Chelsea Hotel: Leonard Cohen inspires stories

Leonard Cohen is an artist who demands to be reinterpreted. Like the hundreds of remountings and reworkings of Shakespeare, new takes on Cohen’s canon emerge with frightening regularity, with everyone from Johnny Cash to the Pixies covering the bard of Montreal. Maybe it was inevitable, then, that his influence would extend to the world of … Continue reading

The unnoticed death of a billion-dollar endowment

Given plummeting oil prices and the ensuing talk of austerity in Alberta, a program designed to think long-term, to change the way we approach social and cultural problems, and to invest in long-term projects outside the fluctuations of a resource-based economy is an idea worth considering. If someone pitched it now, the province’s progressives would likely … 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

Three simple rules for an easy introduction to board gaming

Despite a couple of great new-ish games that I’m itching to talk about (Eldritch Horror! Pathfinder Adventure Card Game!), this month’s column will take a slightly different tack. Games are, obviously enough, a really important part of a good game night. But there’s another element that, while occasionally unpleasant enough to have been equated with … Continue reading