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Bid for Land on Mars, Quest More for Thunderstones, and Revisit Middle-earth Again

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Zillionaires on Mars
Board Game: Zillionaires on Mars
Let's follow up a recent post about spinoffs and sequels with another set of titles seeing new life:

• Designer Mark Corsey's auction-based The Game of 49 has been reborn as Zillionaires on Mars thanks to UK publisher Big Potato.

Here's a quick overview for those unfamiliar with this 2014 release:
Quote:
Starting with $49 apiece, players in The Game of 49 bid to buy spaces on the 49-square (7-by-7) game board. Randomly drawn number cards are auctioned one at a time, with the highest bidder placing a chip on the matching board space. Wild/Payoff cards give players a choice of where to place their chip and also award cash to all players for their chips on the board: $7 per chip, with a maximum payoff of $49.

The first player to claim four spaces in a row, in any direction, wins.

Zillionaires on Mars keeps the same gameplay as in the game's original release, but with dollar values now in the zillions as players bid for lots on Mars.
Board Game: Cleocatra
• Designer Ta-Te Wu released the tile-laying game Cleocatra through his own Sunrise Tornado Game Studio in 2020, and now U.S. publisher Chronicle Books has released the game in a new edition.

Here's an overview of how to play this 2-4 player game:
Quote:
Each player has a team of three cat rescuers. To set up, the starting player flips a pyramid tile at random, then places a rescuer on it. Each other player in turn draws and places a tile, then adds a rescuer to it.

On a turn, either take a tile action (add a tile or move a tile), then a rescuer action, or take two rescuer actions. Rescuer actions allow you to place a rescuer on the tile you just moved or placed, place a rescuer next to one of your rescuers (so long as not more than two rescuers are on a tile), or rescue cats to score, earning one point for each different colored tile in the area around your rescuer, along with a bonus point for each of your rescuers in the area; you then remove your rescuers from the board and add an inspector to the central tile you scored, marking that tile as off limits until the inspector is pulled elsewhere.

Board Game: Cleocatra

Once a player hits 23 points, you complete the round, then see who has the most points. The tiles also contain bonus powers, and you can choose to use those to add more challenges to gameplay.
• I've seen mentions of War of the Ring: The Card Game for many months, with this 2-4 player game being the work of designer Ian Brody and publisher Ares Games and carrying this brief description:
Quote:
War of the Ring: The Card Game is team-based and asymmetric. Each player controls one or more of the factions in War of the Ring, either on the side of the Free Peoples or of the Shadow Armies, using a unique deck, reproducing the strengths and weaknesses of their specific factions.
Board Game: War of the Ring: The Card Game

Ares Games has announced that it will demo this design at UK Games Expo 2022 on Saturday, June 4 at 14:30, with the game due out in late 2022. For more details, check out this preview article on Dicebreaker from December 2021.

Board Game: Thunderstone Quest
• U.S. publisher Alderac Entertainment Group re-launched the Mike Elliott deck-building game Thunderstone as Thunderstone Quest in 2018, and the line is being re-worked again in 2022.

On May 17, 2022, AEG launched a Kickstarter campaign for what it's calling "Deepwood Defenders", with this offering fans of the game two new quests: Nature's Wrath as quest #12 and Rotten Roots as quest #13. Additionally, AEG is repackaging the base game as Thunderstone Quest: Starter Set, with quest #1 being included in this box and with quests #2-11 being re-packaged into their own individual boxes.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

In a comment on BGG, AEG's Ryan Dancey notes that "we are not going to be continuing retail sales of any Thunderstone product after this year's Kickstarter (although stores who buy directly from us via our Alpha Store program will have access to these products for their stores)", which is an interesting approach to take, similar to what Plaid Hat Games is doing with Ashes Reborn as described in this August 2020 post.

In a separate comment, Dancey added, "[W]e will keep doing an annual Kickstarter as long as there's customer support..."
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Bring Sweets to the Table with Azul: Master Chocolatier and The Great British Baking Show Game

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• Publishers unveiled two sweet-looking games on May 17, with Next Move Games announcing Azul: Master Chocolatier for release in late 2022, with a debut at SPIEL '22.

Board Game: Azul: Master Chocolatier

What's new in this release? Azul: Master Chocolatier includes double-sided factory boards. One side of the factories is blank, and when using this side the game plays exactly like Michael Kiesling's classic Azul. The other side of each factory tile has a special effect on it that modifies play in one way or another, putting a twist on the normal game.

