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Soulfall in Review

MB Updated
There Will Be Games

Small Box Games Rides Again

I haven't heard from John Clowdus in a while but out of nowhere he emailed me and said "hey, I'm sending you my new game". It was great to hear from him- he's a super cool dude and fun to game with- and I am on record as a Small Box Games fan. John does some really, really interesting work that isn't quite like anything else out there. If you haven't played any of his designs, I heartily recommend Omen, Agoniste, Wax, Hemlock and whatever else you can get your hands on from him. These are some really neat games. Soulfall is his new one (reviewed here for No High Scores) and it's another good one. If the Ico/Shadow of the Colossus art doesn't rope you in, the sort of weird but compelling gameplay will. There's quite a bit going on in this design, don't be fooled into thinking it's some kind of microgame.

Lift-Off is still getting some play. I like it, but I think it has sort of a similar problem that Kemble's Cascade had. It's  a little over-designed. It tries to be more than a Survive! style family game so it has a couple of "strategic" elements that sort of rub wrong against the simple, fun concepts. This moon phase thing kills me. It's easy to understand, but in practice it just overcomplicates things. Basically, the position of the moon around the planet affects a couple of costs in the game. So there's this "sophisticated" layer over the simple movement/payment scheme. That said, I really like that it's highly interactive and you can either rely on others to help you get your guys off the planet or try to stake it out on your own. There's room for some light dealmaking, empty promises and jerky behavior.  It's good, but I would have liked to have seen a more family-oriented variation from the designers at least.

Hoping to get the Spartacus and/or Sons of Anarchy expansions out this weekend with the gang...but that kind of depends on if Forbidden Stars shows up, in which case that is going to be the only option unless we have more than four.

I've been piddling around with the new Tigris & is a really great edition of the game. It looks nice, I like that it has the optional variants and a double-sided board. The tokens make more sense than the cubes did, but I'm still torn on the monuments. I liked those old chunky wooden ones. The plastic ones look cool and all...but I dunno. Either way, it is one of the greatest games ever published and I'm OK with retiring my HiG copy after 17 years of service.

Hoping to do some solo Eldritch Horror this week some time. A new co-worker is all up into Lovecraft, pulp horror etc. so we've been rapping about that stuff and it's put me in mind of it.




There Will Be Games
Michael Barnes (He/Him)
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

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 and 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

Michael Barnes
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Articles by Michael

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wadenels's Avatar
wadenels replied the topic: #204647 20 Jun 2015 10:14
The Moon movement in Lift Off bugs me a little bit, in that players can play cards to move it backward. Makes no sense. I like the actual Moon Phases and how they affect the lift off points though. I don't really see what's "sophisticated" about it. It's really no more complex than the tile icons in Survive or the family rule in Downfall of Pompeii.

Survive is probably still the more family-oriented game though. Lift Off probably sits more in the Downfall of Pompeii intricacy/complexity level. Whether it's better than Pompeii? I don't know. Pompeii has stood the test of time on my game shelf, in a few years we'll see if Lift Off does too.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #204662 20 Jun 2015 16:38
Busting out Eldritch Horror tonight as well...
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #204677 20 Jun 2015 18:15
Soulfall is a really goddamn good game. Something a simple as what card you leave on top of the discard pile adds a lot of tension to the game, and that that is at all a part of the game is such a John Clowdus thing. I've only played Omen, Hemloch, Tooth and Nail, and this, but I'm willing to say this is his best since Omen (which is still his masterpiece).

And John is one really solid dude. When he showed up to Steve Avery's (RIP) place, I saw him carrying a huge cardboard box up to the door. Before Steve got up to let him in, I jokingly said that box was full of copies of Omen to give all of us. So Steve let him in and sure enough, John says, "Hey, I brought a copy of Omen and Hemloch for everyone." I really enjoyed hanging out with him that week, despite the fact that the day I met him later came to be known as the "Dreaded 4Loco Incident." I'm not kidding, 12 hours in, I was tired of being drunk.