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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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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:

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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:

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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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Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:05 pm
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Grab Tree Branches, Collect Animals, and Lie Your Pants Off Courtesy of MJ Games

W. Eric Martin
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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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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Game Preview: Topiary, or I Think That I Shall Never See a Tile as Lovely as a Tree

W. Eric Martin
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In 2017, Renegade Game Studios assumed the unofficial title of "chief U.S. hobby game importer and repackager" that Rio Grande Games had held for so many years. In addition to releasing original titles such as Ex Libris and Flatline, Renegade announced licensing deals for — and in some cases released — games first released by non-U.S. publishers such as Altiplano, Dokmus, Dragon's Hoard, Honshu, Kepler-3042, Planet Defenders, Raiders of the North Sea, and the topic of this post, Danny Devine's Topiary, which was first released by Italian publisher Fever Games in mid-2017 and has a U.S. street date of January 10, 2018.

Topiary is a simple tile-based game for 2-4 players, one in which you try to create rows of topiary for your spectators to view, preferable in order from small to large so that you can see everything in front of you and thereby score as many points as possible. (Interestingly, another plant-based game from 2017, Photosynthesis, features a similar challenge as you want sunlight to hit all of your trees, so you try to plant and grow them in order to maximize sunlight absorbed while blocking light from opposing trees.)


In Topiary, sunlight is good only for seeing the tiles


Over 5-8 rounds, you place figures on the edges of the playing area, each one occupying a unique position among the tiles due to aggressive social characteristics or even more aggressive body odor, and in most cases you will transform a square of grass into a lawn sculpture. Sometimes you'll see something special because it matches what you've seen before or fits the size-requirement that you want to see in that space, and sometimes you'll have to place something there because that's what the rules demand you do. You took a chance on pulling a good tile from the board, and that chance has left you in a thorny predicament. Them's the breaks, kids!


Peeps


I've now played the game six times on a review copy from Renegade and offer these thoughts, in addition to a more detailed overview of how the game works, why you have multiple bodies, what's missing from the game world, and why you might want to reach for a knife after looking inside Topiary.

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Tue Jan 9, 2018 6:05 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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Tue Jan 9, 2018 5:00 pm
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Build Forum Trajanum with Feld, Rieneck and HUCH! in Late 2018

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• Yesterday I posted about titles coming in the first half of 2018 from German publisher HUCH! Today I'll cover a few games coming in the latter half of the year, with them most likely debuting at SPIEL '18 in October. Note that all images are preliminary, non-final images from a catalog, so they're low quality and possibly not representative of what the games will look like upon publication.

The highlight title of this batch is Forum Trajanum, the second game from the design team of Stefan Feld and Michael Rieneck following 2017's Merlin from Queen Games. Forum Trajanum is for 2-4 players with a playing time of 60-90 minutes, and here's what we currently know about this game:

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Emperor Trajan plans to have a monument built for eternity: the Forum Trajanum. It is supposed to become the biggest and most glorious Emperor's forum that the Roman world has ever seen — not only in order to demonstrate his success as Princeps Optimus in an imposing manner, but also to foster the well-being and the fame of the honorable citizens of Rome.

In Forum Trajanum, each player governs a Colonia, founded by Trajan himself, and thus is the head of one of the highest-ranking cities in the entire Roman Empire. While the players try to optimally develop their own Colonia, they should not fail in supporting the Emperor's building project to the best of their abilities at the same time. The player who is most successful in doing so will — after expiry of their term of office — be admitted to the small circle of illustrious and mighty personalities surrounding the Emperor.

Man, that placeholder image is blurry! How about this other image from the catalog instead? Personally, I welcome the idea of games being served under decorative silk cloths...



• Before working on this game's write-up, I will confess to not knowing who Alexander von Humboldt was. Here's the Wikipedia summary for those in the same historically ignorant boat as me: "Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt was a Prussian polymath, geographer, naturalist, explorer, and influential proponent of Romantic philosophy and science." With that background in mind, a game titled Humboldt's Great Voyage starts making more sense. Here's an overview of the design from Remo Conzadori and Nestore Mangone, this being a 2-4 player game due out in Q4 2018 for which we have only a preliminary cover for now:

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In the 19th century, Alexander von Humboldt was considered the second Columbus. His first great discovery journey to and across America led him from the Amazon jungle all the way to the White House. The knowledge he gained not only opened up a new way of viewing nature and its relationships, but also made Humboldt the most famous man of his time besides Napoleon.

