King’s Road is not exactly a new game by Reiner Knizia, but it’s not exactly not, either. The area majority game was formerly called Imperium and only available in a collection of Knizia games about the Roman Empire. It’s not a super complex game: the King walks around his kingdom, and each round the area he’s in is scored and awards points for the majority of markers there. The markers go on the board through simultaneously selected action cards. Unusually for this mechanism, cards aren’t selected one by one but always three at once. This makes the game interesting, because some cards have special effects instead of adding markers to the board and you may end a round scoring more than one region, after all. King’s Road is quick, tactical, and has a high decision density with a lot of bluffing and guessing. Great thirty minute entertainment.
First Fish Games
When the idea of a game is described as “close quarter farming”, the first image in my head is something like mixed martial arts with hoes and rakes. That doesn’t seem to be too far off the mark for First Fish Games’s Get Off My Land! Sure, the part where you cut down the forest around your little farm house, fence in your fields and grow crops to harvest sounds peaceful enough. But peace only goes so far when all players want to make the most money but there is limited space and a limited supply of seeds and animals to start breeding. You can see how that might go bad very quickly, and Get Off My Land! encourages the … erm… unfriendly type of competition like breaking other players’ fences or stealing their harvest. It’s not Diplomacy levels of friendship breaking, but some joy in messing with your friends certainly helps.
Z-Man Games / Hans im Glück
We already mentioned the new, circus-themed Carcassonne expansion with the German titled Manege Frei. A preview post from Z-Man Games now shows the English title as Under the Big Top and explains what the 20 new tiles do. Like any good circus, you’ll get animal acts and acrobats, and both score points for you in slightly different ways. Animal acts score points for all meeples standing around the circus tile when a new circus tile is played somewhere else. Acrobat tiles encourage your meeples to actually be acrobatic, every meeple participating in a meeple pyramid can score points here. I hope I don’t lose points for accidentally knocking it over…
Blood Rage was a pretty big success for Eric Lang and Cool Mini or Not (now known as CMON Limited), with great miniatures and engaging game play. It looks like they’ll keep the success story going with Rising Sun, another game with amazing minis and what looks like great game mechanics. Rising Sun lets three to five players take control of a clan in mythical Japan, competing for the Emperor’s throne. Rising Sun looks to be more complex than Blood Rage was, involving politics, shifting alliances, sudden betrayals, giant monsters and the favor of the kami spirits. As usual for CMON games, it’s on the expensive side, but when you look at the components you know where that price is coming from.
Renegade Game Studios / Foxtrot Games
A trick-taking game for two players is an unusual proposition, but that’s exactly what Fox in the Forest by Foxtrot Games and Renegade Game Studios is going to be. It’s going to be a light game with a fairy tale setting, but not as light as simply playing cards and taking the trick if yours was higher. The fairy tale characters coming to your help will make it more fun than that, because they come with special powers. Also unlike most trick-taking games, you want more tricks than your opponent, but not too many. That would make you the villain of the story, and they never win. Sure, it’s a light game, but we need those, too. And going by the box cover, it’s going to be beautiful.
Tea Time Productions
“Civilization building game” still makes most of us think of 3+ hours cardboard orgies. But there are examples of the opposite, and Tribes: Early Civilization by Tea Time Productions promises to take you from the Paleolithic to the Bronze Age in less than an hour. That’s not the whole rise of civilization, but it’s still a lot of exploring and inventing to do. Each players controls their own clan on that way through a clever action selection mechanism. Action are arranged in a row, and unless you pick one from the front you have to pay for every one you skip. That’s not entirely new, but it’s extra mean because the action you picked will move to the back of the line – it’s virtually guaranteed that what you really want to do will never be in reach. And that’s just the mechanism driving the game, there’s a lot for you to do with those actions, too.
This pretty two-player game almost slipped past us on Kickstarter. Tiki sounds pretty simple at first, all you have to do is stack up three totem pieces to collect pineapples and win. But when you look deeper, things are not so easy any more. The way to move those totem pieces around is to pick up a totem and move it in a straight line, leaving one piece on every space. If that piece is your opponent’s, then you just gave him control of the totem on that tile. You can make that work in your favor, of course, because some tiles are worth more than others. Nine village tiles and sixteen totem pieces can pack a lot of game, and the beautiful totem pieces plus the illustrations by Pauline Amelin make it look great on top of that.
The Kernave Archaeological Site in this week’s photo may just look like a pretty landscape today, but there’s a lot more hidden here. There’s been human settlement in this area along the river Neris in Lituania for something like 10,000 years. A real treasure for archaeologists. The photo was taken by Laisve Lideikyte and kindly shared with a CC-BY license. Thank you, Laisve! (Kernave, Laisve Lideikyte, CC-BY)