I've got some lovely stuff lined up for the months ahead, including some early looks at new releases. I'm confident I'll be early out of the gate with things like Descent 2nd Edition and even City of Horror, the second edition of my darling Mall of Horror. OH YEAH. With the future schedule pretty much filled, I want to make sure that over the next few weeks I get the chance to tell you about lots of good stuff that I haven't had the chance to cover in depth. I'll quickly cover a few of these today.
So let's begin!
FIRST – THE NEWS
The only news that matters this week...
The rules to Descent 2nd Edition are now AVAILABLE TO ALL. Take a look!
I have a question. Is it only weird people like me who read rulebooks in advance? Do you read them? If you do take a look, let me know what you think. There's a lot in here I'm excited about, but I have a few concerns that will only be addressed when I get the game on the table. Can. Not. Wait.
RESIDENT EVIL: THE DECK BUILDING GAME
Dominion's good, isn't it? Are you familiar with Dominion? It's a deck building game, where you assemble a deck of cards that will help you generate victory points. It's a lovely design, and people who drink wine love it, but is almost entirely themeless. It just feels like playing with cards, and acting upon some text, and that's fine. I'm not being down on it. I like it. It's also been hugely influential, with games like Nightfall and Core Worlds and Thunderstone following in its wake. And a lot of shitty games too.
In fact, wait a minute. I'm going further here. I want to put this message out there – THAT'S ENOUGH DECK BUILDING GAMES NOW, THANKS. Everybody knows that a hit creates a thousand imitators, but this is starting to feel like a MILLION imitators. There is nothing that crushes my spirit more than hearing the title of an upcoming game, thinking “That sounds great!” and then finding out that it is a fucking deck building game. Stop it.
EXPLORE THE DARKEST REGIONS OF SPACE IN A GAME OF SCIENCE AND MILITARY MIGHT by choosing cards to put into your deck and shuffling a lot.
BATTLE ALONGSIDE EARTH'S MIGHTIEST SUPERHEROES AND DESTROY THE VILE PLANS OF THE WORLD'S MOST EVIL VILLAINS by mechanically building a deck of cards and not interacting with anybody else and really feeling it and thinking to yourself “I might as well be sitting here on my own, shuffling a Top Trumps deck for three hours.”
Well, anyway, all of this brings me to Resident Evil: The Deck Building Game. It borrows a lot from Dominion. A whole lot. But it also comes with a lot of theme, and a much more exciting way of capturing victory points. Instead of just buying the victory points and putting them into your deck, you build up your hand strength and then explore a Mansion Deck. When I say “hand strength” and “Mansion Deck” I really mean “Shitload Of Weaponry And Bombs” and “Scary Resident Evil Mansion Full Of Problems”. If you kill the enemies on the cards you turn over from the Mansion Deck, then you claim them as victory points. If you don't kill them, they hit back at you. You can lose health and everything. You can die. YOU DIED.
I like this game a lot. I'm a Resident Evil fan, though, so I get a real kick out of combining two Green Herb cards to regain health. That thrills me. Finding a First Aid Spray makes me quiver. Shooting a Licker with a shotgun makes my Southern Nose wet.
The risk/reward element of the Mansion Deck is a buzz, because it's always fun to see your opponents pushing too far and getting their legs eaten and cards stolen by a Hunter. There's just something really tasty about getting to choose whether or not you're exploring the mansion. It's always fun to say “I'm going in.”
“But you have one gun, no ammo, two knives.”
“I'm going in.”
Everybody looking at you like you're crazy. Like you're some crazy, sexy kid. Beautiful.
The enemies are all pretty sweet. They vary in difficulty from “You Lucky Bastard” to “Haha! YOU DIED! Wait, what, he hits US too?!” One of the bad guys, a Gatling Gun Zombie guy, uses your own ammo against you. If you go into the mansion with a lot of ammo, which you often do, this guy will tear you up like a Kickstarter promise. It's crazy. There's some real chaos in this game.
And chaos is great! Don't forget that Cosmic Encounter, which could be the greatest board game of all time, is all about controlling chaos. In RE: The DBG, you can easily turn over a card that ruins your night. YOU DIED. You can mess with the other players. When you throw a grenade (one-use cards) they take health from the enemy AND the players that are on either side of you. If you're Jill Valentine, you can unlock a power that puts used grenades back into your deck. You can become a death-dealing maniac, blowing up everything around you. That's brilliant. If you're Albert Wesker, you can force people to explore the mansion. You can order them to draw from that scary deck when they might have no chance of surviving an encounter. Wesker's a dick. That's beautiful.
I think you should try it, even if you already have Dominion. It's a trashier game, and isn't even close to being as mechanically sound, but I find it far more fun. It's a deck builder for video gamers and people who like to laugh. But I dunno, maybe you're happy just buying cards that say “VILLAGE” and “MARKET” on them, with no opportunity to fire any rocket launchers.
HEY, THAT'S MY FISH!
I bought Hey, That's My Fish for my 5 year old daughter. It is now played almost exclusively by adults. It fucking ROCKS. Here's the deal – you have a team of little penguins. You lay out a bunch of hex-shaped tiles, and these all have fish on them. Some tiles have one fish, some two, and some three. Then you start moving your penguins in straight lines across the hexes. When you move, you claim the tile your penguin started on, creating an impassable hole in the ice. And when a penguin can't move, it's out of the game. The team with the most fish wins.
Everybody has the same experience with this game. “Is this all we do? We just move these OH MY GOD THIS ROCKS!”
It just ROCKS. My daughter likes it a lot, but I love it. It's such a simple game, but feels super-strategic. You're claiming fish, blocking opponents, fencing off segments of the board – it ROCKS. Can you tell that I love it? And it's only about a tenner or something, too. Essential stuff. I couldn't (Polar) Bear to be without it. CLASSIC JOKE!
(I really hate when people say something “rocks”. But it does.)
The Resistance is another really simple and really straightforward game. The players are resistance fighters carrying out missions to bring down an evil regime. The current British government, for example. Secretly, though, there are Imperial Tory Spies in the team trying to sabotage those missions and bring the resistance down. The game is quite similar to Werewolf/Mafia in that it's all about manipulation and table talk.
The game's box is tiny. Some cards and some wooden chips. That's it. This game is all about you and your annoying mouth.
If you're a bad guy, you want to seem squeaky clean so that you get voted onto the mission teams, and then you need to carefully choose the right time to sabotage those missions. It's like being David Cameron during an election campaign. Keeping suspicion away from you and your allies is what it's all about. A good spy will be casting suspicion on everyone else, by shouting all the time.
“IT'S NOT ME!!!”
If you're one of the resistance, you will become an absolute paranoid wreck and you'll be shouting at people all the time.
“IT'S NOT ME!!!”
The game is quite similar to Battlestar Galactica too, but it's far shorter and has far less fiddly things going on and less photos of surgically enhanced American actors. I think I probably prefer Battlestar Galactica, but The Resistance will play in about half an hour every time, and that kind of game is always a good game to have. So, yeah. Try it! You'll shout a lot! Great fun.
I think that next week, all going well, I'll be telling you about the brand new release of the classic Fortress America. Here's an official Fantasy Flight promo video to make you feel faint and need a lie down and so on.
See you next time! Stay dicey! (Awful.)