full credits for Lost Ruins of Arnak, for example, you'll see this:
Obviously most of these credit fields will be blank on most game listings until folks start submitting corrections for past work, but in the spirit of highlighting extended credits, I thought this post could highlight some of the folks in new positions behind the scenes.
Arcane Wonders hired Nicole Cutler as its Director of Projects — a title that is admittedly not on our list of credits, but "Editor" might be the equivalent. Hmm, maybe we need one more credit, something we've been saying to ourselves internally while working this out.
Thankfully, Arcane Wonders has its own job description:Quote:Nicole will be responsible for developing and implementing new systems for tracking and communication between Arcane Wonders' partners both internally and externally. With her breadth of experience in different roles within the industry, Nicole will work interdepartmentally to expedite projects, resolve problems, and help make our games the best they can be. Additionally she will assist the sales & manufacturing directors in the acquisition, execution, and logistics of our international partnerships.Cutler previously worked as Operations Manager for Jellybean Games and Production Manager for Pandasaurus Games, and not too long before this pandemic started she and her husband moved to my neck of the woods, so with vaccines now rather plentiful in the U.S. perhaps we can finally play a game together before too many more months pass. We'll see...
hiring of Elisa Teague in October 2020 to serve as Senior Producer for Renegade's role-playing line-up, which will include titles set in the Power Rangers, My Little Pony, GI Joe, and Transformers universes following a September 2020 deal with Hasbro. (Teague designed Renegade's D&D 5E-compatible Wardlings Campaign Guide, which was released in 2020.)
In January 2021, Renegade hired Matt Holland as Sales & Marketing Program Manager to "oversee new community oriented projects". Holland was previously Community Coordinator at Fantasy Flight Games, where he helped manage organized play for games such as X-Wing, Star Wars: Destiny, and Legend of the Five Rings.
Along those lines, in February 2021, Renegade announced an organized play program for its Vampire: The Masquerade – Rivals Expandable Card Game, with small kits for stores and in-home use and community kits "slated to begin in late 2021 or early 2022".From left: Holland, Fox, and Le
Also in February 2021, Renegade brought on Trivia Fox as Associate Producer: Roleplaying Games and Jimmy Le as Associate Producer: Board & Card Games.
• In February 2021, U.S. publisher Pandasaurus Games brought on Anne Kinner, formerly with Asmodee North America, as Production Coordinator and Mike Young, previously in charge of communications with Plan B Games, as Project Manager.From left: Kinner and Young
To submit news, a designer diary, outrageous rumors, or other material, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
17 Apr 2021
- [+] Dice rolls
Washington DC-based publisher Fort Circle Games aims to create fun, easy to learn, historical board games and based on my experiences with its first release, The Shores of Tripoli, mission accomplished.
The Shores of Tripoli is a 1-2 player, card-driven, historical wargame designed by Kevin Bertram and released in 2020 that's based on the First Barbary War in which the United States and Sweden fought against the Barbary Pirates from 1801 to 1805.
Star Wars: Rebellion and Twilight Struggle. At that point I had never playtested a game, but I was very interested because 1) it was a new experience I was curious about, 2) I do indeed love Star Wars: Rebellion and Twilight Struggle so I was interested in playing any game that was inspired by them and played in under an hour (heck yeah!), and 3) at that time I had just started designing my own game, so I figured I could learn a thing or two.
Kevin emailed me all the files and I proceeded to print the map, cards, and rules. Sadly, I never got the opportunity to put it all together, learn the rules, and play it at the time — but I'm happy to report that I have finally played the game, thanks to Kevin sending me a copy of the finished product.
In The Shores of Tripoli, one player plays the American side with Sweden as allies while the other player plays the Tripolitan side representing pirates from four North African coastal regions: Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, and Tangier.
The Shores of Tripoli features asymmetric gameplay with each side having a unique deck of event cards, in addition to its own victory conditions, which are all based on historical events from the First Barbary War. Over the course of the game, players take turns playing event cards and taking actions to achieve one of their victory conditions before their opponent to win and end the game.
The American player can win the game either by forcing the Tripolitan player to sign a peace treaty favorable to the Americans or by capturing Tripoli for Hamet Qaramanli to take the throne. Both of these victory conditions are triggered by playing event cards: Treaty of Peace and Amity and Assault on Tripoli, respectively.
The Tripolitan player can win the game by forcing the U.S. into submitting to Tripolitania and paying tribute in one of three ways: 1) by raiding the U.S. to acquire twelve gold, 2) by sinking four American frigates, or 3) by eliminating Hamet's army. If neither player wins by the end of 1806 (the last round), the game ends in a draw.American gold the Tripolitan player will be eager to pirate raid
The game board features a vibrant map with nine harbors (color-coded circles) to show which areas are friendly to the U.S. (blue), controlled by Tripolitania (red), or potential allies to Tripolitania (orange). In addition five, lightly shaded patrol zones are adjacent to five of the harbors where American and Swedish frigates can patrol against corsairs (pirating ships) leaving corresponding harbors.Two-player game board set-up
Tiny wooden boats represent American gunboats (blue), Tripolitan corsairs (red), and allies of Tripolitania (orange). The larger wooden ships are American (blue), Swedish (yellow), and Tripolitan (red) frigates. Then you also have wooden cubes representing ground forces for Hamet's Army (blue and white) and Tripolitan infantry (red). Some of these pieces are placed on the board during set-up, but the majority are kept in the supply areas at the top of the board.
