Rise Up

Look out for a boardgame about organizing protests

I work, live, and study in Washington, D.C.—undoubtedly one of the world’s most political cities. Here reside the highest stratum of politicians, lobbyists, and corporate cash-mongers. Here, too, live the downtrodden, the marginalized—systematically oppressed people of varying color, socioeconomic status, and gender identity who the government promised to uplift, but, in effect, did quite the opposite. It only takes one stroll through Georgetown to understand how economically and racially segregated this city is. Washington is the world’s welcome mat to the United States: a city that is supposed to encompass all that America loves and strives for. And it does…


Dead of Winter: The Long Night is a survivor

The Andes Flight Disaster of 1972 is infamous for the part about the cannibalism. On October 13th, a chartered Fairchild FH-227D crashed on the spine of the Andes between Chile and Argentina. A search was conducted for just over a week, leaving the team stranded. After two months of starvation, frostbite, and sickness, the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571’s original 45 members had dwindled to 16, who all had to resort to eating the dead to survive. The survivors were all part of a rugby union, all Roman Catholic, and operated as a team: they salvaged together, they kept warm…

Lotus Dimension

New boardgame is like Dungeons & Dragons without all the violence

Lotus Dimension, a tabletop game by Scott Wayne Indiana that’s currently on Kickstarter, riffs on the best-known parts of Dungeons & Dragons (1974)—lots of adventure, deep storytelling, and actively encouraging creativity—but removes another: combat. Gone is the hack’n’slash, the destructive sorcery, the sharp but hidden blades that sawed your way through oh-so-many dungeons; you’re going to have to be more clever now. Lotus Dimension has sworn a vow of nonviolence, and you have no choice whether to follow it. Now pacifism has outgrown its adolescence of achievement runs and takes a seat with its grandfather at the tabletop, it’s time…


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’…


The Art of Escape

This article was funded with support from Longreads members. * * * No one wore stripes that spring and summer in Leavenworth. Stripes were for rule breakers, and no one was breaking the rules. “Baseball As A Corrective” read the front page of the New York Times that May. It was 1912 and “the magic of baseball” had “wrought a wonderful change in the United States Penitentiary.” For the first time in Leavenworth’s history, for months at a time, everyone behaved, because everyone wanted to play or watch the baseball games. “Chronic trouble makers began to be so good that the…


Role-playing games are just like medieval oral culture

You’re woken from your slumber by the piercing cries of a man in agony and the splintering of wood. The room is dark, though the glowing embers in the grate cast a dull glow across rapidly moving shapes. All about you is pandemonium: guttural panicked sounds of man and beast. Its stench strikes your attention before you realize it’s stood beside you but in the fire’s dying glow you can see the heft of a large arm reaching out to grab you. Roll for initiative. /// Hwaet. This word—usually translated as “listen”—marks the opening of Beowulf, one of the rarest…


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…

Fabulous Beasts

Fabulous Beasts makes the toy game physical again

Before there was anything else in this world, there was Bear. Bear was the perfect creature to start off a fresh new ecosystem: big and burly, with a stable base of four flat feet. His back, though hunched over in an arch, was unmovable. And so my quest to create a fabulous world of colors and fauna and water and flame would begin here, with Bear. Only moments later, as Eagle and Hippo and Fire and Water tumbled off Bear’s back onto the linoleum floor of a New York City cafe, did I realize how wrong I’d been. But no…