Spiel, held in the town of Essen each October, is one of Germany's two major game conventions, the other being the International Toy Fair in Nürnberg each February. While Spielwarenmesse is a trade show – and therefore strictly business – Spiel is open to the public, drawing roughly 150,000 people over four days. Hundreds of new games will be introduced at Spiel 2014, which takes place October 16-19. This preview covers games that publishers plan to release at Spiel or in the months leading up to it. In most cases, these games will be new for most Spiel attendees. Listings for some smaller publishers show all titles released since Spiel 2013.
Details about the Spiel 2014 Preview:
-----• This Preview is organized alphabetically by publisher, with games ordered alphabetically under a publisher's heading. This information is pulled directly from the game pages in the BGG database, so as those pages are updated, this Preview will be updated, too.
-----• In most cases, if a game appears in multiple versions, typically due to it being released in multiple languages, each version will appear under its own publisher.
-----• If you subscribe to this Preview, you'll receive update notices whenever an item is added or edited.
-----• If you don't care to read about a game and are logged in, click the red X to hide the game listing for both now and future visits. Choose "Personal" for the reason when doing so. You cannot hide a publisher due to this Preview's special set-up.
-----• Publisher booth numbers, preorder information, game designer and artist signings, and more will be added once that info comes available.
Note that this information has been cobbled together from dozens, nay, hundreds of sources, so inaccuracies may have crept in despite my best efforts. I will update game pages as I receive additional information.
If you're a designer or publisher with information to share – or if you have details about an upcoming Spiel 2014 release – please send me email (wericmartin @ gmail.com). I'll respond as best as I can given the tidal wave of data flowing through the game world in anticipation of the most exciting game convention in the world: Spiel!
• At Spiel 2014, Z-Man Games will host "Pandemic Survival – Essen", a special tournament version of Matt Leacock's Pandemic, on Saturday October 18, 2014 at 14:00. (As of Sept. 30, 2014, thirteen spots are still open.) Here's a description from the Z-Man Games website, which includes a sign-up option for this event or others taking place at different game conventions:
Pandemic Survival is an "extreme" version of Pandemic in which 6 to 14 teams of two will face each other in an epic battle to save the world. Their goal: to be the first team to find all four cures, or to be the last team still alive at the end of the game.
In this tournament-style version of the game – that cannot be found anywhere else – all teams will face the same problems: their player cards will all be placed in the same order before the game; the infected cities are the same for everyone; the Epidemics strike at the same time for all teams; every team has the same role cards. The only difference is the decisions they will make! Their strategic choices will lead each team in different directions, and one strategy will pay off in the end and lead to victory. The game master will call out the Infection cards, while other scour the tables to see if any of the team have succumbed to the Pandemic.
You will never know what other teams are up to because a screen separates each board, immersing you in your own game.
Different strategies will emerge, but which one will lead you to victory? Will you be the first to find all four cures? Or will all other teams succumb to the game and you will be the last ones standing? The only way to find out is to participate in this epic challenge.
Pandemic: The Cure, a dice-based version of the popular Pandemic board game, sets up in less than a minute and plays in 30 minutes. As in the board game, four diseases threaten the world and it's up to your team to save humanity. You and your team must keep the world's hotspots in check before they break out of control, while researching cures to the four plagues.
Players roll dice each turn to determine the actions available to them. They can fly and sail between the six major population centers of the world, treat disease in their current region, collect samples for further study, and exchange knowledge to help them in their goal of discovering cures. Each player takes on a different role that has its own unique set of dice and abilities — and players must take advantage of their specializations if they are to have any hope of winning the game. The Dispatcher, for example, can spend dice to fly others around the board, while the Medic is particularly adept at treating disease. Players can roll their dice as often as they like, but the more times they re-roll for the perfect turn, the more likely the next epidemic will occur.
