Dark Flight Games
A small, quirky puzzle game for for people with good spatial visualization skill is new on Kickstarter by Dark Flight Games. The players in Jutaku are Japanese architects with projects to build houses into lots with more or less eccentric outlines. Each lot card not only has the outline of the lot printed on but also tells the player how many stories the building must have and how many tiles from the supply he must use. Those tiles are shaped just as unreasonably as the lots, and when piling them up into stories you may not create overhangs. Solve your building quicker than the other players and you earn money and move on to the next project. Jutaku is a low interaction puzzle game, but with a fresh idea and appealing design.
Grail Games / Moaideas Game Design
I’m a bit embarrassed to post about the expansion for a game before we posted the review, even though we’ve been playing it since Essen last year. The game in question is Guns & Steel, a very different approach to a civilization building game that you play in an hour or less. The idea is that you buy cards from a card pyramid where each row represents an age of human civilization and you have to buy your way up to get the best card. Along the way you hope to collect some wonders of civilization that will make up a large part of your final score. It’s a very neat game, but one point of criticism in the review is going to be the small selection of cards. Guns & Steel: Renaissance is going to do something about that. You can play it on its own as a standalone game, but you can shuffle it up with the original Guns & Steel as well and enjoy the larger variety. Of course Renaissance is not all the same as the first game, there are some fresh mechanics. The one that stands out is Glory, a new concept by which some wonder cards take several turns of effort before you can collect them, and it’s all wasted if another player takes it first. This type of commitment will force you to consider your long term strategy more and make the game even more tense.
Shedding games, card games where your objective is to rid yourself of all your hand cards, are among the first games most of us learn and also among the most popular games outside of hobby boardgaming circles. Just think Uno and how many people play it. Many gamers consider shedding games too simple for their tastes (with some notable exceptions like Tichu). But what if said game was themed with the escape from R’lyeh, the city where great Cthulhu lies dreaming, and was a little more complex than Uno? That sums up Atlas Games’s Lost in R’lyeh. The added complexity comes from being able to play cards with the same value as sets, and the more of them you can play at once the more powerful an effect you may invoke. When you can’t play you pick up the whole discard pile, which sounds bad when trying to shed your hand, but also gives you a greater selection of cards to build sets from. Sometimes picking up the stack may be beneficial. Event cards that can be played even when no other card fits give you some more options. Still not a hugely complex game, but unlike a hypothetical Cthulhu Uno it sounds like I’ll enjoy it.
Plaid Hat Games
We’re now getting to the deep parts of SeaFall, the latest preview post by Rob Daviau is about raiding, attacks on neutral islands and on other players’ home provinces. Many games that offer war as one of several ways to victory share a problem: one player starting a war strategy forces the other players to do the same in order to defend themselves. Rob didn’t want that to happen in SeaFall, other strategies should be viable even with a warmonger on the board. The solution he came up with is ingenious. SeaFall uses an extra currency called Enmity to pay for your wars. You start with a limited supply of Enmity, and while you can earn some more during the game you will be mostly limited to that supply. Raiding costs different amounts of Enmity. You can raid a neutral island for one Enmity, but key locations in an opponent’s province may cost you five, making mostly sure you only do that once a game. Not only that, but each Enmity you leave behind makes future raids against the same target more difficult for you. The natives are getting wary. And some of that Enmity may become permanent at the end of the game, turning a measure to curtail war strategies into another piece of plot development as your SeaFall campaign progresses.
It’s a good week for expansions to games I was supposed to have reviewed at this point: Portal Games have announced Angry Ocean, an expansion to their pirate dice game Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot. The objective of the base game was always to equip your ship and head out against treasure fleets and other pirates to grab the most loot. Angry Ocean adds two new scenarios. The titular Angry Ocean scenario hits you with everything that can go wrong at sea that is not enemy ships: rocks, ship wrecks, whirlpools and sea monsters. The other scenario, Old Dogs, has the players as old pirates on their way to retirement. Their ships are fully equipped and they are just going after the loot. If ever there was a game where it’s appropriate to say “I’m getting to old for this shit”, this would be it.
Real-time games are not all that unusual anymore, they have become a regular genre. But that genre is still small enough that a good, new game is sure to stand out, and Dungeon Time, on Kickstarter by Ares Games, looks good to me. It’s a simple card game that tests your memory and communication skill, and it has the potential to go hilariously wrong. The players are adventurers entering a dungeon together. They have five minutes to play cards on the Story Pile in the right order to complete the dungeon and level up. There are two types of cards to sort out: Missions and Items. Missions are what makes you win the game, you want them in the Story Pile to win. Items are needed to complete Missions, and the right items for a Mission have to be in the Story Pile before that mission card or you can’t complete the Mission. But you can only carry a limited number of Items at a time, if there are too many Items in the Story Pile before a Mission uses them up, your backpack bursts and you lose the game. Once cards are on the Pile you can’t change them or look at them, you will only find out if you made it when the five minutes are over and you go through the deck to check.
2F Spiele / Stronghold Games
Stronghold Games and 2F Spiele have announced a strategic partnership where Friedemann Friese’s games will be available in English language through Stronghold Games. In the same announcement we learn about two new Friese games to be released this year, both light games by Friedemann’s Power Grid standards.
The first is titled Fabled Fruit (German title: Fabelsaft) and has players exploring a forest in search of the most delicious fruit to make juice from. To gather their fruit, they enlist the help of the forest’s inhabitants. Fabled Fruit is a Fable System game, described as a game starting in a simple state but with rules that evolve over time to create a more complex experience. Unlike Legacy games, however, Fable games don’t change permanently, new rules only affect the current game. It sounds like a lot of fun, and since it’s for ages eight and up and should play in around 25 minutes I guess the rules won’t get too complex.
The description for Fuji Flush (German: Futschikato) is more vague still. The card game for three to eight players sounds like a shedding game where players can ally and sum up the values of their cards in order to overcome other players’ high cards. If that’s what it is, then it’s going to be a friendship destroyer on the scale of Monopoly.
Miniature games on Kickstarter tend to be of the monsterish kind. Makes sense, those minis are so much more fun when they depict space pirates and hulking demons than, say, accountants. Darkness Sabotage, a project by Dethrone Games, is also not about space accounting but about a crew of space pirates that find and enter an abandoned warship that just happens to be occupied by hulking demons. They are doomed the moment they board the ship, but at least they can destroy it and stop the demons from capturing anyone else. Darkness Sabotage is a cooperative game for up to four players who want to use tons of gear to blast demons and save humanity in the process. There is a story-driven campaign to play through as well as rules for creating random setups. If you always felt that the crew in Event Horizon got to have all the fun, this is your chance.
Fantasy Flight Games
With a new Descent expansion you get new heroes, sometimes a new Overlord class, and new monsters. We know the former two from Descent: The Chains that Rust from other previews, now it’s time to look at monsters. The simple pattern of “things that bite heroes” is mostly used up at this point, new monsters are a bit trickier than that. The Chains that Rust brings one type of monster that is hard to get rid of because it can teleport to the hero it’s hunting and another type that is hard to pin down because it can teleport away when it’s under attack. And prevent heroes from healing, did I mention that? Fun!
The photo of the week, taken by Andrew Dupont, shows the former residence of the Habsburg emperors, Schnönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria – that’s not the one with the kangaroos. Andrew kindly shared the photo with a CC-BY-SA license. Thank you, Andrew!