10 Gallon Tank, a Kickstarter by Winsmith Games, is quick game with an unassuming theme: Collect the most valuable fish for your aquarium. The 84 fish cards have different special abilities and scoring rules, so picking the right ones is not exactly trivial, but fifteen minutes play time put 10 Gallon Tank far from being a heavy strategy game, too. What makes it stand out to me is the mechanism how you pick your cards. It’s a spatial split-and-pick where you start with a sixteen by sixteen grid of cards. Every player gets to make one cut and split a group of cards – the whole grid at first, then one result of a previous split – in two. After all players made their cut they each chose one of the resulting groups. Having to consider which cards are adjacent for the pic, which sets might be interesting for you, and which for an opponent, makes this a surprisingly deep decision in such a short game.
Renegade Game Studios / Garphill Games
Being one of the Architects of the West Kingdom is nice and all, but you don’t really get things done without some master craftsmen on your side. The Age of Artisans expansion will provide just those. From tapestries to stained glass windows, your artisans can make it. The expansion brings the all new Craft Cards and a Guildhall Board, as well as more buildings, more apprentices, new player boards, and all components for an extra player, bringing the total to six.
Renegade Game Studios
There’ll be a game that makes you a participant in a cooking show… wait for it…. in space! Based on the comic book by Natalie Riess Space Battle Lunchtime Card Game puts you on intergalactic television to prepare food with ingredients from outer space. How you do that remains a mystery for now, but it will involve cosmic recipe cards, ingredient cards to mix the right flavors, chefs to work with and judges to please. Might I suggest a Lovecraftian expansion titled The Flavor Out Of Space?
Frosted Games / Pegasus Games / Catch Up Games
Pharaon somehow slipped right past us when Catch Up Games released it last year. Fortunately, the German edition by Frosted Games and Pegasus Spiele belatedly put it on our radar. In Pharaon you’ll be one of the Pharaoh’s children, and like all Egyptian nobles you work hard for a good afterlife. Not so easy, you’ll need the support of nobles, artists and artisans to build a burial chamber and bring offerings to the gods, to important steps to secure your otherwordly fortune. Mechanically, worker placement and resource management are you tools to do so, the extra challenge being the wheel on the board that changes actions’ costs every round. Plan carefully so you don’t end up with the wrong resources for the actions you need.
25th Century Games
Digging for dinosaur fossils is a much more cutthroat business than I thought. In Jurassic Parts you dig up fossils together with your colleagues, but when it comes to splitting the bones all cooperation goes straight out the window. Turn by turn you put chisels between the tiles that make up the board. When a part of the board is completely separated from the rest by chisels you go and split it up. The player who contributed the most chisels takes half the tiles from the piece cut loose. The second in line takes half of what’s left. And so on. It’s not the easiest way to get the right pieces to complete your dinosaur skeleton, but it sure is an interesting game mechanism. Very simple, but also strategic. Finding amber and exchanging it for favors from the expedition leader adds more decisions to the game. Plus, did I mention Jurassic Parts is about dinosaurs? What’s not to like?
Anyone with scruples to cut up some cards in a Legacy game better skip this bit of news. In Cutterland, cutting up cards is the whole game. Your job is to build a fantasy land from cards, or rather, from fragments of cards. In a variant of I-split-you-pick the active player cuts one of their cards into as many pieces as there are players, then each player picks one piece to add to their landscape. At the end of the game you’ll score points for creatures in your lands, each with their own rules for scoring. Some of them eat smaller creatures, too. It’s a fun mechanism for a quick, tactical game. The downside is, of course, that Cutterland comes with an expiration date: With four players you have enough cards for thirteen games. There are variant rules to keep playing with a cut up game, but to play Cutterland as intended you will then have to purchase a recharge pack with more cards. Paying to keep playing is not my favorite idea, but I can’t think of any other way that Cutterland‘s system could work.
Preorders are now open for The Grand Trunk Journey, a train game by Claude Sirois and Spielworxx. Where most train games deal with building the railway network, though, The Grand Trunk Journey is about moving cargo. Every player has a deck of cards that contains their locomotives, wagons, and destinations they can go to. They load their train with four different kinds of cargo and deliver to cities with a demand for them. Special deliveries are especially profitable, but to cash in on them delivery has to happen at the exact time. On top of driving around in your train you get to do some construction, too. Building new terminals opens cities to delivers from all players, but the builder profits from every delivery there. The new city cards added to everyone’s decks when a city is thus connected also has a special action or a new car on it, so building terminals may end up helping your opponents quite a bit, too. That’s the kind of decision we’re looking for in a game.
Grey Fox Games
There aren’t nearly enough games that let you be space pirates. Pirates, sure. But this is bigger. This is space pirates. Tortuga 2199 gives you that rare chance. You get to fly your spaceship through the sectors around former mining planet Tortuga, conquer whole sectors for yourself, and hunt dangerous space creatures, all through the power of deck building. Tortuga 2199 mixes the building of the decks with the space of the game board. To buy the cards you want you first have to be in the right place. With more than fifty different cards and four asymmetric player spaceships you have plenty of strategy to explore on your way to being the most infamous… space pirate!
A new gamer’s game from Cranio Creations takes its players into the dark legends of Prague. Like Rabbi Loew did in the stories the players will build stone golems to do their bidding in Golem. All over Prague their clay servants will work to gather more clay to make more golems and claim artifacts on the way to victory. Picking actions on your turn will present you with an interesting dilemma. An action is less powerful the more it has been picked already. So you’ll want a powerful action, but of course you still want to pick the most beneficial action for you, and you want to do it with the right color of marble to advance on the four influence tracks. And then you still want to have the right marble colors at the end of the round to gain favor with influential people of Prague. Have a guess how often you get all of those things at once. Also, never forget that creating life is a dangerous business for mere humans. If you can’t control your golems they may run amok and destroy your neighborhood.
This week’s banner image by Florian G. was taken inside the Qal’at al-Bahrain, a Portuguese fort on a hill in Northern Bharain. The hill has been a place of civilization for thousands of years, the fort is just the latest construction there. Thank you for sharing this photo, Florian! (Bahrain Fort Manama, Florian G., CC-BY, resized and cropped)