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Dear friends and gamers:

We give you time and space for all those epic board games that need more than a  single game night can provide you with. You can bring those loved but long unplayed gems from your collection to our event to play on large tables and leave them set up over night. In addition we have prepared five tables hosting: 

Descent 2nd edition
Dragonfire
Mega Civilization 
Time Stories
Twilight Imperium 3rd edition

Hate (Newly added!)

If you are set on playing a specific game you can reserve a seat in advance with your ticket. Do not delay, the spaces are limited. If you reserve seats at different tables we may  have to change your reservations.

The event starts Saturday the 4th of May at 04.00 PM.
At 07.00 PM we are collecting food orders for the delivery service.
At midnight we close the rooms. Your games can stay over the night but sadly we must send you all back to your own living places, dens and lairs.
On the 5th of May the second day of gaming starts at 09.00 AM.
At 11.00 AM we are collecting food orders for the delivery service.
At 02.00 PM we are closing the event softly.
During the whole event we will provide you with coffee, tea varieties and cookies for free.
You can order soft drinks from the delivery service with your food order.

You can book your free ticket here.

We are looking forward to play with you.
Good Play, Better Day!

The Dice & Mystics Fringe 2018 – Little Big TinyCon

It’s been quite some time now, but the memories are so bright, colourful and vivid, they have not dimmed or faded in the slightest. How could they? You people are – amazing! Do you know how “long” it had taken until the first guest registered for our 3rd Dice & Mystics Fringe after the announcement was put up on BoardGameGeek? Just 3 – in words: THREE! – seconds. We were booked full well before deadline. And the most awesomest thing of all, you all actually came along to play!

In its third year, our “Dice & Mystics Fringe “ had grown by a few places. But we are still the “TinyCon”, and will always be. Quite a number of hopefuls from our waiting list finally made it, some as late as on the day itself. So thanks to everybody who were so kind to tell us and gave others the chance. Our aim was to give all our guests a good time. Most had visited before. We do recognize many faces from past events; they are becoming like a large family to us.

We’re happy when we can welcome somebody we know or somebody new and we miss those we had been looking out for, like e.g. that wonderful nice couple who had been among our very first visitors ever and had told us they were certain to attend again in 2018, but did not. We do hope that only positive things have kept them away.

The coffee was just ready when – even before we officially opened – the first guests started arriving. Everyone was presented with a nice selection of special treats: The complete set of promo cards for Too Many Bones by Chip Theory Games, a complete set of promo cards for Folklore by Greenbriar Games – exclusive to Spiel Essen and the Dice & Mystics Fringe event – and a promo card for MireMarsh by Room 17 Games.

Gamers came, settled down, started gaming without further ado. Almost instantly the game rounds were in full swing. It did not take long until all spaces in the house were filled.

Most of our guests had brought games along right away, but some who were staying at hotels close by this year first scouted the situation before deciding what they wanted to put on the table, popping out and back again to bring their stuff.

A few little changes to last year were noticeable: People liked that we had been able to open up two more rooms with more tables and seating upstairs, thus creating more wiggle room around the same number of tables on the ground floor. As time flew by – as it does when you are having fun – it got “wiggly” all the same. Every single table in the house was well occupied with games and gamers, but since we put in more seats, although we were still limited to a set number of tables and guests, there was even a rare free chair that got used as a coffee tray, and people could move about more comfortably.

The buffet with the drinks and biscuits was located in the lobby, which made things so much more convenient (also for the lady who, unseen by most, magically made the coffee fill up and dirty dishes disappear). And you people made yourselves comfortable, as we could see by the coffees, teas and biscuits consumed this time: nearly twice as many! Having more freedom of movement and putting the buffet in the centre of the building obviously helped you to enjoy yourselves.

The generosity of so many people, institutions and companies was overwhelming.  There is, of course the Parish of St. Engelbert, who once again let us use the building free of any charge, Kaffeestore24.de (who, once again, gave us all the coffee), Taxi Bednarz  with their special taxi rates for the “Fringe”, and a number of unnamed Dice & Mystics who donated numerous this and thats.

At the time of the raffle at 10 p.m. the Fringe had been in full swing for some time, but the busy gaming community present was instantly silenced by what was later murmured to have been a spell made available by a certain wizard authority from abroad. (You need to have been there.) Next the many prizes attracted the attention of everybody.

Our sponsors who so generously donated for the raffle (in alphabetical order) found that their kindness was very, very much appreciated:

  • Chip Theory Games  who attended for the first time, donated the last available copy of their brand new “TMB Undertow”.
  • Again there were many, many vouchers from Fantasywelt.de, the large German online game retailer, with a total value of € 50.
  • Our old and new friends from Greenbrier Games gave us a copy of “BarBEARians: Battlegrounds”, “Ninja Dice” and a copy of their brand new game “Helios Expanse”.
  • It was our special pleasure to once again welcome King Racoon Games with “Tsukuyumi Full Moon Down” which they had first presented at the 2017 Fringe (now getting issued in a copy with playable miniatures, brought to Kickstarter March 2019 by Grey Fox Games: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kingracoongames/tsukuyumi-full-moon-down-a-strategic-board-game/posts/2393332) who could now enjoy it with the many fans of the game, who in turn were happy to meet the makers again. This time they brought two signed copies of the luxury hard cover art book for their game to raffle off.
  • Mythic Games were graciously contributing a whole full pledge of their  grandiose  “Time of Legends: Joan of Arc” (which will be shipped to the lucky winner on release) including game mat, Dragon plus an incredible extra: a unique mounted canvas art print of the dragon attacking which had been made especially for the Dice & Mystics Fringe :

  WHOA!!!

(Thank you for letting us use the picture.)

  • There was Restoration Games, with Justin Jacobsen spontaneously throwing in a copy of “Fireball Island” (to be shipped to the lucky winner on release) into the raffle because he had so much fun with everybody.
  • There were the good people from Room 17 Games who contributed not only their “Museum Rush” and also not one, but two full pledges of their great game “Miremarsh”, on kickstarter at that time and now well-funded and in its production phase, and as if this was not enough also two “freshly caught” Miremarsh goblins (minis professionally painted for the occasion by one of the Dice & Mystics: our great thanks to Andreas Mertin).

They were demoing a pre-production copy of the game and also their coming Kickstarter, “Tenfold Dungeon”, during the event. (This project is live on KS right now: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/room17games/tenfold-dungeon-modular-dungeon-crawling-terrain).

  • Second Gate Games presented us with their big success “Monsterlands” for the raffle.
  • There were some fun little and larger games by Spieleparadies Wagner, the local toy and games shop. There were, of course – spinners! Wouldn’t be a Fringe without them now, would it…? We raffled off a box full of creative activities/projects with play dough which went to a bearded gentleman who is going to, we are sure,  either build up a steep and spectacular art career on it or find a child who will be glad of the present.

And last but by no means least we once again welcomed

  • The Dice Tower, who were bringing along not only themselves – which was already an absolute treat for us – but also an attractive selection of their brand new acrylic dice towers featuring the unique “dice characters” of themselves and their popular contributors.

