Fantasy Flight Games
As predicted, the second preview for Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition goes into the finer points of space combat. Depending on your preference, you’ll either be happy or upset that combat still happens by rolling dice at each other. But if you’re on the dice-hating side: Don’t Worry, you have plenty of tactical and strategic options to help your luck along. Between different ship types in your fleet, planetary defense systems, and action cards to play in combat good planning will help you to overcome the dice.
Plaid Hat Games
So, apparently, with proper crisis management a zombie outbreak might not lead to a global apocalypse. That changes everything! You still have to manage the crisis, though, and that will be your job in Raxxon, a new cooperative game by Plaid Hat Games. The goal sounds simple enough, all you have to do is evacuate all the healthy people from your city using the different abilities your player characters have. But all those abilities come with consequences, and the difficulty in Raxxon is that those consequences keep stacking up. The more actions you take in one round the more consequences you’ll have to resolve before your next action. But you’ll want to resolve as many actions as you can get away with to find the evacuees before zombies overrun the city or the evil Raxxon cooperation gains too much power. See the problem? Raxxon has a pretty simple set of rules, but your decisions won’t be easy. Just the way we like it.
The pre-orders for Portal Games’s next release Alien Artifacts were open before we knew anything about the game. Time to fix that! In this video we learn the basics of how to play Alien Artifacts. Now, I’ve seen this game described as a 4X space game, and that may be true thematically. Mechanically, however, it has little in common with 4X games. Instead, it’s a tight engine building game where you happen to explore space and expand your empire. Your big decisions concern resource allocation to build ships, research technologies or colonize planets, and whether you spend your resources to improve your game engine or to score points. And while interaction will be less direct and aggressive than it is in regular, move-your-fleets-in-space 4X games, you can still attack your opponents directly with your spaceships.
So boardgames have birthday celebrations now? I’m fine with that, especially when the game in question gets a fun, new expansion as a gift for everyone. That’s what Portal’s sci-fi area control game Cry Havoc is getting, and we’ll all be happy to get Aftermath. The expansion contains pretty much what you’d expect and want from a Cry Havoc expansion: new structures, both universal and faction specific, new skills, new options. I’m glad to see an expansion that develops the existing factions instead of adding a new one. Fresh fun for everyone that way.
I don’t at all mind reading rulebooks. But even I will admit that it’s annoying to start reading rules in the middle of game night because you suddenly want to try a new game that you weren’t prepared for. Some new games make it easier for you with a tutorial mode, but you still have to read how to play that, how to set up the game,… it just ends up eating some time that the other players have to wait while you digest the rules. Enter Dized, an ambitious project to create a mobile app that will explain games to you and is currently looking for funding on Indiegogo. If your game is supported – and some pf the big publishers are already on board for that – you start the tutorials and it will guide you through the setup, explain the rules, and let you search for rules later instead of making you page through the whole rulebook looking for that one weird exception. And that’s just the basic features, there’ll be way more in the app when it’s done. This will be a great time saver to have around, at the very least, and more fun than reading rules as well.
More projects to terraform Venus! This week, FryxGames show us termophile microorganisms, suits to explore the extremely hazardous environment and the least dangerous place to build the first base on Venus. One thing that amazed me in Terraforming Mars and keeps doing so in the expansion Venus Next is the research that went into everything. Those projects aren’t just fantasy pipe dreams, they are plausible projects and many of them are visible on the scientific horizon from where we are. We just need to get to them!
Repos Production will bring When I Dream to Essen this year. The game by Chris Darsaklis casts one player each round as the Dreamer who will be “asleep” and blinded with a mask. The other players draw cards showing elements of his dream and describe them to the Dreamer, one word per player at a time. Only some them, the good dream spirits, want the Dreamer to guess what the card really shows. The naughty dream spirits, gain points for misleading the Dreamer into guessing wrong. A third group, the Tricksters, try to keep the balance between the two. When I Dream is a game for larger groups and probably not for everyone, but should be a blast with the right people. When I Dream is not an entirely new release, it was available from Drawlab Entertainment last year. The new Repos release should give it a wider international distribution, though.
Reiner Stockhausen has proven his mastery of bag building games with Orléans. Now he’s bag in the genre, but on the other side of the world, with Altiplano. In the highlands of South America you’ll travel around to gather resources. Those resources make up your bag, and when you pull them out from there you may use them to get more resources, or more valuable ones. The way you select actions with your resources is somewhat similar to Orléans, but Altiplano spins a different game around it. To take the actions you want you’ll have to travel to the right location, paying food if you need to travel more than once per round. Road construction lets you draw more resources from your bag each round and speeds up your game. You have to take care of your resource storage. You get extra actions from your role tile for this round. There’s quite a lot going on here, from reading the rules Altiplano looks to be at the same level of complexity as Orléans, and it combines a few familiar things from there with many new ideas in just the way that will get old Orléans fans – like me – excited.
I’ve paid weird currencies for weird things in auction games before, but Werebeasts easily outdoes them all. You will pay with cans of werechow (now containing 90% more villagers) for a wide variety of extra weird werebeasts. Or werefruit. Or pretty much werewhatever. There’s a werehouse there, man, you tell me if that’s weird or not. But with all that weirdness comes a very cool combination of game mechanisms: auctions and social deduction. You want to buy the werebeasts on your goal cards, but if another player guesses correctly what you’re after they can eliminate you from the game. If they guess wrong they are eliminated themselves, so some good, old bluffing will help you out. And since you share one goal card with each of your neighbors, two players already know what you want. But if they eliminate you they reveal their own goals. That’s some twisted dilemma in a social deduction game. And since rounds last only 15 minutes or so, I’m even okay with the player elimination.
Catch Up Games
Catch Up Games will release Paper Tales, a card drafting game by Masato Uesugi. Each round of Paper Tales starts like you expect from a drafting game: hands of cards are passed around the table, you keep one card each and pass on the rest, until you have a hand of five. In Paper Tales, the cards you collect are units to add to your kingdom. Some of those units are warriors, skilled in combat and able to attack other players’ kingdoms. Others are craftsmen that produce resources for you but don’t help much in a fight. But with their resources you may construct buildings that bring their own advantages to your kingdom. The choice which units to deploy is made more difficult by the limited space in your kingdom, you can only have four units at the same time. And the few units you can have will not stay around forever: Units age and leave the game at the end of their second round, so be prepared to replenish your army. Paper Tales seems to be a new edition of Uesugi’s Vorpals, a game that was previously only available in Japanese, fully translated and with new art.