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

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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:

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

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• 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:

Quote:
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:

Quote:
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:

Quote:
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:

Quote:
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.

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

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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.

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

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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:

Quote:
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?!


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

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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:

Quote:
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:

Quote:
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.



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:

Quote:
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:

Quote:
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:



—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:

Quote:
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, albeit of a more insectile nature:

Quote:
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:

Quote:
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:

Quote:
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?

Update, Jan. 16, 2018: In a newsletter for her own SchilMil Games company, co-designer Amanda Milne notes that she started prototyping and testing what was then named "Stoned Age" in 2014: "[T]o cut a long story.... Martin Wallace has developed the game idea into an entirely different beast. It is now known as Monster Rock." And thanks to the name, I've now given this design a listing in the database.
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Crowdfunding Round-up: Operation Countdown for Candy, Capers, Red Death, and a Quintet of Legacies

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• In mid-December 2017, I wrote about Adam Wyse's Masque of the Red Death, a design from IDW Games in which 4-7 players attempt to avoid the Red Death from Edgar Allen Poe's story of the same name while currying favor with the prince who's hosting the ball. (KS link)

• Another title briefly covered in this space earlier was The Mansky Caper from Ken Franklin and Calliope Games, this being a game in which you and other gangsters are ransacking the boobytrapped house owned by a mob boss, working together as needed to avoid traps, while always trying to split the loot in your favor so that you end up making it out of the house with more than anyone else. (KS link)

Last Stand sounds like an intense dose of "take that" from Trent Ellingsen of 5 Color Combo Games, with players placing cards on their area of the board, rolling dice that activate cards in slots matching the die rolls, playing more cards, then picking up used cards. As you're attacked, your hand size increases, giving you more fuel to attack back, and if you're the only one with cards still on the board, then you win. (KS link)

River Horse Ltd. has published a number of games based on movie licenses, such as Jim Henson's Labyrinth: The Board Game and Terminator Genisys: The Miniatures Game, and now it's funding Highlander: The Board Game, a design by Alessio Cavatore and Jack Caesar for up to six players in which you must be the last immortal standing. Player elimination has gone out of style in most games, but it seems essential here. (KS link)

Deja Vu: Fragments of Memory from Terry Cheung and Asteria Games combines set-collecting and tableau-building, with a mancala-like process that earns you resources, with which you then acquire cards to build an engine to propel further actions. (KS link)

• Kagan Eden's Operation Candy Bomber from Cedar Fort is a cooperative game set after World War II in which players need to deliver supplies to West Berlin, which has been cut off from the outside world by the Soviet Union. (KS link)

• Kickstarter has also become a standard way for publishers to fund new editions of previously released games, as with the third edition of Greenland and second edition of Neanderthal from Phil Eklund and Sierra Madre Games. In addition to the cards in both games being redesigned, Greenland now includes the Sea Sámi expansion previously available as a separate item. (KS link)

Steve Jackson Games is funding a new edition of Triplanetary, which "depicts ship-to-ship space combat in the solar system using a vector movement system". This game by Marc Miller first appeared in print in 1973 from GDW Games and was last published in 1981. In the KS project, Steve Jackson notes that he became a fan of the game when he was in college, and it's being republished with only light changes from the original design. (KS link)

• Lindsey Rode's Countdown: Action Edition from Dog Might Games pitches itself as a 1980s action movie in which the hero also plays the role of moderator, while everyone else chooses a character they want to play, then turns out to be a hostage or villain based on which cards they receive. Hope the hero can figure out who to rescue! (KS link)

• Marshall Britt and Andrew Toth's Re-Chord, which uses actual guitar picks as components in a game about playing chords and making songs, is having a better run on KS the second time around, with $15K currently in backing against a $7,500 goal, the reverse of the numbers achieved in its first crowdfunding effort. If at first you don't succeed, re-Re-Chord. (KS link)

• The game design firm Lynnvander Studios is attempting to fund five "Legacy" games at once, although in this case "Legacy" doesn't mean "a game to which permanent changes is made as you move through a campaign of games", but more like the "history of something being transmitted to the present day". Three of these games — Albion's Legacy, Neverland's Legacy, and Sherwood's Legacy — have appeared in print previously, while a fourth title — Gascony's Legacy — has not been released previously, and the fifth title — Red Sonja: Hyrkania's Legacy — was Kickstarted in December 2017 by publisher Dynamite Entertainment, and is being included to have all the "Legacy" line in one place. (KS link)

Hermetica from Alvarez, Grummon, Modica, and Iff Studios is a sharp-looking two-player abstract strategy game, with players wanting to move their adept to the opponent's base to win, while using three element pieces and their special powers to assist their effort. (KS link)

• I have one more KS project to write about as well, but that's going in a separate article for reasons that will become clear once that article goes live on Monday, January 15...

