March 16 2017

Board Game Geek


    BoardGameGeek News | BoardGameGeek

  • New Game Round-up: Stack Rocks in Tuki, Escape Lava in Red Peak, and Claim Land in Iwari

    by W. Eric Martin

    • Canadian publisher Next Move Games has previously challenged you to arrange ceramic tiles, coral reef, and stained glass, and now it asks: How do you feel about rocks?

    Next Move's next release will be Tuki by designer Grzegorz Rejchtman, best known for the Ubongo game series. Here's an overview of this 2-4 player game that will debut at the 2019 Origins Game Fair in June:

    In the Inuit language, "tukilik" is used to define an object that carries a message, and the northern landscapes are densely populated with such objects. The most well known of these are the inukshuk, that is, structures of rough stones traditionally used by Inuit people as a landmark or commemorative sign, with the stones often being stacked in the form of a human figure.

    During each turn in Tuki, you attempt to construct an inukshuk based on the die face rolled using your stones and blocks of snow. Players have only a limited number of pieces with which to construct the inukshuk, so you'll need to be creative and use the three-dimensional pieces in multiple ways, such as to counterbalance other pieces or even build on top of existing pieces. A solution always exists — you just need to discover it!

    You can choose from two levels of difficulty when playing Tuki to level the playing ground between newcomers and experts. Be swift, yet precise, and transform your stones into messengers of the north...

    Red Peak is a Carlo A. Rossi design due out from Ravensburger in the first half of 2019, and while I have only a brief overview of the game for now, it's enough to get you grounded on this 2-6 player that features a Vincent Dutrait cover of all things. Strange seeing his work on a non-French, non-Korean box! Here's that summary:

    In Red Peak, the players are daring adventurers who have discovered a new volcanic island — but then "Red Peak" on the north of the island decides to live up to its name and starts rumbling. An eruption seems imminent! Salvation is possibly only by returning to the beach as quickly as possible where — fingers crossed — a boat awaits the group. Players will be fighting using every means possible to make their way through the jungle, with the lava ready to spill onto their necks at any moment. Who will reach the boat in time before lava engulfs their camp on the beach?

    • Another early 2019 release from Ravensburger is the Leo Colovini card game Heul doch! Mau Mau, with the title meaning something like "Go Cry! Mau Mau", with Mau Mau being the German equivalent of Crazy Eights. The rules are available for this 3-6 player game, and I'm a sucker for both Colovini and card games, so here it is in detail:

    Game play in Heul doch! Mau Mau is simple, but it may bring you to tears all the same when you give points away to other players.

    The game consists of 98 cards, with 1-7 each appearing twice in seven colors. Each player starts with a random card face up in front of them as a personal discard pile as well as a hand of four cards. On a turn, you must play one card from your hand following the familiar game play rules of matching the color or number. Ideally you want to play on your own pile, but if the card you would play matches the top card of your left- or right-hand neighbor's discard pile, then you must play it there instead!

    Maybe you can choose a card in hand that matches only your top card? If you have no valid play or don't want to give points away to someone else, you can play the card face down on your stack, showing the weepy onion on the card back. On your next turn, you can play any card you like on your pile — except if it matches a neighbor's top card, of course, in which case you must give it away. (You can't play on a neighbor's onion card.)

    Once all the cards have been played, everyone scores for the cards in their pile — but first they must count the number of onion cards in their pile. However many onions they have, they must remove all matching number cards prior to scoring. If you have four onions, for example, you must discard all 4s — and this is bad since all cards score points equal to their value. If you have ten onions, then you first discard all 7s, then all 3s. Whoever has the most points wins!

    The game includes four types of special action cards you can shuffle into the deck to make gameplay more dynamic.

    ThunderGryph Games puts a lush look on most of its game releases, and the just-announced Iwari from Michael Schacht continues this pattern.

    Iwari is a revised version of Schacht's classic game Web of Power, which was previously remade as China, then briefly appeared as Han. All the games feature the same basic gameplay: A landscape is divided into regions; these regions have lines throughout them with various building points, as well as more than a dozen connection points between regions. On a turn, you can play cards to place up to two pieces in one region. The color of the cards must match the region in which you're playing, although you can use a pair of cards as a joker.

    You're trying to achieve majorities in a region and in the connection points, but the trick is that you want to expend as few of your own resources to win as possible. (I imagine this is also true of Iwari, but I haven't seen the rules of that game yet.) When you have majority in a region, then you score based on the number of units that all players have in that region; when you place second in a region, then you score based on the number of units that the winner has in that region.

    Thus, if a region has five spaces and you control four of them, then you score 5 points and the second-place person scores 4. Hmm, you did more work and used more resources, but you barely scored more than they did! Better to win that region with only three pieces while still scoring 5 points, yet if you wait too long to dominate a region someone else might carry it instead. Scoring for the connection points between regions works similarly.

