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We are on Mastodon! If you want to follow our Toots you can follow us through @semicoop@tabletopsocial, honestly I’m personally pretty excited that with everything going on over at Twitter that we might actually see a critical mass on a decentralized service that might break the current internet that is based around a very small number of silo’s, but a webcomic about board games might not be the place to talk too much about the state of the internet… πŸ˜‰

This comic is secretly an homage to a Dutch comic series called “Fokke & Sukke“. We’re amazed about how hard it is to write a one-panel comic and that’s all that they do since 1993. But this week, we gave it a try! This actually is our second homage to a classic Dutch newspaper cartoon, we did one last year that was based on the format of Anton Dingeman!

We’ve had a hectic week with some stressful situations which always makes us end up spending too much time on social media. It takes a bit of energy and time to play a game so in these busy weeks, the number of board games that we play tend to get very low. We only played two games this week. The first is a game of Turing Machine, which is wonderful if you are looking for a twenty-minute-long deduction experience. It also has a website on which you can play close to a million different puzzles, and even share the puzzle you’ve played, so friends can try and beat you. So if you want to see if you’re smarter than us, we have a Twitter thread where we are sharing our scores.

We also played Metrolijn, which is the Dutch translation of the German game Voll Verplant, which in turn is a variant of a Japanese Flip-n-Write called Metro-X, just to make things overly confusing. πŸ˜‰ It’s a quick and tricky game that works well as a traveling game. We played while taking the train to my parents and we were done just when the train pulled into the station.

This week things are looking a little sunnier, we have Episode 1 of the Vengeance Roll & Fight already lying on the table to be played tonight! Tomorrow we’re playing Northgard with three players and the monster module, so the start of this week is already a lot stronger.

What board game sites/creators do you check often?

 

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While rules lawyer is a term used among board gamers to describe people who are very strict on rules, we realized we never heard of a rules judge. So our minds started thinking about what rules judges might look like and somehow we ended with this comic. It’s a bit of a strange one but we like to indulge ourselves a little sometimes, plus we get to see the Death character again!

Last week has been pretty slow, while we both recovered from actual illness symptoms of Covid last Monday, our energy levels remain very low so we’re taking it very easy and have begun exploring all the cool Spiel releases we took back home plus some of the games in the Funbrick series we hadn’t gotten around to yet. So let’s go through them chronologically.

On Tuesday we played some more Turing Machine, which we talked about last week, and we played our first game of Wormholes. Wormholes is a nice pick-up-and-deliver game in space about making routes using wormholes. It’s a very clever and interesting puzzle that is made a bit more exciting because of space-based features like black holes and nebulas. It’s quick to play with logical rules and we think the sweet spot for us is probably with three to four players with a nice amount of the expert tiles thrown in.

On Wednesday we played Gosu X which is a very cool two-player card battling game. It has hints of Magic the Gathering while focusing a lot more on building your army/tableau than on the actual battles. The game is a best-of-three-battles affair in which you have all the time to build up an army of demons, magical creatures, and heroes called immortals until one of the players passes. At that point, the other player gets three more rounds to finish their affairs and a battle takes place in which you check which of the two forces has a higher combat strength. So the game is all about making your forces as strong as possible while hindering the other player by capturing and destroying their cards. At the same time, there are several different alternate win conditions you need to keep an eye on and some of the draftable factions even come with their own victory condition. This game has a lot of depth while games typically last between 30-45 minutes, so this is definitely up our alley. We’ll be playing this a lot!

On Thursday we played Tidal Waves: Banner Festival which is a Trick-Taking/Racing/Area Control game(?). It’s unlike anything we’ve played so far, except maybe Brian Boru, and while it didn’t really come alive with two players, we’re looking forward to trying it with three or four players. A game only takes thirty minutes and the illustrations are beautiful, so if you’re looking for something unique while looking attractive enough to convince some friends to try it, you might want to research this one. πŸ˜‰

On Friday we played Starship Captains which is a wonderful medium-weight Star Trek-inspired optimization game. It’s lighter than Lost Ruins of Arnak but it’s chasing that perfect usage of resources high just like Arnak. It’s a beautiful production and rules-wise very logical, so we think this game is a very good game to get Star Trek fans into trying some modern board game. As for ourselves, we need (and want) to play it again soon because the score difference was half a point, time for a rematch!

