GAMES NEWS! 31/08/20

Quinns’ Quick Quince Wince, unexpectedly fancy, Rats-in-a-blanket, The Naughty Doctor
Matt Lees 50 comment(s)

Quinns: Morning Ava! I am wearing my Tom suit and Tom hat and am happy to help you with the news today

Ava: Quinns, have you just glued a rat to your face and stapled bacon to your clothes? I don’t even understand why you would think that was a Tom Suit.

Quinns: Wait, no. The suit and hat was just a bit of the theatre of the mind. You would just pretend I was dressed like Tom and we could start the news after some light banter.

Ava: So what’s the deal with the bacon and the rat?

Quinns: Let’s roast us some news!

Ava: Sit Down games just never shut up with their constant weird ideas, and I’m into it.

Dive features an unusual blend of see-through cards and diving for treasure. Players build a stack of these clear plastic cards, then peer down into them and try to judge how far down certain obstacles and treasures are. You’ll use oxygen to program a safe route down, hoarding valuable tokens on the levels where they think there’s something particularly tasty. Once everyone’s built their route, you’ll be removing cards to see how far everybody got. Get the furthest with the most treasure and you’ve won the dive. I can think of several ways this might be really boring or awful, but if it works, it could be a really lovely unique game.

Quinns: I don’t know what’s more ridiculous- that board games have only just discovered translucent plastic, or that this morning I am personally pretty excited about translucent plastic.

Think about all of the things it will let us see, or not see! Or both! Truly, translucent plastic is the most naughty plastic. It’s been a very bad plastic and needs to be punished.

Ava: Do you need some alone time?

Quinns: I actually think I need to not be alone today at any point

Quinns: Publisher Rio Grande has announced a new game set in outer space. Truly, an idea for a setting that is… out of this world!!

Beyond the Sun is a space colonising game of building your own tech tree, and racing up it to get the biggest populations to the furthest reaches of spaaaace. Each game will have its own tech tree that players can add to as they go, knowing only what type of technology they’re initially researching, not what it’ll give them. In theory this means that games will all play differently, and players will have to react to a shifting strategic situation, which could be interesting.

Ava: Quinns, you dropped this into the company slack saying it was something gorgeous from Rio Grande Games, who quite often release games that look not so gorgeous. I say to you, this doesn’t actually look very gorgeous?

Quinns: Hmm. No, but you know what they say- cleanliness is next to gorgeousness, and Beyond the Sun’s presentation is awfully clean. Little clusters of bright plastic components that socket into white player boards. Gently glimmering flowcharts! Don’t you think it has the charm of an unexpectedly-fancy Powerpoint presentation?

Ava: Yes. But I’d put it to you that it also has all the charm of an unexpectedly-fancy Powerpoint presentation?

Quinns: Ava, Rio Grande’s logo makes it look like they rent homes for assisted living. I’ll take what I can get.
Ava: Hobby World sent us an email to say that they’re only releasing one game in time for this year’s digital Essen Spiel, and it’s going to be a hot one.

Furnace mixes up a shared auction with some busy engine building, with players as 19th century industrialists vying for fancy businesses and using them to convert and upgrade resources. Players distribute just four discs across the range of cards on sale each auction round, hoping to grab some tasty bits, but getting compensated if they’re outbid. Then players get to activate the cards to convert resources, with some classic production chain shenanigans on offer.

Quinns: Ooh, but Furnace is designed by Ivan Lashin of Smartphone Inc., a 2018 game that I’ve heard very good things about. If Ivan put the ‘hone’ into Smartphone, maybe he’ll put the ‘ace’ in Furnace.

Ava: I’m really glad you stole my joke here, so that I can be the one who looks sternly at you for making such a bad joke.

Quinns: I should have seen that coming. You just put the ‘wince’ in Quinns.

Ava: Here, have a quince.

Quinns: Now I’m wincing and I have to google what a Quince is.

Ava: My work here is done.

