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New Game Round-up: Old Ones in AuZtralia, Explorers in the North Sea, and Sarahs in the Timeline

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• I'm a sucker for time travel, so when I see a game (or a book or a movie or an opera) on the topic, I pay attention to it. The latest design spotted in this category is Sarah's Singularity, a Thomas Gutschmidt design that Daily Magic Games will Kickstart in October 2017 for a planned Q4 2018 release. Whether I'll ever play the game is an open question, but know about the game's existence is the first step — unless events change retroactively and this section of my post turns into an introduction to Sarah's Singed Reality, a cooperative game about a woman's attempts to survive an apartment fire:

Quote:
Future Sarah has fractured the timelines and it's up to you, an earlier-version Sarah, to solve missions and set things right. Bring dinosaurs to Ancient Egypt and ComiCon panelists to Feudal Japan while trying to rescue lost companions scattered in time. Put companions to work in their own times to complete missions. You've got seven time jumps to complete as many missions as possible, but watch out for paradoxes; if two or more Sarahs meet in the same time zone, everything about them will change in an instant and all your plans could go up in smoke.

In Sarah's Singularity, players select an assortment of time periods from prehistoric Pangea to ComicCon 2012 and establish a set of missions for each period. Stranded companions from far-ranging times are scattered among the chosen periods and each player gets a "Sarah Card" with special powers. Finally, players choose two secret objective cards for hidden endgame scoring and a Chronologist is selected from the gathered players.

Each round, Future Sarah visits a time period to strand another companion and the players simultaneously and secretly select a time period to jump to where they hope to solve a mission by matching icons on the mission card with icons on the stranded companion cards and the icons on their own hand of helpful companions. Typically, when the selected periods are revealed, they're resolved in chronological order. However, if two or more Sarahs (including the Future Sarah) land in the same time period, they paradox! Those player immediately turn in their Sarah Cards and get a new one at random, losing the special powers they may have planned to use to help solve the mission. The Chronologist then decides the order in which the paradoxing players gets to take their turns. The paradoxing player who goes last gets to be the new Chronologist.

Players claim solved missions as victory points. They also gain bonus points and a wild icon token for rescuing a stranded companion and hidden endgame points through their secret objective cards. After seven rounds, the points are tallied and a winner is announced.

• In June 2017, Renegade Game Studios announced that it would bring Shem Phillips' Raiders of the North Sea to North America, and now it has placed a Q4 2017 release date for the two other standalone titles in the series — Shipwrights of the North Sea and Explorers of the North Sea — as well as The North Sea Runesaga, an expansion that can be used with any or all of these games.

• Renegade also plans to release a new edition of Wei-Min Ling's Planet Defenders, which debuted from Taiwanese publisher EmperorS4 at SPIEL '16. In the game, players take turns moving characters (guided by restrictions on the board that constantly change) to collect energy and move among the planets to repel invade robots. Renegade's version of the game replaces the cardboard standees with 3D miniatures.

• I thought that I had posted about this title, but no, that was only in my mind. In mid-2017, New Zealand-based publisher SchilMil Games announced a two-year deal with designer Martin Wallace that will include a game set in Middle-earth, a co-designed game about which no details were given, and the 2018 release of AuZtralia:

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Ever since 1180, for seven long centuries, the Old Ones held full sway over the riches of the Earth and the affairs of humankind. All that changed in 1888. For in that momentous year, Sherlock Holmes and a clandestine fraternity of intrepid Victorian heroes succeeded in vanquishing these monstrous tyrants and driving them from their lands. Humanity had triumphed, but the countries of Europe and America were in a terrible state. The land was poisoned and food shortages were a constant scourge.

Other parts of the planet had not yet been explored as the Old Ones had enforced a draconic ban on exploration. Humanity, enjoying its new-found freedom, sent ships out to explore the world. A vast new continent was discovered on the far side of the world. At first called Terra Australis, it quickly became known as Australia. Brave prospectors and surveyors came to explore the new continent. They were followed by pioneers and settlers who constructed ports and built railways into the vast interior, developing farms and shipping the produce back to the hungry masses they had left behind. Untold riches in coal, iron and gold were discovered in the hinterland — but that was not all that awaited the pioneers...

There was a reason why a ban existed on exploring this part of the world. Unbeknownst to all, hidden in the outback of the land, the Old Ones had created a secret base. Following their defeat the surviving Old Ones and some of their loyal human allies made their way to their holdfasts in the arid plains beyond the Great Dividing Range. As the colonists spread, so the Old Ones began to stir, hell-bent on driving these irksome intruders back into the sea. Terrible creatures bred by the Old Ones started to move across the land, destroying everyone they encountered, blighting everything in their path.

