Meople News: Desert Chariots

Horrible Games

It’s a famous movie scene, often repeated: there are goblets of wine on the table, one of which is poisoned. Now everyone around the table keeps exchanging goblets and turning the table until no one knows where the poison is, and then the bad guy drinks it and dies. Thanks to Horrible Games you can now have all the fun of being poisoned like that, without any of the unpleasant side effects like being poisoned. Up to twelve players can participate in Raise Your Goblets and add poison or antidote to anyone’s goblet as well as exchange goblets around the table. Points are scored for surviving the round and by making sure the goblet your target ends up with has more poison than antidote in it. That will make dinner parties at the Meeple Cave more interesting.

Chariot Race (Image by Pegasus Spiele)
Chariot Race (Image by Pegasus Spiele)

Pegasus Spiele

Pegasus Spiele will publish a rare Matt Leacock game that is not cooperative at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. Chariot Race lets you compete in the arena against up to five other drivers, and it has everything Ben Hur made you expect. Driving fast is part of it, but so is attacking your opponents with javelins or caltrops, and even ramming them if your own chariot can take the damage. The game is dice based and should take less than an hour with any number of players, so it’s more of a family game, but even then who doesn’t like a good chariot race?

Mage Company

Mage Company’s games already keep us coming back for more, but they make their games even more durable with downloadable scenarios. Most recently, there are new scenarios for the cooperative fairy tale game 12 Realms and for the post-apocalyptic Raid & Trade. The 12 Realms are threatened by the Black Fortress Alliance, a new challenge for our heroes. In the Raid & Trade scenario From Hell To Desert the heroes must escape from a ruined city, only to then be caught in the wastelands. Have fun everyone!

Meduris (Image by Haba)
Meduris (Image by Haba)


Haba are still famous for their games and toys for the very young, but they continue their line of games for older players. We’ll have a look only at those today. The first of those games is Meduris by Stefan Dorra and Ralf zur Linde (Eselsbrücke, Milestones,…). In this game for ages 10 and up players have to build a settlement at the bottom of Mount Meduris, as commanded by the gods. Workers go out and collect resources, which are spent on huts, temples and sacrifices to the druids. Placement of your own structures in the circle at the bottom of the mountain seems to be an essential part of the game. And I really wonder why those meeples in the picture are stacked up like they are.

Next from Haba, there is Lady Richmond: Ein erzocktes Erbe – I’m not sure how to translate that title, something like A Gambled Inheritance. Anyway, it’s an auction game that seems to have a real time component, items from the Lady’s inheritance are added to the auction until one player grabs the Auction Stone and makes the first bid. It doesn’t seem to be a game to make friends, either – nothing that has components called Cheat Chips ever is.

Last year’s area majority game Adventure Land by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling (The Palaces of Carrara, Tikal, Torres, …) was successful and had a big advantage of bringing three scenarios for different levels of players. As always with scenario based games, they are easily expanded, and that brings us Adventure Land: King and Princess. The expansion comes with three new scenarios – names translated by me, the English rules are not available yet. The Kidnapped Princess makes you collect keys and power to rescue, well, you guessed who. Rise of the Fog Creatures is a cooperative scenario where players fight against the titular fog creatures. And finally, in Rescue the King… what can I say about what you do there, it really is self-explanatory.

Picassimo (Image by Haba)
Picassimo (Image by Haba)

And finally from Haba – at least regarding games for older players – we get Picassimo, yet another twist on the classic idea of draw something and let the others guess. Actually, that’s still what you do in Picassimo, even on convenient erasable boards, but then things get funny: a card tells you which of the six parts of the painting board to swap before the others may guess what it is. The results are truly worthy of Picasso.And finally from Haba – at least regarding games for older players – we get Picassimo, yet another twist on the classic idea of draw something and let the others guess. Actually, that’s still what you do in Picassimo, even on convenient erasable boards, but then things get funny: a card tells you which of the six parts of the painting board to swap before the others may guess what it is. The results are truly worthy of Picasso.

And finally from Haba – at least regarding games for older players – we get Picassimo, yet another twist on the classic idea of draw something and let the others guess. Actually, that’s still what you do in Picassimo, even on convenient erasable boards, but then things get funny: a card tells you which of the six parts of the painting board to swap before the others may guess what it is. The results are truly worthy of Picasso.

Lookout Spiele

Oh My Goods! by Alexander Pfister was a bit of a surprise release last year. Suddenly it was there and everyone loved the game about building a production chain of medieval craftsmen to produce everything from tools to glass windows. And now you’ll be able to extend those chains even more with the coming Longsdale in Revolt, an expansion that adds not only new production buildings but also event cards that will tell the story of a chapter that you’re playing through.

HUCH! & friends

A game co-designed by Inka and Markus Brand (Village,…) and Michael Rieneck (The Pillars of the Earth, Cuba,…)? I’m intrigued just by the designers already. And Touria sounds like a family game that is just as good as you would hope. Players travel the kingdom searching for seven proofs of their love and seven coins for a bridal price, both of which are needed to marry the princess in the castle. Interesting about Touria is the action selection system: the players may choose actions from the four towers around the board, but may only ever use the action currently facing them. Afterwards they turn that tower by ninety degrees, changing the action available to everyone.

