December tends to be a slow month for crowdfunding projects, but plenty of them still abound for new games if you want to make gaming plans for 2021. Here's a sampling of what's being funded right now:
• Factions: Battlegrounds is the first game project for designer Peter Ferry and artist Jason Crayton, and it has a Summoner Wars vibe in the set-up and movement of units, albeit with no random elements. Here's an overview of this 2-4 player game that's funding through Dec. 10, 2020 (KS link) ahead of a planned Q2 2021 release:Quote:In Factions: Battlegrounds, you take on the role of a general who's leading an army of troops, spellcasters, beasts, and mythological monsters into battle. You and the opposing generals determine the battleground, gather resources, and score points by eliminating enemy units. Whoever first captures 25 points of units wins.The Boys: This Is Going To Hurt is a tabletop adaptation of the comic series from which the televised Amazon series The Boys originates. This 2-5 player game is from first-time designers Jon Levin, Josh Stilts, and Nick Accardi and first-time game publisher 1First Games. Here's an overview of this design, which is being Kickstarted (link) for release in mid-2021:
In more detail, to set up choose one of the six factions in the game; each faction has twelve unique units and five "home terrain" cards that work well with your units. Players then take turns building the battleground by placing one terrain card at a time into the 3x3 grid, each terrain card is divided into a 2x2 grid, so the entire grid of play is 6x6. Whoever places terrain first has an advantage since they have more home terrain than other players, while players who go later during set up determine the location of resource centers on the battleground or recruit their starting units last so that they can respond to the choices of opponents. Units cost 1-5 gold, and each player can spend up to 10 gold on starting units, keeping anything unspent.
During a round, all units have the chance to move, with the highest-ranked units moving first and with ties being broken in favor of whoever has the most captains, followed by whoever has the most units. Each unit has a movement, attack, and health value, along with an indication of whether it generates gold or mana and (possibly) a spell that it can cast. After moving a unit, you can attack with it, whether melee or ranged as indicated on the card. If you defeat an enemy unit, you can points equal to its cost in gold, so while expensive units tend to be the most powerful, they also provide an opponent with their biggest target for points.
Prior to activating a unit on your turn, you can pay gold to recruit new units, and those units will slip into rank order for the turn, possibly allowing you to put a high-ranking unit into play directly and giving an opponent someone on the battleground that they didn't expect.Prototype of the playing area
Once all the units have moved, players collect resources for units that gain them automatically and for units located on resource centers. Rounds continue until someone has collected 25 points of captured units, at which point they win immediately.
Factions: Battlegrounds is centered on inclusion and diversity, incorporating mythology from all over the world and representing traditionally European-based fantasy elements with underrepresented cultural elements.Quote:In The Boys: This Is Going To Hurt, you battle with and or against Butcher, Hughie, Frenchie, The Female, Mother's Milk, members of The Seven, your favorite and most hated Supers, and other characters from "The Boys". You need to be fast as after 21 rounds, Homelander makes it "Game Over" for everyone.• Città-Stato is a 2-4 player game from Simone Cerruti Sola, designer of Kepler-3042, and Giochix.it that is being funded on both Kickstarter (link) and Giochistarter (link), as is often the case with releases from Italian publishers. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:
Each round, you receive action points to spend on recruiting characters, buying additional resource or character cards, battling other players, and traveling the game board. Compound V facilitates most aspects of the game, and characters must be paid and defeated in combat to successfully recruit them. Missions are completed throughout to earn money, blackmail, and additional resources in an effort to build a team strong enough to take down Homelander.Quote:In the twelfth century, thanks to the Holy Crusades and to the development of new merchant routes, a few cities in Europe had grown so powerful that they had become city-states — called "maritime republics" — and their influence extended throughout the Mediterranean Sea.• Gavin Birnbaum of Cubiko Games often releases only a few dozen copies of a game at a time, and he does that because (1) the games are almost entirely wood and (2) he creates them all by hand. As far as I know, his newest release — the two-player game Chopsticks — was first demoed at SPIEL '18, and I know this because BGG's Scott Alden bought one of five copies that Birnbaum brought to the show, with a few of us playing the game in the BGG booth when we weren't doing other things.
In Città-Stato, you represent a maritime republic with unique characteristics, and you must make it stand out by gaining greater commercial, war, and political prestige, while also striving to develop and maintain Republican values. A great score alone might not be enough to win if you can't preserve the Republican nature!
The mechanism at the core of the game is bag building: You can acquire cubes and place them in your bag. Each round, you draw several cubes, and depending on their number and color, they will enable different actions. The game lasts seven rounds, and each round players may keep playing actions until everyone has passed. Action cards increase the choices available, and players may discover many interesting combos if they have planned well!
Your goal in the game is to score 8 points, and you score by shooting the sushi puck into the opponent's goal with your chopstick.Non-final 2018 version of Chopsticks
To start at the beginning of the game or after the sushi has gone out of play or after a score, each player must "address" the sushi by placing the tip of their chopstick against it. This signals to the other player that you're ready. You then start flicking the sushi around, attempting to shoot it through the opponent's lower goal for 1 point or somehow get it into the air so that it lands in the opponent's upper goal, in which case you score 3 points.
Whoever is scored upon can swap the sushi puck as the game includes three of them: a cylindrical one, a cubic one, and a longish triangular pyramid-ish one.
Birnbaum's Kickstarter campaign (link) also includes a new edition of his 2010 release Cubiko Word, which combines a dexterity game and a word-building game as you must bounce a ball into a grid in order to place a letter cube in that space, ideally spelling out a target word before anyone else can do so.
