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I’ve had some fun randomly picking out games to talk about from the GenCon preview.  But for this final installment, I’m picking out five of the games that interest me (that I haven’t already talked about).

image by BGG user mechanicalfish

image by BGG user mechanicalfish

Above and Below is a game that was Kickstarted back in March.  It won’t be for sale at GenCon, but the final version will likely be there for preview according to designer Ryan Laukat.  This is a city building game that is a mix of worker placement, card drafting, deck building, and storytelling.  Players are building a town above ground, but eventually will head underground.  In the caverns under the town, a story book much like the one in Tales of the Arabian Nights will be used.  Each player is trying to best develop their own village and are competing for the best resources to accomplish their goals.  In the end, the player with the best developed village wins.

This game looks really cool, and it’s one I’m eager to try out – I think I have a friend that backed it on Kickstarter.  The art looks great, the gameplay sounds pretty unique, and it just looks like a good all-around game.  Here’s Rahdo’s Run Through for a better description of how it works.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Consequential is a game I’ve been hearing about for years, and now it may be closer than ever.  It’s coming from Asmadi Games and should be in Kickstarter mode around GenCon with a late 2015 release scheduled.  The game is designed by Chris Cieslik, and I think originally Carl Chudyk was also involved, but his name no longer appears to be attached to the project.  It’s a cooperative board game that takes place over the course of several acts, all released separately, and uses a companion app to help tell the story.

I’ve been watching this project for so long, and there have been so many false starts that it’s kind of hard to believe that it will actually be coming out soon.  I think it was first being shown at GenCon 2012, so this is four GenCons later.  It’s no longer quite as innovative, with apps being used in a number of games, and I think my enthusiasm has waned as it keeps not coming to fruition.  But it’s still one that I’m keeping an eye on.  Here’s the BGG overview from GenCon 2012, though I suspect the game is quite a bit different now.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

It had to happen eventually.  Deck Building: The Deck Building Game is coming from Dice Hate Me Games and designer Christopher Badell.  It’s a game about building a deck.  You’re spending screws to purchase wood, building your deck, and staining the deck to keep your opponent from playing rotten wood on it.  It’s only a two-player game, and looks like it plays super quick.  I just like the audacity of naming your game after a mechanism and then creating a pun around it.  For more information, here’s the Dice Tower preview from Origins.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Discoveries, from Cédrick Chaboussit and Ludonaute, is the follow-up to the very good 2013 game Lewis & Clark.  This one is a dice game because that seems to be the trend lately – make a popular game, make a dice version.  Rather than being on competing expeditions, players are on the same expedition, but are trying to do the most journaling about their discoveries.  You roll your dice, then use them to do various actions.  You can also spend your turn to recover any dice that have been used previously.  You’re trying to create sets of flora and fauna, as well as to discover new areas and journal about them.  The player who has scored the most points at game end is the winner.

I’ve only played Lewis & Clark once, but really enjoyed it.  It has a unique deck-building mechanism where you are constantly adding cards to your hand, and your hand is your deck.  Once played, cards need to be recalled before they can be used again, which provides for some tense decisions so you’re not giving up too many points.  This game has that feel with dice, but is its own game.  Should be a good one.  Here’s Rahdo’s Run Through for more information.

image by BGG user lolcese

image by BGG user lolcese

Pharaoh’s Gulo Gulo (aka Phar-oh-oh!) is a retheme and rerelease of the highly popular Gulo Gulo.  Designed by Jürgen P. Grunau, Wolfgang Kramer, and Hans Raggan, this is a dexterity game about raiding Egyptian tombs.  On your turn, you either reveal the first unrevealed tile or choose a tile that has already been revealed in front of you.  You then must pull a boulder of that color out of a bowl.  If you are successful, you move to the next space of that color.  If the alarm stick or another boulder falls out, you go all the way back to start.  The first person to have two successful boulder grabs in the burial chamber is the winner.

I hear a lot about Gulo Gulo, and how it’s just this fantastic kid’s game that adults are generally terrible at with their fat fingers.  However, it’s been out of print for a while, so it’s good to see the game coming back.  I have to say, I like the title Phar-oh-oh! much better than Pharaoh’s Gulo Gulo – Gulo means wolverine in German, so it makes no sense in this game.  I know, it’s a branding thing, but still.  This is one I really want to check out.  Here’s a German preview video from HABA.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

I do want to give a final honorable mention to Mysterium, which I’ve played and reviewed previously.  The new edition from Libellud is being released at GenCon, and it’s going to be huge.  Grab a copy if you can – it’s a great game.

GenCon officially opens on Thursday.  If you’re going, have fun!  If not, there will be lots of GenCant events to participate in.  Whatever you do, have fun gaming and thanks for reading!

Time for another random GenCon preview.  This time, the randomly chosen numbers were 57, 69, 185, 302, 309. (By the way, I did this a couple of weeks ago, so the numbers may not line up any more.)  Let’s get to previewin’!

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Favor of the Pharaoh is a remake of Thomas Lehmann’s 2006 game To Court the King.  This one is being published by Bezier Games, and I think it’s only going to be available for demo at GenCon, with a Spiel release.  This is a dice rolling influence game where players take turns rolling their dice, then setting at least one aside.  Once you are finished rolling, you may use the dice to gain the favor of different characters.  This can get you new dice to roll, or give you different abilities to manipulate the dice.  Once you have gained the Queen’s favor, a final roll-off to gain the favor of the Pharaoh occurs.  The player with the highest final roll wins.

