Greece Lightning feels like it's attempting to win a "dad joke" competition, while also describing the action in this 2-4 player racing game from Kathleen Mercury and Mark Sellmeyer that WizKids will release in June 2021.
Here's a detailed overview of the setting and gameplay:Quote:On your mark! Get set! ROW! You are the captain of a sleek, speedy trireme, racing in the famous Hydra Regatta. Steer around whirlpools, shifting currents, and fickle gods. Avoid the hungry hydra to win a place among the stars!CHAINsomnia is a design from 青山奨 (Shou Aoyama), 下見幸穂 (Yukio Shimami), and 田谷由壮 (Yuso Taya) first released in Japan in 2018 by DELiGHTWORKS that will be Kickstarted by Japanime Games starting on March 9, 2021 for release later the same year.
In Greece Lightning, you race around a circular track, trying to be the first to complete two laps. On a turn, you roll two dice to move your boat: a navigation die (1-3) and a movement die (1-6). You can roll a second movement die to try to go farther, but if the roll is lower than your first movement die, you bust and keep only your navigation die.
The circular track is comprised of twelve wedges, with the wedges being randomized each game. In general, the track consists of four paths orbiting the central hydra, but these paths criss-cross a lot, with movement dots and bonus icons at various spots on the movement paths. When you move, you must move clockwise a number of spaces equal to the sum of your dice, but you often have freedom to weave from one path to another. Here are the icons you might encounter:
—Fish: Collect one fish. You can have up to three fish on hand, and you can spend a fish to re-roll your navigation die or second movement die. You might also need fish to navigate whirlpools.
—Favor of the Gods: Draw a favor card, and place it face down before you. At the end of your turn, reveal the card and use it immediately, save it for later, or give it away, depending on what card it is.
—Track wedges: Collect one wedge and place it face up before you. At the start of your next turn, after determining your total movement, place the wedge on the game board (but not on the starting tile or a player's ship). Use these to make your path easier or to place a hydra directly in your opponents' way.
—Whirlpool: When you land on a whirlpool, you often have multiple exit paths from it — but you might need to pay fish or have a die with a certain number in order to take a particular path.
—Hydra: Spend a fish when you land on a hydra space or else your movement will vanish for the rest of the turn as you must fight it off.
When you land on or cross the starting line, thereby finishing one lap, you receive a fish, a wedge, and a Favor of the Gods card. When someone has completed their second lap, you finish the round to ensure everyone has the same number of turns, then whoever has gone the farthest wins.
Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay in this design for 1-4 players that takes 40-60 minutes to play:Quote:In CHAINsomnia, a.k.a. チェインソムニア, sleeping children become trapped in the castle of the demon Akuma and must work with others to escape. If any player is on the "wake up" tile when all "bad dream" cards are removed, they escape and win the game; if all the characters are immobilized by chains or the event cards are exhausted without anyone waking up, then everyone is defeated.
In more detail, you and each other player take a character card and cover two of the six spaces on its "chain gauge". The highest uncovered number on this gauge shows how many action points (AP) you have available on your turn, and each character has a unique skill, in addition to values for strength, wisdom, and luck. All characters start on the central tile, with the "wake up" tile being placed at the bottom of the room tile deck. On a turn, you use your AP to take actions from the following list, repeating actions as desired:
—Add a new room tile to the playing area, matching doors and walls on all tiles; draw and resolve an event card, with a "bad dream" being placed on this card.
—Move to an adjacent tile.
—Search a "secret spot" on a tile, drawing an item card if you make a wisdom check.
—Use a consumable (one-time) item card. (Equippable item cards can be used repeatedly and cost 0 AP.)
—Give an item to another character on the same tile as you or on an adjacent tile.
—Give chains to or take chains from another character on the same tile as you or on an adjacent tile.
—Use your personal skill (if it has an AP cost).
As chains are added to or removed from your character card, your AP count might change. If all six spaces on your chain gauge are covered, you're immobilized and can spend no AP on your turn. If a "bad dream" is placed in a room, no character can enter that room, although you might be able to remove it through various skills, items, or events; if a "Bad dream" ends up in your room, then you're trapped in that dream and cannot move until you or someone else can dissolve that dream.
After all players take their actions, the demon acts, initially with only one event card, but as the game progresses and shrieks are added to the table, more event cards are drawn for each demon turn.
If all the bad dreams have been vanquished and a player is on the "wake up" tile — which will be drawn only after sixteen room tiles in a game of normal difficulty — then you all win, with everyone awakening from the demon's clutches. Otherwise you will sleep forever...
To submit news, a designer diary, outrageous rumors, or other material, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- [+] Dice rolls
05 Mar 2021
previous post I mentioned Blitzkrieg! was one of my favorite filler games, but another great filler game that has always been a crowd-pleaser at my game nights is Bruce Glassco's combotastic Fantasy Realms from WizKids. Needless to say, I was curious and excited to play its first expansion, Fantasy Realms: The Cursed Hoard, which is targeted for retail release in May 2021. WizKids was kind enough to send me a copy to check out, along with some of its other new early 2021 releases.
The Cursed Hoard expansion adds some refreshing flair to Fantasy Realms. There are two parts — Cursed Items and three new suits — that can be added to the base game separately or combined.
When you add Cursed Items, you add a separate new deck of cards to the mix. At the beginning of the game, each player is dealt a Cursed Item card face up. On your turn, you have three options with your face-up Cursed Item: 1) Do nothing, 2) Discard it at the end of your turn and draw a new one face-up in front of you, or 3) Use it.
There are 24 different Cursed Item cards with some that will replace your normal turn and others that you can play anytime during your turn. Each one grants you a unique action that alters the normal rules of play to give you a leg up on your opponents, but using these abilities comes at a price since the majority of them will give you negative points — they are cursed, after all.
