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Tycho / on Mon, Sep 7 2015 at 11:37 am

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The Twain

Gabriel is enjoying Star Wars: Aftermath, at least, this is what I’ve been told.  Generally I take it upon myself to tell him whether or not he likes something, based on what is appropriate to like.  Imagine a sign like they have at a carnival, you must be this tall to ride this ride, except instead of vertical height it measures the density and efficiency of your synapses.

It might be a little while until I can commit to reading the books again; it’s not really a position that’s enunciated in the strip, but it’s where I sit whenever I’m not trying to avoid inadvertent prophecy.  I’ll try out the film, and if it works, I can fill in the cracks and stoke enthusiasm retroactively.  The model is more like a peat fire than a wood fire.

The previous sentence was included exclusively for my own pleasure.  Any utility you might have derived thereby is wholly unintentional.

At the very first PAX Australia, I saw many things.  They have a different Garbage Bird than we have in Seattle, for example.  Theirs is called an Ibis, which my son sometimes referred to as a “hook-billed filthmaster” before its true-name was revealed.  Also, there was a seismic event in their game industry that (among other things) resulted in a world-class indie tier of development.  I saw a game called Armello at the show proper, orbited by “the agents of its manufacture”, and it made me sad.  It made me sad because I see so, so many beautiful things that have the ill-fortune to materialize in this universe, which has an adversarial relationship with the earnest creator.  There’s just…  a leak, in this evil place, and if I tried to tell you about all the beautiful things people showed me and then found themselves unable to complete them I would run out of fingers.

I saw the game at other shows, always in various states of completion, and in every case I tried to act as a source of energy.  I tried to fill their sails a little bit.  I did not have to pretend to remember them, because they were always situated near to my active mind.  I nodded, and bolstered, while I embroidered their eulogy.

Except, when I saw it at PAX Prime, it was out!  And not only was it out, it had been completed in-line with their intention.  And it is a marvelous intention, just as marvelous as it was when younger versions of themselves had revealed it to me.  A really, really good boardgame that relies so much on secret information that computers and tablets were simply a more natural home.  You will see their anthropomorphic animals and say, well, that’s an interesting take on that - the needle is closer to animal than person.  And then you will be surprised that underneath that fairytale exterior is a legitimately brutish, Grimm’s-tier tale of violence and desperation told round to round by custom dice and cards.  It also has what might be the best tutorial I’ve ever seen, which is why I’m not telling you more.  Watch Grob’s round on Twitch if you want to try a taste.  But this is an eclipse situation, where we both like the same thing, the same amount.  It’s just not that common.  Typically, such a conflux presages the approach of storms.

When The King roars an edict - a kind of special rule the current leader of the game can choose - I wish his mouth was open.  Also, when it comes to the Dice interaction, I find it illegible: you “throw” them with the mouse, and they bounce around the edge of the screen while you try to follow them, but you can’t actually, except the last one or two - it’s like dumping a bucket of mice onto the felt of a pool table.  I wish it had a Dice Tower you could drag them to, and reveal them that way.  And…  you know what?  Those are the only two things I don’t like about this game.  We’re done.  If you like strategy games, or board games, you can rub a compound of Armello and Kingsfoil directly on it and be healed.


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