Even when a Japanese game has English rules included it often remains very difficult to find in Europe and America. It’s nice to see western publishers pick them up for localization, that way we can all enjoy them more easily. One such game coming soon from Iello will be Time Bomb Evolution, a quick hidden identity game for four to six players. One team of players – the Sherlock Holmes team in the Iello version – has to defuse a bomb before the Moriarty team can blow it up. Both defusing and exploding the bomb happens by picking and revealing card in front of other players. The Moriarties will obviously try to trick the Holmeses into advancing their explosive plot. In the Evolution variant each wire you cut will also have a special effect like, for instance, exploding the bomb early when two successive cards have the same color. Quick, fun, explosive, what more could you ask for?
Reiner Knizia’s Schotten Totten remains a very popular two player card game, and Schotten Totten 2 looks like it will follow in its footsteps. Just like the original, players in Schotten Totten 2 control a clan of angry Scots and compete for a number of locations by trying to build the highest Poker hand with cards they play there. Unlike the original, the locations will hold a variable number of cards, and not all locations will be won by the highest hand. The new game will also be asymmetric, with one player defending his castle walls against the other. The defender has some boiling oil to throw back the invaders, but we don’t know yet what advantage the attacker will have to even the odds.
Strategy game Kitara has some traits of a war game, with armies of hunters and cheetah centaurs (!!!) holding territories in the steppes of fantasy Africa. But big simulated battles are not the focus, area control is. The number of areas you control tells you from how many options you may pick when you play an action card. That’s all I know for now, but it sounds fun and the setting is very cool as well.
This looks like the heaviest game Iello announced for this year so far. In Khôra – Rise of an Empire each player rules an ancient Greek city. The title pretty much gives away what their goal as ruler is. They will make decisions about many aspects of their city, from economy to culture to philosophy. They’ll also colonize foreign lands and compete for grand achievements of civilization. Khôra seems to work without a big world map board to build your Empire on. That doesn’t have to be a downside for the game, strategic tension needs no map, and it has a very positive impact on the table size needed to play.
Dice and their fickleness can certainly drive a gamer insane. It’s very fitting to have a Lovecraft-themed roll-and-write game titles Unlocking Insanity, isn’t it? In this game you roll dice in four colors for the different aspects of your initiation into the cult of a Great Old One. Positive dice represent the knowledge you gain. But with great power comes great insanity, and you’ll also have to take negative dice representing just that. Negative dice are as bad as they sound, because your final score in each color is the sum of your positives minus the sum of your negatives. You also have to draw insanity cards when your negative score in a color is higher than your positive, and those further mess with your game. However, insanity isn’t all bad. The first player to go insane in any given color gets a special card with a much more beneficial effect. That finally answers the question “who likes an eager beaver?” The Great Old Ones do, apparently.
Bezier Games have announced three new games, to be releases at the three big gaming events this year.
The first, Silver Coin, will be released at Origins. As the name suggests, Silver Coin will be the third game in the Silver series, following Silver and Silver Bullet. Of course, the cards will be compatible with the first two games, so you can make your own sets combining cards from all three boxes. The cards from Silver Coin will be the most strategic to join the game to date, according to the press release. They have powerful abilities like the Con Artist who lets you take an extra turn or the adorable Regifter who lets you give a card to an opponent during scoring.
Whistle Mountain, to be released at Gen Con, continues the story of Whistle Stop. It’s a standalone game, and mechanically different from Whistle Stop. Whistle Mountain is a worker placement game. It just continues the story. With the money from your successful railroad business in Whistle Stop you move deep into the Rocky Mountains to build a research station the likes of which has never been seen before. Here your workers will build airships and scaffolds to build even bigger airships. Incidentally, the scaffolds will also keep your workers’ heads above water, since your hunger for resources causes the snowy peaks of the Rockies to melt and the water levers to rise as the game goes on. Which resources will be available depends on what everyone builds, so you should see different developments from game to game.
Finally, there’s an Essen release, of course. Maglev Metro is a train game at the cutting edge of technology. In the tile placement game the players replace big city metro systems with more efficient, more silent, more modern ones. Your goal is for your network to get passengers where they are going faster than everyone else. Building the tracks with tiles is obviously important, and transparent tiles that may overlap opponents’ tracks gives that a very interesting new dimension already. Upgrading your metro system in different ways with robots you transport is another important part of the game. Maglev Metro doesn’t look all that complicated, but you have many options to develop your network, and many decisions to make.
In total, this looks like another very good year for Bezier. I’m looking forward to every one of those games.
