You’ve probably seen photos of the crazy highways of Tokyo, with loops of the Shuto Expressway criss-crossing with on-ramps, off-ramps, sideways-ramps and itself in multiple levels. (Not going through any buildings, though. The Gate Tower Building is in Osaka.) The Expressway turned out that way, at least in parts, because of the 1964 Olympic Games. The first bit of Shuto Expressway was opened in 1962, and for the Olympic Games Tokyo wanted to present an efficient, modern transport system. Building this way was the cheap and quick way to have the Expressway connect much of the city.
It’s obvious that there’s a game hidden in that story. Many designers could have done it, had they thought of it. Resource management, worker placement, a tight time limit, contract cards to connect certain neighborhoods… . But many designers didn’t think of it. Naotaka Shimamoto and Yoshiaki Tomioka did, and they made a very different game called Tokyo Highway.
There are many, many games set in H.P. Lovecraft’s Mythos universe, and they trend to be on the large side. Travel around the city, or even the world to stop the Great Old Ones from awakening. The scale makes sense when you consider that Cthulhu was put back to sleep by ramming him with a ship the last time he woke up. And he’s supposed to be small compared to some of the others.
What those games often forget is Lovecraft’s stories are not primarily the giant monster kind of horror. Much of Lovecraft’s writing is more intimate than that. It’s the horror of insanity that you may find, for instance, in the New England countryside. Or in a luxurious mansion anywhere in the world.
Fantasy Flight Games have in their catalog the biggest names of the former kind of game: Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror. But they also have the other side of Lovecraftian horror with Mansions of Madness.
It is the eighteenth century and the skies darken over England. That’s not a metaphor for anything, nor is it talking about the typical English weather. The Industrial Revolution has begun and coal smoke blackens the air and lungs of England.
The original Brass turned ten years old last year, but the game by Martin Wallace still holds a proud overall rank 24 on BoardGameGeek at the time of writing. Not bad in a time where new games are so numerous that many won’t even be remembered ten years from now.
Two new editions by Roxley are a great opportunity for us to review this modern classic. Technically it’s Brass: Lancashire that is a new edition of the original Brass, Brass: Birmingham is more like a spin-off. However, the two games are so similar in rules and theme that we decided to put them in one review and highlight the differences.
For many years a civilization of forest critters has prospered in the shadow of the mighty Ever Tree. Between grass, moss and rivers the bird, rodent, reptilian and amphibian people of Everdell have built a home. A home they are slowly outgrowing. And so some enterprising ones of them have set out in small groups to found new cities for their children to grow up in.
It will not come as a surprise that each player leads one of those expeditions away from the Ever Tree. Into the wild, the unknown… the adventure. How much of a city can you build in only one year?
Gigawatts of power roar to life right behind you seat. There is no space for luxury in your spacecraft. This thing wasn’t built for comfort, it was built to win the fastest and longest race in human history. Longest in distance covered, that is. The time of a Powerships race is about half an hour. The distance covered is the whole solar system. Sometimes twice. Where we’re going we don’t need the laws of physics.
Powerships is a racing game by Corné van Moorsel and a remake of his own Powerboats. There are no bells or whistles to it. You set out the course and up to seven players put their interplanetary pedal to the metal. First to the finish line wins.
The night is moonless and cloudy, entirely dark except for a faint, multi-hued glow from the wizards tower. The night is also silent, except for the almost inaudible, metallic noise of thieves screwing pitons into ancient masonry. Wait! Thieves? Why, yes. That would be you.
The two to five players in 10 Minute Heist: The Wizard’s Tower are thieves breaking into the tower of wizard Alazar, collector and protector of rare and dangerous magical items. But that old sorcerer has vanished and for once has gone away. A perfect opportunity.
Welcome to the jungle we’ve got fun and games. It’s a little known fact that Guns N’ Roses recorded this song in just one take, with no written music or lyrics, after trying an early prototype of Reiner Knizia’s The Quest for El Dorado. Yeah, those guys are gamers, too.
The Quest for El Dorado packs everything the lyrics promise. There’s quite a lot of jungle, because that’s where the fabled city of El Dorado happens to be. And there’s a lot of fun and games for the whole family, because El Dorado is a family deck building game with enough fun in the box to earn a nomination for the 2017 Spiel des Jahres.
The Bronze Age was the beginning of empires on Earth. Political and cultural units larger than just one settlement started appearing anywhere people can live. Larger cities happened. Trade between them became essential. And with trade the empires spread further.
With Bronze you get the chance to spread your own Bronze Age empire, not in a big, complex civilization builder but in a quick, streamlined game with simple rules but complex decisions. Everything you do seems trivial, but there are many consequences attached to your choices.
In the Year of our Hare 1492 Bunstoph Columbun, an acute listener even among bunnies, heard sounds of life from the other side of the Atbuntic Ocean. A New World thus discovered, the rush for colonizing it began. Up to four Rabbit Lords go to make this new world theirs in the name of the great Bunny King. The most successful of them will earn the coveted title of Big Ears plus all the golden carrots their ships can carry.
Bunny Kingdom is a card drafting and area control game by the illustrious Richard Garfield, inventor of such things as Magic: The Gathering and Robo Rally. This new game has a deceptively cute theme and design, but don’t let that fool you. The contest for the new world is fought with all the cunning a bunny can muster.
Dragon Castle is a game based on Mahjong Solitaire. It takes the basics of the classic game and builds around it until we get a modern, Euro-style game that can have up to four players.