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New Game Round-up: Tentacles from the Depths, Cities in Space & Cathala and Days of Wonder Together Once Again

W. Eric Martin
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• French gaming site TricTrac has a teaser of the next release from Days of Wonder.

Wait, what? Yes, Days of Wonder has dropped its notoriously control-freaky ways — or at least modified them — for a title possibly coming out in Q3 2014, according to the article. The game has no title yet, and possibly not even a solid thematic setting, but Bruno Cathala is the designer, and he notes in the comments that this design came about as his reaction to the wave of worker placement games on the market.

The gist of the gameplay — as far as I can tell — is that workers sit on tiles placed in an array, and the color of the worker corresponds to its profession. On a turn, you take all the workers from a tile, take actions based on those workers and the tile itself, then rotate the tile; by rotating the tile, you give opportunities to other players, presumably because you can take actions only on tiles facing you. At the end of the game, you score points for a variety of things, all of which would make sense only if you know more about how to play.

Photo of the prototype on TricTrac, taken by DoW's Adrien Martinot

• Let's keep the focus on the French for now with a short write-up of La Nuit du Grand Poulpe from relatively new publisher Superlude Éditions and designer Frédéric Morard. This game is being released sometime in 2014 following demonstrations at the Festival International des Jeux in Cannes at the end of February. Ready to introduce the Old Ones to youngsters? Take a look:

Long ago, the Grand Octopus, one filled with cosmically divine powers, reigned over the entire world — until an unfortunate combination of circumstances imprisoned it at the bottom of the ocean. Idle under miles of water, it fell asleep dreaming of the day when its time would come once again.

In La Nuit du Grand Poulpe, you are one of the Elect and have been recruited by the Illuminati to form a cult to glorify the tentacled one. What's more, your dreams have told you that the time has come, the stars have aligned so that you can perform the "Ritual of Appeal" and bring the Grand Octopus to surface once again. To perform the ritual, however, you need the right magical components, components to be found in a famous English university for young wizards and witches — and you're not the only one seeking them...

• One part of the game world that I'm admittedly weak in covering is China, but I always keep my eyes peeled for such releases and occasionally I find something new to share with all of you. This week, I uncovered Space Station from Hong Kong-based Key's Works, and while space themes have been done to death, in this case space is merely the setting for an interesting-sounding placement game. (In real life, you'd naturally have all the room you need for however many space stations you have. Space is pretty big, after all.)

On a magnetic game board, players in Space Station take turns building cities, stations and spaceships; invading the stations owned by opponents, and expanding their cities and stations.

To set up, players place a predetermined number of their pieces on the game board, based on the number of players; pieces come in three sizes: cities (large), stations (medium) and spaceships (small). On a turn, you take one of the following actions:

• Build a city, station or spaceship — Take one of these tokens from your reserve and place it next to a friendly token of the same size or larger already on the board.

• Invade an opponent's city or station — If one of your pieces touches an opponent's, you can place one of your smaller tokens on top of it.

• Establish a spaceship base — If you have a token on top of an opponent's city or station, you can place one of your spaceships next to this invaded piece.

• Expand to a city or station — If you have two spaceships or a spaceship and station close to one another, you can place one of your stations or cities so that it touches both of these pieces. You can expand with pieces that have invaded opponents, and if you're set up right, you can both expand and invade at the same time!

Players keep placing pieces until everyone has passed in turn because no space remains on the game board. Players score two points for each uninvaded station of their color on the game board, then lose one point for each station not placed. Whoever has the highest score wins!

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