Android: The Universe – Pt 1.

introAs usual it’s taken us a long time to write anything for the blog. For once it’s not down to sheer laziness though….well maybe a little. It was summer! Can you blame me??? Mostly however, we’ve been focusing a lot of our game time hacking the Android universe. Now I’m sure our twitter followers are sick to death of hearing us harp on about Android, which by the way, is the single most useless game to tweet about since your “#Android” tweets just get lost in a sea of OS spam. Nonetheless, I get the feeling that there is some hesitation from gamers about getting into this series. It might be the mixed reviews floating around the net about both Android and Infiltration (both of which were made by acclaimed designers), or maybe board gamers are a little reluctant to get sucked into yet another “collectible” card game like Netrunner. Whatever the cause of this trepidation, I thought it was high time to write why we enjoy these games and why it has become our favourite tabletop franchise. So coming up in the next few weeks we’ll have a look at the all the games in the franchise. Today however, we start with the big boss. The one that started it all….

Android

Why are streets always wet in detective movies?

Why are streets always wet in detective movies?

Android is a murder/mystery story building game set in the dystopian future city of New-Angeles. Mega corporations run the sprawling network of the city, which your investigator needs to navigate, gather information from and try to solve the murder. In my humble opinion, Android is probably the most underrated game in the history of documenting things & calling it “history”. Alas, I am but one man though. Where ever you look on the net that reviews things made out of cardboard, it gets tagged with that dreaded “so-so” review score. Fans love it because of the setting and story, but those that hate it scream from the rafters about the mechanics. Mostly I think it’s a big misunderstanding about the point of the game. I can’t blame them though. Before its release Fantasy Flight really pushed the role play and mystery solving angles on this game. Which I’ll admit, sounds like an intriguing prospect and is indeed what caught my attention (Who wouldn’t want to see a Sci-Fi Noir, D&D and Clue hybrid?) but that’s not really how the game pans out. You’re never actually trying to find out who the murderer is as you already know this from the start of the game. Well, that’s not quite right either. Actually you have possible SUSPECTS that you’re trying to pin the murder on. This is probably the biggest point where people start to jump off the Android ship. People were expecting a “whodunnit” story game that plays out as you go gumshoeing along, somewhat along the lines of Arabian Nights or Agents of SMERSH; instead they got a highly strategic puzzler. I for one love that! And here are a few reasons

image(3)The game possesses such varied mechanics that interleave with one another. Each layer adds different strategies you can employ to win the game. Firstly you can attempt to pin the murder on a suspect by mounting evidence against them, or as. While your detective chases up leads around New-Angeles, you have the option to uncover evidence. Don’t worry; you won’t be shouting obscenities at each other just yet. That’ll come later. You’ll take a token from the evidence pool and place it on a particular suspect involved in the murder case. Depending on the value of the token, it’ll determine if the suspect is innocent or guilty. Usually, the point of the game where derogatory utterances begin is when a player places evidence on a suspect, and you refer to the 2 “hunch cards” you were dealt in the beginning of the game, one showing you a guilty suspect the other an innocent citizen, and of course, said player is building a case against your innocent hunch. Or at least who you believe to be. After all, you’re only going by your ‘dick’ instincts.

image(6)However you need to keep hunches secret for as long as possible. If your opponents find out who you’re building a case against/in favour of, they might employ “Humanity Labor” to put hits out on your suspects. Once there are 3 hits on a suspect, he/she is dead, removed from the game and potentially lost a player a ton of precious victory points. That’s not the only cuss inducing method in your quest for evidence though. There are also these nasty little tokens called “alibis”, which as we all know from day time soap operas, seriously derail the plot line. Alibis have the power to “reverse” evidence, as well as synapse with your brain, forcing you to shout out random portmanteau expletives. Subsequently, the word “funt” now adds colour to many more situations in our daily lives. Thanks Android! Surprisingly though, building a case against a suspect isn’t the most important thing on the board, although it is a really fun part of the game. Back and forth bluffing will potentially have you offload evidence on one suspect as each player battles for their hunch card, only to have him eventually assassinated! Meanwhile, the unsuspecting mining clone ‘Mark Henry’, sits with +1 point in his case file, making him the guilty party and netting another player 15 valuable victory points.

