SU&SD Presents: British Board Games 1800-1920, by Holly Nielsen

Modesty, Decreptitude, Despair, Poverty, Also wargames are a thing
Continuing our collection of talks filmed during the V&A's Board Game Study Day, here's 15 minutes from journalist and historian Holly Nielsen on the hilarious, horrifying history of British board games.

Huge thanks to Holly for letting us host this talk. It's just too much fun. Next time you buy a game that's a little less than perfect, why pop this talk on? You'll feel very lucky about the state of your board game collection, we guarantee.


SU&SD Presents: Board Gaming’s Golden Age! (2017 update)

how's everybody doing, this is the wrong talk, how much time do i have?, a stony pro
Hi everybody! Remember Quinns' old talk on the current "golden age of board games"? Here's a new performance of it! It's a lot like the old talk, but snappier, more informed and down from a whopping 45 minutes (you can still watch the original here) to just 15 minutes. Perfect for sharing with your friends or perennially-bemused relatives.

This talk was just one of several snappy and informative talks given during a contemporary board game study day at London's prestigious Museum of Childhood, and it's not the only one we filmed, either. This week we'll be uploading three more, including a brand new talk from Quinns!

Stay tuned, everyone, and thanks to everyone who came down on the day.


Games News! 17/04/2017

One does not simply walk into birmingham, a sleeping dean, a merry box
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Quinns: I hope you all had a nice weekend, because it's time to get to work. Chop chop! Into the mine with you! Shut Up & Sit Down might be done with classic board game Brass after filming our review, but apparently this game isn't done with you lot: the unwashed, coin-clipping masses. 

Roxley, a Canadian publisher of truly gorgeous-looking games, has posted some stunning teaser images of two games titled Brass: Lancashire (pictured above) and Brass: Birmingham (pictured below). Brass: Lancashire will be a new edition of the original game (which we reviewed) with a few tiny rules tweaks and a radical visual overhaul. Seriously, go and take a peek at the images in that link. It's not so much "a new coat of paint" as it is "burning down the original building and buying a gothic mansion". Heavens!

And as for Brass: Birmingham? Why, it's a collaborative effort between original designer Martin Wallace and two new co-designers, and Roxley is calling it a sequel. A sequel to what many would call a masterpiece of game design. Hold onto your stovepipe hats!


Podcast #56: Three Tough Guys and a Yamatai

walnut whips, buddy systems, cadfael, a folky tease
The stakes have never been higher! In this, the one and only 56th episode of the SU&SD podcast, renowned street warriors Matt, Paul and Quinns take a break from their usual areas of discussion (inner-city brawls, knife fights, how to stare down a local tough from sixty yards) to chat about board games, of all things!

Quinns has played new Days of Wonder beautypiece Yamatai, the group chat some more about the excellent Flamme Rouge, and inspired by Paul's Mythos Tales review there's a discussion on the future of mystery-solving games. We also answer the question on everyone's lips: Is Lego crap? Finally, we answer a reader mail about how to get the most out of a convention. Basically just make sure you have a friend to drag you out of the fight if you get knocked unconscious.

In other words, we're going mad. How many more episodes of this can we possibly do?

The answer: AS MANY AS IT TAKES.


RPG Review: The Firefly Role-Playing Game

Befuddled with love, a leaf on the wind, feminine wiles, stabbed!
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Cynthia: The television show Firefly, one of Joss Whedon's series, has wriggled deep into the shared geek consciousness since it aired in 2002-3. Phrases such as "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal", "I can kill you with my brain", and "Yessir Captain Tightpants" now serve as entry passwords into secret geek spaces, flashes of color that we use to recognize each other in the wild. As much spaghetti western as science fiction, full of Chinese swear words and sexually-charged tea ceremonies, Firefly had Buffy's wit and black humor, Dollhouse's dark maturity, and something else that characterised neither: freedom. Five stars' worth of planets, moons, frontiers, and open skies.

In other words, if you haven't yet watched Firefly, you need to get on it.

But enough of that! The real question here is whether the Firefly roleplaying game is any good.

Readers, friends: yes. Yes it is.


