It’s not just paper: A farewell to Fast Forward

It’s a strange fact that physical things are now a niche. Books, records, magazines and alt-weeklies are all just so much clutter given the convenience of digital. Compare a board game to an iPhone app, never mind a next-gen console game; it’s hopelessly clunky and anachronistic by comparison. But if you break out a deck … Continue reading

Space Cadets Dice Duel: Panic in deep space

“Frantic” isn’t a word that comes into play in most board games. This is a hobby that gets its kicks from things like maximizing the efficiency of your electrical grid, after all. Absorbing? Entertaining? Challenging? Sure. But frenzied? Hardly. In the last few years, though, a handful of games have been kicking at board games’ … Continue reading

Super Motherload: Mars needs miners

Board games are very much an international hobby. Your biggest games — Settlers of Catan, 7 Wonders, Ticket to Ride — all hail from overseas, and North American designers are only starting to catch up. So it’s nice to be able to start the year by recommending a local creation. Awarded the Canadian Game Design … Continue reading

Board game gift guide 2014

This time of year, it’s traditional for columnists to put together gift guides — lists itemizing the perfect present for your spouse, roommate and pretentious brother-in-law who never quite conceals his distaste for your latest attempt at giving. The trouble is, I’ve likely never met you, your friends or your relatives, and so it seems … Continue reading

The Duke: Chess’s quick-and-dirty cousin

The Duke isn’t a chess knock-off, although it’s definitely chess-inspired. You’ve got a six-by-six grid instead of an eight-by-eight chessboard. You’ve got an assortment of pieces that each have their own rules for movement. There’s a medieval theme, with the brief flavour text in the rules contrasting the elegance of the high court (chess) with … Continue reading

Fallcon 2014: The auction

This past weekend was the 27th edition of Fallcon, Calgary’s annual celebration of all things tabletop. With multiple vendors, over 70 scheduled events and nearly 1,000 games available for free play, it can be an overwhelming experience, even for those already indoctrinated into board game culture. Do you pre-register for a round of a familiar … Continue reading

Euphoria: Building a better dystopia

When you really get down to it, the theme in board games should be superfluous. Whether you’re meant to be founding cities in Settlers of Catan, saving the world from ancient demons in Eldrich Horror or setting the inflation rate in a parliamentary democracy in Poleconomy (a game brought to Canada by the Fraser Institute … Continue reading

Tokaido: Competitive zen

European board games have a knack for turning even the most mundane tasks into a battleground. While American games often focus on more traditional fantasy and sci-fi fare, pitting players against each other in contests of galactic conquest or dungeon-crawling adventure, Eurogames have turned civil engineering and agriculture into blood sports. Tokaido — from designer … Continue reading

Fiasco: Improvised disaster

The thing about the Coen Brothers’ movies is, regardless of how much you enjoy them, you probably wouldn’t want to live in their worlds. Fargo, Burn After Reading, Blood Simple — these are movies full of petty people doing horrible things poorly, and whether you’re good, bad, or rapidly oscillating between those poles, odds are … Continue reading

Eldritch Horror: More melodrama without Arkham’s confusion

I’ve seen the world end about a half-dozen ways now. Sea creatures storming every port town from San Francisco to Hong Kong. Zombie hordes ravaging eastern Europe. Riots in London as a nihilistic cult races to summon its deranged god, a chaotic, semi-sentient horror that will bring only utter annihilation. Each time, we thought we … Continue reading