Nürnberg/New York 2015 Preview
W. Eric Martin
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From gallery of W Eric Martin
As in 2014, I'm previewing games being shown at the 2015 Nürnberg and New York toy fairs in a single GeekList. The game market is an international market — with publishers selling around the world and players buying from wherever they need to in order to get games they want — so combining these previews makes sense.

Some background about the two conventions: The 66th Spielwarenmesse – the International Toy Fair in Nürnberg, Germany – takes place January 28 to February 2, 2015, while the 112th annual American International Toy Fair in New York is held Feb. 14-17, 2015.

Note that, unlike at the Spiel game convention in October, many games previewed in Nürnberg and New York won't be available for purchase immediately, instead appearing in stores over the next few months. Think of this list as a preview of what you might see appear in stores throughout the first half of 2015 (although some games won't appear until Q3/Q4 2015).

I'll be visiting both Nürnberg and New York to record game demos of the titles on display there. Feel free to suggest other games to add to this Preview via email (wericmartin AT gmail.com) or in the comments section!
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Board Game Publisher: White Goblin Games
Board Game Publisher: White Goblin Games
151. Board Game: Hands [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:8978]
Board Game: Hands
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 3 − 8
Playing time: 20 minutes
Suggested ages: 8 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
Dutch
English
French
German
Description:

Hands up! Hands down! No hands! Thumbs up! Point to the sky!

In Hands, you talk with your hands instead of words while trying to find a player whose hand speaks the same words as yours. Beware of the player talking with both hands, though — you'd better do as he says!

In more detail, during the game you mimic the cards in your hands while trying to find another player who mimics that same card. Each match you make this way scores you one point. But if any other player is making a two-hand symbol, you better not be the last player to imitate that symbol or else you'll lose a point at the end of the game.

Whoever scores the most points wins!

Other Information:
Board Game: Hands
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152. Board Game: Kite Fight [Average Rating:5.41 Unranked]
Board Game: Kite Fight
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 4
Playing time: 20 minutes
Suggested ages: 8 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
Dutch
English
French
German
Description:

Kite Fight includes three games in one box, with players using the kite, wind and lightning cards in different ways depending on what they're playing. The games included are:

Catch the Wind — Imagine playing in a park with the land divided into quadrants by wind cards. Over the course of the game, players place kite cards in different parts of the park (that is, the space between wind cards) to try to have the highest valued kite cards on top of the stack, but the first card played in a quadrant determines which cards can be played to that area subsequently. Designer Jason Kotarski describes this game as "sort of a twist on trick-taking with players playing to multiple tricks at once over multiple rounds".

Ride the Skies — Wind cards fill the air (or rather the table as they're laid out in a grid), and players place their kite cards on top of them to ride the wind. The trick, though is that the card being placed must be equal to the sum of the card being played on and one of the adjacent cards in the grid. Once all of the wind cards are covered, players check each pile to see who played the most cards on each pile, awarding the wind card to that player.

Full of Air — Catch the most wind cards by participating in kite fights and outnumbering everyone else. To set up, a few wind cards are placed face up on the table, then players take turns placing a kite card at either end of the row, creating a sequence of 1-10 in each row. When a row is complete, whoever contributes the most claims the wind card from that row. Lightning cards let you zap another player's card and replace it with one of your own.

Other Information:
Board Game: Kite Fight
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Board Game Publisher: Z-Man Games, Inc.
Board Game Publisher: Z-Man Games, Inc.
153. Board Game: Arboretum [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:244]
Board Game: Arboretum
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 4
Playing time: 30 minutes
Suggested ages: 8 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Description:

Arboretum is a strategy card game for 2-4 players, aged 10 and up, that combines set collection, tile-laying and hand management while playing in about 25 minutes. Players try to have the most points at the end of the game by creating beautiful garden paths for their visitors.

The deck has 80 cards in ten different colors, with each color featuring a different species of tree; each color has cards numbered 1 through 8, and the number of colors used depends on the number of players. Players start with a hand of seven cards. On each turn, a player draws two cards (from the deck or one or more of the discard piles), lays a card on the table as part of her arboretum, then discards a card to her personal discard pile.