On Saturday we played some games from the Funbrick series and we wrote a long overview of them on our Instagram, so we won’t repeat it all here. They’re all very fun and short party/pub games in a lovely format that all bring something unique to your collection. Our favorite is Viking See-saw, a game about putting your cargo on a see-saw ship as its rules are simple and the different weights and shapes of your cargo really turn it into a very fun chaotic mess. These games are coming to Kickstarter tomorrow if you’re interested.

On Sunday we played Northgard: Uncharted Lands which is a deckbuilding 4X game. While we’re not the biggest fans of direct conflict on a map, this game has a lot of other things going on like exploring, tactical formation of regions, deck building and even NPC monsters you need to keep in check. While our first game was a bit cautious and pacifist we did start to see some interesting depth emerge when it comes to attacking, forming your regions, and spreading your forces around to gain VP. It’s always a good sign when we keep talking about the game a few hours later and this one kept our minds busy for quite some time after the game ended. So we’ll keep you posted on our further experiences.

So that’s a lot of games and we’re not even halfway trying out all the Spiel games, plus we want to play all of these some more! So I’ll guess this is a good point to end this blog post and start playing some more games… πŸ˜‰

What game do you know so well you could be a rules judge?

 

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On the last day of Spiel, we encountered no less than three broken escalators while hauling bags full of games trying to catch the train. In the end, we missed the train by a few seconds which meant we had to wait an hour for the next train. We felt pretty tired and sore while waiting for that train and the idea for this comic was born. Every year we discuss if we should start shipping some of our games thome, or at least have some friends who are at Spiel take home some games but every year we think it will be fine and try traveling by train while carrying too many bags filled with games… πŸ˜…

Speaking of being sore, we’re both recovering from Covid so last week has been a bit of a slow one. When we started seeing some friends on Twitter testing positive we started to assume we were going to get it, and halfway through the week, we could confirm our con cruddy feelings were coming from Covid. We’re both on the mend and doing a lot better but our energy levels are really low and full recovery will probably take some time, which is a shame as we have some games we really want to try with friends.

Luckily we did manage to play four games from our Spiel Haul, so let’s give a short first impression of them all. For disclosure, all these games were given to us by their respective publishers:

First up is Aleph Null, it’s a one-player deck deconstruction game about summoning Baphomet. You’ll need to remove all your cards from your hand, deck, and discard pile before the end of the game to win, while also avoiding assassins, not burning yourself with an excess of magical energy and make some tough sacrifices to win the game. I enjoy how quick it is, how flavorful some of the cards are and the fact this is the first game we’ve come across, that lists is soundtrack composer on the box and even has some sheet music of the soundtrack in the rulebook!

The second game we played is Verdant, which is definitely a Flatout Games game. If you’ve played Calico or Cascadia you feel right at home with wonderful Beth Sobel art and a fiendish tile-laying puzzle that has several scoring methods that seem to work against each other. We did think the end scoring is so complex and the board is so visually cluttered at the end that we had some trouble making sure our scores were right but that might be our foggy Covid brains. So we’ll update our thoughts on it once we’re fully up and running again. Our first impression is that this one is trickier than Cascadia and feels a bit restrictive like Calico. If you like grid-building puzzles like Village Green or Village Rails you’ll probably like this one as well.

The third game we played was Akropolis which was a pleasant surprise, while we heard other people be positive about this one we didn’t expect a lot from this light city builder but after our first game, we really enjoyed how easy the rules were while offering interesting choices every turn. You build a city and score points for different types of districts and you can multiply those scores by placing plazas of matching color. It’s a bit reminiscent of King Domino but definitely a step up in complexity. We really enjoyed that the game allows you to stack tiles to gain stones, which can be used to buy tiles, but stacking also improves the score for that particular tile. We want to explore the stacking mechanism a bit more as we suspect you can get pretty hefty scores when using this option in the right way.

