Tabletop & Board Game Hotness – Autumn/Fall 2017

*Drum roll please* …Introducing, the Tabletop Hotness! (And coldness, to follow next week) For Autumn 2017 (or Fall if you’re from the other side of the Atlantic).

Yes, the name sounds a bit ridiculous, but what we have here is something a little special, something that only comes around once every season. Yes, it is in fact the wonderful and amazing news that I’ll be writing up a list of the both the hottest new games for the season (the hotness), plus a list of seasonal games I consider to be flying under the radar a little right now (the coldness).

A list of the best games coming out? ‘Revlutionary!’ I hear you cry. Well, sure it may not be revolutionary, but at least once every season, you’ll be able to see at a glance what the big releases are, and what games I feel you should be on the lookout for. Think of it like professional gambling advice, but for board games and tabletop games. Oh, and definitely not professional.

First up…

1. Unearth

This game looks STUNNING, and has 2 to 4 players ‘bending their luck’, with their ‘tribe’ of dice, to draft cards and claim ruins and stones and other fun things.

Said ruins look incredible, so naturally, you will WANT to collect them. This one has been receiving a lot of praise for a while and justifiably so. It’s simple, looks amazing, and also manages to incorporate dice in a way that doesn’t make people with commically aggressive voices exclaim  ‘WHY ARE THERE SO MANY DICE, AAAARGH DICEEE!’ and then flip the table. Which is nice in a way.

2. Lisboa

This one is a beast, but as much as Unearth looks incredible. The game is designed around such an overdone theme;  the rebuilding and planned development of a really old european city after the devastation of a particularly nasty earthquake in 1755. Be at least a bit original guys. Sheesh.

The hype around this one was huge again, except on the opposite end of the complexity scale to Unearth, this game is an absolute beast.  It’s a heavy game through and through, with strategy galore, and a board that features like, A LOT of pieces and things all over the place. They do look nice though, which is a bonus.

This one comes with a strong warning for beginner gamers or newcomers to the hobby, but if you love really complex and deep games, go nuts, this’ll be like Christmas but just not actually at Christmas. So just like, a really cool day where you get a fun new game. Hurrah!

3. Whistle Stop

Again with the overdone themes guys, SERIOUSLY.

I do love trains though, so let’s just let this one off this time.

Whistle stop was one of those games that was absolutely ALL OVER twitter during Gen Con. It’s a game that looks nice, has mini trains in it, and is also competitive in a fun ‘pick up things and deliver them to try and build your fledgling railroad company in the mid 1800s’ kind of way. Nice!

Playing in the oddly specific time of 75 minutes this game is a mid length, mid weight, middle of the board game night once everyone has polished off the doritos and beer combo and started chanting ‘TRAINS TRAINS TRAINS’ affair.

Just get it if you like trains.

4. Mountains of Madness

Cthulhu!? WHAT IS THIS, the ‘we’ve done this a million times before already’ brigade or something. Good one Chris.

Slightly different from your usual Cthulhu affair we have a game which sees players going up a mountain and slowly getting progressively more and more insane. And not  insane in a ‘I think that guy looked at me funny’ way, but more like a ‘I saw tentacles in the darkness and now I’m questioning the meaning of existence and god’ way. Fun!

This one is a coop deal, and you have to make sure to communicate on a mostly non-insane  level to successfully complete your mission up the mountain of questionable  intrigue and mystery.

I don’t even understand why you’re party is going UP the mountain in the first place, surely it makes more sense to head DOWN but then that’s just me I guess. It’s a good game though, so that’s a thing.

5. Trench (2nd Edition)

Oh but Chris, why have you put a game in here that already exists! Well, mostly because people are talking about it all over the place, and also because it’s having a SECOND EDITION printed and launched through Kickstarter soon.

Plus look at it. It’s beautiful, and I hate using that word  but it is. A gloriously monochrome glossy sheet of abstract and mind melting strategy goodness. Hell even if you don’t like the game it’s worth the buy to have it sit on your posh fancy coffee table and just sit there…  looking cool.

Coming Soon: The Coldness!

To follow next week, my top 5 under the radar games aka; games that I like the look of that not many people are really talking about that much. Check it out! Not now, but when I post it, obviously.

Yours hotly,

Chris

Top 5 themes that need to be made into tabletop games

If you’re a regular tabletop gamer, you know when you see a bad theme. Well, maybe not a BAD theme, but just one that has been executed poorly. It’s my opinion that ANY theme could work well in a tabletop game if it was just executed properly.

Despite that though there is a slew of  terrible theme choices, executed in games terribly, and on the other side of the coin, there is cliched and boring themes, being executed both incredibly well AND awfully. In short I think we need a bit of originality and creativity injected into this aspect of tabletop gaming. Sure the mechanics and the rules MAKE the game, but the theme and the execution is the thing that REALLY engages the players. It’s the thing that invariably makes you want to play it in the first place!

So with that in mind, here are my 5 themes that are just begging for a tabletop game…

1. Something related to music or musical instruments

Now I’ll be honest I’m not an encyclopedia of tabeltop, and I’m sure BGG could tell me different, but to my knowledge I do not know of a WELL executed music themed tabletop game. As a music nerd myself I would LOVE this to be done as a theme. You piece together the winning jazz orchestra ala ‘Whiplash’, or you compete to become the most impressive virtuoso, or maybe even a co-op game where you all assume roles in a band and try to maintain a good set on stage before the crowd boo you off.