I’ve played To Court the King, and it was OK.  It completely got replaced for me by Kingsburg.  This release promises 50 characters, only 21 of which will be used from game to game, so that will probably increase the replay value.  It’s an Egyptian theme, which doesn’t really do anything to me, but that is a very nice cover.  Plus, Bezier Games has a really good reputation these days, so this is one I’m interested to hear more about.  Here’s the Board Games with Scott episode about To Court the King to get a better idea of that game.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Sushi Draft was originally published in 2012 by Japon Brand, but it’s getting a reprint this year by Blue Orange Games.  Designed by Takahiro, Sushi Draft is drafting game using a 32-card deck.  At the start of each round, players get a six card hand, draft one, then pass the rest.  Once all cards have been played, players get point tokens for having the most of particular types of sushi.  After three rounds, the player with the most points wins.

This is at least the second sushi drafting game I know of – Sushi Go is the other.  I’ve played that one and enjoy it, but it’s definitely not as small of a game as this one.  I won’t call this a microgame, I think there’s too much stuff, but I would probably call it a pocket game.  It looks interesting enough – not a fan of sushi, but it certainly makes for a good game theme.  See the Board Game Brawl review of the original edition here.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Welcome to the Dungeon was originally published in Japanese as Dungeon of Mandom in 2013, but IELLO is bringing out the English edition this year.  Designed by Masato Uesugi, Welcome to the Dungeon is a push-your-luck game about daring each other to go in with less and less equipment.  One of four adventurers is chosen as the character for the dungeon, then players draw cards and decide whether or not to add it to the dungeon.  If they do, the next player goes.  If not, the player removes one of the character’s pieces of equipment.  Once all but one player have passed, that player enters the dungeon and tries to beat all cards.  If they do, they get a victory card.  If not, they take a wound.  Two wounds and you’re out.  The object is to be the last one standing or to be the first to beat the dungeon twice.

This game seems a little like Gauntlet of Fools, though quicker and without the actually bidding mechanism of GoF.  I think I’m more interested in this one.  It’s a relatively small game (as seems to be the style in Japan), and this one is getting some good buzz.  Check out the Dice Tower review.

image by BGG jameystegmaier

image by BGG jameystegmaier

Between Two Cities is a design from Matthew O’Malley, Morten Monrad Pedersen, and Ben Rosset that is being published by Stonemaier Games.  I don’t think it will be for sale, just available for demo.  This is a city building drafting game where players are literally sitting between two cities, and working on both.  This means the city on their right is being built in cooperation with the player on their right, and the city on their left is being built in cooperation with the player on their left.  The game player over three rounds, and in the end, your lowest scoring city represents your final score and the highest final score wins.

If there’s a valid complaint about 7 Wonders (to me that is), it’s that there’s very low interaction.  You are basically only paying attention to the player on your left and the player on your right.  But here, you are forced to cooperate with the player on your left and right, discussing with them which city parts you should add.  And knowing that they are also in conversation with the player on their other side, you probably really have some negotiation to do.  This game looks fascinating, and I really hope to have an opportunity to try it out once it is released.  Here’s the Bower’s Game Corner review of the game.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Master Fox was designed by Frédéric Vuagnat and is being distributed in the US by IELLO.  This is a dexterity game where players are fishing around for different shapes while their vision is obscured by a fox mask.  Three animals are announced as the targets, then blindfolded players try to get those pieces.  You get a point for each one that is correct, and lose a point for each one that’s wrong.  In later rounds, other animals are introduced that grant certain abilities.  The first player to 10 points wins.

This looks like a nice light kid game that can be used for developing tactile senses.  It’s not strategic at all, but looks fun.  Check out the Dice Tower review for more.


One more random GenCon preview in the books!  GenCon actually starts next weekend, and I’ve got one more preview coming before that.  It may or may not be random.  Thanks for reading!

Portal Games is a Polish publisher that has really been making waves in the international market lately, primarily due to successful games like Robinson Crusoe and Imperial Settlers.  They’re releasing several titles at GenCon this year, and today, I want to look at two of them.  First up is

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Tides of Time was designed by Kristian Čurla.  It’s a two-player drafting microgame where players are building a civilization over time.  The game only comes with 18 cards, as well as a reference card, a scoring pad, a pencil, and four relic tokens.  At the start of the game, each player is dealt five cards.  From these cards, you will choose one, then pass the rest.  The chosen card will then be revealed, and you will choose a new card, passing the rest.  This continues until you have five cards played out in front of you, at which time you will score.  Each card has a different scoring condition on it, you will score for the conditions you met.

At the end of the first round, you will choose one card from the five you ended up playing to keep as a Relic of the Past.  Mark it with a Relic token…this card will remain in play for the rest of the game.  You’ll then remove one other card from the game, draw two more, and begin a new round drafting from your new hand of five.  This time, you will end up with six cards in play.  You’ll repeat this process at the end of the second round, meaning that after the third round, you will have seven cards in play.  At this time, the player with the most points wins.

