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

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Game Previews from Origins 2019: Ishtar and Caravan, or Stationary Camels in a Shifting Desert

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Thanks to a larger BGG staff presence at Origins Game Fair 2019, I've been able to get out of the booth more than I usually do at such events in order to talk with publishers about future releases. Sometimes I've even played a game!

Given my discovery of this possibility at a game convention, here are short takes on two games being previewed at Origins 2019 that will be released in the next two months: Ishtar from Bruno Cathala, Evan Singh, and IELLO, and Caravan from Joe Huber and Rio Grande Games.

•••


I played only a half-dozen turns of Ishtar due to time restrictions, so at this point I can cover only the gross mechanisms of the game without anything in the way of how it feels.

On a board of 4-6 hexagons for a game with 2-4 players, you are trying to transform a gem-filled desert into the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Each hexagon has a fountain on it, with some spaces on that hexagon being sacred and off limits. On a turn, you take the next landscape tile on the tile display — shown in the upper left of the image below, with tiles coming in one of three shapes —or you pay a gem to take any tile that you want, then you place that tile next to a fountain or next to an existing tile. If you cover any gems with this tile, you collect them and place them on your personal game board.

Tiles have a combination of grass and garden spaces, and they sometimes bear an icon that allows you to place an assistant on a garden space (with each player starting with two assistants) or use collected gems to activate a space on your personal board. The first row of spaces on your board all have one-shot actions, such as placing a two-space flower tile over grass tiles in order to enlarge or reserving a tile for future use; the second row of spaces has scoring bonuses that will take place for you at the end of the game if you activate them — but you have to activate the space ahead of the scoring bonus in the first row before you can activate the scoring bonus.

You use assistants to claim garden areas for yourself that will score points for you at the end of a game. You want to enlarge the gardens, but along the lines of Through the Desert, you can't place a tile that would combine two gardens that each bear an assistant into a single garden. Thus, you need to ensure that you have room to grow, but of course if you enlarge a garden too much before claiming it, someone else might grab it out from under you.

Aside from activating spaces on your board, collected gems can be used to acquire tree cards that earn points at game's end. You then place a tree on the board next to a garden, with trees adjacent to gardens being another way to earn points as long as you've activated that bonus scoring space. Alternatively, you might activate the space to score points for gems still on hand at game's end, which would mean you don't want to spend them for trees.

The game ends when a certain number of stacks of tiles have been placed, with players scoring the garden of each placed assistant as well as any bonus point spaces they've activated.




•••


As Huber suggests in his designer diary for Caravan, the design feels like a member of the "German games in the mid-1990s when the focus was on simple rules with depth of play". I've played only once, so I can't vouch for the "depth of play", but Caravan strikes me as being akin to a classic Leo Colovini game as the rules are so short as to be almost non-existent and the players interact in a relatively tiny shared space, with each player's actions affecting what everyone else can do.

To set up the game on the 7x7 board, place one goods cube in eight specified locations. Players take up to four actions on their turn (after the first three turns in which players take one, two, then three actions), with actions being to place or move one of your camels without a goods cube in an empty space, pick up a goods cube in your place, pass a goods cube along an orthogonal chain of your camels, steal a good from a camel in the same space as one of yours, or place or move one of your camels without a goods cube in a space that contains one or more camels, with this latter action costing two actions instead of one. Simple, simple, simple.


Gamer Shawn and Rio Grande Games production manager Ken Hill


As soon as you move a goods cube to the destination space matching its color, you remove it from the board and place it on your player board. Cubes going to the edges of the board are worth 6 points, while the other cubes are worth 3 points. Goods in the far corners start with a demand token, and when you collect a good, you collect any tokens in the same space as that good. When only four goods remain on the board (regardless of how many goods rest on the backs of camels), you pause the game, place a demand token on the spaces where goods remain, then refill the empty numbered spaces.

As soon as the last goods have been placed on the board, the next delivered cube signals the end of gameplay, and whoever has scored the most points wins.