At the end of each turn, new "infection dice" are rolled to determine the type and location of newly infected populations. If any region on the board is infected with more than three dice of a given color, an outbreak occurs, spreading disease into an adjacent region. If too many outbreaks take place, too many people get infected, or the rate of infection gets too high, all the players lose. If, however, the players can discover the cures to the four diseases, they all win and humanity is saved!
• I previewedPandemic: The Cure in November 2013 on BGG News following a playing of the prototype, and I paired that preview with an explanation of the game by designer Matt Leacock, should you prefer the visual medium:
Pandemic: On the Brink includes new event cards, new role cards, rules for five players, and optional game challenges to increase the difficulty of the Pandemic base game. These new challenges, which can be used individually or combined for even more difficult play, are as follows:
The Virulent Strain challenge makes one disease become particularly deadly in unpredictable ways.
The Mutation challenge adds a fifth (purple) disease that behaves differently than the original four.
The Bio-Terrorist challenge pits one player against the others!
The adventure is based on the real events that took place between 1831 and 1836, which led to the creation of the Theory of Evolution. During this very expedition, Charles Darwin laid the foundations for one of the most breakthrough scientific papers in the history of mankind– the paper on the Origin of Species. Players take on the roles of members of the crew of HMS Beagle with Darwin, at the start of a great adventure. In the following scenarios, they will have to challenge adversity and support the young scientist in his research. With five new scenarios, you are ready to dive into new adventures!
In The Staufer Dynasty, the players are nobles in the 12th century, accompanying Henry VI on his tour of the areas of Europe brought under control by the Staufer family, an area that included much of modern-day Germany, from the Baltic Sea in the north to Sicily in the south. You're eager to improve your own lot in the land by placing envoys and nobles in positions of power in the six regions represented in this game.
The game lasts five rounds with each player having three actions per round. Players take actions in order of their family members on the action board from top to bottom; on a turn you either take a supply action (moving to one side of the action board) or a move/deploy action (moving to the other side).
For a supply action, you pick one of the spaces on the supply table, move the indicated number of envoys and nobles from the province to your personal court, then claim any chests underneath that space. The treasure chests come in different colors, with each color having a different function in the game: the brown treasure chests score points based on how many you collect, the orange ones provide immediate points or figures, the blue ones provide a one-shot bonus, and the purple ones let you collect one of the privilege cards on display. The privilege cards often modify other actions or give you a bonus for doing a particular thing.
For a move/deploy action, you decide which office seat you want to occupy in a particular region. If this seat isn't in the region where the king is located, you need to spend one envoy as you move clockwise away from the king, placing each envoy in the top part of those regions, until you reach the region that you want to occupy. You then pay the cost of the office seat, placing one figure — possibly a noble if the seat demands it — in that seat and all the other figures in clockwise order, one per region. When you occupy a seat, you claim the chest underneath it.
After everyone has finished their actions, you score for the round — but you score only in the region indicated in the current row of scoring tiles (Aachen, Nijmegen, Palermo, etc.) and the region that best meets the condition laid out in a separate part of the current row of scoring tiles (fewest chests, most occupants, where the king is located, etc.) If these two regions turn out to be the same one, you score that region only once. Players score points for having the most office seats in a region (or the second- or thirdmost most office seats) based on the point tile placed in the region at the start of the game. Each region also has a printed bonus that players receive, such as bonus chests or additional envoys.
To end the round, you remove all of the office occupants of the region that scored, add new chests under each office seat in those scoring regions and each space on the supply table, then sweep the king clockwise 1-3 regions. As the king moves, he returns all of the envoys that he encounters in the regions that he enters to their owners. After five rounds, players score for their treasure chests as well as for how well they completed their secret job cards, and the player with the most points wins.
Terra Mystica: Fire & Ice has the original factions brace themselves for new competitors: Yetis – the masters of power, Ice Maidens – who adore their Temples, Acolytes – whose entire life is focused on the cults, and Dragonlords – who use their power to create volcanoes. And as if this wasn't enough, there are two more factions, Shapeshifters and Riverwalkers, who ignore the most basic of rule of one faction, one terrain type. (Inconceivable to the Halflings!)