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- [+] Dice rolls
How much did I miss during SPIEL.digital 2020?! I have no idea, but six weeks after that event, I've just discovered that during the fair Italian publisher Giochi Uniti revealed that it will release a board game set in the Pathfinder RPG's "Age of Lost Omens" setting, with Pathfinder Arena having a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in 2021.
Here's what I know about the game:Quote:In the competitive board game Pathfinder Arena, which is for 2-4 players, monsters and heroes clash in four stages of challenges in a labyrinth. In each stage, the number and power of the monsters increase, while heroes level up and gather resources to gain new skills, magic spells, equipment, and the deities' favor.The game's cover comes from Wayne Reynolds, whereas the interior art will come from Paizo Publishing's database of images and the miniatures will be designed by Giochi Uniti.
Pathfinder Arena will feature high-detail miniatures of the most iconic monsters of Pathfinder, along with its greatest heroes. The monsters summoned in the labyrinth never leave their spot, but the labyrinth shape is dynamic, and players can change it by moving the board's tiles. Monsters can then be used to attack other players, in the end leaving only one winner.
During SPIEL. digital 2020, Giochi Uniti streamed a demo of the game with prototype components:
For future updates on the game, you can join Giochi Uniti's mailing list here.
- [+] Dice rolls
The Transcontinental will be the first release from designer/artist Glen Dresser, who plans to release the title through his Wheelhouse Games company.
The Transcontinental features interesting and engaging gameplay, a rich historical theme, and a refreshing look and feel from Dresser's own artwork. As a result, Dresser won the 2019 Canadian Game Design Award for this title and more recently won the 2020 Cardboard Edison award as well.
Here's an overview of this 1-4 player game, which has been successfully funded on Kickstarter (KS link) for release in Q3 2021:Quote:In 1871, with Canada only four years old, the Prime Minister calls for a massive undertaking: a transcontinental railway to link the established eastern provinces with the newly-added western province. Between them lay the vast, undeveloped interior. It would be a nation-defining project, opening up the resource-rich Canadian shield, the fertile prairies, and the breathtaking Rocky Mountain Cordillera, shaping not only the economy of the young country but its identity as well.[An aside from WEM:] • Another title in the works from Dresser is Palooka Precinct, a 1-4 player co-operative deduction game that features, in his words, "a unique mystery deduction system, with complex cases that you can solve through logic and teamwork. The Volvelle system makes each case highly replayable, and the game features a campaign with twelve cases." (A "volvelle" is a device composed of concentric paper circles that has you rotate the circles to do some task or calculation; the code device used in the Exit series of escape room games is a volvelle.)
The Transcontinental is a medium-weight Eurogame with worker-placement and pick-up and deliver mechanisms about the development of the Canadian transcontinental railway.Prototype components
Players are contractors who work to complete the railway. They send out telegrams along a linear worker-placement track — reserving those action spaces for themselves — then take turns in telegram order, loading and unloading to a shared train that travels across the country. Players can use these resources to complete developments ranging from lumber mills and farms to cities and national parks, or they can use the resources to bid to extend the railway. Powerful one-time-use ally cards, themed around a rich and inclusive cast of Canadian historical figures, allow players to make powerful combined actions.
Dresser won the 2017 Ion Award for game design for Palooka Precinct, but he's moving ahead with The Transcontinental first because he "wanted to focus on a game with more conventional components as my first publishing project". [/end aside]
On the Underground: London/Berlin, Sebastian Bleasdale's newest standalone game in the "On the Underground" series from LudiCreations will be On the Underground: Paris/New York.
In this game, 2-5 players compete to build the most successful lines in the iconic underground networks of Paris and New York. In more detail:Quote:In On the Underground: Paris/New York, players build the Paris Métro lines or the New York City Subway lines. Each player controls 2-4 different lines, depending on the number of players.• In 18xx land, 18Mag: Hungarian Railway History is a new release for 2-6 railroad company investors coming from designer Leonhard "Lonny" Orgler and his publishing company, Lonny Games. I'm sure many already know of Orgler's strong reputation for designing train games from his releases 18CZ and 18Lilliput, as well as 1880: China and the ever-popular Russian Railroads, co-designed with Helmut Ohley.
On each turn, four destination cards are available, corresponding to stations on the map. You can take up to four actions; an action is either building track by placing one of your track tokens on the board or taking a branch token. A player may use two branch tokens to branch out of an existing line (whereas normally lines can be extended only at the endpoints). After each player's turn, a passenger token is moved along players' lines, avoiding walking as much as possible, to reach one or two destinations determined at the beginning of the turn. Destination cards corresponding to the visited stations are then replaced by new ones, then the next player takes their turn.
Players score points in two ways:
—By building track and connecting their lines to various types of stations, by collecting landmark tiles (in Paris), by connecting stations across water (in New York) or at the end of the game if they have achieved their secret objectives (in Paris).
—By having the passenger use their lines when moving.
After all destination cards have been drawn and all players have taken the same number of turns, the game ends.
Paris is a thoughtful map offering many options. To win, you need to strike the right balance between collecting sets of tokens, connecting secret destinations, blocking other players while not being blocked yourself, and of course carrying the passenger. Paris is the refined elder sister of the original On the Underground: London map and is recommended for experienced players.
New York is a fast-paced map reflecting the hectic pace of life in the big Apple. It encourages players to mirror real life by creating lines through Manhattan, but you have to build quickly to keep up with the always-moving passenger.
