Dungeon Humor – Dungeonquest Revised Edition Review

Fantasy Flight’s third edition of the classic fantasy game Dungeonquest came out in 2010, and four years out it certainly feels like a turning point in the popular narrative of the company. The changes they made to a very simple game were indeed divisive, and almost all of the criticism centered around the revamped combat. Whatever damage you feel FFG did to Dungeonquest, it’s obvious now that the greatest damage was to Fantasy Flight’s brand. As a company they have always been willing to rework classic games to bear FFG’s distinctive mark, but up until Dungeonquest this was largely tolerated. Both Arkham Horror and Fury of Dracula were drastically changed from their original forms, but were warmly received regardless. But after Dungeonquest, every Fantasy Flight reprint is immediately met with suspicion from the game’s fans. It’s the exact opposite of how such announcements were received prior to Dungeonquest’s release. Continue reading

Restoring Balance

off balance seagull

Careful, buddy!

One of my favorite things about board gaming is the math trade. For those who’ve never had the pleasure of participating in one, it’s essentially an enormous board game lottery without nearly as much risk. You list games that you have to trade to other people, and everyone adds theirs to the same list. Then you each put together a list of games from the big list that you would accept for your games, and a computer program puts together trade loops so that people end up with new games for their old ones. If that sounds a little arcane (I didn’t explain it very well), don’t worry. The point is that there’s a real sense of anticipation, almost like a mini version of Christmas. You don’t know what games you’ll get for yours, but you know it’s something you’re excited about. Continue reading

Flying At The Olympics – Magical Athlete Retrospective

Magical Athlete cover

In what sense if “thief” magical?

If I’m really honest with myself, I sometimes resent playing games with non-gamers. That’s not meant as a slight against anyone at all, just the admission of a selfish gamer. I always worry that I’ll pick something complex that they won’t like, or that I’ll have to hold their hand through  the whole experience. The fact that this usually isn’t a problem doesn’t keep the fear from rising up in my throat. I am jealous of my game-playing time these days, so it takes effort to get over myself and just play something. To do that, I keep a stable of standbys handy that I know can be introduced to most people without breaking a sweat. It includes some common games like Settlers of Catan and Acquire, as well as some less usual ones like King of Tokyo and Citadels. But one of my favorites to trot out with non-gamers is Magical Athlete. As it happens, it’s also one of my favorite games to play with regular gamers too. In fact, let’s just stop this awkward segue and say that it’s one of my favorite games, period. 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

All By My Lonesome

Watch your step.

Boy, wish I’d brought a book or something…

Readers who have met me in real life know that I live for social interaction in games. It doesn’t even need to be an element of the mechanics, just present at the table in some form. If you’re the table that’s laughing and cutting up, that’s where I want to be. So I didn’t understand why so many gamers were so taken with playing games solo. On some level it defeats the entire purpose of playing games, which is to spend time with friends. Continue reading

Stupider Like A Fox – Talisman Review

Talisman

A dragon! A dragon! I swear I saw I dragon!

I have a genre of games that I like to call “stupider like a fox.”  These games are profoundly silly, filled with ways for your planning to be rendered moot by simple bad luck. While this might make a lesser game aggravating, if a game goes far enough, it comes back around to being terrific. Only a couple games I’ve played have really been able to swing for the fence of stupidity and succeed so wildly. Magical Athlete and Dungeonquest are two such games.  But before them, there was Talisman. Continue reading

It’s Not Funny If I Have To Explain It

It is to laugh.

Glasses on! Hair up!

Every game store I’ve ever been to has stacks and stacks of all of the different variations of Steve Jackson’s Munchkin. It’s a perennial seller, one that has spawned countless expansions and legions of fans. And at first glance it looks like a fun game, with amusing rules and funny graphics. And look at all those cards! It’s full of items like “The Boots of Running Really Fast,” which is indeed kinda funny. But for my own part, kinda funny doesn’t really cut it. In fact, by the end of my one and only game of Munchkin, I was irritated at the game’s snarky attempts to make me giggle at all of its in-jokes. It was enough to put me off of playing the game again. Maybe you love Munchkin, and if that’s the case I salute you. I’m glad that you, they hypothetical fan, have found hours of enjoyment and humor from this game. But the jokes wore thin for me, and it made me realize how difficult it can be for a game to actually be funny. Continue reading