Some Cursed Items let you interact with the other players, such as the Larcenous Gloves that allow you to steal a face-up Cursed Item from another player which you must use immediately, after which they draw a replacement, or the Crystal Ball that lets you name a suit and all other players must reveal all cards they have in their hand of that suit.
After you use your Cursed Item, you flip it face down and grab a new one from the deck to put in front of you face-up, so if you choose to play with the Cursed Item cards, everyone will always have one face-up Cursed Item throughout the game, and some players may have one or more face down that will impact their score at the end of the game.
The Cursed Hoard expansion also adds three new suits to Fantasy Realms: Buildings, Outsiders, and Undead. Since the new suits dilute the main deck and make it harder to draw combos, there are some slight rule changes to maintain balance. You start and play the game with an eight-card hand instead of the usual seven, and the game end is triggered when twelve cards are in the discard area, not ten.Examples of the new suits
The new suits function similarly to the base game cards for the most part, but also add some new twists. For example, the Undead score with cards in the discard area, instead of your hand like normal. These cards make the discard area much more appealing throughout the game for those who possess Undead cards. You're no longer scavenging the discard area to pick up measly scraps your opponents leave, but instead you're anxiously hoping to turn those scraps into a high-scoring combo with your Undead cards in hand at the end of the game. Of course, if you're also playing with Cursed Items, you could have more control over what ends up in the discard area to help you strategize.
Fantasy Realms is easy to teach, plays quickly, and is all about creating satisfying card combos. If you enjoy it, it's not unlikely to want to play back-to-back games every time you break it out, and it's also not unlikely to want to break it out often. Depending on how much you've played it, over time it'll eventually feel a bit same-y, even with the variety of cards and suits in the base game, so the added spice and variety The Cursed Hoard expansion brings to the realm is gladly welcomed. Plus, I really appreciate the fact that expansion is modular and therefore gives you more options for your Fantasy Realms games.
Serge Macasdar's Seeders from Sereis: Exodus which was originally released by French publisher Sweet Games in 2017.
Seeders from Sereis is a sci-fi themed strategy game for 2-4 players featuring a mix of card drafting, area influence, tableau building, and some engine building as players compete to build the highest-scoring ark using cards in their tableaus. Here's the backstory and high-level overview of gameplay as described by the original publisher:Quote:Seeders from Sereis is a trans-media science-fiction universe that's been created over five years by Serge Macasdar and Charbel Fourel and which contains post-humans, space opera, extensive journeys on space arks, lost empires, exo-biology, genetic evolution, android developments, and more.In more detail, Seeders from Sereis: Exodus is played over four rounds and each round has five phases, with each game taking about two hours to play:
Seeders, Series 1: Exodus is the first game of a serial of ten set in this universe. When an unknown force threatens to render their home uninhabitable, the Seeders must build arks — giant colony ships — to ensure their survival. Players work to create the most promising design to be chosen for production. Each turn players draft cards into their hands as cards are laid out on the board. Players strategically place negotiator chips between the cards they want, using their alignment and position to determine who has the most influence over a desired card. Once all negotiators and tokens are placed, influence is calculated and the winners of each card is determined.
Once obtained, cards can be played for points, adding value to your ark, or discarded for resources. Each card represents a different component of the ark — locations, items, personnel — and players will find unique synergies between cards as well as their player color's unique power. Asymmetry and complex interactions add layers of strategy that lead to a unique experience each time you play.
1) In the Preparation phase, you un-tap your once-per-round cards and update turn order.
2) In the Foundation phase, you receive four new Ark cards and draft them, rotating the direction each round. I'll mention that drafting in this phase is considered a variant, but if you're an experienced gamer, you'll more than likely prefer drafting.
3) Next is the Negotiation phase in which the "Wing of Whispers" game board comes into play. You place twelve Ark cards in the appropriate spaces on the game board, then players place their negotiator discs in turn order to bid for Ark cards. Each negotiator will impact the two spaces adjacent to it, so you are bidding on two cards with each disc placed.
Each player has six negotiator discs, each representing a different caste, and the amount of influence cubes you place depends on the negotiator's level of influence and the caste. At the beginning of the game each caste's influence is -, meaning you can put one influence cube on each adjacent side when placing the corresponding negotiator disc. Over the course of the game, you can increase the amount of influence of your various negotiator discs, plus you can always add a bonus influence cube(s) whenever the caste of your negotiator disc matches the caste of either card it's placed adjacent to.
After each player has placed five of their negotiator discs and influence cubes based on the caste, then you resolve each card space. The player with the most influence cubes surrounding the card takes the card into their hand and takes one of their adjacent negotiator discs back. If there's a tie, the card is discarded. After all cards are removed from the game board, negotiator discs still on the board can be leveled up: a - becomes a -, a - can become a - or a -, etc. This allows you to place more influence cubes in future rounds with that particular negotiator disc. If you place a negotiator disc with -, for example, you can place three influence cubes on one side and one influence cube on the other.
4) Next in the Integration phase, players use the ark cards they gained from drafting in phase 2 and from using their influence in phase 3. There are two types of ark cards in Seeders from Sereis: units and crews. Units can host up to two crew cards by default and need to be hosted by at least one crew to score during phase 5. There's a variety of ark cards that have different special abilities; some are immediate effects when played, and some you can use once per round. Some cards will grant you prestige points (victory points) when they're played and others will grant you other special effects.Example of a unit card
During the Integration phase, in turn order you can recycle/discard cards to gain resources, spend resources to add new ark cards into your tableau, activate special abilities, and rearrange your ark by moving crews from one unit to another. You can perform one or more of these actions on your turn and in any order that you want. Since you can't do this phase simultaneously, there may be some downtime depending on how long each player takes.Example of a crew card
5) Finally in the Prestige phase, you gain prestige points based on the prestige abilities of the cards in your ark/tableau. Pretty much everything you are doing in the phases leading up to this is to maximize the amount of prestige points you'll score. Some cards will score based on the number of cards you have in your ark of a specific type, while others score if you have a majority of a specific type of card.