You could also try your hand at resolving your characters “plot cards” as a means to gain VP. When the game begins, each player is given a plot card that instructs them what to do in order to progress onto the next stage of the plot. This could be anything from discarding player cards to choosing how you are going to fight. Basically, as you journey around New-Angeles you will do things. Doing things will get you “baggage”. Which is sometimes good…

image(2)Raymond enters a seedy club on the south side of town. He feels the eyes of every patron scanning him up and down. They’re wondering if Raymond is going to kick up a stink and nose around in things that should maybe be left well alone, or is he going to just be the predictable jaded alcoholic cop that he is and take a seat at the bar. You play one of your “light” cards. “Hey, didn’t you fly in the 21rst division?” Ray cuts through the tectonic beat of the clubs sound system and turns to the sound of the voice. He sees someone vaguely familiar to him. It’s an old war buddy he used to fly with. Rather than make a fuss or drown his sorrows at the bottom of a bourbon alone, Ray pulls up a seat, places his order with the waitress and begins to reminisce about the good ‘ol days. The guy gives Ray a free “dropship pass” and Raymond gains 1 GOOD baggage for entering a “nightlife” location during this plot line. Sweet. – (This was actual gameplay by the way)

On the other hand though, sometimes baggage can be bad….

image(9)The bioroid Floyd overrides one of his prime directives in the hopes of getting a deceitful lead on the case. You play one of Raymonds “Haunted by the Past” cards. By now Ray has had a few too many drinks anyway. He barely manages to stand himself up with some semblance of dignity and stumbles into the clubs bathroom where the music is less deafening. After splashing some water on his face he takes a long deep gaze at his reflection in the mirror. The voice in his head starts to murmur as it normally does. The memories come flooding back and all of a sudden Raymond can’t breathe. A hand reaches out to help, “Hey buddy, you okay?” In a panic Raymond lashes out and starts throwing punches. Flailing in a drunken stupor like an unbalanced spinning top, and then darkness. The next thing Raymond sees is his own two feet staring back at him, as he slowly realises he’s waking up in a dumpster in the alley out back. He gains 2 “bad baggage” for fighting like a chimp. Bollocks.

Fantasy Flight made no secret of Android being a story driven game, which comes to much woe for players who just aren’t into roleplaying (or a bit rubbish at it), but that’s fine. No problem. You can delve into the cards text as much as you like or just go straight into what the cards actions are instead. In the end, you’re trying to score your plot cards with a positive amount of baggage to get the maximum amount of victory points.
image(7)Even if you’re not a storyteller kind of group, there is a THIRD way to play (and possibly the highest scoring yet most understated in the rules). In the top corner of the board is a puzzle board, and instead of placing evidence on a suspect after following a lead, you have the option to uncover a piece of the conspiracy. What this means is that you are trying to build links between some of the corporations in the game with the current murder case. “There’s more to this case. I just know it. Someone else was involved.” You place a puzzle piece down and try to connect a continuous line between the corporation spaces on the outside of the puzzle. Unlocking these can fundamentally change who will win the game. Sometimes a space grants that a certain currency token count towards your victory points or maybe it affects the results of plots, or maybe you get to place a hit for free, or maybe…There’s a lot of options here and having a good look at the puzzle will greatly improve your chances at winning. Not merely because of the links you’re trying to uncover, but also because there is a second dimension to the puzzle…yup, you guessed. That’s right, bingo…No, really. It’s bingo! This can net you a whole mess of points, but if you focus too much of your time on trying to uncover the conspiracy, you’ll have no time to chase any real leads on the case and your left holding a crumpled, sweaty bunch of newspaper clippings, with indecipherable hieroglyphics hastily scribbled on them, trying to convince the commissioner that it’s all connected to lizard men, screaming “Can’t you see?!?! There! It’s in the numbers! It’s so obvious!”

Whoever is the best at managing these three criteria and scores the maximum amount of score wins the game. I cannot stress though how interwoven these areas are. Things you do in one area might affect another. Each action you spend completing one area leaves your guard down on another, opening the door for another player to take advantage. There is still a bunch of details I could still go into, like each characters special abilities that you need to manage, the process of paying for card play, the movement system, just trust me, this shit is deep. It’s massively competitive, extremely strategic, complex in its subtleties and is as heavy as a cake eating convention.

image(8)Therein lays its main points of criticism though. Yes it’s a big ‘ol fat ass of a game, but just like Jabba-the-Hut, it has an endearing quality. The people, who enjoy this game, will almost always say it is a masterpiece. I understand where the criticism comes from though. Android is like a pink elephant in the board game world. Not in the sense that it sticks out (Because that’s impossible when your hash-tag is #Android) but rather it’s both a fascinating & unique creature, as well as clumsy & frustrating. As much as I didn’t want to talk about the theme since it’s the most obvious draw of the game, I will say that I think it’s not the theme in itself that people love, nor is it the mechanical elements that give the game colour, it’s the fact that the game needs to be played or approached as if it were a giant dystopian rubix cube. For us it’s HOW the mechanics are played out in relation to each other that makes it fit so well with the theme. The world of Android feels rich and therefore should be interacted with in a complex manner. If there was a stripped down version with streamlined rules, the glue that holds it all together would start to disintegrate and the experience would just fall apart. Despite its caveats you can net yourself a copy on Amazon for nearly NOTHING!! It would be foolish not to give it a go….and X-mas is around the corner.

