Pete calls me Duke. I am his Very Special Dog. You are probably thinking that all dogs are Very Special. Great! You are a good person. I like you.
[What follows is an account of the campaign from the core set of the Arkham Horror: The Card Game, told from the perspective of a single card: Stubborn Detective. It contains minor spoilers, but, due to the variable nature of the campaign and the limited perspective of a detective interested in seeing the world through a comprehensible lens, keeps most of the discoveries hidden. Also, the Stubborn Detective remained true to his name, stubbornly refusing to be drawn during the final scenario, thus not being present to share any secrets from the campaign’s denouement. If you can’t tell, I followed Dave’s recommendation, and am very impressed by this game. – Kelsey]
After successful contributions to game designs such as Snakes and Ladders, Candyland, and Monopoly, Satan returned to our tabletops with a single element of Magic: the Gathering: the blind-buy booster pack. Disliking the random booster is roughly as popular among players as the orgasm, so it was with great surprise that I realized, some time ago, that they also have virtues I value. The game which turned me around into trying to see the good side of boosters was Rodeo Games‘ Deathwatch. Players earned boosters slowly enough in Deathwatch that you either had to be smarter than me, grind, or buy, which is exactly the sort of arrangement which would normally make me hate the developer.
iOS, Android • Onirim is a highly-regarded, fast-playing solo card game by Shadi Torbey and Z-Man Games, and is now a highly-regarded, even faster-playing ideal phone game by Asmodee Digital. Perhaps the easiest single-sentence summary for Stately Play readers is this: Card Crawl is more like Onirim than Card Thief, and this stands as a strong compliment to all three games. Card Crawl gave about as much satisfaction as a turn-based game could offer in such a brief playing time, and Onirim gives us decisions with a similar tactical feel and memory element. Card Thief has much in common with Card Crawl, but Tinytouchtales innovated with it enough that a third game could be more similar to their first outing without being redundant. In other words, Onirim fills the same niche as Card Crawl while still being sufficiently distinct to justify itself.
iOS Universal, Android • Shortly after this review was published, Funforge updated Tokaido, notably adding the previously missing two-player option. Because two-player local play was my ideal use case for the game, this pleased me greatly, and it deserved special mention. My thanks to forum-goer “Misguided” for directing my attention to the improvement. Tokaido crystallizes thinking about the merits and challenges of digital translations of tabletop games. The cardboard version features lovely art, evocative of stylized watercolors, which sets the mood for a pleasant walk along a scenic road in ancient Japan. Not content to simply replicate these static images, developers Funforge created a 3-D, animated version which captures the artistic impact of the original–given the extent to which this is the game’s greatest asset, that’s genuinely impressive. Unfortunately, the very quality of the presentation highlights limitations of both the app and the underlying game.
Switch • With a daughter turning nine in March, I had an excuse to pre-order a Switch and the new Zelda. The one-sentence review I would give of it is this: it’ll make you feel like a kid again, until you watch kids play. If I could add another sentence, I’d note that I’m only writing about it because I promised my kids I wouldn’t do the thing I just started doing in the game until they could watch me, and they’re in school. As I have now been gifted with an unsought opportunity to reflect, I’m going to make the most of it to try and excuse playing Zelda to the exclusion of writing for you wonderful people for weeks. It was “research” for this piece.
Much of our hope for this site was that it would attract readers smarter than us to generate superb discussions in our forums. From these, we would harvest ideas for articles. I kind of shot myself in the foot by misconfiguring our emails for a few months (though we think that’s fixed, so if you tried to sign up for a forum account and didn’t get an email, try again!), but today we have such an article.
iOS, Android • Link Twin is a simple, pleasantly-presented puzzler. Though modest in scope and number, its puzzles pass my idiosyncratic test: they sometimes stumped me until I stopped playing, and were immediately solvable when I returned. That tells me that there are various ways to approach them which are valuable enough to attract one’s thinking but easily accessible enough that breaking one’s chain of thought makes it possible to take a new tack. This would leave me perfectly satisfied, but for the fact that the minimal narrative hints at something more.
2016 rather inured me to the tragedy of celebrity deaths, and when a man dies at age 97 after a life as a mathematician, logician, philosopher of eastern religion, stage magician, pianist, author, husband, and stepfather, it seems more an opportunity to celebrate his life than sink into despondency. Raymond Smullyan is best-known as the author of numerous books of puzzles, often puzzles which make advanced logical concepts accessible to an innocent audience (which is, perhaps, to be expected from a logician who extended Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems). I recommend these; they exude a playful light-heartedness rare in any discipline, without compromising their depth and quality. Indeed, much of my taste for puzzles was shaped by Smullyan’s work, and several other Stately Play authors joined me in marking his passing. Should you wish to learn more about Taoism, or serious logic, his writing on those subjects is also first-rate.
iOS Universal, Android, PC/Mac • I worry about Scandinavians. They’ve been exporting bleakness long enough that it may actually have overtaken mythology as their principal cultural product. The Frostrune mixes peanut butter* with a bar of that bitter chocolate: it’s a point-and-click adventure in which you play the lone survivor of shipwreck, a thirteen-year-old girl. After washing ashore, you discover that everyone you encounter is dead, murdered by a legendary being with the power to create magical ice in summertime. I’ll spoil the happy ending for you: you use necromancy to stop it, but everybody’s still dead and you’re still alone.