Geeking Out – World (Nerd) Book Day
This month at Chez Geek, we’re taking a look at something a bit different, with some choice reading matter in celebration of World Book Day (Thursday past), in association with new chums Aconyte Books – and of course, a book-themed giveaway!
We’re taking a look at some gaming-themed and tie-in books to tempt you away from your hazy blue light (well, not quite yet, in a minute). Oh, and there’s the winner of our fab 7 Wonders contest to announce, in association with Asmodee UK, of course. Tiny detail, that.
We’ve mentioned Aconyte in the past – some lucky winners got a haul of X-Men tie-in novels – and we thought we’d take a look at a selection of what they have to offer.
This gorgeous, hardcover coffee-table book is the stuff of dreams. A lavishly illustrated history of Spiel de Jahres (Game of the Year), arguably the most prestigious award in gaming, covering 40 years of board game classics. It’s a fascinating, insightful and geek-tastic read, but one that’s just at home in a grown-up living room as a nerd-cave.
Particular highlights for me were the discussion of Rumibkub, which was integral to my childhood (and I still have my grandmother’s set), notes on why Pokemon isn’t in there, and myriad other treats and trivia. If you have even a passing interest in board games, this is an absolute gem – so, naturally, you can win your own copy!
I am an absolute sucker for a comic tie-in. I appreciate that might sound a bit weird, writing on a comic page, but as an English teacher there’s few things better for grabbing a teenager’s attention (except possibly Assassin’s Creed novels, which Aconyte also publish).
Aconyte’s comic tie-ins are mix of slightly tongue-in-cheek Choose your own Adventure style antics with Deadpool, She-Hulk et al (fourth wall? what fourth wall?) and new/expanded stories featuring some of the less fully-fleshed characters of the Marvel Universe.
I am a big fan of Dazzler, Marvel’s interstellar pop sensation, for instance – got her pinned in Marvel Snap as it happens, despite the exorbitant cost – but I’ve always felt she doesn’t get enough limelight in the pages, often reduced to a bit of a sideshow; a shame as, being a huge Zenith fanboy, I’ve always wanted to see Marvel’s Superhero Singing Star get her moment. And, I have to say that Amanda Bridgeman’s ‘Sound of Light’ was a hugely enjoyable mystery romp: slightly kitsch (a plot to removal all mutantkind? AGAIN?!), a bit bonkers, and the addition of Emma Frost (remember me gushing about her MCP fig?), Polaris and Rachel Grey making the ultimate supergroup meant it hits all the right bits of Josie and the Pussycats, Barbarella, and everywhere in between.
Board Game Tie-Ins
I love delving into the backstories of game worlds; the fluff is key to my enjoyment of any game. Terraforming Mars is one of those games that appeals to me (not just because I both love Total Recall and The Martian) but I’ve always found the ideas behind it so credible and, well, current. Jane Killick’s Edge of Catastrophe channels not only Kim Stanley Robinson but influences such as Greg Bear and (my personal under-rated favourite) CJ Cherryh to produce an exciting, timeous tale of potential ecological catastrophe.
To paraphrase Cherryh, all sci-fi should feel like a history of the future, and the danger of a novel like this is that it could feel didactic – instead, it takes the inevitability of human greed (so much, after all, a part of the Board Game) and looks at its implications for our future. I’m looking forward to her next novel, In the Shadow of Deimos, already – especially as dropping a moon on my opponent is one of my favourite things to do in game…
Equally, the Twilight Imperium universe is a vast, rich, sprawling galaxy. 24 distinct races, each with radically different playstyles in game, makes for an enormously satisfying (and long) game; as a bit of a sci-fi nerd (no, really?) I was keen to see how well the different species were presented on the page. The Stars Beyond is a great intro whether your familiar with the setting or not, with 6 stories presenting different views of its universe – and you can read the first story in the collection RIGHT HERE!
Now this is not the speculative sci-fi of Asimov or mind-bending mysteries of Iain M. Banks, but if you like immersive sci-fi from a non-human perspective, they all make for great reads. I don’t really want to say too much, but they explore classic sci-fi themes of existence and emotion, across a broad and varied galactic tapestry.
Now in fairness this is also a Card Game Tie-In – I have very fond memories of playing L5R back in the 90s (am terribly old) – as well as a lot of L5R RPG, with one of the finest and most elegant dice systems ever devised, especially for weapon damage. The Iuchiban campaign itself was legendary, with the monstrous Oni of the Shadowlands and sinister corrupt samurai and shugenja to battle.
Anyway, as a setting, fantasy/feudal Japan has always held a huge fascination for me, so it’s exciting to return to the world of Rokugan once more. I took a look at this alongside fellow BCP staffer and L5R fans Adam B (brother_rooster) and newcomer Mike Campbell (Big Angry Mike, for those in the know). We felt it was an excellent mystery that felt like a group of disparate characters on an adventure, solving puzzles and unravelling the greater secrets like the opening act of a campaign – without just having the sense of someone having written up the GM’s notes.
I mean I was always a sucker for the tattooed Dragon clan, so having the central character Inspector Naoki being from them worked wonders for me, but also, just as importantly, not being a straight-up Samurai story made for a more compelling read.
So as ever, we have the results of February’s 7 Wonders Giveaway (thanks again to the fine folk of Asmodee UK) but to win your own copy of Aconyte’s Everybody Wins, just tell us what tie-in fiction you most fancy from those listed above – or what you would like to see! Who knows, this might become a regular feature!
And remember to Like, Comment and Share across your socials (FB, Insta, Twitter and/or Mastodon) tagging us @bigcomicpage & @games_with_graven to bag yourself a bonus entry! UK only unless you’re willing to fork out the postage, alas.
Don’t forget to swing by for the mid-month update, which is all about card this month as we’ll be looking at the new Star Wars deckbuilding game alongside Rogue and Gambit for Marvel Champions. Honestly, we’re so good to you it hurts.
And finally, it’s the result of our 7 Wonders Giveaway, and the winner is… Alan Brookland!
Congratulations! Remember to get in touch with email@example.com within 30 days to claim your prize!
The Writer of this piece was: Sam Graven
Article Archive: Geeking Out
You can follow Sam on Twitter and Instagram
I’m a big fan of Aconyte’s output and am about to continue the Twilight Imperium books with Necropolis Empire, so I’m definitely looking forward to finishing that trilogy and then getting my teeth into Stars Beyond.
I’ve not yet got into the L5R novels, but those are on my list.
I’ve got a few of Aconytes Arkham Horror books that I really need to read at some point!