Colt Express has two things I adore: an Old West theme of bandits robbing a train, and programmed movement with character decks. Westerns are in sort of a tough place right now. The themes common to westerns are largely in tension with some now-common values, so it’s difficult to make them without effectively taking a controversial political stand (either to support those themes, or explicitly reject them). As a result, family-friendly western content is rare these days. Admittedly, I have never seen Sheriff Callie’s Wild West, but Wikipedia tells me it occurs in the town of “Nice and Friendly Corners”. I am now imagining Fred Rogers in a poncho, chomping a cigarillo, and my attempt to deride the western credentials of the Disney Junior show has gone totally off the rails as I embroider that fabulous image.* Anyway, a western family game stands out.
If you haven’t familiarized yourself with Bundle Stars yet, now might be the time. Paradox makes some of the greatest strategy titles out there, and nearly all of them are on sale right now if you buy through Bundle Stars. What are you waiting for?
Zombies, you say? Aren’t they incredibly played out at this point? What’s left to say on the shambling hordes? If The Walking Dead is anything to go by, very [insert meandering mid-season break] little. But that doesn’t mean people aren’t getting creative in siphoning that near-empty pop-culture tank. Enter Screwfly Studios, rolling up the sequel sleeves and continuing to develop their distinct brand of strategy in Zafehouse Diaries 2.
Two years ago the arrival of a new Hearthstone expansion would have been major news worthy of getting a certain Faraday out of bed to give us his thoughts on what was (and maybe still is?) the biggest game on mobile. Today it’s a bit meh. Sure, Hearthstone is still a pretty great game, but with this being the umpteenth expansion I find it hard to jump up and down and holler when a new one is released. That said, we still have at least one major Hearthstone fan chained in the manor’s wine cellar and I’m sure there are some of you who still pick it up and give it a go every once in a while. Today will be a good day to delve back in as Mean Streets of Gadgetzan was unleashed this morning.
Frozen Synapse. The Samaritan response to Earl Grey going cold during CS 1.6 matches. A dignified serving of tactical WEGO that kept the brew hot and the neurons firing. It was the firearm surgery of Counterstrike, but field-stripped to core components and removed from the Hindbrain for proper turn-based deliberation. Every action you’d pull in a regular realistic shooter could be replicated in fastidious detail. And ruminative sipping. When Frozen Synapse 2 was announced earlier this year, I wondered how Ian and friends could possibly improve upon an already proven clutch of systems. Turns out Mode 7 like to dream a little bigger.
While 4X is a very close second, I’m pretty confident that my favorite game genre is the city builder. To this day I still play the great city builders from Impressions like Pharaoh, Caesar, and Zeus. And don’t get me started on my all-time favorite, Children of the Nile. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that I’ve been high on Colossal Order‘s magnificent Cities: Skylines from the start. A brilliant and beautiful city-builder that was lacking only one thing since launch: the ability to destroy your creation. That omission has now been resolved with the just released Natural Disasters expansion.
I love geeky tabletop games, especially the kind with a dozen different decks of cards, scores of specialized counters, multiple boards and player reference cards with charts and tables. Call me Ameritrash, but that’s the way I like it. Unfortunately, I have young children: my oldest is taking an interest in games now, but at age 5 he’s not ready for Twilight Struggle or Terra Mystica yet, and my youngest is mostly interested in teething on the pieces. As a result, I mostly play my board games on a tablet these days, and keep notes on which ones I might want to pick up when the kids get older. I say this because Space Food Truck is a digital board game. There’s no print edition yet, and that’s a shame because if there was, I’d have purchased it and put it in a place of honor in my collection, there to wait for the day we can sit down as a family and play together. If you haven’t picked up on my subtle hints, what I’m trying to say is that I love this cooperative multiplayer game.
1997 might have belonged to the triumvirate of genre-stompers — Total Annihilation, Age of Empires, and Myth — with a hearty sci-fi Blizzard chaser the following year, but there was one game that fought adversity and lived on. Netstorm: Islands at War was an innovative strategy effort that earned the title ‘Best Game Nobody Bought‘, largely due to anyone owning the demo being able to convert it to the full game. Ah, those halcyon days. Netstorm did however garner a small but dedicated fan-base, who praised its interesting and comparatively static tactics in contrast to the build-rush nonsense of its peers.
We’ve known about the flood of board game ports that tabletop giant, Asmodee, is planning on brining to digital. Time to grab your galoshes, because the flood is beginning today with the release of the 2015 SdJ winner, Colt Express.
Arrival appears to be the hot new business at the box office. Being industrial-grade Parentcore, I’ll get to it when I can — presumably just before heat death ruins home-streaming — but have it on good authority that Denis Villeneuve’s film is the new Contact, stripped of cheese. Alright, alright, alright.