The Shores of Tripoli is played over six years, from 1801 to 1806, and each year is split into four seasons (turns), from spring to winter. At the start of a year, each player draws cards from their draw pile, then seasonal turns are played in which the American player takes a turn, then the Tripolitan player, then you advance the season marker. After playing the winter turn, the year is over and you advance the year marker to start the next year.
Each player has 27 cards: 21 event cards and 6 battle cards. The American player takes a turn first each season and can either play a card as an event, discard a card to move up to two frigates, or discard a card to build a gunboat in Malta. The Tripolitan player can play a card as an event, discard a card to pirate raid with corsairs from Tripoli, or discard a card to build a Tripolitan corsair in Tripoli.
The Shores of Tripoli is a card-driven game, so the event and battle cards are the heart of the game. Regardless of which side you're playing as, playing a card as an event works the same way, even though each side has different event cards. You simply play the card and resolve the event text, noting that some events have prerequisites that must be met before you can play them. After unique events are resolved, they are removed from the game, but common event cards are discarded and you might see them again later in the game.
The event cards vary but generally help players gain advantages for pushing towards their victory conditions. Here are a few examples of event cards:A Tripolitan eventAn American eventA Tripolitan eventAn American event
Core event cards are extra special and do not count towards your eight-card hand limit since they are placed face-up in front of you instead of being shuffled in your deck like the other cards. They can be played the same as the other event cards, but after playing core events, like the unique event cards, they are removed from the game, so you definitely want to time these powerful events well.
As the American player, core event cards are how you get the two Swedish frigates in the mix, create Hamet's Army to get ground forces on the map, and move up to a whopping eight frigates with the Thomas Jefferson event card!American core event cards
As the Tripolitan player, your core event cards allow you to move the two Tripolitan corsairs from the harbor of Gibraltar to Tripoli, do some epic pirate raiding, and beef up your forces in Tripoli in preparation for Hamet's Army potentially coming for you.Tripolitan core event cards
Outside of playing cards to resolve events, the American player can also discard a card to move up to two frigates or discard a card to build a gunboat in Malta. When moving frigates, you can move from any location(s) to any other location(s). If American frigates are moved to a harbor that has enemy ships, a naval battle commences and any gunboats from Malta can also be moved in to join the fight. If American frigates are moved to a harbor that doesn't contain any enemy ships, but the city has Tripolitan infantry, a naval bombardment commences.
As an example, if you are in naval combat with two frigates and you get hit twice, you can either sink a frigate assigning it both hits and leave the other frigate intact and undamaged, or you can let each frigate take a hit, damaging them both and placing them on the following year of the Year Turn Track. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Remember, if the Tripolitan player sinks four American frigates, they win the game.
In my first game, my friend Richard played it when he already had five corsairs in Tripoli, so he rolled seventeen dice. We both cracked up! Luckily the dice are smaller than normal d6s, so most people can fit them all in one hand.
In my most recent game, Matt had six corsairs and rolled a whopping eighteen dice! As you can see from the photo on the right, he was pretty unlucky with his eighteen red dice compared to the fourteen blue dice I rolled thanks to the Preble's Boys Take Aim battle card I played. I really enjoy dice combat, so I had a blast with it in The Shores of Tripoli, but I fully acknowledge it's not for everyone.
Naval bombardment is very similar except the Tripolitan infantry does not get to roll any dice and fight back. Each frigate rolls two dice and each gunboat rolls one die, once again hitting on 6s. Each hit eliminates a Tripolitan infantry. After naval bombardment, all American frigates and gunboats are moved to Malta.
Then there's also ground combat that occurs when the American player moves Hamet's Army to a city that has Tripolitan infantry. Unlike naval combat, ground combat lasts until one force has been eliminated, so it could be multiple rounds of combat.
First, the American player may bombard with any frigates and gunboats that have joined the attack. Similar to naval combat, players announce whether they'll play any battle cards, then roll dice. Each infantry rolls one die and once again, a roll of a 6 is a hit and anything else is a miss. Players allocate hits to their troops, then check to see whether either side has been eliminated.
If the Tripolitan forces in the city are eliminated, the Americans have captured the city. If that city happens to be Tripoli, the American player immediately wins the game. On the other hand, if the American ground forces are eliminated, the Tripolitan player immediately wins the game. In the rare case where both forces are eliminated on the same roll, it is also considered a Tripolitan victory.
When the Tripolitan player isn't playing cards as events, they can discard a card to build a Tripolitan corsair in Tripoli, or take the favored action of pirate raiding with the corsairs from Tripoli by discarding a card. Honestly, if you're the Tripolitan player, it's all about snatching up that gold. Of course, the American player probably won't make it too easy for you since they can park their frigates in the naval patrol zone and try to take down some of the Tripolitan corsairs beforehand via interception rolls.
At the start of years 1801-1804, you draw six cards from your deck and by 1804 you will have gone through your entire deck since you start the game with 24 cards in your deck. Consequently, at the start of 1805 you shuffle your discard pile, then draw six cards from your new draw pile. If no one has won by the end of 1805, you play one final round in which you draw all cards remaining in your deck, then discard to your eight-card hand limit. If no one has won the game by the end of 1806, the game ends as a draw.
The Shores of Tripoli also includes a solo mode in which you play as the American side against an AI opponent, the Tripolitan-bot (T-bot). The T-bot is set up with two rows of cards: the event card line and the battle card line with specific cards placed in a specific order.
As the American player, you draw cards and take turns the same way you do when playing a human opponent. When your turn is over, the T-bot takes its turn checking cards in the event card line in order to see whether an event card's requirements have been met. Starting with the first card, if the requirement has been met, the T-bot plays the event card for its turn. Otherwise, it continues on to the next event card and so on.
