Monday, 25 May 2015

006. The Cardboard Cartographer issue 6

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Welcome to issue 6 of The Cardboard Cartographer.

Editorial.

In this issue of The Cardboard Cartographer we'll be getting slightly meta and reviewing Cards Against Humanity.
But first I'd like to thank you for visiting our website!

Each issue we hope to post some news, a game review and talk about topics relevant to table top games, such as mechanics, conventions, Kickstarter and so on.

I'd also like to mention that all opinions in this issue, and all subsequent issues, are those of their respective authors.
Please don't feel like they are a personal attack or an attempt to undermine or void the opinions of others.
Feel free to agree, disagree, debate and discuss, or simply ignore any or all that is written here.
Whatever you do, be civil. Thank you.

If you have any suggestions feel free to comment, email us, or hit us up @TCBCartographer on twitter.

News.

Spiel Des Jahres Nominations.

001 - Spiel Des Jahres

The nominations for this year's Spiel Des Jahres have been announced.
The Spiel Des Jahres is an award given to the best family orientated board or card game of the year according to a panel of German speaking boardgame critics.
This year's nominations are 'Colt Express,' 'Machi Koro' and 'The Game.'

While I think there are many games that were released in the last 12 months that are better than the games nominated, I can't say that there were many high quality family orientated games.

Our money is on Machi Koro.

Libsyn on Spotify.

This summer Spotify will be introducing a swathe of new features. No longer will it be solely about music, but it will feature other forms of audio and video media.

This includes an ability to host Podcasts on Spotify if you are a Libsyn user.
Libsyn users (who use the Libsyn publishing tools) will not only be able to host their podcasts on Spotify, but will also be able receive statistical feedback about audience interaction with your show on Spotify.
It has been clearly stated that this is not a monetisation opportunity for users, but rather, to increase the exposure users will have.

This is pretty awesome.
It allows for podcasts to be available on another popular platform, one that is already extremely well integrated into the smart/handheld device market.
Having podcasts added to this service is an amazing opportunity.
Libsyn is already a huge player in the podcast community, and this will only strengthen that position in the future.

Bored? Game! New Stock.

003 - Bored? Game!

We mentioned Bored? Game! in the last issue, and how they were looking into getting their YouTube channel up and running.
While that is still a work in progress it is still business as usual!

They recently announced a swathe of new products coming into stock soon.
With names like Battle Foam, Mantic, Scibor, Army Painter and many more you're sure to find everything you need to satisfy both your inner hobbyist and tabletop gamer.

Kickstarter.

Clockwork armada.

003 - Clockwork Armada Kickstarter

Clockwork Armada is a tabletop miniatures game of space battles set in a fantastical alternate reality. In this universe, planets are flat, and the laws of physics function on very different principles. The upward rushing hurricane that makes up outer space is known as the deep sky, and strange alien life hides in the mists. The battles that you take part in will act out the stories of the kingdoms and cultures that sail their clockwork ships between these worlds.

Ending on June 3rd 2015, 'Clockwork Armada; by Game Fleet Productions is currently sitting just under a quarter of its $42,000 funding goal.

After Sky Relics: A Sky Adventure Awaits in the last issue
I was glad to see an example of a tabletop aerial/ space combat game should look.

Clockwork Armada seems to combine quality miniatures with simple to understand gameplay mechanics that have enough complexity to provide a engaging level of depth and complexity.

We will start with the miniatures.
Simply put, Clockwork Armada has good quality miniatures; the separate factions are clearly distinct from each other, but it is easy to envisage a universe where they would both coexist.

004 - Clockwork Armada Kickstarter Moren

The Moren Confederation ships are reminiscent of the battleships and dreadnoughts used in world war one, while the ships of the Carthesian Fleet allude to the sail boats of the pre-industrial age.

005 - Clockwork Armada Kickstarter Carthesian

Both sets of ships mesh futurism and antiquity fantastically, and the ships on display on the page are their first run of miniatures.
Any future runs will only improve the quality.

One of my principle fears of miniature based games on Kickstarter is that they fail to have gameplay to match.
I don't think this is a problem with clockwork Armada.
From the description on their Kickstarter page it would appear that Clockwork Armada is a nice mix of traditional wargaming mechanics and the innovations brought forward by newer boardgames.
The movement mechanics are a mix of measuring and flight paths.
The combat utilises a roll to hit, roll to wound mechanic very akin to many tabletop war games.