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

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Next Move Games to Establish Reef at Origins 2018

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For the past month or so, I've been focusing on upcoming games that will be highlighted at one of three conventions in February 2018 — Spielwarenmesse, NY Toy Fair, or Festival International des Jeux — but publishers keep popping out info on titles due later in the year as well, such as the news that Plan B Games, publisher of Azul and Century: Spice Road, will launch a new imprint at the 2018 Origins Game Fair in June 2018. Here's an overview of what to expect from Next Move Games:

Quote:
Next Move Games focuses on LITE themed abstract games with DEEP strategy. Next Move Games will bring fans PURE games with simple, CORE mechanisms to engage their minds. Fans can expect CHIC, high-quality components that offer a simple pleasure to the tactile and visual senses. A final point to note is that Next Move titles will be FOUR letters in length to reinforce the elegance in the game's design.

Next Move's debut title will be Reef from Century: Spice Road designer Emerson Matsuuchi, the details of which are minimal for now:

Quote:
In the game Reef, players take on the role of the reef itself, alternating turns in which they carefully select the colors and patterns in which to grow and expand — the more beautiful the reef, the more points they score!

Reef is suited for players aged 8 and up. While it could take thousands of years for a coral reef to grow, a game of Reef should take only 30-45 minutes.

Reef opens for preorders on April 16 on the Next Move Games website, with a "free exclusive promotional item" available with preorders, similar to what Plan B Games did for its first two titles.

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New Game Round-up: Tell Stories, Avoid Marbles, Pose Like a Nut, and Gain Mastery Over Others

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Stone Blade Entertainment has had continued success with its Ascension deck-building game since it was introduced in 2010, and in March 2018 the company will release a new deck-building game from Ascension designer Justin Gary and the co-designer of two Ascension sets Gary Arant. Here's a rundown of Shards of Infinity, which carries a $20 MSRP:

Quote:
One-hundred years ago, The Infinity Engine was shattered and its reality-bending shards have destroyed most of the world. Now, it falls upon you to gather your forces, defeat your adversaries, and rebuild the Infinity Engine! Will you survive?

Shards of Infinity combines an unprecedented level of strategy and customization into one small box. Rather than competing for points, players must outlast their opponents and reduce their health to zero, which can be done in a number of ways. Each player starts the game with a basic deck of cards, and they can acquire new cards from a central display of six cards (as in Ascension) and add these new cards to their deck or use them immediately, depending on what they are.

Every character starts with fifty health and zero mastery. On each turn, you can spend one gem (a.k.a., money) to gain a mastery point. The more mastery you have, the more powerful your cards become. This lets even the weak cards in your starting deck become more powerful as the game progresses. If you reach a total of thirty mastery, you can activate your Infinity Shard, which instantly defeats your opponent.

As you acquire new cards, you can employ allies and champions to craft your strategy. Mercenary cards can be added to your deck as in other deck-building games or they can be played immediately from the center row for their ability; this adds even more drama to each player's turn as a key mercenary flip can alter the very outcome of the game!

Will you neutralize your opponents before they can fully master the Infinity Shard? With careful planning and aggressive gameplay, only one player can emerge the winner!


Shards of Infinity card art


• Renegade Games Studios has announced the March 2018 release of Roméo Hennion's Sabordage, which first appeared from French publisher Superlude Éditions in 2016. Here's a rundown of the setting:

Quote:
The famous pirate Blackbeard has summoned you to his deathbed and entrusts you with his dearest secret: the location of his hidden treasure! But the old rascal played one last trick on you by also revealing the location to every renowned pirate on the seven seas. The race is on, but in order to reach the treasure, you need a ship, sturdy and fast — except everyone has had the same idea and the battle is already raging in the harbor before the ships have even been completed!

Figure out how to finish your ship first in Sabordage, and you'll be on your way to treasure!

Curt Covert of Smirk & Dagger Games has started a complementary game line for 2018: Smirk & Laughter Games, titles from which feature 100% less backstabbery than those from Smirk & Dagger. The line launches in March 2018 with Nut So Fast from Jeff Lai, a quick-playing party game for 3-6 players in which players must race to grab the right nut token from the table or race to form a "nutty" pose, a word which here means "odd" and is not related to the activity of actual nuts, which mostly involves lying around in a shell or container until something eats you.

