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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We hope everybody is doing well, we are both still healthy and we’re starting to have a little more free time for some games. Which really helps to fill out the blog ;-). This week’s comic is based on our experiences playing our first board games on Tabletop Simulator and Tabletopia. Both “games” are a virtual tabletop, which means they allow you to play boardgames but do this in a way that simulates an actual table. Often there is no strict enforcement of rules or things like a victory screen like with app versions of a board game but you manipulate digital components like cards and dice like you would when you play a game at an actual table. We don’t think it will ever fully replace gaming in “meat-space” but we did encounter some aspects of a virtual tabletop that we’ll miss once we start playing around actual tables with our friends again.

While we both had followed the starting tutorial for Tabletop Simulator and had a short looking at Tabletopia, Formula D with five friends was the first time we actually sat down and played a virtual game this way. We had a surprisingly good time, it didn’t feel like it took a lot longer than a normal game of Formula D and everybody picked up the interface pretty quickly. We’re curious to see if this holds up once you play more complicated games but we’ve seen people on Twitter actually saying how quick Gloomhaven plays in Tabletop Simulator so who knows. We also played some Santorini on Tabletopia using the iPad which worked well, originally we wanted to play Dice Throne but couldn’t figure out how to select multiple dice, and the Tabletopia manual is geared towards playing on PC which was a bit of a letdown.

Next to these digital games we also had some good experiences playing analog games! We played Flashpoint over Skype which worked nicely. Both sides of the call had their own board which helped to make sure we all could see the same game state. We also played Plunderbund, a game about running an illegal business selling to different vendors across a fantasy city set in the 1920s. The game was actually a lot quicker with two than we expected so it will probably hit the table again soon because it’s a game we really loved when we tried it at Essen but our previous experiences have always been with four or five players which makes the games not so suitable to play during the week.

The main event for us however was Forgotten Waters, we really like the games Plaid Hat puts out and now that they’ve left Asmodee and are an indie company again, we were really curious about this new release. Forgotten Waters a coop game where you as a group form a pirate crew and have adventures while playing through five different app-supported scenarios. We have complete the first scenario which was fun and filled with great mini-stories but also felt like a tutorial/story introduction into the actual game. After seeing how the Mansions of Madness scenarios feels really different we’re hoping Plaid Hat has been able to pull off a similar feat. The game plays like a coop version of Tales of Arabian nights or the story parts of Near and Far, so it’s great if your group wants to have a thematic experience without having to min/max every little detail to be able to win.

This week we have another Tabletop Simulator session planned and we’re hoping we have the time to try out the DLC case for Chronicles of Crime that Lucky Duck has put up, the last one had quite the twist but we managed to get a perfect score in the end, so hopefully we’ll do just as well this time!

 

Do you have suggestions of game to play on Tabletop Simulator?

 

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Not all our comics are based on real-life but in this case, it’s 100% true. Rachel can’t stand it when the lid of a box isn’t rotated in the same way as the bottom which often results in the exact events as pictured in this comic. We store most games in such a manner that you’ll never notice if the box is the right side up but Rachel has to do it every time.

How are you doing? We hope you are still washing your hands, staying inside as much as possible but also making sure you have some fun in the meantime to keep your spirits up. We’ve starting to really miss our gaming groups so we’ve experimented with playing Quacks of Quedlinburg over Skype this weekend which worked really well. We’re also looking into trying services like Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator which seems to work well for a lot of people on social media.

This week we’ve gotten a little more gaming in as we decided to join in on the #dailyGamingchallenge in which you play one game every day. So far we’ve played London 2nd Edition, Dragon Castle, Quacks of Quedlinburg and Dice Throne. It helped to get our gaming back to “normal” although we can’t seem to find the energy to learn new games due to stressful daily lives.

Speaking of new games, there have been a lot of games that are being offered for free or Pay-What-You-Want during this period. Cool-Mini-Or-Not is offering Xenoshyft completely as a Print-And-Play and Osprey Games is offering Frostgrave and some co-op and solo scenario’s for free. If you like RPG’s more, our good friends from Upto4Player are offering their Savage Worlds setting Crystal Hearts as Pay-Want-You-Want. If you look around on the web you’ll find more examples of this so if you are getting a bit bored with your collection – it’s worth it to look around!

What weird quirks do you have when it comes to board games?

 

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Games with an app are fun, but do keep track of the battery! 😉

We hope everyone is doing well and making sure they keep themselves and their surroundings safe. We’ve been doing our best not to see other people and keeping a minimum distance from people during the rare occasions we had to go out for groceries.
Rachel has been working from home for years, so professionally it hasn’t big that much of a change. I’ve been working on changing my classes so they can be given online and it’s been quite a hectic week. This also meant we didn’t get to play a lot of games but what we played is worth talking about.

