I picked up Moon Base on the aesthetic alone. It was the rings that persuaded me. Three colors and two sizes, countless at a glance. Were they metal? Plastic? No, wood, with that smokey scent once reserved for laser-cut games in cheap pizza boxes. An odor that will likely never grace the moon, and already it’s what I associate with lunar colonization.
But here’s the big surprise: Moon Base is far more than a pretty face.
One of the things I always look for with an expansion is whether it feels like an expansion. No, that isn’t meant to be a tautological nightmare. Rather, my hope is always that an expansion will integrate into the base game in such a way that it feels seamless, without snags or snake’s hands. Since Inis has been one of my favorite dudes-on-a-map games for the past three years, I was eager to see whether the five modules of its expansion were up to the task. And hey, if they turned out to be duds, at least I got to play more Inis. Did I mention that I’m a big fan of Inis?
Here’s the good news: Seasons of Inis scores a venerable four out of five. And although one of its modules doesn’t fit quite as fluidly as the rest, it isn’t any slouch, either.
Remember Cthulhu Wars? Sure you do. There’s no forgetting that mountain of plastic, as eye-catching as it was bombastic. The horrors of H.P. Lovecraft molded in day-glo, waging war for command of Earth, regardless of whether that placed more emphasis on our little ball of dirt than cosmic horror really calls for.
Now Sandy Petersen is at it again, this time laboring upon another molded mountain. At the very least, Glorantha: The Gods War makes stronger internal sense, pitting rival pantheons against each other in a contest for total supremacy. But it holds so much in common with Cthulhu Wars, from the way factions develop over time to the outcomes of its battle dice, that it’s impossible not to compare the two.
Here on Abstracts Get Political, our primary interest is abstract games that make an ideological point despite being, well, abstract games. But we’ve always (both times) looked at games about injury and strife. Suffragetto loosed jiu-jitsu-ing suffragettes upon the police, while Guerrilla Checkers was about — you guessed it — the horrors of modern asymmetrical warfare. Where are the games that give peace a chance?
Look no further than Paco Šako. Even its name carries a message of harmony. After all, it’s Esperanto for “peace chess.” You don’t get much more peaceable than that.
Or do you?
A game about investigating the President of the United States for obstruction of justice? How far-fetched.
In our first swing at a truly massive epic fantasy, Brock, Summer, and Dan discuss how to name your weapon, whether Brock would amplify ableism in order to solve racism and sexism, and why you shouldn’t go steady with someone who’s been radicalized by YouTube. In other words, it’s Master of Sorrows by Justin Call! Listen here or download here.
Next month, join us as we read The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal!
Disclaimer: All three of us know Justin Call personally. He gave us a copy of his book. Just so you know, even though this isn’t really a review.
When it comes to blurbs, Campy Creatures knows how to pitch. You’re a mad scientist, see? Hoping to do eeeevil experiments, right? So your plan is to kidnap as many mortals as possible, m’kay? Except there are other mad scientists also capturing mortals, and they also have a similar roster of campy creatures doing their bidding, so you need to make sure your campy creatures outperform their campy creatures, ya dig?
Sure thing, Campy Creatures. I dig.
There’s an old adage I just made up about how you shouldn’t play a favorite designer’s games in reverse, as the process will only result in disappointment. After being totally smitten by Jon Perry’s Air, Land, & Sea, I was immediately drawn to his previous game, Time Barons. Perry co-created this one with Derek Yu, whose name you might recognize from I’m O.K., in which you murder and urinate on video game designers in order to poke fun at anti-game crusader and huckster attorney Jack Thompson. If only Yu’s lesser-known Spelunky had been his defining work instead.
Anyway. I’m happy to announce that my old adage isn’t worth beans. Time Barons rules. With some considerable provisos.
Have you heard of GMT Games’ P500 Program? Imagine Kickstarter before Kickstarter was a twinkle in its grandpappy’s eye. Every so often GMT releases a list of games, all of which are up for preorder. If a game gets enough orders — I’ll give you one guess how many — it goes into production and eventually springs forth fully-baked, minus errata and countersheet errors.
“Wait, wait,” I hear you saying. “Doesn’t GMT Games pretty much just do wargamey stuff? That header doesn’t look wargamey. Not even a little bit.”
Very astute of you to notice! That’s because Mystery Wizard, by Aiden Giuffre, Jackson Warley, and Zachary Eberhart is indeed the most incongruous thing to ever appear on GMT’s P500 list. Unsurprisingly for a publisher focused on entirely different fare, it’s hovering at a mere 300 orders. I’m here to tell you why that number should jump forward.
Every so often a game fully realizes the dual promise and limitations of Kickstarter. Ambitious, but not overly so. Weird, in that there isn’t anything quite like it. Underbaked, in that it never really received much of a look from anyone outside of the project, at least nobody whose actual job is to advise why certain elements needed extra polish. Visionary, because the game’s creators might have ignored such advice had it been given in the first place.
Jackson Pope and Paul Willcox’s FlickFleet is that game. And I’m smitten.