Tabletop’s Eldritch Horror Pt. 1 was released this week.
Speaking of horror, I think I mentioned that I had this idea for a 1970s-style ridiculous, bloody, Grindhouse horror film. I thought it was just a silly story exercise, but the more I thought I about it and the more I did the story work for practice, the more I wanted to do the story work to make it into a real thing. So I’ve been working on that. It isn’t on cards just yet, but it’s on the whiteboard and it has its own file of ideas and beats and characters and stuff. I don’t know if it’ll get made, but at the very least I’ll have a script to publish.
I’ve been using that idea as an excuse to watch a ton of actual 1970s ridiculous, bloody, Grindhouse horror films. I’ve thrown some classic exploitation films into the mix, and learned a lot about how those movies were made. Some of them are terribad, but most of them have a sincerity that is utterly charming and worthy of emulation in my own screenplay.
I’ve been leveling up my understanding of story and character construction with this book called The Anatomy of Story. It’s densely packed with information and examples, and it’s slow reading for me because I keep going back to review, and I’m making a ton of notes in my notebook, but I’m pulling in tons of XP with each chapter. If you’re interested in writing and want to understand how to build your story, I highly recommend it.
The Deuce is as amazing as I hoped it would be. I am hoping so hard that the series lives up to the pilot (which is a thing I never say, because pilots are generally not that great, since they have to introduce a ton of characters and information.) Franco has always turned me off (it’s not him, it’s me), but I fucking LOVE him in this show.
Blood Drive was not renewed by the network formerly known as Sci-Fi, which makes me a little sad, because Colin Cunningham and Christina Ochoa are brilliant in it (Christina should have had top billing and Colin should win awards), and I would watch them as those characters forever. But! It always felt like it should be a miniseries, and the last four episodes weren’t nearly as compelling as the first eight. I felt like they had to bail on the premise — each episode pays homage to a classic exploitation trope — to set it up for multiple seasons. There was so much great stuff in it, though, and I sincerely love that SyFy gave the project the greenlight. It was a risky project, to say the least, and it’s so cool to see a network that was profoundly risk-averse when I worked for them take the chance.
I read a bunch of short stories from Charlie Jane Anders when I was on vacation last week, and I loved them all. So I went to the bookstore yesterday to pick up All the Birds in the Sky, and while I was there, I browsed the tabletop game section. My finger is ten miles from the pulse of tabletop gaming right now, but I took pictures of some games there that looked promising to me:
Have any of you played any of them? I’m just looking for fun games to add to my collection, not necessarily games that are candidates for Tabletop, as Tabletop’s future is uncertain.
Also, not that it matters, but getting Twitter off my phone and mostly out of my life has been a really great choice. It turns out that not being kicked in the face by infuriating bullshit dozens of times a day is a pretty neat idea.
So that’s a bunch of stuff I want you to know. What do you want me to know? I’m enjoying these posts, because it reminds me of the early days of my blog, when you who read it and I who wrote it would interact more than we seem to these days.
106 thoughts on “Eldritch Horror on Tabletop and some other things I want you to know.”
Onitama is the chess-killer for me. Super easy to teach. Different game every time because you switch out the movement cards. If you get it, pick up the expansion – Sensei’s Path – which gives you even more movement cards.
Now, Imagine your Sensei was alone on the map, but he had elemental bending powers a la Avatar/Korra and had to fight and capture 1-3 other senseis on the map. That is Element.
Check out what Ryan Laukat is doing. Above and Below & Near and Far are story telling boardgames that play like an RPG – especially the latter one.
Clank! is a deck-builder that powers a dungeon crawl with a press-your luck mechanic. Don’t make too much noise or you will wake up the dragon!
Just want to chime in on Above & Below, and Near & Far — very excellent games that combine worker placement along with just enough story to be really interesting. And they don’t drag out for very long either.
Islebound just as fun and also by the same guy, and pieces and mechanics from those games can be used in the other games from this group. If no one has suggested it yet, I HIGHLY recommend Arena: For the Gods! Really easy to learn, but a lifetime to master! Okay its not othello. Its mortal kombat or street fighter in an arena done boardgame style rather than miniatures, so no complex rules, but man the strats run deep. And brutally fun. Be prepared to have one of your friends swear a vendetta against you after the game is over.
