Gaming News and Notes

Dig for Coins, Search for Cities, Remember Things, and Drop Stuff in KOSMOS' Early 2018 Line-Up

Board Game News - 12 hours 34 min ago

by W. Eric Martin

German publisher KOSMOS has already announced one title it's releasing in 2018: Catan: Der Aufstieg der Inka, from Klaus and Benjamin Teuber, which is due out in July 2018. Now it's revealed the rest of its line-up in early 2018, with most of these titles due out in February or March.

Rüdiger Dorn's Mercado is a big box game due out in March with a confusing description:

Welcome to the market of beautiful things! As well-to-do citizens in Mercado, gamers wander around the stalls, always on the lookout for special items to enhance their reputation. Noble shawls, elegant jewelry, or golden trophies — with such a selection, the decision is difficult. But those who do not carry matching coins can also be unlucky because the other players have the same goal and might grab the valuable items from under your nose.

In more detail, different market stalls, each with one product, are laid out as panels in the center of the table. Each player has a personal bag containing different coins. On a turn, you draw three coins from it blind and place them at the market tables of your choice. If a player has paid all the necessary coins of a product, they receive the board and thereby increase their reputation. Some tablets bring extra privileges or seals, others bring counterfeit money that might wander into a bag. Who can buy the most valuable goods?

Wait, we pull money blindly from our bags to pay for things that we've already chosen? A press-your-luck mechanism like that seems odd in a Dorn game; why don't I get to stack my coins, then lay them out in an adjacent configuration? BGG will be at the Spielwarenmesse trade fair in Nürnberg at the start of February 2018, and we have an appointment with KOSMOS to record game overviews, so we'll learn more about the game then and share it with you afterwards. (Possibly we will learn that I've done a terrible job translating the German description. We'll see!)

• KOSMOS is refreshing Reiner Knizia's two-player masterpiece Lost Cities yet again with a new look, but it's also releasing Lost Cities: The Board Game in German for the first time. (This title was originally available only from Rio Grande Games in the U.S., whereas KOSMOS had released the similar but not identical Keltis, which won the Spiel des Jahres in 2009 and led to the release of many Keltis spin-offs.)

• In addition to those two titles, in March 2018 Knizia and KOSMOS will release the two-player-only Lost Cities: To Go, which may or may not be one of those Keltis spin-offs in new garb. The current description is vague enough to make things unclear:

Lost Cities has been around for ages, and now you can travel these expeditions in a handy portable format, with you once again needing to forge paths across the Himalayas, along volcanoes, under water, and through the rainforest or the desert — but beware of bandits who make for surprising turns!

Each step you take in Lost Cities: To Go requires a tile in the color of the chosen expedition, but you can place tiles only if they're of the same value or higher than what's been placed previously. Only by finding the right mix of tiles will you stay in front and win.

• Knizia's work is also present in a new series of games from KOSMOS titled "Brain To Go", which somewhat suggests that if you play these games, your brain will go bye-bye, but which instead are meant to reassure you that you can strengthen your brain's abilities with a small travel game. All three games in the series are memory games, with Knizia's Gans schön verdächtig ("Pretty Suspicious Goose") challenging you to recall characteristics of burglars, Maureen Hiron's Der lila Wal ("The Purple Whale") challenging you to match the color or type of hidden sea creatures, and Dirk Baumann's Schwein oder nicht Schwein challenging you to remember the contents of your backward-facing hand of cards.

Machi Koro Fussball takes the familiar Machi Koro game from Masao Suganuma and changes the setting, with players now being investors who build stadiums, training centers, clubhouses, and more to profit from the upcoming World Cup tournament being held in your town.

• KOSMOS always seems to have one abstract-ish design in its offerings every six months, and the early 2018 offering is Drop It from Bernhard Lach and Uwe Rapp. At first glance the game resembles Kris Burm's Batik, but the game is a multi-round attrition of pieces as you try to force your opponent to play something that sticks outside the playing area. Drop It is doing something else with a similar set-up:

Circles, triangles, squares and diamonds: Drop It is about letting go, with the pieces you drop landing somewhere in the vertical game board, ideally where they'll score the most points, but the tiles bounce around and don't always land where you expect them to!

In more detail, each turn the active player drops one of their pieces into the slot of the game board. The player scores points for the highest level that the piece touches and for any special locations that it touches, but if the piece touches anything of the same shape or color, then you score nothing! What's more, certain pieces are forbidden at certain spots on the edge of the playing area.

The Drop It rulebook includes variant rules for simpler play or more variety from game to game.

• The escape room trend is still going at KOSMOS, with the intermediate level EXIT: Das Spiel – Die unheimliche Villa due out in March 2018 and the beginner level EXIT: Das Spiel – Das mysteriöse Museum due out in May.

• As best as I can tell, Grzegorz Rejchtman's Ubongo Solo is not a game, but a collection of 546(!) logic puzzles that use 45 polygonal pieces from Ubongo, Ubongo extrem, and Ubongo Trigo and 50 double-sided task cards to challenge the solo solver, starting in March 2018.
Categories: Gaming News and Notes

Kickstarter Preview—Rambo: The Board Game

Purple Pawn - Sun, 01/21/2018 - 22:49

It’s Rambo. It’ll have miniatures. For many people, that nostalgic excitement will be enough. Frankly, that was all I needed to volunteer for this preview. But the question, of course, is will the final Rambo: The Board Game product live up to the expectations of potential backers?

I, at least, expected a miniatures combat game. And while fighting is certainly the focus of the game’s mechanics, I was pleasantly surprised to find it more a cooperative adventure game. In fact, the highlight for me was how well the game differentiates and personalizes the individual characters—including Rambo himself—which players adopt to complete various missions. Successfully achieving objectives is not just a matter of plunging forward shooting at enemy soldiers. Instead, it requires players to coordinate and make use of their heroes’ unique talents.

Another nice aspect of the game is the scenarios, which not only advance the story but also provide players further development for their selected characters. As each scenario is completed, the players are afforded additional choices of gear and tactics.

