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For SPIEL '22, Practice Precognition, Surround a Totem, and Investigate Critically

W. Eric Martin
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The SPIEL '22 Preview will launch on Monday, July 4, 2022 — just over three months ahead of SPIEL '22's opening date of October 6 — and here are three of the nearly two hundred titles currently listed:

Board Game: Precognition

• French publisher Ludonaute will debut Julien Prothière's Precognition in September 2022, with this 2-4 player card-drafting game giving you the opportunity to pass cards to yourself to plan for future happenings. An overview:
Quote:
In a post-apocalyptic world, play as a Prescient — an Ymune gifted with the power of precognition. Going down the Great River, you explore the banks to rescue contaminated humans, hire Ymune doctors to treat them, or employ Ymune protectors to secure the boat from banes to come. Try also to collect batteries to activate the machine rooms of your boat, or food to feed the new healthy humans.

Precognition lasts twelve rounds, and each round lasts three phases. During the decision phase, you have four cards available: two in hand and two in your "decision zone". You will choose one of these four cards to play for yourself and one card in your decision zone to play for your left-hand opponent. The remaining two cards will go into the decision zone of the player to your right, which means they'll play one of these cards for you next turn.

Board Game: Precognition

During the action phase, you activate the card you chose and the card chosen for you, using powered machines as well, if possible. To close the round, heal all possible contaminated humans, manage any banes from which you suffer, then move forward on the Great River. After three rounds, you must feed the newly healed humans. In the end, whoever has the the greatest number of healthy humans wins.
Board Game: Yoxii
Yoxii is a new abstract strategy game from designer Jeremy Partinico and publisher Cosmoludo that seems like it will fit well with the other two-player-only titles in this game line, like Pantareï and Mana. Here's how to play:
Quote:
To win Yoxii, you must circle the totem with your strongest pieces.

The totem starts in the center of the game board, which has 37 squares and resembles a plus sign. On a turn, move the totem orthogonally or diagonally, either to an adjacent empty space or over any number of pieces of your color to land on an empty space. (You cannot jump the totem over an opponent's piece.) Next, place one of your pieces on an empty space adjacent to the totem; if all adjacent spaces are occupied, place one of your pieces on an empty space on the game board. You have 16 pieces total, five each valued 1, 2, and 3 and three valued 4.

Board Game: Yoxii

When the totem is unable to move, the game ends. Sum the value of each player's pieces adjacent to the totem. Whoever has the higher sum wins; in the event of a tie, whoever has more piece adjacent to the totem wins.
• To continue with French publishers, we have Gigamic with Critical: Foundation – Season 1, from designers Yohan Lemonnier and Kristoff Valla.

Board Game: Critical: Foundation – Season 1

This title is on the borderline of gameiness for database purposes, but let me give you the overview first:
Quote:
It's 2035, and the world has changed a little. Huge multinationals have taken over, and nanotechnologies are part of everyday life. Icarus was created to respond to the new challenges that this new way of life brings. Its goal: Investigate sensitive cases and undertake delicate operations.

Critical: Foundation – Season 1 is constructed like a television series, with each of the nine episodes taking 30 minutes to play. You can take on the role of Gamemaster, who directs the adventure, or play as one of the characters to put yourself in the story. The game provides an RPG-style experience with board game scaffolding via character cards and dice-based combat.
Board Game: Critical: Foundation – Season 1

What transforms this into a game based on BGG guidelines is that this title is "Season 1", and what happens in Season 1 will affect the starting conditions for Season 2, assuming you carry on your game to that title and assuming that title appears in print and assuming manufacturers don't run out of paper and can't print any more games.
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Teasers for Puerto Rico 1897, Wingspan: Asia Expansion, and Clever 4Ever

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Today's post is filled with teasers for various forthcoming games, starting with a brief look at (yet another) new version of Puerto Rico from designer Andreas Seyfarth and publisher Ravensburger: Puerto Rico 1897.

In 2020, Ravensburger released a new version of Puerto Rico to match the graphic look of its relaunched alea line, which started with Las Vegas Royale in 2019. That version, at least in the U.S., seemed to vanish from shelves quickly, but game buying had picked up for the industry as a whole due to Covid, so that's not necessarily a surprise.

In July 2021, however, The Atlantic published an article by Luke Winkie titled "The Board Games That Ask You to Reenact Colonialism", an article that leads off with Puerto Rico as an example of a history-based game that ignores who that history has been done to. An excerpt:
Quote:
So that's Puerto Rico, the game. In Puerto Rico, the real place, the Spanish empire started enslaving the indigenous Taíno people shortly after Columbus arrived on the island during his second voyage, in 1493. The first African slaves arrived in 1517. By 1560, the total population of captives numbered about 15,000, and in 1560, plantation holders started branding slaves' foreheads with hot irons in order to adjudicate any potential kidnapping cases. It's all a little uncanny when you set down a brown "colonist" marker, but the original instruction manual for Puerto Rico offers no commentary on the terror of human displacement that it echoes. The game's animating principle — as much as it has one — is that this island was empty and dormant until the West arrived, bringing with it a golden age.
(The article has a number of errors that someone deep in the hobby will recognize, e.g., Rio Grande Games was not the originating publisher of Puerto Rico, and BGG users have rated the game more than 60,000 times, not "reviewed" it. Anyway...)

