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To submit news, a designer diary, outrageous rumors, or other material, please contact BGG News editor W. Eric Martin via email – wericmartin AT gmail.com.

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Game Preview: Blue Lagoon, or Through the Archipelago

W. Eric Martin
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A game is its scoring system.

I'm not sure that this statement holds for all games, but for many designs it does. The scoring system determines who wins a competitive game, so if players are trying to win (and let's assume they are), then they will take actions that they think maximize their score by the end of play. They might make the wrong moves, of course, or be misguided in their actions because they don't anticipate the countermoves that others can make, but everything that happens during the game is based on how things get tallied in the end.

This explains why Blue Lagoon, a Reiner Knizia design that Blue Orange Games will debut at Gen Con 2018 (and the European branch of Blue Orange will have at SPIEL '18), feels like an alternate Earth version of Through the Desert, which debuted two decades ago in 1998. At heart, both designs are incredibly simple, with most player actions consisting only of the extension of something already on the board: I had two orange camels in a caravan, and now I have three. I had a sailor off the shore of an island, and now I have a settler on that island. You progress in the most minute way possible. Atomistic advancements!

Yet those placements are driven by the goals of the games. In Through the Desert, you want to claim watering holes, reach oases, secure territory, and maximize your caravans compared to other nomadic leaders; in Blue Lagoon, you want to claim resources, reach new islands, secure paths connecting islands, and maximize your presence on those islands compared to that of other Polynesian leaders. The feel of the games is the same — slowly I advanced, step by step, inch by inch — yet not because you have different goals in mind as you advance.


Staking out ground in the first few turns


The most striking difference between the two designs is that Blue Lagoon is a game in two acts. In Act One, not only can you place a settler or village next an existing settler or village of your color, but you can also drop a sailor of your color onto an unoccupied water space. New territory! Fresh grounds to explore! You can set up new footholds all over the board to expand into new land, and indeed you must do so in order to do well in the scoring.

What's more, after you score at the end of Act One, all of the sailors and settlers are removed from the board and returned to the players, with only placed villages remaining behind. Act Two feels like TTD proper because you can place your sailor and settler tokens only adjacent to your villages or to tokens that you placed earlier in the act. The tricky aspect of Act Two is that it all depends on what you did in Act One, and instead of placing all of your nomadic leaders at once, you can place those villages throughout Act One, allowing you to claim ground early or respond many turns later to where someone else placed their village. This ability to place early or respond later — while also fighting for all the points — gives the first half of the game a more challenging feel than TTD, while still not making it more complicated, which is a fascinating achievement!

I know that some folks still pine for the days of classic Knizia, but those classics are still being created in the modern day, and thanks to the Moana-ish look of the packaging, the game will probably introduce far more players to this style of game than something more serious-looking would have. Blue Orange Games pulled off a similar trick in 2017 with Hjalmar Hach's Photosynthesis, which disguised a perfect information, abstract game with pretty trees and friendly colors. I know that BOG co-founder Thierry Denoual is a huge fan of abstract strategy games, with his company having released new versions of Six Making and Gyges, for example, and I look forward to seeing future releases along these lines!


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Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:00 pm
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Designer Diary: Gunkimono, or From the Heartland to Medieval Japan

Jeffrey Allers
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Planting the Seeds

Gunkimono is a re-theme of my game, Heartland (a.k.a., Eine Frage der Ähre), which was first published in Germany by Pegasus Spiele in 2009.

I have lived in Berlin for most of the past 24 years, and it was here that I discovered the wider world of board games and was also inspired to become a board game designer — but my inspiration for one of my first games was the home I had left behind. I had always thought that the patchwork fields of the Midwestern United States, when viewed from the air, looked like a game board, and I wanted to make that game.

Although I had a theme to guide me, the design was abstracted in order to keep the rules streamlined. I wanted the game to be appealing to gamers with plenty of tough choices and player interaction, and I also wanted it to be accessible to those who are not used to learning new game rules every week.

Tile-laying games usually provide a great balance of strategy and accessibility, and that fit in with the theme of "planting" square fields on the board. I used domino-style tiles in order to give each tile two strategic possibilities. The goal was to place the fields in a way that would score points for all similar fields of the same type of crop connected to your tile.

