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W. Eric Martin
U.S. publisher Bezier Games has announced its Spiel 2015 release: Favor of the Pharaoh by Tom Lehmann, a reworking of his 2006 dice game To Court the King that keeps the same gameplay at heart while changing practically everything else. Let's start with an overview:
In ancient Egypt, even a lowly peasant could seek an audience with the Pharaoh, and in Favor of the Pharaoh 2-4 players vie for the Pharaoh's favor by working their way up Egyptian society, gathering influence (represented by dice and powers) to gain entry to the next level of society. Once any player gains the Queen's influence, a final contest occurs for the Pharaoh's favor.
Favor of the Pharaoh tasks players with building a dice-rolling engine — not to mention adding and manipulating dice — in preparation for a final roll-off between all players to gain the Pharaoh's favor and win the game.
Favor of the Pharaoh includes more than one hundred tiles, over twenty standard and custom dice, dozens of bonus tokens, level bars, locking pyramids, and more. With so many combinations of level bars and tiles, no two games will ever be set up the same!
In a bit more detail, Favor of the Pharaoh includes more than fifty character tiles, with only 21 being used in any game. These characters are organized by color to indicate their function in the game: Yellow Populace tiles add dice, blue Priesthood tiles manipulate dice, and red Artifact tiles provide one-time powers.
One big difference from To Court the King is that the values and combinations that you need to roll to claim a character are now separate from the powers of those characters. How? That's where the "level bars" mentioned above come into play, with the double-sided level bars serving to both organize the unclaimed characters and indicate the requirements needed to claim them.
The Ticket to Ride-sized box also includes six custom dice with special abilities, "Immediate" dice, and bonus tokens that players can use to either reroll a single die or add a pip to a single die. Players receive these tokens in different ways, e.g., to balance turn order, when purchasing a blue tile (one token) or a red tile (two tokens), or directly with specific tiles, such as the Tomb Builder character that provides one token to its owner each round.
• Curt Covert with Smirk & Dagger Games has a new card game titled Nevermore due out in June 2015, and here's a rundown of what's going on:
Many are the paths to power: brute force, subtle deception, cunning trickery. You hold the cards...but you can't keep them all. What will you decide to collect for personal gain? And what are you willing to give up in order to destroy? The Ravens are gathering, many of whom used to be rivals. Will you rise to power or simply be...nevermore.
Nevermore is a casual-style, card-drafting game in which you quickly build your hand each round, collecting cards you want and poisoning your opponent's hand by passing along cards you think they can't use. Whoever holds the most of a given suit, gains the power of that suit to attack, heal, acquire Light or Shadow magicks and score victory points.
Will you transform all your rivals into ravens — or can they regain their human form in time to score enough victory to win?
• In his one thousandth(!) blog post for "Every Man Needs a Shed" on BGG, designer Tony Boydell drops a mini-expansion for Snowdonia, gives an overview of his 2015 releases, and engages in a drop of his usual wordplay.
• Ahead of its Kickstarter campaign for Matt Leacock's co-operative Thunderbirds game, Modiphius Entertainment is surveying people to see what kind of rewards they'd want to see in that campaign.
As for what will be in the box itself, those details are still under wraps for now, but Modiphius has shared vehicle designs for the game. The holes in the vehicles are for the character pegs as during the game you'll assemble teams to travel to different parts of the world to participate in rescue missions and foil schemes created by the Hood. To add a little more detail about gameplay:
Players have to constantly juggle the rescue missions happening around the world (completing them before time runs out) while never losing track of the long-term threat of the Hood. If time runs out on any mission or the Hood completes his evil scheme, the players all lose the game. You can assemble a large cast of characters — increasing the odds that you'll be successful — or you go solo and attempt a long shot, hoping to save time. If your mission is a success, you'll gain bonuses that can be used to help bring the Hood's scheme crashing down around him!