March 16 2017
Board Game Geek
- New Game Round-up: Stack Rocks in Tuki, Escape Lava in Red Peak, and Claim Land in IwariNext 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?
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...
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- New Game Round-up: Travel Through Middle-earth Again Before Racing Animals in ChinaLord 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.
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!
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- Puerto Rico Expansions Return to Print in April 2019all 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.
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- VideoTime to Expand the Oniverse with Aerion, Then Lift Off for More from Z-Man GamesZ-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.
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:
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:
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.
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- The Rebirth of Rio Grande Games: Underwater Cities, Caravan, Nevada City, and MoreRio 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.
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.
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- New Game Round-up: Build Cities, Collect Spirits, Become Death, and (Above All) Stay Coolour 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:
• Mū 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 Mū, 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.
Mū also contains rules for a solitaire game.
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...
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!
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- Roll for the Galaxy: Rivalry Arrives on Earth in February 2019Rio 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.
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- Pauchon and Days of Wonder Roll from Yspahan to Corinth to Write History 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.
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 MinecraftQueen 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.
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:
Read more »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!
- Restoration Games to Bring Back Conspiracy at Origins 2019Restoration 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:
[twitter=https://twitter.com/RestorationGame/status/10846208129283358...] Read more »
- Designer Diary: Beta Colony, or It All Started with Space Vikings!!!
by Matt RiddleBen Pinchback here, one of the co-designers of Beta Colony. I'll be doing the main writing on this designer diary, with Matt Riddle, Beta Colony's other designer, chiming in with his comments, such as this:
Did you hear the one about the monk who walked into the bar? Ouch!
For real, hey everyone. In this post, Ben spends about five thousand words exploring the journey that brought us to one of our 2018 releases — Beta Colony from Rio Grande Games, with Piepmatz and Fleet: The Dice Game being the other two — and I will pop in randomly to break up the monotony of Ben's prattle.
Also, it is interesting how themes change over time. Each step, we did work to make sure the current theme is integrated and made sense. Even though this game is a Euro, there are thematic elements throughout Beta Colony — even a cool backstory written by our buddy Mike Mullins.
If you've heard of me and Matt up to this point, it's most likely from our card game Fleet from 2012 or from our 2017 post-apocalyptic romp Wasteland Express Delivery Service (a.k.a., WEDS). WEDS is kind of like a sibling to Beta Colony in that they both share the same parent — "Space Vikings!!!". Technically Beta Colony is from "Space Vikings!!! 2.0", as we had dubbed it, so I guess that makes Beta Colony a nephew or niece to WEDS with "Space Vikings!!!" proper being the granddaddy. The "Space Vikings!!!" family tree also includes unpublished sibling "4 Brothers of Love", who begat published cousin Morocco, as well as crazy cousin "Alcazar" and his sister "Wolf and the Fox", both of which have been committed to the shelf of misfit protos.
So why do you care about "Space Vikings!!!" and all of Aegir, God of the Sea's children and grandchildren? Well, you don't and you shouldn't. It's just the long way of explaining where the central idea for Beta Colony — the "Rolldel" — came from. In short form, the Rolldel is a dice rondel. Players use sets of rolled dice in pairs to first move their token around the action circle with one die, then activate the spot with the other die.
But we're getting way ahead of ourselves. To properly explain the Rolldel, we need to start back at the beginning, with the vikings in the Baltic sea when Chief Forkbeard passed on and his five worthless sons were left to carry on his legacy. (We'll soon be getting to voyagers constructing colonization pods on the chosen planet, Victus, I promise.)
Get it? Roll... like dice... plus rondel = Rolldell! Boom. You're welcome. Also, the "Space Vikings!!!" tree is like the Belichick coaching tree: mildly successful, but better in theory than in practice.
Back in the Baltic Sea, the brothers Forkbeard went about their business pillaging and expanding with great abandon, forgetting their roots and also forsaking tribute to Aegir, God of the Sea. Enraged by their behavior, Aegir banished them to space, where they would be forced to work their way back into his good graces on their quest home.
This was 2012, and Matt and I would spend the better part of 3-4 years trying to make this ridiculous premise into an actual functional game. Mechanically it had this cool octagon- and square-patterned modular board with an action-selection player mat and upgradeable ships, but thematically it was a mess. I can't imagine why. Also, if this sounds kind of like Wasteland Express Delivery Service to you, then you've cracked the code — but that was not until waaaaay later.
During this journey, we took a left turn at one point and created "Space Vikings!!! 2.0". We had decided that the Forkbeards needed dice to spice things up and that gameplay needed to be cut down to 60 minutes tops. "Space Vikings!!!" was inherently a pick-up and deliver game, and 2.0 would be the same, but instead of a sprawling modular board, the game would take place on a circular array. Players would use dice to move around the galaxy clockwise in a circle and stop on the different planets to perform actions. Players would use dice in tandem; one selected die would move a player around the circle, and a second selected die would be used to perform the action at that location. The Rolldel had been born!
Even so, the Forkbeards were not doing so well. The pick-up and deliver in a circle was a little too on the nose and lacking in dynamics. Everyone who played the game loved the dice mechanism, but the game as a whole was just not working. And, shockingly enough, the theme wasn't making any sense. But again, everyone loved the dice thing.
The dice thing then went on to spawn a few other games that didn't quite make it to the finish line, crazy cousins "Alcazar" and "Wolf and the Fox" among them, but in the end it became just a cool idea in our tool belt, waiting for the proper time to come out again.
I really liked "Wolf and the Fox", which is still my favorite shelved proto. It even has cute art courtesy of Eric J Carter (the now retired Fleet artist). It is just a simple rolldell game — pick a die, move that many spaces around the rondel and take cards where you land — then later the cards score Ra/Sushi Go-style set stuff. (PWH isn't the only one who can borrow from the good doctor. He just does it way, way better.) Seriously, though, "Wolf and the Fox" is a totally fun 20-30 minute family game, but alas, it just never quite found a home.
