BoardGameGeek News

To submit news, a designer diary, outrageous rumors, or other material, please contact BGG News editor W. Eric Martin via email – wericmartin AT gmail.com

Archive for W. Eric Martin

[1]  Prev «  28 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 32  Next »  [135]

Recommend
65 
 Thumb up
1.51
 tip
 Hide

Game Preview: The Staufer Dynasty, or Taking a Lesson from Henry VI

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
I previewed Andreas Steding's The Staufer Dynasty — debuting at Spiel 2014 in German from Hans im Glück and in English from Z-Man Games — in late September 2014 on BGG News in a small amount of detail, but my head was somewhat off at the time in that I remembered few details of the design and I didn't even catch incorrect details in the short description that had been submitted with the game listing in the BGG database. (To start with, The Staufer Dynasty is not an auction game.) Thankfully I've now been shoveling the fish in at a prodigious rate and the intercranial bits are once again dashing to and fro like a well-oiled engine.

To start, players are nobles in the 12th century, accompanying Henry VI on his tour of the areas of Europe brought under control by the Staufer family, an area that included much of modern day Germany, went south to Sicily, and stretched across the Baltic Sea. Henry VI apparently liked to travel around the region to put himself into a stronger position of power and make his status known. (Wikipedia covers his travels in the late 12th century in detail. He really got around!) Henry VI's habits have rubbed off on you, so you're eager to improve your own lot in the land by placing envoys and nobles in positions of power in the six regions represented in this game.

To set up the game, which allows for 2-5 players, you lay out the six regions around the action board, drop point tiles at random on each region, lay out the supply table, drop chests (which have special actions) face up under each space on the supply table and each office seat in each region, lay out the privilege cards, stop for a drink and a bite to eat, give everyone four envoys and one noble to supply their court, shove all the other pieces in a shared province, arrange family members on the action board (with players initially taking actions sort of clockwise, counter-clockwise, counter-clockwise), giving everyone secret job cards, taking a nip of chocolate to build up your energy once again, setting out the five rows of scoring tiles (each comprised of three parts), and finally dropping King Henry VI in the one region not placed among the scoring tiles, paying attention the entire time to make sure that you've using the proper sides of things based on the number of players you have. Then you pack it all up and congratulate one another on an excellent layout job.


No, then you actually play the game, which lasts five rounds with each player having three actions per round. Players take action in order from top to bottom with their family members, and on a turn you either take a supply action (moving to one side of the action board) or a move/deploy action (moving to the other side).

For a supply action, you pick one of the spaces on the supply table (as shown at the bottom of the image above), move the indicated number of envoys and nobles from the province to your court, then claim any chests underneath that space. The treasure chests come in different colors, with each color having a different function in the game, just as you'd expect from a game with good graphic design: the brown treasure chests score points based on how many you collect, the orange ones provide immediate points or figures, the blue ones provide a one-shot bonus, and the purple ones let you collect one of the privilege cards on display. The privilege cards often modify other actions or give you a bonus for doing a particular thing, and you can use different sets of privilege cards to give the game a different feel.

For a move/deploy action, you decide which office seat you want to occupy in a particular region. If this seat isn't in the region where the king is located — that is, where you are accompanying the king while he's buffing his credentials with the locals — you need to spend one envoy as you move clockwise away from the king, placing each envoy in the top part of those regions, until you reach the region that you want to occupy. You then pay the cost of the office seat, placing one figure — possibly a noble if the seat demands it — in that seat and all the other figures in clockwise order, one per region. When you occupy a seat, you claim the chest underneath it, with these chests functioning just like the ones I described earlier.

As you might gather, you'll be sprinkling envoys across the land like Johann Appleseed, using them to spread word of your fabulousness, then forgetting about them until you need them later, which you inevitably will.


After everyone has finished their actions, you score for the round — but you score only in the region indicated in the current row of scoring tiles (Aachen, Nijmegen, Palermo, etc.) and the region that best meets the condition laid out in a separate part of the current row of scoring tiles (fewest chests, most occupants, where the king is located, etc.) If these two regions turn out to be the same one, you score that region only once. Players score points for having the most office seats in a region (or the second- or thirdmost most office seats) based on the point tile placed in the region at the start of the game. Each region also has a printed bonus that players receive, such as bonus chests or additional envoys.

