Consentacle

 

Consentacle is a card game that uses consent as a central part of the game. The card art is stunning, the mechanics are polished and the game’s purpose is perfectly realized. The game places players in the role of sexual partners trying to communicate desire, foster trust and achieve satisfaction together. The science fiction theme of a human and alien having a romantic encounter is appealing to a speculative fiction enthusiast like myself, but the game play is good enough to be rewarding even if that isn’t a draw.

Consentacle is a game where you and a partner help a tentacled alien and a curious human have a mutually satisfying romantic encounter.

In Consentacle, you and a partner squirm your way to a mutually satisfying Human x Alien romance… with or without the benefit of verbal communication! You’ll need to divine the other’s desires in order to build trust, play your cards right, and transform mutual trust into starry satisfaction. How tingly will your interplanetary liaison feel in the end? Will your encounter leave one party sweaty and exhausted, the other hungering for more? It’s up to the two of you to find out… together!

 

Part Time UFO

Part Time UFO is a fun and whimsical mobile game. It was developed by HAL Laboratory, the group behind the Nintendo games Kirby and BoxBoy!, and the same high level of polish and love of quirky environments shines through in this game. It’s an intuitively controlled puzzle game that offers a generous learning curve and lots of delightful surprises. This game is a smile-inducing, head-shaking wonder.

Part Time UFO is available for Android and iOS.

Super Mario Land 2 DX

I spent a lot of time playing Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins on my Gameboy when I was a kid, so this morning it was exciting to learn about a ROM hacker who had released a patch that colourizes the game. The game now pops when I play it on my 3DS and hits with a heady mix of nostalgia and oh-this-is-new!

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Super Mario Land 2 DX is a color hack for Super Mario Land 2 in the same vein as Link’s Awakening DX. It adds color, lets you play with Luigi (with different physics) and removes the lag.

Super Mario Land 2 DX

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UCzrtNG2ec

SIGMATA: This Signal Kills Fascists

What could be better to play than a “tabletop role-playing game about ethical insurgency against a fascist regime, taking place in a dystopian vision of 1980s America”? SIGMATA: This Signal Kills Fascists ticks a lot of boxes that get me excited, so I had to back it when I was clued in about it through Boing Boing. If something promises to kill fascists, chances are you can count me in.

Players assume the role of Receivers, the superheroic vanguard of the Resistance, who possess incredible powers when in range of FM radio towers emitting a mysterious number sequence called “The Signal.” When the Signal is up, Receivers lead the charge against battalions of Regime infantry and armor or serve as the People’s Shield, protecting mass demonstrations from the brutality of a militarized police force and neo-Nazi hooligans. When the Signal is down, however, Receivers are mere mortals, desperately fleeing from a powerful state that senses their weakness.

It’s called the Sigmata, a Signal-induced stigmata, because it is a both a blessing and a curse. At least when you’re marked by the state, you can’t sit on the sidelines anymore.

SIGMATA takes place in a dystopian vision of America where fascists have taken control of the government. The Regime fosters white supremacy, religious bigotry, and Cold War hysteria to turn America’s fury against already marginalized populations, all while plundering America’s coffers and thrusting the country into pointless proxy wars all over the globe. To punish internal threats to “Real America,” the Regime rewrote the U.S. Constitution to establish the Freedom Fist, a complete merger of military and law enforcement, which dutifully executes the fascists’ national program of mass incarceration and deportation.

The communities targeted by state violence have begun to fight back. The Resistance is bolstered by an unlikely alliance of radical leftists, libertarian militias, religious activists, and wealthy entrepreneurs, whose grievances with the Regime overpower the seething contempt they have for each other. As linchpins of the Resistance, the Receivers must take great pains to prevent the alliance from fracturing. If they allow ideology to trump strategy, the factions will fall back on their worst tendencies, handing the Regime the political victories it needs to maintain a stranglehold on the people.

