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We love Above and Below, it’s such a strange mash-up between worker placement and story game and while it’s a shame the little stories don’t come with a resolution (house rule: make up a little resolution story when reading from the book) the game instantly teleports you to a wondrous world of pig men, abandoned mechanical contraptions and strange encounters. We’ve been itching for a thematic experience and with What Next?, Sleeping Gods and the new Descent being available soon, it’s a good time to be looking for some amazing stories in board games. It’s wonderful to spend some time in another world and take a break from reality.

Speaking of taking a break, we’re taking a little holiday! You probably won’t notice as we’ll still update our comics and Instagram but behind the scenes there will be relaxing, fun day trips and hopefully games! Normally we would have guest artist to fill August but this year has been so busy that we didn’t have time to get guest artists lined up so you’ll just have to enjoy more some of our own comics!

What have we been so busy with you might ask? Well not only has Semi Co-op turned six years old this year, we recently hit 15.000 followers on Instagram. Because of that we’ve reached out to some of our favourite publishers to organise some really cool giveaways. The first one with CGE went live last week but if you missed it, there are still enough giveaways coming to enter every Wednesday. We are a bit overwhelmed by the awesome generosity of everybody we reached out to especially in this current resource and container crisis. It’s been amazing to see what games they were willing to provide us with, so we hope you’ll enter the giveaways and win some amazing games!

Luckily there has also been some time to play some games. This week we enjoyed some older favourites like Flamme Rouge and It’s a Wonderful World but our main event was this Saturday when we had a small Magic: the Gathering draft with some friends. Because our friend group originally bonded over playing D&D, the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set seemed a good time to enjoy some Magic even though we all hadn’t played in years/decades. We pulled some cool cards, played some fun games and didn’t even get to complete our mini tournament before the day was over. So in a few weeks, we get to grab our drafted decks again and continue our little Magic/DnD nostalgia trip. While we both don’t enjoy Magic when it gets serious, a draft or a single game with preconstructed decks is a fun time.

What game transports you to another world?

 

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We’ve spent so much time playing the Star Realms app, we even participated in a Clash of Creators season battling other board game content creators in Star Realms. When Wise Wizards announced they were doing a Hero Realms app we remembered the old viral news that a Google Pacman doodle supposedly had cost the economy several hundreds of millions of dollars and that’s how the comic came about. The Star Realms/Hero Realms games are easy but very fun deck builders and we definitely recommend them if you are looking for something to introduce people into games or just want something quick and cheap to play. Hero Realms can even be expanded upon with a co-op campaign but we haven’t tried that yet.

Speaking of things that are quick and fun, Adam New and his crew have been making these fun comic dub of our comics and the latest one is a video version of the classic comic Field Research. Not only is it cool to have “ourselves” voiced by other people, but it’s also fun to see what creative choices they’ve made in translating a static comic into something moving. Check it out on Youtube!

This week we didn’t play a lot of games but we did finally play Terraforming Mars! We really enjoy it so far although we’ve only played with the basic corporations and no variants. I can see how the drafting variant can make offer some more room for a strategy which sounds good. We are surprised at how heavy BGG rates it. With a 3.24 the score is a lot higher than other tableau games like London 2nd Edition, Roll for the Galaxy, or even Wingspan which we think have just as much going on. Maybe we’re missing some sort of intricate layer of strategy we haven’t seen after two plays?

We also got our first three-player game in of Brew which is just as brutal as with two players but you’ve got to be even more on your toes. I think a lot of people will enjoy this a lot as long as you know this game is mean and requires you to really interfere with the plans of other players to win. With most games being only around six actions per round, and four rounds per game every action counts! You should also know that the forest you are trying to save will get burned down in the battle for dominance which is a very funny disconnect from the cute theme and the brutal way this game plays.

This week will play some more Gloomhaven as always but we’ll also have a Magic: the Gathering draft of the new Forgotten Realms set. We, and the people we’re drafting with, haven’t played Magic in years (or even more than a decade!) and the shopkeep at the FLGS looked very confused when we bought the boosters so that’s going to be fun!

 

What digital board game have you spent the most time on?