Faced with this horror, the pioneers pinned their hopes on the one advantage they had: the power of modern military technology, which was now so much more advanced than in 1888 when mankind was last called upon to face against the Old Ones.

Inspired by Martin Wallace's A Study in Emerald, AuZtralia is an economic/adventure game set in an alternate reality 1930s in which Australia is waiting to be explored. As well as riches from the land, darkness and insanity lies in the outback. The game meshes themes of exploration, adventure, and economy (farming and mining), with battles against fantastical Old One creatures who act as an in-game player. It also boasts a randomized board set-up, an innovative combat mechanism, and a surprisingly tense solo play mode.




RWBY: Combat Ready is a board game based on the RWBY animated series created by Monty Oum and produced by Rooster Teeth. U.S. publisher Arcane Wonders is handling development of the game, about which no details have been announced (as far as I can tell).

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Mon Sep 25, 2017 3:05 pm
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Crowdfunding Round-up: Consenting to Board Vasty Rockets

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I haven't posted a crowdfunding round-up in weeks, perhaps even months although I'm not going to check.

Let's press forward! Time to dump the inbox filled with hopeful messages from designers and publishers who wanted to tell me about something that might or might not have succeeded — messages that I shooed aside in the run-up to Gen Con 50 and the subsequent frantic buzzing of SPIEL '17 that's been expanding to fill every centimeter between my ears. Sorry, folks! You missed out on hearing about the "Lycans vs Vampires" fantasy backgammon collection, but perhaps you'll have another chance to back this game of the future in the future.

At least you can still back Fog Monster, a miniature fog machine that makes "continuous real fog that creeps and crawls across your game terrain". Every playing of Kingdomino can benefit from that!

• In any case, let's kick this off with Tim Fowers' Now Boarding, which features the damn coolest logo I've seen in recent days. Beyond that, the graphic design of the box itself is a winner, copping a movie poster look that's selling an aesthetic and not merely a game. I've seen more than my share of game covers over the years, and at this point I'm most excited by game covers that don't look like game covers. Graphic designers should take a wider variety of approaches to their work. After all, we know that something is a book because it has pages that you can flip through; you don't need every book to adopt the same style of graphic design so that you know at a glance that it's a book. Game publishers should take a similar approach. (KS link)

As for the game itself, here's an overview:

Quote:
Now Boarding is a real-time cooperative game in which you work together to fly a fleet of airplanes. You must to deliver all the passengers to their destinations before they get too angry — and new passengers are constantly arriving! Upgrade your plane to fly faster and carry more passengers to handle the load. The twist: All players take all their turns at the same time! This allows for clever hand-offs of passengers. It's a whole new level of pick-up-and-deliver game.

• And even should you not care about Now Boarding, you might want to check out that project since Fowers is also funding a third edition of Wok Star, another real-time cooperative game that he first released on his own in 2010 and is now bringing back to print through his Fowers Games brand.

• Chuck Stover's Vasty Wilds from his own Made by Wombat has one of the gentler post-apocalyptic settings out there. Humans have faded away from Earth, and now tiny woodland creatures compete for space with their neighbors, apparently having learned nothing from the misfortune of man. So it goes. (KS link)

• And why might humanity disappear? You might find that subject discussed in Steve Jackson's Conspiracy Theory from his own Steve Jackson Games. This game mimics the black card/white card format of Cards Against Humanity and its endless sludgepump of copycats, but with a PG-friendly approach so that kids can also suggest reasons that Bigfoot has never been captured. (Answer: Ninja training.) (KS link)

• Our obligatory miniatures game in this round-up is Champions of Hara from Walter Barber, Ian VanNest, Andrew Zimmermann, and Greenbrier Games, with this game having both competitive (arena-style combat) and cooperative modes of play, with the latter challenging you to defeat monsters to contain destructive energy so that the world doesn't die. (KS link)

• Another competitive/cooperative creation on Kickstarter is Ragnar Brothers' Darien Apocalypse, with this being the second "Quantum" game from Dicken, Kendall, and Kendall, a Quantum game being one in which you're meant to relive multiple versions of actual history events, affecting them along the way with your actions. The history in this case is the Kingdom of Scotland's ill-conceived efforts to found a colony on the Isthmus of Panama. (KS link)

• I wrote about Flatlined Games' new edition of Mark Gerrits' SteamRollers in July 2017, noting that Flatlined is adopting a unique approach to its crowdfunding efforts. If a project succeeds, that game will not be available to retail outlets — other than those that back the KS campaign — for at least one year after the end of the campaign. Flatlined's Eric Hanuise is essentially saying that you can get it now or you can lament your reluctance to do so, although the game will be available from Flatlined directly or at conventions. Will this matter to backers? Is this a negative approach meant to spur a supporter's FOMO? A positive approach to reward those who do support the game's existence with something unavailable on the general market?

