Panda-emic 5!

Fond Farewells

Today is a sad day for Tiny Wooden Pieces. Not only do we say goodbye to our friend Panda, but we are also announcing the end of Tiny Wooden Pieces. We are both truly very sorry to announce that next week will be our final comic. For over three years now we have enjoyed sharing this comic with you, but unfortunately, we have to now call it a day.

There are several reasons for this, but most of all, it is simply a matter of time. Or rather, time pressure. We both love making comics, and that is something we are both going to continue to do. But we no longer feel we are producing our best work on a weekly schedule. This is something we have been considering for a long time, and have talked at length about. As much as we love the comic, we do not want to continue with something that we feel we are not giving our best work to. Our next comic project will be something that we can spend a lot of time on before even announcing, let alone releasing.

More than even making our beloved comic (beloved to us, at least), we are going to miss the wonderful community that has been part of this site. What we will miss the most are the friendly, fun, funny, and inspiring comments from many people we now consider friends, even if we have never met you.

We will keep the website up, and maybe one day we will once again do something related to board games. I have been thinking about doing reviews, or something similar, and maybe this site is the place to host that. In the meantime, if anyone wants to send me board games for review as part of another site/project I would be fine with that 🙂

We will definitely keep our twitter and instagrams up. While there might not be much activity on them, at least we can still feel connected to the wonderful community of board gamers out there, that we are proud to call our friends.

We will return next week for one final comic, and I hope you will all join us then, one last time.

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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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Sad Panda

Sad Panda (and the Goonies)

Takenoko is, of course, a fantastic game. But the harsh reality is that pandas are basically the Darth Vaders of the animal kingdom.

 

I hadn’t heard any hype at all about publisher Albino Dragon’s ‘Goonies adventure Card Game’. A recent Kickstarter release, the game had managed to escape my attention completely until the most recent Dice Tower episode. Guest contributor Richard ‘Rahdo’ Ham gushed about the game, and in doing so used Pandemic as a comparative.

Good enough for me.

By happy coincidence, Tabletop had just added it, and I’ve just recently come upon an unexpected glut of free time. While I’m sure ‘The Goonies’ holds up as a fun film (probably), I have no great nostalgia for the title, so approached the table without prejudice.

What I discovered was a very straightforward co-op, but one with enough challenge and crunch to make me want to play again after our first defeat. The core mechanic is very simple, but it did take me a while to get my head around.

There are five locations, and the players need to discover the treasure in each location. The treasure must be stored along a path, which first needs to be opened. Obstacles will mount on the locations, and booby traps can be sprung. Meanwhile, an encounter deck will throw up random hindrances, including some ‘Fratelli’ cards – familiar faces to fans of the film. Players will play item cards from their hand, assisted by their characters special abilities, to take actions each round.

Here’s the thing: The players’ item cards and the obstacles that mount on each location are drawn from the same deck. These same cards also correspond to a location, and discarding a card allows movement to that location. Discarding matching symbols (different to locations) allow for obstacles to be removed), and discarding three of a kind allow for a path to be cleared for treasure. You can search a location by discarding any card.

Basically, the game’s engine is a single deck, and the puzzle is in figuring out the optimal use for every card you will draw from that deck. In each round, players can collectively take up to four actions between them – another simple but effective way of ensuring cooperation at all times. There is nothing more frustrating for me than a co-op that doesn’t require the players to actually cooperate in order to win. I see little point or fun in a game like that.

Going back to ‘The Goonies’, the usual Pandemic-a-like rules apply. The game end can trigger for the players in a number of ways: a location having five obstacles on it, a deck running out, etc. The single deck system makes for streamlined play and a really interesting puzzle. I’m only one game in, so replayability is still up in the air for me, but I’ll definitely be giving it a bash again next week, so that’s a good sign.

 

In the meantime, we are finally moving onto the third and final scenario in the Arkham Horror LCG core box, so expect a return to Arkham in next week’s comic. And yes, we did an Arkham comic just a couple of weeks ago, but right now it’s fair to say we’re both a little obsessed with the game, so you will have to bear with us. Or suggest some other games we should be playing in the comments?

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