 

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We never cheat on purpose but we do sometimes realize later we made an error. We’ve never caught anybody cheating during our games but we have heard “Oh, I seem to have miscounted my resources” which is always is a bit suspicious.😏

Since our main goal, while playing games, is having a good time with friends and enjoying the game… we don’t care about winning and we don’t think somebody at the table wants to win bad enough to cheat. We have seen some crazy cheating in the world of tournament play, with cheating at the Ticket to Ride World Championship and Pro-level Magic has had enough cheater to make list articles out of them! I think we can all agree though that Rachel’s form of cheating here is probably not something you’ll see anywhere in real life. 😉

But enough of people ruining the games just to win, let’s talk about fun games! In case you missed it, we did a fun comic for Sinister Fish games for the Villagers expansion. We learned about Villagers last year during Spiel when Peer Sylvester showed us the game on Tabletopia and we ordered the game the next day. Since then we got in contact with Sinister Fish and we even got to play the Shifting Seasons expansion on the AwSHUX live stream, so Villagers has been a fun little ongoing thing this year that always puts us in a good mood. 🙂

Another thing that puts us in a good mood was beating the headless horseman in Gloomhaven! We put together a pretty good mix of abilities like retaliate to make him suffer so it seems we’re finally in a place with our current party that we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses to create good game plans. As it seems we’re coming to the end of an act in the overall storyline we’re curious to see how the game will change in the next, and probably final(?) act.

We’re not sure what we’re playing next week, we’ve been waiting for Sleeping Gods to hit retail again, but its delivery has been delayed several times. We’re also going to do a draft of the new Forgotten Realms Magic set with some friends but we’re not sure when that’s happening. So we’ll probably just enjoy one of our current favorites, since MicroMacro and Paleo won the Spiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel we’ll probably include those. 🙂

Have you ever caught somebody cheating at a game?

 

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Getting games to your table is a long process that involves multiple parties getting the right things from point A to B. At the moment, there is a global container crisis going which is hitting the board game industry hard. On Twitter, we heard from publishers that they have to pay up to 1000% for shipping. Understandably, nobody takes that sort of price hikes into account while making a budget so tough choices will have to be made. Expect upcoming games and backed Kickstarters to come in a little later.

Something that we tend to forget is that most board game publishers are very small, even bigger companies are between five and ten people. It’s easy to forget when you get frustrating news about a game you are looking forward to but please stay reasonable and polite because these small teams are probably going through some very scary times at the moment. You probably have some other games on your shelves you’ve yet to play or take the time to grab an old favorite.

Speaking of “old” favorites, this week we played Gloomhaven and Wingspan. It’s a bit strange to realize Wingspan is just two years old and Gloomhaven has just been out for four years. Luckily, both are still great but would recommend them to completely different people.
Gloomhaven is a long campaign that requires you to learn a whole lot of rules and see the big picture while also spot opportunities to succeed. This was our 47th game of Gloomhaven and we honestly have no idea how far we are along with the campaign but our best guess is that we’re just past the 50 percent mark, which means we will probably finish in 2023 if we keep up the current pace.
Wingspan, on the other hand, is a bit tricky to explain to people that are not used to tableau-building games. But once you understand the rules, you can have a fun hour-long game enjoying birds and making all kinds of powerful combos! It is amazing that board games can bring two such different experiences while both being considered one of the best games in the past couple of years.

This week, we’re continuing our Pandemic Legacy Season 0 campaign and we’ll celebrate Rachel’s birthday!

What unplayed/old favorite game do you want to play?

 

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Getting a new game is always exciting, you always want to get it played as soon as possible, sometimes forgetting that you will also need to teach it to your unsuspecting friends… 

We always make sure that when we bring a new game to read the rules in advance and most of the time I set up the game and mimic some of the moves in the game to get a feel for how the different components and rules go together. Sometimes, however, life gets in the way and we try to do a last-minute rule read just before, or even when everybody is at the table and that mostly doesn’t end well. Before you know it you’ve done an hour-long reading of the rulebook at game night with little time to actually enjoy the game.

Learning a game can be difficult, especially if you are the one that is the person “hosting” the game. You will need to have all the rules in your head to turn it into a nice instruction at the start of the game plus you’ll probably need to keep an eye out for people making accidental illegal plays during their first games. We can’t imagine working in a board game cafe and having to memorize so many different games.

Luckily for us this week we only needed to learn one game and it was Brew, sent to us by Pandasaurus, that we’re very excited about. The game looks amazing and it turns out it offers loads of ways to optimize your plays, mostly by making very aggressive moves and blocking or even nullifying your opponent’s hard work. While the game’s tagline is “bring balance back to the forest”, we approached balance a bit differently by burning down large parts of the forest to secure more victory points.

This week we have no gaming plans at all, except for one game of Gloomhaven! So it’s time to look at the shelf and see what old favorites we’ll finally get the attention they deserve!

How do you learn new games?

