Look at gem trading game Splendor, all grown up after three years. The straightforward – but not simple – game is finally getting an expansion, and with Cities of Splendor things aren’t quite so straightforward any more. This expansion has four modules of varying straightforwardness…. straightforwardity? … straightforwardipity? Complexity! The first “only” replaces the nobles with city tiles. They are more expensive, more valuable and unlike nobles you need one of them to win the game. Then you get special abilities for sale with the Trading Posts, new development cards from the Orient and finally Strongholds you use to reserve cards for you and then take them by conquest. So it took a bit for this expansion to show up, but it will certainly make Splendor fresh again.
Mr. B Games
Mr. B’s deck building game Helionox is back on Kickstarter in an all new, shiny Deluxe Edition. Helionox, if you you’ve missed it the first time around, is set in the distant future, and it does many things in good, old deck building fashion. On your turn you draw five cards from your deck. Those cards either have Defense points that you use to overcome Event cards, or they have Credits that you use to buy cards from the market. Among other things, because buying new cards is not all that Credits are good for. They also move your pawn across the solar system to use distant colonies’ special abilities, and they let you build embassies there for even better effects. The Deluxe Edition includes expansion/sequel Helionox: Mercury Protocol that has its own set of cards.
Is this the most awaited bit of gaming news this year? Why, I believe it is! Season Two of Pandemic Legacy is finally coming. It is 70 years after the events of Season One, and the game assumes that your efforts in Season One were not a complete success: The world has been devastated and the survivors live in floating havens a long way away from the coast. Recently, an increasing number of havens has gone dark, they no longer respond to any attempt to contact them. It falls to the players to return to land and find out what is going on.
You could call Epoch: The Awakening, the first Kickstarter by Orange Nebula a fantasy adventure game and you wouldn’t be wrong, you just wouldn’t be doing it justice. Yes, you do play a hero moving around, discovering the land, recruiting companions and fighting weird creatures. But there’s so much more. You get an important element of area control, because other players using locations you control gives you immediate points. Resource management is important because your one resource can be up- and downgraded between three levels. Your hero’s three regular attributes can be converted to the three heroic attributes, but that’s not always the best choice. And the game end triggers are different every time you play and may even change during the game. There is a lot going on in Epoch: The Awakening, and yet the rules seem very streamlined. On top of that, it’s also stunningly beautiful, which isn’t so much of a surprise when you see that creator Marc Neidlinger is a design industry veteran and brought many from the same line of work to work with him. A very promising first time project, I really want to see it made.
Fantasy Flight Games
The Ripper is back! Jack the Ripper returns in Whitehall Mystery, a standalone sequel to Letters from Whitechapel. The notorious Jack baits investigators by leaving the torso of his latest victim at the construction site of New Scotland Yard, smack in the middle of the police’s new headquarter. He’ll leave the four limbs scattered at locations throughout London over the course of the game. One player gets the daunting task of playing as Jack and leaving his four packages without being discovered, the other players try to find him before he’s done. Like its predecessors Whitehall Mystery comes with optional rules to help either Jack or the investigators, depending who needs more help to be on even footing. And although it’s a standalone game, you can use parts of Letters from Whitechapel and its expansion Dear Boss in Whitehall Mystery.
In the first clan preview for the Legend of the Five Rings LCG we saw the courtiers of Crane Clan. This time we meet an entirely different people. The Lion Clan doesn’t have much patience for courtly intrigue, but never doubt their honor or ferocity on the battlefield.
I thought Lovecraft Letter was yet another simple Love Letter re-theme, but I realized I had to be wrong when I saw the Hounds of Tindalos card. And indeed, while the basic rules are the same, Lovecraft Letter adds a new concept that fits in every Lovecraft game: Insanity. Some cards drive you insane when they appear in your discard pile. That’s obviously not without downsides, the more insane you are the higher is your chance to be randomly eliminated from the game at the start of your turn. But with great insanity also comes great power. Many cards have a regular effect that you know from Love Letter, but they also have a more powerful Insanity effect only the insane can use. I’m not going to say it makes Lovecraft Letter more strategic, that would be silly, but Insanity does open a completely different can of three-eyed, tentacled fish.
Plaid Hat Games
We’re getting to the strategic details of Crystal Clans now. One thing that you’ll spend a lot of time thinking about is drawing cards. You don’t get free draws in Crystal Clans, if you want to replenish your hand you have to pay the initiative, and that means ceding board control to your opponent. Also in this preview post you learn about invading your opponent’s home zone. You can’t win the game by knocking them out, but there are some juicy points to be scored there.
New guests are about to check in at The Bloody Inn. All we get to see in Pearl Games’ video is an art preview and the cover for The Bloody Inn: The Carnies.
Post-apocalyptic card game RONE is back on Kickstarter with a second edition and the expansion New Forces. At its core RONE is a card battle game for two to four players, all of who want to be the last man standing when everyone else’s life has run out. As is standard for this genre, each player’s deck contains troops to deploy and one-time effects to support them or attack the enemy directly, but there are some strategic details in RONE that set it apart. You won’t be able to use all your troops every round, they have an individual recovery timer that can take them out of the action for longer. You also have the option to bring cards back from the discard pile sometimes, which is helpful because discarding cards is how you lose life. And since you die when both your draw pile and hand are out of cards, consider well which cards are worth playing.
This week’s photo shows the Red Fort of Agra, the fortification of the imperial city of the Mughal rulers in India. The photo was taken by Christopher John and kindly shared with a CC-BY license. Thanks for sharing, Christopher! (20110423_Agra_Fort_001, Chrisopher John SSF, CC-BY)