We played the beginner game in which each player has six camels and not all of the goods are used. Even so, I managed to strand one of my camels in the upper-right of the game board (as shown in the image above), as I placed it there to pick up three demand tokens along with the white cube, but I had neglected to think through Ken's explanation of the game. Nowhere in his presentation had he mentioned that you could dump a cube, yet somehow I had assumed that I could do that. Not so. Once a camel picks up a cube, that cube remains in place until you move it along a chain of your camels until it stops on another camel or is delivered to the target space. I had unwittingly started playing the game on hard mode...




Eventually I cleared out all the cubes in the southeast portion of the board, then moved north to rescue my unfortunate ungulate. Caravan is an odd take on the pick-up-and-deliver genre in that the camels can't move once they pick something up. You need to build camel chains, move goods, shift links in that chain, and disrupt other players' chains as best as you can.

We didn't mess with one another too much, possibly because Shawn and I were playing for the first time and just trying to figure out how to make goods go. When you steal a good, you place the good underneath the camel's legs, and that good can't be stolen away from you until you move it. What's more, when you steal a good, you have to give that player a theft marker, with everyone starting with one such marker. No theft marker = no theft by you. I can imagine theft playing a larger role once you gain more experience in the game and are thinking of how each camel can serve several roles at once, but as mentioned before, you can't move a camel with a good on it, so don't steal unless you have a plan to get rid of the goods.

In the end, I beat Shawn by one point, with Ken being only two points behind Shawn. I had concentrated on demand tokens far more than the other two players, and those twelve tokens made up for my relative lack of goods cubes. Looking forward to trying Caravan again, especially with four players, and Ishtar also seems to have a similar minimalist appeal, with players fighting in that shared space to grab good gardens and elbow others out of the way.


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Fri Jun 14, 2019 1:00 pm
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Take the Role of Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep, and More in Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures

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With Toy Story 4 due to open in theaters on June 20, 2019, U.S. publisher The OP has announced a tie-in game of sorts, a co-operative deck-building card game called Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures that will be released in Q4 2019.

The OP, then known as USAopoly, released the co-operative deck-building game Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle in 2016, and Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures is designed along the same lines, although that would be hard to suss out from this description in the press release:

Quote:
Using The OP's Mensa Select-winning game mechanic that allows players to experience a progressing storyline, Disney and Pixar's Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures features six boxes of cards, each representing a different movie from the treasured property. As each box is unlocked, the content from the associated movie or short is introduced to the game, adding beloved characters like Hamm and Mr. Pricklepants to the mix, as well as obstacles and antagonists to battle, including Sid, Prospector Pete and many more.

I would imagine that Disney does not want H.P. mentioned in a press release for an item based on its own property.

In any case, The OP had a mock-up box of Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures at the Origins Game Fair 2019, and the publisher's Ross Thompson pointed out that in addition to having a player count of 2-5 (compared to 2-4 for Hogwarts Battle), Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures is aimed at a slightly younger audience: ages 8+ instead of 11+. Game design is credited to Forrest-Pruzan Creative, as in that earlier design with the "Mensa Select-winning game mechanic".


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Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:10 pm
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Italian Game Round-up: Rebuild Buenos Aires, Avoid Disaster in Easter Island, and Race for Safety in Last Aurora

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• Despite spending 3.5 days at the Spielwarenmesse fair in February 2019, I still missed seeing all the new games that were being shown there, and I know that only because I've just found out about Volcanic Isle, a 2-4 player design from Andrea Mainini and Luciano Sopranzetti that is being co-published by Pendragon Game Studio and Arcane Wonders, with the English version of the game due out in July 2019 and debuting at the 2019 Origins Game Fair. Here's a quick take on the design:

Quote:
Long ago, Easter Island was a vast continent ravaged by constant volcanic activity. The settlers of this land raised Moai, gigantic monolithic statues to appease the gods and mend the wounds of the land. Unfortunately, instead of healing the land, the very act of sealing off craters and geysers caused an even greater disaster to unfold...

