Z-Man Games / Hans im Glück
I would really like to learn what all those cards from Majesty: For The Realm will be good for in the end. This week we enter the Inn. The icons there suggest that innkeepers make a lot of money and I guess other players can make slightly less money with their beer. But how does all that come together???
The last time Alderac had a voting tournament for new Smash Up factions we were quite disappointed that our guys didn’t make it. This time around I don’t even know who to root for. But I can tell you this much: I’m sorry to see Cowboys and Penguins being matched up in the first round already, because those are two decks I would love to shuffle in Smash Up: Oops, You Did It Again. Cowboy Penguins. Just imagine the awesomeness that will never be now.
Last week Lookout Games announced the coming expansion for Isle of Skye, this week they move on to even bigger things. Riverboat will be a heavier game about running a farm and shipping your produce down the Mississippi, designed by Michael Kiesling (Tikal, Asara,…). What stands out from the brief description is the interesting approach to player order. First thing in each round, players will draft cards corresponding to the phases of a turn. Each phase will be started by the player holding that card. With this system you won’t be able to go first for everything, you’ll have to decide in which phase you really want to go first. It’s safe to assume that space and resources will be very tight to give this mechanism the most impact.
Here’s a first preview of character cards from Auztralia, the alternate history game inspired by A Study in Emerald. It doesn’t tell us all that much about the game, but we can glimpse some things from your expedition into an Outback infested by the Old Ones. Farming will be a thing that you do, apparently, but you also have a military with airships and armored cars. Agent Davies implies that, when you encounter the Old Ones, you never know what you’re going to get. I hope we get more details soon.
Feuerland Spiele / Z-Man Games
A few words that will get the heart of any fan of heavy eurogames racing: A Terra Mystica Game. That’s the subtitle of Gaia Project, a new game to be released by Feuerland Spiele, Z-Man Games and others. It’s a science fiction game where you’ll colonize the galaxy, but the parallels to Terra Mystica are easy to spot. You’ll control one of fourteen space-faring civilizations on their way from planet to planet. They all need specific environments to survive and establish those through terraforming. It does sound familiar, right? But Gaia Project is still its own game with its own ideas. Your strategy will hinge on which path of research you choose. Faster travel among the stars, easier terraforming, more efficient economy, all those things will change your options. And just like Terra Mystica, Gaia Project is a design by Jens Drögemüller and Helge Ostertag.
Feuville, a fall release by HUCH!, is a game where you build a city in a way that pleases the city elders so they may reward you with points. We’ve seen the general idea before, but so far we didn’t have to stock up on rain spells to protect the city from an attacking dragon. To score points, your buildings have to be standing after the dragon attack. The dice placement game is a somewhat heavier game (60 minutes, 10 years and up) by Udo Peise, so far known for games for younger kids. I’m looking forward to see his style in a more complex game.
Where do Inka and Markus Brand get all those ideas from. With Rajas of the Ganges they have a new, complex game coming from HUCH!. Managing your province in India involves lots of dice, workers, and some uniquely Indian concepts. The caste system plays an important role, and you’ll also have to mind your karma. Good karma is rewarded, but sometimes the best move will be one that gives you bad karma. How you’ll use those things to earn more prestige than your competitors remains for you to find out.
Fantasy Flight Games
There are only so many ways to win in Legend of the Five Rings and many of them involve military power. It is thus no surprise that Unicorn is another clan that seeks victory in battle. But nevertheless they have their own identity, distinct from other combat specialist clans. Unicorn’s thing is cavalry, their horsemanship makes them more mobile than any other clan. Many of their abilities involve moving units around, bolstering their strength just when the enemy thinks he has them beat.
