Paul: Something very strange is happening in board games.
You may be in danger. We may be in danger. Of course, everyone here at Shut Up & Sit Down takes all necessary precautions in the course of their duties, but nevertheless I don’t believe any of us could’ve foreseen Raxxon, Plaid Hat’s latest game, which is slowly spreading.
Is anyone safe?
We’ve been hearing whispers about Raxxon for a while now. The coy characters at Plaid Hat have said very little about it (it’s not even listed on their site), instead releasing just a few copies into the wild, hoping word of mouth would spread like a… like a deadly virus. Fitting, as Raxxon is set in the same world as the co-op zombie survival Dead of Winter and challenges players to evacuate cities that are about to about to be overrun by the nibbly nuisance.
Last week, one of the most in-depth breakdowns of Raxxon so far appeared, courtesy of BoardGameGeek poster Brian Papa (credit goes to him for these images), a chance at last to seize something tangible. It turns out Raxxon is a curious card game, slightly abstract and perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but with some interesting online tie-ins. Crowds of citizens, represented by a tableau of face-down cards, need to be flipped, rearranged, rescued or disposed of, while infections spread and the not-so-cheery megacorp Raxxon becomes ever more powerful. Its puzzle nature doesn’t immediately grab me, but then neither did the Hand of the King card game, which I ended up really enjoying. Are there any Raxxon players out there? If you’ve tried it, please do let us know what you thought.
Also arresting our attention on BGG this week is a new version of Captain Sonar, simply titled “Sonar” and aimed toward families. This pared-down version of one of our favourite team co-op games is designed to be played in about half an hour, makes its subs sub(!)stantially weaker and needs only two to four players for a game (it removes “the two boring roles,” says BGG’s Eric Martin, though I am so inclined to dispute this!).
While this is something I doubt we’ll ever have a reason to review, I’m increasingly appreciative of titles that are likely to bring more younger players to tabletop gaming. They’ll either act as stepping stones toward other things or, if this is as far as some people ever want to go, at least offer more alternatives to another shitty Cluedo rebrand. That is always a victory.
Cool Mini or Not’s hottest new game is Gang Rush Breakout, exactly the sort of game you should be interested in if you want to BUILD AN ENTIRE BRIDGE and then RACE CARS ACROSS IT. If you like dangerous bridges, this game has everything: grime, girders, guaranteed gunfights and daredevil dials.
What are daredevil dials? It’s that thing where you track your speed on your own dashboard, knowing that the faster you go, the harder it is to avoid the obstacles and dangers that litter this bridge like the Lego on your living room floor (that most deadly of domestic dangers). As soon as I read that you could ram opponents to make them drop money, I knew this was going to be very silly and, you know what? I’m wholly prepared for that. The official site is a little barren of images but, once again, we are indebted to the good people of BGG.
Speaking of silly, there’s a chance you may have spotted the forthcoming Tooth and Tail, a real-time strategy video game about commanding armies of birds and mammals, sort of like if The Animals of Farthing Wood went tragically wrong. Well, developer Pocketwatch Games has just announced that Burgle Bros. designer Tim Fowers is working on a board game adaptation, so now there’s going to be even more ways for a skunk to kill a mouse.
Oh dear, typing that last sentence made me feel sad. The partnership makes sense, though, as Burgle Bros. was inspired by Pocketwatch’s co-operative heist caper, Monaco, but Pocketwatch passed on the chance to make it an official tie-in. This time around, they say, they are very keen indeed.
It would not be Games News without me idly hurling our Kickstarter lasso out the window and seeing what I can rope in. First up this week is the spooky Visitor in Blackwood Grove, a fascinating asymmetric guessing game where one player takes the role of a crashed alien, while everyone else is either federal agents trying to capture them or a local child trying to talk to them and help them escape.
As we all know, communicating with aliens is almost as hard as phoning your bank, and all dialogue takes place through a deck of cards depicting everything from hats to horses. The alien player sets up a specific pass rule that allows some of these cards to be accepted (“Anything you can wear,” or “Anything made of organic materials”) and both the child and the federal agents race to figure out this rule by seeing which cards the alien will take from them. Will the kid succeed, or will the alien become the star of a primetime postmortem? (God, I can’t believe so many people of my generation thought that video was real.)
Trust is also the theme of Who Goes There? This is a game based on the book, set in an Antarctic base, based around the idea of our own base paranoia, and which formed the basic basis of the film The Thing. It begins with everybody playing harmless humans, all trying to work together to collect supplies, build useful equipment and survive the freezing temperatures. In time, however, someone may be, uh, infected by an alien creature.
So it’s not just about who you can trust, but also for how long. I’m not sure if just three to four players is enough for a hidden role game like this (you have to pledge at higher tiers to get a six player version), but I do very much appreciate the pitch video and how much the game compels you to trade items and work together, even though that could go horribly wrong.
That reminds me, I should go out and check on the Games News huskies, which have been yapping at something for a while now. There’s just enough time for a quick look at the latest Monsterhearts 2 Kickstarter, a modest expansion called Skin Deep that adds six new character types (we know we have so many Monsterhearts fans out there, so we had to give a nod), and then I’m going to leave you with the week’s most curious stories.
First, Waypoint have a very novel investigation by filmmaker Elisabeth de Kleer into how inmates try to play RPGs. It’s a story of origami dice, toothpaste as glue and an astounding use of styrofoam cups, all part of a larger feature that de Kleer is working on. Back on BGG, Quinns spotted this convoluted tale of one person’s experience attempting to learn and play the apocalyptically complex wargame A World at War. It’s a massive and melancholy narrative, something that I feel is may well be an apt description of the game itself, and while I appreciate determination and dedication, I don’t think this is how I’d like to apply those traits.
Finally, we were a little shocked to hear that a blaze destroyed all the European Kickstarter copies of Lisboa. Fortunately, nobody seems to have been hurt. While there are always a few unforeseen delays in business, big and small, this is a serious setback for Eagle Gryphon Games and also a particularly unpleasant irony, as the game itself is about rebuilding after a disaster.
Have a lovely Monday, everyone. Do watch out for fires and aliens.