Czech Games Edition
The Czech Games Edition newsletter had some new releases for this year, and I think there’s something for everyone in there. For fans of Vlaada Chvatil’s word game Codenames there is going to be a two player variant called Codenames Duet. It’s duet, not duel, because the two players work together to beat the game. Both see a key card like the one from the original Codenames, but the two sides show different agents and two different assassins. Giving each other single word hints they have to identify the agents and avoid the assassins at all costs.
If you want more party games by Vlaada, but the idea of playing in two people doesn’t excite you, then That’s a Question! might be for you. Information is a bit thin yet, but it seems players will ask each other questions with two possible answers and then bet on the questionee’s pick. We’ll tell you more about this as soon as we find out, of course.
Party games aren’t your thing at all? Then the new project by Vladimír Suchý (Prodigals Club, …) is of interest. It’s a game about exploring space, building megastructures and unearthing alien technologies with the working title PULSAR 2849. Again, not much to tell yet except that it uses dice in a unique way and has many ways to victory.
Then there are two expansions coming. One is for last year’s shooter boardgame Adrenaline and adds a sixth player, a new team mode with simultaneous play and some more goodies. The other is a new expansion for Tash-Kalar, Vlaada Chvatil’s take on an arena battle. The new faction in the expansion will come with a new mechanic called Warp that will let you use creature abilities from the future right now. That doesn’t sound like an easy faction to play.
Finally, not a boardgame but closely related, there is now a Galaxy Trucker novel. Written by Jason A. Holt, Galaxy Trucker: Rocky Road tells the story of a woman and an alien delivering their cargo of sewer pipes. That sounds true to the source material.
Split Second Games
You know what we didn’t have for a while? A zombie apocalypse. Okay, these guys are called the Afflicted, but they are pretty much zombies, and the players of Zero Hour are the only people on Earth who can stop the virus turning people into zombies. It’s not a job for timid people, saving the world, you have to be willing to take risks since Zero Hour is a press-your-luck game where pressing your luck too far will get you chased from the city by ravenous Afflicted. Players roll dice and assign them to locations with matching numbers in the city they are in. Completing a location gives them resources and intel about the mastermind behind the virus. Being forced to complete a hazard has negative effects instead, and the longer you stay in the city the higher is your risk to be discovered by the Afflicted. The dice mechanism of Zero Hour reminds me of the old Sharp Shooters / Gambler, but in a cooperative game with an actual theme, with player powers, and with the added problem that you must decide when to leave the city, the press-your-luck part of the game. It’s not a particularly heavy game, but nevertheless very tense.
You think zombies are bad? Listen to me when I say things can always get worse. Don’t believe me? Then say it with me: orc zombies. That’s what CMON put in the new Zombicide game, those madmen. Because regular zombies were just too wimpy, Zombicide: Green Horde makes everything so much worse. The basics of Zombicide are familiar by now, a group of survivors must work together to survive the zombie onslaught in different scenarios. Green Horde continues the fantasy spin-off that started with Zombicide: Black Plague, it works on its own but you can mix the two if you want. As for what to do about those zombie orcs, you have the option to really go medieval on them. A trebuchet takes some effort to move around, but oh boy can it kill zombies.
Artipia Games / Alderac
The legend says that in times of great danger the elemental masters will emerge from their temples to save the world. It’s that time when the evil Magmaroth emerges from his volcano, and so begin The Masters’ Trials. It’s going to use a dice mechanic similar to the one in Dice City, but in a cooperative game. The masters’ abilities that they activate with the dice are remixed every game, you create your character from his class, order and favored weapon. Each of those has abilities to activate with dice, some available from the start and others unlocked as the game progresses. This is going to be a fun coop game, it’s a shame that most people I play with suffer the curse of rolling badly.
The card crafting mechanism from Mystic Vale where you create cards by putting cards with transparent parts together is popular (and fun) enough that I was just waiting for more games to use something similar. The first such game is Custom Hero, a trick-taking/climbing game where you make your own cards. Before you play a card into a trick you may combine it with one of your card advancements, possibly changing the card’s value or giving it special powers. That’s really cool right now, but that upgraded card will be shuffled and dealt after the round, so you don’t know in who’s hand it’ll end up. Use your card advancements carefully. This sounds like a really, really great concept that I can’t wait to try out.
Coming very soon from Alderac is the expansion for bag-building racing game Automobiles. The base game already came with many options to customize your car, but there’s more than that to a racing team. Racing Season brings manager and driver cards, both of which can be a huge boon for your team. You’ll also get more car upgrade options, three new racing tracks and a new game format that lets you race a whole season.