When I analysed Sky Relic I mentioned the competition it faced, so it would only be fair to do so here too, as the competition it faces is the same; Battlefleet Gothic, and FFG's Star Wars franchises.
however, unlike Sky Relic, I feel Clockwork Armada has the necessary attributes to hold its own.

We'll start with Battlefleet Gothic.

BFG trumps Clockwork Armada on the miniatures front. I honestly feel that even in the modern tabletop gaming market there is no company that can compete with Games Workshop when it comes to quality of models, even those that are decades old are still superior than the vast majority of their modern completion.
However, BFG is out of production, and extremely expensive which limits the games accessibility.

Clockwork Armada on the other hand is potentially extremely accessible; it would be readily available, it would haves good miniatures and a rule set that isn't too far removed from Battlefleet Gothic's.

I think thees factors make it a viable alternative in all the ways that Sky Relic did not.

The other area of competition is FFG's X-Wing and Armada.

Again, these games have good miniatures and solid rules, and again, I think they are both superior to Clockwork Armada in the arena they occupy.
That said, I believe Clockwork Armada has that tabletop wargame edge that is lacking in X-Wing and Armada; while it retains the boardgame feel, it manages to have enough attributes to make it more appealing to fans of miniature war games.
It has customisable ships that are both alter the models physical aspect, but also their rules in game.
In addition they require painting; something that certainly appeals to hobbyists.

I think Clockwork Armada has the potential to bridge the gap between table top war games like Battlefleet Gothic and the more boardgame-esq X-wing and Armada.
I think this is a fantastic attribute to have, however others may not, and I think this is reflected in the games lack of success in funding so far.

This also may be in part to this being Game Fleet Productions first Kickstarter campaign, which is always a worry for potential backers.

First time project aside, Clockwork Armada is certainly a game I think is worth checking out, especially if you never had the chance to get into Battlefleet Gothic, or wish that X-Wing and Armada had a more war game and hobby feel to it.

It is for these reasons that Clockwork Armada is our pick of the issue

Crop Cycle.

006 - Crop Cycle Kickstarter

Navigate the seasons in this fast and easy to learn game about farming! Plant and harvest seasonally appropriate Crops for points. Use Event cards to prevent other players from doing the same. The first to 5 harvest points wins the game!

Ending on June 1st 2015, 'Crop Cycle' by Convergent Games is a few hundred Canadian Dollars short of its $6,700 funding goal.
Crop Cycle is a farming themed card game where players strategically plant and harvest crops depending on the seasons to gain victory points.

There isn't a lot to say about the games mechanics.
It is primarily a drafting game with a take that element to it.
The game is simple to understand and as a result the gameplay lacks depth despite its 108 cards.
This isn't a huge problem though; it is meant to be a simple, family orientated card game.
That being said card games can be simple and have great depth Love Letter and Coup mange this with above the table player interaction and deduction.

Convergent Games have previously tried to launch this game via Kickstarter, and were unsuccessful, and as such, have no experience with fulfillment.
In addition to this, the campaigns stretch goals are non-existent, just better card stock, and their pledge levels add no variety; simply more copies of the game.

This game is a Kickstarter staff pick and I have no idea why. It is bland and simple.
While I don't think the gameplay is terrible, it isn't innovative and there are much better 'take that' games out there which have strategic elements.

There is a $5 print and play level, so if the game interests you then go for that, but I honestly have no urge to play this game.

Tides of Infamy.

007 - Tides of infamy Kickstarter

Tides of Infamy is a high seas adventure fraught with peril, where you command your ships in a battle for infamy against fellow pirates, sea monsters, the elements and Pirate Luck.
Gain Marks of Infamy by successfully smuggling black market supplies, plundering settlements, salvaging treasure, raiding ships and exploring new waters as you sail into uncharted seas.
Be the first to gain notoriety through infamous deeds, but beware, untold dangers lurk in these waters!

Ending on June 5th 2015, 'Tides of infamy' by Game Walker LLC had so far secured over double it's initial funding goal of $7,500.

Tides of infamy is a pirate themed game about exploring and plundering treasure from islands and other players in order to become the most infamous pirate around.

