The week in Kickstarter….and one other thing….

Hello Wildcats. Today we’re gonna dish out some straight talkin’. Well, a little bit at least. We’ll still round-up what we think are some cool looking Kickstarters, but then we’re going to have some words. Don’t worry though, no ones dying! In our experience, it’s always best to get real at the end of something.That way the message sticks and it won’t pollute the overall tone of todays post. Which is of course about sweet new board games! So if you’d like to pull up a chair, sit back, relax and we’ll get started then. Alternatively you can skip to the end for an ear thrashing!!

Grimslinger

b8ab984f50ab0e4b009be0535d5a92b1_large“Well gosh darnit. Them cow-poke sure are popular these days. Ah-Shucks!” At least it would seem that way from the slew of wild west themed games that have hit the market in recent times. The next Cthulu or Zombie perhaps? We’ve just seen “Doomtown” and “Shadows Of Brimstone” (the latter we covered here) explode like cheap dynamite on tables across the world, and now we have “Grimslingers” by Stephen S. Gibson to look forward to.

Grimslingers puts you in the seat of magic wielding cyber cowboys, and you gotta be the last man (or llama!) standing in classic space western duel-to-the-death fashion. I’m sure that counts as classic right?…RIGHT?? Each player will construct a hand of cards that represents their characters grimoire of spells, which will consist of unique signature spells and elemental magic.

15cf20_e8dc271ac18d4f1195d93cbc3265effa.png_srz_p_495_648_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_png_srzOnce you’ve got your firepower in order its on with the errmm….grim….slinging? Two to four players will square up, either 1 on 1 or in teams, hurling spell after spell in a barrage of arcane madness until everyone’s dead…or until one of you isn’t at least. What’s really cool is how the game captures the flavour of a western duel. Fellow board game pundits Shut Up & Sit Down, recently reviewed “Doomtown”, the latest LCG on the block, and it does a very similar thing in that the central mechanisms of the game tries it’s best to recreate the tense posturing of a wild west gunfight. Eyeing each other up, fingers stroking the butt of the gun, walking slowly out into the dusty road and then BANG! It’s over in a heart beat. When the dust settles, someone’s left bleeding and crying from the pain.

Grimslinger attempts to capture that very same magic, in a sort of, compacted form. The game plays out over a series of stages where you have to standoff with players and line your ducks in a row. Then when the lightning strikes hot, everybody draws, reveals their hand and awaits the aftermath.  Best of all, it also utilises card suits in a black jack style face off for tie breakers. It looks really, REALLY fun. Not to mention the art is real purdy. PLUS, if you’d like to try before you buy you could always just play it online! WIN! If I was you, I’d mosey on over to their Kickstarter page and give it a swing…..

Entropy

8e5432ecf1f0327993c1bd5c341f1deb_largeOh. So we’re sticking with sci-fi? Fine by me. I’ll keep my helmet on then. Entropy by Allen Chang aims to be the latest filler game on the scene. It’s got some stiff competition with “Love Letter” and “Citadels” but it looks sufficiently different from those games, that the Kickstarter community just doesn’t give a f**k. In Entropy, each player takes the role of an inter-dimensional space roamer that has been torn from their home realm in a terrible time cataclysm. Trapped in the nexus (that’s sci-fi talk for purgatory), you need to grab at the shards that remain of your reality to find your way home. Like Alice in Wonderland on acid…I mean, even more acid….than usual. Anyway.

What you’ll be doing is playing cards simultaneously, resolving them in initiative order to have a stab at claiming a revealed card from the discard pile or a blind card from the top of the nexus pile. The game is more lathered in theme than when Neo awakens in the Matrix. Don’t worry though!The lingo may seem intimidating at first but it’ll take you all of 6 minutes to get it. That’s 4 extra minutes if you’ve never seen a playing card before. In other words, it’s pretty easy to get the hang of. Just watch the gameplay video and if you havent figured it out by end of turn one, call a doctor. You may need brain surgery.

Jokes aside, Entropy is one of those games that is easy to learn but hard to master. In the aforementioned Love Letter and Citadels, you reset the cards after each round and begin your strategy anew. Entropy has a bit more of a competitive edge to it, in that each player has a set hand of cards and the mastery comes in knowing when to play.  Light but also very strategic. And if you don’t get lost in the artwork you probably don’t have a soul….or are a ghost. There’s still a few days left for the campaign so get stuck in the void here.

