After a sick week last week, we’re back with a long, long list of news. Skipping a week of news before Essen, they really pile up. Well, lots of news is good news in boardgames, right?
Days of Wonder
Ticket to Ride – Map Collection 4 is, actually, not much of a collection. There is only one new map in the box: the Netherlands. But this map comes with a new twist: many routes are double tracks with bridge crossings, and to cross a bridge you have to pay. The first player to cross pays a token to the bank, but the player taking the second track has to pay to the player on the first. At the end of the game, bridge toll tokens score bonus points. This might add some extra interaction to Ticket to Ride, it’s certainly an interesting new twist.
HUCH! & friends
It’s not a heavy one as abstract strategy games go, but Ignis does look fun and it definitely looks awesome. The idea is simple: one player plays Fire, the other Water, and from the fixed starting position they try to push the other’s stones off the board using neutral element pieces. In an evil twist, once a border row is set with only pieces of one element all those pieces are removed and the row is dead for the rest of the game. Very easy rules, but playing it sounds fun. And did I mention it looks great?
Are you proud owner of the wilderness survival game Wilderness, but think that the game packs too much testosterone, with all playable characters being male? At the Fryx Games booth in Essen you’ll be able to get a promo pack replacing three of them with better looking female characters.
Fantasy Flight Games
Besides the special miniatures, the Descent Lieutenant Packs contain a set of Plot Cards for the Overlord to use. How to gather the threat tokens to buy them and what evil you can do with them is the subject of the newest preview. I like how each lieutenant brings a completely different flavor of cards to the game, playing with the Goblin King will be very different from having the combat-focused fallen knight Alric.
In the vampire hidden identity game Blood Bound, every bloodsucker has a special ability to use once a game to help figure out who is who and which side everyone is one. This new preview post takes a closer look at a few of those special abilities, some of which are quite sneaky. Hint: none of them includes sparkling! Even less sparkly than the vampires is the Inquisitor from this preview: this role only exists in games with an odd number of players to make the vampire clans be equals. The Inquisitor is a third faction all by himself, can masquerade as a member of either clan and can win the game even after he is discovered, if he cursed the victorious clan leader.
It’s not a big secret that games focused on battles are not really my cup of tea. Nevertheless, reading about the scenarios in BattleLore Second Edition makes me want to try it. To create the scenario to play, each player choses one scenario card for his side that then gives the setup for his side of the game board, with some extra rules and extra scoring opportunities, and both players’ choices together create the whole map. With the many options to customize your army that BattleLore already offers, this gives you more opportunities to play to your strengths and match everything to your strategy.
I almost didn’t realize how much fun stuff FFG is currently working on. The fourth preview for this week looks at the Investigators of Eldritch Horror, the new, world-spanning adventure in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. The investigators are the same colourful mix of adventurers and miscreants as in Arkham Horror, and they have a lot in common with those mechanically - equipment, allies, ability scores, special actions, it’s all there. One new twist that does a lot for creating a tense story is that dead or insane investigators are not simply removed from the board, they stay behind as an encounter for the other Investigators, tying up a loose end in the narrative.
Designer Yves Tourigny has posted a designer diary of his Blueprints on BoardGameGeek, to be released by Z-Man Games for the Essen faire. The game, not the diary. That would be silly. Blueprints is a small and quick dice game with a new, clever way to use dice: you stack them up to construct buildings. Each turn you pick one die to add to your building, stacking it somewhere in your design, hidden from the other players. The only restriction is that you may only put a die on top of another die if it has a higher value. This way, you try to complete the building shown on your blueprint to score points. Or maybe not, because you also score for each die according to different rules based on its color, for the highest building, the right dice colours and more, so maximizing your score is not straightforward at all.
Blue Orange Games
Blue Orange Games, also known as Jactalea, will be in Essen with a host of new games of varying complexity. Let me just quote it for you:
Longhorn: 1870 – Somewhere deep in Texas The rearing of Longhorn cattle from northern Mexico is booming. It has now become a major source of income for the Texan farmers and at the same time has attracted cattle thieves of all kinds. The players assume the roles of two particularly feared outlaws: Eagle Perkins and Jessie Artist Byrd. The aim of the game is simple: to steal cattle (and a few gold nuggets if possible) to see who can amass the most money by the end of the game… or to get your opponent arrested by the sheriff! (Only 50 copies available in Essen)
Nada: A dice game which brings out focus and rapidity. Be the first to call a match…or none. No match? Shout “NADA!” and snatch up all the dice!
Gobblet: Gobble up, line up and win! The only strategy game where you can gobble up your opponent! Be the first player to align 4 gobblets in a row and win!
