Qt3 Boardgames Podcast: Near & Far, Keyforge, Village Pillage

Which prepositions are left for Ryan Laukat’s games, why would an inveterate deck-builder play a card game without deck building, and how can you move your gaming group past Love Letter and even Lovecraft Letter?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2019/05/03/qt3-boardgames-podcast-near-far-keyforge-village-pillage/

Invertebrates play deck-builders?

How does Near & Far compared to Legends of Andor?

Wait, did you guys play with the Amber Mines expansion? It has Amber Mines! It has a Mystic’s Hut!!

KeyForge is definitely worth checking out. No messing around with mana and no trying to whittle your opponent’s health down; just collect a set of six pieces of “aember” and forge one of three victory tokens – sorry, “keys” and you’re done. Quick to setup and play; perfect for two people to while away some time without bothering with constructing decks and collecting cards.

I also have 100+ plays of Love Letter and its variants. Rather than considering it solved and old hat, we increase the speed. I still really enjoy it when it’s moving almost as fast as a game of war. If only you could get new players to keep up.

I’ve nothing to add to the Keyforge discussion other than that Hassan described it very well, and I really hope Tom tries it more if only so that he can return to the podcast with an expanded opinion.

Finally, is it a palate cleanse if it’s the last game of the night?

Yeah, you also made me buy two Keyforge decks. Fun game, but boy did we played a lot wrong without a physical manual at hand.

Not including a full manual with even the starter-set is a lame move by FFG, no doubt. It’s another (negative) aspect of our wired culture where the assumption is that players will download the full rulebook PDF on their own time. It does make a “living rulebook” easier to maintain, which is probably why they did it.

FYI- the new KeyForge release comes out 5/30. All new cards mixed in with cards from the first set.

No doubt, plus not having to carry around a physical rulebook makes it more portable? I mean, I have it on my phone.

Mixed in, are you sure? I thought it was a new set of 200+ cards with unique decks.

It’s 200 new cards added to the pool but the decks are constructed from new and old cards combined.

Do you sell Keyforge decks for $8? I actually didn’t know they were $10 MSRP; my local GG apparently has them discounted.

In theory, it sounds like a great idea. In practice, it seems to lead (at least in part) to releasing half-baked rules, constant tinkering, and the release of “revisions” that completely change the game. You never know what kinds of changes have been made since last time, and needing to download and read a new set of rules every time you play is a lot worse (to me) than carrying around a physical rule book.

In short, I hate “living rules.”


That’s good to know, thanks.

True, but I think with KeyForge the base system’s been nailed down pretty well. There are some things in place for future additional rules, like the colours of the keys, the mavericks, and so on. Also, the rule set is simple enough that I don’t think it’s going to get very complicated soon – as this game is supposed to incorporate all of the lessons learnt from Magic, I expect Garfield has a vested interest in keeping it pretty straightforward.

Time will tell, of course.

@tomchick – As far as Love Letter replacements, do you know Loot ‘n’ Run? Talk about cheesy art! This is a game where you go into a pyramid to get treasures and you have to avoid the monsters. Like Mummies. (So far so good.) And Frankensteins. (Wait…) And Wolf Mans! (Oh for pete’s sake.)

But whatever. The way the game works is that on your turn you’re either exploring a new door (drawing a card from the middle, looking at it, and putting it face down in front of you), scoring all your cards (treasures on the cards are worth more if you get multiple cards with the same treasure type), or picking an opponent to “Awaken,” which means forcing him to show all his cards and hoping he has some monsters hiding there, in which case he loses all his cards and you get some bonus based on whether it’s a mummy or a *sigh* frankenstein.

So the dynamic is that you’re pressing your luck trying to get more matching treasures without getting called by another player. A nice wrinkle is that when you draw a card you can pick from two stacks and the cards have green, yellow, or red-marked doors on the backside. These tell you generally how risky that card is–red cards have more loot and more monsters, on average. So opponents can look at not only how many cards you have down in front of you, but also how many are risky before deciding you need to be “awakened.” Also there are cards with scarabs on them, which keep a monster on one of your other cards from counting if you get called.


