Here’s the next in my series of random Spiel previews, where I randomly select 11 titles from the massive BGG Spiel Preview list (now at 531 titles as of my selecting on August 31) and talk about them a little bit. I’m not going to talk about expansions, and I’m going to try to avoid games that are just there in preview before a Kickstarter campaign. Here we go!
Green Box of Games (Jørgen Brunborg Næss) is not really a single game, but rather a game system that can be used to play a number of games, kind of like the Decktet, Icehouse or Piecepack. It contains a standardized set of components – tiles, cubes, cards, dice – that can be used to create a number of different board games. On the game’s website, they show examples of games like Backgammon, Tic Tac Toe, Checkers, Catan, Carcassonne, Incan Gold, Cartagena, Manhattan, and a number of original games. I’m always interested to see how these systems work out, so this is one I’ll keep my eye on.
Ray Master (Israel Cendrero/Sheila Santos, ABBA Games) is a 1-2 player game where players are rival scientists trying to take credit for a major discovery that can alter the atomic composition of objects, making them shrink and grow at will. You’re using a ray to both modify and improve your dice while sabotaging and modifying your opponent’s dice. It seems like a good idea, but I’m not sure exactly how it plays – the rules on BGG are for a 2014 print-and-play version, and it seems to have changed quite a bit since then.
Revenge of the Dictators (Bas Damoiseaux/Bart Latten/Alina Manzhelevska, Black Box Adventures) is a game where players are retired dictators vacationing in Hawaii who spontaneously decide to try to take over America. Players are racing across the country to be the first one to DC and convince the President to hand over the reins. Along the way, you’ll be disarming nuclear facilities in order to decrease the threat to your home country and increase your chances of winning. It’s a silly theme, but sounds like a fun time.
SOL (Pierre Buty, Catch Up Games) is an exploration/treasure hunting game where players divide into two teams – adventurers versus conquistadors. On your turn, you spend action points to move, fight, and search. You’re trying to find the treasure, then carry it back to a dock so that you are holding it there at the start of your turn. The game has some very nice art, and a 3D presentation as terrain features are raised. The game is only in French for now, but apparently there’s a conversion kit. This looks like something I’d like to learn more about.
Checkpoint Charlie (Jose Antonio Abascal Acebo, Devir) is a Cold War game where players are trying to find the Chief of Spies who is trying to cross the Berlin Wall. Each player knows one characteristic of the Chief of Spies, and there are publicly known characteristics as well. On your turn, draw a suspect card and either play it in front of you as a suspect (because it has your private characteristic) or discard it (because it doesn’t). Once per round, you may accuse a suspect. When all but one player has accused, figure who the actual CoS was and award points accordingly. The first player to 10 wins (or the player who is in the lead when the fifth round is over). Seems like a pretty cute, light deduction game. I’m interested.
Ortus Regni (John Sudbury, John Sudbury Games) is a game set in the Dark Ages, specifically the late Anglo-Saxon period leading up to the Norman invasion of 1066. It is billed as a deck design game – you build your deck before playing rather than in game. Cards are played to build up your Earldom, including defense and attack strength. You can also recruit new cards from the army deck, play political cards, send an emissary to the Vikings, or use special abilities. Additionally, you can initiate a Joust to try to win more properties and castles. The object of the game is to be the last Earl standing – all other players are out of castles, palaces, fiefs, or cards in their deck. This is a game that I knew about because it’s been out for a couple of years now. It is a very beautiful but extremely complex game – I tried out the app and couldn’t get my head around it. Still, it’s one I think would be very interesting to check out in person.
Macroscope (Martin Nedergaard Andersen, Lifestyle Boardgames) is a game where people are trying to identify pictures through windows on a box. On your turn, you roll two dice and remove the indicated windows. A black-and-white picture is on the inside of the box, and you’re trying to figure out what it is from limited information. If you guess correctly, you get one point per unopened window on the box, and if you are incorrect, you lose that many points. The game lasts for ten rounds, and comes with two hundred double-sided cards (so 40 plays with no repeats). The Macroscope box is really cool, though the game looks like it mostly boils down to luck and observation skills. Might be fun for families.
They Who Were 8 (Todd Sanders, LudiCreations) was originally a print-and-play game that is now being published. You can either play it as an individual game or as a team game. In both versions, players have three action cards in hand and play one of them per round. Players then pass one of their two remaining cards to their neighbor on the left and draw a new one. You are trying to collect Glory (positive points) and avoid Infamy (negative points). You also have two special God abilities, which will cost you a point if used. Once the Glory or Infamy token piles have run out, the game ends and the player with the most points wins. It’s a very small game (16 action cards) and apparently plays quickly. It’s got a very minimalistic style to the art that is quite appealing, and the PNP got some good reviews.
Nine Worlds (Richard Denning, Medusa Games) is a game centered around the nine worlds of Norse mythology. Players will be moving around these worlds, attempting to gain majority so that they may use the world’s special ability and score points. It’s an action point game with a goal of area control. It looks very nice, with a circular board and some nice art, but seems fairly abstract otherwise. I’m not really a huge fan of that style, so this is a wait-and-see title for me.
Guilds (Christian Giove, Stretlibri) is a game of…well…guilds. It’s a general medieval theme where players are trying to make their guild the most powerful in the city. There’s not a whole lot of English information about the game so far, other than the BGG description. Apparently, you’re trying to recruit new members and build headquarters, as well as trying to gain favor with the King. Mechanisms listed at BGG include Tile Placement and Action/Movement Programming, which is enough to keep me interested. Plus, the game looks lovely.
Nautilion (Shadi Torbey, Z-Man Games) is the latest in the fantastic Oniverse series of games. All of the games are for 1-2 players (but really just one), and share a similar dream-like art style. This one is the first dice game in the series, and involves a sea journey. Each turn, you roll three dice and keep one for yourself, give one to the Phantom Submarine, and one to the Darkhouse. You’ll then move along a path, picking up a crew token. The Phantom Submarine will also move, and the crew it lands on will be lost to you. The Darkhouse doesn’t move, but damages you if you give it a high die. Your goal is to reach the Abyss with a full crew before the Phantom Submarine reaches your homeland. As with all of the Oniverse games, there are a number of expansions included (five) so that there’s even more playability in the box. Sounds like a fun addition to the series, I’m really looking forward to this one.
That’s part two, and there’s more to come – I’ve only scratched the surface. Thanks for reading!