This week was one of the most important weeks of the gaming year: the selection of Spiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel des Jahres. I’m happy to tell you that Spiel des Jahres 2015 is Colt Express by Christophe Raimbault and Ludonaute, Kennerspiel des Jahres 2015 is Broom Service by Alexander Pfister, Andreas Pelikan and alea/Ravensburger. Our congratulations to the winners!
Alexander Pfister is one designer of Kennerspiel des Jahres Broom Service, but that is not his only game. Port Royal, another successful Pfister game, gives you the chance to become rich merchants in the Caribbean. Pfister announced on his blog that an expansion is coming, if everything goes right in for Essen this year. There are no details yet, apart from the expansion really being four expansions in one box.
Cryptozoic / Don’t Panic Games
Cryptozoic have been working hard to remove the stigma on boardgames created on movie or TV licenses. At least some of theirs were really good. The latest license they acquired together with European publisher Don’t Panic Games is for Attack on Titan, a hit manga series where mankind is under attack by giant, man-eating humanoids and the survivors live behind enormous walls to keep the Titans out. For the first game on that license, everyone wants to make really sure that it’s a great game and not a disappointing license product, at least that’s my interpretation why they have Antoine Bauza (7 Wonders, Tokaido,…) and Ludovic Maublanc (Cyclades, Cash’n Guns, …) working on it. Those two know how to deal with giant monsters, they designer kaiju game Rampage together. The Attack on Titan game will have one player as the titan playing against everyone else as humans, and in a new twist the titan is going to be a vertical piece of game board the humans have to climb. I wasn’t into Attack on Titan before, but the game sounds exciting.
Fantasy Flight Games
Some say the world will end in fire, some in ice … might go either way when you add The Harbinger to your Talisman games. This next expansion will contain four different ways the world could end, each with its own selection of omens adding some urgency to the game. For instance, magic might grow a lot stronger with the first omens, only to then disappear completely, leaving the players without spells and the world to turn into a barren wasteland. Cataclysmic events may even change the board you play on, some omens, but new spells and items as well, will put Terrain Cards on the board, replacing spaces with different and usually less pleasant ones. Or does Hellpits sound like a place to take vacations?
Tragedy Looper is a weird but innovative deduction game from Japan, of which Z-Man Games released an English edition last year. One to three players have to figure out why tragic events happen to certain people and try to prevent them, against the attempts of a single player, the Mastermind, who tries to make the tragedies happen. If something tragic happens, the game resets to the start because everything happens in a time loop and the players get to try again with the new information gathered. The game is innovative alright, but it’s also a scenario-based game and the innovation runs out once you completed all ten scenarios. To make the game fresh again, the first expansion set Midnight Circle will release at GenCon. The announcement doesn’t specifically say so, but it seems save to assume it will contain new scenarios.
GMT Games don’t show up in our news much because most of their games are wargames, and we tend to avoid those. But right now, they have two games in development that fall squarely into our circle of interest. The first is Welcome to Centerville, a game proclaimed to be “relatively light”, but designer Chad Jensen also made Dominant Species, so he may have a different perspective on that than you and me. In this game, you manage growth and development in a small town, gaining and losing political office, constructing buildings and more.
The second game we’re interested in is on a much larger scale. Mr. President, designed by Gene Billingsley, will be a very complex solitaire resource management game. The only player takes the job as President of the United States and has to juggle his resources between dealing with crises, deal with diplomacy and hunt down terrorist groups. Well, tell people to do it, really. This game is still in early development, but the preview post contains many details already. This is going to be a game for hardcore strategy fans.
Very sad news from FryxGames: Terraforming Mars, the game where you, well, you know what you do in that game, will not be released in Essen this year. The good news behind it: several other publishers have shown interest in publishing other language editions of the game, but they need some time to get things rolling. I’ll be sad to wait that long before I can try the game, but it’s still mostly good news.
After two Kickstarter projects from the product design end of things, NgbDesigns are now running a campaign for their first boardgame titled Vanquisher. It combines a kingdom building card game with the abstract strategy of Blokus. Just like that game, the tiles you put on the board may only touch at the corners, so you can’t really keep other players out of your territory. But here, those tiles represent different buildings with special abilities in your kingdom, you have armies and farmers to put on the board and you can bribe influential people for their help. I think this mix could work.
Alderac / Artipia Games
More and more interesting buildings from Dice City are coming to light. The Town Hall has a classic meta ability, it lets you use the ability of any other card in your town. Using this type of card right is where the expert city planners are separated from the people merely putting houses next to each other.
We all thought they were joking when they mentioned it last year, but after last year’s Planes and the English edition of Hisashi Hayashi’s Trains Alderac will complete the movie title with David Short’s Automobiles. Planned for this October, Automobiles is a bag-building racing game: each round you draw a number of cubes from your bag that will either buy you more cubes or, in some way, move your car along the race track. How exactly each cube helps you will be different from game to game; for each color one card is selected at the start and that card tells you the effect for that color of cube. Slowing you down are Wear cubes that you have to take depending on the spaces of the track you pass over. They go to your bag, but you can’t do anything with them when you pull them out.
The temple of Haeinsa on Mount Gaya, Republic of Korea, is home to a unique collection of texts: the Tripitaka Koreana, the most complete collection of Buddhist texts, engraved on 80.000 wooden blocks in the 1200s. You see a small part of that collection in our photo of the week, taken by Arian Zwegers and kindly shared with a CC-BY license.