The game ends at the end of the fourth round, and the player with the most prestige points wins. If you enjoy tableau builders and/or sci-fi themed games, you should definitely check Seeders from Sereis: Exodus out. My favorite part of Seeders was the influence bidding and negotiator disc placement in the Negotiation phase. There are so many interesting decisions that stem from the clever mechanism of placing the negotiator discs and dropping influence cubes. You'll be figuring out ways to get bonuses by matching castes, but also trying to set yourself up to win cards you can combo with others you already have, or trying to defensively deny your opponents from certain cards, then also deciding which negotiators to leave on the board so you can level them up influencewise. WizKids also knocked it out the park with the components here, too; everything from the negotiator discs to the cards to the dual-layered player boards are top notch.
• Did you ever say to yourself, "There aren't enough games with cute little penguins?" Me neither, but after playing Waddle, another early 2021 release from WizKids, I feel like I need more cute penguin games in my life.
Waddle is a light, filler game from designers Raph Koster and Isaac Shalev that plays with 2-4 players in 30 minutes:Quote:Penguins are curious creatures. Flighty though flightless, they move about quickly towards things that appeal to them.In more detail, Waddle is played over a certain number of rounds depending on player count: eight rounds with two players, seven rounds with three players, and six rounds with four players. During set-up, each player starts with four yellow and four red penguins, and an individual deck of 13 scoring cards, which you shuffle and draw four cards from to start the game. Then you lay out a certain number of coaster-looking "places" to create one or two "neighborhoods" depending on player count.
In Waddle, ever-curious penguins visit different places, sometimes in different neighborhoods. Each turn, you move the penguins around the city or bring some new ones in from out of town. Get the penguins to move into the patterns matching your cards to score points. The player with the most points at the end of a set number of rounds wins!Four-player layout posted by the publisher
On your turn, you play a scoring card from your hand onto your scoring/discard pile. You cannot play the same card that is currently on the top of any opponent's score pile unless you have no other cards in your hand that you can play. Then you perform a standard action or a special action if the scoring card you play has one.
When taking a standard action, you have two choices: Either you add any number and combination of penguins from your supply to one neighborhood, which is considered the active neighborhood for your turn, or you empty a place of all of its penguins and redistribute the penguins as you wish in the other four places in that neighborhood, or in any places in the other neighborhood. Again, the neighborhood where the penguins are placed is the active neighborhood for your turn.
Then you draw a card and end your turn. Players continue taking turns placing, moving, and scoring penguins until the final round is completed, and whoever has the most points wins.
Waddle is one of those games that you can play very casually and not overthink your moves for a mellow game, or you can make it more competitive and get really thinky with it. It's cool that you won't ever play all of the cards in your deck in a single game, too, so you don't always know what you'll have to work with or what your opponents have. Plus, there's also a single deck variant to change things up a bit where you shuffle all cards together, instead of having individual decks, and you have the option of drawing cards from the deck or from three face-up cards.
Waddle is a solid filler to play with gamer and non-gamer friends because it's super easy to learn, each game will vary because of the cards, and... it has adorable wooden penguins!
- [+] Dice rolls
04 Mar 2021
Moonshell is a 1-4 player strategy puzzle game from designer Calli Wright and first-time publisher Unfiltered Games, which is crowdfunding this title (KS link) through March 21, 2021.
Here's an overview of what you're doing beneath the waves:Quote:In Moonshell, you play as a mermaid who is shifting tides in your direction to collect valuable seashells and create a stunning collection.
In more detail, the game board features a 5x5 array of colorful seashells of different types. Five public objectives are revealed, showing players the seashells they want to collect — whether by type, color, or overall pattern — on their 3x4 treasure chest board. You receive two secret objectives, keeping one and discarding the other. If you wish, you can play with each player taking a mermaid character (each of which has a unique power) and a moonshell, which serves as a wild seashell.
On a turn, you take three actions, repeating actions if you like. The actions are:
—Rotate: Turn the game board 90º in the direction of the tide.
—Pull 2: If the two rock spaces on the side of the game board next to you don't have any seashells on them, choose a column, place the first two seashells in this column on these rocks, slide the remaining seashells toward you, then draw from the supply bag to fill the empty spaces.
—Collect: Take a seashell from a rock in front of you, and add it to your treasure chest, sliding the seashell to the bottom of the column in which you place it.
If the bag runs out of seashell tiles, add the sea urchin tiles to the bag and continue playing. When someone has filled their treasure chest with twelve tiles, finish the round, then score. The "trove" objective scores only for the player who has the most seashells of that type or color, whereas the other four types of objectives — collector, array, pairs, composition — can be scored by each player, sometimes multiple times. You also score 1 point for each sea urchin and if you achieved your secret objective, you score for that, too. Whoever scores the most points wins.
German designer Oliver Igelhaut, for example, has released 1-3 small games annually since 2015 through his Igel Spiele brand, but he took off 2020 and instead debuted his newest title — the 2-4 player press-your-luck card game Piratz — in February 2021. I have no idea how the lack of convention buzz might affect the reception of his game, but I do know that I'm writing about this game in this space whereas normally I would have just tossed it on the SPIEL Preview and moved on to the next thing, so perhaps a SPIEL release isn't always great for public awareness.
In any case, here's an overview of the game:Quote:The Piratz deck consists of fifty treasure cards, with each card showing one or more items on it; these items can be any of the six types of treasure or a rat. Each player receives a shovel card, and you place scoring cubes (worth 1-4 points) on a score card, with one cube next to each of the six types of treasure in a two-player game and two cubes each in a game with three or four players.• "The Lost Tribes' Crusade" is a new set of solitaire rules for Small World and Small World Underground that Days of Wonder has released in English and French on its website. The "Lost Tribe" tokens normally on the game board at the start of play effectively become zombie tokens because you can never defeat them permanently, and they will always return to the board.
