2020 Random Summer Preview, part II

Back with some more games randomly pulled from BGG’s list of games being released/already released this summer. That list is up to 196 as of selection time.

image by BGG user ratpack

Curmudgeon (Adam Bain/Grant Lyon, 25th Century Games) is a game of insults. Basically, you have life cards in front of you, and you’re playing cards to hurl insults at the other players. The game basically continues until everyone is dead. I can imagine that, with the right crowd, this could be hilarious. I can’t picture myself ever being in that right crowd, however.

image by BGG user yonostudio

On the Origin of Species (Gerard Ascensi/Ferran Renalias, Artana Games) is a game based on the work of Charles Darwin, best known as the scientist that introduced the theory of evolution. Specifically, this game covers his journey to the Galapagos Islands, where he was able to study a number of endemic species and led to the development of his theory. Artana Games has a history of basing their games on real life scientists, including Tesla vs. Edison and Lovelace & Babbage. I’m interested to see how this works.

image by BGG user LeMammouth

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion (Isaac Childres, Cephalofair Games) is a smaller, more streamlined version of the #1 game on BGG. Specifically, there are only four characters, 25 scenarios, and 16 monster types. The game was released exclusively by Target in June (I think) and sold out very quickly. It looks like a good way to get into Gloomhaven, but I’m still looking forward to trying out the real thing.

image by BGG user KyleNicholson

Nailed It! (Games by Bicycle), much to my disappointment, is not a game based on the Netflix cooking show featuring amateur bakers trying to make professional desserts in an absurdly short amount of time. Rather, this is a party game about stereotypes. You reveal a stereotype like Procrastinator, Cat Lady, or Conspiracy Theorist, and then make the case why a category from your hand (location, food, clothing, or ailment) is the best fit for that. A judge decides the best, and that’s it. Doesn’t look like something that would appeal to me at ALL.

image by BGG user zhiwiller

Magic Money (Zack Hiwiller, Indie Boards & Cards) is an auction game where you are bidding on various magical creatures. You basically write down an amount you’re willing to pay, then the auctioneer announces who had the winning bid. So you can literally pay whatever you want, but in the end, the player who bid the most overall loses, and the remaining player who scored the highest wins. This sounds A LOT like QE. Like, almost identical, other than the theme. The designer says he created it without knowing about QE, but from the description, they sound like essentially the same game. the designer also says to compare the rules when they are released to see what others think.

image by BGG user Marfried

Fairy Trails (Uwe Rosenberg, Paper Plane Games) is a two-player game of path building. It’s very simple – you draw a tile and place it. If you finish a path of your color (i.e. close off all ends of it), you may put houses on each space connected to that path. When you’ve placed all of your houses, you win. This seems like a very simple game. There are pink and yellow paths, and not much else. They make everything look very busy to me, but that’s a graphic design issue that might just be me. The game still looks fun.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Deep Vents (T. Alex Davis/Ryan Laukat, Red Raven Games) is a game about creating ocean ecosystems at extreme depths. Each turn, you’re adding living organisms and geological features through drafting tiles and placing them on the ocean floor. You can also grow or activate tiles to give you different advantages. Red Raven does some really interesting games, and it will be interesting to see how this works, especially when compared to another recent ocean themed game, Oceans from North Star.

image by BGG user randyhoyt

The Search for Planet X (Matthew O’Malley/Ben Rosset, Foxtrot Games/Renegade Game Studios) is about the quest to find a dark planet at the edge of our solar system. There’s an app to help you with your search as you gather clues and try to predict where the planet is. I love the theme here, partly because astronomers really do theorize that there’s an undiscovered planet the size of Neptune out there. I also like the idea of a deduction game that’s looking for a planet. Definitely a different kind of take on the genre.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Deranged (German Tikhomirov, Ultra Pro) is a semi cooperative game where players are trying to survive for three days and nights. Everyone has a secret objective, and you never know when a player is going to turn into a monster. This does not sound like my type of game, but for people who like the whole semi cooperative survival potential traitor style of game, this would be one to look into.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

El Maestro (Valéry Fourcade, WizKids) is a party game where you are drawing something and having others guess what it is. The twist is that the initial drawer is drawing in the air. Other players are trying to recreate what El Maestro was drawing on their own sketch pads. Points are awarded based on recreating elements of the Maestro’s drawing and artistic merit. This is going to be a hard pass for me.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Pandemic: Hot Zone – North America (Matt Leacock, Z-Man Games) is a pretty appropriate release for right now, though it was conceived before the current global pandemic. It is a shorter and more compact version of the original game – you’re only focused in North America, there are only four characters, and there are only three diseases. This last thing makes the current pandemic even more scary – we’re having a hard enough time dealing with ONE. Basic mechanisms seem to be just about the same. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know how eager I am to play a game that hits so close to home right now.


Hope you’re staying safe out there. Please wear a mask and wash your hands, and as always, thanks for reading!

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