I suppose we should start this week with the wonderful, exciting news that a Metal Gear Solid board game is heading our way!
It was announced at Comic-Con, where comic industry people con their fans into buying their dross for another year, and an image was tweeted by none other than my hero Hideo Kojima himself.
Yes, it's a Metal Gear Solid edition of Ri-
Risk. Oh, for fuck's sake.
Risk. Risk. Risk. Do you know how many different editions of Risk there are? Let me tell you – there are more editions of Risk than there are people who play board games. And do you know why there are so many different editions of Risk? Because the game is so bad, people keep trying to fix it. Risk: Godstorm. Risk: 2210 AD. Risk: Balance of Power. Risk: Star Wars. The common factor being “Risk”. The common factor being shitty old shitty Risk.
Look, Risk 2210AD is a pretty good game. I'd happily play that ANY time. But where it's good is where it deviates from Risk. The elements that ARE Risk are still crap. And there's no way, absolutely no way, that this Metal Gear Solid Risk re-theme will be deviating very far from that Risk formula. It'll be crappy old 4-hour-long Risk but with Metal Gear miniatures. Which means I'll need to buy it, thanks, here's my money.
That's ANOTHER problem with shitty Risk. I have, in my games collection, five different Risk games. I don't want them, but I have them. Don't ask me to explain it. This is just something that HAPPENS. Risk grows in a games collection like mould. It just happens. Don't look at me like that. I am a man with a strong will – Green Lantern material – but I have five shitty Risk games. And soon I will have six. Because I will not stand for me not having something that says Metal Gear Solid on the box.
In fact, here's a thing – IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN METAL GEAR SOLID MONOPOLY.
Monopoly is a fantastic game. An important, fantastic game. Anyone interested in my views on Monopoly should read this.
If you don't like Monopoly, you're probably one of the 90% of Monopoly players who aren't even playing it by the proper rules. That means you ALSO need to read this.
So, you see, a Metal Gear Solid Monopoly game would be far better. Sure, thematically it would make ZERO sense, but at least we'd have a good game to play while we move our little Raiden figure around a board. And it'd be great to win some money in a La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo beauty contest, wouldn't it?
(Okay, I just remembered that RPS has a predominantly PC-gamer crowd. I need to explain who Hideo Kojima is. He's a genius who creates games with narratives that challenge the player's perception of what games are. He even gave us a game that directly asked us “Why are you playing games? Go out and change the world instead.” He's a different breed from the guys who write the PC games you people play – the ones with the dreadful translations from Russian language, that are usually about the abduction of girls from forests or something. You really are a weird bunch.)
Okay, onto business.
GAME OF THRONES: SECOND EDITION
Yeah. The minute I wrote the words “Second Edition” there, I could almost hear some board gamers gulp in horror.
Recently, because of HBO's first-half-dreadful-second-half-great adaptation of Game of Thrones, people have been desperate to get their hands on the Game of Thrones board game. So, we've been able to watch, in amazement, as people go a little bit crazy on ebay. The game has been fetching over a hundred pounds in some places. And the people buying those games, I guarantee, have heard someone warning them that a reprint is inevitable.
KIND SOUL: Wait for the reprint. Seriously. Fantasy Flight will roll out a reprint soon, no doubt.
CRAZY KID: NO BABY I'MMA BUY IT NOW!
KIND SOUL: Listen, there will probably be a reprint by the year's end. Just wait fo-
CRAZY KID: I'MMA BUY IT NOW! (click click click) TWO HUNDRED BUCKS I'MMA BUY IT NOW!! OH BABY I HOPE WE GET SOME SCENES OF EXPOSITIONAL DIALOGUE WHILE TWO WENCHES GET IT ON IN THIS GAME OH MAMA (clickclickclick) I'MMA BUY IT NOW! I WANNA BE THE GUY WHO DELIVERS SOME CLUNKY DIALOGUE WHILE IN A BATH WITH A HOT CHICK I'MMA BUY IT NOW! (clickclickclickclickclick)
And here we are. Even worse than the Crazy Kids could have expected. Not just a reprint – a second edition. An improved version of the game, containing elements of the expansions, clarified rules, and updated art. I mean, seriously... look at the cover of this new edition of the game.