Additionally, the tiles are modeled to look like chocolates and other treats, despite remaining as inedible as the tiles in the original game.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

It's not clear from this brief explanation how much these factory tile effects will change gameplay, but I posted about this title on Twitter, and tons of folks seem excited for the new look, if nothing else. Perhaps Azul: Starburst will follow in a few years, with Azul: Ritter Sport coming after that.

• Continuing its trend of releasing licensed games, Ravensburger has announced an August 2022 release date for The Great British Baking Show Game from designer Frederica Scott Vollrath.

Board Game: The Great British Baking Show Game

The game description is somewhat minimal, but this appears to be a real-time design that would nicely mimic the frantic nature of The Great British Bake Off, a.k.a., The Great British Baking Show. Ideally you have to carry your card creations from one table to another to introduce the possibility that the whole thing will tip over, but we'll have to wait to know for sure. Here's a short take on the game:
Quote:
In The Great British Baking Show Game, players take the role of bakers on the show and race each other to recreate the configuration of baking cards shown on the recipe cards. Players need to choose whether to move quickly at all costs, or whether to take more time to select the best flavors for their bake and avoid the dreaded "soggy" cards.

Board Game: The Great British Baking Show Game

To capture the sportsmanship demonstrated when bakers step in to assist others, players can use "Help!" cards to select wild cards from the center of the table. A "Bin" token allows players to throw out elements of their bake once per round.
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Wed May 18, 2022 4:00 pm
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New Life for Dominion: Prosperity, and More Expansions for Cartographers and Age of Steam Deluxe

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Dominion: Prosperity (Second Edition)
• Following on the heels of a second edition of Dominion: Seaside, in June 2022 publisher Rio Grande Games will release a second edition of Dominion: Prosperity from designer Donald X. Vaccarino, with this set (like Seaside) containing nine new types of Kingdom cards. As with previous Dominion second editions, these new cards will be released on their own as an update pack for those who own the first edition of Dominion: Prosperity.

A few cards will receive minor errata, but these will not appear in the update pack.

Board Game: Age of Steam
• If you are wildly devoted to Age of Steam, then you might find interest in Eagle-Gryphon Games' Kickstarter for Age of Steam Deluxe: Expansion Volume II and Volume III, which collectively offer thirteen expansion maps for the game system. Most of the expansions are for 3-6 players, but they also include a two-player-only map for Scotland and the 1-3 player Seattle map. (Kickstarter)

From gallery of W Eric Martin

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Thunderworks Games is expanding Cartographers and Cartographers Heroes yet again with three new map packs from designers Jordy Adan and John Brieger:

Map Pack 4: Frozen Expanse – Realm of Frost Giants in June 2022 features scouted locations that need to be filled with particular types of terrain and a giant frozen lake that grants a reward when the perimeter is fully mapped
Map Pack 5: Kethra's Steppe – Redtooth & Goldbelly in July 2022 has three "beacon" scoring cards, one of which will serve as a fifth scoring card in the game and trigger off your ability to surround beacon spaces
Map Pack 6: Hornhelm – Wasteland Market in August 2022 introduces merchant cards with items you can purchase for ongoing effects

Board Game: Cartographers Map Pack 4: Frozen Expanse – Realm of Frost Giants
Board Game: Cartographers Map Pack 5: Kethra's Steppe – Redtooth & Goldbelly
Board Game: Cartographers Map Pack 6: Hornhelm – Wasteland Market
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Wed May 18, 2022 1:00 pm
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Everything Old Is New Again with Legends of Andor, Tokaido, and Royal Dilemmas

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• Artist/designer Michael Menzel wrapped his Legends of Andor series in 2017 with Legends of Andor: The Last Hope, with other designers then building on his creation with additional heroes or legends, such as 2021's Die Legenden von Andor: Magische Helden, and spinoff titles, such as 2019's The Liberation of Rietburg and 2020's Andor: The Family Fantasy Game.

Board Game: Die Legenden von Andor: Die Ewige Kälte

In late 2022, however, Menzel will return to Andor with Die Legenden von Andor: Die Ewige Kälte, which German publisher KOSMOS describes as a standalone game consisting of four legends in which "a team of 2-4 heroes embarks on an exciting journey to a strange land beyond the mountains. On a new, double-sided game board, you'll find loyal allies and face unexpected dangers. Together you will find out who is behind the magical threat of the eternal cold!"

• In September 2022, KOSMOS also plans to release Die Legenden von Andor: Big Box, which will contain the Legends of Andor base game, the New Heroes expansion, and other items.

Board Game: Die Legenden von Andor: Big Box

• On Facebook, French publisher Funforge teased the announcement of Tokaido Duo, showing first an image of Tokaido designer Antoine Bauza playing an early prototype of the design...

