Posted on March 24, 2015
Some games that aren’t all about murdering everyone. No, they mostly are.
I’m still working on a recap of the complicated situation the Echo Wood crew finds themselves in. In the meantime: brief notes of games I’ve enjoyed recently.
- FarCry4, I wish they’d never stop making these. In fact, I wish they’d go back and remake Skyrim with this engine. It’s a big beautiful sandbox full of assholes who need killing and the worst eagles in the world. Perfect half-hour drop-in run and gun or determined 3 hour goal achieving game.
- Coup, is the bees knees. A card game based on some setting I couldn’t give two shits about, it is a mechanically fascinating game. There’s no clear strategy for winning the game – which tends to be fast, ranging from four minutes to about 20, depending on how brave everyone is feeling – since what will work for you is really dependent on what cards other players have or want you to think they have.
There are 8 actions a player can take and any player can attempt any of them. But 5 of the actions can only be played legally if you have one of five different cards in your two card hand. Since this hand is hidden from your opponents, this means you can bluff that you are able to take the Duke’s action, when you don’t have a Duke. Other players can call bullshit if they think you don’t have the card that let’s you take the action legally and whoever turns out to be wrong has to turn in one of the cards in their hand. With only 15 cards in the deck (three of each personality) card counting is easy (although I lost the last game I played by trying to convince people that I had a Duke when all three dead Dukes were on the table. There are a few other ways of reducing the cards of other players and whoever is left with the last card/s at the end is the winner.
It’s a fantastic entry level game, which is a patronizing way of saying that people not as into games as we are can get into it, but it’s true. And since you have to make up your strategy as you observe the other players, chances are they’ll be every bit as good as we are. I’ve had a blast every time I’ve played it. The expansion adds a little bit when you have more players, but 4-5 is the sweet spot for the basic game.
- Monsters and Maidens, got fairly middling reviews when it came out and there’s something amusingly bluntly sexist about the idea, but I really enjoyed the game itself. It’s a dice game, not dissimilar to Zombie dice. You roll 9 dice; 3 which favour a Maiden result, 3 which favour a Hero result and 3 which favour a Monster result. You pool the Maidens then remove from the pool however many more monsters you rolled than heroes. Then you reroll everything not in the pool, repeating the process until you rolled 0 Maidens, losing Maidens from your pool every time the Monsters outnumber the Heroes. You score your final Maiden pool and… that’s about it. At that level it’s not that much removed from Zombie Dice, but the expansion allows for some different twists. Seasonal dice rolled at the start of the round can change the 9 dice to 8 dice by removing on dice type. Then, extra combatants can show up during combat. The the monsters maybe bring a cart to load up their captured Maidens, or maybe the Heroes are particularly brave.
I had the most fun with this because there’s so little to this game, that it’s impossible not to come up with your own narrative of what’s going on. There’s a little strategy to it, but it’s mostly knowing when to call it quits by eyeing up your results and the dice left to be rerolled. That’s about it. It’s not going to tickle that “How does it work?” part of the brain that Coup does, but it’s a great timekiller.
- Touchtone, is another solid game recommendation from the Verge. Like Device 6, it’s a story embedded in a game. The balance of story to game is tilted more heavily towards game in this instance. In that regard it is an addictive little tile sliding thing. You progress through trees of seemingly randomly generated puzzles (the difficulty level seems to swing wildly, but that may just be the way the puzzles work on your brain) revealing emails and text conversations and phone calls which piece together a story. It isn’t entirely epistolary though as there’s a narrator that puts things in context and provides your fake rational for continuing when really it is the release of solving the puzzle and titbit of new information that keeps you going.