Tabletop Earlier this year I fell in love with an unassuming little solo board game called Black Sonata. You can read all about it right over here. Just a spectacular solo game that combines tight decision-making with mechanisms that obfuscate the underlying math, ensuring you never feel like you’re simply solving a puzzle. Yesterday, publisher Side Room Games decided to go at it again. Leaving the Elizabethan era behind, their latest focuses on World War II espionage in a little title called Maquis.
Tabletop Remember those math puzzles your friends would quiz you with when you were a kid? They’d always begin by asking for your birth year, adding the day you were born, subtracting the hour, dividing by the number of eggs you had for breakfast and, viola, the answer would reveal, correctly, how many pet otters you’ve owned since the age of six. Having that answer always pop up correctly, no matter who you tried it with, was like a small miracle. It was like opening a portal to universe where magic existed and everything fit into a specific place. As I grew older and submerged myself in math, the magic was replaced with the cold dissection of numbers and seeing the trick for what it was: a simple math equation. Enter Black Sonata from Side Room Games, which feels like the most complicated math puzzle I’ve ever been dealt. The cool thing is, I can’t see the math and, even if I could, I don’t think I’d be able to suss out how the trick works. The only explanation that makes any sense: Black Sonata is magic. Real magic.
As we get our new forums up and running, I wanted to mention that lots of folks had seen their activation emails go to their spam folders, so keep an eye on that. If you’re having troubles, hit me up on Twitter (I’m “rinelk”); if not, feel free to use your new forum account to make suggestions on this post. While I’m at it, KeyForge releases today, and my thoughts on that border on marketing spam themselves, so this seems like a good opportunity to bring them up.
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.
iPad, PC, Tabletop • I’m going to tell you a secret that will probably discredit my supposed love of all things hexmap, but I never really got into any of the war games from Every Single Soldier. Which games are those, you might ask. That would be the acclaimed and much-loved Vietnam ’65 and the slightly less beloved follow-up, Afghanistan ’11. I know, I’m ashamed of myself [this goes without saying and has nothing to do with either of those games-ed.]. I did manage to stumble onto a tweet from ESS today, however, and my jaw hit the floor. Perhaps this is old news, but it’s new to me and this is the ESS game that looks right up my alley. It’s called HMS and it’s coming for iPad, PC, and…wait for it…cardboard.
Tabletop • Deep down in my soul I know that, mechanically, Dark Tower isn’t a great game, and yet few games have stuck with me the way Dark Tower has. I was 10 years old when Milton Bradley unleashed this cardboard and plastic monstrosity upon the world, and I remember it occupying my every thought as 1981 crawled towards Christmas. I didn’t get a copy of the game that year, but my cousins did, and it didn’t disappoint. A game with little plastic, sword-sporting figures, 3D plastic buildings and awesome art of kingdoms in decline, and, of course, the massive black monolith standing at the hub of this strange fantasy world? I loved the game, eventually getting a second hand copy a year or two later and then forgetting about it when my tower, like so many others, stopped working. It’s the one grail game that I’ve considered spending $300 or more via Ebay to get a working copy to play with my kids only to realize that I’d then be divorced and probably wouldn’t be spending much time with my kids. Luckily, Restoration Games has picked up the mantle and announced a re-imagining of Dark Tower set to release in 2020.
Tabletop • It’s only been in the last couple years that I’ve really taken to solo gaming and a lot of that has to do with Victory Point Games. A lot of other games offer solo variants or whatnot, but VPG pumps out games that were made to solo, and I haven’t found one that wasn’t a blast to throw down on the table. My first venture into this brave new world was even more remarkable considering the theme, the third edition of Dawn of the Zeds. This deluxe edition of Zeds was out of print for a bit, but it’s back on Kickstarter now and, if you want a copy, now’s your chance.
Tabletop • Before I left for Europe I was asked if I wanted to attend PDXCON, Paradox‘s annual navel gaze, in Stockholm. Of course I said yes, but before you think I’m a lucky bastard, I should tell you that I didn’t go. I’m traveling with my dad and deviating from our itinerary nearly put him in the cardiac ward, so I had to crawl back and turn them down. Luckily, there’s this thing called the internet and you can pretty much be there without actually, you know, being there. It’s been a big week of announcements thus far: Age of Wonders: Planetfall, Imperator: Rome, and more. That said, the biggest announcement (in my board game centric eyes) was made today. Paradox is bringing some of their biggest franchises to the tabletop.
Tabletop, PC/Mac/Linux • There’s something very cool happening over at Victory Point Games. For years they were known as a company that made interesting games with components that weren’t very interesting, but not anymore. Over the past 2-3 years they’ve started to reprint second and third editions of games and upping their component game. Thus, we’ve seen gems such as Nemo’s War, Dawn of the Zeds, Healthy Heart Hospital, and Darkest Night all reappear with shiny new versions, begging for gamers who had poo-pooed VPG in the past to love them. It’s not hard to do, they’re all fantastic. The latest reimagining is another title I hadn’t heard of called Gem Rush. Not only is the shiny new 2nd edition currently on Kickstarter, but they’ve also announced that a digital version is on its way to Steam for PC/Mac/Linux.
Tabletop • I’ve been pondering whether or not to review Journal 29 from the moment I cracked its first truly difficult puzzle. You see, it’s not the usual fare here at Stately Play, and I wasn’t sure if our readers wanted to live the dread of English teachers everywhere, having to read a poorly written book report. Yes, a book report. You see, Journal 29 is an actual book made out of dead trees without a battery to recharge or screen to tap. It’s like the 80’s, with the exception that I’m not listening to Spandau Ballet [for the record, Dave is totally still listening to Spandau Ballet -ed.].