If none of the event cards from the event card line can be played, the T-bot does the Five Corsair Check (a solitaire-only card), and if at least five corsairs are in the harbor of Tripoli, the T-bot pirate raids. If not, the T-bot draws a card from its draw pile and acts based on the T-bot card play requirements listed on the back of the rulebook. Since the T-bot uses the normal Tripolitan event and battle cards, the solitaire card play requirements will dictate how the T-bot responds to each event card.
The good news is there aren't many additional rules involved for jumping into a solo game, but you will need to keep the solitaire card play requirements handy to understand how the event and battle cards work with the T-bot. It would've been nice if there was a way to play this solo with the human player playing the pirates versus a U.S.-bot, but considering how many solitaire games I have that are designed specifically for solo play, I suspect I'll mainly play The Shores of Tripoli with a human opponent over the T-bot.
Inspired by two of Bertram's all-time favorite games, Twilight Struggle and 1960: The Making of the President, The Shores of Tripoli is a really solid entry-level wargame that covers a rare historical topic, and it manages to do so in a streamlined and accessible way to easily engage players of any experience level. You can teach this game to just about anyone and be up and running in 10-15 minutes and play a full game in under an hour. Because it plays so quickly, you'll likely want to play back to back games and can even mix it up by switching sides.
In one of my games, I was down to two gold as the American player, and my opponent had corsairs in the orange allied regions and kept raiding me, but thankfully rolled poorly. I had to pull the trigger and play the Assault on Tripoli as otherwise I might've lost the game. Thankfully I was able to swoop in with a ton of frigates and infantry and won the game that way.
I found the more I got to know the cards, the more strategic and interesting the game got. The hand management decisions get deeper the more you know the cards, although I do wonder if it'll get samey after a while having only 27 cards per faction.
I also love when games have multiple victory conditions, and The Shores of Tripoli does it well for a game that is easy to get into because of the low complexity level. It's great to have options and some flexibility to choose and potentially change up your path to victory based on the cards you draw.
The Shores of Tripoli is a great first release from Fort Circle Games, and I'm glad I finally got to play it since I didn't get a chance to playtest it when it originally came my way. I'll keep my eyes peeled for upcoming releases from Kevin Bertram and Fort Circle Games...
- [+] Dice rolls
Weberson Santiago's work, I never would have expected to see it on a game from Alderac Entertainment Group as their styles didn't seem to overlap — and yet here we are, looking at the cover of Erik Andersson Sundén's Whirling Witchcraft, a 2-5 player game that AEG plans to release in August 2021.
As for how the game works and exactly what's whirling, here's an explanation:Quote:Being a witch is all about wielding powerful magical ingredients — but a witch can wield only so much power before everything blows up in their face. Choose your recipes wisely to clear your workbench and stick others with too much raw material because the first player to overflow their nemesis' cauldron with enough ingredients wins!Merchants of Magick, a 1-8 player design from Clarence Simpson and Rock Manor Games that features a striking cover from Boris Stanisic and that's set in the publisher's fantasy universe of Set a Watch games.
In Whirling Witchcraft, you start with a hand of four recipe cards, as well as a number of ingredients on your workbench; ingredients come in five types, and you have a limited number of spaces for each type on your workbench.
Everyone plays simultaneously during each round. You all choose and reveal a recipe from your hand at the same time, then you can use as many recipes in play in front of you as you wish to convert and transform ingredients. Maybe you'll turn a mushroom into the harder-to-find mandrake, then you can turn two mandrakes (using an older one and the one you just created) to make three mushrooms. You can use each recipe at most once a round, and when you're finished, place all of the final ingredients into a cauldron, then pass it to your neighbor on the right. They must then fit all of these ingredients on their workbench — and if they can't, they must return the "extra" ingredients to you for placement in your "Witch's Circle".Recipe cards, with the ones on the end being playable in either direction
If you now have at least five ingredients in your Witch's Circle, the game ends and you win; otherwise you all pass your recipe cards in hand to the player on your left, refill your hand to four cards, then start a new round.
The game includes personality cards you can use to give each player a unique power, in addition to a different set of starting ingredients. Some recipes can be played in either of two directions to help you customize how you transform ingredients, and recipes might also have arcana symbols that give you bonus powers when you collect enough of them.
Can you put together the right cookbook to land your neighbor in hot water?
Here's a quick taste of how to play:Quote:In Merchants of Magick, you are the owner of a magic item shoppe, crafting items and researching spells to sell to the Adventurers of the Watch.
Each round, four polyhedral dice are rolled, then you select two of them to craft items or research enchantments for your shoppe. As you craft items and research spells, you start stocking items and earn potions that let you manipulate the dice. Adventurers travel from shoppe to shoppe, so you need to stock the exact items on the order cards in front of you. If you have an item an Adventurer needs, you earn coin — but if you wait too long to fulfill an order, Adventurers will become impatient and visit your competitor next door!
After ten rounds, the player who has earned the most coin wins.
- [+] Dice rolls
14 Apr 2021
Ben Eisner and Steve Ellis designed Gudetama: The Tricky Egg Card Game for Renegade Game Studios and Oni Games, and in Q2 2021 they'll have another IP-based card game on the market from those same publishers: Aggretsuko: Work/Rage Balance.
Here's an overview of this 3-6 player ladder-climbing card game:Quote:Your goal in Aggretsuko: Work/Rage Balance is to get out of work as quickly as possible — that is, to rid yourself of all cards in your hand. The game lasts five workdays (i.e., five rounds), and whoever has the lowest score once the weekend arrives wins.Ben Pinchback and Matt Riddle designed Stellar for Renegade Game Studios, and in Q2 2021 they'll have another card game on the market from that same publisher: Subastral.