I love the idea of microgames, but it seems like there are a lot of substandard ones out there.  There also seem to be a glut of games being called “micro” that I would not consider to be as such.  I still usually prefer the term “pocket games.”  But this one, I think, fits the description of a microgame very well.  It has a relative few cards, but seems to pack a lot of punch.  The different combinations of objectives look like they will keep the game fresh for a long time.  Additionally, I think it’s great that there’s a two-player drafting game on the market now.  So this is one I’m quite interested to check out.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot was designed by Ignacy Trzewiczek.  It’s a pirate-themed game for 2-5 players that utilizes scenarios and a unique dice rolling mechanism to create the experience.  The game comes with 20 pirate ship dice, 5 captain ship dice, 13 non-player (NP) ship dice, 27 sailor cards, 44 adventure cards, 8 VP cards, 6 port boards, a market token, 35 coins, 20 upgrade cards, 20 upgrade tokens, one ruler, one Wanted token, 5 double-sided captain tokens, 7 introductory adventures, 5 bow pieces, 5 mast pieces, 5 stern pieces, 45 part pieces, a loot bag, 56 loot tokens, 11 ocean tiles, and a scenario order board.  Each player will construct a ship out of a bow, a mast, a stern, and a chosen part (you could also get a sail and a hold, depending on the number of players).  Players also get dice of their color.  The box bottom is placed in the middle of the table, as it will be integral to play of the game.

There are two scenarios in the basic game, each consisting of five quests.  A quest involves completing a number of adventure cards before visiting the port.  The first thing that happens in a quest is the Briefing phase.  Here, the first player (aka the Baron) draws the appropriate adventure card.  This will tell the Baron information about the current quest, including parameters, NP ships, and so on.  Then, each player decides how many ships (dice) he wants to assign to the adventure and gives them to the Baron.  You can choose zero.

In the Ship Drop phase, the Baron takes all of the dice collected (player and NP), shakes them (rattle) and drops them in the box bottom.  Do not roll them.  Drop them.

In the NP Ship Actions, the Baron consults the adventure card to see what each symbol on the NP dice means.  Explode means sinking (removing) a number of the closest ships.  Escape means the NP die is removed from the box.  Volley means the closest player ship is sunk.  Move forwards means to move the NP ship towards the nearest player ship, using the ruler or a card edge to measure long range.  Move away means that you move the NP ship away from the nearest player ship.  Surrender means the player who sinks this ship gets +1 loot instead of a coin for sinking it.  Re-drop means to drop this ship again.  Ally means it’s a friendly ship that you cannot attack.

Next is Player Actions.  Starting with the Baron, players either perform one action or pass, which ends your round.  The two possible actions are to move or fire.  To move, you spend a sail (flip it over), then move up to one long range.  To fire, spend two cannons (or one if you have a ship with a cannon symbol) and sink an NP ship within a short range.  You can’t attack other players, only NP ships.  Place the sunken ship on your captain token.

Now it’s time for the Battle phase.  Compare the strength of NP ship and player ship that are closest to each other.  The stronger ship sinks the weaker ship.  Repeat this with the next pair of closest ships until all NP ships or all player ships have been sunk.

For the Coins Reward, take one silver coin for each NP ship you sank.  In the Loot phase, each player who participated in the adventure gets to draw Loot tokens from the bag.  You can then Activate Sailors you may have, then make Ship Repairs by paying one Loot per ship you own that was sunk.  You then Stow Loot – one per ship, and one per hold.  Anything you don’t have room for is returned to the bag.

If there are still remaining adventures in the current quest, go back to the Briefing phase.  Otherwise, it’s time for a Port Visit.  Here, there are six locations that are visited in the following order:

  • Market: You may exchange two Loot tokens for one of any type.  You may do this multiple times.
  • Tavern: Discard two Rum to hire a Sailor – draw three Sailor cards and keep one.
  • Shipyard: Discard one Fabric to buy one part – a sail, a cannon, or a hold.
  • Workshop: Discard one Spice and one Fabric to draw three Upgrade cards, keeping one and discarding the others.  Then perform the chosen upgrade.
  • The Pit: Gift any amount of Loot to the Pirate King and receive coins instead – one coin per valuable Loot and one coin per two other Loot.
  • Guild: Each player can buy a VP card using their coins.  You can only buy the top card of the Guild deck.

At the end of the Port phase, every part and upgrade that was used on the quest is refreshed.  Once the scenario has been completed, the player with the most points wins.

This game looks like a lot of fun.  It looks like it draws on miniatures games for influence, but uses dice instead to create the battle atmosphere.  In the end, there’s a lot of luck involved, and I think it might be tough to strategize this one.  But it does seem like it will be a blast to play, and probably a very thematic pirate game.  I think the cover conveys that sense of fun, though the way the title is written, I always think the game should be called Rattle Battle: Grab the Loot.  Nonetheless, this one sounds good.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading!

LINKS:

  • BGG page for Tides of Time
  • BGG page for Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot
  • Portal Games website
  • BGG overview of RBGTL from Origins 2015

More randomness!  This time, our randomly chosen games from the BGG GenCon preview are 30, 97, 138, 227, and 316.  Let’s see what that brings us!

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Royals is a game that first came out in 2014, but is now being published in English by Arcane Wonders as part of the Dice Tower Essentials line.  It was designed by Peter Hawes, and is a 2-5 player set collection/area control game set in .  In the game, you are playing influence cards to gain control of different personages around Europe.  You’ll be trying to get to different people first, oust other people using intrigue cards, trying to get cubes all over the region, and trying to control as many personages as possible.  There’s a scoring each time you run through the deck, and the game is over after you run through the deck for the third time.

