Cardboard Children – August Boardgame News

Hello youse.

There’s a grand old maid across the sea, so the story was recalled to me. And from dawn to dusk you hear her call down in front of the Wailing Wall. But we’re here to talk about board games, and I want you to forgive the fact that it’s September already, because we’re doing the AUGUST BOARD GAME NEWS! Just pretend today is yesterday. How hard can that be?

MAGIC THE GATHERING: ARENA OF THE PLANESWALKERS

It’s looking like this little miniatures skirmish/cardplay board game thing spin-off thing thing that spins off from Magic: The Gathering is actually good. The word on it is very strong, and despite the production quality of the game being a bit low (it’s very inexpensive) the buzz is building. It’s going to be out soon.

Anyone who is familiar with the great old game Heroscape should be right at home with this one. Apparently there are quite a few similarities. There’s terrain, in hexes, and units fighting each other using a very simple swords/shields dice mechanism. The difference here is that each player takes control of one of the Planeswalkers from Magic: The Gathering and can summon units into battle at any point. All the colours and stuff from M:TG are there. Green for kinda Life and Plant type things. Black for Death and Zombies and Skeletons. Blue for Annoying. There are spell cards too, drawing it even closer to the whole M:TG thing. The base game comes with a bunch of Planeswalkers and a bunch of units, for one-on-one or two-on-two action, but it’s too early for any real army or deck building. That will come with expansions, which I imagine will only happen if sales of the base game are healthy. So I think we should all buy it, right? Is that a deal? DO WE HAVE A DEAL?

Seriously, though – I wonder if this one will catch on with a wider audience. If Magic fans get on board, we could see a really big hit here – and I expect that would almost guarantee a giant line of expansions. Good news is this – it’s already been stated that there will be no blind buys in this game line. That’s one thing they’re not bringing over from Magic, and thank goodness for that.

THE BLOODY INN

The Bloody Inn has been announced, and it’s a game with a great setting. Each player is an innkeeper, accepting guests into their fine establishments. It’s a card game, with different people coming into your hand (your Inn) and you choosing what to do with them. You can let them leave, or bribe them into joining you so that you can use their powers, or you can kill them – bury their corpses and steal their money.

The artwork, by Webserson Santiago, is beautiful and the setting is drawn from real life, events at L’Auberge de Peyrebeille in 1831, when this mad inn was found to have killed loads of customers and served them as food. I love stuff like this. And I love games with varied characters that can be used in different ways. When a character card is face-up, it is alive. When it is face-down it is dead and can be used in a different way. I love that. Very exciting.

We might see this one at Essen. I hope so. I’d love to get my hands on it this year.

I WANT TO KILL AGAIN.

TICKET TO RIDE: UNITED KINGDOM & PENNSYLVANIA

This might surprise you, but I’ve never played Ticket To Ride. Yes, that board game that is hailed by many as the gateway board game. The board game to introduce people to the grand pastime of board gaming. And I’ve never played it! I don’t know why I haven’t. I suppose it just hasn’t come up, and because of its reputation as a light game, I suppose I haven’t bothered to buy it. I don’t know. STOP JUDGING ME.

But the UK map for the game is on its way. It will be out later this year (4th Quarter, as they only ever say in game-related matters) and the board looks beautiful. Glasgow is on it! The best city in the world is on it! And so is London, if you’re into that shite.

Does this mean I’ll buy Ticket To Ride? Just to build some routes through Glasgow? Oh, probably. That’s how easy it is to sway me. And apparently it offers some interesting stuff for veteran players. Technology, or something. And the ability to build ferry routes. Sounds so boring.

I should mention that on the other side of this map is a map of somewhere called “Pennsylvania”, which must be a fantasy version of the game or something. Never heard of it.

CASTLE PANIC: THE DARK TITAN

Castle Panic is a fine game, a real good one to play with your kids, and this new expansion adds a new big baddie to the game. In Castle Panic you defend your castle from approaching baddies, tower defence style, with every player co-operating to play cards and push back the waves of enemies. The base game is a nice little challenge, and the first expansion – “The Wizard’s Tower” – made it harder yet. It looks like The Dark Titan adds new stuff for the bad guys and the good guys, with new unit cards such as the Cavalier and the opportunity to throw boiling oil at monsters. Which is a bit cruel.

