Cardboard Children: Shadows In The Woods

By Robert Florence on August 19th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.


Hello youse.

I’m not going to tell you about Libertalia yet. I’m not even going to tell you how I feel about it. I’m going to, somehow, hold all that in for a while longer. It’s not properly released in shops yet, anyway, so… HOLD. HOLD. If you can. HOLD. Oh man.

Honestly, I can’t really talk about how I’ve played it and played it and played it. I’ll – HOLD! HOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLD!

What I will do today, is show you something beautiful, and then send you off to find it.

SHADOWS IN THE WOODS

Sometimes words aren’t good enough. One of the reasons why I love board games is that they aren’t just fun to play, they’re often beautiful things too. Beautiful objects. When you set a beautiful game up on the table it can take your breath away, as long as you’re the type of person whose breath can be taken away by beautiful geeky stuff. And I know you’re that type of person, because you’re here.

Today we look at something very special. It’s a German family game called “Waldschattenspiel”, sold here as “Shadows In The Woods”. It’s a game designed for children and an adult, but I think any group would happily play this wonderful little thing. There is nothing else like it, and certainly nothing else that looks like it.

Let me explain how the game plays.

A board. Wooden trees of different sizes. Little wooden pawns. A candle.

The child player takes one of the little wooden pawns (the dwarves) and hides it in the forest, in a patch of shadow. Once all the children have hidden their dwarves. The adult player, a giant with a bright lantern represented by a tea-light, rolls a die and moves that many paces through the trees. As the light source moves, the shadows dance and stretch. Any dwarf caught in the light is frozen, unable to move, until another dwarf can come to touch it and break the spell. The dwarves win the game by coming together in the same patch of shadow, under the same tree. The light-bringer wins if it freezes all the dwarves.

Wow.

Dwarf movement is just magical. Everyone who plays it says the same thing.

DWARF PLAYER: How do I move?

LIGHTBRINGER: Just move.

DWARF PLAYER: Follow the spaces?

LIGHTBRINGER: No, just move wherever you want, as long as it’s dark.

DWARF PLAYER: Oh. Oh! Wow.

LIGHTBRINGER: Yep. Wow.

DWARF PLAYER: Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

In movement, the little dwarf can move anywhere inside the shadows. It can’t cross any beams of light. Otherwise, it is completely free. Kids love this liberating form of game movement, and you better believe adults do too. There is a lot of drama in having a little dwarf frozen in a shaft of light, while the other dwarves hope for a path to the frozen dwarf’s tree. What a weird sentence.

Listen, kids shit themselves with joy playing this game. I’m serious. This is real thematic gaming for a kid. And I guarantee to any parents out there that this game will make your children smile like the happiest little fuckers on the planet. Excuse the language.

The game is super-simple, and can end in two minutes, or in ten. Longer games than that are uncommon. But every second is a delight. When the candle is pushed through the forest, and the light starts to shift this way and that, the table falls silent. It’s a dreamy experience. It’s the ultimate mellow game. It’s perfect to play before bedtime, for kids and adults alike. It just chills you out.

I am in love with this game. Is it cool if I just show you some photos of it? I doubt that you’ll be able to resist hunting for this game afterwards, and I wish you luck in finding it. It’s not just a game, it’s a lovely thing, and we all deserve lovely things every once in a while.

DESCENT SECOND EDITION CONVERSION KIT

I now have a copy of the Conversion Kit. Like I told ya, it lets you use all your hero and monster shit from First Edition in the new edition of the game. That makes it dynamite. When I pulled all the cards out of the little box, I could feel the weight of a giant bestiary of monsters. And that’s dynamite. When I felt the stack of hero cards in my hand, I thought to myself – “So many cool dudes. This is dynamite.”

And the new stats and rules are consistent with the way the characters originally worked, for the most part. There’s been a lot of time and care put into retaining the feel of the heroes and monsters. That’s nice of them, huh? They did that for YOU(R MONEY).

What if you don’t have all the hero and monster miniatures? Well, shut up. You can just proxy stuff in. I’m sure, in time, some crazy guy on some website or other will create a list of minis you can use. Or maybe you could make some minis out of Lego, if you’re insane.

There’s a shitload of stuff in this little kit. It turns your Second Edition into a big old toy set. It is officially RECOMMENDED by the Order of the Knights Florence.

GEN CON/FANTASY FLIGHT

Gen Con is happening just now. It’s a big convention where people announce where my daughter’s inheritance will be getting spent in the year ahead. And Fantasy Flight are trying to steal the show again, as usual. BULLIES.

They announced a Descent expansion.

They announced a Star Wars RPG.

As I write this, they’ve re-announced a new version of the great “Borderlands”, an old Eon game about diplomacy and trade. They announced it way back in the day, but we all thought they’d forgotten about it. And now they’ve gone and announced it again, and everyone has gone YAY! Why? Well, the minds that brought us Cosmic Encounter brought us this bad boy. OH MAN OH MAN. I can’t wait to see how it looks with the new lick of paint.

NEXT WEEK

I’ll do a round-up of Gen Con, I’ll recommend something new, and we’ll make a decision on the dungeon crawler we are choosing as one of our Some Games. It’s a HARD CHOICE. Stay, as ever, dicey. (Going off this again.)

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33 Comments »

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  1. McDan says:

    That does sound like a beautiful game, and one that should get the interest and be simple enough for people who don’t normally play brdgms. Which is what I always try to look for to get more people into them. Then bludgeon them over the head with cosmic encounter and space alert and don’t let them leave until they are converted into loving them.

