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More Cards for Dominion, More Palaces for Carrara, and More Animals to Stack Upon Animals

W. Eric Martin
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• While many of us were busy with Gen Con 2021, U.S. publisher Rio Grande Games announced Dominion: Allies, the 14th expansion in the Dominion game line from Donald X. Vaccarino.

Board Game: Dominion: Allies

Here's an overview of this December 2021 release:
Quote:
It's a celebration! People are dancing in the streets, and riding horses through the dance halls. You've finally formed an alliance with the barbarians to the north. Instead of the streets running red with blood, they'll run, well, the usual color — let's not focus on what color the streets run. The point is, there's peace. Sure, negotiations were tricky. The barbarians are uncouth; they have no five-second rule and stick out the wrong finger when drinking tea. There are perks, too, though. They've given you skulls to drink mead out of and spices to get rid of the skull aftertaste. And you've given them stuff in return: forks, mirrors, pants. It's great for everyone. And with this treaty out of the way, you can get to work on your other neighbors. Soon, all the allies will be yours.

Dominion: Allies contains 400 cards, with 31 new Kingdom card piles that contain allies who will do favors for you and split piles that you can rotate.
Board Game: The Palaces of Carrara
• Belgian publisher Game Brewer plans to release a new version of The Palaces of Carrara from Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling, the design team behind its 2020 release Paris. This title will be Kickstarted in December 2021, and it will be followed by a new release from Kramer and Kiesling based on this calendar of crowdfunding projects on the Game Brewer website:

Oak, by Wim Goossens — October 2021
Palaces of Carrara (remake), by Kramer & Kiesling — December, 2021
Camargue (working title), by Franz Couderc — January, 2022
Lord's Land (working title), by Kramer & Kiesling — March, 2022
Hippocrates expansion, by Alain Orban — May, 2022
Pixie Queen expansion and big box, by Rudy Seuntjens — October 2022

• Designer Max Wikström has written designer diaries about many of the aspects of the 1-4 player co-operative fantasy game Agemonia, which is being Kickstarted by Finnish publisher Lautapelit.fi ahead of a planned 2022 release.

Board Game: Agemonia

HABA is expanding its "My First..." line of products in 2021 with My First Advent Calendar, and while this item isn't a game, I'll be darned if it wouldn't make an ideal expansion for the Animal Upon Animal line, possibly with players taking turns to draft critters prior to the start of play.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
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Tue Sep 21, 2021 1:00 pm
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Fantasy Flight Announces Expansions for Star Wars: Outer Rim and Descent: Legends of the Dark

W. Eric Martin
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Keeping up with tradition, Fantasy Flight Games hosted an In-Flight Report on the eve of Gen Con 2021, with the largest announcement being the Unfinished Business expansion for Star Wars: Outer Rim, with the title seeming to be a comment on the product itself given how often people have asked for an expansion.

No details were released — only this presumably non-final cover, given that it lacks the designer credits and other details you might expect to see. For this title and others, FFG gave no release dates, which makes sense given that release dates are often bunkum these days thanks to continued issues with manufacturing and shipping.

Board Game: Star Wars: Outer Rim – Unfinished Business

Along similar lines, FFG announced Descent: Legends of the Dark – Ghosts of Greyhaven, and this expansion can be incorporated as a side story in the Act I campaign included in Descent: Legends of the Dark, or it can be played as a standalone adventure, although presumably using components from the earlier standalone game. Act II of Descent: Legends of the Dark is in development.

Board Game: Descent: Legends of the Dark – Ghosts of Greyhaven
Prototype miniature from Ghosts of Greyhaven
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Thu Sep 16, 2021 1:00 pm
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Take Part of History in Antoine Bauza's 7 Wonders: Architects

W. Eric Martin
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When Belgian publisher Repos Production introduced something titled "7 Wonders Mystery" in April 2021, everyone was hoping for a new expansion for Antoine Bauza's classic card-drafting game 7 Wonders or at least something playable related to that game, but the announcement instead involved a puzzle-solving contest, which left a lot of mixed feelings among fans of the game.

Board Game: 7 Wonders: Architects

Today, however, Repos Production has announced a new standalone game from Bauza — 7 Wonders: Architects, with the press release for this Q4 2021 release touting "streamlined gameplay with easy-to-understand rules and true-to-life scale recreations of the world’s wonders". Public details about the game are minimal to this point:
Quote:
In 7 Wonders: Architects, 2-7 players race to become a leader of the ancient world by completing an architectural wonder that will last through the ages.

Players receive an unconstructed wonder at the beginning of the game and must collect resources to build their society, develop military might to navigate conflicts, oversee resource management, research science improvements, and collect civil victory points as they race to leave their mark on world history.
Here's a bit more from the press release for this title, which will retail for US$50:
Quote:
The rules have been re-imagined from the ground-up with family gameplay in mind, making for a quicker, easier to understand and more family friendly experience.

"As I get older, I play more games with my family than a gaming group. This got me thinking about games that are welcoming to newcomers and can be enjoyed by friends and families," Antoine Bauza, the creator of the 7 Wonders franchise, said. "7 Wonders: Architects is built around the idea that games can be enjoyed by anyone, even players who are new to the hobby. Games like 7 Wonders: Architects are perfect for introducing more people to our hobby, and I look forward to welcoming a new generation of board game enthusiasts."
Since distributor Asmodee North America is not taking part in Gen Con 2021, it has instead promised to reveal more details about the game in an unboxing and playthrough on its Facebook page on Thursday, September 16 at 2:00 p.m. EDT. I've played the game more than a half-dozen times to this point, and I'll post both an unboxing video and a written and video overview of my own at that same time.