On a turn, either you reveal the top card from the deck and place it face up on the table or you pass on revealing a card. If you reveal a card that has a rat on it while another rat is already visible, you must take one of these rat cards and add it to your collection. If you pass on revealing a card, you must choose a type of treasure and collect all cards that have this treasure on it; you may also name a treasure type after revealing a card if the rats didn't catch you.
After taking one or more cards, place your shovel card on a face-up treasure card, then sit out until all players have placed their shovels, with the last player taking as many turns as desired as long as the rats stay away. You then each reclaim your shovel, while removing the covered cards from play. Continue taking turns until the deck is exhausted; if not all players have placed their shovels at this point, shuffle the removed cards and continue play until all shovels have been placed.
For each treasure type (rings, coins, etc.), players count how many of these items they have on their cards, with the player who has the most (and secondmost in a game with more than two players) claiming a scoring cube for this treasure type. Once all the cubes have been claimed, sum the value of your cubes to see who wins.
You can also use these rules in a two-player game to simulate an AI opponent fighting both of you.
- [+] Dice rolls
03 Mar 2021
Gift of Tulips is the first design from Sara Perry, with publisher Weird Giraffe Games crowdfunding this design (KS link) ahead of a Q1 2022 release date.
The game is for 2-6 players, plays in 20 minutes, and as might be expected from the title has you trying to collect things of value without knowing what the final value might be. Here's a detailed summary of the gameplay:Quote:In Gift of Tulips, tulip enthusiasts explore Amsterdam's tulip festival to build colorful bouquets, give tulips to others (scoring points in the process), and manipulate the value of the market.So, You've Been Eaten., a 0-2 player game from Scott Almes and LudiCreations (KS link) that was originally going to be available at SPIEL '19, but which didn't make it in time, then things happened, and here we are. Let's just say that the game took its time going through the development track and has now emerged at the other end.
The deck includes tulips of four colors, with values 2-4. Lay out four festival cards based on the player count, with these cards showing the number of points scored for giving away tulips, keeping tulips, and having a majority of certain colors at the end of the game. Draw two cards of different colors, and place them under the festival cards in first and second place based on their value. Deal two cards to each player; keep one card face up in front of you and add the other face down to the "secret festival" pile.
On a turn, draw a card from the deck and KEEP/GIVE/ADD it, then draw a second card and take one of the actions you didn't just take. The actions:
—KEEP: Place the card face up in front of you, scoring points for it if that color is currently ranked third or fourth in the festival.
—GIVE: Give the card to another player, who places it face up in front of themselves; you score "giving" points based on the current ranking of that color in the festival, plus points equal to the value of that tulip.
—ADD: Place the card face down in the secret festival or add it face up to the festival, altering the ranking of colors if needed so that the color with the highest sum is first, etc.
When the deck runs out, shuffle the cards in the secret festival, then draw five at random and add them face up to the festival, adjusting the ranking as needed. (If fewer than five cards are in the secret festival, add all of these cards to the festival.)Image: Eric Yurko
For the three highest ranked colors in the festival, whoever has the most and secondmost cards in these colors scores points as listed on the festival cards; in games with five and six players, the player with the thirdmost cards of a color also scores points. In case of a tie for card count, the tied player with the higher value of a color wins that tie. Whoever has the most points wins.
The description below is light on gameplay details, but the introductory material might tell you all that you need to know about the game:Quote:So, you've been eaten.
Don't worry, this is simply an occupational hazard. In fact, it is fairly common among Deep Space Miners (5th class), and some say that it is almost unavoidable. And, well, it is. Especially since the crystals that you seek happen to be inside giant space beasts. To mine them, you need to, well, be eaten.
But, no reason to panic. We are here to help you deal with the physical and mental challenges of being eaten. This handy simulation/survival guide is standard issue for all recruits and will eventually lead to a productive, if not potentially brief, career in space mining.
Should you achieve your objective and mine enough crystals to meet your quota, it is then cost-effective for the company to activate your jet pack and extricate you from the proverbial belly of the beast. While the beast's immune response was not enough to prevent its demise, its contribution to human progress and corporate profitability are most definitely appreciated.
In the eventuality that the bacteria present in the beast overwhelm you and you are digested, do not worry. Your non-organic parts will ultimately provide much utility to future space miners. In fact, you may encounter some such pieces of equipment in your expedition, remains of attempts by evidently less-than-qualified recruits.
Finally, it could transpire that you do not collect the necessary crystals by the time you reach the end of the beast's digestive tract. In this case — the so-called "ending #2" — you will then exit the beast from the other end than the one you entered: alive, yet forever changed. In this case, and after a thorough decontamination and quarantine period, we will have to evaluate your performance versus that of the beast's efforts to consume you.
In So, You've Been Eaten., the Miner and the Beast face off against one another. The Miner earns points by collecting crystals, and the Beast earns points by developing immune responses and by its bacteria attacking the Miner.
The Miner wins instantly by collecting all eight different crystals, and the Beast wins instantly by digesting the Miner after the attack of four bacteria of the same type. Of course, there's always the possibility that the Miner will simply pass through the Beast's system, in which case the player with the most points wins!
So, You've Been Eaten. can be played as:
—A game for 2 players, with a Miner player against a Beast player.
—A game for 1 player, with the Miner player against a sleeping Beast.
—A game for 1 player, with the Beast player against a robot Miner.
—A game for 0 players, with a sleeping Beast against a robot Miner.