In terms of gameplay, I particularly appreciated the individual “alert meters” and other features that focus players on keeping their heroes hidden from the enemy while moving about the board. Also special is the more cinematic approach that the game takes to combat. There are no dice or other random factors. If someone shoots, they hit.

Finally, though Rambo: The Board Game requires players to track a fair amount of detail among character skills, stances, tactics, and gear, plus a variety of enemy units, each type with its own programmed battlefield actions, the structure of the game and most of the rules are pretty straightforward. I rarely play this kind of game, yet one quick read through the rulebook was all I needed.

Still, my generally positive experience with Rambo: The Board Game comes with a significant caveat. The game I played was a prototype. Though I’ve seen much worse even in published games, the rules to this one are still rough around the edges. Some ambiguities and language issues remain. The graphics and design will improve, I’d hope. More scenarios should be added (the prototype only had three). And instead of standees, there are supposed to be plastic miniatures in the production box. The number and quality of those, I expect will be a significant factor for potential backers.

Rambo: The Board Game from Everything Epic Games launches on Kickstarter January 23rd.

A complimentary partial prototype of Rambo: The Board Game was provided by Everything Epic Games for review.

Categories: Gaming News and Notes

Crowdfunding Round-up: Seize the Epic Hate in a Tiny Home with Killer Eyelashes

Board Game News - Sun, 01/21/2018 - 15:00

by W. Eric Martin

• As January 2018 continues, the number of game projects launching on Kickstarter continues to escalate, with a wide variety of games on offer to serve (possibly) every flavor of gamer under the sun — and speaking of serving, let's start this round-up with Seize the Bean, a deck-builder from Andy Couch, Dylan Howard Cromwell, and Quality Beast in which you must manage a line of thirsty customers each turn before taking actions to upgrade your café's decor or expand your product line. In the end, reputation is all that matters — well, that and resin sugar cubes used as a resource within the game. The intro video on KS is charming and a far cry from what we'll close out with this time around... (KS link)

• Service of a different type is needed to succeed in The Red Dragon Inn 7: The Tavern Crew, a standalone expansion from Jeff Morrow, Sam Waller, and SlugFest Games for The Red Dragon Inn series of games that involves four new characters competing yet again to hold onto as many gold coins as possible. (KS link)

• Artyom Nichipurov's Warpgate from Wolff Designa fills the role of SF-based hand-management, area control game with a modular space-y game board for this week's round-up. (KS link)

• For a different take on the SF genre, we have Home on Lagrange from Jordan Anderson-Hyland, Callum Badger, and Grizzly Games, with this being a card game in which players must assemble a 1970s-looking space station from a series of modules. (KS link)

• In the 1-5 player survival sci-fi game Nemesis from Adam Kwapiński, Awaken Realms, and Rebel, players are woken from hibernation as a crew of a spaceship. A critical system failure has taken placed, and the spaceship can't continue its cruise. Can you figure out what is causing this failure and fix the situation to safely return back to Earth? That story might sound a tad familiar, and the look of the game might also ring a few bells, but that's clearly a plus for a lot of people as this co-op minis game has tallied $2 million in support. (KS link)

• Horror of a different genre awaits in Tiny Epic Zombies from Scott Almes and Gamelyn Games, with this design featuring co-op play (both with player-controlled zombies and with an AI zombie force), competitive play (ditto), solitaire play, and tiny figures with holes in their hands that can be filled with even tinier weapons. (KS link)

• Zombies also play a role in Killer Eyelashes, a card game from Luis Castro and Fidel Lorite based on a short film that Lorite made in 2007 and a gamebook Lorite made subsequently. In the game, you take the role of a superpowered drag queen in a post-apocalyptic world who must defeat make-up-wearing zombies and other, lesser drag queens (in your mind anyway) to accomplish your goals. (KS link)

• I would not have expected to see a miniatures-based version of American football on Kickstarter, especially not from a UK publisher, but here we are, with UK-based Fourth Quarter Miniatures offering Fourth Quarter Football, a game in which players choose plays from a deck that construct prior to play, with 32mm miniatures moving across the field and dice determining the result of how a down plays out. (KS link)

'• Worthington Publishing is releasing only 250 copies of War Along the Chesapeake, volume one in its three-volume "War of 1812 Campaign Series", and 161 copies have already been claimed as I write this note, so hasten to investigate this project should your tastes lie in this direction. (KS link)

• Let's close with a few words about HATE from Raphaël Guiton, Jean-Baptiste Lullien, Nicolas Raoult, CMON Limited, and Guillotine Games, but since the game is rated M for mature audiences, I thought I should post this behind a spoiler tag in case children are looking over your shoulders at this moment:

[o]Much to my disappointment, this game fails to adapt any of the nuances of Peter Bagge's much-loved comic book series Hate into its setting, gameplay, or graphic design, leaving us steeping in all of the nihilism with none of the humor.

While Bagge had appeared in publications such as Robert Crumb's Weirdo in the early 1980s, he hadn't had much visibility in the comics industry until the debut of Neat Stuff in 1985, an oversized comic bursting with energy and multiple smart-stupid characters. Buddy Bradley first appeared in Neat Stuff in comic strips about "The Bradleys", then graduated to his own series in 1990 with Hate, one of the most successful non-superhero comics of that era.

Hate stripped Buddy of his family and detailed his life in Seattle, overlapping with the grunge movement of that time, despite not intentionally being a part of it. The comic was an edgy Adult Swim comic a decade before that channel launched, dealing with drugs, sex, bad behavior, and a depressing yet realistic outlook on life that mirrored the feelings of young adults from that era (speaking as someone who was 22 in 1990) in an over-the-top Wolvertonian style that disgusted you while still evoking sympathy for the messed-up main characters.