Sultan’s Library

2d8ff736c944618efd19f479a438018a_large“Sultan’s Library” by Photon Games is probably the underdoggest (not a real word…yet) game in the history of Kickstarter. This small game studio from South Africa is having a rough time with their first attempt at crowd funding a game, but by the looks of it, they seem to have created a game that is some kind of blend of Antoine Bauza’s Tokaido and Richard Garfield’s Netrunner.

You take on the role of one of the Sultans envoys in search of rare books for the royal library. You’ll have to travel across several sub Saharan locations to find said books, but be warned, others are on the hunt as well. If you’re not so much into killy-killy, stabby-stabby kind of games and just enjoy going on a journey, then Sultan’s Library has that in spades. Where’s the tension you ask? Well you don’t just simply drift on by, magnetically attracting sacred books. You’ve got to find them first. Then, you’ve got to bring them back. Easier said than done. You need to deposit 3 books to win, but you can only hold 2 at a time, which immediately becomes a bit of a logistical nightmare. On top of that, you’ll quite often have to pay for an extra detail of guards to fend off any spiteful book burners. It aint easy wondering the desert ya know.

f1d17babb7d80b5da31807d9c2d8d38e_largeThe way you play the cards in this game weaves such an interesting story that it seems kind of hard not to enjoy the ride. Sure that will only last the first few times you play, but the competitive interplay will keep players on their toes for the whole journey. I think that’s where this shares a lot of similarity with Netrunner for me. You’re loading these books in your satchel and trying to make you’re way back to the library before someone else grabs it from under your nose. It looks really nifty and is nowhere near as obtuse as Netrunner, which means that you don’t have to be enveloped in its own culture to get the same kind of thrills.

Overall the game has this serene tranquillity about it and seems a breeze to play. I will say though, it’s looking pretty steep for them at the moment as their funding goal is quite high, but even if it doesn’t make it, these guys came up with the idea for the game and managed to produce a working copy in the space of a few months. I’m barely awake until June most years, so I think these guys have a tremendous talent on their hands. If this doesn’t make it I hope they will relaunch with a bigger, better campaign so Sultan’s Library can indeed see the light of day.

…One last thing before I go…

I have seen a growing dislike for Kickstarter games within the board game community as of late. Nothing outright or aimed at any one in particular. Just a disturbance in the force if you will. I’ve seen numerous articles and posts that refer to Kickstarter projects with that “Oh, it’s you” kind of attitude, and for the life of me I can’t understand why. I know in one of our previous posts we criticised recent projects in that we just didn’t find them particularly up our street, but equally we also didn’t pay much attention during our hiatus and were likely to have missed out on a bunch of good ones.

Some have complained “there are too many”, others moan about project creators clogging up their social media channels, and others just don’t seem to consider Kickstarters as “real” games. All of that may be true in small doses but as a result, I feel the need to justify why we do these previews.

I’m a person that’s easily entertained. Straight up I’ll tell you. I don’t need to feel like a game is engaging with my insides to enjoy it. I like colours, I like the art, I like dice, I like cards and I really appreciate all the effort that game designers put in to make their products work. A lot of which is done in their free time. So with that in mind, I just don’t care about what will be the next big thing, or if a game will take off. I just like to be entertained. Even if it’s for a moment.

I look at each Kickstarter game and recognise what the creators are trying to accomplish and focus on those positive aspects. I know they may not always be the best game ever, but I try to look at it from the perspective that these are all designers that are trying to make it against the odds. Most don’t have money to get their dream out there and on to your table for your enjoyment. Yes there are stinkers. Yes there are ripoffs, but there have been some absolute gems in the time that I’ve known of Kickstarter. For the most part I try to give designers the benefit of the doubt because it can’t be easy producing a game for several hundreds of people who want to have their say as well.

I’m also not saying we’ll solely support Kickstarters every week or all the time, but for me, a failed journalist, it’s a nice way to get a glimpse of what is out there on the indie scene. So when there is this general distaste or negativity towards a game or designer simply because they went the Kickstarter route, I try to remember what my mother used to say. “If you got nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all”. After all, can you do better?

