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As I am typing this, I am also checking my ongoing game of 18Chesapeake in which someone just dumped a company on me and I’m furiously calculating if I’ll survive the oncoming escalation of rusting locomotives. I like using 18xx.games as it really can automate a lot of the more tedious calculations out of the game and just get to enjoy the backstabbing and route laying part of 18xx games. And this week, a friend noticed Feudum is on Tabletopia and Deep Print Games posted that their space version of Mombasa (which is in our opinion very underrated)  Skymines is now on Yucata. So it seems like it’s a great time for people to enjoy games online.

Luckily, we also enjoyed loads of games offline! On Monday we played two games of Run. While we played it before, it was during the deluge of new games we got at Spiel and we played this one when we were a bit too tired to enjoy it. I happy we tried it again because it’s a very clever and short hidden movement game for two players. It’s less abstract than Fugitive as it has a map with things moving around, but it isn’t as big as Letters of Whitechapel or Sniper Elite. The production design is also great as the tiles are designed in such a way that accidentally cheating can’t happen, so you’ll know you have only your deduction skills to blame if the runner gets away. Like Mind MGMT this game also gives you new powers, or takes powers away based on how much you’ve won playing a certain role to make sure the games are always tense and exciting.
On Thursday, we played a very close game of Starship Captains and we’re wondering how we always end up so close while the game seems fairly random. While the first player scored six points more than second place, the difference between second and last place was only 1,5 points. We hope this one gets an expansion to smooth out the slightly jarring balance between being a gateway game while also requiring you to play as hard as you can to get anywhere, as it has loads of great ideas that we would like to see explored a bit more.

On Friday we played 5 Towers, which worked well as a warm-up game while waiting for the last player to arrive, it’s also has more easter eggs than any other game we can remember which resulted in a lot of disrupting “look it’s that thing!” while people we trying to figure out if pushing their luck was the best way to go. We also played Whirling Witchcraft for the first time in a while but we’re very happy with the Golden Standee we awarded it in 2021. The whole game is about producing so many resources it won’t fit on the player board of the player on your right, which results in a joyously frustrating moment at the end of each turn as you notice the player to your left is giving you even more frogs than you anticipated. This is a great game if you are looking for something light to get people interested in modern board games.

We also played Wormholes which was fun but I feel like we need to play some more to understand its rhythm and see how strategic you can get. All five who played did enjoy it though, which is great after we’ve been trying to get it played by a bigger group for a year and a half now. It’s a pick-up-and-deliver game in which you ferry passengers from one planet to another, the twist, however, is that you are also able to create wormholes and you can use other player’s wormholes as well. This causes travel times in the game to become a lot shorter after a few rounds and, because of the haphazard-way routes tend to link together, the fastest way to get from A to B can suddenly be a very non-straightforward affair.

Lastly, we felt like solving a murder so we grabbed Chronicles of Crime 1900 and we crushed it! We scored 120 of 100 points, we’re not sure how that works, but the citizens of Paris can sleep safely in the knowledge that justice is served! I personally still think this is my favorite murder mystery format, with Suspects being a close second. The app allows the writers to create more robust scenarios that react to your actions during the game which helps with the immersion. The 1900 cases also include some light escape room-style puzzles, which are a bit on the easy side, but work well in the genre.

This week we’re playing with some new people we’ve known for quite a while but never realized they like board games as well, so that should be fun! We’ll also, if the post office is willing, be receiving some games we wanted to play for quite some time, so that should be exciting as well. 🙂

What is your flirtatious board game move?

 

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Valentine’s Day, eh, we just tell each other we love them every day, so that’s enough, right?…

This week we had a week filled with gaming, there were so many games, we experimented with a little Semi Co-op recap reel which you can see at the top of this post! (We’ve been looking for a suitable video format and we really liked making this one, so let us know if you want to see it more often btw!)