• Price €35
• Note that this edition of the expansion is in both English and French.
Tragedy Looper is a scenario-based deduction game for two to four players: one mastermind and one to three protagonists. The game consists of four location boards and a number of character cards. Each scenario features a number of characters, hidden roles for these characters (serial killer, conspiracy theorist, friend), and some pre-set tragedies (murder, suicide).
Each "day" (turn), players and the mastermind play three face-down cards onto the characters, then reveal them to move the characters around or affect their paranoia or goodwill stats. At the end of each day (turn), if the scenario has a tragedy set for that day, it happens if the conditions are met, i.e., certain characters have certain stats or are in a certain location together (or not together) with others. As tragedies happen, players loop back in time, restarting the scenario from the beginning and trying to deduce who the culprit was and why the tragedy occurred.
The players win if they manage to maintain status quo — that is, if no tragedies occur to the key individuals — for a set number of days, within a set number of loops. If not, the mastermind wins.
Tragedy Looper was originally released in Japan in 2011; the first english version of the game was released in 2014.
The animals are dressed up and ready to enter the "Beasty Bar" nightclub. Who will actually make it through the door?
Beasty Bar is a fun "take that" card game about party animals. The players play animal cards into a line, and each animal has a special power that can manipulate the order of the cards. Whenever five animals are present at the end of a turn, the two animals up front get to party while the one at the rear has to go home. Whoever manages to send more of her animals to the party than anyone else wins.
Bite Night is a chaotic game for those who like action. First, players play cards from their hand face down onto a common pile, then they simultaneously flip over tiles and try to grab those which are best for them. At the end of the game, the played cards are executed in order and determine who can score how many points for which combination of tiles.
In Mangrovia, a light "gamer's game"/family game with a Caribbean mangrove setting, a clever role selection mechanism allows the players to choose two different bonuses/actions as well as the turn order in which they want these actions to be carried out — all by placing just one marker. Victory is achievable through a number of viable options, which guarantees high re-playability.
The game is a fight over acquiring the best locations for your huts in this appealing and unspoiled landscape. If you manage to do so, you will become the rightful successor of the old chief and win the game. You gain Chief points by having the most huts (and the secondmost huts) along each of the eight divine paths monitored by the statues of Gods. Additional Chief points are earned by controlling sacred locations, by collecting amulets, and simply by building huts at lucrative spaces.
Building a hut requires that the space's landscape is "active" and that you can pay the exact price (not overpay) for the space. Therefore, the game feels tight even from the very start. The game gets tighter and tighter towards the end of the game as you have fewer choices of spaces, and as the actions you choose become more and more crucial.
In order to succeed in this game, you should carefully choose and time the best possible combination of actions, called "ritual sites". A boat goes from ritual site to ritual site, first on the west side, then on the east side (in opposite order), triggering each action. If, for instance, you choose a ritual site high up, you will have an early choice of cards, but a late choice of space to build your huts or to collect amulets (and vice versa). A fourth action type is to select "active landscapes" and become starting player, which makes it possible to control the next round. After all players have performed two actions, the round ends. The game is usually played over 10-14 rounds and ends when one player builds his last hut.
Collecting amulets may be key in this game. Instead of keeping them as Chief points, you may use them to build huts on designated spaces which require payment in amulets instead of cards — and still to the exact price. Building huts on such spaces may be exactly what you need to get the majority along one or two divine paths. In order to gain enough amulets — and amulets of the appropriate values — you should position some of your huts on amulet spaces. The more huts you build on such spaces, the more amulets you can draw. The probability of getting the amulets you need will therefore increase.
The game board is built as a matrix system, with some spaces being part of two divine paths while other spaces belong to just one. The spaces that are part of two divine paths are obviously most tempting, but can you afford to build your huts there?