If you’re into dungeon crawls then I’d give Gloomhaven a shot. Tiny Epic Quest is basically Zelda in a box without the IP. Alien Artifacts I tried at PAX Unplugged and loved it after later watching a video, think Imperial Settlers with that one as far as mechanisms. Also enjoyed the demo for Dragonfire. Captain Sonar is a loud realtime sub game for 8 that everyone seems to love, I have yet to play it. Also picked up One Deck Dungeon as a nice solo game for my lunch break.
I tweeted to you right before PAX Unplugged that you should look into it. everyone I spoke to had a blast there!
I also think Onitama is a great game and I am not a fan of chess style games.
Oceanos just didn’t grab me. The others I have not really looked into.
I did just get a great little game from Facade Games called Tortuga 1667. Really quick and solid game with great design aesthetic for groups from 2-9 and definitely better with 5 or more.
I met Charlie Jane Anders at WisCon this year (my first year attending). If you like smart speculative fiction written by women, this is the con to attend.
Don’t know any of the games you mentioned, so I can’t help you there, but I do have a question for you: My parents gave my Viticulture for my birthday this past weekend, and wanted to play it with me, bless their hearts. Mom hates games, so I know that was an extra sacrifice on her part. We played for nearly two hours and barely made any headway. This kind of game is far more complex than the stuff they’re used to, but I was happy they indulged me. How do you teach games like this to people who primarily play party games or Milton Bradley type “family” games?
I’m gonna pick up Onitama for my Chess loving 8 year old (mainly because I despise Chess but like Onitama and I want to keep the guy playing games). I’m sure I’ll be slaughtered regularly but it won’t be as painful (or boring) a death as Chess. He also really loves Santorini which is worth checking out if you haven’t seen it.
Hey Wil. Thanks for the update. Good that you got off twitter 🙂 and good luck on your screenplay.
I moved this week. From community living to a nice studio near the beach on San Vicente. It is a breath of fresh air for me.
I’m going to Spain and Portugal on Friday for almost three weeks … it’s like a peace retreat, going with a spiritual group.
Thanks for asking.
Hey, Wil… hope this isn’t a sore subject, but re: Titansgrave (not going to ask THAT question, don’t worry)… any chance of an OST? I’ve been getting caught up on it recently and I really dig the music score (both as potential game music and just to listen to).
I can’t remember if we hired a composer to do an OST, or if we used music from a royalty-free library. Next time I see our director, I’ll ask him.
I cannot believe how familiar this all sounds. I too put all of my other loves (songwriting/recording, table top game design) on hold for screenwriting. Then read a couple of amazing books (I highly recommend “How NOT to write a Screenplay: http://a.co/etLuMOH), then watched over 200 Spaghetti Westerns taking tomes and tomes of notes. It turned out so wonderful I HAD to see if I could pull off the look/feel/sound before trying to embark on the full length feature. So we killed ourselves (and our credit cards) for 5 weekends in a row and came up with our “proof of concept” before setting out to grovel for philanthropic backing. It turned out a bit better than we had dreamed: http://www.GuantoMovie.com
Great Sergio Leone’s Ghost!! Your trailer is fantastic!!
Well that is one of the most on point responses we’ve ever gotten. Wow, thanks WW. Here’s hoping this good’wil’ carries over to our pitch sessions.
That really is a great trailer!
And now I want to play some Bang! 🙂
Thanks! Nice! And I admittedly busted out my Deadlands (Classic) Rule Book and started thumbing through it this eve…
So I’m a little late to the party but I thought I’d give you a few game thoughts/recommendations.
On your list, I’d say that Onitama is probably the best game, but it’s very much an abstract game where two players are just trying to defeat each other.. Here are a few games that are both good quite good and I think you might enjoy based on what I’ve heard you say of your preferences:
-Scythe: This game has absolutely beautiful artwork & components as well as being really easy to play. You’re factions each with your own mechs in an alternate reality post WWI dystopia. You’re gathering resources and trying to build up and gain control and influence over areas of the board. Some games people will attack each other. Other games they never will.
