Cardboard Children – December News

Hello youse.

As we build up to Christmas, and all that Christmas entails (tinsel, trees, supernatural gift-bearing “men”, family fights) it’s time to take another look at the current board game scene to see what the news is. It’s been two months since I let you all know what’s going down right now in a news-style fashion, and you know what? LOADS IS GOING DOWN.

MERGER

The biggest bit of news is obviously the merger of Fantasy Flight Games into the Asmodee Group. If you’re a board gamer, you will probably have Fantasy Flight and Asmodee games in your collection, and it’s weird to see these two big behemoths come together. This is probably the biggest proper actual factual board game actual-news-style news that has happened in recent years. I mean, usually board game news is all like “Oh, look, a new plastic man is coming out for a game about wee men shooting things at a thing!” But this is like proper news that businessmen talk about and stuff. This is some hardcore Financial Times shit. Here’s the press release about the merger.

Now, as big as Fantasy Flight are already, it’ll be interesting to see what will happen next with access to Asmodee’s incredible distribution reach. (I almost sounded like I knew what I was talking about there!) It’ll also be interesting to see how Fantasy Flight’s IP-licensing deals feed into the wider Asmodee range, if at all. We have a bona fide giant on our hands now, and I’d love to see a stronger attempt to get some of Fantasy Flight’s great hobby games onto conventional shop shelves. It can’t all be HASBRO HASBRO HASBRO, can it? I dunno. What will happen? Are you worried about this at all? Is there a downside? Talk to me, people! I’m always looking at the positive side of these things. Are any alarm bells ringing for you?

What if it all goes on fire and asplodes?!

D&D ATTACK WING IS OUT THERE

Well, here’s a one. I’m a big fan of the X-Wing Miniatures Game, so I wasn’t really interested in the D&D spin on the same kind of system. But I walked into my local game shop the other day and MAN ALIVE THESE THINGS IS GOOD LOOKIN’.

(Okay, look, I’m not sure this counts as news. But it’s something that’s happening now. It’s certainly new. And it’s causing me DRAMA in my HEAD.)

I knew that there were big dragons on the way, and weirdly I’m still not too fussed about those. But ground units? Wee men? Wee guys? Units of wee soldier guys and stuff? And dragons on top of that?

As this stuff starts to roll out I’m finding it hard to resist. I hear that the game is quite a bit more complicated than X-Wing or the Star Trek Attack Wing, so that turns me off a little bit. But those wee guys everywhere, and the dragons and the flying dragons and the wee men down below and the wee men and the dragons. Someone tell me that this is no good – save me some money.

I have no room in my house for more dragons and wee men.

SOUND AS A POUND

A few people pointed me towards TabletopAudio this past week, and I instantly bookmarked it. This website is fantastic. It’s a collection of 10 minute long ambient audio tracks that will create an appropriate atmosphere at your game table. Playing Spartacus? Start the Colosseum track whenever a fight happens. Playing Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective? Start the Victorian London track whenever you don’t have a clue where to go next. And the quality of these tracks is mad high. The guy behind the site says he enjoys making “10 minute films out of sound”, and that’s exactly what these are like. Check them out, use them, and support the guy behind it by flinging him a few dollars on his Patreon. He’s doing us all a fine service here.

DESCENT GETS A CAMPAIGN BOOK

Descent’s First Edition had a campaign book, but the thing was notorious for having errors and some weird, patchy scenarios. With luck, this campaign book for Second Edition will be far more solid. It’s called Heirs of Blood and it delivers a big campaign using only the base game materials. That’s a good thing, right? They could have used this opportunity to force players to pick up an expansion or two to enjoy this campaign, but no – base game and book and you have months and months of solid play ahead of you. That’s refreshing.

Descent: Second Edition is a fine, fine game and a game I strongly recommend. Fantasy Flight’s support for the line has been fantastic too, with no sign of slowing. Get in now. You won’t regret it.

