And here we are in 2016. I hope you all transitioned well and had a great holiday season, whichever holiday you celebrate. We’re back recharged, with many new games played and ready to be reviewed – and with a two week backlog of news to slog through. I hope you enjoy our digest thereof, and even more I hope that you’ll all have a great year!
Rio Grande Games
The majority of boardgames lets you deal with something glorious. Win a war, save the world, become really rich, that sort of thing. A game about delivering lunch is not unheard of, but more rare. Tiffin, recently announced by Rio Grande Games, lets you participate in what might be the world’s biggest lunch delivery operation. Every day, more than 100,000 home-cooked lunches are delivered to office workers in Mumbai. Picked up at home by bicycle couriers, loaded on a train, delivered to the office by yet more bicycle couriers. It’s a gigantic operation. The announcement doesn’t say what your role will be in the game, but the setting is fascinating.
In Coal Country, another recently announced game by Rio Grande, players run a coal mining company and try to turn a profit by manipulating market prices for coal, mining permits and more. You also build your mines, and if they are not up to modern safety standards the health and safety inspectors will take some of the profits away – that’s how you know the game is not set in modern day USA. Again there is no mention of the mechanics, but apparently you send your foremen to do everything for you, so I’m guessing worker placement.
FryxGames are presenting more interesting card combos you’ll be able to exploit in Terraforming Mars. The really hard part in successful terraforming is creating a working ecosystem. You’ll need some large predators. They have the added benefit of eating other players’ animals. But if you really want to boost the population, you can feed them with a Large Convoy from Earth. Launching that thing is prohibitively expensive, but it brings everything you could possibly need right to your doorstep.
Spielworxx will publish North American Railways, a card game by Peer Sylvester (King of Siam,…) aimed at fans of the 18xx line of train games. It will have simple mechanics, but is supposedly quite merciless. I assume that’s exactly what 18xx players would want.
Days of Wonder
The holidays are over, the family is spread into the winds again and you can’t find anyone to play Five Tribes with you? Days of Wonder has a solution for that, you can download the rules for a solo Five Tribes variant from their website where you play against Yazid the First. The old man is a bit random, but he has many ways to kick you out of the game.
Iello have added a number of new games to their Coming Soon page. The first, to be published in February, is Kenjin, a card game by Nicolas Sato. In a struggle over medieval Japan, every player will share two battlefields with each player next to him. On their turn, a player sends troops to one or two of those battlefields. Troops are cards, valued from 0 to 3, some of them are played face down, some face up, and some have special abilities to consider. In addition, the battlefields have different conditions as well that may strengthen or weaken some of your troops. Your goal is simply to score the most points by controlling more or more valuable battlefields when the game ends.
The next Iello game, a new game from the mini game line also scheduled for a February release, is either sickeningly cute or just sickening, depending how well you play. In Tem-purr-a players participate in an eating contest for cats where they try to eat as much as they can and not a bite more while driving the competition to overeating and indigestion. It’s a light card game that was originally published as Taiwan Snackbar by Swan Panasia, minus the cat part.
And still in February, by Iello and Purple Brain Creations, we’ll get The Pied Piper, a small card game about the city of Hamelin and its notorious rat problem. As a landlord in Hamelin, it can be tough to keep tenants in your houses when rats are invading everything. So you try to get rid of them and coax them into the other players’ properties.
Moving into March, Iello will let us experience the joys of pig farming with Happy Pigs. Over the course of one year, players buy, fatten, breed and sell pigs to run the biggest profit. The changing seasons limit how often you can take each action and may have other special effects. The limit on how many times an action can be taken puts an interesting twist on the simultaneous action selection because it is shared by all players, meaning that each can take the action fewer times when more players picked that action. Being different from everyone else is rewards, but it’s hard when everyone tries to be different.
From the Indiana Jones School of Archaeology and Applied Grave Robbing – actually from Iello Games and Le Scorpion Masqué – we’ll get Loot N Run, a bluffing family card game. Players collect treasure cards from the Pyramid that they may convert to points by spending a turn to do it. Having treasures of the same kind doubles the score, so collecting them is worthwhile. But you might also awaken the Guardians of a Pyramid, and if the other players catch you with one of them before you get a chance to score your cards, then you lose everything.
And finally, still new from Iello and to be released this April, we have Sea of Clouds, another light strategy game. In this one, the players are Air Pirates on an airship and try to outdo each other in boarding enemy ships, collecting loot and finding the best rum. Details are still sparse here, but we’ll keep you posted when we learn more.
Plus Ultra, a game by Spanish publisher Meridiano 6, was already successfully funded on Verkami in an English/Spanish edition. If you were holding out for a German edition, or missed the campaign for the English/Spanish one, you can now fund it on Spieleschmiede in a trilingual edition. At least the rules are in three languages, and I see no text on any of the other components. But what is it about? As nobles in the court of Charles V the players compete for the emperor’s favor. He doesn’t seem all that picky what you do, as long as you do something: trading, colonizing the New World and fighting the unbelievers are all projects you can undertake. To get them on the way, you need the help of different characters. Each round, players pick two characters to work for them and over seven rounds they hopefully manage to find glory.
This week’s featured photo, taken and generously shared with a CC-BY license by David Bacon shows one of the characteristic mud tower houses of the Batammariba people in Koutammakou, Togo. Thank you for sharing this photo, David!