As for the game, SteamRollers is a dice-based, network-building, pick-up-and-deliver game that originated from Gerritts' attempt to make something that would resemble a dice version of Age of Steam. (KS link)

• Babis Giannios' Alexandria from LudiCreations has a great premise: The Great Library in Alexandria has been set ablaze, and you must try to save as many works as possible. (KS link) BGG shot an overview video of the game at SPIEL '16, at which time it looked far different than it does today:




Gil Hova of Formal Ferret Games is funding The Networks: Executives, an expansion for his well-received game The Networks in which you attempt to land new programming for your television network. Now, in addition to two other modules, you'll get to have a unique executive on your team with advantages and disadvantages specific to this individual. (KS link)

Grail Games has released several titles new and old from Reiner Knizia, most notably a fabulous looking version of Medici, and currently the publisher is funding a new version of Knizia's excellent rail-and-stock game Stephenson's Rocket, a game that will likely be new to 95% of the people reading this post. It's amazing sometimes to think of how many people have entered the hobby since this game first debuted in 1999. Heck, I didn't enter it with gusto until 2003! What's old is new again... (KS link)

• I've written to designer Naomi Clark several times to ask whether Consentacle, a two-player game "that represents consensual sexual encounter between a curious human and a tentacled alien", will ever be available again and have yet to receive a response. Imagine my surprise when I discover that Consentacle is on Kickstarter now, and if you pledge high enough, you can receive two tentacles from the game's debut exhibition in 2014. Few games offer such treats. (KS link)




Editor's note: Please don't post links to other Kickstarter projects in the comments section. Write to me via the email address in the header, and I'll consider them for inclusion in a future crowdfunding round-up. Thanks! —WEM
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Sun Sep 17, 2017 1:05 pm
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Z-Man Games Invites You to Save the Netherlands in Pandemic: Rising Tide, Then Relive the History of the World

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In a post earlier today, I mentioned the second edition of Kingsburg coming from Z-Man Games before the end of 2017. Turns out that's only one of many new releases on their schedule for the next three months.

• The highlight of the Z-Man Games release calendar might be Pandemic: Rising Tide, a new standalone Pandemic game from original designer Matt Leacock and Splotter Spellen's Jeroen Doumen. Let's learn something about the setting and gameplay:

Quote:
It is the dawn of the Industrial Age in the Netherlands. For centuries, the country has relied upon a series of dikes and wind-powered pumps to keep it safe from the constant threat of flooding from the North Sea, but this system is no longer enough.

In Pandemic: Rising Tide, it is your goal to avert tragedy by constructing four modern hydraulic structures in strategic locations that will help you defend the country from being reclaimed by the ocean. Storms are brewing and the seas are restless. It will take all your guile to control the flow of water long enough to usher in the future of the Netherlands. It's time to get to work.

Containing the water that threatens to consume the countryside is your greatest challenge. Water levels in a region are represented by cubes, and as the water containment systems currently in place begin to fail, more water cubes are added to the board. With water levels constantly on the rise, failure to maintain the containment system could quickly lead to water spilling across the board.

To successfully build the four hydraulic structures needed to win a game of Pandemic: Rising Tide, you must first learn to predict and manipulate the flow of water. Failing to maintain safe water levels throughout the country can bring you perilously close to failing your mission. Fortunately, water can be corralled by a strategically placed dike or slowed by pumping water out of a region. Correctly identifying and intervening in at-risk areas can get you one step closer to victory.

Why this game and this co-designer in this country? In 2016, Leacock partnered with Spanish designer Jesús Torres Castro for Pandemic: Iberia, a limited edition release set on the Iberian peninsula to coincide with the location and timing of the Pandemic Survival: World Championship in Barcelona. For 2017, the tournament has moved to the Netherlands, so Leacock and Doumen have created a "pandemic" that's more thematically appropriate for that country.

• The other big news from Z-Man HQ is the impending release of a new edition of History of the World from designers Gary Dicken, Steve Kendall, and Phil Kendall. These designers first published History of the World under their own Ragnar Brothers brand in 1991, with Avalon Hill subsequently picking up the game for editions in 1993 and 2001. Here's the summarized description of this new edition from Z-Man Games:

Quote:
Take a ride through humankind's history with History of the World, a game of conquest and cunning for three to six players. Expand your empire as you command mighty empires at the height of their power from the dawn of civilization to the twentieth century. Each game offers an epic experience as great minds work toward technological advances, ambitious leaders inspire their citizens, and unpredictable calamities occur while empires rise and fall.

