The Eleven: 2016 Non-Random Spiel Preview

Today for The Eleven, I’m doing a bit of a crossover with my Random Spiel Preview series.  This is NOT a random preview of games coming out at Spiel, but rather a list selected by me from the remaining 700+ that did not get covered in my random previews.  I’m sure I missed some that I would really enjoy, but hey, I’m limited to 11 items here, and as of this writing (on October 8), there are 764 items on the BGG preview.  So, without further ado, here we go!

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

4 Gods (Christophe Boelinger, Ludically) is a real-time tile placement game where you are building a world simultaneously with other players.  You will be holding two tiles, one in each hand, and at go, you start building from the corners of the board – there’s a square frame encompassing an 8×8 grid.  Each terrain type is associated with a different god, and as you play, you’ll be able to claim one.  You can place one of your prophets on any tile you place, and if you need to discard, you place it on your track.  You can retrieve tiles from the discard track at any time, but others can also draw from your discard track (and you from theirs).  Points are scored for occupied or smashed cities, as well for having majority on a landscape and for having landscapes with the largest mass.  The most points wins.

The game looks beautiful, and it seems to be pretty unique in the way it works.  Boelinger is a pretty interesting designer, with games like Earth Reborn, Archipelago, and Dungeon Twister to his credit.  This is one I definitely want to hear more about.

image by BGG user Mavericius
image by BGG user Mavericius

The Colonists (Tim Puls, Lookout Games) is a civilization game for 1-4 players.  At this point, only the introductory game has been posted, which does a pretty good job of walking you through how things work by taking you through some fictional turns.  From my understanding, you start with a board of hexagonal tiles set up and, on your turn, you move the Steward three times.  After two rounds of this (Summer and Winter), the starting player will add three new places to the board (these were revealed at the beginning of summer).  After five years, the player who has made the most money wins.

Of course, that’s a really simplified version of how the game plays, but the idea is that there are a bunch of different tiles you can place, as well as buildings you can construct.  There are lots of ways to customize the difficulty, and it looks like this will be a fairly heavy game.  Looks like a good one to me.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Colony (Ted Allspach/Toryo Hojo/Yoshihisa Nakatsu, Bézier Games) is a post-apocalyptic dice allocation game where players are trying to rebuild the world.  It’s a reimplementation of the 2014 Japanese game Age of Craft.  On your turn, you roll three white dice, which represent stable resources.  You take one and pass the rest to your left.  That player also takes one, and then the final die goes to the third player (or you if you’re playing a two-player game).  You can then activate any number of your buildings, and spend resources to build something new.  As the game progresses, you may be able to add more dice to your pool, including translucent unstable resources that must be used on the turn they are rolled.  Stable resources may be stored as long as you have warehouse space.  The first player to hit a target score (15-20) is the winner.

I got to demo this at Gen Con and enjoyed it.  There are lots of ways to manipulate the dice, and there’s variability in the buildings that are available each game.  There’s a lot of replayability built into the game, and it’s very easy to get distracted by all the cool stuff you can do.  The game has a kind of Dominion-Catan-Alien Frontiers thing going on, and it’s fun.  Check it out.

image by BGG user Henning
image by BGG user Henning

Fabled Fruit (Friedemann Friese, 2F Spiele/Stronghold Games) is a game that evolves over a number of plays like a Legacy game, but there are no permanent changes.  There are six stacks of Location cards, and each Location has four identical cards.  On your turn, you’ll move your animal meeple to one of the six Locations and either use the special action of that Location or buy it by paying fruit cards from your hands that match the recipe on the bottom.  Once you buy a card, the top card of the Location stack is drawn to replace it.  These cards are never shuffled, so you’ll be adding a new Location that people can go to.  Once someone has collected their third card, they win and you can pack up.  OR you can start a new game by dealing each player two new fruits and playing with the current lineup of locations.  You can save the layout and start there next time, or you can reset the game.

They’re calling this a Fable game instead of a Legacy game because there’s no destruction, and really no overarching narrative that ties games together.  All it means is that the game has the ability to be different every time simply by saving your progress.  It’s a cool idea, and one I think I’m excited to try out.  Friese is well known for trying out these experimental concepts, and I think this one might work out better than 504 did.

image by BGG user SimonF2Z
image by BGG user SimonF2Z

A Feast for Odin (Uwe Rosenberg, Feurerland Spiele/Z-Man Games) is the latest big box game from the designer of Agricola, Le Havre, et al.  In this one, players are Vikings (though there’s a big explanation at the beginning of the rules as to why they were not actually called Vikings then) who are raiding, exploring, and building societies.  Over the course of 6-7 rounds, you’ll be placing Vikings on various action spaces and using the effect.  These could produce goods; allow you to trade goods for buildings, ships, or to craft items; give you the opportunity to trade goods for better ones; reduce food you need in order to feed your people; raid; pillage; hunt; explore; or play an occupation card.  In the end, the player with the most valuable possessions wins.