Halfway through the series, Bagge ditched Seattle, moving Buddy to New Jersey with longtime girlfriend and eventual wife Lisa Leavenworth, taking the character into adulthood, if not maturity. I haven't read the comic in close to twenty years, having skipped all the annual publications that followed its conclusion with issue #30. I don't know how well the comic has aged, but man, I loved it at the time! Perhaps CMON and company will pull off a more faithful adaptation when it comes time to release Girly Girl: The Board Game. (KS link)

Swearing is obligatory when discussing Hate[/o]
Editor's note: Please don't post links to other Kickstarter projects in the comments section. Write to me via the email address in the header, and I'll consider them for inclusion in a future crowdfunding round-up. Thanks! —WEM
Categories: Gaming News and Notes

Game Bandit

Purple Pawn - Sun, 01/21/2018 - 12:18

DriveThruRPG is running a New Year, New Game Sale, with discounts on over 5,000 items.

Steve Jackson Games is previewing cards for the upcoming Munchkin CCG, opening booster packs on video and then giving them away.

Toys “R” Us in the U.K. is closing stores, which is sad, but no sense in wasting a good closing-down sale.

Used game trader Cheap Cheap Games wants feedback on its website and service. Complete the company’s survey to get $5 in store credit and possibly $150 more.

At Amazon:

The Cape Cod Times is giving away a game. I’m not sure which but you can enter the giveaway by email or old-fashioned postal delivery.

Think Geek is holding a major sale on board games. Some are even 50% off.

Passport Game Studios is giving away an unspecified game from its back catalog. To enter via Facebook, comment with your favorite game night snack food.

Renegade Game Studios is giving away Castell.

At Bundle of Holding, the Hellfrost Essentials deal includes the Savage Worlds setting’s core books and the Hellfrost Atlas deal adds more recent supplements. There’s also a deal for Car Wars, the autoduel board game from Steve Jackson Games.

Complete ThinkFun’s customer survey to be entered in the company’s monthly game giveaway.

Subscribe to The Bridge World magazine and get a free book, Playing Suit Combinations.

EverythingBoardGames is giving away Montana from White Goblin Games and Warriors of Jogu: Feint from Monsoon Publishing.

Categories: Gaming News and Notes

German Publisher Pegasus Spiele to Release Many Games in German in 2018

Board Game News - Sat, 01/20/2018 - 09:00

by W. Eric Martin

• German publisher Pegasus Spiele has passed along a list of titles that it will highlight at the Spielwarenmesse trade fair in Nürnberg, Germany at the start of February 2018, and let's kick off with what will likely be the highlight of the list for most people: Great Western Trail: Rails to the North, an expansion for Alexander Pfister's Great Western Trail that has exactly zero bits of information revealed other than the thing's impending existence and its title. That's all I have for you right now, and an eggertspiele rep has told me that this item will be officially announced at the end of January 2018, so until then you'll need to engage in speculation and rumor-peddling. (I've also declined to create a listing in the database since this info is coming from a publishing partner and not the original publisher.)

• Most of the new titles coming from Pegasus, whether original to them or licensed from another publisher, have next-to-no information handy, but one exception is Film ab!, a design by Stefan Kloß and Anna Oppolzer that's due out in March and that bears this translated description:

It's a well-known fact that with the wrong audience, any film can become a horror show. For the audience in Film ab! that wants to enjoy the offered blockbusters and score points, the right seating choice is the all-important factor. They want to avoid having tall men in front of them, children who are blowing bubbles in the middle of the row, or purses blocking neighboring seats. Many moviegoers also have certain preferences. They would like to sit together with their partner, be surrounded by men or women, or sit in the first row. One can only hope that before the start of a show, a riot doesn't break out and chase people away from their chosen seats. Whoever's visitors have had the most pleasure in the cinema after three rounds wins.

Film ab! is an easily accessible, brisk family game with a funny theme that everyone knows from their everyday life. The clever placement mechanism and the different characters, each of whom one has likely encountered in the cinema, provide great entertainment at the game table.

• Other new titles coming from Pegasus Spiele in 2018 include Daniel Danzer's Round the World in March, Pummeleinhorn: Der Superkeks from Seiji Kanai in May, Reiner Knizia's Brains: Burgen & Drachen in June (this being a multi-player item and not a solitaire collection of logic puzzles as has been the case with other Brains titles), and Pummeleinhorn: Die fiesen Keksdiebe from Ted Alspach in the second half of the year, with this game accommodating 6-24 players. Apparently cookie-eating rainbow unicorns are still a thing in Germany in 2018...

• Knizia's Dragon Master, due out in May, appears to be a new edition of a little-known two-player game that was first released in Korea in 2004 before being redesigned as Robot Master in 2008.

• Two collections are on the release calendar for 2018, with Istanbul Big Box due out in June 2018 in time for the UK Games Expo and the Mage Knight Big Box (which is only a working title) due out in October 2018. Pegasus revealed only the titles of these items, not any details about contents.

• I already covered a few announcements from Pegasus in mid-January 2018, specifically the release of four games in the Talisman setting, starting with a children's game in late 2018, and the news of a German version of R. Eric Reuss' Spirit Island in September 2018. Other previously released or still-to-be-released games that Pegasus Spiele will publish German editions of in 2018 include Go Go Gelato in February; Outlive, Santa Maria, Cat Lady, and Smash Up: That '70s Expansion in March; Herbaceous and Who Did It? in May; Deadline in the middle of the year; The World of SMOG: Rise of Moloch and Pool Party in September; Mythos Tales in the latter half of the year; and Cry Havoc, Alien Artifacts, the second edition of Eclipse, and Kingdomino: Age of Giants at unspecified points during the year.

• The same day that Pegasus revealed this list of titles, it announced an exclusive distribution partnership with Frosted Games, which launched in 2015 with the publication of the Brettspiel Adventskalender before adding standalone titles to its catalog in later years. New editions of three Frosted Games titles will appear with the Pegasus logo on them: 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis in February; 13 Minutes: The Cuban Missile Crisis in April; and Ausgespielt! Der Messe-Krimi in September.