They’re calling Unicornus Knights a princess management game. Managing the princess will indeed be a problem for you once Alderac release this game by Seiji Kanai and Kuro in their Big in Japan line, and it won’t be an easy task to manage her. After her father’s throne was conquered by the evil emperor, the princess’s only goal is to take it back, and she won’t be stopped. All you can do as her trusted advisors is influence where she goes and remove obstacles that might get her killed. How you’ll manage that is a question you’ll have to think about every time you play, because there are different advisors protecting princesses in different moods going up again different empire forces on a modular game board. Everything changes from one game to the next, and no combination looks easy.
Renegade Game Studios
There is one thing that I adore as much as games: Books. (Don’t talk to me about shelf space…). A game about collecting books is exactly my thing. And Ex Libris goes even further, it’s not only a game about collecting books but about being the best book collector there is to earn the title of Grand Librarian and a seat on the village council. You’ll have guessed that there is some competition for the job. The Grand Librarian will be chosen by a number of criteria, including alphabetic order of their books, shelf stability and more. A lot of work In Ex Libris seems to be done by your assisstants, so there’s a whiff of worker placement in the air, everything else pertaining to game mechanics will have to wait until we know it.
Plaid Hat Games
Team versus team games have to find a way to deal with odd numbers of players. In Dead of Winter: Warring Colonies that way is the Lone Wolf, a single player working on his own, outside the two colonies. The Lone Wolf is an enigma to the other players: He has a secret objective and secret missions to complete on the way to that objective. In one game his intentions may be benign towards the colonies, in others he might be a maniac sowing destruction. But he always acts as a force of balance between the colonies, he gets strong incentives to support whichever colony is weaker at any given time. The Lone Wolf is probably going to be a tough role to play, but it sounds rewarding as well.
A new Crystal Clans preview post shows the game board, which is pretty, and explains the Initiative System, which is intriguing. The back and forth of initiative lets you control what your opponent can do on their turn, but since it cuts both ways there will be a lot of strategy around it.
Fans of Hisashi Hayashi (Trains, Yokohama,…) can thank Pandasaurus Games for an English edition of his Minerva. It’s not easy to come up with something fresh in a game where you build a city from tiles and must manage your resources in order to pay for them, but Hisashi manages. In Minerva the big new thing is how you activate all your buildings’ abilities. A city is no good without inhabitants, and in Minerva that means you can only activate your fancy facilities when you place a residential building. Then you activate a whole row of buildings, so you really want to take care of your city planning to activate the right facilities together. You’ll want long rows to activate many buildings at once, but you’ll have to activate them sooner than you want to because you need resources. And through all that, you want to keep the best spots open for the temple tiles that score big points in the right environment.
One Free Elephant
When it comes to Lovecraft’s Mythos I like Cthulhu as much as the next geek, but my true love is the King in Yellow – which wasn’t even written by Lovecraft, but I digress. A boardgame titled Carcosa was sure to catch my interest. Carcosa, on Kickstarter by One Free Elephant, is a Carcassonne-y tile laying game? Carcosassone? Nevermind, anyway, players build the city of Carcosa from tiles and place cultist meeple on city districts, ley lines and other features to score points from. Tiles are not just drawn at random here, players fight for the privilege to take the top tile from the different stacks. And once a tile is on the board, that’s not it for that tile. Tiles will be flipped at a later time, and some tiles have hidden features on the flip side that will then benefit their controller. That’s some strategic depth already, and besides that there are some beautifully thematic twists: your cultists go mad and need time to recover before you can reuse them, but you can recruit more of them by performing the forbidden play.
The best beer of the middle ages was brewed by monks in their monasteries. The title of this eggertspiele Essen release is accurate, those guys were thinking about Heaven & Ale. It looks like each player will have their own garden to care for and bring the harvest in, but the description does talk about harsh competition from the other players. We’ll hopefully know more about the game mechanics soon, what we can say for now is that it looks like the medium to heavy kind of game that eggertpiele does best.
This latest video preview for Portal’s First Martians shows the different scenarios. There are six individual scenarios with diverse goals from figuring out why your crops are dying to recovering an errant probe. Or, if you’re in the mood for some suffering, you can try to build your base from scratch. The six scenarios are not all there is, however. Also included are two campaigns with five missions each. And they are new missions, not just the individual scenarios chained together. Here’s the video with all the glorious details.