Then I added another dimension. There were one or two barns on each side of every tile, and now players had the choice to either score immediate points for groups of like fields, or they could advance their markers on the "barn tracks". If they advanced their markers equally, they would eventually be able to place one of their barns on the board, which reserved those fields — and points — exclusively for them. But if they focused on getting a marker to the top first, they could score valuable "livestock" tiles. The game now had a myriad choices within a fairly simple and intuitive set of rules.




Harvest Time

The game was an immediate hit with friends and family as well as in my group of established game designers, who encouraged me to show it to publishers. When I did, there were many requests for prototypes, and Pegasus offered me a contract within two months. The game was published two years later and enjoyed positive early reviews, including being chosen for the German National Board Game Championships. A multi-language edition exported to North America also garnered favorable reviews, although many felt that the theme could have been more attractive — and more appropriate for such a tense and highly interactive battle.

New Lands

Heartland eventually went out of print, but the positive reviews continued, most notably on The Dice Tower, and the game was soon quite expensive on the secondhand market. Naturally, I hoped that another publisher would eventually reprint it, perhaps trying a different theme in the process.

Another fan of the game, reviewer Dan King (a.k.a., Game Boy Geek), also wanted to see a reprint and connected me to Scott Gaeta of Renegade Game Studios. Scott agreed to publish it and decided on a feudal Japanese setting. Now players must use their tiles to form armies of different types of troops, or use their tiles to advance their honor, build strongholds, and earn war banners. The new theme is both colorful and reflects well the conflict in the game.

We were also able to make some tweaks to the rules, using feedback from the many fans of Heartland over the past nine years, to make the game more balanced at all player counts and less dependent on the luck of the draw.

Heartland was one of my first published designs, but as its popularity continues to show, it is still one of my best. I'm happy to have it widely available again to both serious and casual gamers in this improved version.

Jeffrey D. Allers


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Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Making Your Goods ShipShape, Selling Heaven & Ale, and Buying Property in the 41st Millennium

W. Eric Martin
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• U.S. publisher Calliope Games has announced the next trilogy of games in its Titan Series, starting with Rob Daviau's ShipShape, which appears to be a "normal" game and not one of those new-fangled legacy contraptions. A short description: "In ShipShape, 2-6 players each control a ship. Over the course of three voyages (rounds), you bid using numbered crew cards to claim unique crate tiles off the central stack. Fill your hold with gold, cannons, and contraband and cover up what you don't want. At the end of each voyage, score coins by comparing your holds with everyone else, looking only at what is visible in your hold."

Michael Mulvihill's Everyone Loves A Parade challenges you to build a float that satisfies the whims of the crowd, with players using decoration cards for special actions in their effort to become Grand Marshal of the parade.

SpyMaster from Seth Johnson uses an "I split, you choose" mechanism to place intelligence in the players' hands, which they then use to move agents to control areas around the world and complete missions.

• An expansion is in the works for Heaven & Ale, a game from Michael Kiesling, Andreas Schmidt, and eggertspiele that debuted in late 2017. This as-yet-untitled expansion, due out in Q2/Q3 2019, adds new options to the game, such as a new game board upon which players need to figure out how to deliver the beer produced by their monastery to local taverns.

The Norwegians is a large expansion for A Feast for Odin from designers Uwe Rosenberg and Gernot Köpke that Feuerland Spiele will release at SPIEL '18 in October. This expansion adds new puzzle pieces, another mountain strip, meat, and start buildings that players draw at random to provide more variety from the first turn onward. The description on the BGG page provides lots of details for those who want to play this expansion mentally before its actual release.

• In mid-February 2018, I tweeted the following:



The embargo has now lifted, and I can reveal my most unexpected game of NY Toy Fair 2018 as:




Yes, things have really changed at Games Workshop over the past few years, with the company now licensing its IP in venues I never would have expected it to appear in previously. Monopoly is about the most mainstream game on the market, after all, whereas Warhammer 40,000 has a specialized audience for a game that requires a lot of dedication — yet here we are looking at Monopoly: Warhammer 40,000, a game in which you buy, sell, and trade 28 key properties in the 41st Millennium, upgrading them with outposts and fortifications (a.k.a. houses and hotels) in order to acquire more monetized souls than any other player.

I'm not sure what you might have been expecting following that tweet, but in terms of IP licensing — which is involved in much of the games that you see at NY Toy Fair — I can't think of anything else that surprised me more than this, and I'm still surprised that this will be a thing and not an April Fools Day joke in February.