What's more, Pegasus and Frosted plan to debut an English-language edition of Stephan Kessler's Ausgespielt! Der Messe-Krimi — under the title Gamer Over! A Game Fair Murder Mystery — at Gen Con 2018 in August. Here's an overview of the original release:

In Ausgespielt! Der Messe-Krimi, the players are at SPIEL in Essen, the largest board game show. A famous videoblogger has been found murdered in the VIP press area, and not only the murderer was there, but also a group of other suspects who have all been in contact with the deceased in one way or another.

Ausgespielt! is a classic murder mystery game. The players put themselves in a crime case and experience a setting, but one of them is the murderer. Confronted with the case and the will to solve it themselves, the players try to expose the true culprit, but that person can lie to keep their secrets.

Solving the case is not the main goal, but rather having fun and experiencing the case and unfolding the story as it emerges. The designer is both an experienced crime case writer and a passionate board gamer, so he's included some hints and easter eggs to add to the enjoyment.
Categories: Gaming News and Notes

World War Tesla

Purple Pawn - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 15:44

World War Tesla is a new alternate-history miniatures war game from Fat Dragon Games. Designed by James Ward and Thomas Tullis, the game presumes a world in which Nikola Tesla’s concepts for death rays and force fields have made a real impact on a world at war.

Giant walking tanks, soldiers with rocket-packs, and flying machines armed with death rays rule the battlefield!

The game is also 3D print-and-play. That is, buy the rules and models just once ($20), print figures as much as you want. Along with the rule book are included STL files for 15mm scale troops, vehicles, markers, template, and terrain.

Categories: Gaming News and Notes

Hasbro Takes on Board Game Cheats

Purple Pawn - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 12:29

According to Hasbro, in a recent survey of 2,000 people, almost half reported incidents of cheating during games of Monopoly. So to combat this problem, the company has launched the Monopoly CheatBot on Facebook Messenger. Answer a few questions about the problem player and how they cheated and Mr. Monopoly will generate a penalty card. For example, a player who steals from the bank may be sent to the Monopoly jail or someone who fails to pay rent will have to pay a $200 fine.

Cute. But Purple Pawn’s recommendation on how to deal with cheaters is simply not to play with them.

Categories: Gaming News and Notes

Conflict Old and New to Be Found in Reiner Knizia's Yellow & Yangtze

Board Game News - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 09:05

by W. Eric Martin

Australian publisher Grail Games has become a go-to publisher for designer Reiner Knizia. After releasing a new edition of Knizia's classic press-your-luck game Circus Flohcati in 2016, Grail Games released a new version of Medici, Medici: The Card Game, and King's Road in 2017, and in 2018 Grail will release the roll-and-write game Criss Cross, a new edition of the long out-of-print Stephenson's Rocket, and the just-announced Yellow & Yangtze, a sister game to Knizia's best-ranked game of all time — Tigris & Euphrates.

Let's start with the publisher's description of the game:

The period of the Warring States (475-221 BCE) describes a time of endless wars between seven rival states: Qin, Chu, Qi, Yan, Han, Wei, and Zhao. These states were finally unified in 221 BCE under the Qin dynasty to lay the origin of today's China, with its two main rivers: the Yellow and the Yangtze.

Yellow & Yangtze invites you to replay this eventful period and to lead your dynasty to victory. During the game, players build civilizations through tile placement. Players are given five different leaders: Governor, Soldier, Farmer, Trader, and Artisan. The leaders are used to collect victory points in these same categories. However, your score at the end of the game is the number of points in your weakest category. Conflicts arise when civilizations connect on the board. To succeed, players' civilizations must survive these conflicts, calm peasant revolts, and grow secure enough to build prestigious pagodas.

The first thing to note about Yellow & Yangtze is that other than the setting, it has no relation to the Knizia auction game Yangtze that Piatnik published in 2016. From interviewing Knizia, I know that he tends to dive into an area of history or design, then explore in different directions, so perhaps that was the situation here and we'll see other Knizia designs inspired by this part of the world in the future. Grail Games publisher David Harding says that the prototype that he received included a "historical note on where the board comes from and the starting tile placements. There's a lot of thought there, and he surely did some research on the place and its history so that the game makes sense."

A short description of Yellow & Yangtze mirrors that of Tigris & Euphrates — players place tiles to build civilizations and earn points in different cultural fields, with each player's lowest standing among those fields representing their final score — but the games have multiple differences that will distinguish the newcomer from its twenty-year-old ancestor:

• The most immediate difference is that the game board is composed of hexes and not squares. Says Harding, "This is a bigger difference than it seems at first, and I think T&E players will enjoy exploring the difference. Theoretically, states are now easier to join up, harder to break apart, and a leader is more easily defended in a revolt (since it can be surrounded by up to six tiles now)."

• The game includes five colors of tiles and leaders instead of only four, with a color spread of 42 black, 36 red, 24 green, 24 blue, and 12 yellow. Consequently, players now each have five leaders to place on the game board instead of four. At the end of the game, however, players still compare only four fields of influence and not five; yellow cubes count as wild and can represent any color of your choice during the final scoring.

• After placing a green trader tile, you can take one of the six face-up tiles in a corner of the board, thereby giving you some control over the tiles available to you (although you'll still draw most of your tiles at random from the bag).

• After placing a blue farmer tile, you can place another blue tile adjacent to this previous tile, continuing this process as you wish to flow down the river, stopping only when you wish to, when you have no more tiles, or after the previous placement causes a conflict or leads to the placement of a pagoda, which leads us into...

• Instead of placing dual-colored monuments on a square of four like-colored tiles, players now place mono-colored pagodas on triangles of three like-colored tiles by discarding two green tiles as an action. Says Harding, "Pagodas work the same as monuments, but they are easier to build and harder to defend in this game. They need only a base of three tiles to be built upon, but a new action called 'peasants' riot' [undertaken by discarding two blue tiles] can remove any tile on the board, including one from a pagoda's base. Also, if someone wants to build a black pagoda (for example) and the two black ones are already built, they simply move one of the other pagodas to the new spot."

