Captain Sonar is a pretty brilliant brilliant. Two teams, each the crew of a submarine, go head to head and try to sink their opponents with torpedoes. But there are some downsides. It really is best with eight players, not a group that shows up at everyone’s house regularly. And with everything that’s going on it can be overwhelming the first time. If those downsides make Captain Sonar inconvenient for you, then help is on its way. A new game that is simply called Sonar will be a sort of Captain Sonar light. There’ll be only two players per team, a captain and a radio officer, that must try to torpedo the enemy sub twice before they can do the same to you. The ships’ systems are simpler to use than in Captain Sonar as well, making Sonar a great family game and a good alternative when half your crew can’t make it to game night.
Fantasy Flight Games
The world of Legend of the Five Rings is a fantastic version of Japan. The fantasy part did come through with the clan previews so far, but it takes center stage with the magic-using shugenja of the Phoenix Clan. Their elemental magic is strong, but they can only use it in a conflict for the ring matching their element, or in some cases only when you control the matching ring already. That’s a harsh restriction, but their abilities work equally well in military and political conflicts. I like how each clan has a strong identity in Legend of the Five Rings LCG. If the balance is right, it will be a very tense game.
Rise of the Empire brings pretty much everything to Star Wars: Rebellion that was cool in the Rogue One movie. We’ve already met the new leaders, this preview presents the new units. They all use the new green dice, which make it harder for them to hit their target. But to make up for that disadvantage green dice can hit everything, even if a black or red dice couldn’t. An even bigger change that comes with the expansion are the new Tactic Cards that replace the ones from the base game. Now each side will have their own tactic deck, and the new cards will have special abilities when used in a fight where the right unit type is fighting. Even better, the new rules remove an annoying element of chance. You no longer draw tactic cards but always pick them from all the cards remaining in your tactic deck. That’s an awesome change if you ask me, because losing a fight on a bad card draw sucks. Even more so if, thematically, the bad draw means you came up with a brilliant tactic that didn’t apply to your situation at all…
While escorting the princess back to her capital she was so rudely expelled from you meet many interesting characters in Unicornus Knights. Like the Black Knight, a fighter who only respects power. Defeat him, and he’ll follow you as a willing ally. Bring him to the castle to meet the villainous Emperor Lionel and the two will duel to their mutual destruction.
Z-Man Games / Hans im Glück
Those previews for the new Marc André game Majesty: For the Realm don’t tell us how anything works. Instead, they throw up more and more questions! How does the Guardhouse defend, exactly? And against what!? I’m all for defending, but I’d like to know what to expect? Invading barbarians? Other players? Fire-breathing platypuses? What is going to attack my kingdom?
You know roll-and-write games. The kind of game where you roll dice, mark your result on a scoring pad, and when the game is over and you know the winner you discard the sheet you used from the pad. What they all have in common, from classics like Yahtzee to more modern games like Qwixx, is that every game is sort of the same. The scoring pad never changes. That’s exactly what The Spiel Press will change with their roll-and-write gamebooks: each sheet will be different and together they tell a story. The first two books are now on Kickstarter. In Star Maps up to four players are astronomers discovering new stars, and as they progress further in the book they will find more stars thanks to new technology, and unlock new discoveries to change the game. In the second game, Blood Royals, two players roll dice to gather supporters and take control of the kingdom after the king dies. Here each set of four sheets is a sort of mini-campaign to progress through. Those books are an awesome way to modernize this type of game, and that playing same will take more strategy than traditional roll-and-write games is another plus.
Cities of Splendor will add a couple of things to Marc André’s popular Splendor, and the latest preview introduces the Strongholds. When playing with this expansion module each player has three Stronghold pieces at their disposal. When a player buys a development card she may additionally put a Stronghold on one other card currently for sale. While it remains there no other player may take that card or place their own Stronghold on it. Alternatively, instead of placing one of her Strongholds, a player can remove one opposing Stronghold from a card. That opens strategic options already, because it let’s you keep a card out of enemy hands for a while, but that’s not all. When one player has all their three Strongholds on the same card she may claim that card by conquest: She still has to pay the price, but may take that card in addition to her regular action for that turn. Using the Strongholds thus grants a small but significant speed advantage.
Interesting game ideas sometimes seem so simple. Take Sakura, the new Kickstarter by A-games. All you have to do on your turn is place a card from your hand on each pile on the table. That card must either be the same color as the current top card of that pile, but of higher or lower value depending on the direction of the yin-yang card, or it must be of the same value as the top card but have a different color. If you cannot place a card on a pile, you take that pile and all its penalty points. But before you take a pile you have another option: When you can’t make a regular move you may buy help from the five characters and might still be able to play afterwards. But you pay for their help with coins you gain from picking up the pile. See how things get interesting there?
Plaid Hat Games
We’ve made it to the last Crystal Clans clan preview! All the clans have their own, unique style, but even so Water Clan is a strange one. They collect many abilities that do unexpected things. When their Trident soldiers die they might just instantly replaced by a new squad of Tridents, as long as their player has the cards. The Shapeshifters look harmless, but can turn into bigger, badder things right before combat starts. And the Doppelgangers might be the oddest of them all because they actually work for your opponent. They do so badly and expensively, and when they die they bring a big payoff to you, but that doesn’t change that you’re giving your opponent free troops. And yet, I suppose Water Clan will be just as hard to play against as it will be to play.
More Agra preview from Quined Games! We’re still looking at the player board of the Indian worker placement game, but now we’re seeing that in its entirety. Next to the bits we already knew there is the Favor section where you acquire additional actions, and two parts that are rules reminders. I especially like the part where you use curry and oil to reactivate your workers. Indian food is the best.
Nothing bad could possibly follow the words “inspired by Martin Wallace’s A Study in Emerald“. The description of the new SchilMil Games game Auztralia goes on to explain that it’s set in an alternate reality where the exploration of Australia begins in the 1930s. There are riches to be found in the outback. And darkness. And insanity. And old ones who aren’t at all happy about those newcomers in their territory. Auztralia is not only inspired by Martin Wallace, it also shows Wallace as the designer, so fans of A Study in Emerald can be sure to get what they want from this game.
The photo of the week shows the Golden Gate in Vladmir, Russia. It is part of the White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal world heritage site. This site encompasses a collection of monuments important in Russia’s architectural history. The photo was taken and kindly shared by Alexxx Malev. Thank you, Alexxx! (Vladimir 87, Alexxx Malev, CC-BY-SA)