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BGG News Turns Ten

W. Eric Martin
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Ten years ago on January 27, 2011, BGG News started, and in my introductory post, I laid out what I expected to include in this space:
Quote:
Howdy, y'all! I'm the former editor of BoardgameNews.com, and I'll be running the show here at BGG News, with assistance and support from a team of reporters, researchers and ne'er-do-wells. (I'll let you decide who falls into which category.)

BGG News will publish game announcements, industry news, previews of upcoming games, game design diaries from the designers themselves, and interviews with folks from around the game world. (For the past several weeks, I've been posting info about forthcoming games in a Nürnberg 2011 geeklist; check it out if you haven't seen it already!) Guest authors will pop up from time to time with articles that merit your attention, and I'll post link round-ups for other game-related posts to check out should you feel like venturing away from the cozy confines of BGG.
That still seems like a good summary of what I do here, aside from a lack of interviews that I will blame in part on the volume of game releases now compared to a decade ago. Even then I couldn't cover everything, and that's even more true today, especially since I tend to favor games over interviews as the games often serve as the starting point for one's exploration into a designer or artist or publisher or mechanism or style of packaging or what have you.

The only other consistent writers on BGG News at this point are Candice Harris — and much thanks to her for covering many types of games outside my wheelhouse! — and Neil Bunker, who reprints interviews from his Diagonal Move site here.

Thanks to their assistance, along with that of other intermittent writers and dozens of diarists, I have published more than 3,800 posts in this space, which averages to more than one a day — not to mention all of the convention previews and game release catalogs, the game video overviews, the thousands of tweets (as we didn't really use Twitter until 2013-ish when I started posting game news large and small), and all the database stuff that sometimes feels like it disappears in the void, but ideally catalogs cool games being made by folks around the world: 4k game listings, 8k version listings, 20k images, etc.

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Northeast, Iceland (image from Google Earth Chrome extension)

Ideally all of this work has helped you to discover games, people, and publishers that you might not have known about otherwise. I have my own favorite games, of course, but my goal isn't to get you to like what I like, but to share as much info as I can about games so that you can discover what you like. In a perfect world, we'd all be gathered at tables with people we love playing games that we love, and while we're far from that world at this moment, today isn't forever. Better times will come, and I hope that you can find or create those ideal moments in which you connect with others and share an experience that can happen only thanks to the power and art of games.

I'd love to expand the BGG News team, especially in regard to its coverage of wargames and heavy fantasy games — two genres about which I'm largely clueless — so let me close the same way that I closed that introductory post:
Quote:
Finally, if you want to contribute to BGG News — whether as a designer or publisher with info to share or a design story to tell; as a reporter or researcher who wants to cover particular companies or game genres; or as a ne'er-do-well who, um, never does well — contact me via email (news @ boardgamegeek . com). I want to hear from you, as do BGG readers who want to stay on top of all that's coming in this great hobby of ours. I'll do my best to keep you informed, and I hope you'll keep reading!
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New Looks for Carcassonne and Qwirkle, and a New Location for Pandemic: Hot Zone

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Board Game: Pandemic: Hot Zone – Europe
Board Game: Pandemic: Hot Zone – North America
Pandemic: Hot Zone – Europe is the follow-up to 2020's Pandemic: Hot Zone – North America that you knew was coming. I'd be surprised only by the announcement of Pandemic: Hot Zone – Antarctica as that seems unlikely to happen unless all of the action takes place in McMurdo Station or some other base.

Z-Man Games announced Pandemic: Hot Zone – Europe, designed by Matt Leacock and Tom Lehmann, on the Spielwarenmesse 2021 website, and details about the game are brief for now:
Quote:
Pandemic: Hot Zone – Europe features the same nail-biting co-operative experience of Pandemic in which players win or lose together, but in a smaller form that you can take anywhere and play in a shorter amount of time. As members of an elite team, you use your character's unique abilities to treat cases, stop outbreaks, and research the cures. Discover all three cures in time to win! Add extra challenges with new mutation cards!
Board Game: Carcassonne: 20th Anniversary Edition
• To follow up on this mid-January 2021 post, in May 2021 German publisher Hans im Glück will release a 20th anniversary edition of Carcassonne — 20th because Carcassonne won the Spiel des Jahres in 2001, while the game debuted in 2000.

This special edition includes the tiles from the Carcassonne base game, "The River" mini-expansion (with five new river tiles), "The Abbot" mini-expansion, and a new 15-tile "anniversary" mini-expansion. All tiles are adorned with UV-print, with many detailed easter eggs being hidden in the art. Costume stickers are included in case you wish to "dress" your meeples.