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Fri Jul 13, 2018 1:00 pm
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The BGG Show: Reminiscing Over CCGs and BGG@Sea

W. Eric Martin
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Time for another episode of The BGG Show, with Rodney Smith and Steph Hodge joining the usual trio of Scott Alden, Lincoln Damerst, and yours truly. Everyone not named Eric participated in one or both of the BGG@Sea cruises that took place in late June and early July 2018 following the end of the 2018 Origins Game Fair, and they talk about the cruise experience, playing games on a boat, and how to achieve a proper balance between gaming and cruise activities.

We also discussed recent games played and Wizards of the Coast's announcement of the Transformers Trading Card Game, which is scheduled to debut in September 2018. Come take a listen!




Show notes:

00:22 Introductions
00:45 BGG Cruise 2018: Alaska - round-up
10:43 BGG Cruise 2019: The Caribbean announcement
13:21 BGG Team at Gen Con 2018
14:12 BGG Hot Games Room at Gen Con 2018 (a ticketed event)
15:29 Space Base - John D. Clair - AEG
16:19 Hippo - Martin Nedegaard Andersen - Helvetiq
17:52 Istanbul: The Dice Game - Rüdiger Dorn - Pegasus Spiele
18:20 Gizmos - Phil Walker-Harding - CMON Limited
19:48 Villainous - Prospero Hall - Wonder Forge
24:03 Unlock! The Adventures of Oz - Space Cowboys
26:02 War of the Ring - Roberto Di Meglio, Marco Maggi, Francesco Nepitello - Ares Games
29:18 Warehouse 13 - Michael Aldridge, Russ Rupe, M. Shawn Smith II - Infinite Dreams Gaming
33:10 Menara - Oliver Richtberg - Zoch Verlag
Gaming News
33:59 Monopoly: Warhammer 40,000
36:45 Transformers Trading Card Game
Kickstarter News
42:17 Cthulhu: Death May Die - Rob Daviau, Eric M. Lang - CMON Limited
43:13 Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy - Touko Tahkokallio - Lautapelit
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Fri Jul 13, 2018 5:29 am
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Game Preview: Villainous, or Fine, Now I'm the Bad Guy

W. Eric Martin
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Each year at NY Toy Fair, I get a sampling of the game industry from the viewpoint of the mainstream market. Yes, hobby games are present in small numbers, but for the most part publishers are aiming their titles for the millions of people who play games on an irregular basis and not the irregular people who play games on a million-times-a-week basis.

More and more often, however, those markets are overlapping, with hobby-friendly designs showing up in mainstream-friendly packaging. Sometimes this is achieved solely by pouring an IP into an existing design, as with Codenames: Marvel and Munchkin: Rick and Morty, and sometimes this is done through an original game design, as with Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle and Jurassic Park: Danger!

Not by chance, both of these latter design originate from the design company Forrest-Pruzan Creative, which has specialized in games based on licensed properties, and the FPC design that will likely make the largest splash in 2018 is Villainous, which is credited to the company's Prospero Hall pen name and which publisher Wonder Forge will release on August 1, 2018.

In the game, each player takes control of one of six characters, each one a villain in a different Disney movie: Prince John, Ursula, Maleficent, Captain Hook, Jafar, and the Queen of Hearts. Each player has their own villain deck, fate deck, player board, and 3D character.

On a turn, the active player moves their character to a different location on their player board, takes one or more of the actions visible on that space (often by playing cards from their hand), then refills their hand to four cards. Cards are allies, items, effects, conditions, and (for some characters) curses. You need to use your cards to fulfill your unique victory condition, and that's one of the game's main hooks. Every character's win condition is specific to that character's story from the movie. Ursula needs to collect the crown and trident, then bring them to her realm; Maleficent needs to place a curse on each location on her board; Prince John cares only about collecting 20 power, with power being the currency of the game that allows you to play cards and do other things.

One of the actions allows you to choose another player, draw two cards from that player's fate deck, then play one of those cards on that player's board, covering two of the four action spaces on one of their locations. The fate deck contains heroes, items, and effects from that villain's movie, and these cards allow other players to mess with that particular villain. This design silos each Disney world, keeping Aladdin from popping up in Wonderland or Aurora from facing off against Ursula, while also maintaining the essence of the movie. After all, in Aladdin the main character, the Sultan, the flying rug, and other characters were all the bad guys from Jafar's point of view, so naturally he has to overcome their interference in order to open the Cave of Wonders, acquire the magic lamp, hypnotize the genie, and bring the lamp to the palace.