The strangest thing about this raffle was that so many people won such prizes as if they had been previously singled out for them. One example: One winner had on arrival told us we needn’t even put his ticket in the box for the raffle: “I’ve never won anything in my whole life.”  And – got a game he had just put at the top of his current wish list. Well – never say never, right? Another very surprised winner went home with the one specific game he had wanted to get at the fair and had found to his chagrin that it had been sold out already. There must have been a lingering Dumbledore effect in the air…

The last game of a long eventful day was a high raging epic Ragnarök battle: Ever played Blood Rage with the Viking Cat Clan and meowing players? It got a teensy weensy bit weird at that late an hour, admittedly, but totally in style with some deeply engaged vikings heroes raging on towards Wallhall and glory.

And as if not enough goodness had been showered down on us that night, you had brought us presents: We happily nibbled and drank up the gifts you had brought us, still bewildered that you had somehow promoted us into the illustrious league of stroop waffle recipients:

There was even some lavender you could dab into hot water to calm down your nerves.
(You have to know in order to get that one…)

Did you ever taste handmade red banana candy?

Going…
… going…
…gone!

Simply delicious! Thank you all so much again for all your kindness! It has been much appreciated.

October is long past and we are already in 2019 now, but fond memories linger. At a late hour, somebody told me we had “lit a beacon for world peace”. Whoa! I would like to express our deep-felt and most sincerest thanks for such a huge compliment. The truth, I guess, is more like this:

But in the dark even a little candle can make a difference. And again it was always you, our guests, who lit the candle, we just handed you the matches. So we hope you all had fun, felt welcome and took home some extra happy and bright memories from your visit.

Again, you wonderful people from everywhere on this planet filled the rooms of the community center that was so generously opened up for our event by the parish of St. Engelbert in Bochum! They let us have the entire house for our Fringe every year, out of hospitality and kindness, and because (I quote) “gamers are such wonderful people who look well after things, so our house is in good hands”. We tidy up, collect our posters and paraphernalia, dismantle those extra tables, empty bins; but what we do not need are cleaning cloths or brooms. Not the tiniest scrap of paper or shrink wrap on the floor. Our Fringe is the largest event taking place in the center by far – and the only one that leaves no traces except good memories.

We are not an organisation or even a “club”. We neither have nor accept any money (with the single exception of the donations which go directly and to 100 % to the parish for charity and the upkeep of the house, for which we thank you very much). Everything else is, quite literally, a gift.

The unconditional kindness people show to each other is what enables us to have our weekly game nights and also the “Dice & Mystics Fringe”. All raffle prizes are gifts. The coffee is a gift, teas, sugar, milk, biscuits, time and work power are gifts from a number of people who come to our game nights. They come to the Spiel and to our Fringe for the same reason as everybody else: They love and want to play board games. And yet – they volunteer to help, go shopping, translate, organise, wrestle with food orders, they repeatedly use their private cars as taxis for those good people from friendly publishers and reviewers who do not have a car at their disposal.

There is the kitchen lady who does not get to play or for the most time not even see a game the whole night. There is the guest from our “Frankfurt branch” who drove hundreds of kilometres to go to the Spiel and to play games and fills in for another “driver” who had called in sick: “How often do you need me? I’ll go.”

Good play – better day!

It is for you all that we are hosting this event, and we are richly rewarded for it by getting to meet people like you!

See you all in October 2019!


A Sentinel’s View of The Tainted Grail

Dear friends and fellow gamers:

With the KS campaign for Tainted Grail approaching its end may I ask you all to indulge me and hear me out on my observations made during that campaign.

The Tainted Grail came with the promise of a deep story, enriched by wonderful expressive art. The story is written by a prolific Polish writer of Fantasy novels. In addition to that, the publisher Awaken Realms has proven that it is possible to build a board game injected with deep storytelling with the game This War Of Mine. I regard that game as a piece of art. I have watched all the play through videos available on YouTube at this moment and I have read all articles I could find regarding the gameplay for The Tainted Grail. And time after time I have been more convinced that The Tainted Grail will stand up to the task to give its players a wonderful story that is worth their time. But mind you, the story is gruesome. It touches on the darkest sides of the old legends and calls forth the Foimore, the red plague, and the monster that lies within human nature itself. Given the expressive character of the art the illustrations follow closely and are gorgeous and gruesome. Nothing for the faint hearted I might tell you.

For a story to be good, really good like a warm broth in the morning, it has to be humble in the beginning  and glorious in the end. The publisher of Tainted Grail have always expressed their will to counter power play. Like with the game Mice and Mystic your character comes with inbuild weakness. Ahhh, does that sound familiar to us like Flea from the Disney classic Merlin and Mim or like Taran from the not lesser fabulous The Black Cauldron. Yes, those are the heroes our hearts are bound to. And this games comes with such underdogs, a plethora of them. And mind you those weaknesses are not supposed to go away. No, they stay with the character and force you to build around them, making the game into a personal endeavor. You play the second choice of the gods, those who are leftovers deemed unworthy in the first instance.

And when you follow these weakened souls on their journey through the tainted land of Avalon, carefully watching their steps, managing their health, actions, food and magic you feel the loneliness of a dying land taken over by an old magic called the Wyrd. Like a fog, only countered by the light of large menhirs, encroaches it your game board, shaped of wonderful designed playing cards, laid down like the tiles of a wondrous roof you do not dare to touch given its delicate and withered character, and takes them away from you. The game entitles you only to see through a narrow hole in the fog of war that hides Avalon from you. And like the astonishing board game The 7th Continent you are craving to see more, to explore more. And your character cries up to you to find more food, a secure place to sleep and dream and for more experience to fuel its never ending desire for character evolvement. The game is a constant balance between your own desire to explore and and longing of your alter ego on the game board for safety and growing expertise. This dualism is the main attraction for me.

And the game shows this Janus doubled face to you in the fighting system, too.

You guess it. It starts with a monster card filled with fine art and markings on its side. The inexperienced guest in the realm of faerie is immediately taken hostage by the art on the card and is immersed. You know what, he is under the spell of the little folk now and we must wait for his excitement to ebb down. But the eyes of the seasoned board gamer are caught immediately by the small markings on the side of the card. And that is where the real beauty lies, the encounter system. It is build around those nodes. They tell you what and were you can find entry into the encounter with this entity thrown your way. They are emulating smell, noise and sensation, the rush of blood in your ears and the shiver of cold air that surrounds you. And you are going through your limited hand of cards to find the cards that provide you with the key to the riddle that this encounter truly is in nature. Truly amazing, engaging and new to my humble self.

While all those impressions still hold there are certain flaws that show up during the campaign. May I ask you for a little more time of your busy schedule to show you the parts where this beautiful corpse is starting to rot.

There are unsettling reports about the qualities of game components that reach me from the depths of Reddit.

