[Tuesday Night Board Games] Death Angels and Dixit

After a very long stretch of replaying the same games, however fun they might be, I went to Tuesday night board games this week with nothing in hand. My plan was to play at least one new title, Death Angel, the card gameification of Space Hulk, which Josh brought. When I perused Quarterstaff Games’ open play library, I grabbed Back to the Future, Straw and Dixit, just to further prompt myself to play something new.

Death Angel

After a bit of Tales of the Arabian Nights, in which Scheherazade was lost in Leon and got totally rooked by a charlatan posing as a beggar, I jumped over to try out Death Angel. In it, space marines run through a ship infested with genestealers, trying to achieve an objective — killing the biggest, baddest ooglies of the lot, namely — before they’re all ganked. Unsurprisingly for a cooperative game, it’s tough to beat. Each player gets some number of marines to control, who move in formation through four locations. The formation is represented by a line of cards, with terrain features like doors and control panels on either side of the line. Genestealers boil out of the shadows and vents, swarming the marines. It seems like more than a bit of a crap shoot whether any marine will be in a position to attack or properly defend against the teeming hordes of monsters.

I’d definitely like to try this one again, especially now that I have some idea of how it can go. Taking advantage of the door control, for example, seems to do wonders for reducing the number of genestealers on one’s six, for example.

Back to the Future

I hate to say it, but every time I play Back to the Future, I like it a little bit less. I think of Chrononauts and can’t help but see Back to the Future as the clunkercated offspring of an already quirky — but still lovable game. Which is sad, because I love the Back to the Future films.


Dixit is a game I resisted playing for a long time. The rules made it sound like just another comparisons non-game in the vein of Apples to Apples, only with artwork. Only . . . it’s a bit more. And just “a bit” in a nice way.

Instead of just picking a random noun from a hand of them and hoping the leader of the rounder choose it, as in Apples to Apples, players in Dixit choose a picture to go with a word, phrase, sound or story declared by the round leader. That’s the first difference: the players are engaged more than throwing cards on the table by being asked to conjure clues and interpret them. The second difference is there’s art. And it’s surreal, storybook-like art, which I dig, having gotten a good look at some of it. Flip through the pictures at Boardgamegeek and see what I mean.

So there’s a creative component in Dixit that I hadn’t expected to find. There’s also a bit of game play: trying to gauge just how obvious a round leader is being with their clue. Because the leader gets points if some players guess, but none if they all guess correctly. Plus, there’s incentive for others to play cards that fit the clue, because they’ll get some points as well for offering a suitable fit to the clue.

The drought of repetition has — briefly, perhaps — ended. Looking forward to next week.

[Tuesday Night Board Games] Back to the Future

The DeLorean on display at the Back to the Fut...

Image via Wikipedia

This was a two-fer Tuesday for me at board game night. Not only did Quarterstaff Games have the new Back to the Future card game from Looney Labs on the shelf, which I snapped up and then out of its shrinkwrap to immediately get out on the table, but I also learned Zombie Dice, which is exactly what it says on the tin.

Back to the Future: The Card Game

This is something I’ve been looking forward to for a while. I’ve adored the films since watching the off-air VHS recording of the original film my mother made for me and my brothers back in the late 1980s. Similarly, I’ve been a fan of Chrononauts since picking the game up a couple years back. Bringing the two together I was a little nervous reading some of the pre-release reviews that have circulated around that mentioned changes from the Chrononauts parent mechanics, but I decided not to worry about that and play the game in its own right, doing my best not to think “Gee, this is different from Chrononauts.”

That, it turned out, was difficult. Trying to explain the game to Bill, Nonny, Nicole and Chris while unpacking it, I found myself on a couple occasions falling back on my knowledge of Chrononauts — even after announcing to the group that I wouldn’t — only to discover that element had changed in Back to the Future. The Timewarp card type, for instance, is now called Power Action, setting it up as a spiffier sort of Action. There are no Inverters anymore. Time travelers change past and future events by using an iteration of Doc Brown’s time machine or a Doubleback card.

But I’m getting things out of order. “Time travel,” as the Doctor once remarked. “You can’t keep it straight in your head.”

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Back to the Future Card Game Cover Art Peek

Not long after letting the news slip that Looney Labs signed the agreement to publish a Back to the Future card game based on Chrononauts, Andy Looney tweeted a link to the cover art, available here.

What interests me most about the cover is the art is so different from Looney Labs’ other products, which are usually characterized by friendly, cartoonish art. Chrononauts is the odd duck out here, because of the design of the timeline cards, but still, the Back to the Future cover suggests a more photograph-oriented design to the cards — which is right and proper, since the game capitalizes on a popular film franchise. It makes me wonder if the card faces will use photograph-like illustrations or something more like in Monty Python Fluxx, hand drawn from real life references.

And this thought just popped up as well: in Chrononauts, all the players are from different, equally valid — or invalid, depending on your point of view — futures competing to get home. In Back to the Future, there’s only one correct future. I wonder how that will affect game play. Will it be a race to fix the timeline first? Will players draw identities originating from alternate Hill Valleys? Are the identities characters from the films? Can I still zip back and acquire my very own dinosaur?

“Time will tell. It always does.”

Looney Labs Announces Back to the Future Card Game

Well shut my mouth: Looney Labs announced on their Facebook page they secured the rights to publish a Back to the Future card game. The biggest fact they’ve let slip so far is “this new game utilizes our time travel patent, although it is quite different from Chrononauts in many ways…”

This really piques my interest. Back to the Future‘s always been a beloved movie of mine, in the way that Star Wars for a lot of people. My curiosity is piqued now to find out how much and in what direction Andy Looney tweaks the Chrononauts rules to suit the feel and storyline of the film — and whether it’s just the first film, or the whole trilogy. I’d be amazed to see a robust alternate timeline variant, going beyond the World War III patch to emulate the 1985-B history of Back to the Future II.

Looney Labs’ Back to the Future game is reportedly scheduled to go on sale this fall. Visitors from the future declined to comment on the projection’s accuracy.