This looks so good that I WILL be buying a new PC just so I can turn up the graphics.

Stately Scrying: What we’re playing this weekend

Well, today marks the end of the second week of slaving away at a real job which means I was greeted with a paycheck upon arrival at my cube-shaped work area this morning. Now I remember why people do this “work” thing. That said, two weeks of work is a long-ass time when you’ve been out of the game, so next week I’m heading on vacation. This is not a joke, I’ll be heading down to Indiana with my wife’s family for the week. None of us live in Indiana, mind you, but Wisconsin is dull enough to make Indiana seem like a vacation destination. I should have WiFi and whatnot next week, so I’m not sure anyone will notice a change in operations, but I wanted to make sure you all knew just in case I’m not hanging around the forums or if I miss a turn here-and-there in any online games I’m currently in. Oh, and I wanted to make sure you realized that my life involves vacationing in Indiana. Twice. Later this summer we’re all going to Indiana again for a family vacation. That one revolves around Gen Con, though, so I’m not too upset about heading down I-65 again. Anyway, on to everyone’s weekend:

The Magic Circle (and more)

Another weekend’s gaming awaits. I’m seriously jazzed about playing some of my new Steam Sale acquisitions with my kiddo, especially The Magic Circle. The Magic Circle is largely about solving puzzles by giving objects the right combinations of properties (like “melee attack” and “fireproof”). “Hacking” in-game objects and changing their traits and behaviors suits this story about breaking – or is that fixing? – a game that has been in development hell for eighteen years. It’s the closest thing to “Working for Peter Molyneux, the Game” you’ll ever play. It’s hilarious, and not too edgy, and some of the puzzles are very clever.

Another Steam Sale game my 7yo has latched onto is MidBoss. In this roguelike, you play as lowly imp with a familiar spirit, “Mid,” who calls you “Boss” and encourages you not to accept your status in the dungeon (getting bullied by Skeleton really sucks) and to rise above… by marking other monsters for possession and then taking over their bodies when you kill them in a quest to ultimately supplant the current master of the dungeon and rule over all its monstrous inhabitants. Traditional, wholesome, family fun, now available without the need to draw a pentagram and literally summon Satan [unless you want to -ed.].

I’m probably also going to be playing XCOM 2. No, I didn’t pick it up in the Steam Sale, it’s been sitting, mostly unplayed, in my library for a while. At first I wasn’t sure why I’ve been cycling through games in the vein of the original UFO: Enemy Unknown, then I figured it out: Julian Gollup’s Phoenix Point, the “X-Com spiritual sequel” to rule them all is coming out soon, and my subconscious mind is obsessed.

Speaking of sequels and obsession, A#’s Six Ages: Ride Like the Wind is out. Spiritual successor the King of Dragon Pass, one of the best games ever released on mobile, Six Ages is a triumphant return to the beautifully odd world of tabletop RPG Glorantha and to story-driven clan management. This time you play as a tribe that worshipped Yelm, the solar emperor, until Orlanth slew him for killing his daddy, and now the gods are at war, which is really bad for children and other living things and maybe the world is ending? Cool beans.

-Tof Eklund

Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered (and more)

I once again find myself liberating the oppressed miners of Mars in Red Faction: Guerrilla, a game I’ve come back to every couple of years since its release. This time the occasion is the recent release of the “ReMARSter”, which was so generously given free of charge to everyone who owned the original release on Steam. Aside from missing nearly a decade of shooter control refinements, it has aged remarkably well. It helps that there hasn’t really been a game that’s achieved the same level of detailed destruction and calculated mayhem since. Even its follow-up, Armageddon, missed the point. There’s just not many games out there where many problems can be solved by driving a truck through a building, y’know?

And I’ll be playing more Lumines Remastered when I feel like getting away from my desk, now that I’ve read up a little bit more on some strategies. This will be my last weekend with any free time for games for a couple weeks, so I’ll probably manage to squeeze in a few more, like Slay the Spire or a bit of my second playthrough of Picross 3D 2.

-Tanner Hendrickson

Phoenix Point (and more)

Hello Statelies. Wallowing in the post-Steam Summer Sale malaise, I’m geared up for a Scrye. Let’s see if the rubber hits the road, because last week’s effort had me hover over 7,62 Hard Life for a second, before unsurprisingly shelving the struggle for Battlestar Galactica Deadlock. Because, you know, it’s Battlestar Galactica Deadlock.

First cab off the rank is Phoenix Point‘s freshest pre-alpha build. It’s very good, but until we see more of the meta game and unit development, I wonder if body horror XCOM, or X-Com, will be enough in a post-XCOM 2 world [more XCOM is always a good thing -ed.]. Still, it’d be disingenuous to say Julian Gollop is shamelessly ripping off, uh, his own life’s work. Mechanically, the chef is kissing many a finger, and Snapshot Games continues to have some of the best art direction in the industry, sidestepping tired old tropes in very subtle ways. More to come.

Seduced by PBEM, one such Steam Sale pickup was Field of Glory 2. Sorry, Kolbex! I did ogle Ogre, another siren singing the asynchronous song, but it was time to get all fuddy-duddy and try to recall what I should have remembered from high school Ancient History. I’m looking forward to being routed in battles apart from the crushing realities of time, dreaming of driving my Legio III Gallica across a field to fame and fortune.

I finally picked up a copy of STALKER series’ black sheep, Clear Skies. A prequel to Shadow of Chernobyl and Call of Pripyat, so with the Sky Reclamation Project mod applied and a little bit of the Atmosfear and Absolute Nature patches slipped in for good measure, I’m ready to get the skinny on this irradiated afffair. Its stablemates are top shelf games, and I expect nothing less of Clear Skies – at least for atmosphere. This is how a man rides out the wait for Metro Exodus.