To end the round, you remove all of the office occupants of the region that scored — having scored for you and receiving nothing in return, they apparently have no qualms about moving on to other employ — add new chests under each office seat in those scoring regions and each space on the supply table (doubling up on chests if any remain from earlier turns), then sweep the king clockwise 1-3 regions so that he can survey a new part of his domain. As the king moves, he returns all of the envoys that he encounters in the regions that he enters to their owners.

Players then start a new round, with the family members who moved to the supply track taking their actions first, followed by all the family members who previously moved/deployed. Thus, your action choices in one round affect when you can do things in the next.

After five rounds, players score for their treasure chests as well as for how well they completed their secret job cards. Are you dominant in the region you were assigned? How well have you placed figures into the available office seats? In the end, whoever has the most points wins.

As I mentioned in that earlier write-up, I've played the prototype of The Staufer Dynasty once, and while much of the game was as I describe it now, some things have changed, such as the possibility for scoring to occur in two regions instead of one, which puts more of the board into play each round instead of allowing people to quietly focus on their secret job cards. I don't recall the region boards, the action board, etc. being double-sided to account for differing player counts, but why would I? I wasn't the one setting up the game. Seems like a nice touch to ensure competition no matter how many opponents you face, and kudos for a modern Eurogame that allows for 2-5 players. So many titles seem to max out at four players these days!

Twitter Facebook
8 Comments
Wed Oct 8, 2014 6:00 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
76 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide

Game Preview: El Gaucho, or Beers, Steers and Questionable Choices by Your Peers

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
The more that I talk about games on video, the more that I question the ability of people to review games following a single playing — a difficulty that's frequently in mind these days as I prepare to head to the Spiel game convention in Essen, Germany, a convention where hundreds of new games will be presented to families and eager gamers and where thousands of rash opinions will be born based on misunderstandings, translation complications, and late-night gaming/drinking by exhausted players who should really be in bed. I know because I've been there, playing game X one year and feeling it was a snoozefest when in fact I was the one who was literally snoozing between turns.

Even in the best of conditions — fully rested, with plenty of time to read and re-read rules — it's easy to miss one line in the rules that changes the essence of the game (as happened in my first playing of the game featured below). It's even easier to play like a clueless newbie because that's what you are: someone new to the game who doesn't know how best to play it, even when the rulebook provides a hand at the back to shove you in a certain direction.

On my second playing of El Gaucho, which debuts from Arve D. Fühler and Argentum Verlag in October 2014 at the Spiel convention mentioned above, I still felt like I was playing only two-thirds of the game as I wasn't using the action spaces much and instead taking the more obvious cattle-claiming actions most of the time. Only in retrospect did I realize that I was missing details about cattle evaluation and why you might or might not want to do certain things in the game. Getting the proper feel for a game and understanding it enough to review it — as opposed to merely forming an opinion about it — takes time, and all too often we've already roped that dogie and are headed back to the pampa to find the next catch...

Twitter Facebook
40 Comments
Tue Oct 7, 2014 2:13 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
43 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Game Preview: RoboRama, or Chinese Checkerbots Roll Toward Self-Destruction

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
The short description of RoboRama from designers Kirps, Pierson and Zuidhof and publisher PLAYTHISONE might bring another RoboR**** game to mind:

Quote:
In RoboRama the goal is simple: Race against the other players by constantly picking the right combination of action cards and routes for your robots in order to cross the arena. Or — if that isn't thrilling enough — add the ChaosBot, which can be controlled by everyone. Finish first with your four robots on the opposite side of the arena and you win! Of course this is easier said than done. After all, you are not the only one trying to win, making it pretty crowded in the arena.

Yes, players in both RoboRama and RoboRally move robots across a grid to reach a goal, but aside from that commonality the games have almost nothing in common. So where did the title come from? PLAYTHISONE's Patrick Zuidhof told me that he came up with the name "RoboRama" because the robots made him think of the animated series Futurama and Bender the Robot, "so I glued the words together. After Franz Vohwinkel made the logo, though, I realized that there would be some emotion because of the name."

