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Games are fun aren’t they? Everyone sat around the table laughing, joking, eating, drinking. I swear sometimes I look around and see so much joviality and merriment it makes me stop and think ‘there’s not enough booze in the world!’ Which is why sometimes I like to play Dominant Species.
See some games aren’t fun, some games are Dominant Species and when you play Dominant Species you still sit at a table but instead of laughing and joking, everyone sits there grimacing with either their heads in their hands or their fists in their mouths for hours and hours. There’s still drinking though. There pretty much has to be…
Psssst… What if I were to tell you there was an area control game where you could pay actual gold pieces* to have an actual flying Nicolas Cage† swoop out of the sky and carry your enemies away? What if I was to also tell you that this game was the third step in our increasingly tedious†† ‘Risk Recovery Program’? You’d probably say something like, “Well the bit about Nicolas Cage peaked my interest but this whole Risk Recovery thing is kind of forced, I think I’ll pass.” To which I’d respond by mentioning something about the game giving genuine cause to utter the phrase “Release the Kraken!” and leading with a picture of said ‘actual flying Nicolas Cage’ instead of the traditional game and box spread I usually go for in the hopes you’ll click through and read the review.
* Not actual gold pieces.
† Actually Nicolas Cage, there can be no doubt; check out the hair.
†† Really quite strained as well…
By now you’ll no doubt have realized that board games, beyond being a harmless bit of fun can also be an insightful way of engaging with history and the world around us; a way of considering real people and politics from different perspectives and appreciating actual events in a more tangible context. This type of ‘edutainment’ (what a great word, what a great… great word) is probably most evident in this week’s game, ‘Kemet’ which delicately captures the period of Egyptian history depicted in the acclaimed documentaries ‘The Mummy’, ‘The Mummy Returns’ and to a ‘not at all’ extent ‘The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor’.
Kemet is also the next game in the series of reviews we’re rather conceitedly calling our ‘Risk Recovery Program’. Last time we took our first step in that program by looking at Fortress America, a game that comes with so many plastic pieces it’s hard to know what kind of joke to make; something about grown men and choking hazards I imagine… Whilst Fortress America was both ridiculous in theme and production values, we liked it a lot and decided that by providing scope for actual strategy and options for mitigating the luck of the dice, it was a natural stepping stone from Risk. But where to go next? Well, Kemet obviously. Let’s take a look…
The news! It’s pretty naff isn’t it? At least over hear in the UK it is, as it often just seems to be a succession of vapid anecdotes about how disgraceful women are, how offensive celebrities are and how more needs to be done to put poor people in prisons forever and ever. About once a day though – amidst the cautionary tales from twitter and the latest reactionary [not so] medical warnings about how your tooth brush is giving you cancer – there’s a news story that regardless of your nationality makes you silently mouth the words, “America must be stopped!”. Which as well as being very tenable political position, is also the thematic setting of this week’s game and the tentative first step in the ‘Risk Recovery Program’ we promised you last week.
It’s Christmas isn’t it? I can tell because I’ve been drunk for six days straight already on something called Glühwein. I’m pretty sure they only sell that at Christmas right?
For those of you without alcohol dependency issues you may have noticed some other more subtle signs that the season is once more upon us. Perhaps you’ve noticed that there’s a tree in your front room or that Michael Bubléhas once again awoken from his eleven month slumber (no doubt lured from his little Christmas cave with the promise of a stuffing sandwich) to croon all over the television and radio in another effort to sell what I’m sure is the exact same insipid album as last year and the five years before that.
Christmas isn’t all bad music, binge drinking and indoor gardening though is it? No! It’s a time for friends, family and playing a bad board game with them all for hours and hours…
So if I was to kick this article off by writing – Accidental Incest! In bold letters, just like that; what’s the first thing you think of? Iceland probably and quite rightly to. What about the second thing you think of? Star Wars? That would be the correct answer.
Star Wars is great isn’t it? No one is disputing that here. There are points in the original Star Wars trilogy though, that made you suspect George Lucas was just making it all up as he went along – like he does with his jaw line. The accidental incest between Leia and Luke might be the strongest example of this but there are many more; such as the Ewoks, overly vulnerable exhaust vents that lead straight to the core reactor, as well as tedious conversations with ghosts scribbled in at the last minute to back-peddle over some confusingly contradictory statements made in previous films. “From a certain point of view…”.
One of the things that underpins all the wonky dialogue and hap-hazardous storytelling with a genuine sense of authenticity and consistency though, is the spaceships! The designs of the skirmishing fighters, the aesthetics of the battle worn fleets and the Millennium flippin’ Falcon, all serve to take a fantastical fiction about space wizards and giant death lasers, then ground it all in a universe that feels strangely real.
So when over 36 years later we only seem to have one proper table top game about the whole damn saga, it’s just as well it’s all about those ships isn’t it?
