Eclipse is Out on the iPad!

30 04 2013

EclipseRacesby Firestone

Overnight, the very popular science-fiction conquest game went live on the iPad—it’s called Eclipse: New Dawn for the Galaxy. Eclipse is a 4X game—eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate. It’s made by Big Daddy’s Creations, who did a slick job with their iOS version of Neuroshima Hex. By all accounts, this game is just as slick. The price is $6.99—which is much, much cheaper than the physical version. At some point it will almost certainly go on sale (I picked up their Neuroshima Hex game on a sale a year ago). It does have an AI, and it does have pass-and-play and asynchronous multiplayer—and it supports up to six players.

EclipsePlanetsIn addition, it has seven species, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. And there’s an in-game tutorial to help you get started.

I’ve played the physical version, and it’s a lot of game. If you like space-conquest games at all, consider checking out Eclipse.

Thanks for reading! And make sure you check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and now Instagram!

Do You Let Your Kids Win Games?

29 04 2013

mojo the helper monkeyby Firestone

This weekend Son The Elder and I were Home Alone. My wife and Son The Younger were in Arizona for the weekend, so we did Guy Stuff: ate at Smashburger, watched Star Wars Episode II (his idea—he hadn’t seen it yet), worked in the garage… It’s amazing how quickly the house starts to look junky without my wife’s vital influence on keeping the slow tide of chaos at bay. I kept imagining that episode of The Simpsons where Homer gets Mojo the helper monkey, and Marge walks in to find Mojo’s been changed into a lazy, diaper-wearing sluggard. But I digress…

So we also broke out the DC Comics Deck-Building Game—[sarcasm]what a terrific name![/sarcasm] Despite the awful name, it’s really lots of fun—expect a Double-Take Review shortly! It was his first deck-builder, so I was explaining the overarching idea behind those, and helping him by playing the hand open every turn and talking through things. Then on my turn I found myself making a few suboptimal moves—not all the time, but some of the time. If I knew he really wanted to get one of the cards in the display, for instance, I wouldn’t buy it. Or I might forgo buying an extra, low-VP card if I had the chance. I was telling myself I was trying to make a better deck, but I think I was also trying to “short myself” a couple of VPs, hoping it would make the difference in him beating me.

Well, combine my play with him getting cards that allowed him to destroy some of the crappy starting cards, and he whooped me—well beyond the “padding” I’d given him. I was fine with that, because he’s at an age where losing a game adversely affects his opinion of it. Will I play that way every time? No. But I wanted him to have fun, and winning helps him have fun.

So was I wrong to do that? I know there are people who are MERCILESS when they play their kids. I just kind of ramp up to the MERCILESS…

What about you? Crush them? Let them win? Somewhere in between? Chime in!

What You Missed…

26 04 2013

MontrealThanks for joining us this week at Theology Of Games. Here’s what you might have missed…

We had a chock-full Kickstarter Weekly post.

Then we got word that the worker-placement game Tzolk’in is getting an expansion.

Then Jeremiah took us on a trip to his adolescence, and the joys and pains of Doctor Who.

Then Firestone talked about his love of expansions, and whined about bad expansions.

Then we brought you a review of the game Coup, which is up on Kickstarter, cheap, and lots of fun!

And finally, we shared the latest episode of TableTop, where they play The Resistance.

Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next week!

TableTop Joins The Resistance!

25 04 2013

ResistanceBy Firestone

A number of months ago we told you about TableTop, Wil Wheaton’s Internet board game show. Well, the latest show has them playing my favorite game: The Resistance. If you’ve wondered what is so great about this game, this is a great chance to watch a group of people actually playing. You’ll see paranoia, accusations, mistakes, subterfuge, and all of the others things that make me love this game so much—and they aren’t even particularly good at it! Be aware: They do occasionally curse. Some of the “big ones” are bleeped out. Others aren’t.

A Review. Of Coup. For You.

25 04 2013

coupcoverBy Firestone

Lately I’ve found myself getting completely hooked by small games with big gameplay. The Resistance. Hanabi. And now Coup.


  • 15 cards—five characters (Duke, Assassin, Captain, Ambassador, Contessa) repeated three times.
  • Summary cards
  • Money

Now, there are a few different printings of this. The components might be slightly different—and the art is certainly different—but that’s what you’ll be playing with.


  • Place the pile of money in the center of the table.
  • Give each person two dollars.
  • Have each person draw two cards, look at them, and place them facedown in front of them.