In general, RoboRama comes across like an engineer's take on Chinese Checkers or Halma with players trying to move their team of robots diagonally from one corner of the board to another, but with your robots sharing movement from a pool of action cards in front of you. The trick, however, is that those action cards don't replenish themselves automatically, but become available for use once again only through your movement on the game board and the use of a special chip card.


More specifically, each player has action cards that show 1-5 gears (with gears equalling movement points) and one chip. A player's robots start on the four squares of the opposite corner, and each turn you must choose one of your available cards and use it. If you choose a gear card, you move one of your robots in a straight line exactly as many spaces as the number of gears on the card — jumping robots of the same color as a single movement, if needed — then you slide the card up into your inactive row.

The space you land on will show 1-5 gears, a question mark, or a chip. When you land on a gear space, if possible you slide that action card from your inactive row to your active row (although you can't do so if you used that card to reach that space). When you land on a question mark, you can slide a gear card of your choice from inactive to active status. When you land on a chip, you can reclaim your inactive chip card — and you use a chip card on your turn (instead of a gear card) to reclaim a gear card that matches the gear space where one of your robots stands.

If you can't use one of your action cards on your turn, you're out of the game and your robots purged from the board. Boom!

The advance game starts with the action cards being flipped to their reverse side, with each card having a special action on it, such as the 1 gear allowing for a single diagonal movement and the 3 gear allowing for an "L" move. During the game, you can use each special action only once, flipping the card over to its blank side in addition to making it inactive when you use it.

For additional complications, you can choose to play with the ChaosBot, which despite the name doesn't move randomly on the board but is instead partially controlled by each player. At the start of the game, each player receives 3-6 ChaosBot cards and on a turn when you don't use the special action on a card, you can choose to play a ChaosBot card in addition to your regular action. The ChaosBot moves, jumps, pushes other robots around, or shoots robots with a laser to make them inactive for one turn.

Whatever the rules, though, your goal remains the same: Get all four of your robots home before anyone else. If everyone else just happens to be knocked out of the game before you get there, well, then you've won just the same...

Twitter Facebook
3 Comments
Tue Oct 7, 2014 6:00 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
53 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Game Preview: Kobayakawa, or Artsy Bluffing Made Simple

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
I'm nearing the end of game previews for titles that will debut at or be (somewhat more widely) available at Spiel 2014, and I realize that yes, I've been focusing a lot on games from Japanese designers and publishers, but by golly I spent an astronomical amount on several shipments of such games earlier in 2014 and with those games now making their way to a larger stage, I'm going to do something with them — namely these videos that I've been publishing!

Jun Sasaki's Kobayakawa from the incredibly stylish publisher Oink Games is a bluffing game stripped of anything extraneous to gameplay — well, other than the fancy metal coins, which are extraneous in their luxeness but necessary for keeping score. At Spiel 2014, French publishers Superlude Éditions and IELLO are releasing new versions of the game in English and French, but the play's the same no matter the tongue you speak, so here we go:

Twitter Facebook
16 Comments
Sun Oct 5, 2014 12:26 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
70 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

Game Preview: Edo Yashiki, or Flimsy Cardboard Palaces for All

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
In July 2014, designer Hisashi Hayashi announced that he had left his former job to work on game design on a full-time basis. He credited Trains' recognition by the Origins Award as Best Board Game for encouraging him to move in this direction, but other designs from him have also made the jump from self-publication through his own company OKAZU Brand to new editions in larger markets, including String Railway and Sail to India.

Edo Yashiki is another one of his small self-published titles, with the game coming in a baggie and everything boiled down to a deck of cards and a few tokens. The gist of the game is that you're trying to build an awesome place to live by adding cards to the structure one at a time and making something decent out of the process instead of the hodgepodge you'd get if you tried to do such a thing in real life. Such is the beauty of games as you can get away with magical thinking along these lines...