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Kickstarters of the Week

After a long hiatus, we return to the blog to scour the seven seas of the internet, in search of games, so you don’t have to. Check out these awesome looking Kickstarters.

Iron & Ale

69990b3dd6a6f5c322b9f94d4c9b7076_largeStarting things off this time we have probably one of the most invasive yet hilarious games ever created. Iron & Ale is an adventure drinking game where players take on the role of dwarven lords and must perform extreme feats of strength, will and fortitude, all in the name of honor. I’ll say right off the bat though, we are not fans of violence here at We Die A Lot (despite what the name might suggest) but for this game, we condone all jackassery. Each player takes turns drawing cards from two decks, starting with the Mountain deck which tests your dwarven mining and battling abilities. Lets face it, dwarves are the undisputed kings of digging for shiny things, and if a goblin or giant happens to get in the way of their quest for gold, you know it’s going down hard with a crack in the skull from a weighty cudgel. Then comes the Meadhall deck. These are challenges that range from guessing another players dice roll to (“safely” – and you’ll know why I say that in a minute) skipping your next turn. However (here comes the unsafe bit), some of the more entertaining challenges actually get you to punch and slap your fellow dwarven lords. The penalty for failing either Mountain or Meadhall tasks is usually a few hefty swigs of ale. The prize however is being honoured as the mightiest dwarf this side of Mount Doom.

Now keep in minf5463f79b574a070f16cf6dfd0da2a94_larged this is a drinking game, and let’s be honest, if you were at a round table of mythical dwarfs, chalices filled with the finest mead, you would expect some drunken boisterousness. And that’s what makes this a great thematic game. You get to partake in those dumb-shit drunken shenanigans that everybody’s done after a few sips of dutch courage, only this time it’s totally justified. BECAUSE YOUR A DWARF! BWAHAHAHA!!!…Genius… Like I said, this is a great idea for thematic play. Hell! It’s practically the ideal introduction to role-playing for non-role players. The game doesn’t just happen on the table with a bunch of cards strewn before you. You actually become part of the game in a very tangible sense. And for once, the pledge level bonuses actually do aid your game in some ways. You get coasters, bottle openers and a pair of spiffy looking beer mugs if you want to fork out the extra dough. The point is you’ll have a laugh with this game and I can see it being a hit in college dorm rooms. What a perfect way to steal yourself for those pre/post exam anxiety jitters….but do play responsibly…it’s all fun and games until someone loses and eye….and then it’s just hilarious. BWAHAHAHA!!!!

Two Rooms & a Boom!

227afc2451d4c065a1be69d50dee1a0b_largeI’ll try to avoid all puns about how this game is going to be a “blast” (walked into that one :/), but the boys and girls over at Shut Up & Sit Down have been making a song and dance about this game in recent weeks, and rightly so. It looks like an absolute riot! Two Rooms & a Boom combines elements of some of our favourite hidden role games like ‘The Resistance’ and ‘Werewolf’, with the frantic panic of Pass the Bomb. Players are divided into two “rooms”, and then given roles, either you’re in the red team or the blue team. The latter contains the “President” while the former has a “Bomber”, unbeknownst to the other players. Each party has a chosen leader for three timed rounds, who has to elect hostages that will be passed into the opposing room. However the bombers ultimate objective is to make his/her way into the same room as the president by the games end and then BOOM! If all goes well with the kickstarter then other roles will become available, ranging anywhere from clowns to drunks to robots. Now if your like us, that means you love hidden role games, which in turn means that you relish in the idea of lying to your friends face. Only now you get to deceive them AND blow them to smithereens. What joy! Most hidden role games of this nature rely on a players cunning to get them through the task at hand, which engineers this uneasy feeling of distrust at the table, whereas this game just goes for sheer outright blind hysteria to hide your motives and complete the task at hand. Few games I know can create an atmosphere of deception as thick an ‘Ed’s diner’ peanut butter double milk shake, but by Jove if there was ever one that did it so elegantly as well as viscerally, it has to be Two Rooms and a Boom….tick. toc. tick. toc. tick…..