The article ends with this teaser:
Quote:
When I reached [Ravensburger] for comment, a representative told me that in 2022, it will release a "re-imagined version of the game globally, created in partnership with a culturally diverse and representative team." This time, they said, it'll be "set in post-independence Puerto Rico, and it won't include themes of colonialism."
The cover image of this version has started appearing on retail sites, but a representative at Ravensburger told me that the official announcement is still to come. What might differ in this version? Based on this retail listing, the components appear roughly the same.

Board Game Publisher: Ravensburger
The "1897" in the title is a clue. In a 2021 BGG thread about changes in the 2020 edition of Puerto Rico, Jason Perez of Shelf Stories notes that he reached out to Ravensburger, and in September 2021 he wrote, "I advocate for a new edition of Puerto Rico. One still called Puerto Rico. But one that shifts the historical perspective. Stay tuned to developments so that I can show, rather than tell, what I mean." And in a June 2022 Facebook comment on the newly revealed edition, Perez wrote: "Slavery [in Puerto Rico] was abolished in 1873. 1897 is the year they won autonomy from the Spanish colonial government. It was the most free Puerto Rico ever got before the US took over in 1898."

For more background, you can turn this November 2021 interview with Ravensburger editor André Maack that mentions the difficulty of balancing game clarity with accurate representation.

Stonemaier Games has announced a Q4 2022 release date for Wingspan: Asia Expansion from designer Elizabeth Hargrave and artists Natalia Rojas and Ana Maria Martinez Jaramillo, revealing one new card for now and promising "to reveal one bird card per month in the monthly Stonemaier Games e-newsletter". Bird teases are a thing now, I guess.

Board Game: Wingspan: Asia Expansion

• Designer Wolfgang Warsch and publisher Schmidt Spiele will continue their cleverness in the late 2022 release of Clever 4Ever. No details at this point — only the cover — but you can make out some of the score sheet behind the dice, so have at it!

Board Game: Clever 4Ever
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Defend Vienna, Battle Through Snow and Mud, and Revisit the Trenches of the Great War

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Board Game: Fire & Stone: Siege of Vienna 1683
• In late June 2022, Capstone Games announced a double feature pre-order of exciting new games available in October 2022, including Terra Nova, the previously announced streamlined version of Terra Mystica, along with Fire & Stone: Siege of Vienna 1683, a two-player, fully asymmetric, card-driven wargame designed by Robert DeLeskie, the creator of Hollandspiele's solitaire hits The Wars of Marcus Aurelius and Stilicho: Last of the Romans.

Fire & Stone: Siege of Vienna 1683 plays in 60–90 minutes and features a simple ruleset combined with tense gameplay in the vein of Capstone's award-winning Watergate from designer Matthias Cramer.

Here's a brief overview of the setting and what you can expect gameplay wise in Fire & Stone: Siege of Vienna 1683:
Quote:
A 100,000-strong Ottoman army arrives outside the Habsburg capital of Vienna. Inside the city, 12,000 infantry, a city militia, and citizen-soldiers mount a desperate defense. As the Ottoman siege lines draw closer to the city walls, the outnumbered Viennese cling to the faint hope a relief force will arrive in time to save them. For both sides, the real battle is a race against time.

Board Game: Fire & Stone: Siege of Vienna 1683

Fire & Stone: Siege of Vienna 1683 places you in one of the most dramatic sieges in history. With a completely different set of cards for each player, you will conduct deadly assaults against impenetrable fortifications, dig tunnels packed with explosives, and launch desperate attacks to delay your enemy's advance. Or you can play powerful events with the power to change the course of battle!

Includes historical notes about the siege and 17th century siege warfare (knowledge not required to play the game).
Board Game: Iron, Blood, Snow & Mud
• For another upcoming, tense, two-player asymmetrical wargame, be sure to check out Iron, Blood, Snow & Mud from designer Guglielmo Duccoli and UK publisher PHALANX. Iron, Blood, Snow & Mud is an accessible and unique introductory-level wargame set in the Eastern Front of World War II, which plays in 60-90 minutes.

Here are some details from the publisher to get a feel for what it's all about:
Quote:
Iron, Blood, Snow & Mud is a quick and easy to learn two-player hex and counter strategic wargame simulating the Eastern Front of World War II. Poland and France have fallen, Greece and Norway have surrendered and Yugoslavia is no more... Now it’s time for the Soviet Union to suffer the same grim fate. Will the vaunted German blitzkrieg prove its invincibility once again? Or will the Soviet Union endure the onslaught long enough to rebuild its might and push back the enemy? The fate of the war is in your hands!

