Lunar Oak Studio
The future is often shown dark, but rarely as literally as in Sheol. The moon has been taken over by an alien shadow, and ever since it has been sort of dripping down to Earth. Players in this cooperative game are defenders of the last citadel of light. Sheol is all about light and shadow. To even leave the citadel with your scout characters you must first build a path of light. Leaving the citadel is important because outside is where you might find support in your struggle. After your excursions, and if the shadows didn’t tear down your citadel, you’ll have many options to develop your defenses. Every mission in the Sheol campaign will have a branching storyline to explore…. but I’ll be honest here, with this setting, I don’t know if winning the campaign is even possible.
It’s not so long ago that we reviewed Railroad Ink, the roll-and-draw train game by Horrible Guild. Now there are two sequels on Kickstarter: Railroad Ink Challenge Lush Green and Shiny Yellow. Like the two original boxes, the basics are: roll dice showing different shapes of rails and roads, draw them on your player board, try to build a better network than your opponents. Also similar to the original two boxes, there are special dice in each color box: forest landscapes in Lush Green, oases in Shiny Yellow. All new and not seen in previous Railroad Ink games are Factories, Villages, and Universities to draw on your player board for extra effects and goal cards. You draw a goal every time you play, and the earlier you meet that goal the more points you score. That is even more variety than Railroad Ink Deep Blue and Blazing Red had, and those games didn’t get boring in a hurry. There’s still more, though. As add-ons on the Kickstarter you can get larger player boards for more epic games, and you can get four different expansion packs with different special dice to add to your Railroad Ink games. So yeah, you can play a lot of Railroad Ink.
Days of Wonder
You probably guessed I’m a big boardgame fan. It’s also not a secret that I’m a World of Warcraft addict. So a new World of Warcraft themed boardgame has my automatic attention. Small World of Warcraft is a new version of Small World, so mechanically there’s not much new going on. With your chosen people, put together from a race and a special ability, you expand as far as you can stretch them, and then you abandon them, pick a new people, and do the same again. What makes Small World of Warcraft more than a simple Small World reskin are the races and abilities taken directly from the game: Portal Mage Goblins, Herbalist Human, and so on. If you already own a Small World game, I’m not sure if Small World of Warcraft is for you. If, however, you want to get the WoW nerd in your life into boardgames, then this is your chance.
Between many social deduction games that keep coming up on Kickstarter, Stop the Train! stands out as something different. The players are passengers on a 1942 train headed to Paris. One of them is a saboteur who wants the train to crash into the station when they arrive. Everyone else would be happier if that didn’t happen. Just finding the saboteur would be too easy, though. Every other character has a secondary mission, and they can only win the game if they complete that mission, too. So is that player who keeps speeding up the train the saboteur, or are they the speedster trying to break the speed record? Or do they have to play the cards speeding up the train, because that’s what their friendly neighborhood saboteur passes them? Unlike most social deduction games, Stop the Train! has a board the train moves on. It’s not purely cosmetic, either, because tunnels are important spots to steal travel permits, and which route the train takes when the tracks split might reveal important clues about your fellow travelers.
The list of things that Scott Almes and Gamelyn Games have made tiny and epic grows. Okay, to be fair, the list of things they made tiny. I’m pretty sure pirates where epic before. Anyway, Tiny Epic Pirates is the latest Tiny Epic game. You’ll be the Captain. But a pirate Captain is nothing without their crew. Hiring the right crew cards not only helps you in combat, where each crew member’s dice mean your cannons hit the other ship. The right crew will also chain the action you pick on your personal action rondel into bonus actions, so you get more down in the same time. Since the first pirate to collect and bury three treasures wins, that added speed is going to be important. So board your tiny ship, hire your epic crew, and set sail.
Red Raven Games
Thermal vents on the bottom of the ocean have some of the most unique ecosystems in the world, with archaea that live on heat and minerals at the bottom and a whole food chain built on top of them. These are the ecosystems you’ll create yourself in Deep Vents, expanding your ecosystem tile by tile and building new chains of effects every time you play.
Some adventurers are in the business for the excitement, some to do good. Many are just in it for the loot. That last kind of adventurer seems to be what you get in Last-Second Quest. Every round, a card shows items that are needed and items that are forbidden. With very little time you cram everything you can grab into your backpack. Later you explain why those items you grabbed are not, in fact, forbidden. “This tentacular idol here? Evil? You’re just being speciecist.” Quick, light, fun, and the fifteen different character classes and their special effects will keep it fresh for a good while.
WizKids have caught another great game to release in English for the first time. Seeders from Sereis: Exodus was previously only available in French, now WizKids will release an English edition. In Seeders from Sereis: Exodus your home world is under threat and might soon be uninhabitable. The players design competing arks, giant spaceships that will take a human survivor population to the stars. Cards represent locations, items, and crew members for your ark, you acquire them through an interesting mechanism with negotiators that influence all adjacent cards in your favor. I didn’t previously have this game on my radar because, frankly, my French is atrocious – with apologies to my French teachers for being terrible student. It looks real interesting, though, and an English edition is of great interest to me – and who knows, maybe it interests enough people that it revives what was apparently intended to be a series of games.
Spielworxx / Indie Game Studios / Stronghold
Another great worker placement game is making a comeback. Tribune: Primus Inter Pares – just Tribune in this new version – by Karl-Heinz Schmiel is one of the more complex games in the genre. To rise to power in ancient Rome it’s not enough to send your family member meeples to the right place with the right job, you also need influence over the important factions in the city, achieved through sets of the right cards. The new edition adds some more details to keep in mind. Players can now serve in public offices in Rome, they must obey the Emperor’s new edicts every round, and they can now work with the new Christian faction. Now included is the Bruti family that was an expansion for the original Tribune. The Bruti allow a sixth player to join the game, but they follow an entirely different set of rules from the other families.
A few years ago we had to Escape The Curse of the Temple with very little time to do so in Queen Games’ real-time dice game. Now we’re back in the temple, looking for more treasure, in Escape Roll & Write. This new game is not real-time, which is sad, but it has a neat cooperative dice mechanism to compensate. The active player rolls their dice in pairs and decide for every dice if they want to use it for themselves or put it in the common pool. With the dice they keep they move around their temple and collect bonus actions and treasures. When they’re done the other players split the dice from the common pool to mark on their treasure maps. A completed treasure map offers bonus actions, but where the dice are most profitably used won’t be obvious.
This week’s featured photo was taken by Kyle Magnuson. It shows the palace at the Royal Domain of Drottningholm, a Swedish royal residence inspired by the palace of Versailles. Thanks a lot for sharing this photo, Kyle! (Drottingholm[sic] Palace (29), Kyle Magnuson, CC-BY)