I’ve long been of the opinion that the highest authorities in the land, the dudes who carry matching sets of nuclear launch keys with grave determination and a too-wide gait that hints at unbroken years of constipation, really ought to hire some regular guy off the street. Just to sit in on their super-secret meetings. To sip coffee in the corner and look bewildered while they talk about foreign policy. That way, when someone gets the bright idea to transfer control of the nation’s nuclear arsenal to a digital mind with genocidal tendencies, that guy can twiddle his thumbs for a bit before clearing his throat, leaning forward, and putting them straight.
“Hey, that idea? About the murder-bot and all our nukes? It’s, ah… I don’t know how to say this nicely, Mr. President, but it’s shit.”
And that’s how we’re going to prevent RESISTOR from happening.
In a lot of ways, Indines seems like the ideal tourist destination. It’s bright. Sunny. The people are exotic and vibrant, and have sexy, unfamiliar names like Kallistar Flarechild and Zaamassal Kett. The general populace has long ago gotten used to inter-planar travelers popping into existence left and right, so there’s nary a grouse to be heard about bloody foreigners or damn tourists or anything ugly like that.
While there’s a part of me that marvels at how it’s been two years since I reviewed Noir as part of the Minigame Library, and ponders at how much I have changed and grown and aged over the past 24 months, mostly I think of that part of me as an unoriginal nitwit. We’re reminiscing now? Thinking about how I was once a fresh-faced 26 year-old? No time for that — there are murders to solve. Poor Irma is too busy being dead to pine over her lost youth, so why should I mope over mine?
Millennium Blades is a game about a group of friends playing a game called Millennium Blades. And while you might think I’m being sort of a jackass since any game can be described that way (“Uno is a game about a group of friends being too bored to play anything but a game called Uno”), you’d actually be wrong. Because Millennium Blades really is a game about playing a game. And that game is called Millennium Blades.
Hold on, let me explain.
Argent: The Consortium was my favorite game of 2014 — which, sure, was a bit of a cheat, considering it didn’t release until early 2015. But such is the perk of being a gentleman thief who only targets overseas board game warehouses.
The base game was packed with variety. There were tons of treasures, spells, and supporters, certainly more than you could see in a single game. Every single room and even the workers who carried out your bidding came with an alternate B-side. Between the myriad possible university combinations, powers, spells, and victory conditions, it was possible that every game would be different in some way.
To that end, if you had asked me if Argent needed an expansion, I would have laughed in your face, spittle soiling your eyebrows. Now, I can’t imagine playing without Argent’s first full expansion, Mancers of the University. So what’s the deal?
Back in the day, our game group used to hold these little house tournaments all the time. Mostly Summoner Wars, though we could be counted on to make a lively competition out of nearly anything, from Omen: A Reign of War to The Duke. If we could play more than one match at a time, sharing table space and laughing about each other’s flubs, we were set.
Then, for whatever reason, we stopped playing like that.
Over the next year we occasionally discussed giving it another shot. Especially if we could hold a tournament using BattleCON: Devastation of Indines, because a colorful fighting game full of thirty asymmetrical characters, dead simple rules, and outguess-your-opponent gameplay seemed like the perfect sort of thing for a winner-takes-all brawl. Even so, our plans never coalesced into an actual event.
Well. A few weeks back, entirely unexpectedly, we were treated to a perfect situation: exactly eight players, all of whom arrived exactly at 8, nobody who reported needing to get to bed early, and every single one of them ready and willing to play.
It was on.
I might be more partial to the University from The Name of the Wind than I am to Hogwarts, but I don’t think there’s a single human being among us who can say they haven’t dreamed of being accepted into a school of magic. Ah, what a life! The power, the prestige. The non-committal make-outs with gorgeous magically gifted people. The, uh, education, I guess.
Now there’s one more reason to head off to magic boarding school. It’s Argent: The Consortium, the newest title from Level 99 Games, set in the perplexing world of Indines where people spend roughly 92% of their time punching each other. Now they’re punching each other with intrigue. Also the not-so-occasional fireball.
Mercenaries are disunited, ambitious, undisciplined, and treacherous; they are powerful when among those who are not hostile, but weak and cowardly when confronted by determined enemies; they have no fear of God, and do not maintain commitments with men.
Know who wrote that? Niccolò freaking Machiavelli. Which is weird, because although I read The Prince in high school, I had no idea he played Sellswords from Level 99 Games. I guess that part went totally over my head.
I’m occasionally overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy, the sense that no matter how hard I try, I won’t be able to convince more people to play Pixel Tactics. I mean, I’ve already written about this gem from Level 99 Games twice (here and here) and apparently there are still a handful of people who have yet to check it out.
But it’s not too late. The third game in the series has just arrived, and there’s hope for you holdouts yet.
I don’t have much of a history with fighting games. Oh, there was that time up at Rocky Mountain Pizza Company when a pack of older kids kicked me off the Street Fighter machine, and I owned both Power Stone games on Dreamcast (though they were 3D, so they don’t “count”), and I occasionally got roped into enduring a match of Super Smash Bros with my cousin — but other than those isolated instances, fighting games always stood out as a particularly silly genre, and anyway, I was too busy playing games like Baldur’s Gate II and Planescape: Torment. *raises pinkie ever so superiorly*
So when BattleCON: Devastation of Indines appeared on Kickstarter, I wasn’t exactly out of my mind with anticipation. Still, it was by Level 99 Games, and after gems like Pixel Tactics and the Minigame Library, I figured I’d take a chance. That was nearly a year ago, and now that I’ve played through a couple dozen matches, I can tell you exactly how disappointed I am…