Board Game: Carcassonne: 20th Anniversary Edition

Board Game: Carcassonne: 20th Anniversary Edition

• Speaking of Spiel des Jahres-inspired anniversary editions, at the end of 2020 U.S. publisher MindWare released Qwirkle Collector's Edition, a version of Susan McKinley Ross' 2011 SdJ-winning Qwirkle that has acrylic tiles instead of wooden ones. I would guess the idea behind this edition is that the wooden tiles can sometimes have flaws that over time you can recognize by their backs — and if I know you have, say, a green circle, then I can use that knowledge to my advantage.

Board Game: Qwirkle

German publisher Schmidt Spiele plans to introduce this edition of Qwirkle to the German market under the name Qwirkle: Limited Edition in the second half of 2021 as a tenth anniversary edition since Qwirkle won the Spiel des Jahres award in 2011. (Qwirkle first hit the U.S. market in 2006, but it didn't appear in Germany until 2010, as I explained in this 2011 BGGN post.)

• By the by, did you know that in the mid-2010s, MindWare released a "limited edition" Berkshire Hathaway version of Qwirkle that features Warren Buffett and five brands owned by BH? Such an odd tie-in and one that's still available for purchase for the financial wizard in your family.

Board Game: Qwirkle

Update: I learned just before this post went live why this game exists. Here's an excerpt from the "Company Information" page on the Oriental Trading Company website:
Quote:
In 2012, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway saw tremendous value and growth opportunity in Oriental Trading and made the decision to purchase our company. Shortly after, Oriental Trading acquired two companies that aligned with our mission: MindWare, a manufacturer, wholesaler and direct retailer of "brainy toys for kids of all ages;" and SmileMakers, a leading brand specializing in patient giveaways and promotion products for dental and healthcare markets.
Corporate non-secrets — revealed!

Board Game: Paradox
Elf Creek Games plans to release an updated edition of Brian Suhre's Paradox, which first appeared in 2016 from Split Second Games, under the name Paradox Initiative. (Elf Creek Games is already publishing Suhre's Merchants of the Dark Road, which was Kickstarted in mid-2020 and is currently due out in mid-2021.)

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Isaac Vega and Lindsey Rode Launch Rose Gauntlet Entertainment

W. Eric Martin
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Keystone: North America will be the first release from new publisher Rose Gauntlet Entertainment, co-founded by designers Isaac Vega and Lindsey Rode, with the game being co-designed by Vega and newcomer Jeffrey Joyce. Details on the game are brief for now, aside from news of a Q2 2021 Kickstarter launch date and this short description:
Quote:
In the brain-burning strategy game Keystone: North America, players take on the role of biologists who attempt to build an interconnected ecosystem through careful placement of cards and mindful planning of actions.
Well, and these fetching promo illustrations from Irem Erbilir and Yan Tamba:

Board Game: Keystone: North America

Board Game: Keystone: North America

Rose Gauntlet Entertainment is launching with a board game, but Vega and Rode plan to venture anywhere they might need to go, as explained in this description of the company:
Board Game Publisher: Rose Gauntlet Entertainment
Quote:
The vision behind Rose Gauntlet Entertainment was created from two great needs they both felt were missing in their careers. The first need was to have complete freedom over their art, and to tell the stories that would reflect parts of who they were. The second need was to build a home for their community that could foster a welcoming, engaging, and creative environment where people would be able to connect with others through a love of gaming.

With Rose Gauntlet, they hope to create a company that will build incredible worlds, tell lasting stories, welcome diverse communities, and give back to the next generation of gamers and creators. They already feel the dream coming true, and hope you will join them for this exciting new chapter in their lives!
Other projects in the works for Rose Gauntlet Entertainment include the tabletop RPG Life After Dungeon, a 1-4 player game from Rode and Vega that will play in 60-90 minutes and is described as follows:
Quote:
The battle is over. The journey is done — yet somehow the adventure continues. Step into the world of After, and rediscover what you left behind.

Life After Dungeon is a co-operative dungeon-crawling RPG from the minds of Isaac Vega and
Lindsey Rode that aims to tell touching and action-packed stories as well as bring new life to your tabletop collection!