Role-playing games are a lot of fun, but they all share a problem: You need a game master, and it can be hard to find someone to do all the work that is. There have been numerous attempts to create a similar experience without a GM. Fantasy Flight are launching another attempt with Legacy of Dragonholt, a narrative game in the world of Runebound. It’s clear that players won’t have the same degree of freedom they’d have in an RPG with a human GM, but it looks like you’ll have plenty of different ways to complete the six quests with a system that tracks your decisions and references back to them later. They even gave that system a name, the Oracle System, so if this game is a success you can expect more games in the same style. It’s hard to judge just how flexible the system will be, but at least the character creation offers many choices. You’ll select the RPG standards race and class, but you’ll also go more in depth with choices about the characters history that will influence her starting skills and equipment.
I’ve slowly changed my mind about boardgames to go with famous franchises. I used to think they are all horrible Monopoly clones, but some recent games based on movies and video games have changed my mind. Fantasy Flight’s Fallout game looks very promising in that regard as well. The adventure board game based on Bethesda’s insanely popular series of post-apocalyptic video games seems positively overflowing with options. Just like the expansive world of the video games, there are different factions to curry favor with, equipment to gather, companions to recruit, quests to complete – I think we’ll get a long list of more detailed preview posts to get into all the details.
We’ve seen a number of differences now between Letters from Whitechapel and its sequel Whitehall Mystery. Plot, characters, things like that. But how does gameplay differ between the two? The answer seems to be that Whitehall Mystery is tighter for everyone. The investigators have fewer people and less time to catch Jack, but he has less space to avoid them as he walks around the city to drop pieces of his victim. The Thames going through Whitehall creates a particularly interesting new bottleneck: Jack can use a boat to cross, but only a few times. After that he’ll have to use the bridges, where it’s impossible to avoid a waiting investigator.
When it comes to epic, galaxy-spanning strategy games Twilight Imperium is the top of the heap. The most famous name, and still very popular despite its advanced age – the first edition was twenty years ago. Fantasy Flight have just announced a new edition of Twilight Imperium. There will be some changes compared to the third edition, but they look more like streamlinings and adjustments than sweeping changes that would make it a different game – see the list here, under Read More.
What’s better than an expansion? A sequel that can be an expansion if you want it to. That’s the route Bruno Cathala and Blue Orange have chosen for Spiel des Jahres Kingdomino. Queendomino will be a standalone game that you can mix with Kingdomino if you want to. Makes sense to me, a true queen doesn’t need a king, but she might choose to have one. Details about how to play Queendomino are hard to find for now, but there appear to be buildings now, you’ll be able to hire knights, and a dragon is marauding around. I’m sure details will be available soon.
Plaid Hat Games
Round two of Crystal Clans previews keeps coming. This time we take another look at the Meteor Clan and find out that their abilities don’t just predict the future, they actively influence it. With the Research ability you can look at the top two cards of a draw pile and put each of them either back on top or on the bottom of the deck. And that’s for any draw pile. If you’re scared what battle cards your opponent might draw, just have a look. And that’s not the only new trick we learn today.
If you play any computer RPGs then I’m sure you’ve come across things like the Long Sword of Fire. Or the Cloak of Poison. But have you seen the Harp of Fear? No? What about the Backpack of Experience? Also not? Those are some of the more mundane things you’ll create in Gindie’s Enchanters. To complete quests and kill monsters you’ll have to make magic, and you do that by combining an item – The Something – with an enchantment – of Something. Each round you can change one of the two and then see if the combination gets you somewhere. The items and enchantments as well as the monsters you use them against come from thematic decks that you shuffle into different combinations every time you play, so this game will stay fresh for a while. It bears mentioning that Enchanters was designed by Rafa? Cywicki, one of the designers responsible for great games like 1984: Animal Farm, Alcatraz: The Scapegoat and Kingpin.
This week’s featured photo was taken in the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sactuary in Thailand and shows a few of the species there. The photo was taken and shared by Flickr user tontantravel. Thank you for sharing! (Banteng, Bos javanicus & Sambar deer, Rusa unicolor in Huai Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuary, tontantravel, CC-BY-SA)