Cardboard Children: Boardgame News Roundup

Hello youse.

It’s February, and it’s time for another blast of board game news. Did you have a good Valentine’s Day? Did you play some good board games with your beloved? I hope not. I hope you just had sex instead.

AGRICOLA RE-RELEASE

You’ll maybe remember that last week I told you that I’d got rid of Agricola as part of my ongoing cull of my board game collection. Well, lookee here. A new edition of Agricola is on its way, and the changes are interesting. First of all, it’s for a maximum of 4 players now, instead of 5. That brings down the cost of the game, and I genuinely think that 4 is as many people as you’d want to play with anyway.

The cards included with the game – the cards that make every game of Agricola different from the last – are going to be looked at, with the weaker and less popular cards replaced with cards from some of the expansions. They’re creating a new standardised deck for the game, which sounds to me like another reasonable idea – we’d reached a point where there were just too many expansion and promo cards, I think.

What I’m not so happy about is the fact they’re removing the “family” version of the game from the standard release. Now the family game will be available as a separate product, and I’m not sure what the logic of this is. One of the things I loved most about Agricola was the fact that I could play the family game with my kid, then flip the board and pull in the cards to play with friends.

So will I be bringing Agricola back into my collection once the new edition appears? I’d certainly like to see what they’ve done with the cards, but aside from that, everything else looks a bit lighter on content. I’m…

…I’m not sure.

I wish people would stop changing things.

SENTINELS OF THE MULTIVERSE: OBLIVAEON

Just take a look at that title. “OblivAeon” sounds like some kind of bad crossover DC Comics would have done in the 90s. The kind of crossover that has superheroes fighting terrible alien mutant things with names like “DEVASTATORR” and “KILLGRA”. But this OblivAeon is the final expansion for the Sentinels of the Multiverse game, and then the line is coming to an end. Further than that, the whole universe of the game is ending, which is a very comic bookish way of doing things.

I liked Sentinels of the Multiverse quite a bit, but I never really kept up with the expansions, because I found the game system far too fiddly for what it is. It’s a co-operative superheroes v supervillain game, and there is SO MUCH to keep track of that you really need a notepad and pencil by your side at all times. It just didn’t flow well enough, and yet it remained genuinely engaging and quite thrilling. Maybe subsequent expansions helped with some of this fussiness, maybe some of you could tell me if they did, but regardless – I have an interest in finding out how they bring this “little indie that could” to a satisfying finish.

Of course, it’s a Kickstarter, and look how much money they’ve made so far. I mean – LOOK.

MYTHOS TALES

Another Kickstarter, and this one is a little thing called Mythos Tales, which caught my eye because it re-implements mechanics found in one of my favourite games of all time – Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective.

Of course, this game brings that whole brilliant co-operative investigative lark to HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos setting, and probably brings with it a much more challenging game to write.

Let me elaborate.

With Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, the designers had to mimic Conan Doyle’s style of writing, which is far more conventional and easier to reproduce than the manic stylings of HP Lovecraft. There’s a feel within HP Lovecraft’s work that is difficult to mimic without it feeling like crass parody, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the people behind Mythos Tales deal with that task. Maybe they just won’t, and will fling monsters at us to see if that’s enough.

Over on the Kickstarter page, you can actually download a couple of investigations to see how they’re shaping up, but I don’t want to spoil the discovery for myself. This is definitely one I’ll be covering down the line, because Consulting Detective + Lovecraft is a dream mix for me.

CYCLADES: MONUMENTS

The brilliant Cyclades continues to expand. It’s another of my favourite games, and I’ll be covering the TITANS expansion soon. My original review speaks of just how thrilling the game is, and it’s a beautifully balanced game too. MONUMENTS is an expansion that brings ten monument miniatures (and you just know these will be beautiful) and ten associated monument cards that bestow special powers on the players who erect them. Oh my GOODNESS.

My hope is that this expansion has been tested to hell and back to make sure that the balance and elegance of Cyclades is retained throughout, because a game this good barely needed to be expanded in the first place, and every step out from the original design is a risk. It’s a risk that has paid dividends thus far, though, and we can hope Monuments continues the streak.

ZOMBIE TOWER 3D

I’m so sorry. It’s another Kickstarter. But look yo. This one is 3D! What I mean is, look, it’s CARDBOARD! It’s a 3D CARDBOARD TOWER!

I honestly don’t care what this game is like. I want that. I just want that. I want that.

I just want that.

Go and look at it! It’s in 3D! It’s a board game in 3 Dimensions! It’s physically there, cardboard, and a big tower!

This I want.

15 Comments

  1. Beanbee says:

    Mustard.

  2. Eddy9000 says:

    Well you’re addressing a forum of boardgame enthusiasts, but hope springs eternal as they say.

  3. dasquish says:

    Had to pop in to say that if you are playing sentinels of the multiverse without the excellent ipad companion app, you are doing it wrong. It helps with a lot of the fiddling.

  4. BisonHero says:

    To address Rab’s indirect question, I like Sentinels of the Multiverse quite a bit, but it only gets more fussy as you buy expansions, because they generally stop designing simple, straightforward heroes and villains, because the designers assume if you’re that deep into the expansions, you probably want some weird shit.
    It never makes it a bad game, and I have no real problem with it, but if you’re like Rab and had a problem with the fussiness, then I should tell you that no later cards somehow alleviate that.

