Boardgaming in 2020: the year of the, uh, post-minis era? We can only hope!

I have pictures of @Lykurgos collapsed on the floor, head in hands after a near miss. And that was playing the tutorial difficulty. That game is tough and hilarious.

If you enjoy dexterity and the theme, I think it’s going to be a hit (no pun intended).

I’ve only played Spirit Island once. At a boardgame cafe a couple of weeks before confinement became a thing. I found it somewhat complex to grasp in a noisy environment, but very, very cool and incredibly deep. The game beat us handily. I’d happily replay it again.

Spirit Island is my favorite cooperative game, especially with 2 players. It gets around the alpha gamer problem by giving you so many choices and being so asymmetrical that it is hard enough to play your own spirit. This also means that it can bog down with players prone to analysis paralysis and gets harder to find a reasonable plan with more players. I’ve played it with 3 players and that worked pretty well. But I don’t intend to try with 4.

Note that the complexity comes more from the number of options you have and the number of interactions between different game elements, than from the rules.

I resemble this remark. Flip Ships is an absolute wonder of a game. It gets you up, moving, laughing, nearly crying, and yeah, sometimes, back on the floor again. For a long time I had prejudice against “dexterity games”, thinking them unworthy to join a collection of thoughtful eurogames with elegant mechanics. Screw that, have some super fun, super funny games like this in your collection!

Yes! That is the type of feedback I was hoping for!

Played a couple of games of Forgotten Waters today and really enjoyed it. I took a few photos and am planning on doing a write up tomorrow. My initial feedback though: Plaid Hat finally put together a great Crossroads/Storybook game.

My wife and I are planning to play it today. That’s what I hear about it too. I’m looking forward to seeing your thoughts about it.

We only got to the end of part 1 of scenario 1 today, but I already love this game. The quality of the narration coupled with the whimsical story and the unintended consequences of your actions make for a really involving and fun mix. We had a great time sailing the seas, escaping our pursuer and finding out what happens when we try a mystery action. Some of the story beats were laugh out loud funny.

Forgotten Waters:

Background: So I’ve played quite a bit of Dead of Winter and a little bit of Stuffed Fables. I really wanted Gen7 to be good because I liked the idea of a legacy sci-fi kind of game, but it was way overpriced and apparently had lots of problems. So it’s safe to say I have way more experience with the “Crossroads” mechanic than the “Storybook” mechanic. FW uses both together.

Forgotten Waters is a cooperative pirate-themed game where the players take on the roles of crewmen on a ship. It isn’t a legacy game, but the narrative is connected over subsequent plays. The game uses a required app to play. I know this turns a lot of people off from games but I think it is absolutely essential for this one. More specifically, it uses an HTML5 website that you can save for offline use. I find this a better solution than dedicated apps like Mansions of Madness because they may lose compatibility with future mobile OS updates. Plus, Plaid Hat can (and has) update the app on the fly seamlessly for players. The app takes the place of Crossroads cards used in Dead of Winter and all narrative text in the game. It presents story related entries, prompts for player choices, and assists in setup of the game.

Components: The game comes with a spiral bound story book, a cardboard hex-map of the ocean (empty and you add tiles to it), terrain hexes for the map, random ‘navigation’ tokens for encounters as you sail, standees for pirates and the ship, plus cards and tokens. Each scenario has a set setup for the map. A pad is provided of characters (all unique) and a ship log pad as well. The game uses d12 dice, one for each player matching player colors.

Gameplay: On each turn, players assign their character standees in infamy order to different options on the current storybook page. This segment (planning phase) is timed. If the players don’t have all assignments done by the time runs out, discontent rises. The first scenario starts open to a Port page, meaning there are options to visit the tavern, talk to the captain, explore, and so on. Some pages have required actions (red) that one player must assign their character to. For example, while at sea you have to feed your crew each round. You don’t know what the outcomes will be before selecting your action and actions are resolved sequentially. After all players have made their selection, the book indicates what happens. Usually this involves gaining a skill point and then making a skill check (Swagger, aim, melee, navigation, hunting, exploration) using a D12 plus your current skill level plus any gear bonuses. The results may be something as simple as gaining a crew/supplies or be told to go to entry number XXX. (As an aside, i highly recommend covering the right hand side of the page so no one knows what possible outcomes are from action selection).

Entry numbers are entered into the app which then will provide narration, prompt choices, ask if certain conditions have been met, etc. When directed from an action, it will typically result in a scene acted out and then prompt for a choice or a check. As the ship moves, locations are entered into the app which sets up new situations (and a new page in the book). Some of these you will start to visit more than once (boarding a frigate, stormy seas), but others I have only seen once. The actions available are drastically different depending on the situation.

Each player gets a sheet for their character that you setup mad-libs style with a few questions about names, important objects, or maybe a type of animal. These help form your background (read aloud) but also feeds into the constellation track. The sheet tracks your current skill levels and also has a Skyrim-esque star constellation. As skills go up, some have a star in the background which means you have to fill in part of your constellation. When you hit certain points of the constellation track, you will resolve a story action specific for your character when prompted. These extra constellation story bits also use your mad-lib answers and often have you get specific treasures for the rest of the game. Ultimately, you are trying to experience all 5 constellation events by the end of the scenario. Every sheet is a unique type of pirate (things like “assassin pirate”, “the grifter”, etc) that has a narrative to go with it. The app also can print off extra sheets if you make your way through the pad.

