After a bit of a break the chaps from Polyhedron Collider return with a good old chat about board games. We go full throttle for our review of Wreck & Ruin, race animals in The Champion of the Wild, get all depressed in This War of Mine and drown our sorrows on a Drinking Quest.
The boys then have a good lock chat about the current state of board game reviews and look at ethics, how we approach reviews and the best and worst receptions we have had to a review.
The other day I received a mysterious package, and well, if it weren't for a couple of clues I would be pretty freaked out. For starters, I receive a shipping notification from Poland. Ohh I think, is it a Kickstarter? Well the shipping and tracking data gave no information, only that the package came from Poland.
In this Kickstarter review we look at The Champion of the Wild, a party game where you have to explain why your chosen animal can win a range of Olympic events.
It's a board game review cliché to say "if you like this kind of game, you'll like this game". It's a tired and lazy get-out clause for a reviewer, they can thoroughly dislike a game and then issue this kind of statement completely admonishing any form of reviewer responsibility while remaining pretty, positive and ever so cuddly. It is a phrase I detest, but trying to write a review of The Champion of the Wild while avoiding this statement is turning into the literal equivalent of a daytime charge across the minefield.
The Champion of the Wild is a party style game where you are taking part in the animal Olympics. Three players will select events to test the mettle of the animal kingdom. These could be standard athletic events such as sprints, high jumps and synchronised swimming, but also include games like hide and seek, and other challenges such as a pole to pole race. Players must then select an animal from their hand to take part in all three events, and then explain to the other players why their animal will win each competition. Players then award placing based on this description.
Andy gives Drakkar a well-deserved thumbs up; it’s light, fast and fun.
Now we all love a bit of Norse mythology. The Marvel films are testament to that. A good looking chap with a big mallet walloping things around the head seems to make for the good times. And I’m sure he’s handy in a workshop too. Smacking nails into wood with one mighty swing – even less if he uses his hammer.
A big part of the old Norse history is the Vikings – another favourite of games and stories in general. Huge hairy folk raiding and pillaging their way around Scandinavia and eventually making their way over to Blighty to start the Celts on their merry way and give people like me their lineage. Focussing on the raiding and pillaging is the subject the upcoming game Drakkar from Spaceballoon games. Each player acts as the leader of their village and attempts to muster the resources needed to scamper off on a mission to grab as much loot as they can get their oversized hands on.
Mansions of Madness may be my favourite game of 2016, a truly thematic adventure into the horrific world of HP Lovecraft.
I know there are a few people out there who believe that cardboard and technology should be kept completely separate, that by adding an app via a tablet or computer to their board game domain that they have somehow sullied their table top collection. If you think this way then you are missing out on quite possibly the best cooperative game to come out in 2016 and the most thematic Cthulhu Mythos game that Fantasy Flight Games have ever made, because Mansions of Madness Second Edition may have some minor issues, but otherwise is a superb and deeply thematic adventure game that perfectly marries technology and table top.
The Runewars Miniatures Game is a fantastic rule set, with some beautiful centrepiece miniatures and some generic fluff. But its the high cost of a 'standard' game that is going to prove a barrier to entry for many.
When reviewing miniatures games, one must consider the holy trinity of table top miniatures; the lore (or the fluff), the miniatures and the rules. Because a miniatures game isn’t as straightforward as a board game, not only do the rules need to be solid but you also need to have miniatures you want to paint and a background that wants you to fight. We mostly review board games here at Polyhedron Collider, where game mechanics and gameplay rule the roost, and plastic models and pages of backstory are merely stage dressing. But a miniatures game has to draw you in, it needs to make you want to play, want to paint and most of all, want to pay most of your salary on more tiny plastic men.
How you rate your miniatures game is going to depend on which of these factors influences you the most. I certainly have friends who have bought entire game systems for the miniatures alone and Warhammer 40,000 has traded on the fan speculation of which Primarch would beat each other in a fight for some 20 odd years.
I say all this because I am a rules person that likes to have a pretty game in front of me. To me fluff is a tertiary aspect to my games (Star Wars being an exception), which is a good job because Runewars is a fantastic rules system, backed up with serviceable miniatures—with some quite stunning focal miniature sculpts—but has a background more generic than a 1970’s Tolkien rip-off.
After summer holiday season the Polyhedron Collider schedule has taken a hit, so here we are two weeks late with a bumper podcast full of chat about board games, Gen Con, involute gear forms, and eating olives. We take in depth looks at Anachrony, Tzolk’in and Labyrinth and provide a roundup of some of the games we have been sent to review that where rather bad.
We also answer questions from the mail bag about blinging out our games, use of theme and which are our most significant games.
Todd Medema from Expedition: The Roleplaying Card Game here. Polyhedron Collider was generous enough to review our first game’s Kickstarter launch, which doubled its goal. We wanted to return the favour by sharing some of the tips and techniques we learned from our campaign to make your next launch more successful!
First and foremost, we want to dispel the myth that Kickstarter is a tool for finding out if people want your game or not. Doing market research is easy - but launching a Kickstarter is hard. You’ll save yourself a lot of work by doing the market research before you even start thinking about a Kickstarter. We think of market research as answering three important questions about your game idea: Do people want the idea? Does your game do a good job of capturing the idea? What are people willing to pay for the idea?
Over the years we have been sent a number of review copies of games that have slipped through the net. It’s an embarrassment, it's unprofessional, its ramshackle, but there is a reason these games have remained unreviewed, they have struggled to even get to the table. Some of them are boring, some are uninspiring and some are just plain bad but it's our duty as honest reviewers to tell you why we just don’t like this set of games.
There’s a rumour circulating the industry about us reviewers, about how some don’t post negative reviews. I won’t get into that here as it’s up to the individual reviewers to create content as they choose. We at Polyhedron Collider, however, are certainly not above or below putting the boot in, especially me (Andy), as we firmly believe an honest opinion is far more useful to you, our vast and knowledgeable readership, so you can make a more informed judgement as to where you spend your hard-earned pennies (or not as the case may be).
I make this statement as the subject of this review, Betrayal at House on the Hill, isn’t exactly high on the list of “must buys” here at Collider Towers. Both myself and Steve have played this indelible stain on the gaming world many times (heck, I even owned it before I knew better and sold it) and suffice to say, we’re hardly enamoured by it. Well, let’s not beat about the bush. Personally, I’d rather attend a three-day accountancy seminar on the benefits of triplicated documentation than endure another game of that decisionless dross. Which is not a statement I say lightly given Steve is a bit of a dice-fiend, but even he will concede that House on the Hill is…lacking in any real thought. Although we both agree that Jon will probably like it