Cardboard Children: Games With Buzz

Hello youse.

On the board game scene, there’s always a great deal of buzz. Indeed, the industry depends on buzz – be it the mindless drone-buzz of pre-release hype or the more alluring summer’s day busy-buzz of post-launch word-of-mouth. Buzz is what makes a game hot, while silence is what makes a game not. Today we take a look at a few upcoming games that are making people startle and dash away because they think there might be a wasp in the room.


Matagot have a game called Inis that is about becoming the king of an ancient territory back in the old ancient Celtic times of things long ancient. It’s a good old-fashioned area control game, which means that players are moving their units around a map, claiming domination of areas by majority control. In Inis, there are three different victory conditions, expanding beyond the standard domination path, and there are also ways to quicken the path towards the completion of objectives through card-play. There’s drafting of cards full of special powers, hand-management, a light smattering of deck-building. It seems like Inis is a real grab-bag of modern mechanics. But it’s the Celtic theme that really seems to set Inis apart, with gorgeous and unorthodox artwork that really catches the eye. It’s no wonder that there’s a lot of buzz around this one, with early word being that this is a very, very strong game.


There’s been a lot of buzz around Seafall for a very long time, and it’s no wonder. Seafall is a Legacy game, meaning that it is a game that develops over time into something different, as new mechanics are unlocked and folded into play. I’m someone who really loved Risk: Legacy back in the day, the first game to run with the whole Legacy concept, and I really enjoyed all the debate around how that game worked. In Risk: Legacy, as players made choices, cards were removed from the game completely (by being torn up) and the board itself was written on with ink pen and customised with stickers. Some players hated this notion – particularly board gamers who viewed their hobby from a collectors perspective. They simply hated destroying parts of their game. But the Legacy system was a success regardless, and Pandemic: Legacy won over even more people with its developing storyline built on a rock-solid game system that almost every player was familiar with.

Seafall is interesting, though. It’s a Legacy game built from scratch. It’s not a Risk or a Pandemic, so there’s no familiarity to lean on. Here, players have to learn a new game system, then watch as that changes into something new over time. And that’s what makes Seafall so buzzy right now. That pre-release buzz is changing into something with a very different tone as players start to discover exactly what is going on within this game. Some players are expressing early disappointment over how the game plays, but soldiering on to see if things are shaken up a bit a few hours down the line. Other players are expressing excitement that this is the first time that a heavier, more ambitious game has been given this Legacy treatment.

(I’ll hopefully be taking a look at this game soon, but Legacy games are tricky ones to review. They take a lot of time to play out to completion, and really need to be enjoyed over multiple sessions with the same group of people. But I’ll try my best to get some kind of first impressions over to you all, at least.)


Vast: The Crystal Caverns is a game that has created a lot of buzz throughout convention season, as people have had an opportunity to see how this game works. You see, there’s this cave, and in this cave there is a dragon. And into this cave comes a knight, to slay the dragon. And also in that cave is a gang of goblins, keen to kill any invading knights. And there’s this thief too, trying to steal enough treasure to break a sinister curse. Players can take control of the dragon, the knight, the goblins, the thief or the cave itself, in a game that is hugely asymmetric and ambitious.

Each role plays differently, and has completely different objectives. As the Knight, players explore the cave, trying to find the dragon and slay it before it can escape. As the dragon, players will try to wake the creature up and liberate it from the cave – but not before eating as many goblins as possible. The player in control of the goblins, meanwhile, is using the darkness of the cave to create ambushes for the knight, as their goblin tribes attempt to kill him. The thief player is trying to keep a low profile, while stealing treasures from cavern vaults and pickpocketing from other players. Then there is the player controlling the cave. The cave player is expanding the caverns, laying out treasures, and then collapsing the cavern in an attempt to completely destroy the caves before any other player’s objectives are complete.

The most impressive thing about this game is that it attempts to give each player not only a different victory condition, but also a different mechanical approach to playing the game. It’s very much the kind of game that will have to prove that it can deliver on its promise on the table, but that early buzz suggests that it does. I’m excited to get a hold of this one.

There’s a very nice review by Tom and Melody Vasel right here that you might want to look at. Go see ’em.

What upcoming games are you buzzing about? Or would you like to buzz about something you’re playing right now? I’m still buzzing about Mansions of Madness: Second Edition. It’s an absolute thrill. It makes me go BZZZZZZZT.



  1. dubyabyeats says:

    Inis is illustrated by the Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick. Ive had some of his books of artwork since I was a youngster. Amazingly detailed variants of Celtic art based on mythology (the Fir bolg and Tuatha De Dannan). Interesting to see him involved in board game artwork now. His site is over here link to

    • Mark.W.OBrien says:

      Jim Fitzpatrick’s other claim to fame being that he is responsible for that iconic posterized black on red image of Che Guevara (though not the original photograph it’s taken from).

