Strange Brew

hoser

Not every game reinvents the wheel. Some games instead go to pains to sand down their felloes, shore up their spokes, and slap on a rubber tire in place of a steel band.

Those are all the wheel terms I know, and they all have to do with wagon wheels. But the metaphor is sound. Brew, designed by Stevo Torres, isn’t here to do something new. It’s here to do something old with the assurance of careful iteration.

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Greenwashing History

Many thanks to Eryck Tait for always knowing what I want from an image far better than I know it myself.

[Content Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article contains images of people who have died.]

Back in June, the Utah Board of Education delivered five pages spelling out exactly what educators could (and could not) teach on the issues of race and racism. The inciting topic in the Utah Senate was — surprise, surprise — Critical Race Theory. The debate had been perfunctory. One side was staffed by professional historians and veteran educators. The other consisted of angry parents who insisted they’d heard firsthand accounts of teachers berating white children.

After producing neither any berated children nor a definition of Critical Race Theory — “It’s like a gas,” one sponsor noted — the Senate determined that the theory was probably anti-American. “We need fact, not theory,” insisted one signatory.

An admirable sentiment! Apart from the pesky detail that those supporting the resolution not only lacked a definition for the theory they were determined to blacklist, but also didn’t have a definition of history. Because while history collects many facts, history has never itself been a fact. History also brims with theories, but is not quite a theory.

History is a war.

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Space-Cast! #14. Mind Managed

Wee Aquinas feels some uneasiness about the theological implications of psychic powers.

For today’s “podcast,” our topic of discussion is everything about Mind MGMT by Sen-Foong Lim and Jay Cormier. Over the course of a single episode, we discuss Sen and Jay’s psychic powers, origin stories, and the process of designing, iterating, and activating latent psychic potential — sorry, I mean adapting Matt Kindt’s comic series.

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

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Pumpkin Party

Look at that happy Pumpkin King. How does one become a Pumpkin King anyway. Like, he's clearly not the biggest or roundest pumpkin. Is it a hereditary role? An heirloom thing? I just don't know the answer.

Designing a roll-and-write or flip-and-write game is like transcribing an epic D&D campaign into a fantasy novel or sampling Rocky Mountain oysters — something everyone apparently has to try once. Josep Allué and Eugeni Castaño’s flirtation with our hobby’s latest craze is Castle Party, a game about monsters crowding into a Halloween bash to watch some fireworks, do the conga, and toast the pumpkin king. And it delivers two small tricks that are a real treat.

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Two Minds About Family Simulator

Fabily. Fabileh. Fabilagh.

Anyone who knows Dan or Brock knows one absolute truth: we are a couple of gearheads. Grease grubbers. Real socket jockeys, always under the hood or behind the wheel. So imagine our unbridled joy when we discovered a Fast & Furious board game, designed by the prolific and enigmatic Prospero Hall and published by Funko Games.

It’s a great little toy box, there’s no denying that. But does it rev our engines or grind our gears? In our latest (or maybe our l8est?) Two Minds About, we’re discussing Fast & Furious: Highway Heist. So hit the NOS and let’s do this!

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Ceci n’est pas un Jeu de Société

Favorite cover? Favorite cover.

It says so right there on the side of the box for Mind MGMT: “The Game of Calm and Relaxation. Where everyone wins.” Given the portrait that adorns the cover, of a woman partially shrouded by flames and implements of murder, one gets the sense that maybe this game isn’t being entirely forthright with its advertising.

The evidence keeps piling on. Hidden messages. Sinister warnings. Visual references to René Magritte’s La Trahison des Images. Much like the reality- and expectation-bending comic book series by Matt Kindt, Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim’s version of Mind MGMT appears to be one thing only to soon reveal itself as something else. Before long, this state of constant metamorphosis proves to be the rule. You can barely hold it in place for all its writhing.

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The Paleo Diet

Fun fact: the real Paleolithic diet included carrion. Your move, health buffs.

The staggering thing about prehistory is its sheer enormity. Before metallurgy, domestication, and agriculture came along to mark the Neolithic, the Paleolithic spanned two and a half million years, during which archaic humans and anatomically modern humans developed stone tools, fire, cooking, and clothing. Also interbreeding between archaic and modern species, but it’s possible that’s beyond the scope of a board game review.

Speaking of which, Peter Rustemeyer’s Paleo is the product of some significant DNA mixing of its own. With dashes of Friedemann Friese’s Friday, Joanna Kijanka and Ignacy Trzewiczek’s Robinson Crusoe, and Peer Sylvester’s The Lost Expedition, Rustemeyer’s version of prehistory is filled with resources to hunter-gather, perils to survive and, above all, things to learn.

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Criminal Capers: Hot Lead

This elephant's backstory includes turning the tide on a band of poachers, a watering hole filled with Jack Daniels, and a precinct captain who's had it UP TO HERE with Detective Tusk's hardboiled antics.

Another day, another entry in Reiner Knizia’s Criminal Capers trilogy. After enjoying Soda Smugglers and Pumafiosi — both with caveats — it’s time to ask the big questions about Hot Lead.

Question one: Why is this the best title in the whole trilogy?

Question two: Is it “hot lead” like bullets? Or “hot lead” like a tangent you pursue? Or both?

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Criminal Capers: Pumafiosi

Awww. Look at that wrinkly little don.

Today, Criminal Capers takes on the mafia. The puma mafia. The pumafia.

Dr. Knizia, you’re a master game designer. Surely you know the value of expertise. So maybe leave the puns to the punfessionals?

Okay, okay. The bones of Pumafiosi are based on Knizia’s own Rooster Booster, which wasn’t exactly the best-received of the good doctor’s catalog. Good thing, then, that Pumafiosi is only partly a remake. This one has layers.

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Criminal Capers: Soda Smugglers

I really dig Halkyon's style.

Sometimes, a little Reiner Knizia is exactly what we need. Emphasis on the “little.” That’s the goal of Criminal Capers, a trilogy of digestible titles designed by the good doctor, illustrated by Paul Halkyon, and published by Bitewing Games via Kickstarter sometime next month.

First up, Soda Smugglers.

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