Coup is a game where you’re influencing important people to help you do your bidding, and decrease your opponents’ influence, until you’re the last person standing. It’s a little tricky to explain (those summary cards that come with the game are really necessary), so stick with me. On your turn you can do one of four things—the last thing has some sub-things…

  1. Collect Income—which means taking one coin from the bank. Nothing can stop you from doing this or affect this in any way.
  2. Collect Foreign Aid—which means taking two coins from the bank. Why would someone Collect Income when they can Collect Foreign Aid? I’ll tell you in a minute.
  3. Coup—Pay seven coins and launch a coup against an opponent. That opponent chooses one of their facedown character cards and discards it faceup. Nothing can stop you from doing this or affect this in any way.
  4. Use the Special Power of a Character—Each character has a special power, and you just do it.

The Duke allows you to take three coins from the bank.

The Assassin allows you to pay three coins to kill another player’s character card.

The Captain allows you to steal two coins from another player.

The Ambassador allows you to draw two character cards from the deck, exchange one, both, or neither of the drawn cards with the character cards you already have, and then put two cards onto the deck.

The Contessa doesn’t get an action. (But she gets other stuff. Hang on.)

coupcardsWhat’s interesting is that you don’t have to actually have that character card to do the Action… You can bluff your way into any action. So maybe I have the Assassin and the Contessa in front of me. When it gets to my turn I can say, “I’m going to take three coins, because I have the Duke.” And that’s just what I do. Unless…someone calls my bluff. Anyone at the table can say that I’m lying. If that’s the case, one of us is losing a card. If I’m bluffing, I have to admit it, turn one of my character cards faceup, and I’m down to one “life.” (You’re out of the game when you have to ditch both characters. You’ve essentially lost your ability to influence people anymore, so you’re thrown out to the dogs. Or something.) If I was telling the truth, I show that do actually have that character, the person who wrongly accused me has to ditch a character card, and then I get a new one: You place the card on the pile of remaining cards, shuffle them up, and draw one. It might be the one you just got rid of, and your opponents have no idea. That’s one of the great things about this game.

In addition to Actions, some of the characters have a Blocking ability.

The Duke blocks someone from collecting Foreign Aid. (Which is why you might want to just Collect Income rather than Foreign Aid.)

The Captain blocks someone from stealing coins from you.

The Ambassador also blocks someone from stealing coins from you.

And the Contessa blocks someone from Assassinating you.

Again, someone can claim they have a blocking character even if they don’t. And again, unless someone calls the bluff, the block happens. The last person with influence (a character) wins. The game is layered and tense and…poker-like, in a way. It’s also very simple and elegant.


Family Game? Maybe! Certainly not until they’re older. Even then, I’m not sure this is something my wife would want to play.

Youth Group Game? Possibly! It would depend greatly on the group.

Gamers’ Game? Definitely! Coup is a terrific gamers’ game—especially if your group likes games such as The Resistance.

Final Verdict

The first time we played this, we played it five times in a row. And that was in less than an hour. I will say that this wasn’t good with six players, IMO. There was too much information on the table toward the end–because so many characters were discarded–so it slowed down as people tried to figure out who their opponents might still have. Four players felt good, and some people said they thought it might be best with five.

We also had a situation where three people were left, and all three had one character left. On one person’s turn he was going to Coup someone, but whichever opponent he didn’t kill would just kill him. So he was essentially in the position of deciding who won. Blech. That was my only complaint.

I like Coup a lot, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. It’s not going to replace The Resistance, but for a change-of-pace filler it’s just completely awesome.

So where can you get your own copy? Well, Indie Boards and Cards has a Resistance-themed Coup up on Kickstarter right now! It ends in two weeks, and it’s way overfunded. And the best part? It’s only $15 shipped. Check it out.

Thanks for reading! And make sure you check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and now Instagram!

When Expansions Go Bad…

24 04 2013

MontrealBy Firestone

I love expansions. LOVE THEM. Sometimes they can “fix” some of the problems that emerged in a game when it first came out. Sometimes they can just breathe some new life into a game that has grown a little stale. Sometimes they allow more players to play the game (although this is rarely a good thing, IMHO).

Age of Steam is a good example of a game ripe for expansions. Awesome base game, and the expansions are just maps. Maps of new areas—real and imagined—with new and interesting rules and mechanics. Does it always work? No! (cough*Golden Spike*cough). But when it does (Montréal Métro, for instance), it makes me love the base game even more… (Power Grid also benefits from more maps.)

Card games are a natural fit for expansions. Thunderstone, Nightfall, Netrunner, and Lord of the Rings all benefit from just more awesome stuff to add!

