Due to technical difficulties, the news post from Friday last week is only out this week. We aplogies for the delay. Those news are still fresh, though!
Uwe Rosenberg is one of those game designers who’s new projects we excitedly wait for every year. Lookout Games just announced it, and it’s another game where Uwe takes everyday life and makes it into an intriguing game. In Nusfjord, it is the everyday life of a Lofotian fisherman, back before the village of Nusfjord became more of a museum. You run your little fishing company with the goal to bring in a bigger catch than everyone else. To that end you send your workers to cut wood, build fishing boats, go out to fish in those boats, build houses and sometimes to negotiate with the village Elders. There is, however, something in this worker placement game that is new in the genre: the ability to sell shares in your company. When you need the money, throwing shares on the market gives you a quick profit. And if you manage to buy them back yourself, you lost nothing and gained some money. But if one of your opponents snatches them up before you can you’ll owe him a part of every catch you make from then on. That’s a quick money scheme that can go badly wrong.
Fantasy Flight Games
I still don’t know anything about previous editions of Twilight Imperium, so I can’t tell you how different the previews for the new edition are from previous ones. But this first detail preview explains how the galaxy is created in the setup, how the conditions to win the game are mostly hidden at first, and it explains your space fleets. I guess next time we’ll see how they go to battle.
If you have a popular world to create games in, then you don’t let it go to waste. Fantasy Flight Games follows that rule with a second game in the Legend of the Five Rings universe before the printing presses have even cooled from the Lot5R LCG. Battle for Rokugan is an area control game where each player pledges their service to one of the great clans and leads their armies to conquest. He claims provinces to bring honor to his clan. If he can claim all the provinces in a territory he may take the territory’s card with a powerful ability. Daring players may even claim the Shadowlands. Controlling them brings no honor, but their territory cards are powerful. Players can lose all their provinces on the board, but Battle of Rokugan doesn’t have player elimination: Such player become ronin and have a chance to reestablish a foothold in Rokugan. He better hurry, though, because Battle for Rokugan only lasts five rounds in total. There’s not much time for a big comeback.
The Hippodice Game Designer Competition is not quite as big a deal for games in Germany as the Spiel des Jahres is, but it is a big deal for the participants: Games doing well in the competition have a very good chance to be picked up by a publisher. Last year’s winning game was Fabio Lopiano’s Calimala, and it was promptly signed by Blackfire Games. Calimala is a game about the Arte di Calimala, the guild of cloth finishers and merchants of Florence. They may not sound like a big deal, but they were huge in late medieval Florence. They brought money to the city, enough money to buy them the city administration and allow them to build and decorate many of Florence’s beautiful churches. And that’s what you will do in Calimala, using a new worker placement mechanism: Your workers go on intersections between two streets, each street gives you an action. But it gets better: when someone else places a worker on your street then your workers get to work again. That will make for some great player interaction as you try to avoid helping your opponents.
How far can you bend a game system to create new games that deliver new experiences while keeping it recognizable enough to keep long term fans interested? Matt Leacock has done some experimenting with his Pandemic already. A few expansions, the incomparable Pandemic Legacy, last year’s Pandemic: Iberia where part of your mission is to bring clean drinking water to 19th century Spain. It’s that last one that will now have a sequel, a second game in the Pandemic Survival Series, and it takes a thematic step away from other Pandemic games. Pandemic: Rising Tide, co-designed by Jeroen Doumen, is the first game that has nothing to do with diseases. Don’t worry, though, your beloved wooden cubes are still there. Only now they represent waters spreading through the Netherlands. And since you can’t cure water you’ll have to build pumps and dykes to keep the land dry. It’s different from other Pandemic games, but you’ll immediately recognize disease outbreaks in the way the water spreads. Keeping the ocean under control is going to be a new challenge that I look forward to very much. (Seeing what is currently going on with hurricane Harvey, the timing of this new game is less than fortunate. Z-Man Games have pledged to donate $5 to hurricane relief for every copy pre-ordered on their website. )
Plaid Hat Games
More Crystal Clans preview! Do you remember the first Stone Clan preview? The one where we said that Stone Clan was slow to start, but hard to stop once they get rolling? Their second preview only reinforces that impression. With the Vision ability some of their cards have they get back their discarded structure unit, so their opponents can never rely on Stone Clan running out of towers and ballistas. And once they have their Supply Golems on the board their squads become quite nimble, too. Better cut those guys down to size early, know what I’m saying?
If you want to produce games that appeal to fans of classic euro games, then new editions of Reiner Knizia’s greatest hits are a reliable way to go. Grail Games’s new Kickstarter is a special highlight of new Knizia editions because Stephenson’s Rocket has never had a second edition since its original release in ’99. It’s a tile-laying train game that is just different from other train games. You’ll be building tracks for seven different rail companies on a hex map, and as soon as two companies’ tracks touch they merge into one. The game ends when only one is left. There are shares in the game, but beyond being profitable they grant their holder veto power over moves made with that company’s tracks – at the cost of some of those shares. This new edition will make some cosmetic changes, like tracking money and shares on the board, not with cards and paper money. And Kickstarter backers can get a new US map to play on.
We spread the news last week that the next expansion for FryxGames’s Terraforming Mars would be Terraforming Venus. It will still focus on Mars, but the Venus project will be there as an additional track to advance with the right projects. But how do you even start to terraform a poison gas greenhouse like Venus? Well, cooling it down is a good start, if you can handle an engineering project to give shade to a whole planet. And moving some of that abundant CO2 from Venus to Mars is a good one for both projects. I’m sure we’ll see even bigger projects in the coming weeks.
This week’s featured photo shows the Grand Place or Grote Markt in Brussels. A beautiful place, not only at dusk. This photo is thanks to Mario Sánchez Prada. Thanks for sharing, Mario! (Grand Place / Grote Markt, Mario Sánchez Prada, CC-BY-SA, resized and cropped from original)