Here's a brief overview of 18Mag and how it derails from the usual 18xx experience:Quote:18Mag ("Magyarország" meaning "Hungary") is an 18xx game that tells the story of Hungarian railroads and their supporting companies.• Luzon Rails is a self-published design from Robin David that was Kickstarted in late August 2020 (KS link) ahead of a scheduled December 2020 release. Luzon is the largest and most populous island in the Philippines, and the topography of the land creates many challenges for the 3-5 players who come to the table:
Depending on the player number, 13 different railway companies are drafted equally between the players. These railways operate in numerical order, build track on the map, erect stations, run their trains and always pay out their earnings 50:50 — half to their owners and half into their own treasury.
Beside those operating railroads, seven other companies offering various services for the railroads are included in the game. Examples of these services are building an extra tile, allowing a railroad to run freely over small stations, reducing costs when building bridges and tunnels, and most importantly, offering new trains. Whenever a railroad uses the services of one or more of these companies, they pay their fee into their treasury. In stock rounds, players acquire shares of those companies and after operation rounds, they distribute their earnings among the shareholders. These companies also have station markers (or in this case: factories) which can be placed on city tiles (instead of railway stations) by the president of the company, thus denying other companies passage through that city.
Contrary to other 18xx games, all trains are available from the beginning. Because of the pricing, they usually come in the accustomed order, but not necessarily! However, trains do not rust or go obsolete, but they may be scrapped voluntarily to make space for bigger trains. When the first 6-train is sold, one more set of operation rounds is played, then the game ends. As usual in 18xx games, the wealthiest player is the winner.Quote:On the island of Luzon, large mountain ranges collide with wetlands, and an already established shipping industry means that coastal cities will be profitable only to rail networks that have already established effective routes.
In Luzon Rails, players are rail investors. They buy stock in companies, seek to improve those companies, and amass wealth when company dividends pay out.
This game differs from cube rail games you may have played before. Variable company start locations mean that companies can feel quite different from game to game. Actions are selected by playing action cards either from hand or from a central pool, which leads players to make tough decisions and risky moves. How would you proceed in a round where it looks like there will be few auctions? How would that affect your own bids?
Some features on the board try to encourage varied rail types. Landlocked cities grant a long term bonus to companies that then connect to coastal cities. Manila provides a one-off dividend payment for investors who can make a company rail reach that far. And the Southern peninsula creates tight conditions if more than one company has ambitions on the cities down there.
- [+] Dice rolls
03 Dec 2020
Alley Cat Games plans to release a new edition of Tinners' Trail, the title with which designer Martin Wallace had launched his Treefrog Games line in 2008.
Aside from new art from Javier González Cava and Ossi Hiekkala and colorblind-friendly playing pieces, this version of Tinners' Trail — which Alley Cat is bringing to Kickstarter in January 2021 ahead of (ideally) a Gen Con 2021 debut — has a number of other changes, which are summarized in this game description:Quote:In Tinners' Trail, set in 19th century Cornwall, you represent a mining conglomerate at the height of the tin and copper mining industry. You must buy plots of land across Cornwall in auctions and survey them for tin and copper, always managing your "work points" and money effectively.• Another title that Alley Cat Games plans to Kickstart is Steven Aramini's Eternal Palace, a 1-5 player dice-placement Eurogame that the publisher's Caezar Al-Jassar compares to Kingsburg and Alien Frontiers.
Once you have a mine in place, it's time to extract the ore and (ideally) make a profit, but the deeper your mine goes, the more expensive the process gets. To reduce the cost of mining, you can place developments, such as ports, train stations, and adits (drainage tunnels), but there's only so many improvements to go around. Once you have made your money — trying to time the market to sell when prices are high — you can invest it in industries outside of Cornwall, which gains you victory points. The earlier you invest, the better the return. Can you outplay the competition and make the most money, or will you be left without two shillings to rub together?
This edition of Tinners' Trail differs from the original 2008 version in several ways. The player count, for example, is now 1-5 instead of 3-4, and the resources on the board are now set up via tiles instead of die rolls to maintain variability while reducing the randomness. Dual-use cards are now an important part of the game, giving you information before an auction or an extra boost after an auction. The game includes two expansions, with the arsenic expansion introducing a new resource and the emigration expansion seeing miners travel overseas.
Here's an overview of the game, which will hit Kickstarter in February 2021 ahead of a planned Q2/Q3 2021 retail release:Quote:In Eternal Palace, you are a loyal worker and skilled artist who has pledged to help the Emperor rebuild his palace after a devastating earthquake so that you may gain his favor. You must send your team to collect resources and rebuild monuments. You will also honor the Emperor by painting a beautiful picture of his beloved gardens and palace — but others are trying to impress him, too, and only one will have the honor of being chosen as the Emperor's favorite.Dice Theme Park, a 1-4 player design from Adrian Adamescu and Daryl Andrews that the publisher refers to as a "spiritual successor" to its 2018 release Dice Hospital, with that game's co-designer Mike Nudd serving as lead developer for this new one, which works as follows:Non-final front cover
In this game, your team of workers is represented by dice, and by placing them on the game board you contribute towards rebuilding the different parts of the Eternal Palace. Each location is reached based on dice rolls, but if others have gone to an otherwise inaccessible location, you may visit it too by paying fish, one of the resources in the game. Complete tasks first — or contribute more than your competitors to these monuments — to earn tokens reflecting your overall effort. Recruit new workers to your team, and use the painting pieces you receive as each location is unlocked to "paint" a record of your work, layer by layer.
