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Gigamic Unloads a Half-Dozen Titles, Promising Tea, Panic, Crabs & More

W. Eric Martin
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In the middle of 2011 I posted a round-up of what French publisher Gigamic had recently released or had on the schedule. Since Gigamic has a half-dozen new offerings hitting the market on May 18, 2012 – neatly divided into two card games, two dice games, and two abstract strategy games – it seems like a good time for another round-up. And since I created entries for three of these games and added full descriptions and links for the other three, I want to get the most that I can out of the work I do. No invisible labor here!

Let's start with the card game Tea Time from Emanuele Ornella, whose name I have to look up each time I write it because I always want to put two "n"s or "l"s in his first name. Details! Here's a game description:

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Who will you invite to tea? Be careful who you invite as sometimes the characters will disappear as soon as they arrive!

In Tea Time, players collect characters from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, and each character card (other than Alice) is double-sided, with a normal image on one side and a reverse "mirrored" image on the other. Each round, an array of characters is laid out, with normal and mirrored images alternating. The round's start player takes one character, adds it to his collection, then places the Alice card in that spot of the array. The next player takes 1-2 cards, but if he takes two, the cards must be adjacent. From the third player on, each player takes 1-3 cards; again, you can take multiple cards only if they're adjacent. If you ever have a normal and a mirrored image of the same character in your collection, *poof* they both disappear.

After five rounds (with two players) or three rounds (with 3-4 players), the game ends. Players score 1-15 points for collecting 1-5 cards of the same character – with zero cards of a character being worth five points, so sometimes you do want them to vanish quickly! Alice herself is worth four points, and whoever has the most points wins.


The other card game is Home Sweet Home from newcomer Annick Lobet, who debuted in 2011 with two releases and has another title later in this list:

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In Home Sweet Home, players have five diving bells and want to get as many sea creatures into them as possible – but crabs don't like octopi and vice versa, so keep those two species separate if you don't want trouble.

To set up the game, each player lays out diving bell cards in front of them, numbered 1-5, and receives four cards from the shuffled animal deck; crab and octopus cards are also numbered 1-5. At the start of a round, a player lays an animal card from her hand in the center of the table and states the sum of all cards played. The next player does the same, making sure that all animal cards are visible. This continues until the sum of the animals played totals twelve or more. The player who laid the last card takes the stack, then places the animals in her diving bells based on the number on the cards. If you would lay a crab in a diving bell that already holds one or more octopi cards (and vice versa), you must discard one card of each type.

Once the deck rounds out, players finish the round, if possible, then sum the animals in their diving bells. The player with the highest total wins!

Dice game #1 – Next! – comes from Gil Druckman and Danny Hershkovits and is another take on the familiar roll-three-times Yahtzee-style dice game:

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In the dice game Next!, players try to roll specific combinations of colors/symbols in order to claim target cards. The harder the target is to claim, the more points that card is worth.

To set up the game, shuffle the 45 target cards, then lay them out face up in stacks of 15 in the three card trays. On a turn, a player can roll the dice up to three times, setting aside any dice that she wants to keep after each of the first two rolls. If a player could claim a target card after the first or second roll – such as a card showing three-of-a-kind – but decides to roll again, she can no longer claim that card after a future roll. Once a player claims a card, her turn ends and the next player goes, rolling all six dice to start the turn.

If a player doesn't claim a card, however, the next player has the option of immediately claiming a card that matches the dice previously set aside or keeping those dice set aside and having only two rolls on his turn to try to claim a card.

Some cards have icons that allow whoever wins it to take a special action, such as a bonus turn or theft of a card from an opponent.

After a player has claimed a certain number of cards (4, 5 or 7 with four-to-six, three or two players), that player can decide to end the game. The game ends automatically once a player has claimed six, eight or ten cards (again, based on the number of players). Players then tally their points, and whoever has the high score wins!

Dice game #2 – Panic Lab – is designed by Dominique Ehrhard and falls into the Bongo!-style of dice game in which players roll dice, then compete to do something quickly based on what was rolled:

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In Panic Lab, the player-scientists have their hands full trying to figure out which amoeba to catch and where it might have oozed off to. To set up the game, shuffle the 25 cards, then lay them out in a circle.

At the start of a round, one player rolls four special dice which indicate the color, shape and pattern of the amoeba being sought as well as the color of the lab it left and in which direction it was traveling. Competing at the same time, players need to find the lab, then move in the right direction to spot the amoeba (which may, of course, be striped and not spotted).

But wait! If you encounter a vent after leaving the lab, you need to skip to the next vent in the circle before continuing your search. (Amoebas prefer to travel in the dark when possible.) Plus, if an amoeba passes through one of three mutation devices in the circle, you need to alter the criteria for your search, looking for a tentacled amoeba instead of one with a tail, for example, or an orange/red amoeba instead of a blue/purple one. Zap!

The first player to lay her hand on the correct card collects a token, and the first player to collect five tokens wins!

Stratopolis is the other Annick Lobet design on the list, and it aims for the classic two-player "learn in a minute, pretend that you're going to spend a lifetime to master it" school of abstract strategy design:

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In Stratopolis, players want to build wide, while also building big.

Each player starts the game with twenty L-shaped tiles comprised of three squares; one player has tiles showing all green squares, green and neutral squares, or two green squares and one red square, while the other player's tiles reverse red and green. Players shuffle and stack these tiles face down, revealing only the topmost tile.

To start the game, a two-square tile (one red, one green) is placed on the table. Players then take turns adding their topmost tile to the display. A tile can be placed (1) on the table with at least one edge adjacent to an edge in play or (2) on top of at least two tiles already in play. When placed on a higher level, each square of the tile must be supported, the tile must be level, and red and green squares cannot cover one another. (Every other color play – such as green on neutral or red on red – is legal.)

Once all tiles have been played, players count the number of squares in the largest contiguously connected area of their color, then multiply this number by the height of the square in this area that is at the highest level. The player with the highest score wins!


Finally comes Color Pop from Lionel Borg, a multi-player abstract strategy game that seems like a video game reverse-imported to the board game world, complete with a cool gadget to mimic the work done by our digital overlords.

Quote:
The game board consists of an inclined plastic holder that holds ten racks, with each rack holding ten colored tokens. Tokens come in five player colors (19 each) and the white Jokers (5). To set up the game, slide the tokens into the racks, then place the racks in the holder so that no more than color has more than five tokens orthogonally connected. Each player then receives a token that reveals her color for the game, a token that she keeps hidden from other players.

On a turn, a player chooses a group of two or more orthogonally connected tokens and pushes on these tokens so that they fall through the racks and down the holder. (A player can choose to make a joker any color, so she can include or exclude a joker as she wishes during her turn.) Any tokens that were above these will slide down inside the racks. The player keeps all the tokens removed.

Players take turns removing tokens until either a player is eliminated from the game or no groups of two or more tokens remain. At this point, the game ends and players reveal their secret colors. Whoever has the fewest tokens of her color on the board wins! If two or more players are tied, they compare the tokens they collected during the game; whoever collected fewer of her own color wins.

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