We also played Turing Machine, which feels like the designers Fabien and Yoann wanted to show the world how smart board games without an app can be if you just make a fully cardboard-based computer. While the game itself is pretty much the deduction classic Mastermind, the questions you get to deduce the right answer are a lot more interesting than “is this the right number on the right place?” and more in the vein of “is the center number above, below or exactly 4?”. This makes it all a lot more interesting and we kinda want to reverse-engineer the whole game to see how they did it. We’ll have to wait and see if the game holds up as a game over a lot of plays but as a design, it is an ingenious object well worth admiration and study.

With four games played for the first time, we still have about 17 games to go! We’d best get back to the gaming table as soon as we’re both feeling up to it!

Do you suffer from any board game injuries?

 

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SPIEL is this week! I’m pretty sure 90% of our conversations are about who we want to see, what games we want to play, whether the promotional materials look good, and if we have enough stroopwafels. Stroopwafels are the standard Dutch lubricant during business conversations, so we need a lot of them at Spiel to make sure we can do even more cool things next year. πŸ˜‰

While most meetings are behind the scenes you’ll have to wait until next year before you can see the results, we will be playing Pictomania on the CGE live stream on Saturday together with Ready, Steady Play so tune in, and have a blast if you’re not at Spiel this weekend.

Because of all of the Spiel preparations, we only played two games this week, we played Beer & Bread which is a nice two-player euro game that will probably hit our table for a very long time because of it offers a lot of crunchy choices in a short time span. We also introduced a friend to Village Rails, which we might have sold as “a fun short game about trains with only twelve turns”. It was around turn six when he realized those twelve turns would contain a lot more depth and things that will sneak up on you than you might expect. What is it with games with a picturesque art style that will give you more brain burn than a math equation written on a chili pepper?

We hope to see many of you at Spiel or enjoying all the cool news coming out of Essen, we’ll be back next week, hopefully, happy and very tired. πŸ™‚

Stroopwafel?

 

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Spiel is coming up and we’re starting to feel it. We’re seeing an increase in commissioned comics we’re making and we’re planning meetings, are busy making lists of which games we want to see and Rachel is making some new shirt designs for us to wear as well as updating our media kit and brochure for parties interested in doing cool things for us. So we thought we’d take it easy today and make a one-panel comic, which of course took way longer than expected because the background had to be just right. If you don’t know, the image is inspired by Over the Garden Wall, a wonderful weird animated miniseries about two brothers who get lost in the woods and end up in many strange situations. Hopefully, Rachel stressed schedule will relax a bit before we leave for Spiel in less than three weeks!

Speaking of relaxing, we did some cool game (related) things this weekend! On Friday evening our local bouldering gym organised a game night, we brought some games but got so caught up in playing twister on the boulder wall and all the tables were occupied by the time we were done and we just talked about games at the bar for the rest of the evening. On Saturday, Heinze played an 11-hour-long game of War Room, which must be one of the most visually impressive games ever made. And on Sunday we went over to a friend’s house to paint some miniatures, although no miniatures were finished because we were just having a good time hanging out with everybody.

This week we hopefully find the time to play some Village Rails and a mysterious package from Itten Games that might arrive at any moment!

And in case you missed it, we published an extra comic about Beer & Bread last week!

What is your board game-related shower thought? πŸ˜‰

 

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Xia: Legends of a Drift System! We wanted to play this game for years and recently a friend bought a copy, so now we have played it two times! Sandbox games are a genre that sounds like a lot of fun, just roam around and do whatever you like, but somehow Merchants & Marauders or Western Legends didn’t really click with us. It might be because we’re too nice and never really attack each other but somehow with Xia, there seems to be enough cool stuff to do that it doesn’t result in something that feels like an incomplete experience. Playing as a space freelancer switching between hauling cargo, exploring asteroid fields, blind jumping hoping to find a planet, and excavating dead planets for relics is great. The game also isn’t too rules-heavy which is great as the rules won’t get in the way of just having fun, plus the event cards spice up the game in very interesting ways to give players a reason to switch things up from time to time. It is an expensive game, especially with the expansion which fixes some big things in the base game, but if you have the money or a friend that has a copy, you will have a fun time flying around in space and doing all sorts of things.