Who will contribute the most to the reconstruction and gain the favor of the Emperor? Find out in this tense and highly interactive Eurogame!Quote:In Dice Theme Park, you are a park manager who wants to create the most successful theme park in the area by getting your customers on the most rides possible!Dice Theme Park is scheduled to debut in Q4 2021, ideally showing up at SPIEL '21 should such an event take place.
The dice in the game represent the customers, with hex tiles representing the rides in your park. Employing a unique "dice-cascade" mechanism once a customer has enjoyed a ride, their die value is reduced, but they can still continue to enjoy more rides in the theme park until their value drops to 0, at which point they exit the park. This means the more efficiently you can move your dice around to activate the most rewarding rides, the more points and money you receive!
Dice Theme Park also features a card-based turn initiative mechanism. You start with a hand of special action role cards numbered 1-6 and select two cards each turn. Whoever puts out the lowest total gains first choice of the customer dice draft and ride tiles that round, but at the end of the round, your cards will be passed to the player on your left.
—Paper Dungeons: A Dungeon Scrawler Game, a roll-and-write dungeon-crawling game from Brazilian publisher MeepleBR that is due out in Q3 2021 and that I happened to covered in more detail in mid-November 2020.
—Catstronauts, a sequel of sorts to ACG's 2020 release Kittin, with players trying to slam their cat tokens on planets in a specific sequence.
—Dice Commander, which Al-Jassar describes as "a casual/gateway, frantic real-time dice placement game kind of like Escape meets X-Wing.
—Milkshake, a real-time Yahtzee-style game of milkshake crafting in which your score is based on how many boys you bring to the yard. (I made up that last bit, but I want it to be true.)
- [+] Dice rolls
02 Dec 2020
Koota Yamada's IKI: A Game of Edo Artisans, originally released in 2015 by UTSUROI following a Kickstarter campaign, will be re-released in a new English, French, and German edition in mid-2021 by publisher Sorry We Are French.
Here's an overview of this well-rated, but hard-to-find 2-4 player game:Quote:Edo — what we now know today as Tokyo, Japan — was a thriving city with an estimated population of one million, half townspeople and half samurai. With a huge shopping culture, Edo's main district, Nihonbashi, was lined with shops, selling kimonos, rice, and so much more.Notes SWAF, "We have been working on the game for more than a year: new art, improved ergonomics, and some rule modifications (mainly two players)..."
Nihonbashi is the focus of IKI, which brings you on a journey through the famed street of old Tokyo. Hear the voices of Nihonbashi Bridge's great fish market. Meet the professionals who carry out all the different jobs. Enter the interactivity of the shoppers and vendors. Become one with the townspeople.New cover with non-final art
One of the main professions in the world of Edo is the artisan. Each of the Edo artisans uses their own skill of trade to support the townspeople's lives. In this game, not only are there artisans, but street vendors, sellers at the shops, and professions unique to this time and age. Meet the puppet masters, putting on a show. Meet the ear cleaners that people would line up for.
The goal of this game is to become the annual Edoite, best personifying what is known as "IKI", an ancient philosophy believed to be the ideal way of living among people in Edo. Knowing the subtleties of human nature, being refined and attractive — these are all elements of a true IKI master.
Momiji, from Italian designers Dario Massarenti and Francesco Testini and Italian publisher 3 Emme Games.
Here's an overview of this 1-4 player game, which is funding on Kickstarter in December 2020 ahead of a planned Q3 2021 release:Quote:In Momiji, you attempt to fulfill objectives by collecting the most valuable autumn leaves from the Imperial Garden in ancient Japan.リゴレ (rigoler) plans to release a Japanese edition of Dirk Henn's Rosenkönig — the first such edition in the game's 29 years of existence — as well as a JP version of Yuri Zhuravljov's Space Explorers.
You start with a hand of six leaf cards and a series of three landscape powers that combine to form a unique panorama. (For the first game, landscapes are assigned, but they can be drafted in subsequent games.) Leaf cards come in 4-6 types depending on the number of players, with values of 0-3 in each type. Start with four random cards in the central playing area, sorted by type. Place 4-6 randomly chosen objective tokens in the center of play; sample objectives are collecting the most 0s, having the most cards of a specific type, or having the highest sum of visible cards at game's end.
On your turn, choose one of these three options:
—Collect leaf cards: Take all the leaves of one type from the central display and add them to your hand; if you wish, pay one acorn token to reveal four new leaf cards prior to choosing a type.
—Play leaf cards: Place 1-2 leaf cards of the same type or two or more cards of different types in your player area. Each type is placed in its own pile, with 0 being the first card you can play of a type; each subsequent card must the same number or at most one larger. Once you play a 3 on a pile, cover that pile with a torii token as that pile is now closed for you. If you play different types, then after playing, each pair of adjacent topmost cards in your area; if both cards show an acorn on the adjacent corners, you take two acorn tokens from the reserve.
—Activate a objective token: Pay three acorn tokens to place an objective token in your player area. This activates the objective, and anyone might score for it at game's end.
Once during a turn, you can discard two cards from your hand for one acorn token or spend an acorn to use a landscape power or do both of these actions. You can use each landscape power at most once during a game.
