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If you ever want to stump Rachel, ask her what’s her favorite game. Not only will it probably switch every day, but she will also try to categorize what makes a game “the best” and soon realise that you can’t compare widely different games. In the end, Rachel will just mention three titles she likes but won’t commit to a favorite. So this type of security question would be her downfall.

Security questions are something we’ve been thinking about a lot this weekend as we’ve been playing the first five chapters of Hack Forward by Key Enigma. In this escape room game, you play a hacker/security expert trying to figure out who is behind a big data breach. The story is pretty tropey but the puzzles are a lot of fun and they don’t feel like busywork puzzles in which you’re just endless encoding and decoding messages. The puzzles aren’t as complicated as the Wilson Wolfe affair, which is probably a good thing for most people, but are a lot more versatile than an Unlock or Escape Tales box. They sent us Hack Forward because they have a new Kickstarter going on and we happily recommend trying one of their boxes based on these first five chapters.

Other than that, we’ve played quite a bit of different games this week with some of our current favorites like The King is Dead, It’s a Wonderful World, Paleo, and even a game of Junk Art. We also played Dive, which was sent to us by Sit Down! games and Geronimo games. This is a fun family-type game about programming your diver to expect sharks on different depth levels that are represented by transparent sheets that are stacked on top of each other. We’re not sure how long the “gimmick” of the sheets will stay fun but it’s a very unique concept. It’s a bit hard to explain the game in words but the game does look beautiful and we’re pretty stoked on the pictures we took of it, so maybe check our Instagram post about it. 😉

Let’s get to the big news, Semi Co-op is six years old! Yesterday it was exactly six years ago that we posted our first comic to our website. As a happy coincidence, Adam New, Corinne Sudberg and Charley Marlowe released a comic dub of our first comic yesterday! Adam has been working hard putting this together and even did a casting call for Rachel’s voice. 🙂

They did a wonderful job and it’s a fun experience to hear other people voice “you”. We really think of our comic version of ourselves as “us” so it’s really cool to experience them in a different way.

The art style of the comic has grown a lot but our love for playing games with friends hasn’t. We want to thank everybody who has read and enjoyed our comic and especially all of our Patrons and the companies that commissioned comics which made it possible for us to make over 420 comics in the last six years. We have some cool plans for the coming months while keeping the regular comics going. 🙂

How often does your favorite game change?

Calico is a brilliant game. We and others online have already predicted it could win a Spiel Des Jahres if it is able to comply with the necessary rules, like having a German release, that are necessary to be considered for the prestigious award. The graphics and the setting are all cuddly and cute, luring you into a tile-laying game with three different ways of scoring that seem to work against each other. While the rules are light, the decisions the game creates are tricky to overcome perfectly, leading to a lot of shouts of “why is this so hard?” while playing.

 

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This week has been a pretty game-light week as we only played three(!) games. It’s a combination of being very busy with work as well as a pretty heavy Valheim addiction. 😉 We played Villagers for the first time with three players which suddenly made us very aware of how sparse food and housing cards actually are! It shocked us a bit as we thought this was a pretty relaxed game but it turns out it becomes a bit more of a race when playing with more. We also played (the world first?) three-player game of Hive! We made a set of resin stone for a third player a couple of years ago as we had some leftover resin from a big project. The stones came out really great but somehow we never played a three-player game. We decided that the player that closed in the first queen would win the game. This resulted in an interesting back and forth, trying to defend each other’s queen from someone else being able to take the last stone. While it is a bit long, with the right set of rules and bugs this could be a nice heavier version of Hive.

Lastly, Board and Dice was kind enough to send us their latest addition to the Escape Tales series, Children of Wyrmwoods. We enjoy escape room games but we hadn’t tried any of the Escape Tales games and after they ran a mini ARG on Twitter last year, we were interested in what the games were like. So far we’ve played through the tutorial which had a couple of nice, but not super creative, puzzles. The ambition for the game seems pretty high though, with a story that should take about 8 hours, a world map, characters with stats, and sixty different endings, we are very curious how this escape room will ramp up into what could be a puzzle heavy RPG.