The week started with the arrival of ArcheOlogic, a deduction puzzle game by one of the designers of 2023 Golden Standee winner Turing Machine. We’ve played three games so far and while the questions you can ask the “machine” aren’t as complex, the puzzles it presents are just as fiendishly tricky as with Turing Machine. After our first ‘normal’ game, we naively tried the challenge mode and we were very surprised when the form of the starting hints completely changed and doubled the playing time for us. Having played this a few times, we are convinced that this game might be more accessible to more people than Turing Machine. The game is more visual and the questions you can ask “the machine” are much more clear and don’t leave any room for different interpretations, while the questions of Turing Machine require a certain way of thinking.

On Friday, I played my third game of Warhammer 40k and lost for the third time in a row. My Orks really seem to struggle against my Death Guard opponent but me and my opponent are now both tinkering with Ork army compositions to see how I can get on an equal footing. While the games are a little long for my taste, I’m really surprised how important constructing and playing an army is almost like something like Netrunner or Magic: The Gathering. Just rolling up to a game with a grab bag of units without knowing how you need to approach the situation, clearly is not the way to go.

After that, we went over the a friend’s house to play some Cosmic Encounter. While we hadn’t played the game since 2016 and mostly remembered hearing that we didn’t play in it in the right mindset (we were way too friendly/helpful), we had a great time getting reintroduced to it. Rachel grabbed the victory in a very showy way by using a force field to boot the defender allies (and her own!), leaving everyone slightly in awe of her sneaky ways.

On Saturday, I played one of my gaming white whales: Feudum! It isn’t the most elegant of designs. Our rules-teach took almost as long as our three-hour playing time but it’s a very unique game with a lovely quirky identity. In Feudum you use pawns, which can be of different classes like farmers, nobles, knights, and monks, to travel the lands and conquer locations. At the same time, the actions also give you reputation in one of the six guilds, which come with their own actions, some of which you can only activate if you have the right position within that guild. Using the guilds is necessary to get the in-game economy going and give you access to more influence tokens, airships, and resources which you need to do more things with your pawns and the locations you rule over. Because both parts are very dependent on other player’s actions, it becomes a very interactive and economic game, which also allows you to tame monsters and attack other players. The new version of Feudum is about to go live on Gamefound and this how-to-play video is very good, so if you are interested in the game, that might not be perfect but is very much a labor of love from the designer, you might want to give Feudum a chance.

This week we don’t have a lot of gaming plans except for a game of Starship Captains. So maybe we could make some time for a romantic game night…

What is the most romantic board game?

 

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Happy New Year! We hope you had a lovely New Year’s Eve and could play some games. We did three games of Flash Point: Fire Rescue because a friend found the Honor and Duty expansion which features two very tricky maps. The first one is a metro station, which was narrowly won on our first try but the Airplane map is a tough hard map that will beat you over the head with some serious structural damages and hard-to-reach POI. It’s a shame that, at least in the Netherlands, Flash Point: Fire Rescue seems to have been forgotten as it’s a really easy-to-play exciting co-op with a pretty unique theme. Hopefully, it will get a reprint or a new edition soon so more people can enjoy it again.

Speaking of being able to enjoy a certain game again. We lent out our copy of Forest Shuffle after only playing one game because we thought we didn’t have any time to play it but we missed it a lot more than we imagined we would…

Whoops! We aren’t the biggest fans of Terraforming Mars as it takes a bit too long but Forest Shuffle has that same open tableau-building feel in a much shorter period. In the game, you’re trying to build the most successful forest by planting trees and populating them with animals, birds, bats, insects, and plants. The animal and plant cards are divided into two sections, allowing you to either place an animal on the left or right side of the tree or cards that allow you to place birds at the top and plants (or insects, small animals, or amphibians) at the bottom. While this is a wonderful mechanism, it also leads to offering you a very high number of choices within the cards in your hand. Keeping track of all that information might require you to adapt this special technique shown in the comic of sorting the cards to keep track of all your choices. 😉

We also played quite a bit of Rollecate and Quibbles last week because after discovering Quibbles last week, we wanted to explore Michiel de Wit’s games some more. We don’t talk about Rollecate a lot but we think it’s a game that will take some time for you to ‘click’ as it has a unique blend of push your luck and negative scoring, that you can offset by collecting sets of the same number and that requires you to rewire your brain a bit. The American version is called Loose Caboose! btw if you’re interested in learning more about it.