When the leaf card deck is empty or after 4-6 leaf piles are closed with a torii token, the game ends. For each pile of leaves, you score points equal to the value of the topmost card multiplied by the number of cards in the pile. Remaining acorn tokens are worth 1 point each. For each activated objective, you see who best meets the condition and therefore scores points; if the player holding the token scores, they receive 10 points, whereas anyone else who scores that objective receives 3 points. Each player scores in case of a tie. The player with the most victory points at the end of the game wins.
Later in 2021, rigoler will release a new edition of Stefan Dorra's Linie 1, a.k.a. Streetcar, a super fun game that I haven't played in more than a decade. How time flies...
In the game, you're given a secret list of terminals that you need to connect with track and buildings that you need to stop at while traveling from one terminal to the other — but the board starts track-free, with each player laying down two tiles on a turn to attempt to build an efficient network without revealing where you're going since everyone else will mess you up. Once you've finally completed the track, you start moving your streetcar, ideally reaching your far terminal first in order to win.
The publisher notes that it's consulting original artist Franz Vohwinkel on the look of this new release, trying to modernize the feel of the game while possibly retaining the bouncing, joyful appearance of that airborne trolley.
Finally, in 2021 rigoler plans to release a JP edition of Ken Gruhl's co-operative game Cahoots, which I covered in depth here, and a new edition of the two-player game 聖杯サクセション (Throne and the Grail) from designer Nao Shimamura that was first released in 2016 by 大気圏内ゲームズ (Taikikennai Games). Here's an overview of the design, which features deliciously simple gameplay:Quote:The King nears death — which of you will succeed him? To win, you must gather the support of the various kinds of citizenry...or you could try to claim the throne with the legendary power of the grail.
To set-up the game, remove three cards from the deck of 45 cards, then lay out two cards to start the line. Each round, each player receives five cards in hand, and each turn you either play one card from your hand to the end of the line or — once per round — collect the most recently played five cards. Once all the cards from hand have been played, deal out five cards to each player and start the next round. After four rounds, the game ends.Original edition
Some cards have positive or negative numbers on them, and you score those points directly. Other cards are numbered 5-8, and you score 5-8 points for a value if you have more of those cards than the other player. Additionally, you score 5 points for each set of 5-8 that you've collected. And while normally points decide who wins, if you collect all three grail cards — each of which are worthless on their own — you win immediately.
Can you get a hold on the kingdom without letting your opponent gather all the pieces of the grail?
- [+] Dice rolls
01 Dec 2020
Board&Dice has already revealed several titles due out in 2021, along with a Kickstarter project that will be available in 2022, and I thought I'd give a quick run-through of its line-up for next year, starting with the 2-4 player game Mandala Stones from designer and company co-founder Filip Głowacz, which is due out in Q2 2021:Quote:In Mandala Stones, you use artists to collect colorful stones in towers that you then score.Dark Ages: Holy Roman Empire and Dark Ages: Heritage of Charlemagne from designers Adam Kwapiński and Andrei Novac are a pair of 1-4 player 4X-style Eurogames that can be combined for a Europe-wide competition for five or more players.
To set up the game, randomly place the 96 stones — 24 each in four colors and 48 each in two patterns — on the main board in stacks of four. Place the four artist pillars in their starting locations among these stone stacks.
On a turn, you either pick stones or score stones. To pick, move an artist to a new location, then collect all stones adjacent to this artist that (1) bear the same pattern as that artist and (2) are not adjacent to another artist. Choose one of these stones to be first in a tower, then stack the other collected stones on top of this foundation one in clockwise order, then place this tower on an empty space on your player board.
To score, choose to remove either (1) a color that appears on the top stones of at least two towers on your player board or (2) any number of top stones on your player board. In the latter case, you score 1 point for each removed stone. In the former case, you score points for each removed stone depending on the scoring condition for that space on your player board, which might be based on the height of that stone in a tower or the number of colors in that tower or the height of all towers on your board. Place all removed stones on the shared central mandala, building from the inside out and possibly scoring points depending on the spaces that you cover.
If a player can neither pick nor score OR if a stone placed on the central mandala covers the game-ending space based on the number of players in the game, complete the round so that everyone has the same number of turns. Each player can then score one of two secret objective cards in their hand, then the player with the most points wins.
These games were Kickstarted in December 2019 for delivery to backers in March 2021 with a subsequent retail release, and based on this Kickstarter update Board&Dice thinks that timeline might still be possible, although numerous potential delays exist thanks to COVID-related shipping and custom backlogs.
• As Candice Harris noted in October 2020, March 2021 will bring the release of Teotihuacan: Expansion Period, the third and final expansion for Teotihuacan: City of Gods, with this Daniele Tascini and Dávid Turczi design containing new discovery tiles, technology tiles, royal tiles, starting tiles, and five new play modules.
• In November 2020, Board&Dice Kickstarted a new printing of Yedo: Deluxe Master Set, with a new (Un)Pleasant Surprise expansion adding new mission and trade opportunities to the game when it lands in Q2 2021.
• Another Adam Kwapiński design coming from Board&Dice is Origins: First Builders, with this 1-4 player game due out in Q4 2021 putting you in the role of "a powerful and ancient space-faring race that visits Earth regularly to bestow gifts of progress and wonders upon the blossoming humanity". Well, that's a different take on the "build stuff in an ancient society" genre.
In more detail, you start the game with a city consisting of just two building tiles: the Agora tile and the Palace tile. As the game develops, your city will grow in both size and strength as you add new building tiles, each of which has a special ability that triggers when it's first added to a city and when closing a district. Your placement on the military track indicates the rewards you receive when you attack and your chances of becoming first player.