Quinns: Tory Brown’s Votes for Women is on kickstarter now promising a co-op, solo or competitive take on the suffragist movement in America. Seeking ratification of the 19th amendment across enough states to make it constitutional, players will be playing cards for events or to move activists, gain support or hold votes across America.

Ava: Having watched Mrs America recently, about the more recent battle to ratify the Equal Rights amendment, I have to say that I’m utterly baffled at the specific process for constitutional amendment in America. I reckon it’s just weird enough to elicit an interesting game.

Quinns: Hopefully! There’s not a lot of detail currently about how Votes for Women actually plays, but the presentation reminds me of Academy Games’ Freedom: The Underground Railroad, which is surely a strong start.

Ava: I know that Freedom’s been criticised for presenting a ‘white saviour’ narrative of abolitionism, and we’ve been called out for not flagging that up in our coverage of the game. As such I was pretty heartened to find the publisher in the comments of this kickstarter talking about how they tried to present the diversity of the suffrage movement and showing more than just the best known (white) faces. They also explicitly criticise ‘the southern strategy’ in the mechanics, whilst having the opposition exploit divisions between the suffrage and abolitionist movements.

Ava: Dr Finn’s Games is releasing four entire games in one kickstarter, to save you on postage and nudge you into buying at least one more game than you would’ve initially signed up for.

The star here is Biblios: Quill and Pen, a roll-and-write alternative to the damn-near perfect Biblios. The games share a monks-in-a-library theme, and a chase after items of ever-shifting value. On scanning through the manual I was ready to write it off as just another dice chucking box ticker, but the second phase brings back some of the original’s unlikely dynamism, with a hard-to-please Abbot and a series of auctions for rows of action dice.

Unfortunately this also brings back the weakest part of the first game, that you’ll be halfway through the rules explanation, and then realising you need to explain what feels like a whole second game, and it’s impossible to make decisions in the first if you haven’t understood the first. That worked when Biblios was fundamentally pretty straightforward, but I’m not so convinced by the Quill and Parchment version.

Ava: Nanga Parbat also looks intriguing, featuring some two player Himalayan mountain climbing. Just like real mountains, each turn there’ll be a guide watching over a group of animals, which you then steal one of, causing the guide to move somewhere else, where your opponent will have to start their turn. The game isn’t a race to the top though, players will trade in animals and set up camps, and that’s what wins you the game. You can also ‘activate’ animals for special abilities, which is exactly the sort of board gaming phrase I find unsettling.

We’ve not got space to dig into Mining Colony, a game of excavation on Mars, or Butterfly Garden, a new edition of an older game about collecting butterflies. Honestly, it’s just too many games at once, making it very hard to assess if getting all of them is actually good value or not. Hopefully that gambit pays off for Dr Finn and company.

Quinns: Finally on Kickstarter we have Die of the Dead, which is a name that pleases me to my very bones.

Inspired by Mexico’s Day of the Dead holiday, the game features a rack of four caskets, a stairway to the land of the living and a lot of dice. Players will take turns to take the action associated with a casket, letting them manipulate dice, shake those caskets, shuffle the whole row along and hopefully, eventually, get enough dice on those steps to reach the top. A bit like Sid Sackson’s Can’t Stop, except dead. So maybe more like “Have Stopped”, or “Please Stop”.

Best of all, the creators are working with a Mexican artist and cultural consultant, so not only do you know this project isn’t stepping on any cultural toes, the whole endeavour is drenched in colour and confidence.

Candidly, this is something I hope becomes common knowledge in the board game scene- working with cultural consultants doesn’t have to be an intimidating necessity for the modern publisher, it’s an opportunity to make your game even more exciting.

Matt: And last but not least, to put a tiny night-cap on the news for this week (and send it to bed with a tiny milky drink) – here’s a cheeky update about our new streaming schedule! Over the next month we’ll be playing some digital versions of new or upcoming and exciting board games – many of which you’ll have only recently read about here, on the news! We’ll be starting tomorrow evening with Renature – tune in and say hello, or look forward to impressions in future episodes of the podcast. Have a good week!