For now, you are left to decipher what you can about the game from these promotional images:

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Taking a turn

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Classic "kids win / parent looks baffled" shot

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Grabbing the cat

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Fri Sep 10, 2021 4:40 pm
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Brave New Adventures with Your Stone Age Tribe, Welcome Trees & Creatures to Your Bonfire, and Vary Your Set-up for War of the Ring

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Microbadge: Great Western Trail fanMicrobadge: The Great Zimbabwe fanMicrobadge: Battlestar Galactica - I am a CylonMicrobadge: COIN fanMicrobadge: Twilight Imperium (fourth edition) fan
• In October 2021, German publisher Hans im Glück will release Paleo: Ein neuer Anfang (A New Beginning), a large expansion for Peter Rustemeyer's Kennerspiel des Jahres-winning Paleo that jumps ahead several thousand years, with your tribe trying to settle down while facing new dangers and tasks with new skills and tools.

Board Game: Paleo: Ein neuer Anfang

Board Game: Anno 1800
Martin Wallace's Anno 1800 from KOSMOS will receive an expansion in 2022, according to the designer, who spoke with Wargamer (link) about what this item changes and adds to the base game.

Developer Stephen Hurn has detailed these changes himself on BGG, noting in a follow-up post that the expansion is meant to address concerns that people had about the base game. Here's an excerpt from Wallace in Wargamer:
Quote:
Moments in which cards were previously randomly allocated to players have been removed, and replaced with mechanics that grant players more choice in what cards they pick up. Similarly, every player will start with a similar set of cards instead of random draws, including the powerful "engineer" card that previously granted lucky players early access to advanced technologies. These minor changes are intended to reduce the randomness of your initial hand, and remove luck from the game.
• U.S. publisher Arcane Wonders has posted a cover image for an expansion to Jon Perry's Air, Land & Sea titled Spies, Lies & Supplies. No clue yet as to what's underneath the cover, but I can at least show you that.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Also on the Air, Land & Sea front, Arcane Wonders will release a reskin of the base game at Gen Con 2021 titled Air, Land & Sea: Critters at War that has the same rules as the original version, but with critters and more vibrant colors.

Board Game: Air, Land & Sea: Critters at War

Board Game: Bonfire
• Publishers Hall Games and Pegasus Spiele are inviting us to reignite Stefan Feld's big, 2020 release Bonfire with its first expansion, Bonfire: Trees & Creatures, which is a SPIEL '21 release. The Trees & Creatures expansion, designed by Feld and Tim Schleimer, allows you to add a fifth player and incorporates new modules bringing some new flavor to Bonfire as briefly described below by the publisher:
Quote:
On Asperia, every day is unique and brings surprising events that constantly change the life and work of the gnomefolk. Now ancient trees have been reinvigorated by the guardians, while the gnomes seek the help of mysterious and mighty creatures.

Board Game: Bonfire: Trees & Creatures

In Bonfire: Trees & Creatures, the story continues, with players being able to expand the base game with three modules that can be combined with one another, in addition to being able to add a fifth player. Players can expand their city by acquiring and placing tree tiles above their path tiles, unlocking useful bonuses and new ways to score at the end of the game. At the beginning of the game, each player drafts a creature card with a unique ability. Every time the player who began the game places a new fate tile, a new event card that changes a certain rule is drawn and affects all players.
Board Game: War of the Ring: Second Edition
• While combing through Virtual Flea Market listings for my local gaming convention last week, I managed to resist the urge to purchase War of the Ring goodies someone posted, but I was reminded that I need to get that thematic beast back to the table soon. After poking around the interwebs for other War of the Ring goodies, I was delighted to discover The Fate of Erebor, a new mini-expansion from Ares Games and designers Roberto Di Meglio, Marco Maggi, and Francesco Nepitello.

The Fate of Erebor, which is available for pre-order, allows players to change up Middle-earth history and change the set-up of War of the Ring as detailed below:
Quote:
What if the Battle of Five Armies was lost by the Free Peoples, and Dáin never became King Under the Mountain? What if the Dwarves of the Iron Hills were just the scattered survivors of their kin, fighting a strenuous battle to defend their homes? What if Dale was never rebuilt?

When playing the War of the Ring board game, we assume the "historical" outcome for the Battle of Five Armies. The Fate of Erebor is a variant for War of the Ring in which you assume the Shadow player won the Battle of Five Armies, changing the course of history drastically. Orcs settle in the Lonely Mountain and establish a stronghold there. Dwarves remain in the Iron Hills, but their community is far from thriving. In the wake of the lost battle, Laketown is no more, and the Kingdom of Dale is never re-established, with only ruins remaining. How much can the Fate of Erebor change the course of the War of the Ring? You can find out, playing this variant.

Board Game: War of the Ring: The Fate of Erebor

In this mini-expansion set for the War of the Ring board game, you can find all you need to "adapt" the game to this possible outcome of the Battle of Five Armies. This expansion contains a rule sheet, 4 board overlay tiles to place on the game board, and 8 alternate cards (4 Free Peoples Event cards, 2 Shadow Event cards, and 2 Alternate Gimli Character cards).

In the rule sheet you find the new set-up with the changes on the map, and all the instructions to play this alternative scenario, increasing the game's possibilities for all the fans.
The Fate of Erebor was included as a promotional item with copies of The Battle of Five Armies Collector's Edition and was given out with first print copies of the revised edition of The Battle of Five Armies, but it's great to see it will be more widely available for War of the Ring fans.
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Fri Sep 10, 2021 1:00 pm
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Deliver Mille Fiori with Reiner Knizia and Schmidt Spiele

W. Eric Martin
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• The latest handful of games added to BGG's SPIEL '21 Preview come from German publisher Schmidt Spiele, with the splashiest title being the big-box design Mille Fiori from designer Reiner Knizia.