• Conflicts are conducted somewhat differently. While T&E has internal conflicts, that is, when a leader is placed into a state with a leader of the same color, Y&Y has revolts, which are resolved the same as in T&E, but by comparing support in black tiles instead of red, both those tiles adjacent to the leaders in question as well as black tiles played by the players involved.

Wars differ far more from T&E's external conflicts than revolts do from internal conflicts. Both are caused the same way — someone places a tile so that leaders of the same color are now in the same state — but in external conflicts you might have more than wave of attacks as first, say, the blue leaders compete, then the red ones, etc. until no two leaders of the same color are in that state. In a war, you compare the strength of each state's red tiles as well as red tiles played to support of one of the states in the war, but all players can contribute red tiles to a war, not just the players who have leaders in conflict. (Says Harding, "Knizia does Cosmic Encounter!") The losing side removes all the duplicate leaders and all red tiles, but then you look at the red strength of the loser and the winner must remove that many red tiles as well, starting with those played in support, but that player might lose red tiles from the state as well. Bloodshed all around...

• Four of the five leaders have a special ability as long as they're not on the game board. The blue leader can stand in for one of the blue tiles when you cause a peasants' riot, and the green leader can represent a green tile when you create a pagoda. (You might not want to use the leader if you're trying to cycle tiles.) The black leader can provide a point of support in a revolt, while the red leader can do the same in war, even if you're not one of the parties directly involved.

(If you want to compare everything, you can read the English rules for Y&Y on the Grail Games website: PDF.)

Grail Games will have a booth at Gen Con 2018 where it plans to launch Yellow & Yangtze, with the game hitting retail outlets in September 2018. Preorders for Gen Con 2018 pick-up will open at a future date.
Categories: Gaming News and Notes

New Game Round-up: Cannes 2018 Edition — Save Dinos, Escape the Maze, and Set Loose the Huns

Board Game News - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 09:05

by W. Eric Martin

• At the Festival International des Jeux in Cannes in February 2018, Belgian publisher Sit Down! will release Magic Maze Kids, a version of Kasper Lapp's Spiel des Jahres-nominated Magic Maze aimed at players as young as five years old. Here's the setting for this game, which is for 2-4 players:

The king was accidentally turned into a frog! Gather your friends, stride across the forest, and find the correct ingredients to prepare a potion that will cure him.

Magic Maze Kids is a cooperative game in which everyone controls all of the heroes, but only in one direction! Tutorials gradually teach you the rules, and several levels make the game evolve with the children.

• At FIJ, Sit Down! also plans to release three new roll-and-write titles from Henri Kermarrec: The Temple of Apikhabou, The Skull Island, and The Valley of Wiraqocha. All three titles are part of a series of games collectively titled Penny Papers Adventures, and they are all built on the same engine for gameplay, with each being playable individually:

Penny Papers Adventures is a series of small strategy games in which all of the players use the same result of three dice to explore a location more thoroughly than their opponents by writing numbers in their grid in an optimal way to make the most victory points out of it. Challenge your ability to manage space, and wisely use the special effects of the dice. Oh, and don't miss an opportunity to mess up your opponents' grids when dangers appear! The number of players is unlimited as everyone plays at the same time!
• Starting new imprints is all the rage these days, with IELLO launching LOKI at FIJ with Ludovic Maublanc and Théo Rivière's SOS Dinos, a 1-4 player cooperative game for ages 7 and up that bears this short description:

You need to react, anticipate, and work together as a team to save the four dinosaurs in SOS Dino! Draw a tile, place it on the board, then move one of the dinosaurs closer to the safety of the mountains. Pay attention to lava and meteor showers!

• Another new title at FIJ, albeit only for demo with the release scheduled for September 2018 is Huns, a dice-drafting game from designer Fneup (a.k.a. François-Nicolas Parachini) and publisher La Boite de Jeu for 2-4 players. Here's a rundown of what you do in the game:

Winter 453: The Huns reign supreme over half of the known world. The great Khan, king of the Huns, is suffering, and there are many who dream of taking his place. The Khan must appoint his successor. He will choose the bravest and most glorious of his generals, and you intend for that to be you! But you are not the only contender, and you will have to prove your worth.

Each turn in Huns you must choose between raiding for resources or picking a card that will grant you a special ability. In more detail, the game includes five decks of cards in five colors that feature equipment, raids, mercenaries, curses, and treasure, as well as goods cubes in the same five colors. Each player starts the game with two wagons that require specific colored goods to fill them.

At the start of a round, the active player rolls five d3 dice in the five colors, then chooses one of the dice and takes either cubes or cards in this color. If you take cards, they draw 1-3 cards (based on the die roll), keep one of them, then place the others face down under this deck. Equipment gives you an in-game bonus, raids have a one-time effect, treasure earns you points at game's end if you meet the condition listed, mercenaries give you a reusable effect once you give them goods, and curses are played on opponents, who must apply goods to them to dispel their effect. If you take cubes, you can place them on a single mercenary card, a single curse card, or any number of your wagons in the appropriate spaces. If you fill a wagon, you draw a new one from those on display. Each player takes one die in turn, choosing cards or goods, until all the dice have been chosen. The first player marker then moves clockwise, and the new active player rolls all five dice again.

When one of the cube colors or one of the decks is empty at the end of a round, the game ends. Players score points for raids undertaken, treasure achieved, mercenaries paid off, and wagons delivered, and whoever has the most points wins! Card combos, drafting strategies, and resource management is what Huns is about, set in the universe of the mighty warriors of Huns.

Categories: Gaming News and Notes

New Game Round-up: Reconstructing Talisman, Expanding Sagrada, and Reading Games

Board Game News - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 09:00

by W. Eric Martin

Talisman celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2018, and thanks to a license between German publisher Pegasus Spiele and original publisher Games Workshop, four new games set in the world of Talisman will be released starting in 2018. The first title – a children's game from The Dwarves designers Lukas Zach and Michael Palm — will be released in the second half of 2018, with an expandable card game, a role-playing game, and a dice game to follow at dates to be announced at a later time.