From gallery of W Eric Martin

...then the game's cover:

Board Game: Tokaido Duo

Board Game: The King's Dilemma
• Italian publisher Horrible Guild plans to run a Kickstarter campaign in 2022 for The Queen's Dilemma, with this design from Hjalmar Hach and Lorenzo Silva being a standalone sequel to the Kennerspiel des Jahres-nominated The King's Dilemma from 2019.

Here's an overview of the design from the publisher:
Quote:
The Queen's Dilemma is an interactive narrative legacy game that uses the same Dilemma Card System as in The King's Dilemma to bring players into another adventure set in the Kingdom of Ankist.

Much of the gameplay will be focused on a big map of the kingdom. Players will take control of different regions and manage them. There will be several resources to gather, with different uses, and players will be able to exchange them to construct buildings and other personal improvements.

Board Game: The Queen's Dilemma

The tense voting sessions and tough decisions that made The King's Dilemma such a huge success will still be there, right at the center of the experience, but their outcomes will involve more than resource tracks going up and down this time. Event cards will have more varied effects, too, having an impact on specific regions.
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Tue May 17, 2022 4:00 pm
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Designer Diary: Batman: Everybody Lies, or A Different Type of Detective

Board Game: Batman: Everybody Lies
Chapter 0: The Basics

Batman: Everybody Lies is a story-driven deduction game. The action takes place in Gotham, with you exploring various locations of this crime-driven city from the grim and poverty-stricken alleyways to the sycophantic and wealthy social elite penthouses.

Intended for 2-4 players, aged 14+, the game features three Episodes to investigate and a short Prologue to help players familiarize themselves with the rules and the style of play. Each Episode can be played separately, taking roughly 2-3 hours to play.

In Batman: Everybody Lies, players are challenged to solve a mystery with limited time and resources. They are presented with various clues and paths to begin their investigation, make their own decisions, and draw conclusions as they pursue different Leads. Players utilize a variety of game components to facilitate gameplay and push the narrative forward. Each Episode gives players access to up to 24 Lead cards that provide essential clues and plot points, along with a dedicated website and additional resources included in the game box for authentic investigative immersion, such as a Scene deck, Personal Goal deck, and the Gotham City Gazette archives.

Each Episode concludes with a Final Report that is processed through the website. The players must give correct answers to questions concerning the investigation, then they are presented with an Epilogue that reveals the resolution of the Case.

Chapter 1: Characters

Each player takes the role of an iconic character that lives in Gotham. We cannot have four players playing Batman, can we? We decided we will create a team of Batman's allies, the team who will support him in the investigations.

Two of these characters are Catwoman and Vicky Vale. The first one is a famous thief, a controversial ally of Batman and a complex character that walks the line between hero and villain. Her special ability in the game is access to the Batcave; she is the one character who can reach Batman or Alfred if players need to.

Board Game: Batman: Everybody Lies

Vicky Vale is a passionate journalist who works for the Gotham City Gazette. She is a strong woman who fights for the people of Gotham. She exposes politicians' schemes and fears no one, no Gotham councilmen, not the wealthy elite, not even the dangerous mobsters. She is respected by the common people of the city, and she might be one of the last hopes of Gotham. Being a reckless journalist, Vicky has the in-game ability to refresh all Locations and make them available for players to visit again.

Now, let's introduce you to the other two playable characters: Warren Spacey and Harvey Bullock. The first one is an investigative reporter working for the Gotham City Gazette. He is known as the first reporter to write an in-depth article about the Joker. Having lived in Gotham for decades, Spacey has survived countless attacks by supervillains and today, though a man with many enemies, he refuses to put down his pen no matter what criminal attempts to intimidate him. With his enormous experience and a network spreading over the entire city, Spacey's ability allows players to reach and investigate the criminal Underground of Gotham City.

The last available character is Harvey Bullock, a detective of the Gotham City Police Department. He is known for his hard-shell style of work. Criminals have little hope when Bullock is involved. Receiving as much praise as reprimands for his sometimes brutal methods of work, he is one of Jim Gordon's most trusted allies and friends. Though not the most righteous member of the Gotham City Police Department, he may be the most stubborn and reckless. His ability in the game allows him to access the criminals at Blackgate Penitentiary.

These four iconic characters work together to create a most unusual alliance and save Gotham City.

Chapter 2: Personal Agendas

Gotham is a city of mistrust inhabited by lies and corruption, the only place in the world that doesn't wake up innocent and bright in the morning. No rain can wash off all the sins rooted in these streets. Even its heroes are tainted.

