Now that I think about it, it’s been quite a while since we talked about a new Reiner Knizia game. Here it is, though: Whale Riders. In this relatively straightforward game you ride your whale down the coast once, and back up the coast once, and trade along the way. At every stop you may buy goods, which you’ll use to fulfill contracts. Those, in turn, give you money to buy more goods, and pearls to win the game. Making many stops along the way would allow you to fulfill more contracts, but returning home early lets you buy some extra pearls, and the game ends when those are all gone. Simple enough, but with an interesting dilemma about going fast or being thorough.
Everything is different this year, even for simple hobbies like boardgames. With all conventions cancelled, publishers have to invent different ways to jumpstart their new releases. For Friedemann Friese’s new game Feierabend (Finishing Time), 2F-Spiele will launch in the Boardgamegeekstore and in the new German boardgame portal 4X‘s store first. Feierabend is an After-Worker-Placement game. It’s like a worker placement game, but by the time you place the workers they’ll have done their seventy hours a week at the factory already. Your job is to help them relax, work with unions to reduce their working hours, make sure they can afford to live, and generally create a better work-life-balance for them. Winner is not the most productive team, but the most relaxed one. It’s funny we learn about Friedemann’s new social justice game just a week after we finally reviewed his Futuropia with a similar theme. Funny, but welcome. If you consider boardgame design an art form, then you acknowledge a responsibility to sometimes talk about problems, not only to entertain. I’m happy Friedemann Friese repeatedly steps up in that regard.
Don’t read this bit of news when hungry, we’re going to talk about donuts. Donuts are the whole point of Dollars to Donuts by Crafty Games. It’s a tile placement game, so you’re going to buy tiles with donuts. Half donuts, to be precise. You’ll place those on your player mat where they either match up with another half of the same flavor of donut to score you points, or they match up with another flavor of donut to earn you money. Money is important because you have to buy the donut tiles, and more money means more options. Also, the tiles are not the usual squares but long, narrow rectangles that will make you think a lot harder how best to place them. Even though Dollars to Donuts has simple rules, making the best move will often take some puzzling.
We’ve managed almost every kind of company and organization in boardgames, it’s about time we get to manage a university. Not any university, though, In Alma Mater we manage one of the first modern universities, a fifteenth century center of secular education. Our main job as chancellor of this fine institution will be to recruit the best masters and students and to invite the most reputable professors to give lectures. We do all this through a process we call worker placement. Just as important as placing your workers is managing your resources, since your university runs on a steady stream of money and textbooks that have to come from somewhere. And then you need space for all those books, and there are research projects to complete… I would complain that I have to take care of all that myself as the university’s chancellor, but taking care of all that is exactly why I want to play Alma Mater.
Do you ever feel like beating the stuffing out of a major city, and King of Tokyo just doesn’t have enough plastic skyscrapers to throw around? Godzilla: Tokyo Clash might be what you’re looking for. Up to four legendary kaiju – Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah, and Megalon – rampage across the city’s hex spaces. Each kaiju has their own deck of battle cards and their own strategy to go with it. From Nuclear Breath to throwing tanks at other monsters, it’s all there. Taking damage means removing cards from your deck, so the more injured you get the fewer options you’ll have. I’m not much into games that are all about beating up the other players, but I appreciate a good monster strategy game.
I really wish I could tell you more about Yacht Rock, but literally all I have is the description by design studio Prospero Hall: “Live the life of a 1970s soft-rock musician in Southern California, scheming and strategizing to boost your career. Score points by creating swanky outfits, recording hit songs, and attending schmoozy shindigs. It’s laid-back party-time fun!” Sounds like set collection might be a part of it. Really neat record and guitar pick tokens are definitely a part of it. And you’ll probably want the right soundtrack to play.
Not many food products have their own game. Not types of food, like pizza, but named products. From the top of my head i can only think of the Ritter Sport Catan expansion Der Schokoladenmarkt. And now: Pop-Tarts! The Pop-Tarts Card Game is a light card game where all you do is eat pop-tarts from the line between toaster and fridge. Doesn’t make sense to me, I think the pop-tarts would have to be beyond the toaster, but okay. Action cards let you mix up the line, change from which end of the line you’ll eat, and possibly other such things, all in an effort to eat the most valuable snacks. It’s light and quick… two things I soon won’t be if I keep writing about games about food.
Smirk & Dagger Games
Placing tiles to make paths can be much harder than it sounds. It becomes a downright nightmare when you have to do it in the dark and the paths keep changing as soon as they’re out of sight. That’s exactly what happens in Smirk & Dagger Games’s The Night Cage. The players are trapped in a nightmare maze with only a candle for light, and all they can see are the four spaces around them. As soon as the tile is out of the light it’s removed from the board, and when you go back there you get a new tile to take its place. Those are less than ideal circumstances for all the players to find a key and then meet up at the portal before their candles go out. If that wasn’t spooky enough, there are monsters in the dark that want nothing more than to plunge the world into darkness again. That’s way more creepy than any horror game with big, tentacle-y monsters could ever be.
Here it is, everyone, the game announcement we have all been waiting for. The third and supposedly final Pandemic Legacy game does not go even further into the future after the virulent apocalypse, it’s a prequel. Hence the name Pandemic Legacy Season Zero. When Z-Man Games releases the game later this year it will take players right to the height of the Cold War. As medically trained secret agents they have to uncover a secret Soviet bio-weapon program that will undoubtedly turn into the cause for later events. Once again, Season Zero will show how flexible the Pandemic engine is. You’ll be hunting spies this time. But it doesn’t change what works. We’ll still play a one year story campaign, and what we do will still irrevocably change the player characters and the world.
This week’s featured photo hails from Orange, France. It shows Orange’s Triumphal Arch, build by the Romans around 20CE. Can you imagine something you created still being around two-thousand years later? It boggles the mind. The photo was taken and kindly shared by Andy Hay. Thanks a lot, Andy! (Arc de Triomphe, Orange, Andy Hay, CC-BY, cropped and resized)