Lead the combat-hardened forces of Wehrmacht through mud and snow and unimaginably vast territories of the enemy, all the while trying to protect your overstretched supply lines. Or take control of initially outnumbered, but slowly building its might Soviet Red Army, hamper the lighting quick panzer attacks, harass the enemy’s supply lines with your partisans and bide your time for a bloody and devastating counteroffensive. This is the war of iron, blood, snow and mud.

Board Game: Iron, Blood, Snow & Mud

Iron, Blood, Snow & Mud is both asymmetrical in its overall design and simple yet surprisingly unique in its approach to the Eastern Front. The game is played over the course of four years, each consisting of three markedly different seasons, two of which – the aptly named Mud and Snow – inhibit the use of some actions and units. The movement and its range is predicated on the current season, unit type and the ability to create and maintain a chain of units. The Germans have to either hold a set of objectives by the end of 1944... or capture the Soviet leader, Stalin himself. The Soviets too can achieve a sudden victory, but only if they manage to seize one of three initially German-held cities.
Board Game: Death in the Trenches: The Great War, 1914-1918
Compass Games is at the tail end of a Kickstarter campaign (KS link) for Wes Erni and Ben Madison's Death in the Trenches: The Great War 1914-1918 (Second Edition), a redesigned, new-and-improved version of the original 2005 edition from Schutze Games .

If you're not familiar with this Charles S. Roberts award-winning World War I classic for 1-2 players, here's a detailed description from designers:
Quote:
"DEATH IN THE TRENCHES" is a strategic-level World War I wargame covering the entire war, from the opening shots in Serbia and Belgium to the final defeat -- or victory! -- of Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1918. The game includes a map illustrated by Jonathan Carnehl, stretching from the Pyrenees to Moscow, and from Norway to the Sudan, covering every square inch of territory in Europe and the Near East which saw combat from 1914 to 1918, in a manageable 34x22" format. An additional map shows the German colonies

The game also features 520 beautifully-illustrated counters depicting the national armies that fought in the war -- from the Germans, French, British and Russians all the way down to the Persians, Montenegrins, Armenians, South Africans, and a host of other specialized units (French Foreign Legion, Gurkhas, Italian "Arditi", Cossacks, Tyrolean Kaiserjaeger, Zionists, Bavarians, "Dunsterforce"... even the Chinese may send a small expeditionary force).

DEATH IN THE TRENCHES includes a 28-page rulebook (and an additional 20 pages of setups and random events) detailing the game's unique combat system (no CRT!) which portrays the grinding nature of World War I combat in a realistic way that still gives players plenty of options to pursue. Using army-level units (which contain numbers of divisional level formations, represented off-map), players use numerous special military abilities to drive back the enemy.

Board Game: Death in the Trenches: The Great War 1914-1918 (Second Edition)

Detailed random events rules give you more gory details about World War I than you've ever seen before in a game, while helping keep play simple and straightforward. Lenin, the Senussi revolt, intrigue in the Romanian court, the Cruise of the Emden, the Armenian Massacre, the Sinai Pipeline, the Ukrainian Reactionary Hetmanate, Rasputin, Mata Hari, the Russian shell shortage, the murder of Edith Cavell, Wilhelm Wassmuss (the "German Lawrence"), Lawrence of Arabia, the Nestorian resistance, Pancho Villa, the Grand Duke Nicholas, Thomas Masaryk, the Red Baron, Czech Legion, Irish Rising, Berber Revolt, air raids, typhus, influenza... they're all here.

For the World War I buff, "DITT" has everything: Tanks, Alpenkorps, artillery barrages, flamethrowers, poison gas, Krupp guns, Mustapha Kemal, the Royal Air Force, French elan... while the great wartime leaders all leave their mark (good or bad!) on history: Bruchmuller, Haig, Hoffmann, Mackensen, Hindenburg and Ludendorff, Rennenkampf and Samsonov, Sarrail, Von Francois, Foch, Brusilov, Nivelle, Plehve, Putnik, Yudenich... history is overflowing. Players command the armed forces of nearly forty nations, in a game that still manages to be small enough to fit on your table!

It sounds like a massive game, but it isn't. DEATH IN THE TRENCHES is designed to be played--easy to play, hard to master. You'll learn things about World War I you never knew before, and you'll have to face the same crises the leaders of the Entente and Central Powers did. Think you can do better than Douglas Haig and Robert Nivelle? Now it's your turn.

The original edition of Death in the Trenches won the Charles S. Roberts awards for Best DTP-Produced Boardgame (Charles S. Roberts Awards) for 2005.

The 2022 edition takes this WW1 classic to new heights, and features a revised and expanded combat system that preserves the charm of the original but is much more faithful to actual WWI battle numbers and provides much more detail on individual countries' distinctive military strengths and weaknesses. Each individual battle now takes place on an off-map display that simulates a real WWI battle, each battle opening with a "spearhead" force that drives into a "target area". The system of entrenchment remains simple and easy to play, but takes into account the role of time and manpower in creating different levels of trench effectiveness.

