Alderac & Steve Jackson Games
What better way to start the week than with a new Smash Up: Munchkin preview? We’re looking at monsters this time, the pesky creatures that hang around on a base and fight against all the players. The Web Troll is annoying, but mostly harmless. The Hippogriff, on the other and, could really become a problem for some factions.
Alderac & Artipia Games
The latest bandit raid has destroyed the kingdom’s capital and the king is looking for a new place for his palace. As one of his provincial rulers, you will do anything to make sure that will be your city. That’s why you have to make your city more attractive in Vagelis Bagiartakis’s Dice City, published by Alderac and Artipia Games. You use dice to activate locations in your city for special effects or to produce resources. With those resources you can build bigger, better locations in your city, or you can try to sell them to passing trade ships. That sounds easy, but those bandits already destroyed a capital, they won’t hesitate to attack yours next. Some defenses are needed urgently. And if you have those armies hanging around already, why not use them to attack fellow players, too?
A classic is coming back. Michael Schacht’s Dschunke was on the Spiel des Jahres 2002 Recommendation List and has not been easy to find recently. But now there is a Kickstarter project by Queen Games for London Markets, which is a revised and rethemed edition of Dschunke. Instead of going from ship to ship to get the best deals in different types of goods, you’ll now travel the most famous markets of London to to business. The mechanics of the game seem to be mostly unchanged, you still have a merchant and his assistants to move between the markets and take different actions in each market to collect money and goods, and to be in the right place at the right time is still important. What and how much the revision changes is not clear, but the game was a SdJ recommendation as Dschunke, and if there were changes they will most likely have improved the game.
We hadn’t heard anything new about the 2012 Spiel des Jahres Kingdom Builder for a while, but a Kickstarter project for a new expansion tells us that the game is still alive and well. Marshlands promises new twists to the game. There are the expected new landscape boards, new ability tiles and new cards, but there also is an interesting change to the original rules: you will now be able to collect two of the same ability tiles and gain a new ability through them. Collecting tiles of the same type is suddenly very attractive. For dedicated Kingdom Builder fans, the Big Box offer might be interesting, too: that box will contain only this new expansion, but it has space for you to pack the original Kingdom Builder and all previous expansions in there.
Alban Viard’s Town Center is a city building game using only different colors of wooden cubes to create your skyline. But there is much more to the game than the simple materials would imply, you have to use the different cubes right to make the most of your city. An elevator is needed to grow your city vertically. Office buildings are needed to develop adjacent residential areas, which in turn are needed to develop commercial zones, and somewhere in there you still need utilities to supply energy and water. The game is not all new, the 4th edition was published last year, but through LudiCreations’s Kickstarter project you can now get your very own copy, including as many of the three existing expansions as you want plus an all new one. Each expansion adds city boards for two new cities.
Fantasy Flight Games
If you know Warhammer 40.000, then you know the Eldar are not peaceful hippies just because they are space elves. Quite on the contrary, they pack a lot of firepower, physical as well as psychic, as we see in their Forbidden Stars preview. And they are sneaky, too, just look at the Outmanoeuvre card in the preview, they can just decide to put their orders first or last however they please. The last army fighting are the Chaos Space Marines, presented in this preview. Being servants of Chaos, you won’t be surprised that they pack a hell of a punch in combat. But so does everyone else, what sets the Chaos army apart is the attraction of Chaos itself: on many occasions, new Chaos Cultists will just appear on the game board. And the forces of Chaos can move through Warp Storms, so don’t try to hide from them.
The first Kickstarter project by Morning Players, a game called HOPE, is about colonizing space and saving the universe in the process. But it’s different from your typical 4X (exploration, exploitation, ex… I don’t remember) space game. First, there is the setting: the universe is collapsing, and scientists have found out that the force that balances the collapse is life. So, to save the universe mankind sets out to discover new worlds and settle on distant planets in order to create enough life force to stop the collapse. The game is semi-cooperative, if the universe collapses everybody loses. Second, the mechanics are not usual, either: you move through space in different “active planes”, defined by different colors on the galaxy tile. How and where you can move in any given moment takes some getting used to – actually, it’s not very clear from the current version of the rulebook, but what I understand sounds like getting to your destination will take a bit of planning. It’s a very interesting concept, though, I’m curious to find out more.
