W. Eric MartinUnited States
alea released a new version of Andreas Seyfarth's Puerto Rico. As I noted in a BGG News post at the time:Quote:This version of Puerto Rico, bearing the number 16 on its side, uses the graphics of the 2011 Puerto Rico: Limited Anniversary Edition and includes the nobles and new buildings expansions that were packaged in that item, but it uses cardboard tokens for money and victory points, as in the original Puerto Rico.As for whether an English-language edition of this version would be released, alea's editor Stefan Brück said, "Not for the time being..."
That time has now arrived, with Rio Grande Games announcing that what it's calling Puerto Rico Deluxe Edition will hit the U.S. market on August 20, 2019. In a press release announcing this new edition, Jay Tummelson, co-owner of Rio Grande Games, wrote: "A new version of Puerto Rico has been the most requested item from our customers for quite some time. The new version contains many of the same elements as the Anniversary Edition but at a lower cost. We are very excited to be able to bring this new edition to our customers."
Unlike other editions of this version of the game, Puerto Rico Deluxe Edition, which retails for US$55, bears a number 7 on its spine, so you can swap out your old copy for the new one and no one will know the difference from a casual glance at your shelf.
To submit news, a designer diary, outrageous rumors, or other material, please contact BGG News editor W. Eric Martin via email – wericmartin AT gmail.com.
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Along those lines, 10 Days in the USA from designers Alan R. Moon and Aaron Weissblum is back on the market (following original publisher Out of the Box's demise in 2015) in a new edition from Hong Kong publisher Broadway Games, with art by Jacqui Davis. The only editions that exist at the moment are a Korean edition and Broadway's dual Chinese/English edition, but ideally more will come in time (and the BGG Store picked up some of the Broadway edition for resale in case they don't).
10 Days in the USA has a simple concept: Create a row of ten tiles that are all legally connected to represent a trip in the United States. The game includes a tile for each of the fifty U.S. states along with cars and planes. If you place state tiles adjacent to one another and those states are adjacent in real life, then you've made a valid connection; if you connect two states of the same color with a plane of that color, you've made a valid connection; and if you connect two states with a car that represents a state adjacent to both of those states, you'd made a valid connection.
To set up the game, you draw tiles one by one, placing each tile somewhere in your ten-day rack without being able to move them after placement. Ideally you can make a few valid connections during this process, and the more that you play, the more you can see the possibilities for connections. Once everyone has filled their rack, players take turns drawing a new tile from the deck or the top of one of the three discard piles, then either discarding the tile (if it's useless) or replacing one tile in their rack with the new one, discarding the older tile.
I've played 10 Days in the USA more than fifty times on the old edition, along with three games on the newer edition, and I love this game, in addition to the others in the series: Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. (Broadway plans to release a new edition of 10 Days in Europe before the end of 2019, and the games can be combined should you want to play "20 Days Across the Atlantic" or whatever you'd care to call it.)
The luck factor can seem high as sometimes a player draws exactly what they need to tie together two legs of the trip, but you can also make your own luck by tracking the tiles that opponents pick up and drop off as well as by engineering situations on your rack that can be solved by multiple tiles. When I received the new version of the game, I played it three times with two players who had never played previously, and I won each time because I had a better understanding of how to set up my initial rack and make my draws work for me. More thoughts on the game in this overview:
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06 Aug 2019
SPIEL '19 Preview now live on BGG, it's time to dig into more titles debuting at that show in Essen, Germany in late October, focusing this time on games from designer Friedemann Friese and his 2F-Spiele publishing house.
In April 2019, I had previewed Fast Sloths, a pick-up-and-deliver game for 2-5 players in which you are a sloth that must be picked up and moved around by other animals. On a turn, you draft animal cards, then play from one to all of the cards of a single animal to move your sloth around the board and pick up leaves to eat. Each animal provides a different type of movement or interaction with you, with ants carrying you along in a chain and the elephant throwing you with its trunk. The first player to eat leaves from eight of the nine trees wins. (For more details, head to my written preview.)