The return of Kickstarter?

Good day fellow dicers! Like every week, we’ve been scouring the four corners of Kickstarter in search of new games that cut the mustard. Unfortunately, we havent seen that many exciting Kickstarters for a good long while. Aside from the magnificent campaigns of Storyception Games‘ space opera Beat ’em Up “Galactic Arena“, and Van Ryder Games froth inducing “Hostage Negotiator“, there just hasn’t been much else to wet our whistles. That is, until now….
Between Two Cities

near-final-with-rough-graphic-designCue dramatic cavalry music and a blazing emblem across the sky with Stonemaier Games logo. We should have expected Sirs Stegmaier and Stone to fix things with their bullet proof reputation for genuinely innovative games. This time Stonemaier present us with “Between Two Cities”, a semi co-operative game by Ben Rossett and Matthew O’Malley, which if you’ve paid attention to board gaming over the past 2 years, you’ll be more familiar with those names than with your Nans. Basically this project is the board game equivalent of a 70’s prog rock super group with 6 bassists. Massive is a understatment to say the least.

Why is the game cool? Well, it can accommodate 2 – 7 players, with the possibility for a solo variant later on, and regardless of the amount of players it’s a fast paced game set to take no more than about 30 minutes, but most of all, it looks primed to be THE Carcassonne killer. Now don’t get me wrong, we love Carcassonne, but let’s be honest, it needs to be buried….in the middle of the woods…in a far, far away place…so no one can ever find its charred, dismembered remains. Much like the aforementioned dearly departed, BTC will have players laying tiles down like their lives depended on it, BUT the main difference lies in the central theme of BTC, which puts you literally between two cities. Literally. You’ll be building cities on your left and right with whoever is sitting next to you at the table, and together you need to cooperate in order to eventually come out on top alone. This already fixes a lot of the problems with Carcassonne. I enjoy playing a light, peaceful game on occasion, but for some reason Carcassonne brings the out absolute worst, most despicable traits of human beings. Greed, spitefulness, treachery, you name it. Behind the seemingly innocuous guise of an innocent, anonymous, little wooden person, lies the darkest intentions, that have been scraped off the bottom of Freddy Kruger’s mothers bricked up cell.

Full of Hate

                          Full of Hate

We usually have to play something “LIGHT” after a game of Carcassonne just to cool down from some extremely tense situations. Either that or we lock ourselves away and avoid eye contact for 3 days at least. Like I said, BTC seems to have this fixed, by working with others and never churning up the malice too much but still trying to win out by the end. Almost like a compact Stefan Feld game. In short, I’m excited by BTC. It looks like it’s a fast playing, tile laying, easy access, thinker. “Between Two Cities” has exterminated its funding goal by several fold already and is set to be a welcome addition to the Stonemaier Games roster. This company looks unstoppable at the moment. You can throw your money onto the mounting pile here.
Dragoon

4e34f9b5dbf19c2e5f0100ddc4a4264b_originalSpeaking of gateway tile games. “Dragoon” by Lay Waste Games is another Kickstarter that has us intrigued. No doubt its borrowed a heavy dose of indie video game aesthetic design for its general look and feel, but that is a GREAT thing. If playing board games has taught me anything, it’s how to appreciate video games again. I can approach most video games with fresh board game soaked eyes, which enables me to see the set pieces and mechanics that are lying underneath all the cinematics, and actually be able to tell if there is a game there or not. So when I see a little reverse cross-pollination occur, I start to get very excited, because this tells me that the chasm that once existed between the two media is slowly being bridged.

Ok, sure. Maybe I’m mad, and reading a little too much into it, but the first thing I took note of Dragoon is that it instantly reminded me of old school video games like Battle Tank or Zelda, only polished with a modern sheen that so many indie games have these days. I guess it’s just kinda cool to see old school values delivered in a beautiful package. And when I say beautiful, I mean “DAMN THAT ASS IS PHAT!” Solid metal game pieces and dice? Roll out fabric game mat? Two tone graphic designed art? I mean….come on, this thing looks the business. And I was even more surprised when I found out from the gameplay video that this Dragoon is not solely about the eye candy. There is a legitimate game here.

