Thoughts from April 17, 2012 – April 25, 2012
Board Game Geek, more L5R RPG, Lords of Waterdeep, ESWOTBWDAMS, Colossal Arena, and Kotei decisions – it’s been a varied couple of weeks here at Strange Assembly!
1) A silly thing, I know, but it’s always disappointing when you write a review for a non-hotness game, post in on BoardGameGeek, and then see it swept off of the “Recent” list before you can get enough thumbs to make it over onto the “Hot” list – at which point the review is mostly lost to the ages.
2) According to Great Clans, the answer to the question of “why haven’t the other Clans just gotten together and wiped out the Scorpion” amounts to a very long way of saying “no good reason.”
3) In its background, Rokugan is an inherently patriarchal society, but we virtually never see that it ongoing story or the CCG – female samurai, for example, inherit titles just as readily as male samurai (I can’t recall an instance of an older female sibling being passed over on the basis of sex, for example). You’ve maybe got the occasional reference to samurai-ko being treated slightly differently as far as needing chaperones or giving a vow of chastity, but I can’t actually recall a particular instance of that. This is all because, even though this setting is a faux-dark/middle ages sort of society, the real version of which did didn’t even slightly treat women as equals, the story is written and read by modern folk, and I think we mostly don’t want to read about how characters who are supposed to be heroic are sexist (and I imagine this would be especially true of female fans). Why then, if the anti-female sexism is scrubbed from the setting (which I’m fine with), does the setting still contain multiple examples of blatant anti-male sexism? There are three Great Clan families that explicitly preclude men from holding the highest positions of power (and the men of the Utaku are particularly hosed, living in a Clan that is focused on cavalry and not being allowed to ride a horse into combat). Maybe that’s interesting if it’s a contrast to a sexist mainstream Rokugan (which is a role that your usual mythical female-led societies play – real society was male-dominated, so it was this great curiosity to propose a female-led society), but as noted above, that mainstream sexism doesn’t actually show up in the story anyway.
4) Lords of Waterdeep is really good. If you have any interest in non-heavy, Euro-style games (aka, games about resource engines), you should check it out.
5) On the other hand, Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre is just bad. Yes, yes, I know that there will be some who find the simplistic gameplay to be acceptable, the awful Rob Zombie-esque art to be appealing, and the not-at-all-funny card names to be funny. But the game is still bad. Sorry Mike.
6) Colossal Arena, an old Fantasy Flight Games Silverline game by Knizia, is a betting game about battling monsters (place your bets, then try to make sure the creatures you backed don’t get eliminated). The theme is pasted on (it was a horse racing game before it got its battling monsters re-brand, and the horses were probably a better fit), but the game play is decent. With a short playing time, it’s a game that has been reasonably interesting to both us gamers, and my non-gamer family members. And it’s cheap, so if you’re like me and want to be able to rope random friends and family into games, it might be worth looking at.
7) Superior Reach? Tireless Efforts? Rumors Travel? Readied Steel? Peace? Weapon #13? Whatever else I’m forgetting at this particular second? So many contestants for those last few spots . . .
8) How is it that there are only two EE-legal Fire Shugenja (three if you count Mahatsu), but seven Spells that look for a Fire Shugenja? Yes, Embers of War is going to add another two Fire Shugenja (one Unique), but still.
9) It’s three releases away, but I’m already itching to get my hands on the Second City box set for the L5R RPG.
10) Make sure to say hello if you see us at the Knoxville Kotei this weekend!