I didn’t hate the cover art for Great Western Trail, but it wasn’t my favorite part of the game, either. It was too sterile for my taste. I have no such complaints about the expansion Rails to the North. That box is beautiful.
Talon Strike Studios
Collectors, at least the dedicated ones, are a crazy bunch. How else would you explain them hanging around a shop of their chosen collectible item all day hoping to get a good deal when new goods enter the shop? The record collectors in Vinyl are crazier than most. They live in the shop. There is literally no way to leave the shop, all they can do is move between the different places inside the shop to work on their collection. And they won’t just collect anything, at least not if the want to score points. There are strict rules which collections can score, and you want to collect the right sets. You build those sets in a worker placement way, using the actions from the store’s location. And you hope that someone else wants the same actions, because when your worker is bumped out you get a free bump action. Vinyl is a compact, focuses game with a good amount of interaction.
It’s an old problem of information gathering: How do you get information from someone without giving away what you already know? Osprey Games’s Cryptid builds a game around this problem. You have some information about a beast previously thought a legends. Each of your opponents has different bits of information. You could just work together, but then you’d have to share the glory, and so all of you try to put the pieces together before anyone else can. Cryptozoology is a harsh profession.
Daily Magic Games
You don’t always need a long game with intricate rules to have fun. A quick but well-designed game may do the trick just as well. A game like Songbirds by Daily Magic Games. Different species of birds are looking for berries in the forest. In each row and column the loudest birds there will get the precious treats. But you don’t decide which birds are yours until the end of the game, your one remaining hand card will show which points you score. Quick, simple, interactive. A good way to start or end your game night.
Smash Up! is back in the news with That 70s Expansion. The new factions we get in each expansion are turning weirder and weirder. Still, I’m not going to complain about four new factions: Disco Dancers, Kung Fu Fighter, Truckers, and Vigilantes. I’m not going to lie: I’ve been looking forward to a game where I can play Disco Pirates for a long time.
Ever since I first tried Love Letter I’ve been in love with Japanese games, especially the quick and quirky games that often come from there. That description seems apt for Deca Slayer as well, a game with two of the most famous Japanese designers on the box: Seiji Kanai (Love Letter,…) and Hisashi Hayashi (Trains,…). The players, heroes in a fantasy kingdom, must defeat ten monsters to save the realm. Each has different requirement for cards played to defeat it. If you do well you those you earn treasure, which is good for winning the game. If you do less well you recruit more new heroes than your opponents and thus have a better chance for the next round. In half an hour the kingdom is safe and the hero with the most treasure wins.
Foxtrot Games / Renegade Game Studios
Child or teenage detective stories are a type of fiction most of us grew up with. It’s surprising how few games pick that specific theme. But now there’s Spy Club, a cooperative game by Foxtrot Games and Renegade Game Studios. To solve cases you turn clue cards into evidence until you find a corner piece of the puzzle and unravel the whole story from there. Each game is a tense race against the clock to solve the case before the suspect can escape or you run out of clues without solving it. The real appeal unfolds in a five game campaign, though. Not only does the campaign tell an overarcing story, you also unlock new rules and modules as you go. Unlike other games with a campaign mode Spy Club‘s campaign is not something to play once and then nevermore. You can reset the game as often as you like and the random elements will tell a new story every time. That’s sounds tough to do well, but if it is done well it’ll make Spy Club pretty awesome.