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Cardboard Children: Shadows In The Woods

Something Light

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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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Robert Florence

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