The first game we played was Ruthless, this deck-building game by Roland MacDonald (who you probably know as the artist behind Undaunted: Normandy) won Best New Cards Game at UKGE in 2018 and it offers a really cool twist on normal deckbuilding. Instead of playing your whole hand in your turn, you just play one card per turn. The game plays over six rounds and at the end of every round, you make poker hands with the cards you played a bought that round to see who has assembled the strongest pirate crew. Even though the turn to turn play seems less explosive as a normal deck-builder, the speed your deck turns into a high power combo machine will make your head spin once you that reaching round 3 or 4. We highly recommend Ruthless if you are looking for a game that can be played in an hour (or less if you’ve played it a couple of times) but does some unique things at the same time.

We made one non-essential trip this week which was to our local gaming store to pick up a big game as a way to financially support them. The game we chose was Mansions of Madness 2nd edition and our first game a great experience. We love Elder Sign, Eldritch Horror and the Arkham Horror LCG but we also agreed that we didn’t need more Arkham Titles in our lives. Luckily, it turns out Mansions leans even more heavily into the thematic side of things and turns the Arkham experience, at least the scenario we played, into a light roleplaying escape room with some combat elements. We went over the estimated playtime over 120 minutes by a lot, so it won’t be something we’ll be able to get to the table often but it is this first scenario is any indication, it will be quite an adventure every time we do. 🙂

How did your gaming situation change due to Covid-19? Do you play more or less games than normal?

 

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The “Cult of the New” is one of those terms you’ll encounter once you start reading messages on board game-related like Board Game Geek. The cult of the new means the group of gamers that are always buying and trying the latest games and rarely revisit older games. While officially not an actual cult, it got us wondering what the cult would dress like and what of rules existed inside the cult. The first rule of the cult would probably that you’re not allowed to play old games, which lead us to today’s comic.

Speaking of Cult of the New, this week we only played new releases. The King’s Dilemma which was released last October, was the oldest release we played. We also played three rounds of Gorilla Marketing, which was released this year. It really clicked with the friends we played it with even though these aren’t the type of gamers which we expected it would go over well, so that was a nice surprise. Lastly, we started off our Sunday playing a game of Untamed: Feral Faction, which we demo’ed at Spiel in 2018 and we glad to report the final version is just as enjoyable as the preview version we played. If you are looking for a Magic/Hearthstone game that doesn’t require deep studies of a “meta” or deck construction, this is a great choice. The designers/publisher Grumpy Owl is also Dutch, which is always a nice bonus for us ;).

This week we have a game of D&D planned in which we’ll learn how the power vacuum after the assassination of the dwarven king will impact our campaign to rally the dwarven army to our cause to overthrow the human guilds in the South. On Saturday, we’ll play two games of Vast: the Mysterious Manor so we can have one learning game and one game to really experience it. We’re looking forward to both!

Do you consider yourself a member of the cult of the new?

 

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Mental Blocks was kindly provided by Pandasaurus 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!

We’ve played eleven games (puzzles? rounds?) of Mental Blocks this weekend so we couldn’t resist doing a comic about it this week. We haven’t seen a lot of people talking about this game but it has been the only game where every time people want to play at least three rounds and are impressed by how much fun the puzzles are. Our only complaint is that nobody is interested in the traitor variant so we haven’t been able to try that… 😈

This comic came about when we tried to explain what the game was like to somebody and somehow the story of the “Blind men and an Elephant” crossed our minds. The story is meant to teach how you might not see the whole picture of a certain situation and only by working together you can make sense of complex situations. This explanation quickly turns into something hilarious once you start to explain the optional parts of the restrictions, glitch cards, and the traitor variant, however…

It’s been a very busy week gaming wise! On Monday I played a game of Godtear with a friend and realized that I might want to paint all the Godtear miniatures which will take a lot of time but it looks so good on the table!

We also played D&D on Monday and even though it was a short session we had a blast and really enjoyed the boss battle against the Rat Catcher 3000, for which we had printed the Miner King mini created by DutchMogul on Thingiverse. He has a lot of great free minis you can download and print. Ours came out beautiful so we highly recommend his work if you need some cool things to print on your 3d printer.

