Due to the ongoing – and probably for a while still – COVID-19 situation, Portal Games have announced that two games originally planned for this year will only be published in 2021. Movie script pitching game Million Dollar Script and Cold War Detective spin-off Vienna Connection have been postponed.
We do get some previously unknown releases, though. Neuroshima Hex 3.0: Troglodytes adds a new faction to the post-apocalyptic strategy game. As the name suggests, they are a tad more primal than most – but if eating your own units is a winning strategy, it’s hard to argue with that.
A new faction also joins Monolith Arena. Golems are built in the arena, and even when they get damaged their constructors can fix them.
I’m usually highly critical of isolationist tendencies, but I can’t really hold it against fairies and gnomes that they only feel safe enough to build houses when no one else can get near them. After all, they are tiny and frequently mistreated. That’s the basic idea of Uwe Rosenberg’s tile placement duel Fairy Trails: tiles have pink fairy trails and yellow gnome trails, and only when a network of trains in your color has no open ends will tenants move in. First to place all houses wins. What makes Fairy Trails interesting is that all tiles have paths in both colors, and while you expand your own trails you also want to add open ends to your opponent’s trails and make it harder for him to close a network.
A few short weeks from now, in early July, Argyx Games will return to Kickstarter with another extra-deluxe escape box, filled with not only cards but papers and objects you’ll need to solve the puzzles. Their last project Apocalypse had you hunting a serial killer inspired by the Book of Revelations. The coming box Legacy will be a two part investigation into a hidden family treasure. Part one, Eiffel 1889, takes place during the construction of the Eiffel tower. In Hellas 2019 you must hunt the treasure on a modern day Greek island. Documents to decipher and objects to unlock will be part of the experience again, but online sources like specially created social network sites are in as well for a truly immersive experience.
Fantasy Flight Games
Cosmic Encounter, in all its various editions, lives by the shifting alliances between the players, never knowing who will be with you or against you in your next conflict. The two player variant Cosmic Encounter Duel lacks this aspect of the game, for obvious reasons. This preview post explains how the duel system will work. It lacks the influence of other players, but the bluffs and real surprises your opponent can pull from their sleeves will keep you on your toes.
Elf Creek Games
Running a merchant caravan is a tough job when you have to keep your business running through six months of night. No wonder that the largest part of Merchants of the Dark Road is preparing your caravan, not the actual trip. That’s your job. First, you move around the city of Highreach and prepare your caravan with goods, contracts and heroes, then you – with other players, if they care to join – set out beyond the city walls to make some money. To do your preparations you use an interesting, intricate sort of dice pipeline. A die from your pool replaces one of your dice in a slot, which triggers an action based on the slot and puts the dice in your action pool, from where you’ll use it to move your wagon around the city and then trigger the action from an adjacent district. And all that’s only the start, Merchants of the Dark Road has a lot of decisions to make and a lot of interlocking systems to exploit. Just the kind of game I can’t wait to get my teeth into.
With the roll-and-write renaissance still in full swing, game designers are finding other things that can be and-write-ified. Sonora is a flick-and-write game, so to mark things on your score pad you first have to flick a disc into one of the game board’s four scoring zones. Discs in each zone follow entirely different scoring rules, and where you want to put which disc is an interesting choice already. Placing your scoring marks requires a bit of strategy, too. But just hitting the right quarter of the game board wouldn’t be that much of a challenge. For that, and for a appropriate reward, you can aim for the bonus zones. For the real fun, though, you can try to push your opponents’ discs into another quarter and completely mess up their plans. I have to try it out to really pass judgement, but Sonora has potential to become one of my favorite and-write games.
For lack of a better categorization, Ctrl is a tile placement game in the third dimension. All you have to do is have more of your pieces – which are not technically tiles, but are placed in a similar manner – visible when the game ends. What makes this more tricky that usual is that your game board are five sides of a cube – the sixth side is where it rests on the table. So you meander your pieces around that cube in an effort to have the most faces of your pieces visible at the end. Since you can build on top of other pieces, things can get confusing.
Most railroad games focus on building the tracks and making a profit. That’s not all there is to railroads. In Switch & Signal, which Kosmos have announced on their Instagram last week, the tracks are already there. The players control switches, signals and cargo yard to achieve their shared goal of delivering cargo to its destination in time. With trains moving from a number of origins, to a number of destinations, at different speeds, this will require a good deal of communication and coordination. In other words, exactly what we want in a cooperative game.
