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Valley of Green Mystery Fury (2nd Ed.)

Lookin' slim, second editions.

As those who know me can attest, I abhor repeating myself. Which is why I can’t even begin to fathom doing individual reviews of all the new editions, deluxe boxes, and standalone expansions appearing on shelves this time of year. Thus, rather than subject myself (and you) to a plodding second refrain of things I’ve already covered in the past, what follows is a breakdown of six excellent new versions of older games. Take a look.

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The Existential Horror of Dixit

On a magic carpet ride to Agrabah.

There’s something both magical and terrifying about Dixit. And I mean that in a far more literal sense than usual.

Communication is tough, as anyone who’s been in a regular human relationship can attest. Our attempts often fall short. Too much, too little, too vague — even too precise. With effort, you can get better at it. Refine it. Figure out when to use it and what type and how much, maybe even realize that sometimes you shouldn’t use it at all. But even then, you can’t ever quite get there. To the point that everyone will know exactly what you’re talking about, I mean. Sure, they’ll hear the words that are coming out of your mouth, assembled from a limited set of vowels and consonants, but how often will they understand, really understand, what you’re trying to say? Sometimes, maybe. But not as often as we’d like to think.

Well. That’s what Dixit is about.

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Lords of Dixit

I know other folks have made the Xidit/Dixit joke before, but c'mon, it's an obvious anagram from the same company that made Dixit, both with cheery, vibrant art, and — wait, they copyrighted that joke?  Well, crap. Sorry. I guess I'll be having a chat with my Space-Biff! lawyer later.

Once upon a time there was a game called Himalaya about yak traders plying their wares in the exotic mountains that separate the Indian Subcontinent and the Tibetan Plateau, and I absolutely did not play it. I’d never even heard of it.

Well now I’ve played it, or something very like it. Libellud, publisher of some of our favorite games like Dixit, Seasons, and Ladies & Gentlemen, recently rebranded Himalaya as a game about noble heroes who wander the countryside, recruiting soldiers and fighting monsters as they go — and let me tell you this new setting is a relief, because I’m buried up to my ears in games about yak trading.

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Luck Be a Lady (& Gentleman) Tonight

This box image fails to convey the sheer quantity of invective this game can drag out of its players.

It’s easy to read about the ladies and gentlemen of previous times — say, the Regency or Victorian eras — and cluck at just how silly and simple those people were, to care only as far into the future as next Friday’s ball or Jane Warmporridge’s upcoming wedding. To fret so intently over appearances and the ministrations of their servants. To live with such a vast gulf between husbands and wives. It’s so easy to read about those people in those different times and let out a sort of superior chuckle. The easiest thing in the world, really.

So although a few folks have voiced concerns that Ladies & Gentlemen sounds a bit, ahem, sexist, in reality it’s a marvelous tool. For, you see, by the end of the game you’ll understand precisely how much a well-matched dress and hat can matter. Most importantly, this is one of the first board games that has stood out to me as having actually taught me something. And I’m not talking about trivia, because I’ll be damned if I’m going to say Trivial Pursuit is an important game.

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