An interesting action selection system is also what sets Ulm apart, but in a heavier sort of game. While the city of Ulm is building its cathedral the players try their best to expand their influence in the city. They pick their actions every turn from a grid of action tiles: push a new action tile into the grid, then take three actions from the same line where you just placed the new tile. Picking a set of actions is already more challenging than picking just one, and pushing those new action tiles in the grid will change what actions you and others can take together on later turns. And that’s not the only thing to decide, you also have to expand your influence in the districts of Ulm and may expand your options each round with action cards. Ulm just made it to the top part of my Essen watchlist.

Rival Kings is a game of character selection, each turn players pick a character card each and then reveal them all at the same time to see who may take which action. As usual in this style of game, there are trade-offs to be considered: cards that act earlier in the round have fewer actions available, going later lets you take more actions. But there is more to it in this game: some cards are in conflict with other cards, and when those cards are played on the same turn the earlier card may steal an action from the later one. That will make the decision what character to play even harder than usual, and then you still have to use those actions to collect the best combination of buildings and subjects to score high when the game ends.

Welcome back to the Dungeon (Image by Iello)
Welcome back to the Dungeon (Image by Iello)


We had a lot of fun with Iello’s push-your-luck mini-game Welcome to the Dugeon last year. You remember, in that game a hero sets out to enter the dungeon and the players take turns either adding monsters to the dungeon or removing gear from the hero, until only one player remains who believes the hero has a chance – he then enters the dungeon to see if he was right. That’s still the same that happens in Welcome back to the Dungeon, but with new heroes, new monsters and, completely new, special monsters that have more interesting effects than simply trying to eat the hero. This new game works on its own, but you can mix it up with the original as well.

Kanagawa is a game about art. Not about art dealing like many others but about creating art. Bruno Cathala and Charles Chevallier let you visit Master Hokusai’s famous painting school and take lessons in the art of Japanese landscape painting. Depending on how long you’re willing to wait each round, you may take up to three lessons, but the longer you wait the more choice the other players may already have taken away from you. Once the lesson cards are yours you may use them to expand your own painting, but you have to have enough skill in painting that landscape to do that, or you may use the same card to expand your studio and gain just that skill. The right balance between learning and painting is important because there are only so many diplomas to be had. The rules of Kanagawa are simple enough, but deciding when to pick a set of lessons and where to use the cards takes some finesse. Kanagawa is also one of those games where the art deserves special mention, Jade Mosch has done amazing work creating a game in traditional Japanese painting style.

Purple Brain Creations / Iello

The subject of a game called Around the World in 80 Days is not hard to puzzle out: as Phileas Fogg and his servant Passepartout the players must race around the world and make it back to London in time to win their bet. That is more straightforward than the book suggests: as long as you have money, you can move forward, the more money you spend the further you move. When you run out of money, you can get more by moving backwards. If that sounds familiar to you, the same movement system won the first ever Spiel des Jahres award in 1979 as Hare and Tortoise.  And just like you had to rid yourself of cabbages in the old game, in Around the World you have to lose all your rumor cards before returning to London. So it’s basically a new edition of Hare and Tortoise. I’m okay with that, it’s good to keep the classics available.


Why is there never peace at court? Royals and nobles are always trying to get rid of each other, and the new Kosmos game Mit List und Tücke (something like With Guile and Wile in English, no official English title yet) is no exception. In each chapter of the game, players draft four character cards that they will then use to gain influence at court. Gaining influence is the goal of the game, but just because you played the card doesn’t mean you’ll get it: some characters have abilities to kill specific other characters, and those will not bring any influence afterwards. The order is important here, playing the victim when the killer has already been played is safe. But since you don’t use all cards in one round, you never know who is still lurking in the shadows.

The only thing that is possibly not to like about a Targi expansion is the unimaginative title Targi: The Expansion. Yes, really. What’s in the box sounds great, though. The basics mechanics stay the same as in the base game, but the additions will have a great impact on your strategy. For one, there is now Water as a new commodity. It’s a wildcard that can be exchanged two to one for any other resource. Then there’s the Targia, a Tuareg woman that walks around the play area and gives a bonus when you place one of your Targi meeple on the same card. And finally, Shifting Sand cards offer powerful actions, but they lie outside the regular play area, so placing a Targi on them costs you one intersection for the round. Those all sound like great additions to Targi that will force you to rethink your strategies.

Honshu (Image by Lautapelit)
Honshu (Image by Lautapelit)

There are always new ways of making old game mechanics interesting again, even something as old and worn as trick-taking card games. Lautapelit’s Honshu is one such game. You start each round by playing one card and determining the trick winner, so far so familiar. What happens then is new, though. The winner doesn’t take all the cards, he’s simply first to pick one of the cards played and place it in his landscape. Each card has six landscape spaces, and different kinds of landscapes have different scoring rules. Pick your cards well and place them right to score high. On top of just scoring points some cards produces resources, too. Those can be made into extra points with a matching factory, but you can also use them to increase your card’s value in a trick. The rules are about as simple as any trick-taking game, but there are layers of strategy here.

The beautiful edifice in this week’s featured photo is Masjid Selat Melaka, the Malacca Straits Mosque in Melaka, Malaysia. Melaka is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Melaka and George Town. Both cities have a special multicultural heritage with Asian and European influences acquired as an important East/West trading port for centuries. The photo was taken by Indra Gunawan and kindly shared with a CC-BY license. Thank you for sharing, Indra!

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