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New Game Round-up: Spiel 2013 Previews from the Gathering, A New Look for Coup & Mike Elliott: Agent Hunter

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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• Having added Nürnberg and ACD Games Day to my 2013 convention coverage roster (NY Toy Fair, Gen Con, Spiel, BGG.CON), I'm missing out on Alan Moon's Gathering of Friends, an annual invite-only event that features lots of designers and publishers showing off prototypes and advance production copies of games that they plan to release later in the year. It's a great event for advance word on what's coming in the future, but you also run into the problem of reporting on games that change prior to publication and setting up false expectations for players. What's worse, sometimes you report on games that aren't released for years, thereby making the designers and publishers look like slackers when in most cases the delay is caused by production troubles, continued development, the addition of new titles to a production schedule, and other non-slackerish reasons.

Even with those potential hazards, people still want to know what might be coming. Thankfully former Boardgame News columnist and current Opinionated Gamers editor Dale Yu is writing once or twice daily from the event. This column from April 15, 2013, for example, includes brief write-ups and images for:

-----Treasure Hunters, a cooperative game from Dale's brother Brian Yu that Mattel will release only in Germany.
-----Rampage, from Ludovic Maublanc and Antoine Bauza, which has suffered from the "word got out too early at conventions" drawback.
-----• An unnamed – or perhaps indecipherably named – prototype from designer Vlaada Chvátil and publisher Czech Games Edition.
-----• An advanced copy of Peter Hawes' Francis Drake.
-----• The item depicted below.

Petr Murmak from Czech Games Edition (photo by Dale Yu)

Yu has also written about William Attia's Spyrium from Ystari Games (here), Helmut Ohley and Leonhard Orgler's Russian Railroads from Hans im Glück (here), and Friedemann Friese's Fight for Food (here), this being Friese's final game in his Friday project, which began in 2008. Sigh, maybe next year...

• In a comment on this April 11, 2013 BGGN post, I included the following in a comment far down the page: Z-Man Games has delayed the new edition of Pandemic: On the Brink to July 2013 (from the previously announced May/June release date) as, in the words of Filosofia's Sophie Gravel, "We decided to include a tray that would hold all three expansions". To which I responded, "Wait – three expansions?!" Gravel later clarified that she meant three games: the Pandemic base game, On the Brink, and In the Lab, which is set to debut in August at Gen Con 2013. So no third expansion is in the works – or at least none that Gravel wants to talk about anyway...

• In an April 16, 2013 Facebook post, Italian publisher Stratelibri teases a forthcoming game from War of the Ring co-designers Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello. Now you have been similarly teased.

• U.S. publisher Indie Boards and Cards has picked up Rikki Tahta's Coup, which debuted at Spiel 2012 from new publisher La Mame Games and was a sleeper hit at that show (mostly due to La Mame being engulfed in Hall 6 by all the RPG and LARP material). In a note announcing the deal Indie's Travis Worthington writes, "We've spent the last couple of months making this great game look amazing, and I am very eager to show the world what we've done!" Expect to see this title on Kickstarter.

• U.S. publisher Alderac Entertainment Group has revealed one of what will likely be a handful of Gen Con 2013 releases: the quick-playing deduction game Agent Hunter from designer Mike Elliott. At first I thought this title was about an agent named Hunter, but no, you are in fact a hunter of agents, trying to deduce which agents are in which of the opponent's safe houses so that you can eliminate them. Here's a summary of the gameplay:

In Agent Hunter, two players act as rival agents attempting to eliminate their opponent's safe houses, which are represented by face-down cards; the cards range in value from 0 to 9. The closer you get to uncovering your target, however, the more you risk compromising your own position. Stealth and cunning are your greatest allies as only agents who remain hidden in the shadows will survive the hunt. During the game, players take turns choosing one of these actions:

• Attack from Your Hand
• Switch Agents
• Attack from Your Safe House

When you attack from your hand, reveal one of your agent cards from your hand and target one of your opponent's safe houses. If the card is a match, you eliminate that safe house. Otherwise your opponent reveals whether your card is higher or lower than the hidden card in the safe house but does not reveal the numeral on that card.

When you switch agents, you replace a face-down card from one of your safe houses with a card in your hand, possibly the same card. You can take this action at most five times during the game.

When you attack from your safe house, you reveal one of your face-down safe house cards, then reveal an opponent's safe house. If the numbers match, your opponent's safe house is eliminated; otherwise your safe house is eliminated.

Players keep swapping turns until all three of a player's safe houses are eliminated.
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