This seems like a pretty dense game, both in the amount of things you can do and the amount of stuff in the box.  This seems to be a pattern with Rosenberg’s games – they’ve been getting bigger and bigger as time goes on.  I happen to like a lot of stuff in my games, so that’s not a big deal for me.  The price point is more of an issue, making my barrier to entry that much higher.  But if someone else has it, I’ll gladly try out their copy.

image by BGG user Funforge
image by BGG user Funforge

Hop (Marie Cardouat/Ludovic Maublanc, Funforge) is a kind of party dexterity game.  Each round, one player is the Hurler and chooses another to be the Skewerer.  The Hurler’s job is to throw a rainbow ring around the index finger of the Skewerer.  However, there will always be a constraint.  This might be that you must remove your glasses (or wear someone else’s) before throwing the ring, or that you must lie down flat on your chair before throwing, or that someone else has to yell right as you throw, or that the skewerer must hold their finger up like a unicorn horn, or something else.  Success or failure gives rewards or penalties, and other players have an opportunity to bet on success or failure before the throw.  In the end, the player with the highest score is the winner.

This game is admittedly pretty light and probably won’t be super interesting to a lot of people.  I think it looks like a fun light game that kids will really dig, and has some good cute art by Marie Cardouat, probably best known as the original artist for the Dixit series.  The bits look great, so this is one I want to watch.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Inis (Christian Martinez, Matagot) is a Celtic themed game where the goal is to become King of the Island.  Actually, there are three victory conditions – be the leader of territories with at least six clans; have your clan present in at least six different territories; or have clans present in territories that collectively have six shrines.  Each round begins with a card draft, and you allocate the four you get to your clans.  Then you go about trying to accomplish your objectives.  It seems like a dudes on a map game, but the BGG description points out that eliminating other clans can hurt you in trying to get some of the win conditions.

This seems to be a game along the lines of Matagot’s other titles, Cyclades and Kemet, both very well received and popular.  I have played Cyclades (not Kemet), and it does seem to strike a similar chord of having more going on than just combat.  The game is also very striking visually, with very jagged edges on the tiles and beautiful artwork on each one.  Looks pretty cool.

image by BGG user Richard Breese
image by BGG user Richard Breese

Key to the City: London (Richard Breese/Sebastian Bleasdale, R&D Games) is based on the Breese and Bleasdale’s 2012 game Keyflower.  Over four eras, players will be bidding on tiles using meeples (called keyples here).  Keyples can also be used to activate tiles, or even to upgrade tiles.  As you play, you’ll be building your own little map of London, as well as adding new keyples to your empire.  After the fourth era, the player with the most points wins.

I like Keyflower quite a bit.  I dislike auction games as a general rule, but the exception to that is when there are several simultaneous auctions going on at once – think Vegas Showdown, Homesteaders, and the previously mentioned Cyclades.  Seeing what appears to be the same game rethemed into more of a real world environment is pretty cool.  I haven’t dug into the rules, so I don’t know how much will be different, but it’s one I hope to try out sometime.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Drachenturm (Carlo A. Rossi, HABA) is a cooperative memory and dexterity game for ages 5 and up.  There’s not a lot of information about the game, just a German description on BGG.  Apparently, the dragon has kidnapped a princess and locked her in a tower.  The dragon meanwhile has a rope connected to the tower.  I’m not sure how it will work, but it looks like the dragon will pull the rope and the tower will collapse.  The component picture on BGG looks cool enough that I’m really interested to hear more about this one.  Plus HABA has a really good track record with kid’s games, so despite knowing nothing more than what I’ve said, it’s on my list to check out at a later point.

image by BGG user barandur
image by BGG user barandur

The Oracle of Delphi (Stefan Feld, Hall Games) is a game about trying to complete twelve tasks assigned by Zeus – build three shrines, collect three offerings, raise three statues and defeat three monsters.  On your turn, you will use your three Oracle dice to do actions.  This includes drawing a card, taking favor tokens, looking at island tiles, moving your ship, fighting a monster, exploring an island, building a shrine, loading an offering, making an offering, loading a statue, raising a statue, discarding injury cards, or advancing a god.  After completing the tasks and returning to Zeus, the round ends and you win if you were the only one.  There are tiebreakers if there are others.

It seems that Feld has taken a bit of a nosedive in popularity recently.  It’s been a couple of years since he’s had a game after a long productive period.  But more and more, I hear people talking trash about his games, particularly those that have more of a point salad feel to them.  This game does not appear to follow the normal Feldian pattern at all – there are no points, just lots of things that must be done in order to achieve the one goal.  We’ll see how it does.

image by BGG user reola
image by BGG user reola

The Perfumer (Chun-Lan Kao, Big Fun Games) is a board game where smell matters.  You’re traveling around the world to different regions in order to pick up the ingredients needed to put together scents.  At the end of your turn, you’ll get to pick up your final location’s scent strip, as well as one of the seven secret scents.  Your goal here is to figure out what the secret scents are (with the region’s scent as reference) so you can score a recipe on your card.  When you reach the end of the game,

This game combines pick-up-and-deliver, deduction, and resource management into a pretty interesting looking Eurogame where you actually have to use your nose.  The scratch-and-sniff aspect is pretty unique, and adds a new sensory level to the gameplay.  This is one I really want to try sometime.


That will do it for now.  If you’re going to Spiel, have fun.  If, like me, you’re NOT going, hope you had fun living vicariously through these lists!  Thanks for reading!

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