Cardboard Children: Looking Ahead

By Robert Florence on February 11th, 2013 at 6:00 pm.


Hello youse.

After my enormous Talisman column last week, I thought it might be nice to take a little breather and just take a quick look at what’s happening on the board game scene right now. Last year, thanks to Kickstarter and such, there were almost too many new board games filling the shelves on a weekly basis. And this year looks no different. It is, quite frankly, exhausting. And only Elton John has a house big enough to hold all those board games. And he’s too bad-tempered to play them.

UPCOMING PLEASURES

Shall we look at some upcoming pleasures? As usual, Fantasy Flight are pushing HARD.

They announced a new expansion for Warhammer: Invasion called “Cataclysm”. It turns this fantastic head-to-head card game into a multiplayer game. If you take a look at the introduction piece on the Fantasy Flight webpage you can see that there’s been some thought put into how compelling multiplayer battles can be fought. Those fulcrums look superb. I can’t wait to try it out. I know we’re all excited about Netrunner these days, but Warhammer: Invasion remains a great game, and I hope this expansion encourages more people to pick it up. All of you better have the base game already. Very annoying if you don’t, because I told you all to get it years ago. Honestly, it’s like talking to a brick wall.

Also in the Fantasy Flight pipeline, there’s Relic. Last week I expressed my love for Talisman, and you know how much I love Warhammer and Warhammer 40K. So Relic is way, way up there on my list of anticipated games for 2013. Space Marines (TRADEMARK GAMES WORKSHOP), baby! The game introduces a few new mechanics to the Talisman system, and most people will probably be happy to hear that. But maybe I’m weird, because I just want a Talisman with Space Marines (TRADEMARK GAMES WORKSHOP), and I hope that they haven’t fucked around with the game too much. Talisman works because of its simplicity, and I worry that Fantasy Flight might be adding some fiddly stuff that the system can’t bear the strain of. We’ll see in time. Oh, and as much as the little player “busts” are really nice in Relic, I’m sure I won’t be the only one flinging some Games Workshop Space Marine (TRADEMARK GAMES WORKSHOP) minis into the box.

Now, when the team behind the great Cosmic Encounter and Dune have their names on a box, you better sit up and pay attention. Just today Fantasy Flight pulled the sheets off their new edition of the classic Borderlands. It’s called GEARWORLD: THE BORDERLANDS now, and it’s all steampunky and stuff. It’s a diplomacy and trading game, which means lots of backstabbing, which means I am ALL THE WAY IN on this one. Check it out. I’m not sure about the style of it. Check it out. What do you think? I’m not sure. Check it out.

BATMAN: GOTHAM CITY STRATEGY GAME

What a terrible, terrible title.

Yeah, it’s not all Fantasy Flight. This is coming soon, and it’s from WizKids. And here’s the important part – it’s designed by Paolo Mori, the guy who designed the mighty Libertalia. A good Batman game would be nice, right?

Tom Vasel and his Miami Dice team just recently reviewed this game, and it really looks like a fun design. I like the fact that we’ve been seeing a return to uncomplicated, fun-first designs lately. There was a period, a couple of years ago, when games were becoming very cluttered and over-designed. Boxes were getting bigger, rulebooks were getting thicker, and it was often a result of unnecessary bloat. But this looks like a lovely, theme-heavy, rules-light game. Check out the review.

There’s just something about Tom Vasel’s reviews that I love. I think it’s because he’s a nice man. And all his friends seem nice too. Vasel is the reason why I stopped doing video reviews of board games. I’m not as likeable as he is, and not as knowledgeable about cardboard, so what was the point? When I did those board game videos, years ago now, there weren’t many people doing video reviews. There was Vasel, Boardgames with Scott, and a few more things. But today there are hundreds of video reviewers, and Vasel is still way up at the top, proving that what always lasts is charm and heart. Hey, it was the best decision I ever made – to just leave the videos to the nice man with all the lovely kids and the lovely buddies and the big table and the big wall full of games. I like just being a fan.