But the measuring of the world goes on: As venturous young scientists, players in Humboldt's Great Voyage follow Humboldt's legendary expedition route all across the American continent. Using the "mancala" principle, they travel in stages from one location to the next, collect the objects they find, and ship them to selected personalities all over the world in order to make the findings they obtained available as quickly as possible to a public hungry for knowledge. Who will succeed in making a name for themself among the renowned scientists of the 19th century and be admitted as an associate member of the Academy of Sciences?

Outback from Michael Kiesling is a dice game that currently bears this brief description:

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The zoo animals want to go back to their wildlife habitat. Kangaroo, koala, platypus, emu, and lizard — all of them are in the Jeep, ready to go! Players in Outback want to populate the outback and build many different populations. With dice luck and tactics, you try to fill your board and collect as many points as possible.

Fred Horn's Fenix is a two-player game that has only a thematic description for now, which doesn't tell us much since Horn typically designs abstract strategy games:

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In Fenix, two armies fight against each other. The battle of the two kings, their generals and soldiers is a matter of life and death — but Fenix is different from other strategy games: Here, the battle is not automatically lost when one of the kings has been defeated. Why? The phoenix-bird is immortal; if he loses his life, he rises again from the ashes. The cycle starts all over. The king is dead? Long live the king!

Haste Worte? is a party game from Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling that's been in print for more than twenty years, so given the current state of the market, you should not be surprised by the announcement of Haste Worte? Das Würfelspiel, albeit from designer Hartwig Jakubik instead of K&K. Changing this party game into a party dice game allows for the publisher to include rules in English and French in addition to German, widening the potential audience. An overview of the game;

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Haste Worte? Das Würfelspiel transforms the long-lived communication game into a dice game. The dice determine the category in which players need to find the right words, but watch out! The terms you find do not necessarily give you points — the other players can challenge you for the terms! Only if you think carefully and constantly keep an eye on the other players can you rake in points and win the game.
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Tue Jan 9, 2018 1:05 pm
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In Early 2018, HUCH! Challenges You to Find Treasure, Capture Animals, Catch Fish, and Build Dams

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As is the pattern with many German publishers in the weeks prior to the Spielwarenmesse trade fair in Nürnberg, Germany, HUCH! has released information on the new games that it expects to highlight at the fair ahead of their release in (most likely) Q2 2018.

• Designers Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim have two titles coming from HUCH!, one being the trick-taking game Djinn that works as follows:

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The treasures sparkle and glitter temptingly, so everyone wants to capture as much as possible from the treasure cave — but to do this the players must first find their way to the treasure! In the trick-taking card game Djinn, every captured trick shows the way to treasure, but the djinn can unexpectedly intervene in the action. Who can enter the famous treasure cave first?

In more detail, a game of Djinn lasts multiple rounds, with each round being eight tricks. Standard trick-taking rules are used, with players needing to follow suit of the card led, and throwing off whateever card they want if they can't follow suit. The deck contains four suits, with cards numbered 1-15 in each suit. Each player starts with a hand of eight cards and one djinn card that contains a special power a player can use on their turn. The top card of the deck is flipped to reveal the trump suit. Whenever a player wins a trick, they keep one card from this trick face up in front of them, discard the remaining cards, then lead to the next trick.

After the round ends, players see whether they can discard captured cards to advance into the treasure cave, which is made up of three lines of challenge cards, with each challenge requiring three, four, or five cards depending on the row where it's located. Sample challenges might be to discard three cards that sum to more than 30, three cards of the same color, or three cards in numerical order. If a player completes one of the three challenges requiring three cards, they discard these three cards, then place their player token on the "three challenge" row. At the end of the next round, they can ideally complete one of the three four-card challenges. Players who are in the back of the pack receive a bonus djinn card before the next round begins.

The first player to complete one of the five-card challenges wins! If multiple players reach this row at the same time, ties are broken by the number of captured cards those players still hold.