Fast Sloths features a modular game board, and in each game you use only six of the twelve animals included in the box. In my write-up, I had noted that "2F-Spiele says that it's already working on new game board configurations and additional animals", and 2F-Spiele will have two such items available at SPIEL '19. Fast Sloths: Expansion 1 – The Next Holiday! is a new game board that can be combined with the one in the base game to create sixteen different maps, while Fast Sloths: Promo Set – Chameleon, a pack of promo cards, features a slow-moving animal that can serve as a joker for any animal type.
Fire! uses Friese's "Fable Game" system in which the cards in the game come stacked in a particular order, and you introduce new cards to the game based on certain conditions, with these new cards providing twists on the gameplay that you already know.
Fire! is for 1-2 players, with you defending the Earth against space invaders. In the initial level of the nine included in the game, you face four aliens, with each alien having a strength value on the four sides of its card. You start with a shuffled deck of lasers, and on a turn, you reveal a card, then add it to one of your three laser cannons. When the sum of the lasers is high enough, it fires, with the strength being equal to (if I recall correctly) the sum of the lasers multiplied by the number of cards at that laser cannon minus a preset value. If you do enough damage, you reduce the alien to a lower strength value, and if you hit it enough times, it's removed from play.
The challenge in the game comes from your limited resources. Each time you fire a laser cannon, you must remove one of the cards used by that cannon from your deck — which means you have a limited number of shots available. The laser deck isn't huge, so you can generally track what's still in it as you shuffle discards and play out the cards over and over again. If you defeat all of the aliens, you win the level, then go on to the next level, adding more cards to your deck and more aliens to the attackers.
I've played Fire! several times on a demo copy, and I think I made it to level 2 once. As with Friese's solo game Finished!, you need a good memory of what's in your deck so that you make the right plays in the right places, but you're also playing the odds since you'll get whichever card is at the top of the deck, which is not necessarily the card you want.
Power Grid: Middle East/South Africa, a new pair of maps for the Recharged version of Power Grid that was released in Q1 2019. Here's a description of what those items add to the game:Quote:• For decades, there has been an abundance of oil in the Middle East. However, in the near future the so-called "peak oil" threatens this area: This is the point in time when the output of the oil wells begins to decrease. Already, a few countries of this region have nuclear power plants, and that number will increase in the future as the amount of oil from the wells diminishes. Most likely, other energy sources will play a part, too, such as the recycling of plastic waste.
The players start the game with an excessive supply of oil. Additionally, the players have access to plenty of natural gas (using the coal tokens of the base game) and a few solar plants (the green power plants). However, at the start of the game the players cannot buy nuclear or garbage power plants.
During Step 2, the abundance of oil and natural gas will run dry. Both nuclear and garbage power plants will then be available as alternatives. Thus, in the middle of the game the players are forced to adjust their power plant mix.
• The energy supply in South Africa is executed almost exclusively by a single trust, which is the seventh biggest energy supplier in the world measured against the production of energy. Roughly 90% of the energy is produced in coal power plants. Additionally, South Africa uses a few nuclear power plants and both water and wind ecological power plants.
Because of its size, the trust also supplies half of the rest of Africa with energy. Thus, the game board contains six international power connections and a lot of available coal.
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The family game Queenz — full title Queenz: To bee or not to bee — from designers Bruno Cathala and Johannes Goupy feels like a masterclass in game design. Every element works perfectly in delivering the experience that I imagine Cathala and Goupy were trying to present.