    For Iwari, Schacht and ThunderGryph have moved to a new setting and added twists to the gameplay:

    Evermore have they walked the world of Iwari. Evermore have they embodied its spirit and shaped its lands. They are stewards of the earth. Five Titans that make the cosmos breath. On Iwari, there are no teeming masses, no continent-wide civilizations. Humanity is in its infancy, living in scattered tribes in forest, tundra, and desert. Now we have left our ancestral homelands to explore the vast uncharted regions, encountering other fellow tribes and exchanging knowledge, culture and wisdom. In our journey, we all live in harmony with the Titans, and though distant to us, they decide our fate. And yet only we don't know if they created us, or we created them.

    Iwari is an abstract-like Eurogame in which players represent different tribes looking for their identity by traveling around far lands and expanding their settlements into five different regions on the board.

    During the game, players can complete missions that grant small perks and score points by having the majority of tents in each territory after the end of the first card cycle. At game end, the majority of tents will be scored again, along with the majorities of nature totems in two adjacent regions and settlements that players have created (i.e., four or more tents in an uninterrupted sequence along one of the roads on the board).

    Iwari reimagines the earlier games in this series by adding new layers of strategy, tribe player boards, different maps with their own set of rules, modules that can be added to the game, and unique co-operative and solo modes.

    Schacht and ThunderGryph previously collaborated on a Kickstarter project for Spirits of the Forest, a remaking of his earlier game Richelieu, and during that crowdfunding project many extras were added to the game. I imagine the bling will be flying as well for Iwari as well once that project hits KS...

    Read more »
  • New Game Round-up: Travel Through Middle-earth Again Before Racing Animals in China

    by W. Eric Martin

    • Nearly two decades after Reiner Knizia's co-operative game Lord of the Rings debuted, with a Fantasy Flight Games version of that design hitting the market in 2001, FFG is now taking another crack at a co-operative game set in J.R.R. Tolkien's greatest creation with the announcement of The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth, a 1-5 player game from Nathan I. Hajek and Grace Holdinghaus. Here's an overview of the game:

    Embark on your own adventures in J.R.R. Tolkien's iconic world with The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth, a fully co-operative, app-supported board game. You'll battle villainous foes, make courageous choices, and strike a blow against the evil that threatens the land — all as part of a thrilling campaign that leads you across the storied hills and dales of Middle-earth.

    Each individual game of Journeys in Middle-earth is a single adventure in a larger campaign. You'll explore the vast and dynamic landscapes of Middle-earth, using your skills to survive the challenges that you encounter on these perilous quests. As you and your fellow heroes explore the wilderness and battle the dark forces arrayed against you, the game's companion app guides you to reveal the looming forests, quiet clearings, and ancient halls of Middle-earth, while also controlling the enemies you encounter. Whether you're venturing into the wild on your own or with close companions by your side, you can write your own legend in the history of Middle-earth.

    The game includes six heroes in its "Core Set", a term that shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with FFG's publishing model, and each hero has a unique skill deck that they use to pass skill tests or play from to provide themselves with permanent special abilities, although at the risk of failing skill tests since those cards are now removed from their deck. In each adventure, a hero takes on one of six roles, such as hunter or pathfinder, giving players the chance to put their skills to use in different ways based on what they expect to find — although the app promises wide variety in the make-up of the landscape, the foes you'll face, and more.

    The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth retails for $100, and according to FFG's most recent press releases, it's due out in April 2019.

    • Designer Richard Breese of R&D Games has noted on Facebook that he's working on a Keyper expansion — Keyper at Sea — for release at SPIEL '19 in October. Writes Breese, "The game has two scenarios, 'shallow water' for those new to Keyper and 'deep water' for the Keyper experts!" If you can get yourself to HandyCon in Maidenhead, UK on Jan. 18-20, 2019, then maybe you can dive in for a first look.

    • In June 2018, Capstone Games announced a licensing deal with designers Christina Ng Zhen Wei and Yeo Keng Leong for Race for the Chinese Zodiac, and now Capstone has announced that the game will be released through its Simply Complex brand and the designers own Starting Player brand, with a Kickstarter campaign to fund the title starting in late January 2019 ahead of a November 2019 retail release. Another title for the SPIEL '19 Preview!

    Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:

    Legend has it that a long time ago, mankind was ignorant to the extent of not knowing how to count or tell the years apart. The ever-benevolent Jade Emperor wanted to help mankind out. From there, the idea of a twelve-year cycle and the naming of each year in the cycle after an animal was born.

    But how should the Jade Emperor choose twelve animals from among so many animals in the living world, while remaining impartial? To resolve this equitably, the Jade Emperor decided to hold a race involving all animals on his birthday. The first twelve animals to cross the river and reach the Heavenly Palace will have a year named after them, in the order of how they finished the race. The race became known as The Great Race and the twelve-year cycle was named the Chinese Zodiac.

    Race for the Chinese Zodiac is a board game that recreates The Great Race. Each player has a hand of eight action cards (numbered 1-8) as well as energy cards of different values and karma tokens. Each player selects one animal token and takes the corresponding animal card, which grants the player advantages during the race. All players place their animal token on the start space of the racetrack. Players assemble the dual-layered and double-sided action wheel that's used to determine the effectiveness of each action and place it in the center of the table.

