Matt Leacock may have gained public acclaim thanks to Lunatix Loop and Knit Wit, but I must confess a heterodox belief that Pandemic, Roll Through the Ages, and Forbidden Desert will eventually be recognized as his more influential designs. Consider Era: Medieval Age as a prime example. As a successor to Roll Through the Ages it sheds the system’s slimness for a small hill of plastic, but it also happens to be a near-perfect dice game.
To discover how I feel about Andreas Schmidt and Michael Kiesling’s Heaven & Ale, you don’t have to look much further than the rulebook. On the very first page, you’ll find the usual list of components. Here are some barrels. Monks. Sheds. Yeast and hops, barley and wood. Everything a monastery needs to brew enough beer to wash away the sting of losing Lindisfarne.
Turn the page, however, and all that stained-glass prettiness is scrubbed until all that remains is a blank pane. No longer are the resources barley and water and yeast; they’re yellow and blue and white. Gone is the veneer of monastic life, and certainly missing is the whole “brewing beer” thing. Trappists living the Rule of St. Benedict? You might as well be stevedores living the rule of finish loading these shipping containers by five p.m. or bust.