Board Game Publisher: Rose Gauntlet Entertainment
Promo banner by Alyssa Menold

This will be Lindsey and Isaac's first design collaboration, and they are incredibly excited to share the strange and wonderful world of Life After Dungeon with you. Because this project is still in early development, we are staying a little bit vague on further details. However, we are incredibly excited about the feeling of magic that is already starting to form around this design!
Another project in the works is the video game Gone to Gaia, Vega's first digital game design. Here's an overview of what's coming:
Quote:
In Gone to Gaia, you take on the role of three characters who must venture through the Tide, a strange poisonous fog that has enveloped most of the world. To help quell the Tide, and ensure it does not rise further, the heroes, protected by powerful suits, must venture towards Gaia, a strange alienlike deity that appears in random locations within the Tide.

Gone to Gaia is a roguelike adventure deck-building card game in which players must use a combination of cards, character abilities, and items to venture through procedurally generated paths. These paths are full of monsters, strange relics, and undiscovered anomalies hidden within the Tide. Players who are skilled enough will be able to reach Gaia and help their civilization solve the mystery behind their dying world.

Board Game Publisher: Rose Gauntlet Entertainment

With Gone to Gaia, Isaac hopes to bring his own twist to the roguelike genre and fulfill his lifelong dream of creating his first video game. We are incredibly excited about the project and cannot wait to share even more about its development in the upcoming months.
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Tue Jan 26, 2021 3:17 pm
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Days of Wonder Celebrates 15 Years of Ticket to Ride: Europe

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Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Europe – 15th Anniversary
Publisher Days of Wonder has announced a Q2 2021 release date for a deluxe 15th anniversary edition of Alan R. Moon's Ticket to Ride: EuropeTicket to Ride: Europe – 15th Anniversary — which might seem odd given that Ticket to Ride: Europe debuted in 2005, but I'm guessing that like millions of others, Days of Wonder would like to pretend that 2020 never happened.

Ticket to Ride: Europe – 15th Anniversary features new artwork, unique trains and stations in colors not normally seen in TTR titles, and all 108 destination tickets published to date. Here's an excerpt from the DoW press release:
Quote:
"Hard to believe it's been 15 years. Ticket to Ride: Europe still looks so fresh and young. But this version has bulked up a lot in both size and in tons of new tickets that create an infinite number of possible ways to play the game", says Alan R. Moon, designer of the game. "The new train cars and stations and the new art make the game look absolutely gorgeous when laid out on the table. Here is hoping you enjoy another 15 years of fun."
Ticket to Ride: Europe – 15th Anniversary is a standalone game due out in Europe and North America in Q2 2021 with a MSRP of US$100/€100, and the game will be available in these versions: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Polish, Brazilian, Japanese, Russian, Hungarian, Icelandic, Portuguese, Czech, Slovak and Traditional Chinese.

Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Europe – 15th Anniversary

Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Europe – 15th Anniversary

Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Europe – 15th Anniversary
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Mon Jan 25, 2021 2:27 pm
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Become a Detective on Arrakis in Dune: House Secrets from Portal Games

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Board Game Publisher: Portal Games
Board Game: Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game
At PortalCon 13, an online event hosted by Polish publisher Portal Games in place of its usual in-person event, designer Ignacy Trzewiczek announced new games and expansions for existing game lines due out in 2021, but I'll save those for another post and here focus on only one announcement — Dune: House Secrets, a 1-5 player co-operative game from Trzewiczek, Jakub Poczęty, Przemysław Rymer, and Weronika Spyra.

Here's a summary of the setting and gameplay:
Quote:
Featuring the co-operative game system used in Portal's award-winning Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, Dune: House Secrets delivers a deeply thematic experience that drops one-to-five players in the middle of the highest stakes unfolding on the harsh desert planet of Arrakis.

In this story-driven adventure game, players take on the roles of rebels who must solve a series of challenging missions with a finite amount of time and resources. Players cooperatively make decisions on how to progress the story as they decide to explore different regions of the world, follow leads, leverage allies, and overcome opposition of all kinds. During gameplay, players use a variety of physical and digital game components — a deck of cards with essential clues and plot twists, a dozen physical handouts, and a dedicated website with additional resources — to steer the narrative in fun and surprising directions for a truly immersive experience.

Board Game: Dune: House Secrets

Beginning with an introductory prologue designed to get players acquainted with the massive Dune universe, the game then continues with three big adventures, each taking roughly two-to-three hours to play. During each episode, players can earn experience points to level up their characters in between missions and unlock new options in future gameplay. Each adventure can be played separately as standalone episodes, yet should players complete all three episodes, they will unravel a master game narrative with an epic climax and unforgettable resolution with lasting impact on the future two games in the trilogy.
Hey, how about that kicker in the final line?!
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Sat Jan 23, 2021 3:12 pm
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Run Your Business Carnegie-Style, Lead Your Class to Victory, and Trade (Flower) Stocks

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Board Game: Carnegie
Carnegie is an upcoming 2021 medium-heavy economic game inspired by the life of Andrew Carnegie from Xavier Georges (Ginkgopolis, Carson City, Troyes, Black Angel) and Quined Games that features beautiful, clean, signature artwork from the esteemed Ian O'Toole. Carnegie plays with 1-4 players in about 40 minutes per player, launched on Kickstarter in mid-January 2021 (KS link), and has been successfully funded with an estimated September 2021 release date.

