• Let's look at another batch of games that will debut at Tokyo Game Market in May 2019, with these titles joining the others on BGG's TGM May 2019 Preview. For every game that I add to that preview, at least ten others are announced and will never be seen outside TGM. So sad, but I'm doing what I can to shine a light on some of the newness, such as Heiki Strike Alternative from Jesse Li, Afong Lee, and Moaideas Game Design.
Yes, Moaideas is a Taiwanese publisher, not a Japanese one, but for the past couple of years they've used TGM as a launching ground for new titles that will be available at SPIEL later that year, so it's good to take our previews when we can. Heiki Strike Alternative is a two-player-only game that works as follows, assuming that I've understood everything correctly in the Google-assisted translation:
In Heiki Strike Alternative (兵姫ストライク オルタナティブ), the two players each build their own deck from the cards in the box, then deploy their princesses and anthropomorphized weapons to sea and air spaces in a fight to occupy the battlefields. To do this, a player must meet the "occupation conditions" for a battlefield, after which they take the battlefield card. Whoever claims three battlefield cards first wins.
Players will grow stronger over the course of the game through the playing of cards. If a player empties their deck, they shuffle the discarded cards in their reserve to create a new deck, rebuild their base, and now get more resources each turn — but if they run through their deck a third time, they lose.
The phrase "anthropomorphized weapons" was used a couple of times in the description, and one post about the game had what looked like a WWII airplane transformed into a manga-style princess — but with propellers and wings.
• Moaideas Game Design will have two other new releases at TGM in May 2019: Shadow Rivals, a 2-5 player design from Halifa in which everyone is trying to rob the same mansion, and マーダーミステリー～約束の場所へ～ (Murder Mystery: To the Promised Place), a six-player-only murder mystery game that plays in 2-2.5 hours and initially seems available solely in Japanese (whereas most Moaideas titles include rules in Chinese, English, and Japanese).
You've opened a new board game café and want to earn as much money as you can — but others are doing the same thing, so you better figure out how to succeed better than them!
Board Game Cafe Frenzy is a tactical trick-taking game that consists of two phases, "Preparing" and "Opening the Door", with each phase lasting ten turns. In the "Preparing" phase, each player buys a card from the market each turn, and cards come in five types: board game, snack, clerk, store, and wi-fi. Each kind of card gives you different items that are important for managing your board game café.
During each turn of the "Opening the Door" phase, each player plays a card from their hand that they acquired during the first phase; players must play a different color than what's already been played, with higher numbers also being important. Hope that you prepared well! At the end of a turn, each player can use one action disk from their action bar to perform one specific action. After this phase ends, players undergo a final scoring, then add their coins to see who has the most money and has won the game.
The Eternal Throne sits empty as scions of the royal family struggle for control. Dispatch those who oppose you by recruiting allies to your cause, researching powerful spells, and acquiring valuable relics!
Eternal: Chronicles of the Throne combines deck-building games and strategy card battlers into an intense strategic experience. Summon powerful allies to attack your opponents, or build an unbreakable defense. Will you exhibit patience and seek the power of the Eternal Throne, or forgo such a risky path?
• Dragon's Interest was released by designer Jesse Li's Bwunsu Games in 2018, and now Tasty Minstrel Games plans to run a crowdfunding campaign in May 2019 for a new version of this 3-5 player design that plays in 60-90 minutes. What is the dragon interested in, you might ask? Interest, as explained below:
The war just ended. You spent almost every coin for the war, so now you need more funds to rebuild your kingdom. You have no choice but to beg the dragon for help. "Money for a new harbor? Interesting. I am happy to help you with all my treasure, but...", says the dragon, as she stares through tiny glasses on her nose, "...how much should you pay back?"
You don't have to worry about the financial crisis for now — but if you don't pay the debt on time, the flame from her mouth will bring an end to your kingdom!
In Dragon's Interest, players are going to borrow money from the dragon to build their own kingdoms. To pay the interest, players have to manage their money and knights carefully. Players are also able to activate their buildings' special abilities and buy buildings from their opponents. If someone cannot pay the interest, the game ends immediately. The player who can pay the interest in the last round and has the most victory points wins!