Lost Ruins of Arnak was kindly provided by CGE for free. We thank them for giving us this game that led to this comic! For more information on how we deal with gifted games, please see our FAQ.

 

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Lost Ruins of Arnak was probably our favorite Spiel release of last year. We know we’re not the only ones loving Lost Ruins of Arnak because every time we see somebody talking about it online, loads of people react to it how they really like it as well. This got us wondering how “lost” can these ruins be considered if everybody loves the game so much? This resulted in visions of the Lost Ruins of Arnak slowly turning into a tourist attraction filled with gift shops and people waiting in line to see the ancient temple.

Lost Ruins of Arnak also has received a Kennierspiel nomination and along with Paleo, we think both games deserve the win for different reasons. Paleo has a bit more innovative things going on but Lost Ruins of Arnak just flows so well on every level. Fantasy Realms might be good as well btw. but we only played it once a few years ago, so we don’t really have an opinion about it.

So let’s talk about games we do have an opinion on, Pandemic Legacy Season 0! We only played the prologue game as it took us a bit longer than expected to get through the rules. They weren’t that complicated we were just easily distracted by trying to catch up with our friends. We got pretty excited about the possibilities of the design as it still feels like Pandemic but the changes to make it a Cold War spy thriller seem to make anything possible during the campaign. The fake passports are also super fun and it might be our favorite game component ever made. We’ll see how things progress once we get to actually see the campaign play out.

I also played my first game of Warmaster. This epic-scale miniature game in the Warhammer Fantasy universe is something I wanted to try for years and while the combat rules are a bit unclear, me and my opponent had a great time pushing tiny miniatures across the table and seeing knights crash into seas of undead units. So it’s time to reread the free Warmaster Revolution rulebook and plan another game!

What fictional board game location would you like to visit?

My City was kindly provided by 999 Games for free. We thank them for giving us this game that led to this comic! For more information on how we deal with gifted games, please see our FAQ.

 

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Tetromino games! We enjoy them a lot as most of the time it means you get a game that has loads of interesting moments while filling the puzzle on your board without getting bogged down in loads of rules. Because loads of tetromino games like Patchwork allow you to flip the piece to make it fit a space, My City has surprised us multiple times with S pieces turning out to be Z pieces destroying our plans for a beautiful little town and leaving us with ugly gaps in city building plans.

My City is a legacy campaign tetromino game which is something we haven’t seen before. We’ve played three of the eight chapters so far and it has been fun although the first chapter felt very basic. Chapters two and three were a lot more interesting and with every game only taking about 20-30 minutes, it’s easy to play the three games that make up a chapter in one sitting. Because the games are short and the rules are simple this actually could be a great game for people that want to see what legacy campaigns are like without having to commit a whole lot of time playing a complex game.

We had a busy week so we didn’t get to play a whole lot of games but we did try the first scenario of the Lost Ruins of Arnak solo campaign “the search for professor Kutil“. Because we both wanted to play it we just pretended to be one player and while this is a free bit of extra content you can play using the web app we linked to, it is very well done. The web app takes care of the solo bot, it offers you little bits of choose-your-own-adventure moments while exploring new sites and gets creative about tweaking rules to make thematic changes that match the goals for your scenario. Lost Ruins of Arnak was already our favorite Spiel 2020 release but this pushes it even higher. Somebody on our Instagram said the other scenarios in the game are even better which got us excited to see more of it. 🙂

This week there are two games that I look forward to, the first is the start of our Pandemic Legacy Season 0 campaign and my first ever game of Warmaster. Warmaster is an old Games Workshop miniature game about commanding massive Fantasy armies and I’ve been 3d printing little 10 mm skeletons, vampires and knights for months now. I’m not sure I’ll get it all painted before Saturday but it will look cool on the table no matter what.

In case you missed it, we’re getting loads of commissions for comics about cool (upcoming games) recently! Last Friday we did a new Godtear comic about Helena, a champion break the standard game rules in a very cool way. Thursday we did one for Maximum Apocolypse, a rogue-lite survival game, and the week before that we did one for Chai, Tea for 2, which is a great dice placement game about growing and trading tea. We feel very privileged having all these cool publishers reaching so we can make more Semi Co-op content, so we hope you check out their games and maybe let them know that you found their game through our silly little jpegs.

What game always destroys your in-game plans?

Imperium: Classics was kindly provided by Osprey Games for free. We thank them for giving us this game which led to this comic! For more information on how we deal with gifted games, please see our FAQ.

