Ah, yes, those social deduction dollars. Even a company like Plaid Hat cannot resist their allure.
Crossfire — and we aren’t talking about that silly 1970s ultimate challenge commercial, nor the Shadowrun game — is the sort of title that’s going to have to justify its seat at the high table, especially now that higher-profile offerings like Secrets have wet their pants in public. Social deduction is tough, and for a genre about pulling the wool over your friends’ eyes, it seems there’s not much chance of fooling players into embracing a lesser option.
But here’s the weird thing. For a game that doesn’t even seem like it even wants to succeed, I’m actually a tiny bit enamored with this one.
Dead of Winter was one of the best games of 2014. For one thing, it managed to weave a zombie yarn that didn’t feel stale, but beyond that it was also about as good as narrative-driven games get, full of deception and hidden motives, the nagging threat of betrayal, and plenty of do-or-die moments that could make or break the most stalwart colony of survivors. It was good stuff.
The Long Night isn’t just any old expansion. It’s right there on the box: nothing else required, stand-alone, everything you need to play. In essence, it’s Dead of Winter plus more, with any significant duplicate matter vacuumed out so that those who own the original game will find a reason to return to relive what is largely the same game. Perfect for new players and old-timers alike — or is it? In a package so packed to the rafters with stuff, let’s take a look at what The Long Night is really all about.
A specter is haunting card games — the specter of Magic: The Gathering. It’s an inescapable, all-consuming glutton, and it leaves hardly any room at your friendly local game shop, just a few leftover tables at the rear. But perhaps, just perhaps, Magic will one day be vanquished. Maybe somebody will come along and beat it at its own game, and we will cheer and celebrate and share candied yams and forever be as one, for all men are brothers. And then, years later, we will complain about how beloved this usurper is, and how universally available, and how it only leaves us the tables with the most pronounced corn dog stains, and we will look back on the days of Magic as those of a golden age.
Sadly, Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn is probably not the title that will unseat the king. Though that has nothing to do with how awesome it is.
Just thinking off the top of my head, I can count on my left hand the number of board games about stealth. And that’s after the freak wood chipper accident of 2011.
Point is, while there are loads of games out there that feature hidden or obfuscated information, there are precious few about remaining unseen entirely. Fewer still about being a lady with robotic spider appendages hiding from an enormous dog-man and some dude who can tell the future. Welcome to Specter Ops.
In Summoner Wars: Alliances, this battle has been brewing for a while now — two battles, actually, now that I think about it. Sure, it’s the fight between the Deep Benders, which I suspect is a sort of yoga squat, and the Sand Cloaks, which sounds bonkers itchy. Just shake them out, y’know? And stop tracking all that sand all over the carpet.
More importantly, it’s the fight between Somerset and Dan. A fight that will leave only one of us left standing. Or at least a fight that will break our stalemate.
It was inevitable that I would do a review of Plaid Hat’s latest and greatest, Summoner Wars: Alliances. Not here, however. Oh no. Over at the Review Corner, see.
What’s the Review Corner? Well, it’s like that graffiti-encrusted spot sandwiched between the high school gym and the auto shop. We ditch class, smoke cigs, and trade reviews of board games, eyes peeled all the while for the school cop to come rumbling over in her golf cart. The folks over there were nice enough to ask if I’d do a review now and then, and I answered with a resounding “Okay.” The rest, as some people say (not me), is history.
You can find the review over here.
Deals have been struck. Some benevolent, some… well. It was always inevitable that once the Summoner Wars began in earnest, the sixteen factions who found themselves in possession of summoning stones would seek alliances, no matter how desperate or ill-motivated. And when it’s between the Tundra Guild and the Cave Filth, that’s one fight you sit back and let run its course.
I’m entirely unashamed to confess being a fan of Rocket Jump’s comedy webseries Video Game High School, even if the final whispered words to escape namby-pamby Brian D’s charred lips ought to have been, “I fought The Law and The Law won.”
The board game adaptation, coming from the talented folks at Plaid Hat Games, is filled to the brim with references to the show. Good gameplay, on the other hand? Well…
We’re all sick of zombies, right? I mean, unless you’re one of the hundred million people who keep buying all those zombie-themed games, the ones with the ludicrous quantity of undead minis, and the dice games, and every single thing with a dismembered hand on the cover, the zombie thing feels pretty played out?
I understand. And I agree. Zombies have run their course. Down with the undead. Long live the living.
But you’re going to have to take my word on this one: Dead of Winter from Plaid Hat Games is another game with zombies in it, but even so, it’s pretty much the best game of 2014. So buckle up, keep that shotgun close at hand, don’t trust anyone with a bleeding bandage on their arm — no matter how many times they insist they just snagged it on a broken window — and get ready to see how good a zombie game can be.