Rather Dashing Games
With ALDR The High Sage Rather Dashing Games have an interesting card game in the setting of their game Element. Working on a shared tableau of cards each player tries to form and claim the four elemental card patterns before the other players can. The placement rules are pretty simple, but creating patterns while everyone else has their own plans can be tricky. High Sage Aldr moving around and blocking you from claiming patterns he’s currently parked on doesn’t help, either. Really interesting is that ALDR is a standalone game, but it also works as an expansion for Element. Nice multifunctionality, that.
Every cat deserves some things in their life, among them toys, treats, and boxes to sit in. Why do cats love boxes so much? I don’t know, but we don’t have a game box that hasn’t been sat in by either Pixie or Mandu. Where am I going with this? Alderac’s Cat Lady will have an expansion later this year that gives your cats treat, toys, and boxes. What will Box of Treats have for you? New objectives and rules to play with up to six players. It’s not as awesome as a paper box, but it’s still pretty good.
Lucky Duck Games
From Lucky Duck Games, the makers of Chronicles of Crime, comes a new Kickstarter with three games. Building on the success of the cooperative detective game with companion app and virtual reality, the three new games are all Chronicles of Crime, too. Chronicles of Crime: 1400 lets you try your detective skills on four cases in medieval Paris. To go with the mysticism of that age you will receive Visions that help you solve the case – if you interpret them right. Five hundred years later you still find yourself in Paris in Chronicles of Crime: 1900. This game will add puzzles and codes to solve to every case, giving you a bit of that escape room feel. Finally, Chronicles of Crime: 2400 goes full cyberpunk. Not only will you investigate locations in cyberspace, with suspects hiding behind their avatar, you’ll also get cybernetic upgrades as you investigate. Not to forget a cyber raven pet that can do all kinds of analysis on the fly. All three games from the Millennium Series are standalone, but really… how do you even decide for just one of these?
Fantasy Flight Games
Will we ever have enough of Arkham Horror? To be honest, probably not. We’re happy to see the second expansion for Arkham Horror Third Editon, titled Under Dark Waves. The ocean plays a sinister role in many of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, and the four scenarios in this expansion draw from those stories. You’ll have to travel to lovely, touristic places like Kingsport and Innsmouth. You’ll have to deal with the new terror mechanism when doom tokens start piling up. And of course you’ll have new encounters and new monsters waiting for you. On your side you’ll find new investigators to fight off all those new troubles. It sounds like every other Arkham Horror expansion, which is pretty much exactly what we want.
The Ministry of Meeples
This is your chance to become a god. That’s not so special in Theurgy. All the players are gods, anyway. It’s your chance to become the one supreme god of the land, though, and that is pretty big. Some of the steps you can take to get there sound pretty humane. Send your followers on a pilgrimage to try and convert other gods’ followers. Spread your faith with good, old-fashioned preaching. In extreme cases, test the faith of a city and watch your opponents’ followers turn to you. And if all that fails you can still summon huge monsters with special abilities and perform actual miracles, powered by those monsters’ might. Theurgy is a tense, strategic action selection/area control game that we really want to get our hands on.
Cooperative adventure game Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island is still going strong eight years after its original release. Despite its relatively high complexity I’m always happy to give it another play. This new announcement from Portal Games will bring it back to the table yet again. Robinson Crusoe Treasure Chest is a collection of all promos for Robinson Crusoe. You’ll get characters, items, beasts, camp upgrades, and four scenarios that, as far as I can tell, are all new, never seen before content. The only reason you might not like this is that you were trying to make money off the promos you collected, and that’s not a good enough reason for me.
This was a somewhat unexpected announcement from Portal Games: they are going to release a party game, not at all their traditional genre. In Million Dollar Script two teams of screenwriters pitch ideas to a Hollywood executive – and both teams are pitching for the same story. Whichever idea pleases the exec more becomes part of the storyline that pitches for the next plot point would do well to consider. Plot elements and characters come from cards, but hilariously acting out your improvised scenes will be more important than card luck. The one thing I don’t like is that you need a referee who doesn’t really get to play and has to decide the winner each round, but if that doesn’t bother you Million Dollar Script should be a blast.
You may remember Colt Express, Ludonaute’s addictive train robbery planning/bluffing game. Well, Colt Super Express is an entirely different game. You’re still on a train and competing with other players, who are even the playing as the same characters that were in the old game, but that’s about it. In this new game you’re not after loot, all that you want is to be the last person standing on top of the train. Players kicked off the train are out of the game, but games are short enough that player elimination is not a problem. To make sure games don’t last too long the train will lose its final carriage each round. With all those changes, what remains the same is that you program some moves in advance. And there you have it, the Battle Royal version of Colt Express.
