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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Inserts will be the bane of gamers forever! While we enjoy games that come with a good insert, especially those game trays, we’ve recently seen more and more people not liking the insert that comes with the game. On the other hand, some people seem to get really annoyed by having to resort to third-party inserts for some games, and even we ourselves have to admit that some of our own designed inserts could have been done better. Will there ever be a perfect insert for every game? Let’s hope so!

We had a busy week which means our gaming suffered quite a bit, on the other hand, we did do OUR FIRST EVER LIVE STREAM! Although it started as a way to test our DSLR as a webcam, we’re pretty pleased with the result and want to do some more streaming. We thought of a fun format in which one of us gets a random top 5 topic (eg. top 5 games you think are underrated) and that person has five minutes to run around the house and collect the games for that top 5 (and make it up on the spot). Once the games are gathered, they are presented in front of the camera and we talk a little why they made your top five. We got to do four different top-fives and you can watch the result on our Youtube channel if that sounds fun to you. Ironically it takes a lot less time to do a live stream than making a comic so that was a bit of a shock for us – we see why it’s so popular nowadays.

Tomorrow you can see us live on Bez her stream btw, we loving hanging out with Bez and we’ll be playing some games, so it should be a good time!

Do you keep the trench?

 

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I think “The Captain is Dead” is one of the strongest board game names ever. Where a lot of games just look for a word related to their theme (Wingspan, Power Grid, Pipeline), “The Captain is Dead” is just so much more urgent and dramatic! The game itself is a great Pandemic-esque parody of Star Trek in which the captain has died and the crew has to repair the jump core to get the ship to safety. While we only played it once during a relaxed morning at UKGE, it made a lasting impression and we would recommend it if you like games like Flashpoint or Pandemic. The game has to sequels Lockdown and Dangerous Planets which we haven’t tried but we do enjoy the fact that there is a whole the Captain is Dead Universe (Poor captain).

We had a Tiny Towns filled week! AEG was kind enough to invite us on their Stream to talk about games and comics while playing some Tiny Towns (click here to see it!). We really enjoyed the format because the attention wasn’t as focussed on us which made it a bit more relaxed than a “regular” interview in which you try to be interesting with every answer. Josh Wood, the designer of Cat Lady, was also part of the stream and showed us the Apollo card that is included in the Box of Treats expansion which is the first time any of the Semi Co-op cast is featured in a game! We’re all very excited for Apollo and not jealous at all. 😉 Starbuck on the other hand would like to inform all designers that she is available for any planned game that involves cats.

It was Rachel’s birthday last week and she got the Fox in the Forest as a present, while it is a fun two-player trick-taking game we weren’t as impressed as we were with the Crew. It is quite small however which means we’ll probably take it with us during traveling because the rounds are short so you can play it easily while traveling by train or waiting on some food to arrive. We also tried Taverns of Tiefenthal with the second module for the first time and we liked it a lot better than just playing the base game, we might suspect we’re going to end up really liking the game once we add in all the expansions as the base game felt pretty random and didn’t allow you to really try different things.

What is your favorite title of a board game?

Please visit to https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ to see how you can help.

Real systemic change requires every part of how we do things examined, and that includes board gaming. While the board gaming culture may seem unproblematic, many of our content creating friends receive a disgusting amount of hate because they are considered “different”. Suzanne Sheldon made a list showing different ways gamers, content creators, publishers and event organizers can help gaming to become more inclusive. Please take a look and see how you can help make (board) gaming a place for everyone https://twitter.com/425suzanne/status/1266784688569372673

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Last week we played a game of Scythe: Digital Edition and it was the first time we ran into the issue of running out of time on the turn timer. We underestimated the amount of time a little refresher on the rules would take, so the timer was already running while we were still figuring out things like recruits. It took Rachel some additional time to internalize all the rules which resulted in her being unceremoniously kicked out of the game and replaced by an AI player. The game ended a few turns later but it was a bit of a shock to all of us to see there wasn’t even an option to keep her in the game. The digital version works well although we did all miss the great player boards the analog version of the game comes with. We’ve planned a rematch this week so hopefully, the automa doesn’t have to rise up and kicks players out of the game again. The digital version of Scythe is part of the great Asmodee Digital Humble Bundle (which is still available for three days btw) which offers a lot of great games for a great price.

Speaking about great games and great prizes, over on Twitter we having a giveaway! Sophie and James make up Needy Cat games and they’re organizing a game jam to support Feline and Wildlife Rescue Nottingham. We thought this is a great idea and to support people getting creative and designing games, we decided to buy two tickets for their online game design course and give them away! They’ve done the design of some amazing games and the six lectures cover topics from designing, playtesting and rules writing so it’s a great resource if you want to learn more about designing games. To win you have to give us a one tweet design idea for a game based on Semi Co-op (our comic) and we’ll pick a winner this Friday! More info can be found on Twitter and while you’re there, why not give it a RT? 😉

In other news, Spiel is postponed until 2021, it is absolutely the right call to make and wasn’t really a surprise at this point but it also means it will be a gaming con free year for us which is a bit of a bummer. While we’ve been appearing in all manner of videos and podcasts to at least collaborate a bit with all of our convention friends, it’s sad that we won’t be able to see each other in real life until next year. We’re also very curious about what this will mean for releases of games etc. and more importantly, how will we even know what titles to be excited about?

What games releases should we be excited about this year?

 

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The amount of time we spent inside of Tabletop Simulator has been growing and we’ve started to play with people we normally only see once or twice a year during conventions. It’s nice to have technology provide us with the option to play this way but we’re also realizing how complex it is to plans things with people in different time zones. Having dinner a bit earlier or later to facilitate some games is fine but we’re not willing to lose sleep to play board games.

This week we played no new games which felt like a bit of a unique situation but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have a great time. We were chatting with one of our readers on that about how we had never played Hive with the Pillbug expansion because we couldn’t find it and he sent us a copy! Thank you so much Jesse! The piece is really powerful and is able to break the slow surrounding of your queen which means it changes up our whole end game. It’s fun when games change completely with a small addition and I’m pretty sure this is going to launch Hive to the top position of our most played game ever (right now it is on number 2).

We also played some On the Underground which is one of those games that hasn’t got a lot of rules or components but it creates a great puzzle for the players on how to gain points while also blocking your opponents. We feel it’s a bit underrated and we hope that now people are playing more games online they come across it while browsing Tabletopia and find their new favorite game.

This week I’ll be playing PSC’s upcoming game Defence of Procyon III with some very cool people on Tabletop Simulator. We’re also hoping to play some Crisis with friends and get back into Forgotten Waters and maybe even Mansions of Madness.

Are you often planning across different time zones? How do you do it?
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