• In other news from Pegasus Spiele, the publisher will release a German edition of R. Eric Reuss' Spirit Island in September 2018.

• In Q3 2018, Floodgate Games will release Sagrada: 5 & 6 Player Expansion, which has components that allow for play with up to six players, as well as new objectives and window patterns to allow for more variety during play.

• In a change of plans, Plan B Games has announced that Emerson Matsuuchi's Century: Golem Edition, which was initially available solely through the Plan B Games website or at conventions, will be available at retail outlets in North America starting in Q2 2018.

What's more, several non-North American publishers have signed on for the reprint that's currently under way, so in that same time frame the game should be available in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and Japan. Plan B's Mike Young emphasizes that no sequels are in the works for Century: Golem Edition, so don't expect to see a golemized version of Century: Eastern Wonders, the second title in the Century series, down the road.

• In other Plan B news, Azul will move to Plan B.'s Next Move Games imprint in Q3 2018. The game is already being reprinted at the moment with that print run (bearing the Plan B logo) due out in March 2018. No changes to the game are taking place other than the logo, but the move is meant to emphasize the types of games — both in terms of design and components — that will be released by Next Move.

• Hey, remember those "choose your own adventure"-style books from Makaka Editions that I mentioned yesterday while writing about Blue Orange Games? Turns out that publisher Van Ryder Games now has English-language distribution rights in the U.S. and Canada for several books in the series, and it plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in March 2018 to fund production of these titles under a new "Graphic Novel Adventures" imprint.

Categories: Gaming News and Notes

Blue Orange Games in 2018, Take Two, with Knizia in the Blue Lagoon, Cathala in the Age of Giants, and Much More

Board Game News - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 09:05

by W. Eric Martin

In early January, I covered the titles that Blue Orange Games plans to release on the U.S. market in 2018, but BOG has a European branch as well, and Blue Orange EU doesn't release the same games as their North American counterparts, and when they do, they might release them on a different schedule. I don't know why they function this way beyond handwaving a pretend explanation of "market conditions", but I do have an outline of when BOG EU plans to release which games, so let's just consider that for now.

In Q1 2018, BOG EU plans to release Pool Party, Dr. Beaker, Mr. Wolf, Who Did It? (in packaging that's 100% less brown) and Claude Leroy's Kang, the only game not previously covered in this space (although Dr. Beaker was first seen in Jan. 2017). Here's a short overview of Kang: "As a sport, these kangaroos like to rocket in the air, change sides, and impersonate trampolines or punching balls. Be the best coach for your team and make them score for victory! This is a kangaroo game that's not for roo-kies!" Sounds like this could be a themed version of Leroy's Gyges, but we might not know for sure until we see the game in Nürnberg, Germany at the Spielwarenmesse trade fair.

Bruno Cathala's Kingdomino: Age of Giants, first discussed in Dec. 2017 and due out in Q2 2018, expands both Kingdomino and Queendomino, allowing for games with up to five players in either case.

Also due out in Q2 2018 is Princess Legend, a Kuraki Mura deduction game that was first released as Tofu Kingdom in Taiwan — and that's the name of the forthcoming release from Blue Orange Games in North America as well, so while BOG EU is keeping the "prince hunting for a princess" storyline, the people no longer have heads of tofu. Pity.

Peggy Brown's Happy Bunny, a cooperative game for kids as young as three, and Thierry Denoual's solitaire logic puzzle Mindo, which will come dressed in a variety of images — dogs, cats, unicorns, and robots — are also due out in Q2 2018.

The final Q2 2018 release from BOG EU is Baïam, the description of which requires a small backstory. French publisher Makaka Editions releases "choose your own adventure"-style graphic novels that also serve as games because you can win or lose at them, and you can score points while you read/play by doing certain things within the story. Their tagline is "Comics in which you're the hero" because (as I understand it) the stories are all told from the first person to represent you, the reader, choosing which way to go within a story.

Blue Orange (EU) distributed two of those books — Captive and Knights, even releasing them in English at SPIEL '16 in addition to French — and now Blue Orange (EU) and Makaka Editions are partnering on Baïam, a cooperative comic game by Shuky for up to four players with each player having their own book, embodying one character with special powers, and progressing along with the other players on islands full of adventures and brain twisters.

I've had a lot of fun trying to finish Knights with my son, but we've died four times so far and have yet to finish. Baïam sounds like an intriguing experience, a quasi-escape room perhaps as we'll experience our own things while reading through the books, while still trying to work together. Can't wait to try this!

In Q3 2018, Blue Orange (EU) plans to release Roberto Fraga's Brain Connect, Grégory Oliver's Clouds, Jeff Lai's Maki Stack, and Cubeez from Treo Game Designers, all of which were covered in my earlier BOG write-up. Two other titles due out this quarter are Rolling Bandits by Trevor Benjamin and Brett J. Gilbert ("Roll your dice, get on the train, and plunder as much as you can!") and Eye'n'Speed by Berton, Kopec, Robson, and Wolff, this being a European edition of Eye 'N Seek, a Where's Waldo-ish spot-the-item game that BOG released in North America in 2017.

As if all that weren't enough, Q4 2018 will see the release of five more titles from Blue Orange (EU), two of which are aimed at slightly older audiences from many of the other titles listed in this post. Scarabya from frequent design partners Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc has you heading up an archaeological team to set up an expedition, establish camps, delineate areas of excavation, and collect more gold beetles than anyone else.

With its 30- to 45-minute playing time, Reiner Knizia's Blue Lagoon is the longest game of this batch, the now annual "game for the family" that BOG started in 2015 with New York 1901. Here's the short description we have for now:

Even today, the colonization of the Pacific Islands by the Polynesians remains a great mystery — and yet it is aboard their hand-crafted boats that the Polynesians colonized the greater part of the islands over several thousand kilometers.