0e88c594c555283ce9968eeb294d468e_originalBasically each player takes the role of a dragon (already cool) and you need to fend off oncoming attacks from thieves, raiders and your fellow dragon brethren, all in the aid of accumulating the most gold, the fastest. We LOVE games that have you chasing a target score. Like Netrunner or Mars Attacks, when the challenge is to reach a certain goal before your opponents, it gives the game a sense of urgency. So you’ll sit there desperately planning how to one up your opponent while ravenously clawing towards your goal, one gold coin at a time. Furthermore, the game is set on a modular playing field, combined with limited actions and intricate card play, I just can’t imagine a world where this doesn’t at the very least get your pulse racing a bit. I mean, let’s be serious for a second, you get to play as a dragon. Let that sink in for a minute.

Now I know I had a go at Carcassonne earlier for being kind of “over competitive” for what it is, but Dragoon has those same qualities, but in a good way. It’s those very things that lead to shout out loud bursts of elation or the foulest of curses breathed in some forgotten language. Basically it’s got all the ingredients forge great gaming moments that you’ll laugh about for years to come….as you stare past the bars of the maximum security prison they put you in for first degree murder…..Dragoon is nullifying its funding goal as we speak and you can feel free to pledge here.

Review: Coup…How good is your poker face?

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IMG_0319[1]‘The Resistance’ is pretty much an institution in board gaming by now. Thats just a fact of life. If you turned over a rock in the desert, you would find a table of neurotic board gamers shrieking in a high register “I’m not a SPY!!” So when Indie Boards & Cards announced back in April on Kickstarter they were reskinning the original Coup with a Resistance theme, we came running like a crack addicted bullet train. Well the time has come, and its finally arrived.

As the government starts to collapse around you, up to six players seek to take control by influencing key figures in a political poker game. Each person is dealt 2 cards, the Duke, Ambassador, Captain, Assassin or the Contessa. These cards represent officials that you have leverage with. You’ll take turns claiming you have favour with one of the aforementioned characters, using their powers to get money, kill your political opponents or gain more influence, all in the aid of funding your coup d’ etat. However, any of your opponents can contest your supporter, and if you are caught trying to take advantage of the situation without the favour of your claimed political figure, you lose influence. On the other hand though, if you DO have the support you claimed to have, your challenger looks like a fool and he/she loses their influence. Once you’ve lost both of your supporters, you are out of the game and need to take a seat on the losers couch with Sarah Palin. Ultimately though, just like a sword fight between immortals, there can be only one. The last back-stabbing politician standing wins.

One of the cool side effects of ‘Coup’ is it fleshes out the narrative that ‘The Resistance’ started. In the latter you witnessed events from the perspective of freedom fighters in a corrupt dystopian future, whereas in ‘Coup’ you get to see how high rollers do business. The next time you finish 5 or 6 games of ‘The Resistance’ you won’t have that hollow feeling of a bad come down anymore. Now you get to see the other side the story. While the grunts are fighting the good fight destabilizing the status quo, others are ready to step in and seize control in these opportunistic times.

IMG_0320[1]Even if you’ve been living in a cave for the last 4 years and you’ve never heard of ‘The Resistance’, ‘Coup’ is a sublime game by itself. Its wickedly fast, super tense and just oh so exciting. When you’re holding on to your last card and the turn is going round, you’ll be frantically scheming trying to ready yourself for your next move. You’ve decided to bluff holding the Duke, which will gain you the 3 credits to pay for the Assassin that you are actually holding. Its finally your turn, you try to sneak those precious credits in unnoticed. As your fingertips just touch the prize, you think “YES! I’ve done it. No one will suspect a thing”. You start to slink the money towards you when you hear the challenge from across the table, “Like Hell you’re the Duke! I’ve got the Duke”. You can’t show weakness but your backs up against the wall, inside your screaming, “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO???” You play it cool, time to show them what you’re made of. “Are you sure you want to make that call?”, a cold look of steel about your face, but really your legs are like jelly jumping castles. Your challenger hesitates, not wanting to lose their last card in a rash decision. He begins a retort but you cut it short, “Fine, just means one less of you I need to eliminate”. You reach for you card confidently, ready to flip it over, it’s do or die anyway, then you hear the withdrawal, “Alright. Take the money…this time”. You think to yourself, “Yes! A life-line. Now all I have to do is…”, the person next to you chucks 7 credits your way, “I’m couping you. You’re dead”. Your head drops between your chest and the table erupts into laughter. This is the sort of entertainment you just can’t put a price on. ‘Coup’ is an absolutely awesome game. Get it or you’ll get left behind.

