Want to know the best thing about all these Reiner Knizia reprints? It’s that somebody else is doing the hard work of curating the good doctor’s 500+ games. Rather than picking through every last trifle, experiment, and flub, they’re all being sorted for the brightest, smartest, and most fulfilling of Knizia’s catalog.
The latest in this spree of curated Knizias — remade with gorgeous art by Osprey Games — is High Society. And much like its namesake, it’s elite, holier-than-thou, and oh so catty.
There’s an undeniable romance to the notion of finding a long-lost city in the middle of an inhospitable landscape. It’s the sort of thing that caused men like Percy Fawcett to wager — and ultimately lose — his life in pursuit of Z in the deepest reaches of the Brazilian Amazon. To brave dangers, starvation, the uncertain meetings with the indigenous, and to arrive battered and thinned yet alive at the foot of a monumental geographic discovery; it almost sounds worth the risk. And I’m the sort who avoids taking my daughter to the park.
The Lost Expedition is only loosely based on Fawcett’s doomed expedition, instead opting to capture the broad strokes of perilous exploration. And unlike its source material, it’s a success.
Every so often, I come across a game that’s so artistic in its vision, so inventive in its mechanical execution, so determined to march to the beat of its own drummer, that’s it nothing short of breathtaking. After playing a few dozen nigh-identical deck-building or worker-placement games, creativity can be its own reward.
Unfortunately, sometimes that game stumbles in just such a way that it becomes nearly impossible to recommend it. And so it is with the asymmetrical cooperative game The Ravens of Thri Sahashri.
Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space isn’t a new game, and in some ways it shows. It isn’t as slick as the third edition of Fury of Dracula, for instance, last year’s reimagining of 2005’s reimagining of the 1987 classic. In that case, Fantasy Flight had the experience of multiple decades to draw on, resulting in one of the best sneak-around games ever made. And it certainly isn’t as agile as Specter Ops, which portrays tiptoeing past corporate security guards as not only a question of positioning but also one of velocity.
And yet, the ultimate edition of Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space is still a beast worthy of consideration — though perhaps only after being tamed with a healthy heaping of house rules.