This remastered edition of History of the World contains a beautifully illustrated board, revised rules to streamline the experience, and everything you need to etch your name in the annals of history.

Given the mention of "revised rules" in this "remastered edition", I've created a separate listing for this new release, figuring that we can merge them later should history turn out to be 98.3% the same no matter you look at it.

This cover art is glorious:




• Z-Man Games also announced a late 2017 release for Marco Teubner's My First Stone Age: The Card Game, an English language version of what originating publisher Hans im Glück will release at SPIEL '17 in October as Stone Age Junior: Das Kartenspiel. This is a standalone expansion for the 2016 Kinderspiel des Jahres winner My First Stone Age — standalone expansions being the rage these days — and here's a barebones description of how it works:

Quote:
My First Stone Age: The Card Game is a card game version of My First Stone Age. The players try to fix their houses with three different resources. These resources are hidden in grass, and the players try to find them with Martin the mammoth. The first player who builds three houses wins.
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Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Fight the DEA in Breaking Bad: The Board Game, Fight for Honor in Battle for Rokugan, and Fight a Familiar Enemy in Specter Ops: Broken Covenant

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Now that SPIEL '17 info is mostly somewhat vaguely under control, let's run through another batch of game announcements that might be new to you and might be something I've overlooked in the past few weeks.

• At Gen Con 50, Edge Entertainment — which is part of Asmodee — had a space cordoned off for Breaking Bad: The Board Game, a space barely occupied during the show. We didn't film an overview of the game as part of our coverage, so I can offer only this overview now of the Antoine Morfan and Thomas Rofidal design due out in December 2017:

Quote:
Based on the critically-acclaimed TV series, Breaking Bad: The Board Game propels you into the treacherous underbelly of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Will you play as a member of one of the criminal factions (Heisenberg, Los Pollos Hermanos, or the Juarez Cartel), trying to amass a fortune by manufacturing the biggest stash of Blue Sky while eliminating your rivals? Or will you join the ranks of the Drug Enforcement Administration, ready to slap the cuffs on the lawbreakers who would dare peddle their poison in your city?

In more detail, when playing a criminal faction, your goal is to produce Blue Sky, then sell the quantity needed to win before your opponents can. You can also win the game by taking out all of your opponents by using cards to bomb, shoot, or otherwise eliminate them. As the DEA agent, your goal is to seize the criminal factions' labs (by playing DEA Raid cards). You can also win the game by taking out all of your opponents, either by killing them or putting them in jail.

Fantasy Flight Games plans to make good use of its purchase of Legend of the Five Rings, announcing in late August 2017 a standalone game by Tom Jolly and Molly Glover called Battle for Rokugan, the short take of which is this:

Quote:
Conquer the realm and bring honor to your clan in Battle for Rokugan! This turn-based strategy game of conquest and mayhem puts players in the role of Rokugan daimyō struggling for control over the rich land of the Emerald Empire. Leaders must balance their resources, plan their attacks, and outwit their enemies to ensure their clan's victory. The land is there for the taking. The most honorable daimyō will win the day!

For the long take, click on that FFG announcement linked to above.

Z-Man Games will release the second edition of Andrea Chiarvesio and Luca Iennaco's Kingsburg in the U.S. in late 2017. This game was first released in 2007, and the new edition includes all the modules previously released as expansions as well as a new sixth expansion module. BGG recorded an overview of this new edition with originating publisher Giochi Uniti:



• Also due out in late 2017 is Specter Ops: Broken Covenant, a standalone game by Emerson Matsuuchi and Plaid Hat Games that's set in the same universe as the original Specter Ops, but it's not clear from the publisher's offered description how this differs from the original game:

Quote:
Specter Ops: Broken Covenant puts two to five players in the middle of a war that's fought in the shadows.

Corporate secrets linger within the corridors of Raxxon's abandoned headquarters and, even though the base is empty, it is not forgotten. In this tense cat-and-mouse showdown, a lone A.R.K. agent stalks the shadows of the facility, attempting to complete secret objectives while hunters from Raxxon's Experimental Security Division try to pinpoint their location and destroy them. On one side, the agent must use all their skills and equipment to succeed. On the other, the hunters rely on teamwork and superhuman skills to locate their prey. No matter who you play, you must use strategy, deduction, and stealth to win.
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Take to the Air in Small World: Sky Islands

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If you bother to take a look around, you can usually find new places you've never been, even in familiar lands. Designer Philippe Keyaerts, in combination with co-designer T. Alex Davis, has done this once again with Small World: Sky Islands, which publisher Days of Wonder will debut at SPIEL '17 in late October, ahead of a likely November 2017 release in Europe and a December 2017 release in North America.