 

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Last week Imperium: Classics suddenly appeared on our doorstep and we played two games so far and we’re impressed. It’s a deck builder about making your civilization the greatest. The classics box comes with eight asymmetrical civilizations that all have their own scoring and abilities which require repeated plays to really get the most out of it. Next to Imperium: Classics there is also Imperium: Legends with eight more civilizations, which according to the manual, are even more complex, so if we ever feel we have exhausted these eight factions we can get that and keep playing Imperium for a long time.

While reading the rules Rachel noticed that every turn has a mandatory clean-up phase, which honestly I should do every time I work at my desk. I already switched to a smaller desk to minimize the clutter but it is still littered in notebooks, miniature paints, old Gaslands cars, and all manner of electronic devices and cables. Maybe I should hang up a little player aid at my desk to remind me of the clean-up phase…

Next to Imperium: Classics, we also played Riftforce as we gave it as a birthday present to one of the nephews which is a fast and tricky dueling game. The game is pretty easy rules-wise but it offers a lot of room for making the most out of the abilities of your factions and the smart positioning of your cards. Even though we play a lot of games and are fortunate enough to know some game designers it is rare that we play a prototype and slowly see it turn into a real game. We first heard of Rift Force from illustrator and game designer Roland MacDonald at UKGE 2019 and he was very impressed by it. Six months later at Spiel 2019 OneMoreTime games had a booth with several tables just to demo their prototype version without art and even a clear idea of what the theme was going to be. It’s very cool to play it again eighteen months later with final art and as a cool game for a good price.

This week we were going to start our Pandemic Legacy season 0 but because things are opening up in the Netherlands our game group suddenly had band practice! So we’ll have to wait a little longer to crack open that big box of secret goodies and play some other great game in our collection. 🙂

What rule from a board game should you be applying in your actual life?

 

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We love when ambitious and cool people do ambitious things. When Isaac and Lindsey launched Rose Gauntlet a couple of months back we got really excited. Not only are they designing board games, but they’re also working on a digital game and they launched some sweet merch as well. Last week Dicebreaker wrote about Isaac’s upcoming game “There will be ghosts” which will actually be scary?! We thought about how you could make cardboard components scary and we couldn’t think of anything except for this comic. 😉

This week we continued our Gloomhaven campaign, and thanks to a great Kickstarter update, we were almost tempted to seek out a copy of Frosthaven, even though we’re pretty sure we would never play it. It’s a wonderful game but we’re nowhere near finishing Gloomhaven and there are so many other wonderful games to explore! We also played Rajas of the Ganges for the first time in a while and it’s still great. If you are looking for a solid Euro game with some cool twists, check it out. I also played two solo games of Wildlands: The Ancients and really enjoy how every Ancient is really different and forces you to adapt.

This week we haven’t gotten any plans but slowly our Pandemic Legacy group has started whispering it might be time to get ourselves a copy of Season 0 which has gotten us excited. Will we complete the trilogy? Stay tuned!

How would you make a board game scary?

Mandala is a really really good two-player card game, it took a while before Rachel realised how to put together a good strategy but now every game is super close. After our last game, it came down to the last card draw to end in Rachel’s favor which left us both pretty excitedly talking about the game.

A lot of people, at least in the Netherlands, make fun of soccer players that are interviewed after a game. They tend to say very obvious things that are factually true in every situation, not really adding anything to the situation they are commenting on. We caught ourselves doing the same thing after that game of Mandala, so after we said things like “It was really down to you or me” for a few minutes, we realised that was always going to be the case in a two-player game… :’)

Other than saying really obvious things after enjoying Mandala, we played some great games this week. We played the second and third chapter of My City which really improved itself after a slow first chapter. We are very close in scoring at the moment and the different scenarios do a good job of keeping things interesting and do not allow us to keep playing the same way every game. We also played two scenarios of Hack Forward which got us excited about the last one. We struggled hard on the seventh chapter for this first time so we’re curious if the finale will keep up this sudden difficulty. Lastly, we really enjoy The Crew as a three-player game which is nice since it fell flat as a two-player game for us.

Lastly, we played some Chai: Tea for 2 as inspiration for an upcoming comic. The original Chai looks amazing but is a little light for our tastes and we’re glad to say Tea for 2 is a little more complex while retaining the charm of the original. You can play it on Tabletopia right now to see if you would like to back it on Kickstarter when the campaign starts in the near future.

This week, our Gloomhaven campaign returns because of the curfew ending in the Netherlands! It’s going to be our first game since January and we both will be playing new characters which always is a bit scary.

What is the tensest two-player game in your collection?
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