Meople News: I spy Northmen!

Red Raven Games

The ink is barely dry on Eight-Minute Empire: Legends, the fantasy variant of mini-strategy game Eight-Minute Empire, when an expansion appears on Kickstarter already. Eight-Minute Empire: Lost Lands will add a new playable faction, new leaders, new game boards and components for a fifth player. This is an expansion only for Legends, it’s not compatible with the original Eight-Minute Empire.


Alderac announced another quick and light on the rules card game last week with David Short’s Cypher. The computer networks of the world have developed exactly the way the pessimists have predicted: someone developed an AI, it became self-aware and went rogue. But not all is lost, you still have a chance to influence the AI and make it work for your corporation. That’s your goal in Cypher, gain more influence on the rogue program than any other player to win. You merely have to have three cards with a higher total value in front of you than anyone else, and use the cards special abilities wisely. What makes the game interesting is how cards are being passed around: for every card to play, you give one card to each of your neighbors. Your hand is controlled more by the other players than by the luck of the draw – somehow I don’t think that will make you happier in the end.

Hans im Glück

The next entry in Hans im Glücks new Carcassone series Carcassone: Around the World  will be titled Carcassone: Goldrausch (Gold Rush). No information yet about the special rules for the game, but at least the theme is clear.

Mantic Games

Miniature games specialist Mantic Games have launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new dungeon crawl style game. Dungeon Saga: The Dwarf King’s Quest is an all against one style game where the dungeon master, in the role of necromancer Mortibris, fights against up to four brave heroes that would rather not see the world overrun by the undead. It comes with the standard equipment for this type of game, dungeon tiles to build up any pit or cavern you can imagine, a bunch of six-sided dice and monster and hero miniatures – which are a good deal above the standard on the pictures. Unlike other such games, Dungeon Saga claims to have a very simple basic rule set that gets you to playing quickly – unlike some other games from this genre I could mention – that can later be expanded with various advanced rules.


The new LudiCreations game about spycraft we previously mentioned under its old name intel is now on Kickstarter as [redacted]. That’s the actual name, we’re not keeping it from you for reasons of meeple security. But now we know a bit more about the game, too. It’s a hidden identity game where agents compete to complete missions during an ambassadors annual ball. Different missions will feel very differently, from team-against-team missions where you don’t know who is in your side to two-player games where the players are forced to cooperate but still want to win on their own to asymmetric missions for 3 or five players. All of them sound like a lot of fun to be sure.

Fantasy Flight Games

When I was much, much younger than today I spent way too much time on a video game called UFO: Enemy Unknown and its sequel X-COM: Terror from the Deep. Both games put you in command of the global force tasked with repelling an alien invasion. You had to manage your funds, research alien technology and send field agents into dangerous combat missions against the extraterrestrials. Now, finally, Fantasy Flight Games wants to give me the chance to waste as much time again with XCOM: The Board Game, where up to four players do the same things I just mentioned from the video games. I just hope they manage to make me want to waste that much time. XCOM will require a cell phone app or a web site to play that dictates the aliens’ moves. I never made a secret of my thoughts on that subject, but I also haven’t given up hope that there will be a good one one day. Maybe this is it. I am admittedly intrigued by the variable phase order the app will manage: for example you’ll usually deploy interceptors after you know where UFOs show up, but you might have to send them out first if the app decides that the aliens are disrupting your reconnaissance satellites.

Talisman: The Woodland will not only add many ways to get lost in the woods and abused by fairies – although both can happen – it also changes how fate works in Talisman when playing with this expansion. Traditionally, there was one kind of Fate, and you could pay a Fate token to reroll a die on your turn. That simple mechanic will become more twisted in The Woodland. Fate now has a color, and while Light Fate works like Fate always did, you spend Dark Fate instead to force an opponent to reroll. I’m sure you will only use that power to help them when they are in trouble. Right? The color of your Fate will also make a difference when encountering some of the Fae. Especially King Oberon and Queen Titania discriminate against players with too much Light or Dark Fate, respectively, and help the ones more in line with their own goals.

Wiz--War: Bestial Forces (Image by Fantasy Flight Games)
Wiz–War: Bestial Forces (Image by Fantasy Flight Games)

Speaking of expansions to Fantasy Flight Games, here’s a look at Wiz-War: Bestial Forces, a Wiz-War expansion introducing three new schools of magic. Many of the new spells will summon creatures to your side, a new mechanic in the game. You pay for these summoned creatures with your own health, but once they are around you can surrender some of your movement points to activate the creature, making it move and attack on its own. Different creatures have very different abilities, some dispense brute force, others are more subtle than that.

Lost Boys Production

It’s a good week for hidden identity games on Kickstarter, and Lost Boys Productions is setting their I, Spy on a very large stage. In the time leading up to World War One, up to four players take the roles of agents for their respective nations and do their best to improve that nations position before it comes to open conflict. But this being a hidden identity game, only the player himself knows what country he is actually working for, and if anyone else were to find out, that would spell disaster. To avoid that, you can manipulate the fate of all six countries represented in the game, to hide who you are really working for until the end, when you make them win. I, Spy is a complex game with many options and a really cool sounding first project by Lost Boys.

R&D Games

Sebastian Bleasdale and Richard Breese’s worker placement/auction masterpiece Keyflower will receive another expansion. The Merchants adds a couple of new things to the game that will give you many more difficult decisions to make. Extensions will increase the score you win from tiles, huts will allow you to upgrade more. More difficult, however, are the contracts that give you an additional way to score when the game ends, but can also be exchanged for resources before then. Which option will help you more will obviously not be clear at the time. More options for Keyflower: I’m sold on it already.

Catalyst Game Labs

Catalyst Game Labs have acquired the right to publish games based on MGMs popular TV series Vikings, a series that, given the title, I shouldn’t have to tell you what it’s about. Of the two games announced based on this license, Jarl is based on Catalysts own The Duke, a game where your playing pieces are tiles that move across the board but must be flipped after they move and follow different movement rules depending on what side they are showing. Jarl will not be a simple re-theme of The Duke, however, it will have new tiles to master. On the other hand, the two games will be compatible to play Jarl vs. Duke.

Vikings: The Board Game will be a larger and heavier game of exploration and raiding where you’ll spend the winter scheming for resources and the support of viking heroes and send your ships out in summer to raid, pillage, burn and do other amusing and profitable viking things. Catalyst’s Randall Bills calls it a game for the “the Lords of Waterdeep-and-beyond crowd”, so I’m expecting a medium to high complexity game that should fill an evening with 90+ minutes.

This week’s featured photo shows a Parthian fortress at Nisa, Turkmenistan and was taken by David Stanley. Thank you for sharing this photo, David! (Image license: CC-BY)

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