In a parallel world, Matt and I traveled to Baltimore in January 2013 to attend our very first Unpub convention. Unpub is an amazing event in which rooms full of designers play their prototypes with the general public, who show up in droves to test these games and give critical feedback. In the winter of 2013, Matt and I were showing off/working on Monster Truck Mayhem (which deserves a Shakespearean tragedy written completely unto itself) and a mid-weight Euro called "Bagan".
"Bagan" used a hex grid, tiles, and a little resource acquisition mechanism to have players control monks building a temple. The tiles had fun powers on them when built, and the tile-laying had a cool double area control type of scoring. Throughout the weekend, players super enjoyed the tile portion of the game but were continually left feeling flat regarding the resource acquisition. It was too direct and didn't feel clever at all. The game needed a slick layer to pair with the fun tile building...
Fun note: The resource acquisition in "Bagan" was the draw mechanism in Fleet Wharfside. Two piles/queues of three cubes (cards in Wharfside) and you can take two but from only one of the piles. I do not honestly know whether it was in Wharfside first or "Bagan" first — but it worked way better in Wharfside.
Matt and I generally don't add more content to "fix" game designs. Our typical pattern is that we start with way too much fun stuff and end up sculpting the final game down like a statue as opposed to building it up from different pieces. "Bagan" was different. It totally worked but was begging for another layer. It was begging for what Matt and I call "The Feld", that is, the first part of most Stefan Feld games, the clever thing you do which then allows you to do the basic Euro stuff later. Think of the mancala in Trajan, the card drafting in Strasbourg, the dice placement in Bora Bora, the dice trick in Macao, the card play in Bruges. All of these slick things define the games they're in, then give way to otherwise familiar Euro mechanisms. "Bagan" had fun, familiar Euro tile-laying, but it needed — say it together now — the Rolldel.
Combining "Bagan" with the Rolldel made perfect sense to us. Once united, the game began to sing and players were having a blast. The puzzle of the dice selection with movement around the circle, then activation coupled with the tile-laying was perfect. We continued to work the game and ended up with three different areas to in which to build, each with a unique rewards track as players level up in those particular areas. Everything was making sense except the theme. We were still monks building a temple, but for some reason...three areas of the temple. We kinda liked the theme though, so we stubbornly stuck with it when we started to pitch the game around 2015-ish.
It was a pretty good theme. We even explored a two-phase mechanism in which an earthquake happens and the second phase builds off the remnants of the first phase. It was interesting and worked and was historically-based as Myanmar is located in an earthquake zone, but it was not salable as it turns out and, in retrospect, not socially something that Ben and I would embark on now. We have learned a lot over the years from our great gamer and Twitter friends about social consciousness and something with the depth and history of this theme should be handled carefully, if at all. Also, yes the monks have guns in that proto.
Matt and I had always dreamed of having a design published with Rio Grande Games. After we got deep into the hobby as players, seemingly half or more of our initial collections were Rio Grande titles — all the huge ports from Europe like Power Grid and Puerto Rico, plus favorite originals like Dominion. Add to that Rio Grande's presence at conventions like Origins and Gen Con, and they always felt like the big leagues to us.
Adding to this dream was the fact that Rio Grande's owner, Jay Tummelson, was always very responsive to Matt's inquiries for meetings at those conventions. We pitched Jay a minimum of twice a summer for years. He had taken some of our games overnight to further evaluate, but we had never reached the finish line with him and his team. Ever persistent, we showed him "Bagan" in the middle of 2015. Jay liked the game enough to keep it overnight and have his team evaluate it. The next morning we came back, and his basic response was "Pretty cool game, but it needs some development. Oh, and it should be in space."
Space monks!!! No, not this time. We'd play it a little more straight this time around, especially since space made total sense in this context. The Rolldel was an orbit around a central body stopping in at the moons, etc., and the tile-laying created different settlements. It was a perfect fit, so we worked on integrating the new theme and changing things around over the next year.
You read that correctly: the next year. A year sounds like a long time, but consider that for a 60-ish minute game, two designers working full-time jobs who get together once a week are getting one, maybe two, reps a week. When you start making changes and need the plays, it just takes time. During this time, we had loose contact with the developer from Rio Grande, Ken Hill, who encouraged us to keep working the changes and bring the game back in 2016 to show Jay and the team.
The summer of 2016 went well. We showed the new game to the Rio Grande team, and they were very excited about it. Ken began his development, and we embarked on another period of testing and changes. Like the sculpture mentioned before, extra tasks and scoring opportunities that we felt were fun got chipped away as Ken and the dev team trimmed the fat. (We had additional contracts to complete that you could pick up at the Ridback and a convoluted auction for player powers.) When as a designer you play some form of a game for the better part of four years, you get really good at it. As you get better, the tendency is to add more and more to keep it challenging, not realizing that you've outpaced your audience. This is why testing at events such as Unpub as well as with the dev team are so important. You get the impressions from real players playing for the first time. Inevitably you end up trimming things out you thought you needed.
I miss the contracts...maybe for an expansion if it sells well? They were basically dice puzzles that you had to complete while doing other things, so you needed to, say, drop off an orange cube at The Ridback with a green die range 4-6. I realize that unless you've played the game that makes no sense, but they were fun — and unneeded for the target audience. But honestly, super fun, at least for me...
Also, I want to piggy back on what Ben said and thank Ken Hill. He did make some great strides on Beta Colony. Originally the tile-laying influence was disappointingly mathy. It was similar to the system in Santiago (tiles • your markers), but you had to do it constantly instead of just at round's end. It worked and added some nice depth, but was work. Turns out not everyone likes doing algebra.
Ken did a great job over that next year working with his testers and going back and forth with us, and we got the game nailed down enough to begin art assets, graphic design, and production talk. A long story short on this effort is to say that this took longer than we expected for Beta Colony. There were some specific challenges with the tiles, colors, the Rolldel, symbology, clarity, the board layout, and tracks that required a couple go-rounds.
To Ken and Rio's credit, they never settled with good enough. When it was determined that the board wasn't going to be usable by most players, they went back and worked it to make it better. The end result is that Beta Colony is a beautiful production with nice, chunky wooden bits and bright colors reinforced with fun symbols. The dice puzzle leading into the tile play has been well received, and we super hope you enjoy it, too. From "Space Vikings!!!" to "Bagan", Forkbeard to the Rolldel, to the marriage of it all on Victus — our new chosen planet to colonize — thanks for reading and enjoy the game.
