Meople News: Winter in Orbit

This week had a real blizzard of news as more publishers have started announcing their Essen 2013 releases. Seriously, you might want to have some spare time and a mug of tea for this one, but it’s worth the time, there’s a lot of good stuff.

Dixit (Image by Asmodee)
Dixit (Image by Asmodee)

Libellud / Asmodee

A first preview illustration for a new Dixit game has shown up on Facebook. And the phrases “under development” and “more info shortly” sound to me like it will be not just another card set for plain old Dixit but a new game around the pretty, pretty cards. Not that I would complain about just  new card set, of course.


The announcement of Corey Young’s first game managed something that is quite hard to do these days: it got me excited about a racing game with a simple spiral track, no shortcuts, no forks in the road, just a simple race to the end. What makes Gravwell: Escape from the 9th Dimension so promising is gravity: your movement on the board depends on the position of other moving objects, including the other players’ ships. Drafting fuel cards gives you some information how your opponents might move, but getting out of the black hole you fell into will be very, very different from other racing games.


You’re a member of a flight crew, you’re in the middle of the flight, and the pilot just died. The signs point to murder, and towards one or more crew members as the culprit(s).  Your goal is to put together a new, trustworthy flight crew, without any idea who you can trust. Figuring out who are the good guys is the goal of the game, the bad guys already know each other, just like they do in similar games like Werewolves or The Resistance. Unlike those, however, you will get some definite information from looking at one of the three loyalty cards each player has. Of course, the bad guys can lie about what they see, too, but sooner or later you should be able to deduce who’s telling the truth and, consequently, who’s on your side. Or you just crash your plane. Either way, Mayday! Mayday! has to be funded on Spieleschmiede first.

Z-Man Games

To increase the replayability of Pandemic even more – and we’re talking about a game that already offers a lot in that respect – Z-Man Games has begun to publish scenarios for Matt Leacock’s cooperative battle against disease. Scenario One, titled Isolation, should offer a challenge even to experienced players with its travel restrictions: all routes into the Americas are under lockdown.


Our big surprise favourite from Essen last year, Columba, is about to receive an upgrade. The expansion Columba: Officia will add six character with special powers to the game. You will start the game with one or two of them, but taking additional characters will be a new way to spend your collected pigeons. This will certainly add another level of strategy to the game, but doesn’t sound like it’s going to destroy the simplicity of it. (via Board Game Geek News)

Uruk 2 (Image by Dausend Dode Drolle)
Uruk 2 (Image by Dausend Dode Drolle)

Dausend Dode Drolle

Usually we tell you about games to be released soon in the news. And believe me, we much prefer that to the alternative, that is talking about games that will not  be released. One such sad message came from German publisher Dausend Dode Drolle about Uruk 2, the sequel to their 2008 civilization building card game Uruk. The reason given is disagreement with the authors over creating an international edition with foreign partners. Sad news indeed.

Portal Games

Polish publisher Portal Games will roll into Essen with a whole bag full of exciting new things, I’m really having some trouble deciding which I’m looking forward to the most.

First, there will be a new game by Neuroshima Hex designer Michal Oracz. In Theseus: The Dark Orbit five different factions battle for control on the titular space station: Marines, Scientists, Grays, Aliens (the description sounds like the dreaded Alien movie xenomorphs) and a fifth faction that is a secret for now. Each faction has different abilities and thus a different play style and your movement through the station influences the movement options for all other players, giving you many opportunities to mess with each others’ plans. Besides the big free-for-all menu of human body parts there will also be a 2 vs. 2 team mode. I love a well-balanced asymmetric game, and knowing Portal Games and Michal, I expect nothing less than well-balanced and fun from Theseus.

The Legacy: Testament of Duke de Crecy by Michiel Hendriks is a completely – completely – different flavour of game. You might call it a family-building card game. As the head of a French noble house in the 18th century, you realize that there is only one way to make sure your family will last: connect them well with even more influential and even wealthier people. And so you try to get three generations of offspring into favourable marriages with nobles from all over Europe to increase your wealth and prestige.

The tense and dramatic cooperative game Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island will tell even more exciting stories with the expansion The Naturalist, a collection of scenarios that tie together into one big campaign, with consequences from one scenario carrying over in the next. The idea of a Robinson campaign sounds awesome, I just hope we can overcome our problem that we’re usually close to death at the end of a scenario, that wouldn’t work out too well to start a new one.

Finally, another fan-made army for Neuroshima Hex has been promoted to the status of official army pack: Michal Herda’s Mephisto army will also be available in Essen.