While designing Batman: Everybody Lies, we knew we had to represent this dark, noir theme. That's how Personal Goals came into the rules. It's a co-operative game in which all characters work together to solve the mystery and use their skills, knowledge, contacts, and wits to achieve the common goal.

And yet, each of them has a personal agenda.
And yet, each of them wants to pursue their own interest.
And yet, each of them cares for themselves the most.

Board Game: Batman: Everybody Lies

Each Case in Batman: Everybody Lies starts with an Introduction that describes the Episode's goals and the current situation in the city. In addition to that common Introduction, there is also an additional Introduction for each character, with their own information, their own point of view on the Episode, and their own goals to achieve.

Later in the game, as the Episode progresses and players discover more and more Lead cards, they may stumble upon an unusual instruction, something like: "Spend a Catwoman token to Read card C."

If one of the players is playing Catwoman, they may spend their token and gain access to this mysterious card C. They may then read the card in silence, only for themselves — they've just learned something, discovered something, and pushed their personal goal forward.

There are 26 Personal Goal cards in the game, 26 moments when one of the players at the table does something in secrecy.

Gotham is a city of mistrust, inhabited by lies and corruption. Will you fight to unveil its sins?

Chapter 3: Comic book panels

Carmine Infantino, Neal Adams, Greg Capullo, Jim Lee, Frank Miller — the list could go on and on. Batman is represented in as many great stories as he is in the stunning illustrations and visuals of Gotham. When you think of Batman comics, you see stunning art pieces and comic panels presenting the dark city and the Dark Knight.

When designing Batman: Everybody Lies, we wanted to pay respect to the comic book origins of the story. We knew players would expect some way of incorporating comic panels into the gameplay. That's how the Scene Deck came into the play.

Board Game: Batman: Everybody Lies

At various moments in the game, players will have a chance to draw a card from the Scene Deck, a big card (120 x 70 mm) with stunning artwork presented in the form of a comic book panel. Illustrated by two Polish artists, Hanna Kuik and Maciej Simiński, these cards immerse players into the scene, putting them right into the action and environment. Scene cards let players visualize the rich world of Gotham City.

But that's just part of the trick.

Some of these cards have hidden clues. Players will look carefully and search for the details, having their escape room-style fun. Why does this person point in this direction? What is this person hiding in their pocket? What lies here in the dust of the street? These will be questions to ask while playing the game and carefully examining the panels.

The Scene deck consists of thirty beautifully illustrated cards, and more than 30% of them have hidden clues. It's your task to find them.

Chapter 4: Gotham City Gazette archives

There are so many comic book runs and various Batman series over the past century. Numerous relaunches and variants of the storyline...and yet, the Gotham City Gazette is always part of the city. Its journalists, Vicki Vale being the most famous, were always part of the story. It had to become part of the game, too.

All Detective games have a small digital element. In the base game of Detective, players use a website to compare the suspect's DNA with evidence found at the crime scene. In Vienna Connection, they use it to break KGB codes. In Dune: House Secrets, they use it to watch animated introductions that present the world of Dune. For each title, our development team looks for new ideas and concepts to match the theme of the game.

In Batman: Everybody Lies, we decided the website will represent the Gotham City Gazette archives. As in all those Hollywood movies, players will get access to the archives and browse old issues archived on microfilm. As you expect, they may find some terrifying mysteries that happened in the past and shine a new light on the present events.

The feature prepared by our sister company, Portal Games Digital, makes a stunning impression. You can navigate the microfilm archives of the Gotham City Gazette and zoom in at any space to read the article or watch the presented photo in detail.

It works stunningly well.

The Gotham City Gazette archives are another element of the puzzle, another piece that adds to the final game experience. All these pieces together — the secret goals of each character, the comic panels with hidden clues, the animated Gotham City Gazette archives — make Batman: Everybody Lies another extremely immersive title in the family of Detective games.

Board Game: Batman: Everybody Lies

Chapter 5: Campaign

On March 27, 2019, the one thousandth issue of Detective Comics was released. We love Batman, both ongoing and limited. The Long Halloween, Hush, Three Jokers, White Knight — all of them present exceptional stories. If these were scenarios for a video or board game, instead of calling them limited series we'd call them a campaign. Batman: Everybody Lies is a three-story-long campaign.

The game comes with a short Prologue case that can be played in 45 minutes and that teaches the rules and presents all the characters, then the real game begins. Batman: Everybody Lies consists of three big Episodes: Guilt, Nostalgia, and Remorse. Each consists of 24 cards and takes about 2-3 hours to solve. Each can be played separately, but...

It's a limited series. You can grab one in the middle of the series and enjoy it, but why would you do that, huh? You want to be there from the first pages, from the setting of the initial plot, through the growth of the story arc till the end and the grande finale!

