Blog Archives

Mountain Copper

Ah, deities, just how I like them: clear and present dangers to our survival.

In Plato’s description of Atlantis, Critias mentions orichalcum — literally “mountain copper” — a metal second in preciousness only to gold but no longer known except by name. To this day its identification offers a minor mystery to historians. Was orichalcum some bright alloy of gold? Platinum? Remnants of an alien civilization that taught humans how to embed circuitry into the Acropolis? Probably not. A few years back almost forty ingots were recovered from a shipwreck off the coast of Sicily. A gold-hued alloy of copper and zinc, some experts believe these may be our last remnants of the lost metal. They’re on display at the archaeological museum of Gela.

Orichalcum is also a board game by Bruno Cathala and Johannes Goupy. It’s considerably less mysterious than its namesake.

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Aroo!

that's one powerful tapetum lucidum to reflect a whole image like that

Ashwin Kamath and Clarence Simpson’s The Wolves comes with a soundtrack. Not on CD or MP3, and certainly nothing officially composed. It’s the compulsive “aroo!” that players belt whenever their pack of noble wolves takes the howl action. I have yet to play a game without somebody launching into that enthusiastic howl.

What about the game? Yeah, that’s pretty good too.

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That Time I Spoiled That Time You Killed Me

As a kid who grew up with Aladdin, I'm unnaturally afraid of drowning in a giant hourglass.

Time travel is like paprika. There’s a huge difference between a little and a lot. And I say that as a time travel apologist.

Peter C. Hayward’s That Time You Killed Me is all about time travel. If we stretch our metaphor to the breaking point, it’s an entire mountain range of paprika. Fortunately, Hayward has the good sense to dole it out in pinches and scoops rather than shovelfuls. And there’s really no way to talk about it without some minor spoilers.

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Strange Brew

hoser

Not every game reinvents the wheel. Some games instead go to pains to sand down their felloes, shore up their spokes, and slap on a rubber tire in place of a steel band.

Those are all the wheel terms I know, and they all have to do with wagon wheels. But the metaphor is sound. Brew, designed by Stevo Torres, isn’t here to do something new. It’s here to do something old with the assurance of careful iteration.

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Umbra Via Ignitis

I really dig the semi-abstract nature of this whole thing. Honestly, this is one of those very rare instances where a wooden edition might entice me.

Connor Wake’s Umbra Via is a study in contradictions. It’s a game of steps, bids, tiebreakers, and infuriating balance. Whether that’s a good thing is also a contradiction.

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Depends on the God, I Suppose

Gods Love [Insert Hot Setting]

If God really loved dinosaurs so much, the big guy wouldn’t have treated them to an asteroid sandwich. In that regard, Kasper Lapp’s Gods Love Dinosaurs is a piece of revisionist theology. The divine course of history thrown into schism, the natural order turned on its head, all to placate the feelings of dinophiles.

As a plaything, though, it’s reasonably charming.

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The Other Game

Am I phoning this in? Nah. It's the young people who're wrong.

I’ve played the game all of once. Sorry, The Game. Steffen Benndorf’s The Game. No, not Wolfgang Warsch’s The Mind. The Game.

Except now we’re talking about Ohanami, Benndorf’s attempt to make The Game into a competitive game rather than a cooperative game. Is it an improvement? Well, its title is more searchable, I’ll tell you that much.

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Alt-Delete

You can tell it's a negative review when I didn't bother to center the title in the image.

Ctrl sure knows how to strut its stuff. Never mind that its stuff is an ill-fitting peg leg, peg arms, and a peg head that keeps falling out and looks so identical to its other peg-parts that nobody can remember which depression it’s supposed to peg into.

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What We Play in the Shadows

Clean your face, dude. Did they not have manners in the 14th century? Sheesh.

It isn’t often that the story behind a game is more interesting than the game itself. If you don’t believe me, try watching that documentary about Twilight Imperium.

Nyctophobia, though, is one of the few games that comes close. Created by Catherine Stippell as a way to include her blind uncle in the hobby — and possibly even grant him an advantage over those with functioning vision — Nyctophobia casts its players as teenagers fumbling through a darkened wood on a moonless night, navigating purely by touch as they scramble to rescue a friend who’s been bound as a vampire’s familiar.

As far as gimmicks go, donning blackout glasses is dang sexy. As a game? Well, let’s talk.

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Dinosaur Island, Uh, Finds a Way

Jur-acid Park

There’s an undeniable allure to the prospect of running your own dinosaur park, sure. Electrified paddocks packed with jumping velociraptors, automated cars humming past jungle exhibits, the occasional goat bleating its location to a beverage-rippling T-rex.

But right away, Dinosaur Island makes one crucial misstep that sends it hurtling into a ravine filled with hungry compsognathus. Because you see, it’s not merely that we want to operate a dinosaur park. It’s that we want to operate a dinosaur park while it’s teetering on the edge of full-blown chaos theory meltdown.

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