Rio Grande Games
Somewhat unexpectedly, Rio Grande Games has announced a new expansion for Tom Lehmann’s Race for the Galaxy that is not a sequel to the most recent expansion Alien Artifacts. Instead, Xeno Invasion will open a third storyline and be incompatible with Alien Artifacts and the original series of expansions. To exactly no one’s surprise, given the title, Xeno Invasion makes you deal with extremely undiplomatic aliens who want your planets and, if possible, your lives. The new cards include planets controlled by the Xenos and military power specifically to defend against them. A new game mode, Invasion, makes the Xenos more active, they will attack your planets which you then must repair. If we’re all lucky, Xeno Invasion may be available before Christmas.
The first card previews for Lost Legacy go a long way to alleviate my fears that it might just be Love Letter with a different theme. It’s no secret that the mechanics will be somewhat similar, but cards like Sneak Attack prove that there are more options than Love Letter‘s eight cards. I like the booby trap feeling of this one.
Giochix.it has consistently impressed us with deep, strategic games the last few years. CO2 made a great game of a dry and abstract theme, and Romulo o Remo (review coming soon) is, so far, great fun as well. Looking at the Kickstarter and Spieleschmiede pages for Historia, and the rulebook for download there, I have no reason to think that Historia might interrupt that chain of great games. It’s a civilization game, but unlike most games of that type geography only plays a minor role, the small world map on the board looks almost like an afterthought. The main part of the board goes to your level of military and technological development, this is what really defines your country here, and what you spend 12 rounds of playing cards on developing – unless you’re building wonders, of course. Technological advancement is not only worth points, it also opens up special actions. Also, just like CO2, Historia manages to make abstract concepts on the game board look very good.
Confession time: I was always very, very bad at the kind of arcade video games where you fly your little space ship through swarms of enemies and streams of bullets, collecting power ups and defeating humongous boss monsters. I believe “bullet hell shooters” is the right description. Z-Man Games and designers Anders and Olle Tyrland had mercy on me and others being tortured by those games and created a boardgame version where your bad reaction time does not kill you. Now, Battle at Kemble’s Cascade is about 25 years late to spare me the derision of my peers, but at least it looks like an arcade game fresh from the eighties.
BoardGameGeek’s news reporter W. Eric Martin has unearthed some coming games from Kosmos’s 2014 program. Next to some translation, here are the new original titles. Settlers of Catan: Ancient Egypt will take the familiar Catan mechanics and apply them to building temples and pyramids – I wonder how similar this will be to the Egypt scenario from the 1998 Historical Scenarios. Jäger und Späher (translated: Hunters and Scouts) will continue Kosmos’s line of two player games with a card-driven duel for your stone age tribe’s survival. Then there’ll be the abstract game 7 Steps, about which not much is known beyond “it revolves around the number seven” and, finally, an expansion for last year’s Kennerspiel des Jahres Legends of Andor. The first “large” expansion for this game, Die Reise in den Norden (translated: Voyage to the North) takes the heroes by boat to an all new game board where they struggle against wind, weather and sea monsters.
Downloadable content for board games is an awesome idea, and there should be more of it. Portal Publishing are at the cutting edge of that idea and have just released the second free scenario for Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island. This scenario, available through their Facebook page, takes you to the deepest, darkest Africa in search for the person who most famously got lost there. You are Tracing Doctor Livingstone. The scenario uses the game’s search tokens to pick from a long list of random events that can happen to you, because Africa is big and many things can happen. I especially love that there is a chance to discover the lost world with its dinosaur inhabitants.
On his blog on BoardGameGeek, Ignacy Trzewiczek vents some frustration about his own game 51st State and how too many things are forbidden in it. It’s a heartbreaking story, really, how he had to tell the same guy that this was forbidden, and that was forbidden, and that other thing wasn’t allowed either. I don’t like to do that when explaining games, and I didn’t design them myself. But Ignacy has the right approach to this sort of thing, he goes “how can I do it differently?” and then comes up with a new game where all those restrictions are removed and calls it Imperial Settlers. So, Imperial Settlers is 51st State with no limits? I can’t wait for Essen now …
Czech Games Edition
Talk about a good start, the Kickstarter campaign for Vlaada Chvatil’s Dungeon Lords Anniversary Edition reached 200% funding in less than 24 hours. Dungeon Lords, for those unfamiliar with the game, is a strategy game where you build and manage a dungeon to lure heroes and then dispose of them. A nice change of pace from being the heroes and storming the dungeon, isn’t it? As you can tell by the time it took to fund, the game has a huge and enthusiastic following, and the Anniversary Edition is a good chance to get into it. It comes with the Festival Season expansion, top notch components like actual metal coins and the all new dungeon setup mini expansion that gives you different starting conditions every time you play.
There’s a first preview photo of Antoine Bauza’s Samurai Spirit on Funforge’s Facebook page. The page does not have much information about the game, so let me help you out: Samurai Spirit is a fairly light and quick cooperative game where up to seven players take the roles of samurai defending a Japanese village from bandits. Your choice on every turn seems simple: you can either fight the bandit card you drew, defend the village, or help another samurai. But nothing is ever that easy, and so you have to balance defending the village and keeping your samurai alive with the need to get your hero damaged to unleash his indomitable warrior spirit. Light yes, but likely not easy – especially considering that Bauza is the designer of the notoriously evil Ghost Stories.