Gobblet Gobblers: My first strategy game. A Tic-Tac-Toe game where you can gobble your opponent’s pieces! The first player to align 3 of his funny Gobblers wins.
Bendomino: One twist of strategy, two twists of fun! The innovative curved design of these dominos brings a new tactical aspect to the domino game.
Full Moon: Unite 4 wolves to take the moon down!
Battle Sheep: (not available on the sale, only playable on the lounge) They set out to conquer the world one pasture at a time. Cut your piles of sheep and try to block the sheep of your opponents. Family fun and strategy mixed at their best.
I knew I would have to try Battle Sheep when I read the title …
It’s Japanese Fantasy Battle Poker on Kickstarter. Okay, Mike Elliott’s game is not really called that, the proper name is Sangoku, but Japanese Fantasy Battle Poker sums it up pretty well. Players compete for dominance in the three realms Heavens, Earth and Hells by playing poker hands of very nice looking fantasy cards in each, the winner in each realm is allowed to summon a warrior that can attack the other players in his name. The betting part of poker comes in with the Legend cards which you may wager on realms that you’re sure you’ll win, and if you do, you gain more Legend cards. You want more of them because a set of Legend cards can be played for powerful special effects. Sounds like a fun, quick card game, the only downside for me is that shipping to Europe costs as much as the game.
Matagot / Ludocom
In cooperation the two French publishers Matagot and Ludocom will publish Corto, a game based on the adventure comic book series Corto Maltese by Hugo Pratt. The game, created by Laurent Escoffier (Columba, …) and Sébastien Pauchon (Metropolys, …) will let you take part in four of Corto’s famous adventures. Mechanically, you play cards to those adventures representing significant characters and objects from that quest. Cards may influence other cards around them, or in the same row or column, and remove them, weaken them or support them. Each quest comes with its own deck of cards and different treasures to find, giving each a slightly different flavour. The train from The Russian Boullion Train, for example, moves back and forth along the quest track.
Mindwarrior Games will be back in Essen this year with two new projects. The first, Tree of Life, is an expansion to Terra Evolution, a deck-building game about the evolution of species and their subsequent eradication by meteor. The expansion was originally announced for last year, but if the information from then is still accurate it will contain material for a fifth player and a bunch of new species. The other new game is titled Heroes of the Storm, but for now we have no information what it will be about. We should be able to remedy that, though.
Plaid Hat Games
When Risk Legacy was released, it was of course a very cool, new idea. Still I didn’t anticipate that it would name this new genre of boardgames. But it seems to be on the way to do just that. At least SeaFall, a new game that also makes persistent changes to your copy of the game with each party played, is subtitled “A Legacy Game”. It’s also designed by Rob Daviau, one of Risk Legacy‘s designers. SeaFall is set in a world where the Age of Sail is just about to (re)start, great nations are setting out to explore the world, exploit its resources and blow each other out of the ocean when they can. That setting is perfectly suited for a Legacy game, if you ask me.
Quick games with very little rules and just as little theme can go either way, they can be fun and addictive or fall flat. Splendor by Marc André is one such game: as a renaissance merchant, your goal is to gain prestige. To do that, you trade in gems. That’s the theme. When it’s your turn, you can take gems from the supply (three different ones or two of the same type) or buy a card for gems. Cards you buy also supply bonus gems that you then use to buy more expensive cards. That’s (most of) the rules. Not having played Splendor, I suspect it will fall in the fun and addictive category: the bonus gems from your cards make a nice escalation mechanism, the game will keep speeding up until it’s suddenly over. I hope I’ll be able to find out for sure in Essen. (via BGG News)
Czech Games Edition
Sometimes a picture says more than a thousand words, so here’s a preview picture from the Tzolk’in expansion Tribes and Prophecies. Each player will play one of the tribes with its special abilities. You can pretty much call me Ahmakiq For Life at this point, getting free food while my workers rotate towards more powerful actions sounds perfect to me.
And because preview pictures are fun, here’s another one. This one shows some cards from Tash-Kalar, and the card actions suggest that it will be a long way away from the simple “place troops in patterns on battlefield” it first sounded like. On the contrary, it looks like using your troops properly will be a rather complex endeavour. The pattern shown on the card is what you need to summon it: the round tokens are your units on the board, and if they match the pattern you can use the card to summon a new unit into the highlighted square and use the card effect.
Samarkand is not only a boardgame, it is also a city in today’s Uzbekistan with beautiful, beautiful historic buildings. This one is Ulugh Beg Madrasah, one of the three Islamic schools around the Registan, the historic public square. The name literally translates to “sandy place”. The photo was taken by Adrian Zwegers and shared with a CC-BY license.