Here's an overview from the publisher of what you can expect:
Quote:
Andrew Carnegie, who was born in Scotland in 1835, emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1848. Although he started his career as a telegraphist, his role as one of the major players in the rise of the United States' steel industry made him one of the richest men in the world and an icon of the American dream.

Andrew Carnegie was also a benefactor and philanthropist; upon his death in 1919, more than $350 million of his wealth was bequeathed to various foundations, with another $30 million going to various charities. His endowments created nearly 2,500 free public libraries that bear his name: the Carnegie Libraries.

In Carnegie, you recruit and manage employees, expand your business, invest in real estate, produce and sell goods, and create transport chains across the United States; you may even work with important personalities of the era. Perhaps you will even become an illustrious benefactor who contributes to the greatness of their country through deeds and generosity!

The game takes place over twenty rounds, with players each having one turn per round. On each turn, the active player chooses one of four actions, which the other players may follow.

The goal of the game is to build the most prestigious company, as symbolized by victory points.
Good news! Carnegie is already available on both Board Game Arena and Tabletop Simulator for folks to try it out. Big kudos to Quined Games for making it available on BGA the same time as the Kickstarter launch. I'm not sure whether any other publishing company has ever achieved this, but it's awesome that they're making it easy for everyone to play it in a streamlined, rules-enforced platform before deciding whether or not they want to back/buy.

I had an opportunity to play a game of Carnegie in Tabletop Simulator with Steph and Matthew from BGG, then I played a half game a few days later on BGA with friends who were interested in checking it out. The only reason we didn't finish my second game was because we started late and a couple of people had to bow out early to get some sleep. Of course I was doing wayyyy better my second game and didn't want it to end.

Board Game: Carnegie
3-D render of Carnegie posted by the publisher

From my wee bit of experience playing Carnegie, I really dig it. There are some interesting mechanisms that all work together smoothly and make it feel fresh. I find the elegance of Carnegie's design to be reminiscent of the What's Your Game? releases I love, such as Nippon and Madeira. One of my friends was noticing some Troyes and Black Angel influence as well.

Carnegie is packed with lots of awesome decisions and rewarding moments with the way the income events work and how you manage your workers on your player board and on the game board. It really makes you think and plan, but it didn't burn my brain too hard where I felt drained after. In fact, I couldn't stop thinking about it the next day and wondering what I would do differently in future games, considering I made some mistakes that jammed me up my last few rounds of my first game. I'm looking forward to digging into this one more and would recommend checking it out if you're a fan of medium-heavy euros.

Board Game Publisher: Ediciones Primigenio
Flowar is a new flower business-themed worker placement, hand-management game for 1-4 players that plays in 40-90 minutes, and is targeted for a 2021 release from the Llama Dice design-duo, Isra C. and Shei S. and Spanish publisher Ediciones Primigenio.

Not a whole lot of details are out yet, but the brief description below from the publisher — and knowing Isra C. and Shei S. were also the design team behind The Red Cathedral and 1987 Channel Tunnel — already gets me excited to check it out:
Quote:
Do you know that the flower fair in Aalsmeer (Netherlands) is the biggest cut flower fair in the world? Every day is a frantic workday of buying and shipping flowers all around the globe!

The four days prior to St. Valentine's Day are busy in the market, so go to buy — whether expensive but early, or cheap but too late — the flowers that will fulfill the contracts you've already taken. Manage your workers and don't send too many of them to the unemployment queue because they will go on strike! Be careful with your reputation as it will influence on your stock value!

Board Game: Flowar

In this worker placement and management game, you represent a flower businessman that will work with companies trying to raise their stock value the four days prior to St. Valentine's Day.
Board Game Publisher: FountainStone Games
• Slated for a 2021 Kickstarter launch, Banker of the Gods is a worker placement, "friendly" stock market game from designer A. Gerald Fitzsimons and his Ireland-based publishing company FountainStone Games.

