Author Archives: The Innocent

Inside Insider

so mystery

Two weeks ago, I reviewed a rather clever timed social deduction word guessing game by the name of Werewords. And because it isn’t enough to play only one weaponization of Twenty Questions, that old nugget of cross-country trips and standing in amusement park lines, it was suggested to me that I ought to try Insider from Oink Games.

If you’re the sort of person who enjoys reading about publishers accusing one another of plagiarism (nerd), then you’ve likely already heard this one. Long story short: Oink made a game, Bezier made a concurrent game, some licensing emails were exchanged and/or ignored and/or dropped, and now there are two rather clever timed social deduction word guessing games on the market.

As Grand Justice for our entire hobby (self-appointed), how could I pass up this opportunity to utter infallible judgment?

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Alone with 18 Cards

I should be a graphic designer. I used the "paint bucket" at least forty times!

Webster’s Dictionary defines “Sprawlopolis” as “Noun: sprȯl-ä-p(ə-)ləs: An 18-card wallet game published by Button Shy and from the same design trio behind the rather-good Circle the Wagons.”

Huh! Informative and entertaining, Webster! And for once, I’m not going to split hairs. Everything you said is true.

As for the quality of the game, however…

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Five Life Lessons with Drachenturm

Life Lesson #0: Get super lucky with genetics.

As happens in the life of every board gamer who’s bothered to reproduce, there comes a time when your central preoccupation is the inculcation of cardboard and rulesets, dice and phases, punchboards and baggies. Brainwashing, to put it less nicely. All parenting is brainwashing, hopefully with more positive results than negative.

During our semi-regular visits to the local game store, Baby Cate — not rightfully baby anymore — would once upon a time beeline for the shopping baskets. Into the basket she’d climb, insisting it was a boat, and rock back and forth until it toppled onto its side, usually depositing her underfoot a passing stranger. Now her first destination is the shelf at the back, the one with the bright yellow HABA line. Somehow, against all odds, she managed to doe-eye her father into purchasing Drachenturm. Because it had a dragon on the box, you see.

Thankfully, Drachenturm has proved an apt instrument for imparting life lessons. Five of them, by my count. And Cate doesn’t even realize she’s learning.

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Wild(ish)lands

owlman

For about the span of three minutes, I thought I might be in love with Wildlands. It had everything to do with a particular sequence. And I’d love to tell you about the precise moment of my infatuation.

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Passing Judgment on Louis Riel

Because I had no idea who this Louis Riel fellow was, the dark silhouette and noose gave me a very different impression of what this game was about.

Apparently the trial of Louis Riel was a landmark case in Canadian history, although I’d be committing perjury if I claimed to have heard about it before playing High Treason. Thank goodness, then, that other than a few card descriptions and notes in the rulebook, High Treason isn’t the sort of game that requires any foreknowledge. More than a history game, it’s a trial simulator, with all the ups, downs, and shocking reveals of a courtroom drama.

Yes, including the ability to shout, “Objection!”

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Panini™: The Game

Space-Biff!™

Whatever the marketers may tell you, solipsistic horror masquerading under the guise of a cheery board game isn’t new. Dixit did it. A Fake Artist Goes to New York perfected it. Even Mysterium can’t escape that most terrifying existential fact of humanity, that our minds are rafts untethered and adrift on a fog-choked sea, ever in proximity but never quite able to sail in parallel. It’s crazy stuff. Like, does a number even exist, man?

Meanwhile, the real-world Pantone can apparently bring a lawsuit against you for using a particular shade of orange. Perfect for a game that celebrates artistic creativity! But that’s the weird thing about Pantone™: The Board Game. It’s ostensibly about a corporation that owns color, yet somehow manages to stage an odd and endearing paean to player expression and artistic abstraction.

Yeah. Go figure.

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Not Swerewords

insert something funny, because what on earth am i supposed to say

I’ll bet you a silver dollar that I can review Werewords in a single sentence. A sentence that, upon being read, will inform you with total accuracy whether Werewords is just one more social deduction gimmick or the long-awaited incarnation of the One True Deductor.

Deal? Deal.

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Book-Space! #4: The Stars Are Legion

If a jinni can bring you back from the dead, Wee Aquinas doesn't know what to believe anymore. Faith crisis!

Sticky! Join Brock, Summer, Dan, and our friend and special guest Tim Fowers as we dive into our clammiest episode yet. We discuss intestines, unwanted pregnancies, and jinni. It’s The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley. And despite our being beset by technical problems from all sides, you can head over here for a download link or listen below.

Next month we’ll be talking about The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. Give it a look and share your thoughts at spacebiffbookspace@gmail.com!

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The Elusive Cryptids of Cryptid

This week, in board game covers that have nothing to do with the enclosed game, episode #2,401!

There’s an utterly wonderful idea nestled at the heart of Cryptid. For far too long cryptozoology has been dismissed and discredited by more “serious” scientists. But you know something is out there. Yeti, Bigfoot, Nessie, the Pope Lick Monster… something. Problem is, all your buddies from the message board are also on the trail. It’s a race, then, every rival cryptozoologist determined to capture more than grainy footage of obvious rubber-masked imposters. Real proof this time.

As a concept, it’s lovely. Too bad the actual cryptids are as absent as any real-life hunt for Mothman.

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Two Minds about Dungeon Alliance

legs!

Every so often, Dan tosses a spare Space-Biff! key to his buddy Brock for a duel of wits they call Two Minds About. Today’s subject is the most important one yet: Dungeon Alliance. It’s got a dungeon, it’s got alliances. But has it got game? Find out below.

Brock: I considered starting this one with a long jokey paragraph, something along the lines of, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have board games about exploring a dungeon? What a dream world that would be!”

The thing is, designers continue to show us that there’s meat left on the dungeon crawl bones. And — more to the point — Quixotic Games’s Dungeon Alliance, despite its occasional cleverness, is guilty of worse crimes than having an unoriginal theme.

But I’m getting ahead of ourselves.

Dan, why don’t you do the thing where you tell us about Dungeon Alliance?

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