The gameplay focuses on exploration, card driven movement and resource hoarding with a card driven PVP edge.

Individually I like each of these mechanics and how they work in the game.

When deciding movement a player allocates a single card to each ship thus determining their movement that turn. These cards either have a number of spaces a ship can move, or an ability. There are also 'currents' in the game, much like in real life, and ships cannot sail against the current.

Combat is resolved in one of two ways (decide before the start of the game).
Scuttle mode is card vs. card system in which the highest card wins the battle, and the first to three victories wins the combat.
Red Sky mode is a little more complex, where players try to make the best hand, in a poker style fashion. The best hand wins the combat.
The better the ship in the combat, the more cards you get to fight with so strategic movement throughout the game is key.

Both movement and combat are interesting and a little different to your standard movement and combat systems in case of this type. I do fear that the reliance on cards makes the game a little too luck based, especially in combat.
While using a bigger ship grants you more cards, if a player draws better than you, then all of your strategic movement throughout the game is all for nothing.

Some players might not have an issue with this, but I feel this game had a lot of potential as a strategy game that was missed in order to make it more accessible to more players.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing, nor does it make it a bad game, but I do feel that sometimes designers and publishes try to push 'fun for everyone' to the detriment of the game.
While I don't think that this trade off between accessibility and strategy is a detriment to this game, I do feel that the potential for a deep and interesting strategy game was missed.

I feel it is important to mention that this is Game walker LLC's first Kickstarter campaign.
The company was only founded in 2014, and their official website is a Facebook page.

These factors make me question the level of organisation and professionalism of the project.
What is reassuring however, is their presence at BGG Con 2014, and the quality of their prototype.
In addition to this, the game is being manufactured by Panda game Manufacturing; a company responsible for Dead of Winter, Mice and Mystics, Robinson Crusoe and many more.

The manufacturer is certainly capable of producing the game, and the team seem competent, but experience is something that can only be gained by doing.

I'm confident that this game will be made, and to a good quality.
Taming however, is another question entirely.

Regardless of my personal preference on 'luck to strategy' ratio, Tides of Infamy seems to be a solid game, and certainly worth checking out.

'Card Against Humanity' Review by 'DarkHaZZl3.'

008 - Cards Against Humanity opening

Google - Fu.

Cards Against Humanity (CAH) is a party card game for 4 - 30 players designed by a group of designers and self published via Kickstarter. You can view the project on their old Kickstarter page.

Wikipedia Best describes CAH - 'Cards Against Humanity is a party game using cards. It is available as a free download that players can print to create their own cards, and also available to purchase in published hardcopy. Its development originated from a successful Kickstarter campaign and has received acclaim for its simple concept backed up by its satirical, mature content.'

For more information you can head over to the CAH website.

Alternatively you can check out the CAH page on Board Game Geek.

Contents and Impressions.

009 - Cards Against Humanity contents

  • 550 Cards;
  • 460 White Cards
  • 90 Black cards
  • Rulebook
There is very little to say about the visual style of CAH.
It is minimalistic in the extreme, but, at least it is very clear.

010 - Cards Against Humanity card types

There is nothing to get excited about visually, but the words are the important part.

Game Play.

The objective of Cards Against Humanity (if there is one) is to win the most Black cards/ Points by the time you decide to stop playing.

To set up deal each player 10 White cards and put the pile of Black cards and renaming White cards to one side.

011 - Cards Against Humanity Set Up

The player going first, or the 'Card Czar' draws a Black Card and reads it aloud.

012 - Cards Against Humanity gameplay 1

Everyone else must then select a White card to respond to the Black Card.

013 - Cards Against Humanity gameplay 2

The Card Czar shuffles these White cards before sharing each combination with the group.

014 - Cards Against Humanity gameplay 3

The Card Czar the decides which combination they think is the funniest.
The player whose submitted this combination wins the Black Card/ 1 point.

015 - Cards Against Humanity gameplay 4

After the round is complete a new player (usually clockwise) becomes the Card Czar and each player draws back up to 10 White cards.
That is all there is to it.

There are a few additional rules.

Playing more cards.

Some Back cards ask player to pick more white Cards to answer.
in this case player simply follow the additional instructions on the card.

Example; Pick 2.
Player Pick two cards and play them in the order they should be read. Once the round is resolved players still draw back up to 10 White cards.

