Lowell Kempf(Gnomekin)United States
I was recently contacted by RightGames LLC (http://russianboardgames.com), a Russian game company, asking me to review and comment on their new English-language releases. Needless to say, I was flattered at being asked and, let’s face it, free games! So, I said yes.
While they are not game players except when I force them to be at family gatherings, my brother and his wife have both lived in Russia. I asked them if they had ever played any RightGames games. While they hadn’t, they had heard of RightGames, which was a promising sign.
Looking a little more into the company’s history, it looks like they have been around for a few years and have done well in Russia. So, their contacting me looks less like a new company starting out and more like a successful company branching out.
Last week, the front desk contacted me. “Lowell, you have a package from Moscow. Lowell, why do you have a package from Moscow? Lowell, should we be concerned?” Thank goodness the cold war is over, even if it does mean James Bond movies are less interesting.
Inside the package, I found the four games that they are releasing in English. They are:
Potion-Making: Practice – This is apparently the powerhouse of their line, their most successful game with expansions in Russian. Players are journeyman alchemists and wizards, mixing up potions. If you ever were envious of Harry and the gang getting to spend time in Snape’s class, this game is for you. Hey, don’t laugh. I understand Alan Rickman has quite a following.
Evolution: The Origin of Species – A game where you are creating competing species defined as collections of various traits, one of which includes the ability to eat other player’s species. Out of all the games they sent me, this looks to be the most complex! It also looks quite vicious, since only the animals left standing at the end of the game are worth any points. Which fits the theme quite nicely.
The Enigma of Leonardo – A game that uses the drawings and sketches of Leonardo Da Vinci as a theme. You are rearranging a cross made out of cards to try to make lines of specific images to earn tokens. At the same time, though, every change you make in your own cross will also change the next player’s.
The Kingdoms of Crusades – To be honest, my initial impression is a Crusade-themed Schotten-Totten that uses Venture’s set collection mechanism. Not that that’s bad. Having elements of two very strong games is very promising.
Looking them over, I’d say that all of the games are on the lighter end of the spectrum, more aimed at the family audience than hardcore gamers. (I understand that that’s the bigger market) They all also have very good art. In particular, Potion Making and the Enigma of Leonardo are simply lovely.
RightGames is going to at Essen this year (at HALL №7, booth 7-05. Yes, they asked me to include that ) so I am going to try to write about their games before then. Fortunately, I can try them all out two-player and my fiancée is interested in them so I’m hoping to be able to give each one an individual write-up in the next couple weeks.
As I mentioned, I’m flattered that they asked me to do this, although I’m sure they’ve asked a lot of people to preview their games. Still, I’m going to try and be impartial about their games and give them a fair assessment.