Blog Archives

We Meet Again, Cabbagehead

I dreamed it would end this way.

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.

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Choice Amidst Chaos: Imperius

This is the sleeve art, but it should have been the style for the entire game. So perfectly evocative.

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.

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Tokyo Jambalaya

Subliminal advertising for imported beverages!

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.

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Good Goodcritters

Yeah, look how cool I am at header design. Just the best.

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.

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The Dry-Erase Smudge Marks the Spot

Heterochromia iridum is super creepy.

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.

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A Zero-Star Review of The Estates

As in real development, embezzlement is the surest course to wealth! ... man this country needs help

I don’t usually assign scores, but The Estates deserves zero stars. That’s right. Zero. As in nothing. Even harsher, I’ll award its predecessor, the decade-old Neue Heimat, negative eight points. Just for being German. Yeah, I went there.

But here’s the thing: when it comes to The Estates, that’s a stupendously flattering score. Come on down and I’ll explain why.

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Pax Polemical

hoo boy

Phil Eklund’s Pax Series has always sparked controversy, although never to the extremes of Pax Emancipation. Its mere announcement prompted concerns ranging from the assumption that it would defend the practice of slavery (it doesn’t) to wondering if Phil’s libertarian worldview would color the game’s approach to history (duh). The game itself was almost secondary.

In person, there’s nothing secondary about it. Pax Emancipation stomps into the room with all the bashfulness of a rhinoceros, demands everybody’s attention, and proudly proclaims its views on a whole range of topics. And then, like an actual rhinoceros, it makes a big steaming mess on your carpet.

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MeowMeowBeenz: The Game

I must confess to liking the holographic box cover. It's like a phone, and when you tilt it the star ratings move up or down. Cute.

Black Mirror‘s “Nosedive” is the sort of thing certain people might call “relevant.” A kinda-sorta utopian state with an ugly undercurrent, check. Suspicion of how much trust we invest in social media, check. The assumption that score aggregators will ruin everything about our society, oh yes I am so with you. Never mind that Community‘s “App Development and Condiments” did the same thing (and far more joyously) over two years earlier. No really, don’t worry about it. The more we’re complaining about social media, the happier this duck gets.

And now there’s a board game, published by Asmodee but currently without a listed designer or artist — which is oddly appropriate, given the game’s roots in dystopian fiction. Also appropriate is that, in direct parallel with the social media hellscape “Nosedive” was caterwauling about, the game is total and absolute poo.

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Dude?

this is just like my opinion, man

From Beau Beckett and Jeph Stahl, the creative duo behind 1812: The Invasion of Canada, 1775: Rebellion, 1754: Conquest, and 878: Vikings, comes their most important and serious cultural contribution yet—

A game in which you say “dude.”

And although it would be easy to repurpose the game’s tagline for my review — “it’s a game where you say dude” says everything about how amusing you’ll find it — I have opinions. Though most of them deal more with the sequel. Yes, you read that right: this game already has a sequel.

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Neither Race Nor Roll

Look at the SIZE of that space poop

Race for the Galaxy: Puerto Rico Edition. That’s my dismissive, elitist, reference-choked review of Thomas Lehmann’s New Frontiers, sequel to Roll for the Galaxy, which itself was a sequel to Race. If I were more of a snob, I might leave it at that.

Instead, I’m precisely enough of a snob to feel like there’s something more I could add to the conversation. And in particular, that I might answer the question, Why does such an obviously solid game leave me so cold?

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