In 60-90 minutes, 1-5 players compete as superstitious stock traders in an Ancient Japanese-inspired world illustrated by Fitzsimons. In more detail:
Quote:
Banker of the Gods is a game about superstitious civilizations competing on a friendly stock-market set in an ancient Japanese-inspired world. It has a unique stock-market mechanism that allows for deduction of market trends before you invest for the next round. There are over a million different kinds of markets to be generated. The market may booming during one playing of this game, while other games will confront you with a depression to survive or thrive in.

Board Game: Banker of the Gods

In this alternate universe, China, Egypt, Greece, and Rome have been attracted to a lucrative stock-market on Oki island in ancient Japan. Besides stocks, you may also try to succeed at having other players honor your Gods and harnessing their powers, or dabbling with products like sake (linked to the price of rice), or helping islanders by giving them home-loans for the best locations, or even trying your luck with tea-leaves at the geisha house, among other things.

Traditionally stock market games have unfriendly take-that elements, but Banker of the Gods doesn't.
Board Game Publisher: Hegemonic Project Games
Hegemony is an asymmetric, card-driven game with an intriguing blend of politics and economics designed by Varnavas Timotheou and Vangelis Bagiartakis (Among the Stars, Fields of Green, Kitchen Rush, Freedom!).

Targeted for a 2021 Kickstarter launch, Hegemony will be the first release from Cyprus-based start-up gaming company Hegemonic Project Games, whose vision is to inspire gamers and non-gamers to learn more about the politico-economic dynamics of their societies playfully. Hegemony plays in 90-180 minutes and puts 2-4 players in the role of different citizen classes in a fictional state who are competing to lead their class better than their opponents, as described here below by the publisher:
Quote:
The Nation is in disarray, and a war is waging between the classes. The working class faces a dismantled welfare system, the capitalists are losing their hard-earned profits, the middle class is gradually fading, and the state is sinking into a deep deficit.

Amidst all this chaos, the only person who can provide guidance is...you. Will you take the side of the working class and fight for social reforms? Or will you stand with the corporations and the free market? Will you help the government try to keep it all together, or will you try to enforce your agenda no matter the cost to the country?


Hegemony is an asymmetric politico-economic card-driven board game for 2-4 players that puts you in the role of one of the socio-economic groups in a fictional state: The Working Class, the Middle Class, the Capitalist Class and the State itself.

Board Game: Hegemony: Lead your class to victory

The Working class controls the workers. They work in companies, earning money which they spend to cover their basic needs: Food, health, education and if possible, entertainment. They can apply a lot of political pressure, and they can also form unions to increase their influence.

The Capitalist class controls the companies. Workers work there, and the Capitalist sells the goods/services produced. Deals can also be made with foreign states, and pressure is also applied to the State when it comes to matters like taxation and tariffs. The goal of the Capitalist is very clear: Maximize the profit!

The Middle class combines elements from both the Working class and the Capitalist. It has workers who can work in the Capitalist's companies, but it can also build companies of its own, yet smaller. It also struggles to cover the basic needs like food, health and education, while trying to keep a balance between producing, selling and consuming.

Finally the State is trying to keep everyone happy, providing benefits and subsidies when needed but trying also to maintain a steady income through taxes to avoid going into debt. At the same time, it has to deal with a constant flux of events requiring immediate attention or face grave consequences.

Board Game: Hegemony: Lead your class to victory

While players have their own separate goals, they are all limited by a series of policies that affect most of their actions, like Taxation, Labor Market, Foreign Trade etc. Voting on those policies and using their influence to change them is also very important.

Through careful planning, strategic actions and political maneuvering, you will do your best to increase the power of your class and carry out your agenda. Will you be the one to lead your class to victory?

Hegemony is heavily based on actual academic principles such as Social-Democracy, Neoliberalism, Nationalism, and Globalism, and it allows players to see their real world applications through engaging gameplay. There are many ways to achieve hegemony: Which one will you take?
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Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:00 pm
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Ultimate Railroads Takes You from Russia to Germany, the U.S., and...Asia?

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On January 1, 2021, I tweeted the following:


Now German publisher Hans im Glück has released some details about the item on the left of that image.

Ultimate Railroads is a "big box" collection of all items previously released in the Russian Railroads line, starting with the 2013 base game from designers Helmut Ohley and Leonhard Orgler, which won the 2014 Deutscher Spielepreis, and including both the larger expansions German Railroads and American Railroads and the mini-expansions New Engineers, Juri Dreigleisky, and Manufactory Train.

Board Game: Ultimate Railroads

On top of that, Ultimate Railroads will include a new Asian Railroads expansion, along with a solo variant. No details yet as to what these items might be or whether they will be available separately. I've sent inquiries to the publisher and will update this post when I hear back.