Twitter Facebook
12 Comments
Fri Oct 3, 2014 3:20 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
96 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

New Game Round-up: A New Age for Conan, New Landscapes for Elder Sign & New Ships for Firefly

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
Ares Games has made deals with both Fantasy Flight Games and Conan Properties International that put the remaining inventory of the first English-language edition of Age of Conan: The Strategy Board Game in its possession and allow it to proceed with plans for an expansion from original designers Roberto Di Meglio, Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello. Here's an overview of Adventures in Hyboria, the name of which might change prior to a Kickstarter funding campaign due to start in October 2014 ahead of a Q2 2015 release date:

Quote:
Adventures in Hyboria casts a strong spotlight on Conan himself, giving a new dimension to his role in the game and adding new elements to give more character and more flavor to each Kingdom. More specifically, this expansion adds new Kingdom cards to the base game and new Story and Adventure decks of cards.

Di Meglio notes on BGG that "the expansion will also include some 'rules tweaks' to the original, but the most important change is the entirely new Conan sub-system." Thus, two Conan-based games will be looking for funding as Monolith's Conan: Hyborian Quests from Frédéric Henry is headed to KS in early 2015. Curious...

• Speaking of FFG, Fantasy Flight Games has announced a new expansion for Elder Sign, with Gates of Arkham due out in Q1 2015. Here's what you'll find in the box:

Quote:
The struggle against the Ancient Ones spreads out of the museum and into the haunted city of Arkham in Elder Sign: Gates of Arkham. Adventures take place in over twenty locations including Velma's Diner and the Curiositie Shoppe, Arkham Asylum, and the Uninvited Isle. Meanwhile, gates to Other Worlds open throughout Arkham, destabilizing time and space.

In this expansion, four new Ancient Ones threaten humanity and eight new investigators join the quest for elder signs. Investigators can also now acquire skills that give them lasting advantages. Memberships in either the brutal Sheldon Gang or the mysterious Silver Twilight Lodge help investigators complete tasks and grant them added rewards. It will take all the skills, resources, strength, and sanity you can muster to prevent the Ancient Ones from awakening – and to stay alive in the rough streets of Arkham.

• While providing an update for the availability of Mythotopia and Onward to Venus at Spiel 2014 (as noted in BGG's preview), designer Martin Wallace of Treefrog Games said, "Each copy of the limited edition of Mythotopia will contain two replacement counters for A Study in Emerald (William Morris and Wilhelm Steiber). We will also provide CoolStuffInc and Gameslore with replacement counters. We will post more on how to get replacements at a later time."

Wallace added, "The third in the subscription series, Ships, will be produced in 2015, hopefully in the first quarter."

• In February 2015, Gale Force Nine plans to release Firefly: The Game – Resin Ships (MSRP $50), a set of six models from Firefly: The Game "that have been re-mastered and produced in high detail resin so that you can customize your own ships and give them your unique paint schemes".

Twitter Facebook
27 Comments
Tue Sep 30, 2014 6:26 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
79 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Game Preview: La Isla, or Besting Other Explorers Three Cards at a Time

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
Designer Stefan Feld assaulted the gaming world with four large releases in 2013: Bruges, Bora Bora, Amerigo and Rialto. (Well, technically his publishers assaulted the gaming world with four Feld titles in the same year. I'm sure that he didn't conspire to do as the flood of releases might have been eating its own sales tail, so to speak.)

For 2014, gamers will see only two new Feld designs: AquaSphere from Hall Games (which I previewed in June 2014) and La Isla from frequent Feld publishing partner alea.

Unlike some of Feld's early titles from alea — Macao, In the Year of the Dragon, The Castles of Burgundy, and the aforementioned Bora BoraLa Isla is a more streamlined design without the piles of bits and multiple interlocking gears that one might expect. Each turn you have only three cards in hand with which to make action choices, and you must play all of them, giving you at most 3! choices of how to play them. Of course the game involves more than just laying down cards as I explain in this video:

Twitter Facebook
29 Comments
Mon Sep 29, 2014 2:19 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
64 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Game Preview: King's Pouch, or Giving Citizens the Sack

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
It's funny how quickly something can go from non-existent to familiar enough to elicit an "oh, how does this one compare to the others?" response from those who hear about this formerly new thing.

