With this week’s news post, Meople’s Magazine is going on a short summer break. News service will actually sort of continue, but reviews will start again in two weeks, and the list of games to be reviewed then is looking preeeeetty exciting. Until then, we hope that you all have a really great end of summer – or end of winter, depending on your hemisphere. Either way, have a great time, and we’ll see you soon!
Settings that have not been used in a game yet in some way or the other are rare, but Alderac’s newest small box game Empire Engine may have succeeded in that: it is set on Mekannis, a world that had been entirely converted into an enormous, mechanical computer. But then people happened the engine was destroyed and four empires are now fighting in the ruins of the world. Each round, players select two simple actions to perform: collect resources, soldiers or inventions, attack an opponent, defend against a possible attack or move resources to your score pile. But action selection is not free, you have to pick them with your two engine cards, turning them to the right action using your gear cards, so you have restrictions which actions you can use at any time.
Fantasy Flight Games
When you have a license for Star Wars miniature games, then you should use it as much as you can. The thing was probably expensive, after all. That’s why Fantasy Flight Games are working on Star Wars: Armada, a new miniature space battle game that has nothing to do with their Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game. The X-Wing game played out skirmishes between X-Wings and Tie-Fighters and the Millennium Falcon was the largest ship there was. Armada does things on a larger scale. You can still have your X-Wings, but they’ll be dwarfed by the Star Destroyer they are trying to bring down. The capital ships handle very differently from smaller ships. Their lack of maneuverability is simulated with the maneuver tool, a sort of hinged ruler that you may turn less the larger and faster your ship is. Large ships also take longer to react to your commands: new commands go to the bottom of the command stack, the command to execute is taken from the top. The larger your ship, the more commands lie in between, representing the time it takes for your orders to actually reach a crew of thousands of people.
The currently kickstarting game New Salem combines some mechanics that might work rather well together: 7 Wonders style card drafting, hidden identities and set collection. From every hand of cards, you play only one and pass the rest to the next player, and from the cards the do or do not play, you want to guess if they are Puritan or Witch. The cards you play are buildings that will score points in the end if you can get matching ones, but they also cause hope or despair in Salem, helping one side or the other. The Puritans will have to cooperate to find the witches, but there can still be only one winner. Identity deduction from drafted cards sounds like a pretty clever idea to me.
Czech Games Edition
Vlaada Chvátil’s fantasy arena battle Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends will receive an expansion with at least one new deck, maybe more. We don’t know yet what the new faction(s) will be, or what a Snow Giant does, but it looks pretty damn impressive already.
Plaid Hat Games
The dangers your adventurous rodents in face Mice & Mystics: Downwood Tales were the subject of the last preview. Berserker mole people are not going to be fun. But there is at least one peaceful, even helpful place in the Downwood: the town of Headfall Hollow. In the different locations here, players can trade their cheese for Tricks and Weapons, a very valuable option as you now keep your cheese between quests.
German publisher Mücke Spiele is an interesting type of business: their games mainly from designer competitions that have some interesting conditions placed on them, like having to used specific materials. I’m not sure what the condition for Takamatsu was – or if maybe this one was not from a competition – but it’s a small, quick game of forced movement. Each player controls a number of samurai that walk around the palace. When they start alone in a room, they may only move to the next room, but if they start with another of their color, then either one of them may move one step or both may move two. Things get interesting with samurai of other colors, because with them you don’t get to decide, you have to take them along and move two. The goal is to end a turn in rooms of your color so you can draw scoring cards.
The first expansion for city building game Machi Koro puts the city closer to the water. When an expansion is called Machi Koro Harbor Expansion, then you can have a good guess where things are going. This expansion will bring ten new establishments that will not all be used in every game, you shuffle them up with the base game and pick ten to use, also there will be two new landmarks and material for a fifth player.
Although the title sounds like a wargame, and the theme is war as well, Dyskami Publishing’s Warband: Against the Darkness is very much not a wargame but a euro style game of optimization. You are the leader of one of the great fantasy races, locked in war with your neighbors. But the theme is where the wargame-ness ends, because you’re not moving your armies across the map, storming towards the enemy capital. All you do to them is promote your units and upgrade your own player abilities. Each of the four actions Tax, Train, Scout and Fight can be upgraded in four levels, making its use more effective. Also, each of the ten races has different capabilities in each action, making them all feel different. You do, of course, get to attack your opponents as well, but war is handled in a more abstract way, by simply comparing the strengths of your armies.
Have you ever wondered what pirates do when they stop pirating? It’s not exactly a good life for the elderly, all that sailing and swashbuckling. What do they dream of, for their old age? If eggertspiele’s coming game Grog Island is to be believed, then all they want to do is go into more mundane professions, like figurehead carpentry or running a peg leg shop. They acquire the real estate for their shops through auctions performed with dice. But pirates do things differently, so losing an auction doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Only the winner gets to build, but everyone else takes a compensation in the form of grog, treasure maps and parrots that can be sold for money and may be part of your secret victory condition. Grog Island is a game by Michael Rieneck, designer of The Pillars of the Earth and Cuba, among many others, so my expectations for this game are sort of high.
Uwe Rosenberg and Feuerland Spiele seem to be on a quest together to explore the craft and trade of medieval Germany. Last year, they brought us Glass Road, showing how glass was made in Bavaria. This year, they will go all the way to the other end of the country. Arler Erde (Earth of Arle, Arle being a village in East Frisia) is a game about cutting peat and building dikes on the North Sea coast. Manufacturing different goods lets you pay for expansions and new buildings on your estate, and what you don’t manufacture yourself you may be able to trade with the neighbours. Arler Erde looks like it will follow in the footsteps of Glass Road as a heavier game that lives from its detailed production processes that you have to learn to optimize.
Mac Gerdts’ next game sounds a lot like the many train games around, only without the trains. In Steam Ship Company, players hold stock in six different steam ship companies shipping goods, passengers and the mail around the world. Over time, new and improved types of ship enter the game which are more expensive to build and run, but also simply better than the old models. Like in any good game that lets you hold stock in companies, a hostile takeover by other players is always to be expected. Not content with owning ships, players can also get into railways, mining and iron foundries. This is going to be a large, economic game for sure, so if you’re tired of trading stock in railway companies, it might be for you.
Darkness Comes – soon to a tabletop near you, because Darkness Comes is the coming Kuznia Gier title, designed by Pawel Jurgiel. The game lets you reenact a very common scenario from your everyday life: you and your family have just moved into a new house when strange things start happening, blood drips from the faucets and weird moaning emanates from the walls. We’ve all been there. Your goal in this cooperative game is obvious: escape the house, before its dark spirits make sure that you never will. And while the game is cooperative to start with, the house my drive daddy quite mad and unwilling to let anyone else leave as well… . I’m a huge fan of haunted house movies, so a haunted house game instantly goes to my list of anticipated games.