Added detail includes the Hindenburg Line, German siege guns, and the possible flight of the French government. Instability in the Balkans, and the allegiance of the Roumanian and Bulgarian governments, may lead to unexpected political reversals in Europe's turbulent "backyard". The impact of the Russian Revolution is expanded, with several possible directions for Russia to travel including the rise of a better Czar, or even the takeover of Soviet Russia by Trotsky, which could bring Russia back into the war!

The system of military reinforcements has been transformed, with greater reliance on historical unit production and manpower. Great Power support and sponsorship for minor country forces has been made a vital part of the game, and the "major minors" like Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria now have their own Army Reserves which give each country a more distinctive role.
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Fri Jul 1, 2022 1:00 pm
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Asger Harding Granerud, Daniel Skjold Pedersen, and Days of Wonder Bring the Heat

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French publisher Days of Wonder has announced its first standalone game outside the Ticket to Ride and Small World lines since 2019 when it released Corinth and Deep Blue. In what is perhaps not a coincidence, the designers of Deep BlueAsger Harding Granerud and Daniel Skjold Pedersen — have designed this new release, which in English will bear the title Heat: Pedal to the Metal.

Board Game: Heat: Pedal to the Metal

Here's an overview of this 1-6 player game that plays in 30-60 minutes:
Quote:
Based on simple and intuitive hand management, Heat: Pedal to the Metal puts players in the driver's seat of intense car races, jockeying for position to cross the finish line first, while managing their car's speed if they don't want to overheat. Selecting the right upgrades for their car will help them hug the curves and keep their engine cool enough to maintain top speeds. Ultimately, their driving skills will be the key to victory!

Board Game: Heat: Pedal to the Metal
Basic cards

Drivers can compete in a single race or use the "Championship System" to play a whole season in one game night, customizing their car before each race to claim the top spot of the podium. They have to be careful as the weather, road conditions, and events will change every race to spice up their championship. Players can also enjoy a solo mode with the Legends Module or add automated drivers as additional opponents in multiplayer games.
Board Game: Heat: Pedal to the Metal
Tracks on the two double-sided game boards

In a press release announcing the game, the designers wrote, "When we first started working on Heat: Pedal to the Metal in 2018, our motivation was to make a Formula One racing game that could reach a wide family audience, while remaining interesting to gamers... Not a convoluted betting game, but a racing game where first across the finish line wins. This meant we couldn't create a rules behemoth that would run long, it had to be done within an hour."

Board Game: Heat: Pedal to the Metal
Elements of the Championship System

In addition to English, Heat: Pedal to the Metal will be released in Polish under the name Turbo and in French, Czech, Japanese, Spanish, and Danish/Norwegian/Swedish/Finnish (DANOSVFI) under the name Heat.

The game will debut at SPIEL '22 in October, with a worldwide release scheduled in Q4 2022, for a retail price of US$75 / €65.

Board Game: Heat: Pedal to the Metal
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Take Pics in Yosemite, Bet on Mechs, and Dive in a Bargain Basement Bathysphere

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Board Game: Atlantic Robot League
Every day I get a few updates for the Gen Con 2022 Preview that relate to shipping delays: this title will be available for demo, not for sale, and that title won't be present at all. Maybe that's why I haven't yet heard from U.S. publisher WizKids, which has a lot of games in the pipeline, but with the release dates slipping by a month or three for many of those titles as the year progresses.

In any case, I can write about WizKids titles that will hit retail outlets at some point in the future:

Atlantic Robot League is the first title from designer Camden Clutter, with this September 2022 release challenging 2-5 players to bet wisely on mech fights, while also giving them a chance to push the odds in their favor:
Quote:
In Atlantic Robot League, players place bets on the outcome of a massive mech battle the size of a dozen city blocks. After bets are placed, they get the chance to influence the battle by sliding the mechs across the arena, knocking out rivals, and buying scheme cards from the insider to bend the rules. Particularly devious gamblers might even pay the fixer to change their bets during the battle.

Occasionally your opponents will be helping a shared bet; occasionally they'll be knocking out mechs you need to survive. Since all bets are hidden, you won't know until the end and might even be able to bluff an opponent into accidentally doing exactly what you want.

Board Game: Atlantic Robot League

Five mech teams face off, each with three robots, and in each of three rounds, you bet on which team will have the most surviving mechs, which will KO the most mechs, which team will be eliminated first, and which five robots will be standing at round's end. The fewer the players who bet correctly, the bigger the payout for those who do. After three rounds, whoever has bet best wins.
• To update my WizKids-specific post from March 2022, Marvel: Remix and Marvel: Rock Paper Heroes – Enter the Danger Room are both due in August 2022, Detective Rummy is due in September 2022, Sidereal Confluence: Bifurcation is now expected out in October 2022 rather than July, and Three-Dragon Ante: Legendary Edition – Giants War — which includes more than one hundred new cards for Three-Dragon Ante: Legendary Edition — is due in October instead of April.