Finally, System Shock: Enhanced Edition was snagged for a swipe of the Citadel passcard. I never played this dark cyberpunk opus back in the day, but twenty four years on, an investigate is warranted. For science, creature of meat and bone.

Have a fine one.

-Alex Connolly

Card Quest – Combat Card Game and Dungeon Maker: Dark Lord

I’ve got a couple iPad time wasters on hand for the weekend.

First, the poorly named Card Quest – Combat Card Game. There’s definitely cards and combat, and well-designed combat at that. You play as an adventurer—wizard, rogue, warrior, or hunter—and have a deck full of class-appropriate cards to use in a series of encounters against deadly monsters. Combat is tactically challenging as you try to determine how best to avoid getting your ass handed to you every single turn. Attrition is a problem, as you don’t regain health between fights, so it’s all about playing your cards efficiently. As you progress you get access to better weapons, magic, and gear which improves your cards. You play until you die and then, well, play again. I’ve only scratched the surface but the classes all play differently enough to be interesting in their own right. I’d recommend playing on a tablet as the font is pretty small for a phone.

Second is the appropriately named Dungeon Maker: Dark Lord. There’s a lot I don’t like about this game. The graphics are bad, the UI is worse, and the game does very little to help you understand how it actually works. The thing is, I keep playing it because the central idea is a fun one. You are a dark lord and you have a dungeon, as the game’s name points out. Your job is to setup traps and monsters so that the do-gooder heroes of the world can’t come and slay you, sort of a simplified tower defense situation. Game play progresses through a series of choices, most of which are battles, but some offer opportunities to upgrade your dungeon or buy stuff off a merchant (I assume a Home Depot for dungeon lords kind of thing). It’s fast and fun with enough going on to keep me interested for play sessions of up to an hour.

-Nick Vigdahl

Tabletop Gaming

As we’re leaving on vacation this Monday and abandoning my game shelves, I think I’m going to really try and get some tabletop gaming in before we go. Specifically some solo gaming as I have the urge to get Nemo’s War and Dawn of the Zeds back to the table. I also have Darkest Night in that stack so, if I find the time, I’ll try to get them all played at least once.

I’m also looking for a way to play 18xx games with my group when we can’t all sit around the table. There are VASSAL mods out there, but I was hoping for something a little more user-friendly and was coming up empty. I’m currently trying to teach myself Unity and C#, so I think 1889 might be the project to tackle. I’m not sure I’ll ever have anything that actually works, but at least now I have a goal. I’m also working on a digital version of Healthy Heart Hospital. Not an official version (yet!) but I’m hoping to use it to impress someone to let me work on an official board game port somewhere down the road. These are the stupid things that run through my head at 1:30am. We’ll see if I can actually follow through.

-Dave Neumann


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Notable Replies

  1. I’m stuck on my in-laws farm, he house of which they are rennovating, so I’ve been spending most of my waking hours reading on the porch and playing a bunch of random iOS game. Strangely, the one that I’m currently slightly addicted to is Plants Vs. Zombies Heroes. It’s a decent CCG and I haven’t run in to any egregious paywalls at this point. I’ll get around to learning Istanbul eventually, but I only need 5 more wins to unlock another plant…

  2. Gonna be Six Ages and Skies Above the Reich for me this weekend. If there’s any gaming time left over, it’ll most likely be spent on more Ten Days of Autumn in Il-2 Battle of Moscow, although I also picked up the Systems Shock in the Gog sale. I never played 1, but I did make it a good bit of the way through 2 back when. Might be time to revisit. Also Persona 5 is looking at me accusingly from atop my dusty PS3. Plus, you know, I have all these books. Sigh.

  3. I’m so deep into Maine that I’d forgotten it was Friday! I’m still on the Mario + Rabbids DLC, which has started off seeming a little inflexible, in that you’ve no control over team composition. But I’m pretty keen on the game, and reason to go back to it is highly welcome.

    I’m about ready to get something new for iOS, and am considering the most recent Ascension expansion, the most recent Race for the Galaxy expansion, Hardback, Burgle Bros, Istanbul, or Frost.

    We also just opened Odin’s Ravens and The Resistance: Avalon, so I’m not exactly representing the cult of the new on this vacation.

  4. I’ve already backed the Dawn of the Zeds kickstarter for the 3 expansion packs.

    I plan on posting about the kickstarter next week, because it’s a pretty great game and more people should own it.

  5. No worries Kelsey!

  6. I am, by God, going to learn One Deck Dungeon this weekend.

  7. I finally bought Slay the Spire during the Steam sale and dove into that last night. I’m also still trying to figure out what I’m doing (other than dying repeatedly) in Cultist Simulator.

  8. Not sure what I’m doing, but I know there will be some Shadowhand in there.

    Really liking that game.

  9. Restarted my Avernum 2 game this week. Just felt like getting back into it and realized my party was waaayy over their heads. Got out of it, finally.

    On the tabletop front, I got my daughter to play Lost Cities a couple of times. Quick game and fun… Especially because I win. A lot. Also been doing a bit in the first few Fabled Lands game books. Like a Choose Your Own Adventure but much more advanced. Like using dice to resolve conflicts and ability use. The first book (and only the first book) is available on Kindle if you want to try it out

  10. I learned it and it’s become pretty samey the more I play. The heroes are a little different at the start, but by floor 2, they’re mostly the same.

  11. Yeah … frankly not impressed at all. And wondering what the big deal is.

    It didn’t feel dungeon-y at all. But it did feel like a math class.


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