This game is one that has been on my radar for a while, but I’ve never really looked into it.  Now that it’s come up on this preview, I know more and I’m really much more interested in the game.  It looks like a nice simple gateway style game, and should be fun.  For more, here is the Dice Tower review of the original edition.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

In a previous edition of this preview, I said that Flick ‘Em Up was my most anticipated release at GenCon this year.  Codenames is a VERY close second.  Designed by Vlaada Chvátil and published by Czech Games Edition, Codenames is a 2-12 player party word game.  A 5×5 grid of cards is laid out, and players are divided into two teams, each with a captain.  The captains get a card that tells them the cards that belong to their team, and then take turns trying to give their teams clues that will help them figure out what their words are.  Some words belong to no one, and if they guess a word of the other team, they give the other team a point.  If someone hits the assassin, their team instantly loses.  The first team to find all their words wins.

I’ve been hearing about this game since the Gathering of Friends, and the buzz has been overwhelmingly positive.  For me, hearing that something is a party word game is an indicator that I really won’t like something, but throw Vlaada Chvátil into the mix and you have a game that I really want to play.  It seems like a more gamery version of Password, and I think that’s a good thing.  Definitely check it out, and see the Dice Tower’s first impression video for more information.

image by BGG user aggaire

image by BGG user aggaire

The Princess Bride: Miracle Pill is one of three games with the Princess Bride license coming out at GenCon from Game Salure (along with As You Wish by Daniel Solis and A Battle of Wits by Matthew O’Malley).  This one is by Philip duBarry.  This is a three round card drafting game where you are trying to make the miracle pill to revive the Man in Black.  It’s a basic draft – play a card simultaneously with everyone else, pass the rest.  These cards do different things based on their color, and potions in the second and third round require the discarding of already played cards.  After three rounds, the player with the highest score wins.

I haven’t looked into the other three, but I imagine they are all on similar levels of complexity (or lack thereof).  I’m glad Game Salute is trying to use the license to produce some accessible games – a smart move in the long run – but I have to say, that cover looks awful.  I hope it doesn’t turn people off from what otherwise looks like a good simple game from a pretty well established designer.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

BUS is one of eight games by Chris Handy being released as part of the Pack-O-Game series – all micro games, all with three letter titles, and all on a deck of cards in a gum package.  This one is a pick-up-and-deliver game where you’re moving a bus around city streets, picking up passengers and taking them to their destinations.  The object is to have the most points once someone has delivered five passengers.

I love the concept of the Pack-O-Game – they’re visually distinctive from most other micro games, and are attempting to have a different style of game for each one (FLY is a dexterity game, GEM is an auction/set collection game, HUE is a tile placement/area enclosure game, LIE is a bluffing game, SHH is a silent cooperative word game, TAJ is a negotiation/voting game, and TKO is a simultaneous action boxing game).  Hopefully, the gameplay matches up to the concept.  Here’s a preview of the Pack O Game project from when there were only five games in the project (BUS not included).

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Code of Nine is a reprint of a Japanese game called OWACON (Old World and Code of Nine).  It was designed by BakaFire and originally published in 2012, with Z-Man doing this release.  It’s a worker placement style game set in a post-apocalyptic future where all humans are dead and only some automatons remain.  The game lasts 4-5 rounds, and new action possibilities will open up each round.  Each player has two memory cards that tell you how points will be scored in the end, and you’ll be trying to figure out what the other cards are in order to try and increase your scoring potential.

BakaFire is the designer of Tragedy Looper, a game I hear is extremely unique and innovative, but I don’t really know much beyond that.  This one looks like an interesting take on worker placement games.  The game has its fans, and hopefully this wide release will bring some good attention to it.  Here’s the Board Game Brawl review of OWACON.


That’s the end for today.  Join me soon for some more games, and thanks for reading!

 

The Top 99: #88-#78

Continuing my countdown of my personal Top 99.  Here we go!


image by BGG user warpozio

image by BGG user warpozio

#88: We’ll start off this section of the list with a bit of an obscure choice.  Carolus Magnus is a 2000 design from Leo Colovini, a designer that usually doesn’t do much for me.  This one, however, is a really cool abstract area control type game where you are trying to gain control of cube colors, then leverage that to be able to control areas around a track of tiles.  It’s only for two to three players, and yes, it’s kind of dry, but I find it to be a really good strategy game.  If you’ve never played, I recommend you check it out.  You can play at Yucata.de, but I think playing it live is a better experience.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

#87: Legendary is a 2012 design from Devin Low that brings the Marvel Universe to a cooperative deckbuilding game.  In each game, you have a different mastermind with different henchmen and villains in play, and a different set of heroes with varying powers.  As you play, you’ll be adding more and more heroes to your deck, hopefully trying to get enough combat to keep too many villains from escaping and to keep the mastermind from carrying out his scheme.  It’s a fun game that, like Castle Panic, suffers from trying to add a competitive aspect, but you can absolutely ignore it and still have a great time.

image by BGG user earache

image by BGG user earache

#86: Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age was one of the first games I was aware of that seemed like Yahtzee with a theme.  Now it seems like they’re everywhere.  Matt Leacock’s 2008 civilization dice game is one where you roll dice three times, deal with disasters, feed people, build stuff and make discoveries, all tracked on a score pad and a little peg board.  The game features all wooden components, and it’s really a great fun game.  I don’t play it nearly as much as I should.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