Board Game: Marvel: Remix
Board Game: Sidereal Confluence: Bifurcation
Board Game: Three-Dragon Ante: Legendary Edition – Giants War

• In August 2022, WizKids plans to release Bargain Basement Bathysphere, which designer Scott Slomiany first released in 2018 in a print-and-play edition. Here's the pitch for the original release of this solitaire game:
Quote:
You have recently become the owners of the leakiest bathysphere this side of Beachside Bay, but that doesn't stop your sense of adventure when it comes to exploring the depths! Well, unless you don't make it back to the surface....

Board Game: Bargain Basement Bathysphere

Bargain Basement Bathysphere, designed for the 2018 solitaire print-and-play contest on BGG, is a campaign-styled roll-and-write game with legacy elements; the game becomes more complex as you work your way through the maps. It's designed to be a "no build" game (at least initially), so once you print out the pages you can immediately jump in and play — but try not to look ahead!
Yosemite, another potential August 2022 release, leans into the "natural beauty" trend that's been in the game world since PARKS and Wingspan hit in 2019. Here's an overview of this two-player-only game from Tim Blank:
Quote:
Welcome to the Annual Yosemite National Park photo contest. It's time for you to show off your skills! Take the best pictures of our beautiful park and impress our judges to win the title of "Photographer of the Year".

Board Game: Yosemite

Yosemite is a fast-paced, competitive strategy game based on the landmarks of Yosemite National Park. In this game, you travel through the park, take pictures of the animals and the landmarks, and go camping and fishing.

Each turn, you move your photographer one or more spaces, according to the animal on your tile. These movements are all thematic to the specific animal, and dangerous animals can move your opponent as well. For example, the red fox's agility lets you move one, two, or three spaces, changing direction on the way, while the cougar moves in one direction right to the edge of the board, knocking your opponent if they're in the way. You also collect that animal tile after using its movement, which you can use for photo cards and bonuses.

Board Game: Yosemite

You and your opponent must maneuver for the best positions and the best photos, trying to impress the judges and fighting over the best campsites and landmarks.
Board Game: Fantasy Realms: Deluxe Edition
• Due out in September 2022, Fantasy Realms: Deluxe Edition puts all of Bruce Glassco's material — the original Fantasy Realms game, the Cursed Hoard expansion, and the Jester and Phoenix promos — in one box, with new art and graphic design.

• Another October 2022 release is Shapers of Gaia from designers Ian Cooper and Jan M. Gonzalez, with this game being for 2-3 players. Here's the setting and brief bit of gameplay info:
Quote:
You are a Shaper, emerging from the vault after millennia carrying the ingredients to restore Gaia and its ecosystem to its former glory! Work alongside the caretaker robot to earn prestige as you restore the ruined biomes of the land to their former splendor, repopulate species old and new, and give life to a rejuvenated ecosystem. Accumulate rare resources such as nutrients and energy to grow faster, but note that new biomes also provide resources to your rival factions.

Board Game: Shapers of Gaia

Shapers of Gaia includes six Shapers, each different, and during the game you must use your unique abilities to come out on top as you compete with others for resources and prestige. Gain prestige by arranging animals according to their established behaviors, collecting DNA samples, and unlocking new Shaper abilities. Only the Shaper with the most prestige at game's end will be allowed to permanently join the caretaker as guardians of the rebirthed Gaia.
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Make Some Noise for Clank! Catacombs

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U.S. publisher Dire Wolf has announced an estimated October 2022 release date for a new standalone Clank! game from designer Paul Dennen: Clank! Catacombs.

Board Game: Clank! Catacombs

Here's an overview of this 2-4 player game:
Quote:
The catacombs of the skeletal dragon Umbrok Vessna are mysterious and dangerous. Portals transport you all around the dungeon depths. Wayshrines offer vast riches to intrepid explorers. Prisoners are counting on you to free them. Ghosts, once disturbed, may haunt you to death. Despite all that, it's time to leave the board behind with Clank! Catacombs, a standalone deck-building adventure.

Each trip into the catacombs is unique since you lay tiles to create the dungeon. You can play using only the all-new dungeon deck, or you can include cards from previous Clank! expansions.

Find your fortune (and escape the dragon!) in Clank! Catacombs.
Board Game Publisher: Dire Wolf
All previous Clank! titles have been a co-production between Dire Wolf and Renegade Game Studios, but in mid-June 2022 Dire Wolf had announced that it would release future Clank! titles on its own. Here's an excerpt from that press release:
Quote:
"When we first dipped our toes into the board game waters several years ago, we weren't entirely sure what we were getting into...or just how big a part of our creative lives tabletop would become," said Scott Martins, President of Dire Wolf. "Our friends at Renegade provided some much-needed guidance and support for our early board game co-publishing efforts, and we're grateful for everything they did to help bring the game to market. Since then, Clank! has grown as a product line and we've grown as a company. We're very excited about where Clank! is heading in the future, and how it fits into the bigger picture of tabletop publishing from Dire Wolf."

