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Review

Fall of Magic turns everyone into a gifted author

Fall of Magic is the kind of free form storytelling you could do with your friends on the floor just about anywhere. Play some Howard Shore soundtracks in the background, light a few candles, and unroll the scroll. As an engine for creating stories it’s deceptively slight. From the rulebook: “Someone may ask, ‘Is a Raven like the bird?’ or ‘What is a Crab Singer?’ To this we reply: ‘It means what you want it to mean.’” This open-handed approach extends to the rules. A six-sided dice is included but rarely used, and the rest of the game world’s description…

Settlers of Catan
Feature

An intro to tabletop gaming as ritual

Every time I unbox a board game it feels as though I’m ‘starting something’. There’s a secure rhythm in drawing out components, shuffling decks, placing pieces; it feels significant in the same way that the placement and positioning of elements in communion or offering feels holy. Mats are laid out, figurines placed, tokens piled according to kind. Victor Turner wrote the following in “Symbols in African Ritual” in 1973: “A ritual is a stereotyped sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and designed to influence preternatural entities or forces on behalf of the actors’…

spaceteam
Review

The Spaceteam card game will make you wanna shout

“The future is disorder.” –Tom Stoppard, Arcadia /// The Spaceteam card game is chaos. Like its forebear on Android and Apple, it’s a cooperative game that forces you and some friends to scramble with tools and ailing apparatuses to fix your spaceship before you are swallowed by a black hole. As an adaptation, it’s faithful to the frenetic shouting of the original Spaceteam (2012), which was itself a faithful homage to the technobabble of Star Trek and giant-mecha sci-fi films. Instead of a digital interface, this iteration replaces it with cards and a timer, which are easier to wipe clean of…

pandemiclegacy
Article

The year in boardgames

“2015 is the year of the board game,” I told everyone I knew. I wrote it out in emails. I typed the words out in text messages. I casually said it over the phone. If friends or family wanted to get me something for my birthday, a PlayStation gift card would not do: I had a manicured Amazon wish list pruned with all the games I wanted to play. Sure, I occasionally played games on a screen. But people know, now: when they invite me over for dinner, they better be ready to play Love Letter or Netrunner or whatever…

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Review

Void and Meddler is lovely but lonely

It’s a gorgeous evening in Void & Meddler’s synth-wave nightscape. The downtempo music is pulsing, rain is falling, and I’m guiding my protagonist Fyn through a market of vibrant neofuturistic goods. I click on some fish, stacked near a bobbing robot merchant. “No, just no,” Fyn tells me. I click on the pile of fish again. “No way.” /// Booting up the game, I knew from a single glance that Fyn and I were not going to get along. With her hips perpetually half-crooked and a look of withering disinterest carved into her expression, Void & Meddler’s protagonist is all…