Barges, freight and profits are what it's all about in Manila, a speculative contest for 3-5 players. Goods shipments, intended for transport along sea routes, are in danger of gathering dust in the warehouses or being lost at sea in a storm. While the players speculate about success and failure, the ultimate fate of the ships will be determined by the dice.
There are four shipments that need to get to Manila - jade, ginseng, silk and nutmeg. A round begins with an initial auction to become harbour master. If you win, you'll be allowed to buy a share of one of the shipments, choose which three shipments you'd like to take down river and how likely they are to make it to their destination in the harbour. If they make it to Manila, their share price will increase. The aim of the game is to bet on the outcome of these shipments, with dice ultimately determining their fate. How many of the three boats will make it and which ones? Would you like to provide insurance against possible failed ships or perhaps you think pirates will snatch a chance to take control? Manila is a fun family game that takes minutes to learn and brings the river boats of the Philippines to life!
• Price €30
• Zoch labels this new printing of Manila a "limited edition". After asking a few questions about this, I've learned that this label means only that this printing is a one-off affair, with the title not entering the long-term Zoch catalog in a way that Heckmeck or Bamboleo has. Ideally, of course, every title would be popular enough to demand in-print status for the next decade or two, but not many can achieve that and such is the case here: good enough and in demand enough for a reprint, but not more than that.
What's also good to note about this new edition of Manila is that the wooden boats and plastic coins of the original game have been replaced by cardboard bits in both cases. A smaller print run typically entails fewer cost breaks, so I can imagine this was a case of doing a scaled-back version or not doing the game at all.
Socken Pfeffern, a.k.a. Flying Socks, is a new indoor and outdoor trend activity. Players of all ages send socks with custom-made designs flying in a fun competition to hit the washer in as few attempts as possible. There is virtually no limit to where and how the game can be played. The washer is made from durable metal, the socks are washable, and the bean bags inside the sox are filled with high-quality pellets. Basic rules are provided but individual rules can and should be made up on the fly.
In the super-fast sushi card game Sushi Go!, you are eating at a sushi restaurant and trying to grab the best combination of sushi dishes as they whiz by. Score points for collecting the most sushi rolls or making a full set of sashimi. Dip your favorite nigiri in wasabi to triple its value! And once you've eaten it all, finish your meal with all the pudding you've got! But be careful which sushi you allow your friends to take; it might be just what they need to beat you!
Sushi Go! takes the card-drafting mechanism of Fairy Tale and 7 Wonders and distills it into a twenty-minute game that anyone can play. The dynamics of "draft and pass" are brought to the fore, while keeping the rules to a minimum. As you see the first few hands of cards, you must quickly assess the make-up of the round and decide which type of sushi you'll go for. Then, each turn you'll need to weigh which cards to keep and which to pass on. The different scoring combinations allow for some clever plays and nasty blocks. Round to round, you must also keep your eye on the goal of having the most pudding cards at the end of the game!
From the lands of sunrise to the lands of sunset, the world rings with the fame of Suleiman the Great, the man whose wisdom has no equal! He was granted many talents at birth, and he learned all kinds of secret knowledge during his long life. He became so powerful that he was even able to rule over the heavenly genies. They built cities and moved mountains at his command, for fear of his angry gas!
But man is mortal, and even the life of Suleiman must come to its end. Powerful genies scatter — some go to the Netherworld of Order, others to the Netherworld of Chaos — but the disciples of the great master remain, and they hope to subjugate the servants of their master again. Each of them has created carpets filled with secret magic and sent them out to gather the scattered genies.
Your goal in Ifrito is to be the first player to capture nine of his opponent's genies or three of his opponent's carpets. During your turn, a player must take one of the following actions: bring a new carpet into play, move one of your carpets on the game board space, or capture an opponent's carpet along with all the genies sitting on it.