I picked it up on a whim because of the player count and speed of play, and we’ve gotten a lot of hours out of it!

Besides that, I would (broken-record-style) recommend Incan Gold. Also a press-your-luck game, but of a different stripe. Easily one of the staples of my game collection, for at least a decade.

Speaking of which, I know there’s a little tongue in cheek, but I don’t get the snickering about someone who likes Agricola just because it’s an old game. One of the things I love about board games is that I think effectively they don’t get obsoleted by time. A good board game is an experience wrapped up in a self-contained artifact. You don’t need hardware to run it. Unless it’s Trivial Pursuit, it doesn’t have content that goes stale. You might prefer a newer or older take on a concept, but Architects of the West Kingdom doesn’t make Caylus not fun anymore.

Well, okay, in the long view, there are eras in gaming, and I don’t think I’d want to go back to only having the board games that were available in the 1980s. But even then there are games from that period that totally hold up today. Acquire, for heaven’s sake!

It’s not just old, but it’s early worker placement. Before designers like Uwe Rosenberg* could get creative. It’s rote points salad and its cute little vegetable farm theming belies the extreme frustration it’s willing to wreak on casual and even intermediate players. There are just so many better worker placement game, farming themed games, and Uwe Rosenberg games.

Dude. It totally does! There is no reason to play Caylus ever again. None. The only reason would be some crazy Twilight Zone episode where you and three friends are trapped in a bunker after a nuclear holocaust and the only boardgame you have left is Caylus.

That might be the only one. I don’t even think Cosmic Encounters holds up anymore. It’s my whole thing about how no one invented good game design until ten years ago. The things made in the last ten or so years, in the post Pandemic/Dominions/Agricola era, have a whole different philosophy and approach and feel. It’s not like movies where Casablanca is just as good as The Conversation which is just as good as Dark Knight. If you accept that the purpose of a boardgame is to engineer real-time social interaction around a narrative, the ones made in the last ten years are almost always more effective than the ones from before then.

IMO, of course.


* oh man, I unconsciously typed “Uwe Boll” before correcting mysefl

P.S. Boughten!


@tomchick, how many player capability do you need for your palate cleanser replacement? I have some ideas, but not if you need the 7-8 player range.

So there is some truth to “good game design was invented in the last ten years.” Except the number is more like 20 years, and there were folks like Sid Sackson making stuff that holds up in the 60s and 70s.

I could fill a whole weekend of gaming with high-quality games that were made in the 20-oughts, games that don’t feel like anything else, that aren’t stale or outmoded. Why should games get outmoded and movies not? There’s some case for video games, given the technological dependencies, but not pieces on a board.

Are there innovations in board game design? Yes. There have been in movies, too. Citizen Kane, anyone? Look at the pacing of almost any movie today compared to one from 50 years ago and it’s obvious that an evolution has taken place. And it’s totally valid for someone to say, “I have no patience for the pacing of old movies.” But still: Casablanca.

And Caylus. It’s a solid design. It does things a lot of worker placement games don’t do. If it worked back then, it basically works now. You are welcome to prefer slightly slicker games that don’t have some ugly dopey dude on the box–that’s cool. But the cult of the new is bad enough in video games. Let’s not drag it into board games where it doesn’t belong. Nobody makes auction games anymore, but that doesn’t make Knizia’s Modern Art the equivalent of Final Fantasy 7. “Remember when games had wooden pieces instead of fully painted miniatures? Those were the days, huh? Sometimes I open those boxes up just for the nostalgia of it. But I sure wouldn’t play one of them again. *snerk*”

I’m also pretty sure you know this is true, but you’re making a (real) point about the breadth of quality in board games recently by employing a version of your “grandpa movie” quip. I get it! I just can’t abide dozens of great older games getting slandered. And I do think it’s one of the beauties of board games that, by their nature, they can actually achieve timelessness.

Agricola has an outstanding decision-making tree, probably still better than most of its successors. There still aren’t many games you can get that from. And card banning and drafting has patched most issues.