Players in Volcanic Isle are tasked with building villages and raising Moai across the continent. However, with each Moai raised, the possibility of a volcanic eruption increases! Eruptions devastate settlements and cause whole sections of the board to sink into the sea and be removed!

• Another title coming from Pendragon in 2019 — with no U.S. partner announced as of yet — is Last Aurora from Mauro Chiabotto, who details the originating spark of the game in this BGG post: "This chase scene [in Mad Max: Fury Road] scene triggered my mind and I started to develop game concepts: 'people have to drive a truck'… 'they have to escape from a disaster'… 'they have to fight to survive'… 'they have to find fuel to move vehicles'… 'they have to have different spaces in the truck for people, resources, or weapons'." As for what the final game is:

Quote:
The radioactive dust of the Last War has frozen the northern countries. In the ice desert, the few survivors live in an icy hell as the resources of the "old world" are now exhausted, and travel to the south is too long and dangerous. But a radio message is rekindling hope: The last icebreaker ship, the Aurora, is cruising along the coast, looking for survivors. The winter is coming, and in a few days, those who cannot get on board will be doomed by the ice. It will be a race against time to arrive at the ship or surrender to despair: there's still the light of hope on the horizon, a light to grab before it's too late...

Last Aurora is a post-apocalyptic game for 2-4 players set in a frozen, desolate land. Each player has to manage their crew to gather resources, recruit survivors, improve their vehicle, and fight their enemies as they race to reach the ship before it's too late!

• Italian designer Michele Quondam released Río de la Plata through his own Giochix.it in 2010, and for 2019 he's releasing a new version of the game called Trinidad that features a new game system, new iconography, new mechanisms, a shorter playing time, a two-player modality, and 3D miniatures instead of cardboard tokens. He talks about these changes in more detail in this BGG thread, while highlighting a trip to Buenos Aires to learn more about the setting of this game in this thread. As for what the game's about, here's a summary:

Quote:
In 1536 Pedro de Mendoza founded the city of Nuestra Senora Santa Maria del Buen Ayre along the river Rio de la Plata. After five years, the colonists were forced to leave the city, exhausted by the difficulties and by the resistance of the indigenous Querandies.

Almost fifty years later, Juan de Garay lead a new expedition and founded a new city in the same place with the name of Ciudad de Trinidad. This city has become the modern Buenos Aires. Just like the first time, resources are low and the natives are ready to defend their territories! What's more, now the Corsairs paid by the English Crown threaten the new Spanish settlement!

Trinidad is a strategy game based on player actions and worker placement mechanisms. Players represent the chiefs of the families of Spanish settlers of Buenos Aires. They must work together to defend and develop the city, but also look to gain sufficient prestige for themselves so that they can take the most important political offices. In the end, only one will be the new Governor! Will it be you?

The game covers several aspects of 16th century city development, from resource management and building constructions to commerce, character recruiting and improving, etc. There is also a tactical game part that allows players to manage the wars with Indios and Corsairs. The game comes full of miniatures for historical buildings, player workers, conquistadores, and Indio warriors.


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Thu Jun 13, 2019 1:00 pm
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Game Overview: Lift Off, or Leveling Up to Infinity and Beyond (Three)

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Jeroen Vandersteen is a newcomer to game design, with Lift Off, his first published game, having debuted from German publisher Hans im Glück at SPIEL '18 in October. (An English version of the design is due out from Z-Man Games at some point in 2019.)

Given the setting of the game, with each player controlling a space agency in the 1950s and 1960s when the space race was in full swing, perhaps it won't be surprising to learn that Vandersteen is an aerospace engineer at the European Space Agency who has been to Mars!


Noordwijk or not of this world? (image source)


Or who has been in a Mars simulator. One of those.