QUINNS

I hope you’re all aware that Quinns/Quintin Smith/Mr Smith/Mr Quintin Smith is covering board games over at Eurogamer. Quinns used to write for Rock Paper Shotgun until his contract was terminated for “unnecessary and irresponsible abbreviation of full name”. Since leaving he’s become a jet-setting games-writing David Carradine in Kung-Fu kinda guy, busting out online shows over at Shut Up Show and doing talks and pretty much becoming a kind of cardboard deity.

Anyway, we all want those Eurogamer pages to get hits up the wazoo as we all gather together to try to push this board gaming thing forward, right? Check out Q-Ball’s review of Tzolk’in, which I’ve yet to play, because there’s fucking corn in it, man. Seriously.

NEXT TIME

Back to regular service next week, with coverage of a new game. And I’ll be kicking off a little journal too, which will follow my efforts to bring some new people into board gaming. Yes, I’m going to try to bring some friends into this board game fold, and I’m going to write about all the successes and failures that come with that process. This has NEVER BEEN DONE. It is THRILLING.

Until then – keep shakin’!

Dice, I mean.

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26 Comments »

  1. Skabooga says:

    Games with corn are the worst. There, I said it.

  2. Ducttape2021 says:

    No mention of Kemet? Comes out this month (hopefully) in the US, can’t wait to get a hold of it.

  3. Aedrill says:

    A Game of Corns.

    I have a request. Could you write a piece about A Game of Thrones, the Boardgame? I’m curious what’s your opinion about it.

    • SimulatedMan says:

      It’s great (2nd Ed). Favorite of the group I play with.

      There are a few criticisms one could level: a few too many rules/mechanics, everybody piles on the leader, map limits fronts a bit, but we all love it anyway. Outmaneuvering your opponents because you know how they think does not get old.

      Standard disclaimer that 4-6 players are recommended and they have to be able to take a knife in the back with a grin. A fixed, humorless grin that promises revenge the next time you let you guard down.

      • Aedrill says:

        Oh, I’ve got this game. Love it, one of my favourites. I asked about it for two reasons. Most importantly, I think people should hat about it, because it’s awesome. Three other reason is that I’d like to see what Rab will write about it. I learned some time ago that I look for different qualities in games than him but this one might be enjoyable for both of us.

        I agree with most of your description, by the way, except this complexity bit. This game has really simple and neat rules. There’s just a lot to remember about and to pay attention for. It’s just like chess – it’s relatively easy to learn how to play, but it takes many games to play it well.

        • SimulatedMan says:

          Re simplicity:
          I agree that most of the rules are pretty easy, it is just that there are so many systems that new players can sometimes get a bit overwhelmed. Once one is used to it, it just makes things more interesting.
          Question though, how many games did it take before could reliably remember about power tokens for unblockaded ports when collecting tokens for owned crown symbols? It took us at least three games before we even noticed the rule and a few more before we remembered it every time it came up.

          • Aedrill says:

            Oh Ports are horrible. There’s so much stuff you don’t care about for most of the time, it’s just silly. Like I said, it’s not that rules are complicated, they’re just interconnected and there’s quite a few of them so it can be difficult to remember. Just like with chess, there are moves you don’t make to often (sometimes almost never) but you have to be aware of them to play well.

      • jrodman says:

        I agree about the knife part. I played this game for 40 minutes and felt sick. I announced that I was no longer playing. I haven’t gone back.

        I’m sure it’s for some people but it’s certainly not me.

    • Douchetoevsky says:

      AGoT boardgame is fantastic!

      Full of backstabbing and back room dealings. It’s really great, and apparently fits well with the theme of the books/show (I haven’t read/seen them, but I had a blast anyway). The reveal orders mechanic is hugely awesome and fun and tense.

