Libellud / Pearl Games
In the middle of the 23rd century most of Earth is covered by water. Remaining colonies are in a desperate struggle to stay above the ever-rising ocean. The resources they need come from the sunken past. Divers go down every day to bring them. You’re managing a team of divers in the Otys colony, and you want to prove that your team is the best. Otys, a co-production by Libellud and Pearl Games, sounds like a game where you make seemingly simple decisions made complex by the number of consequences to consider. What you do is, you pick one of your depth gauges. Then you take the action associated with that depth on the shared game board, you take an action with your diver at that depth, you bring up valuable resources, and you push down your other divers. Divers also have special abilities, so there’s another thing to take into account when you choose which diver to activate. And just like that Otys doesn’t sound so simple any more.
Lookout Games just keep going with the new game announcements. The first this week is “only” a translation. Isle of Trains by Dice Hate Me Games was first published in 2014 but didn’t get a German edition yet. That will change with Bummelbahn. For those who don’t know the game, Isle of Trains / Bummelbahn is a card game where every card has multiple uses. It can become a wagon on your train or a building, a piece of cargo to transport on a train, or it can be uses to pay the price of other cards. What makes the game extra-interesting: Loading cargo on your own train is profitable, but loading it on other players’ trains gives you extra actions. Decisions, decisions, decisions.
Also new this week: the Artifex Deck for Agricola. Just like previous deck expansions, it has 120 new cards that will completely change the options in your Agricola game. We have no idea what cards you might find inside, but artifex is Latin for craftsmen, so I’d expect specialist professions.
Mirror Box Games
Being the most influential guild in the realm isn’t as easy as it sounds. Okay, it doesn’t sound easy, either, but it’s even less easy than that in The King’s Guild, the new Kickstarter by Mirror Box Games. All you have to do is craft equipment for heroes that will then go out to do heroics with your name stenciled across their wide back. But making the equipment is difficult because this is a tight resource management game. The resources you need are tight, and the space you have to store them even more so. That makes creating the right item at the right time a challenge. And you don’t want to lose track of your long term planning, either. Hiring the right specialists and adding rooms to your guild hall are decisions not to be taken lightly.
Days of Wonder
Ticket to Ride is one of those games that keep on giving: Every sequel and expansion adds new twists to the basic game to keep you coming back. In the sixth map pack you’ll be able to play in Europe and North America, and both new maps have their own twists. In France you’ll have to build tracks and choose their color before you can claim a route. I’m not sure how that will work out, but choosing the color of your route is certainly a new one. The Old West map will be interactive in a very evil way: When you build a track to a city controlled by an opponent, then that opponent scores the points for that track. However, you’ll still need those tracks to complete your routes, so you don’t have all that much choice in the matter. Both maps in Ticket to Ride – France sound more challenging than we’re used to. Time to dust off those trains again!
Many train games turn out as long, deep strategy games where every piece of track must be well planned, every cargo train considered, every stock purchase contemplated. But you can have a quicker game that is much easier to learn and still has much of the strategy. That’s Flatlined Games’s Kickstarter SteamRollers, a dice drafting train game. As so often, you play on a map of the US. The dice pool is rolled each round, then players take turns picking one of those dice for one of three actions. They can either build a new piece of track in the region that die indicates, they can update their locomotive or they can transport a cargo cube from the city indicated by the die to the city matching the cube’s color. Which die to use, and for what action, is rarely an easy decision. It might take some getting used to that each player draws their tracks on their personal board, but nevertheless you get many elements of a train game in a much lighter package.
Plaid Hat Games
The second round of Crystal Clans clan previews is still going on, this time with more about the Blood Clan. Their unique feature is the Horde ability that lets them have squads of any size they want. Drawing enough cards to profit from that can be a hassle, though. Enter the Shaman: When summoned, he immediately lets you summon another unit straight from the draw pile – hope you can pay for it, though, or it’s discarded. And if the draw pile is getting dangerously low the Elders can help you out. Not exactly a clan I want to face off against.