Here’s the original announcement of everything from Portal’s Ignacy Trzewiczek:

I completely missed Romolo o Remo? when it was looking for funding on Spieleschmiede, and that makes me very sad because it means I may have to wait longer for my copy to arrive. Romolo o Remo? is a game around the funding of Rome, or whichever other city wins the game in the end and develops into a giant empire. Up to four players compete for dominance of the Tiber plains, an area rich in resources and in a position to control the trade between Etruscans to the north and Greek colonies to the south of Italy. The city controlling this area is set to grow into an empire like none has existed before, no surprise they’ll use any means at their disposal, be it trade, warfare, alliance or betrayal. Romolo o Remo? was designed with the intention to make a complex game for advanced gamers, and since we reviewed CO2 this week I have no doubt at all will deliver just that.

Deinko Games

Patchistory by Korean publisher Deinko Games will be available in an English edition in Essen this year – and it will give you quite exactly what it says on the tin: a patchwork history. Literally. You’ll build your territory from cards representing historic personalities and buildings by overlapping them, and if you overlap them right you’ll unlock special actions from them. Points are scored for war, diplomacy, economy and others and every game can play out very differently. I can’t imagine the flow of the game very well, but I’m certainly looking forward to trying.

Fantasy Flight Games

Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak is the last part of the Galactica’s journey, and nothing could be bigger victory for the human players than reaching the lost colony: Earth. But the trip there is harder than any before, harder than any other in the game. Hard enough that the Human players may feel compelled to use the new Mission Cards that promise extraordinary rewards. Or extraordinary disasters, if the players fail. The biggest consequence from a mission is probably the addition of a whole new gameboard of a rebel Cylon basestar on completion – but success or failure of the mission decide who will control it, Humans or Cylons. Talk about big consequences.

The latest Civilization: Wisdom and Warfare preview goes into more details about the warfare part of it. Center stage goes to the all new Navy tech that gives a huge amount of mobility to its owner: new units you produce can show up in any city with a – rather cheap – shipyard building, no matter how far from your big cities it is. Sounds like you can’t afford not to have it when you get involved in a military conflict.

Winter Tales, a story-telling game releases last year by Italian publisher Albe Pavo, is coming to the US in a Fantasy Flight edition. As fas as the first preview says, the game is unchanged from the original: the forces of Winter and Spring are at war, and the winner in this struggle will decide the fate of the world: eternal winter, or ice melting and flowers growing. Each side has classic fairy tale characters working for them, trying to complete quests by playing story cards and telling the story how the character uses what is on the card to advance his quest. Obviously, the other side may interfere. With an odd number of players, one player will be his own, third faction as the Writer who wins the game when Winter and Spring are tied in the end.

Winter Tales (Image by Fantasy Flight Games)
Winter Tales (Image by Fantasy Flight Games)

Mage Company

The light and wacky atom-building Wrong Chemistry is about to receive an expansion. Wrong Chemistry: Expand your Lab is on Kickstarter and will bring a bunch of new elements for you to create – so far, so obvious – but also some extra-rare, extra-hard black elements, scientist cards with special abilities and new ways to manipulate the game board. The new Transmutium lets you use your already created elements for faster results: it sets the board to the configuration of that element, giving you the strongest manipulation powers so far. If you enjoy Wrong Chemistry, Expand your Lab will only make it better for you.

If you’re looking for something meatier but much less family friendly than Wrong Chemistry, then you’ll have to wait for September when The Amityville Project: Phobos will arrive on Kickstarter. This game is seriously sinister, each player is one personality in the head of Detective Ed Sullivan, and only one of you can emerge as the Detective’s “real” personality in the end. To be the last ghost standing – floating? – you have to keep your fears a secret from the other players, and the battle for Ed’s mind will be won by the personality that hides or protects its fears the best. As is to be expected from a game this metaphorical, gameplay tends towards the abstract, but looks tense and dark.

Historical Games Factory

This new Polish publisher will be in Essen this year with their first release in English and German: Sigismundus Augustus: Dei gratia rex poloniae. The game is set in 16th century Poland and each player represents a noble family fighting for influence in the Republic and a spot in the history books in whichever way they can, including bribery and warfare. For the player, this translates to worker placement and auctions – and warfare, Sigismundus Augustus is not a wargame, but you can pillage and burn your opponents’ holdings. We’ll be able to tell you much more before Essen still. If you speak Polish, Historical Game Factory has more games for you, Sigismundus Augustus is merely the only international release for now.

The featured photo this week shows a part of Maya Site at Copan, Honduras. It was taken by Adalberto H. Vega and shared with a CC-BY license. Thanks, Adalberto!

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