Dreaming Spires

prototype photoEnough of all this vulgarity with bombs and drunken dwarves. Can we have some decorum please. This is another one that SU&SD have mentioned on a few occasions, and naturally we wanted to take a look at what all the commotion was about. Well, it turns out there was no bloody commotion after all. Instead we found a grand, ceremonially decorated hall filled to the rafters with histories most famous intellectuals. Needless to say, we took off our beer hats and respectfully sat down amongst these celebrated academics. Welcome to Dreaming Spires by Game Salute. The only game in history that allows you to build your own college in Oxford. The first thing that comes to me about his game is a sense of awe. In a world where zombies and Cthulu reign supreme, the fact that anyone can make a game about building their own university is testament to the creativity of the hobbies designers. And really that’s what I love the most about board games. Diversity. I often find myself looking at our vast collection and yearn to play something with a touch of class sometimes. Something a little more refined than rolling a twenty sided dice to slay an undead dragon mage, before sucking its soul through a straw like the last bit of Pepsi in an ice filled glass (also known as the most annoying sound ever). So for the fact that this game even exists, we whole heartedly salute all board game designers. Sometimes your ideas are a little kooky, but god dammit we respect your ability to create a game out of anything.

PeopleOk, so it’s a unique idea, but what do you actually do in Dreaming Spires then? Players pit their strategic wits against each other in the quest for building the greatest school that ever came to be. You build your college from the ground up by laying down tiles that represent observatories, libraries, cloisters, quads and other posh sounding hang outs in order to attract the academic masters of Oxford’s vast repertoire of life changing thinkers. I always imagined Lewis Carroll and J.R.Tolkien would’ve been found sitting with their heads in the clouds amongst the college gardens, at least that’s how my brain interprets what the great minds of the past were always doing. Sitting under trees and thinking. Really though they went down the pub for a bit of a piss up (True story!…apparently). Anyway, I digress. This all happens over several eras, and as time goes by, old scholars graduate and new geniuses enrol, improving your colleges stature, depending on how well you utilised their abilities of course. Ultimately though it’s all about reputation. What will the annuls of history say of your hallowed halls? You best choose your faculty wisely is the answer. Also factor in shifting events and a euro scoring mechanism and what you have is a perfectly academic experience.

packshotI used the word class early on to describe the air around Dreaming Spires, and that’s another thing that grabs me about this game. The theme, play style, mechanics and design has this classic board game shimmer about it. As you’re building your college and collecting various famous intellectuals, you’re also learning real stories from the rich history Oxford. That’s a really nice touch that a lot of modern board games lack these days. Sure you can have a session of Descent during the week for your RPG fix, or whip out the beer and chips for a bit of Elder Sign with your chums on a Friday night, but all the individual nuances of Dreaming Spires makes it more than just a unique idea. It’s one of those special kind of games. For me it’s like a Sunday game, and I mean that in a good way. It’s the kind of game that refreshes the week. After all the other games have had their say, this is the kind of thing that you would want to put on the table just because you want to play a game with your friends and family. Something that you can learn from as well as test yourself in. It’s the kind of game I would rely on at the end of the week to give a breath of fresh air into the weekly grind to make the whole cycle feel interesting again. And it’s about bloody time the world got a game like this. Something needs to replace Monopoly and Cluedo….so it might as well be a good one. Definitely looking forward to this.

Another one for the big kids….The Oleg Story

ImageIn continuing yesterdays theme of games for grown ups, we would like to share with you this fresh new offering to the table top market. It’s so fresh it isn’t even out the oven yet…or even in the oven…ok, so their still kneeing the dough. Nonetheless, we’ve seen the ingredients and love the recipe and cant wait to taste that sweet “prison” pie. Welcome to The Oleg Story. A prison survival game….Just watch out for a files & other sharp objects before you take your first bite.

TOS tells the story of a Bradley Manning meets Julian Assange type character named Oleg D. Tyler, who hacked and leaked sensitive information about the US government to a third-party. Unfortunately for Oleg, he’s now been strapped with a double homicide charge and has been incarcerated in the most sinister prison known to man. Chock-a-block, full to the brim with nasty people. No doubt a measure by his accusers to silence the whistleblower for good. I know what your thinking. This is some edgy stuff. Real close to the bone like.

See here’s the thing. TOS is a co-operative game at heart…well…almost. Oleg affiliates himself with the “Non-Gang Members” of the prison and refuses to join any of them. So you know he’s a nice guy. The tricky thing is he’s forced into a world of violence, which is going to prove a challenge to his pacifist tendencies. However, the other inmates are not so friendly and probably have no qualms about meeting you in the shower for a little discussion. The game takes up to 6 players and sees you negotiating, allying, and betraying your way to the top with a mixed bag of contemporary prison gangs. Now, we appreciate this subject matter may prove to be a bit too sensitive for some people, but we don’t believe this game to be a glorification of gang culture, rather the designer has created a compelling “what if” scenario. In fact Latest Pursuit has gone to such lengths to create a mythos around our beloved protagonist that the game will come with a back story DVD and a comic book series is even in the works. Its clear this is going to be a deeply character driven game and we hope to see some tough decisions with steep consequences before any violence erupts between the feuding factions. We love games that pose moral dilemmas and hopefully this game will scratch that itch.

