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?
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.