Features// Michael Fox's Tabletop Games Column

Posted 28 Mar 2013 17:20 by
Good day, loves. Michael here. That must mean it's another Column About Boardgames.

I've been jabbering away here on SPOnG for a wee while now about gaming of the analogue variety and I hope that a few of you have been tempted to put down your controllers for a bit and see what all the fuss is about. However, I know that some of you will only allow the 360 or PS3 to be switched off when your cold, lifeless corpse hits the ground, so what can I do to convince you to try out a boardgame?

Well, there's loads of different types of video game, yeah? So, if you like a particular genre, why not check out something that works in a vaguely similar fashion or attempts to emulate the same experience? I've had a bit of a think and here's what I reckon you should be looking for, boiled down into a few handy paragraphs. See how helpful I am?

Perhaps you're a fan of the First-Person Shooter (fps). You enjoy pumping bullets into humans and aliens and anything really, and thrill in the adrenaline rush you get from running about a lot doing killing is your thing. Of course, cardboard can't entirely recreate the experience such games work at much too high a pace but there are a few out there that not only try their best to do so; they're actually rather good.

For sheer speedy FPS action, you're best off hunting down a copy of Doom, the boardgame based on the legendary shooter. It's incredibly straightforward, a total dicefest where you're looking to shoot anything that moves while trying to stay alive as long as possible.

For those who fancy an even simpler take on the genre, Frag from Steve Jackson Games may be a better bet (especially the Gold Edition which is a much nicer production) this is pretty much a deathmatch on your table, but can take a little longer if more players are involved, outstaying its welcome somewhat.

The best selection? Gears of War. Yeah! Like the video game! Fantasy Flight took the license and put together an excellent game where you and your teammates actually have to work together in order to fight through hordes of monsters in order to complete missions.

It's card driven, meaning that you're only ever able to do what you've got in your hand. Combat is all down to dice rolls, so it's simple enough. You're playing co-operatively, so you either win or lose as a group. It comes with loads of plastic bits, characters and enemies taken straight from the screen... hell, it's even got a bloody cover system! Why wouldn't you want to play it?

What about you lot who love your fighters, who have every iteration of Street Fighter all the way back to the first coin-op where you had to hit pads to determine how hard your attacks were? For you, I present two games both set in the same universe: Yomi and Puzzle Strike.

Yomi is played with two decks of cards, each one representing a different character (there are ten available) and runs using a simple rock-paper-scissors system. You choose a card, reveal at the same time, work out who has damaged who and for how much, then keep going until someone's out of life. Special moves are included too, but in the same way that you can't spam them in a video game, you'll need to build up before pulling them off.

Puzzle Strike is a different beast, expanding gameplay from just two up to a maximum of four players. Drawing poker-style chips from a bag, you'll spend them in order to get bigger and better attacks that you can use on opponents. Successful ones will see them adding gem chips to their pile along the lines of Super Puzzle Fighter get too many and they'll be knocked out of the round.

It's a very different game to its card-based sibling but offers an equally involving and entertaining time. Whichever of the two you choose though, they both evoke the spirit of battering lumps out of people.

Now for something more sedate. While you all weep openly at the mess that EA have created with the new version of SimCity, why not look at something like Suburbia or Power Grid to ease your sorrow? They're ideal choices, offering you the chance to either build your own little metropolis or look at things on a much grander scale as you create a network of power stations that spread across a continent.

Suburbia from Bezier Games is all about point scoring, contributing to the creation of a city alongside your fellow players while striving to make your little section the best. Spending money gets you tiles that are added to your little tableau that will increase your reputation and budget while also having an effect on other players. It's a very lovely game indeed and one of my favourites from 2012.

Power Grid, meanwhile, happens to be one of the greatest games ever made (even though it sounds terribly dull). Starting off with bugger all money, you're looking to slowly build a network of cities that you will bring electricty to through clever purchasing of power stations. Of course, they won't work without the necessary coal, oil, rubbish or nuclear fuel, the prices of which will rise and fall as the game progresses. Throw in some auctions and the huge variety of beautifully balanced maps that are available and you've got a true gem. Consider your desire to manage stuff truly satisfied!

Next time, I'll give you some ideas for those who love their sports a little too much, those odd people for whom driving everywhere in real life simply isn't enough, and those who spend far too much time in Azeroth and it's surrounding territories. In the meantime, remain indoors, avoid all that snow and enjoy whatever you may play. Toodles!
Games: Gears of War

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