think that…
Tom: The obviously copyright infringing ‘Aliens: another glorious day in the corps’ sees players fighting through ‘their favourite scenes in the film’ as the designers attempt to inception their blatant theft into your mind via a film that clearly doesn’t exist, a la Shazam and the Berenstein Bears.
Ava: No, Tom, there really is a…
Tom: We don’t really have much detail, just some vague promises of a dynamic co-op game, aliens you can kill and two already lined up expansions. And yes, those expansions are apparently really called ‘Ultimate Badasses’ and ‘Get Away From Her, You B***ch’ (their censoring, not ours). All snappy and perfectly okay and also good names for expansions for the boardgame that is the Aliens, the boardgame.
Ava: Sometimes this hobby/job(/jobby???) is a delight. I stumbled upon this design diary never having heard of the game, only knowing a little about the publisher Hollandspiele, and knowing absolutely nothing about the historical event the game is based on.
The Field of the Cloth of Gold aims to arrive on the five hundredth anniversary of the ‘essentially a party’ of the same name, a three week festival of Kings showing off that spent a third of the wealth of England at the time. King Henry VIII (yup, that one) and King Francis I of France basically had a renaissance rave-up to show off just how swish they were.
Tom Russell describes the main problem with designing a game about the event is that basically nothing happened, but honestly it sounds like he’s built quite a treat. A lightweight filler inspired by ultra-classics El Grande and Tigris and Euphrates, players will face a simple choice every turn, to collect tiles (which gives a random bonus to your opponent) or score the tiles you’ve already collected, limiting your ability to gain more in the future. It could be sharp, it could be nonsense, but with a theatrically bombastic manual, I’m curious about it.
Tom: I hope this turns out to be really, really excellent so that we can review it, otherwise it might be another one of those games where I’ve got at least, like, 8 jokes written and then Matt says ‘yes Tom but it’s not a good game is it’ and I say YEAH BUT I’VE GOT ALL THESE JOKES and then Matt says ‘these are just pieces of paper with the word ‘jokes’ written on them’ and I say ‘It’ll work better in a visual format rather than written! This paragraph is a mess of punctuation and the readers probably hate how self-indulgent and silly this is’ and then Matt edits the end of this paragraph to stop it from going on forev-
Canopy sees two players vying for the fanciest and most biodiverse parts of the rainforest, drafting trees, weathers, animals and plants, each with their own bonuses and methods of scoring. It sits squarely in the territory of ‘that sounds nice’, and reminds me a little of the surprisingly ruthless push-your-luck set collection of Herbaceous. Though maybe that’s just the prominent foliage playing tricks on me.
In other news, I’m so disappointed to find out there isn’t actually an Italian chamber orchestra providing scores for live action role playing. Sad.
Crescendo Giocoso Ritornello is a ‘playlist’ of several games by an orchestra-themed larp group. I’m never going to get past that disappointment, even if some of the things here sound great. Sorry Crescendo Giocoso Ritornello, you’ve clevered yourself out of a fair shake. Unless Tom can rustle something up?
Tom: Ava I am struggling to understand this concept at its most fundamental level. The clash of Italian and Acronyms is making all the thinking juices trickle out my nose.
Ava: Wait, wait, wait. I’ve slept on this, and had a closer a look, and I think beyond the quirky framing, this looks like an intriguing twelve games. On a quick glance through, one of them is about caring for a person with Alzhimer’s disease, and looks genuinely heartbreaking, and another is played in complete silence and asks players to try and recall an impossible, imagined childhood through movement and invented ritual. Maybe these are exactly the sort of people who should pretend to be a chamber orchestra, and maybe, one day, we can all do the same. The Kickstarter closes very soon, so jump on quickly if it sounds like your thing.
Honestly, I just watched the video and entirely zoned out enjoying the Barber of Seville and then thinking about the Tom and Jerry take on the same. I always forget that classical music is often actually quite affecting. I’m also glad I googled to double check I’d got the right piece, as it turns out the song that goes ‘Figaro’ lots, ISN’T from the Marriage of Figaro.
Good save, Ava.
Next up on Kickstarter, a dicey take on the International Space Station.
Intrepid gives you massive handfuls of dice, and asks you to sort them between all the players at the table, each a character from a different country, with a different goal, a different way of manipulating dice, and their own lovely face. Actual faces may vary.
Carefully communicating and collaborating to keep the station ticking, with upgrades that will help you find some resources at the cost of others, it all sounds a little on the chaotic side for a carefully planned space mission. It also reminds me of some of the best bits of explosively-collaborative dice defuser FUSE.
Tom: Having never played Intrepid or Sidereal Confluence, I am inclined to compare the two in a way that you can feel free to completely ignore. Maybe, if you’ve played them, you might be able to tell me if Intrepid is kind of like a co-operative version of Sidereal Confluence with Dice instead of… Other… Bits? I don’t know, it’s the vibe I’m getting with the clunky graphic design and asymmetric ways of interacting with the same components – and honestly I’m quite intrigued with what looks like a rather chunky puzzle.
