Blog Archives

Wallets of Turbo Party Pilgrims

DISCLAIMER: The designer of the first game, Rob Cramer, is someone who I would term a "bud." We’ve recorded some podcasts together. More importantly, we've attended SaltCon together. So his game will obviously be the best, obviously. Obviously.

You may have heard of Button Shy. Their latest “thing” has been the hosting microgame design contests — a mere 12 to 18 cards apiece — and publishing the winners under their wallet games line. It’s a potentially big deal for small-time designers, which is why I’m diving into the seedy underbelly of the last batch of three victors. Buckle up, Pope.

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Two Minds about The Banner Saga: Warbands

Why not just go with "The Banner Saga: The Board Game"? As far as I can tell, there are no real warbands in any of these banner sagas.

Today on Two Minds About…, Dan Thurot is graciously joined by famous rockstar Brock Poulsen to examine, critique, and otherwise dissect The Banner Saga: Warbands.

Dan: Introduction time! Take it away, Brock.

Brock: You swiped right on this guy a few days ago, and agreed to meet up for coffee. He’s as handsome in person as he was online, all muscles and thick beard, maybe with a tattoo creeping out of his collared shirt.

“Hey,” he says as he approaches your table. “I’m The Banner Saga: Warbands.”

Dan: I’m already loving this.

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The Not-So-Pleasing Pyramids

Yawning landscapes of clashing colors? A lone figure silhouetted against those chasms? Oink Games is once again up to no good.

There aren’t many publishers that beat Oink Games for cramming so much utter delightfulness into a box the size of a tuna tin. Even a couple years after their first appearance, both Deep Sea Adventure and A Fake Artist Goes to New York make the occasional appearance at our table. These waters may not run fast, or even all that deep, but they certainly are steady. Like the Nile, perhaps.

Speaking of the Nile, The Pyramid’s Deadline sees designer Jun Sasaki back in fine form. Here, up to six players are the harried architects of an ailing pharaoh, desperate to finish their man-god’s tomb before his last phlegmatic gasp. Like an edifice of sandstone, it’s a sturdy sort of game. Unfortunately, it sometimes feels about as polished as sandstone too.

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Pack O Review: BUS

Honestly, this is a bit of a relief. The Pack O Game has been fun to review, but its individual titles never quite captured my imagination the way some of the ditties in Level 99's Minigame Library did. Hopefully Pack O Game 2 will fare better!

Chris Handy’s first Pack O Game has been something of a wild ride, ranging from delightful highs to more than one stretch of tedium. Much like a bus journey, perhaps? Nah, not really, as anyone who’s ever ridden a Greyhound across any significant distance can attest. There comes a point of self-annihilation, usually when the Great Plains stretch out before ye, where you come to comprehend that nothing you have ever experienced has occurred beyond the inverted reflection of light against your retinas, the imposed firing of nerve endings or vibrating cochlea. It’s a moment of tremendous enlightenment, if perchance you permit it to be. Otherwise it might consume you, as only falling upward into the black night sky could do.

Anyway, BUS is a rather good conclusion to the Pack O Game!

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Pixel Tactics, Finally Home

I have literally no idea who that orange dude is.

I’m a big fan of Pixel Tactics. Look, I’ll prove it, right over here, here, and here. I never even got around to reviewing the sprawling deluxe set, because, one, I had nothing interesting to say that hadn’t already been said, and two, there was so much stuff in that big box.

Which is why I struggled to pull the trigger on Mega Man Pixel Tactics, which promised not one, not two, but three new boxes. On the one hand, I’ve never minded more of a good thing, even when we’re talking ice cream and more of a good thing will make me ill for two days. On the other, I still haven’t seen everything my current collection of Pixel Tactics has to offer. Which, considering I have the exact same problem with BattleCON: Fate of Indines, seems to be a recurring theme with D. Brad Talton’s designs. The guy is dangerous like a good fast food restaurant.

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Pack O Review: SHH

I'll be loud if I want.

I’ve always had a complicated relationship with word games. Raised from birth to compete in Scrabble, I can identify all the best two- and three-letter words. I’m the guy you accuse of cheating when playing online. But I’m not cheating. It’s just that I’m a robot with a singular purpose, and that purpose is to spell QUICHES on a triple-word score.

With that level of programming rattling around my head, you’d think SHH would be my sort of thing. So let’s talk.

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Ethnos-centrism

Oh dear. Looks violent. Not for me, then!

Paolo Mori has put together some wonderful stuff, ranging from the shipshape Libertalia to the behatted Dogs of War. Both were exceptionally muscular for their size, flexing their wiry ruleset so that even reluctant friends could join in and still feel brilliant after a couple rounds. What’s the one thing better than staffing a snarling pirate den? Fighting on both sides of a mercenary battle, that’s what.

Ethnos joins that brawny pair as possibly Mori’s most sinewy game yet, and not just because it features trolls beating up orcs. Come take a look.

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Raid & Trade

Remember when Indie and Marion Ravenwood duked it out for control of the crystal skull? Yeah, that would have been a better movie.

Negotiation in games is great, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s also a beast to pull off. You’ve got to provide something worth haggling over, hopefully provide avenues for weaker-willed players to thrive (they are weaker-willed, I call it like I see it), add a dash of risky speculation, and probably figure out how to keep those two from spending the whole night shouting at each other. You know the pair I’m talking about.

Tomb Trader isn’t the usual fare from Level 99 Games. It’s a diminutive thing, just seventy-ish cards and some ultra-cheap tiddlywink tokens. Fortunately, it’s also a surprisingly solid negotiation game for five reasons.

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Pack O Review: LIE

faintly depressing

Between HUE and TAJ, the first Pack O Game has at least proved that games the size of a few sticks of spearmint gum can be compelling. So how about LIE?

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From Casablanca to Potsdam

Honestly, I'm 99% reviewing this so I can have something to refer to when I get around to writing about Pericles.

Churchill is a game I’ve wanted to write about for almost two years. It takes a sky-high view of World War 2, pitching you as the Big Three in their efforts to break the back of the Axis Powers. Yet it couldn’t rightly be described as a wargame. Rather than emphasizing the strategy or logistics of war, it’s about the interactions between Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt (and later Truman) across multiple conferences as they divide the responsibilities and risks of beating Germany and Japan — and eventually divvy up the world itself. It’s a game of politics, of give-and-take, of hard expediency in the face of crushing reality. It’s about working hand-in-hand with your ideological enemies and hoping you have enough clout to avoid triggering yet another war once the current one is wrapped up. It is, in a word, bold.

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