Lastly, we played our second game of Critical: Sanctuary which is a lovely light RPG for people who like the idea of role-playing games but might not want to invest in four-hour D&D sessions and reading loads of text trying to create a character. While the box suggests every scenario only takes thirty minutes, our sessions seem to take about an hour, which is probably because we want to enjoy the characters by having silly voices and having some banter between everyone. It works for us! Rachel who GMs can prepare the session in fifteen minutes of skimming the rules and we can have a quick little adventure. Its setting has some jarring colonial adventure tropes like savage natives, so if that is not your thing you might want to steer clear of it or try Critical: Foundation, which has a cyberpunk setting using the same ruleset instead.

Tomorrow we’re trying Nucleum! So it’s time to end this blog post and dive into its rulebook to see how to play this literally and figuratively heavy beast of a game!

For what game do you have a secret sorting technique?

It’s the last Monday of the year! It hasn’t been the easiest year for us but we’re confident things are slowly returning to normal, so our hope for 2024 is that we have a little more room to enjoy playing games and making comics about them again. This week certainly gave us ample time to play some games, so let’s share some experiences!

Sitdown Games! showed us Tiwanaku at Spiel 2022 and it seemed like a pretty interesting sodoku-esque abstract game with a very complicated cardboard wheel that showed you the correct answer. Now that we have played it we can say that the cardboard wheel works a lot smoother than we expected and the game itself is very cool combining deduction with a bit of tactical blocking to create a ‘dude-on-a-map deduction game’. So far we’ve played two of the shorter scenarios and one of the big scenarios with two players and it’s a blast! So far, we enjoy the smaller scenarios a bit more but we suspect that with larger player numbers the bigger scenarios are the best choice. The game also comes with a co-op mode which is supposed to be very tricky, so we’ll probably try that one as well.

We also visited our local gaming store Comicasa, which we don’t do often enough (sorry Peter, Robert, and Jasper!) and bought three games and we already played all of them! We played Lovely Leaves, a frantic real-time puzzle game that attracted us mostly because of its environmentally friendly packaging that also functions as its rulebook. It’s a cute game but we found the price point a little high for what it is, although we’re 99% sure we’ll bring it to some holiday gatherings this week as the rules explanation is about thirty seconds long. We also got Quibbles, because we enjoy Michiel de Wit’s designs and what he’s doing with his company Gam’in Biz, plus the art was done by Roland MacDonald who is always fun to hang out with (and a very good artist). This game should be a hit (if it isn’t already)! It is simple but you instantly get very competitive trying to collect the right sets of Quibbles trying to score 21 points to claim victory. Not only is the game great but the Quibbles themselves are a mix between the Raving Rabbits and the Minions, so we expect these fellows to take over everything in the coming years.

Forest Shuffle was the last of the three games we bought and if you like games like Terraforming Mars you should check this one out. It’s one of those complex sprawling tableau builders in which you’re using so much brain power. We noticed that trying to block opponents was a bit too mentally challenging on our first play but there is so much cool scoring potential in the game that you want to play again anyway. This one also doesn’t take so long which we appreciate as well.

Lastly, I played some war games without Rachel. I played two lunch games of General Orders and it’s a delight how many cool details are packed in such a small game. I’ve only played the mountain map so far and feel no need to hop into the island map as there are many many subtle tactics and game-changing moves to explore on the beginner map. It also features some very clever design choices that abstract the game from the grim realities of war and I think that a lot of players who don’t enjoy that sort of thing can enjoy General Orders. Knowing Trevor, David, and Osprey Games, they probably have a sequel in mind already but I’m content playing this one for quite some time.
I also played my first game of Warhammer 40K since I dabbled with it in my teenage years. I played Orks against Death Guard and while we had quite a complicated time figuring out the rules (it turns out that knowing loads of games sometimes makes you overthink how a certain phase might work) we did have a good time. The stratagems you can trigger using command points gave the game an additional level compared to something like the One Page Rules games, and it made me excited to properly get a grip on the game. Luckily, I’m in a group of eleven players, most of whom have all just started building an army, so 2024 might see me pushing around plastic dolls across different tables.

