Brass: Lancashire & Birmingham

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.

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Bronze

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.

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Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg

The Quedlinburg Quacks are not the east German town’s hockey team. Neither are the Quacks of Quedlinburg a family of celebrity ducks living in the area. I would love if they were, though. No, The Quacks of Quedlinburg (original title: Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg, no official English title yet) is one of Wolfgang Warsch’s games on this year’s Spiel des Jahres shortlists. We already reviewed the others (Ganz Schön Clever and The Mind), so today we’ll talk about quacks and snake oil salesmen.

The players in Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg are charlatans selling their potions and tinctures at the annual fair in Quedlinburg. At least, they will sell them if they manage to make them without blowing up their kettle. Spoiler: they won’t. Not reliably. The possibility of your kettle exploding is the fun. And the best part: when it does explode you have no one to blame but yourself.

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Pulsar 2849

Pulsars are certain types of stars that emit a tight beam of electromagnetic radiation. The beam doesn’t really pulse, it just appears that way because a pulsar rotates with a frankly ridiculous speed and we can only detect the beam when it’s pointed our way. Now, something the size of a star rotating in a matter of seconds or even milliseconds, that’s a lot of energy. And where is a lot of energy there are people thinking how to harvest it. Harvesting energy from pulsars is a wee bit beyond our current technology. But in the future, like, maybe in the year 2849?

Building pulsar-powered power plants, so called gyrodynes, is your job in Vladimír Suchý’s Pulsar 2849. A gyrodyne is basically a stellar scale dynamo, a ring built around a pulsar that turns with the force of the rotating star and transmits the energy generated elsewhere. But what powers the construction of a structure of that magnitude? Dice!

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Update: Clans of Caledonia

It’s been almost a year since we reviewed Juma al-JouJou’s Clans of Caledonia. Our review back then was based on the Tabletopia version of the game because the Kickstarter for the physical edition had just started. We’ve spent some time playing the paper-and-wood edition since then and it seems like a good time for an update.

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Great Western Trail

Great Western Trail

Alexander Pfister’s Great Western Trail is a game about making old cowboys sad. When it starts the prairie is still wide open with only a few neutral buildings around. You drive small herds of mangy cattle to Kansas City. And if that cattle goes all the way to Santa Fe on the train then you can say it’s seen the wide world. The more the game progresses, the more buildings will clutter the prairie, the bigger and more expensive the herds get, and the further the cattle will be shipped. What makes the old cowboy sad will be the same thing that makes players happy, because every one of those developments is under the players’ control in their pursuit of victory points.

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Mea Culpa

Mea Culpa

Way too many religions in the world threaten their believers with going to a bad place if they misbehave. Let’s call it Hell. Or maybe Purgatory, if there’s a chance you might leave and go to a good place at some point. Think about that what you will. But in the Middle Ages, one religion went a step further than usual with this belief: the Catholic church offered their believers a way to buy themselves free from eternal punishment. With the purchase of a papal Indulgence, they advertised, your soul will go straight to heaven, all your sins forgiven. And as a side effect, the money will pay for a shiny new basilica in Rome. This practice was not universally popular. It was so unpopular, in fact, that a German priest and theologian rallied against it and caused a schism in the church that was never mended. And that’s why we get Mea Culpa, a game about indulgences, this year, exactly 500 years, after Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg.

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World's Fair 1893

World’s Fair 1893

The World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago has mostly fallen from general awareness. In its day, however, there was a consensus that this event had a transformational power in America exceeding anything since the American Civil War. Calling the game World’s Fair 1893 transformational might be going a bit far, but it’s in one league with many of the novelties presented at the 1893 World’s Fair.

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Age of Thieves

Age of Thieves

Age of Thieves is not a game about collecting victory points or anything mundane like that. It is about nothing less but fleeing a city under a full-fledged state of alarm – with guards roaming the streets and alleys – while casually carrying the most valuable jewels you can out of the city.

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Ulm

German cities tend to have a long and eventful history. Germany is also one of the origins of modern boardgames. It comes as little surprise that many German cities have already been used as setting for boardgames. Cologne has Colonia, Hamburg Hamburgum, Trier Porta Nigra, and the list goes on. One city not so blessed so far is Ulm. Until now, that is, because now there is Ulm, a medium heavy strategy game Günter Burkhardt designed around the city.

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