The deck consists of 86 cards, with two cards each numbered 1-10 in four suits, along with three 11s, two 12s, and one 13. Each player starts with a hand of thirteen cards. The leader of the round plays a combination of 1-5 cards, then each subsequent player can play the same number of cards but of a higher value or pass. Once all but one person has passed, the cards are cleared from the table, then the last player to play leads something else.
Once per round, when you pass, you can rage, placing your rage card on a card that's currently on the table. When these cards are cleared, you can place the claimed card in your hand.
Note that a "Rainbow Bomb" — four consecutive cards with each suit represented — can be played on your turn no matter what's currently being played, and this can be beaten only by a higher Rainbow Bomb.
When one played voids their hand, the round ends. Everyone with cards in hand then scores 1-3 points per card based on how many they have, then you shuffle for a new round unless the weekend is here.
Here's an overview of this 2-5 player game:Quote:In Subastral, you collect cards that represent your notes on eight different biomes: subtropical desert, savanna, tropical rainforest, chaparral, temperate grassland, temperate forest, taiga, and arctic tundra. You start the game with three random cards in hand; each card depicts one of the eight biome types and is numbered 1-6. Eight cards are placed onto six clouds in the center of the table, with the deck to the left of the #1 cloud and a sun card to the right of #6.Ties for the number of cards in a biome are broken in favor of the leftmost biomes, so ideally you'll have X cards in your first six biomes and (at least) X+1 cards in your final two biomes to maximize both types of scoring. The scoring of these piles is similar to that of Mandala (which I covered in December 2019), with the cards having no value initially and acquiring value as the game progresses, with each player valuing cards differently depending on where they land in their journal.
On a turn, play a card from your hand onto the matching numbered cloud, then collect any pile of your choice to the left or right of the pile on which you played. If you choose a cloud to the left toward the deck, you add the cards on that cloud to your hand, then draw an additional card from the deck and add it to your hand. If you choose to the right toward the sun, you add those cards to your "journal", which is your collection of cards. Cards from the same biome go in the same pile, and you build piles from left to right in your journal as you collect cards from new biomes, with those piles being numbered 1-8. To end your turn, you draw a card from the deck to fill the empty cloud space.
When you hit the "game end" card in the deck, complete the round, then play one additional round. Each player then scores for their journal in two ways: Score for your two biomes that have the most cards, with each card in those biomes worth as many points as the number of the pile. (In other words, whatever two biomes you start collecting last, you want to collect a lot of them since those cards will be worth the most points.) Next, you remove one card from each biome left to right until you hit an empty space or run out of biomes; the set is worth 1-36 points depending on the number of cards in it. Then you create another set collecting cards from left to right, etc. until your leftmost biome is empty. Whoever has scored the most points wins!
Will your journal of research notes on the planet's biomes be deep and diverse enough to stand out amongst your peers?
- [+] Dice rolls
Connor WakeUnited States
Inis had become my new favorite game. What I really liked about it was how it was an area-control game, but you didn't always want to kill all of your opponents. One of the win conditions is to be in control of regions where at least six other player units are present. You can't kill everyone. You can't brute force your way through it. You have to keep an unsteady peace with your opponents.
I wanted to make a game that took that idea from Inis a bit further, something where you weren't allowed to remove all of your opponents' stuff if it wasn't exactly where you wanted it to be, something you'd have to deal with and work around instead. This is where the key point of Umbra Via came from. Players would be in direct conflict with each other, but not able to use direct force.
I also wanted players to be able to do well playing off of instinct and have a good time against people who are thinking through every possible outcome. Oftentimes when playing, I'm either tired or stressed and not up for having a good time only if I can out-compute whoever I'm playing against — so I decided I wanted pure logical thinking to cause the player to get a bit stuck, to force people to go with their instinct instead and level that playing field. This is why I wanted to add a constrained, hidden bidding element to the game.
Figuring out someone's intentions is tricky, and some people will even write it off as random, but to me, that's the most interesting part of playing games with other people. If you try to just logic your way through a blind bid, you can end up with the classic Princess Bride poison cup scenario. If you take a step back and don't get sucked down the logical rabbit hole, you have enough information to figure out the fuzzy probabilities of what someone might do. Also, I simply prefer those types of decisions in which there is no exact answer and things are fuzzy, but you've still got a lot to go off of!
Since Umbra Via isn't a big box game, there was a lot of swapping out of a lot of mechanisms, scoring systems, etc. to make it work with my goals. The iterations of the game were often unrecognizable. (I could fill another few designer diaries with all that.) Through all of those versions, those overarching goals were how I eventually settled on the core gameplay of Umbra Via:Quote:Each round, players receive six tokens to secretly bid on four different tiles over two rounds of bidding. The player with the most cubes on the tile gets to choose where it goes, determining the shape of the paths you're building and trying to control. However, everyone's cubes stay on the tile, so you're picking where that tile and everyone's cubes go. When paths close off, players are rewarded based on how long the path is, as well as how they ranked in the path.
The two rounds of bidding came out of trying to help players feel informed enough to be able to go off of instinct. When I first brought the game to my housemates Jevin and Jordan to test, I was stuck about how to handle getting the players' cubes onto the tiles. On the one hand, you could have players bid one cube at a time — which was very slow, but let you see the other players' intentions. On the other hand, you could allocate and bid all of your cubes at once — which was quick and exciting, but didn't give the players much to go off of, so it felt more random.