"Coming from videogames, making Clank! was a whole new kind of challenge," said Paul Dennen, VP of Design at Dire Wolf, and the creator of both Clank! and Dune: Imperium. "The journey here has been a fun one, and we've got some exciting twists and turns ahead for the noisy thieves, and I think fans will really enjoy where we're heading next."
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Tue Jun 28, 2022 8:18 pm
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Gather Mushrooms, Arrange Rings, and Avoid Barracuda with Helvetiq

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Board Game: Kinoko
Swiss publisher Helvetiq specializes in quick-playing games, and here's a trio of them being released in 2022:

• In March, the card game Kinoko appeared from Tim Rogasch, who has previously designed games mostly for HABA. Here's an overview of this 2-4 player game:
Quote:
In Kinoko, each player secretly draws a color card corresponding to a family of mushrooms — musicians, scientists, etc. — and gets a hand of three mushroom cards.

On your turn, roll the three dice, then choose one of them. The result of that die, whether a number or an icon, determines your action: exchange two cards, swap two sets of cards, pick at any card secretly, etc. To win the round, you must gather the three members of your family in one location during your turn. This reunion can happen in any player's hand or on the table.

Board Game: Kinoko

Seems easy? The trick is you can see only the cards in other players' hands, and your decisions are limited to what you roll on the dice. What's more, each round one family of mushrooms turns poisonous, and having a card of that color in your hand when the round stops earns you a negative point...

The round's winner scores positive points, and the first player to 4 points wins.
Board Game: Barrakuda
• On May 20, 2022, Helvetiq released Barrakuda, a 2-4 player game from first-time designer Isaac Pante. Here's an overview:
Quote:
Welcome to Cartagena, Colombia! The colonial houses in this historical town are a testimony to its colorful past. You, on the other hand, are more interested in old shipwrecks — more specifically, sunken Spanish galleons filled with gold. Time to embark on an old-fashioned underwater treasure hunt. What you didn't anticipate is that several of you have discovered the legends of these buried riches. To make matters worse, a barracuda is prowling through the shipwrecks.

The challenge in Barrakuda is to be the first player to have eight gold pieces in their vault, but before you can lock away gold in your vault, you need to find it on shipwrecks or steal it from others.

To set up the game, lay out shipwreck cards numbered 1-6 in some orthogonal arrangement, and give each player movement cards numbered 1-5, along with a barracuda card. On a turn, each player chooses a card from their hand, then they reveal them simultaneously. If you played a movement card, move your pawn to that shipwreck card; if you're the only player there (and the barracuda isn't), take both the special action and general action listed on the card. If more than one player is on the same shipwreck card, then whoever has the fewest movement cards in front of them has the initiative and can either take the special action or take all the gold from one player's bag; after this, all players take this card's general action.

Board Game: Barrakuda
Two-player set-up

If you're the only one who played a barracuda card, roll the distance die, then move it up to that many spaces in the direction of your choice. If a barracuda is on the same space as a player, they have to drop their gold on that shipwreck space; others can pick up that gold starting next turn. If none or more than one player play barracuda, roll the direction and distance card to determine where it goes.

Actions on cards let you pick up gold, move gold from your bag to your vault, protect you from the barracuda, take back movement cards, move the barracuda, and so on.
Board Game: Oh My Ring!
Oh My Ring! from Olivier Mahy is one of those real-time games that folks seem to love or hate. Mahy's Dexterity Jane from 2021 (covered here) is a pattern-recognition game, but for Oh My Ring! you need to build a depicted pattern by sliding colored rings from finger to finger.

In more detail:
Quote:
Each player starts with eight colored rings: two of each color, with four on each hand. Each turn, a card is revealed that shows one or two hands and a combination of colored rings. As quickly as you can, move the rings from finger to finger to recreate that pattern before anyone else. The fastest player to do so wins the card, and whoever first collects five cards wins.

Board Game: Oh My Ring!

Some constraints will make the task harder, such as treating one color as another or forcing you to switch rings without looking at your fingers.
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Sun Jun 26, 2022 3:19 pm
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Find Treasures in the Shifting Sands of Morgan's Magic Map, Then Ride Twisty Tracks

W. Eric Martin
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U.S. publisher Rio Grande Games has announced three titles for the second half of 2022, one new and two revised.

• Following the release of Glory Islands in March 2022, the company is giving you another chance to play pirate in Morgan's Magic Map, an October 2022 release by first-time designer Gian Andrea Cappuzzo.

Board Game: Morgan's Magic Map

Morgan's Magic Map won the Premio Archimede, an Italian game design award, in 2018 under the name "JAP", which stands for "Just Another Pirate Game". Here's an overview of this 2-4 player game:
Quote:
After a life of raids and robberies, Captain Morgan retired from piracy. He created a magic map that would remind him where he buried his ill-gotten gains. He tore the map in many pieces to foil those who would try to find his treasures. Unfortunately for the old pirate, he was cursed by a sorceress many years ago. This curse has turned his torn-up map into a guide for others to find his treasures!