• U.S. publisher North Star Games plans to release Wolfgang Warsch's Die Tavernen im Tiefen Thal in English in Q4 2019. (For those curious to know more about this big box game, you can watch this overview video from Spielwarenmesse 2019 or await my personal overview video that I plan to publish on May 20, 2019, the day that the 2019 Kennerspiel des Jahres nominations will be announced. I'm not saying that I know anything about these nominees in advance — only that I suspect this title might be on that list. We'll see.)
• Ahead of the May 16, 2019 retail release of two Adventure Games titles in Germany by designers Phil Walker-Harding and Matthew Dunstan, KOSMOS has announced that a third such title will be released in the second half of 2019. (For more about these titles, check out Dunstan's designer diary on BGG News on Monday, May 13, 2019. The English version of these titles is due out in October 2019.)
• Ahead of the 2019 UK Games Expo, Board&Dice is teasing two announcements: a deluxe reprint edition of a game originally released in 2012 and a new design from Daniele Tascini that will be delivered with a cat on top of it.
Let's sample another batch of games that will debut at Tokyo Game Market in late May 2019, with all of these titles and a few more appearing on the Tokyo Game Market May 2019 Preview that I've put together. This list barely scratches the surface given that hundreds of new titles will be released at TGM — check out the vendor list here! — but I do what I can. I also appreciate the efforts of Saigo, Jon Power, James Nathan, and Rand Lemley to dig a few scoops out of the mountain and add more titles to the BGG database!
In DAZZLING DICELINE, use your red, green, and grey dice to perform dice actions while creating horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines with the bonus tiles you collect in order to score the most victory points. You need to anticipate what the other players will do and use your bonus tiles to perform bonus actions if you want to efficiently perform dice actions and score victory points.
• Suga also has a second title coming from new publishing brand POLAR POND GAMES, with this being a 2-6 player game for younger players that plays in 10-15 minutes. An overview of insect inc.:
In insect inc., a game that combines puzzles, cards, and picture searches, you are a researcher for a company of the same name that's developing colorful insects as art. A new kind of insect has fled to the forest thanks to a minor mistake by one of your colleagues, and because it is a new undiscovered species, it needs to be recovered quickly.
You must be careful when collecting insects for if you surprise them, they will mimic nature through camouflage. Can you safely recover the insects that fled?
• Oink Games has a new tiny title from Jean-Claude Pellin — designer of Oink's 2015 release Nine Tiles — and Jens Merkl, a frequent design partner of Pellin's. Like Nine Tiles, Nine Tiles Panic is a real-time game in which players race to place tiles in a 3x3 grid; aside from that, the games are not similar:
In Nine Tiles Panic (ナインタイル パニック), each player has a set of nine double-sided town tiles.
At the start of a round, three scoring cards are revealed, such as most aliens on a single road, most dogs visible, or longest road. All player then race to assemble their town in whatever pattern seems best, trying to score points for one, two, or three of the scoring cards as they wish. As soon as the first player decides that they're done, they flip the sand timer and everyone else has 90 seconds to complete their town, then players determine who scores for which cards, with ties being broken in favor of whoever finished first. Players score points based on the number of players in the game, and players track their score on a chart over multiple rounds.
• We'll close for now with カラーギャングルズ (Color Gangsters), a trick-taking game — a popular genre among JP designers — from designers Takafumi Asano, Emi Hirano, and Yuya Hirano of BREMEN Games. This 3-5 player has a fair amount of Japanese text that is crucial to gameplay, so I can't even give you examples of the scoring conditions in the description below, but as is often the case with these games, I add something to the BGG database with the hope that others will add more information later:
In カラーギャングルズ, players attempt to meet certain conditions while playing through their hand of cards.
To set up the game, shuffle the sixteen tiles, then lay out nine of them at random in a 3x3 grid. Each tile has a different condition on it that a player must meet in order to claim the tile. Players each receive a hand of nine cards from a fifty-card deck, with the deck having five suits of cards, each numbered 1-10. These cards show the color of the suit on their back, revealing that information to all players.
