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Between Christmas and New Year’s pretty much everybody in the Netherlands listens to the radio to hear the Top 2000, the Top 2000 is a list put together through public voting to see what the best 2000 songs of all time are. It’s the only time you’ll hear One Direction and Ramstein back-to-back on a radio station and it shows just how broad, different, and fun music is. This national tradition got us thinking about music and games, specifically games based on songs or bands.

As we said in the comic, Illimat is our all-time favorite. The game started as a prop for a photo shoot for the Decemberists and was, at their request, turned into a real game by Twogether Studios. It feels like a classic card game and it looks like you’re playing with something that you can find next to an Ouija board in a little occult shop. It has been confused as a satanic board game, but we can safely say that listening to the Decemberists, talking to the lovely Twogether Studios team, and/or playing Illimat won’t make you worship the devil.

To nobody’s surprise, this week we’ve played some games! Steeped Games sent us a gorgeous collectors edition of Chai which is a relaxing game about serving tea. We also tried the coop mode which was a little too random for our tastes but the normal competitive mode is a lovely experience similar to Splendor or Century Spice Road. We also played Dixit for the first time which might surprise a lot of people, we enjoyed it but we’re actually a little shocked that the famous Dixit cards didn’t seem as weird or beautiful after playing so much Mysterium and Muse which use similar cards, which can happen if you play the spiritual successors of a game before the original.

We also played Cubitos, which is a racing game in which you use dice to gain speed or trigger other useful abilities. It comes with a ton of different dice abilities and racing tracks and we can’t wait to see how they change up the game. The game has a very unique art style and sense of humor that we really enjoy but we have heard the other people don’t care for it. Lastly, we also played the second case of Pocket Detective which we thought was a lot stronger than the first, and even played the Pokemon Trading Card game which hasn’t actually changed that much from the first edition and is still an easy gateway trading card game about fighting each other using cute pokemon.

Next week will be the first week of 2021! We hope this year will be a little more optimistic than 2020 and that we’ll all be able to at least gather some friends and play games again.

Do you have a game idea based on a song or band?

 

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Happy holidays everybody! We hope that you are able to spin this normally festive period into something that celebrates the people that surround you and help each other to make the world feel a little brighter. Because 2020 changed everything in our daily lives, including games we thought it would be fun to have a little Christmas Carol-inspired comic, which posed some problems when we got to the spirit of gaming future as we have no clue what gaming would look like in 2021. For inspiration, we grabbed our ongoing attempt to cull our gaming collection which ground to halt now the Netherlands has entered a new lockdown. We are healthy and safe and we hope you are too.

Because everything, except grocery stores, is closed at the moment we have decided to spend our holiday taking it a little slower and mostly focus a bit on small projects in the house and playing some of the games that we think haven’t gotten the attention this year they deserve. Because of all the limited opportunity to have social interaction in 2020 we also have a chance to beat our “games played in a year” record which right now sits at 330 games. We’ve played 319 games so far with eleven days to go, so we think we can beat that, especially if we play some shorter games like Abandon All Artichokes.

This week we played some of our favorites like Tiny Towns, Gloomhaven and Calico as well as some new ones like Village Green and Merv: Heart of the Silk Road. While Osprey publishes both they couldn’t be more different. Village Green is a very puzzly card game about creating the best village green for your village, because of the theme it reminds us a bit of Arboretum but it’s a bit quicker. We enjoyed our three plays but the yellow cards are very hard to read which we hope will be solved in a future printing. Merv on the other hand is a much heavier economic game about gaining power through trading and protecting the city from the Mongols. We’ve played it two times now and we’re definitely going to play it a few more times as it feels like we haven’t completely figured out what the best strategies are because of the small intricacies of how the different tracks interact with each other.

This week we’re going to try Cubitos and Chai, which just arrived from Alderac and Steeped Games and we excited about both. We know Cubitos’s cover has had a diverse reaction from the public but we freaking love it and it seems that the absurdism of the cover is continued in the box so that should be a good time. While Chai’s art isn’t absurd, it does look gorgeous, and the theme fits us very well as we have an ever-growing collection of fresh tea and even have a little tea menu to present to guests when they want to try something special.

