Last week’s article on upcoming RPGs featured several games taking big risks and freely experimenting with what an RPG could be. That got me wondering what other games were out there pushing the envelope of tabletop games in both form and function. Fortunately, the tabletop industry is still lush with imaginative, creative designers and the research did not take long.
Jigsuw – Kickstarter March 2022 >>>
I like jigsaw puzzles just fine. My wife, on the other hand, LOVES them. For her, there’s a lot of catharsis in going slowly and watching the picture unfold. And I get that. It’s a Zen garden made of cardboard. But that slow pace doesn’t sit as well with me. Sure it’s satisfying to when you find a piece, but it’s a lot of time spent on something that is really only interesting once. Which is why I’m very thankful that Bonet Games made puzzles exciting with Jigsuw.
This game made it on the list for its incorporation of traditional jigsaw puzzles into tabletop gaming, a hitherto untouched area of the industry. Reading the description of this game gave me serious Blockus vibes and has me very interested in trying it. The rules are simple. Each player in this 2 to 4 player game is assigned a set number of puzzle pieces. Your goal is to try and correctly place your pieces as quickly as possible. This portion could easily descend into a chaotic slog, but Jigsuw has this covered. The game begins with the central core of puzzle already constructed, so players have a solid starting point rather than trying to build all over the place. As you build, you want to try and block your opponents from placing pieces by creating “holes” in the puzzle. In other words, if an empty space is completely surrounded by other pieces, pieces may no longer be played there. Different puzzles have additional rules variations such as double and triple point pieces or flat-edged blocking pieces that don’t allow other pieces to be played off of them.
Simple and fun rules aside, a puzzle lives and dies based on its look. Creator Adrian Bonet clearly understood this as evidenced by the vibrant, one-of-a-kind pieces of art depicted in the puzzle. Clear color distinctions and a plethora of clearly defined images, along with easy-to-spot and unusually shaped pieces, will make sure that players will be frantically looking for pieces but not completely lost in the weeds for hours on end.
Six Greeting Card Games – Kickstarter March 8th >>>
In the same way that Jigsuw is reinventing jigsaw puzzles, Ellie Dix over at The Dark Imp is breathing new life into something much more unexpected: greeting cards. And it’s about time! Most people approach greeting cards in the following way:
- Step 1: Open card.
- Step 2: Read card.
- Step 3: Clutch card to bosom while single tear rolls down face.
- Step 4: Immediately throw card in trash.
- Step 5: Erase all memory of card from brain databanks.
But now thanks to Dark Imps aptly titled Six Card Games, the card will arguably be the best gift!
So how do you fit an entire game in a greeting card? The answer is “Ingeniously.” Most of the games are relatively component-lite with any necessary components cut out of the card itself. And some games, like “Splinter”, make an entire party game out just a piece of paper.
But don’t think that component-lite means that the games skimp on complexity and replayability. I guarantee you that your favorite mechanic is represented. Action economy, worker placement, programming, social deduction and even a legacy component are all represented. If any of you were wondering what you could get me for my birthday (I’m flattered, by the way), this is it. Or better yet, back it on Kickstarter and you’re set for the next 6 birthdays on your calendar.
Blinks – Live Now on Kickstarter >>>
While Move 38, Inc has already run several moderately successful Kickstarter campaigns for Blink, I foresee this being a banner year for this versatile and quirky game. That is because 2022 is going to be the year of party games, and based on the versatility and innovative design of Blinks, it could be a huge hit.
First off, the design is just dripping with visual appeal. Each hex contains flashing LED lights and magnetically combines with other hexes near it. Once combined, the hexes “talk” to each other and can create various patterns and chains of light. This modular design allows Blinks to become just about anything for any number of players, something the designers have definitely capitalized on.
That’s because every hex is its own game. Once you’ve activated a particular hex’s game, it then teaches that game to every connected hex. And there are a lot of games, covering pretty much every mechanic imaginable. Obviously this game lends itself well to simple dexterity games like Wham! which is basically whack-a-mole. But Blinks doesn’t stick to low-hanging fruit. Games like Raid, where you control an imaginary Viking horde, lean heavily into area control and Honey, the game of bee-hive construction, is all about that tableau. And that is just scratching the surface. The Move 38, Inc. website features over 30 existing games for the Blinks system, and the latest Kickstarter gives newcomers access to the base set while adding even more games to the catalog.
While tabletop games using digital components to enhance the experience is nothing new, it’s easy for it to feel “gimmicky” imbalanced with either the digital or physical components feeling superfluous. But with Blinks, the two elements pair elegantly and seamlessly to create something altogether new.
by Zane Messina