Board Game: Mille Fiori

This game, due out in October 2021, is for 2-4 players and bears a 60-90 minute playing time, which is longer than most modern Knizia designs (although 2021's The Siege of Runedar from Spanish publisher Ludonova has that same listed timespan). In any case, here's an overview of the game based on my understanding of the German rules (PDF):
Quote:
In Mille Fiori, you take the role of glass manufacturers and traders who want to profit as much as they can from their role in the production of glass art.

The game board features different aspects of the glass production cycle: workshops where the glass is created, houses where it's installed, people who support your work, trade shops where it's sold, and the harbor where ships bring glass to faraway locations. You want to be present in all of these areas, preferably at just the right time to maximize your earnings. The game board features 110 spaces, with one card in the deck for each of those spaces.

At the start of a round, each player receives a hand of five cards; additionally, place as many cards as the number of players face up next to the game board. Each player chooses a card from hand, then passes the remaining cards to the next player, then each player plays their card in turn, beginning with the round's start player and typically placing a diamond-shaped token of your color in the location depicted on that card:

—In the workshops, you score 1 point for each of your tokens in a connected group with the newly placed token, doubling that score if you played on a pigment field.
—In the line of houses, you score the listed number of points, and if your token is preceded in the line by one or more tokens of your color, you score those previously played tokens again.
—In the people pyramids, you score 1, 3 or 6 points based on the height of your token, but you can place at higher levels only if the lower spaces are filled. Double your points if the card symbol matches the space your filled. Supporting tokens score again as higher tokens are placed.
—In the trade shops, four types of goods are present, and when you place a token, each token on that goods type scores for its owner points equal to the number of goods of that type now covered.
—In the harbor, you move your ship equal to the number on the played card, scoring points based on the space where you land, then place a token in one of the five rows. When that row is filled with three ships, each token in that row scores for its owner 1/3/6/10 points depending on the number of trade goods in that row.

Alternatively, you can play a card for ship movement points and not place a token on the game board.

Board Game: Mille Fiori

Each player plays four cards in a round (or only three cards in a two-player game), then places the remaining card(s) in hand beside the game board, then the start player marker rotates and you begin a new round.

For each of the five areas, you can meet a certain condition that allows you to play a bonus card from those on the side of the game board, e.g., in the workshops when you place the third card that surrounds a bonus card symbol and in the trade shops when you score a goods type that gives someone else more points than you. When you play a bonus card, you might trigger another bonus card...and then another!

Additionally, you have five opportunities to score 20/15/10/5 bonus points, e.g., in houses when you have placed tokens on houses of four different values and in the people pyramids when you have placed tokens on all three types in a pyramid. You can score each such bonus only once, and you score the highest available bonus at the time you achieve it.

When you can't deal a hand of five cards to each player or when someone has placed their final token, the game ends, then players add their bonus points to their current score to see who wins.
Board Game: Voll verplant
Board Game: Metro X
Board Game: Metro X
Voll verplant, which translates as "Fully scheduled", is a new edition of Hisashi Hayashi's MetroX, which debuted from his own OKAZU Brand in 2018 before being picked up by U.S. publisher Gamewright in 2020.

From what I can tell, the gameplay of Voll verplant is identical to what existed in MetroX, so perhaps these game listings will be combined earlier, but for now they stand alone. In case you're not familiar with the earlier game, here's how to play:
Quote:
In Voll verplant, players create subway networks by filling in the station spaces on their individual game sheets. Using the numbers revealed by the cards, all players fill up their subway map with Xs in the station spaces. However, the number of times they can add stations to each line is limited, so they have to make tough choices. Players can score many points by getting their star bonuses in stations with many intersecting routes. Players also get bonuses by being the first to complete routes. Try to fill in all your stations to minimize the penalties and achieve a high score!

In more detail, each player has their own sheet of paper, with the game including subway maps for Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, and Madrid, with the first two being recommended for new players. Each sheet shows an interwoven subway system, with the system consisting of many subway lines; each line has a name, a number of indicator boxes, a number of empty station boxes on the subway route, and two bonuses. On a turn, a player reveals the top indicator card from the deck of fourteen cards, then each player individually and simultaneously chooses a subway line, then does something depending on which type of card is revealed:

—If a number is revealed, the player writes the number in one of that line's indicator boxes, then draws a X in each box in the line starting with the closest empty box, stopping when they've reached the end of the line, reached an already filled-in space, or drawn the indicated number of Xs.
—If a circled number is revealed, the player does what is described above, but they can skip over already filled-in spaces instead of stopping.
—If a star is revealed, the player draws a star in one of that line's indicator boxes, then in the closest empty space on that line they write a number equal to double the number of lines that pass through that station box.
—If a circle is revealed, the player writes nothing in an indicator box and draws a X in any empty station box.

Board Game: Voll verplant

At the end of a turn, if a player has finished a subway line by reaching the final space, they announce this to all players, then score the larger of the two bonuses for this line; all other players cross out the large bonus and can score the small bonus for themselves if they complete this line later. Multiple players can score a line's bonus on the same turn. If the indicator card has a shuffle icon on it, shuffle all of the indicator cards together before the next turn.