When the deck is exhausted, players compare the cards that remain in their hands to determine who can score each color. For each color, the player with the highest value of cards in hand of that color scores for a path of trees in her arboretum that begins and ends with that color; a path is a orthogonally adjacent chain of cards with increasing values. For each card in a path that scores, the player earns one point; if the path consists solely of trees of the color being scored, the player scores two points per card. If a player doesn't have the most value for a color, she scores zero points for a path that begins and ends with that color. Whoever has the most points wins.

Other Information: • With a French edition coming from Filosofia.
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154. Board Game: Lords of Scotland [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:1682]
Board Game: Lords of Scotland
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 5
Playing time: 35 minutes
Suggested ages: 12 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Description:

Introduction

The throne lies empty and the clans are restless. As a lord of Scotland with land, men and money at your disposal, now is the time to lay your claim. But you are not alone. Your rivals have been waiting for just such an opportunity themselves and they are poised to act. With the clans of Scotland ready to follow the strongest leader, it is up to you to win the loyalty of the clans first. If you can demonstrate your prowess in battle to enough clans, then the rest will fall in line behind you. Do you have the audacity and cunning it takes to be crowned king?

How to Play

You acquire the support you need to win the game by winning skirmishes against your rivals. A skirmish is five consecutive rounds of play. During each round of a skirmish, you have the opportunity to either build up your army by playing cards from your hand or recruit clans to fight for you by drawing cards from the recruit pile. At the end of the five rounds, each lord gets to claim a supporter in order of highest strength army to lowest. Then you discard all the clans you mustered and begin a new skirmish. The game ends when one lord reaches forty or more points worth of supporters and claims the throne. If you hope to be the one to do so, you will need to know when to commit your forces to battle and when to regroup to fight another day.

Design Notes

Lords of Scotland borrows design elements of Three-Dragon Ante, Condottiere and Havoc: The Hundred Years War and sets the action in the interregnum period of Scottish history surrounding the wars for Scottish Independence. The gameplay is broken up into five-round skirmishes which are conducted in a turn based clockwise fashion. During each skirmish, the ability to activate more special card powers by going first is balanced by the knowledge of what strength card you need to play to win by going last. Throughout the game there is a general pressure to use resources to make immediate attacks of opportunity, balanced against the need to collect resources for long-term strategic advantage. Lords of Scotland scales well to the number of players with most victories being determined in the final skirmish.

Other Information: • With a French edition coming from Filosofia.
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155. Board Game: Merchants & Marauders: Seas of Glory [Average Rating:8.33 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.33 Unranked]
Board Game: Merchants & Marauders: Seas of Glory
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 4
Playing time: 180 minutes
Suggested ages: 13 and up
Categories: Show More »
Mechanics: Show More »
Expands:
Language:
English
Description:

Seas of Glory plunges you back into Merchants & Marauders where you can live the life of an influential merchant or a dreaded pirate in the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy.

This hefty expansion offers a modular experience with eleven new challenges you can mix and match to constantly renew your search for glory at sea. With many new mechanisms such as changing winds, smuggling, and crew satisfaction as well as five variants, Merchants & Marauders will never be the same. Will your captain still gain eternal glory and immense wealth – or will he find his wet grave under the stormy surface of the Caribbean Sea? Only time will tell...

Other Information: • With a French edition coming from Filosofia.
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156. Board Game: Pandemic: State of Emergency [Average Rating:7.62 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.62 Unranked]
Board Game: Pandemic: State of Emergency
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 4
Playing time: 45 minutes
Suggested ages: 13 and up
Categories:
Mechanics: Show More »
Expands:
Language:
English
Description:

Saving the world just got a little bit harder in Pandemic: State of Emergency, an expansion for Pandemic that offers three new challenges:

  • The Hinterlands Challenge, in which the diseases spread from animals to humans.
  • The Emergency Events Challenge, in which unpredictable events have nasty effects on the game.
  • The Superbug Challenge, in which a fifth disease that cannot be treated threatens the world! To fight off this threat, you must first find its cure, using quarantines to stop the spread of disease in the meantime, then produce vaccine doses. You must eradicate the superbug disease to win. This is NOT for the faint of heart...

