Plaid Hat Games
The sequel to Plaid Hat Games’s stealth game Specter Ops was announced last September. Since then nothing more was heard about Specter Ops: Broken Covenant, and some were already speculating that it might have been cancelled. Now a new preview post puts those rumors to rest, Broken Covenant is coming this summer and will have some tense, new elements. Those include supply crates with additional gear for the Agent player if he dares end his move on a well-known space. There’s a new vehicle for the Hunters. And both sides get new special abilities. Those are particularly effective, but using them makes you take a Fatigue Token that disables your abilities until you take a slow turn to rest. In a game of hunter and prey like Specter Ops, that decision will cause nightmares.
Daily Magic Games
What made village building card game Villages of Valeria so fun and interactive is the Follow mechanism. Whatever the active player does, the other players may take a weaker version of the same action. But what if not following was an equally valid choice and you had to decide every time if not following an action might be the better choice? That’s the idea in the Landmarks expansion. Whenever you could follow an action you can decide to pay a card from your hand and build a Landmark instead. Landmarks don’t count as buildings, but they score points at the end of the game. Now, when is a Landmark more valuable than a follow action… . Beyond this new game mechanism, Villages of Valeria: Landmarks will also give you more of the things from the base game: More buildings, more adventurers, more powers to make your village work.
Mangrove Games’s press-your-luck game DIG is back on Kickstarter with a second edition. It’s a bit more strategic than your typical push-your -luck game: do you dig one gallery into the mountain and go deeper faster? Or do you spread out so a collapse doesn’t ruin all your plans at once? There are companions to hire with a variety of helpful abilities, but the same precious stones that pays for their services also could hire more workers for you. It’s still a light game but with enough options and decisions to be interesting. The interesting part of this new Kickstarter is the Dragon expansion. Now you’ll find entrances to the Dragon’s cave in your mines, and inside the Dragon’s hoard. But the hoard has yet more risks for you to take. The treasure is valuable, sure, but how much can you take before the Dragon wakes up?
Death is only the beginning, and what comes after is not peace. The players vie for control of the Underworld in Court of the Dead: Mourners Call. They work for different factions, they have different goals, but to achieve them they all must control the right locations and guilds. Like any area majority game, being in control of a location has its rewards. Unlike other area majority games, however, too much power concentrated in one place is risky. You might attract the Dreadsgrip, and they (or him? or her?) will cut you down to size again. So be careful out there. Even with some of the Underworld’s most powerful figures by your side it’s a dangerous place. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Heaven and Hell want their tithe every round. If the players don’t put enough together they will all suffer.
Dirk Henn’s Alhambra is the classic among tile placement games. Simple rules, lots of depth, and a clever system of different currencies make sure it’s still popular fifteen years after its original release. Now there’s a Alhambra Designers’ Edition on Kickstarter, and it’s an amazing package for old fans and new players alike. It includes a new edition with new artwork of the base game and all published expansion. Then things get crazy. It also includes nine new expansion, each from a different great name of game design: Mark Elliot (Thunderstone,…), Michael Schacht (Web of Power, Mondo,…), Klaus-Jürgen Wrede (Carcassone,…), Rüdiger Dorn (Istanbul,…), Dirk Henn himself, Emanuele Ornella (Oltre Mare,…), Stefan Feld (Macao,…), Marco Ruskowski & Marcel Süßelbeck (Fresco,…), and Michael Rieneck (Pillars of the Earth,…). It’s like a who is who of game design, and it’s all Alhambra!
Hellboy is one of my favorite comic book heroes. He’s got one amazing and one still pretty good movie adaptation, and now he’s getting a boardgame that looks closer to amazing than it does to pretty good. Hellboy: The Board Game by Mantic Games is going to be a scenario based, cooperative investigation/skirmish game. The closest comparison I can think of would be Mansions of Madness, but without the app. The scenarios will have many options to customize and randomize what your up against. They all boil down in some way to a race between a big, nasty monster gathering its strength and the investigative team of Hellboy, Abe, Liz, and Johann Kraus gathering clues what the hell is going on. Heroes and monsters come as ultra-detailed miniatures, and the Kickstarter edition already includes a few expansions with even more minis.