Gamble.

Players may also gamble a single Black cards/ point for a greater chance of success.
To do this, players simply pick an additional White card combination to respond to the Black card, in addition to the White card they were already playing.
If either combination wins, the player gets their Black card/ point back as well as the one from that round.
If however they lose, the player who won gains that Black card/ point in addition to the one from the round.

There are also a myriad of house rules supplied with the game. It encourages players to mix, match and invent your own to keep the game exciting and fresh.

Personal Opinion.


At the top of the issue I stated that we were getting slightly meta with this review.
I'll explain why now.
Recently Shut up & Sit Down reviewed Cards Against Humanity.

If you haven't read it, or don't want to, the short version is they dislike it.
In a big way.

For the most part, I can see why. 
CAH's mechanics are simplistic to the point of boring.
There is nothing to the games mechanics; they are dull, they fail to engage the players and are repetitive to the extreme.

So why is CAH such a popular game?

This is down to the humour the game uses.

CAH does not hide that it is a game aimed to be shocking and filled with insulting and politically incorrect statements.
Indeed, if you play this game with very literal people, very conservative or very liberal people it probably will not go down too well.
This game is offensive, and it has no shame in it. It wears it like a badge of honour.

While this is clearly popular with people, it is exactly why the some of the guys over at Shut Up & Sit Down dislike it so much;
' My biggest problem with Cards Against Humanity is perhaps the same reason many find it so thrilling - it provides permission to tell jokes you don’t dare by removing all sense of responsibility - Matt.'

It is a perfectly understandable position to have, it is entirely legitimate to be offended by something if you can qualify as to why.

That being said I think it is all about context when it comes to comedy.

Comedy is used as a device to reduce the power that a specific situation/ object has over us; to reduce our fear of things, by offering up ridicule. It also uses humour as a device to engage the minds of the audience and bring subject matter to our attention.

Another aspect of 'taboo' humour is how we as species respond to it

Social pressure and taboos can make something more interesting and appealing; it gives us the ability to have control of our actions by defying convention.
Humans also feel stronger when faced with a 'taboo' and they don't succumb to it; they've experienced something they are uncomfortable with and were able to deal with it.

'Offensive' comedy's goal isn't to make problems trivial in the sense we shouldn't talk about them, but rather draw our attention to them. We use the made up nature of humour to help us deal with real world applications of issues we make light of, in the same way we do with our natural morbid curiosity.
In this regard I suggest you watch this video from Vsauce on the issue of Morbid Curiosity.

Even with all of this in mind, Shut Up & Sit Down's standpoint t is still a perfectly acceptable standpoint to have.
After all, I feel that no one should take part in, or endorse persecution, prejudice or marginalisation in any way, but I do feel that comedy of this ilk has a role to play.

I return now to the original point.
Cards Against humanity isn't a great game mechanically.
The humour means it can be fun for some people, but after the first game the mechanics are dull and repetitive.
Once you've seen all the cards a few times even the humour loses its flavour.

In conclusion I'd certainly recommend you play it, but stick to the print and play version, one of the many imitations apps or play a friends copy.


Expansions, Reprints and Different Versions.

Cards Against Humanity has 6 full expansions providing extra cards, as well as a handful of booster packs with additional cards too.

All of these expansions don't change any of the games mechanics, but simply add more cards to the game.

If you're a fan of the game, or have gotten bored of it, then these expansions may be worth a look.


Digital Spotlight.

There are many digital interpretations of Cards Against Humanity.

Our pick of litter is 'Cards Against Originality'; a free web app of the game that works on computers, tablets and smart phones.

016 - Cards Against Orinignality

The difference between this and all the other adaptations out there is that you 'need' to be in the same room to play, just like the card game.
Functionally it works quite well, and honestly, with software like Google hangouts and Skype I'm not convinced you 'need' to be in the same room.

If you want to try it out for yourself head over to the website.

Outro.

What did you think of this issue? Pro's, Con's?
Did any other Kickstarter projects grab your attention?

Have you played Card Against Humanity, or any of the many imitation versions?
What do you think?

Feel free to comment on this post, or alternatively hit us up on twitter @TCBCartographer.

Thank you for reading this issue of The Cardboard Cartographer, until next time!