Which game do you still want to play before the end of the year?

So a second(ish) lockdown has started in the Netherlands which means it is once again harder to play board games with friends. While smaller groups are allowed, the rising COVID numbers don’t make it a very attractive idea, so back to digital gaming, it is! While looking at board game adaptations we saw positive talk about Direwolf’s Games of Thrones adaptation and this nice little visual joke popped up in our heads.

It’s also Spiel Digital week! We don’t really know what to expect but we have received our press credentials and we’re going to spend at least Friday looking around and talk to some friends and publishers (as a publisher/designer let us know if you want to talk!) and of course demo some new games. We’ll also be on the HABA live stream on Saturday 8-10 PM CEST trying to make a game in 30 minutes using the components from a mysterious box they’ve delivered at our house and we’re not allowed to open it…

 

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This week we played a lot of games, most of them new to us. Dutch publisher 999Games was kind enough to send us Glasgow, Pendulum, and two of the Pocket Detective games which we all got to play! We really enjoyed Glasgow, even though the art is a bit inconsistent we think this is a very clever and quick city building game. We’ve played it four times this week and we’re getting close to twenty minutes per game which is excellent for the amount of clever little mechanisms that are built into the design, we highly recommend Glasgow!

Speaking of clever mechanisms, while not as deep as Chronicles of Crime, Detective, or Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Pocket Detective does have a few clever tricks up its sleeves. While not super heavy on the deduction, the game is a nice way to spend an hour with some friends puzzling over a little mystery. There a no rules as everything is explained in its deck of cards and the game box forms a little crime scene that holds additional clues. We’re curious how much we like the second case as the first one was actually pretty good but we had to get used to the gameplay mechanic of discarding clues. We’re not sure we feel the price is worth it but it could be a fun little game to play at a board game café.

Lastly, we played Pendulum which we mostly saw a lot of negative opinions about online, so we didn’t go in with the highest of hopes. The rulebook seems to repeat a lot of rules and makes it feel like it’s a more complex game than it actually is, once the game got going, however, the game flowed well and we really enjoyed the real-time aspect and quickly saw how we could improve play styles and strategies. The only big downside was that our three-minute sand timer, which functions as the main clock of the game, sometimes got stuck which is very unfortunate. We’ll probably use a digital timer next game to prevent it from happening again but since the review of the Lighten Up Initiative also mentioned a faulty sand timer you might want to wait a bit to see if Stonemaier Games addresses this issue. The sand timer issue didn’t defer us from wanting to play it again though, so we’re looking forward to exploring it more while using the advanced characters.

What is your favorite digital adaption of a board game?

 

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High Rise is back on Kickstarter so we thought we give a little love since we really enjoy it! We might be a little biased as we played High Rise on the Tabletopia stream with its designer Gil Hova. But then again, he beat us so hard we wouldn’t have made a comic about it if we didn’t think it’s a good game. 😉

High Rise a city-building game in which you build skyscrapers and sometimes have to be a little corrupt to stay ahead of the competition. The corruption mechanism is something we really enjoy in games and we can only name three games that use it: High Rise, Lords of Waterdeep (when using the expansion) and London even though it is called poverty in that game. The games give you corruption points for doing certain actions, these are often more powerful than other actions but you might pay the price later in the game. The costs of that price, often in negative victory points, however, depends on the amount of corruption that is taken by other players. So it helps to take a close look at your fellow players to see how much corruption they are taking on and if they might be making moves to get rid of any corruption points they may already have. The nice thing about such an interactive mechanism is that what you should be doing to win is very dependent on how the table is playing which prevents people from getting stuck in their favorite winning strategy and it keeps the game from becoming stale.

Speaking of games that play great on Tabletopia and use a novel mechanic, we played Villagers yesterday on Tabletopia and we were pretty impressed. It is a pretty light and quick game in which you collect a medieval village and every villager has a specific job like a miner, a lumberjack, or a priest. Some of the jobs can be upgraded resulting in more victory points but less efficient engine building. This makes the timing when to upgrade a little more interesting as you can get stuck with a victory point heavy village that won’t grow anymore. We were also delighted to find out that Haakon Gaarder did both the design and the illustration which is a very impressive feat which not a lot of people do.