In the game, you draft flowers from a field in the row indicated by a farmer: up to three flowers if they're different colors and bee free; up to two flowers if they're bee free; or any single flower. Instead of drafting flowers, you can draft a pentomino from the 1-5 available, then fill it with some combination of flowers and hives, with each player having three hives. If you create a grouping of two or more same-colored flowers, you score points equal to the size of the group and record the creation of that color of honey; when you place another pentomino adjacent to those you played earlier, you can expand color groups (scoring previously placed flowers multiple times) or score new colors (with a decreasing bonus available to those who score all five colors) or both.Midgame in a two-player game
Once someone places their fifth pentomino, each player takes one final turn, then scores their hives, with each hive being worth points equal to the number of bees around it. Place bees smartly, and you'll score them multiple times. Whoever scores the most points wins.
You need to know a few other details to play Queenz, with those details covered in the video below, but the heart of the game comes from the tension between those who try to fill fields quickly and those who want to maximize points from colors and bees. Tied into that is your ability to control (to some degree) what other players can draft; each time you take flowers, you move the farmer ahead that number of spaces around the flower grid, and the next player can draft only from that row — which means you can (possibly) block someone from getting a color or being able to draft multiple tiles or being able to take bees.Final flower field
I've played Queenz five times with two and three players on a mock-up copy from publisher Mandoo Games, with players staking out colors early, then trying to cut off one another, whether when drafting flowers or when taking pentomino tiles, especially when someone is about to puzzle together the perfect shape and flower/bee combos.
As you might imagine, the game is more cutthroat at two players since you each have more control over what your opponent can access. With three players, the farmer moves more between each of your turns, and the pentomino tiles vanish, then are refilled more often, so you need to be more adaptable and lean more toward helping yourself than trying to hurt others. After all, as all bees know you can sting someone only once before you die...
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- SPIEL '19 Preview is now live. I need to put away this laptop as my flight is leaving soon, so more updates later. Zoom!
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AEG - Edge of Darkness, The Captain Is Dead: Dangerous Planet
Alley Cat Games - Welcome to DinoWorld, Cat Café
APE Games - Rice Dice
Bezier Games, Inc. - Silver
Big G Creative - Kenny G: Keepin' It Saxy, Carpool Karaoke Game, Trapper Keeper Game
Big Potato - Blockbuster, What Came First, Head Hackers
Blue Orange Games - Detective Club, Dragon Market, Pappy Winchester
Brain Games - TEAM3, Snowman Dice, Pigasus
Calliope Games - Tsuro: Phoenix Rising
Capstone Games - Ragusa, Watergate
Catalyst Game Labs - Shadowrun: Sprawl Ops
Chip Theory Games - Cloudspire
Cryptozoic Entertainment - Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: ANNIHILAGEDDON! Deck-Building Game, DC Deck-Building Game: Rebirth
Daily Magic Games - Thieves Den, Chocolatiers
Days of Wonder - Ticket to Ride: London
Deep Water Games - Welcome to... expansions
dV Giochi - BANG! The Dice Game - Undead or Alive
Familiar Games - Mageling
Feuerland Spiele - Fuji, Magnastorm
Fireside Games - Castle Panic Big Box
Floodgate Games - Sagrada: The Great Facades – Passion, 3 Laws of Robotics
Forbidden Games - Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates
Fowers Games - Sabotage, Getaway Driver
Foxmind - Bermuda Pirates, Quick Link, The Potion's Magic Scroll
Funko Games - Funkoverse Strategy Game
Gamelyn Games - Tiny Epic Mechs
Gamewright - Dragonrealm, Sushi Roll, Whozit?