- [+] Dice rolls
wrote about how Hachette Livre, the largest book publisher in France and the owner of the Hachette Book Group in the U.S., was taking steps to purchase French game publisher Gigamic. In September 2019, I noted that Hachette had founded two new games studios: Studio H and Funnyfox, with the former focusing more on games for the hobby market and the latter on games for the mainstream market. And in October 2019, Hachette purchased distributor Blackrock Games, which has a 400-product catalogue and handles roughly 90 new releases each year.
Well, time to add two more publishers to the Hachette Boardgames umbrella. At the start of February 2021, Hachette acquired publisher Sorry We Are French, which was founded in 2018 by Emmanuel Beltrando, who (according to the article linked to above) will continue to lead SWAF "in order to pursue its development in the creative autonomy specific to the brands of the Hachette Livre group".
Today, March 1, 2021, Canadian publisher Scorpion Masqué announced its acquisition by Hachette Boardgames. In a Facebook post, Scorpion Masqué founder Christian Lemay states that the entire six-person team will stay in place. Moreover:Quote:Le Scorpion Masqué was at a crucial stage of its growth. With the success of recent years, the management and administration tasks have become heavier and it slowed down the development of our games. The arrival of the Hachette group helps to solve this problem.Speaking of the publisher's "success of recent years", I highly recommend reading Scorpion Masqué's "2020 Year-End Review", which was published on February 10, 2021. The post details the challenges related to the games it released in 2020 — including one on Friday the 13th of March, the day prior to the first lockdown in France and Québec — and how the game market has been affected by the pandemic. An excerpt:
On a more personal note, as the Grand Boubou, I will be able to devote myself only to my passion: game development. That's why I created Scorpion Masqué after all. Our games will be even more pampered before landing on your tables, and this is very good news!Quote:Lastly, people don't buy the same things online as they do in stores. I don't have any serious studies to back up this claim, but the inquiries I made to numerous game stores were useful in confirming what Manuel (our Creative Director) and I had suspected at the beginning of the current crisis. Generally speaking (and yes, there are exceptions as always) consumers will buy a product online that they already know. You already know what game you want to buy when you go online, instead of walking into a brick-and-mortar store looking to poke around a bit, to discover new things, to be reminded of games you've heard of, or to get the recommendations from a well-informed staff member who will confidently place a copy of Master Word into your hands. Online, consumers will buy something they know; a classic like Uno, Sorry, or Monopoly; or a game that has created enormous buzz, like Azul, The Crew, Pandemic, Codenames...Scorpion Masqué also shared sales figures for 2020: $CA 3,484,000 ($US 2,725,000), an increase of 36% from 2019, with over 350,000 games produced in 2020, including "a first print run of 12,000 Master Word in French, and 28,000 Zombie Teenz Evolution (English and French)".
On our side, only Zombie Kids Evolution can come close to that rarefied air, in the "Family Games" section. Oh, don't get me wrong, we've sold a lot of Decrypto and Stay Cool this year, but I'm convinced that we would have sold more...if it weren't for that pesky virus.
In that post, Scorpion Masqué also teased its 2021 releases, starting with the party game Olé Guacamole! by designer Guillaume Sandance, which challenges you to say words that don't contain certain letters — "8 seconds of rules for 15 minutes of fun", in the publisher's assessment — followed by a French-only second edition of a game in its Decrypto/Stay Cool/Master Word line, followed by a game in its Zombie Kidz universe: "the much-rumored racing game with the sightless driver".
- [+] Dice rolls
In case you missed any of the shoutouts to the designers, artists, publishers, and content creators featured on BGG during Black History Month in February 2021, you can find links to all of the posts in this meta-list created by BGG admin Matthew M, a.k.a. Octavian.
My thanks to Matthew for taking the initiative on this project, pulling together the initial list of candidates, and creating a schedule framework. Thanks also to Elizabeth Hargrave for her "Black Voices in Board Games" post and to BGG user hexahedron for their "Black board game and RPG designers and artists" GeekList, both of which proved valuable as a research starting point.
I've seen a number of requests for similar coverage during Women's History Month — which starts today, March 1 — and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, but I need to take my foot off the pedal and not burn out. Before running Boardgame News on my own, then joining BGG, I worked full-time as a freelance writer, mostly for trade publications. I probably wrote 1-2 profiles a week during those years, possibly even three profiles some weeks, but never a daily profile for four weeks straight...
That said, BGG will have creator spotlights of female designers, artists, publishers, and content creators on its front page each day in March. What's more, I intend to make more of an effort to feature games from underrepresented individuals in this space and elsewhere on BGG, as with the feature image for the March-April 2021 New Game Releases catalog that's now live on the front page:
- [+] Dice rolls
Neil BunkerUnited Kingdom
first published on Diagonal Move on January 29, 2021. —WEM
Ted Alspach, the founder of Bézier Games and the designer of Suburbia, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, and many more games joins Neil Bunker from Diagonal Move to discuss game design and publishing.
DM: Thank you for joining us today, Ted. Please, can you tell how you how your journey in the games industry began?
TA: I had been designing games for a long, long time, but didn't take it seriously until about 2005 or so. One of my designs, Seismic, was picked up by Atlas Games. At about that time, I started publishing Age of Steam expansions. Our very first game was Start Player, a card game to determine who goes first. Shortly after that, I published the very first Ultimate Werewolf game (now known as the "whitebox" edition), making 800 copies by hand until I manufactured the first "real" edition — Ultimate Werewolf: Ultimate Edition. Ultimate Werewolf has the distinction of selling more games each year than the previous year...for the past fourteen years!
DM: One Night Ultimate Werewolf has been a big success, spawning a host of other themes and a word game (Werewords), plus associated merchandise. Can you tell us the story behind your involvement with the game and your thoughts on what makes it so popular?
