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New Game Round-up: Adjusting for Noisy Success, and Moving Toward War in Our Place in the Sun

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Five-player game of Our Place in the Sun on a prototype from 2017
• Polish publisher PHALANX has a number of titles on its 2019 release docket — Europe Divided, Nanty Narking, Freedom!, 1941: Race to Moscow — and now it's added one for release in 2020: Our Place in the Sun, a vast design for 2-5 players from first-time designer Andrew MacLeod:

In 1871, the Treaty of Versailles was signed between France and the newly established German Empire, badly shaking the balance of power that had kept Europe relatively stable since Napoleon's defeat in 1815. France longed for revenge against Germany, as did Austria-Hungary, yet the weakening Ottoman Empire seemed a much easier target for recovering the honor she had so recently lost to the ascendant Germans.

Meanwhile, Russia longed to see the subject peoples of the Balkans take refuge under her wings, and every attempt by a European power to spread her influence into the Sick Man of Europe was watched with grave concern by all. Russia, with its huge army, was also being closely monitored by Britain in central Asia, where the latter wondered what schemes this eastern giant might have planned. Did Russia have intentions towards Britain's treasure of India? And was this new German Empire friend or foe? Would she attempt the herculean task of building a large navy to rival Britain's? As her chancellor, Bernhard von Bülow, said a quarter century later, "We wish to throw no one into the shade, but we demand our own place in the sun." This struggle for a place in the sun would ultimately lead to the catastrophe of World War One, drawing all five powers into its maelstrom and destroying three of them in the process.

Our Place in the Sun portrays the rising tensions and dwindling war fuse that burned among the European powers from 1871 until the time of the First World War — yet a world war is not necessarily your objective. Your goal is simple: Outrank your rivals in national honor with or without the Great War breaking out. To do so, you must spread your influence into the four areas over which the European powers were quarreling during this time: the declining Ottoman Empire, central Asia, the Far East, and Africa. You must also build sizable armies and navies in the event that war does break out. If you are leading in national honor, then this might be the right opportunity for you to initiate the catastrophic conflagration. But if your ambitious schemes isolate you diplomatically, you just might find yourself friendless when war begins and witness the collapse of your empire. Perhaps you should play the honest broker and try to prevent the Great War. Have you the wisdom of a Bismarck, or the incompetence of a Kaiser Wilhelm II?

Our Place in the Sun is a card-driven game inspired by the award-winning two-player game Twilight Struggle, but playable with up to five players. Given the radically different settings of the two games, you will find familiar mechanisms considerably transformed, along with completely new ones, too. Naturally, the events portrayed on the cards are different: the German Fleet Acts, the Boer War, the Boxer Rebellion, the founding of the Indian National Congress, and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand are all here, as well as many, many more. Players can even form alliances and host European Congresses to both lessen tensions and deal with matters they'd very much like to avoid.

Our Place in the Sun can be played in a variety of ways. Given that new players will have no familiarity with the cards, each turn can be played as a one turn mini-game simply to familiarize themselves with the cards available for that turn. (For novices, such a game might take a little more than an hour.) Once players are comfortable with the cards for the first two turns, they may want to try a two-turn game consisting of turns one and two; and when turn three is mastered, a three-turn game, and so on. With experienced players of Our Place in the Sun, a full five-turn campaign game can be anticipated to last from three to three-and-a-half hours. The five-turn game will last much longer for players who don't know the cards! Alternatively, players may play a multi-turn game beginning on a turn other than turn one; two shorter one-region scenarios are available as well.

• Here's an odd "Inside Baseball" item for you: German publisher AMIGO has changed the name of Haim Shafir's Klack!, which debuted in 2012, to Clack! In a press release announcing the change, AMIGO notes that the English-language version of the game — which uses the "Clack!" title — has been the best selling title in the line-up of the U.S.-based Amigo Games Inc. Says spokesperson Andrea Milke in my translation, "This led us to secure the worldwide rights to a single title so that 'Clack!' could be established as an international brand."

Catan has already gone this route, of course, and now this real-time game of magnetic disc-grabbing — previously available under the names "Clac Clac", "Crazy Clack!", "Cvak!", "Halli Klack!", and "Klik! — is following suit.

• Asmodee France, which distributes titles for Libellud, tweeted in April 2019 that Seasons: Enchanted Kingdom and Seasons: Path of Destiny will return to print in mid-2019.

• French publisher Igiari released a new edition of Stefan Dorra's Intrigue in 2016 — preview video from Spielwarenmesse 2016 here! — and the company now reports that it's been picked up by Asmodee North America for release in English, by Mandoo Games for a Korean edition, and Swan Panasia for a Chinese edition.

Milito from Martin Wallace and PSC Games is a revamped version of Field of Glory: The Card Game, which Wallace has self-published in 2013. While that earlier two-player game pitted a generic red army against a generic blue army, Milito features six historically based armies: Imperial Roman, Ancient British, Carthaginian, Republican Roman, Alexandrian Macedonian, and Achaemenid Persian.

A Kickstarter campaign to fund the game, um, ended the day before this post went live (KS link), but the game is due to backers in June 2019, so it will be available soon enough in any case. (And should you, by chance, be in the market for an Italian edition of Milito, Giochistarter doesn't start funding its campaign (link) until May 17, 2019. Sei fortunato!
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