Issue 28: Railroad Ink Challenge, Fugitive, MonsDRAWsity and more

The Summer of Games continues apace, and with a heat wave overtaking the western U.S., it might be time to dive in even further.

Why, hello! I hope you’re having a nice week out there, dear reader. I know it’s been a couple weeks since we last talked, so I hope you’re enjoying the record heat around the western United States by staying safe and playing board games. Or, if you’re doing a lot outside, I hope you’re at least staying hydrated. It’s important.

I wanted to try something new this week. Rather than a ‘big topic,’ I’ve decided to focus instead on a few smaller topics. You’re used to Photo of the Week and The Summer of Games (I don’t know what will happen with that one once summer’s over, so if you have ideas for a clever name, let me know,) but this week, I’m introducing two more: Hidden Gems and Small Box, Great Game.

I’ll probably work up some more over the next few weeks, then mix and match as appropriate. And I’ll still have big topics I talk about, but maybe they’ll be special editions or something. I guess we’ll see!

Photo of the Week: Railroad Ink Challenge

Railroad Ink Challenge — it's not just Railroad Ink with a couple expansions, which is sort of what I expected from the box. It's a fair deal more than that, actually.

First, add buildings into the mix: They're locations on the map that, when filled with an appropriate tile, will grant you a bonus. Houses will give you end-game points, universities will grant you an extra one-time bonus tile when filled, and factories will allow you to duplicate one of the sides of a die on the turn you fill it in.

Second, there are new dice! Awesome! If you see the double-curve die face in the photo, that’s one of them. I like the added variability there.

Finally, Challenge adds goal cards. They provide an element of player interaction, because once a goal is achieved, no other players are rewarded for meeting them. I don’t know if I’d call it a “much-needed” addition, because I love the solitude of Railroad Ink, but I think it does add something important and really cool, especially because you could (if you don’t tell the rules masters) just not play with them. Neat.

The Summer of Games

Played: Shadows over Camelot

It has been an absolute age since I last played a game with the prospect of a hidden traitor involved, and Shadows over Camelot was a fun way to return to the idea. It was the first night of games with this particular group since February 2020, and it was really cool to just kind of ease back into a game after a significant period. We — at least, most of us, given there was a traitor — ended up winning after things looked fairly hopeless, which is always something I can get behind.

To Play: Crack the Code

You know I love cooperative games. Crack the Code is a limited-communication puzzle game, and my copy just arrived last week. It looks like you move marbles around to match a predefined sequence, but you have no idea which colored marbles are where, and you can only move marbles around by playing cards from a limited deck. Yeah, I think I’ll like this. I also suspect I’ll be bad at it. I won’t complain.

Hidden Gems: MonsDRAWsity

One of my favorite things about board games is finding games that other people have somehow missed, then introducing those games to new players. I’m sure I’ll define more tightly what goes into this topic in the future, but for now, let’s just say that I’m deciding the criteria, and you might disagree about the game being a hidden gem. Sorry.

MonsDRAWsity is an absolutely fantastic party game designed by Eric Slauson and published by Deep Water Games. Each round, one player plays as The Witness, and they get to look at a picture of a very strange monster — but only for 20 seconds. They then have to describe it to everyone else, playing as sketch artists, who then have a very short time themselves to draw what was described to them. It’s fast-paced, it’s weird, it’s wild — I just love this game.

Hidden Gems criteria met: Just 158 ratings on BoardGameGeek

$24.95 from Deep Water Games

Small Box, Great Game: Fugitive

Fugitive is an asymmetric two-player chase game, in which one player is the titular fugitive, being pursued by the other player: an agent. There’s a ton of secret information, a very cool deduction element, and enough bluffing to make all of that difficult. I’m a big fan of Fowers Games, and most of their games come in pretty modest boxes. (Except Sabotage, which is, well, huge.)

$22.82 from Fowers Games

Thanks for reading Don't Eat the Meeples. You can find me on Instagram and on Twitter. I even started a podcast this year, Vintage Sci-Fi Shorts, in which I read old science fiction short stories from the pages of old sci-fi magazines.

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