    On a turn, all players select an action card and an energy card from their hand, then they reveal these cards simultaneously. If the action card selected is one value lower than the player's previously played action card, the player must spend one karma token; if two or more values lower, they must spend two karma tokens. Players then resolve all played actions based on the orientation of the wheel, ideally gaining movement, new energy cards, and karma. Everyone places their played cards face up in front of themselves, then rotate the wheel clockwise by one space and start a new turn.

    The first animal to complete the race earns the coveted right of having the first year of the Chinese Zodiac named after it!

    Read more »
  • Puerto Rico Expansions Return to Print in April 2019

    by W. Eric Martin

    To add on to all the recent news from Rio Grande Games, the U.S. publisher has announced that in April 2019 it will release Puerto Rico: Expansions 1 & 2 – The New Buildings & The Nobles, a collection that contains The New Buildings and The Nobles expansions for Andreas Seyfarth's Puerto Rico that last saw print in 2009 as part of alea's Treasure Chest collection.

    Here's an overview of these items for those who have missed out in the past decade:

    The New Buildings adds forests to the game and introduces the following new buildings: Aqueduct, Forest House, Black Market, Storehouse, Guesthouse, Church, Trading Post, Small Wharf, Lighthouse, Library, Speciality Factory, Union Hall, Cloister, and Statue. These buildings can be mixed and matched with the existing building in the Puerto Rico base game.

    The Nobles includes tokens that are used like colonists, but some of the seven new buildings provide different properties depending on whether they are occupied by nobles or colonists.

    From the press release announcing this release: "We have wanted to bring these expansions back into print so fans of the game, both new and old, would have the opportunity to play and own them", says Jay Tummelson, co-owner of Rio Grande Games. "We are happy that they will be available again to all of the fans of the game: past, present and future." The tentative MSRP for this expansion is $15.

    The New Buildings
    The Nobles and more new buildings Read more »
  • VideoTime to Expand the Oniverse with Aerion, Then Lift Off for More from Z-Man Games

    by W. Eric Martin

    • How did I miss this?! In December 2018, Z-Man Games announced that the fifth title in Shadi Torbey's Oniverse series of solo/co-operative games for 1-2 players would be released in early 2019. Here's an overview of Aerion, which as expected features artwork by Élise Plessis and which now has a March 2019 release date attached to it:

    You are an air-shipwright, that is, an inventor of flying machines used by the dreams to traverse the skies of the Oniverse. You have been challenged to build a new fleet, the most beautiful ever seen. Now you must roll the dice to acquire the components you need to build airships.

    In Aerion, you must find the best blueprints, acquire the finest construction materials, and recruit the best crew. Discarding cards can adjust your die rolls, but be careful not to exhaust your resources! Can you build the best fleet?

    Aerion includes six expansion modules with new options and challenges.

    • Z-Man Games has also attached a March 2019 release date on the English-language version of Lift Off, a 2-4 player design from Jeroen Vandersteen that German publisher Hans im Glück debuted at SPIEL '18 in October. Here's a summary of the game's setting and principles:

    1950/1960: The race into space is in full swing! We're making great progress on the techniques for supplying astronauts and space-ready machines, for optimizing launch conditions, and of course for designing the much-needed rockets. All this to explore the sheer vastness of space.

    But in Lift Off, not only are two superpowers competing for the most glorious milestones of space travel, no, we players are also very involved. In this game, we each play a private space agency that wants to develop in their own areas. We must hire specialists, improve our rockets, and expand our capabilities because soon we have to decide which missions we want to carry out and what we want to bring into space. Only those who plan ahead and properly manage the resources available will win this race to the stars...

    BGG recorded an overview of the game in our booth during that game fair if you want to see more:

    Youtube Video

    Bruno Faidutti's Miaui debuted in 2017 from French publisher Superlude Editions under the name Chawaï, which is formed from the combination of "chat" (French for "cat") and "Hawaii". The English-language edition due out in February 2018 from Z-Man Games keeps this title wordplay intact along with the art from Paul Mafayon. Here's an overview of the gameplay in this 3-6 player design:

    Each round in Miaui, players choose one of the cards in their hand — and everyone starts the game with the same cards numbered 1-12 — to show how deep they dive in the hope of catching the best fish. All kinds of fish are served at the feast but beware the gooey jellyfish and the thieving seagulls.

    In more detail, three cards are laid out from the catch deck from the surface of the water to the depths. Each players chooses a card and plays them simultaneously. Whoever plays the highest card dives deepest and grabs the card at the bottom of the lake, while the next highest card grabs the card just above this. Whoever played the lowest card collects what's at the surface. Sometimes this isn't good since jellyfish cost you points and seagulls steal your most recent catch.

    Bruno Faidutti presented the game in the BGG booth during the 2018 Cannes fair, relating its history to Alex Randolph's Raj, along with a brief history of that game as well:

    Youtube Video

    • Z-Man also has a Shem Phillips title due out in 2019 that's quite different from the North Sea/West Kingdom titles that he releases through his own Garphill Games. Noctiluca is a somewhat abstract game for 1-4 players in which you try to collect the luminescent sea creatures to complete requests by healers. In slightly more detail:

    On the warmest nights of the year, the otherwise quiet waters are filled with shimmering lights as the dormant noctiluca awaken. Renowned for their restorative properties, the noctiluca are desired by many dealers. Only the most skilled divers can navigate the waters to collect these mysterious glowing creatures and deliver them to healers across the land. Can you catch the embers of the sea?