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Mechanically, SIGMATA is a hybrid of a traditional role-playing game and a narrativist story game. There is a game master (GM) involved, but players will be doing most of the storytelling. Players make decisions about what tactics and powers their Receivers employ during structured scenes of combat, stealth, and intrigue, but who gets to narrate the outcome of decisions depends on how well players do on their dice rolls. When a dice roll is required, a player rolls a combination of D10 and D6 dice, depending on her Receiver’s four processors (i.e. Aggression, Guile, Judgement, and Valor), hoping to get a result of 6 or higher on each die. The more successes a player rolls, the more control she has over the outcome in the story space. Rolling a single success permits her to narrate a story of marginal success, complicated by an element of tension or stress that the GM contributes to the story. Rolling several success permits her to narrate a story of dramatic success, emphasizing how skilled, strong, or courageous her Receiver is, without input from the GM.

One feature of the game that stands out for me is the metagame about the optics of the counterinsurgency:

SIGMATA also features a strategic meta-game that charts the Resistance’s progress in toppling the Regime, based on real counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine. The Resistance’s efforts against the Regime’s military forces mean nothing if they are not also winning over the local population and the international community. The strategic strength of the Resistance not only tracks campaign progress, but influences the strength of the Signal, which the Receivers rely upon to fuel their most dramatic abilities.

The game is funded, with 9 days remaining as I write this. If you care about antifascist art or fresh twists on tabletop RPGs, this might be a perfect endevour to back.

Ravine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeONZswpxNo

Ravine is a “cooperative survival card game” by the team that created one of my favourite party games, Spaceteam. I’m a big fan of coop games for games nights, and this one looks like it will be a lot of fun. The game’s Kickstarter campaign will wrap up on December 7th, so now is the time to back. There’s a print and play version available to see how it plays. Knowing the team behind this game can deliver a great experience, I’m excited to get my hands on it to play and see if I can survive a night in Ravine with my friends.

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Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Earlier this week Nintendo soft launched Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp in Australia and announced it would be released in North America and other regions in November. Of course, it was easy enough to download for Android and start playing.

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The new game does a great job of capturing what is fun about the previous entries in the series while taking advantage of the unique experiences available through Android and iOS. Harvesting, collecting, and crafting things, decorating spaces and building relationships with weird animals are all baked in. The whimsy that makes the series so charming is intact and pops on a high quality screen. This is a very well crafted casual game and worth diving into.

If you’re playing now and want to add me, feel free to use my ID: 4784 0878 530

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dr2wXiwgNd0

Magical Game Time

Zac Gorman‘s Magical Game Time is a webcomic and art blog that captures the emotional appeal of playing video games and the nostalgia that many of us have for the games we have played. Zac’s art is evocative, enchanting and show a genuine love for the storytelling that video games can do so well.

I played many Nintendo games while I was growing up, so Magical Game Time feels perfect for me. The Legend of Zelda and Metroid pieces Zac has created are especially appealing to me because of the history I have with both series’ games. There’s a tenderness and humour in those comics and images that emphasizes the elements of games that most draw me into them.

Zac has also brought his wonderful comics craft to an original story, Escape from Burgertown. The comic has only four pages so far, but it is shaping up to be every bit as endearing as Zac’s other comics.

Escape from Burgertown is about the residents of a futuristic world—where things aren’t so great—told mostly from the perspective of a few children who accept their world at face value.

Sort of like if Peanuts took place in a bleak, corporate-run future.

Sentences to Drawings

Saturday night I attended my friend Jen‘s birthday party and while there we played a game of Sentences to Drawings or The Sentence Game. It’s a blend of Pictonary and Telephone that ended up being a tremendous amount of fun.

There are some minor variations that can be found in each version of the rules, but Sentence Game Rules FAQ has the closest set of rules to what we used when we played. Boiled down, each player writes a sentence at the top of a piece of paper and passes it to the left. When a sentence is received, the player draws a picture based on it, folds the paper so the picture alone is visible and passes the paper to the left. When a picture is received, the player writes a sentence interpreting the picture, folds the paper so that only the sentence is visible and passes it to the left. This continues until players receive their original pieces of paper and best results happen with an even number of players. The results are then shared with everyone.