• The other Bamboozle Brothers title is the two-player Tic Tac Moo, which bears a childlike title, albeit with gameplay that seems like it could be thinky if you wanted it to be:

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The young farmers in Tic Tac Moo have their hands full driving the farm animals onto the meadow. On top of that, the animals are very status-conscious as to who is allowed to enter the grassland next to them, and if too many animals of one kind stand together, it can easily happen that some will go astray. Under these circumstances, how are you supposed to gather enough of them?

In more detail, each player has a set of 24 animal tokens that are shuffled at the start of the game. The game board is an 8x8 grid with the corners cut off; the outer rows on all sides are neutral space, while the inner section has four 3x3 fields, two each in the color of one of the players. To start the game, players place two of their animal tokens face up on their farmhand spaces and a third animal token in their barn. They then take turns placing four starting animal tokens on the board, one in each of their colored fields.

On a turn, a player must place both tokens held by farmhands onto empty spaces in the grid — whether in their color, the opponent's color, or neutral territory — and they must place them adjacent to tokens showing the same animal as the one in their barn. If their barn has a pig token, for example, then they must place both tokens next to pig tokens already on the board, whether orthogonally or diagonally. If while doing so they create a line of three or more of the same animal tokens, they remove all of these animal tokens from the board and keep them except for the token that they just placed.

If a player manages to fill one of their colored 3x3 grids with two pairs of each of the four animals (and a third animal of some type), then they immediately win. Alternatively, a player can win immediately by capturing at least twelve animals.




Fat Fish is a small card game from three designers — Wolfgang Kramer, Bernhard Lach, and Uwe Rapp — and the game seems like a twist on 6 nimmt!, albeit with players trying to lay down the fifth card in the right row at the right time in order to claim positive points while minimizing negative ones:

Quote:
Fishermen fish for fresh, fat, and colorful fish — and if you feel like it, you can join in! In Fat Fish, each player is out to find fat fish of different colors. The fatter the fish, the bigger the haul, and the more colorful the catch is, the more successful the fisherman will be. The player who fishes fabulously and secures the most valuable haul prevails over the other players and wins the game.

In more detail, the game contains one hundred fish cards in five colors, with the cards numbered 1-6. To set up play, shuffle the deck and deal each player a face-down deck of twelve cards, with everyone drawing a hand of four cards from their own decks. Place three cards face up to form the start of lines, then place another 3-15 cards (depending on the number of players) face down to form a reserve. On a turn, a player chooses one line on which to play, then plays 1-4 cards on this line, playing all the cards in a row from left to right. The color of each card played must match the rightmost card in this line. Thus, if the three starting cards are red, yellow, and blue, you can't play both a red and a blue card since you can play in only one line; you can, however, play a blue card onto the line that ends with a blue card, then play a green card onto the blue since no line has a green card at the end of it. At the end of their turn, the player refills their hand to four cards.

As soon as a line has five cards in it, the player who laid down the fifth card must take this line and end their turn. They choose one card of each color in the line and place them face up in their positive points pile, then place all remaining cards face down in their negative points pile. (If the line has five cards of one color, the player places two cards in their positive pile instead of only one.) The player then draws a card from the reserve pile to start a new line.

Once players have played all twelve cards from their personal decks, the game ends and players sum their positive and negative points to see who has the highest score.

As a variant, Fat Fish includes nine fishing license cards that give players bonus points, sometimes for being the first player to meet a certain condition, such as claiming a line that contains cards of only 1, 2, and 3, and sometimes for meeting a condition at the end of the game, such as having collected the most 1 cards in their positive pile.

Graeme Jahns' Dam It! is a set-collecting card game in which you try to build the most wood-diverse dams that you can while keeping garbage away from them since no one wants to stare at a garbage-strewn dam. In detail:

Quote:
Before play begins, lay out the fifteen dam cards in five piles based on the "dam sum" total at that top of the cards; for cards with the same number, stack the cards worth more points on top of those worth fewer. Shuffle the deck of wood, garbage, and garbage removal cards and lay four out in a face-up row; give each player four wood cubes. On a turn, a player either builds a dam or takes a card. The player can take the leftmost card for free; if they want a different card, they must place a wood cube on each card they skip. (If you take a card with cubes on it, add them to your supply for possible use later.)