The game includes six color trump cards (one for each color and one for no color) and eleven number trump cards (ditto).
As players complete tricks, if they meet the condition on a tile, they mark it with one of their markers. If a player places three of their markers in a line, they win the game.
Die Hard is for 2-4 players and bears a playing time of 60-90 minutes, with one player taking the role of John McClane and everyone else acting as a terrorist. The game plays out over three acts, mirroring the events of the Die Hard movie, with the actions taken in acts one and two carrying over into the final standoff. I had posted a written overview of the game in mid-March 2019, but now The OP's embargo on our video preview has ended, so take a look:
As a bonus, here are a trio of promotional images from The OP showing miniatures for John McClane and Hans Gruber, along with one of cards from the game:
After a couple of days delay, the Origins 2019 Preview is now live on BoardGameGeek, kicking off with 120 titles, which is nearly half of what was listed in 2018 (263 titles), so it seems likely that we'll hit three hundred listings by the time that the 2019 Origins Game Fair opens on Wednesday, June 12.
As in years past, BGG will be at Origins to livestream interviews with designers and publishers for five days — June 12-16 — about their new and upcoming games. Given that we have five days of coverage without a huge number of Origins-debut titles, you'll likely see a lot of prototypes for games due out in the second half of 2019 or in 2020. We'll start putting together that demo schedule in mid-May 2019 with publication of it scheduled for Monday, June 10.
One big addition to this convention preview — and the reason for its delayed arrival — is that we have added a preorder system to this list and now publishers can take preorders from you for titles that they will have on hand at Origins 2019. Here's an example of what those preorders look like within the Origins 2019 Preview:
Yes, you can place a preorder and pay for a new release from Renegade Game Studios now, then pick it up at Origins 2019. Why would you want to do this? Multiple reasons:
• You know you want to get something, and you don't want to have to rush the doors to get it before it sells out. (Not sure whether that's really a thing at Origins, but at Gen Con and SPIEL...) • You hate waiting in lines to buy games and just want to be able to show a receipt and get the game. • You want to have a better idea of how much you're spending or you want to budget your spending.
I imagine that other publishers will set up preorders on the Origins 2019 Preview in the future, and I've sent instructions on how to do so to the 130+ publishers that I wrote to for information about their new and upcoming games. (If you're a publisher who will have new titles and prototypes at Origins 2019, and I haven't contacted you, please Geekmail me or write to me at the email address in the BGG News header.) Setting up preorders in the Origins 2019 Preview is voluntary for a publisher, but we know that it's a pain to manage such things, so we implemented this system to (ideally) streamline the process.
One of the biggest reasons that a publisher might decide to take preorders this way — aside from having a better idea of how much inventory to bring to the con — is that they'll have to handle less cash at conventions. This isn't a big deal at Origins and Gen Con given how much those in the U.S. use credit cards, but it could be a huge deal for publishers at SPIEL. Multiple publishers had thousands of Euros stolen at SPIEL '18, and if they can instead complete a decent percentage of their sales via preorder ahead of time, they will be a less attractive target in Essen. (Scott Alden has told me that the thefts at SPIEL '18 were the primary motivator to get this preorder system in place after years of me having on my wish list.)
BGG earns a 5% commission on these preorder sales, so I won't pretend that we're doing this entirely for altruistic reasons, but I think this preview preorder system offers positives for both publishers and players, especially when we look ahead to Gen Con and SPIEL where the lines are much longer, publishers worry about whether they're bringing too much or too little stock, and players want to know they can get something without having to buy a VIP badge. The Origins 2019 Preview is our test case, and if all goes well, this preorder system will be in place in the Gen Con 2019 Preview, the SPIEL '19 Preview, and many other such previews in the years to come.
Because of the number of conventions that I attend, I sometimes feel like I'm previewing the same games over and over again — and sometimes I am.
We first recorded an overview of the two-player game Nagaraja at Spielwarenmesse 2018 in the Hurrican booth, but the presentation was not ideal, so we never published that video. At Gen Con 2018, co-designer Théo Rivière showed off the game in the BGG booth (video), then at the FIJ fair in Cannes in February 2019, co-designer Bruno Cathala and illustrator Vincent Dutrait got their turn in front of the mic (video).