#85: Hey! That’s My Fish! is an abstracty game by Günter Cornett and Alvydas Jakeliunas that was originally published in 2003.  The Mayfair edition, which I originally played, was large and with some admittedly cool penguins, but Fantasy Flight stripped it down and made a very compact game.  Basically, you’re moving penguins around ice floes to try to collect as much fish as possible.  Every time you leave a floe, you remove the tile from the board, meaning no one else can cross there.  Strand your opponents and grab all the fish for yourself!  This is a really good one that all skill levels can appreciate.

image by BGG user niledesign

image by BGG user niledesign

#84: Days of Wonder always does well with their components, and Cleopatra and the Society of Architects is one of the best.  This 2006 Bruno Cathala/Ludovic Maublanc joint effort is about building a palace in ancient Egypt.  You have to use workers to complete various aspects of the temple (all made from 3D components), and may end up earning corruption for your efforts.  If you have too much corruption at the end of the game, you are fed to the crocodiles, which is really one of my favorite game mechanisms.  I enjoy this one, but it’s rare that I get to play.

image by BGG user meehael

image by BGG user meehael

#83: Citadels is not the game that invented the role selection genre, but it is one of the first, and one of the most influential.  Designed in 2000 by Bruno Faidutti, this is a game where players first choose a role, then in role order try to build up their own personal city.  Each role has its own special ability – the assassin can take out another character, the thief can steal, the magician can exchange cards, the king gets to go first, and so on.  The player with the most points when someone has constructed eight buildings wins.  It’s a very good card game, and one that is accessible to a wide range of people.

image by BGG user bpovis

image by BGG user bpovis

#82: The two-player game Morels (2012, Brent Povis) almost succeeds in making me want to eat mushrooms.  The theme is that you’re on a mushroom gathering trip through the forest while trying to pick sets of delicious fungus.  The path is ever-changing, and you have to be clever in order to get the mushrooms you need.  Mushrooms at the end of the path enter an area called the decay, and mushrooms that remain there eventually disappear.  It’s a relatively quick set-collection game, and I enjoy it a lot.  My wife also really likes it, which is crucial for a two-player game in my house.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

#81: Abyss gets a lot of credit for its art, but the game is really fun too.  Designed by Bruno Cathala and Charles Chévallier in 2014, Abyss is all about trying to gain political power in an undersea kingdom.  You’re trying to collect the support of allies which will in turn allow you to exercise influence over various nobles who will eventually allow you to control different locations.  It sounds complicated, but it’s not – the game is actually pretty straightforward.  The components are all very lovely, and I like the game a lot.

imaqge by BGG user binraix

imaqge by BGG user binraix

#80: I won my copy of Alea Iacta Est at a local convention a few years ago, and it’s become one of my favorite dice games.  This 2009 Jeffrey D. Allers/Bernd Eisenstein design is set in Ancient Rome, but it’s really about trying to win different rewards through dice allocation.  On your turn, you roll all of your dice, then assign a set to one of several locations.  Each location gives you different benefits – provinces, patricians, Senate cards, and fortune tiles are all up for grabs.  It’s also one of the only games I know of where the Latrine is a possible (if undesirable) location.  It works really well, and makes for a good strategy dice game.

image by BGG user BigWoo

image by BGG user BigWoo

#79: For my money, I think that Arkham Horror is the most thematic games I have played.  This 2005 Kevin Wilson/Richard Launius update of the 1987 horror classic is a cooperative game where players are moving around Arkham, trying to close and seal gates before the Ancient Ones awaken and devour the world.  The game is based on the works of HP Lovecraft, and is slightly infamous for having enough expansions to make it next to impossible to play the whole game on one table.  Many say that it has been replaced by 2013’s Eldritch Horror, but I haven’t played that, so this is on my list.

Catacombs - image by BGG user IntvGene

Catacombs – image by BGG user IntvGene

#78: Catacombs is a one-vs-all dungeon crawl dexterity game.  It was first published in 2010, designed by Ryan Amos, Marc Kelsey, and Aron West.  It’s a flicking game where heroes are shooting their discs around a dungeon to try and kill monsters while the overlord player is flicking monster discs around trying to hit heroes.  It’s a lot of fun.  I have the original edition, though a new edition with upgraded art was recently Kickstarted and should be available soon.  It’s a game I can highly recommend in any form, so check it out.

Another day, another 11.  See you soon for 77-#67!  Thanks for reading!

First off, congratulations are in order – the winners for the Spiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel des Jahres were announced last Monday, with COLT EXPRESS and BROOM SERVICE coming up as the big winners.  And since SPINDERELLA won the Kinderspiel des Jahres back in June, that means I correctly predicted all three awards!  First time ever!  What do I win?  That brings my overall record for predicting the Spiel des Jahres to 2-3, my record for the Kennerspiel to 3-2, and my Kinderspiel record to 1-0.