Kickstarters of the week 18/11/2013

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Christmas may not come early this year but this weeks Kickstarters will. This is your last shot at backing these awesome projects in their final hours. As always, we’re watching your back so you don’t have to…plus that would leave a nasty crick in your neck. Lets begin shall we?

Brew Crafters: A board game about making beer

c94de757c3d48b32e513d9d6345a4d22_largeIn continuing last weeks thread of innovative games, we’re going to show you a game whose subject matter is quite close to most gamers that’ve ever hosted a game night. Well, sort of…We’re not brewing anything, we’re just drinking it, but just hear me out for second. Beer has become intrinsically connected to board games in recent times, epitomised by the likes of the Beer & Board Games Show and Wil Wheatons collaboration with fark.com creator Drew Curtis and Stone Breweries to create their own imperial stout. What a handsome looking beverage, don’t you think? Thanks to these guys though, twitter is now awash with board gamers tweeting about their favourite ales. Hell! I’ve even gone full hipster & make sure I always check the beer section in our local store. I’m not really a hipster though…What was that? Why yes, I do collect 70’s prog rock records…& yes, I also ride a single speed bike…but I’m not a hipster….I swear……F*%k. I’m a hipster. Moving on. Refreshingly this new-found love of beer is performed in a really sensible manner. People are genuinely interested in knowing their hops from their barley, so it was inevitable that this subject matter would “crop” up in board game form at some stage. What’s amazing though, is that this could ONLY have been done as a board game. I doubt you could get kids excited with a flash game about managing your own brewery. “Tap the screen when your beer is ready….loading….loading….loa…*zzzzzzz*”. However! The moment you say “we’re making a euro style board game about beer brewing, where you’ll have to compete against players for ingredients like malt, yeast and fruits in a market place, while developing new beers in an expanding facility AND managing your breweries costs & output”, I say “Oh. Hell. But. F*%k yeah!” There’s something magical about board games that lets us investigate a subject in an interactive yet entertaining way that no other medium can achieve. Brew Crafters not only looks beautiful but also looks like a charming and sincere game to play. The thought of collecting those Pumpkin Stout tokens is too good. I reckon fans of Kolejka and Viticulture will enjoy this.

Shadows Of Brimstone

8d9c585bafdf3ea75a8afbef638b6e37_largeWoah! It looks like this game needs no help from anybody as its made over a million frickin’ dollars! But we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t report on the big guns as well as the little guys. Shadows Of Brimstone is not the only game to net a substantial figure on kickstarter though. You might remember Kingdom Death from one of our earlier posts. While Kingdom Death might be having its share of teething pains during its development, lets hope Shadows Of Brimstone avoids any of these set backs that seem to bog down the more succesful kickstarters. Aside from financial likeness though, SoB does share many other similarities with its millionaire cousin. Both are expansive dungeon crawl epics that come chocka-block with highly detailed miniatures, and as things get better on kickstarter, more options are being unlocked in the stretch goals as we speak. If I recall Kingdom Death ended up with 11 expansions by the end of their campaign. Thats NUTS! There’s obviously something about these kind of games that get people reaching for their wallets quicker than a wild west gunslinger in a showdown. However I think the main feature that’s attracting backers to Shadows Of Brimstone is the setting and story. Watch the games developers talk about just ONE of the worlds you get to explore in this video. It’s clear that these guys love this stuff and have spent a lot of time developing the mythos in this beast of a game.