I brought this up with my housemates and how I wasn't happy with either of them. Then Jordan simply said, "Well, why don't we do two rounds then?" This turned out to be perfect and never changed after that first playtest. Players get six total cubes, then bid on the tiles three cubes at a time. Bidding in the first round is a chance for surprise, and when bidding in the second round players have made their intentions public, so you get to respond to that.
You'll probably notice how I haven't talked about the theme yet. What got me into board game design was the idea of crafting an experience for players. With Umbra Via, I specifically thought about making a game my partner and friends would enjoy. During the design process, it did exactly that, hitting all of the experience notes I wanted it to: conflict without violence, and being able to play off of the other players and your gut feeling. However, these goals never inspired a theme that lined up with the mechanisms.
I tried all sorts of changes to the game to make a theme fit, but it always seemed to take away from that core experience. In the end, wrapping Umbra Via in the dressings of a mysterious ritual felt fitting. The game has you advocate for painted tokens with no pretense. It works because everyone agrees these tokens are important, that they represent you and your interests. This felt very similar to spells to me, in which the objects used are meant to represent so much more.
Keeping the theme more abstract allowed for simpler art that was easier to read. Ultimately, it's the feeling of playing with the mechanisms and the other players around the table, trying to carefully balance all the different parts of the game, that makes Umbra Via what it is. I love what Pandasaurus Games did with the design. It's amazing seeing it brought to life. I can't wait for more people to try it out!
- [+] Dice rolls
Garphill Games are designed or co-designed by owner Shem Phillips, but in a change of pace the company's newest release — Hadrian's Wall — is by Bobby Hill, with this being his first publication credit.
Here's an overview of the game, which is reaching buyers of the Garphill edition in April 2021, and which will be released be Renegade Game Studios in Q2 2021:Quote:When visiting the North of Britannia in 122 AD, the Roman Emperor Hadrian Augustus witnessed the aftermath of war between his armies and the savage Picts. In a show of Roman might, he ordered a wall to be built that would separate the Pict tribes from the rest of England. Grand in its design, the wall stretched 80 Roman miles, from coast to coast. Hadrian's Wall stood in service to the Roman Empire for nearly 300 years before its eventual decline. Today, Hadrian's Wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the remains of the forts, towers, and turrets can still be explored.While the game is listed as being for 1-6 players, Phillips notes that with multiple copies, you could have any number of people participate in the game because your actions directly affect only your immediate neighbors — although in this age of online gaming, your "immediate" neighbors could be anywhere in the world!
In Hadrian's Wall, players take on the role of a Roman General placed in charge of the construction of a milecastle and bordering wall. Over six years (rounds), players will construct their fort and wall, man the defenses, and attract civilians by building services and providing entertainment — all while defending the honor of the Roman Empire from the warring Picts. The player who can accumulate the most renown, piety, valor and discipline, whilst avoiding disdain, will prove to the Emperor they are the model Roman citizen and be crowned Legatus Legionis!
For background on the game, check out Hill's four-part designer blog on the Hadrian's Wall BGG page.
Corey Young's Gravwell, which debuted in 2013 from Cryptozoic Entertainment, then moved to Renegade in 2014.
For those not familiar with this quick-playing, semi-racing game that often feels like a weird tug-of-war with yourself, here's an overview of the game's setting and how to play, followed by notes of a few changes in the new edition:Quote:In Gravwell, players command spaceships that have been pulled through a black hole, transporting them into a different dimension. With each ship lacking fuel to get home, each player must collect basic elements from surrounding asteroids, using the gravity of the dimension and what little resources they have in order to reach the warp gate that will take them home. But in this dimension, moving ships will travel towards the nearest object, which is usually another ship, and when those objects are moving either forward or backward, reaching the warp gate isn't always easy. Time is running out to save your crew and your ship! As a grim reminder of the cost of failing to escape, the frozen hulks of dead spacecraft litter the escape route — but with careful card play, you can slingshot past these derelict craft and be the first to escape from the gravwell!Oh, hey, I did a video overview of that Cryptozoic edition in March 2014 in case you'd prefer to see examples of the game in action to get a better idea of how it works. Wow, seven years ago — it's like watching someone else present a game at this point...
Gravwell uses 26 alphabetized cards to determine movement order and thrust; most cards move your ship towards the nearest object, but a few move you away from it. At the start of each round, players draft fuel cards, picking up three pairs of two cards, with only the top card of each pile being visible; you get some information as to which moves you can expect from the other spaceships, but you won't know which moves you'll be forced to make when you draft your cards!
During a round, each player will play all of their fuel cards in the order of their choosing. During each phase of a round, each player chooses one card, then all cards are revealed and resolved in alphabetical order. When your opponents move in ways you didn't expect, you won't always be heading in the direction you thought you would! Each player holds an "Emergency Stop" card that they may tactically play only once per round to avoid such a situation.
Whoever first reaches the warp gate wins, but if no one has escaped after six rounds, then the player who is closest to the gate wins.
Gravwell: 2nd Edition features the same gameplay as earlier editions of the game, but now 40 fuel cards are included, which allows up to six players in the game at the same time. (Earlier editions maxed out at four players.) Additionally, ship ability cards are included that can give a unique power to each ship's captain trying to find their way home.