Once all the indicator boxes are filled, the game ends. Players tally their points scored for completing lines and for writing numbers in boxes, then lose points based on the number of empty spaces that remain on their sheet. Whoever has the highest score wins!
Board Game: Clever hoch Drei: Challenge Block
• Other titles coming from Schmidt Spiele in late 2021 include Wolfgang Warsch's Clever hoch Drei: Challenge Block, which allows you to play the roll-and-write game Clever hoch Drei with a somewhat different player sheet, which will likely force you to adopt different approaches to gameplay.

Another Schmidt release is a tenth anniversary edition of Susan McKinley Ross' Qwirkle to celebrate the game's Spiel des Jahres win in 2011. This edition will contain rules in German, French, and Italian and feature acrylic tiles instead of the wooden tiles normally present in the game.

Board Game: Qwirkle
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Wed Sep 8, 2021 1:00 pm
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Build the Tholos of Delphi, Manipulate Espresso Dishes, and Insert Bruno Cathala in Your Collection

W. Eric Martin
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• One of the newest titles on BGG's SPIEL '21 Preview is Walter Obert's Espresso Doppio, this being a two-player game from German publisher HUCH! that includes actual espresso cups, spoons, and saucers should you care to drink before, during, or after playing the game, which works as follows:
Quote:
Espresso Doppio contains three espresso cups, saucers, and spoons in three colors, and your goal during the game is to place them and move them on the placemat to match the combinations depicted on your task cards.

Board Game: Espresso Doppio

To set up, shuffle the deck of 16 task cards and give half to each player, each of whom reveals three cards face up. Players take turns placing items one at a time on the placemat, which has room for five settings on it. You can mix or match colors as you wish, but two of the same item (saucer, cup, spoon) can never be on the same setting. On a turn, you take 1-3 actions, with an action consisting of moving any one item from one setting to another or swapping items on one setting for items on another setting. After your actions, you score coffee beans for whatever task cards you can, with some cards scoring multiple times if the conditions are right.

As soon as a player has scored all eight cards, the players swap their decks of task cards, shuffle them, then reveal three task cards and continue playing. Once a player has scored eight cards in the second round of play, the game ends and whoever has collected the most coffee beans wins.
Tholos, from designer David Bernal and publisher Perro Loko Games, is another two-player design, and this game was on the SPIEL '21 Preview, but it turns out that the production won't be ready in time for the show — which means the publisher is now weighing whether to attend at all given the cost involved to demo something that can't yet be bought.

Board Game: Tholos

In any case, I can present an overview of how to play since you can refer to it anytime regardless of your ability to visit Essen, Germany:
Quote:
Participate in the construction of the Tholos of Delphi, the temple that marks the center of the universe marked by Zeus and built inside the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia. As a builder, face your opponent in a duel and achieve the greatest influence within its sacred construction. May the gods be propitious to you!

Tholos is a game of majorities for two players with high interaction. On a turn, you take one of two actions:

—Take stones of one color from the quarry into your workshop, with each workshop holding at most three stones. You can take up to three stones of your color (black/white), up to two neutral stones (gray), or one stone of your opponent (white/black).
—Play any stone from your workshop onto the game board. The board has seven locations, each with a unique power, and each location can have a column of at most five stones. If you place a stone of your color in a location, then you take the special action associated with that location, e.g., moving the top stone of a column to another location, moving a stone from the opponent's workshop to your workshop, placing a second stone from your workshop, or returning a played stone to the quarry.

When all seven columns have five stones on them, the game ends and players receive points for each column where they have more stones than the opponent — but this isn't necessarily a good thing. When you score a column, you receive 1 point for each stone of your color, 3 points for each stone of the opposing color, and -2 points for each neutral stone. each column awards points to the player who has the most stones of their color in that column.

Board Game: Tholos

In the advanced mode of Tholos, you place one or more ornament tiles on the game board, each in a different location. Each ornament tile has a power that changes the rules of the game, such as activating the power of a location with gray stones, awarding a column to the player with fewer stones than the opponent, or raising the maximum number of stones in the location's column to seven.
Board Game: INSERT
• Let's go from a two-player game not available at SPIEL '21 to a two-player game not currently available in physical form at all: Bruno Cathala's INSERT, which is playable on online gaming site Board Game Arena.

I first mentioned INSERT in an April 2020 round-up of Bruno Cathala designs, and in a December 2019 article on TricTrac he described the game as follows:
Quote:
Often, I am asked in an interview what is the game that I prefer among all mine, what is my "best" game. I've always answered with a pirouette, asking the reporter which of his children he preferred. Today my answer will most likely be INSERT. It's most likely not the game that will have the biggest commercial success, but it's what I consider to be "my best game".
As for how to play, here's the entirety of the rules:
Quote:
INSERT is an abstract strategy game for two players in which you attempt align five rings of your color to win.

To set up, arrange the four 3x3 tiles at random into a 6x6 grid. Each square of the grid has a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line on it. The first player places one of their rings on any unoccupied space, and the line in that space indicates the direction in which the opponent must place their ring: vertically, horizontally, or diagonally in line with the ring just placed. If the opponent can't place a ring in this direction because each square in this line is occupied, then the opponent can place a ring in any unoccupied square.

If you manage to insert a ring between two rings owned by the opponent — whether by placing your X piece in a space like this O_O or in a space like this OXX_O — then you change those opposing rings to your color.

