Panda-emic 2!

Panda Tales Part 2

This week’s comic is part two of the adventures of our friend Panda. Part one can be found here.

The winner of the 2017 Spiel Des Jahres is Kingdomino, and I couldn’t be happier with the choice. I love Kingdomino. It’s so perfectly simple I can’t believe no-one thought it up decades ago. Of course, it’s exactly that kind of simplicity that masks brilliant design. In the same way that a short story can be harder to write than a novel, I would guess designing a game with so few mechanics and rules can be much harder than a 4X space opera. With so few moving parts, every single one has to be in perfect harmony. Chris from Tabletop Cork introduced me to Kingdomino a couple of weeks back, and now I refuse to even meet him for coffee unless he brings it along.

My personal feeling aside, it is the perfect candidate for a Spiel Des Jahres winner. It’s simple tile-laying game in which players draft tiles to build a 5×5 grid in front of themselves. The aim is to build sections of similar type in your grid – forests, seas, plains, etc. The larger the section, the more it will potentially score at the end of the game (which takes maybe 15-20 minutes).

But there is one more factor in end-game scoring. Certain tiles have crowns printed on them, and the scoring for each section in your grid is multiplied by the number of crowns on it. So 4 forest tiles with a total of 2 crowns on them will score you 8 points. The more crowns the better, and in fact, if you fail to acquire any crowns, the section is worth nothing.

The tiles you draft each round will determine the order in which you get to draft next round. But a clever wrinkle in the mechanics means that generally it’s a choice between getting more crowns or going first.

It’s a wonderful small box game, and probably the closest I have ever seen to matching Star Realms regards value for money. If you can find a copy before the Spiel Des Jahres stampede sweeps them up and out of print, I highly recommend it.

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Panda-emic!

Panda Tales Part 1

This week’s comic marks the start of something new and very different for us. It’s something we have spent a couple of weeks working very hard on, and we are very excited about it. We hope you enjoyed what is just week one of the adventures of Panda. Those familiar with ‘Lost Patrol’ should have an idea of what he is in for next week – suffice to say things won’t get any better for him right away.

More than ever, we would love your feedback. We have 4-6 weeks of comics planned in this style with our panda friend, so if you absolutely hate it, you’re probably just out of luck. Other than that, we hope you give it a chance, and would love to hear your thoughts. We had a lot of fun working on the series – developing the idea, setting up a little makeshift home studio, taking all the pictures, and then stitching them together in Photoshop. It’s a completely different approach to making comics for us, and we both felt it exercised our imaginations and talents in new ways. After three years (!) it’s good to take a break and try something different, and I think this story arc is the best the comic has been in a while.

Also, if you do like the comic, it would be great to get some reposts/likes and all that other good social media stuff, to highlight the story. Much thanks if you can spare the time for that.

Finally, of course, a mention must go to publishers Bombyx and Matagot for publishing Takenoko, which of course is where this week’s comic is set. Full credit to Antoine Bauza for designing such a great, adorable game. In fact, as Panda continues his adventures in the coming weeks, the games of Antoine Bauza will be cropping up again.

And of course, the game owes its beautiful design and aesthetics to illustrators Nicolas Fructus, Joel Van Aerde & Yuio. It was a pleasure to spend so much time photographing their gorgeous game (I probably took about 80-100 pictures for the comic, and enjoyed it the whole time).

If you have never played Takenoko, we strongly recommend it. It’s light, with a fair sprinkling of luck, but it is fun, beautiful, and just the right level of thinking for a gentle evening’s game with friends.

And it has a panda. I mean, how could you not love that guy? It is completely fair to say that the panda miniature in Takenoko is entirely responsible for the arc of our comic for at least the next month.

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