    • MOKKA says:

      “[…] people who don’t normally play brdgms[…]”

      You know, taking the vowels out of words does not always make them cooler, sometimes it just makes them dumb.

      • McDan says:

        I wasn’t trying to sound cool or anything, just wanted to do it. But thanks anyway.

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          well at least it makes a lot more sense than taking the consonants out. People who play oaae

  2. Jorum says:

    Amazon still have 4 copies of Shadows in the Woods. And some other online shops seem to have a few copies.
    All at £30 though.

    Was very tempted to get one a few weeks ago but a little too pricey.

    There are loads of 10euro used versions on German Amazon, but they won’t ship to UK it seems.

    • Premium User Badge

      JB says:

      I’ve been looking at Shadows for a while, it does indeed look lovely. I noticed a guy on BGG made his own copy. If I can’t lay my hands on a copy in the near future, I may just do the same.

  3. Inigo says:

    It’s perfect to play before bedtime, for kids and adults alike. It just chills you out.

    Until the kids wake screaming from their nightmares of burning giants that drag children away, melt their eyes and make lanterns out of their shrieking, agony-stricken, still-aware faces.

  4. ten_six says:

    Anyone know where i can get this in the US?

  5. Beartastic says:

    There’s a great little iPhone game that’s quite a bit like Shadows In The Woods, called “Helsing’s Fire”.

    You only play as the light source in that, though — getting to play as both sounds great!

  6. Temple says:

    If you cannot wait for a potty mouth to review Libertalia you can always try http://drakesflames.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/board-game-review-libertalia.html

    It is where I go for my fix when Quinns is off making money to buy more games so he can review them on http://www.shutupshow.com/

  7. President Weasel says:

    Cardboard Children is one of the things that make my life that little bit better.
    I know a two and a half year old. Maybe I’ll get her Shadows in the Woods.

  8. BigJonno says:

    Damn, that Star Wars RPG just comes across as the worst attempt to milk fans ever.

    “Hey, you know the entire Star Wars Expanded Universe?”

    “Yeah.”

    “We’re not making a game about that, we’re making a game about the classic trilogy period.”

    “Oh, that’s cool, I guess.”

    “And you know how there’s the Empire and the Rebel Alliance?”

    “Yeah.”

    “We’re going to split those up.”

    “So you’re doing an Imperial game and a Rebel game?”

    “Oh no. That’d make too much sense. We’re doing a scoundrel/bounty hunter/general roguish type game, a Rebel game and a Force user game.”

    “Three separate games and you’ve not even covered both of the major factions in a single period of a franchise that has existed across movies, TV shows, novels, comics and video games for 35 years?”

    “Yep!”

    “Fuck off.”

    Shadows in the Woods, on the other hand, sounds lovely. I know just the group of people who’d enjoy it as well.

    • Fooce says:

      The best part is that It will probably be cheaper to get the insanely expensive Saga Edition book than to try to play these games

    • Charupa says:

      I was lucky enough to be at GenCon and have this explained to me. From what I can see it will follow the similar sort of path as the Warhammer 40k RPG books, so you get a universe where you can engage with it at the apropriate power level, much in the same way as in Dark Heressy you play inquisitors and in Deathwatch you get to be Space Marines, different kinds of adventures and settings for different types of power characters. Lets face it, a group where one player gets to be a Jedi, while the rest are supporting cast is not always the best way to do things, however a setting where all the players get to be Jedi doing all sorts of Force related stuff could be cool.

    • bill says:

      So they took the starwars universe and cut out all the crap that no-one likes and decided to focus on being like Han Solo? Sounds pretty good to me.

  9. dudesaidwot says:

    Add some gloomy monologues to Shadows in the Woods and you’ve got Alan Wake – the board game.

  10. Grey Ganado says:

    I remember owning that game when I was a kid. I don’t really remember playing it more than once though.

  11. Ernesto says:

    You discovered that just now?? Shadows in the Woods, that is. That game is at least 15 years old! You non-Germans really live under a rock sometimes ;)

    (This is not a serious comment)

  12. malphigian says:

    Thanks RPS for making me excited about a new (dangerous!) board game to play with my kids, only to find out it’s available exactly nowhere in the world. :(

  13. Premium User Badge

    zapatapon says:

    I was hoping for a long time that Cardboard Children would feature some kid oriented game. I often stand desperate in the kid’s board game aisle, knowing that if I pick up a game at random it’ll end up being crap with 90% chance. Thanks Rob, for reading my mind! Also, I live in Germany, so I will even be able to actually find the game.

  14. plugmonkey says:

    http://www.myriadonline.co.uk/products.php?id=1145&name=Shadow%20in%20the%20Woods%20Board%20Game

    I think they might be about to have an unexpected rush on their hands…

  15. Solar says:

    http://www.dainacooperativeplay.co.uk/shadows-in-the-woods-deluxe-version/

    Free shipping at £28.95 Myria link above comes out at £29.85

  16. Skabooga says:

    Wow, what a beautiful idea, this Shadows in the Woods. It seems like a mechanic that could easily just be used as a gimmick, but here it seems so magical. And you get to play it with all the light in the house turned off! Those are the best types of games.

  17. Claidheamh says:

    I just remembered. How about that list of Some Games you talked about some weeks ago that you would maintain and suffix to every Cardboard Children article? :P

  18. Premium User Badge

    Csirke says:

    Cardboard Children tag? (Just now I couldn’t find it by that.)