Each Case can be played separately, but you won't do that. You will enjoy them as a whole.

Each Case has a different goal, but they share non-player characters, villains, suspects, witnesses, and most importantly, they share a timeline; Nostalgia begins a few months after the events presented in the Guilt, and similarly, Remorse begins a few weeks after Nostalgia. The passage of time is the key here — the city evolves, some characters end up in jail, some get out, somebody switches jobs, and somebody gets killed. It's the same city, over a period of a few months.

It’s three epic game nights. Invite your friends for an amazing limited series called Batman: Everybody Lies.

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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Tue May 17, 2022 1:00 pm
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Greater Than Games and Dice Hate Me Games Split; Compounded Gets Remixed

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• In February 2015, publisher Dice Hate Me Games merged with Greater Than Games, becoming one of three imprints in a newly reorganized line-up at GTG along with Sentinel Comics and Fabled Nexus.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

As of May 16, 2022, the two organizations have announced that they're going separate ways. Here's an excerpt from a press release announcing the split:
Quote:
Of the separation, Dice Hate Me Games President Chris Kirkman said, "Our merger in 2015 was a bold experiment to unite the brands, hoping to maintain the health and prosperity of both. Over time, the size and scope of Greater Than Games changed, and many games that fit the original vision of the Dice Hate Me brand no longer seem to fit that scope. Our experiment may be at an end, but both companies can and will make great games, even if apart. I look forward to returning Dice Hate Me Games to its roots."
The size and scope of Greater Than Games has changed thanks to both the acquisition of other studios — Nevermore Games in 2018, Cheapass Games in 2019 — and GTG's acquisition by Flat River Group in late 2021.

Under their separation agreement, Greater Than Games will keep the DHMG titles Compounded, Bottom of the 9th, and Legends of Sleepy Hollow. Dice Hate Me Games will have both the rights and the remaining stock of all other former Dice Hate Me Games titles, Nevermore Games' Dark Dealings and Spires, and Fate of the Elder Gods from GTG's Fabled Nexus imprint.

Board Game: Compounded
Board Game: Bottom of the 9th
Board Game: Spires
Board Game: Fate of the Elder Gods

• Speaking of Compounded, a Darrell Louder design that debuted in 2013, Greater Than Games has announced a June 14, 2022 launch date for Compounded: The Peer Reviewed Edition as well as Lab Notes: The Chem Lab Roll-and-Write.

Louder, who is currently creative director for Greater Than Games, shared these prototype pics on Twitter:

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Mon May 16, 2022 3:00 pm
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Game Overview: Founders of Teotihuacan, or A Tile-Laying Game

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Board Game: Founders of Teotihuacan
Founders of Teotihuacan from designer Filip Głowacz and publisher Board&Dice bills itself as "a tile-laying game" in the subtitle on the box, and you do indeed lay tiles during play, so that promise is fulfilled. That said, I'm not sure that's the selling point I would have leaned into for this design in which you build production buildings, temples, and part of a pyramid.

You have a limited number of actions in which to build those structures and handle related paperwork, so ideally you're scheduling your time well, and by game's end you've transformed the last of your resources into finished buildings that are worth points — yet billing Founders of Teotihuacan as a resource-management game also feels unsatisfactory.

In the game, you are represented by an architect figure that travels around your building site, and you can build only in the half of the board closest to you. Presumably your voice carries only so far over the worksite, so you need to time certain actions so that you have the resources on hand to build the temple of pyramid section you want in the location you want. Should you turn up a gold short, you might not be able to place part of a pyramid in a certain space, which means you'd need to wait four turns until you've circled the board again in order to do so, and you have at most 12-18 actions depending on the player count, so a lost opportunity might be lost forever. Even so, billing this design as a time-management game again feels wrong.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Two final boards in a three-player game

All of those elements — tile laying, resource management, and time management — are present, but none of them stand at the forefront, and they don't merge to transform into a single, larger concept. Founders of Teotihuacan is a point-salad game in which the individual salad ingredients have somehow remained distinct instead of creating something grander. The cheese and strawberry never combine into something new.

Board Game: Patchwork
In the video below, which details the flow of the game and the actions available to you in more detail, I compare the tile-laying in Founders of Teotihuacan to that of Patchwork and Ark Nova.

In the former game, each of the two players is placing tiles on a personal game board — akin to Founders of Teotihuacan — but the goal of that game is to cover as many spaces on your board as possible and you have access to only three tiles at a time. This matters because the 33 tiles in that game are quite varied, and often you desperately need a particular tile or two because it's the right shape or it provides income to buy what you need or it gets you one of the few precious single-square patches, which means you constantly need to manipulate the timing of the actions so that you can get what you need. The design is all about fitting polyomino pieces together, with the income — that is, the resources needed to get tiles — being secondary to this larger goal. Income is essential, but it's nothing more than a tool and doesn't pull focus.