If the board is full and no one has managed to create a row of five rings in their color, then the player with the largest orthogonally connected group of rings wins.
I've now played INSERT ten times on BGA with a 7-3 record thanks to a friend who kept playing despite doing less then great. (Six of my wins were against him, with one other against a rando.) The game is brilliantly simple, with just enough look ahead that you have some idea of what will/could come next, but at a certain point the cloud of possibilities is too dense to realize everything that could happen. Some basics of how to play are immediate after the first game or two:

—Make moves that the other player must follow with a forced play. In the game below, for example, my opponent led with the piece at 1-2 (row-column) in the first row, thereby forcing me to play in 2-1. Was that good for him? Not immediately, but he knew where I had to go, which meant he knew what the options were for his next turn.

—If you can force the opponent into making a move that would give you a free move, take it. Instead of being limited in what you can do, you can go anywhere — and often that one free move will be all you need to win.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

—Edge spaces are not necessarily good. My opponent mentioned that his time playing Othello was working against him, and I could see that was the case because he would often overlook a move that would set up an insert on my part. In Othello, you must surround a piece to flip it, which means that a corner position is invulnerable and an edge space is often secure. In INSERT, you want to be the meat in an opponent's bread sandwich because then you transform that whole shebang to meat, which means that claiming an edge space (often) locks in one piece of bread, which you must then play around in the future so that you don't lose it.

In the game above, I had flipped two of my opponent's pieces, and my most recent play had set up a winning position. If he played in the leftmost space, I could play at 5-5, flipping his two pieces and creating a row of five; if he played on the rightmost space, I could then play at 6-6, giving him no viable winning moves after that: A play at 1-6 gives me a free placement; a play at 2-6 lets me complete a row of five at 3-5; and a play at 4-6 will let me play at 5-5 to win (or drag things out by playing at 6-4, after which the opponent goes 5-5, giving me a free placement).

Bottom line, the game is simple and clever, and I'm glad that I can play it on BGA until Swiss publisher Hurrican brings the physical game to market. Maybe I'll see you play there at some point...
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Sun Sep 5, 2021 1:00 pm
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Collect Cabbages, Fight for Energy, Decipher Codes, and Bogart the Buffet

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Cabbage Farm
Cabbage Farm is (as far as I can tell) the first release from Thai publisher Aroi Games, with this design by Vatcharis Thanomsub being a 2-4 player game in which you have a large worker in a shared cabbage patch, then choose from five available actions each turn, moving your worker to collect cabbage, using cards to take special actions, calling on Lampy and Cukoo to steal coins and cabbages from opponents, and so on.

Your goal is to complete target cards that award points at game's end, with additional points coming from coins, cabbages, and pairs of matching colored cabbages.

Board Game: Cabbage Farm

Board Game: The Coding
• Another title from Vatcharis Thanomsub, co-designed with Threetases Thanomsub, is The Coding, which was self-published through DNR Boardgame in 2020.

In this game, each of the 2-4 players receives a letter (A-F) and two numbers (0-9), and your goal is to keep your info safe while revealing the codes of others. On a turn, you must pick a data card that reveals something about what you don't have in your hand, e.g., pick the "A-B" data card to show you don't have either of those letters, then select and play a hack card that others must answer, e.g. "Do you have 0, 4, or 7?"

After a few rounds, select a player and guess their entire code, eliminating them from the game if you're correct and revealing one of your secret characters if you are not. The last player still in the game wins.

• An earlier Thai release is Shewsheep Shameless Buffet, a 2019 self-published game from Tuang Dheandhanoo for 2-5 players. Here's the setting and an overview of how to play:
Quote:
You and your friends are at THE famous multinational buffet place. The chef cooks food from all over the world, but sends out only five dishes a time, and the chef might not cook the same food for quite some time, so if you want to eat it, you have to snatch it before everybody else. Today you have to choose between friendship and good food.

Board Game: Shewsheep Shameless Buffet

The take-that card game Shewsheep Shameless Buffet lets you compete with your friends over food. You want to be the first to reach 25 points, and eating food in a combo results in a bonus score, so grab what you need to fill the plate. Many trick cards allow you score extra points or play tricks on your friends.

The owner of Shewsheep and friends characters — Sumit Simargool — is also the co-creator of this game.
• Another 2019 release is Reboot from designers Anatchai Chinsuvapala and Supakit Chapoom and publisher BGN.

Board Game: Reboot

The gist of this 3-6 player game is that you are a ROBORG (Robotic Battlefield Operator for Recon and General purpose), and while you and your fellow robots have successfully destroyed all of humanity as you intended to do, only one energy source remains in the world, so now you must fight one another to claim control of it.

You use your remaining energy to move, equip yourself with attack cards, and take other actions, and at the end of each player's turn in a round, that round's lead player places a disaster token face down in one section of the board, then reveals the previous face-down disaster token, which immediately affects all ROBORGs in that section. Available space on the board keeps getting squeezed, and if you run out of energy, you're out of the game.

• What else is coming from Thailand in terms of modern games? Ragnarok: Battle Card Collector from Siam Board Games, with this being a far cuter take on Ragnarok that what is normally presented.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Among many other titles, publisher Time Capsule Board Game Studio has Monster Restaurant, about which I can only post these two images:

From gallery of W Eric Martin

From gallery of W Eric Martin

And that game will be followed by ROLL MON, a trading cube game (TCG) in which each player fields a pair of cubes, with each color of cube having different strengths, with red providing fast attacks, green restoring hit points and reflecting damage, blue freezing things and increasing actions, and white using equipment and special skills. While in battle, you roll a character onto a new side, then use the effect of that side to move, attack, support, draw cards, use skills, and so on.

