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New Game Round-up: Sifting in the Sand for Fun, Print-and-Play Thunderstone & Martin Wallace Says Who

W. Eric Martin
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Skeleton Island – designed by Florian Fay, published by Ilopeli, and due out in mid-June 2012 with rules in five languages – is the first game that I can think of in which one can blow on the game cards. Here's a game description:

Quote:
In Skeleton Island, players try to piece together treasure maps and find gold coins by digging in the "sand" – more specifically, by digging in the sand-decorated cards. To set up the game, someone takes the deck of 49 sand cards, splits them in half, turns one half face-down, shuffles the two halves together, then swishes the combined deck around on the table to make a pile of sand.

Each turn, a player takes either a standard turn or a piracy turn. In a standard turn, the player takes one "free" card – that is, a card not covered at all by any other card – and looks at it. The player can keep the card, or return it to the edge of the sand pile and draw a second card, which she must keep. (If only one or two cards are free, the player can close her eyes and blow on the pile to spread the sand.)

Players are searching for gold coins, which are valuable on their own, or halves and quarters of a treasure map. The first player to hand in a complete map of one of the five colors collects the island card of this color, which is worth five coins.

On a piracy turn, the player removes any three cards she's collected from the game, then either takes two consecutive standard turns or swipes any card from an opposing player.

When all the islands have been claimed or all the sand cards removed, the game ends and the player with the most coins wins.

Sounds like a new game mechanism waiting to be exploited in multiple ways...

• Polish publisher Wydawnictwo Portal has released English rules (PDF) for one of its Spiel 2012 releases – Ignacy Trzewiczek's two-player card game The Convoy.

Sunrise City and Empires of the Void both carry a June 1, 2012 street date in the U.S.

• With Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin having rebooted that series in March 2012 – and Thunderstone Advance: Caverns of Bane due out in July 2012 – U.S. publisher Alderac Entertainment Group has revamped the cards in the original Thunderstone release from 2009 to match those in Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin and released them online in a print-and-play edition. As noted on the announcement: "We included the basic decks from Thunderstone Advance as well, so when you download the rules, there's no confusion. Just print, cut, sleeve, and play." Or to be more accurate, cut and sleeve hundreds of times...

• At the UK Games Expo that took place in late May 2012, UK publisher Cubicle 7 Entertainment showed off a new Martin Wallace design: Doctor Who: The Card Game, which is for 3-4 players, is due out August 2012, and retails for $30. In a press release from Cubicle 7 announcing the game, Wallace said, "Designing a game around the themes of Doctor Who has been fascinating, it is such a hugely popular property and comes with an enormous amount of background and history – there's so much there for inspiration."

Pics of Doctor Who: The Card Game, as well as several other games available for demo at UK Games Expo, can be seen in this report from Newcastle Gamers.

(I'll note in passing that the Newcastle Gamers report calls Tony Boydell's Snowdonia the "game of the show", with The Little Metal Dog Show's Michael Fox echoing that sentiment. His tweet on the game: "Holy crap. If you like Euros, you'll bloody love this.")

(Fox also noted in his UK Games Expo report that following the UK debut of Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small Lookout Games' Hanno Girke mentioned the "possibility of a card game based on the popular franchise".)

(And looping back around to Martin Wallace, a KublaCon attendee, Denis Begin posted pics on Facebook of a playtest session with Wallace of an asymmetrical two-player card-driven game set during the U.S. Civil War bearing the placeholder name "Lincoln". To quote Begin, Wallace "described the mechanic as a 'deck de-construction' game".)

• On the crowdfunding front this time we have the baldly named Making Profit: The Boardgame – which is not the goal of the publisher, mind you, but the goal of the players. On the IndieGoGo page for this project, designer/publisher Aigar Alaveer admits to being fascinated by economy games, with "18xx games [being] the top of this area". As for this design, here's a short description of the game, which is being released by 2D6 (an Estonian company not associated with 2D6.org):

Quote:
In Making Profit: The Boardgame every player is both factory manager and investor at the same time. As factory manager you have to decide: should you run the factory for profits or develop it instead... and what area to develop: resource or products? As investor you have to choose the factories to invest into; should you stick close to your own plant or are there more lucrative options made available by opponents? But there are so few actions available each turn...and at the end the winner is the one with most combined wealth.

(IndieGoGo link)
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