Board Game: Ark Nova
In the latter game, you place enclosures in your zoo — i.e., you lay tiles on a personal game board — to hold animals, but the enclosures themselves are largely uninteresting. The game includes an endless supply of enclosures of size 1-5, so you know you can get what you need, but you need to juggle having an action that's strong enough to build what you want, having enough money to pay for what you build, building an enclosure that's right for the animal you want to add to your zoo, covering the right bonus spaces on your game board, building next to kiosks to earn income, and leaving room for what's to come in the future based on whatever other plans you have — and those enclosures are only a tiny part of everything else that you're doing, with all of these demands on your time and wallet being tightly stitched together. (I'm still surprised that I like Ark Nova as much as I do because playing the game feels like you're budgeting time and money in a second life of sorts, and my first life is already challenging enough, thank you!)

Founders of Teotihuacan doesn't fit either model with its tile laying. In the four games I've played on a review copy from Board&Dice, we haven't felt the pressure of Patchwork or Ark Nova. We typically have a fair amount of space left over, and the difference between the production buildings (2 vs 3 vs 4 stone) doesn't seem to matter much, so if one is taken, you just grab another. The green, blue, and orange temple tiles differ in costs, but their benefits are the same in endgame scoring; a different set of worship tiles is associated with each type of temple — green worship tiles convert resources into points or other things; blue worship tiles reward you for having combinations of buildings; and red worship tiles reward you for nothing...or for having combinations of buildings — but their difference seems to have minimal impact.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

An issue related to this lack of pressure involves the action allocation. In a four-player game, you play four rounds, and you start with five action discs. At the end of each round, you remove a disc from the game, so you'll have access to only 14 (5+4+3+2) discs, i.e., 14 actions. The strength of a building action space depends on the number of discs on it, whether yours or opponents, so if you want to take a strength four action on turn one, you need to place three discs on it — which means you're giving up two actions, which seems like a terrible idea in a game with only 14 actions. (In a three-player game, you play only three rounds, so you'll have only 12 (5+4+3) discs/actions. You start with an extra disc in the four-round, two-player game, giving you 18 (6+5+4+3) discs/actions.)

When building temples and pyramid blocks, if you don't have the proper strength, you pay additional resources as a penalty — but that penalty pretty much always seems preferable to throwing away an action. The only possible advantage of jumping to strength four, aside from spending fewer resources, is blocking an action space since they can have at most three discs on them — but each action area has three action spaces on it in a three- or four-player game, so you're not really blocking anyone.

What's more, since your disc reserve shrinks over the course of the game, you have fewer possible actions, and in the final round of a four-player game, you probably can't take a strength four action unless an opponent goes on a space first to give you a leg up. Whereas most games escalate over the course of play, with actions becoming more powerful or plentiful as you improve your deck, add to your family, or gain additional powers, Founders of Teotihuacan taps its brakes each round, slowing to a halt and leaving you feeling like a kid in a convenience store who has only fifty cents to spend — it's better than nothing, but not by much.

For thoughts on the game, including a storage suggestion, check out this video overview:

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Mon May 16, 2022 1:00 pm
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Cast Spells, Make Crop Circles, Save Species, and Face Tough Calls with Fractal Juegos

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Board Game: Sanssouci
Board Game: Crop Circles
Chilean publisher Fractal Juegos releases a large number of licensed games — Bohnanza, IKI, Marrakech, The Mind, Draftosaurus — but it also releases new editions of older games, such as Michael Kiesling's garden-building game Sanssouci, which debuted from Ravensburger in 2013 and which Fractal Juegos re-released in 2022.

• As for Fractal Juegos' original releases, it has a roll-and-write game, of course, as every publisher and designer seems to have these days. In Crop Circles from Sebastián Martínez, players attempt to create attractive circles by rolling two six-sided dice each turn and placing the results in eight interlocking circles — the seven overlapping circles and an eighth formed by the central location of each of those seven circles.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Board Game: Alakablast
Diego Burgos' Alakablast presents another familiar gaming situation, with 2-5 players trying to pass their magic school exam by battling one another with a variety of spells — the problem being that you don't know exactly which spells you hold because some cards in your hand face away from you.

On a turn, you can ask opponents for clues as to which cards you hold or you can duel someone either with power (i.e., the numbers on the cards) or with elements (with water beating fire, which beats plants, which beats water, although everything beats the 7-power shadow while losing to the 0-power light).