The one thing protecting us from vampires is that they never, ever get along well enough to get anything done. If you’ve ever played the RPG Vampire: The Masquerade you’ll be all too aware of this shortcoming. In Horrible Guild’s new Kickstarter Vampire: The Masquerade – Vendetta that is exactly the problem you have to deal with again. Up to five vampires clans compete over Chicago, playing cards at and fighting over a number of locations where the winner will recruit a new ally. Interestingly, you know most of your opponents’ cards. They’ll all have the same hand cards as they did the previous round, plus only one new one. Unfortunately, the same is true for you. With most of your cards known, but also with the ability to play cards face down by paying some blood points, this will develop into the mind games we’ve all come to expect and enjoy from Masquerade vampires. Speaking of cards, each of the seven vampire clans has their own deck the action cards come from, so you’ll get a very different game experience depending on who you play as. Vendetta is a highly interactive game, but will take less than an hour to play. It’ll be a ton of fun to fight for Chicago. My one question is… why Chicago? Don’t those vampires know that Harry Dresden lives there???
The days when games based on movies would inevitably turn out to be either Monopoly clones or trivia games are fortunately over. Now we get games like The Shining by Prospero Hall, which is so much better. The Shining is exactly the genre of game you would expect for a game based on the novel or movie: A cooperative game with a traitor. While everyone else moves through the Overlook Hotel trying to find the willpower to leave, one player is already possessed by the evil in the hotel and wants to keep everyone there. This game makes me really happy that we get good movie adaptations now. And I have to say it: I love that box. Oh, my gods, that carpet. That horrible, horrible carpet. I might want this game just for the box!
A jubako is a Japanese food box, often made of precious wood and beautifully decorated, that holds bites of food for special occasions. Well, I say bites because everything comes in handy pieces, but in total a jubako can hold food for a family. In the game Jubako you will stack tasty bites into your jubako box board. Food comes in domino-like stones, rectangles with a different kinds of yum on both ends, and by stacking those next to and on top of each other you’ll score points. It’s quick and light, I would call this game a tasty, healthy snack for the family.
Renegade Game Studios
There are many games about traveling to the stars, but not many at all about merely looking at them. There’s at least one now with Renegade Game Studios’ Stellar. Two players take cards of different objects that can be found in the night sky and place these cards either in their telescope tableau or in their notebook. When the game ends, they score points for cards in both places that go together. If you only have a type of card in your notebook or in your telescope it’s not worth points. A simple, relaxing card game for two. Sometimes that’s all you want.
We’ve all seen a movie like that. A group of people are cut off from the rest of the world, be they lost in a vast forest or locked up in a haunted house, are suddenly confronted with evil in one of its many forms – only to find out the evil was one of them all along. Welcome to Victim: The Cursed Forest, a horror game by Hexa House. The players are lost in a forest, and they know something evil is out there. They have to find a bunker, and they have to find the password that unlocks it by creating an equation that matches the bunker’s number. Alas, after only three rounds one of them becomes cursed and turns into the Evil. Now a Werewolf, Wendigo, or Witch, that player’s goal becomes to hunt the others down before they can get to safety. It’s a classic one-against-all game with a theme that is tailor-made for a horror movie nut like me. Now I’m wondering, though, why do so many evil creatures start with a W?
It’s Friday the 13th, and you’re at summer camp with perhaps the most famous serial killer in movie history on your heels. In Friday the 13th: Horror at Camp Crystal Lake players take on 80s horror movie cliché roles and have to get away from THE Jason Voorhees for five days and nights. We know that you draw tools to help you survive from a bag, things like cleavers, flashlight, and gasoline, and we know that publisher The Op calls it a press-your-luck game. Beyond that, I’m very curious how they translate a movie franchise this iconic into a game. Not as a cooperative game, that much is for sure. Stealing equipment from your friends is just as possible as taking them to your cabin for the night – whatever in-game effect that might have.
The apocalypse has come and gone. Again. It was so long ago that no one even remembers what it was, all you know is that you know have Hordes of scavengers roaming the lands controlled by the Khan. You lead one of those Hordes in Kolossal Games’ latest Kickstarter, Ruination. What sets the area control game apart from others of its kind is the action selection mechanism. There are only three actions to pick from, but each action has its own deck of cards and each card has different bonuses. When you want to scavenge you’ll always scavenge, but what you get on top of your scavenging changes every time. Which actions you pick also has an impact on the length of the game. The more you favor one action over the others, the sooner it will end. Only you can guess if that is good or bad for you. There is a combat element to Ruination, with your Horde bringing all sorts of gear and a handful of dice against the others.
This week’s featured photo shows Tchongha Zanbil, the unfinished holy city of the Kingdom of Elam. Founded around 1200 BCE in today’s Iran, the city was invaded and construction stopped before its three walls were finished. The photo was taken by Flickr user dynamosquito. Thanks for sharing! (Dur Untash Napirisha, dynamosquito, CC-BY-SA, resized)