We’re not even done Terraforming Mars, and already FryxGames present us with an even bigger challenge: Venus. I hope no one is disappointed that this will not be a standalone sequel, Venus Next is “only” the second expansion for Terraforming Mars. This expansion doesn’t bring a new map, but it does have 49 new project cards that advance the terraforming of Venus, represented by another track similar to Mars’s oxygen levels. It’s not all Venus, either, because you’ll also contribute to the development of the Moon. I’m looking forward to some project card previews for Venus Next. To my understanding, making Venus inhabitable is a much tougher nut to crack than Mars, and I’m quite curious what ideas are out there to do it.
eggertspiele / Pegasus Spiele
I think that building colonies on far-away planets is severely underused as a theme for boardgames. There is so much tension there, so many different angles from which to look at the problem. For Essen this year Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling (Tikal, Palaces of Carrara,…) have put their take on the subject into a box labelled Reworld, published by eggertspiele. Reworld will take us a bit further out than the other popular game dealing with terraforming, the planet we try to settle isn’t even in our solar system. Official details about Reworld are nowhere to be found yet, but according to the description on BoardGameGeek the game has two distinct phases. In phase one you buy tiles with your hand cards with an interesting pricing mechanic where you pay fewer cards if you can match the cards used to buy adjacent tiles. In phase two you’ll use your tiles to build a city and try to meet the scoring conditions determined at the start of the game.
Renegade Game Studios
Who said baking was a peaceful business? Renegade Game Studios’ Pie Town: Spies, Lies and Apple Pies seems to be just the opposite. In the worker placement game by first-time designer Daniel Fremgen you’ll have to compete with all the other players’ pie shops as you bake and sell your pies with a changing supply of workers. And not just friendly competition, either, part of the game is discovering your opponents’ secret recipes and then beating them at their own pie game.
Renegade Game Studios / Foxtrot Games
And after you had your apple pie in Pie Town you can still have some ice cream to keep it company in Sundae Split, the other game for your sweet tooth by Renegade Game Studios – this one in cooperation with Foxtrot Games. Sundae Split is a lighter game than Pie Town, your goal here is to make the ice cream sundae the other players would most like to eat. The challenge is that you pick your ingredients with a split-and-pick mechanism: One player splits ingredients into piles, the other players each pick one pile to make their sundae from. If your strawberries and bananas come with brussel sprouts, then you’ll just have to make the best of it.
We only had a photo and a title to go by so far, now we’re finally getting details about the new game by Stefan Feld and Michael Rieneck. The photo already revealed many dice in Merlin, the game page at Queen Games tells us what you’ll do with those dice: move pawns around a rondel. Every player can move their own knight to select actions there, but all players can also move the Merlin pawn. Like you’d expect from a game Stefan has his hands in, there are many ways to score victory points: finding traitors, building manors, having henchmen on the board, controlling principalities, completing objective cards, and I’m sure there are one or two more. But you can only do all those things with actions from the rondel, so you’ll have to make tough decisions about where to go. Fortunately, tough decisions are home terrain for both Feld and Rieneck.
Another coming Queen Games release is Pioneers by Emanuelle Ornella (Oltre Mare, Assyria,…). Pioneers is a logistics game in the early US. Players bring pioneers of different professions to cities where that profession is needed. At the same time, they want to connect cities with their own road network to make money from other players during the game and gain victory points at the end. Unloading pioneers will also let players use their profession ability, but they have to be in the right city. Pioneers is lighter than Merlin, but there are enough tactical options to make it interesting.
The Library of Alexandria burning down was one of the big catastrophes of antiquity, a giant setback for the sciences. If only we could have saved some of the knowledge that was destroyed there! You’ll get a chance to do just that in LudiCreations’s Alexandria, their newest Kickstarter project. What exactly is worth saving, however, depends on your character in this asymmetric game. Every player character has different abilities and different things – or people – they wish to rescue. And the rescue operation has to be fast, because the library is already on fire around the players and the board keeps shrinking.
Mage Company / Vesuvius Media
Throughout the multiverse dwarfs are known as hard workers. In boardgames workers get placed. It was really just a matter of time before a dwarf placement game appeared, and that game is Dwar7s by Mage Company and Vesuvius Media. That’s not a typo, by the way, the game really is called Dwar7s with a seven in the middle. The seven dwarfs in each player’s tribe mine gems to pay for supplies, they slay monsters, and sometimes they might hire ogres to drive off the competition. Tiles need a different number of your dwarfs to activate, as soon as you have enough you take the action and get your dwarfs back.
The beautiful photo at the top of the page was taken in the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley in Andorra. The name is a bit of a mouthful, but the landscape is breathtaking, isn’t it? The photo was taken and kindly shared by Ferran Llorens. Thanks a lot for sharing, Ferran! (Vall del Madriu-Perafita-Claror 64, Ferran Llorens, CC-BY-SA)