What's more, Nagaraja was actually released at FIJ 2019! Yes, the game was available, and I went home with a review copy courtesy of Hurrican. Now the game is available on the U.S. market as well, and in case you need one more video about the game, I've posted one below from my perspective.
The gist of the game is that you want to find 25 points worth of relics in your individual temple before a competing archaeologist finds that amount of points in their temple. I'm not sure whether we're competing in mirror universes or side-by-side temples or in mock temples set up by our university sponsors to determine who they should put on staff. It feels odd us competing in this way, somehow having nearly identical temples, but at a certain point, you wave it off as game logic and get on with things.
Each player starts with a hand of five cards, and cards can be used for their bidding power — that is, access to fate dice that come in three types — or their special ability, which can be used on yourself, your opponent, or either player depending on how the card is labeled. Each round starts with players revealing one temple tile, then simultaneously bidding for that tile with one or more cards from their hand; cards come in four families, and all the cards you bid must come from the same family.
Once you reveal the cards, you roll the dice shown on your cards, with brown dice giving 3-5 fate points, white dice giving 2-3 fate points or a naga (snake), and green dice giving either 1 fate point or a naga. After rolling dice, players can spend nagas to play cards from their hand for their special abilities. Whoever ends up with the most fate points claims the tile, adds it to their temple, then reveals any relics they've reached with the paths that they've constructed. Relics are worth 3-6 points, but the three 6-point relics are cursed, and you lose the game if you reveal all three of them at once.
The player who didn't win the tile draws three cards, keeps two of them, and passes the third card to the opponent. Rounds continue until someone loses, someone reaches 25 points and wins, or someone fills their temple with tiles, at which time the player with the most points wins.
Nagaraja is simple at heart, but features delicious tension in its choices. You want to win temple tiles since those allow you to reach relics and score points — but if you just place lots of tiles, you might lose due to curses. You can use special abilities on cards to peek at your relics or swap them or rotate tiles or swap tiles in order to stay away from curses or hide relics previously found, but each card you use this way is one you can't use for bidding. You want to bid high for tiles (mostly by bidding brown dice), but if you overbid, then you've effectively wasted bidding power or cards, and cards are precious since you receive only one of the opponent's choice when you do win a tile. You might then bid more conservatively and hope to use nagas to play special powers if needed to beat the opponent, but you then roll no snakes despite having four green dice.
I've played three games to date, and each has been tense from beginning to end. Every choice seems important, but you also have to deal with fate in terms of the dice you roll. You have some say over how fate will treat you given that a brown die at worst ties a white die, and a white die always beats a green die, yet you don't know what your opponent will bid as you'll rarely know all of the cards in that player's hand. All you can do is make choices, then see how things play out, you and your opponent in a tug-of-war turn after turn for tiles and cards as you race one another for points in twin temples...
• I posted about a couple of games with post-apocalyptic settings the other day, but apparently we just need to make that a category of games in the BGG database as here's another one in the same vein, with Gordon Calleja's Posthuman Saga from Mighty Boards building on the world in his 2015 release Posthuman. Here's an overview of this July 2019 release:
You are a survivor in a near-future Europe that has collapsed under the weight of its own political errors, in the wake of a bloody class-war fueled by genetic modifications. In Posthuman, you journeyed to the last bastion of organized human society in the area: The Fortress. A year down the line, you have become an active part of that society and honed the skills you need to fulfill your role there, but the mutants are gaining ground...
Posthuman Saga is a standalone survival game in the Posthuman universe. You play a seasoned member of the Fortress' militia, sent out beyond the defensive perimeter to explore and hopefully reconnect with outposts the Fortress has lost touch with, while searching for scavengable sites along the way. You have to forge across a crumbled land where resources are spare and mutants roam the ruined mansions and forests alike.