The user nkMEGA writes:

‘The thing with AR is that their decisions were really … not up to par for the amount of funding they have gotten. For four million USD from Nemesis, they provided a production that is not as close as their 3D renders (in which btw they only show 3D render or resin – better material than plastic – to advertise), bad cardstock that worn down quickly for a game that requires you to shuffle and hold cards on hand all the time, and a rulebook with bad grammar even when the backer community had alerted them loudly about their major grammar problems weeks before production started.

They just shipped Nemesis now and only after many reports of bad minis, finally decided to hire their very first quality control person to improve production quality. Meaning 1st wave backers paid more just to be a test run with bad presentation.’

He continues:

‘I brought up that point when I saw my friend’s personal copy of Nemesis got worn out only after 1 game, because he was impatient to get sleeves for the cards. Another one had his copy of LoH and he also said the same. Most people I talked to dismissed my concern and said just buy sleeves. But at what point that it’s up to the consumer to be responsible to make the cards sturdy and pristine?’

Regarding the quality of the miniatures that are included in the prototype for reviewers my fellow backer and YouTube reviewer King of Average told me personally that no one should back this game because of the quality of the miniatures but because of the story and the art. I want to express my thanks to him and direct your gaze to his excellent YouTube Channel. If you like his work make sure to subscribe.

The Reddit user nkMega reports about the quality:

‘Nemesis just shipped and the game presentation was … sub-par. Heroes minis are small and details are not there. 1st wave backers will and can get a bad batch if they didn’t choose sun-drop option. Adult aliens show decent details and only the Queen is the redeeming mini of the set.’

On December the 22th Awaken Realms revealed via KS Live and Update # 20 that they will grant a download code for a video game of The Tainted Grail, OST, app with a voice-over of the story for free to all backers. This decision was triggered by the overall success of the KS for the board game, they continue. This free gift was cheered by many, especially those who are enjoying pc games equally or even more than board games and of course by all who are concerned about having to read the texts of the game out loud themselves.

This announcement raised some eyebrows with  all who are more deeply involved into the creation of video games or are following the actual happenings in that segment of gaming. At his point in time we can observe the failing of triple A publishers in their attempt to create video games that are really good. It seems that those publishers are more concerned about injecting their triple A games with in game micro transactions and loot boxes. For more information about that I want to point you to the YouTube channels of YongYea and Jim Sterling. Many publishers are now more concerned with creating a constant  inflow of cash from their gamers. You could argue that this is all well and good because they are bound to make money. But keep in mind that those gamers have already payed about USD 60 for those games only to find that those games are made grindiger and hard to play to sell those micro transactions to ease the gameplay. That is fine with a free to play game. 

And here we find the free to play video game from Awaken Realms. They are eager to join those companies and get their share of the video game market which is currently changing its main focus from producing good games into providing live services.

May I quote a very talented gentleman and knight of the Empire that goes by the name of Terry Pratchett:

‘Taxation, gentleman, is very much like dairy farming. The task is to extract the maximum amount of milk with the minimum amount of moo.’

And despite all expertise and long years of producing video games we find that many of those highly experienced video game publishers are going under. Telltale Games, maker of The Walking Dead with 275 employees closed 10 studios. EA despite holding worldwide  licenses  for many beloved IP like Marvel, Star Wars and Bat Man has closed dozens of studios including previously acquired ones like Westwood and Black Box Games. Visceral, creator of Dead Space and Battlefield Hardline with at least 80 employees closed the gates. And mind you the shit storm that is caused by Blizzard with their decision to go for the free to play mobile phone market instead of concentrating on a long awaited new game for pc. Right now Blizzard is reducing the number of their employees worldwide to counter the meager revenues of this year.

And into this turbulent market Awaken Realms want to venture. They have earned a solid reputation with board gamers. But they have no such leverage in the video segment of gaming. Hence it seems possible that they will fail with this endeavor. In addition to that they do not rely on the service of any experienced third party like CMON does with Blood Rage Digital. Awaken Realms stated that they will develop their video game in house. This rose the questions how both projects are interlinked? They told us that both projects are relying on separate funds and that different teams are working on the projects. In the very same update they also announced that both teams will be connected and share Human Resources contradicting their former statement. And while update number 20 went online they were including a new pledge level for the video game only contradicting their former statement about strict separated fundings for both projects. May I add that the strict separated funding of projects could only be assured with the construct of two separate companies handling both tasks independly, but joining their efforts through a joint venture to grant a cooperate identity and seamless game design.

Many backer were toughed by the excitement of the co-producer and owner of Awaken Realms Marcin Swiercot. He was quite passionate about the video game project and happy to give it to the backers for free.

But may I add that despite I am touched by his excitement I am still not convinced by the gift. The gift comes tied in with the high risks of venturing into the video game market. To buffer that risk he invites his backers to follow him into that market with this free copy of the video game, creating an instant power base.

And the excitement he shows comes to me as an ill wind because we already know that Awaken Realms tended to wrong business decisions in the past leaving them poorly equipment to survive in a market full of hard fighting giants like EA and Activision. Those are steered by financial experts and not by idealists. And I am nervous about the fact that inexperienced idealists are putting the fundings of this KS campaign, that has started for a board game only, at such a high risk. They tend to support their dreams by all means and with all resources they have reign over, meaning our pledged money for the board game

The reddit user nkMEGA reminded us:

‘They just shipped Nemesis now and only after many reports of bad minis, finally decided to hire their very first quality control person to improve production quality. 

Meaning 1st wave backers paid more just to be a test run with bad presentation.

Not to mention the fiasco with retail version of This War of Mine expansions. They did not handle well that gave the retail publisher the right to completely make expansions bought during KS campaign obsolete. Anyone who wants to play retail version of the expansions will have to give up their KS version. If you’re not a collector, then you’re not really affected by it, but let’s say you got the free KS expansion and now want to buy other add-ons during retail, then you have to give up playing your KS ones.’

If you ask me how I assess those impressions and proceed with my pledge I answer to you that I will keep my pledge because I see the wonderful game I have fallen in love with still, despite the changes in the general framework made by Awaken Realms.

I do not expect them to fall prey to their own desire to venture into the video game market segment. But I think the production will be delayed further than even I have predicted right from the start. Hence I will go for a two wave delivery to receive the core box as soon as possible while moaning the far away expansions . And I will grudingly go for the sleeves, too, despite I do not sleeve my games on a regular basis. And I will choose sun drop for the miniatures to make sure that I get double-checked quality.

May I thank you for the time you spared reading my words.

Keep in mind that those are the view points of only me and me alone.

Miremarsh Nights 2018

There is something spooky out tonight. Well, most of the time it is just some creepy-crawly looking for some toes to bite. But this night, this night it was different. Because it was the Miremarsh Night!

