In this inaugral column Smingleigh offers a heartfelt tale of play, galactic war, and more beautiful boys than he.]
It was the end of the school year at St. Punishment's School for Boys, and we had finished our end of year exams. Our school work was done, but our time still belonged to the school until it had finished forcing the oldest boys through the educational sausage machine that is the GCSE system, so the teachers allowed us to bring something in to entertain ourselves.
Some brought in decks of cards (with strict gambling prohibition enforced by form master Dr. Blandshaw), some brought in books and magazines, some brought in Game Boys (I’m dating myself here, aren’t I?), and I brought in a board game.
Today's games news will be arranged from stuff that excites Quinns the most to least, starting with THIS: Neuroshima Hex 3.0 has been announced by Z-Man games. You can read our impressions of 2.0 here, but basically it's a tricky, colourful, inventive strategy game that's so lightweight as to practically float off the table. Better yet, 3.0 sounds even better.
This week Matt picks over the crashed zepplin of ideas that is Level 99 Games' Minigame Library, and finds something interesting but it goes a bit wrong. He also applies his trademark culinary expertise to an English delicacy known as "vodka jelly", which seems quite interesting but it goes a bit wrong.
We blame the heat. Englishmen react about as well to heat as chocolate does. When will it end? It must be 20°C in here.
Paul: Oh, my head! Where am I? Why am I tied to a chair?
Thrower: You’re in my house, and safe for now. You’re tied to a chair because I’ve kidnapped you.
Paul: That seems quite straightforward.
Thrower: Yes. We must play another game, you see.
On 17th September 1944, a German officer in Holland looked into the sky and saw white flakes falling. “But it never snows in September” he thought. Do you know what he’d seen?
Which is, of course, why the noble Uwe Rosenberg, designer of such crushing hits as Agricola and Le Havre, has announced his next game will be Glass Road: A game of supervising a glass workshop in 14th century Bavaria.
Now, I'll admit there's a small chance that you might not be excited by medieval glasswork. If that's the case, don't worry! Theme aside, this looks like a lovely game.
Scientists are at a loss to explain this heinous corruption of the laws of physics. Tell you who's not at a loss, though! The hot boys of Shut Up & Sit Down. After just few plays of this beast, we're ready to tell you whether we think it lives up to the hype.
(CREDIT CARDS AT THE READY, PEOPLE.)
Monsterhearts is a game of “the messy lives of teenage monsters,” where 2-4 players play a coterie of youthsome witches, vampires, fairies and so forth, who go to the same school. A final player’s job is simply to “make their lives interesting.” Which, as we found out, is the easiest job in gaming.
Leigh: Saying we “play as” monsters is only part of the story, isn’t it? The monster identity of each teenage character is as much allegorical as anything else. Or, rather, the particular traits, strengths, failings of these creatures as they’re prescribed by folklore have quite a lot in common with the stuff of growing-up drama. The Ghost who lurks at the edges, feeling invisible. The Werewolf afraid of the power in her dark side, the Vampire who can’t stop using others.
Quinns: Yes. It’s a metaphor! Except it’s... not?
I remember a colleague taking a 5 minute break, away from the jittery job of reviewing Battlefield 2. “It’s fun when you win,” he said, exhausted. “And boring when you lose. Haven’t we moved past that yet?”
No, we haven’t. For a medium that’s evolved from play, video games have an overwhelmingly binary view of success and failure, one so crippling that if we settle into a single player game and make no progress, or lose every multiplayer match in one night, our lives will have been worsened. And we never ask why games are like this. After all, how else could it be?
...and continues vigorously until it stops. Quinns would point you towards the article himself, but he's currently in hiding from furious gamer-gangs, who cry his name on every street corner. Go read! Don't let his sacrifice be in vain.
Big news first. Days of Wonder, publisher of such incomparably plush releases as Small World and Memoir '44, have announced their new game: Relic Runners, seen above. Releasing this September, it sounds and looks absolutely luxurious. Players will explore a dark jungle, building bridges, forging pathways and nosing through forgotten ruins, all in a quest for priceless relics. Which, for the first time in the history of board gaming, are represented by objects you'd actually want to own. Images after the jump.
Now this is something a bit different. Fueled entirely by sugar and caffeine, we typed and shot this review in just half a day. Our mission? To review half a dozen games with two minutes allotted to each. Approximately. Thereabouts. Oh God.
But we met with a success of sorts and here, for your viewing pleasure, is the result. We look at games old and new, including D-Day Dice, Ingenious, Samurai Sword, Goblins, Inc., Shadow Hunters and Betrayal at the House on the Hill, but NOT IN THAT ORDER.
Several days after filming, the sugar may not have entirely worn off. Still, this was a good experience for us and training of sorts. Preparation for... something greater.