Yes, some of the character's victory conditions are more involved than others, but each character has a player guide that details what you need to do to win while describing elements in your deck that can help make this happen.

I've played Villainous only three times so far on a review copy from Wonder Forge, all with only two players, so I'm still very much in the realm of first impressions. I haven't even seen the decks of two of the characters, and I haven't experienced how fate interacts with multiple opponents, but what I've seen so far has been quite entertaining.

In my first game, I was Ursula, and I didn't look through my deck at all, preferring to learn entirely by playing — which was a hard lesson for me as the crown and trident I needed were on cards buried at the bottom of my deck. I hadn't even drawn them by the time Jafar claimed victory, much less had a chance to acquire them.

For game #2, with my opponent now controlling Prince John, I took advantage of the discard action as much as possible to cycle through my deck and find what I needed. Discarded cards aren't removed from the game, but cycled through, so I wasn't losing out on anything permanently. Prince John's goal was so straightforward that I made good use of the condition cards in my deck that gave me a bonus when anyone else had six power in their reserve. (Knowing your opponent's deck is as good as knowing yours as in game #1 Jafar had a condition card that triggered on three allies, yet Ursula's deck contains only two allies in total, so he wasted several turns with that dead card in hand — not that it mattered in the end, mind you.)

The appeal of Villainous to a mainstream market is obvious based on the strength of the Disney name, but the gameplay is more involved than what some might expect when they find this game on the shelves of Target or Walmart. Ideally these newcomers to hobby games give this design a chance and learn what's possible with modern game design while reliving — and reinterpreting — the movie classics from decades past.

Ravensburger North America, which owns Wonder Forge, will have copies of Villainous for sale and demo at Gen Con 2018, so you can check out the game there if you don't find it somewhere else earlier. For more details on the game now, check out my video exploration below, which includes a nine-minute segment in which I may or may not have taken a breath during my exposition...


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Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:47 pm
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Wizards of the Coast Changes Your Money into Their Wallets with Transformers TCG; Azul Shines Again with Stained Glass of Sintra

W. Eric Martin
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• In March 2018, I had posted a teaser about Axis & Allies & Zombies from Avalon Hill, and in that very post, the teaser image also referred to a Transformers Trading Card Game from AH owner Wizards of the Coast, and for some unknown reason I forgot to mention that forthcoming TCG in that post!

Well, now WotC has released a smattering of info about the game, which it will tease in mid-2018 at Comic-Con International and Gen Con with a four-card Convention Edition pack that gives owners a few exclusive cards without giving them enough to play the game. The two-player Autobots Starter Set and Booster Packs will debut on September 28, 2018, and the game bears this brief description:

Quote:
The Transformers Trading Card Game is a battling card game designed for two players. Players build a team of Transformers character cards and power them up with a customizable deck of battle cards. Transformers character cards — such as those in the Autobots Starter Set and Booster Packs — are twice the size of standard playing cards; they can be flipped from bot mode to alt mode and back, and they feature premium printing treatment on one of their sides. The deck of battle cards features Action and Upgrade cards to enhance Transformers character cards.




• Shortly after announcing combined sales of 320,000 copies of Azul across 25 languages, Next Move Games has announced its next release — Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, a standalone game from Michael Kiesling that will debut at SPIEL '18 in October. From the image and short description, gameplay seems akin to Azul in how players draft tiles from a shared space, but then things diverge from there:

Quote:
Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra challenges players to carefully select glass panes to complete their windows while being careful not to damage or waste supplies in the process. The window panels are double-sided, providing players with a dynamic player board that affords nearly infinite variability!

Players can expect to discover new unique art and components in Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, including translucent window pane pieces, a tower to hold discarded glass panes, and double-sided player boards and window pane panels, in addition to many other beautiful components!

I suppose that by using subtitles, Next Move Games has assured themselves of an infinite supply of four-word titles, a loophole that I didn't foresee when the company announced its naming scheme in early 2018.