All the goblins in their settlement in the midsts of the Miremarsh knew, they felt it in their bones and teeth. A chill that the burning bone fire could not ease, a whisper in the shadows like the ancestors calling your name. All the birds hid, silent during daylight before this particular night, and all the snares were empty as nothing has moved around in the marsh.
Under the disconcerned gazes of the elders all pointy sticks were sharpened with many goblin fingers harmed in the process.
And now all the goblins were waiting for the return of their scout. The only one brave enough to venture out into the darkened swamp under the low hanging sky. Well, they more or less just pushed one unlucky goblin out of the gates and pointed him – with quite some harsh words and threats to spit roast him – into the deep marsh.
Nevertheless they were waiting, all bulwarks manned and the gate closed, just the little porch remained open, ready to grant entry to the returning scout.
And then there came a screeching noise as if all the humans sacrificed by their tribes, bound at wrists and ankles, drowned by their priesest of old, were trying to scratch with their fingernails through the gates of the Undermire to find a less dark and dampen place to rest till the end of times. The noise punched into the goblin ears with thorny fingers, pulled at their bare teeth and blew icy cold in their staring eyes.
But the goblins did not leave the bulwark, they did not give up their posts at the gate and with a grin and a last pull at their hair the screeching sound danced off deeper into the marsh.
Out of the empty silence that followed the screech the small figure of a goblin grew into sight. The goblins at the gates and the porch screamed and cheered the returning scout to be faster, to reach the settlement before the source of this awe bearing sound could reach the gates. And they noticed that the scout held something above his head, something round, glazed deep blue. With eyes wide open and gasping breath the goblin reached the porch and all the goblins gathered around him eager to hear what he has found, what he has brought.
Shivering he holds up a blue potty! And with trembling finders he pulls out a rolled parchment. On it is written: Come to me in the Miremarsh. Signed Mellekai.

We gather for the Miremarsh Night at Gemeindeheim St. Engelbert, Kassenberger Strasse 94, Bochum on Saturday the 17th of November from 05.00 PM to 11.00 PM. There you will have the opportunity to play a shiny pre-production copy of the game Miremarsh and test Museum Rush, too, before the pledge-manager for Miremarsh by Room 17 Games closes on December the 07th. And for all guests there will be a promo card, too. We can host 15 brave goblins (we are planning three rounds, first come, first served). You will only gain entrance to the Marsh if you reserve your seat here.

Always ready to serve you! We have coffee, tea and biscuits for free and there will be the opportunity to order food and drinks.

Mellekai

And there ist even more to experience if you follow the honorable goblin Kehlenschnitt. He is organising another great Miremarsh Night. I am happy to present you his message:

Imagine you are a Goblin in a deadly swamp, filled with terrifying monsters, vicious traps and a lot of unlucky, unruly and reckless fellow Goblins, each vying to be the next Goblin King. Do you have what it takes to become a Goblin King ? Can you beat the odds and are you clever (or reckless) enough to survive the many deadly challenges that can be found in the Miremarsh ? Now is your chance to heed the call and accept the challenge to become the new Goblin King of Miremarsh. I will host demogames of Miremarsh (with a shiny, new prototype copy) at my local gaming store on Saturday, 24th November from 3pm-7pm. Don’t miss this opportunity to get a first glimpse at this wonderful game and the highly detailed Goblin miniatures.
Event location:
Brave New World

Brussels Games Festival 2018

 

Summer, sunshine, scouting for board games!

Our Belgian Dice & Mystics member had invited us to come along to the Brussels Games Festival 2018. We had never been to the Brussels Games Festival before, nor – to tell you the truth – had we ever even heard of it. We had no inkling of an idea what we had been missing out on! On arrival early in the morning, our anticipation reached a climax when we saw how large an event we were looking forward to.  No entrance fees. Does that mean…? Yay! You can keep all your money for the games. And: Location is not everything –  but a setting  like that certainly takes some beating!     

Located in the “Parc du Cinquantenaire” (Park of the Fiftieth Anniversary) on 40,000 square metres there were rows and rows of mostly white tents, booths of so many publishers with games of all colours and for all tastes, speciality shops, clubs and associations… The park is the site of a former military parade ground. In the course of the 50th anniversary of Belgium’s independence in 1880 it was used to stage a World Exhibition. So, the annual games fair takes place in a very prominent and also beautiful part of Brussels.

During the last weekend of August, the Brussels Game Festival had a bit – or rather a lot – of everything: three days of board games, party games, miniature games, educational games, wooden games for inside and outside, role play and LARP, international games, casual and hard core games, children’s games, game prototypes, tournaments and a game night, and also the people who design, make, and sell the games for our wonderful hobby.

Right at the foot of the imposing Triumphal Arch at the entrance to the grounds- 50 metres high and illustrating the history of the city – there was a huge sales area for second hand games with a sizeable queue forming. (The sky abuve was dramatic.Early in the morning the air was still a bit nippy, but soon it was turning into a lovely day altogether, with just a few clouds every now and then.)

If you expect to find some musty worn around the edges thrift store quality when you hear the term ”second hand“, you will have to re-think your ideas.

For any French speaking gamer the second hand area must be like a big toy shop at Christmas to a little child because, not surprisingly, about 80 % of the offers are in French. (Don’t sue us if we don’t get the percentage right but that is how it felt.)

Quite a large number of games were language independent or copies in many other languages and it would have been easy to come out the other end of the second hand area with a pile of excellent games in excellent next to new condition, and in German, too. There were choice titles from recent years, from all the old and new classics to the multitude of Star Wars and other IP games and a whole kaleidoscope of enticing games we had never seen or heard about before. We very nearly bought “Yggdrasil”, even though it had a French rule book, but it looked all new and shiny and the price was hugely tempting; I personally felt my resolution to just look around and not buy anything at our firs visit slowly but constantly dwindling…

Just behind this wonderland of budget  board games there was another most attractive feature of the Brussels Games Fair: the Protozone. No – not “protozoon” like one of the early organisms that preceded the later more developed species; the prototypes of still unpublished games proudly presented by their designers and artists were all of them well advanced, looked good on the table and, judging by the fun everybody appeared to be having, will eventually find a publisher and an eager international audience that will buy these many creative products.

Everything is fresh, and the sheer variety of game ideas and mechanisms just swoops you off your feet and makes you sit down and play, play, play…The empty space is deceptive; the tent was huge, and there were dozens of rows where games could be sampled. On entering you could collect a list of the games present, and when you played a round of a game, you received a stamp on the space of the game you participated in. On leaving, you could circle up to three games that you liked best and put your vote in a box as a feedback.

I got a chance to play Canyon Cup, a fun and exciting racing game with a tongue- in- cheek twist, by the brothers Pirson, again. It was a surprise visit. I remembered an early version of Canyon Cup from when it had just been finished and was presented and tried out on “real, live gamers” for the very first time at the Dice & Mystics Fringe 2016.

