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Cardboard Children: A Quick Hello

Merchant of Venus

Hello youse,

This week's column will just be a quick hello and a little update about some boardgame news. I'm busy, very busy, preparing next week's very special Halloween edition of the column. It will feature a very special video comparing some of the zombie-themed games that are on the market, and telling you which of them is the best. But that's next week. For now, let's see what's happening out there.


This is so weird.

Yesterday Stronghold Games announced that they would be reprinting the classic out-of-print game Merchant of Venus. Everyone celebrated, apart from boardgame collectors used to exploiting other gamers on eBay.

Then, later that day, Fantasy Flight Games announced that it would be reprinting the classic out-of-print game Merchant of Venus. And everyone went “Wait, what?”

Yes, it seems that there will be a Thunderdome style Battle of the Reprints, unless some lawyers intervene somewhere along the way. It looks like Stronghold Games acquired the rights from the game's designer, while Fantasy Flight grabbed them from the publisher.

Stronghold just put out this statement:

“It has come to our attention that Fantasy Flight Games has laid claim to the license for the reprint of Merchant of Venus.
First and foremost, Stronghold Games bears no ill will towards Fantasy Flight Games over what can only be deemed as an unfortunate situation. In fact, we remain fans of Fantasy Flight’s work within the game industry.

However, over 18 months ago, we began negotiations with Mr Hamblen for the license to Merchant of Venus, finally signing an agreement recently. After much research, Stronghold Games feels very strongly that the license is solely Mr. Hamblen’s to offer, and he has selected Stronghold Games for the reprint.
In our opinion, the party that has sold the license to Fantasy Flight Games does not own the rights to this license. Mr Hamblen has also expressed to us his firm belief that the license is his alone to offer.

At this time, we are intent upon defending our and Mr Hamblen’s claim to this license, noting once again that we view Fantasy Flight in the highest regard and regret that they have been put into this position.

Kevin Nesbitt and Stephen Buonocore
Managing Directors
Stronghold Games LLC”

Exciting. It seems that Fantasy Flight maybe fucked up. Could that happen? A company that size? And with the publisher they acquired the rights from being Hasbro/WOTC? Or is it more likely that we're seeing the traditional Big Companies Being Bastards thing in full effect? What IS strange is that Fantasy Flight are accepting pre-orders on the game, which isn't something they normally do. It kinda looks like a shitheel move of some kind. I dunno! It's all so weird and cool and weird!

I hope they both come out. That's what I want to see. Will there be a race to market? Will we wait and compare both before we buy? Will we be loyal to one publisher over another? I kinda feel like supporting the little guy in this, and buying the Stronghold edition. Besides, they did an amazing job with Survive! Yeah, GO STRONGHOLD!


I played a really really great game this week. I mean, really great. I'll be covering it in a fortnight, and you'll probably want to run straight out and buy it. It is EFFING FANTASTIC. I'll be able to get some more plays before we talk about it, and I'll know for sure if it's as deep and wide and constantly entertaining as I expect it to be.

I'm afraid that it is also another very expensive game. I suggest you start saving your pennies now.

Can you guess what it is?


There is a game at Essen right now called Alien Bastards.

I haven't read up about it. I don't want to know anything about it. Don't tell me ANYTHING about it in the comments. I just want to buy a game called Alien Bastards.

That's all.


I'm sure you all know about the game Dark Souls. You might not know where I stand on it. I think it, and Demon's Souls before it, are two of the most important game designs of the past ten years. These are statement games. These are games that say “You are being spoon-fed. Come earn your stripes.” They are also fair games. There is no flaw in the design of these menacing, terrible things.

I've been wondering if there's a way to create a tabletop game that feels like Dark Souls. A game where you are terrified at every step, and always one mistake away from death. A game where you learn the system, and improve in inches. A game that you never expect to win the first time you play.

A co-operative dungeon delving game, where you all start off far too weak to possibly survive? Some kind of system for handling death and revival? Is there a way to reward clever, smart play and allow a player to gain experience by gaining experience instead of gaining XP?

These are questions for a better game designer than I'll ever be. I hope someone with ability is asking them too. But hey, I'll try. I'll try.


You might as well know that this video next week will be coming to you through a brand new video editing PC. And while a brother edits and captures and compiles through some long nights, a brother might want to play some PC games. Now is the time to give me some recommendations. I am out of the loop, PC Games-wise. For those who will undoubtedly ask, (and because I am excited about it, and because banging on about specs is what PC gamers do and I am one of you now HOORAH) the PC has an i7-990x processor, two Geforce 580s running in SLI, and 24GB RAM. So I can (I think) run pretty much anything that's out. So recommend me some good things that are good, because I genuinely don't know.


Yeah, told you it would be brief. But you'll understand when you see what I have for you next week. Join me then, where you can LOOK AT MY HANDSOME FACE and LISTEN TO MY SEXUALLY ALLURING VOICE as I talk to you about zombie games. Why zombie games? Well, I've noticed that a lot of people, when breaking into this hobby, seem to pick up a zombie game first. People love zombies, don't they? People are really silly.

Be here next week when shit gets REAL!

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About the Author

Robert Florence