During a round, you visit encounter sites with workers to gain resources, attack, gain additional citizen or speaker dice, and advance on the zodiac temple tracks. Additionally, you increase your population, increase the height of your towers, and close districts to score them. When one or more of the game end conditions trigger, you score points for your two least valuable temples, then add those points to your score to see who wins. (You'll find a more detailed game description on the BGG game page.)
• In November 2021, Board&Dice will release another game set in Mesoamerica, this time from Merv designer Fabio Lopiano. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay in this 1-4 player design:Quote:The Zapotec were a pre-Columbian civilization that flourished in the Valley of Oaxaca in Mesoamerica. Archaeological evidence reveal their culture going back at least 2,500 years. Remnants of the ancient city of Monte Albán in the form of buildings, ball courts, magnificent tombs, and finely worked gold jewelry testify of this once great civilization. Monte Albán was one of the first major cities in Mesoamerica and the center of the Zapotec state that dominated much of the territory that today belongs to the Mexican state of Oaxaca.Tabannusi: Builders of Ur from designers David Spada and Daniele Tascini, with the game due out in 2022. An overview:
In Zapotec, you build temples, cornfields and villages in the three valleys surrounding the capital to generate resources needed for building pyramids, making sacrifices to the gods, and performing rituals.
Each round, players simultaneously pick a card from their hand to determine their turn order and the resources they collect. Players then perform individual turns and spend resources to build new houses, gain access to special abilities, make sacrifices to the gods and build pyramids. The played action card determines three important aspects of each player's turn:
—The resource printed at the top of the card determines the row or column to activate on the resource grid to collect income.
—The icon in the middle of the card matches one of the nine properties of the building spaces on the map (one of three building types, one of three regions, or one of three terrain types). On their turn, players may build only on spaces that match that icon.
—The number at the bottom of the card dictates the turn order for the round when the card is played.
At the end of the round, players draft new cards from the central offer, with the final undrafted card becoming the scoring bonus card for the following round.
After five rounds, players score points for pyramids, for their position on the sacrifice track, and for their ritual cards. The player with the most victory points wins.Quote:In ancient Mesopotamia, a cradle of civilization at a time when the location of Ur was a coastal region, players work to build the Great City of Ur, expand its districts, and establish themselves as powerful builders.• And we'll close with a new Board&Dice release at the end of November 2020 — Trismegistus Roll & Write, with designer Daniele Tascini adapting the 2019 release Trismegistus: The Ultimate Formula, which he co-designed.
The game board features five regions: three building districts, one temple district, and one port district, each tied to a specific color die. On a turn, you worker activates one of these districts, first taking a die from it with the die (1) becoming a resource of that color and (2) determining which district you''ll activate on the subsequent turn.
Through various actions, you can increase your influence in the various districts, expanding construction sites and turning them into buildings to score victory points, but you will also exert your influence in the temple district to earn the king's favor. In the port district, you can obtain ships with important abilities and score victory points.
You must spend your actions wisely and always make sure that you keep an eye on the general timing of the game. The moment a district is emptied of dice, a scoring takes place.
This design is part of a "season" of a half-dozen print-and-play designs that Board&Dice is selling for €10, with the other five titles being older releases and this new design playing as follows:Quote:Trismegistus: Roll & Write is played over five rounds. In each round, players take two turns by drafting dice. Additionally, each player may take one reaction per round. With their actions and reactions, players gain elements, transmute them, perform experiments, and prepare for their publications. During the game, players receive and track victory points (VPs) from experiments. At the end of the game, these are added to VPs gained from a player's Philosopher's Stone, their elements, and completed publications.
In addition to the print-and-play materials themselves, you will need ten dice from Trismegistus: The Ultimate Formula. If you do not have Trismegistus dice, you can make your own using regular dice and a sticker sheet provided with the print-and-play materials for Trismegistus: Roll & Write.
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Brass: Birmingham from Gavan Brown, Matt Tolman, and Martin Wallace has won the 2020 Gra Roku, Poland's game of the year award.
The Gra Roku awards multiple categories of games, and the winner in each category is:
• Family Game: The Quest for El Dorado, from Reiner Knizia and Nasza Księgarnia
• Advanced Game: Brass: Birmingham
• Children's Game: Zombie Kidz Evolution, from Annick Lobet and FoxGames
• Thematic Game: Nemesis, from Adam Kwapiński and Rebel
• Two-player Game: Carcassonne: The Castle, from Reiner Knizia and Nasza Księgarnia
• Party Game: Sushi Go Party!, from Phil Walker-Harding and Rebel
The winer of the Gra Roku was selected from the winners of the six categories above. The other awards given out were:
• Expansion: Chronicles of Crime: Noir, from Stéphane Anquetil, David Cicurel, and FoxGames
• "Nicest" Game: Everdell, from James A. Wilson and Rebel, with art and graphics by Andrew Bosley, Cody Jones, and Dann May
• Author of the Year: Adam Kwapiński
• Debut of the Year: Magdalena Śliwińska, for Minerals
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Brian Mayer's Freedom: The Underground Railroad from Academy Games, probably as a result of randomly rummaging through "Top 10 Co-operative Board Game" videos on YouTube. I was shocked by the bold idea of someone creating a board game focused on slavery in the United States, but then I was delighted and impressed after I bought it, played it, and discovered firsthand how tastefully it was designed for covering such a sensitive topic. Not only is it an excellent game, but it has a unique theme and it's educational and packed with historical facts.