What game do you thinking looks cute but is quite hard?

We’ve launched new merchandise and having a giveaway in which you can win a $10 voucher to our store! You can participate until March 5th: https://gleam.io/qhWur/merchandise-gift-coupons-giveaway

I’m writing this week’s blogpost because this comic came from my experience playing my first “18XX” game this month. Many thanks to Jeroen, Nele en Niels for playing two games of 18Cheasapeak and one game of 1899 with me and helping me out when my mind started creating Dixit-like mental images trying to understand it all. 🙂

For those that don’t know, 18xx games are games based around the idea of running train companies and dealing with the stocks that make up these companies. They are quite involved and do require a bit of help from a calculator or even a spreadsheet. Generally, though, the rules aren’t more complex than a heavy euro game in my experience so far. If you want a really good primer on what 18XX games are and why they are so fascinating, I highly recommend No Pun Included’s video on the topic.

I’m someone who likes to try any game at least once because I want to see why people enjoy them. This has led to me playing a 24 hour long game of Diplomacy, which made me realise it wasn’t for me. But it also made me go to Poldercon, a Dutch convention focussed on miniature wargames to play two very enjoyable games of Infinity for example.

18XX games always sounded very mathy and way too heavy but thanks to NPI’s video I realised that that may not be the case. However, the high costs of getting a game and a big poker set kept me from purchasing one just to try it out. Luckily, semi-local gamer Jeroen was smitten by the concept and has been getting several 18XX games and asked if I wanted to join in on an online game using 18xx.games, a website that lets you play several different versions over the internet.

While I’m dreadfully bad at it so far and have experienced all the beginner errors of getting companies dumped on me or taken over hostilely, I did enjoy my first three games. The 18XX.games website enforces and automates the rules nicely, plus the option to play asynchronously works well and it even allows you to copy a game and play it with yourself to understand where the game is heading. I really want to play a game psychically as I feel I don’t fully understand how to play well and because of all the automation gives me less of a feel of what the impact is during certain choices. But in these locked-down times, it has been a fun introduction to a new genre of gaming.

If you like economic games I would recommend looking at 18XX games. It has some very cool ideas that I personally haven’t seen before and I think a lot of heavier gamers will enjoy it. 18Chesapeake in my experience a great starting point as the rulebook is well done and once you’ve played a game, you can pretty easily apply your rules knowledge to learn more complex editions.

What game/genre have you always wanted to try?

Gaming jargon! It’s fun to have funny terms for things we see often so we had some fun brainstorming some new ones. Which ones did we forget? 😉

Since last week, we’re under a national curfew but before that happened, we played one last game of Gloomhaven and we retired two characters of our crew of three! So once curfew is over, things are going to look very different for our Gloomhaven campaign and the dynamic of our group. So far, our original group of characters was the best – it was just a perfect combination of characters that all worked really well together. Nobody really played a character after that that was as good as that first one. But hey, who knows! We will have to attune to our new characters and hopefully, they will surprise us!

Since we’re mostly playing games with just the two of us, we thought it would be fun to start something we’ve always been curious about… playing an Imperial Assault campaign using the app! The campaigns are relatively short with just five missions and we’re quite enthusiastic about the Mansions of Madness app by Fantasy Flight, so we gave it a try! So far, we did the tutorial and the first mission and it’s fun but we have to get used to such a dice- and combat-heavy dungeon crawler after playing all that Mansions of Madness and Gloomhaven.

Speaking of dice, we’ve been playing quite some Cubitos! It’s just such a silly dice racing push-your-luck game. We’re not really good at building a winning engine yet, but I’m sure we’ll get the hang of it.

What board gaming jargon would you like to introduce?

 

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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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