Every year, the Spiel des Jahres committee comes up with a recommended game list.  These are games that, for whatever the reason, did not quite make the cut for the main nomination, but are still worthy of mention.  Some of these recommendations may or may not be subjectively better choices than those that DID get nominated.  There are six recommendations for the Spiel des Jahres and three recommendations for the Kennerspiel.  That’s nine recommendations total.  Since this is The Eleven, I will be offering two of my own recommendations at the end, games I thought warranted some consideration and for some reason did not even get a mention.  Let’s get started.


image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Abraca…what? is a Korean game designed by Gun-Hee Kim, published in Germany by Pegasus Spiele (Z-Man in the US).  As you might guess from the title, it’s a game about deduction and spell casting.  You are dealt five spell stones which are kept facing away from you.  On your turn, you announce one of the eight spells you’d like to cast.  If you have the matching spell stone, your opponents take one and place it on the board in the corresponding space.  You also get to do the spell action.  You can then go again, though you can only attempt a higher numbered spell than the one you just cast.  If you’re ever wrong, you lose a life and your turn.  You can also choose to just stop.

The game is over when one person is eliminated, or one when person plays all of their tiles.  You then score, and the player with the highest is the winner.

This style of deduction game is pretty in vogue these days.  Hanabi won the SdJ a couple of years ago, and Code 777 has the same type of feel where you can see everything but what you have.  This is more of a kid’s game, and you’re pretty much guessing at first, though as the board fills up, you’ll have an idea about what you might have.  I understand why it didn’t get a full nomination (too similar to Hanabi), but it looks like a good one nonetheless.  It features art by Marie Carouat, who is most famous for illustrating the original Dixit game.

image by BGG user Cacao

image by BGG user Cacao

Cacao was designed by Phil Walker-Harding and published in Germany by ABACUSSPIELE (Z-Man publishes in the US).  This is a tile-laying game that is all about the cultivation and economics of cacao beans.  On your turn, you choose a worker or jungle tile from your hand and place it on the board adjacent to at least one tile of the other type (you can never place a tile next to one of the same type).  If you place a worker tile, your workers will get to take advantage of any adjacent jungle tiles, and if you play a jungle tile, all adjacent workers will get to take advantage of it.

Once all worker tiles have been placed, the game is over and the player who has managed to collect the most gold is the winner.

Based on pre-SdJ buzz, this was one of the three games I had picked out for a nomination.  I was wrong, but it did get a recommendation, so that’s good.  I like the theme, and it seems like it’s a good streamlined game.  Now that I’ve read about it, though, it seems a little bland and not terribly innovative.  It might be better than that, but for now, I’m fine with it just being on the recommended list.

image by BGG user Siegfried

image by BGG user Siegfried

Loony Quest is a game designed by Laurent Escoffier and David Franck that was published by Libellud.  It’s a drawing game with a kind of scrolling video game element.  A board for the current level is chosen, and players will be given a task for the level –  draw a line between two points, hit all the bad guys, etc.  The twist here is that you’re drawing on a transparency apart from the board, so you’re guessing where everything goes.  Once everyone is done, you put your transparency over the board to see how you did.  There are various power-ups/bonus items you may hit, and if you hit obstacles, you’re going to lose points.  After playing against the final boss, the game is over and the player with the most points wins.

Loony Quest was another game I had predicted to get a nomination for SdJ, and I was wrong about that one too.  However, unlike Cacao, I do think it would have been a great nomination.  It’s creative, looks like fun, and probably really easy to pick up.  The deciding factor in NOT nominating it may have been that it’s a reworking of Doodle Quest from Blue Orange Games.  Still, I think this would have been a better nomination than The Game.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

One Night Ultimate Werewolf was designed by Ted Alspach and Akihisa Okui, and originally published by Bezier Games (White Goblin publishes the German edition).  This is a 3-10 player version of Ultimate Werewolf that reduces the game to a single night, takes out the moderator, and removes the player elimination.  Everyone is assigned a role, then with the assistance of an app, everyone closes their eyes, then reveals themselves secretly and takes an action.  Once the night phase is done, everyone tries to figure out who at least one of the werewolves is.  If they do, the villagers win.  If not, the werewolves win.

I’ve grown to seriously dislike Werewolf in recent years, primarily because you take wild shots in the dark and are eliminating people from being able to participate from the very first turn.  ONUW takes the game, boils it down to the fun parts, and makes a MUCH stronger game.  I’m glad it got a recommendation, tough I don’t think it ever really had a shot at a nomination – it’s very streamlined, but still not really a family game.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Patchwork is a two-player quilting game designed by Uwe Rosenberg and published in Germany by Lookout Games (Mayfair distributes it in the US).  Players take turns purchasing patches from a market and fitting them onto their board with the goal of collecting as many buttons as they can.  The player who gets the most buttons is the ultimate winner.

This game is currently extremely high on my wish list.  It looks like a fantastic two-player game with a great puzzle element and a really underused theme.  I’m glad it got a recommendation, and I would have been happy with a nomination.  It’s not unheard of for two-player games to be nominated – look at Targi – but it’s less common.  For now, I’m just glad it was mentioned.

image by BGG user NicholasvanOrton

image by BGG user NicholasvanOrton

UGO! was designed by Ronald Hoekstra, Thomas Jansen, and Patrick Zuidhof, published by KOSMOS.  The original version was published in 2013 by PLAYthisONE.  This is a trick-taking game where one player leads, then everyone follows suit if they can.  The highest card wins the trick.  The winner takes their cards and puts it on their kingdom board, which has five slots.  Each card will go on top of its same colored stack, and the card on top will count for your score at the end.  There are also farmers that must be collected in order to make slots score.  The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.