Pandemic’s On The Brink added some significant gameplay changes—including someone playing as the baddie! Those are the most risky expansions, because they have the potential to be awesome or terrible.

PrincesBut sometimes expansions are just…awful. The first one that springs to mind is the expansion for The Princes of Florence. Now understand: For years and years and years Princes Of Florence was my very favorite game. It was only recently eclipsed by The Resistance, due to the sheer amount of fun I’ve had with it. So I was excited to play with the expansion that came in the Treasure Chest (one box that had 10 expansions for six games). It. Was. Horrible. Our one and only game using the expansion took 4 hours. 4 HOURS!! Toward the end of that game, the expansion made me hate Princes Of Florence. Any expansion that makes me hate my favorite game is bad, bad, bad.

Another bad one was the Necromancer Island expansion for Small World. This was a freebie giveaway promotion, so I think they felt they could experiment a little. It’s lame. It forces the players to cooperate against the Necromancer player—which doesn’t really work well in the framework of the game. But beyond that, those who do work to fight the Necromancer are in a worse position that those who don’t. Blech. It’s going for ~$30 on the secondary market, thanks to completists who didn’t get it when it was free and want a copy now. I’ll happily part with my copy for that price…

So what are some of your favorite expansions? And what are some that fell flat for you?

Thanks for reading! And make sure you check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and now Instagram!

A Diversion Through Space and Time…

23 04 2013

– by Jeremiah

tumblr_ml2gx5KGPU1rzswzyo1_500Unless you have exactly zero friends on FaceBook who are the least bit interested in science fiction or more specifically Doctor Who, you are probably aware that today is “Impossible Astronaut Day.” A day in which Doctor Who fans are planning on putting tally marks on their arms, legs, faces, wherever, marking how many times they saw “The Silence” and forgot about it.

I’d just like to say to the world of Doctor Who fans who will take part in this national nerdy holiday: “You’re welcome.” “You’re welcome?” you say, Yes, let me explain.

You see there was a time not so long ago, and not so far away, when the mainstream culture of our country frowned upon, nay mocked, the likes of people who knew what a T.A.R.D.I.S. was, who carried air pressure gauges around as if they were Sonic Screwdrivers, and kept terms such as Gallifrey, The Time-Space Continuum, and EXTERMINATE (said in an obnoxious robot voice) in their vocabularies. It was a dark time in our nation’s history, when admitting in a public setting that you enjoyed British science-fiction, produced on shabby, wobbly sets, with terrible special effects, and very low production values, was not only met by blank and quizzical stares but also accompanied by ridicule, wedgies, and many other forms of mental and physical abuse, from the “cool” kids.

whousa10Doctor Who was so frowned upon by culture that you had to watch it on PBS, and you couldn’t walk into a mall store, or any store for that matter, to pick up any type of merchandise bearing a Doctor Who logo, or a blue police box. The only way to procure such items was through a pledge drive on PBS, or to brave the danger of public shame by going to “Doctor Who U.S.A. Tour” which was a roaming exhibit of props and costumes from the show that toured cities that were home to PBS stations that aired the series.

The Doctor Who U.S.A. Tour trailer, sadly found in a scrap yard about 12 years ago. I went through this trailer in 1986.

The Doctor Who U.S.A. Tour trailer, sadly found in a scrap yard about 12 years ago.
I went through this trailer in 1986.

Like anything else in the world, adversity tests our devotion and the new generation of Who fans, have countless fans of previous generations to thank for sticking to their guns, facing the laughs and ridicule of peers, and supporting a fun show that they saw as creative, and inspiring. Without the older generations shows like this would have died out and never been reborn, and the pride with which we wear the badge of “nerd,””dork,” or “geek” today would still be subject to the frequent wedgies, name calling, and demeaning treatment of those dark days known as the mid to late-80’s.

usabrochureSo go ahead, post all the Doctor Who references you want on Twitter, FaceBook and across the internet! Just please don’t forget those who have gone before you—in a time when Daleks didn’t fly, the Doctor drove a canary yellow roadster named “Bessie,” and Sylvester McCoy wasn’t known for playing Radagast, so  place an extra tally mark on your arm for your forefathers. And never forget your history, because some moments are fixed points in time and cannot be altered.

Thanks for reading and taking this diversion with me! Check us out on Facebook and Twitter, and now you can find us on Instagram too! Post your tally mark photos on Instagram and tag @TheologyofGames, we’d LOVE to see them!


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