All you need to attract my attention is an utterance of three little words: Boelinger. Archipelago. Sequel. Everything else — the distant setting, the stock market, the expansions you can swap out to generate countless planets to explore — are really just icing.
Want to learn how to stop my attention dead in its tracks? Christophe Boelinger’s Living Planet knows the answer.
Everybody’s heard of Carcassonne, right? No, not the French city, smart-ass. The board game. That’s all we talk about here. Catch up.
Anyway, it’s perfectly pleasant. Put down some tiles, build some roads and castles, maybe there’s the occasional chapel. When you put down your little meeple guys, they earn points from all those cheerful little features of geography. Now imagine that but in real-time, everyone rushing to put tiles down, fumbling over themselves to fill in an open space, while still coming up with a coherent strategy. It sounds like madness, yeah?
Well, sure, it is a bit bonkers. But since this is a game from Christophe Boelinger, creator of Archipelago, it somehow works like a charm.
Greetings, fellow lonely boardgamers! Now now, before you wind your typewriters for the composition of strongly-worded letters (in my imagination, your typewriters are electric but powered by treadle), I realize this issue of Alone Time is over a month late. Worse yet, the content isn’t even original — I talked about the rather-fantastic Archipelago a mere couple weeks ago, and here I am caught on repeat.
Still, this is an experience any self-respecting solo boardgamer ought to know about, because it turns out that one of the freshest recent multiplayer boardgames is also one of the freshest recent solo games to hit the market. Once you pick up the Solo Expansion, anyway.
Turns out 2013 is one hell of a year to be playing board games. Back in March, I wrote about a game called Kemet that I assumed would be one of the best titles of the year — and it turns out it still is, though now it has a competitor in the form of Archipelago, the latest from designer Christopher Boelinger. Now, maybe at this very instant you’re muttering that Archipelago technically released in 2012, but I have two counters for that: one, I had no idea this gem even existed, and we’ve always run things on our own time here at Space-Biff!, and two, if you knew that off the top of your head, why are you even reading this review? Surely you know it’s amazing by now? Why don’t you go play it instead of hassling unpaid board game reviewers?
Anyway, Kemet and Archipelago would be about as different as two games could be if it weren’t for precisely two similarities. For one thing, both force their players to ration a limited pool of actions like precious canteens of water in the desert; and for another, they’re both determined to make you despise your friends for the evening. This time around though, it’ll be because your best friend just swindled you out of a bumper pineapple crop. That little turd.