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So I was writing next week's Gameshark column (which is going to be a "Games from the Crypt" installment about TALISMAN) and I had an epiphany. There is one simple mechanic, one singular card, that could save the Eurogame fad from complete extinction while also making even the lamest games suddenly more thrilling.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you...the HORRIBLE BLACK VOID.

Imagine you're playing a game of say, PORTOBELLO MARKET when all of a sudden one player is sucked into the Horrible Black Void by an unlucky card draw. All of a sudden, a dull game about selling mushrooms (I guess) becomes dramatic and interesting and in the players' minds a narrative develops about how this mushroom merchant prior to the game's events crossed some wicked sorceror who cursed him to go sailing into infinite doom- how's that for profits being "in the black"?

Of course, the bitching and whining about "the luck element" and the gnashing of teeth that an hour or two was completely and totally wasted since the player's strategy didn't pan out will follow...but that's OK, because rather than monday morning quarterbacking why they lost it's real fuckin' clear- they fell into a Horrible Black Void.

I can't think of a single game that wouldn't benefit from a Horrible Black Void card. It should be a mandatory inclusion in every game just to keep people on their toes. Imagine the excitement it would bring to even the most boring auction game like MODERN ART or AUGSBURG 1620- the HBV turns up and players have to bid to avoid getting sucked into it and being kicked unceremoniously out of the game. Or a game like TICKET TO RIDE when a player's entire train line is immediately '86ed due to pulling the Horrible Black Void while trying to complete a set of green cards.

That's really the key to making it work- the player has to lose EVERYTHING and be put immediately out of the game so they can either fetch snacks and drinks for everyone or go home early, having wasted their entire evening.

I always thought the second person up there ought to be able to catch that guy's Talisman and helmet...

This is a copy of an article originally published on the old F:AT blog. Read original comments. 

There Will Be Games

Michael BarnesFollow Michael Barnes Follow Michael Barnes Message Michael Barnes

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Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of FortressAT.com and Nohighscores.com as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

Articles by Michael

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