So some of you (three of you?) may have noticed that these tedious articles and reviews of mine have been coming with a disconcerting frequency. You’re no doubt concerned that my other responsibilities have been ill-prioritized to allow for this, and you’d be right. Because of the time I’m taking to write this week’s review, the mould in the bathroom is that bit closer to achieving sentience. Now while my concerns over how that will play out are very real, my dedication to writing overly long reviews that perform poorly when posted to Reddit is boundless by comparison.
Writing a review a week has an inherent problem for a man of my limited income though. See the problem with weeks is that there’s like fifty-two of them or something every year and while my board game library is more formidable than my live-in lady friend would probably like, it’s not so formidable that I can spend week after week waxing ecstatic over one awesome game after the other. Every now and again we’re going to have to toil through a cautionary tale like ‘Gormenghast’…
Man-dancing! It’s a dying art-form these days. For most of us it’s something we only see acted out between emotionally stunted primates as they try to navigate their way from the club to the takeaway once a week. Mostly it involves a man throwing his bag of chips (read fries America!) at another man before they both try to rip each others shirts off while punching one another in the head; presumably so a female in close proximity will choke to death on the testosterone and they can lay their eggs inside her hollowed out carcass… I refuse to believe these people procreate conventionally.
Time was though, man-dancing wasn’t just something to do after a jägerbomb, it was a cultural institution and an invaluable aspect of placating and inspiring the masses. Its participants weren’t made to pay damages and barred from the venues in which they won their victories; they were lauded as heroes and became superstars in the eyes of the baying crowds that gathered in purpose built amphitheatres all over the world.
I know, you didn’t come here to learn; let’s just take a look at this board game all about man-dancing and find out whether violence is really as cool as the television says it is. Spoiler – it is!
Hey you guys!
First of all, let me apologize unreservedly for the title of this article, it had to be done. Next, hands up if you’ve been reading these ramblings of mine since the beginning. Anyone?
That’s just as well… If you had been a long time reader of my overly long and poorly punctuated ramblings, you may have noticed a couple of things; one; I don’t know how to use semi colons properly; I know I need them; I just don’t know how to use them; Secondly; that the original mission statement of Kicking Down The Door was to explore the does and don’ts of gateway gaming and recommend games that will help introduce your friends to, as well as ‘Kick Down The Door’ to, the world of modern board games. As such, when we reviewed Battlestar Galactica last week, none of you would have noticed that a game with that level of complexity, length and fiddlyness of rules was in clear violation of that original mandate. Or was it?!
Like I’m sure everybody does, I sometimes spend protracted periods of time worrying about the various apocalyptic scenarios that could befall our civilization and wipe our species off the face of the universe. The most likely scenarios to my mind will probably involve some sort of disease, self induced nuclear destruction or the gods forbid, something involving Bradley Cooper… Probably something involving Bradley Cooper.
Like most people though, I have my favourite apocalyptic scenario; which involves creating really cool robots that ultimately rise up against us, enslave us, then inevitably exterminate us.
By coincidence, that just happens to be the setting of the extremely popular board game Battlestar Galactica, which we’re about to look at now…
It’s that time of year again isn’t it? The time of year where it’s always wet, an invasive fear of your heating bill begins to gnaw at your psyche, the delicious atrocity that is toffee apple cider once more adorns the shelves of the super market liquor aisle and two things happen: One, board game reviewers like myself are required to look at games which have a horror theme slapped over their mechanics; and two, Mrs Mike and the lady that lives in the flat across the hall from us, conspire to throw a joint Halloween party that at any one time will see no fewer than four strangers in my front room, staring at my wall of board games and saying “That’s a lot of board games. Do you like board games or something?”
In light of this, I think it’s only reasonable to take a look at a game called Panic Station. Which is a game all about panicking… In a station…
Hey, so you know when you’re at a party and your friend’s brother’s significant other is there, and she kinda looks pregnant; but you don’t remember your friend telling you about it, so you don’t bring it up in case she’s just put weight on, but if she is pregnant and you don’t congratulate her you seem rude; thing is though, your significant other is also there and you’re pretty certain she assumes she’s pregnant and she’s going to say something about it because that’s the kind of thing she does, but you can’t tell her not to because your friend’s brother’s significant other is standing right next to you, so you just stand there and sweat from your ass?
You know that? When that happens? We’ve all been there right? Well clearly Antoine Bauza has as well, because he made a game about it…
Hey you guys,
Now if either of you are like me, you probably have fond memories of watching Star Trek on the old telly box. And you almost certainly remember that one episode where Captain Picard slurred sexually aggressive threats at Wesley Crusher for dropping the bag of sensor tokens on the floor; then later that Irish guy who was in ‘Con Air’ didn’t manage to put down his last two engineering tiles before the timer ran out, so Worf had no energy tokens to load torpedoes, got real mad and had to go and make a cup of tea.
You remember that episode right? Well they made a board game about that episode! It’s called Space Cadets, lets take a look…
Last week we pointedly reviewed our first co-op game and briefly poked a larger discussion about co-operative games, with an elongated stick, from a significant distance. This week, we’re gonna run up and kick that discussion in the head.
So here it is… Co-op games; are they good gateway games?
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