Portal Games held their yearly house convention PortalCon last weekend, and there were a bunch of very exciting new project announcements. The first few are related to Portal’s big success of last year, Detective. On that front, first we have Detective: Season One. You might think that last year’s Detective should have been season one, but apparently that was more like Detective the movie. Anyway, Detective: Season One will have three new cases in different settings. The cases will be a bit shorter and the rules a bit lighter, so Detective: Season One will be more accessible for families and casual players.
Next, we have the first case in the Detective Signature Series, a series of single cases for Detective designed by different famous game designers. The first such case is called Dig Deeper and was designed by Rob Daviau. I think you still only play it once and don’t rip it up. Not everything Rob does is a Legacy game. The case takes place in 1970s USA where a local politician has been murdered.
For the final Detective-related item Vienna Connection is not a sequel, but it was inspired by Detective‘s mechanisms. The players, as CIA agents in 1977 Europe, will have to solve the murder of an American in Vienna. The case starts in Austria, but players will travel across Europe and deal with various secret agencies in the middle of the cold war. If Season One is a lighter Detective game, then Vienna Connection sounds like the hardcore version.
Next, there are some new items for the Imperial Settlers universe. We already new about one faction expansion for Empires of the North: Roman Banners. That’s not going to be the only one next year, Barbarian Hordes are also going to join the northern fray.
The original Imperial Settlers isn’t done, either. Rise of the Empire will easily be the most ambitious expansion for it. It will essentially Legacy-fy Imperial Settlers and give your empires the chance to grow from game to game. You’ll add new provinces, discoveries, and achievements, advancing from era to era. But apparently it’ll be possible to have factions different stages of advancement in one game, so you don’t need a set group of players every time you want to play.
Finally, two more things. There will be a mobile app version of Imperial Settlers Roll & Write, which I’ll certainly play but is not our focus here. Also, there’ll be a Robinson Crusoe scenario collection titled The Book of Adventures that we’ll hear more about when it goes on Kickstarter later this year.
Wow. I remember when Portal released one game a year. Just… wow.
Pakal is a real time puzzle racing game, coming this year from Cranio Creations. On your player board you must find the relevant symbols for this round by covering and uncovering cards. (BoardGameGeek has a longer description that talks about a sliding block puzzle to form the right symbols instead. Maybe that information is outdated?) The first player to finish also gets first pick from cards that advance them in the race. The more successful you are the harder the challenge will get for you.
Fate is a harsh mistress, more so when you’re a character in the story. When you play Mekhane you know that not all characters are going to survive. As a group of gods controlling the story through destiny cards you’ll even decide who gets to live and who doesn’t. But you all have different ideas who should still be standing at the end, and you’ll use fate to bring everybody else’s favorite down.
Rocketmen is an Elton John biography by Martin Wallace designed as a deck-building game. Okay, not really, and everyone and their grandmother is probably going to make the same joke. Rocketmen is a deck-building game by Martin Wallace, but it’s about literally sending things and people to space. Wallace’s interesting new twist on deck-building is that you’ll temporarily remove cards from your deck when you plan missions on the launch pad. Since the same cards could also be used as currency to buy more cards that will mean some tough decisions when to send those cards to orbit. Another Martin Wallace game I’m really looking forward to. At ~60 minutes it’s shorter than most of his heavier games, but no less strategic.
Gregor Mendel is the father of modern genetics, discoverer of the difference between dominant and recessive traits, and more foundations of the science. It’s a disgrace that he didn’t have a boardgame with his name yet, but Genius Games are at last going to change that. In Genotype: A Mendelian Genetics Game the players are assistants to the famous friar and help him with his research on pea plants. Genotype is a worker placement game, but your research’s main goal – growing peas – happens naturally by itself. Your workers do preparatory work to make the outcome you’re looking for more likely. The peas you get still depend on the dice, but if you did your job in phase one right you can guarantee to get what you want. As usual for Genius Games you not only get a fun game but a game with solid science.
Renegade Game Studios
For every possible job there are specialists, and if that job is succulent gardening… well, there’ll soon be a game for that. J. Alex Kevern’s Succulent lets you specialize on just that branch of horticulture, and sets you against up to three competitors for prestigious gardening projects. From your own well-groomed garden you take succulent cuttings to complete projects that will offer rewards. Victory points are just one of those rewards, so I guess improving your gardening operation will be part of the game, too.
Ludus Magnus Studio
This time the world ended in ice. Divide et Impera is set in a snowy post-apocalypse and to stay alive you must gather the scraps of the lost civilization. You can expect some competition for those. To gather scraps all you need is a majority of scrappers in an area. Those areas are on two different levels, on the ground or on top of the abandoned houses – and the difference in elevation will be present on the terrain tiles, not just as different colors but as actual elevation. The scrapper majorities are only one part of Divide et Impera. Developing your scrapper faction – which starts out with their own specialty already – will be important. With feats and action cards you’ll have plenty of different directions to go. And all that with a relative simply set of rules.
In Rüdiger Dorn’s (Istanbul, Goa, …) new game My Farm Shop the players will run, you guessed it, a farm shop. Harvesting and upgrading your farm both depend on three dice. The active player rolls them and picks one to buy an upgrade for their farm, then all players harvest their field corresponding to the other two. Which upgrade you pick decides what the other players can harvest, that’s a nice strategic element for a family game. For more variety My Farm Shop comes with three expansion modules right out of the box.
Hans im Glück
Hans im Glück doesn’t usually do cooperative games so Paleo, to be released later this year, comes as a surprise. Players in Paleo will control a handful of stone age people in their struggle to survive. Competing tribes and oversized wildlife will only be some of the problems they face. We’ll see how that plays out mechanically later this year, closer to Paleo‘s release.
This week’s featured photo shows Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, one of the fortresses protecting Cartagena, Colombia. The photo was taken and kindly shared by JD Lasica. Thanks a lot, JD! (Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, JD Lasica, CC-BY, resized and cropped)