Galactic Raptor Games
New roll-and-write games still keep coming, and to my continuing surprise this new generation of an old genre is mostly fun. Take Roar and Write!, for example, a game where you try to be elected supreme monarch of all the animals. Not only does it have a great name, it’s also full of interesting decisions. Like in many roll-and-write games before, you roll your dice three times per turn. Unlike many of those games, you’re not just trying to roll the right combination of dice to score. That is part of it, the right combination of dice are used to influence members of the selection committee who will give you points. But some dice might go to one of the five animal kingdoms instead, where you can slowly accumulate points throughout the game. You’ll also have to decide which committee member to influence. Having them all in your pocket is worth a nice bonus, but if your dice allow it a repeat visit might be more valuable. And then you’ll also have a secret agenda to keep in mind for all your decisions. Roar and Write! is still super quick to learn, one of the big advantages of most roll-and-write games, but it’s also full of juicy decisions and a healthy dose of pressing your luck. Just don’t tell me the elections are rigged anyway and the lion has already won. Go vote!
Legacy games and other systems of games with persistent development across many games played are sort of common now. An expansion that takes an existing game and legacyfies it, that’s unusual, so I’m understandably curious about Rise of the Empire, the Imperial Settlers expansion that does just that. In a new series of blog posts Ignacy Trzewiczek will explain what he calls the three pillars of Rise of the Empire. The first pillar: Provinces. The idea is pretty simple, after a game of Rise of the Empire you gain a new Province to add to your empire, and in future games you start with the Province already on the table. All Provinces produce resources, so that’s pretty good, but it’s not all roses. Provinces also cost upkeep, and if you can’t pay that at the end of a game your nice Provinces disappear as quickly as they come. Now I’m really curious what the other pillars will be.
I’m a fan of games dealing with serious matters, that’s not what I find odd about Armando Canales’s The Cost. What’s odd is how specific it is: a game about asbestos production. Remember the stuff? Fireproof? Gives you lung cancer? Still unrestricted in all of North America? That’s the stuff you’ll be mining and refining on a global scale. Each round you pick a country, you draft three actions to take in that country, then you may spend your hard-earned money on resources specific to the country. I’m actually quite curious how that will feel in play. What gives The Cost an interesting twist and, at the same time, makes it a serious treatment of issues in many industries, not only asbestos production, is one core decision. Do you maximize your profit and risk many of your workers dying, or do spend more on safety but possibly prevent bans on your entire industry. That’s an option in The Cost, if you’re too careless with your workers, the game might end early because your whole industry is shut down. The winner, however, is still the player with the most money at that point. That’s an interesting treatment of sustainability in a game, and it explains the current state of the world, too. Odd theme, but a game that needed to be made.
Distant Rabbit Games
Social deduction games generally only work with four or more players. Mantis Falls is one of the rare exceptions, a social deduction game specially for two or three players. Those players have witnessed a crime in Mantis Falls, a quiet 1940s mountain town. Now they must work together to survive until morning and make it to the diner at the end of the street. In some games, they’ll cooperate to survive, meaning they’ll play the best cards to help each other but may occasionally have no choice but hurting their partner. In other games, one of the players will be assassin, and he’ll intentionally hurt the other players and claim he’s playing the best cards he has. Problem is, how do you tell the difference?
Czech Games Edition
The great boom of pure deckbuilding games is over, but it’s still going strong as a mechanism for use in bigger games. Bigger games like Lost Ruins of Arnak, Czech Games Edition’s 2020 big box release that mixes deckbuilding with worker placement. Your decision each turn is if you play a card for its effect or if you play it to place a worker on the board to take an action there. Managing your resource supply will be important for both options – and it won’t be easy. After all, you find yourself on an uncharted island, trying to be the first to find its secrets.
Aurora Game Studio
Before the Greek pantheon came into power, they had to overthrow the titans. That done, they immediately began to fight who should be their leader. That’s where we come in in Hybris – Disordered Cosmos. To become the most powerful, we rely on human worshippers, so we try to answer their prayers, fight monsters, and invent new technologies to give to our chosen people to prove we’re mighty and benevolent. We do that with a hidden action selection/worker placement system where we pick in advance where our workers will go, including places on Earth and in the metaphysical world. A second area of decisions is each players character board where their chosen deity has six enhancements to unlock. Having all six will immediately proof your destiny to lead, but each enhancement already gives you a nice upgrade. I’m pretty sure this will be one of those games where you never do everything you want to, just by the number of options you have and how few of them you can pick.
Perte & Fracas
Since death in honorable combat is not something you see much today, Odin has some trouble finding people deserving of Valhalla. But other than combat prowess, there is one other thing the Norse gods appreciate: rock music. The way forward is clear. In RagnaRok Star, the gates of Valhalla will open to the rock band that gains the most glory through their fans in a seven rounds long battle of the bands. Under the wacky theme and cartoony – but extremely pretty – art, there is a serious game. You’ll program five actions each round, in a way that you hope will bring the most fans to your concert hall – and keep them there, because rival bands will try to poach them. Or maybe they just don’t let you get to your fans, because placing icebergs in your way is also something they might do. While not a very heavy game, you have options to keep things interesting, and planning five actions in advance gives you ample opportunity to cross your opponents’ plans, if you predicted where they’ll be. So, do you have what it takes to be a RagnaRok Star?
When I think about real-time games, I think about frantic action with no time to think. That will no longer be true when Stonemaier Games releases Pendulum. Okay, the sand timers will still put a bit of pressure on your decisions, but they are forty-five seconds, two minutes, and three minutes long, and mostly you wait for them to run out so you get your workers back. Pendulum is a worker placement game where you pick for each action how much time you spend on it. More time means better results, but you also have to wait longer to get your guys back, so you have fewer total actions. It’s just real-time enough to not let you overthink things. As designer Travis Jones puts it in the designer diary, you treat time as another resource that you spend on your actions. A really neat idea that I want to try out as soon as I can.
Holy Grail Games
The Rallyman comeback keeps rolling. After Rallyman: GT earlier this year, Holy Grail Games have now launched Rallyman: DIRT on Kickstarter. For those who don’t know the Rallyman games, they are press-your-luck racing games. You plan your route on the track using gear dice, and then you move forward by rolling those dice and hoping you don’t get too many danger icons. That’s the very high level overview, at least. With track hazards like tight corners that limit what gear you can be in, the whole thing becomes much more strategic than you expect when you hear it’s press-your-luck game. Rallyman: DIRT is the dirt track variant of the game. Where Rallyman: GT offers heads-to-head racing on a clean track, Rallyman: DIRT is a time challenge race with more varied hazards on the track. You’ll need to balance your moves between going fast and staying on track.
This week’s featured photo shows the badlands in Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada. It’s not only a breathtaking landscape, it’s also one of the world’s richest areas in dinosaur fossils, with more than forty-four different species discovered there so far. The photo was taken and shared by Suzanne Schroeter. Thanks a lot, Suzanne! (Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta, Suzanne Schroeter, CC-BY-SA, cropped and resized)