Like the initial Posthuman, this is a sandbox-style survival journey, but the game system in Posthuman Saga differs from that of the first game in the series. Players win by completing various objectives that suit different characters and playing styles. It has an emphasis on tactical choices on two levels: the journey expressed through an innovative modular tile map puzzle and the individual story and combat encounters. The latter are fast, card-based affairs involving tough choices with future consequences. Posthuman Saga boasts over one hundred, finely crafted story scenes with a simple, push-your-luck mechanism that supplements the emergent narrative afforded by the game. Mutation is a way of life in the Posthuman world, and it can have its advantages, but it can easily get out of control...
• And here's yet another one, with James Vaughn of Ndemic Creations funding Plague Inc.: Armageddon, an expansion for Plague Inc.: The Board Game, on Kickstarter (KS link) ahead of release in November 2019. A short description from the designer: "Get ready to laugh as global vaccination rates drop, cry as your friend evolves a particularly lethal strain of athlete's foot, and cheer as your bioweapon devastates entire continents in a single turn." Yes, that fits the post-apoc category nicely.
• U.S. publisher APE Games has posted a teaser about a deck-building war game from Kevin G. Nunn set in Europe two hundred years in the future titled Dealers in Hope. In its introductory post, APE Games explains how it moved the game's setting from the Napoleonic era to the future, with the setting being "Europe at war after sea levels rose, resulting in reduced land mass and insufficient resources".
By using GlobalFloodMap.org, APE Games was able to determine how high the water should be to create a properly pinched map.
• Constantine Kevorque's MonstroCity, which is coming from Vesuvius Media in Q4 2019 and which is based on the MonstroCity: Rampage! app, doesn't quite qualify as a post-apocalyptic game, but I'm including it in this post since players get to be the apocalypse, as it were.
In this co-operative game, which can also be played solitaire, you and other players each control a monster. With this monster squad, you must destroy the city in a quest to find the evil genius Dr. Spotnik. In more detail:
The game is played in a series of five rounds that each last two minutes. During the round, each player simultaneously rolls four dice and resolves them quickly to activate their monsters' abilities. Keep moving through the city destroying buildings, while defending against the city's turrets and Dr. Spotnik's obstacles: tanks, helicopters, road blocks, etc. Depending on how well you perform and whether you manage to reach certain milestones, you gather victory stars, and you need three such stars to win.
At heart, the game remains the same: a co-operative adventure game for 1-4 players against monsters, perils, and traps, with you adding equipment and magic to your personal decks as the game progresses to represent the experience and skills that you've learned along the way. This core set includes an adventure — "The Dragon's Demand" — along with, in the publisher's words, "a modular core for infinite scenarios that allows you to control the difficulty and speed of play".
• I tweeted about this from the Spielwarenmesse fair in January 2019, but for those who missed it, German publisher dlp games will release a new edition of Saashi's solitaire game Coffee Roaster in May/June 2019. The publisher notes that it has reworked the game's layout and illustrations, but the gameplay seems to have gone untouched.
• Two related items splintered off the previous one: In Front of the Elevators is a new game from Saashi that will debut from publisher Saashi & Saashi at Tokyo Game Market in late May 2019. Here's an overview of this 2-4 player card game:
In Front of the Elevators (エレベータ前で) is a card game in which you compete to get more of your family members in the front of the elevator line at the department store than other players can.
Today, the whole family has come out to do some shopping at the department store, but there's a crowd in front of the elevators. Can we make it to our favorite floors? Moms cut in after dads, Grandpas butt in in front of girls, everyone is skipping in line. When three friends find each other, they head to the café instead. Can your family squeeze into the crowded elevator?
Your goal is to help your family members get onto the next elevator, which can hold only a few more people. You score points for each of your family members who get on. All family members have a "Cut In Line" ability or a "Lost Child" ability. Use those abilities well to cut your way to the front of the elevator line, and squeeze into the elevator, just before the doors close. If they get on the elevator that goes to their favorite floor, you get double points. The game is played over three rounds, and scoring takes place at the end of each round. Players total their round scores to find a winner.
