This polar vortex is doing a number on my health and sanity, but the silver lining in this -50 degree stormcloud is that I’ve gotten a lot of gaming in! The past few weeks, it’s been mostly Magic the Gathering, but I’ve also been tinkering away at a new game design (nothing I’m ready to officially announce yet… but stay tuned!)
Even better, there are a ton of awesome games on Kickstarter right now… way too many for me to pick from. Ugh, sometimes I wish I could just be addicted to something normal like wine or gambling!
In any case, here are some of the games I’m super excited about this month!
Y’all. I am stoked for this one. 1001 Odysseys falls into the “narrative adventure” genre, similar to another recent favorite of mine, Fantasy Flight’s Legacy of Dragonholt. Essentially, “narrative adventure” is just a fancy way of saying it’s like a pre-written roleplaying game that focuses mostly on fantastic storytelling and interesting player choices that impact that story. I recently heard a game theory talk about the four pillars of motivation for why we game – the four “why?” questions that make us want to play games. The speaker posited that it really comes down to choice, narrative, challenge, and discovery. Without getting too heavy into theory, it’s pretty apparent that a game like 1001 Odysseys builds with the pillars of choice, narrative, and discovery, while downplaying the pillar of challenge – arguably a trend in gaming as we move into the ’20s. People want to be immersed in a new experience where their choices have a profound impact on the game itself, without having to learn complex rules and strategies in order to ‘win.’ I’m 100% here for this, especially as I play more and more games with younger and more ‘casual’ gamers who just want to have an awesome time together.
In 1001 Odysseys, players take the roles of the crew aboard the starship Odyssey. By making use of maps, some handouts, cards, and story books, the crew will embark on wild adventures that take them to distant and exciting lands. This kind of choice-driven story is also reminiscent of those Choose Your Own Adventure books from when I was a kid, except way, way, way cooler and more rewarding. (Something tells me I won’t be bookmarking pages with my thumb until I make sure my stupid decision didn’t get my face melted off by a giant hissing space cockroach.) 1001 Odysseys is a much more mature and well-crafted narrative, and just scratching the surface of what’s on the Kickstarter page, I’m waiting in antici…pation.
I’m impressed not only with the insanely huge story that 1001 Odysseys promises, but also the gorgeous artwork. The whimsical watercolor styles of Amanda Coronado and Cari Corene really set this game apart from the sea of sci-fi adventure games. 1001 Odysseys looks to be a truly unique gem. If my ranting and raving aren’t enough, be sure to swing by the Kickstarter page and take a look for yourself.
Parks is another game that focuses on exploration and discovery – this time in the form of a collection game set in the US National Parks. This is a game with a great message that nimbly avoids the risk of being preachy. Yes, we’re killing our own planet, and it’s beyond awful. Parks is built on that thematic underpinning without shoving it in your face. It’s just a truly beautiful game that happens to be about national parks.
I don’t want to go on and on about the game’s simple but lovely gameplay, so I’ll instead share the animations from the Kickstarter campaign itself:
The travel-and-collect mechanic at the core of Parks reminds me of another favorite game of mine, Tokaido. Ultimately, Parks is a game that proves the proposition, “it’s about the journey, not the destination.” This sort of low stakes gameplay isn’t for everyone, but it’s something that I adore. Getting together with some cool people to wax philisophical over a board game–or just share some drinks and laughs–is always a recipe for a good time. Swing by the Parks Kickstarter page and check it out.
If you haven’t heard about Rival Restaurants yet, I want to know which rock you’ve been living under and why you haven’t crawled out of it. This game launched on Kickstarter and was funded in less than 2 days! Truly impressive for an indie designer and publisher. Rob and Jon have been working on the game for seven (!) years, and the love and attention to detail shows.
In Rival Restaurants, players choose their chef from a cast of hilarious and colorful characters and, using a fast-paced timer mechanic, must simultaneously perform actions to complete their recipes, negotiate with other players, and make their restaurant the best on the block. I love a good simultaneous play game, and my recent faves Now Boarding! and 5-Minute Dungeon are both co-operative affairs; so it’s refreshing and exciting to see Rival Restaurants. The fast-paced competitive gameplay looks like it’ll be a total riot, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Chaotic antics and shenanigans between my friends and me as we lie, cheat, and throw garbage to live out our fantasies of being a Food Network celebrity chef? Yes, please!
Of course, the product design and visual design are outstanding as well. This team truly did a fantastic job, and it shows. Every element, from the cartoony, hilarious characters to the clean and colorful cards and board design pulls the game together. Be sure to pop on over to the Kickstarter page and check it out.
Suburbia Collector’s Edition
Magic. That’s the only way to describe Suburbia. I’ve written (ad nauseum) about my love of Suburbia before (even including it on my list of Top 10 Games Every Gamer Should Own), so I don’t want to bore you all to tears by repeating my fanboy nonsense. I will simply give a matter-of-fact rundown of the game for those who are unfamiliar with it, and highlight some of the cooler features of this new edition.
In Suburbia, players are attempting to build the best borough of a growing city. You must use resources (money and reputation) to lay tiles, building an engine that will generate more resources and allow you to lay better tiles. It’s simple in theory, but truly the best city-building game I’ve ever played.
What this Collector’s Edition adds (besides the previously released expansions) is some updated artwork, much-improved box trays, a light-up starting player marker, metal coins, a super cool skyscraper for holding the game tiles, new wooden tokens, brand new themed tiles, and an entire Nightlife expansion – and a lot more.
This is the perfect opportunity to get everything Suburbia has to offer if you’re new to the game, and a great excuse to get back into the game if you’re a die-hard fan looking for tons of new content. I really can’t speak highly enough about this game and how fun it is, but check out the Kickstarter page if you want to see for yourself.
Until next time, gang!
Keep it plucky,