If reviewing videogames has taught me anything it’s that violence is absolutely a requirement in all forms of entertainment. If there isn’t blood, sex, swearing or the words “dark, gritty and mature” then it’s clearly worthless. That was sarcasm, by the way. Ah, but then boardgames entered my life and proved me wrong with its much more peaceful themes, such as running a gallery or smuggling contraband into the market, or in the case of Mystic Vale quietly tending to what will hopefully be a verdant valley of serenity. Which also houses suspiciously angry-looking giant snake-things, wolves and other probably violent stuff. Right then. You take on the role of a clan of druids coming to heal the Valley of Life which has been cursed somehow. Healing, however, actually means trying to score more points than the other players. So much for being peaceful, huh?
I don’t think H.P. Lovecraft could have predictated that his beloved short-stories would become entrenched in the world of boardgames, acting as the inspiration for countless hundreds of titles that purport to be inspired by the works of someone with an intense imagination and propensity for horror. It seems like every other day a new videogame, boardgames or book arrives, taking its theme and story ideas from Lovecraft and bending them to their own will. Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition is one such game, residing in FFG’s Arkham Horror lineup of games where the emphasis is on supernatural monsters, investigators and pulp fiction. But this one….this one is special.
King of Tokyo might just be one of the very best games I’ve ever played for showing non-gamers just how much fun games can be. In it you’ll take control of one of six awesome monsters in a bid to score 20 points before your friends by rolling dice and wrecking Tokyo city in a pleasing homage to the Kaiju genre of movies. It’s fast, easy to play and hugely entertaining. Plus, space penguin. Yup.
Who doesn’t like putting together a troupe of talking animals to enact dramatic or comedic plays for a moody King who is constantly changing his mind like an excitable child that has been told he can only buy one toy in the entire store? It’s a pretty neat concept that Histrio has going for it, although the theme takes a backseat to travelling to various cities in order to snatch up actors to put on your show. You won’t really feel like somebody managing a troupe and putting on lavish stage shows by the end. You’ve got just two seasons to earn as much cash (Ecus) as you possibly can, with the end of each season being when you’ll put on your show and hopefully please the King.
This week I learned that excitedly telling a friend about a fun board game you’ve been playing before then explaining that it’s about farming is a sure-fire way to make sure said friend never talks to you again. And who could blame them, really? When one thinks of interesting and engaging themes farming doesn’t really come to mind, especially when you realise that the game is set long before the time of tractors and other big machines. Somehow, though, Agricola makes plowing fields, sowing crops and raising livestock interesting.
Designer: Ignacy Trzewiczek Publisher: Portal Games Players: 1-4 The art of writing a rulebook for a boardgame is a sacred one, mastered by few and royally buggered up by many. Whomever penned the rules for 51st State, though, knew their stuff, not only making the whole thing easy […]
Designed by the very well respected Vital Lacerda the Gallerist let’s you take control of a gallery in the hopes of turning it into the premier destination for art lovers and collectors alike. You’ll buy and sell the four different forms of artwork available, discover new talented individuals and promote them, hire assistants and send them off to butter up important people and bid on world famous pieces of art, and attract visitors to your gallery whose mere presence can help you garner more influence and money. The Gallerist is practically dripping in theme, every inch of its mechanics making perfect thematic sense while also creating a series of important decisions for the player to make at every turn. Although I try not to gush over any videogame, boardgame, book, movie, TV show or album I’m going to gush about this one; the Gallerist is stunning, and it has taken its place as one of my favorite boardgames, albeit perhaps one that might be difficult to persuade friends to play due to its daunting nature. It’s a perfect demonstration of excellent design, and shows how diverse in theme boardgames can be.