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Alderac Founds a New World to Serve as Your Sandbox

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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In addition to the previously covered Smash Up, at the GAMA Trade Show in mid-March 2012 U.S. publisher Alderac Entertainment Group unveiled a trio of new titles – well, two of the three – set in a shared universe: the City-State of Tempest.

Says Alderac's Todd Rowland, "It's a decided AEG-take on the Euro-game style. We've always been big into world-building with L5R, Warlord, 7th Sea, etc., so now we want to create a very solid line of Euro-games that also carry an engaging theme and storyline. The people you meet in the games will appear in other games, carrying their own personalities, plots, etc. with them. If you see a particular senator that is a miser in one game, expect him to gain a lot of resources with his ability. In the next game it may be a completely different mechanic, but if he appears, expect him to gain you resources in that game (or whatever relevant mechanic that would represent)."

Alderac has released details on two of the three Tempest titles that it plans to debut at Spiel 2012 in October. Let's start with a run-down of jim pinto's Dominare:

The City-State of Tempest is a lively metropolis – some say the largest in the world – yet behind the city's cultured exterior, age-old cabals vie for power, fighting one another for dominance in a society ripe with political and economic turmoil. Led by shadowy figures who command a small cadre of loyal followers, these secret societies work in concert to seize the wealth and power of the fabled City-State of Tempest.

In Dominare, you are the puppet master of a conspiracy seeking to control Tempest. Agents are the key to Dominare. Use your agents to spread your influence through the city, building a network of hidden power to control the most valuable districts and blocks.

In the game, players first draft agents they want. Then, each turn, the players reveal one additional layer of their conspiracy. Each agent is a unique person in the City-State of Tempest, with unique abilities. The higher an agent in in your conspiracy, the more powerful that agent is.

Players spread their influence in key city blocks and districts, use agent and district abilities to further their plans, and manipulate the board to their benefit. Use your agents well, and influence and power will be yours. Use them poorly, and... well, you wouldn't be the first would-be ruler to vanish into the inky waters of the city canals....

Adds Rowland, "Unlike many Euros, in Dominare the focus of your efforts is not in gaining wood, sheep, or wheat, but rather in controlling those in power. Your resources are the very people of the city, and with a cast of over 100 characters in Dominare, the variety of abilities is immense."

Next up is Mercante from Jeff Tidball:

A city as large and crowded as Tempest depends on the daily arrival of supplies and foodstuffs, and the wealthiest echelons of society demand the latest goods and luxuries almost as frequently. Domination of this bustling trade is the ultimate goal of every merchant house in the city.

In Mercante, you control one of these merchant houses. Deploy your trusted agents to purchase goods from arriving ships and sell them into the most profitable markets. You must also do more – from "enticing" senators to outright skulduggery – to claim your rightful place at the pinnacle of Tempest's merchant class. Do you have the business acumen and ruthlessness required to claw your way to the top?

Designed for 3–5 players, Mercante is a game of economic warfare. At the beginning of the game, each player controls one warehouse and two agents. On each turn, goods are purchased at auction and stored in the warehouse to be sold at the various markets when the time is right.

Players compete to accumulate crowns to finance their operations, and senatorial favors (victory points) to win the game. The player who accumulates the most money and favors will control all trade and profit in the City-State of Tempest!

Sample House, shipment and contract cards

The third title in the Tempest launch is tentatively titled Courtier by Phillip duBarry, and the game "acts as a prequel to the story of the other games", says Rowland.

"Not all characters appear in every game, as some will focus on particular areas of the world," says Rowland. "For instance, Dominare is very broad in scope, dealing with the entire city and the various power-brokers who attempt to control the city. But when we go to play Mercante, it takes the camera down the harbor, where the merchant houses fight it out (sometimes literally) over the shipments and goods coming in. In this game the actual goods like coffee, gems, etc. are your resources, but the character of the Merchant Houses (carried over from Dominare) define who you are and how you play. Though while they are the focus, you can bet some of the characters from other factions in Dominare will show up to advance their goals and affect the merchants in their own special ways."

Additional titles will be added to the Tempest line in 2013, and with each release the connection between characters and the breadth of the game world will increase.

Gamers who have been around for a few years might recall the Alturien series of games announced by German publisher Pro Ludo in the late 2000s, a series that would update previously released titles from Wolfgang Kramer to place them in an attractive, shared environment. The Market of Alturien, a revised version of City, was the only game published in the series, with Pro Ludo going out of business shortly afterward and the announced game Altura: Die Hauptstadt von Alturien being transformed into Kosmos' Alcazar. Ideally things will fare better in the land of Tempest!
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