“Caaaw! Look at that hogtopus, is it not the most fabulous beast around?”
“Caaawsing me to feel quite depressed it is.”
“These Caaawful puns will be the death of me, and any readership.”
“You mean they’d have a just Caaawse for leaving?”
Well I’d better stop wasting time and tell you about the caaawgeous Fabulous Beasts then. Or should that be fabulous Fabulous Beasts? Anyway, this intriguing game mixes the dexterity challenge of building a tower with an app controlled ecosystem based off of the tower you create. What this means is that every chunky plastic piece you add to the tower changes the beautifully colourful world within the app, until it inevitably collapses and your group receives a final score.
These pieces come in a variety of impractical to stack shapes, from bears to whales to fire, and represent the animals that will populate the in-app world, a process that happens automatically thanks to a scanner built into the tower’s base. It is the fabulousness of these animals that will determine your score, but the game gets interesting through the addition of cross and migration pieces that drive evolution and blending of the animals to create new and ever-more fabulous species, as well as creating flat platforms in the tower upon which you can stack more pieces. These animals are weirdly vain however, and will lose fabulousness in the face of more impressive creatures. Managing this is an important part of the game.
Fabulous Beasts presents a really unique package. The game is (short of a particular stretch goal) just a cooperative point maximisation game, yet the rules for how to score these points are hidden within the app, and need to be discovered. If this was purely a digital game, it would probably be ok, but the dexterity element is capable of adding a level of tension and challenge that creates something with astounding potential. Tying your ability to explore the game’s world to your physical skills is an incredibly cool idea, and obfuscating a tabletop game’s scoring within an app will encourage players to come back and explore its systems, at the same time getting better at the physical game. Just such a neat idea!
The tower of Fabulous Beasts collapses on February 25th.
Oh, what’s this? Another lovely game about making wine? Set in Portugal no less. Any excuse to crack open a nice bottle as I sit down to play – oh Jesus look at that board!!
This is no quiet walk in the vineyards. Here you’ll be establishing estates, growing vines (while taking into account this season’s weather), aging the wine you get out of them, sell it, either locally or via export abroad, taking it to wine competitions and making sure to get the most from the available expert knowledge… my goodness that’s a lot to keep track of. Yet this is no new game, instead a second edition with improved mechanisms and bringing with it a legion of admirers.
We are big fans of much simpler wine based game Viticulture, but whereas that is a light refreshing glass of Pinot, Vinhos is a hard hitting, full bodied, tannin-ed up to the nines headache inducing Barolo of a game. In fact, with all those mechanisms, it’s an entire barrel of the stuff, and not for the feint of heart. This should come as no surprise given it comes from current darling of the heavy Euro crowd, Vital Lacerda, designer of Kanban, CO2 and the Gallerist (which I am extremely keen to play). If you can’t take the weight, steer clear of Vinhos, but if you like a good meaty game with your wine, backing this Kickstarter might be Vital… (sorry).
Uncork Vinhos by February 25th.
“My God, this is it…”
“I never thought it we’d find it, but here it lays, buried deep in the hidden corners of Miskatonic University”
“What have you found!?”
“Within my hands I hold a copy of the fabled Mythos Tales, the content so unspeakable that merely to read it is to descend to the depths of madness…”
“… So how are we supposed to play it then?”
Known by “Arkham Investigator” in another realm (BoardGameGeek), Mythos Tales is a series of mysteries constructed in a similar format to the utterly amazing Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, but transplanted to H. P. Lovecraft’s infamous worlds of terror. We’ve not yet reviewed Sherlock Holmes, but it is an absolute masterpiece of a game so anything that extends it is a very good thing.
Much like that game, here you receive a number of mysteries to solve, the local newspaper for the day, a map of the city (in this case Arkham), and a directory of every character living within. You read the text that introduces the case, and you are free to visit any location within the directory, turning to the relevant part of the case book to read what (if anything) you discover there… It is a wonderful system that makes for both a great cooperative and solo gaming experience.
Two print and play adventures are available (here) if you want to give it a try, but the Kickstarter offers up 6-8 more cases, all contained within a beautiful hardback book. A game that is well worth investigating.
Close the book on Mythos Tales before February 22nd.
Other Great Games
Control – A quick fire card game of time travellers trapped in a space-time rupture, and looking for a way out. Aiming to collect enough fuel to power their time machines (by setting aside cards), each also has an ability that triggers when played, or can be used by trashing the card depending on its type. A simple yet interactive game with a lovely graphical style. Ends Feb 19th.
Explorers of the North Sea – Very much an entry level game, this sees players exploring the… North… Sea… trading goods and pillaging the odd settlement as Vikings are wont to do. This is the 3rd (and apparently final) game in the North Sea series and the Kickstarter features the Runesaga expansion that allows you to link them together into a campaign should you own the previous games. Ends Feb 24th.
Gingerdead House – A beautifully illustrated and pun-heavy tower defence game, in which the Grimm’s fairy tale characters are out for your blood. Hopefully, you can keep them distracted for long enough that you are the last of your friends standing, even if that will come as much down to luck as to skill. Ends Feb 25th.
Dreamwell – Another pretty game, Dreamwell has you exploring the dream world with a pair of balloons, looking for your friends. Each friend unlocks new abilities that aid you with the next, and combining these with plotting the most efficient routes through the dream will be key in beating your opponents. Ends Feb 25th.
Ghostel – Play as ghosts trying to scare away the guests in a new hotel that has taken over your haunted house. Your ghosts move about the house dropping dice within guest’s rooms; a rightly terrifying experience in any hotel without a games convention, and if the total value on the dice is higher than the guest’s courage, they will flee earning each contributing player a share of the points. Simple, family friendly fun! Ends Feb 25th.
Province Deluxe – A 2 player worker placement and resource management game in which you must make the best of a shared pool of workers to improve the town and earn shiny victory points. This is an updated edition of 2014’s Province featuring a new board on the reverse with new actions and interactions for veterans to experience. Ends Feb 26th.
Zerpang! – Ostensibly a battle between rival geek-favourite factions, Zerpang! Is most definitely an abstract game at heart, but a very cool one at that. Each faction desires control of a different part of the board, with combat mechanics that encourage you to keep together but resource gathering that demands you keep apart, and a healthy dose of card play/hand management on top, this is an interesting looking game. Ends Feb 26th.
Mahola – The Great Spirit shall only lend its aid to the best dancer of the tribe. Effectively a Native American dance off, this trick taking game features beautiful artwork and an interesting mixture of hand management, drafting and set collection mechanisms. Ends Feb 28th.
Image credit belongs to Board Game Geek users rotational, newrev, chapelwolfwood, W Eric Martin, Suhmiley, Action Phase, ginobrancazio, laboratory, GreyGnome and Scottandelli