The depicted starter set includes four cubes for a two-player game, and it will be followed by the Flame Lance booster pack.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

From gallery of W Eric Martin
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Sat Sep 4, 2021 1:00 pm
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Become the Rocketeer, Join the Goonies, and Live Life as Beth Harmon

W. Eric Martin
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• The quest to sell a chess-like game that will bring chess fans and chess haters to the table is decades old and will likely never be achieved, but that doesn't stop designers and publishers from trying. The latest example of this quest is The Queen's Gambit: Das Damengambit, a game for 2-4 players that publisher Mixlore will release in Germany and Spain in October 2021. (Editions in other languages might also be forthcoming, but I know of only those two.)

Board Game: The Queen's Gambit: Das Damengambit

Here's an overview of how the game works:
Quote:
Can you visualize chess games like Beth Harmon in The Queen's Gambit, thinking multiple moves ahead of her opponents?

In The Queen's Gambit: Das Damengambit, you can try to outwit your fellow players by playing with as much foresight as she did. Each of the 2-4 players has their own gambit piece that moves across the chessboard, and your turns are always planned three moves in advance by laying down cards upon which chess pieces are depicted. On your turn, you reveal your first card; move the gambit piece according to what's depicted on that card, ideally capturing chess tiles in the process; then refill your row by placing a third card in your personal queue.

Board Game: The Queen's Gambit: Das Damengambit

Once all the chess tiles have been captured, the game ends and whoever has collected the most tiles wins.
I know it seems ludicrous to have a game bearing this brand that is not just chess — but if you're paying to get the license, you're not going to release a game that's available in a thousand other ways. You want your own thing that people have to come to you to get, so here it is: a chess-like game that will never satisfy chess enthusiasts who want unadulterated chess, but that might interest those who like the idea of chess but who don't want to wade into a field of experts.

In a Twitter thread about this game, I mused about other game concepts that could emerge from this license, such as a cat-and-mouse game in which you're hiding tranquilizers from those who run the orphanage or perhaps a solo game about overturning the strictures and chauvinism of a male-dominated subculture to claim a space of your own. Maybe you have suggestions of your own?

Fun fact: "Das Damengambit" is the German title for this Netflix series, so the translated title of this game is "The Queen's Gambit: The Queen's Gambit".

• Apparently 2021 is the year of Goonies nostalgia in the game industry given that Funko Games'
The Goonies: Never Say Die debuted in July 2021, and now The Op has announced The Goonies: Escape With One-Eyed Willy's Rich Stuff for release in Q4 2021.

Board Game: The Goonies: Escape With One-Eyed Willy's Rich Stuff – A Coded Chronicles Game

This title is a "Coded Chronicles" game from designers Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim, with this being an at-home escape room-style game in which the narrative storyline from the film serves as a guide for players to work together and unlock new locations and resources using a code-revealing mechanism. In the game you can play as Mikey, Brand, Mouth, Data, Andy, Stef, Chunk, and Sloth, and each character offers their own special skill as you work to reach The Inferno. (For comparison, the previous "Coded Chronicles" titles are Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion and The Shining: Escape from the Overlook Hotel.)

• Yet another decades-old movie that is coming to tabletop is 1991's The Rocketeer, which pseudonymous designer Prospero Hall and publisher Funko Games will present as the two-player game The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future, with this title debuting at Gen Con 2021, then hitting retail outlets later.

Board Game: The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future

Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:
Quote:
Trouble is brewing high above the city of angels! The mysterious Rocketeer — who can blast through the skies with an ingenious jet-pack — must stop a sinister plot. Hollywood actor Neville Sinclair is scheming to steal the rocket's blueprints as this breakthrough of modern engineering could revolutionize the future of flight. But in Sinclair's hands, it could also fuel the dark future of warfare.

In The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future, you play as either the heroes or the villains. On your turn, pick one of your characters and take an action with them, optionally playing cards from your hand that match that character's symbol. Card actions are: Move, Tussle (combat), Gain Grit, Raise Rocket Token (heroes), Recruit a Soldier (villain). Players alternate turns until all six characters (three on each side) have taken actions and are exhausted, then players gain rewards based on control of the locations and prepare for a new round.

Board Game: The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future

The end of the game happens when the Luxembourg Zeppelin reaches LA, after which you play the final round, then the game ends.
Believe it or not, a sequel/reboot of the original movie was announced on August 30, 2021, with The Return of the Rocketeer being developed for Disney+, so you can look forward to seeing The Return of the Rocketeer: Further Future Fates on your tabletop in 2051.
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Thu Sep 2, 2021 1:00 pm
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Create Settlements, Become King of the Valley, and Use Mindbugs to Take Control of Battle

W. Eric Martin
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As a constant behind everything else I do, I've been updating BGG's SPIEL '21 Preview, which contains "only" 289 listings at the time I'm writing this due to publishers and organizations deciding not to attend (e.g., Japon Brand and Taiwan Boardgame Design) as well as uncertainty about which games will make it to the fair in time. Some publishers have already moved to "demo only" status for previously announced games, whereas others haven't responded to my request to complete a survey because they're waiting for updates themselves.

That said, here are short takes on three newly listed titles:

Board Game: Settlement

Settlement is a 1-4 player game from designer Oleksandr Nevskiy and Ukranian publisher IGAMES. The rules haven't yet been posted, so for now I can offer only this overview:
Quote:
You are the leader of settlers who have discovered new lands. Using powerful artifacts, you will explore terrains, hunt monsters, construct buildings, and create outposts. Collect diamonds and gold and welcome mighty heroes to make your settlement the most famous one!

