Blog Archives

History of the World, Part IV

You'll get a Mel Brooks joke every time. Every. Time.

Way back before the dawn of time — that’s 1991, four years prior to the release of Settlers of Catan — the design team known as the Ragnar Brothers, composed of Steve and Phil Kendall and Gary Dicken, designed a game meant to chart the rise, fall, rise, fall, rise, fall, and many more rises and falls of the kingdoms, empires, dynasties, and nation-states that shaped our history. Some of its central concepts were eventually riffed upon by Vinci in 1999, which was reshaped to became Small World in 2009. Facts! Huh!

Anyway, if you’ve played any of those games, you already know the central conceit behind History of the World. As an empire, your moment in the sun is fleeting. Then it’s decline, barbarian invasions, and eventual obscurity for you. At least your points carry over.

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Neither Merchants Nor Marauders

I'm never going to trust any box that includes the word

Merchants & Marauders was a great big sandbox of fun. It fully embraced the go-anywhere, do-anything joy of life as a sea captain. Did you want to quietly sail between ports, getting rich on clever trades? Fine, fine. Or did you want to make enemies of the Spanish, tackle a treasure galleon, and raid everyone down to their piratical pantaloons? Even better.

Merchants & Marauders: Broadsides is not that.

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I Am Not Just a Knit Wit

Knit Wit: Boasting a design that says, "Hey there, dolphin. Come on in. Let's relax and have a good time."

You might recognize Matt Leacock’s name from such games as Forbidden Island, Pandemic, and Lunatix Loop. Not content with his games of survival and danger, Signor Leacock has now created what might be considered the most delightful game of all time. “We need more whimsy, fewer outbreaks. More pastels and soft lines, fewer deserts and other forbidding destinations,” Mr. Leacock very well might have said in a private moment.

The result is Knit Wit, a product so ineffably lovely that I’m going to — hiccup — do something I’ve never done before: a series of photographs about the opening of the box.

Urp. Man, I can already taste the contents of my stomach. Here we go!

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Pandemic: Spoiled Legacy

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. And honestly, it's getting a little tiresome.

What a journey we have undertaken together. A full year’s worth of uncertainty, close calls, and other things I might have been able to talk about if this weren’t the pre-spoiler-warning header. Whatever else happens today, we’ll always have the adventures we lived in parts one, two, and three. Beyond that? Who knows.

AS ALWAYS, BE WARNED. HERE DWELL THE MOST ALL-ENCOMPASSSING, EVERYTHING-RUINING, SECRET-DEVOURING SPOILERS.

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Pandemic: Spoiled Friendships

"I've found the source of the infection... in Peterson's lava lamp." DUN DUN DUUUUUN

According to the Surgeon General, spoilers can be bad for you, and may cause mood swings, irrationality, sleepless nights, and “getting bent out of shape.” Soon after issuing this warning, the Surgeon General fired her undersecretary for putting such a frivolous motion across her desk. Personally, we think the Surgeon General can stuff it, so what follows is part three of our series to demystify everything about Pandemic Legacy. Our only warning is to take care that you’re caught up on part one and part two before reading further!

EVEN SO, BE WARNED THAT THERE ARE MANY SPOILERS HERE. PARTAKE AT YOUR OWN RISK. SPACE-BIFF! WILL NOT REIMBURSE YOU FOR HURT FEELINGS OR BENT-OUT-OF-SHAPENESS.

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Pandemic: Spoiled Meat

I can guarantee the alt-texts will be spoiler free. And if you believe that, I've got an experimental vaccine to sell you.

Today we’re continuing the adventures of everybody’s favorite gang of disease-fighting, globe-trotting pathologists, a journey that began when [redacted]. You can read all about it over here. In either case, what follows after the jump CONTAINS SO MANY SPOILERS THAT YOU WILL EXPERIENCE SYMPTOMS SIMILAR TO EBOLA IF YOU READ THEM UNPREPARED. IF I’VE WARNED YOU ONCE, I’VE WARNED YOU A HUNDRED TIMES. OPENING THIS CONTAINER CARRIES THE RISK OF PLOT-POINT INFECTION. BE CAUTIOUS, BE AWARE, BE SAFE.

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Pandemic: Spoiled Plans

For those improbable beauties who read alt-texts rather than body text, SPOILERS AHEAD YE BEAUTS. BIG STONKING SPOILERS STINKING UP THE ROOM.

If you’re into board games, you’ve probably heard about Pandemic Legacy, the persistent game of disease control from Rob Daviau and Matt Leacock, which alters in unexpected ways every time you play it. There’s no shortage of people who will gladly fill your ears with honey about the greatness of this game; problem is, they want to tell you about it without spoiling anything. Which is altogether too antiseptic for my tastes.

Which is why I’m spoiling, for your benefit, the runthrough of Pandemic Legacy that I’ve undertaken with my wife, my sister, and my sister’s husband. I will spoil everything I can remember to spoil.

IN THE EVENT YOU DO NOT YET COMPREHEND, I AM THE MAD BOMBER OF SPOILERS, AND I PLAN TO SPOIL EVERYTHING, EVERY SINGLE THING, SO DO NOT SEND ME HATE MAIL WHEN EVERYTHING GETS SPOILED AND YOU WERE TOO OBTUSE TO REALIZE IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. WARNING DELIVERED.

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The Race for Atlantis, Maybe

The graphic designers have sadly failed the first rule of cutsey Minoan-era art: The happy dolphin must always dot the i.

History Time! Around 3,600 years ago on the Aegean isle of Thera, during the height of the pre-Greek Minoan civilization, an enormous volcano went off. In addition to totally burying the settlement of Akrotiri beneath volcanic ash that would later become the principal ingredient in pencil erasers and cosmetic exfoliants, the resultant tsunami and altered weather may have also led to the weakening of the Minoan state, prepping them for invasion by the less-exploded Mycenaeans. Some historians even speculate that the complete disappearance of such an important settlement was the inspiration for Plato’s account of Atlantis.

Set around a thousand years later (landing us in Classical Greek territory), Akrotiri casts two players as a pair of humanity’s first archaeologists, scouring the uncharted Aegean Sea for treasure and ancient temples.

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At Long Last, Elephants!

For the curious, the pictured leaders are: (1) Generic Roman Soldier #61, (2) Siyaj K'ak' of the Maya, and (3) Cleopatra.

The original Clash of Cultures was easily one of the best Civilization-style 4X games I’ve ever played, and was one of my favorite games from last year — despite three major problems:

1. There were no elephants.
2. The yellow miniatures were trapped in a state of perpetual melting (though this was rectified in later printings).
3. Really, not a single elephant to be found anywhere. The box showed elephants. So where were the elephants?

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Kemble Was Actually Just Some Dude

Not only was Kemble just some lucky dude who stumbled across the landmark, but his "cascade" wasn't even particularly large or impressive.

Every now and then, a board game comes along with an idea that makes me think, “Why didn’t someone else come up with that sooner?” In the case of The Battle at Kemble’s Cascade, the topic is classic arcade shmups. Don’t know what a shmup is? It’s a—

Hold on. This is the internet. Go look it up yourself, slacks.

What I will tell you about is The Battle at Kemble’s Cascade, which mostly — mostly — captures the spirit of those arcade classics.

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