We also played Evergreen, Descent and Mansions of Madness but it’s time for our Christmas lunch with friends, so I’m going to cut this short!

We hope you all have some lovely holidays or days off to enjoy spending time with friends and family, or just enjoy some games. We have some very exciting opportunities in 2024, so we hope you’ll keep reading our comics next year so you don’t miss it!

See you next year?

 

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Happy Halloween! We just realized yesterday that this would be this year’s Halloween comic and we didn’t play a spooky game for the blog post. To be honest, we haven’t played any spooky games since Mansions of Madness 2nd edition, so we’re overdue for some new blood in our horror games collection. The Night Cage, Final Girl, and Nemesis look great, so maybe it’s time to find some friends who’d love to teach us.

We did play a whole lot of other games this week, so let’s talk about them! Last Monday we played Wingspan, because last week’s comic was based on reality and somebody really asked that question. Not only did our friend who asked about it liked it a lot, he even borrowed our copy to try the solo mode! We haven’t heard back from him since, so he might be very addicted at this point. 😉

We also tried KAPOW! which is a superhero dice builder. We (gladly) have to try it some more before we can give our opinion because it turns out Rachel misread a rule which resulted in her being able to pull off more powerful moves than she was allowed to. It did seem to fit very well in Wise Wizard Games’s philosophy of games that are easy to learn but super fun to play and offer loads of potential for cool combos. So we’re very hopeful the game allows for a bit more building up of powers when we play it correctly.

Speaking of dice games, we played two games of MLEM and this might be our new go-to push-your-luck for casual game nights. It’s about cats going on space missions and it’s all about leaving the rocket on time before it blows up. We tried the base game which is fine but when you add the extra modules a lot more options become available, making the mind games between players a lot deeper. It nicely joins Robot Quest Arena for easy silly fun for four or five players.

Finally, we played our first session of Critical Sanctuary, which promises a fantasy RPG in just thirty-minute sessions. While our session 0 did take an hour, it was with a first-time DM (Rachel did great!) and two other players who’d never played an RPG before. The game does a lovely job of helping the DM with clear descriptions, some pre-written dialog, and cards showing locations and enemies drawn by Vincent Dutrait. It was a fun time although it’s a very simple system and we’re curious to see how the system slowly introduces more complex abilities and items over the course of the remaining sessions.

Lastly, we continued our Descent campaign, which kicked our butts when we decided to hard mode, played loads of Tinderblox and were reminded that the Paperback app is a seriously good time while traveling by train.

Looking at our Spiel loot, we’ve played through most of them with only Skyrockets, Wool Gang, Virtual Revolution, Kutna Hora and Nucleum being unplayed so far. Hopefully, we find the time to try at least one of them this week as they all look exciting.

What is the scariest game you’ve played?

 

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We sometimes forget not everyone gets excited about the obscure, the unreleased, or the obnoxiously rare promo. Our minds are completely enamored with getting our new games played so we had to smile a little when a friend asked if we could bring Wingspan because he heard good things! Luckily, Wingspan is a great game so we happily obliged him, while secretly wishing we had picked up the fan art pack if we knew we were going to play Wingspan. 😉

This week was a busy week but we packed in quite a bit of gaming on Friday night. The night started off with two five-player games of Robot Quest Arena! The game is exactly what we hoped it would be, a fun, chaotic arena battle game built on top of the Star Realms deckbuilding engine. The designers did a very clever thing, mostly making it all about scoring points and not about scoring kills, any damage you do gets you a point, and destroying an opponent gets you two points. Getting destroyed has no real downside as you respawn at the start of your turn and the arena is small enough, at least with five players, that you always have an opportunity to score some points. This keeps everything moving along smoothly, with no missed turns making rushing in and hitting opponents a viable strategy. It’s also cool that pushing and ramming your opponents into objects and walls is possible, which ties in nicely with some tiles granting you bonuses if you start your turn on one of those. If we had to say anything negative, we thought that optimizing your decks seems a bit of an underpowered strategy so far, although that might be because the arena is slightly crowded at five players making just attacking everything in sight very lucrative. But all in all, we love it and can heartily recommend it if you want an easily understandable and fun game about smashing robots together that supports higher player numbers (with the expansions).