Ava: It wasn’t a comparison that had occurred to me, and I doubt it’s got the enormous asymmetry and wheeler-dealering of Sidereal, but if it comes close to that games ‘I’ve got an engine you don’t understand, so you’ve just got to trust me except I have no way to make you trust me’ then maybe that’s a bit of a win for a co-op? Also, the ‘other bits’ in Sidereal Confluence are mostly just bits. Lots and lots of bits, each with a specific name that gets entirely ignored in favour of just yelling the colour and shape out.
Yura Yura Penguin’s wobbly papercraft iceberg looks like a curvier Rhino Hero, and honestly, that’s nearly me sold already. The oddly-translated kickstarter page is a delight, and the game looks very silly. I’m glad it has upgraded to little wooden penguins from card ones, because little wooden penguins are adorable, and look like they’ll make this card stacking dexterity game almost impossible to win. Lovely.
I’ll bundle that Japanese weirdness together with BoardGameGeek’s latest round up of games that would’ve been released at the Tokyo Game Market.
Tom: There’s games about being a haunted Antiques dealer, a watch dealer, and even a game about being a games dealer. There’s a game called ‘Suzie-Q’ that has an absolute disaster of a central mechanic for someone like me (who doesn’t understand numbers or reasoning), and there’s a game about naming as-yet un-named, specific objects (such as ‘staples that have failed to be stapled’).
There’s even a game that’s basically ‘Guess Who’ but for underwear. Honestly I want all of these delivered to my home as soon as possible because they all sound like delightful little filler games that will draw people in on their central gimmicks alone.
Ava: In news that’s got all the most irritating people’s hackles up, Dungeons & Dragons is finally trying to remove some of the baked-in racism from its settings. They’re removing the concept of ‘Evil Races’ entirely from the game, and are planning a host of new books with more empathetic portrayals of factions previously only ever seen on the bad side of the table.
In particular, after criticism of The Curse of Strahd’s portrayal of the Vistani, which drew on various stereotypical ideas about the Romani people, new editions will have some of that content edited in consultation with members of the Romani community, who are also helping work on a new adventure with more positive rep of the same.
Honestly, I’m consistently appalled at the casualness of racism against traveller and Roma communities in the UK, so I’m really glad to see some reparative work being done here, not least because this sort of diversity tends to lead to much more interesting stories.
Tom: I’m trying my best to ease ‘DnD’ out of my vocabulary, when what I really mean is ‘RPG’. To most onlookers to the hobby, and many of those within it, the two are almost used as synonyms, I’ve found – and having recently started perusing the indie RPG scene I can’t imagine the frustration that arises from producing unique, diverse art and having it immediately posted under the banner of something so trite and tired. There’s so much out there, so rather than waiting for Wizards to get better, one can always start looking at what’s doing their ‘bit’ considerably better.
Ava: In blast from the past news, there’s a new Fighting Fantasy book coming out! Continuing the series of solo rpg style branching narrative books, Crystal of Storms is written by Rhianna Pratchett, and will have players flicking from page to page and leaving as many fingers in the past as they can manage.
Tom: Oi, that’s cheating!
Ava: I don’t care, I just want to get to the end before I’ve written too many numbers in the ‘stamina’ box at the front to be able to continue playing.
I’m honestly bewildered at the press release stating that Fighting Fantasy came out ‘before gaming gripped the imagination of children worldwide’ in a fairly ridiculous attempt to argue that Steven Jackson and Ian Livingston literally invented the concept of games for children. Presumably before that children had only ever been serious, pragmatic and realistic.
Tom: My first interaction with the work of Steve Jackson was spending my bus money on Munchkin expansion packs (i was young, okay) – and believe me, the daily 7 mile round trip to school that decision incurred (along with the detention I would receive for inevitably rocking up late) was most certainly the least pragmatic decision of my younger years. I guess this is the long way of saying that Steve Jackson did in fact free my childhood self from the shackles of normality. Thanks for the blisters, Steve.
In further reading material news, Warhammer 40,000 is getting its first Marvel comic, and it’s being written by the often lovely Kieron Gillen. Telling the story of Marneus Calgar, I’m disappointed it’s going to be a bluespaceboy story, and not something a bit Orkier, but that’s probably just me.
Tom: We’re ALL still waiting on Ava’s Queer Ork Theory 101
Ava: You might be waiting a little while longer. The last time I tried to explain it to someone we started off with discussions of Orks’ asexual reproduction and lack of gender, and ended up googling ‘Do Tau ****’. Eventually we were even asking whether, if the astartes have genetically engineered their ‘unnecessary’ sex organs away in favour of extra hearts and lungs, does that mean space marines sweat piss.
Tom: HAVE A GREAT WEEK EVERYBODY!