Static Realms

Supply Lines of the American Revolution: The Middle Earth Theater

Disclaimer: No realms are shifted in the process of playing Shifting Realms.

And that’s honestly a shame, because relocatable fantasy dimensions could have added something wonderful to this competent but by-the-numbers take on the gather’n’build genre.

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104: 1arta 0mpera 4ictoria

Any garishness in the clash between title and artwork is entirely my responsibility. Couldn't fit them side by side, and certainly not over-under. So why not jam them together like a philistine?

Rémi Amy’s CIV: Carta Impera Victoria is so cute that I could vomit. No, it isn’t the way the bobble-headed artwork by Christopher Matt recasts human history as one limitless highway of nodding along to the radio. Nor is it the pun hidden right there in the title. Carta Impera Victoria. CIV. Civilization. We get it.

Nope. It’s the fact that the game entitled CIV should contain 104 cards, just as the Romans would do. Ugh. I don’t even believe in assigning scores, and already this thing is pulling zero stars out of a hundred.

Which is a pity, because CIV is one heck of a slick card game.

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Book-Space! #3: Six Wakes

For the first time in his long years, Wee Aquinas's brow is creased in disdain rather than deep contemplation.

At last! A book we don’t love! Join Brock, Summer, and Dan as they engage in the third-ever episode of the Space-Biff! Book-Space! to talk about the legality of cloning, what our AI-selves would be in charge of, and how little is too little for a Catholic priest to know about the Bible. It’s Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty. And although we’re spoiling everything, there isn’t much need to read this one before listening below, or over here for a download link.

Join us next month for a discussion about The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley, and share your thoughts at!

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Alone on the Computer

All computers are neon on the inside.

Now that Netrunner is dead, I’ve been thinking more about those first few months of its existence, before the pro scene and a steady march of upgrades left me standing on the highway watching the dust kicked up by its tires as it left me behind. It was one of those games that briefly captured me, gave me a rough shaking, and then departed forever. Years later I would happen across its obituary and stare, unsure whether I was feeling regret at not playing more or relief that I didn’t stick around until the end.

It’s Renegade that brings back those memories. Not because both games feature body-modded individualists peeling away an oppressive system’s layers of defense, though there is that. But rather because they’re both far cleverer than they first appear.

Oh, and because they both positively drown you in terminology. As in, hands around the throat, bathtub of ice water, drowning you.

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Ryan and Malorie Laukat’s Megaland — the Megaland inside the game Megaland, I mean — is your typical video game kingdom. But unlike the typical visitor to a typical video game kingdom, your adventurers aren’t interested in beating levels or maximizing their abilities or completing sick raids. All they want is to amass those sweet, sweet coins.

Kind of like a digital gold farmer. As far as settings go, that’s a first.

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My Little Sickle

my little sqythe?

Kid games don’t need to be awful.

That’s the design ethos behind My Little Scythe, the father/daughter collaboration of Hoby and Vienna Chou, and a streamlining of Jamey Stegmaier’s Scythe. It’s cute, but there’s still some tension to be found. Lighthearted, but you can still end up with pie on your face. Simple, but not dumb simple. It’s a surprisingly faithful adaptation of Scythe, for one thing.

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Jerkforce, Jerkier

Downforce loves shoving its helmets in your face.

Even a year later, Downforce — or Doucheforce, as my group affectionately calls it — remains one of my favorite comedy games. Revolving around haphazard betting far more than actual racing, it sees its participants buying cars, placing wagers, and then doing everything in their power to come away rich(er). And if you’re playing right, you’ll place unexpected wagers, persuade everyone to hassle the lead car, and then gum up the roadways so that nobody else can pass. There’s a reason my driver is named Gandalf.

Danger Circuit adds more. Just more. And while that’s pretty much what I wanted from Downforce’s first expansion, nobody should hop into this particular car expecting a new engine. Read the rest of this entry

Dinosimple Tea Party

"Or is it civilized induction?" someone says, coyly, arrogantly. "No it's deduction," the old lady replies flatly.

The motto for Restoration Games is solid. “Every game deserves another turn.” See what they did there? Another turn. Yeah. Both hopeful and a pun at the same time. Good stuff.

Dinosaur Tea Party is a remake of Whosit?, minus 1976’s uncomfortable stereotyping of its dinner guests. Apparently. I didn’t investigate the matter. All I know is that this game does plenty of stereotyping of its own — a real triceratops would deeply resent being portrayed in that trilby, and T-rex culture actually demands that any work of art portray them chowing down on raw meat. But the real question is, did this particular game deserve its second turn?

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HOPE does not contain any jetpacks. Not one jetpack. Not even a partial jetpack. Seriously.

Oh no! It’s the far future, humanity has spread to the distant corners of the universe, yet an evil black monolith is consuming entire solar systems! Panic in the streets! Science confounded! The only solution is the colonization of planets that happen to match a hand full of cards!

Okay, fine, I can’t confess to having any idea of what’s going on in HOPE. Why are we colonizing planets again? Why do solar systems inhabit three dimensions at once? And what’s with that tacked-on betrayer mode? Do the bad guys really call themselves NOPE? In terms of fluff, it’s no Sol.

Instead, it’s exactly the reason I play lesser-known games.

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Chesty Puller

This is what I call my upper torso.

There aren’t many games that wouldn’t be improved by the presence of clickety-clackety, oh-so-tactile, heavy-as-depleted-uranium poker chips.

Then there are games that already have poker chips and pretty much feel like they’re bribing you into liking them more.

Try to guess which type of game War Chest is.

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