Board Game: Tori-Tori: Endangered Species
Laura Mena's Tori-Tori: Endangered Species is a 2021 co-operative design co-published with Ludoismo in which players attempt to save endangered species on an island. Each turn, dice determine which events take place, such as predators, pollution, or precipitation, then players take actions, developing specialities over the course of play to perform better. If any species goes extinct before the players transform the island and make the industry on it more environmentally friendly, they lose.

Board Game: Inferno
• Fractal Juegos has a title from Reiner Knizia, of course, as his goal is to have a title in every publisher's catalog everywhere. that game is Monster Chef, with this being a new edition of the 2005 card game Inferno.

Each round, players start with twelve cards in hand, with cards coming in five colors each numbered 1-5. A "condition card" is revealed at the start of play, and on a turn you either discard a card of the same number or color as the condition card or else claim all discarded cards and the condition card, then play a new condition card from your hand. (If you take fewer than three discarded cards, take random cards from the deck until you have three.) When a player's hand is emptied, finish the round, then score points: face value for red cards and 1 point for everything else. Whoever has the fewest points after as many rounds as the number of players wins.

Board Game: Tough Calls: Dystopia – Emergencias y Desafíos
Tough Calls: Dystopia, a 2020 design from Diego Burgos and Margarita Pino, looks unlike other Fractal Juegos titles, and that's because players are confronted by a variety of post-apocalyptic scenarios such as planet-wide drought, an alien invasion, or mysterious beasts from the oceanic depths. Here's a short description:
Quote:
Each participant must build a character and try to convince everyone else on how to best manage and survive the adversities of each playthrough. The game's main mechanism is similar to a debate in which each player must confront different complications and events that may happen during a round, trying to find clever ways of surviving in order to prove to your fellow survivors that you are the best choice to lead the colony of survivors.
The game was supplemented in 2022 with the Emergencias y Desafíos ("Emergencies and Challenges") expansion that adds new scenarios, events, emergencies, and factions.

Board Game: Tough Calls: Dystopia
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Sun May 15, 2022 1:00 pm
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Links: Czech Designers, Thor's Hammer, and Our Family Plays Games on Social Media

W. Eric Martin
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From gallery of W Eric Martin
• Mik and Starla Fitch of Our Family Plays Games were featured in the documentary film The First Twenty: Social from Dehanza Rogers, a film on activism and Black cultural identity that debuted on May 10, 2022 and that explores "the role of social media as a source of joy, pain, and transformation".

The title "The First Twenty" refers to the first twenty years of the 21st century, and this film series is hosted by ALL ARTS. You can watch a 30-second preview of the show or a minute-long excerpt of Mik and Starla's interview or of course the entire film via the ALL ARTS app.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Screenshot from the preview

• On April 28, 2022, the Fort Leavenworth Lamp, a publication of the U.S. Army installation at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, published an article titled "Board-based wargame used for CGSC elective". Here's an excerpt from that article:
Quote:
Sustainment students from the Command and General Staff College used a board-based wargame to practice principles of sustainment in their elective class April 22 at the Lewis and Clark Center.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Image: Dan Neal/Army University Public Affairs

The game, Thor's Hammer, (not related to the commercial e-game of the same name), set in Norway and Sweden, was designed by game-design students at Georgetown University in cooperation with the Department of Sustainment and Force Management at CGSC. CGSC's Department of Simulation Education assisted in the design and development of the game...

During the after-action review, students pointed out some game issues such as the game favoring defense over offense and allowing for regeneration of units that could not be regenerated in the field. They were also able to see how the game reinforced the principles of sustainment, principally anticipation, survivability and integration, and how during the game they changed the priority of supply or priority of support to adjust for game events.
From gallery of W Eric Martin
• In a column on ICv2, Paul Alexander Butler, owner of Games and Stuff in Glen Burnie, Maryland, wrote about the rising price of miniatures and how not all price increases are the same. An excerpt:
Quote:
My store Games and Stuff is fairly miniatures-heavy; minis and related paints and accessories account for over 25% of my overall sales. We carry a lot of miniatures lines and probably too many paint lines. However, those customers that are the traditional wargamer/hobbyist types (i.e. competitive players and serious modelers and painters) probably spend on average more money than any other category of customer. It's highly unlikely a new gamer is going to come into your store and want to dip their toes into something like The Horus Heresy. That's a hobby product for a hobby customer. In some respects, that end of the minis market has a fair amount of tolerance with regards to price increases. Games Workshop has been raising prices near yearly for ages, and I only see more units moved each year.