Speaking of games we wanted to play for ages, we finally played our first game of Brian Boru! The good folks from Osprey Games were kind enough to send it to us ages ago but the three-player minimum, plus the fact it’s a trick-taking game, made it hard to find the right friend to play it with. Luckily we not only really enjoyed it, the rules are also simple enough that a lot of friends can enjoy this. If you never heard of Brian Boru, it’s a trick-taking area control game in which winning a trick will let you capture the current “active” town, while losing a trick will let you do other things like advance further on the marriage track, curry favor with the church or help fight the Viking raiders. Each of these tracks will grant you victory points or improve your position to score points at the end of the game, so it’s a constant balancing act of knowing when to win tricks and when to just hang around in the background. If we have to compare it to something we would say it’s a more involved version of the King is Dead which is also designed by Peer Sylvester, so if you ever played that you know what you can expect.

Next to Brian Boru, we played four other games, which were all new to us or we hadn’t played since we were children. First is Project L, a tetris-like puzzle game that is all about optimizing your moves, we enjoy it a lot but have some reservations about how long the puzzle will stay fresh. We played Ticket to Ride: San Fransico which is fine but not very different from other smaller Ticket to Ride versions, so while we would still recommend the smaller Ticket to Rides over its bigger version, just pick a small one that looks the most interesting and you’ll have a good time. Thirdly, we played Skip-Bo which we hadn’t played in ages but was okay, we suspect the real fun is in the team mode which we will try next time. Lastly, we played Voll Verplant which is a very very tricky roll & write about filling up metro lines, we’re going to play this one some more before we give an opinion because we’re very curious if there are some hidden depths we haven’t noticed yet. πŸ™‚

This week we’re not sure what we’re playing except that Deep Print Games is sending us a copy of an unannounced game which sounds like a lot of fun. If you missed it last Thursday btw. we did a comic for their upcoming family game Caldera Park!

Do you enjoy sandbox board games?

 

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Programming games! They’re a wonderful brain-burning puzzle of making sure your steps are correct, that your left is also the left of your player piece and that the player next to you is not going to bump into you halfway, crashing your robot into a perilous spike trap. This strip is based on us recently playing a seven-player game of Robo Rally and noticing how everybody at the table was acting out their route before committing the cards to the table which was pretty funny to observe.

We also realized that programming games have evolved quite a bit since Robo Rally, a game so old it is the 18th game in de BGG database! While the chaos in Robo Rally can be fun, it can also be quite a frustrating experience when you don’t get the card you need or somebody rams you halfway making you end up in a bottomless pit and spawning you back at the last spawn point. We now understand why more modern programming games like Mechs vs. Minions and Quirky Circuits are co-op games because then you are at least helping each other achieve a collective goal. While Mechs vs. Minions can be quite hard to get we cannot recommend Quirky Circuits enough, it even won a Golden Standee in 2020! It’s such a short, hectic, and fun game that can be enjoyed by gamers and non-gamers alike.

Speaking of games that can be enjoyed by everyone, the only game we played last week was Sagrada. While it is on the border of playable for me as a colorblind player we’re always shocked how fast you can play a game while also having the feeling you’ve been making some pretty heavy drafting choices, we have a video call lined up this week with Floodgate games who are going to show us some of the cool things coming up in a legacy version of Sagrada and we cannot wait!

Do you enjoy programming games?

 

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It’s the last of the Lion and Gazelle comics for this summer break but we hope it won’t be the last! Next week we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming but we suspect we’ll see these two around.

Last week the Kickstarter for Board Game Day ended and it was a big success, the book raised $17,3K so far and Ambie will be opening a late pledge manager, so soon you’ll be able to back this lovely children’s book if you haven’t done so already. Rachel is finishing the last details for the book in the coming week, so if all goes well it will be sent to the printer at the start of September. We can’t wait to see the book in your (children’s) hands!

