W. Eric Martin
• French publisher Funforge will release Tokaido, an Antoine Bauza design at Spiel 2012. Here's an overview of the game which is long on theme and setting and light on game play details:
In Tokaido, each player is a traveler crossing the "East sea road", one of the most magnificent roads of Japan. While traveling, you will meet people, taste fine meals, collect beautiful items, discover great panoramas, and visit temples and wild places but at the end of the day, when everyone has arrived at the end of the road you'll have to be the most initiated traveler – which means that you'll have to be the one who discovered the most interesting and varied things.
Through a unique zen mood, Tokaido is a strategic game while being extraordinarily peaceful and easy to apprehend by everyone.
The artwork by Naïade is incredibly evocative, lush and inviting, and after viewing this and all the games coming from Libellud in 2012, I think that for my artistic tastes, every game should be published by small French publishers.
• Valley Games has posted a Kickstarter update about D-Day Dice, noting that the game's production is supposed to be finished before the end of May 2012, after which everything will be shipped to North America, which takes about three weeks on its own. Thus, the hoped-for (by some) June 6 release date won't happen. As noted on the update: "[T]he factory has informed us that this project has been more labour intensive than originally anticipated :-) A year's worth of expansions, limited edition items and consolidation of items from other manufacturers made for a lot of collating and non-generic packaging. This does not affect the above date but did play a role in the game taking this long to get done. Just an FYI really."
• Ares Games has announced a Spiel 2012 release from designer Leo Colovini. Here's an overview of Aztlán, which will be available in stores in Q4 2012:
Aztlán is a strategy game with bluffing and challenging mechanisms set in the mythical land of Aztlán, ancestral home of the Nahuatl (Aztec) people. In Aztlán, four tribes strive to survive and prosper, under the scrutiny of the Aztec Gods themselves.
The game develops during five different epochs, each one divided into four phases. Players try to conquer the largest realm, using an intriguing and highly interactive mechanism. In each epoch, the tribes have uneven and secret strengths, so the players' strategy must be based on intuition and bluff.
When winning a conflict, you are faced with the difficult choice between eliminating your enemies, or deciding to co-exist with them. Peaceful co-existence brings the opportunity to develop your own civilization and gain future advantages, but can you trust your opponent?
• English rules are now available for Philip duBarry's Courtier (PDF) and Jeff Tidball's Mercante (PDF), the first and second titles in Alderac's Tempest series of games.
• On the Catan.com blog, designer Klaus Teuber has posted the first two articles of sixteen (!) covering the next expansion for The Rivals for Catan, which will be titled The Rivals for Catan: Age of Enlightenment. Both articles are part of a fictional narrative about "The Era of Prosperity" theme set from that expansion, revealing numerous card details in the process of telling the story.
• Ted Alspach at Bézier Games has posted a Kickstarter update for Mutant Meeples, noting that the game won't meet its previously announced May 2012 release date. Pegasus Spiele, the German publisher of the title, has adjusted the release date to July 2012 on its website.
• For a Kickstarter link this time, let's look to the Road to Enlightenment – the second mention of "enlightenment" this post, hmm – a huge game from designer Dirk Knemeyer and Conquistador Games, Inc., with artwork by Heiko Günther. The rulebook itself is 37MB (PDF), despite being only twelve pages long. Here's a short description of the game:
Road to Enlightenment gives players control of great scientists, artists, philosophers, religious leaders, politicians and military leaders, bringing them uniquely and individually to life.
You play as one of the great monarchs from 17th and early 18th century Europe representing one of the seven top powers of the era: Austria, England, France, Poland, Russia, Spain or Sweden. Your objective is to be recognized as the most prestigious monarch by producing the most admired art and culture, lead the continent in scientific innovations, spread or resist the spread of Catholicism, and attempt military expansion beyond your historical borders. All of this is accomplished by marshaling 134 historical "luminaries": important historical figures covering every relevant domain of human achievement during the period.
The luminaries are rated in between one and seven different areas of endeavour: military, politics, religion, ideas, science, art or wealth. Additionally, each luminary has a unique Action, Enhancement or Response based on their real historical achievements to be brought to bear in service of your nation.
In order to create a game that simulates the battle between nations for prestige - covering war, politics, religion, science and art - while focusing on many of the diverse people of history, we've mashed up aspects from wargames, Euro games, deck building games, and statistical sports simulations. While it is an eclectic mix, this broad spectrum approach to the game's design enabled this diverse and richly detailed set of conditions to come together in a game that is epic in scale but doesn't take all day to play.