Here's an overview of this expansion for 3-6 players, which carries a MSRP of $30/€28:

Quote:
Small World: Sky Islands introduces seven new races and powers to the Small World base game, but it also gives those races — and all the previously released races — new territory in which to fight for control.

At the start of play, place the Sky Islands game board so that it shows either two or three islands in the sky (your choice), then use the Small World game board as if you were playing with one fewer player, i.e., use the four-player board when playing with five players. Next, place access points to the Sky Islands — the beanstalk and the stairway — on different regions on the game board. Whenever a race stands on one of these access points, they can try to conquer the space on the sky islands that shows the matching symbol.

Races can't start their conquests in the Sky Islands unless their power specifically allows them to do so. At the end of a turn, if you control all of the regions on a Sky Island, you gain one additional coin.


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New Game Round-up: Doctor Who and Dirk Gently Say Hello, Android: Netrunner Gets a Reboot, and 7 Wonders Celebrates Seven Years

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Having worn my SPIEL '17 blinders for several weeks now, I'm not sure what's new to people and what isn't any more, so let me run through a handful of game announcements and you can make use of what's useful:

Doctor Who Fluxx will be the next standalone version of Andy Looney's Fluxx, with this item appearing in retail outlets on November 23, 2017, the 54th anniversary of the first episode being aired. Publisher Looney Labs hasn't officially announced the game yet, but the D&D Online website DDO Players somehow picked up the news early and a Looney Labs representative has confirmed the details for me.

• In other semi-BBC-related game news, six days after Doctor Who Fluxx appears — time not being relative for most of us — IDW Games will release Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: Everything Is Connected, based on the BBC series of the same name. (Mr. Pedantic below points out that the show will actually run on BBC America, not BBC itself. Good to know about this distinction!) Here's an overview of this 3-8 player design from Matt Fantastic and Arvind Ethan David:

Quote:
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: Everything is Connected is the first in a series of "Everything is Connected" storytelling games in which the mysteries are only as looney as the players.

In this game, a detective and a holistic detective put together the clues, accuse a person of interest, and tell their assistants the story of the crime. The assistants then process the two versions of the case and simultaneously select which version of the truth is more believable. To solve the case, you have to think on your feet and remember that "everything is connected".



Fantasy Flight Games has announced the impending release of a "revised core set" for Android: Netrunner, with this item containing cards from the original Core Set released in 2012 as well as cards from the Genesis Cycle and Spin Cycle series of Data Packs. For details on which card have been removed from the original Core Set and why, head to this BGG thread.

• With Conspiracy Theory, which hits Kickstarter on Sept. 13, 2017, Steve Jackson Games takes a crack at the black card/white card party game format originated by Cards Against Humanity and continued by everyone and their grandmother. At least SJG is staying true to its roots as in this Steve Jackson design, the judge presents a conspiracy-related question, then everyone else answers it in the way they think will best please the judge. (Hint: Every white card reads "It's the Illuminati".)

Portal Games has announced a new army pack by Michał Oracz for Neuroshima Hex!, with both the HQ and some units in the Iron Gang having a new "chain" ability that allows two chained tiles to target and hit any opponent that lies on the straight line that connects these two.

• To celebrate 7 Wonders' seventh anniversary, Antoine Bauza and Repos Production are releasing two small expansion packs to add more variety to the game: Leaders Anniversary Pack and Cities Anniversary Pack, with each containing fifteen new cards for use with the base game and the expansion included in its name.

Distributor Asmodee North America has listed a November 2017 release date for these two packs, which each carry a $9 MSRP.



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Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:31 pm
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New Game Round-up: Alpacas in Altiplano, Castles in Minute Realms, and Artificial Intelligence in the Future

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Orléans designer Reiner Stockhausen of dlp games has announced his new release for SPIEL '17, and you can be sure that this llama alpaca on Altiplano will be popping up in people's hands throughout the fair. Complete rules are posted on the dlp games website in German and English, but to get you started, here's an overview of the game:

Quote:
Altiplano, a bag-building game along the lines of Orléans set in the South American highlands of the Andes — the Altiplano — is not a simple game, presenting players with new challenges time and again. There are various ways to reach the goal, so the game remains appealing to try out new options and strategies, but success or failure also depends on whether your opponents let you do as you like or thwart the strategy you are pursuing. The competition for the individual types of goods is considerable — as is the fun in snatching a coveted extension card from under another player's nose!