    In Noctiluca, 104 colorful translucent dice fill the pool on the game board to represent the different glowing noctiluca. Players take turns diving into the water from the edges of the shore to collect the noctiluca dice from the board and keep them safely in jars until they can deliver them to healers. After two rounds, players compare points from their successful deliveries and the player with the most points wins.

    Thanks to a double-sided game board, Noctiluca also includes a solo mode in which one player must rescue the noctiluca from the tempest.

    Read more »
  • The Rebirth of Rio Grande Games: Underwater Cities, Caravan, Nevada City, and More

    by W. Eric Martin

    U.S. publisher Rio Grande Games is going through something of a renaissance right now. Over the past few years, the company has released only a few new games — mostly Dominion titles and Tom Lehmann designs — having shed the co-publishers and licensed titles that constituted most of the titles it released throughout the 2000s.

    Now Rio Grande is continuing the partnerships that remained, adding new licensing partners to the line-up, and releasing a wider range of original titles. Ken Hill, who was hired as production manager in Q4 2018, detailed some of the changes underway, while also giving an update on some of the titles hitting the market from RGG in the first half of 2019.

    • To start, Lutz Stepponat's Gambit Royale — an English-language version of
    2018's Kabale und Hiebe: Setzt dem Ganzen die Krone auf from German publisher LuPri, which is itself a revamped version of the 2006 title Ruse and Bruise — was released in December 2018, along with Tom Lehmann's New Frontiers (which the designer covered in detail in this development diary on BGG News).

    • Mac Gerdts' Concordia Venus, which debuted from PD-Verlag at SPIEL '18 as both a standalone game and an expansion for the Concordia base game, reached the RGG warehouse in mid-January 2019 and should be available at U.S. retailers by the end of the month given the one- to two-week turnaround time needed for receiving, re-shipping, and handling via distribution. The Cyprus game board that's unique to the standalone game and not included in the expansion will be available later in 2019 paired with a new map yet to be announced, according to a PD-Verlag representative, and Hill verified that RGG will also release this double-map expansion in the U.S.

    • Vladimír Suchý's Underwater Cities was another SPIEL '18 release, this time from newcomer Delicious Games, and Hill anticipates having this title available on the U.S. market before the end of February 2019. He notes that this version incorporates a few production improvements such as thicker player boards, and based on preorders he anticipates placing a reorder for this title as soon as it reaches stores.

    • Another February 2019 release is Tom Lehmann's Roll for the Galaxy: Rivalry, which I covered in detail here.

    • Friedemann Friese's Power Grid Recharged, covered in this BGG News post, reaches the U.S. market in March 2019.

    • In terms of non-Lehmann new releases, Joe Huber's Caravan is due out in March or April 2019. This 2-4 player game sounds delightfully minimalist, and I offer this summary of the setting and gameplay:

    1300 A.D., Western Africa — the desire for goods such as ivory in Europe drives the development of many trade routes here, with caravans of camels delivering goods across the desert landscape.

    In Caravan, players must use their camels to deliver goods where they are wanted. Each player starts with five camels in their color (or six in an introductory game), and the game board is seeded with eight goods on the spaces numbered 1-8, with demand markers placed on the goods at spaces 1, 2, 7 and 8. The first player in the game takes one action, the second player two, and so on until someone takes four actions, after which each player can take up to four actions on their turn. Actions are:

    —Place or move an unladen camel of your color into an empty space: 1 action
    —Place or move an unladen camel of your color into an occupied space: 2 actions
    —Pick up a good and place it on the camel in that space: 1 action; if any demand markers are on this space, you keep them.
    —Move a good along a chain of your camels, ending with it on top of one of your unladen camels: 1 action
    —Steal a good from on top of an opponent's laden camel, placing it under one of your camels in the same space: 1 action and a theft marker; if you have no theft markers, you can't do this.

    If you move a good to a camel located in the city that wants that good (as indicated by color), then you remove that good from the board and keep it. As soon as four goods have been picked up (not necessarily delivered), pause the game and place a demand marker on each good still on the board; in addition, refill the empty numbered spots with a good from the bag.

    Once the final four goods have been drawn from the bag, the game ends immediately following the next delivery. Players score points based upon what they've collected: Rare goods (of which there are three each of four types) are worth 6 points each; common goods (nine each of four types) are worth 3 points each; and each demand marker is worth 1 point. Whoever scores the most wins.

    • A much larger game in the pipeline is Alan D. Ernstein's Nevada City, which Hill says they've been working on for more than three years. Hill adds, "The basic game is a nice twist on the worker placement genre, with an interesting market mechanism and some other fun mechanics. We packed a lot in a 90-minute game but not too much." Here's an overview of this 2-4 player game, which will debut in Q2 2019 no later than the 2019 Origins Game Fair:

    You and your family have come to Nevada City to set up a homestead and help the town grow. Will you be able to outperform the other homesteaders?