The refined and polished game with its modular board proved to be really popular with the visitors who were already queueing up behind me and our Belgian friend while we were racing our cars along the parcours through the desert canyon, outmanoeuvring and shooting at each other, exploding barrels and collecting popularity with our fictitious audience of the ranks. There are any numbers of racing games about, but apart from all the good things that can be said about Canyon Cup there are the original winning conditions and different ways of fulfilling them by which Canyon Cup elegantly avoids a problem that is frequent in other games: You do not have any runaway victors, the race remains fairly open and unpredictable to its very end. There are people I know who cannot wait to lay their hands on Canyon Cup when it finally comes out, me being one of them. (If it comes to choosing the driver – I play crazy eyes Walter! So hands off him!)

Have you ever navigated a Zeppelin in an air fight? Ever been engaged in a deadly ball game? Here are “Zeppelin Crasher” (left) and “Mortal Basket” (right).

      

The Protozone was easily the most fun part of any games fair we had ever been to. It was like an excellent “game night” with friends old and new. The languages used at the table were French and just as frequently English as a lingua franca to communicate with numerous visitors from abroad. The time spent at the Protozone was surely one of the best gaming experiences you can have, take our word for it.

There were Games of The World.

There was an outdoor game going on that reminded me of Kubb. People in the park were playing Cricket. And there were strange things…

Talking about meeting friends and acquaintances – we had last seen video reviewer Barry Doublet at Spiel Essen. It was his first time at the Brussels Games Festival, too, he admitted, and he was just doing his first round along all the booths.  He was a good sport with getting Eric-Lang’ed (ever had your picture taken together with Mr. Lang? Then you will know) and told us he would also be at the Spiel Essen fair in in Germany, October 2018. We will make sure to drop by at the Bombyx booth where he will be demoing Imaginarium, Abyss and Catch The Moon and say hello.

There were so many activities and animations going on, we simply could not take our time to really appreciate them at our first visit. We decided to leave that for the next time and concentrated on board games and their makers only. In the vast expanses of the park, we counted 74 publishers. One look at the poster shows you how long a list it is and how spacious an event, too.

Outside in the different parts of the park you could find all kinds of publishers great and small.

 

We were expecting to see Mythic with their upcoming “Solomon Cane”, and there they were.

 

 

 

 

We expected to see ”Perdition’s Mouth”  by Dragon Dawn Productions from Finland again, and there they were.

 

 

 

Matagot – yep! Just to think how hard it often is for us to get one of their fascinating games in Germany.

 

 

 

 

Iello? Why, sure!

Some Quidditch? Apparently yes. (Although we did not see anyone flying around on a broomstick.)

And someone somewhere would surely be playing “Azul”, and – yes, found them at it!

“A” as in “A-smodee”? Have a guess. Nearly an entire row, tent after tent, red and white and mostly larger than those of other publishers, sported the Asmodee flag.

After several rounds and discovering something new at every twist and turn, we needed some rest. Time for a break. The drink of the day – unless you preferred soft drinks altogether which is fine – was “Cave Troll”.

You have a choice of a variety of food trucks: Belgian fries, roast and fried cheeses, sweets… Have a pick.

When we had just grabbed our lunches a sudden but brief shower (and the only one the entire day) drove us to seek shelter under one of those large chestnut trees and we ate, well protected from the rain, until with the last bite the sun came out again. Excellent timing!

The afternoon was a time of new discoveries. We totally fell in love with “Bourpif”, which we understood (or misunderstood) means as much as “getting one on the nose” (in all friendship, of course) or maybe “Nasenstüber” in German, and …

… were also enamoured on first sight with some very special trolls that looked fun and came with a set of luxury  limited art prints (in the game the lovely young lady does wear a brassiere!). Of course, “Trôl” had to come along!

There went the last shred of our original resolution not to – oh, bother!

So much for “not buying any games”… The best was yet to come. We ran into graphic artist Naiade/Xavier Gueniffey Durin who was on his way to the Lui-même  booth where he and the game designer of “Snow Time” were to meet for signing copies, because this was the very first day the game was sold to the public. He was surprised because normally people recognize his name, but not necessarily his face, especially not people from abroad.  It so happened that we were the first to buy and got a brand new copy, stamped and marked as as # 1 and signed by Frank Meyer  and “doodled” by Naiade, if “doodle” is appropriate a term for an original full drawing by the artist while we waited.

On the whole we were impressed by the colours and beautiful designs of all the French language games and often enquired whether there were also rules in English or German available. Sometimes there were, sometimes there were not, and sometimes there was no imminent answer to the question and both the people at the booth and we needed to check together on the internet. A whole new gaming universe was spreading out before us, if only we knew the magic words to unlock its secrets…!

What was best about the Festival? The games you could buy, old and new, of course. Playing games and having such fun, of course. Spending time with our friend. The people we met. The location. The fact that, unlike at other – meaning indoor –  fairs, you also enjoy the sun and fresh air and lots of space and nice views and all the things you see around the Brussels Games Festival. The fact that you get to see games and prototypes you do not that likely to see anywhere else. The fact that it is for free. What was best? Why, everything was!

And then there is Brussels itself, with its sights, parks, beautiful architecture, and that lovely Pâtisserie just round the corner. So then was it worth it, visiting the Brussels Games Festival 2018? Well, we have been thinking back on it every day and enthusiastically telling everybody who did not make it up a tree fast enough about it, and we are firmly set on going again and again and again!

So: YES. We strongly recommend the Brussels Games Festival. Definitely.

If you can, do go!

 

 

Dice & Mystics Fringe 2018

Update 2 (20.08.2018):

Dice & Mystics Fringe on October 27th – Need a Taxi?

We have spoken with Bednarz Elektro Taxi GmbH (www.bednarz-elektrotaxi.de), a very reliable local service, and we  are glad that we were able to secure a

special offer for taxi rides to or from the Dice & Mystics Fringe:                                    10 % off all fares outside Bochum!

(Please note that all fares within the city limits of Bochum have to be charged the regular taxi rates; all fares beyond the city limits are 10 % off for you.)

In order to use this special offer, contact one of the numbers below or send a mail  and state that you are a guest at the “Dice & Mystics Fringe” event.

Tel.:  0234-490024   OR    Tel.:  0234-490026

Fax.: 0234-490025

mwahl@bednarz-elektrotaxi.de

_________________________________________________________________________

Update 1:

We are happy and proud to announce:

The Dice & Mystics Fringe event on Sat. 27th Oct. 2018 is booked full! 

We are very much looking forward to seeing you wonderful people in October.  With over 80 % returners from previous years it is going to be a happy reunion for many.

Like last year, anybody who is late but is still wanting to join in the fun is from now on going to be put on our waiting list.

PLEASE:

If you are booked but can for whatever reason not attend, do give us a shout so that somebody else can have a chance to take your place. Thank you so much!

_________________________________________________________________________

Going to Essen and want to play?
Join us at the Dice & Mystics Fringe 2018
October 27th (from 4 p.m. until midnight)

Yes, we’re doing it AGAIN! How could we not, after all the positive vibes, the fun and happiness we experienced at our previous Fringes?
You are looking for a nice and comfortable game night to round up your visit at SPIEL Essen? Then come to play with us on Saturday October 27th at our game location in Bochum, 15 Minutes by car from the SPIEL. You are very welcome at the Dice & Mystics Fringe, aka “Tiny Con.”
It is free of any charge and entirely non-commercial. We just want to give our fellow board gamers a place to enjoy their new games, meet people, exchange their experiences of the fair and have fun. There is space and time to play on Saturday
from 4.00 p.m. to midnight.

