Meople News: Cthulhu on Mars

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Meople
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Meople

Some news of our own here today: if you like the Meeple art we post occasionally, created by the amazingly talented Sizinha, we launched our first products on Zazzle to: the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Meople mug! It looks utterly adorable, doesn’t it? And it’s also available on a green mug with the original background.

Vision 3 Games

With Strife: Shadows & Steam Vision 3 Games have a sequel to their Strife: Legacy of the Eternals on Kickstarter. Just like the older game, Strife: Shadows and Steam lets two players fight on a different battlefields using their set of ten hero cards. Those have two abilities, one to use in battle and another one to use while they are on top of the discard pile. With few components – just 30 cards without stretchgoals – that gives you interesting options to use your cards. As the title suggests, Strife: Shadows & Steam moves the game to a steampunk setting. It is also a proper sequel, not an expansion, so you can play it without Legacy of the Eternals.

Hans im Glück

Hans im Glück will publish a new Matthias Cramer (Lancaster, Rokoko,…) game this year. The title Dynasties: Heirate und Herrsche (Marry and Rule) gives you a good idea what the game is about: you control the fate of a Renaissance family building its influence through strategic marriages. There are no details about game mechanics yet, but the description mentions the importance of compromises and reacting to your opponents’ actions, so it promises to be a very interactive game. We hope for more details soon. The other new Hans im Glück release this spring will be the previously mentioned Stone Age Junior, a version of Stone Age for ages five and up.

Terraforming Mars (Image by FryxGames)
Terraforming Mars (Image by FryxGames)


While a space elevator is a really, really cool idea, the plan to build one on Earth is often met with (not entirely unreasonable) objections like “what if the cable breaks and hundreds of tons of steel devastate a long corridor of landscape?” That’s much less of a problem on Mars, though, and so building one is an option in FryxGames’s Terraforming Mars. The thing is expensive as hell, but it’s worth victory points and can make money for you by exporting steel that would be too heavy to make a profit from otherwise.

Portal Games

Portal Games have announced three releases for 2016 in a recent press release. The first one is not exactly a new game, 51st State: Master Set will mix cards from the original 51st State with cards from both expansions into a new boxed set, with some rebalancing to make everything more cohesive. Preorders for this one are already open.

The second one, Cry Havoc, has me more skeptical because it’s described as a war game, and I’m not big on those. But I know games by Portal and by two of the three designers, Michal Oracz and Michal Walzac, I didn’t have the pleasure to try Grant Rodiek’s work yet. And from those other games I would guess Cry Havoc will be a game about war, but much more euro game than what I would call wargame. The game will be a card-driven area control game in a brutal sci-fi setting with four player factions with different abilities. All that sounds like a game for me, really.

But it’s the last announcement that has me most excited, personally. I’m a huge fan of Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island, so the prospect of having a somewhat similar game set on Mars is terribly exciting to me. That’s exactly what First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet promises to be. To make the game more immersive and maintain a more consistent level of challenge it will have an integrated mobile app, probably replacing the adventure cards from Robinson Crusoe. It immediately makes me think of a mashup of Robinson Crusoe with The Martian, so I love the idea from both sides.

The Game Crafter / Whirling Derby Games

The Game Crafter are once more turning to Kickstarter to bring a new game to the masses: the abstract(ish) strategy game Zerpang! by Whirling Derby Games. Up to six players each control one of the six factions Ninjas, Pirates, Aliens, Gunslingers, Robots and Elves. Each faction has its own ability cards and its own objective, mostly to occupy certain spaces on the board. When pieces from different players meet, combat ensues where victory usually goes to the player with the longer chain of connected pieces, but ability cards come into it as well. There is a bit of luck involved in the form of cards, but Zerpang! is mostly a strategy game, light enough on the rules, and it’s looks adorable, too.

Gryphon & Eagle Games

Vital Lacerda has a reputation for deep, complex economic games, and he started building that reputation with Vinhos. There is now a Kickstarter campaign by Gryphon & Eagle Games for a Vinhos Deluxe Edition that, pricey as it is, is very tempting. Backers get Vinhos with upgraded components and essentially two games in the box. The 2010 Reserve Edition is the original Vinhos with only minor balance changes to the rules. The 2016 Special Vintage Edition is a lighter, more accessible version of the game – but it is still a Lacerda, so expect some smoking heads. The Kickstarter campaign does, however, have the small problem that Gryphon & Eagle Games have a different understanding of the term “stretch goal” than anyone else on Kickstarter and want you to pay extra to receive them. So if you want all the shiny things, be prepared to dig even deeper into your wallet.