Yes, thank you to everyone who read this, or even lightly skimmed it, or just read my parts. Consider checking out Beta Colony as it is in retail now. If you ever have any questions, hit us up in the forums or on Twitter because we will always answer. Matt = @mdriddlen, Ben = @pinchback21
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- Game Industry Happenings: Stackpole Resigns from GAMA, Asmodee Buys Something, and Uwe Mölter RetiresMichael Stackpole resigned from the Board of Directors of Game Manufacturers Association, a.k.a. GAMA, a position that he's held for eleven years as an Emeritus member following a three-year term as an elected member. Here's an excerpt from his public resignation letter:
I feel the Emeritus role on the board is a crucial one, since board turnover requires a repository of knowledge so we can avoid the pitfalls of past mistakes, and maintain the benefits of what we have learned in past times.
I regret that I must now tender my resignation from that post.
I have not reached this decision based on any political divide within the Board. I have come to it because the Board is broken. Since June, the board has had more meetings than ever before, and has done less than ever before. In one recent meeting, it took the board 45 minutes to word a resolution empowering a committee to hire a lawyer to negotiate with another lawyer. Three-quarters of an hour, in a meeting scheduled for two hours, which stretched to four.
The board is broken when the organization's membership indicates its will; and then the board commissions a poll to second guess the membership's will. When that poll comes back confirming what the membership wants, the board hires a lawyer to tell them they can ignore the membership.
The board is broken when it, having previously enjoyed robust and detailed discussions about GAMA harassment policies, down to the minutia of the structuring of an investigative team to be in place at our shows, chooses only to censure an officer who physically assaulted a female security guard.
The board is broken when, in wishing to discuss me in email, without my being aware of the chain, they actually send it to a list which includes me. (Thought I'd let you know about that so you didn't think your emails were leaked to me.)
Asmodee buy this time?" slot in these round-ups, we have the news that in January 2019 The Asmodee Group acquired Bezzerwizzer Nordic, which is primarily known for the trivia party game Bezzerwizzer and dozen other titles that bear the "Bezzerwizzer" name, a word derived from the German "Besserwisser", which means "smart aleck" or "know-it-all". An excerpt from the press release announcing the deal:
Established in 2006 by Birgitte and Jesper Bülow, Bezzerwizzer is one of the leading game publishers in the Nordics with its main titles Bezzerwizzer and Hint. Asmodee already distributes both games in Nordic countries.
"We are excited and proud to become part of Asmodee. Having built a strong Nordic position in trivia and party games, we are ready to bring our games to players in other parts of the world as a member of the Asmodee family, who shares our dedication to high quality board games." said Jesper Bülow, Bezzerwizzer Nordics CEO.
Bezzerwizzer becomes Asmodee's 14th studio and brings its expertise in developing successful trivia games with creative developing & marketing teams to the Group.
Asmodee has offices in 18 countries: USA, Canada, France, UK, Germany, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Poland, Chile, Belgium, Brazil, Taiwan and China. The company also relies on 14 publishing studios spread around the world and distributes products in over 50 countries.
Fourteen studios! Many publishers don't even have fourteen games in their catalog...
AMIGO Spiel after spending 25 years at the company as a game editor. Titles he's worked on include Bohnanza, 6 nimmt!, Wizard, and Elfenland. More recently, he brought ICECOOL to AMIGO, where it won the Kinderspiel des Jahres in 2017, and in 2018 he oversaw Krass Kariert, which won the 2018 Fairplay A la Carte award and Tief im Riff, a children's game that was claimed a Spiele Hit award from Austria's Wiener Spieleakademie.
• Netflix is being sued for trademark ingringement by Chooseco, the publishing company that holds the "Choose Your Own Adventure" trademark, over Netflix' use of the term in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch in December 2018. The lawsuit itself doesn't relate to the game industry in any way, but in the legal complaint filed by Chooseco, the company notes that the licensed Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger title from Z-Man Games has "sold over 150,000 units since its launch in June 2018". Thought that sales figure would be interesting to note since Z-Man usually doesn't publicize such things. (HT: Chris Cieslik) Read more »
- Schmidt Spiele Welcomes More Warsch in 2019, with Doppelt So Clever, Herbal Witches for Quacksalber, and The Tavern of the Deep ValleySchmidt Spiele being the next one to do so.
The highlight title for me — and possibly for others — is Die Tavernen im Tiefen Thal, a big box game from Wolfgang Warsch for 2-4 players that plays in 60 minutes. Schmidt struck gold in 2018 with Warsch's Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg, so here's an overview of their second "big box" game together:
In the village of Tiefenthal lies "The Tavern of the Deep Valley". There, all citizens from the area gather, but it's important to attract new, wealthy guests for only then is there enough money to expand the tavern, which will then lure nobles into the tavern as well. But which tavern expansion is best? Should you focus on money? Or rather ensure that the beer will keep flowing?
In Die Tavernen im Tiefen Thal, the challenge is to skillfully choose the dice and develop your personal deck of cards as profitably as possible. The game is structured with five modules so that each player can set their desired level of difficulty.
Okay, we need more gameplay details to know what's going on, and thankfully BGG will be at the Spielwarenmesse fair in February 2019 to record video overviews of this and dozens more upcoming games.
Ganz schön clever, which like Quacksalber was nominated for the Kennerspiel des Jahres in 2018.
Doppelt so clever ("Double so clever") appears to follow the gameplay model of GSC, with the active player rolling dice on their turn up to three times in order to mark off spaces in their scoring sheet, after which everyone else uses one of the dice not chosen by the active player. This new game includes a new action beyond the re-roll and "use one more die" actions of GSC, an action that looks like a block with a backwards arrow on it. My guess would be flipping a die to its reverse face. We'll see...
• Schmidt's "Klein & Fein" line of small dice games has a second entrant in the first half of 2019: Dizzle by Ralf zur Linde, which like Doppelt so clever is for 1-4 players with a 30-minute playing time.