I think someone on the jury really likes trick-taking games because it seems there’s always at least one on the recommended list (Potato Man in 2014 for example).  This one looks really good to me, with an interesting scoring mechanism that means you really want to watch what cards you’re winning.  I’d really like to give this one a try sometime, and I’m glad it made it on the list – otherwise, I never would have known about it.  And that, I think, is the point.


Along with the six Spiel des Jahres recommended games, there were three Kennerspiel des Jahres recommended games.

image by BGG user sebduj

image by BGG user sebduj

Deus was designed by Sébastien Dujardin and published by Pearl Games.  This is a civilization type game where you are constructing buildings and invoking to favor of the gods for different benefits.  On your turn, you can construct a building or discard card to make offerings.  There are six building types – military, resource, trade, scoring, temples, and yellow (which have a variety of effects).  When you construct a building, the card is placed on your personal board and the structure itself goes on the game board.  As you build more of a type, you will be able to stack its benefits and use them more and more.  The game ends when all barbarian villages have been surrounded and attacked, or when all temples are completed.  The player with the most points is the winner.

I predicted this game would get nominated for Kennerspiel, and it’s the only one I guessed that even got a recommendation.  It looks like a very good game that I’d love to play sometime – it’s standard Euro fare with a weak theme, but I like the idea of stacking buildings for future benefits.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Fields of Arle is a 1-2 player game designed by Uwe Rosenberg and published by Feuerland Spiele (Z-Man handles US distribution).  The game is set in the region where Rosenberg grew up.  It’s a very big game that lasts nine half years, alternating between summer and winter.  In each round, you’ll be sending workers out to collect resources, construct buildings, cultivate the land, get animals, and so on.  As in many of Rosenberg’s games, there’s a lot more to do than you have time to do, so you really have to optimize everything.  In the end, the player who has collected the most points wins.

There’s so much going on in this game that it’s difficult to really summarize.  The game has drawn comparisons to Agricola and Caverna, but from what I can tell, it’s its own game with its own take on the genre.  Fields of Arle is something I’ve really wanted to try, and I’m glad it got a recommendation.  Not surprised at all that it didn’t get a nomination – this is way heavier than the jury usually looks for.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

The Voyages of Marco Polo was designed by Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini (the team behind Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar), and was published in German by Hans im Glück (Z-Man in English).  The game recreates the journey of Marco Polo to China in the 13th century.  In each of the five rounds, players roll their five dice and can perform one action per turn with them – get resources, earn money, purchase orders, or travel.  After the fifth round, the player with the most points wins.

The game seems kind of generic to me on first glance, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.  Frankly, the first time I heard about it, it was from people speculating if it would get a Kennerspiel nomination.  It did not, but got a recommendation – clearly, it’s something I need to check out.


Because of the high profile nature of the Spiel des Jahres, the nominations and recommendations inevitably receive a lot of scrutiny.  There’s always something that people perceive was missed.  Here are my recommendations for games I feel got overlooked for one reason or another.

image by BGG user Mr Pouple

image by BGG user Mr Pouple

Black Fleet was designed by Sebastian Bleasdale and published by Space Cowboys.  It’s a pirate-themed game where players control merchants ships, pirates, AND the navy.  On your turn, you have two movement cards in hand, and will choose one to play.  This will allow you to move your merchant ship, your pirate ship, and one of the navy ships (everyone has access to these).  Before, during, or after a move with a ship, it may take one action – deliver goods, attack another ship, bury treasure, and so on.  Merchant ships are tasked with delivering goods.  Pirate ships are tasked with robbing merchant ships.  Navy ships are used to attack pirate ships.  Each player has a set of five development cards which must be purchased to be used.  Once you buy the fifth one (the governor’s daughter), you win.

Black Fleet is a really fun game.  It has amazing components, and I thought it was a shoe-in for a recommendation at least.  Maybe the nomination of Elysium scared them away from talking about another Space Cowboys game.  Maybe they shy away from piratey stuff.  I don’t know.  But I definitely would have included this on the SdJ recommended list – it’s a great, unique game.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Five Tribes was designed by Bruno Cathala and published by Days of Wonder as their first “gamer’s game.”  You are attempting to gain control of a city-state in Arabia by exerting influence over the five tribes of that area.  The game uses a mancala mechanism as you pick up all meeples on one tile, then drop them one at a time over adjacent tiles until you reach your destination.  The final meeple you drop is then picked up, along with the other meeples of that color on the space, and you get to take its action – earn points, go shopping, purchase djinns, kill other meeples, and so on.  When no further moves can be made, the game ends and the player who has scored the most points wins.

Days of Wonder always does a phenomenal job producing their games, but for some reason, the SdJ jury doesn’t often recognize them.  Ticket to Ride won the SdJ in 2004 and Shadows over Camelot got a special award in 2006, but that’s it.  Personally, I thought Five Tribes was a sure bet for a nomination in the Kennerspiel category, so I was a little shocked that it didn’t get even a recommendation.  I like the game, though I feel like the auction-for-turn-order mechanism, which gets praised in a lot of circles, is kind of lame and makes the whole experience grind to a halt.  Still, I enjoy it and definitely would have had it somewhere on the list.


And that does it!  Another year, another group of recommendations.  I look forward to seeing what the jury comes up with next year.  Thanks for reading!

