Days of Wonder
It’s been quiet around the Small World series lately, players who wanted to kick fantasy creature butt with their own, different fantasy creatures had to do so with the same, admittedly plentiful, pool of creatures for a while now. But no more, the new mini-expansion A Spider’s Web will bring three new races and three new powers. At the same time, the Royal Bonus expansion that was previously only available to Kickstarter backers of the Small World 2 digital game will become available to the general public. A total of six new races and six new powers, all mixing in with the ones from the base games, that’s a lot of new combinations.
Slavika was a 2012 release by REBEL.pl that takes place in a fantasy version of our world’s slavic countries. As heads of the powerful ruling families, players had to send out heroes to defend the land against darkness until the princess, heir to the throne was old enough to bind herself to the magical amulet that would drive evil from the realm again. This year’s Slavika: Equinox is a stand-alone game that can also be mixed with the original Slavika. The Pomeranian Regions, where this new game is set, are in an eternal cycle of light and darkness, and depending on the phase of that cycle monsters will be weaker or stronger. Just like before, players defend the realm against beasts and monsters and try to earn the most glory for themselves, but one of them might not represent a noble house this time and take the role of the advancing Christian faith instead.
Fragor Games have recently announced their one traditional release for this year, as always available at the Essen fair. Dragonscroll will of course have the same amazing level of components as other Fragor games, and since the players become dragons in this game, that means there will be four beautiful if dorky looking large dragon figurines, large buildings and a set of wooden fireballs, wizard and goat meeples and “a fireball flaming tower of death”. Now that sounds like fun to me. While we don’t know about game mechanics yet, your goal in Dragonscroll will be to build yourself a reputation as a heroic dragon to go down in songs and dragon history. Preorders are now open on the Fragor Games website, and if you really want a copy you should preorder because supply is, as always, very limited.
Fantasy Flight Games
The Woodland expansion to Talisman is all about fate and fairy magic, but it’s also about finding your path through the forest. Your Path is a card you pick up when you enter the Woodland board, and it will give you special abilities for as long as you are in the Forest. But following your path to the end will reveal your Destiny, and if your path was an easy one then the fight to take a Destiny card may be all the harder. Destinies are linked to fate and give you new ways to gain Fate tokens, in some cases a lot of them, and new ways to spend them.
Concordia was my bet for Spiel des Jahres this year. Sadly, that didn’t quite work out, but a coming expansion will go a long way to restore my happiness. Concordia: Britannia Expansion comes with two new maps to play on. One of them is obviously the Britannia and differs from the two boards in the base game in that there are only 10 provinces and most ways go from South to North, crossing the island will be not so easy. The other new map, not featured in the name, is of Germany. Your sea colonists will move along the rivers here, always important trade routes in Germany, and you will find castles between the city.
Running their new projects on Kickstarter must be working well for Queen Games, at least they keep doing it with their new projects. Actually, you can tell that it works for them, their latest project Orcs Orcs Orcs has reached 500% in one day. And it does sound like a fun combination, Orcs Orcs Orcs combines a tower defense game – think Castle Panic, you are in a tower in the center, defending it against monstrous attacks from all sides – with deck-building: when you’re not busy burning, freezing, squashing or dismembering orcs, you use your time to study new spells, picking new spell cards to add to your deck to squash orcs even more effectively from then on. I’d say it’s one of Queen Games’ lighter games, but it does sound fun.
Canadian publisher TIKI Editions will come to Essen to present their first game: Gaïa. Under it’s former name Creationa, Gaïa won the Plateau d’Or de Public (my sketchy French tells me that means the audience favorite) at the Quebec Gaming Days for its designer Olivier Rolko. The object of the game is to create a world from tiles and placing your chosen people’s cities on this world, taking care to satisfy each city’s specific needs. Playing with the advanced rules, you can also flatten your opponents’ cities with earthquake, thunderbolt and lightning.
Dan Cassar’s Arboretum, a 2015 Z-Man games release, sounds like a beautifully light yet strategic game. From cards with different kinds of trees on them, you construct paths in front of you. At the end of a round, a path starting and ending with trees of the same color and with increasing card values in between can be scored, but only by the player holding the highest remaining card value of that color. So you’ll have to use cards to construct your paths, trying to score bonus points by making the whole path the same color, but at the same time you want to keep cards in your hand so you can actually score that path.
Tasty Minstrel Games
When Hanabi won Spiel des Jahres in 2013, it was the first game to make you hold your cards the wrong way round, so everyone but you knows your hand. Seeing how simple yet effective that mechanic was, it was clear others would pick up on it. One game to use the same mechanic is Bomb Squad, a new Kickstarter project by Tasty Minstrel Games. Bomb Squad makes the reversed cards one element in a larger game where players must cooperate to control bomb disarming and hostage rescuing robots. The cards are used to control the bots, playing one of them adds it to that bots program. After a few cards are in the program, still hidden at this time, a player can decide to execute the program and see where the robot ends up, similar to Robo Rally. And all that happens with a timer running. If this is balanced right, and I have no reason to believe it won’t be, it has potential to be one of the most tense cooperative games out there.
The photo of the week was taken by Antti T. Nissinen in Butrint, Albania, a site that has been settled since prehistoric time and had, at different times, a Greek settlement, a Roman settlement and a bishopric. Thank you, Antti, for this photo! (Photo license: CC-BY)