Several months later, I picked up Joel Toppen's Comanchería: The Rise and Fall of the Comanche Empire from GMT Games when looking for a challenging solo game. I loved the idea of playing a game from a Native American tribe's point of view. It was a topic I knew little about, and it made me curious and excited to understand it better.
In early October 2020, Volko Ruhnke (creator of the COIN series and designer of Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?) noticed my enthusiasm for historical games and contacted me to tell about the Zenobia Award — a game design award and mentorship program targeted at designers from underrepresented groups and game designs focused on underrepresented historical topics.
Shortly after geeking out from the fact that Volko Ruhnke (one of my newest favorite game designers) PM'ed me on Twitter, I hopped on a Zoom with Volko and Harold Buchanan (designer of Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection) to further discuss the Zenobia Award. I was instantly on board with its mission and goals, and I knew I wanted to be involved.
The Zenobia Award was officially launched on November 22, 2020 with the following press release from volunteer, Dan Thurot (Space-Biff!):Quote:I'm really excited and grateful that the Zenobia Award has launched, and even more thrilled to be involved as a volunteer. It's a great starting effort for improving diversity in the historical board games. Plus, I'm really looking forward to seeing the results of having more different perspectives and varied historical topics developed into awesome new board games for us all to explore, enjoy, and learn from in the future.
History is big. So big that it belongs to everybody. Every individual, no matter their background or identity, connects to history in unique and important ways.
So why do historical board game designers seem to fit into the same mold? You know the type. White, male, straight, usually academic, often a part-time dabbler in spurious facial hair.
We've wondered the same thing. Which is why we're pleased to announce the Zenobia Award, a board game design contest for underrepresented groups.
That could mean you! Whether you're a woman, person of color, LGBTQ+, or otherwise underrepresented, the Zenobia Award is all about helping you break into the tabletop game industry. That can mean boards, cards, dice, tiles, miniatures — whatever your game requires, if it's about a historical setting, we want to help your voice be heard.
How will we do that? Good question. The Zenobia Award is more than a fancy name. It's a mentorship, intended to pair you with industry veterans who will help develop your game into its best form. It's an entry point, with partner publishers standing by to discover the most interesting titles and help bring them to print. And it's a contest, complete with a cash prize, public celebration, and genuine wooden trophy analog — that's right, a plaque!
Is there a hitch? Nope. There's no cost of entry, no obligation to list your mentor as a co-designer, and you keep the rights to your game — unless you sign a contract with a publisher, of course. That's entirely up to you. Being a game designer, you know the importance of the little rules. So take a look at the fine print over at ZenobiaAward.org, and welcome to the Zenobia Award.
If you're interested in learning more about the Zenobia Award, you can check out all the details on the official web site. Also, Liz Davidson from Beyond Solitaire hosted an excellent roundtable discussion with some of her fellow board members that further expresses the purpose and passion behind the Zenobia Award.
[Editor's note: The logo for the Zenobia Award will be changing in the near future as board member Geoff Engelstein notes in this tweet: —WEM]
To follow up on this - the board met yesterday and decided to commission new artwork for a logo (from a POC) that will most likely be based either on a contemporaneous coin that featured Zenobia, or the famous Palmyran columns.— Geoff Engelstein (@gengelstein) November 28, 2020
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Mike Pondsmith and "The Role-Playing Game That Predicted the Future", namely Cyberpunk and more specifically Cyberpunk 2020. Here's how the article opens:Quote:About 30 years ago, in Santa Cruz, California, a man named Mike Pondsmith laid out a prophecy for the then-distant future — the year 2020.It's great to see Pondsmith this type of mainstream coverage, and this quote is especially juicy: "'Writing,' Pondsmith tells me, 'is a lot like basically eating a pound of dough, a whole pepperoni, a couple of pounds of mozzarella, and a bunch of spices, then throwing up a pizza.' It takes a lot of work to make an unreal world feel real."
It was a future teeming with tech. He envisioned the dizzying data-winds of cyberspace, gigantic holographic video screens, bioengineered wheat-powered metro cars, and, everywhere you looked, the gleam of polychrome cyberoptic eyes. In his future, some of the populace suffered from an affliction he dubbed "technoshock" — an inability to cope with technology’s incursions into their lives.
He called that vision Cyberpunk. Cyberpunk 2020 was the second edition of the world he'd imagined in 1988, when he created the Cyberpunk franchise. Now filling 50 books comprising more than 5,000 pages crammed with minutiae, it's surely one of the most extensively and fastidiously imagined worlds in fiction. And in its themes and particulars, it can feel startlingly like nonfiction today.
• Did you know that artist Kwanchai Moriya has a Catan T-Shirt design on sale from Hot Topic? Did you know that Hot Topic had a Catan merchandise section, or that Hot Topic still existed at all? I've learned so many things today...
• As Michelle Ridge explains in this finale post, the contributors at Girls' Game Shelf are going their own ways as of December 1, 2020, although they plan to maintain all published material for at least another year.
Best New Games You're Sure to Love", with Elizabeth Hargrave's Wingspan getting most of the ink and a handful of other titles being mentioned in passing.
• In mid-November 2020, Shaurya Thapa at Screen Rant published an article titled "Top 10 Movies Based On Board Games, Ranked According To IMDb" —and given that the #10 movie on the list, 2000's Dungeons & Dragons, has a rating of 3.6, you might perhaps conclude that only ten movies based on board games even exist.