Hans im Glück lists an August 1, 2021 release date for Ultimate Railroads, but note that until we hear otherwise that release date probably applies solely in Germany.

Update, January 22, 2021: Turns out that Asian Railroads will be available solely in Ultimate Railroads, not separately, "for many reasons we will dive into soon" says Frederic Diebold of Hans im Glück, "not least because more partners will localize this version of the game in the future." (I've already explained below why I wouldn't have expected Hans im Glück to release this version separately.)

For now, you can expect to see versions of Ultimate Railroads in German, English, Korean, Chinese, and Spanish/Portuguese, with other versions possibly still to come. Diebold notes that while the German edition will be released in August 2021, the non-German editions will arrive at the licensing partners in August or September 2021. Says Diebold, "At least that's the plan for now!" —end of update—

As for what is perhaps a 20th anniversary edition of Carcassonne — or rather a 20th anniversary of the Spiel des Jahres win for Carcassonne — well, that will have to wait until later...
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Thu Jan 21, 2021 10:05 pm
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Grab a Horseless Carriage, Welcome New Cartographers, and Prepare for Sagrada Legacy

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• In a mid-January 2021 newsletter, U.S. publisher Floodgate Games shared a logo for Sagrada Legacy and offered this teaser:
Quote:
We'll be making an official announcement about Sagrada Legacy in the coming weeks with more information. But we wanted you, our most loyal fans, to have the inside track on it first! Sagrada: Legacy will be released this summer for Gen Con 2021!
I suspect the game will come with glass dice that you must heat in a kiln (not included) to create actual stained-glass windows that you'll then use to cast tinted shadows onto your board for color bonuses.

• In a Facebook post looking for graphic design support, Dutch publisher Splotter Spellen mentions that its next release — Horseless Carriage — will ideally be ready for release at SPIEL '21. For an overview of the game, you can listen to designers Joris Wiersinga and Jeroen Doumen in this interview with Edward Uhler of Heavy Cardboard.

• U.S. publisher Thunderworks Games has revealed its 2021 line-up, with the most anticipated title possibly being Jordy Adan and John Brieger's Cartographers Heroes, a new standalone map-drawing game due out in August 2021 that can also be combined with Adan's 2019 Cartographers, with "persistent" monsters and heroes being introduced in this design, along with new edict cards, ambush cards, and so on that can be used in the original game.

Board Game: Cartographers
Board Game: Cartographers Heroes
Board Game: Cartographers Map Pack 1: Nebblis – Plane of Flame
Board Game: Cartographers Map Pack 2: Affril – Plane of Knowledge
Board Game: Cartographers Map Pack 3: Undercity – Depths of Sabek

Additionally, Thunderworks will release three map packs — each with various twists and new scoring cards — that can be used with either of the standalone Cartographers titles: Nebblis – Plane of Flame; Affril – Plane of Knowledge; and Undercity – Depths of Sabek. Even more map packs are scheduled for release in the future.

Board Game: Roll Player
• I said "possibly" above as Thunderworks' most anticipated title might actually be Roll Player Adventures, which the company Kickstarted in 2020 for release in July/August 2021.

Roll Player Adventures builds on the world of Roll Player from company founder Keith Matejka. In that earlier game, you'd compete against other players to create the ideal fantasy adventurer. (Candice Harris covers the game in detail in this June 2020 BGGN post.) In Adventures, co-designed by Matejka, Peter Andrew Ryan, and James William Ryan, you now work together with other players as follows:
Quote:
Your Roll Player characters have been called to adventure! In Monsters & Minions, you went to war against Dragul invaders. In Fiends & Familiars, you befriended wild beasts and dispelled cruel spirits. Now your fully formed, battle-hardened heroes must defend the kingdom of Nalos and uncover a mystery that lies at the heart of the Abandoned Lands.

Navigate your missions with care. It's up to you who to befriend and who to battle. Will you slay the giant troll or attempt to make peace? Will you do the vampire's bidding or defend the mysterious cultists he wants to destroy? Will you remain loyal to king and country — or side with the enemies of Nalos? Whatever choices you make, someone will remember and respond.

Board Game: Roll Player Adventures

Roll Player Adventures is a co-operative storybook board game for 1-4 players set in the world of Roll Player. Players inhabit characters, face challenges, and make decisions that will change the story as they progress through eleven core adventures and a replayable side quest.

