There are perils to self-publishing. Take Renaud Verlaque’s Swords Around the Throne, a sky-high vantage on the Napoleonic Wars that, unlike his earlier published titles Age of Napoleon, The Price of Freedom, and The Big Push, is available only through the Game Crafter. As a consequence, Swords Around the Throne defies ease of entry. Its rulebook is a muddle of misplaced information, details that could have been offloaded to cards or the board are absent, and like many wargames there are exceptions aplenty.
Which is a pity, because somewhere behind a veil of its own devising is a novel portrayal of European upheaval.
I’ve been playing a game about Anabaptist martyrs getting burned at the stake. I’m resisting the urge to call John Ratigan’s Martyr: Bloody Theater 1528 “metal,” although it practically begs for the descriptor. The gilt artwork, paused somewhere between reverential and an iconoclast’s pasticcio. Its sole resource, your stolen final breaths. A transparent disc indicating the Holy Spirit, drifting among onlookers. Even the sweetish wood smoke smell of the Game Crafter’s laser cutter, like some theme park’s attempt at “four-dee” entertainment, slathered so thick with verisimilitude that it kicks down the sauna door on bad taste.
What is this thing? And why does it remind me, more than anything, of a prayer spoken in an unfamiliar tongue, clumsy and unaware and maybe even vaguely offensive, but so earnest that it demands a clemency of its own?
Dragon’s Tiles! Dice Towers! Mayhem RPG! A ton of publishers, like Crash Games, Red Raven Games, and Gamelyn Games! War
Command Haven! Ryan Laukat, Michael Coe, and other designers whose names we can’t remember! That’s how many there are!
All this and more, at SaltCon 2014! So come along, as Space-Biff! investigates exactly what it is that makes this board game convention the third-best in the Mountain West.