Part of the Pandemic series.

Other Information: • With a French version coming from Filosofia.
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157. Board Game: Sylvion [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:1007]
Board Game: Sylvion
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 1 − 2
Playing time: 30 minutes
Suggested ages: 10 and up
Categories:
Mechanics: Show More »
Language:
English
Description:

The mad Fire Elemental lord is out to burn down the dream forest. Attacking in waves using Fire Elementals, your only defense are trees and fountains and those animals brave enough to offer aid before scurrying away to safety. Using a unique drafting system and combining it with a tower defense game, will you be able to keep your forest green?

Sylvion is a tower-defense type game in which attacks come down four rows and in waves. You build a deck using a unique drafting process and play cards from your hand by paying with other cards in your hand. You can play cards to the rows like fountains and trees or play animals for instant effects or to manipulate the enemy decks of cards. When all the waves have finished, you must have kept the heart of the Sylvion verdant, or else the whole forest of the Oniverse will be destroyed.

This game can be played in an introductory style, advanced mode, and includes two expansions and an appendix for further challenges and complexity.

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158. Board Game: Traders of Osaka [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:1142]
Board Game: Traders of Osaka
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 4
Playing time: 30 minutes
Suggested ages: 12 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Description:

In Traders of Carthage, players are merchants who are attempting to ship four different types of goods from Alexandria to Carthage. Players affect how quickly or slowly the ships move and can trigger pirate raids that may cost their opponents their goods. (Traders of Osaka moves the gameplay to a new continent and era, with players now trying to deliver cargo from Osaka to Edo, but otherwise gameplay remains the same.)

The game has a small board that shows the route the ships will follow, marking safe ports and dangerous waters. The board also has two spaces for the draw pile and discard pile and shows where the Market and Farm cards are laid out. The game also contains a deck of cards that have multiple uses, 48 achievement tokens for when goods are sold, four ship pieces to mark how far the ships have sailed, four trader pieces to indicate a player's scoring pile, four reservation pieces for players to mark cards they wish to purchase or take on a later round and a rulebook.

The game is a set collection game at its core. Players are attempting to collect sets of goods that will allow them to collect cards that will be worth points at the end of the game.

During the game, the cards can be used to represent goods when laid out in front of players, to represent gold to purchase goods when played from their hands or urns which players will use to protect goods from pirates. Deciding how to use the cards and when is the basis of playing the game.

On a player's turn, they can do one of three things: Buy Goods, Get Coins or Reserve a Card.

Buying goods has the player buying cards from the Market. There will be a number of cards laid out, face up, in the Market. Each card has a gold value in the corners and indicates how much a card is worth (either 2, 3 or 5). When a player buys goods, they must buy all the cards in the Market, using cards in hand to pay. If a player cannot afford the whole Market, they cannot do this action. Any cards purchased this way are laid out, face up, in front of the player. These goods are now aboard the ship of the matching color. Then the player moves each matching ship either 1 or 2 spaces towards Carthage (1 space if 1 card of that color was purchased, 2 spaces if 2 or more cards were purchased). If a ship moves onto Carthage, a payout occurs and pirates attack (this will be explained in detail later). If the Market is bought out or if the current player can't take or buy market cards (due to reservation pieces), the cards in the Farm (3 face up cards) are moved to the market. 2 cards are drawn from the draw pile and are added to the Market. Then 3 new cards are drawn for the Farm and are placed face up.

Getting coins has the player taking a single card from the Market and placing it in his hand. That card is now money, its value indicated by the gold value in the corners. This is the only way players can increase the amount of money they have.

Reserving a card has the player placing their Reservation piece on a card in the Market or in the Farm. This card is now unavailable to all other players. The Reservation piece is now committed to that card and can't be taken back until the owning player acquires the reserved card either as money or as a good. The owning player may take the card on his next turn or leave it, assuming there is another legal play he can do.

After taking his turn, the next player takes his action, and so on until the game ends.

