Indie Boards & Cards
Many times before the Kodama tree spirits have held their competition who could shepherd the more valuable tree. This time, they go bigger. In Kodama Forest,it’s not a single tree you foster, it’s a whole forest. Of course, that’s a task to big for one spirit, sou work in pairs. But, of course, one forest is not enough for two spirit’s ambition, so each spirit is also working on a second forest. Okay, no one’s going to get that explanation. Kodama Forest follows the model of Between Two Cities: Each player plays on two boards, each shared with one of their neighbors, and their final score is the sum of the two boards’ scores. On each board, they place tiles to form the forest, with the goal to have as many spaces covered as possible. To do that before the end of the game, they’ll have to attract as many of the special animal tiles as they can by completing forest features. The actual placement of tiles is not the difficult part, though. Hatching a coherent plan with both of your neighbors to have two good results, that will be tricky.
Grey Fox Games
Sometimes you look at a game, see the mechanisms and themes it uses, and you think “there’s no way this can work, and it sounds awesome, and I want to play it right now”. That was my first reaction to For Science! by Grey fox Games. It’s a cooperative game about curing diseases where you design a possible cures with cards, those cards then show a pattern how you have to stack up a set of building blocks, and if the tower holds up as designed you get to add a tile to the Master Cure, which will ultimately let you cure all diseases. And all that you do in real-time. Now, is there anyone here who doesn’t want to play Pandemic recreated from Galaxy Trucker and Mental Blocks? That’s what I thought.
A card game where you collect adorable dogs in your backyard called All the Goodest Puppers sounds like an awesome game to play with your young kids, but probably too light for you to enjoy. Then you see that All the Goodest Puppers is designed by Chris Cieslik (One Deck Dungeon, Red7,… ) and you know there must be something interesting going on for everyone, not just the kids. And you’re right. The pupper cards all have abilities, mostly to do with burying bones. Some bury them, some upgrade them. Many of them are stronger the more dogs of the same breed you already have. All the Goodest Puppers is a light game, sure, suitable for ages eight and up and done in about thirty minutes. But it’s the sort of light game that you’ll enjoy because which cards you play in what order actually makes a difference. Light, but not just luck. And the delightful art by Cari Corene and Amanda Coronado certainly won’t drive me away from the game, either.
Adam’s Apple Games
There’s a new tile placement game in town, and Planet Unknown goes where no tile placement game has gone before. I’m not even talking about the lazy Susan that holds the tiles to draft from and makes it easy to pass stacks around the table, although that is a nice touch. I’m talking about the fact that Planet Unknown is a tile placement game where all players play simultaneously, where you build a supporting game engine with the resources on your tiles, where you drive around the planet you’re building with your rovers to clear up meteor strikes that prevent you from scoring. That’s plenty of things to keep in mind already, but on top of that you get the double asymmetry of planets that all have their own special rules and corporations that have their own specialties and restrictions. This is a tile placement game that won’t get boring any time soon!
Free League Publishing
Simon Stålenhag’s vision of “the 80s that never was” has spawned the great role-playing game Tales from the Loop and more recently the Amazon Prime series by the same name. I can only assume the series is great, too, but I haven’t seen it yet. Now we can dive even deeper into the world of the Loop with Tales From The Loop – The Board Game. In the cooperative scenario-based game the players take the role of teenagers who explore the mysterious goings-on around the world’s larges imaginary particle collider. Tales from the Loop‘s setting does sound like it’s riding the Stranger Things wave, and it does scratch many of the same nostalgia itches. But this world has a different, unique charm all of its own, and the boardgame is another way to explore it.
Alderac / The Op
Shufflebuilding game Smash Up is really going places now. Thanks to Alderac’s partnership with The Op there’ll be Smash Up: Marvel, with eight factions from the comic book universe. We know Hydra and The Ultimates will be in the game, and I’m sure we can all make some guesses for the other six factions. The real fun, of course, will be shuffling this edtion up with other Smash Up games and play Pirate Avengers and Hydra Unicorns.
Ausonia is a deck-building game set in a magical 17th century Italy where the players compete for influence with the help of the powerful guilds. It’s pretty pure and classic deck-building, but there is one new twist that will make things interesting. The currency you need to buy cards, called Power, comes from its own deck and is not only needed to buy new cards but also to activate the abilities of your other cards. That’ll be interesting because there are different colors of Power, and to activate your abilities you need the color of Power matching the price you have to pay. Put too many different things in your deck and you’ll have trouble activating abilities. There’s an interesting selection of abilities, too, so if you’re looking to build some tricky card combos Ausonia has you covered.
Post-apocalyptic games – or as we call them now, training simulations for 2021 – are always popular. Last Aurora has the icy kind of apocalypse. Okay, that’s probably the opposite of what we need for training, but you never know. It’s also the kind of story where there is a safe place left, and the survivors desperately try to reach it before it closes its gates forever. In Last Aurora, the safe place is the icebreaker Aurora, and the players move their truck convoys through the icy landscape to get there. Along the way you will meet things in need of some shooting, but also survivors to join your convoy, additions to your convoy, shortcuts to exploit and contaminated territory to avoid.
Rio Grande Games
Everything can be made into a boardgame, even a children’s birthday game. Case in point: Musical Chairs, where you use cards to run your meeples around a circle of chairs. As long as you can play cards, you can move. At the end of a round you score all cards matching the chair you stopped on, but as Musical Chairs goes, you never know where you’ll end up. Musical Chairs is about equal parts luck, tactics, and hilarity when your well-thought plans fall through. Think 6 nimmt!, but with chairs and music.
Sierra Madre Games
Pax Viking will be the newest game in Sierra Mardre Games’s Pax series, and according to the Kickstarter page it’s going to be an entry level Pax game. The vikings you’ll control won’t be doing much of the famous plundering, their main occupation when they travel south and east in their longboats is trade. Your occupation as a player will be to buy tiles from the market that you can then use in two ways. On the main board you can place those tiles on spaces your longboats control and they’ll become trading posts or events to benefit you. On your player boards they become abilities gained through friends, allies, and the gods themselves. But what will be the best way to become the first king of Sweden? Calling Pax Viking entry level does sound about right – but only for a Pax game, I’d still call it medium crunchy on a general scale.
Thousands of years from now, humanity is no more and Earth is a hunting ground for archaeologists from all over the galaxy. Welcome to Excavation Earth, where excavating Earth is only part of the game. The other part is what you do with all those artifacts you dig up. Some will go into your own collections, others you will sell on the galactic markets. Not just sell, though, you’ll manipulate the markets so you can get the best price.
This week’s featured photo shows Bryggen, the old wharf of Bergen, Norway, from the times of the Hanseatic League. Well, at least the reconstruction of Bryggen, the wooden structure has suffered some fires over the centuries. This photo was taken and kindly shared by Axel Kuhlmann. Thanks a lot, Axel! (Bryggen, Axel Kuhlman, CC-BY, cropped and resized)