In Blue Lagoon, each player manages a group of settlers that spread out on the islands of this new archipelago to discover its wealth and build villages. Smart placements and anticipation are needed to win.

Other titles due out in Q4 2014 from Blue Orange (EU) are Flooping by Nathalie and Rémi Saunier ("Show off your aviator skills by making the aerobatics required with your BuzzPlane!"), O Mon Chateau (which is possibly not the final title) by Corentin Lebrat and Ludovic Maublanc ("Whoever knows how to best exploit the resources of the region will draw the most beautiful castle in the kingdom!"), and a new edition of Seiji Kanai's Brave Rats that features a new size of cards and one extra card for each clan.

Phew! You think that's enough? Is it possible for a company to release more than twenty new games in a year and see those titles survive on the market for more than a few months? When will we reach the time of peak board game releases?!

Categories: Gaming News and Notes

Kolossal Games Aims to Cast a Huge Shadow on the Industry in 2018 and Beyond

Board Game News - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 12:05

by W. Eric Martin

One game I left out of yesterday's crowdfunding round-up was Hervé Lemaître's Western Legends from Kolossal Games, and that's because I wanted to cover what's coming from Kolossal in one go because there's a lot to consider.

To start, let's check out the short description of Western Legends, the first game that Kolossal Games put under contract:

in Western Legends, players will traverse the Wild West as one of the historical figures of the time (Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, Calamity Jane, etc.), playing poker, robbing banks, and avoiding the sheriff to score Legend Points. The open-world, sandbox environment allows players to shape the landscape through their decisions and become fully immersed in the landscape of the American west.

These decisions can also lead players down the path of becoming a desperado. Once a player becomes "wanted" for their devious acts, the local sheriff will be in pursuit in order to make an arrest. Players can also attempt to catch desperados in order to claim the bounty placed on them.

Western Legends has already rustled up $260K in backing as of mid-Sunday, January 14, 2018 (KS link), and while this might be the first title to be brought to Kickstarter from this new U.S. publisher, the Kolossal Games team has plenty of crowdfunding experience, starting with company founder and president Travis R. Chance, formerly of Action Phase Games and Indie Boards & Cards. (As the company states in its promotional material, Kickstarter is the reason "Kolossal" starts with a "K".)

That experience will come in handy as Kolossal has at least six other games planned for funding via Kickstarter in 2018, with Kami-sama from Kolossal developer AJ Lambeth hitting KS in late February 2018. Here's an overview of this 2-4 player game that plays in 60-90 minutes, followed by a video presentation from Chance at Gen Con 2017:

In Kami-sama, each player takes on the role of a Kami, a Japanese spirit, and haunts a small village over the course of three years. At the end of the third year, the Kami who has done the most effective haunting will become the Kami-sama — the leader of the Kami.

Kami-sama uses area control on a rotating board to simulate four villages. Each quarter of the board is representative of a village, and players will perform actions in each of the four villages (sections of the board) before the round comes to an end. Players will also have variable player powers at their disposal to help them on the journey to becoming the Kami-sama.

Youtube Video

The order of projects hitting Kickstarter following Kami-sama is open to some changes, according to CEO Kira Anne Peavley, but the list of games to be crowdfunded in 2018 includes:

Grant Rodiek's Imperius, this being an updated version of Solstice: Fall of Empire, which Rodiek had self-published in 2017. An overview of this 2-4 player game that takes only 20-45 minutes:

The ruling house of the empire is in decline and in their weakness an opportunity presents itself. The throne is within the grasp of any rival faction bold and cunning enough to grab power for themselves. However, this is a nuanced conflict, one in which diplomacy cuts just as sharply as the weapons of an army, but only half as sharp as the assassin's blade. There are wheels within wheels and machinations beyond your view.

In Imperius, players represent powerful houses, each seeking to ascend to the throne. Every player has the same six cards, which provide strength, favor, victory points, and bonuses. Unfortunately, the path forward is shrouded in fog, forcing players to manage the uncertainty of the times. Every round, players draft a hand of cards, choosing a mix of their cards, their opponents', and powerful events. The key is building a viable strategy with your own cards and events, while denying key cards to your opponents. Then, cards are played to the planets, with no more than two of these cards per planet being played face down. Players are forced to make decisions with imperfect information gained during the draft and by reading your opponents. Finally, the cards are revealed and resolved. In most cases, players want to be the strongest or most favored faction to score victory points.

Imperius builds on the existing mechanisms of Solstice: Fall of Empire by adding asymmetrical factions, less secret information, and varied planet effects that can grant additional special abilities to players.

Omen: Fires in the East, a two-player game from John Clowdus. Kolossal bought the back catalog of Clowdus' Small Box Games in mid-2017, and in addition to releasing new editions of his Omen: A Reign of War and Omen: Edge of the Aegean with updated components and graphic design, Kolossal is releasing a new standalone game in the Omen series:

In Omen: Fires in the East, players compete to control Persian and Phoenician cities in order to rule over the land. The game introduces new mechanisms and new unit types, including sphinxes and merchants.

Omen: Fires in the East is a two-player card game that features two distinct game modes: standard and draft. The standard game has players drawing cards from a collective deck, and accessing cards from a collective discard pile. The draft game allows players access to their favorite units, with each player drafting his own deck to play the game with.

Players take turns placing units into one of three cities on the table. When one player has three or more units in a single city at the start of their turn, or there is a total of five units in any city, a battle is fought. The side with the most power wins the city and claims a reward. Play continues until all rewards from all but one city have been completely claimed. Points are scored for the rewards claimed, and the player with the highest score wins.

