Since I’ve put my roleplaying on hiatus, I’ve been gorging my board game addiction as much as cash will allow which is totally not enough in a world full of such brilliant games. Here’s a few I’ve been looking at, for my reference purposes and others’, in no particular order.
Everything By Vlaada Chvatil: Vlaada is a Czech game designer who seems to make unstoppable awesome, and I want everything he’s made. Space Alert, the real time shouty panic card game is top of the list (or its dice-rolling cousin, ESCAPE! Temple Run, if I can’t get Space Alert). Galaxy Trucker also sounds good, with the same wacky comedy of Space Alert where you build a space ship badly then watch it fall apart. There’s also Bunny Bunny Moose Moose which is a party/family game where you have to be a bunny or a moose, depending on cards flipped up. Imagine Simon Says but much more insane. His new hotness genius is Tash-Kalar which is a game about card-management where you play little monsters to build up points to bring out big kahuna monsters but the condition to play cards is based on the arrangement of pieces on a chess-like board. Imagine chess but if you force your opponent to play a bishop next to a knight and boom, you get a second queen. Mad genius.
Collaborative Story Fun: A mouthful but an Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on Cursed Island is an intriguing collaborative game, alas only for four players and with a set-up that makes Arkham Horror look simple. Eight scenarios with different goals but each combining different ways of hunting monsters, exploring a randomly tiled island, building tools and to build settlements and random events throwing it all off kilter, and never enough resources or time to do everything. Like Arkham Horror with Pandemic’s pace. Speaking of the great AH, I’m keen to try it’s very close new cousin Eldritch Horror where Corey Konieczwa applies the same brain that turned Space Hulk into Death Angel and reduces AH down to its bare essentials while still having basically the same mechanic: travel the world, have encounters, gather clues before the gates open. Most of all though I want to pick up Legends of Andor, the winner of the Kennerspiel deh Jahres this year despite being for children and collaborative. All the stress of Arkham Horror but with fantasy heroes exploring the land like Mage Knight! Pseudo-RPGs also lead me to Mice and Mystics a game of miniature heroes fighting cats and cockroaches – basically another Descent or zombie hunter but with a much more distinctive setting.
The Weird and Wonderful: When the Germans do mundanity, it’s REALLY mundane – the thrill of the 18th century post office or pumping electricity around Dusseldorf. But mundane can be pulse-pounding awesome, like Pandemic, or Fire Team Rescue, or Police Precinct or City Council which sounds excellent: pressure from special interests, skim off the top before financial constraints kick in, ponder whether to burn down the zoo to make room for a hospital? I love this trend in games and hope it continues cos I dig real-world stuff. Keeping on weird though there’s the logical games of a kind of Robo-Rally Redux in Twin Tin Bots – program robots to pick up crystals but you can’t change your programming as much as you’d like! Or, work together to give as much information as possible without breaking the rules (like bidding in Bridge) to lay down cards in a perfect pattern with the amazing (not to mention short, sweet, elegant and cheap) Hanabi.
The Euro Reliables, Turned Up to Eleven: What do you get if you combine the hex control of Settlers with the worker placement choices of Village and the random VP goals of Stone Age and the race choices of Cosmic Encounter and the player psychology of Chaos in the Old World? Something like Terra Mystica, which has so many widgets, yet apparently comes together smoothly, in that the choices aren’t difficult to understand, just deep to choose between. Or have the same kind of myriad of choices but with title exploration and resource limitations like you’ve rammed Terra Mystica back into Robinson Crusoe and created Archipelago. And since I can never get people over to game as much as I want, I’m super curious to try the solo genius of Friday. While not euro in truth but in style, I hear good things about AEG’s set of four linked games in the same setting, particularly the uber-simple five minutes to play 12-cards-only Love Letter.
Everything is Better Licensed: There are not one but two Firefly games coming out (and that doesn’t even include the RPG). Legendary, the Marvel Deckbuilder could use the expansion (well, my buddy who owns it could). And they’ve just made a collaborative demon-fighting game based on Journey to the West.
So just a few, you know.