(Part 1/3 It wouldn’t let me post a comment as long as I wrote)
Celestia: This one’s a little bit older (2015) but it’s a really beautiful game where you take turns being captain of an air ship. The captain rolls dice and then based on what symbols come up, everyone else has to decide if they think the captain has the cards in their hand to move forward or if they bail and safely get a fewer number of points. It’s a really fun combination of ‘press your luck’ and bluffing mechanisms. It’s also really cool in that it comes with a little ship where everyone’s little pawns sit and then where you bail, you move your pawn out of the ship. It just feels really cool. I’m suggesting it because I think you would enjoy it (and bad dice rolling isn’t just bad for you) but I do think it would do well on a future season of Tabletop as well.
-The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire: This one just came out this year from CMON, and is actually a fairly straightforward game of area control and trying to leverage your resources to launder the most money but with a really neat theme and setting, as well as the fantastic minis CMON always puts in their games. I think you’d enjoy the game mechanisms, but I’m specifically recommending this one because I feel like the theme and experience of playing in the theme would really tickle your fancy. (Part 2/3)
-Star Wars Rebellion: I’m hesitant to put this one on here because of the hefty 4 hour play time, and I’m pretty sure that will kill it as a great choice for you, but it’s so fun and thematic and my current favorite game. It’s a two player game with some of the feel of axis and allies with units on the board moving around and fighting but it’s completely lopsided. The Rebels can’t win a shooting war and so it works as an asymmetrical game where if you’re playing as the Empire you’re trying to hunt down the rebel base hidden on some planet to win and if you’re playing as the rebels, you’re trying to misdirect the empire with false leads and just stall them out until you can get enough points to win through completing specific objectives. Basically it’s Star Wars in a box and if you had 4 hours to play a game with one other person, I’d say it’s everything that the geeky young you (or me) could have ever wanted in a Star Wars game.
There are plenty of other games that have come out recently that are fantastic, including ones such as Near & Far and Terraforming Mars that others have already suggested, but this was just a short list of ones I think you might especially enjoy. Hope it was helpful! (Part 3/3)
Thanks for the recommendations!!
I have a few games that I think are worth looking at:
Unearth by Brotherwise Games: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/217085/unearth
Blood Rage by Cool Mini or Not: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/170216/blood-rage
Gruff by Studio Woe: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/173804/gruff
Aeons End by Action Phase Games: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/191189/aeons-end
Tesla vs. Edison: War of Currents by Artana: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/132544/tesla-vs-edison-war-currents
Some of these are a bit older, but bunches of fun.
As for Tabletop…….is there anything the fan base can do help? It’s the main reason I’m an Alpha subscriber 🙂
Thank you for sharing your passions with the rest of us, you make the world a better place.
I love Tesla vs. Edison. That company makes some great and beautiful games.
Avoiding Twitter is something I did just to make a deadline a few weeks back and holy crap, I don’t miss it.
p.s. I miss P.S. Wars.
I’m having a games night with my peeps here in my pad in China this weekend. Four Chinese, one Kazakh, and two Ameriguys. We’re gonna do mahjong, poker, and I’ve decided to gin up a DIY set of Risk and Monopoly (and make it specific to local places) using all of the fawking plastic that accumulates in our daily lives of excess and gluttony and then we flush it into the ocean, fish eat it, then we eat the fish. Also, I don’t want to carry around another copy of Monopoly or Risk and I like DIY ghetto versions of games like Cheapass Games and such. That’s how I roll.
I like burritos.
I recently deleted Twitter from my phone as well. Honestly, it was the best choice I’ve made lately. I find myself not missing it at all. I still occasionally make time to check it on my laptop, but truly can’t say I feel that compelled to do so much anymore. It feels like a weight has been lifted.
I also wanted to take a second to say thank you. Because of you I had the courage to pursue CBT and eventually get an SSRI. It has truly changed the way I live, and I have to thank you for being open about your struggle with mental illness and your decision to go on antidepressants. It made me feel like I was allowed to make that choice for myself and I sincerely appreciate it.
