Meople News: Gondola to the Universe

Fantasy Flight Games

That’s another blast from the past: Fantasy Flight Games have announced a new edition of DOOM: The Board Game. In the unlikely case that someone here has never heard of DOOM before, the original DOOM was the game that put first person shooter video games on the map. It wasn’t quite the first, but the first to become huge. The boardgame lets you do pretty much the same thing as the video games: become space marines and fight of the literal demons of literal hell. But in the boardgame, one player gets to control the demons and try to kill the marines. Scenario-based and with a bunch of fancy miniatures, DOOM: The Board Game can’t deny its relation to Descent, but has some marked differences. There seems to be no campaign mode, just individual scenarios. And player death, a huge setback in games like Descent, is treated in the way of video games in DOOM: you respawn and get right back to shooting. I’m sure more detailed previews will be coming soon.

Hand of the King is yet another game on the game Game of Thrones license, and this one is not a strategy game laced with intrigue but quick, abstract card game. It starts with a grid of cards, each representing a member of one of seven great houses. On their turn a player moves Varys, the spy master and only neutral character in the game, in a straight line and collects all members of one house that he he passes over. Have enough members of one house and you control that house’s vote, have enough votes and you become Hand of the King and win the game. To make things more interesting, claiming the last card of a house lets you call on one of six characters drawn at the start of the game and use his or her special ability to change the board in your favor.

The show must go on is the unofficial motto of most of Fantasy Flight’s big box games. Well, I don’t mind a steady stream of expansions, as long as they keep the game fresh, and everything I read about Imperial Assault: Jabba’s Realm sounds like it will. Not only will the heroes adventure on Tatooine, the most famous desert planet in the galaxy, the new campaign will let them enter iconic locations such as Jabba’s palace and pleasure bark. Three new heroes will join the Rebellion, but they’ll be opposed by two new classes for the Imperial player. That and Stormtroopers with jet packs. A pile of new components, especially plastic minis, are a given. There’s even a bloody Rancor.

Humans. You can never trust them, not even when they’re fighting for the survival of their species. In XCOM: Evolution, the first expansion to Fantasy Flight’s XCOM: The Board Game, does not make the invading aliens more dangerous. The new threat comes from EXALT, a human paramilitary organization trying to use the chaos of the alien invasion to take power on Earth. They have infiltrated everything already, including XCOM itself, and their presence adds new perils to every mission you take. However, helping the good guys, the XCOM scientists have unlocked the secret of the alien substance Meld and can use it to create supersoldiers, provided you gather enough Meld and your scientists have time to research it. Together with the physical expansion comes an update to the XCOM app that controls the aliens in the game, adding two new invasion plans specifically for the expansion, but the old ones should work together with the new components, too.

What a week at Fantasy Flight Games, here is one more announcement for a new product. Cosmic Eons will expand the popular friend-losing game Cosmic Encounter. Like every Cosmic Encounter expansion, Cosmic Eons will bring new alien races to the table, some of which now use their own deck of cards for their abilities. For instance, The Sheriff, one of the new aliens, has the power to write tickets to other players for offenses like littering, meaning they discard too many cards at once. The usual wackiness. You also get a new variant game mode where players decide their support in a conflict in secret and then reveal it all at once.

Sola Fide (Image by Stronghold Games)
Sola Fide (Image by Stronghold Games)

Spielworxx / Stronghold Games

Next year marks the 500 year anniversary of Luther’s Reformation, and in celebration Spielworxx and Stronghold Games will present Sola Fide: The Reformation at this year’s Essen fair. It will be a two-player game, with one player controlling the Protestants and the other the Catholics, where the two compete for control of ten provinces for their side of the conflict. The specifics how you gain control of a province are still unknown except that you will play cards to affect the balance of power in the provinces. Sola Fide was designed by Jason Matthews and Christian Leonhard, a team that fans of historical and political games might know as the designers of Founding Fathers and Campaign Manager 2008.

Board & Dice

Something has gone awry at the Large Hadron Collider, portals to other realities suddenly pop open and you, as a civic-minded scientist, have to close them before the creatures spewing forth devour our reality. Multiuniversum, on Kickstarter by Board & Dice, is more abstract than you’d expect with that setting. You move your meeple between five locations and play action cards to get the portals closed. The way action cards work is interesting, though: A card has different functions depending on your location when you play it. With three actions per turn, that leaves you with many interesting options. Play a card to draw to new cards first, or move to another location where the same card can be used to seal a portal and you can use the third card to trigger the location action. There’s not so much to do on each turn, but many options what you might do, making Multiuniversum a lighter game with lots of decisions to make.