Lift Off is an archetypal Hans im Glück design as players start with money, a few tools, and secret long-term goals via endgame point cards, then build up from there. Your actions in the game feel like they're taking place independently of the opponents, yet you're actually affecting one another constantly via the draft for specialists at the start of each round. You draft a hand of three specialists, with each specialist providing either a one-time bonus of money or points or a modification bonus of what you'll do later in the round; in addition, each specialist has one or two abilities on them, and these abilities are crucial for:

• Upgrading your laboratory (so that you can launch missions of levels higher than 1),
• Acquiring technology (again, so that you can launch higher-level missions),
• Improving your rocket (so that you can carry missions that weigh more than 1 ton or lower the cost of launches),
• Investing in the international space station (for points and a boost to your income or bio-food supply), or
• Scoring points for missions already launched (which also nets you money).


So much space required for space exploration!


You want to do it all, and of course you can't. You play only two of those specialists each round, holding the third for the subsequent round, which gives you some ability to plan for future growth, although your plans might change once you're dealt two new specialist cards at the start of that next round.

As you launch missions into space — scoring points both for the rocket launch itself and for the mission(s) launched — you gain other improvements or an endgame scoring goal that you can add to your "to do" list: maximize my income, for example, or collect tons of fuel technology. To pull down the big points, you need to launch level 3 and 4 missions, but to do that you need to upgrade tech, advance your laboratory, and build bigger rockets that can carry more weight — and all of that takes money, which in a nod to realism (at least in regard to the U.S. space agency) is hard to come by on a regular basis. You're constantly weighing options and changing course because you don't have the funds to do everything, a common game design element that produces a crushing, yet expected tension to everything about the game.


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Mon Jun 10, 2019 5:07 pm
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The BoardGameGeek Show: Origins 2019, BGG.Spring Recap, Tigris & Euphrates, The Wilson Wolfe Affair, and More

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Time for another episode of The BoardGameGeek Show! We've been publishing them roughly every two weeks on BGG's main YouTube channel, and on Thursday, June 13, we'll livestream The BGG Show from the 2019 Origins Game Fair. If you plan to visit that convention, come say "Hi" to us at booth A104. We'll have been livestreaming from Origins on the BGG Twitch channel for two (of five) days by that point, so we'll likely have some new games to discuss, in addition to talking about the fair itself.

Side note: BGG's Origins 2019 Preview has reached 309 titles (with 43 titles available for preorder and pick-up at the show, and I'm unlikely to add much to it in the final days before the fair opens. I didn't hear from a couple of dozen game publishers that will present, so on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 11-12, I'll survey the hall to see what's on hand that wasn't in the preview.

I'll publish our livestream demo schedule on Monday, June 10 once we book the final stragglers over the weekend. Even so, at this point we nobody scheduled for Sunday, June 16 and only half of Saturday booked. We have so much time at Origins, with so few new games being released there. I'll bring short games to play on camera in a pinch, and we'll undoubtedly book many more guests once we're in Columbus.

As for The BGG Show, we talk about some of the titles we played during BGG.Spring and elsewhen. I played Reiner Knizia's Karate Tomate three times during that show, and I hope to get it to the table again this coming weekend at a neighbor's house. I hope you have game plans as well, and if not, perhaps all you need to do is ask. Sometimes I've felt like I don't have game partners nearby, but once I start talking with people, I almost always find someone willing to play something — and I have a huge range of games on my "want to play" list, so I have lots of choices to offer when that happens. Frenemy Pastry Party, anyone?




00:15 Opening and intros
01:05 BGG.Spring Recap
02:14 BGG at Origins 2019—booth #A104
05:03 BGG at Sea 2019
06:45 What Have You Been Playing?
Eric—Karate Tomate - Reiner Knizia - AMIGO
10:09 Scott—Tigris & Euphrates - Reiner Knizia - Z-Man Games
12:50 The Wilson Wolfe Affair - George G Fox - Simulacra Games
15:03 Steph—Mountaineers - Corey Wright - Massif Games
17:38 Lincoln—König Salomons Schatzkammer - Alessandro Saragosa- Clementoni
18:16 Match Me!: What color is this? - OHTANI Tadashi - COLON ARC
22:36 News & new releases: Star Wars: Dark Side Rising - Patrick Marino, Andrew Wolf - The OP
24:57 The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms - Mark Latham - Modiphius Entertainment
28:06 Roll-and-writes dominate the Earth: Cat Café, Space Worm, Rome & Roll
31:46 Kickstarter news: Mammoth - Jeff & Craig Van Ness - Soaring Rhino
33:57 Bites - Brigitte & Wolfgang Ditt - BoardGameTables.com
34:55 Goodbyes
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Fri Jun 7, 2019 10:40 pm
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Two for SPIEL '19: Tascini's Trismegistus: The Ultimate Formula and Håkansson's Cities: Skylines – The Board Game