In Dizzle, players draft dice turn by turn during the round, and they need to match what they already have in order to continue drafting. At the end of a round, everyone marks boxes on their scorecard for what they've collected, then a new round begins. More details are needed to see what's going on here.
So typisch! from designers Matteo Cimenti, Carlo Rigon, and Chiara Zanchetta is a 3-8 player co-operative party game "full of stereotypes and clichés", according to the publisher. Each round, a single player decides which item to assign to a person, then everyone else must assess how this player has decided. In the end, players win only if they've made more matches than mistakes.
• Overload is a racing game for 3-5 players from Wolfgang Riedl. At the start of the game, each player decides how many discs to place on their figure. The more discs you have, the more you score! Whenever someone passes you during the race, you add another disc to your figure — but if you collect too many discs, then you go out of control and need to start the lap again...
• Ratto Zakko is the one Drei Magier Spiele title in the batch, with Schmidt distributing this brand, and this Jacques Zeimat title for 2-8 players seems right in line with his brand of game design:
Ratto Zakko features fast food for gourmets — but hopefully you can grab the right dishes, despite the changing colors of the hoods that hide the dishes, the rancid cheese or rotten eggs that might await there, and the darn fly that keeps showing up when you least expect it! Who can grab the most delicacies?
• Finally, let's end where we began — with Wolfgang Warsch and Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg, more specifically with the Die Kräuterhexen expansion that adds components for a fifth player, more ingredient books, a new "fool's herb", and the introduction of herbal witches for more variety.
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- Prepare Yourself for Paint, Pearls, Pets, Proving Grounds, and Puffy Dice in Early 2019Super Meeple, which to date has focused on new edition of older games, has given details of its first original release: Couleurs de Paris (Colors of Paris) from first-time designer Nicolas de Oliviera. Here's a teaser of the setting and gameplay, with this game due out in May/June 2019:
You are a painter, and you've decided to participate in "Bateau Lavoir", a friendly competition between several painters in a workshop in Montmartre, Paris. The newspapers know about this challenge, so perhaps this is a good opportunity to become famous, following the path of Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet, or Renoir...
Couleurs de Paris is a management game in which you must take care of your paint tubes, mixtures, and time to create works, all the while anticipating others to perform as needed within a rotating set of actions.
ABACUSSPIELE has a number of licensed titles for release in the first half of 2019 — Roberto Fraga's Crazy Eggz, a new Deckscape "escape room" card game — as well as the new card game Pearls from designers Christian Fiore and Knut Happel. Here's an overview of this game for 2-6 players:
In Pearls, players dive for valuable pearls, then try to sell them at local markets. You either collect or score pearl cards of the same color (and value) on your turn. Cards with higher value score more points, but are less common. Pearls with lower value may seem weaker at first, but if you score a larger quantity of cards at once, you receive a necklace card with bonus points, if available. With a hand limit of ten cards, however, this requires clever hand management and timing.
At the end of the game, all pearl and necklace cards in your scoring piles score positive points and any cards left in your hand score minus points. The player with the highest total score wins.
Renegade Game Studios will launch its "Solo Hero Series" with Kane Klenko's Proving Grounds, which includes both a novella by Monica Valentinelli to introduce its hero and the game itself, which takes place in a gladiatorial setting. This solitaire design consists of a training game as well as six mix-and-match modules that can be used individually or in any combination.
• Wooden cubes can represent many different things in games, and in Kibble Scuffle — due out in April 2019 from Keegan Acquaotta, Jennifer Graham-Macht, Scott Gratien, Jesse Haedrich, and WizKids — they become cat food, which makes perfect sense to me as my cats' food does indeed resemble cubic nuggets. As for gameplay:
Kibble Scuffle is a tactical card game of area control to try to get the best food for your feline friends. With cards like the Robo-Vac and Laser Pointer, you can use toys to strategically distract your opponent's cats. Using the game box as a cat food box to store the food cubes, players take turns placing their cats and resolving their abilities. For example, the Pounce Cat removes a cat at a bowl. The Greedy Cat eats two food cubes. The Mangy Cat forces another cat to move away from their bowl. Once five cats are at any food bowl, the feeding (scoring) phase begins, followed by a new round.
Once a player reaches 20 points, the player with the most value of food cubes eaten at the end of the feeding phase wins.
• Smash City is a design from Stephen Avery and WizKids currently due out in March 2019 in which 2-4 players roll large foam dice in order to knock over buildings and spread poisonous gas throughout the city. Each of the four kaiju characters in the game include unique special powers.
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- Forget Polyominoes! It's Time for Polycube Games Instead!Mitsuo Yamamoto has released many abstract strategy designs through his Logy Games brand, with most of the games including handmade ceramic or wood components.
For those who argue that Kickstarter is intended to bring to life games that might not exist otherwise, Yamamoto's creations provide an interesting case study. His most recent five projects have raised $1,400-$4,300 in support from a few dozen backers, so they're not putting up big numbers — yet because the games are handmade, you can't argue that they exist solely thanks to Kickstarter. These games would have existed anyway, but with 40-80 fewer copies being made and sold. Kickstarter is as much a store for Yamamoto as it is for CMON Limited, yet on a far smaller scale, so do the arguments against CMON using Kickstarter hold equally true for Yamamoto, and if not, why?
In any case, in December 2018 Yamamoto ran a KS (link) for Dubai Race, a game for at least two players, with copies due out in Q1 2019. Each copy of the game comes with two colors of components, with each set of components containing 10 hexagonal tiles and 10 "building units" composed of 1-4 cubes; as long as the tiles and building units can be distinguished by color, you can have any number of players participate in the same game.
To start the game, players take turns laying out their tiles in a contiguous shape, then they take turns placing one of their building units on one of their tiles until everything has been placed. They then take turns rebuilding the shared city. Specifically, you take a building that's yours — that is, one that has your color on top — then move that building in one of the six available directions until you can place it on top of a higher building.
If you topple anything, you're out of the game; if you can't move, you must retire, but your pieces remain in play. After all players have toppled something or retired, whoever owns the tallest building wins.
