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Cardboard Children - NEWS

Roll a die.

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.

SUCCESS

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.

WARHAMMER 40K: CONQUEST

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…)

CATACOMBS

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-

WAIT! WHAT?

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 –

WAIT! WHAT?!

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.

THE X-FILES

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.”

ROLL

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.

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