You have come into possession of many pieces of Morgan's map. Every time the fragments are rearranged, they magically point to the right place to dig! But other pirates have found parts of the magic map as well, so now you must race your fellow pirates to see who can collect the most valuable treasures before the map fades to dust forever.

Morgan's Magic Map is played over a series of turns in which players use map cards to locate where Captain Morgan has hidden his treasures. To set up, place the twenty map tiles in a 4x5 grid, with water and land edges always being adjacent to one another. Most map tiles include a reference point, such as The Tomb, The 3 Columns, or Big Nose Bay. Each player starts with two doubloons and four map cards in hand; each map card shows a reference point, a distance from the reference point, and a bonus icon.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Gian Andrea Cappuzzo collects treasure at the 2018 Premio Archimede

On a turn, you can take a map tile that has a free edge and move it elsewhere, as long as the map stays in one piece, water touches water, and no pirate is on the tile. Next, you can move your pirate — which starts in a corner of the map — up to two spaces orthogonally. Then if you meet the condition on any map cards in hand, you can play them since you've followed their directions to find treasure. If, for example, a map card shows The Tomb and has a 3 on it, then you can play that map card if you are three (orthogonal) spaces away from The Tomb. Treasure cards come in six colors, and five cards are available on a treasure board, with the more valuable cards being deeper on the board. If you play three map cards on a turn, then you can take any one of the topmost three cards. The deeper you dig, the more doubloons you earn along with the treasure!

Each map card has a bonus on it, and once you've played a map card, you keep it in front of you until you use the bonus, whether to move an extra map tile, walk farther with your pirate, or dig deeper when you locate treasure.

Once the deck of treasure cards is exhausted, the game ends. For each of the six treasure types, whoever has the most of that type earns a 6 doubloon bonus, with tied players splitting the bonus. Sum up the doubloons you collected during the game, bonuses, and the value of the treasures themselves to see who ended up the richest pirate.
Board Game: Jedzie pociąg z daleka
• In 2018, Polish publisher Nasza Księgarnia released a Jeffrey D. Allers design called Jedzie pociąg z daleka.

Rio Grande Games is now bringing an updated version of this design to print in October 2022 as Twisty Tracks. Let's get an overview of this 1-4 player game:
Quote:
Some people just want to get from point A to point B. For others, the journey is the destination. In Twisty Tracks, players are rewarded for both long journeys and arrival at point B — assuming not too many others arrived there first.

Each player has their own playing area that consists of a cardboard frame that depicts stations, loops of train track, and four train depots. Place a wooden train on each depot, and shuffle face down your personal stack of fifteen track tiles. On a turn, each player draws a tile, then places it somewhere in their frame so that they can advance at least one of their trains along the track. When you advance a train, you score 1 point each time it crosses the border between two tiles or between a tile and the frame. Try to send trains on long loopy journeys to score lots of points!

Board Game: Twisty Tracks

If a train reaches one of the seven stations on the frame, you receive the highest value for this station that hasn't yet been claimed. Wait too long, and you risk scoring nothing. If two of your trains collide while moving on freshly laid tracks, you score points for the borders they've crossed, then remove them from play. When all four of your trains have reached stations or been removed, stop placing tiles.

Once all players' trains have stopped moving, the game ends, and whoever has scored the most points wins. In a tie, the tied player who placed more tiles wins. For an easier game, you can play with only the station scoring or only the border scoring.
Says Allers, "This is a bit subjective, but [Twisty Tracks] is significantly different (and better) than the original. I worked quite a bit on it after it was published, and the strategy is different", with the number of available stations being more limited based on the player count, forcing you to decide whether you need to lock in a station early on or whether you can loop around for points first. "This tension adds a lot to the game and actually helps it fit in better with my typical designs."

• The other revised title is Dominion: Hinterlands (Second Edition), due out in July 2022, with this Donald X. Vaccarino design containing nine new types of Kingdom cards, similar to how other second edition Dominion titles have been released.

For those who have the original Dominion: Hinterlands, these new cards will be released on their own as Dominion: Hinterlands – Update Pack.

Board Game: Dominion: Hinterlands (Second Edition)
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Fri Jun 24, 2022 1:00 pm
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Prepare for a Galactic Renaissance, and Make Your Mark in Copan: Dying City

W. Eric Martin
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• Designer Christian Martinez's biggest success to date has been Inis, which debuted in 2016, and now publisher has announced what it's calling "the second installment of the Political Trilogy" from the designer-publisher combo: Galactic Renaissance.

Board Game: Galactic Renaissance

Details on the setting and gameplay are minimal for now:
Quote:
Throughout Galactic Renaissance, you build your team, adding new specialists — each one unique — to the core in your deck of cards. With this team, you discover new planets and systems, reconnect with lost civilizations, expand your influence, build embassies, and sow disorder in opposing factions — all in an effort to score victory points faster than your opponents. Sending emissaries to new planets, for example, allows you to discover new civilizations or cement relationships on known planets. Opponents may try to convince a planet to join them instead with their own emissaries, causing disorder in the process.
Note that the cover lists the player count as 2-5, whereas Matagot's website lists it as 1-4. The title isn't due out until 2023, however, so those details will surely be ironed out by then.

