Feuerland Spiele will soon release a new tile placement game by Uwe Rosenberg (Patchwork, Cottage Garden,…). In New York Zoo you build … well, you can guess what you’ll be building, can’t you? New York Zoo uses a tile picking rondell similar to Patchwork and other Rosenberg games, but more advanced. On some spaces of the rondell you pick tiles that will become enclosures in your zoo, on others you pick animals to populate them. Animals in enclosures will occasionally reproduce, and when they fill up an enclosure you may take a bonus attraction that will help you fill your zoo terrain. Having to fill your enclosures, and timing that right to profit from the reproduction phases, adds interesting strategic decisions to what might otherwise have been a simple tile placement game.
Rio Grande Games
It’s the 23rd century and, to everyone’s surprise humanity still hasn’t fucked up Earth to the point of their own extinction. Nevertheless, it’s time to get off this rock and into the wider galaxy in Beyond the Sun. In an interesting change from most space exploration and colonization games, Beyond the Sun doesn’t just have technology tree, it’s driven by it. The actions you need to go to other stars you need to research first. The technology tree is variable and shared between the players, so by inventing a technology you make it available for other players, but you also take a spot on the tech tree where they might have wanted to put something else. How are you going to make your mark on the galaxy? Make the biggest inventions? Have the biggest fleet? Colonize the most planets? They can all be ways to win.
Engine-building game Furnace, Hobby World’s Essen release for this year, has simple rules, but not so simple strategy. Every round, you have an auction for some factory buildings. In the following production phase, your factories produce goods, refine them into more valuable goods, and finally make money for you. Factories are upgradable, giving you another way to hopefully turn your money into more money. Who builds the most efficient production chains and, consequently has the most money after four rounds, wins the game. I don’t know about you, but for me there are few things in games more satisfying than building a long, profitable production chain.
Board & Dice
Coming early next year from Board & Dice is Mandala Stones, “a game of tranquility and beauty”. That description may be true, but from the brief description it also sounds like an abstract game of scratching your head a lot. It shouldn’t be too hard in theory. There are only two possible actions. Either you move an artist across the board, take all adjacent stones with the same pattern as the artist, and stack them in towers on your player board, or you score towers with the same color on your player board. Simple stuff, but I suspect that doing one action by pattern and the other by color will make things tricky.
Deck building and civilization building sounds like a great match, doesn’t it? That will be the two Imperium games by Nigel Buckle and Dávid Turczi, coming next year from Osprey Games. In your century-spanning quest to build a great empire you’ll have to balance conquest and science while keeping internal unrest at bay. The two games will have eight civilizations each. Imperium: Classics will have just that, the genre classics like Romans, Greeks, and Persians. The more challenging Imperium: Legends has less frequently seen cultures like the Minoans, Qin, and Olmecs, plus some entirely fictional ones like Atlantis and Utopia. Of course you’ll be able to mix the two games, which will give you more than four-hundred unique cards to play with.
Sinister Fish Games
The real money today is in real estate. Condos, malls, student housing, Ferris wheels – okay, maybe that last one is only in games. Anyway, owning real estate in the right places where you attract the right crowd, that’s how you do it. That’s how you do it in Streets, too, a tile laying game with a very interesting dynamic. The tiles you place are buildings, and each building attracts different types of people, meaning colors of meeples. So far, so good, but now things get interesting. You don’t just build one street, you build side streets, too. When the main street is finished, the inhabimeeples move on to new buildings matching their color, and their owner may score for them again. Each kind of building has different rules for scoring, so you might make money for symbols in the street, meeoples on the tile, and others, so what to do where and when will be fun to figure out. At the same time, Streets keeps moving quickly all the way through. It might not make you as rich as an actual real estate business, but fun is more important than money any day of the week.
Cogito Ergo Meeple
Cogito Ergo Meeple is a superb name for a game publisher, but quite apart from that their new Kickstarter Philosophia: Floating World sounds super interesting. It’s set in a mythological version of medieval Japan, which is interesting in itself and allows for the beautiful art. Really interesting, though, is that it’s a simultaneous play deck-building game with an I-cut-you-choose mechanism. You build your deck, but for each hand you draw another player discards one card, splits the rest into two stacks, one of which you choose to play with. Those cards have the actions to travel around Japan, fight monsters, build pagodas – and thanks to the cut-and-choose you won’t have full control what you can do. Good times! No, seriously, I mean it, this sounds like a game I’ll love.
Ted Alspach’s Silver saga continues with Silver Dagger, the fourth game in the series. Like its predecessors it will have fourteen roles for your villagers, you’ll win by having fewer werewolf points in your village than the other players, and you can mix it up with any of the other games if you wish. How good Silver Dagger will be depends on the role cards, and the ones mentioned in the preview sound interesting. The puny Halfling cuts your score in half, cool but not outstanding. Then we get to the good stuff, though. The Debt Collector reduces your score by the number of cards your opponents are holding, making him less valuable the longer a round goes. And then there’s the Zombie, which can’t be discarded like every other card, and the only way to get rid of it is to use its face-up effect to pass it to the previous player. The Silver games are very light, but nevertheless those different characters make a new one a new, fun experience.
Clevergreen Board Games
Shards of the Jaguar is one of those games where I read the description, I understand how to play it, but I really can’t imagine how it will play out. The Kickstarter page describes it as a competitive dungeon deduction game. The players descend into the temple of the jaguar god to retrieve the sacred shards – and stop the others from doing the same. Every round you’ll set different traps, then you’ll move through the temple and try not to trigger the other players’ traps. So you’ll want to predict what the others will do in order to catch them in your traps, but your own actions will give away what kind of trap you might have set. It’s an interesting concept, and a very strong visual design. I really want to try it, but I can’t guess how it will feel.
Stonemaier Games’s civilization building game Tapestry is too good to stay alone, isn’t it? Well, here’s the expansion! Plans & Ploys will add a lot to keep the game fresh. New civilizations are a given for expansions in this genre, and you’ll get those. You’ll also get ways to add landmark buildings to your capital, and you’ll get a way to “sneakily interact with the opposition”. That last bit is a bit vague, but the implication that we might get to play with spies and smugglers is awesome. Too many civilization games forget about those guys.
Previously in Vital Lacerda games, we reconstructed Lisboa after it was completely destroyed. In this episode, and co-designed by Julián Pombo, we scale down a bit and only build the Mercado de Lisboa, the Lisbon market. Mercado de Lisboa takes one subsystem of Lisboa, the tile placement as you rebuild the city, and makes a new game from just that system. You now place food stalls in the market, and around that area you place customers looking for food. If they find the food they want, they give you money. Taking one system out of the complex ecosystem that is Lisboa obviously gives you a much lighter game, but there is enough meat to make an interesting tactical game that also plays in less than an hour.
The photo of the week, taken by Bernard Spragg, shows Milford Sound, or Piopiotahi in Maori, part of the Fiordland National Park and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Site in New Zealand. Just… wow. (Milford Sound NZ, Bernard Spragg. NZ, Public Domain, cropped and resized)