—If you pick up a wood card, add it to your hand.
—If you pick up a garbage card, immediately discard a garbage removal card or else place the garbage in your scored dam pile.
—If you pick up garbage removal, add it to your hand; you can use it to remove garbage drawn later, or you can use it in a dam.

When you build a dam, you lay down wood cards of all different types, with each wood card having a value of 1-3. Based on the sum of the dam, take the topmost dam card that best matches the value of the dam. If you play a garbage removal card in a dam, count it as a joker wood of value 2.

When the deck runs out or all the dam cards have been claimed, the game ends. Sum the points on all dam cards collected, add 1 point for each two wood cubes you have, then subtract the square of the numbere of garbage cards you've collected, up to a maximum of -25 points. Whoever has the most points wins!

Interesting to see the Vinci/Small World style of acquiring something show up in late 2017's Majesty, the early 2018 release Micropolis, and now this game.

Gangster City is a deduction game for 1-6 players from Henrik Larsson and Kristian Amundsen Østby that features some incredibly non-gangster-looking individuals on the cover, but perhaps that's just my stereotype of gangsters talking. Here's a rundown of the gameplay:

Quote:
Can you solve the cases presented to you in Gangster City, preferably before the other detectives do so and show you up? The game includes a deck of 54 case cards, and each case card identifies elements about the case that you must discover; specifically, each case card indicates the suspect's profession (entertainer, scientist, thug), choice of weapon (revolver, knife, syringe), scene of the crime (theater, street, hotel room), and motive (money, love).

At the start of the game, each player takes a card at random and faces it away from themselves in a plastic stand. Three cards are revealed face up. On a turn, you can either take a face-up card or the top card from the deck, or you can attempt to guess your suspect's characteristics. When you take a card, you hold it up next to your case card, then the other players tell you how many characteristics they have in common. You then place this card in front of you, rotating it so that the number on the outer edge of the card shows how many characteristics they share (0-3).

When you guess, if you're correct, you discard the case card and place a new one in the stand; if you're wrong, you continue the game as normal next turn. The first player to correctly solve two cases wins!

• In the category of "longest time between publishing credits", we have Dragorun from Sven Kübler, whose most recent credit on BGG is 1995's New York, which was co-designed with Sid Sackson. In the game, you want to back the dragon that wins the race, but you can switch dragons during the game. On a turn, you roll thee movement and color die to determine which dragon moves where or switch the dragon you're backing for another, with others being unable to swap with you until your next turn.

• Other titles coming from HUCH! in the first half of 2018 are a German edition of Marie and Wilfried Fort's Wallet under the name Greif Zu!, a new German edition of Francesco Giovo and Marco Valtriani's Voodoo, a new German edition of the Kiesling and Kramer party game Haste Worte?, and a Dutch, French, and German version of Matt Loomis and Isaac Shalev's Seikatsu.


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Mon Jan 8, 2018 5:05 pm
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Memoir '44 to Head Through Jungle and Desert in April 2018

W. Eric Martin
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Sometimes you're not sure whether a longtime game franchise is dead or not. Carcassonne, Catan, and Ticket to Ride keep rolling along year after year, with expansions dropped almost annually for each of them. (Yes, many of the Catan expansions are paper-only maps that provide a new layout of resources and land with no rule changes, but they indicate continued activity by the publisher and interest by the players, so they could as much as anything else.)

For other franchises, the clues are more subtle as with the announcement in 2016 of The Battles of Khalkhin-Gol, which was described by the publisher as "the first installment in Days of Wonder's second series of Memoir '44 Battle Maps" — and since you rarely have a first in a series without a second, it was only a question of how long we'd have to wait to see what comes next.

The answer is April 2018 as that's when Days of Wonder will release Through Jungle and Desert, the second installment in the second series of Memoir '44 Battle Maps. Here's an overview of what you'll find in this expansion:

Quote:
Lead your men through the merciless jungles of Burma, trying to escape the Japanese grasp, or rush to Rangoon before the British forces evacuate the city on the jungle scenario. Then, change the terrain and fight the first tank battle between U.S. and German forces in the sands of North Africa, where Stuart and Panzer clash in the middle of the desert.