ACTOP (short for "Ancient Construct Tower of Philosopher") will be released in the U.S. in 2019 by Winning Moves Games under the name KOZO.
In the game, which can be played co-operatively, competitively, or solitaire, players take turns placing one of the twelve polycubes — which are constructed from 3-6 cubes — on a central tower that has a 3x3 grid. No parts of a polycube maybe placed outside that grid or over the central square. After placing a polycube, a player has to place a tiny "balance" cube on one of the horizontal faces, thereby blocking that space from play.
Adam Spanel's Project L was crowdfunded (KS link) in October 2018 by Czech publisher Boardcubator for release in October 2019. In this game for 1-4 players, you start with a single piece, take various actions to complete one of the mini-puzzles on display, which then gets you your pieces back along with one bonus piece. As the game progresses, you can solve multiple puzzles at once.
The sample pieces shown in the prototypes below don't look like proper polycubes, but rather polycubes sawed in half. Ideally the finished production will include beefier blocks.
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- VideoSuburbia Gets Supersized for a Collector's Edition in 2019Bézier Games released the tile-laying, city-building game Suburbia from Ted Alspach, with the title winning a Mensa Select award in 2013, then being boosted by expansions such as Suburbia Inc and Suburbia 5★.
Now Bézier is getting a jump on SPIEL '19 plans by announcing the October 2019 release of Suburbia: Collector's Edition, which will include the original base game, the two expansions mentioned above, the Essen SPIEL and Con Tiles mini-expansions, and a new "Nightlife" expansion that features "buildings and locations that are more active in the evening hours and dramatic nighttime artwork".
The entire game has been redesigned with 3D artwork by Brett Stebbins, which will be featured on larger game tiles that will be housed in a tile tower that's integrated into a Game Trayz market layout. This edition retails for $100, and Bézier Games plans to run a Kickstarter campaign for it sometime in 2019.
I've asked about the availability of the "Nightlife" tiles outside of this edition, and Bézier's Ally Gold says, "There is currently no plan of releasing Nightlife on its own. I would not say never but definitely not anytime soon."
If you're unfamiliar with Suburbia, here's a summary: Each turn, you buy a tile from the market and add it to your borough. Each tile has a cost on it and an additional cost ($0-10) is added based on the position of the tile in the marketplace. As tiles are purchased from the cheap side of the market, other tiles slide into those slots — which means you can spend big for a tile that you really want or hope that others will push it up so that you can buy it for less later.
Some tiles give you a one-time income boost, while others raise the income you receive each turn; some tiles boost your population on a one-shot basis, while others increase your town's reputation, which will keep your population rising turn by turn. Placing tiles adjacent to one another might give you bonuses or penalties based on what they are — factories shouldn't go next to houses! — while other locations are affected by tiles anywhere in your borough, or even in other player's boroughs. In the end, the player with the highest population wins.
For more details, you can check out this overview video I recorded in 2012, apparently while attempting to impersonate Nicolas Cage:
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- Designer Diary: Show & Tile
by Isaac ShalevMatt Loomis and I try to get together for a weekend to design games. Between our spouses, kids, and dogs, it's not easy to get some peace and quiet. To make it worse, Matt and I don't live near one another. I live in Connecticut, near New York City, and Matt lives in the Chicago area. Truth is, aside from conventions, our one design weekend a year is the only time we get to spend time together in person.
In 2017, Matt came over in February. My family cleared out of the house for the weekend, and Matt and I got to work on the games we wanted bring to Unpub for testing. That's the annual cycle: In October we start getting momentum on new ideas, and right around the beginning of the year they come together. We whip them into shape for public playtesting at Unpub in March and get them ready to pitch at the summer conventions like Origins and Gen Con.
Matt and I were hard at work. We bounced between a few games: a game about raiding and trading inspired by Liar's Dice got on the table, and after a while we switched over to a mancala game about rain and crops. We kept hitting a wall with each game. That's normal, but it doesn't mean it's not frustrating. At some point we decided to take a break.
And that's when I pulled out Tangoes. Matt had grown up playing with tangrams, but my first introduction to them was when I was a freshman in college. There was a copy of Tangoes in my college dorm's common room. Tangoes features two sets of tangrams in two different colors and a deck of silhouette shapes that can be made from one set of tiles. The case has a slot that serves as a card stand. You place the card in the slot, and two players race to find the solution. Folks were absolutely cutthroat about it and played all the time. I had fond memories of working my way up from a novice player to an expert, capable of hanging even with the masters of the game, the architecture students.
Matt and I played for a bit, and as we played we started wondering whether a different kind of game could be made from these tiles. We soon realized that as much fun as it is to puzzle out how to assemble an image, it was even more fun to make your own pictures. Right then we decided that we would find a great game buried in this four-thousand-year-old Chinese puzzle.
With the seed of this idea of using tangrams in a more free-form way, I ordered a bucket of tangrams in different colors from an educational supplier and raided my Codenames for a bunch of word cards. Matt and I decided that each player would get two sets of tiles in two different colors. This was the first key iteration to the game. We decided to call the game "Tell-A-Gram" and to keep our ears open for something better.
At Dreamation, a playtesting convention held by the fine folks who run Envoy, I showed this germ of a game to other designers and to playtesters. I knew there was something fun in here, but I wasn't sure how to make it shine. My early artwork efforts were not promising.
Peter C. Hayward, founder of Jellybean Games, was one of the people to see the game, and he was immediately hooked. He made the second key suggestion, which was to not just give players two sets of tiles in two colors, but to make each tile have two colors: one on one side, one on the other. I went home that night and glued 32 set of tangram tiles (224 tiles in total) back-to-back to bring that idea to life.
While people were starting to get the hang of the game, it was clear that Codenames cards weren't going to cut it. Too many words weren't really suitable, and players were getting frustrated. Fortunately, the Dreamation community is generous and supportive, and I ran into a designer I knew, Zintis May-Krumins, who had a prototype on hand of a cave-painting game. That game included a stack of cards with a few nouns per card, and Zintis let me borrow them to run the game. (Zintis' game, Cave Paintings, was published by R&R games at the end of 2018!) This was another big moment in the game's development as allowing players to select from a few different words on a card helped give players more choices and a greater sense of ownership of their creations.