Adventures does not require the Roll Player base game or any of its expansions to play. Pick from one of six pre-generated characters, or import a favorite Roll Player character and take them on a heroic journey. If you do import a character you've built in Roll Player, any number of expansions and any number of promo cards/boards that were used may continue to be used in Roll Player Adventures.
Board Game: Roll Player Adventures: Nefras's Judgement
• What's more, Nefras's Judgement — co-designed by Matejka, Ryan, Ryan, Seth Johnson, and Jon Leitheusser — is an expansion for Roll Player Adventures that adds more than forty storylines through that game's campaign. From the BGG description:
Quote:
Nefras, the snake-faced goddess of judgment, rules over the realms of Dream and Memory. She observes all souls in the planarverse to discover their true nature and reward them accordingly. But Nefras is not the goddess of Justice. She does not bring order to the lawless or punishment to the wicked. Instead, the scale-faced one merely assesses the hearts of all heroes and empowers them with appropriate gifts. When Nefras's observation is complete, she bestows each hero with her final judgment.

Each storyline explores a unique backstory from the Roll Player universe. Your decisions will change your alignment and steer the fate of the land of Nalos.
• Outside of the kingdom of Nalos, which is also the setting of the Cartographers map packs, Thunderworks Games has two other releases lined up for 2021. Theme Parks is a 1-4 player game from newcomer Nate Linhart. Here's a brief description of the game:
Quote:
A game of Theme Parks is played over five years. Each year players take turns placing workers on the game board to take actions like removing trees, building concessions and attractions, and buying more property in order to make their growing theme parks as attractive to visiting people (VP tokens) as possible.

Board Game: Theme Parks

At the end of each year, rewards are given to the player with the fairground that best exemplifies certain raw emotions, and after five years the player with the most VP tokens wins!
Weird to see so many similar looking theme park-themed games released recently and also due out in 2021. Everyone must be channeling the same type of energy...

Board Game: Danger Park
Board Game: Funfair
Board Game: Meeple Land
Board Game: Dice Theme Park
Board Game: Trool Park

• Finally, we come to Eric Mosso's 1-4 player game Cape May:
Quote:
In Cape May, players traverse the city streets as entrepreneurs, developing property while building wealth over four seasons to earn prestige.

Build cottages, develop them into Victorian homes, and upgrade them into historic landmarks. Establish shops and grow them into profitable businesses. Carefully move around the city, and make strategic use of activity cards. Complete bonus goals, then take some time to relax and spot wildlife in the best place for birdwatching in the Northeastern United States.

Board Game: Cape May

Whoever best balances their income, development, movement, and personal goals will go down in history as the most successful developer of Cape May!
Cape May, located at the southern tip of New Jersey, is my mother-in-law's favorite place in the world, so ideally this game will be a suitable Christmas gift for her — although it will be hard to compete with Rummikub for a spot on her table...
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Thu Jan 21, 2021 1:00 pm
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Playing Through Nature, from Annapurna to a Lush Meadow

W. Eric Martin
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From gallery of Rhorovit
• As I've said many times before, games are everywhere. My wife is a business writer, and for some reason she shared an image of our game room with an interviewee — and this person then mentioned that a cousin of hers had just finished a Kickstarter for a tabletop game project. Small world!

That cousin is Rebecca Horovitz, and her game is Annapurna, which is named after (from Wikipedia) "a massif in the Himalayas in north-central Nepal that includes one peak over 8,000 metres (26,000 ft), thirteen peaks over 7,000 metres (23,000 ft), and sixteen more over 6,000 metres (20,000 ft)".

In this 1-4 player game, which is due out from publisher Fiat Lucre on March 26, 2021, you start with a deck of 18 mountain cards, laying out 15 of them face down in a pyramidal mountain and keeping the rest as your backpack. Each card has a yin or yang value of 1-4 on it as well as a special effect. To start the game, each player reveals a card in their bottom row, carries out the effect, then places their meeple on the card.

On a turn, you explore an adjacent card on a non-lower level by flipping it over, carrying out its effects, and placing your meeple on it; trade a card from your backpack with a card in your mountain, pacing the replaced card in a cache; or hide a card, which is the same as trade, but on another player's mountain. If your face-up mountain cards have a balance of yin and yang, you can remove them from play.

Once you reach the mountain's peak, you add your cache to your hand, then you can spend your turns doing nothing, dropping cards from your cache face up on the mountain to better balance your yin and yang, and throwing cache cards onto another player's mountain, who then flips up one of your remaining face-down cards.

