Results tagged “reiner knizia”

The fool and his brain village

There's a planetary alignment of interesting puzzle games coming out this year.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village for the DS is already out, and looks interesting. Apparently, while it does have a lightweight mystery-solving theme, it's mainly a collection of puzzles, in the classic meaning of the word. The game packaging wisely calls them "brain teasers" so that you won't be expecting to play Bejewled. Penny Arcade made fun of it the other day, but that strip's writer makes clear in his blog that it was done out of love.

What really caught my eye was the promise of downloadble content, which as far as I know would be a first for any Nintendo-system game, even though they've been running an online service since 2005. I've heard tell of some server-side hiccups with it, but I'm confident enough they'll sort it out that I went ahead and tossed a copy on top of an Amazon order yesterday. (I recall how the very first game to use the online service, Mario Kart DS, managed to pound Nintendo's servers far more than they had originally prepared for.) I'll let you know how it is.

Speaking of the DS, Eidos has announced Brain Voyage, a digital game with puzzles designed by Reiner Knizia, of all people. It's slated to come out sometime this year.

Knizia's surely the most rockstar tabletop game designer alive today, by which I mean if he created a board game about, I dunno, pancakes, the game would be titled "Reiner Knizia's Pancakes" and that's all you'd need. It's not clear from the press release whether his name'll be on this box, or even what the nature of his relationship with the game content is. If the game doesn't stink, it'll be an interesting crossover between the digital and analog gaming worlds.

Finally, Cliff Johnson appears to be maybe actually we-hope poised to release his long-delayed puzzle epic The Fool and his Money this year. Originally slated for release in - gosh, I can't remember anymore, late 2003 maybe? - he kept bumping forward the release date until finally doing the right thing and promising no release date at all. He's been spending the last year or more laboriously repairing the game's content so that it runs consistently well in all implementations of Flash, and according to the counter on his site's front page he's accounted for 187 of 197 puzzles.

Money is the story-sequel to The Fool's Errand, a Tarot-themed puzzle extravaganza Johnson designed and had commercially published in 1989. That game, as well as its first (and differently themed) successor 3 in Three, are available as free downloads from Johnson's website. Because they're for ancient computers, you'll need emulator software to play them on your modern machine, but the author goes into careful detail on the download page about what works best on different computers and operating systems. Both games have my highest recommendation to those who enjoy a good puzzle!

A week of games

I had a good game night at the House of Roses last Tuesday. In a game of Carcassonne against very good gamers I played so aggressively that I surprised myself. I ended up winning, mostly on cities, and half of those I shared or swiped outright from others. By the time the game ended I was so far ahead of the pack that the winner of the field war was still a few points behind me. I always like to see a Carc victory on a non-agrarian basis, and should that winner happen to be me, so be it.

Question to the audience: does starting a game of Carc with the river tiles versus the single starter tile increase the likelihood of there being one enormous motherlode of a field by the end? I want to say it is so, but I have no proof.

Then we played Attika, which is new to me. It's pretty neat. I want to play it again. (Didn't win.)

Saturday night was Doug's solstice party. Learned Cash 'n Guns, which has got to be on The Gameshelf sometime, if only because of its main gimmick: each player denotes who they're attacking each round by pointing a life-sized foam pistol at them. (This was the American edition, so the guns were Day-Glo orange instead of black. This didn't make it less fun.) I managed to win, hooray.

Played one session of Figaro, a fast and cute game that would probably go over best with clever little kids. Discovered while playing that it has game design superstar Reiner Knizia's name on the box (and photograph snuck into the card artwork), but in the manual he's only credited for "Game Idea", with two other guys having done the actual development. Sheesh! He's become the Matt Groening of the tabletop game world. (I wanted to be snarkier and say "The Jim Davis of", except that his games are actually good, so.)

Then came my approximately annual game of The Princes of Florence. I appreciate this game but I don't think I really care for it. It's got a feeling of constant forward motion, and of setting and meeting personal short-term goals, which I always like in games. But I have yet to grok the ultimate goal of, getting more points than everyone else, and my sense of accomplishment sours where I think I'm doing really well until the game ends and I'm not just in last place, but a good 15 points behind the pack.

And yet, I want to play it again, because I have an idea of what I did wrong. Grr!

At any rate, after that brain burner I announced that I wished to play Doug's unopened copy of the Dungeons & Dragons board game, a UK-only release from 2002. It's less stupid than I expected. I think I expected a rehash of the old Dungeon game, but instead it's an honest-to-goodness RPG dungeon crawl, using simplified rules streamlined for the simple joy of invading monsters' lairs and bashing them into jelly. We played the intro adventure and smeared six goblins while taking two casualties on our side. Good times.



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