Author Archives: The Innocent
Today on Two Minds About…, Dan Thurot and Brock Poulsen are here to dissect the claim that One Deck Dungeon only contains one deck. Because it totally doesn’t.
Dan: You heard the invisible man. So what’s your take, Brock? One deck or not?
Brock: Is this one of those Zen kōans? Are we going to have some kind of pseudo-intellectual discussion, like when those people argued about whether you can shuffle a single card?
Dan: Well, can’t you? (faint whiffling noise) Never mind, let’s move on.
Accountability. It’s the ability to be honest that, yes, I just used the same intro line as last year. Because introductions are difficult.
Today we’re revisiting my selections for Best Week 2016, the forty games that stood head and shoulders above the rest by my reckoning, and discussing whether they’ve held up over the intervening year. Basically, this is my reality check. Speaking only for myself, these are the games that stuck around, as well as the ones that disappeared from my table. Or worse, my memory.
This is going to be a long one. So if you’d rather skip straight to a particular list, you can take a look at the best overlooked, adorable, iterative, educational, and unique games of yesteryesteryear.
Look, whether or not we agree with it, we’ve all heard the refrain: why are so many games about war and violence? Why not love? Why not relationships?
Fog of Love is why. This isn’t a ding on Fog of Love, per se — there will be time for that later — so much as it is a statement on just how difficult this love stuff can be. All’s fair in love and war? Baby, war ain’t got nothing on love.
Modern Art is about so much more than just modern art. Oh, it’s about that too, and CMON’s latest edition of Reiner Knizia’s 1992 classic is lavishly produced with work by genuine artists, each with their own distinctive style that makes the identifying colors on each piece’s header almost unnecessary. Does it matter that Rafael Silveira is the orange artist when his portraiture is so unsettling? Or that Ramon Martins is designated by green when he has such a slick take on Asian traditionalism?
Maybe. Especially when Martins defies his oeuvre with something from left field. That’s the thing about Modern Art. It’s a game about maybes and could-have-beens and taste-making and guessing the value of a thing before it’s a Thing.
It also happens to be a sublime merger of play and theme.
Even though it remains a fledgling subgenre, I think I can safely anoint myself a legacy game veteran. I’ve played ’em all. Like, all of them. Basically, I’m sick of legacy mechanisms at this point. The sole upside is that my time in the trenches has endowed me with Opinions.
The first commandment of legacy games is simple. No, I mean that literally: the first commandment is simple. Be thou simple. If possible, build on something that was already there. Which is why Risk Legacy and Pandemic Legacy were so breezy to learn, while SeaFall was one learning game after another until you gave up and played its hidden game, which was opening all the boxes early and laughing with wild abandon while you sorted the pieces into recyclables and garbage.
Charterstone is the simplest of them all. And when you get right down to it, it’s the legacy game that I’ve enjoyed the most.
AuZtralia is not a zombie game, despite that big blocky Z in the middle of its title. Rather, it’s something far better: a sequel to Martin Wallace’s near-perfect A Study in Emerald. Or, fine, perhaps a sequel to that game’s inferior second edition.
Do your utmost to keep pace: After the extraterrestrial Great Old Ones conquered the world back in the 12th century, the restorationists — the plucky rebels under the leadership of Sherlock Holmes and Emma “Grumpface” Goldman — eventually tossed bundles of dynamite into all the right carriages, leading to regime turnover in 1888. Now humanity is venturing out into the portions of the world that were hitherto off-limits, and have discovered a fresh continent ripe for colonization. Except, uh oh, it turns out the Old Ones never fled Earth, instead taking refuge in the Outback of Australia. Now the allied nations of humanity must expand across the continent, employing modern armies to blast Old Ones and their thralls, including, yes, the occasional zombie horde.
And how will they go about this expansion? By rail, of course.
No. Oh no. Trains. My most ancient nemesis. Dammit.
There’s an undeniable allure to the prospect of running your own dinosaur park, sure. Electrified paddocks packed with jumping velociraptors, automated cars humming past jungle exhibits, the occasional goat bleating its location to a beverage-rippling T-rex.
But right away, Dinosaur Island makes one crucial misstep that sends it hurtling into a ravine filled with hungry compsognathus. Because you see, it’s not merely that we want to operate a dinosaur park. It’s that we want to operate a dinosaur park while it’s teetering on the edge of full-blown chaos theory meltdown.
While Grant Rodiek is possibly best known for Cry Havoc, it’s his smaller games that stand out as the purest expression of his design ethos. With offerings like Hocus and Solstice — the latter of which was one of the most devious games of last year — Rodiek seems determined to present slick, carefully tested, and, perhaps most importantly, interesting games, often with a footprint smaller than an actual footprint.
Enter Five Ravens. This is Rodiek’s newest game, and it’s easily one of his best yet.
It’s with a note of sadness that Space-Biff! Best Week! comes to another close. For all its turbulence, 2017 was a grand year when it came to cardboard, and after the jump you’ll find every day of bests, compiled into one location for easy access. Just click a pic and internet magic will whirl you away to the corresponding list.
See you in 2018.