Blog Archives

Hollow Is Right

No idea why the actual box art hasn't been uploaded. Oh well!

As much as I appreciate asymmetry, not every game needs its sides to adhere to different rules. But as long as you’re going for it, there are worse pitches than Skulk Hollow. Basically, it’s man versus monster — except the men are foxes and the monsters are ten-story behemoths reminiscent of Shadow of the Colossus, including the “clamber up their short hairs to stab them in the soft spots” part.

I’ll say this for Skulk Hollow: ambition isn’t its problem.

Read the rest of this entry

More Vaster, Less Vastish

I love the warlock DESCENDING ON A CLOUD OF FARTS

What I most appreciated about Vast: The Crystal Caverns was its improbable intermarriage of two ideas. The first was its dungeon, generated in roguelike fashion from a generous stack of tiles, producing a sprawling cavern filled with perils and plunder. The other idea was deep, even idolatrous asymmetry. Far more than the possibility of the multiple heroes offered by so many other dungeon crawls. Rather, it was an all-inclusive medley of characters and play styles. The knight versus the dragon, but also the sneaky thief, a pack of suicidal goblins, and even the haunted cavern itself, all working at cross-purposes.

Just as Vast beget Root, Cole Wehrle’s more approachable take on rabid asymmetry, so too does Patrick Leder’s Vast: The Mysterious Manor emerge from a paradigm established by Root. Which is really just a fancy-pants way of saying that this is a kinder, friendlier Vast — when it comes to learning the rules, at least.

Read the rest of this entry

Four Cutting Boards

aka "Treatment Department." Yeah, effective translation AI is a ways off.

One of the hallmarks of abstract games is their low barrier of entry. Easy to learn, difficult to master, as you nerds love to say.

Manolis Vranas and Jamie Sajdak’s Shobu — which Google Translate informs me means “processing unit,” although I have no idea how they got that from the kanji for “victory” and “defeat” — is so easy that its three rules are printed on the back of the box. How delightfully brazen! Which is why, although I’m usually loathe to list a game’s rules, I’m going to teach you how to play Shobu right this instant.

Read the rest of this entry

Perambulating in Burano

BRAG: I've been to Burano.

Every so often, a game comes along that makes you say, “Well, that was charming.” Maybe that sounds like faint praise. Fair enough. Often it is.

Not in Walking in Burano, designed by Wei-Min Ling and illustrated by Maisherly Chan. This thing walks the line between charming and chewy just enough that I’ll forgive its first player marker being a cat standee.

Read the rest of this entry

Mollified

nice foreheads, my bros

Working my way through the recent catalog of design collective Prospero Hall — including the rather good Jaws and How to Rob a Bank — I’ve been struck by just how different each title is from its peers. Until Horrified. In this one, the spin is that each play features two or three of the game’s six unique monsters, resulting in dozens of possible combinations and interactions. You know, much like last year’s Villainous.

Except when you get right down to it, Horrified is its own beast. For one thing, it’s a cooperative game. For another… well, let’s talk.

Read the rest of this entry

Theodolite Not Included

"Happy accidents," he says, scrawling a billion flesh-hungering orcs into proximity near the helpless village.

If you’re anything like me, your attitude toward the roll-and-write genre has charted a course from, “Oh, this is neat, and we can all play at the same time!” to “Hm, is this a way of tricking me into showing my work on my seventh-grade algebra homework?” to “Okay, that’s enough of these things.” At first I wondered how long a pad of 100 sheets could possibly last. What a fool I was to think it would stop there.

That said, Cartographers may be the first R&W since Welcome To that hasn’t driven me to mindless groaning.

Read the rest of this entry

Yippee-Ki-Nope

I love this.

There’s a well-known quandary in wargames where designers grapple with the accuracy of their own simulations. How closely should a game hew to its historical outcome? Should both sides be equally able to win a conflict, or should the same historical inevitability that ruled yesteryear also rule the game sitting before you on the table? Which better captures the spirit of an event, its true outcome or the uncertainty that rattled within the heads of its actors?

Unless your name is Jake Peralta, Die Hard isn’t history. Still, its cardboard adaptation, Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist: Board Game, raises similar questions.

Read the rest of this entry

Two Minds About Super Punch Fighter

Hexes. Like Catan!

Did you know that Brock Poulsen and Dan Thurot originally bonded over their shared love of Plaid Hat Games’ Summoner Wars? It’s true. Which is why this month’s Two Minds About… is such a meeting of the minds. Welcome to Super Punch Fighter, one of the latest titles from Plaid Hat.

Brock: Tabletop gamers are an opinionated bunch. Ask a group of us our favorite things about the hobby, and you’re likely to hear a lot of tactile answers: The riffle of a deck of cards. A well-written rulebook. The fresh cardboard smell of a new game.

Occasionally, though, this celebration gets weaponized as proof that board games are better than video games. It’s a silly war for which the stakes could simply not be lower. Yet Super Punch Fighter, from Robert Klotz and Plaid Hat Games, tries to bring peace to those warring factions.

Dan: Because it’s a board game of a video game of a fighting game?

Brock: Right. So maybe they’re bringing pain, rather than peace? You’ve reviewed a few fighting games on Space-Biff, including BattleCON and my personal favorite, EXCEED. What do you think are key factors to make a brawler successful?

Read the rest of this entry

How to Pepper Spray a Mall Cop

This header image represents my finest work yet.

I don’t often talk about how much a game costs. There’s a reason for that. Essentially, a game’s cost is so subjective — and variable — that nearly anything I could say wouldn’t actually be about the game, it would be about my economic circumstances. Which, sure, might tip you off to the fact that Kingdom Death: Monster is a scooch beyond my price range.

I picked up How to Rob a Bank at Target for ten dollars. It’s silly, quick, and colorful. For ten dollars. And you can bet your butt that’s going to impact how I think about it.

Read the rest of this entry

The Enburgling: A Look at Burgle Bros 2

I want that shirt.

I enjoyed Burgle Bros despite some caveats, even though my fondness dimmed somewhat with time and repetition. Still, there weren’t many moments as memorable as when Brock brought back Burgle Bros after keeping hold of it for a few months. Say that five times fast: Brock brought back Burgle Bros.

Well, this time he won’t need to. Last week, I sat down with Tim Fowers for a look at his and Jeff Krause’s sequel, Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers, on Kickstarter now. And while anything and everything is subject to change — the perils of a preview, unfortunately — here are the three things that rekindled my affection for this heist simulator.

Read the rest of this entry