      • Aedrill says:

        Last time I played with my wife, two friends and sixteen year old girl and thirteen year old boy. I was afraid they will find the game boring and too heavy to be fun. I couldn’t be more wrong. They loved it. I convinced the girl to turn against her own father and later against her little brother. After we finished, I asked what should we play next time and kids said “this game” without second thoughts. It’s really fun game once you get a grasp on the rules (FFG’s tutorial on Youtube is great for that) and start thinking like you’re really leading armies.

    • Syphus says:

      While we’re on this. If I could only pick one, AGoT board game, or LCG?

      • Aedrill says:

        I haven’t played the card game, only watched FFG’S tutorials so don’t put too much weight to my words.

        To me, card game looks A little bit bland but I can be mistaken. Maybe there’s tons of great fun and interesting tactical decisions. Main point is – these are completely different games, they have nothing in common, besides theme. So ask yourself, what you want to play – a card game or a boardgame about war and negotiations. Then go and watch ffg’s tutorial on YouTube and decide.

        You can also try playing online. There’s A program called Vassal, download it, get aGoT module and party with people. This should help you decide.

  4. Easy says:

    So out with Stay dicey, in with Keep shakin’ ?

  5. Kingsix says:

    Games without Corn are the worst.

  6. noom says:

    Enormous (Talisman) Column

  7. Douchetoevsky says:

    Apparently Valve licensed out Dota 2 character to the Heroclix people so there’s going to be Dota 2 Heroclix coming out this summer. I don’t know how Heroclix are viewed among hardcore tabletop gamers, but that sounds pretty sweet to me. They’re also making some sort of TF2 thing, but i’m not sure what that is really. Nextchess or something? Whatever. Dota!

  8. DrGonzo says:

    You made me rush out and buy Space Hulk Rab, not only that, your video review convinced my girlfriend she wanted to play it too. I also love Vasel and Quinns stuff, but we can’t have too many videos about board games can we? Go oooooon, make some more.

  9. Carados says:

    You must’ve had really bad reviews, to be driven out by the worst reviewer I’ve seen in a long time. Tom Vassel’s stuff is fairly weak. All of his criticism devolves into “This is bad” or “This is awful,” and all he can say when he likes something is “This is fun.”

  10. Armitage says:

    +1 for more uncomplicated, fun-first games. I’m playing a lot of Smash Up and looking for something that’s easy for the non-gamer folks.

  11. Warduke says:

    Good news about Warhammer Invasion multiplayer expansion!

  12. Synesthesia says:

    You should continue doing downtime town, man. Vasel is great, but he doesn’t have such a good comedy gland. Dixit, LNOE and Horus Heresy (holy fuck that’s a big box) were my first 3 boardgames, courtesy of your fantastic videos.

    za oo zaa!

  13. malkav11 says:

    At the time I playtested Relic it had a few nice tweaks over Talisman. Firstly, it had secret missions randomly distributed to each player that gave a little more direction to Talisman’s largely aimless wandering and a more reliable method of securing what you need to get to the inner region and win. Secondly, while all Talismans do in Talisman is take up inventory space and let you into the inner region, Relics in Relic were actually powerful treasure items. Thirdly, there was a corruption mechanic that could give mechanical benefits but at the cost of potentially eventually losing the character to the forces of Chaos.

    They also set three primary stats instead of two, had three different encounter decks that specialized in particular stats, and had a level up track that rewarded stat increases and special effects that varied by character.

    I won’t swear any of that survives unchanged in the version they’re going to release – this was at least a year or two back – but in general I thought it was a distinct improvement.

  14. jrodman says:

    I’m interested in Wizard’s Brew kickstarter, btw, and backed it.

    Because I played Das Amulett before and enjoyed it but found the german too clunky for more general play. But in english I think it will work quite a bit better.

  15. Aedrill says:

    Praise Jesus!

  16. McDan says:

    All I usually say on here is how great you are Rab, and that will continue today! Because it’s true and boardgames are great. Boardgamea boardgames boardgames.

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