Sing, O Muse – Bemused in Review

pic3396300_md

The games of Jim Felli present a particular challenge to the game reviewer. We see a lot of different games cover the same basic ideas ad infinitum, so when a designer like Felli comes along, whose three designs have all been strange beasts, it’s easy to latch onto their uniqueness while ignoring some of their shaggier elements. Both of Felli’s previous games, Shadows of Malice and Zimby Mojo, were striking experiences, and I stand by my rapturous reviews of both. But I also admit that they won’t work for everyone. They were long games with lots of little rules that were easy to forget. More than that, they really require the player to meet the game where it already is. If you can’t deal with dicey abstract storytelling of Shadows of Malice, or the chaotic strategy of Zimby Mojo, both games offer very little for you.  Continue reading

Advertisements

Zimby Mojo in Review

pic2861933_md

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

You should play Shadows of Malice

Shadows of Malice

In between writing papers for grad school and chasing my kids, I still try to keep half an eye on what’s going on in the board gaming hobby. Those of you who follow me on Twitter know about the work I’ve done with Miniature Market, and that’s been a good way to continue writing, even if it’s not writing that will appear on this blog. But this weekend I had a gaming experience about which I felt compelled to write. This isn’t really a review, more of a first impressions write-up. But I still wanted to tell you about this game. Continue reading