As for Sintra, a little research shows that the Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal "holds the totality of the stained glass collection of King Ferdinand as well as a very significant proportion of his glass object collection", according to the Parques de Sintra website, with this company having been formed in 2000 to merge "the different institutions holding responsibilities for safeguarding and valuing the Sintra Cultural Landscape". The more you know...

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Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:24 pm
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Game Preview: Spring Meadow, or Playing Tetris on a Mountainside

W. Eric Martin
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Gen Con 2018 opens in just over three weeks — convention preview here! — so it's time to start rolling out previews for games that will debut or first be widely available at that show, starting with Uwe Rosenberg's Spring Meadow, the third title in the "puzzle trilogy" from German publisher Edition Spielwiese. Assuming that all the transportation links do what they're supposed to do, and that's never a sure thing for this show, U.S. publisher Stronghold Games will have the English version of this title for sale at Gen Con 2018.

As in the first two titles of this trilogy, Cottage Garden and Indian Summer, as well as the earlier two-player-only game Patchwork, in Spring Meadow players draft polyomino tiles from a shared space and puzzle them together on a personal game board. For some people, that description is enough for them to say, "Aren't those games all the same?", which is akin to suggesting that all trick-taking games are the same because they all involve each player laying a card in the center of the table, then seeing who wins the trick. No, they're not the same (unless you're going for the 30,000 foot view of the games, in which case you're just passing by anyway and not stopping to play).

All that said, the game that actually springs to mind first when I think of Spring Meadow, which I've played six times on a review copy from Edition Spielwiese, is Tetris. Each player has a snowy mountain board that has a line of grass along one edge. The one hundred meadow tiles in the game that players draft and place are covered with grass and flowers, representing the change of seasons. For the most part, you score points based upon how many lines of grass you "see" from the edge of your board. You can place the tiles almost anywhere you want on the board when you draft them, but you score only by grouping them together from the bottom up (or from the left to the right, depending on how you orient your board).

You have various complications in the marmot burrows that dot the board. Ideally you can place the holes in the tiles on top of the burrows because you score additional points for those, but you can build around them instead since they still count as being non-snowy for the purpose of completing rows. If you place multiple holes together, you score bonus rocks — perhaps you have holes because you extracted those rocks? — that you place on your board immediately, often filling in hard-to-fill spaces thanks to these rocks, especially since you might have left the perfect-sized space in your board to match up those holes to begin with!

A scoring round takes place based on the number of tiles left in the current row or column on the shared drafting space, and since everyone sees what everyone drafts, you all have some say in when scoring takes place. When that happens, whoever has the highest score gets a medal, then they cover cleared marmot burrows (which can hamper their future tile placement), then you refill the drafting board and continue. As soon as a player nabs their second hiking medal, they win and lie down in the field to make celebratory grass angels.

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Mon Jul 9, 2018 1:00 pm
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Quiet Days, Busy Nights

W. Eric Martin
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My apologies for the radio silence the past few days. I've been traveling for the July 4th holiday here in the U.S., while also working behind the scenes on various other things.

The Gen Con 2018 Preview now boasts 338 listings, and I'll be adding titles to it for another three weeks as (a) publishers suddenly realize that they're not listed and submit information and (b) they start to reveal surprises for that show once they get confirmation that title X will arrive in time for sales or demonstrations.

I've sent out an RFI form to nearly four hundred publishers for inclusion in the SPIEL '18 Preview, which will go live on Monday, August 6, the day after Gen Con 2018 ends. I'll continue to add to that preview until mid-October 2018.

I plan to post a preview video of Uwe Rosenberg's Spring Meadow on Monday, July 9, and I'll preview another title on Thursday, July 13 at 1:00 p.m. EDT, which is when the embargo expires for information on this unusual design. I plan to kick out more previews of Gen Con 2018 releases in the remaining weeks prior to that show, while also posting news here and there as well.

Oh, and I'm running a board game camp at my son's school the week of July 9. Busy times! What game-related activities are keeping you busy or are you looking forward to in July 2018?
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Sat Jul 7, 2018 3:32 am
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Game Preview: Cahoots, or Colorful Combos Are in the Cards

W. Eric Martin
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While at the 2018 Origins Game Fair in mid-June, I spent most of my time in the BGG booth either on camera talking with people about their new games, with people who wanted to schedule time on camera, or with passersby who were curious as to what we were doing or what we had for sale. I bought a couple of games, and I received a few review copies of games either recently released or due for release in the near future, the oddest of which was Cahoots, mostly because the publisher (Gamewright) had no presence at the show.