TA: The One Night games have been a very successful series for us. There are two things that have made it successful: The variety of roles combined with easy-to-learn gameplay, and the integration of the app into the game, which provides it with a way to reach gamers who normally wouldn't touch traditional board games.Are you the werewolf? (Image: Bezier Games)
DM: One Night Ultimate Werewolf and its related games are quite different experiences to the likes of Suburbia or Colony. What design elements contribute to a great party game versus those for a great strategy game, and which is the more challenging to design well?
TA: For a party game, there has to be high interaction among the players, and a super short initial rules explanation, and a variety of things to do each game. We address the former by limiting the amount of time players can discuss roles, the second by making most of the rules specific to cards which are then explained by the app, and the latter by including more roles than you can possibly play with in a single game.
For strategy games, it's about making meaningful decisions that make you feel like you are doing something better (or at least different) than your opponents, and having enough variability that each game will be different than the last. That's why the information in strategy games we publish is mostly open (except for end game secret goals), and why there are always a lot more tiles/cards/etc. than you can play in a game. Think of all the extra buildings in Suburbia, rooms in Castles, or cards in Colony. Even New York Slice has a large number of "Today's Specials" to keep the game fresh.Castles of Mad Kind Ludwig
DM: There is a vein of humor running through many of your well-known designs, including some of your more strategic games. How do you think a light-hearted touch enhances the game experience for players?
TA: These are *games* after all, so taking them too seriously doesn't work for me. I like that players can find fun situations through the various combinations in our games. In Castles, building a kennel next to the meat locker is either very efficient to feed your dogs, or it's super creepy because of where the meat might be coming from!
DM: Suburbia and Castles of Mad King Ludwig are both much loved games. Suburbia has seen a "Collectors Edition" reissue, and Castles is soon to receive the same. As a designer, how does it feel to have created games that have clearly resonated with the board game community?
TA: Some of the best experiences I've had are when someone comes up to me at a trade show and tells me that Castles/Suburbia/One Night/Werewords/Silver/etc. is their favorite game. Or that Castles is the game that got their spouse into gaming. Or that the only non-video/mobile game their kids will play is Ultimate Werewolf, and they want to play it all the time. Seeing people having fun playing your games is incredibly rewarding!Suburbia
DM: Moving to your experiences as CEO of Bézier Games, what do you feel makes a game stand out in a crowded industry? Is it a unique mechanism, distinctive graphic design, a combination of things?
TA: Our tagline for Bézier Games is "The New Classics" because we want every game we publish to be a game that players play years from now. We don't always achieve that goal, but when we do it's really exciting.
In order for that to happen, more than anything, the gameplay itself has to be compelling. There might be a component or set of mechanisms that's new and grabs people's attention, but the gameplay has to be good enough that they're willing to play the game several times, which is where you start to see more and more people exposed to them, and that results in more sales of those games.
There's also a huge dose of lucky timing that goes into any game being successful. If you have a game that comes out at the right time, when players are looking for that kind of game, your game ends up doing well, as long as the game itself is a solid game.Suburbia: Collectors Edition (Photo: Antony Wyatt)
DM: Board games typically undergo a lengthy development process before publication. Can you provide a publisher's view on this process?
TA: For us, the number one thing that influences the time it takes is playtesting. We typically playtest games hundreds of times, both internally and externally. After playtests, the game is modified in some way, then more playtesting occurs. This can take months or in some cases years.
Games evolve over time quite a bit until one day you simply realize it is finished. Additional playtesting continues at that point to ensure there are no weird edge cases, and that the final art and components work as intended.
DM: In addition to your own games, Bézier also publishes other designers' work (Favor of the Pharaoh, Whistle Mountain). As a publisher, what is the one thing you wish aspiring designers, and the game buying public in general, knew about the industry and why?
TA: The amount of influence a publisher has on any game varies significantly. That first game of my mine that was published wasn't changed at all by the publisher, much to my surprise. They even used the art that I had come up with. Bézier Games tends to rework most aspects of games into something that feels more like a game you could expect from us. We typically add some sort of long-term variability, like the "Today's Specials" to New York Slice, which makes games more replayable, especially in the short term when you're excited about a game and playing it a lot.
Designers shouldn't spend a lot of time or effort on artwork either because it will almost always be replaced by something that the publisher wants to use. Sometimes that can get in the way of a publisher figuring out whether the game is right for them.New York Slice (Image: Bézier Games)
DM: From a publisher's point of view, is there a game you consider to be the "one that got away"?
TA: Anytime I play a game I really like that's similar to the kinds of games we publish, I always think "What would we have done differently?" and "Could we have made this game even better had we published it?"
In 2020, my favorite non-Bézier Games game was The Search for Planet X by a big margin. The gameplay is amazing, and the integration of the app is perfect for a deduction game, which removes the problem with many deduction games of a player giving wrong information accidentally, and wrecking the deductions for the other players as a result. I would have loved to be involved with the publication of that game!
DM: What is next for both yourself and Bézier Games?
TA: For 2021, we have several giant releases: a Collector's Edition of Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Ultimate Werewolf Extreme, and Maglev Metro!
- [+] Dice rolls
Get a Relief Column to Peking, Resolve Russian Civil War Crises, and Battle in World War II in Twenty Minutes
26 Feb 2021
Worthington Publishing launched a Kickstarter campaign (KS link) for a new deluxe edition of John Welch's solitaire gem Keep Up The Fire!: The Boxer Rebellion, which was originally released by Victory Point Games in 2011.
Keep Up The Fire!, the tenth game in the States of Siege series, plays in 45 minutes and is getting a fresh coat of paint with updated artwork, all mounted boards, thick counters, and more.