This week we don’t have super concrete plans about what we will be playing be I suspect Truffle Shuffle will be played as it’s is becoming our favorite short game when we just want to do something fun for thirty minutes. And then there’s Flat Out Games’ big title Calico which we really enjoy. So many games to choose from though! 🙂

What do you think is an underutilized mechanic in board games?

 

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We love Gloomhaven and one of our favorite things is putting the map on the table and figuring out where we want to go next. The map in Gloomhaven is a wonderfully illustrated and very big mounted game board which is only used to put on some stickers on to show the discovered areas and track the global progression of the game. While peering over the map we often try to imagine what to locations must look like to deserves such gloomy names. With my Cragheart retiring, we thought he had earned a nice vacation only to realize all the locations near Gloomhaven sound dreadful and thus this comic was born!

Speaking of Gloomhaven, it has been a while since we played it! Rachel had a bit of a cold last week and we decided not to take any risks resulting in canceling two game nights. Luckily we could quickly reschedule our game of Battlestar Galactica!

BSG is one of our favorite series, we named our cats Starbuck and Apollo, and we’re in the middle of rewatching it. So we really enjoy playing the board game even though it can take quite a bit of time, our game on Saturday took almost six hours. I was the Cylon the first time and would’ve had probably won if I hadn’t accidentally thrown my fellow Cylon in the brig when I was president. While the Cylons got all the resources quite low it didn’t stop the humans from jumping early, losing a part of the fleet, but still winning.

This week we haven’t gotten any game plans yet but we’ll be seeing the Fellowship of the Ring extended edition in the cinema, which has a lot more locations we would love to visit during a vacation than Gloomhaven…

In which board game would you like to take a vacation?

Western Legends is a fun sandbox full of sheriffs, bandits, and outlaws. The game doesn’t really care how you get your points, as long as you get them. Most of the time we’re not playing very aggressively which turns it into a cow herding game with some poker matches in between. Being an outlaw, however, can help you land some quick points when you’re sprinting to the finish line so often you’ll see some goody two shoes suddenly rob a bank in their final turn. During one of those robberies, someone mentioned they had their herd of cows backing them up, which resulted in such a fun mental image we had to make this comic.

We had a busy week, we did a very movie quote heavy sponsored comic about Dinosaur Island, we had another Godtear comic and for TabletopGameLive virtual gaming con we made a behind the scenes video deconstructing our process behind our Culling by Car comic!

Gaming-wise we got in some good games, we played some older titles like Clank! and Quirky Circuits which we both still think are very very good. We also did our first exploration of Fowers Games’ Sabotage! Tim personally handed us a copy of Sabotage during last year’s Spiel and we’ve been trying to find two other players to get the full experience ever since. Yesterday we decided that we wanted to wait no longer and played one intro game against the free app and an intro game against each other. Now that we know the rules we’re pretty excited to play a full game and hopefully we’ll be able to find some players soon. It does allow for a social distancing type of play, so if you like hidden movement, team games, and spy gadgets you might want to look into this game. No Pun Included did a great review of Sabotage last year if you want to know more.

What type of player are you in sandbox games?

 

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While we agree that games should be played to win, there is a line what you should do to secure the win. Reinier Knizia has a famous quote that goes:

When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning

And it captures the problem very succinctly. If you don’t play a board game to win you could ruin what makes the game work but if are willing to take away all the fun of other players you also ruin the game. There is a fun BGG thread to find the origin of the quote if you’re interested.