We followed this up with some short games of Tinderblox, which is a great dexterity game in a small tin we talked about before, and then played some games of Klask! It had been a while but Klask is a very good air hockey alternative that fits on smaller tables. Every time we play it, we talk about how we should organize a small tournament for it, so maybe we should make it a point for next year!

On Sunday we played Run, a new hidden movement game by Fowers Games. We don’t not what Fower’s fascination is with crime and chase games but they’re always very very good. Run is designed by Moritz Dressler in which one player is the runner trying to escape the dispatch player who is flying around in a helicopter trying to hit the runner twice before they collect three gadgets and are able to reach a safe house. Like the new version of Fugitive, Run has built-in options to keep it interesting for players of different skill levels. Our first game had the arc of a good hidden movement game, the runner feeling powerful at the start with a net slowly closing around them and the dispatcher winning the last turn on a hunch, so we’re excited to play some more!

We also played another of The White Castle and we’re convinced this one might be a game that will be talked about in the board gaming hobby for several years. It’s just a very smart game that with its very flexible setup doesn’t allow you to coast on the same strategy as last time. In our previous game, the castle and military track were very powerful and because of the absence of rice, the bridge part of the game was mostly neglected, this time it was the other way around with the farmer being the key to unlocking incredible combos. The Dutch version is also only €30 which is a great price for such an expert-level game that works great for two and four players (maybe also solo and three players but we haven’t tried that).

This week, we both have some days off so who knows what we’ll play!

What is the most unique or obscure game in your collection?

 

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If you missed the hubbub this weekend on social media, the current Kickstarter campaign for more Terraforming Mars expansions uses AI art. While it aesthetically might be better than the old stock photos, it caused a whole list of board game industry people (and content creators) to let the world know they are very much against this sort of thing. A Polgyon interview with Travis Worthington of Indie Game Studios shows how the studio will continue to use AI, so it seems the last word about this topic hasn’t been said yet.

The most interesting take we saw was the one of Kyle Ferrin, illustrator of Root, on BlueSky that since game rules and AI art cannot be copyrighted you might be able to steal and publish large parts of the expansion. In practice, it wouldn’t be that easy since Indie Game Studio mentions none of the artwork will be fully generated by AI but we thought it would be exactly the sort of thing Lion would think of. So with permission, we copied Kyle’s take and added more talking animals!

Speaking of talking animals, we played the full-production version of Almost Innocent this week. We really enjoyed our time with a preproduction copy last year and we’re glad to say it’s still a lot of fun. The first scenario is nice and easy, which was perfect for a low-energy game night and the reveal at the end is still kind of a magic trick when you pull it off. We did get the feeling the difficulty between scenarios ramps less in the final version than in the prototype but there are a lot of extra little additions that might make us eat those words once we get to those scenarios.

We were also invited to the 999 Games VIP evening. For those who don’t know, 999 Games is the Dutch market leader of board games, and also has the scariest logo of all time, and publishes mostly family-oriented games like Catan, Carcassonne, and Wingspan. We got to meet a lot of Dutch and Belgian board game media people, which is nice because we have more contacts on the English/U.S. side of things. We got to play games with Board Game Brothers, Rood met Witte Stippen, Alles Over Speelgoed, Move the Robber, Bordspelmania, Nox en Bord voor je Kop. We ended up playing Inside Job, a fun semi-co-operative trick-taking game, Exoplanet, a ‘racing’ game about harvesting minerals on an exoplanet, and The White Castle, a dice placer from the team that also did Red Cathedral. Rachel also watched some rounds of Atiwa and said it looked like a classic Uwe worker placement game.

