Cardboard Children – NEWS

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On a 5-6, you have scored a success, and may read the rest of this board game news column.

If you fail, close the browser.


What is success? I mean, what is it really? It’s a lucky die roll, right? And even then – it’s only a success as defined by a certain rulebook. What if you haven’t read the rulebook? What if the rules make no sense to you? What if you ain’t PLAYIN THAT FUCKIN GAME?

BOOM. Just blew your mind.

Roll a die.

On a 5-6, keep reading the column.

On a 1-4, close the browser.


Fantasy Flight just announced another “Living Card Game”. They have loads of them now. They have Game of Thrones and Warhammer Invasion and Star Wars and Netrunner and Call of Cthulhu and this and that and everything and basically everything.

But they didn’t have a Warhammer 40K one, until now. This one looks interesting, I suppose – and different from all the other card games out there. Well, it looks a wee bit like Blood Bowl: Team Manager, maybe. I dunno. The cool thing is that each player is trying to conquer planets, and there is some hidden information stuff going on. You lay cards at planets, massing forces there. Then you select the planet your super-powerful warlord will attack in SECRECY. It’s a SECRET. Shhh. And then you fight it out, in some kind of card battle style, until each player is in control of some planets. Then those planets dish out resources and stuff.

It sounds like a cool spin on the whole card battling thing. I like the planetary control element – I think it will make for a lot of interesting decisions and a great deal of push and pull in the flow of the game. There are some really great designers at Fantasy Flight, and Eric M. Lang is in the mix on this one. He designed my personal favourite card battler, Warhammer: Invasion, and he also designed Chaos in the Old World, which is pretty much one of the most amazing board games in the whole universe.

What’s your favourite card battler? You’re all going to say Netrunner, right? YOU’RE SO VERY PREDICTABLE.

(Man, how good is Magic: The Gathering? Always worth reminding people, whenever we talk about card games, that M:TG is a MIRACLE of game design. What an amazing game…)


There’s this brilliant game called “Catacombs”.

It’s a dungeon crawler, where one player is a baddie and the rest of the players are goodies. The usual tropes are in play, of course. There is MAGIC MAN, ARROW PERSON, MUSCLEMAN, and SMALL OLD MAN WITH AXE AND BEARD. There are many monsters in the dungeon, such as GENERIC SKELETON IV, TRADITIONAL ZOMBIE and STANDARD GOBLIN.

It’s a really great game, though. There’s nothing traditional about how you do your adventuring. You FLICK your characters around the dungeon. Everyone is a wooden disc. The wizard’s spells are wooden discs. Arrows are little wooden discs. It’s a dexterity/adventure game, and you’ll have played nothing quite like it.

Well, a Kickstarter has just been launched, and it’s for a reprint of the game! That’s great news rig-


It has new art?! Cool, the original print of the game had quite lo-fi art. It worked, sure, it had its own charms, but all-new art would be a nice little –


I don’t like the new art. Look.

See how the old one is like some old-school homebrew RPG game? Really cool DARK METAL ART like something you’d see in a student fanzine called “Dark Metal Art”? And the new one is like – I dunno. Like some CARTOON BULLSHIT.

Here’s the Kickstarter. It’s one I can happily recommend, if you dig that new art. It’s not as bad as I’m making out.


Yeah, what year is this again?

It’s weird to see an X-Files game sitting on the wrinkled back of the “coming soon” info-elephant. When was The X-Files on TV again? The 90s? You know what they say about the 90s – If you can remember the 90s, you’re probably about my age.

For any of you who don’t remember, The X-Files was a show about two special agents called Muldoon and Scullion. I think they were investigating TV scriptwriters’ habit of over-stretching formats and failing to deliver satisfying conclusions. I recall that there was a dude who could stretch under doors and shit. He later married a 16 year old girl, and it was all a bit creepy.

Anyway, the game is designed by KEVIN WILSON. That’s why I’m talking about it here. I don’t really give a shit about The X-Files, but I have all the time in the world for Mr Wilson’s game designs. He designed Descent 1st Edition. He polished up the latest edition of Cosmic Encounter. He designed the fascinating Android. He co-designed Arkham Horror and Game of Thrones. He designed the underrated Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game.