However, the places are limited, so we do kindly ask you to contact us so that we can put you on our guest list. We can give you directions on how to find us (by car just 3 turns from the autobahn; also by public transport).                             Hotels and restaurants in the vicinity may be about the same driving distance to the SPIEL as some in Essen.

There will be the opportunity to order food and drinks on the premises; a delivery service will take orders at the tables. Teas, coffees and biscuits are free!

You would like to come?         Contact us by clicking here. We need your full name and home address and also the full names of any friends you want to bring along. You are going to receive a confirmation as soon as you are booked.
Registration ends on Saturday, 13.10.2018.

The Dice & Mystics Double Feature – June 16th /17th 2018

We’re going on an adventure!

Always wanted to play Twilight Imperium, but didn’t know with whom, when, and especially where? Often wondered what it’s like to survive through a large scale Zombicide Black Plague campaign? Always wanted more time to actually finish your T.I.M.E Stories?            You have a game you are aching to play – but it does not fit on your dining table at home?

Make it happen!

We have large rooms with large tables, so why not come along.  We are going to play June 16th (from 4 p.m. until midnight) / June 17th (from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.). English and German spoken.  All teas and Italian coffees are complimentary; we would like this to be a fun and easy gaming weekend for each and everyone.

Entry is free.

The Dice & Mystics are preparing to host the following games/campaigns:

  • Twilight Imperium 3
  • Zombicide Black Plague – Thematic campaign play (in English)
  • Arkham Horror (in German; with “Der Fluch des schwarzen Pharaoh” / “Curse of the Dark Pharaoh” expansion)

And maybe the best news of all:

  • If you have a large space- and time-consuming game of your own, just bring along your friends, and get started. You have the game, we have the space!

You can leave your game on the table overnight to continue next morning; the room will be locked. You will, of course, be responsible for your own game and components.

If you would like to join and secure a place, contact us to be put on the player list. If you want to bring your own game, tell us your needs and we will reserve adequate table space for you.

There will be an opportunity to order a large variety of food at reasonable prices from a delivery  service, brought directly to your table (Saturday orders 19.00 p.m., Sunday orders 12.00 a.m.). For your additional needs: There are a takeaway, and also a shop to stock up on soft drinks, sweets etc. (open Sat. till 20 p.m.) just the other side of the road.

We are sorry we are not able to provide any accommodation for the night; there are hotels nearby.

Want to join in?

Just contact us. Registration ends on May 30th at 4 p.m.

The Dice & Mystics Fringe “TinyCon“ 2017

“OMG”, she exclaimed, “ – and I had expected a handful of elderly people passing some time playing Monopoly!” Instead, the large room was bustling with life. A colourful crew of about 140 people from not only most European countries but also from 5 different continents were busy pushing cubes, meeples and a llama, making trees grow, colonizing planets and conquering galaxies, cultivating wine, solving crimes, hunting down monsters, cheering the Canyon Cup racing pilots, building cardboard roller coasters or commanding knights, orcs or samurai while the moon crashed down on America to release a white dragon god who threatened to forever change the future of the planet.

All the while I was smiling and keeping my cool, while inwardly I could not stop myself from picturing Rita Skeeter and her magically animated quill busily scribbling notes, thinking: OMG – what is she going to do next with my babble when I’m done?  The nice inquisitive lady from WAZ, the largest regional newspaper, who was interviewing me, had some difficulty grasping the idea of our Dice & Mystics Fringe. No, we’re not a club, neither I nor any other “member” of the Dice & Mystics is a “president” or “chairperson”. Rita Skeeter was baffled. There are no functions, and also no funds. No entrance fees, nothing for sale. Just tea, coffee and biscuits for free. Everything was done, provided for, donated or paid for by private persons who got nothing out of it – just a huge lot of fun. “And you do this – why?” Our love of board games, of course, and because we really like our fellow gamers and the people who work at making games for us to enjoy, and sharing our fun of gaming. There is no nicer place on earth than a room full of happy people playing games.

The photographer she had brought was scouting the rooms, spoilt for motives, while I lectured about Spiel Essen, the steadily growing board game phenomenon and the countless numbers of new releases coming out every year, the different games being demoed at our Fringe Event, our guests like The Dice Tower and other reviewers, designers and small publishers and the wonderful international board gaming community. She nodded vigorously. “And nearly everybody is talking English here! I really did not expect such a large and international event.

All those ideas and designs! I had no idea board gaming was such a big and universal thing and that there were so very many games. This is a whole new world!” I need not have worried about the scribbling of the quill; when I saw the article later (in print and online), all was hunky dory. The article was, as I should have expected, highly professional and informative, and it shone of her excitement and wonder, too.

Shortly after that, when the Spiel Essen had just closed, the remaining group of our eagerly expected guests from the Atlantic Congress Hotel arrived, looking forward to a hopefully nice relaxing and re-creational game night after all the bustle of the fair. They, like all the other “Meeples”, were greeted individually on entering, given directions towards what to find where and released into the crowd where they dispersed and sat down to play almost immediately.

  

“Why are you calling us ‘meeples’?” our two “Big Bad Wolves” at the entrance were sometimes asked. Why, because we do like to play with you, of course! We aimed at giving everybody a nice game night to remember, for free. If we are to believe them and so many of our other guests, we managed to provide that, no more, but no less. Games were played everywhere; the air was buzzing and humming with voices in a way that was creating a pleasant and beautiful background noise.

          

No way could we have pulled this off without the enthusiasm of our Dice & Mystics, our “Meeple Shepherds” who were the only ones who did not get to play much or even not at all. Thank you for your time and commitment.

So, how was all of this possible? Through the kindness of many.

The coffee, tea, biscuits, the prizes at our raffle (which had miraculously appeared from all different directions just two weeks and in one case only half a day before our event and convinced us we did, in fact, have a raffle on…) were gifts to our guests – so it is high time to say a really big THANK YOU to all our sponsors, and here is a list in alphabetical order:

Boardcubator                                                                                                                    Board&Dice                                                                                                                      FantasyWelt.de                                                                                                                         Felix Mertikat – King Racoon Games                                                                                     Greenbrier Games                                                                                                        Kaffeestore24.de                                                                                                              Luish Moraes Coelho                                                                                                                Mythic Games                                                                                                                Roland MacDonald – THE ILLUSTRATOR                                                                            Second Gate Games                                                                                                        Spielzeug-Paradies Wagner

We had been showered with € 5 vouchers for online purchases, got shiny new boxes in all sizes of classic and new games (from the publishers or designers present as well as from some who would have liked to come, too, but could not make it), even plus the brand new expansion as large as the original box, and a set of four minis from the kickstarter “Joan of Arc”, an amazing set of original art, and the Bochum toy shop additionally also bestowed upon us things like fidget spinners, a cute “jewellery” set for toddlers, a teeny weeny plastic bear, a posable (and somewhat overfed looking) toy dog, a pair of yellow wooden dice, Star Wars sticker albums and quite a number of other whimsical items. They have a small but really excellent board game section ranging from Ludo, The Game of Life Rockstar Edition to Zombicide Black Plague or The Others, but they seemed a little uncertain about the nature of our event and apparently thought that where there are games, there must by law of nature also be some children.