Satisfying your inner metalhead while playing boardgames isn’t easy. You can’t just turn up the music with most games, it’s bad for communication. But you could play a game about making metal music, like Game Fabrica’s Thrash’n’Roll where you manage a fresh, new metal band on its way to success. Using dice to activate different locations, you can record albums, equip your band with proper gear and instruments, train your musicians to new heights of talent and occasionally go on tour, which is highly profitable but can be hard to organize. The difficulty comes from how the dice are used. To activate a location, you have to place the right number of dice there, and dice in one location must be either of the same value or form a straight. Character and Fan Cards can potentially make your life easier, but managing a metal band is still a tough job. And while the game is on Kickstarter, you can not have your band in the game crowdfunded, that would be too easy.
Swords and Bagpipes is a deceptively simple game. Several battles are fought in the war between Scotland and England, and for each battle the clan lords decide if the armies they hired will remain loyal to Scotland or betray their country and support the English. The dilemma is: the English pay better, but if their armies end up winning too much the game’s victory conditions change and suddenly it’s not the richest but the most loyal player that wins. Swords and Bagpipes was already a success in Russia, now publisher Rightgames is on Kickstarter to raise funds for an English edition.
I didn’t think environmentalist groups cared much about Mars, it’s all sand and rocks after all, but the latest Terraforming Mars preview shows how wrong I am. Establishing a nature preserve on Mars has to happen early in the game, while there is some natural environment left, but it can be quite profitable and lets you place a tile in the far-away wastelands of Mars.
Gryphon and Eagle Games
In this age of capitalism, even art has become a business; a business that you intend to be the very best in Gryphon and Eagle Games’s newest Kickstarter project (also available on Spieleschmiede), The Gallerist by Vital Lacerda. As a gallerist, buying and selling art is a big part of your job, but there’s much more to it. You’ll have to promote artists to increase their works’ value, get people to actually visit your gallery, and try to fulfill your personal goals of selling and collecting art, too. Fitting for a game about art, it does very well with components as well: it looks very good overall, comes with little easels to present art, and all the artwork in the game is real art by real artists, put together for the game.
The first Kickstarter project by Alcyon Creative will let you take part in one of the greatest stories of Greek mythology: the voyage of the Argo in search of the golden fleece. Argonauts is a cooperative game where players take the role of great heroes traveling on the Argo, overcoming monsters and other obstacles – mainly monsters, though – on the way. But killing monsters is not your only problem, you also have to make sure that your ship remains seaworthy, keep enough of your crew alive to steer her, and take care your supplies don’t run out.
The clacks operators of the Discworld – sort of like our telegraph operators, but with semaphore towers – believe that one of their own is not truly dead while his name is still being transmitted up and down the line. Thus Backspindle Games’s Clacks, which you can preorder here, will give you the chance to keep a bit of Sir Terry alive every time you play, because you’ll be operating clacks towers. There are two variants of Clacks, a competitive and a cooperative one, but both follow similar mechanics. On the four by four board, each square holds a chip either showing the white side – lamp turned on – or the black side – lamp turned off. You have to transmit a message by switching a block of six lights into the right configuration for the letter you wish to send, then repeat that for the next letter, until your message is transmitted. To switch the lights, you play pattern cards and turn over all the lights marked on that card. To get the pattern right, you’ll have to chain the right cards together until the lights are as you need them. That would be tricky to figure out already, but that’s not all. In the cooperative game, you have to transmit the message in as few actions as possible to make sure it arrives before the regular mail. In the competitive game you share the game board with the other players, so whatever you plan the other players can interfere with. Getting your message across will prove to be quite tricky.