Scion of the Würstreich - An Interview with Sean Äaberg
From the pits of the punk rock explosion to the mean streets of the Würstreich, Goblinko mastermind Sean Äaberg has been there, feathered quill in studded-wristband hand. Instantly recognisable, his heavy linework style leaps out at the viewer in brimstone jets of ultraviolet excess, a heady, addictive mix of xeroxed DIY bones wrapped in blue sunshine skin.
Cheers for reading!
I'm always happy to give Crass a spin and Conflict were my favourite of that era I think.
Anyway - I've got to give these games a bit more of a look it would seem.
Stuff like what Goblinko, Emperors of Eternal Evil, and a handful of Publishers are doing -is- the punk rock of gaming right now. But like Andi said, it’s really in the TTRPG scene that things are just going off. I realized what was happening when o got Mothership...I was playing 5E at the time and here comes this little black and white zine with layout and graphic design that just blew all of the corporare product away. And it was daring- it doesn’t hold your hand, spell out what to do, or gives you tools and says “have fun!” It’s raw and singular. It was like hearing a punk for the first time. Later I got Deep Carbon Observatory and it was like hearing The Fall for the first time. OSE was like going back to the Stooges/Dolls/MC5/Velvets. Silent Titans is Beefheart meets Chrome meets Throbbing Gristle. DCC was like going back in time to that 1978 tour where Van Halen and The Ramones opened for Black Sabbath- atavistic and obnoxious.
Time and time again I’ve been blown away by a $10 RPG pamphlet or a PDF of a to the point where it’s all but knocked my interest in current board games (barring a couple of exceptions like the Prospero Hall games I love) to zero.
If you like like artful, innovative, and compelling games, 99.99% of today’s board games are a complete waste of time. The whole design paradigm has been co-opted by the demands of crowdfunding and sterile homogeneity. I’m thankful that folks like Sean, Nate Hayden, and Jim Felli are out there making board games that LOOK different and PLAY different with new concepts and damn-the-mainstream attitudes. The latest thing I’ve picked up is Super Blood Harvest. It’s a black book covered in glitter. It’s about space vampires. The book is all done in a CMYK psychedelic art style mixed with 0-bit video game typography. There are about four pages of actual rules. It’s singular- an art book as much as a game. And that inspires me and fired my imagination far more than whatever shit CMON or the other Kickstarter mills are pumping out.
Like that game, Sean’s work has vision. It’s an art piece. It inspires you with his aesthetics and approach. It is not the best game in its class. I would barely rank the design as “very good” if I’m being honest. There are bits of it I kind of hate. I’m not very interested in the new one at all. But because of its strong visuals and idiosyncratic approach, I value this game a lot more than than a brilliantly designed adventure game that checks all of the Asmodee corporate gaming checkboxes. It’s a little rough, a little raw, and crusty AF. But that is was makes it great.