Aside from building up an effective production, you must deliver the right goods at the right time, develop the road in good time, and store your goods cleverly enough to fill the most valuable rows with them. Often, a good warehouseperson is more relevant in the end than the best producer.

At the start of the game, players have access only to certain resources and goods. This is due to the different role tiles that each player receives and that provide everybody with different starting materials. At the market, however, a player can acquire additional production sites that give new options. The numerous goods — such as fish, alpaca, cacao, silver, or corn — all have their own characteristics and places where they can be used. Whereas silver makes you rich, fish can be exchanged for other goods, and the alpaca gives you wool that you can then make into cloth.

Minute Realms from Stefano Castelli and dV Giochi is billed as "the most compact city-building game ever", and while Castelli has informed me that the first word in the title is pronouned "mi-nit", I love that pronouncing in "mi-noot" also works for this description of the game. In any case, here's an overview of this SPIEL '17 release:

Quote:
In a handful of rounds, you have to build up your realm and make it grow by spending your riches. Will you yield splendor to your lands with refined buildings, or will you defend them with imposing bastions to repel the upcoming fall of the invaders?

A king's life is not easy. Every decision is crucial to the fate of the realm — and every single move makes the difference between victory and defeat!

• Speaking of confused readings, Apotheca designer Andrew Federspiel has announced a new title from his own Knapsack Games line, with Masters of Mutanite due out in 2018 and with this game not being about people trying to master minutiae not matter how much I want to read it that way. (Tristram Shandy: The Board Game?) Here's a summary of what to expect:

Quote:
Save or terrorize the city as a hero or villain! Mutate your character to gain new abilities. Gain fame and new traits by thrashing your opponents or rescuing/knocking out civilians! Light the city on fire, freeze and poison your enemies, and throw cars and trees to your heart's content!

Build your character in Masters of Mutanite by creating unique synergies of powers each game — go from zero to superhero!

• Another recently announced 2018 release is Artificial Intelligence from the familiar team of Nuno Bizarro Sentieiro, Paulo Soledade, and Italian publisher What's Your Game?. Here's the brief right now:

Quote:
The year is 2090, and the world has witnessed the biggest — the last? — event in human history. Knowledge is the fuel that powers the engine of the new revolution.

Technological Singularity changed everything. Human labor became obsolete; automation and machine learning are the new reality. Machines, run by a flawless artificial intelligence, control production and research, self replicating the answers to problems civilization did not know existed. While prophets whisper the end of time throughout the streets, corporations thrive, pushing boundaries and ignoring old rules. The rush to control the new A.I. era has begun and there’s no time for ethics. Is there time shut down the A.I. Box. Was there ever one?

Artificial Intelligence is an action selection game in which each player plays the role of a big investor pulling the strings from various corporations in order to make money and increase the power of both investor and corp.


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Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:18 pm
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Rosenberg Heads North, Riverboat Heads South, and Lookout Games Heads to SPIEL '17

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• Rumors of an Uwe Rosenberg game set in Norway have been around for a couple of years, and now Lookout Spiele has officially announced Nusfjord as a SPIEL '17 release in October, with Mayfair Games releasing the game in English at about the same time, according to Lookout (which is owned by Mayfair). Here's a rundown of the game's setting and how it works:

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Nusfjord is a tranquil fishing village in the Lofoten archipelago in northern Norway. Fifty years ago, business was blooming when the codfish would come for spawning. Today, Nusfjord is more of a museum than a village, with less than a hundred people living there. Imagine how beautiful this place must be given that you must pay a fee to even look at the houses. Cruise ships used to pass by this long and now mostly abandoned island world.

In the time period in which the game Nusfjord is set, things looked quite different. Sailing ships dominate the fjord. The rocks around Nusfjord are covered in trees. As the owner of a major fishing company in Nusfjord on the Lofoten archipelago, your goal is to develop the harbor and the surrounding landscape, and to succeed you must enlarge your fleet, clear the forest, erect new buildings, and satisfy the local elders. Others do this as well, of course, so the competition is steep.

As with Agricola and Ora et Labora, Nusfjord has a worker placement mechanism, with each player starting with three workers that they place on a central board to trigger certain actions. Whether a player wants to clear a forest on their own board, buy a new cutter, or construct a building, they must place a worker on the appropriate space — which is possible only if room is available for this worker. Money is scarce, and one of the quicker and easier ways to get it is to place shares of your own company on the market. This risky action could be worthwhile because if you succeed in buying these shares yourself, you have usually won money and not suffered any disadvantages; however, if an opponent acquires these shares, then you must allow them to benefit from your hard-earned catches at sea. The village elders might want their own share of your catch as well, especially if you've visited them to take certain actions in the village, so if you don't take care, your catch could end up entirely in the hands of others and your camp will be empty.




