Fantasy Flight Games
Someone over at Fantasy Flight Games must have bought a machine that can package games with a random selection of components instead of a fixed set. After last week’s Unique Game KeyForge they follow up this week with Discovery: Lands Unknown. This second Unique Game is much more to my taste. It’s a wilderness survival game for up to four players. It’s not strictly cooperative, but you might decide that working together is in everyone’s best interest. Each and every copy of the game will include a unique combination of characters, environments, stories, enemies, items,… . So in your copy you might be stranded on an island, in a friend’s copy you’re stuck in the mountains. Is this a plot to make us buy multiple copies of the same game? Maybe. But honestly, if I’m done with one copy and liked it so much that I want to play another, then they really deserve the money.
Something called a 5-6 Player Extension is not usually all that newsworthy. In the expansion for A Game of Thrones Catan the higher number of players is not the only thing, though. You’ll also have four new hero characters to come to your help, including the bastard John Snow. Your trouble with the wildlings will get worse as well. Now they bring mammoths when they attack the wall.
Czech Games Edition
Codenames is one of the most popular modern word games. This year, Czech Games Edition are going to compete with their champion and throw Trapwords into the ring. It’s a game that sounds so simple. One player describes a word that their teammates have to guess. Successfully doing so lets them advance through a dungeon towards the final boss. There are some words that can’t be used in the description. That sounds like Taboo, but it’s a whole lot more evil. The words you can’t use are not given on a card. They are thought out by the opposing team, and even the explaining player doesn’t know then until he steps into one of those traps. The challenge is clear: Make your description as unexpected as you can while still giving your teammates a chance to guess.
Catalyst Game Labs
There have been a number of games now sporting an eight bit aesthetic that draws in us old farts like a candle does a moth. Catalyst Game Labs goes a step further. Super Camelot, their new Kickstarter, is as close as anyone can get to a The Legend of Zelda boardgame without running into copyright troubles. The game is a loving homage to old console RPGs where you explore the lands, kill monsters, collect gems and find treasures. It even has the part where you rip out bushes to find small treasures. In Super Camelot you’re not going to rescue a princess, your job is to find the Holy Grail. Still, I’ll put on the Zelda soundtrack when I play.
New from HUCH! Michael Kiesling’s Outback, a fun family game with dice and a mean scoring track. Your objective in Outback is to fill the Outback with animal tiles. You need the dice to do that. The more icons of one animal you roll the higher you may place it on your player board. There isn’t much space there, so staying at the bottom is not an option. You want to group similar tiles for higher scores in that species of animal. Scoring is tricky, because the point track is split into two parts. When you go from the left part to the top part you temporarily go back down to one point. It’s still an important step, because on the left part only the bottom three of your five animals score. With lots of dice there’s lots of luck involved, of course, but for a family game that’s fine. And you’ll still win by your decisions where to place which tiles.
Do you know what’s almost as good as a great, new game? A new edition of a great, old game. Two years after the new edition of Agricola Lookout Games have announced the new edition of Farmers of the Moor, the big box Agricola expansion.
Some days, after you stayed up very late to finish a game, you want to play an Uwe Rosenberg game but Patchwork is still too complex. Or maybe you want to play with a kid who’s still a bit too young for the full Patchwork experience. That’s when you want Patchwork Express. It’s like Patchwork, but with a smaller board and simpler patches. Works for ages six and up.
Plaid Hat Games
Guardians is not even available yet but there’s already an expansion coming. The Uprising Hero Pack adds four new characters to the game and introduces the concept of Blast Damage. A player taking Blast Damage decides how to spread it out between their heroes. Even when you get hit you have to make decisions.
Between all the giant games with 500 minis on Kickstarter it’s nice to see a tiny game do well. A game like Liberation, an asymmetric two player card game by Button Shy. The Dynasty player wants to occupy the known universe. The Liberation player tries to sabotage that effort. In a cosmic game of hide and seek the Dynasty tries to destroy the moving Liberation base before the Liberation wins. All the drama and action fits in an eighteen card deck and plays out in twenty minutes.
A hidden identity trick taking game is not something I’ve seen before. The idea immediately makes me interested in Rebel Nox, a game by Aporta Games with just that combination of mechanics. Rebels and Loyalists compete for six location cards, the battle at each location plays like a trick taking game. There are special cards that change a location’s value, or remove the currently highest card there, or put some other tricks up your sleeve. However, the really important part is figuring out who’s on your side.
Trollfjord is another interesting combination of mechanisms. Area control on the one hand and a mix of luck and dexterity on the other. On the board you place your trolls around the old mountain forts. Then you hit the dice tower with a hammer and collect the cubes falling out. Just be careful you don’t knock loose more than your trolls can carry.
Finally, last year’s dice drafting, colony building game Santa Maria will have an expansion. American Kingdoms brings lots of new content in the form of tiles, buildings, characters and three expansion modules that you can mix in any way you like. The most intriguing of those is The Mayan City that adds a fifth player who’ll play by a different set of rules.
This week’s photo of the week was taken in Lebanon. It shows the Mar Lishaa monastery in Ouadi Qadisha, Tthe Holy Valley. The monastery was first mentioned in the 14th century, but the valley was a retreat and refuge for Christian communities since the early days of Christianity. The photo was taken and shared by Arian Zwegers. Thanks, Arian! (Qadisha, view on Deir Mar Elisha, Arian Zwegers, CC-BY, resized and cropped)