Author Archives: The Innocent

The GenConmen, 2015: Day Two

As always, any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental. Except for that guy whose face is totally visible. He's a real person somewhere.

Anothe long toiling day of GenCon, from sunup to way past sundown, another seven games to jabber about.  Let’s get right to it.

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The GenConmen, 2015: Day One

If you recognize yourself in this photo and object to the use of your image without permission, any similarities to people living or dead is entirely coincidental. This is an oil painting. Really.

It’s that time of year again, the cusp of Augusthood, when summer keeps on being summer and gradually transitions into more summer. In faraway exotic Indianapolis, capital of the grand state of Iowa, a largely unknown gathering formerly known as the Generalissimo Convención (now commonly nativized to GenCon) has begun anew, a complex mating dance of exhibition halls, cardboard, and people dressed as their favorite fictional characters. It’s a fabulous but dangerous dance, and —

You know what? I’m done talking about the dance. Let me show you.

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I Wanna Sink to the Bottom With You

I'm 90% sure the Japanese characters read, "With Steve Zissou."

Very few people know this about me, but in addition to being a real-life cowboy, I’m also a licensed search and rescue operator in self-contained underwater breathing apparatus — that’s SCUBA to you “landies,” as we undersea folk call you behind your backs. It’s a tough skill to learn, and sadly I don’t find much use for it in the mountains of Utah.

One of the things you learn in search and rescue is how to recover a submerged object. Usually garbage or a corpse, but hopefully one day a barrel of treasure. You bring down an inflatable container that looks a bit like a hot air balloon, attach it to whatever you’d like to surface, and then fill it with air. Air brought from your own precious, limited supply. Meanwhile, the unfortunates connected to the same oxygen tank watch your gauge’s needle spin, wondering whether they’ll have enough air to reach the surface…

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150,000 Weenie Jokes

This is the only image in this article that can't be turned into a weenie joke. I mean, I hope it can't. Please don't.

The advertising blurb for Knee Jerk boasts that even though it’s an easily portable game, insignificantly larger than your regular deck of playing cards — there are 55 in Knee Jerk, plus a rules sheet — and able to slip into your back pocket with ample room left over for beef jerky, that it still provides over 150,000 possible “situations.”

What they meant to say is that it’s good for 150,000 weenie jokes.

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Elsewhere: Infiltration

Sleep well, Borg Queen, for tomorrow's a big day.

I reviewed the underrated Infiltration here on Space-Biff! a while back, celebrating the game’s neon-washed setting, tense press-your-luck gameplay, and low barrier of entry. Then I apparently forgot all about it, because I reviewed it again this week over at the Review Corner.

It doesn’t matter which of those links you clink, just so long as you click one of them, because Infiltration is the second-best game set in the Android universe. Such a pity nobody ever remembers it exists.

The Final Forbidden Frontier

There are no jokes. Only war.

I’ve seen a lot of people yammering on about the pedigree behind Forbidden Stars. Personally, I think that’s boring, so I’ve put together an easy-to-follow explanation of what’s going on with Fantasy Flight’s newest release. Here goes:

The third in an increasingly inaccurately described series of cooperative games, Forbidden Stars focuses on the same plucky adventurers who first survived the collapse of Forbidden Island and then reassembled their fantasy airship doohickey to escape the Forbidden Desert. Now, rather than working together to escape rising waters or rising sands, they’ve taken to the final frontier, where they must brave warp storms and endless war, fighting to be the sole survivor of rising hate and blood.

Or maybe Forbidden Stars is largely based on the out-of-print StarCraft: The Board Game. I can’t remember. Because I’ve been playing too much Forbidden Stars to care.

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A Handful of Questions

No hints.

It’s Monday evening at Château de Thurot, and you know what that means…

Hypothetical Scenario Time!

Get this: You’re at game night, but it’s been sort of a long week and you just spent the last forty minutes zoned out while Geoff explained how haikus aren’t actually measured in syllables. But now everybody’s back to talking about board games, except — uh oh! — you aren’t exactly sure which one they’re discussing. As you listen to their conversation, can you fill in the gaps and sound like you’ve been paying attention when your friends ask your opinion, or will you make an enormous fool out of yourself?

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Encyclopedia Brown vs. The Telephone

It's so hard to introduce this game without screaming WITNESS ME!

Have you ever enjoyed the company of an Encyclopedia Brown mystery book, solving its riddles right alongside those plucky kids? Or perhaps engaged in a game of Telephone, also known as Chinese Whispers by those insensitive to the soft-spoken natures of our eastern brethren?

If so, then Witness might be the game for you. Buckle up, Encyclopedia.

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Seven Polish Samurai

Sort of jarring seeing seven samurai in full color. They'll always be grey, greyer, and whitish grey to me.

After spending my best years waiting for a board game adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, like a hero of old comes 7 Ronin in from the billowing dust, sword in hand, to the rescue. His weathered eyes flash, crinkle, and the corners of his mouth twitch upwards as he points to the hills behind my village.

“Ninja!” he hisses.

“Huh?” I reply.

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Chaosmos in the Old Universe

Star Child? Is that you?

Like an animal dead at the side of the road, the universe has begun to decompose. Too hot, too bloated, collapsing beneath its own weight. Making this metaphor even flimsier, as a member of one of the organism’s last surviving races — all of them charmingly weird, no jack-of-all-trades humans in sight — your only hope rests on the shoulders, boggles, or tentacles of the agent sent to find the all-important Ovoid. Without it, your extinction is guaranteed; with it, your people will be reborn in the universe to come.

Unfortunately, somebody went and told all the other species about it too. The race is on.

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