Hope all is well!
Wil super off topic but I just wanted to say thanks I found my love of tabletop games through watching Tabletop. I also than found RPGs thrpugh watchimg Titansgrave which gave me something in common with my wife that I never thought we would have. She played D&D for years before she met me. After watching Titansgrave we started a Titansgrave group and play every week. Getting interested there was a gateway to critical role and now were also doing a weekly D&D group. Dont let the jerks of the world get ya down you are making a difference. Thank You
Can’t wait for the second instalment: We’ve just been in Germany visiting friends and trying to play Elder Sign… deciphering German rules with one fairly fluent-but-not-native speaker, and a dinky translation via smartphone…
… when we finally worked out what we were doing it was pretty cool and we managed it 🙂
Recommendations: The Captain Is Dead as a co-operative board-game to try out maybe?
We only just (one card away from “Red Alert: You Just Die”) beat it on Novice setting last week and it is brutal. BRUTAL I tells ye (the first time we played we misunderstood the rules and didn’t use the Teleporter as much as we could have…)
Also please wish Pat all the best, due to his current stuff
Argh, Witch of Salem, not Elder Sign (my husband will tut at me getting my Mythos mixed up again…) https://www.mayfairgames.com/products/witch-salem
And The Captain is Dead is this one: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/159503/captain-dead
You know what I like about you? I mean aside from a variety of talent related things? My step father is kind of a dick, and he and my mom both make a million truly lame excuses for his dickishness, and the existence of you (and other step fathers like you) make that so much harder for them to pull off. It’s immensely satisfying. I don’t drag your name into family fights or anything (that would be super weird) but your life provides concrete evidence that my step father’s dickishness is a choice and not an unfortunate inevitably forced on him by my having the nerve to exist. It makes my life easier.
Yup, somewhere out there some asshole is having a harder time than usual being an asshole just cause you’re not a dick.
Oceanos is good… It’s done by Antoine Bauza who is one of my favorite designers (Ghost Stories, Takenoko, Tokaido, Rampage, 7 Wonders, etc etc etc) It’s a bit more family friendly than many of his other games.. I’d probably put it on the same weight level as Tokaido.
Onitama is an excellent, must-own 2 player game and Kanagawa is a very beautiful set collecting / worker placement game… it’s got a very interesting theme to it.
I’m not sure of the others you posted but I will recommend a few games that I’ve recently picked up and enjoy very much: Burgle Bros., Century: Spice Road, Scythe, Imhotep, Terraforming Mars, Roll for the Galaxy
I hope there will be a season 5 of Tabletop.
Sad to hear Tabletop’s future is uncertain. It’s completely reinvigorated my interest in board games which I loved as a kid (although then it was your typical Monopoly/Cluedo/Scrabble types). I got somewhat excited every time I knew there was a new Tabletop episode for me to watch! It’s helped me rebuild a great relationship with my family and we now have regular games nights – that’s down to you and TT. Fingers crossed it returns with you … or at least I have something similar to look forward to.
As for Twitter. I’ve too given it up recently – and it’s felt great – and I don’t get the kind of BS you do! Who needs social media eh? People seem to have forgotten how to behave when they have a screen to hide behind.
Anyway…I’ve only just come across your blog so look forward to reading your posts 🙂
Thanks, this was super enjoyable on a day where I really needed something enjoyable. Thanks for making stuff. I miss story time a bunch, but this was a good stand in!
watching you and stef et al play EH was really fun, so much so that I got a copy of the game. Someday I may even learn how to play it,lol,rank beginner here so may take a while.Ty for the happiness you brought and I really hope there will be more Wishing you the best.
If you are looking for a fun fast paced game, how about 5 minute dungeon?
5 minute is a bit of a misnomer but it doesn’t take a lot of time. It is a co-op group vs the game.
Wil, It’s a little hard to get right now, but if you’re looking for an amazing table top game, check out Kingdom Death: Monster.It’s fully co-op, It’s dark, it’s very, very hard and it is the most thematic campaign style game I’ve ever encountered. At the very least it’s worth trying out – lemme know if you want a demo 😉
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