#165: Dominant Species: Marine



The trajectory of spin-offs seems indelibly tied to aquatic environments, so perhaps we ought to accept the inevitable and begin planning for “SVWAG of the Depths” wherein our hosts play games and then talk about them while entirely submerged. Imagine what effect it will have on most dexterity games! Only Chip Theory Games’ offerings will emerge unaltered. Sound quality will perforce suffer, as no doubt will the hosts’ lungs, but no one said art was going to be easy.

Games Played Last Week:
01:26 -Formula Dé (Laurent Lavaur & Eric Randall, Eurogames, 1997)
01:44 -Automobiles (David Short, AEG, 2016)
02:00 -Cubitos (John D. Clair, AEG, 2021)
12:45 -Ra (Reiner Knizia, alea, 1999)
16:38 -Hallertau (Uwe Rosenberg, Lookout Games, 2020)
20:39 -Regicide (Paul Abrahams, Luke Badger, & Andy Richdale, Badgers from Mars, 2020)
25:00 -Jekyll vs. Hyde (Geonil, Mandoo Games, 2021)
27:04 -The Magnificent (Eilif Svensson & Kristian Amundsen Østby, Aporta Games, 2019)
30:18 -Champions of Midgard (Ole Steiness, Grey Fox Games, 2015)
31:14 -The King’s Dilemma (Hjalmar Hach & Lorenzo Silva, Horrible Guild, 2019)
36:32 -Conspiracy: Abyss Universe (Bruno Cathala & Charles Chevallier, Bombyx, 2019)

News (and why it doesn’t matter):
38:02 Marvel United X-Men, sans Gambit (so far)
39:39 Frostpunk: Surprise billing
40:56 Classics going out of print prompting media navel-gazing
45:05 Stream of The Magnificent 04/24, 10:30 AM EST

46:39 Feature Game: Dominant Species Marine (Chad Jensen, GMT Games, 2021)

I don’t think I’ve ever played Formula Dé – maybe I should try it some time, since I seem to play a lot of racing games and FD is probably an influence on most of them. I’m glad someone else drew the Automobiles-Cubitos connection. (To be fair, Tom Vasel did too.) Everyone seems to hate the dice boxes.

I have never seen someone actually use the “don’t move, but eliminate all waste” option of Automobiles; usually one can get powers to nibble off a few waste cubes at a time, particularly with slightly careful consideration of how many cubes are left in one’s bag, and that’s enough. If anyone fancies trying it out some time, I’d be happy to host a teaching game on yucata.

Wasnt a fan of Formula De. Mainly because it is a roll & move but did nothing to smooth the edges of the runaway leader problem. Rolling a dice and have it decide if it moves from 6 moves to 12 moves is a bit nuts.

In comparison, Flamme Rouge is smooth. I’d say, too smooth. And Rallyman GT got fun dice rolling but movement is based on the number of how many dice you decide to roll.


We played this a couple times after we saw it on Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop show.
It has a huge player count and the idea of all those dice was kind of nice. But it is just roll and move with different dice and very little strategy.

Cubitos is better by far and that has the issue of being absolutely not interactive.

I have not managed to completely learn Rallyman GT (watched a rules video and now I would need to play a game to grok it) but that seems to have strategy and the amount of luck is mitigated quite a bit.

Formula D has nothing like that. Not a fan.

PS: I don’t even like Flamme Rouge but it is much better than Formula D.

I’ve played Formula D, but never Formula Dé. It’s a beer & pretzels sort of experience, rather than a strategy game. It’s a fun lark and that’s about as deep as it goes.

For actual racing, Rallyman GT, Flamme Rouge and Snow Tails are all top tier for me.

After hearing Roger talk about it so much, I am interested to try out Automobiles as some point.

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Would you not consider Flamme Rouge and Rallyman to be beer & pretzel games? I put them squarely into that camp, personally.

I think the biggest appeal of racing games is their immediacy. You can generally put a racing game in front of your friends or family and immediately cut out any time spent educating the table on how to win/earn points and why you might do things. It’s a race. Get to the end better than everyone else.

Where a racing game becomes good, in my opinion (and I’m not counting heavy racing sims which would only appeal to gearheads), is when they focus on an aspect of the race and then dial in on it hard. Flamme Rouge has its exhaustion/draught mechanics to really emphasize the grind of jockeying for position. Rallyman has its sublime gear dice mechanic which produces crunchy decisions every turn, always begging you to risk it all.

I think it’s probably a tricky business making a racing game that gets things just right. No matter what you do, you’re going to have a really slow race on your hands, relative to the real thing, so capturing some excitement is so important. Rallyman’s approach is weird (based on @lalunaverde’s comment I assume they really felt that), and Flamme Rouge’s constant demand to stay behind is… well again it’s weird. But they both garner excitement from their players, in my experience, and that’s a tough thing to nail. I haven’t played Formula D, but it’s stuck around so long I have to assume it’s got something there.

(Since we’re talking about racing games) I’m planning to teach Rallyman GT via Tabletop Simulator + Jitsi voice: 2021-04-22T19:00:00Z. Anyone who’s interested, let me know by PM.


If you have the time, make sure you join in. Rallyman is life. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Nah, I think they’re the next step above B&P. There are actually interesting decisions to be made. True arms-in-the-air triumphs and face-buried-in-hands failures. Formula D, for me, is just a chuckle; I’ve only ever played it as a 1-lap race though; maybe it would be more in a 2 or 3 lap race… but the roll-and-move mechanism just drags the game.

Ah, then I use the term more broadly, or perhaps more literally. I tend to look at two main factors: can you drink beer(s)/eat and socialize and still play competently? Are the decisions present conducive to outbursts?

Ideally that pairs with light gameplay, but not always. I put Xia into the beer & pretzels camp, for example. Albeit with caveats.

All games are beer & pretzel games by these criteria :wink:

My definition of a beer & pretzel game is a game where, while holding a pretzel, you can make 1 or more people smile as the result of doing something in a game.

EDIT: further thought: must make more than one person smile as the result of doing something in a game. It’s far too easy to make one person smile.


Not at all. Maybe I’m enough of a souse to have the drinks in multiples be a foregone conclusion, but above a certain weight (in the decision space) there’s a hard, hard line for sobriety and composure. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

[EDIT] To note the distinct exclusion of RPGs from this grouping.

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Except at conventions, wherever I’m playing someone’s going to have to drive home.

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I might just do that!