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Time to dig into a few more SPIEL '19 releases that publishers have been unveiling 4.5 months ahead of that convention's opening date, starting with Trismegistus: The Ultimate Formula from designers Daniele Tascini and Federico Pierlorenzi, and publisher Board&Dice.

This 1-4 player game gives you another take on alchemy, a topic familiar to many gamers given that the concept of alchemy is effectively an engine-building game, with the alchemist transforming one resource into another to achieve victory points in the form of gold. As for this game, here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:

Quote:
You are an adept of the mysterious art of alchemy, seeking a way to become the successor of the greatest alchemist ever living — Hermes Trismegistus. In order to do so you will be transmuting mere metals into pure gold, performing experiments, and inventing artifacts to finally achieve everlasting greatness.

Trismegistus: The Ultimate Formula is played over three rounds during which you will draft exactly three dice. By expertly utilizing the potency of your drafted die, you will be able to transmute precious materials, collect alchemical essences, purchase and activate artifacts, and perform experiments that will progress you along four mastery tracks. You will also build a secret hand of publication cards which — together with the value of your experiments, the completed formulas of your Philosopher's Stone, and your collected gold — will determine your final score in victory points and, perhaps, make you the greatest alchemist, someone able to rival Hermes Trismegistus himself!

The game features custom dice, the sides of which represent alchemical materials. At the beginning of each round, the dice are rolled and grouped by their respective types. On your turn, you must either draft a new die or utilize the untapped potency of a previously drafted die. Based on the material associated with your chosen die, you will be able to collect certain essences in addition to the material to which the die is keyed. Additionally, the color of the die will determine which types of transmutations you can perform, refining raw materials and increasing your mastery of the elements.

Acquire precious artifacts in order to maximize the effects of your transmutations. Conduct experiments. Increase your knowledge and expertise and discover the ultimate formula!

• In a Dec. 2018 BGG News post that focused on videos games making the leap to the tabletop, I included an overview of Cities: Skylines, a city-building game from Rustan Håkansson. No publisher of the game was known at that time, but now KOSMOS has revealed itself to be releasing the game both in German and English, with the German edition due out in October 2019.

As with the previous game, Cities: Skylines – The Board Game is for 1-4 players, but this design is co-operative, with players trying to reach different milestones to keep residents happy. An overview:

Quote:
Cities: Skylines – The Board Game is a co-operative game based on the popular computer game of the same name by Paradox Interactive.

Gameplay starts with four land boards being visible, the exact number varying depending on the scenario. The goal is to finish a number of milestones and to make the inhabitants of your city happy. At the start of each milestone, one additional board is bought, flipped over from its nature side to its developed side. Players have personal cards that show what they can build, and ideally they discuss and plan with the other players how to best develop the city. The cards show what effects the building will have on the city, for example increasing the need for garbage collection, decreasing crime, or giving a bonus if placed next to a park.

Cardboard tiles represent residential, commercial, industrial, and other buildings, and they have varied base shapes that are placed on the developed boards on the grid.

When the players have developed the city to the next milestone, they choose which new board to buy to expand the city, score their current happiness, and start a new milestone. When the last milestone is finished, the game ends, then the total happiness score is summed. There is only one city treasury, and all players add to it when they make money for the city and take money from it for building a hospital or buying a new board. Making sure you have enough money is an important aspect of the game for if you run out of money, you go bankrupt and lose.