    Each player in Nevada City starts the game with a nuclear family — mother, father, daughter, and son — and a homestead mat where you can establish farms, fence in livestock, and develop silver mines. You start the game with one mine, one farm, and one ranch, along with some money and an assortment of commodities. The town consists of a few buildings, and other buildings will become available for construction as the years advance, with the game lasting four years.

    A year lasts a number of turns until all players have used all of their characters and hired workers. On a turn, a player chooses one of their characters and takes actions until all of that character's actions are spent; a character can't take the same action during a turn. A character can buy new property from city hall; mine, farm, or ranch their own property; claim a building; construct a building; use an existing building; reserve a contract that has conditions for improving the city; or work to fulfill that contract. Each character and worker has a different set of skills that can boost the actions they take, such as finding additional silver in a mine or bringing lumber to a construction site.

    You earn victory points (VPs) for constructing buildings, in addition to fees from those buildings when other players use them. You earn VPs for completing contracts as well, with those contracts having different values depending on which buildings are in place at the time. Each player receives a private goal card at the start of the game, and all players score points for these goal cards based on how well they do relative to other players, so pay attention to their choices.

    Each year, various events pop up, leaving players to suffer drought or reap the benefits of fertile land, among other things. At the end of a year, workers leave unless you marry them into a family, which will require spirits and other resources.

    Nevada City also includes advanced rules that add additional buildings and events to the game, a gambling subgame of sorts, a more volatile production market to make life in the West less predictable, and extra sons and daughters. On top of all that, the unhired workers at the end of a year get rowdy and start shooting up the town, so you need to use your gunslinging abilities to bring them to heel and try to avoid getting wounded since you might lose out on a character's abilities in the subsequent year.

    • Aside from these titles, Hill says, "We're going to be actively going after partnerships again, and I'm on the prowl for other titles." In addition to at least one more title due in Q2 2019, other games currently in the RGG pipeline include an Andreas Steding design (due out at SPIEL '19), an Arve D. Fühler design, a two-player title from Phil Walker-Harding, and two designs from Daryl Andrews.

    Read more »
  • New Game Round-up: Build Cities, Collect Spirits, Become Death, and (Above All) Stay Cool

    by W. Eric Martin

    For our early 2019 convention preview, I'm pulling together info from companies in Germany, the U.S., France, and elsewhere, and it's interesting to see the contrasts in who is doing what. Here's a sampling of games that will be shown or sold at Festival International des Jeux in Cannes, France:

    is a drafting game with an area-majority element of sorts from Johan Benvenuto, David Paput, and Bankiiiz Editions for 1-5 players. The game is due out March 11, 2019, but I would assume it will be at FIJ for demos, if not for early release. Here's what is going on in more detail:

    In , you build a city composed of nine building cards, with these cards coming in five types adorned with "source symbols" for strength, faith, and food. Each edge of a building card has a semi-circle on it showing half of a source symbol. Cards also have complete symbols for strength, faith, and food on them.

    Each player starts the game with two project cards — cards fueled by source tokens — and an empty 3x3 grid that shows semi-circular source symbols around the edges. The game lasts four rounds, and in each round you draft three cards. At the end of the second, third, and fourth rounds, all players compare their strengths in various horizontal or vertical rows on their grid.

    In the first round, you draft three project cards, each with special effects that can be used if you fill all the source symbols on it. In each of the next three rounds, you draft and play three building cards. When you play a building card and complete one or more source symbols (by matching the colors on each half symbol), you receive a source token of that color for each completed symbol, which you must immediately place on a project.

    After the third, sixth, and ninth building cards have been placed, you compare your strength in the row or column indicated on battle cards. (You have two such challenges after rounds six and nine.) The player with the most strength in the appropriate row or column receives 3 achievement points (AP), while the loser marks that row or column with a damage token. If a building card has damage in both its row and column, it's destroyed and removed from the game.

    At the end of the game, players feed their city, scoring based on the number of food symbols they have and the number of non-destroyed buildings. Players also score AP for faith symbols in their city.

    also contains rules for a solitaire game.

    • At FIJ, Bankiiiz Editions will also demo Julien Griffon's Yōkai, a 2-4 player game due out in Q2 2019. Game info is brief for now:

    There's confusion among the Yōkai!

    These Japanese spirits have become intermingled in Yōkai, and to calm them, you have to group together members of the same family. They're hiding, however, so to carry out your task successfully, you have to be clever and not make any noise to avoid frightening them...

    Sample cards in Yōkai

    • Designer Julien Sentis has specialized in quick-playing party games, and Stay Cool is a new design for 3-7 players that will debut from Le Scorpion Masqué at FIJ. The game will be released only in French initially, but the Canadian publisher often releases games in English as well, so perhaps we'll see this in the U.S. later:

    Stay Cool is easy. We ask you to do nothing complicated — but you must do it all at the same time...

