Pegasus Spiele / What’s Your Game / Red Glove
Hundreds of years ago pirate crews hid their treasure on a cursed island. Not quite so long ago, pieces of treasure maps started to appear. There’s only one thing to do when you find a piece of a pirate map. The unfortunate reality lies in the word piece. You need the help of others and their own pieces of the map. Forced cooperation is the key idea in Aaron Haag’s Loot Island: only with enough pieces of the map can the treasure be found, but all players want the biggest piece of the treasure when they find one. The winner will be the player who gets the most treasure out of all the expeditions going to the island. And there’s still something about the curse. We don’t know what that will do, either. The Italian version will be released by Red Glove, a German/English one by Pegasus Spiele, and an English/French/Dutch one by What’s Your Game.
Outer Limit Games
Trench has been around since 2013, but copies of the gorgeous abstract strategy game by Rui Alípio Monteiro could be elusive. The Kickstarter by Outer Limit Games fixes that, now your only problem will be which of the beautiful editions you want. Trench is one of those deceptively simple games: each side has the same five types of pieces that differ in the distance and direction they may move. The goal is to capture all enemy pieces in classic chess style by landing on their space. The twist is the titular trench that runs down the middle of the game board. Pieces in the trench can only be captured from behind by enemy pieces that already made it to the friendly side. Also, pieces attacking from the trench can capture multiple enemy pieces as long as they can reach them with one legal move. That still sounds simple, but the trench is a fascinating strategic element because everything depends on being in it, or on the right side of it, at the right time.
When we talked about FryxGames recently, it was always about Terraforming Mars expansions. But that’s not all they’re doing, there’s After the Virus as well. It’s a cooperative deck-building zombie game where players must use their deck to complete missions, but more and more zombie cards invade their deck and make it useless. After the Virus is likely not as brainy as Terraforming Mars, but I really like the concept and hope we’ll be able to tell you more soon.
With the right idea transforming classic games into modern boardgames can yield really fun results. That seems to be the case with Horrible Games’s Dragon Castle, a game inspired by the solitaire variant of mahjong, the one where you take matching pairs of tiles from a pile. (Which has nothing to do with actual mahjong, by the way.) The pile still exists in Dragon Castle, but from the tiles you take off the pile you’ll build your own castle. Making sets of similar tiles scores points and allows you to build a shrine by putting a roof on those tiles that scores some more points but doesn’t let you put more stones on it. Finally there are two kinds of cards in the game to make things even more interesting. Spirit Cards grant game-changing special powers, but their use must be paid by discarding shrines or tiles. Dragon Cards show building requirements that award extra points if you obey them. I’ve never been a big fan of Mahjong Solitaire, this sounds much more fun.
Junk Spirit Games
A long, long time ago, in the distant past of 2010, we reviewed a game called Crows, designed by one Tyler Sigman. Crows is a theoretically simple but amazingly fun game where you try to attract more crows to your shiny object than your opponents. It’s also a game that is hard to find now, which brings us to this bit of news: Junk Spirit Games are kickstarting a new edition of Crows. There are some changes in this new edition compared to the one we reviewed all that time ago, but the core gameplay remains the brilliant same.
Edition Spielwiese / Pegasus Spiele
What could be a more peaceful setting than taking care of your little garden in Uwe Rosenberg’s puzzle game Cottage Garden? Possibly a walk through the colorful autumn forests of New England in an Indian Summer. The second game in Rosenberg’s puzzle game trilogy lets you peacefully place tiles with autumn leaves on your player board. Peaceful or not, Indian Summer is still a competitive game with the goal to fill your player board first. The little treasures you find on the way help with that: the tiles you place have holes, and if that hole reveals some nuts, berries, feathers, or the like printed on your board then you collect the little treasure. They will grant you some – still unspecified – advantages later in the game. The Pegasus website calls Indian Summer a game for more experienced players. English version will be released by Stronghold Games.
Plaid Hat Games
Plaid Hat’s incredibly tense stealth game Specter Ops: Shadow of Babel is soon to have a sequel. Specter Ops: Broken Covenant will follow the same, successful recipe: a lone A.R.K. agent must infiltrate an abandoned Raxxon facility while a team of genetically engineered hunters try to stop him. The A.R.K. agent doesn’t marks movement in private, Raxxon security move on the main board to try and catch a glimpse of him. Both sides have upped their arsenal since Shadow of Babel with new special abilities for agents and hunters as well as new equipment. Everything plays out on a new board, of course. And because I know what you’re all wondering: everything is compatible between the two games, so feel free to mix things up.