It was clear, coming out of Dreamation, that we had a fun game on our hands. Now it was time to get to work. What was the best list of words? Which were easy to make and which were hard? We tried lots of variations and kept showing the game off wherever we could. Peter reached out to let us know that Jellybean Games would be interested in publishing the design, and Nicole Perry, the operations expert at Jellybean, started sourcing components, getting quotes and imagining all the product features.
One bittersweet moment from this time period was the addition of the playmats. The mat that comes with the game is an incredible work of design. You can basically give someone the mat, and it teaches them to play in moments — but I'll confess that one of the experiences I most enjoyed about the game had to be left on the cutting room floor.
As you can tell from the photos, seeing the sculpture in the right orientation is critical. But before there were playmats, which allow an artist to easily rotate their work, players would grab a piece of paper and a pen and walk around the table. Players were like art critics or gallery-goers, examining each piece of art in its proper orientation, making appreciative or puzzled comments, then jotting a guess down on their papers before walking over to examine the next piece. This was kind of a pain, and players don't typically like to have to get out of their seats during gameplay. For this game, however, it felt really thematic.
Today, that element is gone from the game, and instead we have these awesome playmats. The whole way we got to them was an accident: While setting up to show off Show & Tile — more on that name below — at the Connecticut Festival of Indie Games, I realized I hadn't brought a tablecloth. Next door was a dollar store, so I ducked in, hoping to find something I could use. There were some plastic tablecloths that were too flimsy and a gingham vinyl tablecloth that I thought would be too distracting to serve as a background — but then I spotted some black placemats!
When I laid out the tiles on the placemats, I really liked how it looked. People started taking more pictures of their artwork because of how nicely they were framed — and what was especially cool was that players could now rotate their artwork to make it easier for other players to guess.The playmat makes it possible to play the game more easily in situations with less room to move about and with players who have limited mobility. Its accessibility convinced me that this was the right way forward for the game.
Shortly after that, I went to Chicago to see Matt and we visited Ben Rosset's playtesting night. There, we played a new prototype called Black Hole Council, from Don Eskridge, the designer of The Resistance. A bit intimidated by the high-octane group, we nonetheless pulled out our game. It was a hit! We had worked out the scoring system by then, which gave points to players for guessing right, but also incentivized players to create artwork that others would guess. We had also stabilized the overall turn structure, settling on four rounds for the game length. At the end of the successful playtest, everyone was excited about the game...but not the name "Tell-A-Gram". Fortunately, a very creative player suggested "Show & Tile", and we immediately knew we had a new title.
All of us worked really hard over the next few months. We playtested all the different words and added new ones. Peter suggested that we make additional word packs that were based on categories, and we started adding more words to those lists, eventually developing four category packs. Tania Walker developed our iconic logo and box as well as the scoring pad and playmat that made the game easy to teach and play.
In all, hundreds of people were involved in creating, designing, playtesting, printing and shipping Show & Tile. More than any other title of ours, Show & Tile was designed out in the open, through public playtesting and crowdsourcing, and our jobs were to curate and edit as much as to invent. Tangrams are themselves an ancient Chinese puzzle, and humans have been enjoying them forever. We're excited to share this newest way to enjoy tangrams with you today.
Isaac Shalev Read more »
- Prime Yourself for Trick-Taking Challenges with Yokai Septet and Mit List und TückeYokai Septet is a new version of the little-known trick-taking game 7 Symbols, and 7 Nations from designer Muneyuki Yokouchi, which first appeared in early 2015 from Japanese publisher Takamagahara and was re-released in late 2015 as セブン (Seven) from Yirli'kumde.
Yes, two editions in the same year! Those JP publishers move quickly, and it often (far too often) seems like nothing sticks around in print, but if you wait another year or two, maybe you'll get another shot at yet another new edition. Sure, you might have wanted the artwork in an earlier one, but shopping at Game Market in Tokyo is akin to buying from one of those Art-o-mat vending machines: You just need to put in your money and take what you're given because the slots might be empty the next time you visit.
In any case, Ninja Star Games released Yokai Septet in December 2018 following a Kickstarter funding campaign in May 2018. The game is played with three individual players or with four players in teams of two. The game has a unique deck of 49 cards in which the cards are in seven suits with one suit going 1-7, the next 2-8, and so on up to the final suit of 7-13. Thus, the deck has seven 7s in it, and in general you're trying to capture the most 7s while playing by standard trick-taking rules. (One card remains after you deal cards out to players, and that card determines the trump suit; you must follow the suit of the lead card in the trick, if possible.)
You must keep won tricks separate from one another, and you turn captured 7s face up so that everyone knows who has what. The game ends when a team has captured four 7s (winning the round), when a team has captured seven tricks without capturing four 7s (losing the round), or when the final trick is taken (with the team taking this trick winning the round). You can play best two-out-of-three or use a point system that leads to a longer game.
Mit List und Tücke from Klaus Palesch. This game first appeared in 1999 from German publisher Berliner Spielkarten, and now nearly two decades later it's seen a new edition: 知略悪略, which possibly translates as "Intelligent Strategy" from Japanese publisher Suki Games. Here's an overview of the gameplay:
Mit List und Tücke ("With Cunning and Treachery") is a trick-taking game with quite a few twists. The deck consists of cards in four suits, and the deck is adjusted based on the player count so that everyone receives a hand of 14 cards to begin a round. At the start of a trick, the lead player plays any card, setting trump for that trick. Each other player plays any card that they like — except that once three colors of cards have been played, the fourth color cannot be played. Whoever plays the highest trump card wins the trick and collects two of the cards played (or three cards in a game with five or six players), placing these cards in front of them. Whoever plays the lowest non-trump card collects the remaining cards; this player leads to the next trick.
Once a player has cards of all four colors in front of them, they must choose two colors and leave cards of this color face up, placing all other cards face down. As they collect more cards, they place them face up or face down based on their colors. The round ends after 14 tricks or when a player would be forced to play a card of the fourth color to a trick; in this latter case, the round ends immediately. Each player then scores the cards they've collected. For their two face-up colors, they multiply these numbers together; they then divide this product by the number of cards that they placed face down, rounding this number down. For example, if you have 6 yellow cards, 4 red cards, and 2 blue cards, then you have (6 • 4)/2 = 12 points. If you collect cards of only one color, then you score 0 points!
