Tokyo Highway

You’ve probably seen photos of the crazy highways of Tokyo, with loops of the Shuto Expressway criss-crossing with on-ramps, off-ramps, sideways-ramps and itself in multiple levels. (Not going through any buildings, though. The Gate Tower Building is in Osaka.) The Expressway turned out that way, at least in parts, because of the 1964 Olympic Games. The first bit of Shuto Expressway was opened in 1962, and for the Olympic Games Tokyo wanted to present an efficient, modern transport system. Building this way was the cheap and quick way to have the Expressway connect much of the city.

It’s obvious that there’s a game hidden in that story. Many designers could have done it, had they thought of it. Resource management, worker placement, a tight time limit, contract cards to connect certain neighborhoods… . But many designers didn’t think of it. Naotaka Shimamoto and Yoshiaki Tomioka did, and they made a very different game called Tokyo Highway.

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Mansion of Madness

There are many, many games set in H.P. Lovecraft’s Mythos universe, and they trend to be on the large side. Travel around the city, or even the world to stop the Great Old Ones from awakening. The scale makes sense when you consider that Cthulhu was put back to sleep by ramming him with a ship the last time he woke up. And he’s supposed to be small compared to some of the others.

What those games often forget is Lovecraft’s stories are not primarily the giant monster kind of horror. Much of Lovecraft’s writing is more intimate than that. It’s the horror of insanity that you may find, for instance, in the New England countryside. Or in a luxurious mansion anywhere in the world.

Fantasy Flight Games have in their catalog the biggest names of the former kind of game: Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror. But they also have the other side of Lovecraftian horror with Mansions of Madness.

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Brass: Lancashire & Birmingham

It is the eighteenth century and the skies darken over England. That’s not a metaphor for anything, nor is it talking about the typical English weather. The Industrial Revolution has begun and coal smoke blackens the air and lungs of England.

The original Brass turned ten years old last year, but the game by Martin Wallace still holds a proud overall rank 24 on BoardGameGeek at the time of writing. Not bad in a time where new games are so numerous that many won’t even be remembered ten years from now.

Two new editions by Roxley are a great opportunity for us to review this modern classic. Technically it’s Brass: Lancashire that is a new edition of the original Brass, Brass: Birmingham is more like a spin-off. However, the two games are so similar in rules and theme that we decided to put them in one review and highlight the differences.

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Everdell

For many years a civilization of forest critters has prospered in the shadow of the mighty Ever Tree. Between grass, moss and rivers the bird, rodent, reptilian and amphibian people of Everdell have built a home. A home they are slowly outgrowing. And so some enterprising ones of them have set out in small groups to found new cities for their children to grow up in.

It will not come as a surprise that each player leads one of those expeditions away from the Ever Tree. Into the wild, the unknown… the adventure. How much of a city can you build in only one year?

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Powerships

Gigawatts of power roar to life right behind you seat. There is no space for luxury in your spacecraft. This thing wasn’t built for comfort, it was built to win the fastest and longest race in human history. Longest in distance covered, that is. The time of a Powerships race is about half an hour. The distance covered is the whole solar system. Sometimes twice. Where we’re going we don’t need the laws of physics.

Powerships is a racing game by Corné van Moorsel and a remake of his own Powerboats. There are no bells or whistles to it. You set out the course and up to seven players put their interplanetary pedal to the metal. First to the finish line wins.

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