Some Actual Journalism: Licensed Games

Leaky gut syndrome, The Cramps, cruise ships, The Mediocre Dead
Some Actual Journalism: Licensed Games

[A feature we’ve always dreamed of providing is actual board game journalism. What might that look like?

Step forward Mark Wallace, board gamer, author and contributor to Wired and the New York Times. We let him off his news-leash to cover the economics of licensed board games. Are they good for the hobby, or crowding out our shelves?

These are his conclusions. If you like this sort of thing, please do drop a comment letting us know.]

Tabletop gaming may be touching new heights of innovation and engagement, but the industry is at pains to appeal to new customers. While bigger “independent” publishers like Fantasy Flight Games can make a strong showing of it, there are dozens more smaller publishers whose owner-managers must hold down day jobs while struggling to produce great games — games that are often ignored by retail outlets. In many stores, it can almost seem that tabletop board games are solely represented by TV and movie spinoffs.

Even if they’re lucky enough to find a well-stocked local game store, the potential audience for boardgames is at pains to tell one startlingly expensive game from another. And having been weaned on Candyland, Sorry, and the Game of Life, they are startled again at the different kind of effort that’s required to learn and play — much less enjoy — many contemporary games.

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Games News! 15/04/13

feta tyranny, Fig tyranny, breastplates, seance-punk, bad magnet
Island Fortress

Quinns: The other week I was in a board game shop, doing my thing, when the girl I was with asked where the games were that weren’t oppressively nerdy.

Her and I aren’t talking anymore, obviously, which is annoying because this week’s news features NOTHING but games with approachable themes. Not so much as ONE grimy alien or breastplate in sight.

Impossible, you say? Hard to believe? See for yourself.

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The iOS Roundup! 14/04/2013

murk, Michael Caine, basically vowels are bridges, Tom is a bad oracle
The Battle For Hill 218

Quinns: Hi Tom! I understand you’ve had no electricity. That’s a fitting start for SU&SD’s iOS correspondent. Who’s the man you turn to when the lights are out? It’s TOM O’BEDLAM.

Tom: You’d think, but the batteries went out on my iPad five minutes into the powercut. Without electricity, the iPad is a very ugly mousepad.

Quinns: Awful. So, what have you been playing this week? Was it terrible? iOS ports of board games are terrible, right?

Tom: They’re not that terrible! Most are distinctly unterrible! Not all of them are Dominant Species! I’ve been playing the new iPad release of Stone Age, which has been ported by Campfire Creations. It’s gorgeous. One of the nicest looking ports I’ve seen so far.

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The Fifth SU&SD Podcast, From SU&SD

last night, gunfight love, fundamentally fundamentalist, stop it relic, hot licks

In this VERY SERIOUS podcastery from renowned “Men of letters” Paul and Quinns, we answer the questions that some people, somewhere, might want answered. Are board games cool? When is it about American-style boardgames? We also wonder if there’s a The Matrix board game but there isn’t. On the way we discuss all sorts of … Read more

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Review: Libertalia

toilet maps, saline short shorts, beggarpocalypse, return of the pear
Review: Libertalia

Paul: Now Quinns, I know you’re still obsessed with Mage Wars-

Quinns: WIZARD! Oh my God did you read the part where your spells-

Paul: But if you don’t mind, I want to INTERJECT with an alternative game people could buy this week. Something sleeker and easier, that I think anyone can play, not just the people who wanted to be manticores when they grew up.

Quinns: I don’t understand. Are you still coming over tonight? I wove you a beard to wear out of my armp-

Paul: I’m SAYING I’m coming over, but I’m bringing Libertalia instead. I want to recommend this one to everyone. I think it’s really quite special.

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The Opener: Flash Point & A Flaming B-52

mr. gaviscon, ancient mayan potions, I'm gonna do it I'm gonna save the woman
The Opener: Flash Point & A Flaming B-52

FIRE! What is it? We don’t really know. Except that it’s excellent. Fire? It’s pretty great.

In this inaugral episode of The Opener, Matt looks at opening your game night with a fiery game of Flash Point: Fire Rescue and a cocktail that’s literally on fire. Because you can never have too much fire, and that’s a fact.

EDIT: OK so we just got a call from Paul screaming that he tried to make the cocktail and now has “Too much fire,” so we may have to temporarily redact that.

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Impressions: Mage Wars

Don Draper, UN aid boardgames, mana pudding, Quinns And Bat
Impressions: Mage Wars

Quinns: Readers, viewers, assorted junkies of SU&SD, I’m SORRY.

Mage Wars came out last year. I heard it was stunning, but seeing its box in my local game shop, with its non-standard dimensions and underwhelming logo, I was warded away like a vampire. Hsss!

If you’re going to ask me to be a wizard, at least give me the style of Summoner Wars. The global scale of Mage Knight. The sense of humour of Wiz-War. Don’t ask me to summon unicorns unironically.

But the praise didn’t stop. This year I heard it was the Dice Tower’s 4th favourite game of all time. Rab, of RPS’s wonderful Cardboard Children column, assured me it was “the real deal.” And oh, yes. Oh, baby. This game’s just wonderful.

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Review: Descent 2nd Edition

Ragnar the Humvee, Paul's Höoke, More sprawl, Spitting teeth
Review: Descent 2nd Edition

Quinns: oh my god what’s going on where am i

Paul: HELLO.

Quinns: GOD WHAT’S HAPPENED TO YOUR FACE

Paul: So I hear you’ve been playing the new Descent without me.

Quinns: Look I-

Paul: I think it’s time we had a chat, don’t you? Would you like to sit down?

Quinns: I can’t sit down because you’ve amputated my bum and also I’m hanging from a hook.

Paul: Then let us begin.

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Your Primer on… Wargames

that's my tundra, Matt's tender knuckles, pasta maths, sweet'n'screaming
Hannibal: Rome versus Carthage

(SU&SD is proud to introduce Matt Thrower, Pro Wargamer, who offered to cover wargames for us. It all sounded a bit suspect, so we sent Brendan to investigate.)

Brendan: Hi. Matt, right?

Matt: Hi there! Come in, come in. Did you have a pleasant journey?

Brendan: I don’t know. What was that waste I had to cross?

Matt: Not now, Brendan. Come with me. The US has declared victory in the war on terror.

Brendan: Right. Wait, what was that? And how do you know my name?

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Review: Mansions of Madness

Monster Vs. Barrier, Center Parcs of Madness, paul what happened in the shed
Review: Mansions of Madness

Quinns: I’ve reviewed Mansions of Madness on the Eurogamer! Anyone interested in just how ambitious a board game can be should read this one. Or anyone interested in a couple of private stories from our gaming table.

“I’ll never forget the time my friend played team psycho Michael McGlen. He idly wandered into a shed, alone, where the Keeper deployed about six cards in a comedic level of bullying. Two turns later Michael ran out of the same shed with a back injury, no shotgun and a crippling fear of the rest of us, whereupon the shed promptly exploded.”

Paul: YOU PROMISED YOU WOULDN’T TALK ABOUT THE HORRORSHED.

Quinns is right, though. This is a very strange, but hugely impressive game that everyone should know about, even if it’s just to steer clear. Go read!

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