Blog Archives

Welcome to the Cleanup

Featuring literally zero screaming Hitlers. Rating: Not Actually Downfall.

Somebody made a booboo.

That’s the sad tale that opens John Clair’s Downfall. When the nukes dropped, everything was lost. History, medical knowledge, fourth-wave feminism, a reliable source of pineapple — all gone. Where once stood civilization, now scavengers roam the wastes, dredging up resources with their exosuits, airships, and fallout-mitigating environmental reconstruction technology. With perks like that, it’s almost tempting to go full prepper.

But don’t pour the concrete for that bunker quite yet, because Downfall has some… let’s call them radiation lesions.

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Ghosts of the Moop

man oh man i hope my blurry pics come across as spooky and not crummy please oh please

Ghosts of the Moor — or Moorgeister in the original German, which sounds like a bodily function run awry — is a dice game collaboratively designed by Michael Kiesling and Wolfgang Kramer. It isn’t an amazing dice game, nor is it a game I’d easily recommend.

That said, it is significantly better than I expected. As in, a whole lot. And there’s one key reasons why.

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Barbarossa’s Last Swim

Ah yes, the medieval pastime of "balance your helmeted forehead atop your pommel." Games were different then.

I have a thing for controversial games. If board games can be art in addition to mere product — which is a point I would heatedly defend — then they can also say something about the world around us. National identity, history, aesthetics, social justice, cultural assumptions; it’s all up for grabs. A lot of the time a game will even tell us something without particularly meaning to. Sometimes that thing is even more telling than its actual message.

When I heard that Seth Jaffee’s Crusaders: They Will Be Done had sparked some minor controversy, with complaints ranging from the tone-deafness of its setting to racial insensitivity, I had to get a look. After all, my background is in religious history, up to and including the actual crusades. I’m practically obligated to have an opinion on such things. It’s as reflexive as noshing on potato chips if they happen to be sitting in front of me. Which is why, going in, my assumption was that I’d find the game’s mechanisms compelling but its history uninsightful.

Imagine my surprise when Crusaders tipped my assumption on its head.

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Cruisers, in Space, Battling

Woah woah woah, there wasn't anything in the title about the Battlecruisers not getting along.

I’ve tried meditation. I’ve tried yoga. I’ve tried herbal tea. And to this day, the only thing that helps me sleep at night is the thrill of spaceships blowing each other to smithereens.

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There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills

They aren't aligned on purpose, so there.

There are five resources in Gold West, and every turn shoves about a dozen ways to use them in your face. And yet, Gold West is also one of the year’s simplest, most streamlined titles.

Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it by the most unlikely method possible: by running you through the rules.

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The Big Crunch of Little Microcosm

Erm, Microcosm... you've got a booger.

You’ve probably heard of the Big Crunch, the theory that the universe will eventually realize that continual expansion is so last eon, and will instead reverse its direction and collapse into a single gravitational singularity.

Eminent Domain: Microcosm is sort of like that, but for card games. And it probably hurts less.

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