Last week Horrible Games promised more previews for Alone, this week they make good on that promise with an explanation how the lonely hero will play against three evil dungeon masters. When the game starts, the hero knows nothing about the structure he finds himself in. He sees his starting sector, and that’s it. From there, he can move out into the unknown. Sometimes running blindly into the dark might actually be the right choice, but he has many options to advance more carefully. He can take his time to explore the sector ahead, revealing traps and creatures before running into them head first. He can deduce where things might be from the noises he hears when the evil players place obstacles. He can use his radar to triangulate his destination. And that’s still not all. Our hero is an engineer, so he can use items he finds, combine them into more useful things, and even repair the lights in some sectors. And when, inevitably, he’s close to death, then the surge of adrenaline will make him even more formidable.
And here’s the preview for the Evil players. Unlike the hero, they have all the information from the start. They know where things are, they know where the hero needs to go and, later on, they know where the traps and creatures they placed are. That doesn’t mean they’ll have it easy, though. They have to manage their resources. For every card they play they have to discard more cards to pay for it. Also, everything they place on the board triggers radar signals for the hero, so placing traps on the way to his goal will reveal where his goal is. It won’t be easy being evil.
Plaid Hat Games
I’m happy to have some art previews sometimes. I have less to read, and they look good. But I would still like to have more information about Crystal Clans.
I’m mostly into big, complex games that mash together a couple of game mechanics to create something big that takes two hour to play. But I can see the appeal in microgames that do exactly one thing, and do it well. Bridges to Nowhere looks like such a game. You draft cars with bridge parts, and you build a bridge from them that you hope will score more than your opponents’ bridges. You want your bridges long, high and with valuable pieces. But the pieces also have to fit together, and building the valuable upper decks carries the risk of not being able to finish them. It’s a single mechanic, but many decisions coming from it.
Fantasy Flight Games
This is an interesting new expansion for Runebound: with Unbreakable Bonds the fantasy adventure game goes full cooperative. You may be used to competing with other heroes for everything, so working together will take some getting used to. The big question is: who will you be fighting against, then? Well, there is an interesting mechanism to control the monsters you fight. It has some randomness, but it’s not purely a roll of the dice. Depending on the type of monster, you have some idea what they’ll do. What will you heroes be doing together? There are two new scenarios, The Locust Swarm and The Red Death, and there are new scenario cards to play the core game scenarios cooperatively. See, we can all get along, after all.
Days of Wonder
Ticket to Ride players have had to go without a new game for a while now, at least if you discount First Journey that was aimed at younger players. But the drought is over with Ticket to Ride: Germany which we’ll call a semi-new game. It’s only semi-new because the route network is the same as Ticket to Ride: Märklin, the model train edition, but Ticket to Ride: Germany will have a new passenger rule that is exclusive to this game. It remains to be seen how fresh that will make the game on a familiar map, but I have a good feeling about it.
Sit Down! / Pegasus Spiele
We hadn’t seen the new game from Sit Down! yet, but Pegasus Spiele have announced they will publish the German edition, and that’s how we learned of Magic Maze. Magic Maze is a very unusual cooperative game because the objective is to break into a fantasy shopping center and steal the equipment for your next dungeon crawl, but even more because of the game’s mechanism. It’s usual in games that a character is controlled by one player. In Magic Maze, all players control all the characters, the split between is what they can make them do. For instance, one player might be the only one who can move characters North or let them use the escalators. That will require some coordination… and then you realize that Magic Maze is played in real time, with a time limit, and your not allowed to talk while the game is in progress. Now is a good time to panic.
North Star Games / Nick Bentley Games
Big news for fans of North Star Games’ Evolution: there will be a new game. It will not be exactly created by North Star Games but by Nick Bentley, formerly of North Star Games, now of Nick Bentley Games, but for North Star Games. I think I got that right. Co-designer is Brian O’Neill, a marine biologist. That gives you a hint about the setting of Evolution: The Oceans. Well, so does the title, I guess. The Oceans will be a new stand-alone game, not an expansion, because the designers just didn’t see enough overlap between water and land to make that work to their satisfaction. So, later this year you’ll get an all new Evolution game, full of whales, octopuses and sharks. There is also a first preview post regarding the food chain mechanism of this new game.
Rio Grande Games
Time travel in boardgames holds a special fascination for me. How do you bring an ever-changing timeline to the board? In Donald X. Vaccarino’s Temporum, you see the possible timelines on the board, and you apply your money and influence in an era to make time flow the way you want: in the way that makes you the richest and most powerful person in your own time. With the coming expansion Alternate Realities, you’ll get to visit more potential histories, going by the expansion’s name the ones on the outside of the probability curve.
Sierra Madre Games
Here’s another game about evolution, but this one starts much, much earlier. In Phil Eklund’s Bios: Genesis you take life from bacteria to early macroorganisms. If you know Phil Eklund’s games, then you know they are small but deep and thematic. That description holds perfectly true for this game. The first edition of this game sold out quickly last year, that’s why the second edition is kickstarting now. It will have new artwork and an updated rulebook. That’s very cool, but the real kicker is this: the game’s two sequels Bios: MegaFauna and Bios: Origins are up for new editions soon, and then there’ll be campaign rules spanning all three games. That means you go from bacteria all the way to space travel, a scope never seen before in boardgames.
The photo of the week shows the Wassu Stone Circles, part of the Stone Circles of Senegambia world heritage site in Senegal and Gambia. What is it with stone circles that people everywhere have been building them? The photo was taken by Niels Broekzitter. Thanks for sharing, Niels! (UNESCO Wassu Stone Circles, Niels Broekzitter, CC-BY)