Play as many rounds as the number of players. Whoever has the highest total score wins!
Prime Number Lv.0 from designers Fukutarou and Shin'ichiro Seki and publisher Fukuroudou is a climbing game in which you care only about ridding your hand of cards, but to do that you must create prime numbers from those cards. An overview:
Read more »Shuffle the deck, then deal ten cards to each player. The leader plays any prime number from a combination of 1-3 cards (see below), then in clockwise order, players may pass or play a larger prime number than the most recently played prime using the same number of cards as the leader. (A player can optionally draw a card from the deck prior to playing.) The round continues until no player wants to play. The last player who played a valid number leads the next round. If you get rid of all cards in your hand, you win the round and whoever first wins two rounds wins the game.
To play a prime number, take 1-3 cards from your hand and arrange them to create a single number by using all the digits on those cards. If the number is prime, your play is valid. For example, if playing "3" and "5", you may arrange their order and play them only as "53" because "35" is not a prime number. To play three cards, all of the cards must have single digits on them (so you can't use "10" or "12") and at least one of the cards must feature a "play three" icon.
- Travel with Trek and Trip Through Time with Looney Labs, Then Head from Portugal to Mars Courtesy of Vital LacerdaLooney Labs, two of which will strike a familiar chord with fans of the publisher.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Fluxx, due out in the first half of 2019, follows the release of Star Trek Fluxx and Star Trek: The Next Generation Fluxx in mid-2018. Those latter two titles could be combined with the Bridge expansion, but it's not clear yet whether DS9 Fluxx can be bolted on to one or another of those titles — not that it will stop people from trying, of course. Here's teaser text for this release from the publisher: "Work alongside Benjamin Sisko, Quark, Jadzia Dax, Worf and all your other favorite space station personnel while you try to gather Gold-Pressed Latinum and study The Wormhole — but watch our for nasty Surprises and Creepers like the Founders and the Jem'Hadar."
• Star Trek pops up again in ChronoTrek, which is scheduled to debut at Gen Con 2019 in August. Anyone who has played Andy Looney's Chrononauts will find the gameplay familiar in this release, although everything else will differ. An overview:
In ChronoTrek, a time-travel game similar to Chrononauts but set in the Star Trek universe, each player becomes a Star Trek character with a unique identity and a secret mission. During the game, players travel backwards and forwards through history, doing all those things people have always dreamed of using time travel to do: Visiting the great moments of the past, peeking into the future, collecting up artifacts, coming to grips with the paradoxes of time travel, and of course, changing pivotal events and altering the course of history itself.
Explore the history (and alternate history!) of the entire Star Trek universe in this version of Chrononauts. Try to alter history to restore your specific timeline! Maybe you need to ensure that the Federation gets founded, or just retrieve the Orb of Time and some tea. Earl Grey. Hot.
Time Breaker is another Andy Looney design involving time travel, but as far as I know it's not related to a previous release. Here's an overview of this 2-5 player game that takes 5-30 minutes to play:
In Time Breaker, you work for the security division of the Time Repair Agency. A Time Breaker has gotten loose, and you must apprehend them before they do any serious damage to the space-time continuum. Soon they will begin closing down the time doorways we need to use to pursue them. The agent who brings in this perp will get a promotion, and thus win. Quick everybody, into the time machine!
• Funforge has signed deals with Roxley to release French versions of Brass: Lancashire and Brass: Birmingham and with Awaken Realms to release a French version of Nemesis. Expect this trio of big boxes to hit the market in Q2 2019.
Eagle-Gryphon Games has also dropped an overview of its release schedule for 2019 — well, a schedule for its Kickstarter projects anyway as everything coming from EGG seems to pass through KS first. Vital Lacerda's Railways of Portugal, an expansion for Railways of the World, is on KS until Jan. 20, 2019 (link), and his standalone game On Mars hits KS on April 18, 2019, with art by the ever-awesome Ian O'Toole. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:
In 2025, the first settlers arrived on Mars! The base camp was already settled and now, during the next fifty years, a group of very brave people from private space exploration companies are establishing a major colony ruled by a terrestrial organization, the OMDE (Organization for Mars Development and Exploration).
As a chief astronaut from a private space exploration company, you want to be a pioneer in developing the biggest, most advanced colony on Mars, achieving the OMDE mission goals as well as your company's hidden agenda. By bringing in and managing settlers, you can explore, mine, build, power, and upgrade buildings. You will lead the construction and assembly of greenhouse farms, water compounds, O₂ factories, power generators, and mines. The goal of humanity on this new planet is to learn how to value water, air and the the things we need to live more than money — and in the end, become a self-sufficient colony independent of any terrestrial organization. Do you dare to take part in mankind's next biggest conquest?
Tom Lehmann's card game The City, with new art by João Tereso. In some ways you might wonder whether the audience for this 2011 release will still be there, but in reality the potential audience for this game is primarily all the new people who have joined the hobby in the intervening eight years.
• Following that, on March 7, 2019 comes a KS for Age of Steam: Deluxe Edition, which has graphics anew by Ian O'Toole, six maps (including the original "Rust Belt" map from the game's 2002 debut), and a contentious publication history.
To summarize seventeen years of AoS design disputes in a few lines: Age of Steam appeared in three printings from Martin Wallace's Warfrog Games in "May 2002, October 2002 and November 2004", according to John Bohrer of Winsome Games, with Martin Wallace's name on the cover. (Two years earlier, Bohrer had claimed that a "Winsome edition of Age of Steam" also existed. This statement appears to refer to a prototype/development copy sold or given to some Winsome customers at SPIEL '01, with this item being depicted by Mik Svellov here.) Wallace claimed that Warfrog had paid Winsome "to do development work on the game", which meant that Warfrog owned the material, while Bohrer has claimed "the rules are Copyright J. Bohrer 2002, 2004" as noted on the rulebooks themselves. Eagle-Gryphon Games released a new edition of Age of Steam in 2009 with no designer credit on the front of the box, and Wallace was upset that this edition existed, regarding this edition as "stolen property".