Through Jungle and Desert includes six standard pre-printed scenarios with historical background and special rules, one token punchboard, and two new decks of combat cards: a Jungle Combat Cards deck and a Desert Combat Cards deck. The Jungle's scenarios can be played separately or as a campaign, with each scenario outcome impacting the following one.


One of the Overlord scenarios


Quote:
In addition, this expansion features two pre-printed Overlord scenarios that allow you to fight for Henderson Field in Guadalcanal or conduct a a huge desert battle that marks the beginning of the second battle of El Alamein in Operation Lightfoot.

To use this expansion, you need at least one copy of Memoir '44 as well as the Pacific Theater and Mediterranean Theater expansions. The publisher also recommends the Terrain Pack and Equipment Pack expansions.

Memoir '44: Through Jungle and Desert is due out in April 2018 in both Europe and North America, and it retails for $28/€25. Here are a few more pics of the components in this expansion:

Sample Jungle Combat cards

Sample Desert Combat cards

Components in this expansion
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Mon Jan 8, 2018 2:00 pm
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Crowdfunding Round-up: Outfox the Movable Tokyo Chicken Spirit

W. Eric Martin
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With a new year comes a new wave of board and card game Kickstarter projects because everyone's now finished with their holiday purchases and ready to spend some money on themselves. That's the hope anyway by all the designers and publishers who are now holding out the hat and explaining why their hat is the best destination for your money.

Don Eskridge of Orange Machine Games invited us to Abandon Planet in 2017, and for 2018 he's heading out even further into in the universe with Black Hole Council, which like that previous title is a negotiation-based game for 4-8 players. (KS link) An overview:

Quote:
Black Hole Council is a negotiation and deduction game about deciding the fate of 32 different planets. Players take on the role of Councilors on the Black Hole Council. Each Councilor has been paid off by shady organizations, and so has a secret agenda card they're trying to fulfill. During six negotiation rounds and three deductions rounds, players attempt to achieve their agenda and guess the goals of other players.

During negotiations, a leader chooses whether to settle, tax, mine, conquer, or "black hole" five different planets while the other Councilors attempt to influence the leader's decision. This happens while a two-minute sand timer is running, and after it runs out, all players except the leader vote on the proposal. If it passes, all players advance (or not) on the influence track, depending on how well they did during the negotiation.

During deduction rounds, players attempt to guess certain goals held by the other players. Correct guesses earn influence coins for you, while incorrect guesses earn coins for your opponent.

The more players can negotiate to achieve their agenda and deduce what other players' goals are, the more likely they are to advance on the influence track and become the new de facto ruler of the Council.

• Designer Jordan Draper of Dark Flight has set up an audacious challenge for himself: Publish a series of twelve games based on "real world simulations of the beautiful and overlooked life in Tokyo, Japan". What's more, Draper mentions that each title in the series is modular: "They can be played stand alone, in series (adding end game scores), or integrated with one or more other TOKYO titles for an expanded new experience!" That sounds like a ticket to the cuckoo house, but Draper is launching three titles now with an estimated release date of July 2018 for all of them. (KS link)

Tokyo Jidohanbaiki is a collection of at least twenty games playable with a "dice" tower in the shape of a drink machine and small bottles in six colors that serve as the "dice"you'll drop into the tower. Guest designers for this collection of games includes Rory O'Connor and Kenichi Tanabe.

The real-time dexterity game Tokyo Jutaku, which is for 1-8 players, comes with 69 unique wooden building pieces as well as 32 double-sided site cards on which you'll attempt to build structures.

Tokyo Metro is an economic worker placement game in which 1-4 players invest in train lines, ride the rails to locations where they can build new stations, and finagle their way to additional actions.

Spirits of the Forest is a new version of Michael Schacht's Richelieu that now accommodates 1-4 players instead of only two. In the game, you remove one or two tiles from either end of four rows of tiles, attempting to gain majorities in nine symbols. Man, that description sounds dry, but I've always found the game incredibly tense, whether playing in real-life or online on Schacht's website where it's called Web of Power Card Game: The Duel. (KS link)

• This description of Dwar7s Winter from Luís Brüeh and Vesuvius Media is short — "Dwar7s Winter is a hand-building, resource management game with tower defense elements in the gameplay. Each player wants to achieve more victory points, but the only way to survive the winter is to work together." — but that probably gives you all you need to know whether to investigate further. (KS link)