Big Kid Games

Racing games are sort of an old hat, and tile-laying games are nothing new either. But a combination of the two were you build your race track while the race is going on, that’s new, and it looks rather exciting in Big Kid Games’s Gondola. The race in question is a gondola regatta through the canals of Venice, and the goal is to reach the five checkpoints before anyone else does. When the game starts, they are all hidden in the tile stack, so before you can reach them someone must find and play them. Besides making up the race track the tiles also tell you how far your gondola may move this turn, and they may restrict the number of gondolas allowed to be on that tile or make it impossible to pass an opponent’s gondola stopped here. That adds a nice amount of interaction to an already interesting mix of racing and tile-laying.

Artipia Games

With his new game Among the Stars designer Vangelis Bagiartakis has come from space to do something down to Earth. Very down to Earth. Build a farm. In Fields of Green, Artipia Games’s latest Kickstarter project, you will build a farm. Surprisingly, that’s no easier than constructing a space station. From a large selection of tiles representing fields, livestock, buildings and other kinds of construction you want to create a farm that not only sustains itself with enough water for the fields and food for the livestock but also turns a profit for you. A profit that you hope to be able to turn into victory points.

Cyclades: Monuments (Image by Asmodee)
Cyclades: Monuments (Image by Asmodee)


There’s always more you can add to a complex game, as long as it’s successful enough to warrant expansions. Matagot’s Cyclades, a game of conflict, mythology and city building in ancient Greece, is certainly successful enough, and with Monuments it will have it’s next expansion later this year. Monuments will add ten buildings to Cyclades that go way beyond than the buildings in the base game. To construct a monument you will need two base buildings, apparently a different combination for each monument. The resulting new building will have the bonuses of both buildings it’s made from as well as a unique monument bonus. And we’re talking about bonuses like the Great Lighthouse of Poseidon returning ships you lose in battle to your harbor, so you’ll really want to have them.

Matagot’s Barony used to be a down-to-earth strategy game about building your own empire from a humble start all the way to you becoming king. Most of that will still be true with the coming expansion, but the down-to-earth part will no longer be true: the expansion is called Sorcery. To do magic you will need magic tokens, a new resource you harvest from new, spooky looking landscape tiles. Casting spells with those tokens will not be an all new action, only being able to take one action per turn is limiting enough already, instead spells will lend more oomph to your actions. For example, a move action with a spell can make your knights travel a lot further than they ordinarily could.

Czech Games Edition

Czech Games Edition, who’s excellent The Prodigal’s Club we reviewed earlier this week, have three new games coming for the Essen fair this year. The first one is actually an expansion to Alchemists, the smartphone-enabled game where you find alchemical recipes by experimentation and deduction. Alchemists: Golem will test your reasoning skills even more, because now you’ll have to solve another logic puzzle to animate a golem, and until you succeed you have to keep the king convinces that you are making progress. As if that game wasn’t hurting my brain enough already…

The second new game will be Adrenaline, a first person shooter board game. There don’t seem to be any fancy scenarios with missions to complete, what you do is grab a bunch of weapons and blast away at your opponents. Playing Adrenaline sounds quick and fluid, there isn’t even any dice rolling to resolve combat. Oh, and being hit may hurt, but it also gives you and advantage by making you move faster without all that useless blood weighing you down.

Codename: Pictures (Image by Czech Games Edition)
Codename: Pictures (Image by Czech Games Edition)

Finally, Codename: Pictures will continue the enormous success of Vlaada Chvátil’s Codenames. You play it the same way as regular Codenames by giving your team vague hints which cards are hiding your agents, only the cards now have pictures instead of words. And those pictures are not just kittens and puppies, they are things like Santa Clause on a snowboard or windmills with insect wings. It seems all the people posting how they played Codenames with Dixit cards were on to something all along.

Small Box Games

I guess Small Box Games want to set a new record for minimalism with Akua, their latest Kickstarter project. A plastic game board and four dry erase markers are all the components you get, and still they promise engaging, strategic game play – and a look into the rules says they are right. Your goal in Akua is to explore the hexes of the island of the Akua. In doing so, you may claim hexes for your side, earning points, and you may establish leylines between the hexes, scoring more points. Communig with the Akua and collecting mana stones does not have immediate point benefits, but may let you take more of the above actions for having majorities. That’s quite a lot to do for a game with exactly five components and a ten dollar price tag.

The photo of the week shows the interior of a house in Harar Jugol, Ethiopia, a holy city of Islam and a melting pot where African, Islamic and European culture flows together. The city is impressive in many regards, being home to 82 mosques among them, but even UNESCO considers the unique interior design of Harar Jugol’s townhouses the most spectacular part of its cultural heritage. The photo was taken by A. Davey and kindly shared with a CC-BY license. Thank you for sharing!

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