Plan B Games
In Azul, a new Michael Kiesling game to be published by Plan B Games, the players are artisan tilers tasked with decorating the Royal Palace of Evora. You can forget about the story now, it only motivates the use of the beautiful, Moorish tile patterns. However, the superficial setting is not a problem because Azul nevertheless sounds like another great Kiesling game. The goal is to collect points by placing tiles in your personal 5×5 grid where you score points for complete colors, columns and rows – but the first complete row also ends the game. What makes Azul interesting is how you get the tiles. You pick one color of tiles from a random set. The leftovers go to a central pile that another player may pick, so you want to not make it too attractive. Your tiles will go to your store first, anything you can’t fit will spoil and cost you points. I don’t know how tiles can spoil, either, just roll with it. The important part is: even though you’re technically only trying to fill up a grid the interactive tile selection absolutely makes Azul worth a closer look.
Wir sind das Volk! – review coming soon! – by Richard Sivél (Friedrich, Maria,…) and Peer Sylvester (King of Siam,…) is a brilliant historical game about the divided Germany. There is no armed conflict, but the competition for the higher living standard is quite hostile. The game is great, but it has a downside: two players only. That problem can now be solved with the expansion 2+2. Yes, that’s the actual title, and you may guess how many players it supports. And that’s exactly four players, not up to four. The two added players will represent the superpowers USA and USSR. Each will support their allied part of Germany, but this is not a team game and only one player will win. Don’t let your ally get too powerful. The new powers expand the scope of the game a lot and you’ll be dealing with the arms race between the two superpowers, the space race, and, if you’re not careful, nuclear war. Wir sind das Volk! is already a complex game, and you should expect 2+2 to raise that bar some more. But if you enjoy Wir sind das Volk! then you’re probably fine with that. (“Wir sind das Volk!” was the rallying cry of the Monday Demonstrations that ultimately brought down the Berlin Wall. It translates to “We are the people!”)
King Racoon Games
I used to avoid games dealing in combat and conquest because I counted all of them under wargames. Only recently Scythe showed me how wrong I was, a game where you fight and conquer, but with the intricate mechanics of a eurogame. That’s the same vibe I get from Tsukuyumi – Full Moon Down, on Kickstarter by King Racoon Games. In Tsukuyumi the moon has crashed into the Earth, as one of the many catastrophic consequences the Pacific Ocean has fallen dry, and different factions fight for control of the basin. When they advertise different factions they really mean it, too: the crew of an old US aircraft carrier might fight against a group of cybernetic samurai, a swarm of giant insects and, with the expansion, dragons. All factions have their own special rules and they all fight against the neutral oni. The setting is far out, but the mechanics are solid. Driving the game are actions cards that you draft, each with four actions and each unique. You win the game by points, scored for conquest and for completing missions. Combat has no random element but is resolved with a battle card. The attacker picks the outcome of the battle but the defender dictates what it’ll cost him. Sounds great, looks great, that’s all I can say.
Fantasy Flight Games
One of the core concepts in all of Sid Meier’s Civilization games are the Wonders, the grand, unique structures your civilization can build to show its supremacy. Civilization: A New Dawn obviously won’t break with that tradition. The latest preview post shows some of those wonders and their effects and explains how you might build them – or take them away from their original owner.
We’ve all been holding our breath for details about Pandemic Legacy: Season Two, and now that they’re finally here I can start hyperventilating. In the future, a good many years after Season One, we don’t remove disease cubes from the board any more. Now we place supply cubes to keep the few coastal cities that are still inhabited alive. There’s an incredibly evil, new Legacy mechanism for producing those. The card that lets you produce them has a week ability that produces in one location, and it has an incredibly strong ability that produces everywhere in the world, but after three uses of that you destroy the whole card. Talk about tough decisions. Also, no one knows what’s going on in the disease-devastated regions away from the coasts, so part of Season Two will be exploring those areas and pasting stickers on the board with the secrets you discover. I think the last time I was this excited for something was when I was eight and my parents promised to take me to a theme park!
Okay, so the Cologne Cathedral was not the fastest construction project in history with more than 600 years from start to finish. But it does make for one pretty skyline, even more so with the contrast of the Hohenzollernbrücke next to it. This week’s beautiful twilight banner photo was taken by Charlie Dave. Thank you for sharing, Charlie! (Koln – August 2009, Charlie Dave, CC-BY, resized and cropped)