Review and a Recipe: Arboretum and Pasta with Trees

Review and a Recipe: Arboretum and Pasta with Trees

The Opener returns! Everyone’s favourite series featuring a straightforward game paired with a sexy recipe. Except we’re not calling it The Opener any more, it’s just “review and a recipe”. Nice and simple! Just like the game. And the recipe. And Matt.

Don’t be deceived by that svelte little box, though. Not unlike the trees it depicts,Arboretum is beautiful, tough, and all about hidden depths.

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Review: Meteor

Review: Meteor

[EDIT: Since publishing this article the 2nd edition of Meteor has gone live on Kickstarter! That’s probably a wiser investment than buying the first edition Quinns reviews here.]

Quinns: Imagine you and your friends are protecting the earth from meteors, assembling rockets from the cards in your hand. Sounds fun, right?

Now imagine you don’t have the right cards for a successful launch. And the clock is ticking and you only have five minutes to clear the board. And now imagine you don’t know how big a payload to launch at each meteor, and if you launch one that’s too big the terrific explosion will accelerate all the other meteors.

Oh, yes. Today we’re reviewing Meteor! It’s mean, exhausting and the art design ranges from underwhelming to unclear, but it’s a megaton of fun. For what it’s worth, if you like high-fiving people, this box could be considered a cardboard portal to the high-five dimension.

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Review: Traders of Osaka

Review: Traders of Osaka

Quinns: Today we finish our review triplet of games set in Japan!

First we had the beautiful, and beautifully clean design of Samurai. Next was the grand old game of Shogun, which was no less impressive. Today we look at Traders of Osaka, a small box game that was actually designed in Japan by one Susumu Kawasaki. And today I want to talk about yet another kind of beauty.

I don’t say this enough, but one of my favourite things about board games is that each one feels like receiving a shrink-wrapped idea, direct from the designer. I’ve called board games a “lossless” format before, meaning that unlike trying to write a novel or make a videogame, in the creative process of making a board game you can directly transmute the thing you have in your head into a real, physical box. It’s because of this that even bad board games (no- especially bad board games) have something intensely personal about them.

The difficulty with designing board games is, of course, making sure they arrive in one piece at their destination. That players can unpack them, study the documentation, and enjoy themselves as you intended.

So it’s fitting that Traders of Osaka is a game about shipping handicrafts across treacherous waters. As you hold this box, you’re holding Susumu Kawasaki’s beloved idea, designed in Japan, manufactured in China, handed to you by some dutiful postman. Did it get here in one piece?

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Review: Codenames

Review: Codenames

Quinns: In an age where we can fit dice on rings and hold Battlestar Galactica LARPs in decommissioned warships, team SU&SD has learned that rules can only hold us back. The only rule we have left is that before we review a game, it has to be available for our readers to buy it.

Today, we’re breaking that rule!

Codenames was the smash hit of Gen Con this year. It’s still perched happily atop BoardGameGeek’s “Hotness” sidebar, it sold out despite having a terrible name and a terrible box, and it’s the game I heard most people gossiping about. Under such crushing hype, and knowing that articles will soon be flowing in, today we’re offering our review early.

Let’s start with two words: Vlaada Chvatil.

Then another five: He’s done it again.

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Review: Spyfall

Review: Spyfall

The English language version of Spyfall is finally available! …And stock has immediately drained out shops the world over like a vodka martini through a sieve.

Don’t worry, friends! Operating in a dangerous web of international intrigue, and with a little help from Starlit Citadel, Team SU&SD has secured a review copy. At last, we’re here to tell you if this party game live up to the hype.

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Review: Cockroach Poker Royal

Review: Cockroach Poker Royal

Quinns: Catch Team SU&SD at our most tired and soul-blasted, when we’re done walking the halls of a giant convention, and there’s a single game we’ll always still be able to play. It’s Skull.

It’s the arsenic-laced wafer thin mint of board gaming, and there’s always room for its lies and laughter. The one thing more impressive than Asmodee daring to call Skull “the very quintessence of bluffing” is that actually, I don’t think they’re wrong.

Two months ago I was in a pub with a friend who I trust completely. “If you like Skull,” he said, “Then write this down. ‘Cockroach Poker’. Best £10 you’ll ever spend.”

Today I’m the proud owner of one “Cockroach Poker Royal”, the en-complicated 2012 sequel to 2004’s Cockroach Poker. And I’ll tell you what! It’s not just a great game of lying to your friends. It’s a great game of lying with your friends.

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Presenting Quinns’ Corner Awards, 2015!

Black Stories

Quinns: Hello everybody! Take your seats, the show’s about to begin.

We get sent twice as many games as we review on SU&SD. We cover the good games and set fire to the bad ones, but there’s a sort of purgatory in between of games that don’t get reviewed and pile up in my corner.

Maybe a game’s too interesting for me to burn it. Maybe it’s too similar to something we just reviewed. This is what lead to 2013’s Rapid Review Special Episode– a big, weird release valve of a video that let me reclaim my corner for a hot minute and put a pot plant there.

That time has come again. Today, SU&SD is proud to present no less than seven reviews of the best and weirdest games to be found in my corner.

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Review: Saboteur

Review: Saboteur

Paul: The problem I’m having writing this review is, rather than simply telling you how Saboteur works, I really want to give you a selection of quotes from some of my recent games. The thing is, none of these will be remotely illuminating, since they’re all going to be the same sort of questions, which all go like this:

“What are you doing?!” “Why did you do that?!” “WHERE ARE YOU GOING?!”

Or they’ll be the same sort of answers, which go like this:

“I’m helping!” “I have no choice!” “JUST TRUST ME.”

Or they’ll be the same end-of-round exasperation, the same old post-battle cry of Saboteur:

I TOLD YOU SO.

I guess Saboteur is something of a game of soundbites.

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Review: Mascarade Expansion

Review: Mascarade Expansion

Matt: Remember those hot hot nights when we wore those masks, and danced as if our legs might melt any moment? I don’t remember that time either – just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page. Mascarade was a fun game with sexy art that forcibly entered my heart last year when I covered it for The Opener. The premise is simple: nobody knows what’s going on, it’ll only get worse as things go on, and you’re almost definitely not the queen but nobody else seems to have clocked that.

There are tons of hidden identity thingers to choose from these days, but what sets Mascarade apart from the crowd is the fact that you’re often not sure of who YOU are, let alone who everyone else might be. Taking a look at your card takes your whole turn so I’M THE BLOODY KING becomes I’M THE BLOODY KING, PROBABLY.

The general gist of all this chaotic magic is probably best expressed in my aforementioned video, so if you’re totally clueless seep that into your face and then come back to absorb my thoughts on the new, first expansion – because for reasons I’ll make clear shortly this may be a good time to go all-in and buy both.

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The Opener: Love Letter & Gingerbread Pears

The Opener: Love Letter & Gingerbread Pears

At last, we give the video treatment to one of Shut Up & Sit Down’s favourite games, Love Letter! On this Opener, Matt explains why this petite, elegant and excellent game is both an essential and a great way to introduce new people to the hobby.

It’s not just an excuse to dress up, not at all, and Matt actually has a very interesting story related to that.

It is an excuse to show you how to make gingerbread pears, perfect for any holiday season.

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