The Esoteric Order of Gamers’ Game Summary Sheets

After the euphoric high of opening a new board game, probably the next strongest emotion is the swell of despair as you process just how thick the rule book to the intricate and theme-laden game you’ve just bought actually is. And often times, the density of that rule book teams up with its cunning partner poor organization to make figuring out how to play the game clear as mud. But don’t despair. There is help available.

I’ve sung the praises of Universal Head’s rules reference sheets before while playing Arkham Horror and Android. Since then, Universal Head’s work has migrated to the Esoteric Order of Gamers, where the repository of games covered has only grown in the past couple years. When I acquire a new title completely unplayed, know I’m going to be learning something new or will be teaching a complex game to a newcomer, the Esoteric Order of Games is my first stop. Universal Head’s summary sheets have just the right mix of solid graphic design and strong structure to pack a whole game into what is usually a few double-sided sheets and a half-page of turn order details.

If you’ve ever paged through a rule book and been completely baffled by the turn order, or directed to see another section that you can’t find, you have got to check out Universal Head’s work. The references for Android: Netrunner and Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game live in a manila folder right next to the rule books, and that folder never leaves my game bag. When a question comes up, Universal Head can almost always answer it faster than consulting the rule book. The reference sheets are just that good.

Android: The New Angeles Blues

Sarah and Alex have a pretty good idea of what they're doing.

Android became a running joke in my group of game-playing friends. It had a reputation online for being complex and bit-tacular, which seemed wholly deserved from ogling the back of the box. The theme, noirish detectives competing to prove their hunches about a murder in the futuristic city New Angeles, with all the hints of Blade Runner that carries, enticed us all. But no one was willing to take the plunge and buy the game. Being frugal young people, we like to try a game out once or twice before throwing down. We are, as a rule, not early adopters when it comes to board games.

So it became the go-to name for a game for which no one was about to front. “Oh, it’s so-and-so’s turn to buy something. Go grab Android.” Then we kept promising we’d jump on the first demo available, waiting to see it crop up on a convention schedule somewhere. Alex came the closest, planning to try it out at TempleCon last month. He wound up only keeping an eye on the group playing it; they began before he got to the game room, Alex related, and were still going after his own party got through three or four plays of several games. That longing glimpse motivated him, I guess, because Alex ordered the game a week or two after Templecon. After another week of digesting the rule book and Universal Head‘s player aid, we broke it out one Sunday afternoon.

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