What's more complicated is the matter of WizKids. I don't even think of my average D&D Nolzur's or Pathfinder Deep Cuts customer as a "miniatures" customer, but as an "RPG" customer. And as such, they're looking for different things from a miniature product. Usually, it's price, convenience, and a certain grab-and-go functionality.

So far, those latter two points are winning against rising prices, but they won't forever.
Czech Games Edition hired Eleni Papadopoulou from Cardboard Rhino as an in-house content creator, and during a CGE retreat she interviewed Vlaada Chvátil, Tomáš Uhlíř, Adam Španěl, Ondra Skoupý, and Elwen & Mín to get them to answer frequently asked questions, starting with how to pronounce their names:

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Sat May 14, 2022 1:00 pm
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Stellarion Joins the Oniverse — Which Has a New Home at inPatience

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Board Game: Stellarion
Designer Shadi Torbey has announced a new entry in his Oniverse series of games: Stellarion, with this 1-2 player game being due out in Q3/Q4 2022.

Here's a succinct overview of this design, which will have editions in both English and French:
Quote:
You are the director of the Observatory. With your telescopes aimed at the stars, planets, and nebulas of the Oniverse, you are ready to launch daring spaceships into the skies.

Stellarion, the sixth entry in the Oniverse series, is a deck-management game. All the cards you need are split into eight decks, and you know the contents of each one. You'll need to manage all these resources to ensure that you have the right cards available at the right time.
You might notice a new publisher label on the box — inPatience — and this company is Torbey's own. In response to my outreach, he passed along the following statement:
Quote:
After ten years of fruitful collaboration, the Oniverse series will no longer be published by Z-Man Games.

I've known Z-Man in practically all its "avatars": first as what was almost a one-man operation run by Zev Shlasinger, then later as what I would call a family business after it was bought by Sophie Gravel and merged with Filosofia, and finally, following Asmodee's acquisition of F2Z, as a branch of a huge multinational company.

I have enjoyed working with this publisher in each of these iterations and was rather proud to see my games released under its label — even if I must admit that, in its latest avatar, I felt like an independent director shooting personal movies within a big Hollywood studio specializing in blockbusters.

I was thus only half-surprised when Steven Kimball, at that time head of Z-Man, told me in 2019 that, in spite of the good sales and reviews of Aerion, the company would not pursue the Oniverse saga.

It was at this point that an old idea (as old as Onirim, actually) resurfaced: I would create my own publishing house. In 2009, I had presented Onirim to Zev to see whether he would be interested in licensing the game for the U.S., thinking to publish it myself for the French-speaking market. His counter-offer was an exclusive global contract. It was too tempting an offer to pass on — and I have never regretted accepting it since.

Ten years later, even with Steve Kimball offering to transfer the series to another established publisher, the time had come to make my project a reality.

Board Game Publisher: inPatience

This is how inPatience was born. inPatience will debut by publishing the next chapter of the Oniverse, Stellarion, and by making all previously published games in the series available again. We will pursue the Oniverse until its completion (nine chapters are planned in total), releasing one game a year.

But inPatience will be home not only to the Oniverse (nor only to games I create). We have already signed two games by immensely talented designers, and are very excited — I dare not write impatient... — to release them in the coming years. The first is planned for 2023.

Board Game: Onirim (Second Edition)
Board Game: Sylvion
Board Game: Castellion

Our motto: Each of our games will be playable solo. They won't all be solitaires — actually, for the time being, none of our planned games is exclusively solo — but each will have one-player rules that are more than an afterthought or a pasted-on addition.

We are looking forward to seeing our games on the shelves of your FLGS, to being devastated by some negative comments, delighted to read positive reviews, to presenting "our" games to you.

In short, we are looking forward to being a publishing company.
Torbey has clarified that all of the inPatience editions of the existing Oniverse titles — Onirim, Sylvion, Castellion, Nautilion, and Aerion — should be available at the same time that Stellarion debuts. Each of these titles will have a separate English and French edition, and Asmodee NA and Asmodee UK will distribute inPatience titles in English, while IELLO will distribute the titles to French-speaking territories. Adds Torbey, "Devir will have a Spanish-Portuguese edition of Onirim, and Oliphante will bring Onirm and Stellarion to Italy."

Board Game: Nautilion
Board Game: Aerion

Previously released promos for Onirim and Sylvion will not be included in these new editions. Says Torbey, "We are thinking about ways to make them available easily."

Torbey and inPatience plan to have a booth at SPIEL '22, so if you're missing a title from your Oniverse collection, haven't yet tried these intriguing designs, or are also an opera fan, be sure to visit!

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Fri May 13, 2022 5:32 pm
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