Category Archives: Board Game
Disclaimer: No realms are shifted in the process of playing Shifting Realms.
And that’s honestly a shame, because relocatable fantasy dimensions could have added something wonderful to this competent but by-the-numbers take on the gather’n’build genre.
Rémi Amy’s CIV: Carta Impera Victoria is so cute that I could vomit. No, it isn’t the way the bobble-headed artwork by Christopher Matt recasts human history as one limitless highway of nodding along to the radio. Nor is it the pun hidden right there in the title. Carta Impera Victoria. CIV. Civilization. We get it.
Nope. It’s the fact that the game entitled CIV should contain 104 cards, just as the Romans would do. Ugh. I don’t even believe in assigning scores, and already this thing is pulling zero stars out of a hundred.
Which is a pity, because CIV is one heck of a slick card game.
Now that Netrunner is dead, I’ve been thinking more about those first few months of its existence, before the pro scene and a steady march of upgrades left me standing on the highway watching the dust kicked up by its tires as it left me behind. It was one of those games that briefly captured me, gave me a rough shaking, and then departed forever. Years later I would happen across its obituary and stare, unsure whether I was feeling regret at not playing more or relief that I didn’t stick around until the end.
It’s Renegade that brings back those memories. Not because both games feature body-modded individualists peeling away an oppressive system’s layers of defense, though there is that. But rather because they’re both far cleverer than they first appear.
Oh, and because they both positively drown you in terminology. As in, hands around the throat, bathtub of ice water, drowning you.
Ryan and Malorie Laukat’s Megaland — the Megaland inside the game Megaland, I mean — is your typical video game kingdom. But unlike the typical visitor to a typical video game kingdom, your adventurers aren’t interested in beating levels or maximizing their abilities or completing sick raids. All they want is to amass those sweet, sweet coins.
Kind of like a digital gold farmer. As far as settings go, that’s a first.
Kid games don’t need to be awful.
That’s the design ethos behind My Little Scythe, the father/daughter collaboration of Hoby and Vienna Chou, and a streamlining of Jamey Stegmaier’s Scythe. It’s cute, but there’s still some tension to be found. Lighthearted, but you can still end up with pie on your face. Simple, but not dumb simple. It’s a surprisingly faithful adaptation of Scythe, for one thing.
Even a year later, Downforce — or Doucheforce, as my group affectionately calls it — remains one of my favorite comedy games. Revolving around haphazard betting far more than actual racing, it sees its participants buying cars, placing wagers, and then doing everything in their power to come away rich(er). And if you’re playing right, you’ll place unexpected wagers, persuade everyone to hassle the lead car, and then gum up the roadways so that nobody else can pass. There’s a reason my driver is named Gandalf.
Danger Circuit adds more. Just more. And while that’s pretty much what I wanted from Downforce’s first expansion, nobody should hop into this particular car expecting a new engine. Read the rest of this entry
The motto for Restoration Games is solid. “Every game deserves another turn.” See what they did there? Another turn. Yeah. Both hopeful and a pun at the same time. Good stuff.
Dinosaur Tea Party is a remake of Whosit?, minus 1976’s uncomfortable stereotyping of its dinner guests. Apparently. I didn’t investigate the matter. All I know is that this game does plenty of stereotyping of its own — a real triceratops would deeply resent being portrayed in that trilby, and T-rex culture actually demands that any work of art portray them chowing down on raw meat. But the real question is, did this particular game deserve its second turn?
Oh no! It’s the far future, humanity has spread to the distant corners of the universe, yet an evil black monolith is consuming entire solar systems! Panic in the streets! Science confounded! The only solution is the colonization of planets that happen to match a hand full of cards!
Okay, fine, I can’t confess to having any idea of what’s going on in HOPE. Why are we colonizing planets again? Why do solar systems inhabit three dimensions at once? And what’s with that tacked-on betrayer mode? Do the bad guys really call themselves NOPE? In terms of fluff, it’s no Sol.
Instead, it’s exactly the reason I play lesser-known games.
There aren’t many games that wouldn’t be improved by the presence of clickety-clackety, oh-so-tactile, heavy-as-depleted-uranium poker chips.
Then there are games that already have poker chips and pretty much feel like they’re bribing you into liking them more.
Try to guess which type of game War Chest is.
“For once, you should fight a land war in Asia.”
That’s how I concluded my review of the first edition of Pax Pamir, Cole Wehrle’s razor-loaded take on imperialism and the Great Game. It promoted Phil Eklund’s Pax Porfiriana into the Pax Series, boggled a fair number of minds with its interlocking spheres of influence and enigmatic victory conditions, and — at the forefront of everybody’s minds, surely — was my top game of 2015.
Now Wehrle is crafting a second edition, one he hopes will be more accessible without becoming divisive the way, say, the second edition of A Study in Emerald was. Little hope of that, I’m afraid. This new edition is indeed more approachable, while recapturing much of the bite, intelligence, and adventure of the original. But fans of the first edition may not want to sell their copies just yet.