Posts by dicehateme:
- Graphics speak louder than words. In my review of Monopoly Deal, words could not express everything I wanted to say about this little card-game-that-could, so I tapped into my graphical past and created the ultimate fever chart and Venn diagram that said everything I couldn’t get out in 15+ paragraphs.
- The Riddle of the Sphinx. The nicknames “Sally Thinksalot,” “Clover Leaf,” and “The Sphinx” enter the Dice Hate Me lexicon, as I assign likely gamer titles to common gamer types in the 7 Habits of Highly Dysfunctional Boardgamers.
- Craving the Cold. On Dec. 9, 2010, Twilight Struggle became the top-rated board game on BoardGameGeek. Seven sleepless days later, the Dice Hate Me review of this Cold War brain bender was posted, and I couldn’t have been prouder. A couple months later, this review became one of the first featured by a company (GMT) on their product page to showcase the game. I soon discovered that I could be prouder.
- A Podcast is Born. On February 7, 2011, my beautiful gaming wife, Monkey238, joined me in launching our joint podcast – The State of Games – where we continue to ramble on about sex, violence, nekkid people – oh, and board games. We both look forward to expanding the podcast into new territories, covering the Origins Game Fair, taking to the streets to find out what the average citizen thinks of boardgaming, and talking about “the last game on Earth.”
- Dice Hate Me Explores New Frontiers. In the first of many of similar articles to come, the interview with W. David MacKenzie and Tory Niemann of Clever Mojo Games – and Alien Frontiers fame – goes live on August 3, 2010. Today, Dice Hate Me proudly continues its coverage of independent publishing, Kickstarter-based projects, and, of course, every single move that Clever Mojo Games makes.
This time, it’s all about the dice. It can be argued that it’s always about the dice around these parts, but this time we mean it. You see, we have a very special guest on the podcast this week – a certain designer whose happy hallmarks are those rambunctious randomizers. And although dice may be filled with hate whenever they get in these hands, we’ve got nothing but love for this particular designer – even if he does have cube fever.
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Sometimes in the board game community, hobbyists throw around the term “gamer’s game” to describe a game which includes advanced mechanics or a play experience best suited for someone who has done a bit more than advance their token to Boardwalk a few times in the family parlor. For prime examples of “gamer’s games,” see: Troyes, Twilight Struggle, Puerto Rico; do not see: Clue, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride. Designer Louis Perrochon, and a few others, have remarked that Startup Fever may have developed into just such a “gamer’s game.” After taking the prototype for a test drive, I can’t honestly say I know exactly as to which kind of game Startup Fever could be defined. I will say, however, that despite the capitalist theme, it sure as hell isn’t Monopoly.
Ok, for starters there are little wooden cubes, a “victory point” track, meeples, variable turn order, and a very loose sense of general strategy at the start of the game. All the hallmarks of a Euro, right? Well, there are also event cards and game mechanics that ramp up the punk factor as if you were throwing little plastic tanks around a battlefield in a bit of old-fashioned Ameritrash. And then there’s the theme; if ground zero in a Silicon Valley environment isn’t an American-based theme, I don’t know what else could be.
Last summer, the name “Kickstarter” began to be whispered in awed, hushed tones after people like David MacKenzie and Daniel Solis had proven that self-publishing through crowd-funding was fresh and feasible. Last fall, Michael Mendes proved that Kickstarter was not just feasible – it was also lucrative as Eminent Domain went supernova, gaining over $48,000 in funds. Since then, board game projects have been popping up in that wild inter-frontier like rabid prairie dogs; some brilliant, some bombs. Regardless of the mix, one thing is abundantly clear: it’s a truly great time for board games, and those who love them.
There are several great projects ripe for funding right now, and we’ve been lucky enough at Dice Hate Me to be sent prototypes of two: Dark Horse, by Don Lloyd, and Startup Fever, by Louis Perrochon. Startup Fever appears to be the critical and fan darling at the moment; it has more than doubled the pledges needed for its initial goal of $10,111. Dark Horse, however, appears to be – well, a bit of a dark horse, with only a quarter of its funding goal in pledges with just 18 days to go. Because both designers were kind enough to send prototypes, I thought it fair to break this special report in two, and run them back-to-back. And now…
Backing a Dark Horse
I first encountered Dark Horse during a random clickathon on Kickstarter. The video was intriguing – if a bit quaint – and the theme – a wild west resource management game – spoke directly to my wheelhouse. However, I was soon distracted by something shiny and forgot about the project for a few days. Luckily, Dark Horse returned to my stable when designer Don Lloyd contacted me and offered to send a prototype – not just any prototype, but Don’s personal prototype. Flattered? You bet your chaps.
Monkey238 and I were finally able to get Dark Horse to the table this past weekend, and our initial reaction was trepidation. The set-up and first couple of rounds were rocky, but we thought that was true of quite a few games that needed some warm-up time. Once we got into a rhythm, however, our fears were calmed. The overall tension for our two-player affair seemed tight and tactical, with just the right amount of tough choices to make things interesting.
Gameplay in Dark Horse is broken down into two main management mechanics. First, there are a set of hexes on the game board that represent space on the lone prairie, as well as fertile spots upon which players can gather food, wood or ore if they have built a town on that particular hex. The resources are used to build other towns, cities (that enable players to build more towns in surrounding hexes), and railways (which connect towns and cities). Much of this part of the game is reminiscent of many “settle and conquer” games, railroad games, or – for lack of a broader example – Settlers of Catan.
Greetings, dear readers, to a brief celebration in honor of Dice Hate Me’s anniversary! It’s been an amazing, wonderfully awesome year, and we are so thankful to our many supporters, peers, and companies for making it possible to live the Dice Hate Me dream.
