What’s Happening at the Rumpus Room?

Those of you unfortunate enough to be my friend on Facebook may have noticed a surprising amount of activity on my blog recently. It’s true, I posted four entries last week, and I’m on pace to get five this week. You also may have noticed that most of these entries have had almost nothing to do with games. Continue reading

Hey Yugai! – City of Remnants Review

City of Remnants box cover

We’ll need guns. Lots of guns.

In Kansas City there’s a restaurant called Swagger, where you can order a sandwich called the “Dead Texan.” This is a burger with bacon, lettuce, mayo, all of the usual suspects. But wait, there’s more! It comes with a fried egg on it, evidently on the assumption that it really needed some more protein. And then, as a sort of practical joke, all of these things are put between not a bun, but two grilled cheese sandwiches. I tell you about this gastronomic monstrosity because this same “more is better” mindset was clearly at work with City of Remnants, the new game from Plaid Hat. The difference is that all of those disparate pieces fit together so smoothly and intuitively that you look back at the end and marvel at how effortless everything was. Trust me, not at all like the Dead Texan. Continue reading

Think Thin

As those close to me know, since the beginning of 2012 I have made an effort to improve my diet and add a little exercise into my life. Essentially I got tired of being super-fat, and over the last year and a half I’ve been able to drop just over 80 lbs. Not that I’m particularly slim yet, I still have about another 40 lbs. to go before I’m at what Weight Watchers calls my “ideal body weight.” I don’t have the time to really commit to a workout regimen that would get me there, but I’m quite pleased with the progress so far. Continue reading

They Might Be Giants – Nanobots Review

Might want to get that skin condition looked at.

Ten years ago, I assumed I would stop listening to They Might Be Giants by now. Even at this point, when my love of the Brooklyn duo is as strong as ever, I’m amazed at their ability to write music that still appeals to me. When I was in high school, I liked the goofy sense of humor, the “novelty” aspect that anyone can notice with a cursory glance. Now I appreciate their amazing ability to write catchy songs, and the subtle darkness that keeps the goofy from overwhelming the songs. More remarkable is that they are at a new high point in their career after spending over a decade a little lost in the wilderness. Beginning with Join Us in 2011, and now with Nanobots this year, it feels like they’ve discovered a new thrill in writing goofy songs about historical figures and rambling insanity. Continue reading

The Amazing Captain Iron Super Lantern

Captain Iron Super LanternMy eldest son just turned three years old, and he’s now at that age where he’s “into” stuff. Specifically, he’s into superheroes. And when I say that he’s “into” them, I mean that most of the toys, books, and TV shows he cares about involve some combination of Iron Man, Batman, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, and sometimes Superman. And then there’s the real favorite, the one who stands above all others: Spider-Man. Continue reading

You’re Doing It Wrong

cracker barrel checkers

Just like gramps used to play.

I learned The Settlers of Catan from a college friend of mine, who explained it without glancing at the rules. We had a ball and played most of my senior year. It was only after I’d played some 25-30 games that I bothered to check the rules for myself, and discovered that he had taught us wrong on a couple points. For one thing, he didn’t use the alphabetical order for placing the numbers on the board. We just put out the numbers and tried to break up any adjacent red spots. But the rule that had a much stronger effect was how he taught us to trade: you could trade anything at any time, even when it wasn’t your turn. As you can imagine, this was completely bonkers, especially when we’d get six loud players around the table. Rather than the casual German game that it was, it transformed Catan into Pit with a board. Continue reading

A Company Monster – Goblins, Inc. Review

Goblins, Inc. Box Cover

And it was so well put together!

I like Goblins Inc., but not as much as I want to. As a result it’s difficult to review. On one hand, the rules, the advertising, and the game itself seem are aiming for a specific experience that goes undelivered. On the other, I find myself enjoying what’s there anyway. It’s 75% of the way to amazing, which is pretty good. But man, that last 25%… Continue reading

The Electric Co. – Power Grid Retrospective

Power Grid cover

I wonder what this button does…

I don’t often talk about how much I like Power Grid. On F:AT, it’s usually regarded as one of “those” games, the kinds liked by boring accountant-types and fun-murderers. Besides being unfair both to Power Grid and to accountant types who aren’t so boring, it’s simply untrue. Indeed, another reason that I don’t usually let on much about my love of Power Grid is that EVERYONE I KNOW LOVES IT. I forget the last time I went to a large organized game night with at least one table of this Friedemann Friese favorite, no fooling. Perhaps in a feeble attempt to be cool (at a board game party, mind you), I downplay my affection for that big green box. Continue reading

Glorious Revolution – Coup: City State

Coup Box cover

What smells like Renaissance?

Coup is an unassuming game. The first time through felt obvious, if pleasant. The second time through it felt a little richer. Every time it ended, I wanted to play again. I’ve now played between 10-12 games, and each time it goes just a little deeper. If it was any longer, I’d call it a grower. But I’ll have to settle for simply calling it the best “micro” game I’ve played since For Sale. Coup is subtle, devious, and layered. It has a depth that far outstrips its mere 15-minute playtime. Continue reading