ImageLike we said, TOS is still in the making and is due to launch on Kickstarter as we speak, but with the game being 80% completed there is little to worry about in the component and mechanic department. What you’ll get in the box is loads of expertly and beautifully crafted miniatures representing all the different factions of the warring gangs, plenty of cards with items to barter and use, and a tiled board that seems quite expandable allowing for many more future Oz like scenarios for you to reenact in the comfort of your own home. A simple dice mechanic also keeps you on the move around the prison allowing for strategic and tactical character placement, making the game appear easily accessible for gamers of all levels. So don’t worry about reading a rule book for weeks wondering if trading cigarettes for a makeshift toothbrush shank is legal or not. You can just get stuck in…..excuse the pun. All in all this looks set to be a memorable kickstarter project and we’ll hopefully get a great thought-provoking and entertaining game out of it. We’ll keep an eye on this one.

Why everyone should play….Cave Evil

ImageAlright folks. Lets pack up “Settlers of Catan”, put the kids to bed and break out the games for big boys. No more mister nice guy. Let me introduce you to Cave Evil. This extremely obscure and rare game, which was originally printed back in 2011 and released to much acclaim, is receiving a reprint treatment later in the year. And thank Hastur’s cloak it is! Pop culture fans with a taste for the extreme will instantly get where this game is coming from, and should take to this like a swarm of plague bearing flies descending upon a festering corpse. The first thing you’ll notice about Cave Evil is the Black Metal inspired “Necro” art. The designers have gone to extreme lengths to create something that is unique, ambient and captivating to behold. Just check out this trailer they made as proof. There promises to be over 340 cards, 120 creatures, loads of events and items, all with their own individual artwork. Now before I continue, let me pause here for a minute as this subject matter is very close to my heart. So listen up ‘oh ye of the uninitiated’! Don’t be fooled by any preconceptions of glossy, full colour Fantasy Flight style game art you might possess. There is nothing amateur about this. It’s an art-form that adheres to extreme sensibilities and to say its “dark” would not do it any justice. It’s straight up ‘pitch black’ and rough as hell! And purposely so. Just like the music of Black Metal, the initial sensation of “rawness” is merely a defensive screen to separate the weak. Behind its crusty enamour lies incredible complexity that can baffle even the most open of minds, leaving you standing in utter bewilderment in the realisation that what you have just witnessed is nothing short of beautiful. The presentation of Cave Evil is probably the games greatest strength in constructing a theme of impending doom. In short, no light will be found here.

However, if you don’t know your Impaled Nazarene from your Marduk, fear not! Cave Evil is not “so” extreme that it excludes any gamer from the table. Anyone unaware of such madness will not lose their mind in the blink of an eye upon opening the box. So don’t worry, your sanity is safe. Now put down that crucifix, its only a game.
Anyone who has ever enjoyed a good ol’ dungeon fist fight will find the game incredibly accessible and a thrill to play. Players take on the role of undead Necromancers who control squadrons of daemonic creatures to do your every bidding. Cast spells, excavate tunnels, claim treasures, fight enemies and of course, summon more demons!! The board is made up of some 40+ hex shaped tiles that you lay out according to various scenarios and will have you traversing deadly cave after deadly cave for aeons to come. So there is plenty of adventuring to be had in these dank, noxious tunnels. Ultimately, in a game like this, dealing with this subject matter, the end goal should be obvious. Be the last, most evilest, muthaf#*ker standing, and claim your right as heir to the Black Flame of the Pit. You can pre-order the game HERE….I know you want to…..You can hear them too….join us….join us….join us…………..

5 games to look out for

– Ahoy there matey! Yo-Ho-Ho and a bottle of rum as they say. We have sailed the seven seas of the internet so you don’t have to. Yaaarrgh!

Cornish SmugglerBOX_72dpi_600px

No no no. This has nothing to do with someone sneaking pasties into your local Odeon. Instead Cornish Smuggler is a game of strategy and seven seas high jinx set in 18th century Cornwall. Players will use every dirty trick in the book, and more than a fair share of craftiness to secure the best smuggling routes around the Cornish coast. You see, waaaaay back in the 18th century, err-body was into smuggling. The port authorities, the local officials, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, even the bloody vicar! Needless to say, you’re going to need their help to become the best smuggler of illicit goods. The designer has gone to painstaking lengths to keep the theme as historically accurate as possible, while promising a game that is solid as a rock and have very little to do with chance. However, you need to keep a close eye on customs though, cos if they catch you…well, lets just say, loose lips, sink ships. Say no more, say no more. Nudge nudge. Wink, wink. The bottom line? This looks set to have more under handedness than a reshuffling of cabinet come election time. Cornish Smuggler has secured its funding well ahead of schedule, but you’ve still got time to support a great piece of British game design in the making. Tax that Mr. Cameron.

