Level 99 Games
Do you think of railroad games as things for people into trading shares and long term economic planning? You’re right about most of them, but not this one. In Empyreal you build your railway through a fantasy kingdom with beautiful places to connect to your network and magical resources to transport. Building your rail network is obviously important, but the same goes for hiring the right specialists and upgrading your company the right way. Empyreal is quicker and more colorful than your typical railroad game, but nevertheless strategic.
Enchanters is a pretty awesome game, but there is one thing that’s been vexing us every time we played: monsters reach the village … and then they just go away! What the hell, monsters!? We were not the only ones bothered by this. It bothered enough people that publisher Gindie created an expansion to address it. Enchanters: Overlords introduces a new type of card, the Overlords. The Overlord in play defines what happens when a monster reaches the village. Mostly not so good things. On the flipside, you can go and fight those Overlords for extra points. Beyond the Overlords you get a slew of new decks to shuffle into your adventures and lots of other goodies. Some of the other goodies cost extra on the Kickstarter, but you get to mix and match exactly what you like. Real upgrade to an already great game.
Penny Lane is not just a Beatles song any more, it’s now also the first boardgame on Kickstarter by Sparkworks. This Penny Lane is a light to medium heavy worker placement and tableau building game. All players spend their pennies and their people at the main street to take actions. With those actions they try to make their own street the most prosperous by picking the right buildings to add to it. Residential buildings come with citizens, other types of buildings take citizens as employees. Picking the right buildings and arranging them in the most profitable way while also managing your pennies and your people does not require a hugely complex set of rules, but it gives you enough options to make things interesting.
Days of Wonder
You want to play Ticket to Ride but don’t have the time? Days of Wonder to the rescue! Ticket to Ride: New York is an express version of Ticket to Ride. It’s smaller, plays in ten to fifteen minutes, and instead of trains you put taxis in 1960s New York. I’m curious if it will be as good as regular Ticket to Ride games, but if you ask me more Ticket to Ride is never a bad thing.
Players in Lowlands mainly want to build the fanciest farm along the German North Sea coast. However, they don’t only play against each other. There is a project for the common good that they should all get involved in: the dike. Three times during a game of Lowlands the tides will rage against the dike, and if the players didn’t build it high enough they will all lose their precious sheep. Even when you can already see that’s going to happen, contributing to the dike is always a good idea. When it breaks than all players that didn’t contribute the most resources to it take Flood Tokens that don’t exactly bring them closer to victory. But maybe they’re worth taking compared to the points you score from expanding your farm. You’ll never know in advance.
Garphill Games / Dice Up Games
We don’t generally talk about role-playing games here just to keep some thematic focus, but when an RPG is the fourth game in a boardgame trilogy then I can’t not mention it. Garphill Games posted a cover of The North Sea Epilogues, a narrative RPG that will continue their North Sea series. It was about time for me to play more RPGs again, anyway…
Free League Publishing
A strategy game about one man leading his family to power might qualify as epic in some cases. Not when compared to Crusader Kings, a game where you lead your family to power over many generations of careful planning, plotting and producing the best heirs the family can get. Crusader Kings The Board Game is an adaptation of the successful strategy video game. Unlike the video game, where I know people that have been playing the same campaign literally for years, the boardgame is meant to be played in one (long) evening. To manage that, it condenses the video game to the most essential parts: control over Europe, success in the Crusades, and especially building your dynasty. Despite the games scope and strategic complexity, it’s not overly complex mechanically. It works with an action selection system where your actions also trigger random events. Your dynasty, and especially your current ruler, is represented by a collection of traits that will influence the outcome of random events – and not always for the better. A great game if you want epic scale strategy but not spend the first two evenings just learning the rules.
There’s no end to the possible mutations of the venerable game of Werewolf. After the super quick, super fun chaos that was One Night Ultimate Werewolf the newest variant gives us more chaos and more time. It’s One Week Ultimate Werewolf. This is the first Werewolf game with an actual board. The players use their action cards to move through Ludwig Castle, and they use the special abilities of the rooms they enter to find out the other players’ roles. Or even their own, because the chaos of switching roles around from One Night Ultimate Werewolf is still around in One Week Ultimate Werewolf. Not quite as quick, but super fun nonetheless.
This week’s photo was taken in the Trinity Sergius Lavra, an orthodox monastery in Sergiev Posad, Russia. Thank you Larry Koester for sharing this photo! (Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, Larry Koester, CC-BY, resized and cropped)