Here's a brief overview of the setting and challenges you'll face:Quote:Keep Up The Fire! is a solitaire States of Siege series game set in 1900 Peking (modern day Beijing), China where Foreign Legations (areas assigned to Imperial powers including ambassadors, business people, and a handful of troops to provide security) are besieged in their compound by Chinese anti-imperialist forces. The Chinese "Boxers" (Society of the Harmonious Fists), with the Imperial Manchu forces of the Qing Army, are angry and determined to expel these foreigners from China.Darin A. Leviloff's Soviet Dawn, which was originally released in 2009 from Victory Points Games as another solitaire game in the States of Siege series, will be available in March 2021.
Note that this game can also be enjoyed in teams working together (just as the Eight Nations had to), deciding how best to defend the Legation Compound and get the Relief Column to Peking in time!
A set of five standards-based lesson plans are also available for classroom teachers should they wish to use this game as a teaching tool.
The game is a race against time as the Chinese forces besieging the Legation Compound are attacking relentlessly while the Relief Column battles its way to the rescue. With limited time and relentless attacks on the Compound, will you manage to keep up the fire?
Soviet Dawn (Deluxe Edition) was successfully funded on Kickstarter (KS link) in late 2020 and has also been spruced up and upgraded with new-and-improved components thanks to Worthington Publishing. In more detail:Quote:Soviet Dawn (Deluxe Edition) brings Darin Leviloff's novel States of Siege game system back for a much larger storytelling adventure covering the Russian Civil War from 1918 to 1921. Upgraded with a bigger, hard mounted game board, beautiful linen finish cards, large counters, full color rules, and more!GMT Games, Gene shared some excitement for a new P500 addition: a reprint of Vietnam 1965-1975, Nick Karp's award-winning, classic Vietnam game of the 1980s.
With several enemy "Fronts" converging on Moscow, the fate of the revolution and the prestige of international communism rests on your ability to manage and resolve every crisis that the "Whites" can assail you with. As the headlines unfold, you draw upon military and political resources to help you, or try to reorganize the Red Army for special abilities that can greatly enhance your position. Who knows? You might even capture the Imperial Gold Reserve!
Can you deal with the great crises of that time and defend the revolution? Will you withdraw from the Great War (WW1) or exercise the Bukharin Option and fight on? Can you execute the Czar in time, or will the Whites rescue him? Will you fortify Petrograd or press your offensives home? How will you deal with internal and external dissent? Play Soviet Dawn and see!
This Deluxe Edition includes the expansion set.
Vietnam 1965-1975, originally released by Victory Games in 1984, is a two-player game considered to be quintessential grand operational Vietnam game. There are no major rules changes expected, and GMT's primary goal is to modernize the components and clean up any ambiguity in the rules.
Vietnam 1965-1975 has a jaw-dropping (for some) playtime range of 360-6000 minutes because it can be played as scenarios or you can strap in for the entire campaign as briefly described below from original publisher, Victory Games:Quote:This simulation game re-creates one of the longest, most complex, and least understood conflicts in U.S. history in all of its military and political aspects.Paolo Mori's 2019 release, Blitzkrieg!, from PSC Games has a new "square edition" coming in Q2 2021. Not only will you save some shelf space, but this version also includes the Nippon expansion as an added bonus.Non-final P500 cover image from GMT's website
The rules include detailed treatment of movement, terrain, search and destroy operations, special operations, firepower, air mobility, riverines, brigade-level formations, limited intelligence and auxiliary units in each scenario. The scenarios start out small with Operation Starlite, and slowly build in complexity, introducing more rules, until the entire Campaign Scenario which covers the entire war from 1965 to 1975 and introduces South Vietnamese politics, morale and commitment, strategic bombing, reinforcements, and pacification.
If you're not familiar with Blitzkrieg!, it's an excellent, WWII-themed filler game for 1-2 players that's packed with fun, exciting, and tense moments and even features a solo mode designed by Dávid Turczi, who probably has a doctorate in solo game design at this point. It's also easy to learn and can be played quickly, true to its tag line: "World War Two in 20 Minutes". Here's a brief description with more details from publisher:Quote:The perfect wargame for non-wargamers, Blitzkrieg! allows two players to battle across the War's most iconic theaters, winning key campaigns and building military might.Blitzkrieg! is one of my favorite filler games, and I feel it is a hidden gem that deserves to be more widely known, so I'm glad that's it going to be available again for folks to check out!Original rectangular box cover
Players draw army tokens from a bag to determine their starting forces and to replenish their losses. Rather than "fighting" battles with dice or cards, players allocate their military resources to each theater's campaigns, winning victory points, further resources, special weapons, and strategic advantages as they play. Refight World War Two several times in one evening!
- [+] Dice rolls
• On a turn in David Van Drunen's Block and Key from Inside Up Games, you either take blocks from a reserve or add a block you have to a shared gamespace, ideally completing objective cards when you do — but you can complete such a card only when your particular 2D perspective of the 3D playing area matches what is depicted on the card. You play the game on an elevated platform so that your eyes will be at board level without you crouching down to rest your chin on the table like a sad dog. (KS link)
• Zombicide: Undead or Alive will land in 2022, marking ten years since CMON Limited debuted with Zombicide, the game that arguably defined what a table game Kickstarter should be. This zombie-fighting design from the original team of Raphaël Guiton, Jean-Baptiste Lullien, and Nicolas Raoult is set in the mythic wild West and invites you to mow down zombies with dynamite and locomotives as our ancestors did generations ago. (KS link)
• Designer Mitsuo Yamamoto regularly creates abstract strategy games from ceramic tiles, and for his current project he's offering a quartet of Shogi games — on a standard 9x9 board, on a 4x7 board, on a 4x6 board ("Le Shogi"), and on a 3x3 board ("Pop Shogi", which is Yamamoto's own design) — with a more accessible design for the pieces for those who don't speak Japanese. (KS link)
• Within three days of launching, Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition from Jacob Fryxelius, Sydney Engelstein, Nick Little, FryxGames, and Stronghold Games had garnered nearly $600k in support. The (KS page) could probably show nothing more than a logo and still do well, but of course it details the solo and co-operative play modes as well as the regular competitive gameplay in which you're once again trying to make Mars habitable.