Kolossal also plans to release a new edition of Clowdus' Neolithic, a two-player game with multi-use cards set at the dawn of mankind with you trying to create the more advanced village. Chance presented an overview of both this game and Omen: Fires in the East at Gen Con 2017:

Youtube Video

—To continue with titles hitting Kickstarter in 2018, we have Karen Knoblaugh's Consumption: A Strategy Game About Food and Choices, a 1-4 player game that might have you reconsidering what you nosh on while playing games:

Consumption is a worker placement/resource management game about meeting your body's food needs. Shopping and cooking or going out to various eateries is central to the strategy that is balanced by physical activity to help you burn extra calories. Points are earned by completing recipes and activities, but ultimately, giving your body what it needs to be happy earns the most points, as various diseases can sneak up on you if you're not careful.

Over six rounds, players select actions on the main game board, as well as their player board, such as cooking or going out to eat. To cook, players must first go grocery shopping for ingredients, but careful planning is needed as food can expire if it isn't used in time, and fighting your cravings may cause a few problems too. Completing recipes unlocks extra abilities, which can be very useful during the game.

Eating out is also an option, and going to the buffet or visiting the stands at the farmer's market can be tempting; decisions may depend on what they have to offer. While cooking both allows players more control over what they eat and provides points, it can be hard to resist the drive-thru when you can get so much food! All food, represented by colored cubes, goes into the player's "body" based on different food groups, and as the game progresses, it is possible that players may find they have eaten too much of one or more groups. Time to exercise!

Through a variety of activities, players may remove cubes from their body to return to a healthier state, but don't wait too long as this may require more time than you think! Completed activities offer end-game points, so don't be a couch potato! After six rounds, players see which of their food needs have been met and how many different activities they have completed, and the player with the most points is the winner!

J.B. Howell's Papillon, which bears a 2019 release date, looks at another relationship between food and consumer:

The fields are alive. Butterflies are vying for control over the flowers in the meadow. Hummingbirds hover nearby, darting from flower patch to flower patch. Mantises attempt to prevent the butterflies from staying too long on any one flower. And all of these creatures are trying to avoid the deadly wasps.

In Papillon, players complete to build flower gardens to attract the butterflies fluttering throughout the meadow. The butterflies they attract are used to determine control of the individual flowers. Control awards points. After eight full rounds of play, the player with the highest total score wins.

Papillon uses a combination of tile-laying (for building the gardens), area control (for determining who controls the individual flowers on the shared flower board), and secret scoring objectives (with a hint of set collection) to create a quick-playing, light game for all ages. A fair amount of strategy and planning hides behind simple rules and easy-to-learn gameplay.

—We move from the pacific to the horrific with No Dawn, another J.B. Howell design which accommodates 1-5 players:

Hordes of goblins and other terrifying beasts of the land are attempting to lay waste to the city. The various militia inside are mounting a defense in attempt to make one final stand to save the land that they love.

In No Dawn, each player assumes the role of one of these militia, defending the city from the relentless onslaught of goblins, ogres, hill giants, and other creatures who are bent on destroying the final stronghold for mankind. No Dawn is a scenario-driven cooperative game that introduces unique twists to the common mechanisms of worker placement and deck building. Players can partner up on worker spaces to assist in tasks such as recruiting others in the city to the fight, repairing damaged supply lines, and gathering food.

No Dawn introduces a unique threat level mechanism that increases the difficulty of the game as it progresses. This mechanism forces players to make tough decisions about how quickly they want to complete their scenario objectives. Complete the scenario too soon, and players may lose cards that could prove valuable assets for future scenarios.

—Finally (possibly?) on Kolossal's Kickstarter list for 2018 is Mezo, a "big box" area control game from Clowdus inspired by Mayan mythology in which players control tribes that call forth the gods to aid them as they clash for dominance, build step pyramids, and make sacrifices to gain immense power.

Aside from all of these titles headed to Kickstarter in 2018, Kolossal has plenty of other titles in the works as well. In the first half of 2018, it will release a two-player card game from Tom Lehmann originally titled "Cheng Ho" that bears this short description: "Each player starts the game with a hand of cards before taking turns to either draw cards, perform different actions or special powers, or skip and give up a victory point to their opponent."

Other titles under contract include Roberta Taylor's tile-laying Starfish Kingdoms (this being a new edition of Octopus' Garden), Jason Blake's Cysmic (in which you race to leave a doomed planet first, with the force of your launch killing everyone who remains behind — whoops!), Kathleen Mercury's scenario-based dexterity game Dirty Dragons, Clinton Morris' hidden movement game Hunt the Ravager, Tam Myaing's cooperative time-travel game F.L.O.W., and a Martin Wallace and Amanda Milne design due out in 2019 that has no public name, but a mind-blowing description:

For centuries, heroes roamed Magnu, exploring its many dungeons, avoiding armies of evil overlords, and defeating dragons (for the right price). Those times are now long past, and a new breed of warrior bestrides the land: the rock star!

Being part of an up-and-coming rock band, you are about to embark on your first tour. Magnu is still populated by elves, dwarves, and goblins, but now they are your audience. Dungeons still exist but are just as likely to have heritage status, while dragons are a protected species. Do you have the right song to appeal to the undead, or will your gig be saved by a bunch of easy-to-please halflings? Will you lose another drummer in a bar fight? And why do the dwarves have to chuck things at you?

This innovative game combining 1960s rock-and-roll and a world of fantasy takes the role-playing board game as we know it to a whole new level. This 1-5 player game that can be played in around two to three hours creates a fast-moving, entertaining experience that will keep the most jaded gamer happy for hours.

Now, instead of killing dragons, you must slay audiences. Your band will be rated for its melodiousness and energy but remember, audiences have different tastes, and it's up to you to best entertain with the right songs. Success allows you to develop new skills and the ability to take on more demanding audiences and the money made from your record sales allows you to buy better songs and devices such as the Banjo of Protection. The latter may be of use as Magnu is still not a safe land to travel around – the Moral Majority is upset as they don't like this new-fangled "rock music".

You are not restricted to just playing gigs though. You can also embark on adventures to explore dungeons and take on the few fearsome dragons left. You can even challenge the Devil to a rock-off, but beware, failure means somebody is going to Hell!

Will you have what it takes to keep your audiences entertained?
Categories: Gaming News and Notes
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