You might remember Alan Newman as that board game designer who has an awesome last name but spells it all funny. You should also know him as the designer of the rather great two-player title Sun Tzu, which was formerly known as Dynasties. That’s in Cardboard Land. In Digitalville, it’s still known as Dynasties and it’s just been updated to improve a very important mechanism: asynchronous play.
Swanning through the aisles of Valve’s recent Steam Sale, I happened upon an ingenious little multiplayer title by the name Of Guards And Thieves. With nothing to lose but the dregs of my credit injection, I prodded Subvert Games‘ compact title through the checkout and went in blind.
Battle of Polytopia, or as I like to call it, the artist formerly known as Super Tribes, is one of the bright spots of 2016. A simple 4X game that you can finish in 15 minutes, yet somehow manages to hit all the important 4X buttons. How do they do it? I don’t know, I just play the damn things. I do know that the game just got better with a massive update from developer Midjiwan.
Just to add more fuel to the dumpster fire that is 2016, Asmodee just let us know that their two December releases, Mysterium and Potion Explosion, are no longer December releases. Instead, they’re pushing them into next year. Damn.
As the grandson of a WW2 submariner, the war under the waves has always held a special significance for me. As a fat dude with claustrophobia, actually being in a submarine is the most terrifying thing I can imagine. I even get uneasy touring the U-505 in Chicago or the USS Cobia in Manitowoc, WI, and they’re just sitting there. I’m a wimp. Lucky for me, there have always been pretty decent sub simulations for PC with the Silent Hunter series and way too many others to mention. This week ushered in a new sub simulation called Silent Depth, and this one we can play on our iPads.
I saw the recent announcement of the release of Kathy Rain, and found myself reflecting on how, despite my satisfaction with mystery novels and movies, mystery games have long disappointed me. Largely, it’s because such games rarely give you any incentive to develop hypotheses–sometimes there’s an element of memory or exhaustive search, but mostly, it’s stuff like “Detective Mode” from the Arkham games–you can’t do anything until you see the highlighted clue and press x on it, then the next clue is unlocked. I started thinking about how to do that better, and it occurred to me that I write for a gaming website, so I have a forum to express my terrible ideas to an audience! Here are two. Some day I’ll learn to use my powers for good, but it is not this day.
If ever there was impetus for would-be armchair politicians to jump into heady strategies, it would be the election of one Donny John T. Anyone, it seems, can have a crack in the modern era. Along comes Realpolitiks, a modern day grand simulation of boat-rocking and saber-rattling, to provide a slightly safer environment to test out your acumen as a global leader. Tremendous potential, folks. Tremendous potential. Believe me.
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.