The "something" in this example is "bag-building", a take on the deck-building game mechanism introduced (and hugely imitated) from Dominion that was first introduced — as far as I know — in Hyperborea, a Chiarvesio and Zizzi design from Yemaia and Asterion Press that I first saw in prototype form in early 2013 at Spielwarenmesse. Over the course of that game players build a bag of cubes that represent different aspects of their kingdom — war, trade, movement, building, knowledge, growth — and they draw a few each turn to activate certain knowledge or technology based on what they draw.

King's Pouch from Keewoong Kim and Korea Boardgames, which debuts at Spiel 2014 in October, does something similar, with players building a bag of citizens, with different colors of citizens able to activate different buildings that they acquire during play. One twist to this dynamic is that citizens come in two shapes, allowing you to somewhat shape what you draw at the end of each round while you're planning what to do next. There's much more to the game, but that's what the video is for:

Twitter Facebook
15 Comments
Sun Sep 28, 2014 3:35 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
50 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Game Preview: Ninja Taisen, or For Those About to Rock/Paper/Scissor, We Slash You

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
While at Gen Con 2014, BGG advertising manager Chad Krizan relayed to me and a fellow roommate a few details from an article profiling a rock/paper/scissors champion, noting, among other things, that people often think that RPS is a random activity, but is instead anything but as you need to pay attention to what the other person is doing so that you can anticipate future throws and counter them. This champion specifically mentioned that people rarely throw the same symbol three times in a row as apparently it feels wrong to do so, much like dressing a cow in a stovepipe hat, so when an opponent throws the same symbol twice, you know that he's probably not going to throw it a third time, which thereby increases your chances of throwing the correct counter and beating him.

Thus, when it came time to have an RPS shootout with Chad following the close of Gen Con 2014 on Sunday afternoon, with the loser needing to sit in the backseat underneath an assortment of poky and jabby objects, and I just happened to throw the same symbol twice in a row, I confidently threw the same symbol a third time and soon found myself enjoying the comforts of the passenger seat while Chad had a faceful of metal.

All of which is to say that RPS can be used thoughtfully when designing or playing a game, and one example of that is Katsumasa Tomioka's Ninja Taisen from Table Cross and Penta merone. During the game, you move ninja from your village to the opponent's, being aware the whole time of which of your RPS ninja are vulnerable to attack from which of the opponent's and trying to cluster them in protective clans so that your opponent cannot attack without retribution.

Twitter Facebook
4 Comments
Thu Sep 25, 2014 2:23 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
45 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Videos from Gen Con 2014: D&D Attack Wing, Marvel Dice Masters, Diamonsters, Machi Koro: Harbor, Draco Magi & Operation F.A.U.S.T.

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
Carrying on with the last of the game demonstrations recorded in the BGG booth at Gen Con 2014 we have the Dungeons & Dragons: Attack Wing – Starter Set from designers Andrew Parks and Manny O'Donnell and publisher WizKids Games, with this item due on store shelves — well, hey whaddayaknow? — October 1, 2014. This video still counts as a preview, yes!





• WizKids Games' Scott D'Agostino also talked about upcoming releases for its Marvel Dice Masters line, including the October 2014 release of MDM: Uncanny X-Men and many accessories that will help you bling that thing.





• With the IDW/Pandasaurus version of Masao Suganuma's Machi Koro hitting the U.S. market, this preview of their Machi Koro: Harbor Expansion — which is designed to find in the base game box — now feels far more appropriate than it did one month ago. Good timing!





• And speaking of previews, here's an advance look at another title coming from IDW and Pandasaurus, Suganuma's Diamonsters, which like Machi Koro before it was first released by Japanese publisher Grounding before making its way into the arms of others.





• Here's yet another pair of preview videos for games that are not yet available. Man, I made good choices in leaving these for the tail end of our Gen Con 2014 coverage — or I just got lucky. The game in question is Draco Magi, from co-designers Robert Burke and Richard Launius, with Burke's own Robert Burke Games serving as publisher.





• And the second title from Burke is a solo design from him: Operation F.A.U.S.T., which puts players in the role of art patrons who are trying to acquire black market art during WWII. Now that's not something you hear every day in terms of a them. Kudos!

Twitter Facebook
18 Comments
Thu Sep 25, 2014 6:00 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

[1]  Prev «  28 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 32  Next »  [135]

Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.