The cover shown below, verified by both EGG and artist Ian O'Toole, is the final cover of this edition of the game and does not feature a designer credit, as on the previous edition.
• Finally, for now, in May 2019 EGG will Kickstart a second edition of Richard Launius' Defenders of the Realm.
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- AMIGO Welcomes 2019 with Bulls, Llamas, Dwarves, and Multiplication
AMIGO Spiele always shoots out its press release right at the start of the year, so in the spirit of first come, first served, here's some of what they'll feature, with all of its titles listed here on BGG's early 2019 con preview.
Wolfgang Kramer's 6 nimmt! has been around for 25 years, and to celebrate the anniversary AMIGO has a new special edition of the game — 6 nimmt! 25 Jahre — that includes 28 special action cards. If you're like me, you'll immediately wonder why it has 28 extra cards instead of 25. C'mon, people! If you're like other people, you might think that the inclusion of special action cards in a game as streamlined as 6 nimmt! makes no sense. And if you're like still other people, you might like the sound of the new variant included at the end of this description:
In 6 nimmt!, you want to score as few points as possible. To play, you shuffle the 104 number cards, lay out four cards face-up to start the four rows, then deal ten cards to each player. Each turn, players simultaneously choose and reveal a card from their hand, then add the cards to the rows, with cards being placed in ascending order based on their number; specifically, each card is placed in the row that ends with the highest number that's below the card's number. When the sixth card is placed in a row, the owner of that card claims the other five cards and the sixth card becomes the first card in a new row.
In addition to a number from 1 to 104, each card has a point value. After finishing ten rounds, players tally their score and see whether the game ends., i.e., whether someone has at least 66 points. When this happens, the player with the fewest points wins!
6 nimmt! works with 2-10 players, and the dynamics of gameplay change the more players that you have. One variant for the game has you use 34 cards, 44 cards, 54 cards, etc. (instead of all 104 cards) when you have three, four, five, etc. number of players. This change allows you to know which cards are in play, thereby allowing you to track which cards have been played and (theoretically) make better choices as to which card to play when.
6 nimmt! 25 Jahre includes 28 additional cards to be used in a new variant. The game now lasts only two rounds, and at the start of play each player receives three special cards. Just before you have to place your number card in a row, you can choose to play one of your cards, with these cards opening a fifth row, moving a previously placed card to a different row, inserting one card between two others, allowing up to six cards in a row instead of five, blocking a row, replacing the card you played, and more.
After all number cards have been played, players tally their scores, keeping any unplayed special cards, then shuffle the number cards and begin a new round. At the end of the second round, whoever has the fewest points wins.
Reiner Knizia's LAMA — supposedly an acronym for "Lege Alle Minuspunkte Ab", or "Drop off all the minus points" — is another small box card game, something that AMIGO has specialized in for decades. This game is for 2-6 players, ages 8 and up, and plays like so:
In LAMA, you want to dump cards from your hand as quickly as you can, but you might not be able to play what you want, so do you quit and freeze your hand or draw and hope to keep playing?
Each player starts a round with six cards in hand; the deck consists of llama cards and cards numbered 1-6, with eight copies of each. On a turn, the active player can play a card, draw a card, or quit. To play a card, you must play the same number as the top card of the discard pile or one number higher. If a 6 is on the discard pile, you can play a 6 or a llama, and if a llama is on top, you can play another llama or a 1. If you quit, you place your remaining cards face down and take no further actions in the round.
The round ends when one player empties their hand or all players have quit. In either case, players collect tokens based on the cards in front of them, whether in hand or on the table. Each different number card in hand gets you one white token (worth 1 point) while one or more llamas gets you a black token (worth 10 points). If you played all your cards, you can return one token that you previously collected to the supply. You then shuffle all the cards and begin a new round.
The game ends the round that at least one player has forty or more total points. Whoever has the fewest points wins!
Hochspannung, which translates as "High Voltage", is a 2-6 player card game that plays in 20 minutes and that you could have possibly guessed was designed by Maureen Hiron based solely on the description below:
Try to rid yourself of cards quickly in Hochspannung! Distribute the deck evenly among all the players, then lay out one card face up to start the discard pile. Each player takes four cards from the personal deck in hand, and they can draw more cards from it at any time — which may or may not be helpful.
Each card shows a multiplication problem in its center, along with two individual digits in each corner. When the game begins, each player races to complete the multiplication problem on the top card in the discard pile, e.g. 6x9, then play a card on it that has in its corner a number that matches either the first or second digit of the product, in this case 5 or 4. This newly played card has a multiplication problem of its own, and someone will play a matching card on it, etc. Whoever plays all the cards in their hand and personal deck first wins.
Real-time pattern recognition is a hallmark of Hiron's recent designs, and I enjoy her visit to the BGG booth each SPIEL to demonstrate her latest twists on this style of game.
Fréderic Moyersoen's Saboteur: The Lost Mines, which is for 3-9 players and which transforms the spirit of the fifteen-year-old Saboteur card game into something new:
Saboteur: The Lost Mines is a board game inspired by the famous Saboteur card game. While it uses ideas of the basic game, the expansion, and the two-player game, it is also very different.
In this game, players are divided in two clans; each clan contains loyal dwarves, selfish dwarves, and a saboteur, secretly working for the opposite clan. Players have their own pawn, and the dwarves must move over the paths in order to physically reach the four goal cards, one of which contains a sleeping dragon that you don't want to wake, so try to avoid that one, if possible. The (non-dragon) goal cards yield a variable number of points, depending on the displayed, but secret, treasure cards.
Sabotage isn't performed against a specific player, but directly on the board by playing blocking path cards or adding tokens. In this way, the sabotage affects always all players, including yourself. As opposed to Saboteur: The Duel, path cards you play don't have to be linked to your own start card, which offers many more sabotage options. Even so, no player is ever out of the game, either temporarily or permanently.
Be sure to check out this blog again in 2029 for a look at Saboteur: 25 Jahre...
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