We also played some lovely games last week, we played our first two games of Xia: Legends of a Drift System, which is probably already our favorite sandbox game we’ve played so far. It strikes a nice balance between being simple without being boring, and we really feel you can choose at any moment to switch goals and be the coolest space cowboy in the galaxy. We can’t wait to play so more of this great game.

We also played some more Caldera Park and it’s a fun addition to the Savannah Park series. We really enjoy the risk factor of the weather tiles and the different terrain gives the game a bit more options than Savannah Park. Both games are great when you’re looking for a short but interesting puzzle you can enjoy with gamers and non-gamers alike. Both are also excellent in providing you with all the tools to screw yourself over in later turns though, so expect to hear a lot of “oh no!” at the table! πŸ˜€

Another short game we had a great time with, and we think that a lot of people will enjoy, is Air, Land & Sea. While the regular edition is probably fine we really enjoy the Critters at War edition, which is the same game but features wonderful art by Derek Laufman. It’s two-players only but it offers amazing depth and tactical options for being such a small game. Shut Up & Sit Down did a great review of the normal version of the game if it sounds interesting.

Like we mentioned before, next week the regular comics will return and we will probably be getting hyped for Essen Spiel as that is only 47 days away! We hope to see many of you there and we can’t wait to see all the friends we made over the years again. Also, some of the releases this year look really good, with a special shout-out to Peter B. Hoffgaard’s Starship Captains. Peter is the mastermind behind the wonderful Tabletop Together tool, that helps you organize all the games you are excited about during big conventions. We also hung out together after-hours during Spiel, so it’s super cool to see him not only designing a game but seeing it receiving a lot of buzz!

Do you get stiff and sore during a long board game?

 

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It’s part three of Lion and Gazelle! Next week will be the last summer edition but if we can find some time we’ll write a nice buffer of comics so we can keep the fun dynamic between these three characters going.

We could talk about our excellent four-player game of Undaunted, which made us so excited to try all the four-player scenarios or our slightly too long seven-player game of RoboRally first edition, or maybe even our first play of Caldera Park which is a fun twist of Savannah Park, but we’re not going to do that!

Instead, you only have 37 hours left to back Board Game Day, the wonderful children’s book written by Ambie ValdΓ©s and drawn by Rachel! It’s already been an expectation-smashing success so far but it would be really cool to fulfill all those stretch goals!

See you next week!

Do you like board game mints?

 

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CMON isn’t the only company running Kickstarter campaigns with towers of add-ons and stretch goals, but they are to most notable one, so that’s why we named them in this comic. We’ve never gone for the biggest pledge with a big board game Kickstarter but even with the smaller ones we’ve received, like the Root Marauders expansion, we quickly feel overwhelmed and aren’t sure where to begin which results in the game not getting played for a while.

So whenever we see people receiving a tower of Marvel United X-Men boxes containing a base game, loads of expansions, and smaller boxes containing Kickstarter exclusive add-ons we are impressed and a little intimidated at the same time. We do love it when people say it’s their favorite game and they enjoy having so many options, which just shows there is no right or wrong way how to collect, play and enjoy games. πŸ™‚

Speaking of enjoying games, we played some good ones this week! KLASK returned to the table and it’s still a wonderful air hockey-like game that is instantly fun. We’re pretty sure that getting people excited for KLASK is the easiest job in the world. We also played Great Plains, which is a super-strong addition to the already super strong Two-Player series from Lookout Games. If you like simple abstract area-control games like Fjord, we highly recommend it.

We also played Destinies, which for us works better as an experience than as a game. We love the over-the-top end of the world setting and the dramatic absurdity of the events but as a game, it’s too dependent on dice rolls and sometimes accidentally bumping into the right storylines to progress. We do have high hopes for The Dark Quarter as the skill system is fun and we think the switch to co-op will help to make player successes feel better because you progress as a group instead of competing players. Lastly, I played my first game of Twilight Struggle against a human player and I want to play it again! It’s simple in its rules but complex in ebb and flow and I want to understand how to be good at this game.

This week we’ll return to the King’s Dilemma which might be coming to its finale which will be the end of a great campaign and we probably also play some more Sniper Elite for research…

What is the biggest Kickstarter pledge you’ve ever received?
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