No news post this week could be complete without the big news of the gaming world: Spiel and Kennerspiel des Jahres have been announced. I’ve heard some voices this year saying that the award is not as relevant for serious gamers as it used to be because it caters to families and prefers lighter games, but I can’t agree with that. The awards might ignore the really heavy games, but I consider myself a serious gamer and a Kennerspiel des Jahres is still a strong recommendation for me. Even the regular Spiel des Jahres this year is a game that I would recommend to everyone interested in games because of its new and unique concept. What’s your take on it? Are the Spiel des Jahres awards a strong incentive for you to try a game, or have they gone too soft for you?
The winners this year are: Antoine Bauza’s Hanabi for Spiel des Jahres and Michael Menzel’s Legends of Andor for Kennerspiel des Jahres. I saw Hanabi winning the award after we reviewed it, it’s a completely new concept with a strong communication component, exactly what the Jury would go for. As would I. Legends of Andor I still didn’t try myself – time is, as they say, a bitch – but people who’s taste I trust said very good things about it.
A big congratulation goes to Antoine Bauza, Michael Menzel, abacusspiele and Kosmos, but also to the other nominees, to make it onto the short list is quite a feat already.
It was almost a year ago that we mentioned Thunderstone: Numenera in the news, an exciting new setting for the deck-building game Thunderstone. Numenera is a world of magic, but not in the classic Dungeons & Dragons sense of magic. Magic in Numenera comes from technology, from artifacts left behind by more advanced civilizations long extinct. To the current inhabitants of the world, those might as well be magic. Now here’s a first preview card, the Enhanced Clever Nano: a Wizard type hero that grows stronger from defeated monsters in your deck.
All the new factions in Smash Up: The Obligatory Cthulhu Set have ways to draw the new Madness cards. The come from a special deck, but once you have them they work like regular Action cards, with the drawback that 2 Madness cards will cost you one Victory Point when the game is over. Nevertheless: there are good reasons to want them: cards that make you draw Madness tend to have awesome benefits.
eggertspiele / Pegasus Spiele / Stronghold Games
Real-time games are a small but popular genre of boardgames, a genre that Tobias Stapelfeldt was partially responsible for creating with his 2006 game Space Dealer, now refined into the new Time’n’Space. Time’n’Space (and Space Dealer) goes even further than other real-time games: there a time limit on the game and all players act simultaneously, but each action players take also takes a set amount of time. In a worker placement sort of way you pick actions to take, but your two workers are sand timers and the action is done when the timer runs out. Winner is the player who produced and delivered the most goods after 30 minutes. The German release is through Pegasus Spiele, North America gets their game from Stronghold Games.
eggertspiele / Pegasus Spiele
Glück Auf is the traditional way to wish each other good luck among German miner. It is also the title of a new Michael Kiesling / Wolfgang Kramer game that will be available in Essen this year. It’s a worker placement game in which players mine for coal, but also use their workers to compete for contracts. It is also a game with a trailer.
Some things are a very big deal in boardgaming: a remake of Leo Colovini’s very popular Incognito, the one game from BC (Before Catan) many international gamers know. We knew already that a remake of the game about secrets agents in the Venice carnival was coming. What we didn’t know was that there would be changes. Don’t get your panties in a bunch now, they are good changes. For one, the movement rules changed. The legendary Phantom of Prophecy used instead of dice is still there, but it no longer has blanks: the white balls are wildcards now, the former wildcard now allows you to move another player’s agents. No one ever liked moving a turn, this change is brilliant. The other big change is the inclusion of a five player variant: the fifth player takes control of the Ambassador and wins when he figures out who everyone else is. It sounds like fun to me, but if you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it. So repeat after me: change is good.
Fantasy Flight Games
The Specialist cards are an important part of Planet Steam, and this week you get a chance to have a closer look at them. The Specialists are auctioned every round, determining player order and giving you powerful special abilities. Going first is nice, but when you need a certain abilities, you have to choose what’s more important to you: going early, or doing what is best for you.
Here’s a cooperation I’m really looking forward to: a game by Reiner Knizia (too many games to count) and Sebastian Bleasdale (Keyflower and others). The result of this cooperation, Prosperity, will be an Essen 2013 release, but apart from that the only thing we know for now is the cover.
French gaming website TricTrac has uncovered some more information about the Dungeon Fighter expansion Fire at Will. What did Will ever do to anyone, I wonder. Anyway, the really big kicker is that Fire at Will is only the first of four coming expansions, themed with the four elements. It’s probably safe to assume that all of them will include new and wacky monsters, items and heroes to go with the theme and that they will all use the new Power Point system from Fire at Will. (via TricTrac)
When advertising a Kickstarter project, there are much, much worse ways than simply uttering the phrase “mass ninja combat”. It’s not even false advertising, that’s exactly what Shuriken is: combat between up to 250 ninjas, belonging to five different clans. This huge bunch of ninjas can learn to use different weapons, giving them different strengths, and each Ninja Clan can learn powerful special Techniques by completing Missions. The different parts of the modular game board add more specialties to consider in your planning, and too much combat can even destroy board locations.
Plaid Hat Games
You can now preorder an expansion for Mice and Mystics called The Heart of Glorm. The story picks up right after the original adventures of the loyal subjects of the king, transformed by magic into mice to warn him about the danger he is in. We don’t know yet where the six new chapters in the story are going – and we wouldn’t want to know before we play – but we know it’s going to be another big adventure.
The phrase “advanced development and alpha-play-testing” does not sound like it will be an Essen 2013 release, but Carnival Zombie (Matteo Santus) sounds cool and I’ll happily wait until it’s done. It’s a cooperative survival horror game with a setting that could be straight out of Lovecraft: the ancient, dead monstrosity that some genius had the bright idea to build the city of Venice on is awakening. The city is shaking and the dead, following the call of their master, are rising from their graves. There’s little you can do to stop any of this, all you can do is flee the city, travelling by day, hiding by night, and with especially nasty boss undead standing in your way. Ciao, Venezia.
Surprised Stare Games
One of last year’s very popular games was Snowdonia, a game about building a railway up a Welsh mountain. With that popularity, it’s no surprise that there will be a new scenario for the game in Essen this year: the Ledbury and Gloucester Railway, also known as the Daffodil Line. That’s a pretty different experience from building a railway out up a mountain, so you should expect to meet very different challenges as well. No title has been announced yet, but I think Snowdonia: The Daffodil Line sounds to good to pass up.
The Agents, the first game by Saar Shai, is now on Kickstarter. After The Agency is shut down, agents all over the world are trying to find a new place to fit in and continue their agent work, banding together into new factions. While The Agents looks like a simple card game at first, there is more to it than meets the eye: all cards have two ways to be played, as an Agent that you recruit into your faction giving you points, or as a special action. But whichever way you choose, your opponents get the other benefits. Play a card as an Agent and the opposition may take the action. Take an action and your giving away points. What an evil dilemma.
The great worker placement game Viticulture – review coming soon, watch this space – has just reached its Kickstarter backers and already Jamey Stegmaier and Alan Stone are talking about expansions. Probably there will be three of them, all in one pack that will go on Kickstarter next year. And there’s a chance for you to become rich and famous in this project, because one of those expansions might your expansion. Until October 15, you can submit your Viticulture expansion to Stonemaier Games and have a chance to win $2.000 if your design is picked.
This week’s featured photo was taken was taken by Cary Bass. It shows a small part of the megalithic complex Brú na Bóinne, Ireland, the largest concentration of megalithic art in Europe. Doesn’t that stone in the center make you want to play Keltis on it? Cary shared the photo with CC-BY-SA license. Thanks, Cary!