Fantasy Flight Games
The Arkham Horror Third Edition previews so far had me on the fence. It sounded like a great coop game, but without the character of Arkham Horror. This latest preview is the first that has me unequivocally happy. It’s about the investigators. They are obviously old acquaintances, from old Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror, Mansions of Madness, they are always the same people. But this time around I somehow find their abilities and play styles new and interesting. Be it Agnes Baker’s ability to boost her magic discarding trophies from defeated monsters or Calvin Wright re-distributing health and sanity between investigators. Minh Thi Phan’s research ability and support for other investigators or Daniela Reyes incredible focus. They all sound interesting and worth building your strategy around. That’s way more fun than Sister Mary finding a Tommy Gun and going “Whatever, guess I’m a bruiser now”.
We haven’t heard anything about New California, the expansion for the Fallout boardgame, in a while. Well, it’s still coming. The new preview presents the new, playable survivors, and I’m unreasonably excited to be able to play as Mr. Handy.
Time to meet some more inhabitants of Crucible, the world of KeyForge. This latest preview introduces House Logos, a house of cybernetic knowledge seekers and scientists. Their great knowledge means that they tend to have answers to problems they encounter, represented by abilities to draw cards. Access to highly advanced science is never a bad thing, either. A Timetraveller who is guaranteed help from their future self because of special card distribution rules? Why, that’s rather helpful!
NSKN Games / Schwerkraft Verlag
I can’t believe we didn’t talk about Teotihuacan: City of Gods before, but the new game by Daniele Tascini (Council of Four, Tzolk’in,…) completely slipped past us. Thankfully, Schwerkraft Verlag put it on our radar with their announcement of the German edition. Teotihuacan is a worker placement game with dice for workers. You move them around a modular game board and get a seemingly simple choice at the location you reach: take an action and upgrade your worker, or take a more desirable bonus but skip the upgrade. In this manner you’ll develop new technologies, build houses for the people of Teotihuacan, and contribute to the great Pyramid of the Sun at the center of the city. By the description I’d say Teotihuacan has a similar complexity to Tzolk’in. That’s an immediate entry into my Top Ten games of interest in Essen.
Dust in the Wings, currently under development at NSKN Games, is peaceful, calm, and has a potential to be very pretty. It also has the potential to make your brain hurt. The goal in Dust in the Wings is to collect the right combination of butterflies to a space or a group of spaces. You move butterflies around Mancala style: pick up all from one space, then put one on an adjacent space, the next on a space adjacent to that, and so on. If you’ve played Five Tribes then you know that hitting the right spaces can already be a challenge. Building the right combinations, some even spanning multiple spaces? That will take some mental acrobatics.
Also under development by NSKN Games is Inuit: the Snow Folk, a card drafting strategy game. As the leader of an Inuit tribe you decide how to expand the tribe. Do you need more warriors? Shamans? Elders? Which cards are already in your tableau determines how many new cards you may draft. As always, more details as we get them.
Imperium is going to be a deck building civilization game. It makes sense, the two ideas go well together when you think about it. The five ancient nations in Imperium all start with different decks already. Building up your deck with things like innovations and vassal states will only increase those difference and make for a tense experience where you’ll have to rethink your strategy every time.
When I’m not playing games I’m a big fan of horror movies. Particularly sci-fi horror like Alien, or Event Horizon. Pack that sort of experience in a game and you instantly have a fan in me. Starling Games have just started their Kickstarter (Emptyset icon): Fear Nothing, and it’s exactly this. All but one of the players are students at TOR-ISS Institute, a science academy space station. That’s cool. I would have loved to be a student there. Or maybe not, because that last player is a mysterious entity hunting the students. The students have all sorts of equipment to try and trap the entity. Unfortunately everything they use gives the entity new options as well. The most terrifying of those is the ability to evolve. You’ll never start a game knowing what the entity will be able to do. Sounds like a terrifying and terrifyingly tense game. I just wish they hadn’t called it (Emptyset icon). Our encoding doesn’t do that.
Rome wasn’t build in a day? Nonsense, with The Great City of Rome you’ll be able to do it in about an hour. You build your own version of Rome in a classic tableau building manner. Pick the right buildings and arrange them the right way to score points. Getting blueprints and building materials is where architects can really distinguish yourself. Every round you have to make the choice of drafting buildings early from a better selection or getting a bigger pile of resources. You won’t get both. With a wide selection of buildings and different action strips for taking resources you’ll get many opportunities to think about balancing those benefits.
No revolution can succeed without good logistics. If the local government knows that as well then you just have to be a bit more creative. In Alderac’s Scorpius Freighter logistics is your thing. Officially, you work for the oppressive government, moving cargo on contract. Below the deck, however, you also move goods that should go below the radar. Just make sure not to be noticed and the revolution will come.
First Fish Games
To build a beautiful, Dutch city you don’t need anything other than cards. At least when you play Town Builder: Coevorden, that’s true. In this game by First Fish Games the cards are everything. You take cards as foundations for your buildings, then you put more cards under that foundation as building materials. The cards also work as gold to collect for later, and the cards have special abilities. And those are all the same cards, so the challenge will be which card to take for what purpose.
alea / Ravensburger
Stefan Feld returns to Rome with his new game Carpe Diem. It’s an expert level tile placement game where each player tries to build the most profitable city from the tiles they can snatch. How’s that expert level, you might well ask. Well, placing those tiles is not just about completing buildings and landscapes, it’s about what they can do for you. Some produce resources, others let you sell resources for money, or let you take bread, or have other useful effects. All of those are good for the four scoring rounds where you activate pairs of scoring cards and meet their conditions to score. Each pair can only be activated once per game, though. And then there’s still the part about how you get tiles. You have a meeple moving around the heptagram of tile purchases, and your next tile can only come from one of the two spots opposite your current one. Just what we love about Stefan Feld games, there are many things to consider and somehow bring together into a strategy.
We’re getting into the wild borderlands of boardgames with this one. Usually, the commonalities between boardgames and jigsaw puzzles are that both come in a box and you do them at a table. With Ravensburger’s new line EXIT Puzzle that’s not quite so true. When you assemble the puzzle what you get is an escape game to think your way through. We already decided that we’d talk about escape games, so I guess in this special case we’ll talk about jigsaw puzzles. I wonder how this concept will work out.
Passing on the crown to the old king’s eldest child or to whoever wins a bloody civil war is messy and inefficient. The Crown of Emara is passed on according to a much friendlier system. The king holds a contest between up to four nobles to gain the most popularity with the people of the kingdom and the winner will wear the crown. Player actions come from action cards of which you only have a random subset each round. Playing cards also controls your movement on two game boards, one to gather resources and one to spend them. A random event deck does the rest to make you think on your toes.
The tiny planet Solenia has lost something rather important: Its day-night-cycle. It’s been that way for some millennia now, and people have come to accommodate their special circumstances. The daysiders grow wheat and wood. The nightsiders bottle water and hew stone. Your family’s honorable tradition is that of traveling traders. You transport goods between the two sides, and whoever does it the most efficient wins the game.
This week’s featured photo shows the ruins of Timgad, a Roman military colony in Algeria. The photo was taken and kindly shared by Dan Sloan. Thanks a lot, Dan! (Timgad, Dan Sloan, CC-BY-SA, resized and cropped)