NEW MAGE KNIGHT STUFF

It’s only one of the best board games ever made. And a new expansion is on its way. Now this is early early EARLY news. It won’t be a 2014 release, but it’s happening for sure. And that’s a great thing, because I’d felt that we might not see any more Mage Knight stuff. Rumours are (and these are just rumours, only rumours) that there might be more of an undead leaning to the theme of this expansion. Who knows?

Who cares? This expansion could be a recipe for a nice cocktail to drink while playing the game and I’d still be pre-ordering it as soon as possible. You do all have Mage Knight by now, right?

What? WHAT?!

CHRISTMAS PLANS

There are three more columns until Christmas, so from next week I’ll be suggesting some Christmas gifts for your horrible family, and deciding on my GAME OF THE YEAR. I’ll also blast a review or two into the mix. I want to tell you all about the Woodland expansion for Talisman, even though you all make fun of me every time I talk about how much of a Talisman fan I am. I really hate you for that.

See you next time!

39 Comments

  1. Veles says:

    I AM VERY EXCITED!

  2. Captin Dan says:

    I would love some ideas on games to play for my daughter, who is five and very into games

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      Hammer says:

      On a similar note, good games for two players? I’m always on the look out for new games to take on holiday.

      • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        Zombie 15 was a resounding hit with just me and Lady Smingleigh. Utter exhilarating joy. Not so much with a 5-year-old, though.

      • LogicalDash says:

        Netrunner, of course!

      • Shadowcat says:

        Travel Carcassonne is great for holidays, if you’re worried about games taking up too much room. The tiles are a little smaller, everything fits into a bag (which has the scoring track printed on one side), so it’s very portable and perfect for two players.

      • Xantonze says:

        If you like the theme, WARHAMMER 40000: CONQUEST is a pretty awesome card game. Easier than Netrunner (the best of the best) but still quite rich, and very quick (around 30mn for a game). The base set is self-contained and allows for 7 different decks, and even more with some tweaking. Very solid, + almost no setup, and not much space on the table.

        Other excellent 2 player (card) games: IMPERIAL SETTLERS (7 wonders like, only better, and best suited for 2-3 player games), MAGE WARS (quite a steep learning curve, but very rewarding – warning: needs a big table).
        Other good small 2p games: JAIPUR, BABEL…

        Kids: QWIRKLE (forms and colors, domino-like). RIFF-RAFF (put some stuff on a big shaky boat=can’t go wrong).

        Unrelated: Thank you Rab for the Tabletop audio link: it’s pure awesomeness!

      • blur says:

        For portable 2-player games, you can’t get better than HIVE.

    • Untruth says:

      Kids:
      My First Carcasonne is really great, or even the actual adult game if she is sharp.
      Forbidden Desert/Island are both very playable cooperatively with young kids if they like the theme.
      Once Upon a Time is nice because it teaches language/structure.

      Two players:
      Pandemic, always
      Freedom: Underground Railroad
      Love Lette
      Firefly

    • GomezTheChimp says:

      How about Love Letter? Five might be a little young, and you`ll want to rope in 1 or 2 more players, but you can easily adapt the rules for the younger player. LL has Kings, Princes and Princesses, is a game of bluff, lasts 15 minutes or less and is a lot of fun…

      • Scurra says:

        How about Love Letter? Five might be a little young, and you`ll want to rope in 1 or 2 more players, but you can easily adapt the rules for the younger player. LL has Kings, Princes and Princesses, is a game of bluff, lasts 15 minutes or less and is a lot of fun
        Solid two-player variant: Each player gets two cards at the start instead of one. If you must lose a card as a result of an effect, you go down to one card (or you lose, if you are already down to one card.) You can choose whether you want to keep the “if you discard the Princess you lose” rule – you should be able to figure out how the other effects work. It makes for an interestingly tense experience with players who know the cards well.

    • Reapy says:

      My oldest son is turning 5 but hes a bit hard to lock down on board games, he wants to play them a lot, but I think mostly as something to do with me and to knock some objects around. At times when he was younger I was able to get him to focus a bit more on following the patterns but as he gets older hes getting a bit harder to lock down.

