W. Eric Martin
• Italian publisher Ghenos Games presented a board game based on Arsène Lupin at Spiel 2011, and now French publisher Bombyx has its own take on the Lupin character and how to represent him in a game about burglary. Here's a rundown of Gentlemen Cambrioleurs from Intrigo designers Charles Chevallier, Catherine Dumas and Pascal Pelemans, which will be available at Spiel 2012 with rules in French and English.
Gentlemen Cambrioleurs is a board game with secret identities, bluffing and theft featuring Arsène Lupin and other characters inspired by author Maurice Leblanc. Whoever ends up with the biggest stack of loot at the end of the game wins!
At the start of the game, each player secretly takes one of the five burglar tiles, which come in five different colors; each player also receives 2-4 helping hand tokens. Five locations are set out, each with two randomly chosen equipment tokens next to them; equipment tokens come in five types, with each type appearing in the five colors of the burglars. A special tokens are place out as well: two loot tokens next to the bank, one lock on the museum, and one tunnel next to the manor; six additional loot tokens, along with a car token and the second tunnel, are placed to the side. Three randomly drawn equipment tokens are placed face up.
At the start of each round, the matchmaker determines the alliances for that round, placing two alliance markers – each showing a burglar in the appropriate color – in one area and the other three in the other area. Thus, the burglars form provisional teams for the round and are trying to work together to rob a location – any location! – but they don't necessarily know who's who. On a turn a player either:
-----• Chooses one of the face-up equipment tokens, places it next to a location (with no more than three tokens of the same type being allowed at a location), then reveals a new equipment token.
-----• Draws the top equipment token from the stack, then places it at a location.
-----• Plays a helping hand token to move a special token or add a new special token to a location.
As soon as all five types of equipment are at a location, a burglary takes place there. Who steals the goods? The alliance that has the larger presence there based on the colors of tokens. These tokens are then flipped face down (becoming loot), added to any loot tokens present there, then split among the burglars in the alliance and placed on the scoreboard. The matchmaker token passes to a new player, who must move at least two alliance tokens, then a new round begins.
The special tokens naturally change the rules: The location with the lock cannot be robbed, although someone can choose to move the lock so that a burglary does take place. The car allows someone to move an equipment token to a new location. When the second tunnel is placed next to a location, the two locations with tunnels are now linked and the types of equipment present are considered to be together when determining whether a burglary takes place – although if the lock is on one of those locations, then nothing can be stolen!
A brigadier token is shuffled into the final six equipment tokens, and when it's drawn, the game ends immediately. Players then reveal their identities, and the player with the most loot wins!
• U.S. publisher Mayfair Games has announced a November 2012 release date for Catan Histories: Merchants of Europe, which is an English-language version of Die Siedler von Catan: Aufbruch der Händler – released in 2011 by Kosmos – which was itself inspired by Settlers of America: Trails to Rails, a 2010 release from Mayfair! The Catan circle grows ever tighter...
• Mayfair's new edition of A House Divided now has a U.S. street date of September 27, 2012, and Simone Luciani's Urbania – which debuted at Gen Con 2012 – has a street date of October 4, 2012.
• And speaking of Urbania, Mayfair is burnishing its cred as a supporter of brick-and-mortar stores by offering special promotional tile sheets if you preorder either Urbania or Martin Wallace's Aeroplanes: Aviation Ascendant from a B&M store. The tile sheet for Aeroplanes consists of Aeroplanes: Charters; Urbania: Subsidy Contracts; Rocket Jockeys: Space Port; Atlantis: Boats; Whitewater: The Cranky Beavers; Lords of Vegas: Skybridge; Steam: Five-Way Town; Nuns on the Run: Anchorite; and GIZA: Fast Sleds. The Urbania tile sheet consists of Atlantis: Ikarus; Monuments: Heroes, Traders & Science; Lords of Vegas: Skybridge; Nuns on the Run: The Monk and GIZA: Distant Quarry. I'm glad most of those are already entered in the BGG database. Phew!
• In case you didn't already know, Fragor Games hit its preorder limit of 1,000 copies of Spellbound within six days. What's the game about? Deck-building combined with Hummel figurines, of course.
• At Spiel 2012 in October, French publisher Blackrock Editions will debut Alain Ollier's Blackrock City, a game in which players need to use their outlaws to raid nearby towns – but not too quickly. Here's a summary of game play:
In Blackrock City, you are the chief of your group of outlaws, and you want to claim as much gold and silver as possible by attacking cities and stagecoaches. You will have to be clever to estimate the number of outlaws needed to attack – and watch out for the Sheriff and your opponents!
The game is played in rounds. Each round, players bid on the right to perform the next bank robbery by placing a number of outlaws in the center of the playing area; each player starts with eight outlaws. Alternatively a player can skip the round or postpone an attack until after other players bid, but doing so will cause one or more of his outlaws to become wounded. When a player bids outlaws, the sheriff token moves a number of city tiles equal to the number of outlaws bid (in most cases). If a sheriff lands on a player's Chief of the Outlaws token – as these tokens are located on city tiles and not used for bidding – one of that player's outlaws is wounded.
The winner of the bid attacks a city, most likely netting him gold and possibly giving him new outlaws (as they are freed from that city's prison), but which city is attacked is determined by the difference between the winning bid and the lowest bid. Thus, bids from the other players will influence the winner's gains – and if the winner lands on the city tile where the sheriff is located, he gets nothing. The player with the second highest bid attacks the stagecoach and gains one silver.
If a player claims something from a city tile, it's flipped over and now has a different power for the remainder of the game, allowing a player who lands on the tile to steal gold or silver cubes from an opponent or wounding one of that player's outlaws. After each round, players collect the outlaws they used to bid and "wound" the healthy outlaws by flipping them over to their wounded side. A wounded outlaw who is wounded again is removed from the game. (Prisoners come into the game wounded, so they can be used only once.)
The game ends when no player has any outlaws remaining or all players refuse to bid in a given round. The player who has collected the most gold and silver wins!