A series of scenarios teach the game in steps, with each new step introducing new parts of the game. Each step is easily varied, such as, for example, switching out which unique buildings are used during a playing session.

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Fri Jun 7, 2019 1:00 pm
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Aftermath Reunites Jerry Hawthorne with Dangerous Mice

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Plaid Hat Games has announced the third title in Jerry Hawthorne's Adventure Book Game series: Aftermath.

Aftermath follows the formula of Stuffed Fables and Comanauts in that the game includes a book of scenarios that collectively form a large campaign, with 1-4 players working together to survive in an unfamiliar and hostile environment. Aftermath is due out in Q4 2019, and you read the rules now on the Plaid Hat website (PDF) or get started with this overview of the game:

Quote:
In Aftermath, players take on the role of small critters struggling to survive and thrive in a big, dangerous world. Humans have mysteriously vanished, and the remnants of civilization are quickly being reclaimed by nature and the animals who still remain.

In the game, you play as a misfit band of critters known by their colony as "providers". There's the guinea pig with anger issues, a hamster that talks fast and drives faster, a small mouse with keen eyes and a lot to prove, and a mysterious vole who's borderline feral. These characters each have their own personalities, play-styles, and personal goals.

You'll leave the safety of your colony and venture out into the abandoned world on one of 27 story-driven missions and side missions. Scavenge the ruins of mankind in search of food and supplies for your colony, but beware — the world is filled with bandits and predators, and you must fight or flee to stay alive.

Return to your colony with resources and information that will help your friends and family survive. Grow your colony and keep it safe by building structures and improvements with the spoils of your adventures, but plan accordingly, for the colony will face hardship each time you leave it...

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Thu Jun 6, 2019 5:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Robbing with Rosenberg, Drafting Monsters with Garfield, and Moving Wildly on Mars

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Wyrmgold GmbH is a new German publisher that will debut at SPIEL '19 in October with a new two-player title from Uwe Rosenberg. Yes, Rosenberg is so prolific that having relationships with Lookout, Feuerland, and Edition Spielwiese isn't enough! Here's an overview of Robin von Locksley, which will be released in a combined English and German edition:

Quote:
Troubled times blight England since the good and just King Richard the Lionheart was captured in the Crusades. Meanwhile, Robin of Locksley is stealing from the rich Norman lords to free the King.

In Robin von Locksley, you aim to collect loot tiles with your Robin and sell loot collections of the same color. Move forward on the racing track surrounding the 5x5 loot tiles by spending earned gold. Every field will give you a task to gather fame: You may fulfill the task, or you may spend one gold coin to pass it. Whoever first circles the racing track twice wins.




• Speaking of Feuerland Spiele, owner Frank Heeren has announced the publisher's big Q3 2019 release: Crystal Palace from newcomer Carsten Lauber. Folks in the U.S. can get their first look at this 2-5 player game that takes 90-150 minutes to play at Gen Con 2019, where Feuerland will have a booth for the first time. Here's a summary of the setting and gameplay:

Quote:
In Crystal Palace, players take on the role of a nation at the time of the first World Fair in London (1851), trying to create a buzz with spectacular inventions and the support of famous and powerful people.

Crystal Palace is a dice-placement game in which the players themselves determine the stats of their dice at the beginning of each round. The higher the number, the better – but it comes at a price. In the course of the game, dice are placed on eight action locations (Patent Office, Reform Club, London Times, Port of London, Waterloo Station, British Museum, Bank of England, Westminster), in a competition for the best resources, patents and brains.

In a world of slightly weird inventions, you will meet people like Phileas Fogg, Levi Strauss and Amelia Edwards, and invent gadgets such as the Thinking machine, the Beer glass counter or the Climate changer.


Prototype at the Herner Spielewahnsinn in May 2019


• German publisher AMIGO plans to debut Richard Garfield's Carnival of Monsters in the U.S. at Gen Con 2019 in August, with the game being released in Germany in September along with AMIGO's other second half of the year titles.