I wonder if The Dark Titan will push Castle Panic even further towards being a game for grown-ups. Have any of you played the zombie version of this game? Let me know if it’s any good. I like this game quite a bit, but I have to be in the right mood.

Sometimes I just don’t want to panic, y’know?

NEXT TIME

I have a very cool review of a very cool game coming at you next week. A really strong recommendation, so get your wallets ready. I doubt you’ll be able to resist.

23 Comments

  1. znomorph says:

    I picked up Dark Titan back in May, and I wouldn’t play Castle Panic without it and The Wizard’s Tower (unless you want to introduce younger children to the game, then the base game is the simplest). I actually haven’t had time to play it since May, or I’d give you more specifics, but I will say it’s a very welcome addition to the game.

  2. dahools says:

    American by any chance that UK map?
    They obviously picked some places they heard of and andomly connected the cities with colours. I don’t care what year it claims to be set in, that you can’t get to the south of England from Carlisle without getting on a ferry?
    Let me know when that white mainline from Norwich to the rest of the country gets built, I may visit it again sometime.

    • Archonsod says:

      That’s generally what they do. Playing on actual rail maps would be a bit crap given real world designers tend to choose routes based on convenience and efficiency.
      Although that said TTR’s habit of awarding bonus points for the longest and most convoluted route between two places does suggest they’ve some experience with the British rail network.

      • Scurra says:

        The best UK map was a fan-made one which introduced a random events deck that had stuff that made you build your lines in completely different places (due to bureaucracy) etc.
        So far, the official expansion maps have been wildly variable (personally, I think the India map is amazing, but then again I’m biased as I helped to playtest it. A lot.) but I shall doubtless buy it as I actually quite like the game when it’s played at a decently high level (as I lose a lot then.)

    • rodan32 says:

      Everything I know about the UK I learned on Top Gear. So that should tell you something. No, I kid. I can give you a brief summary of Alfred the Great, something something Mercia, uh, Magna Carta, and then Wallace and Gromit. Oh, and we kicked yer ass!!!!!! never mind that you were all busy fighting with some French dude at the time. Doesn’t help our benighted American minds that the whole island of Great Britain is smaller than, say, Wyoming.

      • dahools says:

        Your probably better getting directions off Top Gear having just realised where they have put Bristol on that map.

    • Targaff says:

      Definitely American! Well, except for the bit where the designer was born in Southampton, and specifically said that the maps have “particular significance” to him. It’s clearly not intended to be an accurate representation of the UK train system, and honestly if that’s what you want from a game you probably shouldn’t be playing TtR in the first place: the restrictions of the game – not just trying to make it enjoyable/competitive to play, but specifically the need for each space to be tailored to the size of the playing piece – mean that a large dose of licence is inevitable on any map. It’s hardly horrific.

      Really should’ve been York rather than Leeds, though.

    • cadwallader says:

      That’s a nice confabulation there, except that it implies you haven’t looked at the original American board, or you have and are equally unaware of U.S. & Canadian geography as these imagined Americans who picked random places off a British map. I think it’s a lot easier to assume that compromises were made due to gameplay.

      For the record, although they don’t really bother me, the most notable errors, omissions, and artistic licenses on the original American board are:
      -Minneapolis becoming Duluth (140 miles distance)
      -Billings becoming Helena (180 miles distance)
      -Raleigh moving about 100 miles east
      -Washington, D.C. moving about 120 miles south
      -New York City being moved well inland
      -Maine reverting to Canada, if coloring is to be believed (a thin line remains marking the US-Canadian border)
      -Lastly, the dot for Miami being closer to the Everglades’ western shore than Florida’s eastern shore, despite the fact that the red, blue and pink lines really look like they could have been easily adjusted. Lazy!

      -No Detroit, Pennsylvania, or any city in Ohio (for spacing reasons, most likely)

      -Lastly, the lines connecting cities basically ignore the Great Lakes and treat the western mountain ranges as permeable.

      • Baines says:

        Ticket To Ride moved Raleigh west, next to the mountains. East would have put it on the coast.

        But yes, you certainly wouldn’t want to try to learn geography from the Ticket To Ride map. It was designed for gameplay and general appearance first and foremost. Accuracy only matters to the extent of matching city names at least to the states that contain them.