    When you are the active player in the first round, you must answer verbally the questions asked by your left-hand neighbor while you "write" answers to the questions asked by your right-hand neighbor, using seven letter dice to "write" three- or four-letter answers. While you're doing this, another player flips a 30-second sand timer four times, giving you two minutes to answer as many questions as possible. At the end of that time, multiply the number of answers you gave for the questions from the left and from the right to determine your score.

    In the second round, you do the same thing once again with new questions, but you must tell the player watching the sand timer to flip it before it runs out of sand, with a maximum of two minutes of playing time. If you fail to tell the player to flip the timer before it runs out of sand, your turn ends immediately. However your turn ends, you score points as described above.

    In the third and final round, you must do everything described in the third round except now the sand timer is hidden from your eyes!

    Lumberjacks Studio released two titles in late 2018 that, as far as I know, exist only in French editions, and while the games were apparently available at SPIEL '18, they're essentially still new on the market, so I've listed them for sale on our con preview.

    One of those two titles is François Bachelart's La Petite Mort, a 2-4 player game in which everyone plays a junior grim reaper who is attempting to take over the role of Death itself because Death is finally retiring to greener pastures. Yes, this is another "replace the king" game, but at least the setting offers something new!

    To win the game, you must be the first to achieve any four objectives show on the "Reaping Diploma", a diploma that means you've graduated from death school and are ready for the job. An overview of the gameplay:

    During the game, each player will have characters in their playing area who will be born, grow, age, and enrich their personalities or acquire skills that will bring them strengths and weaknesses throughout their lives. You will see your characters live and guide them gently onto their deathbed for the liberating reap. It is by guiding your characters to their "natural death" that you will have the best chance of achieving the objectives required to get your Diploma.

    You can also reap an opponent's character with reap cards as long as these cards meet the requirements — i.e., weakness symbols — present on the targeted character cards. Reaping your opponent's characters is easier, but is less rewarding because you have to share these cards with one or more of your opponents. Naturally the characters in your playing area will be targeted by others, but some cards with strength symbols will protect your character from another similar weakness symbol, so they will be be harder to reap!

    Some of the characters who await your guiding hand in La Petite Mort Read more »
  • Roll for the Galaxy: Rivalry Arrives on Earth in February 2019

    by W. Eric Martin

    Rio Grande Games has announced a release date for the long-awaited second expansion for Wei-Hwa Huang and Tom Lehmann's Roll for the Galaxy, with production manager Ken Hill telling me that Roll for the Galaxy: Rivalry will be printed in February 2019, so it "should be in stores by the end of the month".

    Here's a summary of what Lehmann has revealed about this expansion to date:

    Roll for the Galaxy: Rivalry consists of three expansions in one box.

    • The Deal Game has a new deal phase in which players assign $ dice to a new deal board in order to swap assets they don't want for those they do — and pretty much everything is fair game in terms of possible trades. Not using all your credit track? Why not trade in the top part of it to get a useful die? Or, if you're running a large economy and need a credit track that goes to 11 (or even 16), why not trade away a couple of white dice to get a larger track?

    Have a bunch of extra tiles clogging up your construction zones from previous Explores? Why not trade them in for new dice? Or, a chance to draw from the bag until you find a 6 cost development? Or a pair of VP chips? Or a talent counter? Or some credits? Or, another Leader die? Or, a chance to draw a world of a desired color from the bag? Or, to turn some Citizenry dice directly into Developers or Settlers? Or...

    Seven deal dice are rolled each turn before players assign their workers to determine what asset types can be potentially gained or traded in that round. After you swap assets, your deal will start to mature over several rounds. If you (or someone else) calls "Deal" again before your deal expires, then you might want to send another dealer in to reverse your trade, trading back for what you originally spent and making some credits and talent counters along the way. Of course, while your deal is maturing, some other player might swoop in and reverse it before you wanted to, taking their cut and converting your attempted temporary loan into a permanent exchange. These things happen...

    • The Orb Game gives one yellow "Alien Orb" die to each player, and the faces of these dice can be popped out and upgraded to various "lines" of faces that allow you to customize what you can do in the game. (Think of the lines as being akin to a tech tree.)

    You can assign dice to become researchers in the Research phase, and for each assigned researcher, when someone calls Research, you get two "dots" of upgrades to your dice. The first dot gets you a 1-dot face in any line; extra dots get you better faces in that line. (If you want to switch lines for a given face after entering a line, pay 1 dot more.) These upgraded dice affect your play. For example, if you roll the 2-dot beige -1 develop face, you receive a -1 die discount on all developments you build that turn.

    Orb dice are rolled in front of player screens at the start of a round. If, for example, you roll a face that grants virtual workers, then everyone knows that you will benefit if Explore occurs and can plan accordingly as they assign their dice and decide which phase to call.

    To allow improved Orb dice more opportunities to affect play, the Orb game ends at 15+ tiles or when the initial VP chip pool is exhausted, which is increased to 15 VPs per player. At game end, each 2-dot and 4-dot face on your Orb die is worth 1 and 2 VPs, respectively.

    • The third game is yet to be revealed.

