Author Archives: The Innocent

Saving Us: And Then We Held Hands

"PRETENTIOUS" some douche said on a site that I will not name for fear of giving him more hits.

Just for tonight, Space-Biff! is going to act as my personal tell-all gossip rag. Gather round, because I’m going to spill a whole mess of secrets about my celebrity marriage.

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Fantastiqa is Fantastic(a)

Seem familiar? That's because it's "Wanderer above the Sea of Fog" by Caspar David Friedrich. Space-Biff! Game Design ProTip: Public domain art is one of the best ways to stay cheap but look classy.

When it comes to Fantastiqa, I’m every bit as late as Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit was back in 1865. I’m even tardy for the game’s second successful run on Kickstarter, which wrapped up about a month ago.

Now, under normal circumstances I wouldn’t bother reviewing an older game (assuming Fantastiqa’s 2012 release date qualifies as “older”) because I hate being unfashionably late. But in this case, I’m making an exception because… well, I could give any number of reasons, but really it comes down to Fantastiqa’s unique ability to make the mundane fresh again.

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COIN Volume I: Columbian Conflagration

My money's on the guy with the airplane.

Space-Biff! has been quieter than usual over the past couple weeks. Apologies. Couldn’t be helped. After all, I’ve been devoting most of my board gaming attention to figuring out Volko Ruhnke’s formidable COIN Series, which, if you haven’t heard of these behemoths, are all about insurgency and counterinsurgency — guerrilla warfare, hearts and minds, that sort of thing — and they’re endlessly and utterly compelling. The first volume, for instance, is called Andean Abyss, a four-way conflict over the jungles, mountains, and cities of Columbia, and it’s possibly one of the most thrilling, deep, and disheartening board games I’ve ever experienced.

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The SaltCon Diaries, 2014 Edition

SALTCON

Dragon’s Tiles! Dice Towers! Mayhem RPG! A ton of publishers, like Crash Games, Red Raven Games, and Gamelyn Games! War Command Haven! Ryan Laukat, Michael Coe, and other designers whose names we can’t remember! That’s how many there are!

All this and more, at SaltCon 2014! So come along, as Space-Biff! investigates exactly what it is that makes this board game convention the third-best in the Mountain West.

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1775: Upstarts vs. Tax-Happy Oppressors

Forget about taking sides; I'm rooting for those handsome hounds.

Last month I covered a heart-wrenching title from Academy Games called Freedom: The Underground Railroad, notable for its uncanny ability to create an emotional investment over the fates of a few wooden cubes. I think I even cried at one point. Manly tears, of course. Manly abolitionist tears.

Now I’ve had a chance to try another of the titles in Academy Games’ catalog, a simple wargame by the name of 1775: Rebellion, and… well, I’ll put this delicately: stand back, because I’m about to gush like a fry cook’s neck pimple.

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Euphoria: Build a Better Worker Placement

Space-Biff!: Build a Better Header Image

It might surprise you to learn that I’m a huge fan of dystopian fiction. Or it might not, who knows. Maybe it’s such a critical component of my being that it bleeds into the open, and upon our first meeting, a stranger will instantly feel the tug of intuition whispering, “This guy likes dystopian fiction.”

Regardless, it was the subtitle of Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia that first drew my attention, because I would love very much to do that. Yes indeed. For pretend, of course. Ahem.

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Triplayereste

That d-bag in the middle knows he's going to win.

There aren’t many good games out there specifically designed for third wheels — pardon me, for three players. It’s a niche that often goes unfilled, frequently leading to the phrase, “Let’s just wait for Geoff to show up, and then we’ll play something for four.”

No longer! Trieste may or may not be named for the city in Italy (more probably because it sounds like “three” in some magic language), but it’s certainly determined to be one of the best three-player games you’ve ever played. Does it succeed? Only one way to find out.

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You Can Choose Your Family, But Not Your Friends

To me, the designer's name's placement makes this title read something like "Michiel Hendriks' Legacy is the Testament of Duke de Crecy." And I don't know how to begin making sense of that.

Having grown up in a culture that places about a hundred times more importance on genealogy than basically every other culture that has ever existed, I naturally shied away from Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy, a game about tending your family tree in early 18th century France. It frankly sounded like the second-worst possible way to spend an evening, trumped only by the utter tediousness of a train game that doesn’t include the displacement of native tribes, the breaking of strikes with Pinkerton agents, or the abusing of migrant laborers.

Boy, was I wrong. About the genealogy one, that is, not the train games. Those still suck.

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Parsex is Way Better than it Sounds

I really can't even say the title right; also, thanks to Todd Sanders for the header image!

Want to hear a secret I haven’t told anyone else ever? I think 4X games kind of drag. I mean, you’ve got to explore, expand, and exploit, and by the time we finally reach that point, I’m all, enough already, but then you’ve gotta go exterminate everyone too. I mean, sheesh!

Alright, alright, put down those torches, you’ll make black spots on the ceiling. And anyway, I’m just being controversial to bait extra clicks. The real problem is that while I love 4X games, I rarely have enough time to get through the exploit part, let alone the meatier extermination bits.

Once again, Todd Sanders leaps to the rescue, this time with Parsex — pardon me, Parsec X, which for the life of me I cannot pronounce or spell properly. Here’s a game that’s 4X, compact, free (to print yourself, anyway), and takes about 30 minutes to play. Oh, and even though you wouldn’t expect a 30-minute 4X game to be any good, this one is actually pretty respectable.

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Hawken: Now with Inverted K, Also Cards

Her (I like to think of the pilot as a "her") right foot always strikes me as too surely-placed in this pic.

Sometimes I think it’s kind of sad that mechs are built for war, live out their short existence fighting one another, and then die in battle. Then I remember it’s actually awesome.

Meanwhile, Cryptozoic Entertainment is still in a whirlwind frenzy of making board games out of licensed properties, including the relatively recent mech-war PC game Hawken. What’s more, in order to capture the frenetic excitement of mech combat (we assume, since nobody’s done it yet; maybe it’s boring), they’ve decided to make it real-time. I know, I was thinking the same thing: huh? Well huh no more, because I’ve got the lowdown on what’s going on with the inspirationally-titled Hawken: Real-Time Card Game.

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