Each game begins with a sentence – often a deeply disturbing or completely abstract sentence – written on the top of a piece of paper. The sentence is passed to the next player, who draws a picture in a futile attempt to depict the sentence. They then fold the paper so that the sentence is no longer visible, and pass the paper to yet another player, who must write a new sentence based on what he or she thinks the picture is showing. Then this third player folds the picture out of view and passes the sentence on to another player, so repeating the process. Please read the terms of playing for the legal stuff.

My drawing skills are very limited, but the game still worked well with the few less talented of us a in the group. Things usually moved quickly away from the original idea with bizarre or hilarious results.

The Sentence Game Online! hosts a version of the game that can be played online and fairly faithfully recreates the game. It doesn’t have the same level of humour and strangeness that are present when playing with a bunch of people in the same room, but it’s still fun.

Back to the Future: The Card Game

For most of last year I attended a game night on Sundays that my friend and former roommate, Matthew, hosted. He put together a zine, Halifax Casual Gaming Federation Annual 2012-2013, commemorating the games we played. Matthew moved across the continent in December and passed the torch to me for organizing the events through The Halifax Casual Gaming Federation.

I’m going to do something a bit different. I’ll be blogging a short piece about games after we play them and then might collect things for a zine at the end of the year.

The first game of the year was Back to the Future: The Card Game, a simple time travel card game from Looney Labs. A timeline of events from the Back to the Future movies is created with 24 cards and each player is given an ID card that lists events required for the goals of a character to be met. The game otherwise follows the core play mechanics of Looney Labs’ Fluxx games: each turn players draw a card and play a card, with most other rules contained on the cards. This simplicity makes it very easy to jump into playing.

The game is very successful at capturing the feel and story of the movies; I was surprised at how faithful the game was to the source material while remaining fresh and fun to play. My memories of the films haven’t been refreshed recently, but it was clear to me that the zaniness and tone of them are retained. Knowledge of the films is not required at all, though some of the references on cards would only make sense to those who are familiar with the franchise.

Back to the Future: The Card Game is no longer available directly from its publisher, but can be found through other sellers. It was created using many of the rules for the company’s other time travel game, Chrononauts, which is still available.

Now you can jump into the action of the Back to the Future movies, with this ingenious new time travel card game! Your mission is to make sure pivotal events are not changed by other time travelers before time travel itself gets un-invented. Using a unique, patented game mechanic for simulating time travel, Andrew Looney now puts you in the driver’s seat of the famous DeLorean!

In this game you are a time traveler, a descendant of one of the characters in the Back to the Future movies. Unfortunately, other time travelers have been tampering with events in your past, endangering your very existence. You must put things back in the ways that seem right to you, then stop Doc Brown from ever inventing time travel, which will freeze reality the way you need it to be, once and for all. The game is played entirely with cards, but has the feel of a board game since important events are represented by a special grid of 24 cards called the TimeLine.

Carcassonne

Carcassonne is an accessible, balanced and exceptionally fun German board game of tile laying and feature claiming. I unreservedly love it and consider it my favourite game because it has three traits I look for in games: it is easy to teach, can be expanded greatly and makes space for silliness.

The game is named after a walled southern French town that was founded by fifth century Visigoths. Walled cities similar to the historical Carcassonne form one of the four basic features that players create and claim along with roads, fields and cloisters. Players draw tiles, find places for them on a growing map and claim features with playing pieces called meeples (shortened from “my people”). Points are given to each player as features are completed and players can combine previously distinct features into larger ones for which they compete. At the end of the game the player who has amassed the most points wins.

The game has numerous expansions that add new types of features or new play mechanics. My favourite expansion is Carcassonne: Catapult, which adds a wooden catapult that players use to fling small tiles at the map or at each other. It adds excitement and zaniness to the game and can change the dynamic of play in huge ways. The more than twenty other expansions add other new ways to play so there are always expanding bits of complexity and variety

The base game allows for 5 players, and the Carcassonne: Inns and Cathedrals expansion adds one more, but a third party company has made the game playable with many more players. Meeple Source provides new colours of meeples and character meeples such as pirates, ninjas, zombies, monsters, vampires, werewolves, astronauts, aliens. The extra flavour offered by character meeples enhances the joyful silliness that can be experienced when playing this game.

Carcassonne is a great party game and a perfect way to introduce reluctant gamers to the richness of contemporary board games.