Scalawag

– “Yaargh! What say ye? Not enough broad swords? Too little swashbuckling? No canons? Aye aye Captain, have it your way. First mate! Hard to port. Set the sails at full mast and aim for their bow…Ramming spead! We’ll take ’em head on.”

scalawagboxmockuplargeScalawag is a cheap and cheerful card game of high seas adventure for 3-8 players. Players take control of their own warship as captain and need to amass compass points in order to issue the captains orders to their crew members.

– “Hold your fire…..wait till you see the whites of their eyes.”

It’s not just he who has the biggest cannon wins. Please. We’re not fishermen. We’re PIRATES! You need to be a cunning sea dog to win the fight. You have to bluff and scheme, get inside the mind of your opponent and know just when to pull the trigger.

– “Captain! Their loading the silver ware into their canons!”

– “What!?! SCALAWAG! FIRE!!”…..Its only got a week left on Kickstarter and needs a little more help, so lets get to it! This should be a hoot. Next!

Relic Expedition

– “We’ve run aground Captain”.

– “Aye. Tis a brave new world before us matey. Take stock and gather the men. We’re going treasure hunting.”

e0dd30c749901add9c81affb41c829e7_largeIf I were to try to put my finger on it, Relic Expedition is what you would get if you left Carcasonne and Forbidden Island alone in a bar with a bottle of red wine, on a hot summers night in Brazil. All that erotic tension in the air, loose-fitting clothes, a glaze of moisture permeating the skin….Sexy things would happen. In Relic Expedition, players will have to navigate their pawns along a modular board by placing hex tiles along their path, in search of four matching relic types. And of course, just like a real jungle, everything in Relic Expedition will kill you. So not only do you have to traverse perilous jungle terrain like pools of quick sand and dense brushes of poison Ivy, but you also need to watch out for bloody panthers! (cos they kill you)…and monkeys ( cos they steal your things)…boars too (they kill you & someone else steals your things)…and..snakes (they kill you double)….It wouldn’t be the jungle without any snakes now would it? So on the other hand actually, you might say that Relic Expedition is the lurid love child of Carcasonne, Forbidden Island AND DungeonQuest. I’m not sure who was on top, or who was in the middle?….The thought sends icy cold shivers down to my very soul. I’m gonna like this one. Speaking of on top…

Alien Frontiers

– “YAAARRRGGHHhhhh*Cough*…*Cough*…*cough*. Alright, alright! I’ll stop with the pirate shit…geez.

af_setupAlien Frontiers. 4th edition. Need I say more? With all the laudation this game has received in the last three years, I don’t think I have to, but I shall. Why? Well for starters this new edition will have a double-sided board that is rocket dice compatible…let that sink in for a minute…Rocket…Dice…Oh hell, but f**k yeah. Yes, its only aesthetic and doesn’t change the gameplay one iota, but if you were going to play Alien Frontiers and you had the option to play with dice shaped like rocket ships, how could you not? Not even a Vulcan would find it illogical. For the uninitiated Alien Frontiers is a superb sci-fi resource management and exploration affair with a crap load of dice. The dice represent your workers and you start out small from a space station, slowly expanding your inter-galactic presence onto the nearby planet and outer systems. Of course this gets pretty competitive when space and resources become thin on the ground. Not only does the new edition come with the aforementioned dual board and rocket dice, it also has loads of updated components to make your game experience even better. It precisely what you would want from an upgrade. Just trust me, this one is a winner. If you missed it the first few times around, it’ll be in stores soon.

Euphoria: Build a better Dystopia

layout5There’s just over one day left to back this one, but don’t fret, it totally smashed its funding goal long ago. So this one is getting made and that makes us all happy little dice rollers. Euphoria is also a worker placement game that shares many elements from several of our favourite games here at ‘We Die a Lot’, including the previously mentioned Alien Frontiers. But before you dismiss anything for being “more of the same”, just take a look at this one. There are enough aspects in the game that make it completely different amongst its peers, while managing to not burden the player with too many rules or vast amounts of upkeep. There’s just enough action going on and the different mechanical elements roll into one another like cog wheels in a futuristic clock, making the game seem organic and immersive in equal measure. However it’s not just the mechanics that ensure you have a game to play. Order is the central theme here and it lends itself expertly to the premise of the story and art. Hell! The whole thing looks like it should be hanging in the Tate Modern rather than on your living room table. Plus it’s made by Jamie Stegmaier & Alan Stone who conjured up Viticulture, (a wonderful game about wine making)and they are offering some sick deals if you back it on Kickstarter. The game with stretch goals plus shipping for a mere $49. Bargain of the month!

