Wild Hunt for Foil Rares
I talked last week about not having enough time to play all the board games I wanted to play. Such is the imbalance between playing time and board games we have yet to play, that we have had to put a moratorium on buying any more board games It’s not going to last, of course. In fact, if you saw how excited I was that the makers of Star Realms have a Kickstarter for a new card game, you’d know that it’s not even going to be adhered to while it lasts.
But it’s the thought that counts, and moratorium is too good a word not to use. Even if it is essentially meaningless, in this instance.
Gwent, for those unfamiliar, is a collectible card game available to play, and of course, collect, in The Witcher 3. Collectible card games can be expensive, and time consuming. In the strict confines of an already-paid-for video game, the expense is removed from the equation. But with a huge map to uncover, players in every town, and 150+ cards to find, the time cost is as tangible as if the game were a real, cardboard, sleevable thing.
It’s the romantic undercurrent you always knew that was there.
Not content with releasing a Munchkin version of Love Letter, AEG are making a bid for the game to actually become the new Munchkin, releasing an ever growing number of versions of their now-flagship card game, with different themes bolted on. In addition to the Hobbit, Batman and Munchkin, later this year fans of Archer will be getting their own Love Letter as well. And as far as I’m concerned, this is fantastic. Batman Love Letter might seem an awkward mix, and the theme sure is fairly thin, but it remains the great gateway game that the original was. And with a Batman theme it’s a gateway game that is going to get into the hands of so many more people who would otherwise never have played it.
Love Letter! It’s been a while. Come to think of it, it’s been a while since we played Love Letter, as well. But like an ex who finds a better looking, more successful partner the day after the break up, Love Letter has been getting on just fine without us. In fact, the little game that could now has six different editions (two of which are forthcoming). Including a Munchkin edition. In fact, it was probably from Munchkin that Love Letter picked up the idea of perennially re-theming for added shelf life – Munchkin now listing 16 different core sets on its website.
In case it is in some way ambiguous: this comic is in no way intended as a slight on Star Realms. The game is a superb price point, brilliantly packaged, and a really great game. I have a lot of respect for the decisions implicit in the packaging and pricing of this game. We own boxes with similar levels of components that take up 5-10 times the amount of space on my shelf that Star Realms does. It is genuinely portable, and that fact married with its 20-35 minute playing time means it is a game that is going to be well travelled, and often taught, in 2015.
First thing’s first: over on BoardGameGeek the auction for the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund is raising a huge amount of money and you should check it out. It is a great way of giving back to the gaming community. And I know the gaming community is worth giving back to because we’ve met many of you, and know you to be friendly, welcoming, and supportive people.
If you’re interested, you can find it here, and you can bid on a guest appearance in a Tiny Wooden Pieces comic here. If you are the highest bidder when the auction ends, we will also ship you signed, colour print of the comic in which you appear. If you are one of the many who have already bid so generously on this item, I would like to thank you.
Bending the rules
While the comic is created from an amalgam of different experiences, the horror expressed is real, and I’m sure, quite familiar to some readers. The difficulty here is in gaming with non-gamers. If you’re rolling dice with seasoned meeple-herders, the rules are clear: respect the cardboard. It is more difficult, however, to explain the proper care and attention required when handling a board game to someone previously only familiar with card games involving aces and hearts. A non-gamer simply won’t understand why you turn white at the manner in which they are treating your cards. In fact, they are quite likely to set down their drink heart-stoppingly close to the board in order to ask what the matter is.
Magic: The Gathering
Please don’t get the wrong impression from the comic. I don’t begrudge Magic its popularity. I think it’s amazing. A phenomenon like that can only be good for hobby games of any sort, whether they are board, card, or war. It raises the profile, brings in profits, brings in players.
According to Wizards of the Coast, Magic has more than six million players. That is literally more people than the country I live in. Yes, Ireland is a small country, but that is still a ludicrous number of players, and a huge income for hobby stores. What helps gaming stores, helps everyone involved in the hobby. Not just that, though. I feel Magic: The Gathering is actually an important game, and not just for the bottom line of my local game stores.
Sometimes comics are difficult to write; with ideas forming only after hours of play and conversation on a game. But sometimes the ideas are easier to come by. Sometimes they are right there in the rulebook, waving a flag and jumping off the page. For those unfamiliar with the game, there is a clock mechanic (a really good one) in Elder Sign. It gives a great sense of pace and impending Lovecraftian doom to the game. Every time the clock strikes midnight, bad things happen. But to quote the rulebook:
Each time the clock reaches “XII”, midnight strikes. There is no “noon” in Elder Sign, as the investigators have to sleep sometime and leave the museum during its business hours.
“The most prestigious prize in gaming” is something you will have been reading a lot this week. The Spiel de Jahre has been awarded for an incredible 35 years now and is a shoe-in for the industry’s highest, and most high-profile accolade.
What’s wonderful about this is that the prize is awarded to a very specific category of games. It is aimed at rewarded those games that are perfectly positioned to get more people playing games. Family-friendly, lightweight offerings that can act as gateways to the hobby. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know by now how important getting others into the hobby, and keeping the hobby an open, friendly environment is to us at Tiny Wooden Pieces, so nothing makes me happier than to say that this is a hobby where the most-talked about prize recognises the importance of just that. Of allowing more people to discover and play games.
Some counters – they are just there to keep track of score. 4 reference cards – convenient, but far from essential. After that you have 16 cards and a lovely velvet-y pouch to carry them in. That’s it. 16 cards that manage to add up to a game that is easy to teach, quick to play, and a great balance of deduction and luck. (more…)