In more detail, in Settlement you need to effectively manage settlers and resources. The goal of the game is to score as many victory points as possible by the end of the last round. Each round, players take turns in clockwise order, beginning with the starting player. On your turn, you can invite a hero or use one of your settlers to take one of these seven actions:

1. Construct a building
2. Explore a terrain
3. Hunt a monster
4. Build an outpost
5. Activate a region
6. Activate a street
7. Activate an outpost

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Rendered individual player board

On your turn, if you have the required resources, you may spend them to invite a hero in your settlement. Heroes are useful because they bring you victory points. Sometimes, a hero's score depends on your buildings, terrains, or outposts; some heroes also provide you with extra settlers. You may pass immediately after playing your turn if you're ready to end the current round. If you cannot do anything on your turn, then you must pass. Take a new artifact among the available ones, then return your previous artifact. Once all players have passed, the round ends.

At the end of the sixth round, the game ends, and you sum points from your hero cards and buildings. The player with the most victory points wins, and their settlement becomes the main outpost of the land!
Board Game Publisher: The Game Master BV
• Designer Hans van Tol of Dutch publisher The Game Master will release the 2-4 player game King of the Valley, which as he notes here began life as a two-player-only game, but which picked up fans who enjoyed playing with three and four players as well. Says van Tol, "[W]ith two players the game is very strategic since you can plan ahead quite well, although it is still quite a task to oversee all actions and effects on the board. With three or four, the game is quite dynamic and interactive. You can still choose your strategy and plan, but the game becomes just more tactical instead of strategic due to the high influence of the choices other players make."

As for what's going on in the game and how to play, here's an overview:
Quote:
A long time ago in a land far, far away, there was a thriving valley with various inhabitants. They wandered aimlessly in need of a true leader to guide them. Are you the king who will lead them the way? Do you have a strategy to acquire their trust, and are you cunning enough to challenge other would-be kings? They cannot be trusted as they will do anything to claim the crown you deserve. No sacrifice is too big or small for them. They may think being king is as easy as summoning subjects to their side, squeezing the gold from their pockets through taxes, and arranging some marriages, but only a true king will be able to keep up the morale and lead the inhabitants through the chaos of the ever-changing circumstances in the valley and the hills.

Board Game: King of the Valley
This cover tells a story on its own!

In King of the Valley, you must obtain the highest reputation of all the kingly contenders, with reputation being determined by influence, bonuses, and gold. To set up, lay out 25 of the character tiles from age I in a 5x5 grid, with each king starting on a different tile and with 2 gold in their reserve.

On a turn, you can first choose to acquire a tile from the "hill" for the listed gold price; the hill has two columns of six characters, with the characters costing 2-10 gold based on their height on the hill. When you acquire a tile, add it to your personal castle board. Characters have 0-5 influence, with the 1-5 influence characters being sorted by type and with the 0-value jester standing in for a character of your choice (but still being worth 0 influence). You then move your king orthogonally or diagonally, stopping on the character tile you want to claim; alternatively, you can move across 2-3 identical characters in a line, stopping on the space after them in order to collect them all! Add these character tile(s) to your castle board, and if you now have face-up characters with influence from 1-5, you can turn them face down to claim a kingdom bonus of points and coins.

To end your turn, refill empty spaces in the grid by choosing one column of the hill, then drawing characters from it as needed to fill empty spaces. Finally, draw character tiles from the stack to refill the hill, thereby giving everyone a glimpse at what can come on the playing area in the future, not to mention what can be acquired if you have enough coins in hand.

Board Game: King of the Valley
Board Game: King of the Valley
Board Game: King of the Valley

Specialist characters show up on the board — the priest, the wizard, and the tax collector — with you receiving immediate bonus actions should you collect them.

When the hill can't be fill completely, the game ends. All characters in your collection add their influence points to your score. Collecting 3-5 knights in the same order grants you bonus points, as does each pairing of a farmer with a farmer's wife. Add any kingdom bonuses to your sum, then whoever has the highest reputation wins.
Board Game Publisher: Nerdlab Games
Nerdlab Games is a new German publisher run by designer Marvin Hegen, who is also in charge of the Nerdlab podcast. Mindbug is co-designed by Hegen, Skaff Elias, Richard Garfield, and Christian Kudahl, and this two-player game comes across like another effort by Garfield to build a CCG-style game that lacks a costing system for cards to be played (akin to KeyForge, which allows you to play all cards of only one of the three factions in your deck).

Here's an overview:
Quote:
In Mindbug, you summon hybrid creatures and send them to battle against your opponent — but when you summon a creature, the opponent may use one of their Mindbugs to take control of it. Outwit your opponent in a fascinating tactical duel in which having the best cards and playing them at the wrong time can be deadly for yourself.

Board Game: Mindbug

Cards in Mindbug represent weird creatures that all come with unique and powerful abilities such as a Compost Dragon, a Snail Hydra, or a Kangasaurus Rex. Each player starts the game with ten creature cards (five in hand and five in a draw pile) and tries to use them to reduce the opponent's life total to zero. In addition, every player receives two Mindbug cards that can be used to mind control an opposing creature when it is played. This innovative mechanism is the core of the game and leads to a unique decision-making process that makes Mindbug feel utterly different from any other card game.

Playing a card doesn't require any resources in Mindbug. As a result, the game has no ramp-up phase (such as gathering resources) and doesn't require weak cards. Since there is also no deck-building, you can start playing right away from a single deck. There is also no unfair advantage as players draw cards from the same deck and always get the chance to mind control the strongest opposing cards. In the end, it all comes down to your own decisions, making the game extremely fair and competitive at the same time.
Hegen notes that the plan is to release a limited-edition run of the 50-card base set at SPIEL '21, with a Kickstarter to follow for a larger production.