AMIGO had attempted to Kickstart Carnival of Monsters in 2017, but the art-heavy campaign didn't find a lot of support, and the company continued to develop the game from that point. AMIGO now plans to post weekly updates about the game, its rules, and its graphics on its BGG game page starting on May 31, 2019. Here's a short overview about the game:

Quote:
In Carnival of Monsters, players draft cards from their hands, trying to collect sets of matching lands so they can capture and display exotic creatures to earn victory points. Along the way, they can hire talented staff to aid their efforts, pursue their own secret goals, or take advantage of fortuitous events. At the end of each season, they must make sure that none of their monsters escape, while the player who can best meet the demands of the audience will be awarded with a bonus!

• Belgian publisher Sit Down! posted the following teaser image on Instagram with this caption: "Robots, cows, spaceship and bananas. #MagicMaze On Mars will blow your mind."

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Wed Jun 5, 2019 1:00 pm
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Game Preview: Tuki, or Stack Quickly to Quash Opponents

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The 2019 Origins Game Fair opens on Thursday, June 13, and while BGG's Origins 2019 Preview lists 270 items for sale or demo (as of this date), few of those items are debuting at Origins itself. Publishers focus their mid- to late year game debuts on Gen Con and SPIEL — which shouldn't be surprising given that they want to have something new to attract buyers to pay for the huge costs of those fairs — but that means those few publishers who do debut at Origins have the spotlight largely to themselves.

For the third year in a row, Canadian publisher Plan B Games is taking advantage of this lack of competition to highlight Century: A New World, the third title in Emerson Matsuuchi's "Century" trilogy (and a game that technically debuted at UK Games Expo in late May 2019), and Grzegorz Rejchtman's Tuki from its Next Move Games imprint.

Tuki follows Azul and Reef in Next Move's line of themed abstracts, with "abstracts" here meaning not a perfect information abstract strategy game as one might normally think, but rather a game that could probably have other settings without changing the gameplay too much. The game settings work in a minimalistic way — in Azul, you're laying tiles; in Reef, you're building a coral reef; and in Tuki, you're building sculptures of a sort — but the gameplay isn't about the setting. You probably don't care one way or another what your actions represent and are instead focused solely on the gameplay, although all of the Next Move games do have components that are pleasing to handle and look at.


Check out those counterweights on the build in the back!


"Tuki" is apparently short for "tukilik", which in the Inuit language of Inuktitut means "thing that has meaning", and the meaningful things you build in this game are "inuksuit", which is the plural of "inukshuk" — and an inukshuk is a stone sculpture of sorts used to convey information in a tundra-like environment that has little around in the way of geographic landmarks. Some of this information is conveyed at the start of the rules, and I've looked up other information on my own, but again the setting is secondary to the gameplay.

In the game, players have three colored sticks (or four in the advanced version of the game) and four white pieces of snow. You can use the snow in whatever manner you need in order to recreate the pattern of colored sticks showing on the target card. Each card has three orientations, and you determine the orientation of the card via a die roll, which is a clever way to bake replayability into the game design. Half of the die faces have a white dot on them, and when that dot shows, then you need to place your sculpture on snow (as in the image above) instead of allowing your colored sticks to touch the table.

In general, the slowest player to finish each round receives the target card, and when someone gets five cards, they're out of the game. In a two-player game, the other player wins, and in a game with three or four players, everyone who isn't out plays one final round, with the player who finishes first winning the game. I fill out this game description and offer comparisons between Tuki and other real-time games in this overview video:


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Mon Jun 3, 2019 5:35 pm
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Japanese Game Round-up: Profit from Fashion, Build a Numerical Pyramid, and Avoid Running Over People

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• Tokyo Game Market took place on May 24-25, 2019, and while I wasn't at that show (as I attended our own BGG.Spring event instead), I've been following game haul pics on Twitter to spot which games have been appearing frequently, with one of those titles being Trend Color by designer ピサミン (Psamin) and publisher Garakuta-Box. I made a mock-up listing for the game to have something about it in the BGG database — then the publisher sent me the English rules, and I'm glad they did as it sounds like a wonderful take on a stock market game. My summary of the rules:

Quote:
Manipulate fashion trends in Trend Color to come out on top!