- [+] Dice rolls
09 Apr 2021
Ares Games has signed a deal to publish and distribute original games from Italian publisher Ergo Ludo Editions in English, starting with the Q4 2021 release of the co-operative game Ensemble from Luigi Ferrini and Daniele Ursini. Here's an overview of that title:Quote:All players must vote — without communicating — on one of the cards on display that they think best matches a card in the middle of the table. Communication is allowed only once all the players' votes have been revealed, and if all players have voted the same way (with a small, variable tolerance depending on the number of players), the group moves on to the next level. Otherwise, they lose a life.Following that, Ares will publish an English language version of Ergo Ludo Editions' Cangaceiros, with this game being "inspired by the outlaw gangs of Brazil's Northeast in the late 19th and early 20th centuries".
The goal of the game is to win level 9 — and once the game is won for the first time, the first scenario deck (of three) is unlocked, with new rules and cards being available for future games.
Here's more on this late 2021/early 2022 release from the press release:Quote:To counter the overwhelming power of the large landowners called "Coronéis", armed gangs were created to oppose these despots and the government, fighting for survival, freedom, and revenge. Players are bandits trying to become the most famous gang of the Cangaço, surviving in the impervious hinterland, hunted by military units sent by government to capture or kill them.Luma Games, has signed a deal with Belgian publisher Sit Down! for "exclusive English-language distribution" of its game catalog, starting with the upcoming releases Dive (covered here) and Rush Out! (covered here) in the first half of 2021 and continuing with reprints of Magic Maze and Magic Maze Kids. Here's an excerpt from the press release announcing the deal:Quote:Didier Delhez, co-owner of Sit Down!, said, "We are very happy with this new partnership with Luma Imports. Our games will now be able to largely reach the American public, thus responding to the many requests that we have received. We know the effectiveness of Luma Imports and are excited to start this new partnership!"• Eric Hanuise of Flatlined Games has started a YouTube channel titled "Board Game Publisher" in which he promises to "publish videos about all aspects of the board game publishing trade: sourcing, development, manufacturing, logistics, marketing, regulations, DTP and Pre-press, the list goes on." If you've thought of taking the plunge — or have already plunged — perhaps these videos will be of interest to you. Here's one to get you started, focusing on why you might not want to do this:
announced that the next fair will be held February 2-6, 2022.
• To increase availability of its games in Canada, Looney Labs has signed a deal with Universal Distribution that goes into effect as of April 14, 2021. An excerpt from the press release: "Universal Distribution has been a long-time industry friend and brings strong insights into the game and hobby market in Canada. With three shipping locations across Canada, they are more convenient for some retailers. This addition of Universal as a distributor does not replace any existing channels for obtaining Looney Lab games but rather adds opportunity for specialty retailers to get our games at their convenience."
Speaking of which, Wonderland Fluxx is a short-run release from Looney Labs for which retail preorders end on April 16, 2021. The short story behind this title: U.S. retailer Books-A-Million was interested in an "Alice in Wonderland" themed Fluxx, and designer Andy Looney had one on hand, so it's now going into production primarily for BAM!, while also being available to other retailers who want to carry copies.
- [+] Dice rolls
08 Apr 2021
Virtue is a 2-4 player co-operative game from designer Max Robbins of Dragon Egg Games, who debuted with the "your life as a bee" game Apidaia in 2020 and who fulfilled a Kickstarter in March 2021 for Nova Lux, which bears this intriguing description:Quote:In Nova Lux, you take charge of a federation of orphaned alien species that have escaped dying star systems in the wake of a galactic apocalypse. The Universe is winding down. Entropy is increasing to maximum. You must manage precious resources through trade, conflict, and exploration to sustain biological life and power your Ark of Salvation, Hydrogen Converters, and Biosphere Engine — all while building a star colony that can outlast the end of the universe and give it new light, a.k.a., "nova lux".Robbins is working on a integrated, yet standalone sequel to Nova Lux titled Impendium that will allow you to construct a new universe, ignite stars, and kick off new life, and after that will come Virtue, which pits players against the spiritual forces of good and evil. Here's how:Quote:You will strive to live a good life and balance the pursuits that give it meaning. You will quest for internal tranquillity and life-long peace. You will struggle with existential conflict as your angels and demons battle to shape your soul and define your character. You and your fellow man are in this together. Don't let them down.• Sometimes a single image gives you 90% of what a game is about and how it plays, and that's the feeling I got from seeing the image below of Kroma, a a color-blending strategy game for two or three players by Carol Mertz, Kai Karhu, Francesca Carletto-Leon, and Temitope Olujobi that Breaking Games is Kickstarting in 2021 for release in 2022.
Each round represents a decade of the players' lives and consists of three phases: Actions, Existential Conflict, and Spiritual Warfare. In the action phase, players move their focus on various vices and virtues, cleanse their soul of the demons that plague them, enhance life pursuits that will unlock new abilities, and increase their tranquility, which will aid them in removing demons. The action phase prepares the team for what is about to come.
After the action phase, each player draws from a deck that will (among other things) swarm their souls with angels and demons. Then, they check for existential conflict, i.e., an abundance of uncontested demons with no angels to stand in opposition. For each existential crisis that occurs, the player has new challenges to overcome.
Finally, the spiritual warfare phase ensues in which the forces of good and evil battle, and the dominating force is left standing for the next decade of their lives.
In case the image isn't enough for you, here's how to play:Quote:Gameplay takes place on a triangular playing board that has a light behind it so that you can better see the colors created by the game pieces during play. On a turn, you draw a playing piece from the bag — feeling for a desired shape, if you wish, but not knowing the color of the piece — then place that piece in any legal location on the board. Pieces come in yellow, cyan, and magenta, and initially you must play these pieces on the lowest level of the game board. If you can play a piece so that it's entirely supported by other pieces, then you can play on the second level of the board; by doing this, you can create the secondary colors green, orange, and purple — and this is what you'll need to do to win.Morning of an impending Kickstarter campaign in Q2 2021 for Burrn, a design for 3-5 players from David Simiand and Pierre Voye that I first covered in October 2018.