We are both pretty nonconfrontational players, we don’t seek out moves that hinder our opponents and will choose a move that benefits us over a blocking move. We have some friends that are a little more aggressive in their playstyle which is cool because even if we’ve played a game several times it will show us new ways to approach the game. Sometimes however we realize that a more aggressive playstyle doesn’t fit the feel of the game as we recently noticed in Tiny Towns. The normals rules in Tiny Towns have one player pick a resource and the other will have to put the same resource on their board. Because board space is very important in Tiny Towns, getting the wrong resource at the wrong time can pretty much wreck your game. So when we played it with more aggressive players, the game quickly changed to a game about blocking your opponents instead of constructing an idyllic village filled with cute buildings. While it’s perfectly within the rules, and for some players probably their favorite way to play the game, we transitioned over to the city hall rules in which resources are mostly decided through card draws to avoid such confrontational behavior.

Our mentality what is too aggressive differs per game obviously, when playing a two-player game everything is fair play. Games that involve combat are generally more aggressive but even in those games, there can be things that can be considered confrontational. In the Undaunted games, we think it is perfectly fine to shoot at the opponent’s units, it’s a war game so taking out units plays a big part. The scout unit however can not only shoot but also “conceal” which fills the opponent’s deck with useless “fog of war” cards. this somehow feels a lot more aggressive than shooting and taking out units, even though it’s a much more passive way of hindering your opponent. Realizing that that passive action feels much more hurtful is one of the things that make Undaunted such cool games.

Speaking of nonconfrontational games, we played a whole bunch of them this week! We played Flamme Rouge which is still so great! With the Tour de France wrapping up we feel a need to do a Grand Tour campaign using the free app because the game is short enough to knock out several races in a day and the campaign has some cool rules about retaining exhaustion cards after every race. We also played Calico, which is a simple tile-laying game with three scoring mechanisms that often interfere with each other, leaving a fun point optimization puzzle for you to solve. We really enjoyed it plus it has pretty art filled with cats! We also played Truffle Shuffle which takes the drafting pyramid of Seven Wonders Duel but streamlines it into a simpler set collection game. We have to play it a bit more but it feels a bit like this does for 7 Wonders Duel what Sushi Go did for 7 Wonders, which we think is great. We also played Mariposas which looks great but felt a bit empty with just two players, we hope it gets better with more players as it has a fun generational gameplay mechanic we haven’t seen before.

This week we’re trying to get Sabotage to the table for the first time. It will probably just be a two-player game against the app but we’ve wanted to play it since getting it last year at Spiel and we’ve decided that now is the time! We’ll also continue our Gloomhaven campaign and probably play some more Calico or Mariposa if we can get some more players together.

 

what is the most aggressive play you’ve seen in a game?

 

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We love to organize big game days! We had the eight-stravaganza (only eight players games), we did trade-stravaganza (bring every game you want to get rid of, then choose games you would like to take home and battle players who want the same game to become the owner of the game) and some spaceship simulator Artemis days and… we miss it!
This comic is based on actual research I’ve done to see what games in our collection would be able to facilitate the biggest game day. I’m not sure if this setup of playing a single game is actually as fun as just playing some smaller games but it is fun to fantasize about during these more socially isolated times.

Speaking of big games, we got to play our first game of Gloomhaven since March! We had forgotten we were working our way to a boss and so our first game turned out to be a brutal boss battle which we lost horribly… Our Gloomhaven party has gone through some changes and we’re honestly struggling a bit to make it all work together especially after six months of not playing. We have our next session planned on Thursday and I suspect we going to leave the Boss alone for a while and practice on some lighter scenarios first.

We also played a game of Illimat, which is excellent and you should really consider getting if you like classic card games. Everything in the game looks strange and occult, which might turn you off, but once you learn the rules it is wonderful. We also played Space Base using the Light Speed variant, which is a great variant if, like us, you think the normal game drags a bit. While Space Base has been hitting our table quite often this variant will probably make in a mainstay for a while. 🙂

We haven’t really gotten any gaming plans for next week, except for Gloomhaven but we do have one of those rare “three new comics” weeks. We have today’s comic, a sponsored comic this Thursday for something we use almost daily and on Friday we have a new Godtear comic. So we hope you all enjoy those and share them on social media and stuff. 😉

What game would you like to play with loads of players during a single game day?