• Another large-scale game coming from French sources and due out in 2023 is Copan: Dying City from designers Eric Dubus and Olivier Melison and publisher Holy Grail Games, with all three entities having previously partnered on Museum, Encyclopedia, and Dominations: Road to Civilization.

Board Game: Copan: Dying City

Here's an overview of this game for 1-4 players that takes 60-180 minutes:
Quote:
Welcome to the city of Copan, shining jewel of the Maya civilization. The city is flourishing, and as one of its ruling families, this golden age holds many opportunities for you to increase your influence and wealth. But Copan is destined to fall. Dark times lie ahead, and as you work to secure your legacy over generations, you have to face the city's slow decline. Your progress will hindered by dwindling resources, crumbling political structure, natural disasters, and war.

Will your family become a part of the history of Copan, forever carved into the steps of the hieroglyphic stair? Or will your story be forgotten?

Copan: Dying City is a heavy Eurogame with both worker-placement and tile-placement mechanisms. The game features a reversed difficulty curve because when play begins, resources are plentiful, making most actions easy to accomplish. However, all resources are finite. When they reach critical levels, they trigger potentially devastating events, and once they run out, they're gone forever. Every move you make impacts the rest of the game, both for you and other players, as Copan's inevitable fate looms.
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Thu Jun 23, 2022 4:31 pm
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Houdini and The Genie Get Unmatched, and Leo Colovini Challenges You to Escape

W. Eric Martin
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Restoration Games has unveiled the cover of the next title in its Unmatched line: Houdini vs The Genie, with design from Sam Crane, Rob Daviau, Adil M. Geresu, and Justin D. Jacobson.

I don't recall Houdini being much of a fighter in all those biographies I read in my youth, but perhaps he's going to amaze the Genie into submission...

Board Game: Unmatched: Houdini vs. The Genie

• U.S. publisher New Mill Industries has signed the trick-taking game Tall Tales from Rand Lemley, with a crowdfunding campaign coming to Gamefound in February 2023. Rand has helpfully shared info about Japanese game releases over the years, and I'm curious to learn more about this design.

All In, the third installment of the Spiel des Jahres-winning MicroMacro: Crime City line from Johannes Sich and Edition Spielwiese, is due out in September 2022 in Germany.

Board Game: MicroMacro: Crime City – All In

This standalone item contains sixteen more criminal cases that you are asked to solve through careful observation of the many inhabitants of this terrible place to live. In case you're not familiar with this series, you can check out my overview of the first title.

• In the category of "co-operative games with communication limits that Eric fawns over", I'd like to present KuZOOkA, a Leo Colovini design for 2-6 players that German publisher Pegasus Spiele will release in Q3 2022. (Beth Erikson from the North American branch of Pegasus has confirmed that the title will make it to that continent at some point.)

Board Game: KuZOOkA

Here's a detailed overview of KuZOOkA, which feels like a co-operative take on Lair's Dice with bridge-style bidding:
Quote:
It isn't easy being a zoo animal. The enclosures are far too small for your needs, the daily routine is boring, and the visitors to the zoo are too obnoxious. You have decided: You need to break out of the zoo, ideally within the next seven days.

There are multiple ways to escape in KuZOOkA, but you need to work together with the other animals — in secret — to pool the trash left behind by zoo visitors and develop an escape plan that makes use of these items. Each player has one of the ten animal cards with a unique power, and you play on a game board that features a path comprised of spaces in six colors, with each space having a number in it.

In each round, a number of item cards is dealt out to players, with 20-22 cards being dealt in the first round. Cards show a colored item, e.g., a red ice cream spoon or a purple scarf. On a turn, you place one of your animal tokens on the path farther than any other animal token, say, in the 1 red space or the 2 purple space, to give some indication of what you have in hand. (The first player is limited to one of the first five spaces.) The next player places one of their tokens farther down the path, and so on, with each placement giving players a chance to suggest what cards they hold in hand. A player can use their animal power once during a round.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Image from the rulebook

At some point a player will decide that instead of placing an animal token, it's time to attempt an escape. At that point, all players reveal all cards of the color matching the location of the animal token furthest down the path. If you have more cards, you gain experience stars equal to the number depicted on that space — and with experience stars, you can purchase a higher starting experience level, which means you'll have more cards in play, including face-up cards visible to all. If you have exactly as many cards as the number depicted, you gain experience stars as well as a universal tool card that counts as a joker. If you have fewer cards, you fail.

Shuffle all cards, then deal out the current number of cards and start a new round. If during a round you manage to reach one of the six final spaces on the track and you have at least that many cards of the designated color, you escape and win the game. If you fail to do this by the end of the seventh round, you lose.

You can increase the difficulty of KuZOOkA by requiring more stars to advance in experience level or by playing on the opposite side of the game board, which requires you to win universal tools in order to succeed in the final six spaces.
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Wed Jun 22, 2022 1:00 pm
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