• At the Ratinger Spieletage (Ratinger Game Days) convention in Germany in mid-April 2019, dlp games showed off a new design from Arve D. Fühler, a 2-4 player game that plays in 90-120 minutes and bears the working title "Chángchéng: The Great Wall". Christoph Post at German site Brettspielbox summarizes the game as a "Good combination of engine-builder, dice placement, resource management, and bluffing elements (by placing and taking dice). Very chic interlocking of the individual elements."
In the game, which lasts a number of rounds with each player going first once in each round, players start by rolling neutral dice along with one or more personal dice. They place these dice on a shared game board, then they take turns drafting these dice in order to take actions associated with the die results (except for the 1, which is wild). If you draft from a space with your colored die on it, you must remove your colored die to take that action. The personal dice let you know which actions cannot be taken from you during a turn, while the neutral dice can be drafted by anyone.
The image below shows some of the actions possible for each die result, but Post notes that the setting of the game might change ahead of publication, which has no set date at this time.
• The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design has announced the nominees for the 2019 Origins Awards within a variety of categories, with the winners of each category scheduled to be announced on June 15, 2019 during the 2019 Origins Game Fair. Attendees at the fair can try out the nominees in an area devoted to the nominated games, and they can cast ballots to determine a fan favorite winner in each category.
Some of the nominee categories are:
—Brass: Birmingham, by Gavan Brown, Matt Tolman, and Martin Wallace (Roxley) —Chronicles of Crime, by David Cicurel (Lucky Duck Games) —Cryptid, by Ruth Veevers and Hal Duncan (Osprey Games) —Everdell, by James A. Wilson (Starling Games) —Gizmos, by Phil Walker-Harding (CMON Limited) —Pulsar 2849, by Vladimír Suchý (Czech Games Edition) —Rising Sun, by Eric M. Lang (CMON Limited) —Root, by Cole Wehrle (Leder Games) —Space Base, by John D. Clair (Alderac Entertainment Group)
As with any set of award nominees, you can find oddities once you start looking at the lists in more detail. I'm not sure why Villainous qualifies as a card game, for example, whereas Space Base counts as a board game. Seems like they should both be in one category or the other together. Keyforge: Call of the Archons, by the way, was placed in the collectible games category, along with the X-Men Xavier's School expansion for HeroClix, the Dominaria expansion for Magic: The Gathering, the Legacies expansion for Star Wars: Destiny, and six other expansions for more traditional "collectible" games.
• Voting is open for the 2019 Deutscher SpielePreis (DSP), with games released in the second half of 2018 and the first half of 2019 being eligible. You can vote directly here, listing up to five family/adult games in the order that you prefer them, along with a single children's game.
Merz Verlag, which oversees both the DSP voting and the annual SPIEL game convention, is giving away more than a hundred games to voters, as well as prizes that award the holder free entry to SPIEL '19. After voting, you'll receive a message via email that you must click to confirm your votes, after which you'll be entered into the prize drawing.
Are you planning for SPIEL '19 yet? Even if you aren't, game publishers are, with German publisher 2F-Spiele announcing its main title for that show: Fast Sloths, which will be titled Faultier in the German edition, "Faultiere" being German for "sloths".
Fast Sloths is, as you might expect, from designer Friedemann Friese, and this 2-5 player game will be released in English by Stronghold Games. Let's start with the publisher's description:
You are sloths — cuddly, lazy, and, oh well, slothful.
All animals (including humans) like to take vacations, so everyone is together at a country resort. We sloths are sitting around, of course, while all the other animals are running throughout the resort. We want to look around, too, and traveling around the resort to pick up tasty leaves would be great — but running around ourselves is just too tedious. All the other animals are having fun, and we want that, too, but...we are so slothful.
And then we have an idea: We'll let ourselves be carried around by the other animals, thus getting around nicely. The others animals have so much energy that they'll even gladly carry us. They aren't slothful! Which of us sloths will be the first to get through the entire country and be victorious? We are ambitious, but so lazy!
Fast Sloths is a race game that at its core is a classic pick-up-and-deliver game — except that we ourselves are the cargo being delivered. We are being carried along the whole way and never take a single step on our own!
