M-O-O-N, That Spells Game – Moonbase Alpha Review

moonbase alpha cover

We like the moon!

People love strategy and decisions, but they present a real danger of making a game more trouble than it’s worth. I’ve been generally positive on Victory Point Games, whose small-box games have covered an enormous breadth of topics and mechanics. Moonbase Alpha had all the earmarks of something I would like, from a cool 1970s sci-fi theme to dice-based combat. And yet in practice it was irritating and overwrought. It  complicates things it doesn’t need to and presents strategic opportunities I didn’t really need. Continue reading

Ode to Punching

Duel of Ages cardboard

Yes, all of those cardboard sheets are for punching stuff out.

The board gaming hobby spends a lot of time wondering how we can draw new people into the hobby. There’s discussion about whether one should emphasize the social aspect, accessible game design, or even if this is a hobby where new people belong in the first place. Those are worth discussing, but it seems to me that we’ve overlooked the most obvious draw of the board game hobby: punching out the pieces. Continue reading

The Write Stuff

I commented last week on my lowered activity here on the blog, due to writing for some other projects. It’s interesting, I didn’t realize that blogging was beginning to serve as some kind of bizarre therapy. The last two weekends were both just a little too busy to get something posted, and each of the last two Mondays I spent the whole day at work feeling edgy and unproductive, and not because I didn’t accomplish anything at work. Both times, I blasted out my F:AT article in the evening and immediately felt better, like I suddenly wasn’t wasting my day. Continue reading

Wake Me When It’s Over

yawning hippo

I’ve been there, man.

I’m not sure if it’s a product of turning 30, or of having two young children, but I have very suddenly developed an overactive yawning habit. Increasingly, my sentences end with an indeterminate breath of air, like “Hey let’s go shave the baby’s aaaaaAAAAHHH.”. Last night as I put The Big One to bed I kept on trying to compel him to select a bedtime story, and with every admonition I felt my face split into a wider yawn. This was at 7:30 in the evening, mind you. We had a friend over this evening, roughly our age, and after the boys were in bed we spent all of our time chatting on the couch and yawning. Truly the town was painted red. Continue reading

Waterdeeper – Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport Review

Scoundrels of Skullport

They’ve come for your cubes!

Lords of Waterdeep was one of 2012’s best games, and it did it by not doing anything too fancy. It valued straightforward rules and intuitive strategy over originality and cleverness, and it ended up becoming one of my favorite eurogames of the last few years. Since it was able to achieve so much by consolidating the strengths of its genre and executing those strengths impeccably, it’s fitting that the Scoundrels of Skullport expansion operates on much the same principle. Instead of introducing a slew of new mechanics and complications, it falls back on the core strengths of the original game, while introducing a ton of new content and one very well-executed new mechanic  so good, it feels like it always belonged in the game. Continue reading

Lean Days

You may have noticed that I’m not writing on The Rumpus Room quite at the normal clip that I’ve pursued for the last several months. There are a couple of reasons for this, but the biggest one is that I’ve been doing a fair bit of writing for The Good Men Project. I told you about my “hometown” essay last week, but I’ve also written one about playing games with The Big One, and another about my inability to fix a lawnmower. Expect to see more of me around there, which by necessity means there will be a little less of me around here. Continue reading

Potterville: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

deathly hallows 2 poster

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II might be the first movie that is really just a two hour climax. Not only does it have to tie up everything from its immediate predecessor, but it serves as the capper to ten years of ridiculously successful film-making. The amazing thing is that it succeeds in the best terms possible. It’s ties up the stories that have been weaving over seven movies, but more importantly it never misses a chance to go for the emotional payoff. It gives the major characters the ending they deserve. If Sorcerer’s Stone set in motion all of the pieces that would make Harry Potter a success on the big screen, Deathly Hallows Part II ensures that the entire series will be remembered for years by sticking the landing. Continue reading

Throw Me The Idol! – Escape: The Curse of the Temple Review

Escape cover

That guy will get a nasty surprise when he falls into that pit he’s levitating over.

Escape is not a perfect game, but it has one thing that is a good sign: I always want to play it again. It’s like an enormous tin of cookies that you keep eating until you realize that half the tin is gone and you actually feel a little sick. I went to a game day a couple of weeks ago, and taught the game to a friend or two. We played, no joke, about seven times right then and there. There’s no such thing as only one game of Escape. It only exists in the plural. Continue reading

Non-Rumpus Diversion

Kokosing river

Inspired by the mighty Kokosing

Hey, this is just to let you all know that I’ve contributed an essay to The Good Men Project, about my de facto hometown, Mount Vernon, OH. You can read it here. This particular piece ended up being a very personal one, and I humbly think it’s one of the better things I’ve ever written. I think you’d do well to check it out for yourself and let them know what you think. Continue reading

Potterville: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

deathly hallows part 1

So here we are, in the last big push before the entire series is over. Of course, Deathly Hallows is split over two movies, and we’re covering the first one here. I’ve always been of two minds about the split. On one hand, at no point have I ever assumed that it was for some altruistic reason to be more true to the book. It was, pure and simple, a way to wring one more movie ticket from all of the fans who had stuck with it for so long. There was so much content cut out of previous books so that a story could fit in a single movie, but suddenly we need over four hours to adapt the final installment? How convenient. Continue reading