This week Matt truly takes one for the team, with the team being humanity – and everyone within it. That’s right, he’s reviewed a fiddly eurogame that doesn’t have an especially useful manual. Cerebria is one hell of a thing, it’s just not remarkably likely that this thing will be for you. Find out, today, via the medium of Internet Opinion Video.
Quinns: Woo! I don’t know what your weekend was like, Ava, and I don’t want to be coy, but I played a *very* large board game that I’ll be covering in our big, year-end blowout review.
Ava: How large are we talking?
Quinns: OK, imagine how big a board game should be.
Ava: *closes eyes* I’m doing it.
Quinns: It’s even bigger than that!
Ava: Oh my.
Ava: Welcome to an occasional series introducing you to a single, storied game designer. Today I want to tell you about the games of a man called Carl.
Certain designers have a set of obsessions that shine brightly when you put all their work together. There’s a pattern of passions that unite their work. Carl Chudyk is my my board game design crush, and it’s because he ploughs a furrow that nobody else could. His games are relics from a weirder, smarter world. He builds layered puzzle-systems where possibilities multiply at every turn. They’re challenging to learn, but a delight to wrangle.
It’s odd though. I struggle to recommend them to people, even though they’re my favourites. I don’t like to push people into an experience that might feel horrible the first time round. It’s like asking someone to dive into a river that will be cold until they adjust.
But I want to talk about Carl Chudyk anyway. Once you’re swimming with him, you’ll find something you couldn’t get anywhere else. You’ll open tiny boxes and find yourself tucking ideas under possibilities and watching your table turn into a sea of systems. You’ll still be finding surprises on your hundredth play.
You’ll get stories. Stories of the time a game felt different to anything else.
These aren’t reviews. There’s no time for that.
Instead I’m going to dissect a few games, pull out a few gutsy details, and see if I can read in the entrails why Carl is the way he is. Why he fills me with wonder and what makes me scream. Take a deep breath. It’s a fast river, you might not be able to get out.
Quinns: Ava, before we get started on the news, I have to tell somebody. I had the most fabulous time playing Don’t Get Got last night.
Ava: Oh yeah?
Quinns: Oh my goodness. The paranoia. The guile. The outraged howls outside the pub when I managed to win just before we all went home by getting another player to say “I love you.” It was exactly like someone scoring a goal in the closing seconds of the match.
While Quintin takes a couple of weeks off, Matt dives into a world of BEARYTALE IMAGINATION. There’s no-one else here to keep an eye on things, so the gloves are fully off when it comes to awful puns.
Expanding upon the legacy of Barenpark with bigger, badder bears and beautiful 3D monorails – this expansion certainly fills a box that’s almost the same size as the basic game, but can The Bad News Bears fill the same size in our massive, empty hearts?
This week, our series on the best games that you can play with a 52 card deck gets WILD. Bourré is the most outrageous gambling game that you’ve never heard of. It has heaps of suave cardplay, and features not just the lure of winning money, but the striking threat of losing it. It’s smart, … Read moreRead More
Quinns: Ava, I have returned from my holiday a changed man. Before, where the old Quinns would have been a tangled ball of anxiety, now I am a walking chalice of chill.
Ava: Oh, that’s wonderful! I’m glad you had a good time. Are you feeling ready to dive right back into the swarming, heaving mass of press releases, board game announcements, union conflicts, franchise cash-ins, weird crowdfunded plastic, the rise of totalitarianism and the inevitability of death?
Ava: What is it?
Quinns: Just performing a mental diagnostic. I remain chill, but that was a MEAN trick.
Those of you with functional memories may recall that at the very first SHUX in 2017, myself and Alan Gerding sat down in cosy room and had a chat about psychology. It was pegged as a talk about the psychology of games, but being both exhausted and faintly ill-prepared, we decided instead to enjoy a rambling introduction to some of the magic behind this unfairly-maligned strain of science.
And the people in the room at the time loved it! The people online afterwards? Not so much. A chunk of those who watched it were understandably annoyed that we didn’t tackle the topic as intended, and were more than woolly with our citations. And wow! Look what you made us do.
[Tactics and Tactility is our column about the feelings, details and pleasures of tabletop gaming. This week we’re looking at Mexica, and the glory of giving good friends the space to be cruel.]
Ava: Some games are a particular joy to teach, because you get to slowly watch the implications play out in real time on the face of your fellow players. Some rules are like a little snowball you start rolling down a hill, and watch turn into an avalanche. Games are systems, and it’s not easy to see the impact of a system until you’re in it.
I’ve explained the rules. I’ve told people that we’re trying to found districts of specific sizes, surrounded by canals, claim those districts, and then vie for ‘spiritual grandeur’ by building the biggest temples in each one. I’ve explained moving, bridges, placing canals and the scoring structure.
What I’ve not explained, is that in about fifteen minutes, everyone around this table will have been an absolute monster to everyone else.
Ava: Oooh, it’s that time of year. The cold is starting to bite, but the cosy is always close at hand. Why don’t you make yourself a lovely hot chocolate, put your feet up, chuck a log on the fire, grab a blanket, fill a hot water bottle, watch a leaf turn red, find your loveliest slippers, cuddle the closest consenting cuddle-able, put a scarf on, watch a firework, stomp your feet, get another blanket just for your legs, wear a third blanket as a shawl and listen to the tale of Ava’s very own autumnal games news.
Matt: I’ve filled my mouth with a mixture of marshmallows and leaves and popped my slippers into the fire. Is that still autumnal? My hot water bottle is full of hot chocolate, don’t worry: no sense doing two different tasks with hot water when you’ll get loads more points for a combo.
Ava: Whatever fills your heart with October-flavoured warmth!
Matt: Putting these slippers back on was a bad idea, I’ll see you later bye
Ava: So, this week Quinns popped a little kickstarter vol-au-vent of recommendation onto the revolving newzy susan (But remember, Kickstarter still appear to be resisting attempts of Kickstarter United to unionise, so please do apply pressure to encourage them! See any of the last few news posts for more details.)
Labyrinthos has you exploring the infamous labyrinth of Minos. You’ll be running around looking for your keys, and occasionally get eaten by a bull headed beast. The maze can change at any moment, so you’ve got to balance your own route home with your willingness to mess up the plans of your enemies.