Tied at the #4 spot with a 6.2 rating are Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story and Going Cardboard, and I happen to appear in both of those films. My presence merits a 6.2 rating, I suppose. I still haven't watched either of these films as I don't like seeing myself. I'd say "Maybe someday", but I know that's a lie...Younger Eric in front of a 2009 era Wall O' Games
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showcased two titles from Brazilian publisher MeepleBR — Brazil: Imperial and Paper Dungeons — and as is often the case, once I started digging for details on those two games, I discovered several more from the same publisher that I hadn't known about previously.
Luna Maris, for example, is a 1-4 player game from first-time designer Ricardo Amaral that plays in 30 minutes per player. Luna Maris is due out in the first half of 2021, and the setting and gameplay works as follows:Quote:Space exploration is developing thanks to the cooperation between private corporations and governments around the world. Before the challenge to occupy another planet, however, we need to create a Moon base to extract resources from our natural satellite. Iron, titanium, water, and a powerful fuel, helium-3, are natural riches available in the Moon. To get these riches won't be easy; it'll require lots of work to install lunar probes, process extracted minerals, and ensure the working conditions of scientists and engineers in the crew.• Grafito is a 2-4 player game from Rennan Gonçalves, another first-time designer, and the game is currently being aimed for release in the second half of 2021. Here's an overview:
In Luna Maris, you take on the role of a coordinator in charge of the lunar operations of a big company, organizing the crew, fulfilling demands, supplying worker's necessities, improving rooms in the complex, and respecting the strict environmental parameters.Prototype components
You start the game with six scientist cards, with which you can perform actions; to do so, place a scientist meeple in a room in the lunar complex, discard the appropriate scientist card, pay the activation cost (energy, water, oxygen, etc.), then receive the benefits of that room. The ten rooms each have their particularities and special rules:
—Exploration Plant: Don space suits and install lunar probes to extract minerals.
—Industrial Complex: Process extracted minerals. Also, control the air filters and decrease the CO2 emissions.
—Greenhouse: Create food to sustain the crew members.
—Expedition Area: Ship cargo to Earth and receive victory points.
—Mining Room: Extract basalt and titanium to sustain a high level of production.
—Communication Room: Hire better scientists and improve the human resources of the lunar base.
—Power Plant: Juice the solar boards for an extra energy supply.
—Recycling Plant: Recycle your waste to obtain resources in a green sustainable economy.
—Laboratory: Use research to improve the Industrial Complex, Recycling Plant, and other facilities.
—Dormitory: Take time off to recuperate.Food cards
A game lasts five rounds, and during that time you can focus on installing lunar probes and producing raw resources; investing in the industrial complex to guarantee access to water and helium-3; hiring high-level scientists and optimizing your actions; or doing other things that will deliver victory points in the long run. After five rounds, players tally their scores to see who runs the base and who gets ejected into orbit. (Kidding!)Quote:The four elements of hip hop are deejaying, rapping, break dancing, and graffiti painting, and these elements inspired Grafito, a rondel-based game about street art in the modern cities. Each player takes on a role of a graffiti artist, and you need to pick paints, and combine and use them to create great panels with your signature. Are you ready to control the walls of the street?• The third title from MeepleBR is Eléctrica, a 2-4 player tile-laying game from Lucas Machado Rodrigues that might see release before the end of 2021.
To set up, place eight paint cubes in each of the four rondels of the main game board; each rondel looks like an old-school LP record divided into eight colored sections. Use only primary paint cubes (blue, red, yellow and white) for now, then place the wall board next to the main board. Take an individual player board to organize your components, then shuffle the mural cards and reveal four face up.
On a turn, collect paint cubes or use a mural card to occupy a place on the wall board. By scratching the LPs — that is, turning the rondels — you can collect paint. You can rotate a rondel one space for free or spend workers to move more spaces or a second rondel; by matching colors across LPs, you can collect paint. By discarding a worker, you can use Basquiat's Lessons to duplicate paint cubes in your bag, change their colors, or obtain secondary colors.Digital version
Once you have the necessary components, you can complete a mural card by discarding the paint cubes required, possibly creating secondary colors along the way by discarding primary cubes. You receive points for these cards at the end of the game, and these cards depict different elements of hip hop, with you scoring bonuses from bonds of matching elements on the wall board.
When the wall board is finished, the game ends, and whoever has the most points becomes King of the Wall!
Here's a summary of gameplay:Quote:In Brazil, a great amount of energy is produced by hydroelectricity. Dams are responsible for providing energy to industries, markets, and houses across the country. This electricity is distributed by great networks of transmission. It's a big business that moves billions every year.
Elétrica invites you and your friends to take on the role of energy entrepreneurs. During the game, you need to increase the size of the map and construct lines to supply energy to cities. With each new line, you can complete contracts and receive victory points.
In more detail, following a set-up phase in which you each place a tile next to the starting spring river tile, on a turn you either (1) reveal and place a new tile or (2) build. The tile-laying works as you might expect, with tiles needing to be adjacent with the elements on each side matching. After placing a tile, you can place a marker on it to reserve it.
The game includes five types of constructions — hydroelectric, electrical substation, transmission tower, utility pole, and city — and to build one of them, you use workers on a tile and choose an available construction, following certain limitations on building. A hydroelectric construction must be placed on a tile with water, for example, while a city can't be built next to a transmission tower and three constructions can't be neighbors to one another on a triangle of tiles.Prototype components
When you build a functioning network, you can complete a contract and score points. Two constructions of the same type earns you 2 points, for example, while more complex combinations earn you more.
Once the final tile is revealed and placed, the game ends and whoever has the most points becomes an energy magnate!
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