Probably not the best ideas in the world but surely there is something there that someone can take away and do better than that! Ideas in the post…

2. Photography

Now photography is one of those subcultures that is just BEGGING to be made fun of by someone who knows what they are talking about. The cliches are endless, and we all love a bit of self-deprecating humour now and then SURELY. Winning by 2 points because you ended the game with the ‘biggest lens’ would be glorious! And they say size doesn’t matter…

3. English history

RUFFLES!

Ok, now that’s out of the way let’s get to the point. If you love game of thrones or other fantasy based political drama then how come we don’t have a Tudor or Stuart themed political intrigue themed social deduction game yet? We have secret hitler so why not some sort of Tudor based ‘win the court over in your favour’ kind of social bluffing game?

Maybe I’m biased because I am a HUGE history fan, or because I think the real deal is so much more visceral than the fantasy versions. Come on though, who wouldn’t wan’t to don their proverbial ruffle and plot to overthrow the throne!

4. Dating or romance

This one is hit and miss really, and I know, I know, we ALREADY have a dating game right? It’s called ‘Tinder’… Hahahaaaa, aren’t you funny. But that’s a game just reserved for the single people, and really, it’s kind of depressing and actually not really that fun  in a ‘cry yourself to sleep because nobody matched with you’ kind of way.

It’s a difficult theme to get right and I’ve seen some flops in this industry in the past (no pun intended), but SURELY there is a way to execute this one right. I challenge you to find the answer!

5. Something that makes D&D more accessible

This is a personal bug bear of mine, and watch this space, because I’ve got something in the works…

My quandry though is this, D&D is such an amazing, hilarious, immersive role playing experience, but the barrier to entry is so high! So why not have a game that solves this problem, and why not make it something DIFFERENT to a bog standard boring dungeon crawler, with hit points and monsters and weapons and stats and blahblahblah. To me that’s not the fun of D&D at it’s core. The fun is the failures, and the social aspect. I’ve got something up my sleeve Kickstarter! And I’m announcing it very soon…

Watch this space…

Yours  executionally,

Chris

Top 5 ways to loose friends over board games

Yep, that’s right, absolutely no idea!

Well that’s a bit of an exaggeration, I have SOME idea, SOME of the time. I’m kinda halfway between all the gear and no idea, and gear and idea.

Sometimes though, people get right up my nose about stuff. That’s the expression I’m sure. I’m not an angry man in any way, but there are some table-flip worthy moments I have when it comes to board games.

I don’t actually flip a table by the way, although that would be very satisfying… What I really do is just  pretend to flip the table in my head, and actually just make a ‘tut’ sound in real life, whilst looking disapprovingly at the other players.

SO passive aggressive… doesn’t it just MAKE you want to play board games with me. Of COURSE it does! Right?

Way to loose friends 1: Take it WAY too seriously…

You know the friend. It’s this guy…

Either that or they’re consulting the rule book for the 15th time to try and figure out a way to explain that the move you just did was not allowed, and that the strategy you’ve been planning for the last hour and a half is actually impossible in the mechanics of the game. JUST LET ME BREAK THE RULES OR THE TABLE GETS FLIPPED OK?!

Oh gosh I’m the guy…

Way 2:  By playing any version of Monopoly at all

This game is just the actual devil, in board game form. It’s a game based on luck, where 1 or more players get left out half way through and the person who wins literally makes it rain money over everyone else whilst wearing sunglasses, standing on the table and thrusting in slow motion.

That’s how it happens in our house anyway.

Way 3: By always guessing the same thing EVERY TURN in Cluedo

Mrs Peacock with the dagger, no Rev Green with the dagger, ok… Miss Scarlett with the dagg…

I’VE SHOWN YOU THE DAGGER CARD LIKE 5 TIMES IN A ROW STOPPPPPP. I can literally see the pencil mark crossing it off your sheet. Not that I was cheating or anything…

Way 4: By always choosing the same person as the werewolf

IT’S DAVE AGAIN I KNOW IT. He’s the werewolf. He looked at me funny for real this time. It’s the crooked smile and the yellow teeth and the eye-patch and pirate hat that gave it awa… OH MY GOD DAVE IS A PIRATE?! Did you guys know? You did… Oh. Guess I’ve just not taken the time to get to know you that well Dave, I’m so sorry, please accept my apologies and let me get you a drink. Wait scratch that just let me take you out for lunch tomorrow, that cool? No? WELL how RUDE, and no I will NOT walk the plank. How dare you. Right! That’s it I’m leaving!

Pretty sure that explains that one fairly clearly…

Way 5: Playing D&D and not role-playing your character

Last but not least it’s the classic D&D problem. Or classic D&D problem… Well maybe it’s not classic but it IS still a problem.

I mean it’s a role playing game after all, don’t play it if you’re not interested in playing a role. I’m not asking for much here, just when you next talk to Doris (the great grandma of Lucy the tavern owner, of course) as she offers you a tea and a biscuit, be polite and do a little funny character voice so that everyone laughs and we all have a wonderful  time and the other players celebrate and rejoice at the role playing hilarity, showering you with praise and champagne and gold and gift certificates. I mean really, is that too much to ask? It is? Oh. Ok no worries, in which case forget all of that then…

Go straight to jail

Apparently that’s a good strategy in the end game of monopoly. Just go to jail. It’s safer, you don’t have to pay all that money for staying at either fancy or non-fancy properties in various areas of London! Ah what a damning indictment of the modern day housing situation. Or something. Shame on you monopoly! Again…

Just don’t do any of the things on this list I guess. Or try not to? Especially not monopoly… don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Yours friendily,

Chris