    • derbefrier says:

      ahhh that explains it. i was sitting here wondering what he was talking about but i only have the base game. I keep looking at expansions but its not the most popular game in my group so i keep opting for other games.

      • BisonHero says:

        The game never really gets overly complicated, but when they create new heroes/villains in the expansions, they’ve long since stopped doing things like “I’m Ra, and I basically just do a ton of fire damage” and “I’m Grand Warlord Voss, all I really do is summon alien minions with 3 HP each.” Most new heroes and villains have some central mechanic to them that is clever or weird to think about.

        • malkav11 says:

          Some examples include:
          The Southwest Sentinels, a hero deck where you actually control four separate heroes, each with their own base power (but can still only play one card and use one power each turn). The cards have a lot of “one of your heroes does this – and then if this specific hero is still up, do this”, and there are various synergies to get multiple powers firing off, to give each of the individual heroes their signature effects, etc. They have more collective HP than any other hero deck but individually are lower than anyone else and so fairly fragile, offset by the fact that one of them has a damage reduction power for the whole team and another has the best healing output of any hero so far.

          Sky-Scraper: a size-shifter who has three character cards that she switches between based on her size (and her one-shots all switch her size). When she’s big, she can make a sonic boom by clapping her hands, which hits all villains but also all heroes (initially for 0, in the latter case, but if her damage gets boosted…), and most of her direct offensive cards make her huge. She can also redirect (and reduce) all damage dealt to heroes to her for a turn. When she’s normal sized, she draws extra cards, and the cards that make her normal do things like heal her and cause her to draw/recover cards from the trash, or frag the entire environment play area and up to two villain ongoings. And when she’s tiny…well, her other big mechanic are “links”, which she can attach to targets (villains, environment or heroes as appropriate). She -can- just play them, but when she’s tiny her power lets her play out two and then retrieve some from play or the trash (some links only take effect when they enter play). Tiny cards include a couple of different link-related effects and riding on another hero’s attack. She can also blow up links in play for damage. Lots of approaches here.

          Miss Information – a villain who’s posing as the team’s secretary, so her entire first side is her sending the team into traps as they try to find clues to her identity, and only once they’ve identified (and thus flipped) her can they battle her directly.

  5. Merus says:

    I never liked Sentinels of the Multiverse; I liked the two-stage fights, but I’ve played a few games of it and it always felt like it settled into a rote pattern with a few moments where things got hairy. Compare it to Pandemic, where often players are doing a move-move-treat-treat, so their actions are rote, but you’re always working towards something unique to your game, the state of the board, and the ticking time bomb you know is coming.

    • malkav11 says:

      This is so completely the reverse of my experiences with those two games that it’s baffling to me. Sentinels was constantly new and surprising and varied and (non-Legacy) Pandemic was the same game every time but with cubes in different spots. I think a big part of that is that Sentinels really sells its theme and Pandemic is very dry and abstract.

      • BisonHero says:

        My problem with Pandemic is also that there is so much tabletalk that I get bored with the game because it feels like the entire table is playing my turn, not me. Sure, you have to divide responsibilities so efficiently that you’re forced do this in Pandemic, but I feel like I have almost no autonomy over my own turn. So many games of Pandemic feel like I should just let my 1-2 most talkative friends play everyone else’s turns for them, and the game would play out pretty much the same so why am I even sitting there “playing”.
        Sentinels of the Multiverse fixes that because it’s just too much work to keep track of what everybody else is doing and what they all have in their hand and they might have weird synergies you won’t necessarily notice if you’re not the one playing them, so at best you might coordinate “OK, who is going to deal with that environment card” or something, but ultimately people are allowed to actually play their own turn.

        • Disgruntled Goat says:

          I have the same complaint about Pandemic. I like board games that allow me to make fun, creative decisions, but in that game the only choice is the thing I “should” do.

          Usually I’m rooting for the disease to win so the game will end.

  6. malkav11 says:

    I find Sentinels quite straightforward and have never needed to use the additional tracking tokens they included with the Shattered Timelines Kickstarter (when I bought in), much less notepad and pen. But the expansions wouldn’t fix any issue of fiddliness because with only a couple of exceptions they don’t change the rules or mechanics, they simply add new decks to combine in ever richer matchups.

    There’s like…one or two new keywords as of the expansions, Vengeance (and Villains of the Multiverse) introduces villain teams (and a hero deck that’s four hero characters at once), and they’ve hinted at there being some sort of new mode or something coming in OblivAeon but haven’t elaborated on that yet. But the first three expansions and Wrath of the Cosmos are all pretty much just new decks and even with the villain team concept used by the villains in Vengeance and Villains of the Multiverse, it’s not tremendously different.

  7. iucounu says:

    Just to say, there is an HP Lovecraft version of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective already – it’s called Arkham Investigator and is available here for free print’n’play. Only two cases as yet but they’re very good. link to boardgamegeek.com

  8. meepmeep says:

    I find myself wondering – if Caverna had been the original game and Agricola the sequel, would we be ditching Caverna and praising Agricola as the more honed-down game with better, more focused mechanics?

    And would the move from meepimals to cubimals be seen as representative of the streamlining of the design?