Nusfjord is just one of many new titles that Lookout will release at SPIEL '17. Alexander Pfister's Oh My Goods!: Escape to Canyon Brook is the second expansion for Oh My Goods! and it continues the storyline started in the first expansion, Longsdale in Revolt.

• The Agricola: Artifex Deck contains 120 cards for the revised edition of Agricola that debuted in 2016, with half the cards being occupations and half minor improvements. As for the deluxe, all-in-one-box anniversary edition of Agricola that has been mentioned in passing, Lookout's Hanno Girke says that item is still in the works, but:

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We absolutely underestimated the timeframe that Mr. Klemens Franz needs to create the amount of new artwork for all the new cards.

Agricola always has been and will remain a modular system. Depending on the players' needs they can add between nothing and everything.

The current specs for the Deluxe Revised edition list several 168 card decks plus major expansions like [Farmers of the Moor], plus several goodies that were available only as a promo or only in German so far.

Some of the decks probably will be released in upcoming years.

Plus some kind of sorting trays, deck holders and whatever we'll come up with. Be assured that we're reading all the BGG threads on the deluxe edition, and we might have a first mock-up to showcase at SPIEL 17.

No promises. We won't rush the project, and we won't rush Klemens.

• Another small box item coming from Lookout is Bummelbahn, a German edition of Seth Jaffee and Dan Keltner's Isle of Trains, which first appeared in 2014 from Dice Hate Me Games.

Isle of Skye: Journeyman expands the 2016 Kennerspiel des Jahres winner from Andreas Pelikan and Alexander Pfister with new player boards that track "your progress in terms of strength, prosperity and popularity", with new scoring tiles that reflect these traits and a journeyman pawn that travels the islands to activate tiles.

• Finally, Lookout will have a larger game from Michael Kiesling titled Riverboat that plays in about 90 minutes for 2-4 players. This description is rather high-level, but it gives you some idea of what's going on in the game:

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Riverboat posits each player as the owner of a 19th century farm on the bank of the Mississippi River. You need to organize your workers to ensure that the fields are ordered according to their type and harvested when ready so that the goods can be shipped to New Orleans.

In more detail, the game lasts four rounds, and at the start of each round players draft phase cards until they're all distributed. The phases then take place in numerical order, with the player who chose a phase being the first one to act. In the first phase, players place their workers in the fields, with each player having the same distribution of colored field tiles, but a different random placement for each player. In phase two, players organize their crops, trying to group like types together, with some fields requiring two or three workers. In phase three, players harvest crops and load riverboats, with a dock needing to be filled with all the goods of a single type before it can be loaded. In phase four, the boats are launched and players can take special actions, with additional victory points possibly coming in phase five.



Riverboat being demoed at Gen Con 50: two player boards and two central boards
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New Game Round-up: Wheel Through Noria, Arrange Leaves in Indian Summer, and Dance with The Bottle Imp

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• Following last week's busyness at Gen Con 50, I've been racing through my inbox to update our SPIEL '17 Preview, which debuted on Monday, Aug. 21 with 168 listings and which now features 256(!) listings — with me making only the slightest dent in my inbox. Sheesh!

The three latest entries in the SPIEL '17 Preview come from Edition Spielwiese, which debuted at SPIEL '16 with Uwe Rosenberg's Cottage Garden. For SPIEL '17, the publisher has a new puzzle-y game from Rosenberg — Indian Summer — which it dubs the the second part of Rosenberg's "puzzle trilogy". Here's how the publisher sets the mood:

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Before winter makes its appearance, a particularly warm fall bathes the forest in a golden shimmer. During the Indian Summer, New England blossoms one last time. Treetops are ablaze with countless colors — a living rainbow, from green to orange to red. Slowly the first leaves are starting to fall. Meanwhile, our steps and the diligent squirrels rustle the colorful foliage.

On our walks through the woods, we discover all kinds of little treasures; we collect berries, nuts, mushrooms and feathers. We pause for a moment to watch the shy inhabitants of the forest before we set off towards home once again. There, a good book and a hot tea are already awaiting.

Indian Summer is firmly geared towards experienced players. At the heart of the game are puzzle tiles with holes that are placed on individual forest boards to cover up treasures. When players get their hands on these, they gain more options and an edge over their opponents. All that counts in the end is to be the first to cover your forest floor completely with leaves.