The Anno series of computer games is one of the oldest ones still around. Not as old as the likes of Super Mario, but the first Anno game was published in 1998. Anno 1800 is not the first tabletop spinoff to come from this series, but it is the one Kosmos will release this fall. It is also a Martin Wallace design, and promises complex production chains, different specializations for your people, oversea trade, and direct competition for achievements for your island. Going by the data on the box – suitable for age twelve and up, two hours playing time – Anno 1800 is going to be a heavier game than previous tabletop adaptations.Given the relative complexity of the video games, that sounds like a good fit.
Coming soon to a tabletop near you is Praga Caput Regni by publisher Delicious Games and designer Vladimír Suchý (Underwater Cities, The Prodigals Club, Pulsar 2849,…). In the city building game, players step into the shoes of wealthy citizens of medieval Prague. They will support the king’s ambitious building projects – landmarks you still find in Prague today – to gain his favor. The interesting new mechanism driving the action is the action crane. It always offers the same six actions to the players, but links them with ever changing costs and benefits, so timing will be an important skill. The only downside is that the timing for release of Praga Caput Regni is: not yet.
Pencil First Games
Sometimes I see a game with a theme so unusual it makes me think “that can’t possibly make a fun game” and then I read the rules and conclude that it will actually be a ton of fun. It’s always a pleasant surprise. The Whatnot Cabinet absolutely falls into that category. In this game you collect curious objects on a nature walk and exhibit them in a cabinet back home. But here’s what makes me think The Whatnot Cabinet will be great: you’ll collect your curios with a tiny but interesting action selection mechanism where you pick from random tiles, open tiles, and may manipulate the shared display for the following players, all the while the action you pick also sets the turn order for the next round. In your cabinet you will score points for objects of the same type in one direction, objects of the same color in the other, and your collection will compete for curiosity cards that go to the first player who meets their condition. The Whatnot Cabinet will be a light game, no doubt, but with all the things to consider when picking actions it will also be a tight game.
Hun in the Sun
I often regret that airships didn’t remain a popular mode of transportation. Sure, planes get you to places more quickly, but I would love to go places by airship, or to see them pass overhead. But my love for airships pales next to Max Pinucci and his team, who have already created a beautifully illustrated book about airships and are now kickstarting a boardgame about airships and maybe the craziest quest they were sent on in their heyday: the flight to the North Pole. In Airships – North Pole Quest that is your ultimate goal, but an expedition like that is expensive and you’ll have to take on other missions first to pay for the big one. You’ll also have to learn to navigate the polar region and its changing weather, using navigation tools of the time. I love the theme, I love the authenticity in navigation and overall design – and lets not overlook that, between the map board, the navigators’ tools and the airship miniatures, Airships is also a gorgeous piece of design work.
Michele Quondam, designer of heavy strategy games like Medioevo Universale and Romolo o Remo is back on Kickstarter with publisher Giochix.it to publish Trinidad. The Trinidad in question is Ciudad de la Santisima Trinidad, better known today as Buenos Aires. Players will have twelve decades to build the city. Building the city using 3D sculpts for every single building and using buildings’ effects to gather resources is only a small part of what you do with your workers, however. You’ll also manage your roster of affiliated characters, load the ships taking treasures back to Spain, and go to war with pirates and indigenous people threatening your city. You’ll even have to cooperate with your opponents because some historic buildings require more workers than a single player can muster. Trinidad is based on Michele’s own 2010 game Rio de la Plata, but it adds so many new systems around the original game that it wouldn’t be accurate to call it a new edition. This also means that Trinidad will be more complex than Rio de la Plata, which is itself not a light game. Sounds like a game for real deep strategy fans.
This week’s featured photo shows the Giant’s Causeway on the coast of Northern Ireland. Obviously we know now that the some 40.000 basalt columns were not put in the sea by giants to cross over to Scotland, but looking at them you can see where the belief comes from. This beautiful photo was taken and kindly shared by Giuseppe Milo. Thanks a lot for sharing, Giuseppe! (Giant’s Causeway – Northern Ireland – Seascape photography, Giuseppe Milo, CC-BY, cropped and resized)