O, the hit the progress of our campaign games have taken since the lockdown! We have ongoing campaigns for Charterstone, Gloomhaven and the King’s Dilemma that haven’t been touched since March. Rachel has stated in her “Top 5 games to play after lockdown” that this is the game she looking forward to playing again the most and I agree. Just imagine thousand of kingdoms right now stuck with a king that can’t seem to make any decision while the kingdom slowly descends into anarchy. And with Pandemic Legacy Season 0 coming out soon we’re starting to get a little anxious over not being able to play campaign games.

Last week, we didn’t get to play a whole lot of games but I played the first three scenarios of Undaunted North Africa which were great. It’s remarkable how different it is from Undaunted Normandy while still using the same ruleset. By making the units single soldiers instead of part of a squad and by focussing, at least the first three scenarios, the missions more on commando operations instead of taking objectives, it feels more personal and tense. The third mission was especially a highlight with a convoy of commando troops racing through the desert to capture one of two forts the Italian army that was dug in, felt really original and fresh. Osprey already announced an expansion box for both Undaunted games called reinforcements, which will also feature a four-player option, so I’m pretty excited about what they’re doing with Undaunted.

This week we’re going to enter the Gen Can’t miniature painting contest, it seems like a nice way to get a bit better at painting miniatures which is something we enjoy but don’t do a whole lot of. We also hope to find the time to play some Mansions of Madness, because of your support of buying games, and other things, using our affiliate links we were able to get the “Beyond the Threshold” expansion which is pretty exciting. Even if you end up buying something else than the product we linked to, we get a little Amazon credit which we can spend on more games, remember that when you buy a fancy new camera for streaming or a big television set. 😉

Next week is our last comic before our yearly summer break btw, we’ve got a number of very cool guest artists that are going to do guest comics. We’ll be using the time off to relax a little but also think about how we can redesign Semi Co-op to make sure we can keep doing this for years to come.

Do you have any campaign games that you want to return to?

 

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In these complicated times sometimes you just need a simple fourth-wall-breaking joke. We haven’t actually gotten, or played Quirky Circuits even though it’s designed by Nikki Valens, my favorite designer, and published by Plaid Hat who are always releasing games with great themes. I should probably get it as a surprise for Rachel at some point in the future. 😉 UPDATE: While making the comic and writing the blog post a friend came by the house and gave Rachel Quirky Circuits as a thank you for designing their wedding invitation! 😆

Speaking of Nikki Valens, we had a blast playing the Shattered Bonds scenario in Mansions of Madness on Saturday and making Instagram Stories about it over on our Instagram. We highlighted them on our profile page so you can still see them. The scenario’s difficulty rating is five which made us doubt trying it after Escape from Innsmouth seems pretty unbeatable while having only a difficulty rating of four. Shattered Bonds seems a lot easier to get a somewhat good ending and it does some really fun things with NPC’s. We have now tried four different scenarios, three from the base game and one DLC, so far and they were all a greatly pulpy horror GM-less RPG that I would recommend at least trying it once.

Another one of our favorite designers is Gil Hova and we had the chance to sit down and play a game of High Rise, which he designed, on the Tabletopia stream. Gil is actually the first designer we talked to at our first Spiel and it was nice to be able to talk to them in a year in which there are no gaming cons. While I didn’t score a ton of points and came in last, we did have a great time and the stream does give a good impression of what High Rise is like and how you can play it (for free!) on Tabletopia. We also used the Check-in Cards for which Rachel did the art and is a short and fun way to make sure everybody is on board playing a game and checking to see if people want to play a game to win or just having a social time.

Another game that is proving to be quite an experience is the Wilson Wolfe Affair. This was the first time since the COVID outbreak we were able to spend more time with this box full of cool goodies filled with maps, pins, booklets, posters, and papercraft models that all contain secret messages and puzzles. This was our third session, we’re now at least sixteen hours in, and we finally feel like we’re starting to understand how to solve these puzzles and might see some contours on how we can use the answers of the smaller puzzles to solve the final one. I don’t want to spoil too much so I leave it at that.

This week we’ll be playing some Quirky Circuits (all of the sudden) and I hope to get Undaunted: North Africa to the table.

Do you have a game you want to surprise someone else with?
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