• Bloodstone is a 1-8 player combat arena game from James Hudson and Druid City Games that was added to the BGG database back in 2017 and that will become a reality in 2022 — but only for those who back the KS campaign since the title won't have a retail release (outside of the publisher's webstore). Hudson explains why here.
• Scott Almes and Gamelyn Games are continuing their "tiny epic" game series with Tiny Epic Dungeons, this being a co-operative dungeon-crawling game in which 1-4 players must make it through a modular dungeon before their torchlight runs out so that they can face the "dungeon boss" that awaits for them in the second act of the game. (KS link)
• A Universal Truth is a Regency Era courtship game for 1-5 players from Patrick Einheber and Danger Toad Games that's filled with more than two hundred multi-use cards with which you'll earn money, build relationships with friends and family, get two people to fancy one another, then wed before anyone else. (The game ends at that point, so you will have to watch Bridgerton once again to experience the marriage's consummation.) (KS link)
• Root: The Marauder Expansion from Cole Wehrle, Patrick Leder, and Leder Games will be a thing, but you might know that already given the write-up from Candice Harris in mid-February 2021. The KS campaign has nearly $1.2 million in support as of Feb. 25, 2021, so apparently lots of people know.
• Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Board Game from Daryl Andrews, Morgan Dontanville, and Cryptozoic Entertainment is a solitaire game in which you play through the four "books" of Frank Miller's iconic Batman: The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel, with each book taking 90 minutes. Check out these ridiculously on-brand dice! (KS link)
• In January 2020, I wrote about ZEN Tiles Solo from Youichirou Kawaguchi and ChagaChaga Games. Here's a short description:Quote:ZEN Tiles Solo is a solitaire board game that challenges you to look at yourself objectively while placing emotion tiles on a 24-hour timeline.In 2020, Kawaguchi released ZEN Tiles Basic, a lightly competitive version of this game that can be played with up to four people, and now the designer is using Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/guchifukui/zen-tiles-yo...) to make this game easily available to people outside of Japan.
To win, you need to find a spot to place twenty different emotion tiles above these time boards, so think carefully about "your yesterday". You might have become happy about yourself — "I had a positive thoughts!" — or were perhaps surprised: "I didn't realize that I have negative feelings every time when I see this person."
• At Spielwarenmesse 2020, BGG recorded an overview of Tiny Turbo Cars from designers Hjalmar Hach, Laura Severino, Alessandro Manuini, Jonathan Panada, and Giulia Tamagni — and now Italian publisher Horrible Guild has brought the game to Kickstarter (link) for delivery by the end of 2021.
The hook in this racing game is that each player has a sliding puzzle to serve as their remote controller, and you program your moves for the round by sliding tiles into the middle two rows of the controller, with players moving in the order in which they lock in their moves. The faster you finish, the more likely you are to make the moves you set up — and the more likely you are to make mistakes, too. More details in the video below:
- [+] Dice rolls
Ravensburger has become well-known for its licensed adaptations of movies, comics, cartoons, and theme park attractions, and following the release of two such titles in the U.S. in 2021 — Disney Villainous: Despicable Plots, which lets you take the roles of Gaston, Lady Tremaine, and the Horned King, and Pusheen Purrfect Pick, based on the Pusheen comics — Ravensburger has announced a more high-profile title that will debut on August 1, 2021: ALIEN: Fate of the Nostromo.
This game, designed by Scott Rogers and developed by Steve Warner, is a 1-5 player co-operative game in which you take on the role of Nostromo crew members Ripley, Lambert, Parker, Brett, or Dallas, all of whom are trying to survive on a spaceship that's been infiltrated by an alien. Executive Officer Kane has already been killed, and as for Science Officer Ash, well, we'll get to him. Here's an overview of the gameplay:Quote:Over the course of the game, crew members collect scrap, craft items, and fulfill different objectives. The crew will lose and gain morale as they encounter the Alien and other situations. If crew morale reaches zero, players lose the game.In more detail, the game includes ten objectives, and during set-up you reveal one more objective than the number of players. You also choose a final mission at random, but you set it aside face down, revealing it only after you've completed all of the objectives.
Each turn has two phases. In the Crew Action phase, players creep through the Nostromo's halls, gathering scrap, crafting items, trading scrap and items with other players, and using items and their special abilities. Brett, for example, can craft items with one fewer scrap than other players. If the Alien is within three spaces of the player with the incinerator, that player can use the incinerator to send the Alien back to its nest.
In the Encounter phase, players draw and resolve an Encounter card. The Alien could be lurking behind any corner...
Once the players fulfill their initial objectives, they face one of five final missions, each with a unique set of requirements. Players must fulfill the final mission's requirements simultaneously to win the game.
Each crew member has a number of action points that you use to move, pick up or drop items or scrap, craft items out of scrap, trade with other crew members, use an item (some of which can be used a limited number of times), or take your unique special action.
The encounter cards move the alien around the board, with it always moving towards the closest crew member. If the alien and a crew member are ever in the same room, the team loses morale and the crew member must flee. What's more, the encounter cards replenish scrap in various rooms in the Nostromo, but they can also bring "concealed tokens", which must be revealed whenever someone enters that room. You might find nothing, or the alien might turn up — or Jonesy might surprise you, but don't worry because you can craft a cat carrier to catch him.
Some of the final missions initiate the Nostromo's self-destruct sequence, giving all players four more turns to complete the requirements of that mission before the game ends with a bang. And should you find yourself having an easy time aboard the Nostromo, you can introduce Science Officer Ash to the game, with Ash moving through the ship to remove scrap and force the crew to lose morale.
- [+] Dice rolls