Author Archives: Dan Thurot

Foucault in the Woodland, Part Five: Parasites in the Panopticon

It looks like he's trying to sell newspapers.

Recap: Across the past four installments, we’ve been talking about power. Specifically, how Cole Wehrle’s Root demonstrates an understanding of power in line with the writings of Michel Foucault.

Except I’ve been making a significant omission. Because Foucault didn’t write only about power. That would have been too clear-cut. He always rendered it as “power-knowledge.” Two intertwined concepts that, once assembled, approximate what he meant when he talked about power. Pardon me, power-knowledge.

Today, we’re delving into why that distinction matters.

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This One’s a Bear

Somebody made this art. Keep that in mind before you publicly express your confusion about it. And then express your confusion anyway, because what.

I like it when a publisher has an ethos. I’ve never really thought of BoardGameTables — which I can’t quite bring myself to write under its full name BoardGameTables.com, because blech — as anything other than a table company that happens to publish a few games on the side. Not unlike Ultra PRO and card sleeves, come to think of it.

Peculiar branding aside, writing about a portion of their catalog this past week has given me a more concrete sense for their internal logic. The defining trait is focus. Whether it’s Bites, On Tour, Q.E., Kabuto Sumo — yes, even Loot of Lima — these games pick one thing and try to stick the landing. More often than not, that one thing is offbeat. Outside the norm. Neither a mishmash nor a retread. They hone a single concept to a cutting edge. Even when the result is mixed, it’s hard to argue that this isn’t a carefully curated selection.

And then there’s Bear Raid. Bear Raid may be offbeat, but it lacks the tidiness of those other titles. It even lacks the tidiness of designer Ryan Courtney’s upcoming game Trailblazers, which I wrote about last week. In that respect, it’s closer to Pipeline or Curious Cargo. This here is a big old mess. And I think that’s why I have so much affection for what it’s trying to do.

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Bite Me

Aww!

During yesterday’s entry in our splurge of titles from BoardGameTables, the simplicity and repetition of On Tour caused me to call it “a kid game masquerading as a game for grown-ups.” Today, we’re looking at a game that goes out of its way to look like a kid game, from its cutesy subject matter to some adorable double-layered cardboard tokens that look like food items with nibbles taken out of them. I’m pretty sure I even released an “Aww!” when we punched them out.

Never mind that. The title in question is Bites by Brigitte and Wolfgang Ditt. Childish exclamations of delight aside, it is decidedly a game for grown-ups.

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Almost Famous

The actual cover is much prettier than this crop.

After yesterday’s alleyway mugging by Loot of Lima, almost anything would be an improvement. Good news! Our next BoardGameTables entry, On Tour by Chad DeShon, is exactly the broad-appeal title I was looking for. It’s both a roll-and-write and a flip-and-write. That’s a twofer.

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Lima Beans, Maybe

I like how that one illustration looks like Jim from Our Flag Means Death.

I’ve been on a BoardGameTables kick. Not because I need a board game table. I’ve got one of those. It’s two card tables with a slab of felted plywood laid over the top. Upscale, I know. Instead of a table, BoardGameTables sent over four games in one big package. The current plan is to write about them in ascending order of quality.

Which probably clues you into what I think about Loot of Lima.

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Space-Cast! #21. Turncoats on Turncoats

Wee Aquinas has strong feelings about linen.

Today on the Space-Cast!, we’re joined by Matilda Simonsson of Milda Matilda Games, designer (and crafter) of Turncoats. Listen in as we discuss the inspirations, production, and implications of a game that seems ten times its size.

Listen over here or download here. Timestamps can be found after the jump.

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Happy Trails to You

That's a tree!

Ryan Courtney tends to design games that I want to like more than I actually do. Pipeline was good for a few sessions before it began to feel solved. Curious Cargo was curiously burdened by confounding scoring. In both cases, these were games about arranging curlicue routes from a pile of mismatched tiles, except the routes themselves played second fiddle to underwhelming bookends.

But then there’s Trailblazers, Courtney’s upcoming title that should hit Kickstarter next month. I have a bit of a thing for Trailblazers. Probably because the routes are finally front and center where they belong.

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Terraforming Earth

Only an estimated 3,900 tigers remain in the wild.

Ark Nova, designed by Matthias Wigge and so widely acclaimed that it’s been distributed by literally one dozen publishers, is easiest to describe via amalgamation. There’s the sprawling market of Vlaada Chvátil’s Through the Ages, the escalator of five action cards from James Kniffen’s Civilization: A New Dawn, and the vaguely aggravating card draws of Jacob Fryxelius’s Terraforming Mars.

It’s wildly popular. I think I know why.

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You Turncoat Me Right Round Baby

I realize the lyric is "you spin me right round baby." But I always hear it as "you turn me right round baby." So this title is a pun on how I mishear that song. Deal with it.

There aren’t nearly enough shared control games. Matilda Simonsson, sole proprietor of Milda Matilda Games, apparently agrees, because she’s gone ahead and designed what could be described as the Platonic ideal of shared control. Inspired by the work of Cole Wehrle — glad I’m not the only one — every copy is crafted by hand. More importantly, it cuts to the heart of what makes shared control so dynamic and exciting.

Spoiler: Turncoats is absolute fire.

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Welcome to Helladise

hell·uh·PAY·gows. hell·LAH·puh·gows. he·llama·puh·GOOSE?

I’ll confess to having a morbid fascination with survival tales that turn to cannibalism. Flight 571. The Donner Party. Yellowjackets.

Now Hellapagos.

When a group of attractive twentysomethings are shipwrecked on a desert island only days before a tropical storm strips the place bare, what will they do to survive? Fish around in a burlap bag for wooden balls, mostly. See also: cannibalism.

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