On Thursday, we played our regular game of King’s Dilemma, which is still really fun and Shut Up and Sit down did a lovely review about it if you want to know more. Saturday and Sunday we had two game days, we played Mental Blocks during both and also played Mysterium, Love Letter and Gorilla Marketing. The last one is a fun party game about coming up with brand names and slogans for things like food trucks, movies or even college courses. The game does require the players to be creative under pressure, so it might not be for everybody, but we enjoyed our first game a lot!

This week we’re going to be slowing down a bit but we have a day of Gaslands planned on Saturday, so expect some modded Hot Wheels cars and explosions on our Instagram feed next week!

What games do you always end up playing multiple rounds of?

Vast: The Mysterious Manor was kindly provided by Leder 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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We were very excited Leder Games contacted us a while ago asking us if we’d like a copy of Vast: the Mysterious Manor. We love Root and while we own the original Vast and played a two-player game, it always seemed very complicated to get the group together for a larger game.
Now that we have a little more experience teaching asymmetrical games and the new Vast seems simpler rules-wise, we feel that the Mysterious Manor will fit our situation nicely. A lot of people we contacted are very excited (even the manor player 😉) and it almost seemed we would end up with too many players for our first session. We’ve got a five-player game planned in March, so we still have some time to learn the rules and play some turn to see how it comes together.

We’ve seemed to be playing a lot of games that are a bit more ambitious to get to the table or require a fixed group for a number of sessions. We’ve still got our Gloomhaven campaign going which has hit a bit of a rough patch as our new party composition as lost the last two games. We also continued our King’s Dilemma game which is really hitting its stride. Everybody in the group is excited and the games last about an hour which is a great fit for the end of the week when everybody is tired but can still enjoy an hour of role-playing and bluffing during voting while discussing their week and enjoying some drinks and snack.

Lastly, this Saturday we’ve played a massive thirteen-hour session of the Wilson Wolfe affair. Our DM backed this puzzle escape room game a few years ago on Kickstarter and was still looking for somebody to play it with. We were happy to join in and we are a bit intimidated with what was inside the box. We don’t want to spoil too much but the box seems to be a collection of letters and merchandise based on fictional cartoon character Wilson Wolfe. Soon, you figure out there is a whole story behind the scenes with hidden clues and mysteries. It mixes the puzzles of and Exit game with a more case-based mystery like Consulting Detective which seems to work really nicely but the single large story will take us a couple of sessions to discover but we hope the climax is as good as this first impression. It is a shame that is doesn’t seem to be available though, because we think a lot of people would love to try this and maybe we even wanted to upgrade our ‘Silver’ box into a more expansive (and expensive) Platinum box to get the full experience.

Our ambitious streak of gaming continues this week. We have a games of Godtear, Dungeons and Dragons and more King’s Dilemma planned so it seems smaller and shorter games will have to wait a little longer.

This week’s comic features Joseph, one of our dear patrons! If you’d ever like to be featured in one of our comics, check out our Patreon page! 🙂

Which game are you trying to get to the table?

 

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A couple of weeks ago we got Flamme Rouge on a gift card at our local store Comicasa and it’s been a smashing success! We always wanted a copy since we played it last year at Draughts with Russ and Alex of Dicebreaker fame and had a great time. It’s the perfect gateway game because you can explain the rules in about two minutes and people instantly understand how it works and slowly they start to see how the underlying strategy of taking it slow at the start and breaking away at the right moment. One of my colleagues bought a copy after playing it which is always a great indicator of how great a game is.

This comic is also a bit of a peek behind the scenes. We pitch each other comics all the time and write down the best ones but that doesn’t mean they’ll be created quickly. Sometimes we agree the joke could be better like our Cat Lady comic that was written down for three or four months before we came up with the Wingspan punchline. Other times, we give it a little more time because we now there is an upcoming expansion or Kickstarter which will give the game some extra attention at a moment the designer could really use it. Sometimes, it is about how feasible it is to draw a comic, we could write a comic showing nine million bicycles in Beijing but it’s a weekly comic so there is no way those bicycles are going to be drawn before Monday.

This week I got to play with some colleagues which resulted in playing some classic I hadn’t played in a long time or even played for the first time. We started with Monopoly Gamer which is better than regular Monopoly as it ends after all the players move over the “Start” space eight times but it’s still very random. The production is fun though, with some cool Super Mario based minis. I also got the play SET which was a lot more doable than I remember, it’s fun if you’re looking for a simple game that hurts your brain. Lastly, I got to play Jenga for the first time and now I’m excited to play Dread as it combined the wood tower with a horror RPG which will definitely give you some sweaty palms when playing.

Next week, we’re going to try to cross off some games from our “want-to-play”-list as we’ve been adding more games than we’ve been playing!

Which game would you dread drawing?
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