Thomas McMillen

Into space and beyond with High Frontier

, | Games

I’m twelve years old hiking through the desert east of San Diego. “What kind of modules?” I ask. We’re on a scouting trip and I spend a good chunk of the long trek interrogating a fellow scout about a game called Project Space Station. The possibilities were amazing. Which labs do I build? Are there enough Solar Panels? Which scientist to send up and what projects do I start? Where do you go after you achieve orbit? My adolescent imagination lit up.

After the jump, one small step for a twelve-year-old Continue reading →

Struggling with Struggle of Empires

, | Games

In Martin Wallace’s excellently crafted empire building boardgame, Struggle of Empires, I experience something I don’t usually experience in a boardgame: regret. Not the kind of regret you get for buying a game and having it turn out terrible, but regret for taking part vicariously in imperialism. I’ve played many civilization builders. I’ve been part of countless virtual atrocities. But Struggle of Empires uses a few key pieces to really frame the historical context. It gives me pause as I consider the ethics, or lack thereof, of the rise of the European empires.

After the jump, the ethics of cardboard atrocities Continue reading →

The Fury of Dracula is no match for the fury of Mina Harker

, | Games

Four heroes are engaged in a struggle against unfathomable evil spanning the continent of Europe. Three of the hunters sweep into East Germany, having found what seems to be Dracula’s trail. The fourth hunter, Mina Harker, is traveling from Spain where she’s been following another lead. When she steps off the train, she is face to face with Dracula himself.

“Don’t worry,” I say to Mina’s player. “We’ll be able to surround him and get him in a few turns. Just do as much damage as you can before he knocks you out.”

After the jump, that’s not quite how it works out. Continue reading →