Top Of The Table – Vindication

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Just because a game offers a fun play experience, it doesn’t always necessarily follow that it holds up to repeated replay. Board game developers must wrestle with that challenge at every step of the creation process. A big surprise element of play in the first game can be wonderful, but that same dynamic can feel stale three playthroughs later.

The creative team at Orange Nebula clearly had that dilemma at the center of their minds when crafting Vindication. This is a rich, high-end board game built for dedicated hobbyists, filled with gorgeous components, evocative art, and a creative premise. But after many months exploring the game, the feature that impresses me the most is Vindication’s comprehensive and layered approach to replayability. Vindication is a game that begs to be played on repeat, in which players rotate optional elements in and out, and rediscover the game with each playthrough. Thanks to an array of interacting systems and mechanics, it’s a tabletop experience that genuinely maintains that sheen of newness, even after returning to the game many times.

Valorant Preview: A Deep Dive On The New Hero-Based Tactical Shooter From Riot Games

about X hours ago from
Valorant Preview: A Deep Dive On The New Hero-Based Tactical Shooter From Riot Games

Last October, when Riot Games announced a slate of new titles, one of the outliers was Project A, a first-person shooter that combines the popular hero-based shooter genre with tactical gameplay. We now know Project A is officially called Valorant, and will launch on PC this summer as a free-to-play title. I traveled to Santa Monica, Calif., to spend a day in the offices of Riot Games to not only learn about the upcoming shooter from all angles, but also play it for several hours.

While most of the games announced during Riot's 10-year-anniversary stream are set in the League of Legends universe, Valorant is unique in that it does not feature any connection to Riot's juggernaut IP. "It was actually a point of debate for a while: Should we put this in [the League of Legends universe] or should we not?" says game director Joe Ziegler. "It was really hard to get the concept of this crisp, tactical shooter with mechanical bullets firing out of your gun, and then putting that on Ryze or putting that in the hands of a Piltover soldier ... it didn't mesh well with the fantasy we were creating. We needed to create a thing that we thought would be the right combination of this tight, mechanical, physical gameplay with this very rich, creative, well-established concept of abilities that we were playing."

Valorant Preview: A Deep Dive On The New Hero-Based Tactical Shooter From Riot Games

about X hours ago from
Valorant Preview: A Deep Dive On The New Hero-Based Tactical Shooter From Riot Games

Last October, when Riot Games announced a slate of new titles, one of the outliers was Project A, a first-person shooter that combines the popular hero-based shooter genre with tactical gameplay. We now know Project A is officially called Valorant, and will launch on PC this summer as a free-to-play title. I traveled to Santa Monica, Calif., to spend a day in the offices of Riot Games to not only learn about the upcoming shooter from all angles, but also play it for several hours.

While most of the games announced during Riot's 10-year-anniversary stream are set in the League of Legends universe, Valorant is unique in that it does not feature any connection to Riot's juggernaut IP. "It was actually a point of debate for a while: Should we put this in [the League of Legends universe] or should we not?" says game director Joe Ziegler. "It was really hard to get the concept of this crisp, tactical shooter with mechanical bullets firing out of your gun, and then putting that on Ryze or putting that in the hands of a Piltover soldier ... it didn't mesh well with the fantasy we were creating. We needed to create a thing that we thought would be the right combination of this tight, mechanical, physical gameplay with this very rich, creative, well-established concept of abilities that we were playing."

Top Of The Table – Wonder Woman: Challenge Of The Amazons

about X hours ago from
Top Of The Table – Wonder Woman: Challenge Of The Amazons

Ask anyone who plays a lot of cooperative board games (or designs them), and they’ll reveal one big problem that always seems to crop up. In a game where everyone is working together toward a common goal, it’s often far too easy for a single player to become the “alpha,” directing the action and extending his or her control over the game by dictating what everyone should do in each round. It’s not always malicious and selfish – after all, everybody wants to win, and maybe that one player really does know best – but it has the unfortunate side effect that everyone else starts to feel left out and without agency, and that’s no fun.

Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Amazons is a game I like for a lot of reasons. At its core, it’s all about taking on the role of Wonder Woman and her friends, and then ranging out across the island of Themyscira to cooperatively confront one of the familiar foes from the comic book fiction – Ares, Circe, or Cheetah. The board game features some beautiful components, a smart sense of pacing, and the multiple supervillains lend replayability. But without a doubt, the thing that most impresses me is the game’s approach to the alpha player problem.

Top Of The Table – Wonder Woman: Challenge Of The Amazons

about X hours ago from
Top Of The Table – Wonder Woman: Challenge Of The Amazons

Ask anyone who plays a lot of cooperative board games (or designs them), and they’ll reveal one big problem that always seems to crop up. In a game where everyone is working together toward a common goal, it’s often far too easy for a single player to become the “alpha,” directing the action and extending his or her control over the game by dictating what everyone should do in each round. It’s not always malicious and selfish – after all, everybody wants to win, and maybe that one player really does know best – but it has the unfortunate side effect that everyone else starts to feel left out and without agency, and that’s no fun.

Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Amazons is a game I like for a lot of reasons. At its core, it’s all about taking on the role of Wonder Woman and her friends, and then ranging out across the island of Themyscira to cooperatively confront one of the familiar foes from the comic book fiction – Ares, Circe, or Cheetah. The board game features some beautiful components, a smart sense of pacing, and the multiple supervillains lend replayability. But without a doubt, the thing that most impresses me is the game’s approach to the alpha player problem.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses’ Cindered Shadows Is A Challenging Good Time

about X hours ago from
Fire Emblem: Three Houses’ Cindered Shadows Is A Challenging Good Time

Fire Emblem: Three Houses went big by providing three different perspectives to see its larger story unfold. Now we have one more in the Ashen Wolves, but it comes with its own self-contained story. Cindered Shadows is the final piece of the Fire Emblem: Three Houses expansion pass, providing the most substantial piece of content (previously, we got smaller scale updates, such as new attire, items, and adding everyone’s favorite secret shopkeeper, Anna, as a recruitable character). The new DLC provides an interesting story and characters, but holds the most allure in the new missions and classes.

Cindered Shadows introduces you to a new secret house called the Ashen Wolves, who live in an underground city called the Abyss. Its inhabitants mostly keep to themselves, but a recent spike in attacks has its members concerned and questioning the cause. After another threat, they come face-to-face with professor Byleth and house leaders Edelgard, Claude, and Dmitri, asking for help to get to the bottom of things. The story takes a while to get going and can be a bit predictable, but I still enjoyed it as it sheds more light on Byleth’s background and connects the new faces to the three other houses in interesting ways. I also like that the expansion brings back fan-favorite characters, such as Hilda and Ashe, in addition to the main house leaders. 

Fire Emblem: Three Houses’ Cindered Shadows Is A Challenging Good Time

about X hours ago from
Fire Emblem: Three Houses’ Cindered Shadows Is A Challenging Good Time

Fire Emblem: Three Houses went big by providing three different perspectives to see its larger story unfold. Now we have one more in the Ashen Wolves, but it comes with its own self-contained story. Cindered Shadows is the final piece of the Fire Emblem: Three Houses expansion pass, providing the most substantial piece of content (previously, we got smaller scale updates, such as new attire, items, and adding everyone’s favorite secret shopkeeper, Anna, as a recruitable character). The new DLC provides an interesting story and characters, but holds the most allure in the new missions and classes.

New Cast Members Keep Things Interesting 

Blazing A New Trail

about X hours ago from
Blazing A New Trail

Everything I've ever loved is gone.

Family. Friends. Home. It’s all back on a planet that can no longer sustain human life, a planet that we lost contact with 15 years ago. Earth is a distant memory, but there is hope: Our ship orbits Enoch, a planet that could give the 500 thousand souls on the S.S. Flores a chance at redemption. Perhaps this time we won’t fail.

The probes have given us cause for celebration: Enoch is a rare breed of “Goldilocks” planets, which is neither too hot nor too cold to sustain human life, with a breathable atmosphere and gravitational pull that won’t instantly crush us. Before we can colonize this rich new home, there’s one final formality: The Outriders have to make a quick landfall and ensure that it is, indeed, the paradise scientists have promised us all. What could possibly go wrong?

Blazing A New Trail

about X hours ago from
Blazing A New Trail

Everything I've ever loved is gone.

Family. Friends. Home. It’s all back on a planet that can no longer sustain human life, a planet that we lost contact with 15 years ago. Earth is a distant memory, but there is hope: Our ship orbits Enoch, a planet that could give the 500 thousand souls on the S.S. Flores a chance at redemption. Perhaps this time we won’t fail.

The probes have given us cause for celebration: Enoch is a rare breed of “Goldilocks” planets, which is neither too hot nor too cold to sustain human life, with a breathable atmosphere and gravitational pull that won’t instantly crush us. Before we can colonize this rich new home, there’s one final formality: The Outriders have to make a quick landfall and ensure that it is, indeed, the paradise scientists have promised us all. What could possibly go wrong?

Blazing A New Trail

about X hours ago from
Blazing A New Trail

Everything I've ever loved is gone.

Family. Friends. Home. It’s all back on a planet that can no longer sustain human life, a planet that we lost contact with 15 years ago. Earth is a distant memory, but there is hope: Our ship orbits Enoch, a planet that could give the 500 thousand souls on the S.S. Flores a chance at redemption. Perhaps this time we won’t fail.

The probes have given us cause for celebration: Enoch is a rare breed of “Goldilocks” planets, which is neither too hot nor too cold to sustain human life, with a breathable atmosphere and gravitational pull that won’t instantly crush us. Before we can colonize this rich new home, there’s one final formality: The Outriders have to make a quick landfall and ensure that it is, indeed, the paradise scientists have promised us all. What could possibly go wrong?