Goliath / Games Adults Play - (May Cause) Side Effects, The Misery Index
Good Games Publishing - Fluttering Souls, Fairy Season
Grail Games - Stephenson's Rocket
Grey Fox Games - Reavers of Midgard
HeidelBÄR Games - Wordsmith
Hit 'em With a Shoe - Bee Lives: We Will Only Know Summer
Hobby Japan - Master of Respect
Hobby World - Deranged
Horrible Games - The King's Dilemma
Hub Games - MegaCity: Oceania, Flip Over Frog
IELLO - Ishtar: Gardens of Babylon, SOS Dino, Farmini
Indie Boards & Cards - Aeon's End: The New Age
Junk Spirit Games - Battle of the Bards
Keymaster Games - Control, PARKS
Kolossal Games - Terrors of London expansions
KOSMOS - Adventure Games: Monochrome Inc., Adventure Games: The Dungeon
Lay Waste Games - Metal
Libellud - Obscurio, One Key
Lookout Games - Foothills, Patchwork Doodle
Looney Labs - Are You A Robot?, Jumanji Fluxx, Marvel Fluxx
Mantic Games - Hellboy: The Board Game
Mercury Games - Rail Pass
Mixlore - Pinnacle
Moaideas Games - Towers of Am'harb, Shadow Rivals
Mondo Games/Restoration Games - Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume One, Unmatched: Robin Hood vs. Bigfoot
Next Move Games - 5211, Era: Medieval Age
North Star Games - Wits & Wagers: It's Vegas Baby
Oink Games Inc. - Mr. Face, Tricks and the Phantom, Nine Tiles Panic
Osprey Games - Undaunted: Normandy
Pandasaurus Games - Machi Koro Legacy
Parallel Games - City of the Big Shoulders and the Burden of Destiny expansion
Peaceable Kingdom - Sky Magic
Pearl Games - Black Angel
Pegasus Spiele - Tricky Druids, Crown of Emara
Petersen Games - Glorantha: The Gods War, The Tooth Fairy Game
Plaid Hat Games - Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein, Quirky Circuits
Plan B Games - Century: Golem Edition – Eastern Mountains
Portal Dragon - Planetoid
Portal Games - Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North, Monolith Arena: Academics
Ravensburger - Horrified, Jaws, Disney Villainous: Evil Comes Prepared
Renegade Game Studios - Clank! Expeditions: Temple of the Ape Lords, Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid – Shattered Grid, ArtSee
Rio Grande Games - Caravan
Sit Down! - Gravity Superstar, Bad Bones
Smirk and Dagger Games - Cutthroat Caverns: Anniversary Edition
Spin Master - Wakanda Forever, Sinister Six
Stronghold Games - Amul, Dizzle, Encore!, Diamonds (Second Edition)
Synapses Games - Incubation
Tasty Minstrel Games - Dilluvia Project, Old West Empresario
The OP - Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game, Talisman: Batman – Super-Villains Edition, Astro Trash, Furry Foodies, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – Defence Against the Dark Arts
ThunderGryph Games - Hats, Rolling Ranch
Thunderworks Games - Lockup: A Roll Player Tale, Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale
University Games - Heist: One Team, One Mission, Rubik's Cage
Upper Deck Entertainment - Legendary: A James Bond Deck Building Game
Vigour Games - GROWL
Winning Moves Games USA - Precious Cargo
Wonderment Games - Quodd Heroes
Wyvern Gaming - Cthulhu: The Horror in Dunwich, Sojourn
Z-Man Games - Choose Your Own Adventure: War with the Evil Power Master, Love Letter (2019 edition)
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The Towers of Arkhanos from designers Daniel Alves and Eurico Cunha Neto, which was originally Kickstarted by Creative Games Studio, then picked up by IDW Games.
Each round in The Towers of Arkhanos, you draft a die — or two dice in a two-player game — then place it one of the four towers. Each of the three exterior towers has building restrictions on the numbers and colors of dice that can be placed there, while the central tower can take any die. When you place a die in the exterior tower, you score points, gain the ability to place one of your figures in another tower (giving you influence there), or claim a spell ability for use later.
When a tower level is filled with three dice or figures, players score points based on their influence on that level, then you add a new level tile on top of the dice and figures to continue building. After eight or nine round based on the number of players, you see who's piled up the most influence and wins.
