This is the second of my random Spiel previews (part I is linked here). Here’s how this works: rather than try to cherry pick out the games I want to talk about from the massive list of stuff coming out at Spiel, I’m going to randomly choose seven titles to talk about. Maybe I’ll find something I was unaware of that interests me. I will be disregarding expansions or games I’ve talked about previously (as in my GenCon coverage). Today’s entries are randomly selected from the BGG Spiel Preview, which as of this writing consists of 622 titles. My randomly selected numbers are 188, 227, 234, 339, 518, 562, and 605. So, here we go!
Hyle is an abstract game that was first published in 1979, designed by Eric Solomon. It’s played on a 5×5 grid. In 2000, Franjos Spieleverlag published a version on a 7×7 grid called Hyle 7, and now they’re coming out with a wooden edition of that game. One player is Chaos, and randomly pulls colored disks from a bag. The other player is Order, and may then move any piece on the board as far as they want in any vertical or horizontal line. Order is trying to make palindromes – patterns of pieces that are the same in one direction as in the other. So, yellow-red-white-red-yellow would score eight points – 5 for the full pattern and 3 for the red-white-red pattern. Order scores points when the whole board is full, then you switch places. The player who scored the most as Order wins.
I like abstract games a lot, and I particularly like ones that aren’t just rehashing old mechanisms. This one is pretty creative, not only with the style of play but with the scoring system – I know of no other game that scores palindromes. This is one that would be fun to play sometime, and probably not one I would have thought about without this random selection.
Taverna is a new game from Geek Attitude Games and designer Karl Marcelle. You are an innkeeper during a festival trying to profit from all the revelers. Each turn, players get new customers, gain gold, cast spells, use royal favors, and benefit from privileges. You’ll be doing this through worker placement. After 6-8 turns, the game ends and you’ll get to use different scoring opportunities in order to bump your score. The player with the most points wins.
I’m not really understanding how to play this game – I guess you need to be able to see the cards to get it. But it really is a good looking game. I wonder if the name Taverna is a bit of a play off Caverna – a completely different game to be sure, but still. I’ll be interested to see how this one is received.
Porta Nigra is the latest collaboration between board game design super duo Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling. It’s being published by Pegasus Spiele, with Stronghold releasing it in the US. The theme is about as generic as you can get – constructing buildings in a Roman city. In each round, you’ll be playing action cards in order to buy bricks, place building elements, take influence tokens, take torch tokens, or take coins. Each player has 8 action cards, and a round ends when you have played them all. After 2-3 rounds, the game ends and the player with the most points is the winner.
I’m not a fan of the Kramer/Kiesling combo. The games tend to have too much going on from the very beginning, and I always feel left in the dust if I make a wrong decision early. However, I can’t deny that they usually look really good. This one has art from Michael Menzel, who always does amazing work, and the bits looks pretty nice too. We’ll see how it does.
Burger Boss is a new game from Legend Express and designers Annis Araim, Saad Choudri, Zubbar Choudri, Michael Pambos, and Dilwar Rahim. It’s a dice rolling worker placement game where players are hiring workers, getting ingredients, cooking burgers, and selling them to a hungry public. It’ comes with a nice burger shaped container for carrying the game around. I like the theme, but I don’t know how much more of it will appeal to me. The rulebook is available, but it seems pretty long – I haven’t read through it yet.
Swords and Bagpipes is a game from designer Yan Egorov and published by Rightgames LLC. It’s all about the first war of Scottish Independence (cue the Braveheart soundtrack). Players are Scottish clan leaders who send troops into battle while secretly deciding who to support – England or Scotland. Then you add up the strength of each army. If Scotland wins, its supporters get gold. If England wins, its supporters get gold, but they also get gold if England loses. After the seventh round, if Scotland has not been defeated four times, Scotland has won and the player with the most gold wins. If Scotland is defeated four times, the player with the least daggers wins (ties broken by gold). Daggers are gained for betraying Scotland, so you get more gold, but you weaken your position if England wins out.
I’m kind of fascinated by this game. Not only is it an awesome title that tells you everything you need to know, but it’s a very interesting look at the so-called Prisoner’s Dilemma. The Prisoner’s Dilemma is where participants must make a decision to be loyal or betray. Loyalty usually gives a small benefit, while betrayal can result in a big benefit or a penalty. This looks like a very thematic representation of that from real life. Now, granted, everything I know about this period in history comes from Braveheart, but I do think the way the nobles played both sides there looks well represented here. This is one I think I’d like to check out sometime.
Food Chain Magnate is this year’s release from Splotter Spellen, a Dutch game company well known for complex games (i.e. Antiquity, Indonesia, The Great Zimbabwe). This one is a little bit of a departure for them, at least thematically. It was designed by Jeroen Doumen and Joris Wiersinga. The game is about running a fast food empire – hiring workers, placing restaurants, collecting income, marketing, and so on. The main goal is to make money – the player with the most at the end of the game is the winner.
There’s some nice thematic art in the game, which looks like a really heavy experience. It takes 2-4 hours to play, and is advertised as being for serious gamers only. I’ve never played a Splotter game – I’ve been a little scared to try – but mechanically, it looks like this one will fit right in, even if the theme isn’t their standard Euro fare.
Shakespeare is a game about putting on plays. It was designed by Hervé Rigal and is being published by Ystari Games. Players are theater managers who have a week to put together a masterpiece of a play before the Queen’s visit. You have to hire actors, make costumes, build the set, hire craftsmen, get some gold, or even give the Queen an early peek at your production. You have to provide rest for your workers, and of course you must pay them, but in the end, whoever has the most points is the winner.
Ystari usually does some good quality work with their games, so that’s a good enough reason to keep an eye on this one. I must say that I miss the days when they always included a Y in their titles – Shakespyre would have been a great name. As far as I can tell, Shakespeare is not in the game at all, but maybe he is. Anyway, we’ll see how this one goes over.
Another random preview in the books! Thanks for reading!