In the game, you secretly start with two colors (out of eight), and you want those colors to up trending or (alternatively) rare and hard to find so that you can score the most points with them. At the start of the game, you'll set up a trend board with 1-8 different color tokens, with spaces for those colors being paired in lines. If you end up with five tokens on the board, for example, two of those colors will be paired, while the other three will be next to blank spaces; those three colors might be paired with something over the five rounds of the game.

At the start of a round, you fill up the shop card display so that it contains five cards; each card has room for 2-5 color tokens. On a turn, you draw a color token from the bag, then place it on one of the available shop cards. If you fill the final space, you claim the card, place 1-3 of these tokens on the trend board (placing an unrepresented color in a new row and matching other tokens that already have their color present), keeping the remaining tokens as your earnings, then exiting the round. If you're the first player out in a round, you score bonus points.

If you place the fifth token of a color on the trend board, you decide whether to remove all tokens of that color or keep them where they are. If you remove them, a player can add that color to the trend board again in the future, possibly in a different row.

Once all players have a shop card, the round ends, then you refill the shop card area (leaving the lone card there in place with any tokens on it) and begin a new round. After the fifth round, the game ends and players score points: Tokens of the two colors that appear in the longest line on the trend board are worth 3 points each; tokens of the two colors in the second-longest line are worth 2 points each, in the third-longest line 1 point each, and in the shortest line 0 points each. If a color isn't present on the trend board, those tokens are worth 2 points each. Tokens of the same color as your two secret color cards are worth twice as many points as they would be otherwise. Add points for your token earnings to any bonus points you received. Whoever has the highest score has dominated the trends and wins!


Back cover included to show how the trend board works


• I think that Yoshihisa Itsubaki's Donguri Yama (どんぐりやま) from Saikikaku debuted at the Osaka Game Market in March 2019, but it might have only been demoed there. Hard to tell when viewing these events from afar in a language you don't speak, but in any case here's the gist of the game:

Quote:
In Donguri Yama (which means "Acorn Mountain" in English), players attempt to build an eight-level pyramid of cards.

Cards show numbers from 0 to 5, with the numbers showing in the upper left- and right-hand corners as well as in the middle of the bottom edge. The bottom row of the pyramid is eight cards wide, and players can place a card in the second row on top of two other cards as long as the sum or difference of the two supporting cards equals the card being placed. On top of an adjacent 1 and 3, for example, you can place either a 2 or a 4.

Since the deck contains cards from 0-5, an adjacent 4 and 5 can have only a 1 placed on top of them. Players need to keep these restrictions in mind as they work their way to the top of the pyramid. Can you reach the summit?




• Speaking of Itsubaki, at TGM in May 2019 Japanese retailer/publisher DEAR SPIELE released a new version of his game Streams, a.k.a. 20 Express, a.k.a. many other titles as Party KINGO!, with this version adding a new "training" level that lets you compete against others in a new way while retaining the same gameplay.

In the game, each player has their own scoring sheet. Someone draws a tile from a bag, and you write the number on the tile in an empty space on your sheet. This process repeats until every space has a number in it, then you score points based on how many numbers you have in an ascending sequence, with each sequence scoring separately; in general, the longer the sequence, the more points you score.



• Look at all the likes and retweets on this post!


So much love! So little info about what プリウスレーシング is and how it works! My best guess at a title Prius Racing, with this Loserdogs title possibly having this description: "In this racing game, try to run over as little as possible. Be careful not to mistake the accelerator and brake!"

This is a ¥500 game, so the components are basic, which seems to be common for this publisher:


The super frustrating thing about researching games like this is discovering it in a game haul pic that includes five other games about which you know nothing!


And then you see this and die:


My work will never end...
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Sun Jun 2, 2019 6:44 pm
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