You always play with six out of twelve different animal species, and you can place the giant game board in four different combinations. On a turn, you draft 2-3 cards of different animal types from the top of their face-up decks, then you play as many animal cards as you like of a single type. Each animal provides a different type of movement or interaction with you, with ants carrying you along in a chain and the elephant throwing you with its trunk.
Fast Sloths is a game free from randomness that evolves only through the interaction between the players, doing so without any "take that" mechanisms — except for you snatching an animal from under the other players' noses because you need to use it yourself...
As mentioned above, you use only six animal species in each game, so by swapping animals in and out, you vary the possible actions available to players. The Power Grid-sized game board comes in two pieces, so you can arrange the segments in four different ways, varying the types of landscapes on the map. 2F-Spiele says that it's already working on new game board configurations and additional animals, and given the long life of Power Grid, I have no doubt that Friese could take this game in all sorts of directions. It all depends on the game's sales, of course, so for now I'll just note this future possibility and move on.
Designer Friedemann Friese with a mock-up of Faultier
I've played Fast Sloths once with the suggested starting set-up, both for the game board and for the six animals in play. For your introductory game, you place the animal tokens on specific spots on the game board, but after this first learning game, the rules suggest that during set-up players take turns placing animal tokens on the board one at a time. Players then choose starting locations for their sloth.
On a turn, you draft 2-3 animal cards from the face-up decks. Each animal card in a deck indicates the types of landscape on which the animal can move as well as its special ability, and the cards are stacked in order from lowest movement value to highest, which means that when you draft, say, a unicorn card, you might be exposing a better unicorn card. Cards played or discarded are placed under the decks in a specific order, so in theory you could track all of that information to know which cards are where in each deck and in each players' hand. I will not be doing that, but the possibility is there should you desire to do so.
After drafting, you play one or more cards of the same animal, trying to move your sloth from its current location to one of the many leafy lunches awaiting you. The numbers on a card show how many spaces an animal can move, and if you play multiple cards, you can sum the numbers. If an animal is next to you, it picks you up, then you can ride it up to its maximum movement value, then it can drop you in an adjacent space.
Some animals are straightforward to use, and some less so. A donkey just picks you up and moves you on roads (but not on bridges) and through three types of landscape, while the alligator moves only in water and on certain spaces adjacent to water. The unicorn has fabulous movement values compared to the other animals, but (1) you can play only one unicorn card on a turn and (2) only one unicorn token exists, so you can't rely on constant unicorn travel since someone else might take it in a different direction and leave those cards useless in your hand. To use the eagle, of which only one token exists, you need to play at least six movement points at once, after which that lone eagle will swoop down from wherever it is on the game board, pick you up, then move you up to six spaces.
Ants allow for movement in a chain, and moving from an empty space, then across the backs of one or more ants, then onto the ground again counts as only one movement point. Ideally you can move individual ants to create a chain or a series of space-ant-space-ant-space-ant-space in order to cover lots of ground quickly. (Of course if you do so, someone else can use that chain later, so you want to dismantle the chain behind you, if possible. In most cases you pull the rug up behind you, so to speak, but with the ants you need to do a little more work.)
Sloth standings after the first turn
Fast Sloths falls into an interesting category of games in that it's pitched as a family game, with cute artwork, friendly animals, and a 45-minute playing time, yet the game is luck free and could be a "deep thought" strategy game depending on the willingness of players to track cards drawn and played and anticipate who might be doing what where. You might think of it as the game adapting to the players. If you want to focus solely on your own cards and do stuff from turn to turn, that's possible; if you want to plan multiple turns ahead, you can do so since you draft multiple animal cards each turn, but can play only one type of animal; and if you want to create an overall strategy for how you'll visit eight of the nine leaf locations before anyone else, you can do that, too.
As you collect more leaves, you draw fewer cards each turn, or must discard a card after drawing. In addition, your hand size starts shrinking, so you become pinched for options, which requires greater focus in the endgame when you're trying to collect one of those final leaves. Everyone knows where you need to go, and they might know what's possible for you as well, so you'll need to be a smart sloth in order to stay one step ahead of everyone else — a step taken by someone else, of course, since you'll never step anywhere on your own!