Besides my reviews on the Rumpus Room, I also write reviews for the Miniature Market Review Corner. Here are some highlights from the past month from that source. Go check them out!
- Costa Rica – This is a nice little tile-laying and push-your-luck game. It gets the tile-laying part right, but the push-your-luck is a little thin for me.
- Spells of Doom – Of all of the mage-dueling games out there, Spells of Doom is definitely one of them.
- The Dragon & Flagon – Most gamers I know are lukewarm on programmed movement, but this new game by the Englestein clan made a believer out of me. Highly recommended.
Many board gaming hobbyists have a story of how a rare game just kind of fell in their lap. I know a couple people who found complete copies of Dune in thrift stores. One friend of mine had a copy of Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit literally given to him by someone who found it in their garage. While I’ve never had anything quite that lucky, I did end up with a copy of Star Wars: Epic Duels for a mere $35, which is a far cry from the prices that game commands today. I’m glad I have it too, because it’s a lean, fun action game, exactly what a Star Wars game should be. Continue reading
There is an assumption that if a game is chaotic and wild, it is inherently dumb and silly. That’s not an unfair assumption, because it’s almost always the case. But there have been a few games that look in the face of chaos and force players to roll with it, to create contingencies and take risks that won’t necessarily pay off, but are still necessary. Strategy games almost always tempt players to find a sure thing, and when sure things don’t exist players inevitably will complain that the game is random, or unbalanced, or something like that. But a few games have soared precisely because they force players to surf the waves of chaos, rewarding the players who do so boldly and effectively. Cosmic Encounter does it, Dune does it, and Zimby Mojo does it. It’s a huge beast of a game, one with a bizarre premise and a ton of rules, but as I kept at it I found it more and more rewarding, both in the memorable sessions it produced and in the surprising nuance found in its strategy. Continue reading
I feel like I’m the last board gamer who has not yet finished Pandemic Legacy. I was among the first to get the game when I reviewed it for Miniature Market, but here we are nearly a year later and our group is still roughly 2-3 games from finishing up. (For those wondering we are on our second game in November.) I do like the game a lot, especially the whole legacy mechanic, which feels cutting edge and different from anything else in how it shapes the game itself. That’s pretty cool stuff. Continue reading
Last summer I wrote a couple of times on the striking fantasy quest game Shadows of Malice. Its fresh approach to narrative and emphasis on player imagination created an experience unlike any I had played before. It eventually ended up on the obligatory year-end best-of list, and I am still impressed with its fresh take on an overdone genre. At the time I promised to review its expansion, Seekers of a Hidden Light at a later date. Of course it was recently brought to my attention that I made this promise over a year ago, so it’s probably time to get around to that. Continue reading
Consolers of the Lonely, the thunderous second album by The Raconteurs, was altogether unexpected. It was announced with almost zero fanfare in March of 2008, and released just days later. The Raconteurs pounded it out in roughly a week, and it was in the hands of listeners just three weeks after that. It’s also surprising how much more fleshed-out it is than Broken Boy Soldiers, which had an understated quality, solid but unspectacular. This follow-up is much more complex and ambitious in its way, with a lot more to say and lot more time in which to say it. But most surprising of all is that Consolers of the Lonely might just be the best album Jack White has ever been involved in, a crowd-pleasing rocker with big hooks, beefy riffs, and all sorts of loving tributes to the classic rock of the 1970s. It’s an altogether fun album from beginning to end. Continue reading
Icky Thump, the final studio album by the White Stripes, gives us a glimpse of the band’s trajectory if they hadn’t broken up four years later. It’s the band’s most complex album, with the most advanced songwriting and the biggest moments. While it is clearly in the same vein as the early bashed-out blues songs as their debut, here it all feels much more thought-out and intentional. Icky Thump was the result of several albums of growth and maturity, including three straight barn-burning albums that pushed the two-piece band to places people never thought possible. That also goes for the band themselves, who were now rock giants in a landscape where such things were becoming rare. In that context, Icky Thump feels like a logical progression, and it’s fascinating to hear it forge new territory all while feeling like a definite product of The White Stripes. Continue reading
Like all rock stars, it was only a matter of time before Jack White started in with the side projects. Ten years ago there was no indication precisely how many side projects he would indulge, making the debut of the Raconteurs in 2006 a minor event in the world of rock music. The Ranconteurs were much more than a Jack White vanity project though. For someone with such a reputation as a musical Willy Wonka, Jack White is generally quite collaborative when he’s in a band. For this new venture he teamed up with Brendan Benson, another singer-songwriter from the Detroit area, and with Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler, two musicians from the Cincinnati band The Greenhornes. Back in 2006 it was pitched as something of a “supergroup,” though Jack White was far and away the most well-known one, making it a somewhat spurious usage of the “supergroup” label. But for all of the minor hoopla surrounding the release of their debut, Broken Boy Soldiers, in 2006, the first album from The Raconteurs is a somewhat unassuming one. Continue reading