Meople News: Reality-bending Heist

Grail Games

Many dexterity games don’t have much going on besides the dexterity part. Many, but not all, if you’ll excuse the confusing negation there. What I mean to say is, Hibachi is a dexterity game that has more going on. As chefs around the hibachi grill in a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant, the players compete for ingredients to complete their dishes. Acquiring ingredients is the dexterity part, you get them by throwing your player chips on the ingredient bowls. But like I said, that’s not all. Landing your chips on a bowl doesn’t give you the ingredients you want yet, it gives you the right to buy them, at the price printed on one side of your chip. If you tossed it right, the other players won’t see it until it’s time to buy. Money is a scarce resource in Hibachi, so sometimes you want to throw a high number and sell – and sometimes you want to push another player’s chip out to mess with their plans. Then you need the right ingredients for recipes before your opponents can claim them, and think about the special actions also available on the board. If you can hit them, that is. It’s not a hugely complex game, but it’s a dexterity game with important tactical decisions, and that’s a happy combination.


If you watched any heist movie, you know the most important thing for a successful heist: the right team of specialists. Building that team will be your most important job in The Specialists. You want them with the right skills. You want them with the right abilities. You want a diverse team with different strengths, but you also want specialists from the same field because then you can activate them all at once. That last part is important, because your biggest challenge in The Specialists is the action economy. Recruiting a specialist costs a die, activating a specialist costs a die, pulling off a heists costs a die plus some equipment that you first had to acquire by activating specialists. You only get one die per round unless you find ways to get more, for example through specialists that you have to activate, again using dice. You see a theme here, right? The Specialists is pretty straightforward to play, but building a team to deal with the very limited number of actions you can take will be a fun challenge, especially when everyone else is trying to recruit the specialists first.


Apparently Kosmos have announced a sequel to The Crew. The new game is called Die Crew: Mission Tiefsee (translated The Crew: Mission Deep Sea), so it has a new theme and so far unspecified new game mechanisms. I say apparently because they only post those things on their Instagram, and that’s just like yelling out the window for reaching an audience.

Game Brewer

Prepare to be mildly and entertainingly confused. The new Kickstarter by Game Brewer is called Rulebenders, and that name is a promise. The game’s rules are set by a number of rules panels where players invest their energy cubes, and the player with the majority may change that panel’s rule for the next round. That includes things like switching the currency used to pay for things between energy cubes, point chips, or hand cards, change the hand size, change how much energy and cards every player receives, even change the active theme. Theme? That’s the other confusing part of Rulebenders. From six themes like Fantasy, Pirates, and Sci-Fi you pick four per game from which you’ll be using cards, and the active theme is the one from which you can play cards – unless the current rules say you can play others, too. Confused yet? Yeah, me too. It won’t be easy to figure out a coherent strategy when everything keeps changing around you. When you manage, though, it’ll be very satisfying.

Joe Magic Games

Levitation! is a magical engine building game, not in the sense that you build a magical engine, but that it’s a magical game where you build an engine. And that’s magic as in stage magic and illusion. Drafting dice will let you acquire magic tricks, acquire ticket tokens, and use ticket tokens to perform in cities for rewards. The engine building is in the magic tricks. When you draft a dice, you may activate tricks with matching dice colors for all sorts of useful effects. The catch is, to activate your tricks you also need acclaim cubes, and you start the game with very few of them. To get more, you need to perform. So on the one hand you need tricks to have more options, on the other you need more acclaim cubes to activate more tricks per round. Then you also need dice of the right color and, at the same time, with the right value to take the action you need. And that’s why you need that engine working, because without it you’ll never get everything done.

Academy Games

Meaningfully using the third dimension is something that few boardgames have tried, and even fewer have really achieved the meaningful. Reality Shift might be one of those rare ones. It’s technically a simple racing game, but the track is made from magnetic cubes and your racer can go on all sides of them. That in itself is not such a big deal. Besides moving your racer, however, you can also modify the track, shift and turn cubes to create a way for you to reach the finish line. Even more fun, if you manage to crush an opponent’s racer between two cubes they have to restart from their last checkpoint. Ouch. The racing part is actually pretty simple, but rearranging the track on the fly in three dimensions, that promises to be fun.

Reality Shift
(Academy Games)

This week’s featured photo shows a mosaic at Nea Paphos, Cyprus. The site of the Mycenean city is said to have some of the most beautiful mosaics in the world, and looking at this photo I can’t disagree. The photo was taken and shared by Flickr user einalem. Thanks a lot for sharing! (Mosaics in Paphos, einalem, CC-BY-SA, resized and cropped)