Meople News: Sentient and Alone

Renegade Game Studios

Renegade Game Studios’s announcement of Sentient is a masterpiece of not revealing anything about the game mechanics. But the theme of the new J. Alex Kevern (World’s Fair 1893,…) game is enough to get me interested: Players in Sentient run companies specializing in programming artificially intelligent robots. Someone else is building them, but apparently programming them is the difficult part. So players buy unprogrammed robots and plug them into their company networks to program them. But plugging a robot on the network changes the behavior of other systems on the net. Setting up your systems and programming the robots will attract investors. Their favor will determine which company comes out on top in the end. Without knowing anything about game mechanics, that sounds interesting and fresh enough to have me hooked.

Fragor Games

Pictorial press release for the next Fragor Games release, announced March 31, 2017
Pictorial press release for the next Fragor Games release, announced March 31, 2017

When Fragor Games didn’t have a new game for Essen 2016, their mysterious explanation was that they had a chance to work with a great license, but instead of their traditional Essen release they would turn to Kickstarter to make it live up to its full potential. Well, this photo showed up on BoardGameGeek, and everyone promises it’s not an April’s Fool. The Lamont’s doing a Wallace & Gromit game. I didn’t see that coming, but they do seem the perfect people to make this game. (Photo credit: “Pictorial press release for the next Fragor Games release, announced March 31, 2017“, Eric W Martin (uploader), CC-BY)

Button Shy Games

Running a Kickstarter is some work. Maybe too much work when you’re making a microgame. But with three microgames in one Kickstarter, things become more interesting. That’s what Button Shy Games are doing with their latest Kickstarter, and the three games are pretty different.

Circle the Wagons is a new style of drafting game. Two players take turns drafting cards from an open display to build their little Wild West boomtown. If they take the next card in line, nothing special happens, but if they want a card further away then all the skipped cards go to their opponents for free. You will use only three of the special scoring cards per game, so it’ll take a while to try all combinations.

Mint Julep is a more traditional drafting game where you draft horse cards, then you bet on horses, and then you use those cards to move them. Do that for three rounds and then you cash in on your bets. I’d guess the key to predicting the winner will be paying a lot of attention to the cards you receive and pass on as well as to your opponents’ bets.

The final game, That Snow Moon, is a dexterity space opera where the Dynasty and the Liberation both drop cards on the table. The Liberation must assemble a strike team by creating a cluster of touching cards, one of which must be the secret plans, and then blow up the Dynasty’s snow moon. The Dynasty wants to prevent that by covering Liberation cards with their own.

Plaid Hat Games

There’s not much info about the coming Crystal Clans in Plaid Hat Games’s announcement of their latest project, all we know is that it’s going to be a two player tactical card game. But I’m really fine with announcing a game with an art preview when it looks like this.


Crazy Race (Ravensburger)
Crazy Race (Ravensburger)

Crazy Race is a very appropriate name for this Ravensburger racing game by Alessandro Zucchini. What else would you call a race between lions in carts pulled by every other animal the zoo has to offer? Like you’d expect from a racing game for eight years and up, dice play an important role, but tactics are also important because the animal that pull your cart differ in speed, endurance and their ability to take tight turns. Racing games for the whole family have come a long way since I was a kid…

El Dorado by Ravensburger is a Reiner Knizia deck-building family game. Your deck has equipment and team members for your expedition through the jungles of South America. You expand your expedition by buying tools and hiring specialists, but it’s just as important to leave behind everything you no longer need, because a smaller expedition moves faster. Uncommon for a deck-building game, there is a game board where you race to find the golden city.


Games about finding, drilling for and selling oil are not too rare. What is new in Peak Oil by 2Tomatoes is that you’re not just trying to be the richest magnate in the world, you’re actually trying to get your oil company ready for the future, the time after the dreaded peak oil. Of course, to have the money to invest in new technologies you’ll still be selling oil for a while, building pipelines… engaging in piracy against your opponents. You use those actions through a worker placement mechanic, but only a majority of workers in a place will let you act. Many things you do will cost oil and bring the time of peak oil ever closer. And which new technologies are the most valuable will only emerge during the game. That’s a great mix of mechanics, and a very good theme as well.

Final Frontier Games

A new worker placement game on Kickstarter needs some sort of new twist these days to stand out. Let’s see if what Final Frontier Games do in Rise of Nobility works for you. Your workers are dice that you roll at the start of each round, and the board locations all need certain values to send a worker there. That’s not new yet. What is new is the reputation track that sets a global limit on how many points of worker dice you may place. If your reputation is nine, for instance, you can use a six and a three for a great action and a so-so action. But you can also use the three and three ones, taking smaller actions but more of them. Quality vs. quantity of actions creates the tension. And why all that? To rise to nobility, of course, from your humble beginnings as a landowner all the way to a Lord. I don’t know about you, but it sure works for me.

Escape Studios / Ares Games

Stay Away! (Ares Games)
Stay Away! (Ares Games)

Stay Away! was available from Escape Studios through Kickstarter in 2014. Ares Games will now release a new, revised edition. Stay Away! is based on the Cthulhu mythos and John Carpenter’s The Thing. Your team has been sent to look for, and if possible rescue, an expedition that has disappeared in the city of R’lyeh. But someone on your team has already been replaced by a shapeshifting alien posing as him or her. While the rest of the team must try to escape R’lyeh alive, the Thing wants to infect all of them and make them his little, alien helpers. It does that by passing the others Infection cards during a card exchange that immediately turn them to his side. The new Ares Games edition has some changes to balance and streamline the game, if you have the original edition there is an upgrade kit that lets you benefit from the same changes.

Horrible Games

We mentioned Alone before, the inverted dungeon crawler by Horrible Games. It’s inverted because one lone hero stands against up to three dungeon masters. With the first in a series of more detailed preview posts, we’re now getting more detailed insight. One of the big problems for the lone hero will be that he can only see what his flashlight illuminates. Once he turns a corner, he has to rely on memory to know what was behind him. The three evil players face another challenge. They don’t get their own turns, all they can do is react to the heroes actions, and many of their actions will give the heroes hints about his environments. Also, the three evil players have different decks of cards, focused on different ways to stop the hero. Really curious to hear more, Alone is one of my most anticipated games this year.

Asmadi Games

Here’s another Knizia game to talk about this week: Asmadi Games’s latest Kickstarter Invasion of the Garden Gnomes. If you thought garden gnomes were a generally peaceful bunch, then prepare to be disappointed. This game is an all out gnome war where each player wants to be king of the garden. To that end they recruit gnome cards in six colors to form their squads. The smallest squad in each color will be eliminated when the game ends, and the player with the most remaining gnomes wins. But drawing the right cards isn’t everything, playing a squad lets you use that squad’s special ability for this game. Using those right will be an important element of your gnome war strategy, and since they change from game to game things won’t get boring around the garden.

This week’s featured photo was taken by Marian Gabriel Constanin. It’s a panorama of the Barsana monastery in Maramures, Romania. Thanks for sharing this beautiful photo, Marian. (Manastirea Barsana, Marian Gabriel Constantin, CC-BY-SA)

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