  2. Chiron says:

    If we’re talking about Buzz then I guess I have to mention Waggle Dance

    link to

    Good simple game to get people into board games, use your bees to make honey, hatch more bees and have a bit of a buzz

  3. Haldurson says:

    Friends and I just started playing Pandemic Legacy. The very first time we were instructed to tear up a card, my friends looked on in horror as I tore it up with great relish. There was something totally liberating about it, as if the laws of society no longer bound me.

    I’ve been following a couple of no-spoiler playthroughs of Seafall with great interest. So far there seems to be a mixed response to it — and this is from players who already played both other Legacy games.

  4. Baines says:

    Some players hated this notion – particularly board gamers who viewed their hobby from a collectors perspective.

    Some people would like to be able to in the future play again the game that they’d bought. When you start tearing up cards and making other permanent changes to the components, you can’t do that. You’d have to buy another copy of the game (at full price), which might not even be practical or possible within a few years, to play with a group that might lose interest in it after a couple of sessions.

    The arguments against the permanent component destruction Legacy games request/require isn’t much different from similar matters facing videogames. Except with video games, you have gamers arguing for preservation and the ability to return to previous versions, while with board games you have people arguing in favor of destruction and the inability to return to previous versions.

    • Morph says:

      Well if it helps we played Pandemic Legacy 14 times (which is low, it averages about 18 I’d guess). I have many games that cost just as much that I’ve barely reached 5 plays of. So good was the legacy experience I’ve not got some of the cards framed on my wall. I am very happy to pay again when the next season comes out.

      • Morph says:

        “Now got” stupid fat fingers

      • pack.wolf says:

        I think I haven’t even gotten 14 games out of my normal copy of Pandemic yet. On the Brink has at least made it to the table, In the Lab and forgot-the-name-of-the-green-one have each only been opened once to check all the components are there…

    • Kefren says:

      Presumably at the end of it all you can keep playing the game, just with no more rule changes or cards destroyed. It becomes a normal game, but personalised by you and your group: no need to throw it away or never play it again, or anything wasteful like that. (I could be wrong).

  5. FatOak says:

    We’ll see who brings in more honey!

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    phuzz says:

    Stay buzzy!

  7. Gothnak says:

    I’m looking forwards to Gloomhaven, a co-op questing game where the combat is run with a form of AI in a very strategic form. The quests are also kind of randomly generated and there is a whole world to explore in one box without huge dungeons to build out, but more separate smaller encounters.

  8. Scurra says:

    Vast is terrific once you can get past the initial WTF aspect. Each of the roles seems very well balanced, but the risk is that an unbalanced roster of players will skew the thing badly and give a bad impression (I’d certainly advise not playing with a full five players first time out. Oh, and make sure you play with the terrain tiles from the off.)

  9. Moraven says:

    Picked up Scythe due to pre-GenCon hype before they sold out of KS copies. 2 games so far and have not been disappointed.

    Definitely thinking of getting Vast.

  10. Erithtotl says:

    Explain to me why you would tear up the card, rather than just set it aside? Worst case you never want to play the game again at the end and you craigslist it?

    • lasikbear says:

      You also need to write on the board, open packages, place stickers… if you avoid all of the “this is an unreversable change to the game” aspects you’re just playing the base game with a bunch of extra unused components

    • pack.wolf says:

      You don’t just tear up cards, you also write on some and the board, put stickers on stuff, …
      For a lot of the permanent changes you make there is no really viable alternative, especially once everone wants to go home until the next weekend. You can’t put away your whole dinner table for a week, can you? Or, if you can, your house is big enough I’m pretty sure you can afford another copy of the game.
      Some people have taken to laminating everything and the kitchen sink so they can “reset” the game. But that also probably cost more in material and especially time than just buying a new set when and if you want to start a new game after already having gotten at least 10 hours of fun out of it.
      A digital implementation of P:L would of course support full resets. But then again I wouldn’t be a board game any more…
      Legacy games bring new mechanics to board games that just weren’t possible before. Maybe it’s not the perfect solution. But it’s the best anyone has come up with until now. I wasn’t sad when Nvidia released the 1070. I just accepted the fact that after having fun for hours on end playing on a PC with a 970 there now was a newer, better card available. And when the time to upgrade rolls around once again there’ll probably already be a 1170 or 1270. It’s all a question of perspective.

      • bp_968 says:

        I’m not opposed to the concept, just not interested in it. Its mainly a volume thing. In the reasonably short amount of time of roughly 6-8 years the wife and I have amassed probably 50+ boardgames (and that’s a random guess). Add to that the 40-50+ unique titles (different then what we have) that our game playing friends have and we end up with far more games than we can possibly manage to play in any significant volume.

        TLDR: We have tons of amazing and great games to play without buying one designed to be destroyed. And with the volume of amazing games coming out every year its unlikely we will ever run out of amazing games to play that don’t require their own destruction.