Each player in the game is assigned a secondary color, and at the end of a three-player game, whoever has more spaces of their color showing wins. In a two-player game, the player with the largest contiguous block of their color wins, so the game is more about blocking than simply creating your color wherever you can. If you're green, for example, you want lots of yellow and cyan on the bottom level so that you can potentially transform it into green later, while magenta is useless to you and ideally you can stack magenta pieces on top of one another to put them out of play altogether.
The game ends once all the pieces have been played or when no piece remaining in the bag can fit on the board.
Gameplay seems to be the same as when I first wrote about the game, so here's that description once again:Quote:The district of Las Picantes belongs to El Gobernador, a former industrialist with a mysterious past, who built his fortune in the import-export of...various merchandise. He now lives in isolation, only surrounded by his family — as well as his bodyguard, accountants, drivers, sports coach, and the zookeeper of his private zoo.• By chance another game in that October 2018 post has also still not appeared in print: Time of Empires by this same design team that was going to be demoed by Pearl Games at SPIEL '18. Pearl has released several other titles over the past few years, so I imagine this design is still in the cooker or has been sent back to the designers for more work on their part. Maybe we'll find out in a few more years...
But El Gobernador is bored to tears. Always seeking new thrills and challenges, he decides to organize an unforgettable event during the "Fiesta Nacional", a competition open to all wannabe-chefs in the world to cook for him the most intense hot sauce possible! Whoever wins the contest will receive enough money to open their own restaurant!
In order to be able to cook their sauce, though, the participants in Buurn have to get the best ingredients in ruthless auctions called "top-downs". Cooks will collect different ingredients sold at these auctions to create the hottest sauce ever created. Everything is allowed in this savage contest! Trying to obtain the best ingredients by being friends with the organization or even stealing ingredients from your rivals are classic ways to win the prize!
At the end of the contest, El Gobernador's jury will taste all the hot sauces, then assign victory points to each cook, based on the type of ingredients they used and the bonuses they obtained. The one who receives the most points wins the competition and their very own restaurant, paid by El Gobernador!
- [+] Dice rolls
07 Apr 2021
I know that sometimes posts like these are frustrating since the games featured won't necessarily be easily available, but I like featuring games that don't look or play like everything else, so I write about them anyway. Besides, the games do turn up sometimes, whether through an importer, a licensed edition, or a shipping service that delivers to your country.
• We'll start with YADOKARICK, a trick-taking game from giraffismus for 1-7 players, with special rules for games with one or two players. As an example of what I described above, YADOKARICK can be purchased via BOOTH, an online consignment shop of sorts that co-ordinates with Buyee to ship goods anywhere in the world.
Here's an overview of the 3+ player game courtesy of JP game fan James Nathan:Quote:In YADOKARICK, players try to find the right size shell for their hermit crab from beach detritus.• I have few details about 金庫バトル (Safe Battle) from ASOBI.dept, but here's what I do know:
The game consists of two suits, and in addition to a suit and rank, each card has a "shell size". During the game, the lowest card played to a trick will be able to adjust the target shell size up or down. The highest card of each color played to a trick will take the cards of that color with the largest size and add to their hermit crab. The bodies have a maximum size and may have a "roof" card added.
At the end of a hand, positive points are earned for total shell sizes less than or equal to the target, and points are lost for shells that exceed the size or for players who added too many cards to their shell. The player with the most points wins.Quote:In the game, you and your fellow players are master locksmiths who have gathered at a national tournament to open four safes by listening to their sounds. You can try to open them in co-operation with other locksmiths or go for a solo victory by relying solely on your own ears.Examine the photo, then decipher the game
• Safe Battle was an Osaka Game Market release in late March 2021 that may or may not show up at TGM, which is also true for You Are Probably Criminal, a.k.a. あなたがたぶん犯人です, from designer Ikagaya and publisher いかが屋楽団Z (How About the Orchestra Z).
This 3-5 player game is about crime, but doesn't seem to be a deduction game. The overview explains why:Quote:You and the other players are suspects in a murder case. Heartless as it might sound, who is actually guilty of the crime doesn't matter because in the end all that matters is who is the most suspicious among you!• A similar-sounding not-a-deduction deduction game is Catch the Bomber from designer イイダ タカアキ (Iida Takaaki) and publisher Iida Games, but the details of gameplay aren't clear to me from the short description on the TGM site. Here's what I do know:
The criminal search relies on four elements — weapon, motive, place, time — and evidence cards left by the actual criminal is placed face down in the center of the table. Each player also receives a confession card for each of these four elements, and sometimes a confession card will match the evidence card.Components
On your turn, you can make a statement based on the confession cards you hold or you can investigate an evidence card by revealing a confession card you hold. If you make a statement that matches the evidence, you'll be more suspicious, so you might prefer to investigate — but the fewer statements you make, the more suspicion points you gain at turn's end, so you can't only investigate. Perhaps you can forge evidence to throw off suspicion?
In the end, the player with the most suspicion points loses the game and is arrested.Quote:In Catch the Bomber, a.k.a. キャッチザボマー, you are either the lone bomber in the game or part of the police force trying to catch the bomber. For the bomber to win, they must do one of the following:After I tweeted the captivating cover below, the publisher responded by saying that they need to create an English translation of the rules as soon as possible, so perhaps we'll know more in the future. Until then, imagine this dude staring at you from above your bedframe as you head to sleep at night...
• Kill civilians with a bomb.