Board Game: Mindbug
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Wed Sep 1, 2021 1:00 pm
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Circle Through Life as a Pilgrim, and Demonstrate Resurgence Following the One Day War

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Pirates
• Some people research games and know every edition of a design that's ever been released — but that's not most people. Most people look at titles on retail shelves (or projects on Kickstarter) and choose what's in front of them without regard for past releases.

Take, for example, Stefan Dorra's Pirates, which was Kickstarted by German publisher Queen Games for release in Q4 2021. This design was first released in 1996 as Die Safeknacker by ASS, then revised and re-released in 2006 by Queen as Buccaneer. The Kickstarter project mentions Buccaneer in passing, but keeps the focus on Pirates' setting, which is in the world of Bonnie Lass, a comic series by Tyler Fluharty and Michael Mayne, with Mayne's art and characters being used in the game.

A search for the game's name on BGG brings up dozens of other "pirates" results before this title, but that's because the audience for this design primarily isn't on BGG. The generic name fails SEO guidelines, but it tells the potential audience pretty much all that it needs to know: "You want a game about pirates? This is a game that has pirates."

Why not use "Bonnie Lass" in the title given that the art and setting leans in that direction? Probably because that title would be more baffling than intriguing to the majority of people who want a game about pirates. Let's go big and bold; no need to look anywhere else. You want pirates, and we got 'em! (Side note: Why is Bonnie's eye visible through her hair?! That's disturbing.)

In any case, what's the game about? It's about pirates — but you already know that. More specifically, how do you play? Like this:
Quote:
In the game, you attempt to capture ships, fortresses, and even sea monsters to accumulate the most treasure. On most turns, you will form a boarding party by taking a stack of pirates in front of you (with a stack consisting of one or more tokens with you on top), moving them on top of a stack in front of another player, then moving the new stack back in front of you.

Board Game: Die Safeknacker
Board Game: Buccaneer
Previous versions
On a future turn, you may use this stack to capture one of the four cards in the display as long as the size of the party meets the minimum requirements. The pirate on top of stack is the captain, and they receive a treasure for leading the raid. (The second pirate in the stack, the mate, might also receive a treasure.) They collect the gold listed on the card, then must pay the value listed on each pirate in their crew, making up any gold they lack from their own coffers. If they do this, they keep the card and increase their scoring.

You can mutiny by placing a stack on another stack, then going after one of the four cards immediately, but you must then pay the mate and the rest of the crew double their pay.

After all cards have been captured and the game ends, players receive additional gold based on the relative number of treasures they have captured. Whoever ends up with the most gold wins.
• Let's consider another game with a single word title: Nick Case's Pilgrim, due out in 2022 from Spielworxx and Case's own A-Muse-Ment.

Board Game: Pilgrim

"Pilgrim" seems better as a single word title, mostly because unlike pirates I haven't seen pilgrims advertised in hundreds of different movies and TV shows over the past decade. I think little about pilgrims, which makes me wonder what the game could be about. This says as much about me as it does about the game, of course, given that I'm curious to learn more about the unfamiliar thing and ready to reject the familiar thing.

In any case, here's an overview of this 2-4 player game that plays in 60-150 minutes:
Quote:
In Pilgrim, players are abbots and abbesses of their own provincial 14th century abbey, each seeking to:

—Build the best pilgrim routes to distant sites via strategic shrines
—Ordain serfs to become acolytes
—Give alms to the poor
—Build essential annexes
—Be the most devout and pious

A unique twist on a mancala-movement mechanism distributes a player's acolytes across eight duties and the capital city to determine each turn's action. 18xx-style tile development on the map board builds trade routes for revenue and pilgrim trails for endgame points. Common serfs need to be ordained to ensure that the abbey is adequately serviced and your acolyte numbers will need to be carefully balanced across ever changing duties and vocational tasks.

Board Game: Pilgrim
Playtest in 2019

Pilgrim is a game played over 26 rounds with perfect information, zero randomness (once the game starts), and one hundred and sixty sextillion possible starting set-ups. Player interaction is intense and constant. The meek might inherit the earth, but you will need to be made of stronger stuff to become the next cardinal and win the game.
• And now we come to Resurgence, a 1-4 player game from designer Stan Kordonskiy, with this being the first title that he will self-publish through Half-a-Kingdom Games. "Resurgence" has served as the subtitle of several game expansions, but never as a title on its own, which is surprising given the associations it brings to mind of conflict and challenges — perfect subject matter for a game.

In any case, here's an overview of this 2022 release that plays in 60-90 minutes:
Quote:
No one really knows what triggered the One Day War between the superpowers, but a single day is all it took to end the Before World. After the governments collapsed, leaderless groups of survivors huddled in the ruins of once great cities. The climate is brutal, resources are scarce, and mutant tribes are roaming the wastelands. The world desperately needs a hero to rally the people and lift them out of the ruins.

Board Game: Resurgence

Resurgence is a competitive, Euro-style board game for up to four players. It offers a unique blend of bag-building, hidden worker placement, and resource management that creates a one-of-a-kind gameplay experience. At the start of the game, each player selects a hero in charge of a small band of survivors and a few supplies. Each round of the game, players need to secretly plan where they are going to send their workers in order to accomplish various tasks and exert their influence, whether they're completing missions around the ruins of Moscow; gathering fuel, food and spare parts; rescuing survivors; learning new skills; or building their base.

Resurgence offers different routes to achieve victory, and in-game events and end-game directive cards provide replayability and variability from game to game. At the end of the game, the hero whose faction is victorious becomes the new leader and unites all the survivor groups in the sanctuary of Hope Island.
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Sun Aug 29, 2021 1:00 pm
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