Imhotep (Image by Kosmos)
Imhotep (Image by Kosmos)


In March there will be a new Phil Walker-Harding (Cacao, Sushi Go,…) game by Kosmos. In Imhotep players build famous Egyptian monuments, and those all share one basic characteristic: they were made with a lot of stones. Loading stones into boats and shipping them to the monuments at the right time is the main objective in Imhotep, and since the boats don’t belong to any one player you can expect your deliveries to be misrouted just when you really need them. By the description, this sounds like Phil’s most complex game to date and I’m really curious about it.

Pegasus Spiele

Pegasus Spiele will publish another expansion for Rüdiger Dorn’s Kennerspiel des Jahres Istanbul. The new expansion, titled Brief & Siegel (Letter & Seal) allows the merchant a side job as a postal worker: they’ll be able to pick up letters and deliver them to their destinations. They’ll be rewarded with seals that can be turned into the victory-deciding rubies. There’ll also be a new game piece that can walk around the bazaar independently from your merchant and do errands. You’ll be happy to have that guy, especially if you mix the two expansion and then have to juggle goods, money, coffee, letters and seals.

Pegasus Spiele / eggertspiele

Another expansion is finally coming as well: the Rococo expansion Schmuckkästchen (Jewel Box) by eggertspiele and Pegasus Spiele will be available soon. No longer restricted to making dresses, you’ll then equip your customers with rings and necklaces to really make their outfit shines. But you’ll have to pay workers to make jewelry first. Another new option in the expansion is to train your workers, turning trainees into journeymen and finally into masters.

Z-Man Games

We were all curious about Matt Leacock’s word game Knit Wit, and now we know how it goes and it sounds intriguing. Players create a Venn Diagram-like playing fields of yarn loops with word categories attached to them. Spools are places inside those loops so that each intersection has one. When that is done, players start thinking up words to go with each spool: the word has to belong in all categories surrounding that spool. The more those are, the more points the word is worth. It sounds to me like reverse Codenames, and I see nothing at all wrong with that.

Z-Man Games will also publish the English version of Florian Racky and Marc Klemer’s Haus der Sonne under the English title Haleakala, after the volcano at the center of the game. The two players erect sun totems around the volcano to score points, knowing full well it may erupt any moment and destroy their hard work. But there’s more to do on the island, like fishing for seafood, collecting seashells and, if Z-Man’s description of the game isn’t lying, catching butterflies. We’ll find out if that is really part of the game when it’s released later this month.

Thunder and Lightning (Image by Z-Man Games)
Thunder and Lightning (Image by Z-Man Games)

Another new two player game by Z-Man Games, Thunder and Lightning, plays in a completely different part of the world. Taking the roles of the Norse gods Thor and Loki the players send their armies of mythical creature cards into battle against each other looking for a mystic artifact the other is holding. It’s somewhere in each players deck, but you never know if he drew it already, or maybe even placed it on the table. Finding the opponent’s artifact before finds yours is how you win the game.

And a last Z-Man Games item for this week. They caught us completely by surprise with their announcement of Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, a Pandemic game where you fight Great Old Ones instead of diseases. Yeah, I can see how those two things are the same. Anyway, bringing Pandemic and Lovecraft together, that’s like taking chocolate and then putting chocolate on top for me. I want this now! Filipino website has a more detailed preview at the game, and although they don’t know how it’s played either they reveal many interesting things. You’ll move between four iconic Lovecraftian locations – Arkham, Innsmouth, Kingsport and Dunwich, possibly fighting multiple GOOs at the same time, out of a selection of 12. There are shoggoths, you’ll slowly go insane… you know, the usual.

Schmidt Spiele

Most people will have heard of Wizard, a trick-taking card game where taking the most tricks is not as important as predicting correctly how many tricks you’ll be taking in a round. When I realized that Schmidt Spiele’s Skull King is the same game, but with dice instead of cards, I wasn’t really convinced. Not at all, to be honest. How do you predict dice rolls? But reading on, I think it might work because all dice were not created equal. Different colors of dice show different numbers and some are strictly stronger than others. So you’ll still need more luck than in Wizard, but making a prediction is not entirely random, you have a basis for it.

Rio Grande Games

Dominion just keeps going. Rio Grande games have announced another expansion with Dominion: Empires, and it will bring some new things to the game yet again. There will be a new way to score victory points with landmark cards, and there will be cards you buy on credit, adding them to your deck now and paying later. Empires will also bring back victory points tokens and event cards from previous expansion. Serious question, though: does anyone own all the expansions, and have you used all the cards at least once yet? I’m seriously wondering, because I love Dominion but it has grown huge.

This week’s featured photo shows the Mir Castle Complex in Belarus. First constructed in the 15th century, it was later remodeled, extended, abandoned, damaged and restores until it arrived in the form you see today. The photo was taken by Alexxx Malev and generously shared with a CC-BY-SA license. Thank you, Alexxx!


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