Roll Player has developed into quite the franchise. It has a line of expansions, it has two spin-offs with Lockup and Cartographers, the latter nominated for Kennerspiel des Jahres, and now there is a cooperative Legacy style spin-off on Kickstarter. Roll Player Adventures is a bundle of twelve adventures in the kingdom of Ulos. Every adventure is a choose-your-own-adventure style book where the players make decisions and pass tests to advance through the story. The tests are more interesting than “roll dice and add your skill score”, though, and should make Roll Player Adventures really work as a game. Dice are involved, but you need the right colors and scores to pass a test or win a battle, and players use their character abilities and equipment to manipulate the dice until they fit. Pass or fail a challenge, the story keeps going forward and changes the world around you. As a special treat for Roll Player veterans, you have the option to import characters created in Roll Player and its expansion and guide those characters through the adventure books.
Disaster stories in space are the most intense stories I can think of. Not only is a disaster happening, it’s happening in an place where a thin wall holds back a lethally hostile environment, where your resources are very limited and literally vital, and where you can be sure help isn’t coming. So, um, how about a nice, relaxing game of Intrepid. Aboard the ISS, where the players are currently at home, things are going very wrong, and only perfect cooperation might save everyone. Intrepid is a dice and resource management game. Your dice activate the various stations on the ISS that you and the other players orchestrate to produce resources they need to survive. Playing Intrepid will always be intense, but every time you play it will be intense in a different way. There are different disasters to overcome, and there are different nations to represent aboard the stations. Those nations each have their own set of tiles they may add to the ISS, so each nation will really have a distinct play style.
Burnt Island Games
In the year 2087, law enforcement stoops to the most desperate measure in their fight against organized crime: they hack the minds of Syndicate members and use the organization’s own minions against it. That’s the setting of In Too Deep by Burnt Island Games, and you play law enforcement. (I felt a need to say it, because in that scenario it’s not at all clear who the good guys are.) Every round you take over the body of another criminal and guide them in preparing a crime, from which you will then gain intel and evidence to take the Syndicate down in the end. If that isn’t shady enough, there’s more. Since you’re already in the guys head, you can decide how he approaches certain problems. You can make them behave more dangerously, which gives you more intel, but as your own morals are more and more drawn into question you gain dilemma cards which can turn into permanent corruption, which may disqualify you from winning the game – but only if you take down the Syndicate. If you don’t, then corruption doesn’t matter. Mechanically, In Too Deep is an kind of optimization game with shared resources. Everyone can take control of the same criminals, and the winner is the player who makes the best use of them to gather the most intel. Everything that happens is also embedded in a dynamic storyline that will change from game to game. Mechanically interesting, but it’s the mechanisms together with the moral difficulties of the whole setting that really stands out to me.
With Village Green Peer Sylvester (King of Siam, Wir sind das Volk!,…) has created a tricky but rules-light card placement game, to be released soon by Osprey Games. Players compete for the prettiest arrangement of flowers, trees, and pavilions on their village’s green. The tricky part is that they pick their own categories to win awards in. On the three by three grids of their village they arrange cards with flowers and other decorations, taking care that only cards with the same color or the same flower may be next to each other. Along two edges of the grid, they play award cards that have a rule how their row or column will score points. So you’ll be picking goals not knowing if you’ll get the cards to meet them, and you’ll collect cards not knowing if you’ll get the goals to score them.
Beat ’em up games on a variety of game consoles are another item on the long list of things that I love doing but am disgustingly bad at. Well, here’s my chance to finally be better, a card game called Ultra Deluxe 2D Arcade Mega Fighter. Ud2Damf – I’m not typing that name every time – is a two player 3vs3 game. Both players pick three fighters from the lineup of fifteen, shuffle their decks together, and go to town pummeling the opposing team into submission with deliberate combos or random button mashing. Together with its pixel art that makes Ud2Damf a light and funny blast of nostalgia.
This week’s featured photo shows Mehmed Paša Sokolovi? Bridge in Višegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina, a bridge built in the 16th century by Ottoman architect Mimar Koca Sinan. The photo was taken and kindly shared by Ivan Radic. Thanks a lot for sharing, Ivan! (Mehmed Paša Sokolovi? Bridge in Višegrad, Ivan Radic, CC-BY, cropped and resized)