Sometimes it’s not about slaying monsters, or resource acquisition, or worker placement, or even building railroad lines. Sometimes a board game is about relaxing with friends and loved ones, taking it easy and having a good time doing something as simple as watching the flowers grow. I’m working through the list of board games I came across and snagged copies of at PAX Unplugged 2019, and I decided something like that would be just the thing to start. Place tiles, build a beautiful array of twisting vines, and watch the flower (pieces) bloom with Trellis, a game of zen and blossoms designed by Teale Fristoe, illustrated by Vikki Chu, and published by Breaking Games!
Let’s be honest, there are a lot of board games out there that might as well double their ‘estimated time of play’ because of how long they take to actually start playing. The rules are byzantine, the pieces are better counted by the score than by the dozen, arranging everything on the table is akin to cartography, and shuffling the cards can count as a cardio workout. It’s almost as if the set up portion is its own game . . . hey, wait a minute, there’s an idea. And what if it was actually a really simple card game that’s easy to learn and full of tongue-in-cheek humor about all the board games we love to play and hate to set up? That’s how we wind up with Complicated Board Game the Card Game: Time 2 Play!
Sometimes you just want a tasty treat, and you’ve got to make it yourself. You’re going to need ingredients, some sort of container, and maybe some utensils to get the job done, though. That might sound simple enough, and even on Newfoundland it should be that simple on paper . . . except the pages of your Recipe Book keep getting torn out by storms, and just when you’ve got the right amount of blueberries one of those goddamn mainlander raccoons shows up and eats some of them. Ah well, you’ll just have to unpack some more groceries. Let’s make some friggin’ jam with Newfoundland Jam, the ‘colourful jam making game with flavourful cuss words’ from Jason Anarchy Games!
Some sort of horrible half-frozen tree creature reaches the kingdom’s castle after having attacked the lumber stores, clearly upset at our attempts at resource gathering. If the castle falls all will be lost, but there just aren’t enough defenders in place . . . suddenly, the beat of drums fills the air, and another pair of dwarfs come running from the forest the creature just tore through. In a flurry of axes and hammers the tree creature tumbles to the ground, slain, and the victorious dwarfs return to their homes . . . but the Ogre King just appeared on the walls at the edge of the kingdom, natural disasters begin to hamper our food and stone supplies, and we’ve got three weeks to go until spring. We’ll have to work together in order to survive the cold and the monsters in Dwar7s Winter from Vesuvius Media!
Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure is all about going into a dungeon, acquiring some shiny artifacts, and escaping before the dragon can eat you . . . so it probably shouldn’t be too surprising that the adventuring company that’s known to acquire™ anything you ask for would eventually take an interest. In Fall 2019 we’ll see Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated, a standalone version of the game where you’ll build your own Acq. Inc. franchise across several games of Clank! It seems that corporate wants to check things out first, though, because right now we’ve got the Acquisitions Incorporated Upper Management Pack expansion bringing Omin Dran, Jim Darkmagic, Viari, and Môrgæn into the dungeon!
Around a table in an opulent room, world leaders like myself scramble to gather the resources needed to build a rocket to escape the planet before it’s too late – and the influence they’ll need to get themselves a seat on said rocket. This has been made more difficult by the sudden robot uprising stealing resources, severely hampering the project. My own efforts to gather resources have been foiled by other leaders, who fear I am planning to nuke them to improve my odds . . . but now I’ve got free reign so that I can nuke the robots for them. The required amount is finally in my hands, the table waits for the nuclear fireball . . . . and I commit everything to the project instead, cementing my position as a Master Diplomat and earning a vast amount of influence. Looks like I’ll be waving from the rocket, and the rest will be dead losers, in We’re Doomed! from Breaking Games!
Today, we have a special PAX Unplugged Edition of A Glimpse Into the Vault, with a special roundup of board games of interest I came across at the con! Now, this is a little unfair, as this is a grossly cursory look at only some of the many games and vendors that were on display, but with the extensive number of products available I only had so much time and attention to really dig in. Luckily, I managed to get on the media list for PAX Unplugged, so I was fortunate enough to be solicited by a number of people interested in getting attention for their game, and from that I managed to schedule a slew of interviews about different games. We previously chatted with Brendan Conway about Unbound, the latest supplement for Masks: A New Generation, but today we’ll be tackling the board games I got to see in greater detail, and the creators who I had the chance to interview.
This week in the vault, we are going to reach for something a little…different. In fact, you could say it is EFFIN’ EPIC. OH YEAHHHHHH! There has been recurring jokes in many campaigns that I’ve been in, certain over the top scenes deserve to be airbrushed on the side of whatever transport we have that counts as a van. (Once game had a space Winnebago, so let’s not judge). So when I say that Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards is over the top, I mean that playing 80s metal over your play would be a thematic decision which would work. This is a game that found the top, and magically kicked its ass so hard it saw the curvature of the Earth. As the game phrases itself in its own rulebook, it is about “Ball Rocking Magic” and it crams every bit of over the top, Rule of Cool justification to cover its play.
Raid the dungeon. Take the treasure. Don’t get killed by the dragon. Backstab your buddies? This might sound like a standard Dungeons and Dragon campaign (maybe not the backstab your buddy part), but it is one way to summarize Clank!: A Deck Building Adventure by Renegade Game Studios. Rather than picking up a character sheet and some dice, Clank! instead operates as a combination of a deck building game (such as Ascension or the DC Comics card game) and a more standard board game.
Whew, a lot of dust in here! Both in the column’s space and in the physical board and card game collection. How to clear it all out? Well, a few explosions will do to get most of it, and maybe a follow-up implosion to make sure it’s all gone. With new games coming out every day, A Glimpse Into the Vault takes a look at older card and board-based offerings so they don’t get lost in the rush. For once there’s no drinking involved, and there’s only a little gloom, because I’m hauling out Exploding (and Imploding) Kittens from The Oatmeal!