    Hill notes that Rivalry carries an $80 MSRP, $20 more than the Roll for the Galaxy base game. "We could have released it as three expansions, each roughly the size of Ambition for $35 each, or we could put them all in one box", which is what they chose to do. Rivalry comes in a box sized between the base game and Ambition.

    Production image from Tom Lehmann showing the non-final dice, with the colors being off in these samples;the Deal dice are the one black die and six white dice at left Read more »
  • Pauchon and Days of Wonder Roll from Yspahan to Corinth to Write History Anew

    by W. Eric Martin

    "Everything old is new again" seems to be a common practice in today's game industry. The market is hungry for titles — possibly due to so many titles being released, which exacerbates the speed with which titles disappear from shelves in order to make room for all those new games coming down the pipeline — so in addition to signing previously unreleased designs, publishers are revisiting older games and bringing them out anew.

    The latest title to see new life is Corinth, which probably doesn't ring a bell, but if you were to learn this design's playtest name — "Yspahan: The Dice Game" — you might start nodding your head in recollection. Sébastien Pauchon's Yspahan debuted in 2006 from French publisher Ystari Games, its third release following Ys from company founder Cyril Demaegd in 2004 and the market-changing Caylus from William Attia in 2005.

    In Yspahan, players tried to deliver goods to market stalls in various areas to score points, with the novelty of the game coming from how players delivered those goods, in addition to acquiring gold and camels. At the start of a turn, the active player rolled nine dice, then placed all the dice with the highest value on the gold space of a chart, then started placing dice from the bottom of the chart up, with each value of dice being on a separate level. The active player would take all the dice on one level, then take some action with them: collecting gold, delivering goods stalls, collecting camels, drawing an action card, or moving the supervisor, with the possible actions differing depending on which dice they took. The active player could spend gold to roll up to three extra yellow dice and thereby increase the odds of getting to take a desired action; if the active player didn't take any of these yellow dice, they were removed from play, preventing others from benefitting at that player's expense.

    Image by Ivan Kosak

    Corinth keeps this dice chart at the core of gameplay, with the active player rolling nine white dice as in the original game and possibly spending gold to roll up to three extra yellow dice. Players take turns selecting all of the dice on a level, but the choices are streamlined compared to the original Yspahan game. The top level gives the player as many gold as the number of dice they took; the bottom level gives camels instead of gold; and the middle levels allow a player to deliver goods to a number of market stalls on their personal player sheet equal to the dice claimed.

    Yes, Corinth is a roll-and-write game, with each player marking off stalls on their sheet. You have four colors of stalls as in Yspahan, and once you start marking off, say, rugs in one of the blue areas, you have to finish marking off all the rugs in that area before you can start marking off another blue area. This mimics the gameplay decisions of the earlier design: If you have two dice, do you mark off the easiest stall now to claim a few points or do you mark off some spaces in the largest stall, hoping to take more dice from the same level in the future in order to complete that stall and earn more points per die claimed?

    Instead of marking off gold, goats, or goods, you can use the value of the die or dice claimed (1-6) to move the steward on your personal score sheet. The steward starts in the middle of a 5x5 grid on your sheet, and you must move it as many spaces as the number of pips on the die value claimed, not crossing over any line you've drawn previously. You can pay 1 gold to move the steward one more or one fewer space, and you can pay as much gold as you want to do this. You can receive gold, goats, or goods from where the steward stops, but beyond that, you can earn points. When the steward stops on a corner space of this grid, you count the number of spaces circled to this point, with some spaces counting twice, then you write down that number, scoring that many points at game's end. If you stop in another corner later, you do the same thing again, which compounds the value of all your previous movement.

    As in Yspahan, in Corinth you can spend gold or goats to construct buildings that give you bonus powers, such as collecting two additional gold whenever you collect any gold or moving the steward up to two spaces more or less without paying.

    After 16 turns (with four players) or 18 turns (with two or three players), the game ends and you tally points for goods delivered, spaces visited by the steward, buildings constructed, and goats and gold still on hand.

    Corinth retails for €20/$20, and it will debut from publisher Days of Wonder in March 2019 in Europe and in May 2019 in North America.

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  • New Game Round-up: Build Cøpenhagen, Explore Luxor Anew, and Build New Worlds in Minecraft

    by W. Eric Martin

    • Another day, another announcement or seven from one publisher or another, with Queen Games teasing info on three early 2019 releases for now. Let's start with the trendiest title of the bunch: Cøpenhagen, a 2-4 player game from the familiar design duo of Asger Harding Granerud and Daniel Skjold Pedersen that plays in 20-40 minutes.

    Why does this one get the "trendy" tag? Because the game features polyominoes, which seems to be the go-to component for designers and publishers worldwide. That said, I have no idea when Queen signed this design and how long it's been in development. Perhaps Asger can reveal all in a designer diary down the road. For now, here's a summary of the gameplay:

    The Danish city of Cøpenhagen is traversed by canals and harbors, and part of it — "Nyhavn" (New Harbor) — is famous for the colorful gabled houses along the water.