I've played The Towers of Arkhanos five times on a review copy with two and three players, and while the game works, we continually ran into situations in which you had no choice but to place a die in the central tower, despite us often having die-manipulation spell powers that should let us have more choices for where to play. I go into this situation in more detail in this video:
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my overview of Black Angel on the day after Origins 2019 ended and continuing until tomorrow, July 31 with a look at The Towers of Arkhanos — I haven't been able to cover more than a sampling of what will be featured in Indianapolis. Twas an effort doomed to fail, yet an effort that had to be undertaken nevertheless.
This video highlights a few of the Gen Con 2019 games that I've played but not yet covered, games that arrived too late to be covered, and games that seemed appropriate to comment on in some manner. Some of them will also be featured or new (or "new") at SPIEL '19, so I'll have a chance to preview them for that show instead. I already have one such preview video in the can for Monday, August 5, 2019 when the SPIEL '19 Preview will go live on BGG.
For a peek into my highly organized workflow, here's the whiteboard I've been using to track games that I might cover, the number of times I've played these games, and the player counts I've experienced them at:
The board isn't up-to-date and doesn't cover every game that I've covered over the past two months, but it feels good to look at that and see what I've done — while also feeling guilty over what I haven't done. Such is life.
In any case, I have a plane to board soon, so let me drop this video and get packing:
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Rob DaviauUnited States
Machi Koro legacy game?"
The question came from Pandasaurus Games. It was a straightforward question and a variant of one I get from publishers from time to time. I had played Machi Koro. I knew it casually — but a dice-rolling game as a legacy game?
My response: "I don't know. I really don't. Let me think about it."
So I played Machi Koro again. Still not sure. Then I was talking to JR Honeycutt about it, and we started kicking some ideas around. We saw areas where new mechanisms could come in; we saw some story bits on the card illustrations.
So we thought we'd design it together.
What followed was the usual flow of game design, especially legacy game design. A legacy game tries to tell a story and add new mechanisms, with each informing the other. If you take away the narrative, then you are playing a core game and then a series of expansions for no real reason. If you take away the mechanical additions, then you are playing the same game again and again and again while being told a story.
You have to work on the twin engines of new mechanisms and emerging narrative, using each one to inform the other.
So here's the usual issue. Machi Koro Legacy is, as the name suggests, a legacy game. It's all about surprises you get while playing. This makes it hard to get into details without spoiling things, so let me write somewhat elliptically about the things we wanted to do and some vague sense of how we did them.
Engine 1: New Mechanisms
We wanted more options for players during the game. In a legacy game, we ask players to play the same core engine eight, ten, twelve, or eighteen times during the campaign, so this game had to go somewhere beyond just new cards. But yes, you get new cards as you play. We had to go beyond "more cards" while also keeping the game accessible for younger or more casual players.
At its core, Machi Koro is a bit like "My First Craps Game", which I genuinely say with affection because I don't know how to play craps. You are placing bets on probability. You can play it safe in the middle of the bell curve or go for the big payouts at the edges — or you can just stay with the even distribution of one die and try to cover all options in that smaller range. That led to us thinking of other casino games and wondering whether there could be "junior" versions of them.
We took a look at the red cards. These are the attack cards in the game. You know the ones. You've been on the business end on some of them a few times. There are people we've spoken with who have had some bad moments with those. (My wife was one of them.) So we looked at ways to give players the option of playing an "attack heavy" game or an "attack light" game. It took a bit of effort, but we finally landed on something that felt smooth, so your game might have little to no red cards while another group's Machi Koro Legacy game might end up with a lot of red cards.
This is a game about dice. What other ways can you use dice? What other dice can you use?
Over the course of a year, maybe longer, ideas came in and ideas went out. We played with having one game be suddenly co-operative. It was a fun idea and not a bad game, but it was too much to ask people to shift gears that much, learn a new play style, then abandon it. And having a bunch of co-operative games made the first games of competition feel like they hadn't meant anything, so we reluctantly cut that.