You can play Annapurna competitively or co-operatively. In the competitive version, when everyone is at the peak, players score 3, 2, and 1 flags based on who is most balanced, with ties being broken in favor of whoever ascended their mountain first; play multiple rounds until someone collects nine flags and wins. In the co-operative version, you end the game after everyone has scaled their mountain, and you all win only if everyone has an even yin-yang balance.

Board Game: Living Forest
• Moving down slope we come to Living Forest, the first game from designer Aske Christiansen and not the first game from publisher Ludonaute.

The 2-4 player game Living Forest is due out in October 2021, so we'll have time for a more detailed look at it in the future, but here's a summary for now:
Quote:
In Living Forest, you play as a nature spirit who will try to save the forest and its sacred tree from the flames of Onibi.

Board Game: Living Forest

But you are not alone in your mission as the animal guardians have come together to lend a hand around the Circle of Spirits where you progress. Each turn, they bring you valuable elements, so try to combine your team of animal guardians as best as possible to carry out your actions, but be careful because some are lonely and do not like to be mixed with others...
• Continuing through the forest, we come to Meadow, a 1-4 player game from Klemens Kalicki and Rebel Studio. Here's an overview of this 2021 release which currently has only a Polish edition announced, but which is available for localization:
Quote:
Meadow is an engaging set collection game with over two hundred unique cards containing hand-painted watercolor illustrations from Karolina Kijak.

Board Game: Meadow

In the game, players take the role of explorers competing for the title of the most skilled nature observer. To win, they collect cards with the most valuable species, landscapes, and discoveries. Their journey is led by passion, a curiosity of the world, an inquiring mind, and a desire to discover the mysteries of nature. The competition continues at the bonfire where the players race to fulfill the goals of their adventures.

In this medium-weight board game, you take turns placing path tokens on one of the two boards. Placing a token on the main board allows the player to get cards, but playing them requires meeting certain requirements. Playing a token on the bonfire board activates special actions (which helps to implement a chosen strategy) and gives the opportunity to achieve goals that provide additional points. Throughout the game, players collect cards in their meadow and surroundings area. At the end, the player with the most points on cards and on the bonfire board wins.

Board Game: Meadow

Meadow also includes envelopes with additional cards to open at specific moments...
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Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:00 pm
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Help Creatures Gain Immortality in Equinox, from Knizia and Plan B

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Equinox
Reiner Knizia designs tend to have a long lifespan, either because the game itself becomes iconic (as with Lost Cities) or because the design is flexible enough to fit many different environments.

In 1996, for example, Austrian publisher Piatnik released Knizia's Grand National Derby, a game in which you were betting on which horses would complete a race, with you also influencing how those horses finished! I guess you were secretly working with the trainers to help or hobble horses as needed.

That design was then released on the U.S. market in 1997 by Avalon Hill as Titan: The Arena, with players now betting on which fantasy creatures would survive over time, with the creatures having various powers that you could use to affect the competition. Fantasy Flight Games re-released this design with the same setting, but a new look in 2007 as Colossal Arena.

Now in 2021, Plan B Games is bringing this design back to market, but with the setting not being creature combat in an arena, but instead more of an "arc of history" approach, with the creatures trying to land a spot in human memories.

Here's an overview of Equinox, which is due out in June 2021, with preorders shipping in April 2021:
Quote:
In Equinox, mysterious creatures gather in the forest in an effort to write themselves into the legendary storybook and for tales to be shared for countless generations. However, there is room for only four more stories — not every story will be recorded, so the creatures have to be cunning and clever to outwit their opponents and make the cut.

Equinox is a deeply satisfying betting game that gives players agency to influence the outcome of this competition. Each round, players place numbered power cards in front of the creatures, with the lowest-valued creature being eliminated from play. Players also place bets on which creatures they think will make it into the storybook, and you can use the special powers of these creatures to ideally turn things to your advantage.

Equinox contains fourteen unique creatures, two more than Colossus Arena, but only eight are used in a game, which means more than three thousand different combinations are possible.
Board Game: Equinox
Since Earth has two equinoxes, Plan B Games has created two separate cover designs for this game, which means we can now start arguing over which of these designs is more appealing, similar to all the discussion over the Century line from the late 2010s.

What's more, to further cement the connection with the Century trilogy, Plan B Games plans to release a "golem edition" of Equinox toward the end of 2021 or start of 2022, with fourteen varieties of golem in the game! Now you can golem up all the golems you'd ever want to golem.

Note that the playmat shown in the image below is not included in the base game, but will instead be sold separately by Plan B Games, similar to what it's done for, yes, the Century line.

Board Game: Equinox

Board Game: Equinox

Board Game: Equinox
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Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:17 pm
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