• Joshua Mason's Outfoxed from Quirky Co. is a simple two-player card game of birds trying to surround fox and fox trying to eat all the birds. Weird to see the designer pitching fourteen other games in this same project, only one of which has a listing in the BGG database. Geekgold awaits whoever wants to mine this designer's vein. (KS link)

• Joseph Limbaugh's Postcard Dungeons from Modest Games is possibly the most minimalist dungeon crawl someone could design. Dice and tokens not included. (KS link)

Ta-Te Wu's latest game from his own Sunrise Tornado Game Studio is Kung Pao Chicken, a quick-playing social deduction party game in which you attempt to determine whether you are a chicken or a fox. Seems like a good life goal. (KS link)

Movable Type is a card-drafting, word-building game — Scrabble meets Sushi Go! in game equation terms — that has a second edition being funded by designer Robin David and publisher Uncanny Cardboard, with the main difference in this new edition being more cards to allow for play with up to six players at once. (KS link)

• Jessica Feinberg has run a couple of dozen Kickstarter projects related to her art and books, and now she's launched her first KS campaign for a game, with Dragon Watcher: The Card Game being a 2-5 player card game in which you must collect two of each type of dragon first to win. (KS link)

• Sean Han's Dogtag is a card game for 2-5 people that combines drawings of cute pups with social media-type goals that you'll complete through card play and the assistance of other players who might be looking for you scratch behind their ears in return. (KS link)

• As I've stated numerous times, I know next to nothing about wargames, so I'll just quote this description of Frank Chadwick's Thunder in the East from Victory Point Games, a 2-4 player that boasts a playing time of 8-12 hours (KS link):

Quote:
Frank Chadwick's ETO (European Theater of Operations) is a series of linked games covering the land campaigns of World War II in Europe using a constant map and unit scale, and common rules.

Thunder in the East is the first game in that series, this one covering the titanic struggle on the Russian Front. This is a two-player game (although teams or even solitaire play would be just fine): one player assumes the role of the Axis (Germany and its allies) and the other player assumes the role of the Soviets (i.e., the Soviet Union).

The individual ground units represent Divisions of 10-15,000 soldiers, Corps (from the Latin word "Corpus," meaning body) of approximately 25-50,000 soldiers, or Armies of approximately 75,000 or more men. The Soviet ground units are mostly armies of approximately 40,000 men each, with a few cavalry and airborne corps of about 10,000 men each.

Air units represent about 200 combat aircraft early in the war, and gradually more as the war progresses. Each hex on the map represents 30 miles of actual terrain from side to side, and each Game Turn represents the passage of 7.5 days (or up to 15 days during inclement weather).

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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Sun Jan 7, 2018 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Being Immortal, Fighting Gaia's Hope, and Discovering New Land

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• In the world of game publishers, the most amusing name of all time is Sorry We Are French, a new publisher located in (surprise!) France that will debut with two titles in 2018.

Immortal 8 is a civilization drafting game for 3-8 players from Moonster Games' Emmanuel Beltrando due out in October 2018 that has a playing time of eight minutes per player. Artist David Sitbon, French though he may be, does not need to apologize for creating this eye-grabbing cover. As for the gameplay, here's an overview:

Quote:
Players are immortals who desire to build and develop their civilization to become the most powerful one. At the beginning of the game, each player receives a secret immortal card which tells them how to score a large part of their victory points.

During the two rounds of the game, they play a maximum total of five cards (three during the first round and two during the second) by drafting them. A round of Immortal 8 is divided into three phases :

1) Living Draft: Each player drafts five cards (four cards during the second round) and can play a maximum of three cards (two during the second round). The players gain bonuses from played cards and gold coins from cards they drafted but did not play.

2) Kingdom: Starting with the first player, each player takes all actions at once before the next player takes their turn. In any order, the active player can activate all cards in their player area, only one wonder, and opponent's buildings by paying the trading cost.

3) Supremacy: The player with the most military tokens gains a supremacy token, then the player with the most science tokens gains a supremacy token.

At the end of the Supremacy phase of the second round, players tally points to see who wins.

