Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time

Usually it’s safe to assume that the people entering somebody else’s house through the window are the bad guys. Usually. And it’s not an excuse that the dwellings owner is called Professor Evil, either! What was he supposed to do, not pursue an academic career because of his last name? There is, however, the little detail that Professor Evil has been using his time machine to steal priceless artifacts right out of history. The Mona Lisa is small fry in a collection that contains Excalibur and the Ark of the Covenant.

If some heroic individuals were to enter such an individual’s citadel to return those stolen items to their rightful place in the timeline they would most definitely be the good guys. But their mission won’t be easy. A man called Professor Evil, why, his security systems are bound to be more interesting than a blinking red light on the wall. Those heroic individuals would need some outside guidance as they make their way through the Professor’s home. Someone telling them were to go, what to do. Someone like… you. Welcome to Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time.

Read more

Rob ‘n Run

Rob ‘n Run might easily mislead you when you first look at it. Between the cartoonish cover art and the paper built escape vehicle on the table you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a kids’ game. You’d still be mistaken. Although Rob ‘n Run is suitable for kids – the crimes you commit are non-violent safecracks, and the rules are straightforward enough – adult gamers will have more fun. You have to take great care how you communicate, what conclusions other players will likely draw from revealing certain information in the situation you find yourself in. Kids below the recommended age of ten will struggle with that. We are enjoying the hell out of it.

The first published design by Michael Luu is a cooperative game with restricted communication. The players are a gang of safecrackers doing a few more jobs on their way to the airport. For every robbery one of them is the boss. The boss knows the tools needed for this job. Instead of just telling the rest of the gang, however, he can only give cryptic clues. The rules say he does this so the police cannot figure out where they are from what he says on the radio. I think it’s more likely that he read to many Batman comics and The Riddler is his idol.

Read more

Exit vs. Unlock – A Competitive Review

An Escape Room is a fun way to spend an evening where you and a couple of friends are locked in a room. Wait, it sounds weird when I say it like that. The point is to escape from that room, usually in an hour or less, by discovering useful items and solving puzzles, both leading to more items and more puzzles, until you finally unlock the Exit and escape. (Unlock the Exit. See what I did there?) Anyway, it’s a great way to spend an evening with friends, and you do it indoors without getting too sweaty.

Doing things indoor and without getting sweaty brings us to the next step in Escape Room evolution: Why would you even leave your living room? You could have a box full of puzzles to solve at home and avoid all that messy outside business. And that’s were Escape Rooms Inna Box come in, a new kind of cooperative game that lets you have the excitement of an Escape Room around your living room table. You could argue if they are boardgames or not, but we’re not going to nitpick that point right now: They’re produced by the same publishers, made by the same designers and enjoyed by many of the same people as more traditional boardgames. People like us, so we’ll review them when we feel like it.

Read more

Mysterium

Many years ago, in Warwick Manor, there occurred a murder most foul. The crime had been carefully planned and so well executed that the police have ruled it an accident. But ever since Warwick Manor has not been the same. Haunted, they say. And in that haunting the new owner of Warwick Manor sees a chance to have the murder solved still, and the ghost thus laid to rest. He has invited the most famous psychics in the world to contact the ghost and discover what happened. A great plan in theory, if only the ghost wasn’t too traumatized by his death to clearly remember what happened, and if he hadn’t been a member of the Dixit fan club in life.

Read more
The Grizzled

The Grizzled

Boardgames don’t really have an equivalent to literature. We gamers don’t usually consider the categories of literary fiction versus genre fiction, we think about light games and heavy games instead, or about different game mechanics. But by most criteria, the vast majority of games are more like genre fiction: advancing linearly, focused on a big payoff at the end, and made to entertain, not to invite reflection on their subject.

What you might call literary games are not entirely unheard of, though. One fine example is The Grizzled by Fabien Riffaud and Juan Rodriguez, a cooperative game set in World War One. The setting in itself is not what sets The Grizzled apart, though. Plenty of games are set in the two big wars. But in this one you don’t move tanks across a map, you don’t heroically storm beaches, and you don’t go home to live happily ever after, even if you win.

Read more
Arkham Horror: The Card Game

Arkham Horror: The Card Game

I’ve been a long-time sufferer from collectible card games, buying way too many booster packs to find that one card I really wanted. I’m out of that now, but I’ve been reluctant to get into Fantasy Flight’s Living Card Games because of it. They are much nicer than CCGs, of course. There are no booster packs that always have the same worthless cards. But their business model is still to keep you buying cards to remain competitive every time a new expansion comes out. But that’s not a concern with Arkham Horror: The Card Game. It’s a cooperative game, so no one has to buy cards just to be able to compete. You just buy an expansion when you want more story to experience.

Read more
Betrayal at House on the Hill – Widow’s Walk

Betrayal at House on the Hill – Widow’s Walk

When we did the nostalgia piece about Betrayal at House on the Hill last week, there was one thing we didn’t mention: there is an expansion. The 2016 release Widow’s Walk was created after years and years of fans asking for more haunts. An understandable request since playing the same haunts again and again loses its appeal as well as some of its challenge when you know the other side’s secret rules. And so a monumental nine people design team was put together to give us fresh haunts. And that’s exactly what they did.

Read more
Betrayal at House on the Hill

Betrayal at House on the Hill

Why did I want this game so badly? Mainly because I am a huge horror movie geek, especially for haunted house movies, and Betrayal at House on the Hill lets you play through exactly that kind of story. It is also a classic American style boardgame, so it focuses strongly on narrative over mechanics. It’s halfway to a role-playing game, really, exactly what I would want from this experience. And I’d been wanting it for a long time before I finally got it.

Read more
The Game

The Game

This is the game you will never find on Google. Because the name of the game is The Game, and that’s just not very distinctive. The Game is a cooperative card game that was nominated for the 2015 Spiel des Jahres. It’s small and abstract, but that doesn’t say anything about how much fun it is.

Read more