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Cardboard Children Post-Essen Shakedown

Essential boardgame news

Hello youse.

Well, it was Essen Shpeel (that's how you say it). Another big games show, and lots more board game news. So let me just cherry pick a few bits of exciting post-Essen news bites, and then we can knuckle down to weeks and weeks of covering new games that will make a dent in your family's bank account this Christmas. I'm a games man, not a news man. LEAVE ME ALONE, NEWS.


I liked Star Realms. Carry it in your pocket, pull it out, have a game with someone you love or admire... It's nice. A nice little distillation of the deluge of deckbuilding games we've suffered since Dominion came along and bullied its way into the brains of game designers everywhere. THAT IS ENOUGH OF THE DECKBUILDERS NOW, OKAY.

Well, more Star Realms is coming. Of course it is. There's a brand new 2-player starter box called COLONY WARS, because that's exactly what space things get called, you know? This is a new jumping-on point, or you can combine it with the original set and have more cards – doesn't it seem like “having more cards” is now what life is all about? 400 cards? Not enough. 2000 cards? Not enough. I never want to know how many bits of card I have in my house. Never tell me, Satan.

The other expansion thing is a little one, like the previous expansions, adding a new wrinkle to the game in the form of “gambit cards” that can be used as powerful one-shot gamechangers. And they're purple, like the terrible superhero Gambit out of the X-Men or whatever they're called these days.

I'm sorry if I don't feel incredibly enthused by these expansions, but I do feel I need to report them, because Star Realms is an incredibly popular game. In fact, just last night I saw two owls playing it up a tree.


This is a beautiful looking thing. I'm so sorry that it's yet another Kickstarter. That's not my fault. Everything's a Kickstarter these days, even this column. There's 14 days to go on this one, and it looks like a really interesting bunch of cards. Oh, bother! Cards again?!

But hey, at least this one is using cards in an interesting way. And in a number of ways. Let's take a look at these bullet points...

  • Relive the sensation of the adventure books where “you are the hero” that thrilled so many of us in our childhood
  • Okay, this has me interested. You all know I'm a big Fighting Fantasy fan, and I do feel that there aren't enough games these days that try to capture that beautiful sense of choice that those games provided.

  • No dice rolls! Make difficult choices and face the consequences thanks to the game's innovative mechanics that determine success or failure!
  • Jury is out here. I'm always nervous when there's no dice. Those choose your own adventure books? Fighting Fantasy? Can you imagine them without dice? Hmmm.

  • 1000+ 8cmx8cm cards with hundreds of original artworks
  • Only a thousand?!

  • 1000+ minutes of thrilling adventure in a single game
  • Wait, what? Over a thousand minutes in a single game? How many snacks would you have to bring? That's impossible, surely! I can't eat that many snacks! Well, I can try.

  • 30 seconds to set-up the game, 30 seconds to save it!
  • Oh. You can save the game. Oh this sounds goooood.

  • Join the expedition partway through if you missed the beginning of the adventure or died prematurely
  • Another great idea. There's nothing worse than starting a game, then some idiot turns up. And you have to sit there looking at them as they sigh and frown because they can't play yet. And you tell them to take their chair out into the garden. And it's raining. And they sit out there looking in through the window at the warmth and the laughter. I hate those people.

  • Live a different adventure every time! There are dozens of random events and several alternatives for a single numbered card
  • I don't know what it is about “random events”, but I love them. The notion of a “random event” excites me. Games without “random events” never get me going quite as much as games with them. As in games, so shall it be unto life, or something. And shouldn't life be full of “random events”? To keep you thrilled, excited, alive? Well, as into life, then thus unto games. Or something.

  • The game remembers your actions. If you kill a NPC, he will remain dead for the rest of the game and any option that you would have had by letting him live will be gone… forever!
  • Consequences. A game with consequences is a game for me. I think this game sounds excellent. And I love the look of it too. A really beautiful production. I don't think I'll back it, though. I'll just wait until it comes out normally. Will you be a darling and go back it to ensure it definitely does come out normally? Thank you.


    Watch on YouTube

    This is a weird, beautiful time travel game, and it was right there at Essen, impressing people with its loveliness and cool theming. It's a game where players do runs through scenarios, spending time as they go, and being called back when time is up. They repeat these runs to try to score a perfect one, hitting all objectives in the alotted time.

    Time travel is something I'd love to see explored a bit further in board games. I love Tragedy Looper, but it's quite a difficult game to teach and explain. Temporum is another game that dabbled with time travel, but it was the very slightest of dabblings, reducing the notion to one key mechanic.

    I've heard from friends that T.I.M.E. STORIES might be exactly what I'm looking out for – and with luck I'll be getting my hands on it very soon. I'll cover it right here in this column, because that is my job.


    Finally, I wanted to flag this up. Three Kingdoms Redux is looking like my game of the year at this point. Read my review AGAIN.

    It remains shocking to me that the game hasn't found wider distribution. Well, anyway, at the moment the deisgners themselves are arranging an EU group order for the game – if you've wanted to pick up a copy, this might be how to do it. Go take a look.

    I'm not on commission here, or anything. I just want people to play this stunning game.


    The review onslaught begins. I have many new and upcoming games for you. Buckle up!

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