File me: UNDER THE SEA!
What it’s all about: Abyss is a stunningly illustrated set collection game from Bombyx by Bruno Cathala & Charles Chevallier. Players are vying for power in an arcane undersea kingdom. Exploring the depths of the ocean allows you to recruit allies from among the deep sea races (clams, seahorses, jellyfish, octopi & crabs) or monsters. Allies can only be recruited after offering them for sale to the other players who pay you in pearls for the privilege. Unclaimed allies are seperated by race and stacked in the council where they can be scooped up by another player. Monsters can be defeated or bypassed, with each bypassed increasing the reward for defeating the next one.
The purpose of collecting allies is to trade them in for control of lords, each lord is worth a set a ount of victory points as well as having powers that trigger immediately or offering ongoing bonuses. Additionally each lord will have from zero to three Keys on their card. When you have acquired 3 keys you must immidiately assign them to control a territory. Territories negate the powers of the lords that are used to control them but provide bonuses of their won; in addition to victory points.
Fundamentally Abyss is about coalescing set collection. Get 5 X to buy 1 Y trade 3 Y to control 1 Z etc. etc, At the end you tally (Some of your X) + (Y values) + (Z value) + (Z modified bonus points); it’s all very Euro but in an american fantasy package. That’s certainly not bad, I just don’t know if Abyss is actually good. You can smell some threads of deep strategy in here but they just don’t become apparent in early games, especially because whenever you introduce a new players their generally confusion will disrupt your plans anyways. I like it? Sure, definitely enough to get my moneys worth.
Gripes: It’s so pretty that I hate myself. Until you are relatively aware of the contents of the lords deck most games seem to end at addly random times. Two players games are kind of bland.
Tweaks: Start each player with a location already controlled.
Time Commitment: 45-60 minutes
Best For: Gothic Mermaids
File me under: tiny catapult nuts
What it’s all about: Coconuts is a mechanical family dexterity game from Korea Board Games. Players take turns launching rubber coconuts from mechanical monkey shaped catapults into a field of plastic cups. Sink a coconut and you take the cup and add it to your pyramid, the first player to finish their 6-cup pyramid wins! Cups in another players pyramid are fair game as well. Alternately once the stash of coconuts runs out the player who has the most coconuts in their pyramid of cups wins. Four of the fourteen cups are red and award an automatic second shot when captured. Additionally there are a handful of Monkey King magic powers — like extra shots, blinding other players or blowing flying coconuts astray — that allow players to disrupt play.
Coconuts is a bright, enjoyable kid/family game that is immediately accessible to anybody with fine motor control. The coconuts are oddly shaped so they bounce and fly relatively unpredictably which has a surprisingly balancing effect. There is a bit of screw the leader when one player is close to victory but the pyramid structure helps ameliorate any really viscious backbiting.
Gripes: One of the Monkey King powers is to force a player to skip a turn. Ughh.
Tweaks: You could paint the coconuts various colors to allow for simultaneous play. Replace the skp turn power with left handed shot
Time Commitment: 15 minutes
Best For: Everybody!
It’s Monday, I’m still putting pics of Wednesday Addams in every post because I don’t give a F, there are minutes:
Games by Play Date is currently developing a pitch for the fine folks from Welcome to Night Vale. A year or so back it was remarked that our concept for the tableau building game Gothstown was thematically in tone with the then new to us podcast Welcome to Night Vale. For those who live under a podcast rock, WtNV is a series of radio broadcasts from the desert town of Night Vale which is home to a mind boggling amount of bizarre and unearthly phenomena; which pretty much no one in the town bats an eye at.
GPD has been looking to try our hand at a licensed project for some time and we’re hoping that we are a good fit for this one. The tenor of Night Vale resonates with us; the peculiar blend of absurdity, terror and oddity is sooooooo charming. At this point we are moving forward with the mechanical development of the game (see it’s ongoing incarnation here) and are building the basic templates and doodads for the boards and cards. Currently all the art is placeholder images from the amazingly prolific Night Vale online community; but if we do move forward we would be bringing in a full art team.
But, who knows, this project could be a total cock up. The folks at Commonplace Books might want nothing to do with analog board games or simply aren’t at a place where they want to license their property. If that is the case we’ll be moving forward anyways with out original IP. The game we are designing is informed by the theme and enhanced by it, but it is by no means contingent upon it. What is it? In a nutshell it’s Illuminati + 7 Wonders + a bit of Fluxx. Each player is attempting to build a tableau of weird forces/characters. They draft these cards from their hand and align them with a pentagram base. Some cards have immediate effects when they are acquired, others only trigger when the round ends. Before and between rounds changes in the ruleset can occur which help guide your drafting strategies. In the end the player who has accumulated the most Unease has succeeded in pulling the populace of the town under their sway.
It’s Wednesday, Halloween is looming, there are minutes: Read more…
File Me Under: beard slapping
What It’s All About: Iron & Ale is a party-ish card game where players are dwarven lords. Each turn you delve deep into a mountain (draw cards from the mountain deck) to mine gold & iron and to fight monsters. Losing a fight (rolling under the monsters strength on a d6) incurs a drink penalty, literally. Iron & Ale is a drinking game with a dwarf veneer. Alternately you can fight the very tough Red Dragon instead of drawing cards.
After the mining phase players head to the meadhall and draw random dwarven challenges from the deck. Thumb wrestling, racing across the floor on your knees & lifting tables with your pinkie finger really embody the stupid fun of Iron & Ale. I didn’t think that a game targeted to geeks could boast that full force face slapping was part of the fun, but here we are… Iron & Ale is mechanics light and silly heavy and that is to it’s credit. The theme is such a good fit that in retrospect it’s astonishing that a dwarven drinking game hasn’t been produced already. Kudos Tableforged!
Tweaks: Tableforged is curently fundraising for it’s first expansion King of the Keg
Gripes: It’s kind of pointless to play without drinking alcohol. This is not ideal. The True Dwarven Might challenge is childishly sexist and should be removed. There are a limited number of dwarf lords who can influence monster fighting in any way and that can be a frustration.
Cost: $20 at Tableforged
Time Commitment: 45 Minutes
Best For: Gamer drunks