      We’ve had a lot of success with ‘loopin louie’, basically its a guy on an airplane that goes in a circle and will bump into some disks and knock them down. You can prevent this by flicking down on a hammer that will knock him up over your chickens/disks. It’s up to 4 players and pretty fun for the kids and adults. You can really punish the person to the right of you if you can consistently knock louie just up over their hammer and down on their chickens, so sit your kids to your left :)

      I tried ‘sorry sliders’ and he likes sliding the pieces but getting them to focus on the actual game seems a bit hard still, but they have fun sending those things down the board.

      We had good success with ‘busy busy airport’. Essentially you get these nice thick cardboard planes that you fly from the box (has a control tower doubling as a dice tower on it) to 1 of 4 locations that you scatter around the living room. It is pretty simple but has dice rolling and an easy to follow set of rules and some slight chance at figuring out efficiency as to where you drop passengers off for strategy, but is mostly random. At the end you sum up some numbers so there is a chance to work a bit with that too.

      I got them a mario chess/checkers set, but he seems not to be able to focus much on playing the games and somehow I just ended up having a figure battle with him on the chessboard rather than a game of chess.

      Kids ‘get’ candyland but for the love of god don’t let them see it or get into it for your own sanity :)

    • Everblue says:

      My 6 year old daughter loves Dungeon! and started playing when she was 5. As Rab says, nothing beats killing a zombie with a sword. Tsuro is also a big hit with kids of that age.

      • binkbenc says:

        I was going to mention Tsuro. My 4-year old absolutely loves it, and it’s simple enough that my 2-year old can join in too (she just points to a tile and shouts THAT ONE and we play it for her). Also, Gulo Gulo is great if you want something a bit more physical. It’s really fun with a few more people, but if it’s just the two of you, then I’d plump for Tsuro (though that’s excellent with more people, too).

    • Chutu says:

      Hey, That’s My Fish! and Dixit are both great games for younger children (and big children too!). They both work well as gateway games.

  3. thekelvingreen says:

    My big board gaming news is that someone gave me a mint copy of Warhammer Quest for nothing, except the promise that I will play it more than he did. That’s sort of Descent-related. Sort of.

    • Xipheas says:

      I’m currently awaiting delivery of Kanban Automotive Revolution.. can’t wait to get stuck into that!

  4. SavannaJeff says:

    Nothing about the release of the new ‘Witcher’ boardgame?

    • Untruth says:

      More importantly what about the X-Files boardgame of pure joy coming in January!

  5. denimJesus says:

    I’ve been looking for something akin to that Tabletop Audio site for a while now, thanks a lot for introducing me to it. The closest thing I’d found before was link to mynoise.net, which I recommend people to check out, too. You can get quite similar ambient soundscapes from some of the noise generators, especially by playing around with the equalizer a bit and/or combining several of them.

    • Enfuego says:

      I was unimpressed with ambient music to set the mood for a board game. It seemed silly. I was above that crap. Since when did a board game need a crutch to feel expansive and immersive? Then I got Conquest of Planet Earth, which comes with its own soundtrack. Mind blown. Lesson learned.

  6. webs1 says:

    TabletopAudio is really nice. Can’t wait to hear the pieces not only via Laptop but on my stereo while playing.
    I only wonder: how many dinosaur-related games are there?
    I would also like to hear about good 2-player games.
    And wonder whether Rab or anyone here has played “The fields of Arle”, Rosenbergs new 2-player game.

  7. Fanbuoy says:

    This may be covered by the upcoming columns, but I’d be really interested in some solid tips for games to play with my family over Christmas. I’m looking for a game that’s approachable and likable for people with little previous board game experience, beyond quiz games. We’re all adults, I’m the only nerd-ish person, and it should be playable by at least four people. It’s a plus if the game is successful enough to have a reasonable chance of being available in Swedish. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • thekelvingreen says:

      King of Tokyo has been a huge success with every casual gamer I’ve unleashed it upon. It’s a bit nerdy but Godzilla is mainstream enough that everyone gets the general idea.