This week we have someone staying over, so we have to see how much game time we’ll have, if we don’t have time we can at least get excited about SPIEL which is coming in just two weeks!

What do you think of AI art in games?

 

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Our Summer Break is over, did you enjoy the board game facts comics? We might want to let them return at a later point, so any feedback would be very welcome!

We went on a multi-day hike in the Alps and we thought we would have all the time in the afternoon to chill and play some games. So, we printed seven different micro-games (since every gram counts on a hike) from PNPArcade so we had a wide variety of games we could play on our hike. Unfortunately, it turned out we might have been a tad underprepared for the different legs of our hikes and we always arrived at the huts just in time for dinner and were so tired we never ended up playing any of them! The hike itself was a big success though and we had a wonderful time enjoying all the beautiful vistas as you can see on the video of the third day on the left.

We have played seven of the eight games, so we can tell you about them. Circle the Wagon and Skulls of Sedlec we already discussed a few weeks ago. Confusing Lands has some similar ideas as Circle the Wagons but adds in scoring conditions to the landscape you’re building, which is a cool twist. It is free and while the different scoring abilities can be a bit tricky to get right we think it is very enjoyable.

Death Valley is a push-your-luck game in which you build a little tableau of things you can do in Death Valley. It’s pretty clever and we’re surprised a how many different strategies are possible within the eighteen cards of the game, we wouldn’t be surprised if someone would expand some of these mechanisms into a bigger game somehow.

Lastly, All is Bomb is a strange little puzzle card game by Blaž Gracar, who also made LOK, which we love (and now has a demo for an upcoming digital version)! In this game, you’re trying to get the right breakfast for a princess, but everything is also a bomb. This means every card has a dormant and an ignited stage each with their own abilities, after the second time you play a card it explodes and is discarded. It’s all about cleverly stacking the deck so you can play the ignited princes with the ignited prophecied food in the same turn to win. We like this one a lot more as a solo game but as with Death Valley, we suspect something is already dissecting its design to put into a bigger deckbuilder or even TCG.

Other than that we’ve mostly played Moorland these last week and we suspect it might be one of the hits at Spiel. We realize we are a little biased because we got to make a comic about it but it’s a nice-looking nature-themed tile-laying game with a very unique twist on how you use resources. We enjoyed our three games with two players and we’re hoping some friends want to try it at our next game night to if it’s fun with higher player counts.

If you had a vacation this summer, what did you do?

This one is an older fact but the whole story is pretty interesting. This case was even instrumental in the founding of the EFF, which fights for the digital rights of civilians all over the world. We also let ourselves be inspired by John Kovalic’s style because for us Steve Jackson Games is synonymous with his art (even though they hadn’t put out Munchkin at the time over the raid).

It’s our “Summer break”! No worries, we still post updates every Monday but we like to experiment with the content a little! This year we’ve decided to team up with Peer Sylvester (game designer of The King is Dead, Village Green, and The Lost Expedition) because he runs the Twitter account Board Game Facts where he shares facts about board games and the industry. Alas, since Twitter is in shambles and due to changes at Tweetdeck, Peer has decided to pull the plug. We want to highlight his cool research by putting some interesting facts in the spotlight instead of normal comics this month. 

Which publisher’s offices would you raid to read all their secrets?

This is the most popular board game fact ever on the Board Games Facts account and with good reason. It’s actually such a cool story we mailed the publisher to get some additional facts and to check if it is actually true. Many thanks to MIPL for responding to our e-mail to confirm the story and give us some additional details! ❤️

It’s our “Summer break”! No worries, we still post updates every Monday but we like to experiment with the content a little! This year we’ve decided to team up with Peer Sylvester (game designer of The King is Dead, Village Green, and The Lost Expedition) because he runs the Twitter account Board Game Facts where he shares facts about board games and the industry. Alas, since Twitter is in shambles and due to changes at Tweetdeck, Peer has decided to pull the plug. We want to highlight his cool research by putting some interesting facts in the spotlight instead of normal comics this month. 

What is your favorite bird (in wingspan)?
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