That must make those Crazy Kids sick. If you're one of those Crazy Kids, you can read about your mistake at the Fantasy Flight site by clicking this.
And on the subject of Game of Thrones...
BATTLES OF WESTEROS
Me and my girlfriend, we got something going on.
Once a week, we get Battles of Westeros onto the table, and we go very quiet. We lay out the map, and assemble the troops according to the instructions in the scenario booklet. I sit at the Lannister side, and she sits by her Stark house banner. We carefully insert our little flags into our troop miniatures, and turn those flags to the ready position. We draw our command cards, and roll some dice to receive our order tokens for the turn.
I go and make some coffee. I usually stand by the kettle as it boils and mutter to myself.
“Fucksake. This time. This time.”
The kettle clicks off. I pour. I carry them through.
We put some music on. When we first started playing, we would just play some music we both liked. Some Prince or something. But as things got serious, we moved to the HBO Game of Thrones soundtrack. We claimed it was for “atmosphere”, but I think it was mainly because it was unintrusive, and let us concentrate.
This game, man. This war. Fuck this war.
Battles of Westeros is based on the Command & Colors system created by Richard Borg. It's a wargaming system that puts a focus on tactics cards and a simple dice-symbols-for-hits mechanic. I think Battles of Westeros is my favourite implementation of the system. What sets it apart is that, instead of the battlefield being split into three sections and your command cards being related to those, the command zones are attached to the battle's Leader characters. This really helps to carry theme across, and means you have to play a far smarter game.
You have to play smart. That's my problem right there, I fancy.
I'm not going to go into how this game works. This isn't a review. The game's great. The game's clearly great. But a few days ago I went on tilt and said “Luck's too big a factor in this game. FUCK IT!” and flung myself back on my couch like I'm 14 or something. I also slammed the dice down on the board so hard some of my wee men fell over.
(I mean, I was rolling TEN dice by the time I'd figured in flanking re-rolls and stuff, and I didn't get one hit. Not even ONE HIT! And that didn't seem right. That's not right, is it? What universe would allow that? While she's trying not to smile on the other side of the table. That's not right, now, IS IT? Fucking Winterfell bastards.)
I'm getting angry right now, just thinking about it. I'm 4-1 down at this point. The God of Games is 4-1 down. The most recent battle, in the Whispering Wood, saw me breaking one of my commanders away from the units under his control on a fool's errand. That meant no command cards could be played on these vital units. That meant I had to spend order tokens to bring them into meaningful positions. That meant I had fucked up. Again.
I'm sorry. I'm raging. My legs are stiffening.
You see, in Battles of Westeros, luck is always going to play some part in things. But a smart player plays so that he isn't ever depending on the dice. Do you get that now, Robert? A smart player makes it so that he isn't rolling the dice with his heart in his throat because he's SCREWED if they come up with less than optimal results, you dickhead.
So sorry for the bad language. I'm furious.
I wanted to come on here today, as your God of Games, and tell you about this great game that I'm really good at. But instead I have to tell you that tomorrow I'll be sitting down to get my arse handed to me, unless I can GET A GRIP. See, look, I know what the problem is. Let's say a scenario tells me that I need to claim a certain objective by the end of the game – I can't keep that goal in my head. I mean, I know I need to do that thing. I know I can only win if I do that thing. But I get drawn into stupid meaningless little skirmishes on that board. And she knows this. MY ENEMY KNOWS THIS. So she'll cause little distractions, create little mini-stories on the battlefield that my ego demands some sort of say in, and my eye will start to come off the prize. I'll see an opportunity to capture one of her commanders (in truth, she creates this opportunity) and I go bumbling in, flinging everything into achieving something that doesn't matter. Doesn't matter, Robert. DO YOU GET IT YET, ROBERT? While she builds up towards the actual objective.
Now, you might be sitting there right now saying “Who exactly is he writing this for? Himself?” And I would say to you “No, I'm writing a game recommendation in a post-modern style.” But I'd be lying, because I don't really know what post-modernism is (dropped out of Uni) and I'm actually writing this so that I can take a screengrab of the webpage and print the fucker out and have it TATTOOED ON MY FACE and then maybe I will GET THE POINT.
I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
You should try the game. You want a piece of this, right? You want some of th-
TEN FUCKING DICE! NOT ONE HIT!