I've already covered the pirate-based memory game Memoarrr! in this BGG News post, so that leaves Noria, the debut title from Sophia Wagner, who won an author stipend from the Spiel des Jahres jury in 2015. Michael Menzel and Klemens Franz provide the art for this title, which can be summarized as follows:

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A new era is looming on the horizon. The future of Noria is right in front of you, and you must guide your flourishing trading empire into prosperity. Discover flying islands, buy ships, and build factories. Invest in prestigious projects, and secure their success by passing on secret knowledge to politicians. For even above the clouds, there is still room for improvement...

At the center of Noria is an innovative mechanism called "wheel building". Each player has an action wheel consisting of three rings, with slots for a number of different action discs. Over the course of the game, players try to obtain new discs and manipulate the rings of the wheel to optimize their action selection. Additionally, to ensure their investments bear fruit, they also need to bribe politicians with knowledge.




• Other recent additions to the SPIEL '17 Preview include a new edition of Günter Cornett's wonderful card game The Bottle Imp from Finnish publisher Lautapelit.fi.

In this 2-4 player trick-taking game that is ideally a three-player-only game, everyone wants to grab the bottle for some of the time as you score more points that way. The bottle "price" starts at 19, and all cards with a value lower than this are trump — but when you win a trick this way, the price of the bottle drops to this new value. Should you still hold the bottle at the end of the round, you lose points instead of gaining them, so you need to find a way to force someone else to buy the bottle. The Bottle Imp is a great game, and it's good to see the title returning to market.

• Lautapelit.fi will also have a new edition of Emanuelle Ornella's Byzanz, which first appeared in 2008 from AMIGO, as well as expansions for two 2016 titles: Flamme Rouge: Peloton, which allows for play with up to six players, and Dokmus: Return of Erefel, which adds a new guardian to play as well as new game boards.
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New Game Round-up: Treats from Renegade, Beasts from Bézier, and Glorious Feats from Ninja Division

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• After a wildly successful Gen Con (not to mention a fine 2017 overall), U.S. publisher Renegade Game Studios is going to close out the year as one closes out a meal — with dessert! Specifically, Renegade has announced two titles — Sundae Split by Nate Bivins, and Pie Town: Spies, Lies, and Apple Pies by newcomer Daniel Fremgen — with both due out in November 2017. Here's a brief rundown of the two games:

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In Sundae Split, players try to build the best ice cream sundae from the ingredients at hand. Get just the right mix of toppings and flavors, but avoid the vegetables! At the end, each sundae is scored and the player who made the best sundae wins the game.

In more detail, one player splits ingredients into piles, and the other players take turns choosing one. As the splitter, you get the last pile. You have to be clever and a little sneaky to get the ingredients you want. Collect the best mix of toppings and flavors to make the most valuable ice cream sundae and win the game!

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Welcome to Pie Town, a community built on apples and butter. Business here is no cake walk, so manage your operation well and keep your secret recipe secret.

Pie Town: Spies, Lies, and Apple Pies is a worker-dice placement game with hidden information. You need to manage your constantly changing workforce to harvest, bake, and sell pies while deducing other players' secret recipes! Now is your chance to become the best pie shop in town!

Ice cream vs. pie! Seems like a sales challenge in the offing, not to mention an opportunity for booth treats at end-of-the-year conventions...

• Home of the werewolf Bézier Games is presenting a different take on the were-genre with Jeremie Kletzkine's Werebeasts, a game due out in February 2018 in which you (gasp) bid for creatures, not take on their role while slapping your leg to keep others from figuring out who you are. An overview:

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You are a key player in the lucrative but dangerous business of collecting werebeasts. Armed with only your good looks and several cans of indescribably tasty werechow, you must bid for the werebeasts you need — and also for the ones you don't in hopes of throwing your opponents off track.

Your fellow collectors in Werebeasts are also collecting certain creatures that have the most value to them. If you can hide your intentions long enough, you'll be rewarded. If you can make it to the end of the game without getting caught, you just might win.

Ninja Division has signed a deal with Games Workshop to publish a card game based on GW's Warhammer Fantasy world, with John Cadice and David Freeman being the designers in charge of Doomseeker, which is due out in Q2 2018:

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In the card game Doomseeker, players take on the role of a mighty dwarf slayer. Each player's character is sworn by the slayer's oath to seek a glorious death in battle for a crime committed or stain on that dwarf's honor. The slayers eschew worldly pursuits, dye their beards and hair in fierce and fiery reds and oranges, tattoo their ruddy flesh, take up their weapons, and wander the old world seeking their doom battling monsters and enemies of their race.

The Doomseeker card game pits players against one another to see who can die the most glorious death! Press your luck and challenge the denizens and monsters of the Old World, with each victory bringing you more glory, and ultimately your death can be met at the hands of a truly worthy foe!
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