• Escape the city.
• Restrict the actions of citizens and disrupt the economy.
The police want to stop all of this from happening, but the bomber's identity is secret. On a turn, you either play or move, and the resolution of the game isn't complete until the final card has been played.
- [+] Dice rolls
06 Apr 2021
Let's look at a few titles that will be available at that show, starting with Let's Make a Bus Route: The Dice Game from designer Saashi (of Saashi & Saashi), with this being a reimplementation of 2018's Let's Make a Bus Route that plays with 1-2 people. Here's how it works:Quote:In Let's Make a Bus Route: The Dice Game, each player is a member of a bus company and creates bus routes by drawing lines on a map. You want to meet the needs of each client — tourists, commuters, local university students, the elderly, and parents with children — while also considering congestion and traffic conditions. Who can create the bus route that pleases the most passengers?Take the "A" Chord, with larger components, revised rules for three-player games, and new rules for two-player games. Here's an overview of how it works:
In more detail, the game lasts 24 rounds, with you being the start player for half of those rounds. On a turn as the start player, you roll the six white dice in the game, then choose three of them, with the other player taking one of the remaining three dice. With the die results, you mark spots on the game board with an erasable pen to extend your bus route and pick up and drop off passengers. With bonuses, you can re-roll dice or roll an extra black die. After deducting traffic (and other) penalties, the player with the most points wins.
The game includes two maps: On the City Map, you must be mindful of the river as its bridges restrict your course at various points of the map. On the Mars Map, you can warp from one corner of the map to one of the other three corners, continuing your route across vast distances!
Let's Make a Bus Route: The Dice Game includes a solo mode that features mostly the same rules. The challenge is that you play the game twice on the same map with different colored markers, and re-using the same road in the second game causes traffic and negative points. How well can keep the routes separate to cover ground and make the most happy customers.Quote:Take The "A" Chord, a.k.a. Aコードで行こう, is a trick-taking card game in which players become jazz musicians and compete in the strength of the chord.Death Cube from Susumu Kawasaki via his company Kawasaki Factory. Here's how to play this 2-5 player game
Cards come in five suits (colors) labeled A-G, and in a trick, you must play a card of the same suit led — unless you have a card in the same letter as a card previously played, in which case you can play that. Why would you do that? Because initially the highest-valued letter in the game, e.g. C, is determined randomly, with the other cards being ranked lower in C in order: C is higher than D, which is higher than E, etc. with G higher than A. When you play the same chord — that is, letter — as another player, you make that chord the new highest-valued letter for subsequent tricks.Components in the 2021 edition
What's more, if you play the same chord as the player who started the trick — that is, if you improvise — not only do you change the highest-ranking chord, that trick goes unresolved and you start a new trick with the winner of that trick taking all tricks played since multiple instances of improvisation can take place.
You score a bonus for improvisation, but you don't want to take too many tricks in a round as that will cost you points in the long run. Score well, lead the band, then step aside for others to (possibly) take things too far. After multiple rounds, the player with the most points wins.Quote:In Death Cube, you are trying not to be crushed by blocks — or to crush people with blocks — depending on your role that turn.Kenichi Kabuki and publisher Game Nowa featuring rummy-style play with the 2-4 players needing to create sets and runs for multiple reasons. Here's an overview of the game, which debuted at the Osaka Game Market:
The game takes place in a 4x5 grid that bears the numbers 1-20. Each turn, five spaces are covered on this grid based on whichever of the forty puzzle cards is chosen at random. If you are the "organizer", you are then presented with two pentominoes — i.e., five connected cubes — from a set of five pentominoes, and you have 24 seconds in which to decide how to fit these two pentominoes into the remaining 15 spaces of the grid. (The two are chosen at random from four possible choices, which means the game includes 160 total puzzles.)
If you're not the organizer, then you are a "participant", and you want to find a safe square among those 15 spaces where you will not be crushed by a block. Some squares will definitely be safe based on the pentominoes in the challenge, whereas other squares will be safe only depending on how the organizer decides to place the blocks. When you've made your choice, grab the numbered tile matching your chosen space so that no one else can take it.Quote:You score points in the round if you can add up the eight cards in front of you to sum to 10. This challenge is complicated by the deck containing eight cards each of numbers 1-7, with half the cards being red and half blue — which means almost every set of eight cards will sum to more than 10!
The trick is that certain combinations of cards are worth less than their face value:
—Three cards of the same color and number = 0
—Three red cards in sequence are worth only the highest number in the sequence, so a red 345 = 5.
—Three blue cards in sequence are worth only the lowest number in the sequence, so a blue 345 = 3.
Each player starts with a hand of eight cards. On a turn, draw a card from the deck, then (if you don't have a sum of 10) discard a card in a row in front of you; alternatively, you can pick up the discarded card of the player before you, add two cards from your hand to this card, play it beside you as a special sequence (a "get"), then discard a card. The cards in that "get" cannot be altered for the remainder of this deal, but they still count as being in your hand toward the desired sum of 10.The cover depicts a winning hand; can you see it?
When someone does reach a sum of 10, whether by drawing a card or picking up a discarded card, the round ends, with players scoring points based on the combinations they've made and certain conditions in their hand. Having only one 7 in hand is worth 1 point, for example, as is having four red and four blue cards, whereas having all cards of one color or two triples are each worth 3 points. You also score points for being the one to end the round.
Play enough rounds so that each player starts a hand twice, then whoever has the most points wins. Alternatively, if a player collects a "God Ten" — that is, all eight 2s or all eight 5s, each of which sums to 10 — they win the game instantly!
- [+] Dice rolls