      The aforementioned Forbidden Island is a good one too. Forbidden Desert is a better game, I think, but is perhaps a bit more difficult to get into.

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        Wisq says:

        Speaking of King of Tokyo: anyone had any chance to play King of New York yet? Any thoughts?

        • Xipheas says:

          I’ve seen a lot of reviews of it that say good things, better than the original. Not had a chance to play it myself yet.

        • Kaben says:

          I played it at my local friendly games store.
          I really liked it – although i enjoyed KoT, i always found it a bit too light with not quite enough to do. KoNY adds a few more tactical consideration ( only mild ones mind, nothing to get bogged down with) and some new interesting rescources. I Think KoNy has more to keep people engaged, especially if you have more than 3 people playing as there are things for people to plan whilst they are taking their down time between turns.

        • denimJesus says:

          Just in case you’ve missed it, Cardboard Children had a review some while back: link to rockpapershotgun.com

  8. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    To answer your question, Rab –

    I don’t think the merger is a bad thing in the short term, but it’s putting a LOT of eggs in one basket. Asmodee is majority-owned by private equity, which has given them a huge line of credit to go and buy Days of Wonder and FFG, which may be the two biggest hobby-board-game companies in the USA. And yes, economies of scale, INTERNATIONAL REACH, etc. But if the money DOESN’T roll in, or things go bad down the road – all of a sudden, instead of one company failing, you have three, deep in debt, and owned – for the first time – by general money people who don’t actually care about board games.

    In the long range, companies held by private equity get flipped. Best case scenario, the owners can buy it back, or something. But often this is “stockholder get impatient, gut it for all its worth.” It happens all the time, and its a scary proposition.

  9. sirdavies says:

    Does anyone know the font used in the header image of this article? I dig it.

    • sapien82 says:

      Hey I checked on what the font using the image and the only close match I could find was Dragon Serial Bold, Dragon TS DemiBold, or Sigvar Serial Bold

      it’s not an exact match it maybe a free font which is based of one of these !
      good luck

      • sirdavies says:

        Thank you, but this one is rounder and thicker than those ;( It’s a very nice combination of elegant and soft. Anyway, I asked him on twitter just in case.

  10. Discosauce says:

    Thanks Rabb, looking forward to trying out the Tabletop Audio at our next game day. It should be fun to switch tracks with each phase of Spartacus. Which, by the way, I recently ordered the expansion for after everyone enjoyed it so much after the first play-through!

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    phuzz says:

    So me and some friends played Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective for the first time at the weekend, and it was really good fun.
    The only thing is, we managed to score 115 or so on the first scenario (the Murdered Arms Magnate or something), and I’ve since been told that we must have been cheating because an average score is more like 40-60 (Holmes scores 100 and is the benchmark). I guess my question is, are we some kind of time travelling super-sleuths?

    • James Pursaill says:

      115 is pretty fantastic for your first playthrough, I’d say! (I fingered the German Count by mistake)

      Did you -5 for every lead you followed over the master sleuth? (ie – 4 leads, excepting the ones they give you for free?)

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        phuzz says:

        Yeah, we followed 8 leads in total I think, but our first three were ones Holmes used, and it was pretty obvious from the fag butt who the killer was, it just took time to work out exactly why. The only question we couldn’t answer was what was special about the gun, all the secondary stuff (who was having an affair with who) we picked up with our other five leads.
        Can’t wait to have a go at some of the more complicated ones, although I’m going to have to buy my own copy in that case.

  12. Kingmarzo says:

    Amazon.co.uk have Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game for £19.99 for the next 6 hours or so:

    link to amazon.co.uk

  13. sapien82 says:

    I’ve just been listenin tae the Morrowind Elders scrolls III soundtrack tae everyhing , even other games, it’s just really gid music I reckon it wid be ideal for fantasy RPG !

    Rab why is it that yer family ay fall oot wea ye at christmas , ma Da phoned us last night n total fell oot wae us man !
    Bawbaggery of the highest order likes