 

Here’s part II of my random GenCon preview.  These entries were selected on June 28, 2015 when the GenCon preview at BGG was at 300.  My random numbers this time are 1, 144, 191, 232, and 276.  Here we go!

image by BGG user ZephyrW

image by BGG user ZephyrW

A.E.G.I.S. Combining Robot Strategy Game is all about forming a team of robots for competition in a BattleBots type of situation.  Designed by Breeze Grigas and Tom Wozencraft, this 2-4 player game is being published by Greenbrier.  There are five types of robots – Assault, Evasive, Guard, Intel, and Support.  You begin with a squad five robots in any combination of these types.  Robots can be combined for upgraded abilities.  The game is played out on a hex grid with energy points being spent to do different actions with your robots, such as moving or attacking.  Different robots have different abilities, and you win if you annihilate all of your opponent’s units, reduce their energy production to 5 or less per turn, or if your opponent can no longer do any damage.

Most robot games out there are programming games – RoboRally and Volt, for example – but this one is more of a customizable combat game.  I like the idea of being able to combine different robots for different abilities, but I think this one is probably not a game for me.  Too much like a wargame.  I’ll give it a pass, but maybe you’ll be interested.  Check out this promo video for the game to find out a little more.

image by BGG user Fractaloon

image by BGG user Fractaloon

Palaces is a new deck-building game from Gorilla Games and designer Jeff Siadek.  There’s not a whole lot of information about it (nor is there a picture on BGG), so here’s the BGG description:

Palaces is a deck-building bidding game in which you win cards and build towers. On a turn, the active player chooses to draw from one of three stacks of cards, then all players bid or drop out. There is only one round of bidding per card. Bids are valued based on the size of a suit (e.g., three-of-a-kind beats two-of-a-kind, etc.), and if the size matches, you compare suits: Gold, Silver, Crystal, Marble. If size and suit match, compare a secondary bid (3 gold and 2 marble beats 3 gold and a silver). The highest bidder activates the card’s special effect and adds it to their discard pile. (Eventually it returns to their hand and activates again when in a winning bid.) The winner of the bid also gets to add a room to one of their two towers, while the other players draw cards. Play proceeds clockwise. Each player’s two towers must match one another. The winner is the player with the tallest lower tower. Unlike most deck-building games, you do not void your hand after your turn. Players who win bids discard their bids to build their towers, while other players draw cards.

I like deck-building games, I don’t particularly like auction games, so I don’t know how I feel about this one.  I’d like to see some more information before making any final decisions.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King is a 2-5 player game by Andreas Pelikan and Alexander Pfister, designers of the Kennerspiel des Jahres nominated Broom Service.  It is being published by Lookout Games and Mayfair.  The basic idea is that you are a clan chieftain trying to build up your kingdom.  Here’s the BGG description:

Isle of Skye is one of the most beautiful places in the world, with soft sand beaches, gently sloping hills, and impressive mountains. The landscape of Isle of Skye is breathtaking and fascinates everyone. In the tile-laying game Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King, 2-5 players are chieftains of famous clans and want to build their little kingdoms to score as many points as possible — but in each game only four of the sixteen scoring cards will be scored. Thanks to the scoring cards, each game is different and leads to different tactics and strategies, but having enough money is useful no matter what else is going on. Managing that money can be tricky, though. Each turn, each player places two area tiles in front of them and sets the selling price for the tiles. Setting a high price is great, but only so long as someone actually pays the price because if no one opts to buy, then the seller must buy the tiles at the price they previously requested. In the end, the player with the best kingdom — and not the richest player — becomes the sovereign of the island.

Lookout Games are usually really good.  Combine that with the designers, and this is one I’m very interested in hearing more about.  No videos or reviews are currently available, just some images and that description.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Tail Feathers is a new game coming soon from designer Jerry Hawthorne and published by Plaid Hat Games.  This game is part of the Mice and Mystics universe, but is a two-player skirmish game rather than a multiplayer cooperative adventure.  Apparently, characters and figures from the original game can be used in Tail Feathers, but they aren’t the same game at all.  Other than what I just told you, I don’t really know anything else about this game.  With Summoner Wars as Plaid Hat’s original flagship product, and Ashes coming out at GenCon, I wonder how this will set itself apart in the two-player combative game category.  But I love Mice & Mystics, so I’m interested to know more about this one, which is actually supposed to debut at Spiel in October but may be available for preview.

image by BGG user Lupigi

image by BGG user Lupigi

The Golden Ages was originally released in 2014 by Quined Games, but Stronghold is publishing the English edition at GenCon.  It’s a 2-4 player civilization game from designer Luigi Ferrini.  Over four ages, you will be evolving into new civilizations, discovering new technologies, and exploring the world.  The world map will be built with randomly drawn tiles, and while they do make an image of the actual world map, they will almost certainly not be combined as such.  Different scoring opportunities exist based on the round and secret objectives.  The player with the most points in the end wins.

I’m not big on civilizations games.  It’s not that I dislike them, they just don’t really speak to me.  I think this one looks cool if just for the world building aspect.  The original response got good reviews, and Stronghold tends to do a good job with their releases, so this is one that I’ll be looking out for.  For more info, check out Rahdo’s Runthrough of the original game.


That does it for this edition of the preview.  What will I cover next?  Even I have no idea.  Thanks for reading!

 

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