Meople News: The State of the Situation

Renegade Game Studios

The Snallygaster Situation
(Renegade Game Studios)

Renegade Game Studios will release The Snallygaster Situation, an asymmetric cooperative board game based on the popular role playing game Kids on Bikes. Like in Kids on Bikes, players in The Snallygaster Situation will be kids in a small town in the US faced with supernatural problems. In this case, one of their own has gone missing and the others need to find the missing kid before they can all together defeat the monster. The missing kid player plays cards to give clues to their whereabouts, referring to landmarks, street names, and the like. It’s not clear from the description if those cards will have text, pictures, or both to give the other players important information and make them move to the right place. Either way, the mode of communication seems similar to games like Mysterium. However, The Snallygaster Situation complicates things for the missing kid. The cards not only have clues for the other players, they also move the monster and the Feds around the board, and being caught by either of them is a bit of a setback. Sometimes you’ll have a great clue card to play, but as a side effect it will get someone caught. That’s an intriguing addition to this style of game.

Osprey Publishing

Since his Ragusa last year, Fabio Lopiano is another guy to keep an eye on for strategy games. It now looks very much like that was more than a one-off, because his new design Merv: The Heart of the Silk Road, looks just as deep and polished. Like in so many games before it, your goal in Merv is to amass wealth and power, and sitting on the Silk Road puts you in a great position for that. There’s a little more than just trade to take care of in Merv, though. You get involved in court intrigues, make donations to the grand mosque construction, and did I mention the Mongols might be coming? Contributing to the city walls is a drain on your resources, but not having the city protected will end badly for everyone. For bonus points, Merv‘s art is by Ian O’Toole (The Gallerist, Lisboa, …), so you can be sure it’ll look amazing, too.

Capstone Games

As you can probably guess, boardgames are one of my favorite things in the world, especially heavier games. As regular readers probably know as well, coffee is another one of my favorite things, especially single origin, fair trade coffee. A heavy game about fair trade coffee? Excuse me, I think I have to lie down for a bit, just until I stop hyperventilating. In Capstone Games’ Coffee Traders you’ll build coffee plantations in some of the world’s famous coffee regions, establish an international trade network, roast the sacred beans and distributes them to cafes everywhere. And while profit is obviously your goal, improving your coffee farmers’ lives by building hospitals, for example, is also part of the game. Those improvements, as far as I can tell without seeing the rulebook, don’t help you personally, but the region, including other players investing there as well. There’s also a mechanism to piggyback on other players’ actions to get more down without using your own actions. Coffee Traders is going to be strategic, interactive, and, between coffee and the fair trade movement, deals with things that are important to me. This game is me-bait.

Board & Dice

(Board & Dice)

Here’s the second new Fabio Lopiano game we get to talk about in as many weeks. Publisher Board & Dice describes Zapotec as a medium heavy introduction game, but it’s nevertheless mechanically very interesting. Building the city of Monte Albán – the original name is apparently unknown – works with cards. The one card you play on your turn tells you three things: your turn order, the resources you produce, and where you may place buildings. Drafting new cards at the end of the round gets even more interesting, though, because the one card that stays behind decides the scoring bonus for the next round. You not only want to get the right card, you also want the right card to be left. Let’s hope those are not the same cards. You only do this for five rounds, so there really isn’t much time to build pyramids, make sacrifices, and optimize your resource production.

Ares Games

If there’s one thing post-apocalyptic fiction has taught as, it’s this: there are no circumstances so messed up that humans won’t try to – and often manage – survive in them. In Last Aurora we were all survivors in a nuclear winter wasteland, desperately trying with our convoy to reach the Aurora, the icebreaker looking for survivors. In the expansion Project Athena we’re the unfortunate survivors that didn’t make it in time. Do we give up, though? Well, obviously not, that would be a bad game. We try to catch up with the Aurora. There’s one problem. The way leads through a military controlled by Athena, the AI that nuked the world in the first place, and it’s still not a fan of humanity. And you thought being trapped in eternal winter was tough.

The 11th century marked, among many other things, the rise of the Italian city states that shaped history for centuries to come. Venice, Genoa, Ragusa, and so on got rich on maritime trade while also emerging from medieval, monarchist forms of government. An exciting time that Città-Stato (city state) lets you be part of. Somewhat unusual for this kind of game, it does so without a map board, instead building your city and maritime empire in a more abstract way by improving your city on various tracks and adding cards with special abilities. You control your city state with six actions that you have to pay with cubes of the matching colors, more cubes the more actions you’ve already taken that round. The cubes come from your personal resource bag, so which actions you can reliably pick depends on how you build your bag. When you add cards to your city, you can either play them for the card effect, or you can “burn” them and add them to a stack of cards of the same color, unlocking more powerful effects the more cards are in that stack. War is also a part of the game, in the very abstract sense that when going to war, the player that pays more wins. Not going to war gives you the chance to consolidate your government at home. And through all this, all players have a secret government card that will decide how they score points at the end of the game. Città-Stato is more abstract than other games with its theme, but thanks to that you end up with a game that plays out in an hour and a bit without sacrificing strategic depth.

This week’s breathtaking featured photo was taken by Rod Waddingto in the Omo Valley, Ethiopia. I have no words to describe how beautiful that is. Thanks a lot for sharing, Rod! (Omo Valley, Rod Waddington, CC-BY-SA, resized and cropped)

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