7309aba848931b71a8c02a7ffc948a5a_largeSo the premise of the game is this. Once upon a time in a small mid-western mining town called Brimstone, townsfolk started finding a mysterious black rock. More & more of this precious stone was mined and stock piled around the town. Unfortunately this served as a catalyst for the unknown material to react in a violent explosion, destroying everything in its wake. From out of the smoke and charred remains, inter-dimensional demons started to emerge and Hell on earth had been unleashed. As the mines spewed forth unspeakable horrors, Brimstone would never be the same again. If your familiar with Descent or Cave Evil then Shadows Of Brimstone will be right up your alley. Players embark on a massive campaign, exploring the mines one stage at a time, finding new equipment while upgrading in small frontier towns in the interim, until finally you reach portals to the other side, where your quest goes from a spaghetti western to a Lovecraftian nightmare. The game comes in 2 flavours from the get go, either you take your chances in the frozen wastelands in the City of The Ancients, or you can try your luck wading through the sludge of the otherworldly Swamps of Death. It’s all very schlocky and is your standard dungeon crawl affair, but that’s exactly what you want from this kind of game. You don’t need to elevate yourself to a higher plane of enlightenment to enjoy this. It’s a straight balls-to-the-wall dungeon slug-fest, only this time you get to be cowboys and cowgirls. Something we definitely need more of in the board game world. All I have is BANG! (which is amazing!), but it does surprise me just how much a simple flip of the switch can add so much colour and life to a well established genre. So if your tired of the usual fantasy warrior/elf/dwarf kind of thing, I reckon this will satisfy any urge to go down in to the bowels of hell.

The Kings Armory

bad45eb08f011dd6cc5881d1131a4f73_largeDon’t throw away your Gandalf hat just yet though. You want fantasy? You got it. Before I got stuck into The Kings Armory’s kickstarter page, when I thought of tower defense games I could only muster images of grumpy commuters on the 6AM tube to London Bridge frantically smashing their iPhone screens, trying to throw shit heaps of plantlife at hordes of oncoming zombies. Needless to say my knowledge of the genre was fairly limited. So when I saw a kickstarter for a board game that claims to be “THE” tower defense game, I figured, “all right hot-shot, lets see what you got”. After spending some time lurking the page I am now confident that TKA is exactly what it says it is. In fact, I am pretty sure that the people who INVENTED the genre are probably clenching their fists so hard round about now, that they could compress a lump of coal into a diamond.This is Gate Keeper Games second attempt at Kickstarter for the Kings Armory, but that is completely irrelevant because, in short, this is going to be a wicked game! The first campaign was criticised mostly due to its unreachable funding goal, but this time around GKG has streamlined things, polished off the rust and delivered a tour de force of a package.

da22c5bcbd45a0eb96d4dd6e663f4fb4_largeDown to the nitty-gritty. In TKA up to 7 players take the side of the king’s guard, who are sworn to protect the armory which holds terrible & great weapons of destruction. Wave after wave of monstrous being pours out from the enemy’s camp with the sole objective of breaking through your walls. It’s your job to stand in their way and take it . Unlike plants Vs zombies, pears Vs ninjas, monkeys Vs parking attendants or any of those other finger melting games of pure swill, what strikes me as the main selling point of TKA is its variability. You can change the difficulty, the length of the game, the number of monsters, the number of players, the modes of play, you name it. The game even accounts for new players joining in late or players leaving early, WITHOUT unbalancing the game. The level of adaptability is truly remarkable. Actually everything about this game looks like tremendous fun. Right down to the slightly goofy art, the fantasy fiction character names, the whole thing looks to me like the kind of game that should be advertised on the back of some comic book with a picture of an over zealous kid exclamating “The Kings Armory ROCKS!”. It’s not just a wave of nostalgia that attracts me to this game though, its more the fact that the whole prospect is so exciting, and for a long time now fantasy board games have needed a kick up the ass. The warrior will be tanking enemies as they desperately storm passed you, as your mage, positioned in one of your constructed towers, shoots fire balls at the ones that manage to slip past, hopefully setting them ablaze so that may burn asunder in their upkeep phase. Once you’ve managed to hunt the last little bastard of a wave down, you get a moment of respite to buy new armour and weapons, before gearing up for the next attack. Slowly getting better equipped but edging closer to death. “Here they come again!”. You keep chopping at that bit, dodging and weaving, chasing and crushing until finally the big boss comes rampaging through their gates, throwing your troops across the battle field like rag dolls and you need to collectively regroup for that one last stand. Eh-pic. If I own just one tower defense game in my life time, I think I’ll make it this one.

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.

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!

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.