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This One’s a Bear

Somebody made this art. Keep that in mind before you publicly express your confusion about it. And then express your confusion anyway, because what.

I like it when a publisher has an ethos. I’ve never really thought of BoardGameTables — which I can’t quite bring myself to write under its full name, because blech — as anything other than a table company that happens to publish a few games on the side. Not unlike Ultra PRO and card sleeves, come to think of it.

Peculiar branding aside, writing about a portion of their catalog this past week has given me a more concrete sense for their internal logic. The defining trait is focus. Whether it’s Bites, On Tour, Q.E., Kabuto Sumo — yes, even Loot of Lima — these games pick one thing and try to stick the landing. More often than not, that one thing is offbeat. Outside the norm. Neither a mishmash nor a retread. They hone a single concept to a cutting edge. Even when the result is mixed, it’s hard to argue that this isn’t a carefully curated selection.

And then there’s Bear Raid. Bear Raid may be offbeat, but it lacks the tidiness of those other titles. It even lacks the tidiness of designer Ryan Courtney’s upcoming game Trailblazers, which I wrote about last week. In that respect, it’s closer to Pipeline or Curious Cargo. This here is a big old mess. And I think that’s why I have so much affection for what it’s trying to do.

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