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Jerkforce, Jerkier

Downforce loves shoving its helmets in your face.

Even a year later, Downforce — or Doucheforce, as my group affectionately calls it — remains one of my favorite comedy games. Revolving around haphazard betting far more than actual racing, it sees its participants buying cars, placing wagers, and then doing everything in their power to come away rich(er). And if you’re playing right, you’ll place unexpected wagers, persuade everyone to hassle the lead car, and then gum up the roadways so that nobody else can pass. There’s a reason my driver is named Gandalf.

Danger Circuit adds more. Just more. And while that’s pretty much what I wanted from Downforce’s first expansion, nobody should hop into this particular car expecting a new engine. Read the rest of this entry

Dinosimple Tea Party

"Or is it civilized induction?" someone says, coyly, arrogantly. "No it's deduction," the old lady replies flatly.

The motto for Restoration Games is solid. “Every game deserves another turn.” See what they did there? Another turn. Yeah. Both hopeful and a pun at the same time. Good stuff.

Dinosaur Tea Party is a remake of Whosit?, minus 1976’s uncomfortable stereotyping of its dinner guests. Apparently. I didn’t investigate the matter. All I know is that this game does plenty of stereotyping of its own — a real triceratops would deeply resent being portrayed in that trilby, and T-rex culture actually demands that any work of art portray them chowing down on raw meat. But the real question is, did this particular game deserve its second turn?

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Ugh. Those smooth racing helmets. Ugh.

At first glance, I gave Downforce a pass. After all, of Restoration Games’ opening catalog of refurbished games from times past, my interest was more piqued by Stop Thief! and Indulgence, in part because I’ve never been partial to racing games.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Downforce is not only the best of the three, it’s also hardly a racing game at all. Instead, it’s a game about being the biggest jerk on the track and coming away filthy rich.

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Some Theses About Indulgence

This is exactly the sort of box cover that screams, "Get ready for some trick-taking!"

A game about the selling and buying of Renaissance indulgences would be fascinating. You could try to guess which sins would need forgiving that weekend, pay the priest, and waltz right off to your fancy sexy parties. But! If you didn’t anticipate your transgressions properly, Martin Luther would lodge a complaint and Teresa of Ávila would slap you hard across the cheek.

Indulgence, one of the three titles in the opening salvo from Restoration Games, isn’t quite that. It’s a remake of Jerry D’Arcey’s Dragon Master, which was a remake of his own Coup d’Etat, which was a remake of Barbu. That’s a type of history too. Fewer assassinations and peasant revolts, one hopes.

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The Crimes They Are a-Changin’

Needs a comma.

My Grandpa owned the original Stop Thief, the one from way back in 1979 before exclamation marks were considered proper for board games. The ’80s overcompensated by adding the buggers to everything, but for that brief moment in time you could utter that phrase with a gruff flatness. Stop. Thief. No yelling. You’re hardly even speaking aloud at that point. Growling it, maybe.

Sadly, the chunky plastic “police scanner” that revealed the location of the fleeing thieves was hopelessly broken. We mostly just pushed the investigators around and pretended they were blasting each other in broad daylight and on public streets with their magnum revolvers. So, in a way, a big stretch of a way, Restoration Games giving Stop Thief! new life — with a shiny new exclamation mark — feels almost predestined, as though I was never meant to escape its gravitational pull.

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