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New Game Round-up: Ride Gondolas, Design Games, Collect Eggs, and Break Oaths

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Incubation is the first title from designer Carl Brière, founder of publisher Synapses Games, and this 2-5 player game will be released in North America via distribution from Luma Games. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:

An incredible discovery has been made that will change the world forever. High in the snow-capped mountains, explorers have come across a number of large, colorful dragon eggs! Now the whole world is clamoring to get their hands on what's inside. It's a good time to get into the egg-hatching business!

In Incubation, 2-5 players take on the role of entrepreneurial dragon breeders looking to make a fortune by collecting the required resources and feeding them into their special dragon egg incubators to hatch them. There are four different types of dragons, as well as hybrid and mystery eggs. As the dragons begin to emerge from their eggs, players can use them to fulfill objective cards, which earns them coins. The breeder who has earned the most coins through hatched dragon eggs, completed objectives, and collected tokens wins!

We had recorded an overview of the game at GAMA Trade Show 2019, but it had been tagged differently from all the other videos, so I've published it only just now:

• I wrote about the 2019 release Ragusa from UK publisher Braincrack Games in October 2018, and now the company has announced the similar looking Venice from Andrei Novac and Dávid Turczi, the latter of whom notes that Venice is a thematic sequel, while being a completely different game. An overview:

Set in the titular city in the 16th century, Venice lets players take the role of wealthy, influential merchants as they ride their gondolas up and down the city's canals, train their assistants, complete contracts, and leverage their influence to gain political power. But business is anything but usual. As they broker contracts and flirt with crime, merchants must avoid arousing the suspicion of the Venetian Inquisition, lest they find themselves arrested and their businesses shut down.

In the game, players move their two gondolas around the board. When they move a gondola, they may activate the assistants they have placed previously on any building they pass, but they may train (and improve the capabilities of) only the one on which they end their movement. Assistants allow you to gain resources, trade, make money, and take an array of other actions depending on the buildings to which they are assigned. When resources are made, they are placed in the gondola, and these will be used to fulfill lucrative contracts.

Space is limited on the city's canals, however, and each time you pass another merchant's boat, gossip will spread, raising your suspicion level with the Inquisition. Lower your suspicion with visits and donations to the church, or academic institutions — or throw caution to the wind and engage in unsavory activities for money or information. During the game, being such a well-known merchant can be a boon to your political career, but at game end, the most suspicious player will be made an example of by the Inquisition — blocking your victory even if you have the most points.

Twilight Creations is taking an unusual approach with Zombies!!! Sin City, the next title in its long-lived — some might say undying — Zombies!!! game line. The game is being funded on Kickstarter and has already reached its $10K goal (KS link), and the publisher includes a list of components that will be in the box, but what you'll do with those components is not yet known. From the KS description: "This next installment of Zombies!!! is a bit different than anything we've done before. The game requires players to complete mini games in order to be able to leave Vegas and win the game. The mini games will be created by YOU!" Yes, you can pledge for a tier that lets you design a game tile, name a casino, or submit a mini-game to be included in the box.

Game of Thrones: Oathbreaker from Kevin Spak and Dire Wolf Digital is a social deduction game for 5-8 players due out in late May 2019, which means it can't ride all the initial hype before the launching of the final season of that television series on April 14, 2019, but perhaps after the final episode airs on May 19, fans of the series will be looking for something more along the same lines and find this waiting for them:

Who do you trust? If you sit on the Iron Throne, the wisest answer is "no one".

In the game, one player assumes the role of King (or Queen), while the others represent the great Lords and Ladies of the Houses of Westeros. Some are loyalists who want order in the realm, others are conspirators who seek to undermine the throne, and all of them have a secret agenda of their own. Who is truly loyal, and who is simply hungry for power, honor, and coin? It's up to the King to figure it out before it's too late.

In more detail, the game lasts seven rounds. In each round, players reveal a number of mission cards, each on which has an associated influence type: crowns, ravens, or swords. Each noble plays influence cards face down to one or more missions and places their House Sigil at the mission where they played the most cards. Then each mission is resolved by shuffling the influence cards there and tallying up successes and failures. If a mission succeeds, Order is generated; otherwise Chaos is generated. Nobles earn rewards (coin, honor, power) based on whether the mission with their House Sigil succeeded or failed.

The King can play decree cards during the game to grant favor to nobles who seem loyal, or cast suspicion on suspected conspirators. Decree cards award Order if the King was correct and Chaos if the King was wrong.

At the end of the game, if Order exceeds Chaos, the King wins and any loyalists who achieved their personal ambitions win. If Chaos has the edge, then any conspirators who achieved their personal ambitions win.

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