2017 Random Origins Preview, part III

Today is the first day of the Origins Game Fair, so it’s my last chance to get in one of my random previews!  As always, these are randomly selected from the BGG Origins Preview list.  The list was at 190 when I wrote this.  Here we go!

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Unearth (Jason Harner/Matthew Ransom, Brotherwise Games) is a game from the creators of Boss Monster, though I hope that’s not an indicator of what kind of game it will be.  The basic idea is that players are rolling dice and placing them on different ruins cards, attempting to get the value high enough to claim the card.  If the value of the die you place is low enough, you get to claim a stone.  You’ll get points for sets of stones and Ruins you collect by the end of the game, and high score wins.

The only thing I really know about the game comes from a single preproduction review on BGG.  It looks very nice, but sounds very random.  I have played Boss Monster and didn’t like it at all.  This one sounds better to me, but I’m not sure about the amount of randomness.  If I were to be at the fair, this is one I’d probably want to check out, and reserve judgment until I saw it in action.  It’s supposed to go on sale today, so I imagine there will be copies available at the show.

image by BGG user Loophole Master

The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire (Eric M. Lang, CMON Limited) is the latest game capitalizing on the success of a 45-year-old movie.  The game plays over four acts as the different families battle it out for control of New York.  There are a number of action spaces on the board where you will be placing your thugs, and having the most thugs in a particular area gives you control of an area.  Meanwhile, there are drive-by shootings where thugs end up in the river and have to be fished out.  At the end of each act, you’ll have to pay a tribute to Don Corleone, and the player with the most money in the end is the winner.

It seems to me from the little I know about this game that this game didn’t necessarily NEED the Godfather license attached to it – it seems like a fairly generic Mafia game without any touches that really connect it to the franchise.  But the license will help it sell more, and as it’s CMON, you know that there will be some nice miniatures involved.  I think I’d take a look at this one, but I’m not dying to try it out.  The game releases in July, so there will just be demos at Origins.

image by BGG user fabweb

Junk in My Trunk (David Coleson, CSE Games) is a game based on the Swedish game Vändtia.  The basic idea is that elephants are employed to clean up after a circus, and so they get lots of junk in their trunks.  You’re trying to clean ’em out.  There are no rules or videos online as of yet, so I don’t really know how to play.  The goal is to be the first to get rid of all of your junk.

This game has been in development for a while.  I first heard about it on the podcast The Spiel (co-hosted by Coleson) in 2015, and I don’t know how far it is at this point.  It’s apparently only going to be available for demo games at Origins.  We’ll see.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Stroop (Jonathan Chaffer, Grand Gamers Guild) is a game based on the so-called Stroop Effect, where interference affects reaction time in completing a task.  The game is played over two rounds, both played in real-time.  On the word “GO”, you begin revealing cards from your deck until you find one that meets the condition of a round.  In the first round, you must play a card that fits the description found on the card in the center.  So if a card says RED, you must play a card that is red.  If you then play a card that says five, the next card played must be five letters long.  And so on.  This continues until one player is out of legal moves – he runs out of cards to draw and can’t play anything else from his hand.  You then deal out cards for the next round, with everyone keeping what they had left.  In round two, you must play a card that describes the card in the center.  So if the card in the center says RED, you either play a card that says blue (because it is blue), big (because it is capital letters), solid (because the letters are not hollow), or three (because RED is three letters long).  You do not play a red card, as that does not describe the card in the middle.  When the round ends, the player with the fewest cards is the winner.

I got to play a prototype of this last year at Gen Con, and I really enjoyed it.  The game is quite a brain-burner, especially that second round.  It plays very quickly, and people who are not fans of speed games might want to check it out anyway.  A lot of times, the fastest person will make a mistake because they didn’t account for the interference.  This is one you should definitely seek out.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Deep: Enemy Frontier (Samuel Bailey, Leder Games) is the latest asymmetric game from the publishers of Vast: The Crystal Caverns.  This one is set in a sci-fi universe, with four factions battling it out for control, each with its own way to play and its own victory condition.  The Rival seeks to annihilate humanity.  The Captain wants to gain fame in order to be made Emperor of the galaxy.  The Empire is trying to have all of one type of building on the board.  The Usurper is trying to crank the rebellion level up to 11.

Vast was my favorite game from last year’s Gen Con, and I’m very interested to see how this one turns out.  It doesn’t seem like Vast in Space, but its own thing using the same asymmetric idea.  It’s only going to be demoed at Origins, and I assume there’s a Kickstarter in the future.

image by BGG user kitanata

City of the Big Shoulders (Raymond Chandler III, Parallel Games) is a game about rebuilding Chicago after the Chicago Fire of 1871.  It is touted as a merger between a Eurogame and an 18xx game.  In each of five rounds (decades), there is a stock phase, a building phase, an action phase, an operating phase (resource production and shipping), and a cleanup phase.  The player who earns the most money from their contributions to the rebuilding of Chicago wins the game.

This is a pretty great theme.  Following the rebirth of Chicago into the cultural powerhouse it is now is pretty interesting to me.  It seems like a heavier game, and is definitely still in its prototype stage.  The last I heard, they’re planning for a Kickstarter in May of 2018.  But it will be at Origins to check out and demo.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Samara (Corné van Moorsel, Tasty Minstrel Games) is the US reprint of a game from 2015 by Cwali.  On your turn, you’ll be able to grab tools and skills you’ll need, or grab new buildings, or take a vacation to strengthen future turns, or increase your workforce.  To do this, you’ll move a worker or workers ahead on a month track.  This month track will tell you the column you can take from, and the number of workers you use tells you what you can get from that column.  The person who has collected the most points at the end of the game is the winner.

I remember talking about this game when the Cwali version was first on Kickstarter in May of 2015.  I thought the time track mechanism looked really cool, and the game definitely appealed to me.  I’m glad it’s getting a US release – I think more domestic publishers need to be looking into picking up Cwali games, they’re usually very interesting.  This one will be available in limited quantities – Tasty Minstrel is using Origins as a soft release for the game.


That will do it.  If you’re at Origins this weekend, have a great time!  But wherever you are, thanks for reading!

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