Slay the Spire is the world’s first deckbuilding roguelike. If you favour video games, you may recognize one of these terms. If you prefer board games, the other. Chances are, you won’t know either! However, there’s no need to. Its fusion of the digital tradition of dungeon crawls with the innovative card-play of the tabletop is excellent on its own.
Modern designers try not to include poor mechanics in their games. Losing a turn, for example, used to be absolutely commonplace, until they realized that not being able to play wasn’t much fun. However, designers are not always successful at avoiding their use. Sometimes, they make their way in, unintentionally. This is the case of Vagrantsong, whose 1920s cartoon extravagance is contrasted by its dated mechanical design.
Most logical deduction games get less interesting after a few plays. Faced with the same puzzle every time, strategy quickly becomes repetitive. The Search for Planet X, however, is one of the few that has actually gotten better the more I play it. With two difficulty modes and plenty of opportunities to lean on your opponent’s research, there’s room to play better. It all starts with a little survey, some wild theories and ends with a scientific breakthrough.
Here’s something you might not know: Critics hate review scores. In the minds of many of my colleagues, putting a score next to their articles diminishes their work. They are included out of obligation, and most believe they actively stifle quality conversation. So why do I use them? To me, review scores are not a constraint but a powerful tool of classification and discovery.
For more than a hundred and fifty years, scientists have wondered what lies beyond the orbit of Neptune. By measuring the movements of comets, locating gas clouds, and checking for the presence of asteroids, they hoped to find proof of the existence of a new planet. The Search for Planet X translates this quest into the language of logical deduction games, building from the base of Cluedo and greatly surpassing it.