Meople News: Spirit of the Heist

Final Frontier Games

I’ll admit that I’m easy to please about halfway: Just have enough meeples in your game. The other half of the way is tougher: Your game also needs to be good. Final Frontier Games are doing well on both fronts with Robin Hood and the Merry Men. There’s a reasonable number of meeples (57 real meeples plus 24 meeple carriages, plus traps and barricades in the Kickstarter Deluxe edition). And the semi-cooperative gameplay sounds great. Part of the game is sending your merry worker men on errands to gather weapons and resources and build traps for the sheriff’s men and barricades for the roads. And then you go out on daring missions as one of the story’s heroes, be it rescuing others from the dungeon, sneaking into archery tournaments or other risky activities. Just the sort of adventure I’ve been looking for.

Grey Fox Games

Grey Fox Games are kickstarting City of Gears, a steampunky worker placement game that was previously available through The Game Crafter. With a contingent of worker automatons the players set out to uncover an overgrown metropolis of gears. With three different resources players connect the gears of their home base with new parts of the city, power their workers, or, sometimes, blow up other players development. All’s fair to control the largest part of the city when opening day comes around. Key to success are the buildings that your workers can activate for you and that can cause profitable chain reactions. I’m always up for anything steampunk, but City of Gears is at the top of my want pile right now.


A “small” expansion for Terraforming Mars might still be one of the biggest things to happen in boardgames this year. Prelude doesn’t bring new maps or new planets to terraform. It does bring new corporations, new  project cards and the all new Preludes: Cards that you get at the start of the game that will give you some starting bonus. They give you a little push out the door in the early game, and they make sure that the players have more diverse starting conditions.

Tompet Games

Donning the Purple (Tompet Games)
Donning the Purple (Tompet Games)

It’s good to be Emperor. If only there were fewer people out to kill you. Donning the Purple by Tompet Games takes up to three players through four years of Roman Empire history. It’s in all their interest not to let the Empire starve or fall to the barbarians. Beyond that, though, everyone just wants to be on top of the heap. Not only does the Emperor rake in the victory points, he also has more actions per turn, and actions are a scarce commodity indeed. With only two actions of your own plus the ability to copy actions taken by other players you’ll have to plan really well how to use your actions and anticipate what the other players will do. Very tough decisions with a lot of impact.


We’ve already talked at length about Edge of Darkness, the game that Alderac calls the most ambitious game they have ever published. Now that the Kickstarter is live let’s look again at the highlights. Edge of Darkness will expand on the card crafting mechanism introduced in Mystic Vale. Not only will you craft cards from fragments, those will also have different effects on the front and back, one good for you, one less so. From those cards you’ll build a deck shared between the players, but the game is competitive, not cooperative. You’ll use those cards to drive the worker placement in your mission to defend the city of Aegis against the Blight – and your mission to make sure your guild is the most successful in doing so. Those are a lot of things coming together. I can see why they call it the most ambitious game they made. I also want to try it right now…

Van Ryder Games

Press your luck games tend to be on the very light end of complexity. I’m not going to say that The Big Score is a super deep game, but it’s more complex, more strategic and more interactive than usual for that kind of game. In The Big Score you want to make the big score and become the richest gangster in Centennial City. Your way there has two acts. In the first act you train your crew with small robberies, so you’ll send them out in secret. Each target requires the right specialists, and if the people sent out by all the bosses together meet the requirement then everyone involved shares the loot. How thin you spread your crew is the first tough decision. Spread them too thin and all your heists may fail, send too many to one place and you miss the loot from the others. If you miss a specialist somewhere you can still send in your fixer – but maybe one of the other players will send theirs and you can save yours for later. In act two you enter Centennial City Bank to empty the vault or get caught by the police if you get too greedy.


Monumental (Funforge)
Monumental (Funforge)

A civilization building game just isn’t complete if you can’t build the Wonders of the World. Funforge’s coming Kickstarter Monumental is no exception, and here we can see what Stonehenge will look like. Wonders in Monumental are constructed in two stages. Building the first does nothing except save the card for you. Only after you complete the second stage do you get the considerable benefits. For Stonehenge, the big benefit is that new buildings are now cheaper for you. Monumental will launch on Kickstarter on March 14th, so we’ll get to enjoy more previews until then.

Kolossal Games

Kami-sama by Kolossal Games is a beautiful, peaceful game set in rural Japan. The players, as four spirits of the countryside, want to gain the favor of four villages and control shrines in the right places to score points. Each player can only affect one village per season with her abilities. Once the wheel of time has moved on she’ll have to wait for next year before she can visit the same village again. How they can affect a village is very different from spirit to spirit. They can all add or remove shrines on the village board, but beyond that the Kami of Rage will have abilities that have little in common with the Kami of the Moon’s, for instance.

This week’s featured photo shows the theater of Asmara, capital of Eritrea. Like large parts of the city overall, the theater is an example of Italian modernist architecture from the early 20th century when Eritrea was under Italian control. The photo was taken by Clay Gilliland. Thanks a lot for sharing, Clay!  (The Asmara Theater, Clay Gilliland, CC-BY-SA, resized and cropped)