If there was ANY guy I would want to design an X-Files game, it’d be Kevin Wilson. You can bet it will have bunch of interesting mechanics, a challenging rulebook, and some stuff in the mix that you’ve never seen before. You can bet that it will deliver on theme BIG-TIME. (One of the criticisms you hear most often about Kevin Wilson is that he’ll place theme and setting ahead of elegance. He’ll fling you into a slightly clunky game experience if it means you’re going to get immersed into the story and theme. It’s a trade-off, and I like it. I’m a fan.)

So, yeah – if you’re an X-Files fan (do those even exist?) I would put this on your list right now. If you’re someone who is excited by game design – keep an eye on this one. The official blurb says this:

“In The X-Files, players take on the role of Mulder, Scully, and the X-Files team as they work to uncover global conspiracies and threats while going up against various members of the Syndicate. In game terms, 1-4 agent players team up against one opponent who controls the Smoking Man and his nefarious network.

The X-Files board game will focus on material from the first three seasons of the television series, giving fans a chance to start from the beginning of the phenomenon.”


Grab a die, and roll it.

On a 7, you have rolled a success. You have succeeded. You are a success. In the eyes of your parents, you have succeeded. In the eyes of the world, you have succeeded. Congratulations.

On a 1-6, you have failed. You remain insecure, questioning your place in the world. You are unsure if anyone really loves you. You might just be completely alone. Next week you must read my latest column. I’ll be reviewing a board game. Our stories end here.


  1. nitehawk says:

    Roll to die.

    Or was it “roll two dice”?

  2. X_kot says:

    I roll a seven every time, cuz I roll dice in my MIND. My life cannot be contained by any rules book, no matter the length or the number of cross-referenced tables. Postcardboard is the new posthuman.

    I follow a number of set routines, varying occasionally based on external stimuli. Tables and weighted probabilities could easily account for the general strokes that my day, week, month, and life will take. For the rest, the human experience is reducible to random chance because so much of it is out of our control.

    That said, there is a 90% chance I will read your next column, Rab.

  3. thecommoncold says:

    That new art on Catacombs is a real tragedy. I mean, it’s called flippin’ CATACOMBS: dark and gritty (regardless of how schlocky the art style is) is the order of the day. No one has ever heard of a bright, cheery catacomb with orange juice elementals.

    • RedWurm says:

      I think it’s bloody lovely, but then I don’t spend a lot of time in catacombs. Usually a bit too gritty for me, and not enough juice.

      • thecommoncold says:

        Actually, on the KS page, I’m rather fond of the rest of the art – it is of a consistently higher quality than the old art. It’s just that this orange thing is a bit unconvincing. Maybe need a grittier orange juice. Leave the pulp in next time.

        On the plus side, perhaps they can inject more subsystems into the game based around the art style. Maybe the adventurers will need to stave off scurvy?

    • Deano2099 says:

      The original was a ‘dark and gritty’ game *about flicking discs around with your fingers*. Let’s all shout “ludo-narrative dissonance” and drink.

    • Synesthesia says:

      The original art was positively hideous. This one looks like it has an art director, not like they paid a metal loving teen with a vampire fetish to design.

  4. DatonKallandor says:

    X-Files really holds up ridiculously well. Start Season 1 and it’s like all your newfangled TV shows, except good and not full of plot holes.
    WHY DON’T YOU CALL YOUR PARTNER BEFORE HEADING INTO THE CREEPY BUILDING! Oh yeah, because we didn’t have mobile phones back then. Carry on.

    I really hope not having a mobile phone yet is gameplay mechanic in the X-Files Boardgame.

    • smopecakes says:

      I just ran out of Vampire Diaries on Netflix to watch and the plot holes became a thing of beauty to me as they held them up in front of you and punched them for good measure in case you didn’t see. It worked great but it sounds like the X-Files will do me good now.

  5. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Small old man with axe and beard? I think I’m due some royalties. Fetch me my striding trousers and my smiting stick!

    • The Random One says:

      I should know that a successful man like Lord Custard would wear AXE™.

  6. smopecakes says:

    I rolled a 6 and a 3, on… I read this one, will read the next one, and will now take a moment to ponder my lack of board gaming.

  7. Deano2099 says:

    Rab – really funny how much this new post was like Shut Up and Sit Down’s this week! link to

    And I like mean that genuinely, in that it’s funny how similar they are because you clearly have similar tastes in games and not in a “funny that you filthy content-stealer” way.