Why everyone should play Onirim

IMG_1361Besides sounding like a Japanese sexual favour, it’s also quite a nifty little card game that’ll have you drawing and shuffling cards more than a dealer at the Bellagio. You are trapped in dreaming slumber, searching for eight doors that will set you on your way to waking freedom. However opening the doors is not as easy as all that. You need to play sets of three cards of the same colour but with differing symbols, either a sun, moon or key, in a run, to claim the corresponding coloured door, while balancing your hand limit and drawing new cards. Try saying that 10 times fast. However, if that sounds like a walk in the clouds then lets factor in that every now and then you end up drawing a nightmare as well, and believe me, by the end of the
game you will be more afraid of these cards than real nightmares. Even the one where you were back in high school, naked and Kelsey Grammer was your teacher. In a nut shell what the nightmares actually do is destroy cards that facilitate your path to freedom. But that’s still not the worst part about them. Every time you draw a nightmare you have to make a choice how to handle them, in the worst case scenario you’ll be discarding your entire hand of five cards, which is great for the nightmares since you lose if there are no more cards left to draw and you’ll be forever lost between time and space, which is of course bad for you…..very bad indeed. Unless of course you’re into class A narcotics, in which case you’ll have a blast losing. In the end if you fail, your incarceration in purgatory was your own design, and you’ll fall to your knees, curl your fists up to the sky and scream “why Lord, WHYYYYYEEEEEE!!!?”.

The three expansions ‘the book of steps lost and found’, ‘the towers’ & ‘dark premonitions and happy dreams’ each add a new layer onto the basic game and help to keep the spice of Onirim as sharp as it is dynamic. But none of this speaks of Onirims beauty. The serenity of the cards dreamscape imagery is juxtaposed with an element of eerie disturbance, which just like actual dreams, creates an atmosphere of wide-eyed wonder and trepidation of what lurks around the corner. So you might think that turning the next card will leave you a nervous train wreck then, but thankfully the theme works so closely with the mechanics that by the time you draw a nightmare you’re instilled with a sense of
soothing comfort. Playing Onirim makes you feel like you’re sinking into a goose feathered
cushion while a heavy summer deluge thunders outside your window….or like bathing in chocolate for seven years…..actually, Onirim is like hypnosis!

Not to mention you get 100% bang for your buck (the standard package available in stores now contains the base game and all the expansions for under 12 quid!!), beautifully crafted by Z-Man Games, and it all comes in a portable size box that you can take everywhere, as you should. In short, a shot of bliss in a tiny box.

The Card Players 1892-95 Oil on canvas, 60 x 7...

The Card Players 1892-95 Oil on canvas, 60 x 73 cm Courtauld Institute of Art, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

10 new games to look out for

I have scoured every corner of the world wide interweb in search of games so you don’t have to. Its a dark, scary place…..what is seen can never be unseen…..so many grown men….over weight….beards….with elf ears….and plastic swords….oh God!….what have I done to myself……*sob sob*……check these out.

Ogre

ogreHere’ s a real retro classic. If you like your games of the old school variety, then this should be your next stop. Made by Steve Jackson (of Munchkin fame) way back in 1977, this new Kickstarted “Designer’s Edition” reached its funding goal in May 2012 but currently sits at 4618% more than was originally asked. If ever the people have spoken, it is now and they want Ogre. It’s a very simple game of attrition. You amass an army to defend against a MASSIVE F**KING TECHNO TANK!!! You play on a hex grid map, choose your defensive positions and wait in utter paralyzing fear as the ever looming Ogre attempts to get through. It reminds me of the 1981 PC game ‘Sabotage‘, only in reverse. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. It’s due for release in the UK soon and you can pre-order it from Leisure Games games here.

Agents of SMERSH

pic1501467_lgHere’s a new big game. And I mean BIG. AoS seems like the perfect compromise between board games and role-playing….you just don’t have to dress up like an elf and generally act like a tit in front of your friends. Set in an alternate 1970’s cold war era, AoS leads players along an immersive spy vs. spy experience with its massive scenario book (there is something like 1500 in there…..I said it was big.) Players work together flipping cards, rolling dice and drawing encounters in order to eventually defeat the evil Dr. Lobo. It comes with a shit ton of things and sounds just plain awesome. Also features artwork by George Patsouras (Flash Point & The Resistance) Dunno when it will be available in the UK but if you’re lucky you can find one on eBay. For fans of Arkham Horror and Mansions of Madness. Next up….