Thus we had not only prizes, but prizes with a surplus fun factor: The Star Wars album went to a tall black-clad guy, grinning and pointing two fingers at his T-Shirt that had “Star Wars” written right across his chest. Laughs and chuckles. The fat dog was adopted. Applause. Sam Healey won a prize and donated it again, so another ticket was drawn and the prize went to – Zee Garcia, who also donated it again and, twice risen in value, found a third winner under the eyes of cheering masses. Our “Meeple Shepherd” who was herding used dishes back to be cleaned all night had been enticed out of the kitchen by all that laughter, and promptly won the other Star Wars album. Incidentally, she likes Star Wars and loves sticker albums. Some games got signed by their makers on the spot.

Many, many of our guests got some form of a token to take back home from our event. I am also quite sure that – after having been the cause of fun and merriment – by now most of the kids’ prizes will have found their way to a child eventually and the tiny bear has a homely place in a toy chest. And you can check on Youtube where the spinners went… People in the direct neighbourhood who had not heard a sound up to the raffle told us they ran to their windows shortly after 11 o’clock at night to find out where that gigantic laughter came from.

Last but not least we say thank you to the parish of St Engelbert in Bochum-Oberdahlhausen who provided the maybe most important ingredient for our game night: They allowed us to use their entire building of their “parish centre” and all facilities free of charge. Many guests explicitly told us they were impressed by such openness and hospitality. “This is fantastic”, commented Dave Luza; “any town quarter needs a place like this.” Later Sam Healey taught me another more fitting word for “parish centre”: “We call it ‘friendship hall’.” I like that. This is exactly what it was, a place where friendship was given and received.

When I checked on my feet – which I had not really been feeling for a while – I suddenly understood why it is called “running” an event. But my, was it worth it! People had fun, and one of our guests even treated himself to a live – if very brief  – “dungeon crawl”, or so we heard… (You need to have been there to understand this one.) At midnight we could have started to put people on the 2018 guest list on the spot; there was actually a little queue forming of guests ready to leave who wanted to say a few words and shake hands before parting – and make a reservation right away: “We felt at home and among good friends here”.  If half of the Meeples who said they will come turn up in 2018, we’re half booked already.

Well, we do need some time, so no reservations now – but it can’t do any harm to check on this website or on Boardgamegeek when the next Spiel Essen is approaching.

Until then: Have fun gaming!

Loving The Others

Some people dig horror themes, others don’t. Tastes differ, and that is a good thing.

I for my part quite like “horror” games. Next to fantasy and sci-fi, the horror theme is one of my favourites. However, I can understand that some gamers find no joy in this genre or maybe are o.k. with a mild horror theme but think that some of the games currently available go a step too far. They find themselves unable and unwilling to play because they find the aspect of gruesome minis, gory standees and blood splattered boards unpleasant. After all, gaming is meant to be fun, and not experiencing any fun looking at death, decay and degeneration is a very healthy reaction. Attempting to force people into it, blackmailing them with the prospect of continued ridicule for being wimpy, is inacceptable.

So, is having fun with horror games an unhealthy thing? It’s… complicated.

I enjoy games with a supernatural and fantasy theme where you get to encounter ghosts, mythological characters and fabulous beasts or figures based e. g. on the art of H. P. Lovecraft. I would wear a Cthulhu T-shirt if it was given to me. I would not necessarily buy one. “Flavour” is, well, not everything, but it contributes a great deal to the way you experience your gameplay. There are story driven games as well as games with good back stories, often provided in the rule book as an intro, which do not unfold in the actual gameplay but serve to generate a certain mood and attitude that influences you in a significant way.

I enjoy games that draw their fascination from e. g. a gas-lit 19th century setting that depicts a past where science was looked at askance and the line between empirical facts, folklore and imagination was still thin. Those games add a historical touch to the experience when you learn about ideas that distinguish our 21st century mind-sets from those of our forebears.

And, yes, there are horror games I would not touch because they concentrate too much on the theme for the theme’s sake, without a good enough story to back up what is happening on the board. They remind me of movies where a weak plot is a mere excuse for adding one special effect on top of the other.

Games like e.g. The Others, they are a very different matter. In The Others you take a stand against the Deadly Sins, presented to you in the form of truly abhorrent and disgusting artwork of the highest artistic standard. No squinting sideways here: A single glance – and you are going to have the picture imprinted in your memory forever. And there are sickening mutants, too, corrupted by the influence of sheer evil.  The point is, you are meant to not like them. You are actually meant to find them as off-putting and hateful as possible.

And this is something I truly like about The Others: Evil is in no way romanticized. You can fall for the attraction of a vampire, you can feel a morbid sympathy for werewolves and even identify with your Joe Average turned zombie, but in my opinion it is humanly impossible to feel anything but disgust and opposition towards those incorporations of evil that are depicted in The Others. And this is how it should be.  Evil is put in its place. Its true nature is exposed where it lifts its ugly head. The evil that enters or emanates from a tainted human being is shown as something that takes away or at least significantly diminishes his or her humanity.

As an aside and between the lines: For any artist it hast to be an enormous challenge to create a piece of work that people both instinctively abhor for its looks and its meaning and at the same time enjoy and admire for its  artistic quality. This alone is enough to make The Others unique in my eyes. But there is more.

Some hero characters would easily qualify as abominations in any other game. There are e.g. the huge horned pale hulk called Thorley and his genetic half- sister Rose who are not pretty by any conventional standards, or by any standard, really. Rose’s tentacles that grow from her elbows are enough for me to get squeamish at, and even more so when they develop heads and a life and will of their own. It is the “Other” part of her genes, but Rose may use their deadliness as her signature weapon. Other characters add a distorted psyche to their physical abnormality.

Wanting to play these characters and identifying with them is not so easy. People reject the game because they are opposed to playing “monsters” and feel the line between good and evil is too blurry. They would rather fight them than play and therefore to some extent identify with them. And that much is true: You shudder at the thought of having them next to you, but this has to be seen in relation and contrast to the urge to shut your eyes and hide in the presence of a Sin. The point is that, however you feel about them, they are just about human enough to accept them standing next to you and fighting side by side with humanity.

At this point, things get philosophical.

Those “monsters” you can play as heroes in the games are precious creations. It is easy to overlook their true quality when you put the game on the table, go through the mechanics and skim the data on the character cards.