    In the game Cøpenhagen, players must design new façades for these houses so that they fit seamlessly into this beautiful harbor setting. By using the cards on displays, players receive the corresponding façade polyomino tiles, with which they beautify their houses. Overbuilding certain spaces and floors gives them additional skills for the rest of the game. Floors that consist of a pure window front are particularly rewarding and bring the players many points.

    Luxor: The Mummy's Curse, due out in May 2019, is an expansion for Rüdiger Dorn's Luxor, which was nominated for the German Spiel des Jahres award in 2018. Queen is attempting to fund this title on Kickstarter through the end of January 2019 (KS link), and as is the habit with many a Queen title, Luxor: The Mummy's Curse contains multiple modules that can be mixed-and-matched as desired, as well as components to allow up to five players at once. Here's a rundown of the modules:

    —The Mummy: An ancient cursed mummy has woken and is not amused at the adventurers intruding on her temple. Whenever an Osiris card is played by any player, the mummy moves forward as many spaces as the number of eyes on the card. Any adventurer she lands on or passes through falls into a deep slumber and must be woken up by spending an activation. The player controlling the mummy receives Talisman tokens that grant them a one-time special ability.

    —Equipment: Players choose their starting hands from five of seven equipment cards. Once played, the equipment cards are discarded as normal and will be shuffled into the deck. Each equipment card is a variation of the normal movement cards and allows players to choose a starting strategy.

    —New Treasures: A fourth treasure type is added to the game, along with new rules for set collection.

    —Special Adventurers: Each player chooses from one of eight special abilities that are unique to them for the entire game.

    • As you can tell from a glance at the cover, Voll Verwackelt is the Queen title in this batch aimed at young players, and like many such titles from Queen's past, this Wolfgang Dirscherl and Manfred Reindl design has a dexterity element:

    Tim Löwe and his friends have found the tastiest coconuts imaginable, but unfortunately these coveted fruits are growing on a palm tree that stands in the middle of a shaky rock.

    In Voll Verwackelt, players must balance the animals constantly as they move them gently across this unstable rock because only if the balance is kept do you receive coconuts as a reward. Collect the most coconuts by the end of the game, and you win!

    Ravensburger has posted information about the children's games that it plans to release in the first half of 2019, but information about its titles for more general audiences has been scarce so far. Las Vegas Royale appears to be a new edition of Dorn's Las Vegas, which debuted in 2012 from Ravensburger's alea brand, but there's no sign of anything new in this edition other than the title and (possibly) the artwork since nothing has been posted for this release yet.

    • Even less info is available for Minecraft, a 2-4 player game for ages 8+ that plays in 30-60 minutes. All I know now is the brief description below:

    The video game phenomenon comes to your table with the Minecraft board game, in which you try to grab rare resources from your fellow players and avoid getting surprised by monsters like creepers and zombies. Craft your collected resources into new, better gear, and design your personal dream home to secure victory!
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  • Restoration Games to Bring Back Conspiracy at Origins 2019

    by W. Eric Martin

    U.S. publisher Restoration Games, which most recently blew the doors off Kickstarter with its campaign for a new edition of Fireball Island, has announced the next title to be "restored" as part of the company's efforts to revive nostalgic favorites and make them play as well as we think they played at the time: Eric Solomon's Conspiracy. Here's an overview of the gameplay in that design, which first debuted in 1973:

    There are four capitals, four bankbooks, one top secret briefcase and eight greedy spies that anyone can control. The object is to move the briefcase to your headquarters. Players can either secretly pay off or openly move a spy one space on their turn. Each player has an account of $10,000 and can bribe spies in increments of at least $100. If you move a spy, another player may challenge the move. The two players then slowly reveal how much money they each have on the spy in question. If the challenger wins, the move is rescinded. If the defender wins, the move stays and the challenger loses his next turn. Players need to cooperate against whichever player is closest to victory. You can conspire openly to swipe the case or murder a spy and turn the tables on a player who is a mere one space away from winning. No dice, no cards, no luck involved. Learn to work together or games will end in a hurry.

    Conspiracy was released under a number of different titles over the years — Sigma File, Agent, Casablanca — and anyone who's seen the game will recall its distinctive components for the spies:

    The Restoration Games version bears the title Conspiracy: The Solomon Gambit to honor the game's original designer, and it will debut at the 2019 Origins Game Fair in June. In addition to now supporting 3-5 players (instead of 3-4, as was the case with most earlier versions), the game has a few other changes to the game as well, thanks to co-designers Rob Daviau, JR Honeycutt, and Justin D. Jacobson:

    This restored edition offers two new twists on the original gameplay. First, each agent has a unique ability that lets them move an agent or the briefcase for free. Second, an alternate win condition eliminates stalling and potential stalemates. If no one wins within a certain number of turns, Dr. Solomon can end the game immediately, and whoever has paid off the most to him wins the game. However, if you pay off too much to Dr. Solomon early in the game, that can leave you with little control over the other agents, forcing you to strike a tricky balance between immediate and long-term goals.

    Restoration notes that it won't feature the marble busts of the earlier releases, modernizing the game with art by Matt Griffin and spy components that look like this:

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