RogerBW's Blog

Boardgames at Home, January 2018 19 January 2018

With a role-playing session cancelled because of non-availability, the people who would have been doing that got together to play some boardgames.

We started with Aeon's End because I've been enthusing about it a lot recently. Still lost, but we felt we were getting closer than last time (just a couple of cards left in the Nemesis deck). More healing is a good thing; if I'd played Brama rather than Reeve, maybe…?

We went on to Statecraft, which I found much more interesting as a set of abstract mechanics (try to get your various policy numbers up or down enough to qualify for particular cards, then take them from other players) than as a game about something political. The four attitude tracks (socialism, capitalism, authoritarianism, anarchism) seem as though they ought to be in opposed pairs (indeed, the rulebook admits this), which makes it unfortunate that there's absolutely no tension between the members of the pairs (you can be utterly capitalist and utterly socialist at the same time), and the only way to lower one of your levels is the clumsy mechanism of denouncing a policy; many of the voting blocs have the same name as each other ("Students", "Retirees") but with different desires, and no obvious correlation between who they are and what they support (and the rules assert that they were randomly generated and assigned). I'd rather have seen individual names, perhaps with a touch of humour ("grannies for capital punishment", "student leftists", etc.). The graphic design is really terrible; very often you need to be able to glance at a card and work out that it wants at least three capitalism and no more than five authoritarianism, but whoever came up with the card layout (it's not clear whether that's game designer Peter Blenkharn or artist Zak Eidsvoog) didn't think of making that visually easy. There's the germ of a really enjoyable game about politics in here, but this isn't it.

The Bird Told Me To Do It was on my List of Shame (the Kickstarter delivered last May), and we got it out. It's quite hard to wrap one's head round, and I fear this is another game that one of us will never play again (along with Magic Maze and Tragedy Looper), but I rather liked it – though the plumage cards aren't quite as clearly related to the bird cards as I'd prefer.

In Boss Monster you're building a dungeon: more loot will attract more heroes, whom you want to kill. It's very swingy (generally a hero is either no trouble or a major threat, and multiple heroes are no more of a threat than one on his own) and full of take-that, which is a shame, because I enjoyed the basic idea. The rulebook was unnecessarily hard work to find things in, too.

We finished with Burgle Bros, and almost succeeded. All the safes were found, and two had been looted, but we bunched up too much on the upper level. (It seems to me that staying split up, even after the lower safes have been opened, is probably the safest bet, which isn't much fun for whoever stays on the lower levels. Need to think about that.)

[Buy Aeon's End at Amazon] [Buy Statecraft at Amazon] [Buy Boss Monster at Amazon] and help support the blog.


  1. Posted by Michael Cule at 11:22am on 19 January 2018

    I apologise for the degree with which I loath some of the things you like, Roger. But THE BIRD TOLD ME TO DO IT is not only almost pure abstraction but hard to get a handle on.

    STATECRAFT and BOSS MONSTER are going in the Bring and Buy at Handycon.

    We are getting better at BURGLE BROS. Actual success dangles just out of reach...

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 11:33am on 19 January 2018

    I ask no apology! I'm sure there are games you love that I detest; you just haven't waved them under my nose yet. Or I've forgotten.

    I'm actually somewhat tempted by Statecraft if you'll give me a good price. There's another blog post in the stack about how to turn it into a more interesting game. Let's talk later.

    We are getting better at Aeon's End too…

  3. Posted by John Dallman at 04:43pm on 20 January 2018

    Your blog entry for the 20th doesn't seem to have been posted.

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