One year ago today, the first game review was posted – an extremely brief look at Red November from Fantasy Flight Games. Seriously, it was so succinct that many of those first few who read it wondered if it qualified as an actual review! Now, a year later, many of you are probably wishing that the reviews around here were half as short as that first one. For better or worse, my verbosity has increased exponentially, but so has the fervor to bring all of you the best in gaming news, reviews and geeky views.
No anniversary would be complete without a retrospective, so here are my top five favorite moments from this past year at Dice Hate Me:
“You call this archaeology?” – Dr. Henry Jones
Mention the word archaeology to someone and they are as likely to think of a certain whip-cracking, fedora-wearing hero as they are of long, drudging digs and museums full of dusty tomes and broken trinkets. Pergamon – set in the late 1800s during the height of the Pergamon excavation in Turkey – is less about whip-cracking and much more about all that digging and dust. However, for a game that’s all about unearthing artifacts from long-dead civilizations, Pergamon’s play exudes a surprising amount of life.
Clever Mojo Games (makers of the Dice Hate Me 2010 Game of the Year Alien Frontiers) is on the move! As reported on Dice Hate Me earlier, Clever Mojo has several games in development: the draconian deck-builder Princes of the Dragon Throne, the tile-laying Sunrise City, and the rather quirky, but totally radical Swinging Jivecat Voodoo Lounge. I’ve recently gotten my hands on a prototype of Sunrise City, and some sneak peeks at rules and playtest photos of Swinging Jivecat Voodoo Lounge, so may I present to all you dear readers, a little preview of the mojo ahead.
Space… the well-trod frontier – at least in board games. There’s good reason for that, though: Space is awesome, as are many quality, space-based games. One space epic in particular has developed quite a buzz recently online – Empires of the Void, designed and illustrated by veteran board game artist Ryan Laukat. Ryan is responsible for quite a bit of art in Dominion, as well as Alf Seegert’s trollish masterpieces, Bridge Troll and Trollhalla. Ryan’s unique art style lends a fun flair to a genre that can sometimes feel a bit staid. In order for us to know more about Empires of the Void and the inspiration to the game, Ryan graciously agreed to the full Dice Hate Me treatment.
It’s pretty easy to tell from all the starships and aliens that Empires of the Void is a space epic, and this is a very good thing. Can you tell us a little bit more about the gameplay and mechanics?
Empires of the Void is the epic space game I’ve always wanted to design. Something I’ve noticed in many games I’ve played lately is how mechanic-laden and rules heavy they seem to be. I tried to go the other direction for this game, looking for more of an organic and flexible design philosophy. The game uses an action point system, where every player has four actions on his turn, and may split them between a number of options. I like the flexibility of this mechanic, and the intuitive feel. This means that if I want to spend all my actions and fly all the way across the board in one turn, I can. Maybe I have a crazy strategy idea and want to try and conquer planets far away from my homeworld. This opens the door for a huge amount of options. Players can move, attack, build ships, develop their culture, research technology, mine, and use diplomacy, and split their actions however they like between these options.
The combat uses an initiative system, much like the game Nexus Ops. So the fastest ships get to roll before slower ships, and deciding the composition of your fleet is very important. You need the big ships to score hits, but you need smaller, cheaper ones to take the hits so you can keep the big ones around. One thing I like is that every player only starts with the ability to build four of the ships. The rest of the ship designs are only available when you ally with certain alien races on the board.
Dice Hate Me is about to celebrate its anniversary on June 1st, and we want to share the love with all of you! As mentioned on the last The State of Games podcast, Gryphon&Eagle Games has graciously offered up Through the Ages for one lucky Dice Hate Me fan. Here are the details:
We want pictures. Fun and creative pictures. Game-related pictures! Get whimsical, get crazy, surprise us! We’ll pick our five favorite pictures and then randomly draw a winner which will be announced in a special anniversary post on June 1st.
You can send your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org or post the pictures to the wall on the Dice Hate Me Facebook page. Just as we mentioned on the podcast, pictures posted to Facebook might get bonus points. Unofficially, of course. The deadline for picture submissions is 11 p.m. EST on Sunday, May 29. So get out there and get snapping!
Because Through the Ages is such a massive game, and shipping costs overseas would be prohibitively expensive, this giveaway is only available to those in the US and Canada. But we love our international audience! Since we can’t ship a game to you, we can do the next best thing: give you money to buy a game in your home country! That’s right, we’ll also pick an international winner and they’ll receive a $30 give certificate to the online game store of their choice!
We’d like to thank Gryphon&Eagle Games for their generosity. If you’d like to thank them, as well, follow them on Twitter. They like to give away free stuff quite a bit, and you’ll be connecting to a great company that supports board games and the people that love them.
In the past few years, the realms of boardgaming have traditionally been broken down into two main categories: “Ameritrash” — which typically includes those games with lots of plastic sculpted miniatures used to bash the crap out your opponent, along with tons of shiny dice — and “Euro” games, which usually include a dazzling array of choices in which to stoically quell the machinations of your opponent with feathered subtleties like influence, victory points, wooden cubes and meeples. Pearl Games has chosen to walk the insane path of including flavors from both realms in one box with their first release, Troyes. Despite their dabbling in “Ameritrash” sensibilities however, gamers can still safely call this one a “Euro” because you don’t get much more “Euro” than ordering workers around a lesser-known 13th-century town in the Champagne region of France.
The State of Games, Episode 8 is open and ready for business! Don’t worry, the title doesn’t mean what you think it means. Or maybe it does? We have no idea what goes on inside those crazy minds of yours. But you can find out what goes on inside our crazy minds – just take a listen to our mad ramblings! Read the rest of this entry “