Category Archives: Board Game

They Didn’t Get the Overwatch License

MY GREATEST HEADER COLLAGE YET

I’ve played Overwatch for all of fifteen minutes, and still they were enough to peg Guardians as an imitator. From the colorful roster of characters to the powerful “ultimate” abilities, this thing practically screams “I didn’t even try to get the license.”

You know what? I don’t care. Seriously, not a jot. Nor a tittle. And I’m unsure why anybody else should, either. Despite one or two hitches, this thing is a sublime location-grabber, and it deserves more attention.

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Crystal Clans, Take Two

On this point we can all agree, the art blows Summoner Wars out of the water.

When writing about Crystal Clans earlier this year, I pointed out that this was a system with a lot to prove. It was fiendishly clever the way it bounced initiative between players, not to mention how it marched to a killer tempo and boasted some cool ideas about unit and hand management. But deck construction and a solid roster of factions were still to be seen. Even more unenviably, the specter of Summoner Wars lingered over the whole thing. Was it possible for Plaid Hat to deliver a tactical card game when they’d already perfected the formula just a few years earlier?

Well, the first four expansion decks are out. Let’s see if they allay any of those concerns.

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My Heart Pumps Neon

I kind of want every alt text to just be the lyrics to Don't Stop Me Now.

With the benefit of hindsight, City of Remnants was a bit of a mess. Crud, it was a mess even without hindsight. Somewhere between the tile-laying, alien-killing, and drug-peddling, it was brimming with cool ideas. Unfortunately, they were held together with bouncy glue. The resultant skyscraper towered high, but also tended to sway precariously. Needed more blurp.

Wait — blurp?

That’s right. Blurp. Neon Gods is a remake of City of Remnants, minus the mess and plus ten points of charisma. And it has more blurp than you can shake a sneeze at.

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Extra Pulp, Please

THE HAND! THE HAND!

Life’s full of hard knocks, kid. The sooner you get used to it, the sooner you’ll stop feeling blue. Or, as Raymond Chandler put it, “I was the page from yesterday’s calendar crumpled at the bottom of the wastebasket.”

The first thing you need to know about Todd Sanders’ Pulp Detective is that, like all Todd Sanders games, it has an aesthetic of its own, and it’s nigh-on perfect in the right light and from the right angle. Scratch the box while extricating it from the shrink, and it’ll seep an even mix of blood, rye, and chance. That’s right, chance. Liquid chance. Deep like amber but it makes sticky everything it touches. Pretty like a dame who’s known nothing but trouble, but liable to bring that trouble tagging along wherever she goes. Serious as a priest offering confession, but—

Oh fine, I’ll start the review.

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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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