Board & Dice
Solo games are a small niche of the boardgame hobby. Even a small niche deserves some great games, however. Blight Chronicles: Agent Decker will be a new one for those of us playing alone sometimes. (See how I didn’t make the obvious joke there? I’m a bit proud of myself.) Blight Chronicles will be a story-driven deck-building game. The player, an infiltration specialist of the super-secret government organization Blight, goes through different stages to complete an overall mission. The story develops in two ways. One is the agent himself, who’s character you build with the deck of cards you collect. The other is the mission. Each stage has a deck of cards, but things from earlier stages will be reused. Depending what you left behind, who you left alive, and what else you might have done later stages in the mission will develop differently. The promise by publisher Board & Dice is that you’ll have a solo game with very high replayability.
Sometimes those small games with the peaceful theme that look so light are the worst for tying your brain in a knot. Little Songbirds – with the much more adorable German title Piepmatz – is going to be one of those. All you want to do is put your birds at the feeder, but that simple description really doesn’t do the game justice. There are two queues for birds, and in each queue the strongest bird gets to it – until the combined strength of the other birds drives it away. The fleeing bird goes to the active players display where it may score points as part of a set. Now the strongest remaining bird gets to eat, but it may immediately be driven off by its former allies if they are still stronger. Simple rules, but finding the best opportunities for and not inadvertently helping your opponents will force you to think hard. And that’s before you consider the grain cards – which you want – and the crow and squirrel cards – which you don’t want.
The two-player card game Omen: A Reign of War is probably the most popular game from designer John Clowdus and was a flagship of his company Small Box Games. With John now publishing his old and new games with Kolossal Games that’s where the new edition of Omen is coming from, too. You’ll get the old, familiar battle for the Greek pantheon’s favor with Omen: A Reign of War and standalone expansion Omen: Edge of the Aegean. Those are mostly unchanged but for some rules streamlining. And then you’ll get all new gods. Omen: Fires in the East introduces the mythologies of Persia and Babylonia. All that, plus Tales of the Ancients and Gift of the Gods, two all new expansions. That’s more Omen than ever before!
This War of Mine is already plenty emotional and dramatic. It’s a cooperative game about survival in a city destroyed by war, you don’t expect it to be easy to win or emotionally easy. But Tales From the Ruined City will dial all that up to eleven. The latest preview presents two of the scenarios included in the expansion. The Epidemic scenario will make survival much harder. You’ll have to take care of your sick and buy black market vaccines if you want to have a chance. Side by Side is an emotionally harsh scenario. Now on top of your group of survivors you’ll have neighbors to take care of. There will be five scenarios total, each with its own complications, and each with a secret reward that you may add to all your games after you defeat the scenario once.
Build a tower from pillars and floor tiles. Sounds easy, right? Especially when you don’t even have to compete with the other players because it’s a cooperative game. Well, just look at the photos of Menara to realize it’s anything but easy. The floor tiles are weirdly shaped, with holes in them. The pillars must have the right color. And if you make a mistake then you’ll have to add another floor to the tower to win the game. Nope. Not easy.
80s buddy cop movies. We all love them, some of us are embarrassed by their love, and I can’t think of any boardgame to capture that genre. Until now, that is, because Blacklist Games have put Brook City on Kickstarter. Six cops, each with their own deck of cards, go up against a variety of criminals to solve cases. Cases and criminals are different decks, so you can mix any case with any criminal mastermind for a different game experience. It’s time to save Brook City!
I had to check the calendar, but it’s not first of April. So I guess Stonemaier Games are really going to release a game called My Little Scythe. The game mechanisms are inspired by a game called Scythe – you may have heard of it – but My Little Scythe is all cute and family friendly. Instead of conquest and giant fighting robots this is a game about adventures and pie. Yes, pie. Checking the calendar again. Yep, seems this one if for real.
Corruption is not a modern invention. It’s older than 1570s China as well, but it’s corruption in that time and place we’ll become very familiar with in The Forbidden City. In the new game by Andreas Steding (The Staufer Dynasty, Hansa Teutonica,…) all the players want is an audience with the Emperor. And maybe to get rich on the side. To those ends they bribe their way around the court with more and more expensive gifts. Driving the game is a card placement mechanism: when you place a gift card to bribe a court official you may take the action from the card and the action from the place you put it. If there’s already a card there then yours must be more valuable to replace it. A bribe lower than the last one won’t work. And already you have conflicting interests. This is going to be fun.
This week’s beautiful banner image was taken in the ruins of Makli, Thatta, Pakistan. It was taken by Flickr user Flames of Aries. Thank you for sharing, Flames! (Makli, Flames of Aries, CC-BY, resized and cropped)