Engine 2: The World and Story
We also wanted to tell a story. But what kind of story? Looking at the cards in Machi Koro, we saw a lot of shops, some farmlands. Then we looked a little deeper. That's a very tall mountain in the background on the box cover. Is that...a rocket ship? Near a fairy tale castle?! What's going on in this place?
And then we realized that Machi Koro talks about a place that is already industrialized, a place that has a rocket ship near a castle. There are shops and factories and storage facilities. But what if we went back to when the world was just gearing up. A Machi Koro industrial revolution? It was a start, but if you've studied the industrial revolution in school, you probably didn't think, "This would make a good theme for a light, silly game", so we made our story a lot sillier. A lot. Really. A lot.
We had the outline of a story and the game, and JR ended up talking about the game and the story to Pandasaurus and Grounding, the Japanese company that owns Machi Koro. Discussion led from our loose, vague story to a Japanese fairy tale that had some similar features.
That was all we needed. A fairy tale can be light, can be breezy, can be silly and nonsensical as needed, but still have an underlying story. And most Western players won't know the source material, so it will be original — yet it should be a nice surprise to the Japanese audience to see some folklore put into a game.
After that it was design, development, writing, editing, testing, and repeating all of the above until we had what we wanted.
I personally think that this game will surprise many people in all the ways we hoped it would. Stop by the Pandasaurus Games booth (#1441) at Gen Con 2019 to see for yourself...
Rob DaviauMysteries await!
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Lost Cities: Rivals was that game for me at Gen Con 2018, with my video overview going live in mid-August 2018 after teaching it to people in Indianapolis.
At other times, I've already covered a game, but I just want to play it more. The Mind was one such game, and for Gen Con 2019 that game of choice will be Gabriele Bubola's Hats from ThunderGryph Games. Here's a succinct description of the game from an earlier post of mine:Quote:In this 2-4 player game, each player starts with a hand of nine hat cards. On a turn, either you place a card face down in front of you as a "black hat" for 1 point, or you swap a card from your hand for a card from the tea table board; the card that you play must be either the same type (color) as or a higher value than the card originally on the tea table board. When you swap, you place the newly acquired card in your collection.
At the end of eight rounds, the final card in your hand earns you points for all collected hat cards of the same type, while losing you points for the value of that particular card, and the placement of cards on the tea table board determine the value of matching cards.
Parade, another tricksy card game that relies on "Alice in Wonderland" imagery. In Parade, you have a small hand of cards, and you're trying to play cards to take (or not take) cards already on display in a line. Collected cards count against you, and you want the smallest score possible. One way to reduce your score is to have the most cards of a color as then those cards count as only 1 point each instead of their face value. Every card can be good or bad depending on the circumstances of the game.
Gameplay in Hats reminds me of that Parade feeling, even though the two don't share any elements other than cards. Hats lasts only eight rounds, with you collecting exactly eight cards. The value of those cards depends on what everyone plays on the tea table board, so you're sort of creating alliances with others (when playing with more than two) to boost the value of a color you're both collecting. Low numbers are good for holding as a favorite color at game's end and for placing on the board as bait that can be easily removed in the future; high numbers let you claim (nearly) anything on the tea table board to transform it into your ideal scoring layout.
I've played Hats four times on a review copy from ThunderGryph, and I dig how much is packed into its short playing time, with every card mattering (Mad Hattering?) in how the game plays out. I've yet to play with four players, though, so I need to get more games in. With four, you're teamed with the player across from you and all the cards are in play. Instead of being able to discard a card from your hand to draw something new — which you can do with two and three players to fish for info or for better cards (whatever "better" means in your current situation) —you instead trade cards with your teammate, ideally trading info so that you can synch up in your plays and scoring.
I go into more detail about Hats in this overview. If you happen to be going to Gen Con and find me standing around looking lost, I'm might be trying to find players for this game. Grab a table with me!
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