Tabletop • As someone who’s spent much of their life in Wisconsin, I’ve been taught to react with revulsion to anything that comes from south of the border, the Wisconsin/Illinois border, to be exact. It’s just not cool to show any appreciation for Cubs, Bulls, or even the pristine, toll-funded freeways that turn into potholed monstrosities as you meander north. Now, having a wife that lived for many years in Chicago (and living there myself for a period) has made me a tad more appreciative of what other Wisconsonites call FIBs. It’s with this more accepting eye that I peered at a new board game on Kickstarter set in the City of Big Shoulders called, appropriately, City of the Big Shoulders. It looks and sounds like Automobile and Arkwright had a baby, and I’m more than okay with that.
PC (for now) • Last year we’d gotten used to Asmodee Digital pumping out so many titles it felt as if a new one arrived each week or so. This year has been a different story. While they’ve had a number of releases (Onitama is fairly fantastic), most of the Asmodee news has focused on the anticipation surrounding two huge board game ports set to release this year: Scythe and Terraforming Mars. Scythe made the leap to Steam last month so all our focus turned to the, hopefully, imminent release of TM. Without a public beta, it’s been tough to discern just when it might be going live, but today we got our answer. We can expect Terraforming Mars to land on Steam for PC on October 17.
I normally take off all my video/board game news hats on July 4th so I can spend the day sweating profusely and grilling sausages and wondering when my kids are going to mow the lawn. Yes, in the US today is a national holiday and, as we’re wont to do, we spend it eating and drinking. This morning, pre-parade, I spotted a Tweet from our friends at Digidiced however, and it’s big enough news that I wanted to share. Their next project is…The Castles of Burgundy.
iOS Universal, Android • If you deep dive into the unpublished drafts currently chained up in the Stately Play dungeons, you’ll find a screed titled, “Board Games Suck”. It was started as a rant against the current state of the hobby which, as anyone will tell you, is going gangbusters. Unfortunately, while we’re getting thousands (literally) of new game releases each year, I’m finding my interest in about 98% of them is close to zero. This is mostly in the euro game category where every new game I hear about sounds like an excuse to rehash overdone mechanisms, paste a popular yet loose-fitting theme on it, and get it into the hands of the usual suspects so the hype train can start rolling. So, why haven’t I published the article? Well, my heart is telling me that an article with that headline isn’t a great idea on a site that covers board games. Also, #notalleuros. There are still a few new games here and there that get my blood flowing. Most of them are designed by Vital Lacerda, but one that wasn’t came out back in 2014, won the Kennerspiel des Jahres, and still gets table time. That would be Rüdiger Dorn’s Istanbul.
iOS, Android, PC/Mac/Linux • So, I woke up this morning and loaded up Terra Mystica on my laptop trying to finish a game I had started last week. As I believe I mentioned earlier this year, wrapping my head around Digidiced‘s excellent port of TM was on my to-do list in 2018. Upon starting the game, however, I was hit with a notification that the Fire & Ice expansion had arrived. One new game menu later and I was all set to lead Tyrion and Dany against evil bitch Cersei and her Gregor-stein only to find that this isn’t a Song of Ice and Fire expansion, but something completely different. Fire & Ice is still pretty cool, but I have to admit I’m a little bummed.
IOS, Android • Right after 2018 was ushered in, the fine folks at Acram Digital decided to tease us about a new game coming in 2018. Which board game it might be was completely up in the air, but my guess was another Martin Wallace title to follow-up the rather wonderful Steam: Rails to Riches. Turns out I was wrong, and Acram is instead working on a different euro, this one from Rüdiger Dorn. It’s 2014’s Kennerspiel des Jahres winner, Istanbul.
iOS, Android, PC/Mac/Linux • Digidiced‘s digital version of Terra Mystica brought one of the heaviest and most complex board game titles to our tablets earlier this year and, for the most part, did so successfully. I say “for the most part” because the digital version didn’t alleviate any of the game’s complexity, which is usually something you expect when the CPU is handling the rules and fiddly bits. I’m not saying they didn’t create a good port–I’m not sure how they could have fit everything TM has to offer in any other fashion–but it’s a daunting game to play and even those of us who have played the tabletop version need to dedicate our full attention to follow just what the hell is going on. It’s worth the effort, however, as TM is a pretty great euro game once you wrap your head around it. It gets even better when you add the Fire & Ice expansion which is currently being worked on in the Digidiced labs. Luckily, they need our help to iron out the bugs, so we’ll have a chance to try it out for ourselves over the holidays when it becomes available for owners of the TM app as part of an open beta.
iOS Universal • As we draw nearer to the doom that is iOS 11, it’s becoming more and more clear which of your apps will still work in October and which won’t. Some of the apps we wouldn’t have been surprised to see go away are the catalog of board games released by Codito. After all, Codito is a one-man show that left the digital board game biz years ago when he needed to make enough money to buy luxuries like food and shelter. So, if Codito had said, “Sorry!” and let their apps die, it would have been sad, but understandable. Codito’s not doing that, however. Instead, they’ve promised that all their apps will be converted to 64-bits and that process is well underway. Ra has already been converted and, last night, Le Havre made the leap to 64-bits as well.
Tabletop • Seven-plus years ago, I would have been glued to news of the Spiel des Jahres–the Oscars of gaming–researching each game, buying them if available in the US, voting in polls about which games deserved to win and more. Yes, I was one of those people that, today, I can’t stand. Still, in its heyday the list of SdJ winners contained a bevy of fantastic games: Scotland Yard, El Grande, Carcassonne, Codenames, Hanabi, and Dominion just to name a few. Today, I keep an eye on the SdJ, but most of the nominated games are simple, family-style games that just don’t excite me anymore. That was definitely the case with this year’s winner, Kingdomino, until I got a chance to actually get it on the table at Gen Con. It’s not going to knock Through the Ages or Twilight Struggle out of my top ten, but as a quick and light filler, Kingdomino hits the spot.
iOS, Android, PC/Mac • With all the negative news surrounding Playdek these days, it’s sometimes hard to remember they’re still one of the best digital board game developers out there. That’s going to become obvious later this month when the all-new version of Lords of Waterdeep hits the App Store, Google Play, and Steam.