Quinns: Ships! Like streets that float.
In a curious reminder of our hobby's boxy lil' nature, 29 United States west coast ports were shut down this week, delaying countless board game shipments. Spare a thought for the many games were stranded at sea this weekend, as well as containers of less important stuff like shoes and food.
Rumours that SU&SD's newly-formed American division were behind the delay have been grossly exaggerated. It's all down to a dispute between shipping companies and dockworkers.
I've actually got a grim fascination with the scale of modern shipping. Friends of mine have wandered Hong Kong's shipping terminal (above), and it's always been a dream of mine to visit it's labyrinthine corridors like an ant in a motherboard.
Come to think of it, I also wouldn't mind trying 2007 board game Container, which a friend of mine who studies game design has called laughably obtuse. You're all operating companies which produce AND ship goods, you can load your goods onto one another's ships and then when the goods arrive at the island where the game is set you bid for ownership of them.
Sounds to me like a peek into the dark heart of capitalism. Never mind all these games that let me trade swords for strawberries. I want to flood the market with so much of a given product that the whole table begins losing money, then buy up stock in their companies, then forget which holdings are mine and accidentally buy them again.
Moving on, it's all expansion news this week! The fug of Expansionanuary, it seems, is expanding at an expanding rate. According to the SU&SD supercomputer, by the end of the year there'll be so much expansion in the air that there won't be enough oxygen and we'll all die. Still, what a way to go, eh?
We discoverd Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullfyre to be every bit as silly as the name suggests when we reviewed it, with players using the cards in their hand to assemble spells with names like "Whirly-Do's Burst-o-Ramic Testakill", or "Sir Lootzor's Devilicious Bedazzlement". Most importantly, if you fail to say the name right, the spell doesn't work at all.
Since variety was the (very hot) spice of life in Epic Spell Wars, I was very happy this morning to see that a standalone sequel, Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Rumble at Castle Tentakill is coming this summer, with both sets able to be integrated for an even dumber half hour of entertainment. Hooray!
Takenoko Chibis will be arriving this Summer as well, adding a pack of baby panda tiles to Antoine Bauza's beautiful game of bamboo gardening.
We didn't particularly like Takenoko, but seeing as the sweet plastic panda appears to have been that game's biggest selling point, Chibis seems as sweetly inevitable as ice cream on a brownie. A soil brownie. Full of bamboo.
It dawns on me that for all my hollerin' and boondogglin' about Doomtown this Friday, I didn't talk about the expansions available for it and how they're already changin' the gam'.
There are two small packs out so far, each containing 84 copies of 21 new cards. These are "New Town, New Rules" and "Double Dealin'". A third pack, "Election Day Slaughter", is out soon. You can read the full card listings on Doomtown DB so I won't regurgitate them here, but I do want to talk about a new mechanic that's been added to the game.
You see, some of the new Dudes you get are sterner, more experienced versions of the Dudes in the base game. For example, Allie Hensman in the base game is a waifish lookout for the Sloane Gang (left). Election Day Slaughter introduces a new, meaner Hensman (right), with the flavour text "Glad that's over. The good girl act was gettin' old fast."
Thematically, characters in Doomtown will grow up, change, and even die as the game continues in a teeny 2D soap opera. Mechanically, you can put the default and more experienced version of the same character together in your deck, and after the game starts replace the cheaper version with the experienced one if you happen to have that card in hand.
Meanwhile, Netrunner's about to begin its fourth cycle of expansions, all of which centre around different districts in the megalopolis of SanSan. So far they've announced The Valley, a pack detailing the city's expensive genetic modification firms, Chrome City, which will take us inside its gory cybernetics companies, The Underway, exploring the seedy counterculture and gangs of the city, and Breaker Bay, a whole pack adding (sigh) bloody students to Netrunner. There's even a card titled "Beach Party". I've never been less excited for a Netrunner pack, though I know I'm alone in this.
The single, mythical card that's gathered the most attention, however, is something known to the community as "Clot". This is a program that runners can install that simply means the Corporation player can't score agendas the same turn they put them down. Known as "Fast advance", this is a hugely powerful tactic that's been bugging the community for actual years. If Clot's real, this tiny sliver of cardboard is going to turn the community upside-down.
AND FINALLY! Do you guys ever visit the board game subreddit? I had a lot of fun this morning readinh this thread of the most fun people have ever had playing a board game.