Keep the Great Old Ones out of our world? What would you do that for? Their power is too useful. So useful, in fact, that you don’t want to share it with your fellow cultists. And to keep the power from them, what better way than to drive them insane? That’s the idea behind Pocket Madness, a hand management card game by Ludovic Maublanc and Bruno Cathala. To access the Old Ones power, you open portals to their realm, and to open the portals you need the right sets of cards. Collecting a bunch of cards is helpful for that. But the more hand cards you get caught with at the end of the round the more Madness tokens you take, and those are how you lose the game. Pocket Madness is listed for release end of 2016, so this might not be an Essen release.
New Characters are not the only thing added in the new edition of Bruno Faidutti’s Citadels. Remember that your goal is to build a city. Windrider Games adds a number of new, unique Districts with new special abilities as well, some of them constructive, others not so much. Once you built the Framework you can later tear it down again and replace it with another district, without paying that new districts costs. Preparation is everything. The Armory is just the opposite, you can destroy it to destroy one district owned by an opponent. And so your city’s districts are not just about points any more, they have other uses as well.
Da Yuhne, a tile placement game where you build a canal in China, looks simple at first glance. On a narrow board with hex spaces a connection from one end to the other must be built. But it’s not as easy as that, there is more to it than just connecting canals all the way. What you can actually do is dictated by the action card you draw for a round. The actions there do include building a canal tile, but you also have to manage your stock of tiles and take care of Unrest, in your own areas as well as in your opponents’. The real trick, however, is controlling the Great Controller. He inspects the progress on the canal and has a set of rules by which he moves and awards points. If you can build a canal for him that he must follow according to the rules, you’ll score points. But if his rules leave him more than one option, then the start player decides what he will do, and unless that is yourself the decision is unlikely to be in your favor. Use the Controller’s rules in your favor and you have a shot at winning.
Nürnberger Spielkarten Verlag
The Game is a minimalist interpretation of a cooperative game: together and without exchanging two much information, the players have to sort cards onto four stacks, two of which must be strictly descending, two ascending. That’s tougher than it sounds already, but now it will be even more extreme. The new The Game Extreme is basically the same, but now there are 28 cards with special orders that must be followed. There’s nothing yet that says what these orders are, but a photo lets us guess, at least. The word STOP printed on a card with the number six might mean that the player has to end his turn when playing it – easy enough – or that no new cards can be played on that stack anymore. That would be evil. But not everything new is evil, as far as I can tell. The icons on the 38 do look like you may draw more hand cards. That would be helpful. Still, on the whole The Game Extreme is unlikely to be easier than The Game, so if you mostly win that one then new challenges await.
eggertspiele / Pegasus Spiele
Coal Baron, the coal mining worker placement game by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling, is back, not with an expansion but with a re-interpretation as a card game. The first impression is that Coal Baron: The Great Card Game will not be a simplification of the original as is often the case when remaking a game as a card game, but a game that is just as complex. Your objective is still to get coal out of the ground and onto a train for delivery, but there are many other options around that: Innovation Cards let you take more powerful actions, Goal Cards give you extra points if you can meet their condition, and more. There are enough things to do that the right thing will never be obvious. You activate all those actions with worker cards, and doing so is a main source of interaction in Coal Baron: The Great Card Game: activating an action always takes exactly one worker more than the previous activation of that action, so popular actions will get expensive quickly.
Another game gets the “now also as a card game” treatment: Camel Up. The camel racing Spiel des Jahres winner is easily recognizable in Camel Up Cards: a camel race that lets you make money betting on which camel will come first or last. Camels landing on the same space are still stacked and a moving camel takes everything above it in the stack with it, just like in Camel Up. But instead of dice, cards dictate the movement now. The stack of movement cards is not in itself less random than the dice, but with the one hand card each player keeps you may have a lot of influence on the outcome of the race.
Fantasy Flight Games
Investigators in Fantasy Flight’s Eldritch Horror have already fought the Great Old Ones and their minions all over the world, and sometimes beyond, but the next expansion will take them to their most exotic destinations yet because in The Dreamlands anything is possible. The new side board that comes with this expansion lets you travel to the Enchanted Forest, the Underworld, even the Moon. If you can dream about it, you can find it in the Dreamlands. Of course you will get all the other things you’ve come to expect from an Eldritch Horror expansion as well: new Great Old Ones threatening the world, new Investigators to stand in their way, new Spells, new Monsters, new everything.
Expansions for Imperial Settlers always have me especially excited because they don’t simply add a new faction deck, they always change up the game for the exiting factions. That is true once more with Imperial Settlers: Aztecs. You obviously get the Aztecs as a new faction, with their own deck and board, but you also get Religion as a new game element for everyone. Each faction will have their own Pantheon, and their gods will undoubtedly set different conditions for handing out Blessing Tokens.
This Kickstarter project is mostly interesting for our German speaking readers because Dantes Reise auf den Läuterungsberg (translated: Dante’s Travels on the Mountain of Purgatory) is only available in German. Dantes Reise is a racing game with a very unusual setting: the Purgatory of Dante’s Divine Comedy. The goal is Heaven, of course, but before you can enter you need to do penance for your sins on the mountains seven terraces. If you didn’t repent enough by the time you walked all the way around a terrace you have to go around again – but you’ll get opportunities to rid yourself of your sins, or even unload them on other players. That’s not really the same as repenting, but the important thing is that your conscience is clean in the end. Dantes Reise is not a complex game, but it has some elements that set it apart from other racing games. Player cards have different values or actions by day or by night, moving slowly or quickly will decide if an encounter along the path happens to you or some other player and players have the option to travel together for a while and share fortune and misfortune until their paths split again.
This week’s photo was taken by Aleksandr Zykov in the Gardens of Lumbini, Nepal. Those gardens are the birthplace of one Siddhartha Gautama, better known under his pen name: the Lord Buddha. As such, Lumbini is also an important Buddhist place of pilgrimage. Thank you for sharing this photo, Aleksandr! (Photo license: CC-BY-SA)