The staggering thing about prehistory is its sheer enormity. Before metallurgy, domestication, and agriculture came along to mark the Neolithic, the Paleolithic spanned two and a half million years, during which archaic humans and anatomically modern humans developed stone tools, fire, cooking, and clothing. Also interbreeding between archaic and modern species, but it’s possible that’s beyond the scope of a board game review.
Speaking of which, Peter Rustemeyer’s Paleo is the product of some significant DNA mixing of its own. With dashes of Friedemann Friese’s Friday, Joanna Kijanka and Ignacy Trzewiczek’s Robinson Crusoe, and Peer Sylvester’s The Lost Expedition, Rustemeyer’s version of prehistory is filled with resources to hunter-gather, perils to survive and, above all, things to learn.
Tom Jolly and Luke Laurie’s Cryo opens with a bang. En route to a habitable world, its colony ship is struck off course, possibly by sabotage, and finds itself scattered across the surface of a snowball planet. Divided into distrustful factions, the crew scrambles to hoard supplies and thaw out their companions before they’re lost to the flames. Nightfall swiftly approaches, driving the survivors underground.
If Cryo were your typical systems-heavy nu-Euro, its opening riff would serve as a prelude to resource swapping, puzzle-box optimization, and careful accounting. A veneer meant to decorate some math. To be sure, there are resources to swap, puzzles to optimize, and accounts to settle. But far from being your typical nu-Euro, Cryo approaches its setting with laser focus. Rather than coming across as ponderous or disconnected from its setup, Cryo’s story begins with a thunderclap and keeps drumming until it reaches its fateful conclusion.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.