If a payout occurs, each player that has goods on that ship takes part. First the players count how many of that colored good they have. Then they look at the value of the goods and determine which has the highest value. They take that value and multiply it by the number of cards in the set, rounding up to the nearest 5 or 10. For example, if a player has 3 yellow goods and the highest value is 3, they would multiply 3 by 3 to get 9, then round up to 10. The player then takes that value and divides by 5. The result indicates how many cards of that set the player keeps. Keeping with the example, the player would divide 10 by 5 to get a result of 2. This means the player keeps 2 out of the 3 cards from the set. Players keep the lowest valued card first and work their way up until they have the reached their limit. These cards are placed face down near the players with their trader piece on the pile, indicating this is their scoring pile. At the end of the game each card in the scoring pile is worth 1 point. This procedure is completed for each ship that reached Carthage. Then those ships are moved back to Alexandria, ready for another voyage. Each player that had a payout then takes 1 achievement token for each color they scored (not each card they scored).

When during a payout, any player that scores and has matching achievement tokens to the scored goods, will add the amount of tokens they have to the highest value card in the set. They then figure out how many cards they keep. For example, if a player has 3 blue cards with the highest value being 5. The player also has two blue tokens. The player would add 2 (for his tokens) to 5 for a value of 7. Then he would multiply 7 by 3, getting 21 and round up to 25. After dividing 25 by 5, the player can keep 5 cards. If a player gets to keep more cards than in the set, as in this example, they keep the entire set and draw cards from the top of the draw pile to make up the difference. These drawn cards are kept face down and are added to the score pile.

After the payout, any ships that are in the two Pirate spaces are attacked. Affected players may now discards cards from their hand to protect their goods on those ships. Each card has either 2, 1 or no urns on them. When you discard a card with 2 urns, two goods of that color are protected from the pirates. For example, if a player has 2 blue goods and discards a blue card with 2 urns, then he may choose which two cards are protected. After all players have finished discarding cards (which is voluntary; players are not required to protect their goods), the attacked ships are moved back to the nearest safe port and may move again towards Carthage.

The game ends once a player has 8 or more Achievement tokens. The winner is the player with the highest score (number of cards in their score pile). If there is a tie, the tiebreaker is the number of Achievement tokens the tied players have. If there is still a tie, then the game ends in a tie.

Other Information: • Filosofia Édition will release a French version of this game.

Board Game: Traders of Osaka
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Board Game Publisher: Zoch Verlag
Board Game Publisher: Zoch Verlag
159. Board Game: Dream Team [Average Rating:6.83 Unranked]
Board Game: Dream Team
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 4 − 10
Playing time: 45 − 60 minutes
Suggested ages: 12 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
German
Description:

Dream Team is a communication game in which members of team create lists of items, then try to get their teammates to surf the same thought waves in order to guess these items.

Other Information: • Price €18
 
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160. Board Game: Oh nein! Die Schnackelstein! [Average Rating:6.56 Unranked]
Board Game: Oh nein! Die Schnackelstein!
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 5
Playing time: 20 minutes
Suggested ages: 6 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
French
German
Italian
Description:

Countess Rubina von Schnackelstein has buried her gemstones. Instead of the lush diamond plants though, which she had hoped for, mole hills have started to pop up all over her lawn.
You decide where the cuddly bgurrowers get busy digging in search for the precious gems. If you manage to unearth the most jewels, you will be crowned king of the moles. Be wary of the beetles though: they work for the countess and try to steal the gemstones back from you!

Other Information: • Price €30

Board Game: Oh nein! Die Schnackelstein!
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161. Board Game: Spinderella [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:2679]
Board Game: Spinderella
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 4
Playing time: 20 minutes
Suggested ages: 6 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
French
German
Italian
Description:

In Spinderella, players race to get their three ants across the forest floor as quickly as they can, but spiders await in the branches above and — with a little help from opponents — one might swoop down to scoop up your ant and return it to the starting line. You can do the same to them, of course, so search for the right time to act and the right places to hide.

Awards:
- 2015 Winner of Kinderspiel des Jahres

Other Information: • Price ~€30

Board Game: Spinderella
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