It is sad that most people cannot enjoy the wonderful back stories that have been written to illustrate the game: The kickstarter edition comes with an art book that gives you a detailed impression of the whole concept of the game The Others and its creatures, containing narratives that better acquaint you with your playable characters, especially the not quite human ones. I confess I had my issues with them, too, at first. But they are creative inventions way, way beyond plastic and life points.

The first thing you learn is: Their DNA is part human, part the DNA of the Others. They are physically corrupted to a point where players feel a strong reservation towards taking them up. They are no heroes like Superman, even if they have super-human powers like Thorley’s super strength or Rose’s ability to slow down time while moving. They were genetically engineered by the agents of evil to open the gates for the Others, but they fled because they instinctively shrank back from evil when they first saw it. They helped each other escape and are extremely protective towards each other and towards anyone who is kind to them, to a point of self-sacrifice. They came to life physically mature, but otherwise they are basically still children just entering adolescence, grappling with new unfelt emotions, trying to make sense of the world of adults and discovering their own powers and abilities. They are, literally, suffering from their respective conditions much in the way the Incredible Hulk does. They have human weaknesses too: Thorley needs reading glasses. For reading.

They identify with their human heritage and feel disgust at the Others just like the next guy. They like soap opera, enjoy fish and chunky chips, play board games  – Thorley hast a passion for chess! – and love to go to the pub because it is a place where they can have some social contact.  (You did not think they do it for the beer and the booze, did you? Remember, they are practically children.) They have a deep yearning for a normal life of which they have but a sketchy idea derived from TV shows they picked up on the run. They suffer from being different and try to hide their physical otherness under hoods or long sleeves to blend in and also not to cause discomfort to or frighten any humans.

Having witnessed the devastation the Others wreaked on the small town Haven, Thorley and Rose cannot help but feel a deep compassion towards those “poor humans” and feel compelled to join up with any human resistance they might be able to find. They have a common enemy, and they feel as drawn to the weaker humans as they are repelled by the Others. It is a rational, “enlightened” reaction to their experience of corruption, violence and destruction that expresses nothing different than philosopher Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative. To them, stopping the Others and protecting humanity becomes an end in itself.

I quote Wikipedia: “According to Kant, human beings occupy a special place in creation, and morality can be summed up in an imperative, or ultimate commandment of reason, from which all duties and obligations derive. He defined an imperative as any proposition declaring a certain action (or inaction) to be necessary.” You could say this makes Thorley and his sister all human by choice, if not by nature: For them, siding with the Others is not even an option, because to them evil and destruction does not make any sense. They act according to Kant’s often quoted first maxim: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” The fact that they are ready to risk their own existence in the process shows the abstractness and purity of their motive which is surprising in a “universe” that is nothing more than a board game. This does not turn them into model images of saints: They simply dislike being used and discarded like mere tools, and they want to be treated as individuals with a will and a conscience of their own. Still, the moral judgement holds: They are, by most definitions, the good (as humans go) guys.

Did the creators think of Kant? Did they want to teach us philosophy and hide a lesson in a board game? Of course not! (Although I would not put it entirely past them.) But they exist in a cultural context where, long after Kant and his contemporaries, the philosophy of enlightenment is still present and active.  Apart from any other considerations, this is rather reassuring.

It is time to re-phrase an earlier statement: Wanting to play these characters and identifying with them is not easy but an exercise in tolerance. You learn to tolerate the characters, disregarding their ancestry and their appearance and accept them, limits and imperfections and all, for their thoughts and actions. We become more human by being more humane.

Now, wait a moment, you say, what is this all about? They are not real persons. They are just playable characters in a board game. But then, why did you have inhibitions when it came to playing them? Because you do identify with your playable character.

You do not want to be a monster in a game where monstrosity is taken so seriously. You want to be truly human, and this, intentionally or not, is the concept behind those “monstrous” half human characters. You are aware of the potential of evil and corruption your character is tainted with. In real life you also are dealing with something inside yourself that e.g. in the terminology of Christian religion is called “original sin”, or in German “Erbsünde” (which translates as “hereditary sin”), something that is part of your very nature which you have to face and to overcome, in order to become whatever your belief or philosophy says you truly ought to be.

The game The Others also shows you how hard it is to prevail, how tempting it is to give in to hopelessness or to choose an easier path and submit to corruption. It shows you that decisions that matter are not so simple and that, if you were expected to always be perfect and pure to be redeemed, and there was no tolerance of weakness and no forgiveness – to stay within Christian terminology – you would not stand a chance.

However – being a Sin player in The Others is actually a rather taxing experience and not everybody’s cup of tea because you cannot, and do not want to identify with one of the Sins. It is certainly not a game for any game group. As a Sin player you have to strictly follow the rule book and cannot allow yourself to simply lean back and enjoy, and you have to keep a healthy distance to your Sin character. There is a thin line that is hard not to cross.  Being a Sin player is a step that I, personally, would not be willing to take, but somebody in your game group will have to, and this is the main issue why I can still very well understand why somebody would not want to play The Others and finds no joy in taking part at all.

TSUKUYUMI – Full Moon Down @ Fringe 2017

We are very proud to present a fresh and brand new game that is on KS right now. And the best thing is that you will be able to play the game at our Fringe Event!

Tsukuyumi – Full Moon Down is a boardgame without any elements of luck or chance, that demands specific strategic skills of its 3-5 (6) players. The modular battlefield represents the dried out ground of the former Pacific Ocean: Up to 40 hexagonal area tiles circle the moon panels, providing score points, blockades and contaminations. The goal is to gather as many score points as possible, through conquering and occupying areas – thus becoming the most dominant species on the board. Tsukuyumi – Full Moon Down’s particular appeal lies in the clash of diverse, asymmetrical factions. At the beginning, each player picks a faction. Each faction comes with their own respective abilities, units and strategies. The game therefore changes depending on which factions meet on the battlefield. You may decide between wild boars, whales, marines, battle mechs, cybersamurai and many more.

STORYWOLD

The world has changed – and with it the creatures who are fighting for survival. Whether human survivors, mutated beasts or human-machine hybrids – every faction wants to seize power, in order to finally face their greatest enemy: The white dragon Tsukuyumi.

As the moon hit the earth, it had an effect which usually takes thousands of years: land masses were moved, pushed down and raised, water was displaced, and down appeared to be up. Creaking and groaning, the face of the planet was changed. The moon however came to a standstill amid massive earth walls in the muddy floor of the former Pacific Ocean.

The moon sliced up stretches of land, broke continental tectonic plates, splintered mountains and broke its own stone hull on the icy summits of the Himalaya. Wherever Tsukuyumi’s pheromones touch life, a rapid evolution takes place. But his original plan failed. While humans who get in his way fall victim to his influence and become highly intelligent and destructive Oni, the other creatures have resisted. Thus his own creations turn against him, and become his most powerful enemies. These include the insect swarms of the Dark Seed, the pig herds of the Boarlords, the beasts of the Children of the Lion and the massive land whales of the Lords of the Lost Sea.