Review: Mythos Tales

never work with animals or triangles, paul's precious intestines, an actual cameo
It looks like Watson & Holmes isn't the only game that wants to offer something different from Consulting Detective!

Introducing Mythos Tales, a game of solving occult mysteries where if you're not careful, you might become a victim yourself. Will Paul Dean crack the case of whether Mythos Tales is a worthy consumer product, or will this be his final review?

We wish him luck.


Review: Android: Netrunner – Terminal Directive

unsightly beans, matching tattoos, quinns are you crying
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Quinns: Oof, reviews don't get much tougher than this.

I've just finished playing an advance copy of Terminal Directive, the most dramatic expansion that Android: Netrunner has ever received. This big box introduces not just a campaign to the superlative cyberpunk card game, but the dramatic "Legacy" elements that you might remember from Pandemic: Legacy. As the story unfolds players open new packs of cards, but also destroy cards and cover them with stickers.

Best of all, Terminal Directive is a long-awaited stepping stone for new Netrunner players! Previously if you bought the core set and liked it, you then faced the intimidating proposition of simply starting to buy up Netrunner's forty-two expansion packs. Now you can buy the core set, and then enjoy Terminal Directive's campaign, and then - erm - begin buying forty-two expansion packs.

There's just one problem. After being a zealous advocate for this game for years on end, today I don't play Netrunner anymore. Let's talk about why.


Games News! 03/04/2017

indigestion expansions, cardboard cloth, sad wolves of the 1990s
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Paul: Oh my GOODNESS Red Scare looks very interesting indeed! This is officially Paul’s Most Exciting Game of the Week, without a doubt, with its fancy social deduction, special glasses and double agents. SPECIAL GLASSES, I hear you shout! In glee! In awe!

Y’see, everybody is playing a team of FBI agents who know that somewhere in their midst are communists that they absolutely have to rat out. Everybody sports a special pair of glasses and, depending upon which ones you wear, you can read certain secret text written on some of the game’s many cards, while remaining completely blind to other text. This is a wonderfully simple idea and I’m immediately thrilled at the idea of players trying to convince one another of what they can or can’t see, blusteringly bluffing and desperately trying to get someone else to confirm (or deny) that things are (or aren’t) what they seem.

Quinns: What a concept, indeed! I'm very excited to test this box from first time designer Benjamin Kanelos. If you were wondering about the box's striking appearance, this is actually yet another work from Ian O'Toole, who does the layout and illustration for all the breathtakingly lovely new Vital Lacerda games like Vinhos Deluxe. What a guy.

Are we entering an age where artists get as much kudos as designers? Being an enormous fop, I hope so.


Review: Cry Havoc

a dead prince, a drifting stick, a strong spine, steve holt
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Quinns: Oh my god. Where do we start?

Maybe just gaze into the above image. Try and take it all in. Crystals! Robots! Colours! Cards! Three dozen unique kinds of token, each with a different shape, as if they were all so scared of this primary-coloured scrum that they started to collapse in on themselves.

This is Cry Havoc, one of 2016’s most striking and well-received war games, and if you take anything from its Shakespearean name it shouldn’t be wry sophistication, but that this design is as wild and energetic as a pack of dogs.

"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!" Let me tell you what I think of this grand box.

That was another quote from Julius Caesar, you see. I might even do another before we're done. Brace yourselves!


Feature: A Day in the Life of Matt Thrower’s Game Collection

reeking of solvents, bloated with hope, an early sumo, a vital box
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[Our series on the collections of our writers continues! Today it's the turn of long-time contributor Matt Thrower. If you missed our previous entries, you can now navigate to them using those buttons on the right. Enjoy, everybody!]

Thrower: Well hello there! Nice of you to stop by. Hope you had a good journey. It's rare we get the chance to entertain adult visitors, with all the space the children take up. So, please, let me show you round the house.

The first thing you learn as a parent is that every other parent lives in a pristine house. Even when chasing after kids has left them looking like exhausted pandas, their houses are still clean and tidy. Naturally, ours has to be the same. We'd all be happier if everyone could drop this charade and wallow in their familial filth. Anyway, it's nice to have someone here who might appreciate the results.

Hang your coat up over there...