Blog Archives

Honest Abe: A Look at Lincoln

This Header: Slender like Abe.

Martin Wallace has never been afraid to tinker with the way we do things. Consider, for instance, the impact of A Few Acres of Snow. By marrying deck-building to a map, Wallace redefined an entire genre. Its legacy includes some of his own games (Mythotopia, A Handful of Stars, A Study in Emerald) and those designed by others (Cry Havoc, Hands in the Sea, even Clank!).

Now Wallace’s tinkering has led him to attempt the opposite of deck-building, focusing instead on something he’s calling “deck destruction.” The game in question is Lincoln, on Kickstarter for the next few days. And in an echo of the “Halifax hammer” that ruined A Few Acres of Snow for some, it’s already being accused of game-breaking imbalance.

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Taking Exception with Feudum

Now THIS is how you honeytrap me.

In a lot of ways, the list of features for Mark Swanson’s Feudum reads like a parody of an over-enthusiastic, under-developed Kickstarter product. What if I told you there was a sandbox game — not just any sandbox game, but a Euro sandbox game — that features area control, action card selection, multiple avenues of improving your holdings, various forms of feudal warfare, roving monsters, a guild system to manipulate and constantly update, a complex market to bully, movement puzzles, peasant uprisings, noble pilgrimages, and persnickety rules exceptions to all of the above?

If you had even a single ounce of sense in your head, hopefully you’d save yourself eighty dollars by running the other direction.

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Two Minds about Darkest Night

The most divisive Two Minds About... ever?

Today on Two Minds About…, Dan Thurot and Brock Poulsen are absolutely going to disagree about the sublime cooperative and solo game Darkest Night. Total disagreement. Friendship-shaking disagreement.

Dan: Wow, that sounds rough. Been good knowing you, Brock.

Brock: Our friendship had a good run, but this is the one! This game will sunder our fraternal bond forever.

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Greece Fire: A Look at Omen

I feel like there's some sort of "evolution of man" comment to be made here, but it's eluding me at the moment.

If you’ve been following Space-Biff! for more than a Thermopylae minute, you’ll know that I’ve mentioned Omen: A Reign of War once or twice. This is one of those rare games that opens with a bang and just keeps going, producing more kicks per minute than a two-story dojo. Now its creator, John Clowdus, has signed with Kolossal to give his small-box classic a bigger-box treatment, including a third entry in the series that steps away from the warring demigods of Greece and toward the warring demigods of Persia. So, you know, it’s super original.

Anyway, what makes Omen such a great game? Let’s take a look.

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Fantastiqa: Pocket Dimension

Ah yes, the much-used Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer by Caspar David Friedrich. In most places he feels trite. Here, he fits.

There’s a certain enchanting quality to Alf Seegert’s latest, Rival Realms. Set in a sort of pocket dimension of Seegert’s wonder-realm of Fantastiqa — and literally sliding into a large pocket, how’s that for appropriate? — and expounding upon the card-laying system he first crafted in Musée, it’s an otherworldly experience, as though its players have left their concerns hanging in the wardrobe and stepped straight into Narnia.

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The Lonely Degenerate

These eyes weren't doing me any good anyway.

There’s a certain comforting blandness to the usual adventure game setting. Armored heroes. Lithe elves. Hardy barbarians. Green-skinned orcs and soaring dragons and icky spiders. A land of plenty thrown into peril. You know the drill. It’s certainly been the drill long enough.

Dungeon Degenerates isn’t satisfied merely breaking away from this formula. It also needs to smash it with a sledgehammer. After all, as spoken by another notable iconoclast, “When you come at the king, you best not miss.”

I’m going to spill the conclusion of this review right now: Dungeon Degenerates does many things, but miss is not among them.

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Make a Million for You Overnight

I love the texture of old hardbacks. They should make shirts out of that texture.

Despite its staid outward appearance, Hardback is the byproduct of word game inbreeding. Its daddy is Tim Fowers, the same fella who brought us Paperback a couple years back, while its father is Jeff Beck, creator of last year’s Word Domination. Even a description of its particular playstyle feels like dendrochronology performed on a family tree: what Paperback was to Dominion, Hardback is to Star Realms.

Fortunately, that word-jumble statement is actually pretty easy to explain.

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Four Little Pigs, Roasted and Stuffed

Welcome to the alt texts for my review of The Grimm Forest! Let's look at some of my favorite evil fairy tale endings that were ruined by Disney!

Allow me to indulge in my inaugural Old Man Moment by saying, hey, fairy tales used to be better. No, not back in my day. I’m talking way back, when the forests were thick and uncut, the sun only peeked through the pestilential clouds once a fortnight, and taking a wrong turn while returning home from the well might get you eaten by either wolves or Visigoths.

Strangely, Tim Eisner’s The Grimm Forest comes within an inch of evoking these older, more ominous stories, and all because this fairy tale’s got bite.

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The Sun Also Rises

From this sideways perspective, it looks like one of those figures is trying to eat a sushi roll.

I’ve always been suspicious of that oxymoron called “big minis games.” You know, specimens like Cthulhu Wars and Assault of the Giants, wherein the little people’s gentlemanly war is interrupted by beasts twice their size and quadruple their strength, slammed onto the table with a diminutive rumble that could ripple water or quiver jello. With all that mass lumbering around, who’s going to work up the nerve to say that your game is too small in the areas that count?

It was Eric Lang’s Blood Rage that persuaded me that such a game could exist, and be worthwhile as a game, without leaning all its weight on its toy factor. Big monsters and cool sculpts, yes, but also a solid sense of what made for a good time. Brawny and brainy in equal measure. Big monsters who land heavily and earn their place.

And now Lang has crafted a spiritual sequel in Rising Sun. Brace yourself, because this one’s got some sharp edges.

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The Wheel Turns Again: A Look at Imperius

Just in case you didn't remember that Dune was Rodiek's inspiration.

Remember Solstice? It would be forgivable if you didn’t, since it’s one of the few games I’ve featured for Best Week that nobody actually played.

But here’s the thing. Imperius — which is Solstice but with some significant polish, expanded artwork, and a way more generic name — is coming to Kickstarter tomorrow, and I want to tell you why it should be the target of your latest machinations.

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