What happened is that Cahoots designer Ken Gruhl was walking around the Origins 2018 exhibitor hall with frequent design partner Quentin Weir — you might know them best as the designers of Happy Salmon — and I was also walking around that hall on one of my infrequent breaks, and Ken saw me and said something like "Hey, nice to see you again!" and I pretended to recognize him but couldn't place his face, then he said, "Do you want a copy of my new game Cahoots?" and he pulled it out of his bag, and then immediately I knew who he was.

I can't place names to faces, but I can place names to box covers. Maybe I spend too much time on this site.

Anyway, I had already liked the sound of Cahoots when I saw it at NY Toy Fair in February 2018, and cooperative card games had been hitting a sweet spot for my mind recently, so I said yes. I've now played the game a half-dozen times in the intervening two weeks, so here I am presenting it to you in this space, a game with no other videos on its BGG page, a game with no forum posts and fewer than ten ratings, a game that might have passed unloved and unnoticed if not for this callout, which quite frankly is 90% due to the designer pressing a copy into my hands. (The other 10% is me playing the game, liking it, and wanting to talk about it.)

Your collective goal in Cahoots is to satisfy all of the goal cards in your challenge pile before everyone has played all the cards in the deck and are left staring at their sausage-y fingers wondering when dinner will be. The cards come in four colors and are numbered 1-7, and on a turn you must play one of the four cards in your hand onto one of the four display piles, covering a card of the same color or number when you do. You've played UNO or Crazy Eights or Mau Mau, right? Then you know how to play cards. If your play satisfies one or more of the four current goals — which might be something like "all cards even", or "two adjacent pink piles", or "orange equal to half of green" — then you discard that goal and draw a new one. Refill your hand to four cards, then hope the next player does something to help out the team. Maybe they will.

To some degree, Cahoots is one of those "they won't even know they're learning" games. When I've played with youngsters, I initially point out how they need to figure out why they would want to play something: "One of the goals is to have the cards add to twenty. What do they add to now? How can you boost that sum to twenty?" "We need a straight of three numbers. How can we do that?" Then after a while, I shut up and let them figure out things on their own. With four goals in play, the requirements to fulfill them often pull you in different directions, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Goals in life often pull you in different directions, after all, and you need to figure out how to focus on and tackle certain goals in a certain order to get them all done in the long run. Sometimes the team pulls in opposite directions, and you fail. Sometimes you run out of a resources, and you fail.

And sometimes you don't.

Nothing about Cahoots feels new or innovative, but it's a nicely designed game that fulfills my "new games are for new gamers" mantra perfectly. Cahoots is a perfect design for some segment of the gaming audience to which cooperative games are relatively new. Maybe they've played Hanabi, a breakout mainstream hit in Germany thanks to winning the Spiel des Jahres award and a game that also had mainstream presence in the U.S. thanks to an edition in the Target retail chain. They liked the challenge of that game and here's something similarish and it's not expensive and we haven't bought a new game in a while, so sure, let's get it. We'll have fun playing this with visiting family members and while we're decompressing in the evening after the kids are in bed and with those same kids on the weekend at the beach house. Cahoots is colorful gaming comfort food.




[I apologize for the boxiness of the sound. Apparently I've messed with the settings on my recorder, but I can't figure out what I've done, and my sound guy is out of town. Next week's video should be better!)
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Mon Jul 2, 2018 1:05 pm
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New Game Round-up: Steal from the Future, Spring Tricks on Others, and Play for Your Partner

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I send so many notes to myself about new games that it's hard to keep up with them all. So many games! Here are a few titles in the inbox that I've yet to cover:

• Designer Richard Breese of R&D Games has announced that his SPIEL '18 release will be the card game Key Flow, co-designed with Sebastian Bleasdale and Ian Vincent, and it plays as follows:

Quote:
The great river Key Flow passes through the new Key Lands, carrying ships laden with resources for building and trade. Along the riverside, buildings are built, boats are moored in docks, and animals graze in the fields. Players build communities alongside this river, and send workers (known as "keyples") to work in both their own and their neighbors' businesses, enabling their economy to develop and flourish.