High Heavens

high_heavens_boardRemember when you were a kid and you played that game “who would win in a fight? Superman or Optimus Prime?” Well ‘High Heavens’ is precisely that, only I’m calling it a metal heads wet dream. Norse versus Greek deities. Oh hell but f**k yeah \m/ (>_<) \m/ It’s like chess, meets Mortal Kombat but with Gods. You stack coloured chips under your characters figure to represent your life bar and other special attributes as you move around a hex grid board and draw cards to pulverize your opponent. Simple, effective and unique. But what else would you expect from the guy who designed Guitar Hero. It still has a way to go on Kickstarter and only a little time left, so if you have a few spare quid, help a God out with some change bruv.

Kingdom Death: Monster

Kingdom-Death-Monster-394x262Not sure if this one is a board game or an excuse to have minis with wildly exaggerated curves. It looks beautiful but the jury is out for me. Either way if a story driven dungeon crawl type RPG is your thing then this looks like it won’t disappoint. It met its mark by miles on Kickstarter and it would seem the designers have already churned out a plethora of expansions. Just goes to show, you put boobs on some miniatures and you’ll have every anime fan from here to New Zealand lining up screaming “Shut up and take my money!”

Machine of Death: The game of creative assassinations

MachineOfDeath-game-660x333Now this is more my speed. A party game that allows you to conjure up the most ridiculous ways to murder. Exactly what I was looking for. Based on the book by David Malki and Co. it tells the story of a machine that knows how you will die, and it’s always right no matter what. In the game a player draws a card that lets them know how their demise will come, other players then have to draw cards and attempt to stitch together how this will occur. Hilarious, sinister fun.

Democracy: Majority Rules

Incoming controversial game in 3…2…1…. So here’s a strategy game where the only mechanic available to you is your powers of persuasion. I love games that rely on human power, but remember, with great power comes great responsibility. The more you win the more difficult if becomes thanks to deals made and legislations previously passed. So you’ll be switching allegiances quicker than the Lib-Dems at election time in order to be the ultimate democrat.

The Resistance: Coup

photo-littleAnd speaking of persuasion. If you didn’t get enough of lying through your teeth with The Resistance or Avalon, Coup will surely scratch that itch. It’s a straight bluffing game that sees you pretending (or not) to have a powerful government official in your hand in order to gather cash to fund a coup. Its short, high risk, very tense and is sure to get you arguing like a  politician caught in a sex scandal in no time. I. Can. Not. Wait. But if deduction is your thing then fear not…there’s more…

Salem

101a5d138dfa95951b6b1b4463000643_large“I am Matthew Hopkins. Witchfinder” So you think that some one may be a witch at your table? Send them to jail and try them in a court of law. “Throw them in the river. If they swim they are witches. If they drown, may God have mercy on their soul.” Salem captures the hysteria of the now legendary witch trials of 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts, and has gone to painstaking lengths to make the game as historically correct as possible. So much so that the characters are the likeness of people who were genuinely effected by these trials. And that’s what sets this deduction game apart from its peers. It’s not so much a beer and pretzel, make you laugh like jolly old Saint Nic after hanging a witch event, as its more a humbling experience to realise how ridiculous religious fanaticism can be, and that real people’s lives were destroyed by childish here say. This ones going to be an eye opener. Respect.

Myth

ff5cef44951cef951b3c38305f5126fb_largeAnother one that smashed its Kickstarter goal by a landslide. By about 2000% actually. Myth is set to be the co-operative epic that everybody has been waiting for since Mage Knight came out. It promises to be a deeply involving experience for hard-core gamers and easily accessible for new comers to get stuck in straight away. You play the game over a series of acts, each of which lasts about 2 hours and culminating in a massive boss battle. But push to hard and the board will bite back making your journey a perilous one. So no “Leeroy Jenkins’s” please. Cool, calm and calculated strategy wins the game. Could this be the board game equivalent to The Elder Scrolls?….quite possibly. And finally…

Zogars Gaze

zogarBodacious old school game duuuuude!! Cowabunga!! If you ever played games like Ultima, Gauntlet or Lands of Lore, I think you will enjoy this one. Simple card mechanic that sees players luck out till they’ve reached their characters goal. It’s like Russian Roulette in a dungeon with a big ol’ dollop of nostalgia. I can see some tense moments in this one. It’s been funded already but you can follow their progress on Grey Gnomes Facebook page.