• The other title coming from SWAF is Kentaro Yazawa's Edamame, co-published with Aurora, another new French publisher. I know nothing about this game right now, but given the bean-y name, perhaps this is a new edition of Yazawa's Tanemaki, a bean-growing game released in Japan by Hoy Games in 2013. Edamame is supposedly due out in February 2018, so perhaps we'll see the beans firsthand at the game fair in Cannes, if we don't find out anything else earlier.

• In July 2018, WizKids will release SEAL Team Flix, a "game of tactical dexterity" from Pete Ruth and Mark Thomas that sounds like viewing it in person might be the best way to understand what's going on, but for now we have this description:

Quote:
SEAL Team Flix is a fully co-operative or solo tactical dexterity game that pits 1-4 players against the forces of terrorism. Taking inspiration from several military-themed first-person shooter video games, SEAL Team Flix incorporates flicking, dice rolling, and miniatures into an exciting, unique combination that will have the whole table standing up.

The game has two modes: campaign and skirmish. In campaign mode, players embark on an eight-mission non-linear adventure. Individual SEALs will get promoted several times over the course of the campaign...if they live. In skirmish mode, simply play one of the 17 missions as a standalone set-piece.

SEAL Team Flix is an objective-based game, with primary and secondary objectives which need to be resolved to successfully complete each mission. For example, in some missions, you must locate and acquire intelligence against the terrorist organization Gaia's Hope. In others, you must disarm time bombs or rescue hostages. While you are given intelligence at the beginning of each mission as to the number and nature of the objectives that need to be completed, every game will be different because you will never know where on the map they are until you physically locate them with your SEALs. The game's difficulty scales both with the number of SEALs playing as well as with three optional difficulty levels.

• German publisher Hans im Glück has revealed a short description of its early 2018 release, but with no images available yet. For now, this is all we have on Martin Kallenborn and Jochen Scherer's Race to New Found Land, which is for 2-4 players ages 10 and up with a playing time of 60-90 minutes:

Quote:
Daring sailors explore the oceans and make a gigantic discovery: Newfoundland. The newly found land. A huge island off the coast of North America — and right away a competition among nations breaks out. As so often happens, everyone wants the biggest piece of land. In Race to New Found Land, you must skillfully use your fleet to consistently present achievements to your royal house. Are you quick to set sail and populate the first known lands? Do you first explore new areas? Or do you trade and build your fleet first? Find out in this exciting race to Newfoundland!

• In April 2018, Mantic Games will Kickstart a cooperative board game with miniatures based on Mike Mignola's Hellboy. Here are the only other released details about Hellboy at this point:

Quote:
Hellboy is a co-operative experience in which players face off against some of the comic's most famous foes. Up to four people take control of iconic BRPD members, such as Hellboy, Abe Sapien, and Roger the Homunculus, then explore gothic locations and uncover ancient artifacts.

The game features pre-assembled plastic miniatures that accurately capture the look and feel of Mike Mignola's world famous comic series.


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Sat Jan 6, 2018 1:05 pm
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Game Preview: Quadrio, or Connecting Four While Spinning, Too

W. Eric Martin
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I keep coming across different things that remind me of how vast the game industry is, whether something in-house such as BGG hitting a milestone of five million unique visitors within a thirty-day period just over a week ago or something external such as the huge number of titles released at SPIEL or support for board games on Kickstarter.

With all of that going on, it's easy to overlook a new game here or there. Heck, you're probably going to overlook hundreds of new games on purpose as a protective measure to keep yourself sane and your bank account flush. The problem for me, however, is that I do look for those games, and I try to write up as many as I can, then place all the others in the database or encourage others to do so in order to catalog everything possible — but sometimes a game slips through the cracks, even when it was placed in your hands long before it was shown to anyone in public.

Such is the case of Christopher Villard's Quadrio, a simple four-in-a-row game with a funky twist — a playing area that allows pieces to move in it — that Swiss publisher Hurrican had for sale at SPIEL '17 and which I had received an advance review copy of in February 2017, a copy that I played a couple of dozen times before placing it somewhere in my game room and forgetting to write about it, make a video about it, or even just add it to the database. Those errors have finally been corrected thanks to the links above and the video overview below.

I know that I can't catch every game, but when one is placed in my hands and I let it slip away like this, man, that's frustrating! Now I've finally made amends...




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Fri Jan 5, 2018 1:05 pm
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