Key Flow is a card-driven game based on many of the ideas contained in the award-winning game Keyflower. The game flows quickly over four game rounds (seasons), allowing players to develop their own unique village, with many ways to score points for their buildings, animals, keyples, resources and other items.

Key Flow is played over four seasons (rounds). Each season, players are dealt a number of cards. They then choose one of their cards and pass the remaining cards to the player on their left or right — depending on the season — until all the cards have been chosen. All scoring takes place at the end of winter. Points are scored from the village cards in various ways, through upgrading buildings, and from gathering gold. The player who scores the most points wins.

• Timeline alert! I'm not sure how much A Thief's Fortune from Konstantinos Kokkinis, Sotirios Tsantilas, and Artipia Games qualifies as a time-travel design, but it has some elements going on in that vein, so it caught my eye and now here it is in this space:

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Nabbarah: A city full of wonders and stories to be told — a glimmering jewel in the middle of the desert.

You are a thief, always on the lookout for the next target to hit. You decide to sneak into the Royal Palace, break in its treasure room, and look for the mythical treasures rumored to be hidden there. Among piles of gold, emeralds, and precious jewelry, you stumble upon a chest containing a mysterious hourglass. As soon as you touch it, you are filled with mystical energy and realize its true power: You are now able to see glimpses of your own future. By taking different courses of action, different paths unfold before you, allowing you to shape your future as you see fit. Unfortunately, everyone in the palace is now after you...

A Thief's Fortune is a card game for 1-4 players in which each player represents a different possible future of the same character. By visiting different locations, interacting with local characters and making sure that certain events you have seen actually happen, you try to find the path that will lead you as far away as possible from danger.

In more detail, players each have three area in front of them: past, present, and future. Over five rounds, players draft location, event, and character cards, adding them to their personal "future" area with resources on those cards. Players extract resources from those cards, and when they're empty, the cards move into the player's present, after which the player can activate the power on those cards to score the fortune points they need to win the game.

• Korean publisher/game agent Mandoo Games has an interesting entry in the category of "trick-taking games with a twist", this being Spring Rally, a 2-5 player game from H.J. Kook that encourages you to lose tricks in order to gain in future rounds:

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Welcome to the toy spring car rally! No more dust rising or motors roaring. Instead you'll see sweet little cars run squeaking along the racing track. You must use the rally cards to move forward or wind up your spring. The more you wind it up, the more you will travel — but never wind more than needed, or things can go wrong. It's time to begin the race! The first person to finish two laps will win. Let's start the engines...I mean...wind your springs and let it roll!

In Spring Rally, players control their toy car based on trick-taking mechanisms. The game lasts three rounds, and in each round, players play a card from their hand to advance their car on the track. If the player wins the trick, they move their car as much as the lowest number on the card played in the round. Other players wind up their spring, which can help to boost them along when they win a trick. As long as a player avoids winning a trick, they gain the chance to advance much more later — but too much winding makes your spring stop working!

The player who first circles the track two times wins the game.

• In a report on the Herne Spielewahnsinn gaming event in May 2018, German game site Brettspielbox gave a brief overview of Concordia Venus, the next expansion for Mac Gerdts' Concordia from PD-Verlag. To translate, Concordia Venus is playable with four or six people playing in teams, with teammates sitting across from one another. When one team member plays a card, their partner does the same action as well immediately. Warehouses remain separate for each team member, but they can otherwise help one another. A new god included in this expansion scores areas where both teammates are present.

• Let's close with another SPIEL '18 release to close the sandwich (as it were). In October 2018, Strawberry Studio will release a tiny game from Robin Lees and Steve Mackenzie titled Little Monster That Came For Lunch And Stayed For Tea. An overview of this game for 2-4 players:

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Little Monster That Came For Lunch And Stayed For Tea is a light racing game in which playing your cards right and using the abilities of your two unique monsters makes for a very tasty difference! Each game you are assigned two unique little monsters to feed as quickly as you can as you race against one, two or three opponents. Each little monster has its own special skill, and you want to combo these skills and card abilities to create awesome combos.

On your turn, you either play or draw cards. If you play, you create combos that will move your monsters forward, pushing the opponents' critters backwards! You win the game as soon as both of your monsters reach the end of the table, so eat up!
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Sun Jul 1, 2018 1:00 pm
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