    • trn says:

      Have you ever tried to get a train from Carlisle to anywhere south? This looks like a fairly accurate portrayal of Branson’s west coast line, but with Barrow instead of Preston.

      • dahools says:

        to Preston, Crewe, Wolves, Watford ending London (probably some i have missed but still) done that a few times on Western main line but like what was said above I cant comment on American maps, seems like theirs is off quite a bit too, but being such a vast country it seems a bit easier to get close while keeping it gamey

  3. JFS says:

    You don’t need to have played Ticket to Ride. It’s not a very good game. To this day, I can’t really understand its success.

    • LexW1 says:

      It’s a combination of accessibility both in concept and execution and yet still rewarding cunning (rare enough in boardgames, sadly), together with the inherent “Am I going to get screwed over?” tension. I tend to agree that it’s not some sort of stunning game I’d want to play over and over, but it’s fairly solid.

    • Kefren says:

      As it says on the tin: popular with people who don’t like competitive boardgames or ones where they can be “ganged up on”. My mother and girlfriend love Ticket To Ride, Takenoko and games like that. Basicalls, if I want to play a boardgame with them, it needs to be something like this, even though it wouldn’t be my first choice.

  4. chairmanwill says:

    I’m slightly irritated that they bothered to have a ferry route to France, but not Jersey a.k.a. the British Caribbean a.k.a. the Jewel of the Channel a.k.a. the Island Where The Wicker Man is Real. We get enough tourists from Germany and Belgium to deserve some love from Days of Wonder. France has plenty of themed board games, but so far my proposals for a Bergerac reskin of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective have come to naught.

  5. jdogburger says:

    Release date for bloody inn? I checked their website but no luck.

  6. SgtStens says:

    S’ok, Rab. I’ve been into the boardgame hobby for about three years now and I still haven’t played Catan. Dominion was my gateway drug game and now I’ve got the medium Euros(Dominant Species, Castles of Burgundy, etc) or dudes on a map (Imperial Assault) to play with gamer friends and HABA/Dexterity games and Bohnanza/King of Tokyo to play with the kids. Though I just started playing Carcassonne with my wife and I like it too. Only played TTR on iOS so far, I haven’t bothered to buy a physical copy because I’d rather buy something meatier (the same reason I’ve not purchased Catan, I guess).

    • znomorph says:

      My gateways were Catan, Pandemic and Dominion. Only after I’d been in the hobby for a while did I play TTR. And really the only reason I had fun was the group I was playing with. It was…too simple for me (that and Forbidden Island are the only games that I’ve felt that way about). I’m glad I played it once, but I probably wouldn’t play it again (so don’t feel too bad, Rab). Now I’ll play anything from Castle Panic to The Manhattan Project, but some people I play with just haven’t been acclimated to the heavier games. So I’ll go back and play Catan and the others every once in a while (and I can’t wait for Pandemic Legacy!). We have the seafarers expansion, and that has made it a bit more fun. I’ve also had a good time with the cities and knights expansion. So give it a go if you have a chance. You might bounce off it like I did off TTR, but it’s worth a shot in my opinion. Happy gaming!

    • Doogie2K says:

      I joined my original board game group late in its development, so I mostly missed out on the gateway games – Catan, Ticket to Ride, 7 Wonders, etc. – and went straight to the hardcore strategy games (Eclipse was a favourite). I’ve played most of those since then, though I’ve still never played Catan despite having owned it for like two years. That said, I’ve developed more of an affinity for Euro games, set collecting games, and so forth, which I tend to be better at; I’m just rubbish at strategy games by and large for whatever reason.

  7. Mr Wibble says:

    I have Dead Panic and I’m not sure about it yet. There’s a lot more to keep track of and it’s harder to play with two people than Castle Panic. The missus loves the latter, put pulls a funny face when I suggest we play the former.

  8. Kefren says:

    I love the way the Ticket to Ride UK map has Aberystwyth to Carmarthen. I might buy it just for that. That line was later closed during one of the most short-sighted bits of idiocy in trainland, meaning that Wales no longer has a straightforward north-south train route. If I want to go South from Aberystwyth by train, I have to go all the way east across Wales and travel to England first! Just seeing that one yellow rectangle makes me happy. No doubt we’d all try and put our train on it just for the kudos…

  9. klops says:

    Climate warming has already affected Scotland – it’s all underwater reef in the map!