Wolfgang Warsch is on a roll. Within the past year, he delivered the mathy Ganz Schön Clever, a great game that certain doofopoda don’t consider a game, a bunch of stuff I haven’t played because their titles are in German, and now The Quacks of Quedlinburg. I’d call his output improbable, except his games seem to truck in probability, so it’s… good odds? A fair shake? I have no idea.
On the surface, Quacks is about charlatan doctors peddling fake potions. But forget about that; it’s what we hoity-toity professionals call “setting pasta-toppa.”
Look, I love weird social games. How else could Bemused earn a spot as one of my favorite titles of all time? So when G.I.F.T. starts talking about attending an afterlife tea party, meeting the gods of life and death, and being forced to entertain them by stringing silly sentences together in order to stitch your body back together, I’m there. This getup isn’t even particularly illogical. Why shouldn’t a deity want you to debase yourself by assembling preposterous acrostics? Have you seen the world we live in? Makes sense as far as I’m concerned.
But that’s the elevator pitch. In practice, however… let’s get into it.
If you’ve been in this hobby long enough — or even if you haven’t — you’ve likely heard of Betrayal at House on the Hill. As an elevator pitch, it’s exactly the sort of thing that non-nerds might say appeals to actual-nerds. A mansion cobbled together from random tiles, scattershot with flipped cards and flavor text, and boasting a crescendo wherein somebody is transformed into one of oh so many monsters and pitted against their former fellows. Infinite games in one! You’ll never need another!
And now there’s a legacy version. Like a haunted carnival, the fun might never stop. They did say it was supposed to be horrific.
There’s nothing wrong with the idea that robots might one day enter the arena and wage battle for their own amusement; far better, at least, than them forcing us into the ring. In the distant future of Volt, it seems that our species has been shuffled offstage with the reverence usually reserved for a soggy box of yesterday’s banana peels. With no one left to conquer, the bots have turned their attentions inward. It’s only logical.
Instead, my issue with Volt is that I drew more enjoyment from the crafting of the above paragraph than any of my time spent in the game’s company.
He may be terrifying, but that doesn’t mean Mr. Cabbagehead doesn’t have enthusiasms. Farming his cousins, for example, followed by a village-wide exhibition of their corpses and a pale supper of their crisp flesh. Such is life for a ghastly were-vegetable.
In the three years since I reviewed Todd Sanders’ Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden, everybody’s favorite sentient leafy green has grown up. Now he’s got a publisher, a posh production, and even a two-player mode. Guess he sufficiently impressed Eudora Brassica after all.
It isn’t reasonable to expect that you’ll master Grand Rodiek’s Imperius on the first play. Crud, I’ve written about it twice before — once as Solstice, again as a preview — and still I’m uncovering new tricks. For example, the “lose to Adam even when I’m ahead by ten points” trick.
Let me explain it for you. Then you too can be a professional Imperator.
I have a rule here on Space-Biff! that I take rather seriously, that I always play a game at least three times before I evaluate it. Tokyo Jidohanbaiki is one of the few times I’ll be making an exception. It isn’t a single game, for one thing. Rather, it’s a compilation of eighteen minigames, across multiple player counts, play lengths, genres, designers, and even one that requires you to own another game as a prerequisite. Fifty-four plays and another purchase in order to write about a box that I keep mistaking for gum? No thanks.
But the bigger issue is that, despite being spearheaded by Jordan Draper, an up-and-comer with a captivating eye for design, Tokyo Jidohanbaiki is also an example of why collaborative efforts so often fall flat.
Magic, shmagic. Join Summer, Brock, and Dan as we discuss whether stone should weigh more than flesh, why Schaffa is the best character of the entire trilogy, and why they didn’t just travel through the center of the Evil Earth in the first place. It’s The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin. For the last time for real this time. Listen here or download here.
Next month: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay.
There’s no joy quite as pure as ripping off your friends. Sadly, I never got around to playing Tiefe Taschen, Fabien Zimmermann’s previous friend ripper-offer. Fortunately, thanks to the appearance of Goodcritters, there’s no need. This thing is lean and punchy. Exactly how I like my frivolous time wasters.
Tim Curry has been captured! His treasure lies buried somewhere on the island. Gonzo, Rizzo the Rat, and that bemulleted blonde kid — professional pirates all, a real festival of conviviality — are racing to figure out Tim Curry’s clues and unearth the gold. That’s right, it’s Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, a book that I’ve absolutely read. And in cardboard form, it may feature fewer musical numbers than the original, but it’s also a sublime deduction game.
Most of the time, anyway.