Ten years after its first release, Andreas Seyfarth’s Puerto Rico is still one of the most highly regarded eurogames ever. The theoretically simple role-picking mechanism produces a very deep, strategic game that take a few games to fully wrap your head around but forms the basis for a very tense game. Honouring Puerto Rico‘s popularity, alea will release the Puerto Rico Anniversary Edition at this year’s Essen fair, ten years after they first presented the game there. The anniversary edition includes both expansions, all new illustrations for everything and new wooden boxes and gold coins. It will be available from your favourite local game store after Essen, so if you always wanted a Puerto Rico you just ran out of excuses.
Three new games from the Z-Man are available: Ninjato, a medieval Japan themed shuriken-placement game. Ares Project, a boardgame adaptation of the popular real time strategy genre of computer games. And The Walking Dead, one of the boardgame adaptations of Robert Kirkman’s series of graphic novels.
Not quite available yet, but expected at Essen are three more. Ora et Labora, Uwe Rosenberg’s newest creation gives you control over a diocese in either France or Ireland and tasks you with managing resources, building up your territory’s infrastructure and ultimately manufacture books, ceramics, relics and what else may come out of an abbey. Matt Tolman’s Undermining has been mentioned in the news before as has Dark Minions.
Philipe Keyaerts Olympos is still a pretty new game, but it already gets an expansion with Oikoumene. As expansions go, Oikoumene is on the small side, adding five new discoveries, four wonders and five objectives, but merely adding more variety is often the best way to expand.
Fantasy Flight Games
In Fantasy Flight’s recent streak of releasing games they have been teasing us with four month’s, the latest example is Deadwood, the merciless battle for control of the quaint Wild West town.
Also always popular are revised editions of older games. Like Cold War: CIA vs KGB (Sébastien Gigaudaut, David Rakoto) – which just barely qualifies as an older game with a first release in 2007 – which is soon coming back. Cold War: CIA vs KGB is a two player push-your-luck card game with some similarity to Blackjack but with additional powers on the cards that can quickly change the game.
More worthy of the title “old game” is Kingdoms, which is also coming back. Kingdoms was first released by Fantasy Flight in 2002 as a rethemed English version of Reiner Knizia’s Auf Heller und Pfennig which saw first print in 1994. So yeah, an older game. Kingdoms is a quick and simple game, players take turns putting either their castle’s or tiles that will score points for said castles on the board.
Die Siedler von Catan: Aufbruch der Händler (which I previously guessed might become Rise of the Traders in an eventual translation) is now available. Aufbruch der Händler by Klaus Teuber is not an expansion of the Settlers of Catan but a European variant of Settlers of America: Trails to Rails, but with enough new things to be its own game rather than just a localisation.
Cyclades by Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc was one of the more successful attempts to make eurogamers play something that is almost a wargame. Cyclades had everything: lots of options, a lot of conflict, fantastic miniatures, all it was lacking so far was an expansion. The expansion is coming now with Hades, and like all new game expansions Hades consists of a number of modules that you can or can not use in any combination you like. There are a number of new mythological creatures, supplemented by the new Heroes that come from the same pile but join your regular armies, divine favours, magic items and, of course the Lord of the Underworld himself who will sometimes join the battle with his undead soldiers.
Zombies are the big thing this year – and the last few years, too, to be honest – and Andy Van Zandt’s Grave Business enters the zombie game arena with a rare entry where you don’t slaughter the undead, you put them to work. Your zombies dig up the graveyard searching for treasures and body parts to create even more zombies, or they attack enemy zombies to get to the juiciest corpses and rip the required body parts from them.
Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer was one of the early entries in the new genre of deck-building games with a bit more violence than most: you’re building a small army of fantasy heroes, equip them with instruments of decapitation and send them out to slaughter monsters. The new Ascension game Ascension: Storm of Souls doesn’t break with that tradition but adds 200 cards, new card mechanics and all new event cards. Storm of Souls is a stand-alone game, not an expansion, but can be mixed with the original game and should be available in November.
Puppet Wars is a card driven miniature game where puppets come to alive and have nothing better to do than tear each other’s stuffing out. I can’t say much about the gameplay at this point, but I know that the miniatures are absolutely stunning (click on Models at the top of the linked page to see them).