As the game progresses, players will accumulate treasure cards. Most of these are equipment/gear that increase your skills. Some have discard effects such as getting some free supplies for your ship. You can also earn both re-roll and ‘misfortune’ tokens. Re-rolls are just like they sound- turn one in to re-roll a skill check. Misfortune tokens require you to use 2 dice and pick the smaller of the two (and then you discard a misfortune). It is also possible to earn story-related items through completion of constellation events.

Roles: There are 7 different roles to take on this pirate adventure. All 7 must be taken every game regardless of number of players. Officially the minimum number of players is 3, but the game includes a 2 player variant and I don’t see any reason you couldn’t play solo with multiple characters. These roles for the most part boil down to tracking ship stats, but also individual players/roles will be given a choice to make on their own. (e.g. “Gunner, pick one of the following choices”). The roles are:

  • Ship scribe - Maintains a progress list of story events (progression of Bad Thing, how far you’ve interacted with captain’s assignments), writes story related notes, can ‘save’ the game to continue later by marking tiles removed from the game, sketching out things that have changed on the map, etc.
  • Boatswain - Tracks hull damage
  • Gunner - Keeps track of enemy damage (dials on board) plus status of 4 possible canons on the ship (loaded/unloaded, what level they are)
  • First Mate - Tracks current crew level (1-10) and discontent level (1-10). If discontent ever reaches the current crew level the game ends.
  • Cooper - Tracks ship supplies
  • Quartermaster - Tracks pirate infamy and turn order
  • Lookout - Tracks objective and threat progress

Overall thoughts: One of my biggest problems with Dead of Winter’s crossroads cards were the fact they were in fact cards. Players would always read ahead as to the consequences of a story action before making a choice. Forgotten Water’s app makes this impossible. After a voice acted audio clip, you will be presented with a story choice. Having no idea what the outcome will be is really fun as far as being immersed in the narrative. Furthermore, the voice acting and sound effects are really quite good and really makes for an enjoyable co-op experience. The narrative has both some PG-13/R violence described and has some genuinely funny moments as well.

Our first game we died due to not spending time to shore-up the hull of our ship. After a couple of encounters against the royal navy and some pirating, we ended up sinking. Everyone enjoyed the game so much, they all wanted to start over immediately. Our second play-through went much smoother. Balance wise, the game doesn’t seem overly challenging but being able to die (in a number of ways) on the first mission shows that some thought should be put into strategy. I also appreciate that the game seems to be alpha-player resistant. Eventually, people will start to learn what the best choices to do at common locations (boarding a ship, port), but when encountering scenario specific locations you can only plan in generalities. The spots on the page show icons for things that might be encountered there, but often the best ones just have a ? indicating there will be a Crossroads event most likely. I really enjoy the angle of “I guess I’ll go explore the cave” not knowing if it’s going to end up hurting me or having a benefit. During ship combat, there is some time for light strategy sending people who are better at aiming to fire the guns, others to load, others to repair the ship.

So, if you have felt the potential of Plaid Hat’s games but ultimately been disappointed, I would consider Forgotten Waters. I hope they have long term plans of additional scenarios (since it can be done with no physical production at all). Even so, I think this game will have a good amount of replayability in that the randomized tiles when moving around the ocean can bring up lots of various things.

I really enjoyed this game. We’re going to play the next scenario on Wednesday already.

Looking forward to getting my copy (although I’m not sure when that will be). Hope my family will enjoy playing it with me, and/or maybe my local gaming group using the remote play web app.

Apparently they’re turning Nemesis into a video game… ?

“Yes but we are not using your funds from the Nemesis Lockdown Kickstarter to make it, honest! You get it free!”

There’s been a few of these recently, Kickstarters trying to also make a video game based on the IP, that is not just a digital version of the board game. And they always need to put out disclaimers to placate fuming backers.

Tainted Grail was another, it launches (to early access…) pretty soon:

I wonder if any have actually been good? :)

Perhaps. They did say the received money from Poland in grants to make digital software. Tainted Grail hasn’t come out yet. I’ll be interested to see how it compares.

Just received the Splice and Dice expansion for Too Many Bones today. Just perusing the contents, it’s unsurprisingly beautiful.

I was just looking at One Hundred Torii and thinking about adding it to my collection! I definitely love the aesthetic.

New games this week:

Paiko and Talisman expansions are reprints but have been unavailable for quite awhile.

Someone needs to give Talisman to Restoration Games to overhaul it and actually make it good.

Also, if you had told me in 2001 when Munchkin came out that there would be a DUCKTALES version of the game, my head would have exploded.

paiko marketing needs a swift kick to the groin unless they release an expansion that is the last fourth of the box.

Does anyone want to join a Dragon Castle on our discord channel? I own the game and we play via screenshots and chat. Dragon Castle is one of my faves, and works great in this format!

Update: full now!

Looks like this is on Boardgamearena. Have you tried it there yet?