The time has come to weed the game library. Behind the jump you will find role-playing games, board games and card games I would like very much for someone else to own. Generally speaking, it’s all older stuff, so if you’re looking for titles from the 90s and early 00s, this might be the sale for you.
For Tuesday night board games this week, I grabbed a hodge-podge of smaller, less frequently played games. Of them, I wound up playing Captain Park’s Imaginary Polar Expedition and Chrononauts. The latter was fun as always, particularly in contrast to last week’s Back to the Future.
Captain Park’s Imaginary Polar Expedition is one I’ve played a few times before, in a sort of perfunctory way. We play it, and people don’t actively dislike it and then someone wins. This time was kind of like that in that someone abruptly won with a whopping ninety point fabrication. But people also said they liked it, so that was good. I should probably bring the Cheapass stuff more often. I still have games from that company I’ve never played; or game, at least, by the name of Spree!
Oh, Your Munificent Horribleness
After that, Jon and Nonny wanted to try out Aye, Dark Overlord, an improvisational storytelling game. It’s been in Quarterstaff’s demo library for years now, but never actually made it to the play area of the table, down to it not being much of a mechanical game. Jon and Nonny have always been the theme-driven types, though, so I figured they were the best ones with whom to try this one out.
It was . . . confusing. Players cycle through two types of cards, cues that they draw on to weave a story of why they failed to do the dark overlord’s bidding, as well as cards used to shift the blame and duty of story-spinning over to another player. But how and when those cards are drawn, I have no clue. Nonny usually prompted me to pull some more. And that worked out pretty well.
What really confused me was how the stories we concocted frolicked all over the place. They jumped from cue to cue, frequently without weaving those cues together. I think that’s where the player in the role of the dark overlord comes in. Someone who gets the flow of the game would jump in and demand more clarification and poke holes in things more than either of our overlords did.
In short, Aye, Dark Overlord is more of an exercise in collaborative improvisational storytelling than it is a game in the hobbyist sense of the word. It’s very similar to Once Upon a Time in that regard: best played in a group of friends sitting around the living room.
It Always Was Going to Have Been This Way
While I think it plays much more smoothly than Back to the Future, Chrononauts still has its own issues. Like that mini-expansion that came out a couple years ago, The Gore Years. It doesn’t do a whole lot, because so few of the identities in the mix have anything to do with the four or five events it adds to the timeline. Having Lost Identities permanently added to the pile doesn’t help, of course, because that must have doubled the number in the pool, so those added by The Gore Years are more or less drowned out.
It’s still fun to play, though, and a mostly immaterial addition in Chrononauts takes up significantly less room than, say, a dud Arkham Horror expansion.
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.”
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?
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.
Blimey, I had a busy weekend of gaming and gaming-related activity. In particular order — that is, chronologically sorted and neatly placed in nested lists — this weekend, I:
- Carb and protein and fat and oil-loaded at Handy’s with the Lafayette, featuring country-fried steak in sausage gravy with eggs and hash browns, before going to:.
- Playing board games at the Fletcher Free Library with a host of new faces, namely:
- After that, I booked it down to Rutland, where delicious Russian food — apparently the solution to making cabbage taste good is cook it in as many different kinds of meat as possible — was had before launching into a Savage World of Solomon Kane one-shot set in where else but 17th century Russia.
- Got home in Burlington around 1:45 in the AM, giving me a solid five and a bit hours of sleep before:
- Heading off to the wilds of western upstate New Hampshire — i.e., just across the Connecticut River — to discuss convention doings.
- Arrived back in Burlington around 5:00 PM for my first fondue experience, sampling The Kung Fu Mummy and thoroughly enjoying Mystery Science Theater 3000‘s lambasting of Future Wars, with its hand-puppet dinosaurs of variable dimensions.
I really intend to do a write-up of the Solomon Kane game, which was drop down hysterical for most of the time, thanks to the liberal application of vodka, beer and wine to the participants, but the whole weekend’s run together so much, I don’t know if I can do justice to any single element of it.
Following on from Wednesday’s post, wherein I realized there are games I own I have yet to play, The first step to rectify this situation was to bring a sampling of those to Quarterstaff Games this past Tuesday night; in particular: Fence & Fenceability, Save Doctor Lucky and the Doctor Lucky Ambivalence Pack, in addition to the more usual suspects.
Waiting for everyone to appear, I roped some folks into trying out Fence & Fenceability, a pseudo-Cheapass game in that it provided a rules sheet and unique cards, while requiring a deck of playing cards. Fortunately, that’s just the kind of thing I have in my Cheapass gaming kit: a pair of playing card decks retired from the Flamingo Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, as made occultly famous by Tim Powers’ novel about mystic poker, Last Call.