RogerBW's Blog

Thirsty Meeples October 2017 01 November 2017

Back to the boardgame café. With images; cc-by-sa on everything.

Horrible grotty images because I'd left the proper camera at home, but you get the idea.

We started with Above and Below, which seems to be trying to do a bunch of things at once. There's a Euro-standard engine-building game as you construct your village, and an Arabian Nights-style numbered-paragraph book of strange stuff to happen to you as you explore the caves beneath it, and you have to play both of these games at once with the same resources.

We picked up the rules fairly quickly, though there were sections we didn't use much. My feeling was that the pieces fit together a bit awkwardly: a Euro-standard "you made the wrong decision three turns ago and so there is no possibility of winning" doesn't sit well with the fantasy-whimsy of the narrative. I'm also concerned that with only about 200 paragraphs (and some encounters use more than one) the game wouldn't have much in the way of legs.

A fairly pleasant experience, but I'm generally bad at this kind of engine-building and this is not something I'm at all likely to buy.

(Last image is by Michael Cule.)

We went on with The King is Dead, a vaguely post-Arthurian game of politics… or of cube-pushing. You're trying to be in control of the faction that itself is in control of the most provinces, while you have a brutally limited hand of cards and very little power to affect things.

It has a certain minimalist elegance, and I won so obviously it's a good design, but unless you have the sort of group that's going to play this to death and get really good at it I think there are other games that are more rewarding for the mental investment.

We finished the evening with a game of Timeline: Music and Cinema, which… well, I didn't feel as soiled as I did when playing Star Wars Timeline but I did a substantially better job than the others of putting nineties and 2000s music in its chronological place. (Possibly because I could easily make out the tiny print on the cards that listed the artist, rather than just the song title. Hurrah for lasered eyes!)

[Buy Above and Below at Amazon] [Buy The King is Dead at Amazon] [Buy Timeline Music and Cinema at Amazon] and help support the blog.


  1. Posted by Michael Cule at 02:28pm on 01 November 2017

    I was slightly more enthused by ABOVE & BELOW than you were though I would agree about the chances of an early burnout with the limited role-play incident book.

    I was a lot less enthused with THE KING IS DEAD which struck me as having no connection with the nominal theme and a set of mechanics that were just trying to be tricksy.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 02:45pm on 01 November 2017

    Yeah, one could trivially re-theme TKID or even make it entirely abstract, and it might be an interesting exercise to do so.

    "Abstraction gap" is a perennial problem for me: give me an abstract game and I'm happy, or give me one in which I play an X and have make X-type decisions, but tell me I'm the leader of a warband and then ask me to choose which card I'm going to play this round, and I don't get on with it as well.

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