Kingdomino

Kingdomino

Bruno Cathala is one of those game designers who aren’t married to one genre or one game mechanic they keep coming back to. Games with his name on the box include Shadows over Camelot, Cyclades, 7 Wonders: Duel and many more. The only thing they really have in common is that they are great games. That list is now joined by Kingdomino, a kingdom building game using Dominoes-like tiles. It’s a light family game and has nothing in common with any of Bruno’s other games, mechanically speaking. It is nominated for the Spiel des Jahres 2017, usually a good indicator for a great game.

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Clans of Caledonia

Clans of Caledonia

Here’s another first for us: we’re doing a review of a game that doesn’t exist yet. At least, not really. Clans of Caledonia only just started it’s run on Kickstarter, but thanks to Tabletopia we already had the chance to test it extensively.

Clans of Caledonia is the new game by Juma Al-JouJou and Karma Games, previously presented here with Green Deal. Clans of Caledonia is a very different game from that one. Both are heavier games with a strong economic component, but that’s where it ends. Instead of a tidy, modern office Clans of Caledonia sets you down smack in the middle of the Scottish highlands some time in the 19th century. No, it’s not Outlander – The Boardgame.

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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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Kanagawa

Kanagawa

In Kanagawa, all players are disciples of Master Painter Hokusai, trying to learn in his studio of art how to produce visual effects on canvas, capturing the mood of the different seasons as well as specific objects like trees, buildings, characters and animals. And while his wisdom is available to everyone, not every disciple can take away the same learning from the Master.

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Small Star Empires

Small Star Empires

The final frontier… Space. The last remaining adventure, vast and (mostly) unexplored. We could go on about rogues, treks and storm troopers, towels, the Force and Lord Helmet – but today we would rather focus on a less mainstream but without a doubt worthy item: Milan Tasevski’s short and easy-to-learn, but still very replay-worthy Small Star Empires.

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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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Trickerion: Legends of Illusion

Trickerion: Legends of Illusion

There are many boardgames about wizards throwing fireballs at things, but very few about the other kind of magic, the kind where skilled performers go on stage and make their audience think that magic might be real. One of those few games is Trickerion, an intensely strategic worker placement game with many details to keep track of and very limited …. well, everything. Between limited resources, limited time and limited space, every decision is tough. Just the way we like it.

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The Gallerist

The Gallerist

Once they get into gaming, most people discover their go-to designers at some point, the handful of designers who’s name is enough to make them buy a game. Vital Lacerda is one of my go-to designers, and so it was only with a slight hesitation that I took the big chunk of cash from my wallet to pay for the huge box that is The Gallerist. And I haven’t regretted the decision since, The Gallerist has exactly what I love Vital’s designs for: finely interwoven game mechanics that seem complex at first, maybe even convoluted, but reveal an elegant design underneath and meaningful, multi-dimensional decisions on every turn.

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Among Nobles

Among Nobles

Building a dynasty of nobles, how much drier can the concept of a game possibly sound. Have children, marry them to other families, repeat until rich and and famous. I was happy to find out that this prejudice was dead wrong. Despite its theme, Among Nobles is anything but dry, it has a great balance of simple rules, strategic decision and player interaction.

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