• The other new title from Smirk & Laughter, due out in August 2018, is Before There Were Stars... from the design trio of Alex Cutler, Matt Fantastic, and Alexander Wilkinson. A short description from the publisher:

Quote:
Since ancient times, the twinkling of the heavens inspired people across the globe to create stories that answered the most important of questions: "Who are we… and how did it all begin?"

Open this box, and join the storytellers of old. Before There Were Stars... is a storytelling game in which each player tells the mythic creation story of "their people". Inspired by constellation cards, players craft tales about the creation of the world, the origins of civilization, the rise of a great hero, and the end of days.

• Smirk & Dagger will continue to release its usual fare as well, with June 2018 seeing the debut of S&D owner Curt Covert's Tower of Madness, a press-your-luck dice game which might be described as "CthulPlunk". An overview:

Quote:
Investigate unspeakable horrors without losing your marbles — literally!

The veil between worlds in thinning, an ancient horror is awakening, and the very existence of the world hangs in the balance. You must investigate a series of horrific locations and discover the unknowable truth before the world ends — or go mad in the attempt to save it. Find the paranormal gates that have opened onto our world, and be stout of heart and strong of mind for only then will you discover how to seal the gates and save humanity.

In Tower of Madness, a three-dimensional clock tower, standing a foot tall and filled with marbles of four distinct colors, stands before you. Thirty unworldly tentacles push through the tower walls in every direction in this high-tension, push-your-luck dice game of Lovecraft-inspired horror. Fail your investigation dice rolls and you will be forced to draw a tentacle from the tower. Any marbles that fall as a result affect your character immediately, whether adding to your discovery total, gaining you spells and knowledge that man was not meant to have, or gaining madness; drop one of the three DOOM marbles, however, and you summon Cthulhu and end the game.

Investigate every horrific location in the deck, each with its own unique dice challenge, in order to save the world before your luck runs out. The player with the most discovery points is declared the hero and wins the game. Otherwise, the insane players collectively enjoy a brief moment of victory as Cthulhu rises, destroys the world, and eats them last...as their reward.

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Grab Tree Branches, Collect Animals, and Lie Your Pants Off Courtesy of MJ Games

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Canadian publisher MJ Games has been around since at least 2007, and I have written about them in this space, um, zero times. Maybe that's not surprising given that MJ Games focuses on small games for children and the family and typically releases at most a couple of games in a year, but they released two games at the end of 2017 and have two more coming in 2018, and all of this info is in front of me now, so here I am writing about them.

• November 2017 saw the release of Dominique Ehrhard's No Bluff!, a new edition of his game Johnny Controletti from 1997. Yes, we have 20th anniversary editions — okay, not really — of games that didn't make a huge splash the first time around, but in many cases old games work as well as new ones, especially when they're a bare bones design like this one that relies more on player psychology than specific game mechanisms:

Quote:
Players begin with nine money cards totaling $13,000 in various denominations, including two cards worth zero. In turn, players roll a colored die, then offer at least one face-down money card to the player indicated by the roll. That player may either accept the offer or challenge it. After challenging the offer, the player rolls a numbered die. If the number is greater than the amount of money offered, the offering player must add at least one face-down card to the mix and begin the process anew. If the die roll is equal to the money, the offer must be accepted. If the roll is less than the offer, the offering player keeps his money and the challenging player must pay the offering player the amount offered. The first player who reaches $25,000 wins.

No Bluff! has also been released in Poland, and the game is due out in France in 2018.

Valéry Fourcade and Jean-Philippe Mars' Big Bluff Quiz, which was also released in November 2017, is another bluffing game, albeit of a very different type as it seems like a branch on the Terra family tree. An overview:

Quote:
Big Bluff Quiz, a.k.a., BBQ, is a question game in which you can win even if you don't know any of the answers! You may pretend you know them, be self confident, and end up a little lucky. Do not push your luck either as BBQ may "grill" you.

To set up, place fifteen tokens numbered 2-16 in the middle of the playing area. One of the players takes a card and reads the question. All players may then take one of the numbered tokens, which represents both their bet and the number of answers they think they know. If the question asked you to name the planets in the solar system, for example, a player who took the #5 token is saying that they know five planets and are betting 5 points. One of the players is then chosen to give their answers. They win their bet if they succeed and lose it if they fail. The other players win their bets even if they didn't know any of the answers!