  8. neonordnance says:

    Magic the Gathering is the result of an initial burst of extreme genius from several people, starting with Richard Garfield and moving through the creation of Ice Age and Mirage, followed by careful and methodical stewardship and course correction from some very thoughtful people at Wizards of the Coast. There were many times when the game could’ve fallen by the wayside, but people like Mark Rosewater have done an excellent job keeping it interesting and fun to play.

    And speaking of Richard Garfield, his work on Card Hunter and other games has proved that he is a solid, thoughtful designer and that Magic the Gathering is not just a fluke.

    • Scurra says:

      Also WotC are one of the few games companies that truly understands the difference between “design” and “development” and invests in both properly. They might be being oversteered by Hasbro shareholders nowadays but it’s been a remarkably consistent journey such that a game that I genuinely thought ought to have been mined out about five years ago has managed to husband its resources well enough that I can see it thriving for another ten, even in our digital age.

    • thecommoncold says:

      MTG remains my first and best card battler love, but Netrunner gives it a run for it’s money. Speaking of money, though… It certainly is the reason I just can’t stick with these games for long :-(

      Still, they, along with gems like King of Tokyo, really are a testament to Richard Garfield’s genuine skill at game design.

  9. Archonsod says:

    “What’s your favourite card battler? You’re all going to say Netrunner, right? ”

    Red Dragon Inn. With Netrunner a close second. Primarily because it’s hard to adapt Netrunner to a drinking game format …

    • kaffis says:

      As the Runner, take net damage, take a drink. Take brain damage, take a shot.

      As the Corp, it’s definitely trickier. Perhaps take a shot whenever an agenda is stolen?

  10. Tams80 says:

    Not much use to people now, but the Tokaido Collector’s Edition got funded a couple of days ago. It looks like it is going to be absolutely gorgeous. Fun Forge have said they plan to openly sell at least some of it at a later stage (I’m guessing this would be the features that change the game such as the Matsuri expansion).

  11. Dom_01 says:

    Hey Rab, just wanted to put a bit of a spotlight on a Kickstarter that just recently launched with the purpose of making board games blind accessible. Using transparent sleeves with braille, QR codes and reference sheets, this looks like it could be a big step towards inclusion for blind tabletop players.

    link to

  12. Wytefang says:

    Flick game looks lame. But I’m in full agreement about W40K: Conquest and The X-Files game! The other game to watch (and it’s been getting good buzz on BGG and seems mostly sold out in many online stores) is the Marvel Dice-Masters: Avengers vs. X-men dice game (also by Eric Lang).

  13. Shadram says:

    I’m an X Files fan! An X Files fan who’s interested in game design. This automatically puts this game at the top of my list (other than Caverna, which still hasn’t arrived in NZ yet…)

  14. tigerfort says:

    I rolled a 12, a cross-hair, and … I think that’s an elder sign? Was I supposed to be using any particular kind of dice, because the instructions don’t seem to cover those options….

  15. ben_reck says:

    Black metal; it’s black metal, not dark metal. I don’t know what dark metal is. Onyx?

    X-Files is one of those series that failed to develop a storyline over an entire season let alone over an entire seasons but there were many, many gems for those who ignored the alien dreck. Buffy, of course, succeeded in all the ways that the Files failed.

    Catacombs was OK. I played a few times when it first came out but then have never had the urge since. I guess if I want to play a twitch/flick game, I’d go for pinball.

  16. Tyrion says:

    Personal favorite LCG is the Game of Thrones one, so much depth and opportunity to create a range of decks and the 3-4 player mode is great. Really looking forward to the 40K one though as I’m a big fan of the property.

  17. jrodman says:

    I beat the first roll, but failed before the warhammer. I’m sad. I also don’t like warhammer. I guess that makes me a sad human generally. Pout.

  18. Tomo says:


    And I’m an X-Files fan! I was very pleased when I saw the news :D

  19. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    Joke’s on you Florence, I’ve got a loaded dice :p

  20. Gothnak says:

    Hmm, that Warhammer 40k game is going to confuse my Girlfriend hugely…

    Never wants to play games against me as she always thinks i am going to win, so we end up playing lots of co-operative stuff.

    Wants to play everything to do with 40k.

    I love the LCG format, so will likely give it a go.

    And obviously MTg wins the card game format, although as a co-op game, the LOTR one is pretty decent too.

  21. SST_2_0 says:

    Games Workshop: “you get to make a 40k game and you get to make a 40k game.”

    The thought of financial losses sure scared the Execs at GW to re-think being IP hogging donkeys.

    MTG 4 life