Welcome back to Friday! It’s the first Friday of March, and the Dicebreaker team is back to talk about everything they’ve been playing in the new month so far.
If you’re new here, hi! This is where we chat about the board games, RPGs and other tabletop games we’ve been enjoying (or at least playing) over the past week. You might’ve seen some discussed elsewhere here on the website or over on our YouTube channel, while others might be things we haven’t found time to cover yet.
We also love to hear what you’ve been playing as of late! Whether you’ve been blowing the dust off an old favourite from the back of the cupboard, cracking open a shiny new purchase (perhaps a Kickstarter you’ve been waiting on for a while!) or simply racking up more plays of a tried-and-tested staple, we want to hear about it.
This week, we’ve been debating over pizza toppings, battling pocket monsters for Pokémon Day, indulging in space politics, donning our superhero capes and more!
Let us know in the comments what you’ve been playing recently!
What We’ve Been Playing - March 3rd 2023
Wavelength (and other party games)
Being a professional Board Gamer™ means that people unsurprisingly ask you for board game recommendations for social events. Most recently, I was tasked with coming up with some games for a close friend’s stag do.
Wanting to play to a broad crowd and avoid the obvious - or anything likely to be considered a bit much after everyone’s had a couple of drinks - I ended up taking along fabulous debate-stirring game Wavelength, ‘controversial’ party game Awkward, the Taskmaster card game, a compact set of Werewolf cards and a backup copy of Uno. (Plus a regular deck of playing cards, of course.)
While most of the games went unplayed (a classic case of being over-prepared, and the difficulty of competing with karaoke), we spent a good hour or two playing Wavelength. Wavelength remains an absolute standout, and one of the best party games in recent years - as Charlie rightly said in our review.
It takes the potent format of arguing over a divisive topic and turns it into an enormously fun team, co-op or group game. Like the very best party games, the points don’t really matter half the time - getting to debate why Sudowoodo is the sexiest Pokémon or why ice is cold but not that cold remains an absolute blast. Plus, it has a fun plastic gadget that’s more than a gimmick in its game show-like spinning wheel.
For those who are yet to be acquainted, one person spins the wheel to determine a point on a scale from one extreme to another - say, “good person” to “bad person” - and must give a clue to their team (or the whole group, if playing co-op) that gets them to guess as close to the point as possible. For example, “Martin Luther King”. That’s about it! Let discussion, debate and well-natured disagreement ensue.
Wavelength is a perfect ice-breaker - little gets you to know a stranger quickly like their opinions on good and bad pizza toppings - and scales brilliantly to play with a room full of slightly inebriated friends. It also happily sidesteps the exhausting causing-offence-is-funny trap of many other party games to inspire genuine insight, laughs and shocks as everyone swings the needle back and forth. A party game masterpiece? I’d say so.
Pokémon Trading Card Game
As part of this week’s Pokémon Day, Maddie and I attended a press event wherein we watched the Pokémon Presents stream and ate appropriately Pokémon-themed treats. Featured at the event were sets of pre-built decks for the Pokémon Trading Card Game, all ready for attendees to play.
Maddie and I sat down and played a game featuring these pre-built decks, with a Pokémon representative guiding us through the process. My deck mostly contained dark-type Pokémon such as Ziggzagoons, Linoones and Obstagoons - a final evolution that was introduced in the Sword and Shield Pokémon video games. By contrast, Maddie’s deck contained various electric-type Pokémon like Blitzle and Zebstrika, as well as a powerful Pikachu V card.
I was fortunate enough to almost immediately draw the entire Ziggzagoon evolutionary line, which gave me a distinct advantage from the get-go. Soon enough, I had a powerful Obstagoon tearing through Maddie’s first-stage evolutionary Pokémon. However, Obstagoon’s impressive attacks were costly - forcing me to discard two energy cards every time I used it - and I eventually lost momentum whilst searching for more energy cards.
This break in pacing gave Maddie an opportunity to fight back, bringing out her Zebstrika and terrifying, but cute, Pikachu V card to finally cut down my Obstagoon. Unfortunately for her, it was just too late to make a full comeback, with my luck turning around just enough to get another Obstagoon on the board and finishing off the last Pokémon card I needed to win the game.
I hadn’t played the Pokémon Trading Card Game in a while, but it was nice to be reminded that it is still as fun as I remembered. That game has definitely reignited a desire to play more Pokémon TCG in both Maddie and myself, so expect more Pokémon coverage in the future.
Masks: A New Generation
I’ve been mucking about as a teenager with superpowers in Masks: A New Generation, the popular and celebrated tabletop RPG from Magpie Games. There’s a reason everyone holds this title up as one of the best examples of Powered by the Apocalypse design in action - the failing-forward nature of that ethos paired with the chronic angst and confusion of being caught between childhood and adulthood makes for a potent mixture that always seems to result in poignancy and laughs.
I play a Transformed in our current campaign, a superhero akin to Ben Grimm of the Fantastic Four. His physical form shifts monstrously whenever he unleashes his powers, often causing a visceral and alienating reaction in others. Yes, it’s a fairly on-the-nose metaphor for puberty and how a rapidly changing body can cause intense dysphoria and emotional feedback in the throes of that emotional roil. But it plays out so well through the playbook’s signature moves and triggers that I can’t help but lean into the bit.
Masks is easily one of my go-to recommendations for those wanting to see what PbtA games can offer. In the age of Marvel-dominated cinema, everyone is familiar with the tropes and trappings of superhero stories. And we all, unfortunately, were once teenagers. Masks marries those flavours with confidence and poise, and the resulting story feels effortless to tell with the rest of my awkward, superpowered crew.
This week we streamed a game that could be a big deal on Kickstarter this year: Galactic Renaissance. The spiritual successor to Inis, designer Christian Martinez has brought the political mechanisms that drive Inis’ ancient Irish world into a new, beautifully illustrated space fantasy.
Complete with a new deck cycling central mechanic to replace the drafting of original Inis, it’s a really interesting design that I’m looking forward to picking apart some more - and I’m interested to see how well the Kickstarter does.