Okay, "number of planets in the solar system" is not a difficult question, yet the listed suggested age is 14+, so either we're elbowing one another fiercely for tokens or else this question is not representative of those in the box. Hmm. In any case, Big Bluff Quiz will be released in 2018 in France (by Goliath), in Poland (by NK), and in Russia (by Lifestyle), with a release in the U.S. and Germany in 2019 by Goliath. Long-term planning, y'all.

• In the first half of 2018, MJ Games will release Safari Golo from Andrea Angiolino, this being a 2-6 player game for ages 7 and up. An overview of what's happening in the game:

Quote:
In Safari Golo, players compete to be the first to see six different types of land animals, but to do so they need to hop from island to island while trying to remember where everything is that they've already seen.

The game includes fifty tiles: six each of six different land animals, two whales, and three each of four other sea animals. Shuffle these tiles face down, then place five (still face down) around each of thee ten islands while the players start on the central, eleventh island. On a turn, a player first looks at any face-down tile on the board, then moves to any island adjacent to their current location except the one where they just looked at a tile, then they draw and reveal a tile from the island where they just arrived. If the tile shows a land animal, they keep it. (Exception: A player cannot have three tiles of the same type. If they would take one, they instead place it on any empty location on the game board.) If the tile shows a sea animal, they take the special action associated with that animal, then discard the tile.

If you arrive on an island with another player and that player has a duplicate animal that you don't already have, you can give them an animal tile of your choice to take one of the duplicated animals.

Collect six different types of land animals first, and you win! If multiple players complete their sextet the same round, then the player with the most overall animals wins.

• Another 2018 title coming from MJ Games is Arbra Kadabra, a 2-4 player dexterity and set collection game from Liesbeth Bos that will probably be easier to imagine once we can see the game's components. For now, though, we have this game description:

Quote:
You are in the enchanted forest, and you must leave before night. The magic tree stands in the middle of the forest. It is a multi-colored tree that you may grow or shrink, and you must overcome its challenge to escape. Specifically, you have to insert all your wooden pieces in the tree trunk and capture a precise number of your opponents' trunk pieces. Be smart and skilled, and you will succeed. Otherwise, you will turn into a mushroom and spend one thousand years near the tree with all the ones who missed before you!

All players start Arbra Kadabra with ten wooden trunk pieces in your color, with the die (showing 1/1/2/2/3/3) and the base of the tree in the center of the table. On a turn, you roll the die, then either add a number of pieces to the tree or remove a number of pieces to the tree equal to the number that you rolled. (If the tree is too short to take pieces, then you must add them.)

When you add pieces to the tree, you must add pieces of your own color first. Once you have no more pieces of your color, you can instead place pieces of other players' colors. Why would you have pieces of their color? Two reasons: (1) When you remove pieces from the tree, you must take them from the top down; you can't remove pieces from the center of the tree. (2) If the tree collapses on your turn, then you must take all of the pieces that fell and add them to your collection.

What are you trying to do with all this building and unbuilding? To win the game, you must have none of your own pieces in front of you. In addition, you must have exactly four of the opponent's pieces in a two-player game, exactly three of each opponent's pieces in a three-player game, or exactly two of each opponent's pieces in a four-player game. Do this first, and you win!


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Wed Jan 10, 2018 1:05 pm
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Revisit — and Resettle — the Past in Catan: The Rise of the Inca

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German publisher KOSMOS has not announced its full line of titles due out in early 2018, but they have released info on one game that shows the Catan game franchise is alive and well.

July 2018 will see the release of Catan: Der Aufstieg der Inka (The Rise of the Inca), a new standalone game from Klaus Teuber and his son (and increasingly frequent design partner) Benjamin Teuber that is for 3-4 players with a playing time of 90 minutes.

This initial description from KOSMOS doesn't give much to go on, but BGG will be at the Spielwarenmesse trade fair in February 2018, and we'll record a more detailed overview of the game then. For now, we offer this summary:

Quote:
Settle, act, build — the basic Catan elements are all there in Catan: Der Aufstieg der Inka, but this game includes an innovative displacement mechanism that opens up new possibilities for players and confronts them with new game situations that will require tactical adjustments. Nature can reclaim settlements already built, allowing another player the chance to build their own settlement on a coveted site. Fish, cocoa, and feathers enrich the barter trade.

Detailed figures and colorful illustrations are used in the game to spread the atmosphere of South American culture as you relive the rise and fall of one of the continent's most impressive cultures.
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