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New Game Round-up: Place Animals, Collect Mana, Deliver Pizzas, Keep the Peace, and Provoke Your Girlfriend

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• Let's check out more teasers for games that will debut at the Tokyo Game Market in May 2019, as well as games that have appeared from independent Japanese designer/publishers in the past year.

Three Magic, for example, is a card game from Kei Tsukahara and Mahoroba that's designed solely for three players. Here's all that I know about the game so far: "Your goal in Three Magic, a.k.a. スリーマジック, is to collect three cards of mana (the power of the nature) in order to create a spell; create three spells to complete your magic. Do this first, and you win."

If you speak Japanese, you can visit the publisher's blog on the Game Market website and probably get more out of what's posted there than I can. Artist Makoto Takami has also tweeted background info on the card illustrations and design.

Joraku designer Iori Tsukinami won first prize in the Board Game Grand Prix design competition for "Bird Watching", winning ¥20,000 (approx. US$200) and publication of the design by the competition organizers, online retailer Bodoge and brick-and-mortar retailer DEAR SPIELE. The design will debut at TGM in May 2019 under the name Photome's, with players now looking for cats instead of birds. An overview:

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Photome's, a.k.a. フォトムズ, is a co-operative game in which you place animals to be visible — or place 3D buildings to hide certain animals — to create your ideal city. Use your smartphone to check whether your ideal city is being built properly.

Games in the competition had to have a theme based on housing, and in the award announcement, the designer notes that this game was inspired by a favorite children's "search" picture book: "...it was conceived from the thought that I want you to create a three-dimensional cityscape and enjoy it from 360º". To do this, you fold two-dimensional cards to create that 3D city in which the animals live, whether seen or unseen depending on the game conditions.

• Although One Draw debuted Hayato Kisaragi's Psychic Pizza Deliverers Go to the Ghost Town debuted at the November 2018 TGM, the game is still new and unknown by most people, but to rectify that situation James Nathan has published an excellent introduction and overview of the game on Opinionated Gamers.

To sum up, one player is mayor of the town, creating its layout or using one of the pre-created layouts, while everyone else is a pizza deliverer who cannot see where they're going and must learn where things are by stumbling around and paying attention to what other players are doing. On a turn, a player can move one space orthogonally, attack orthogonally to attempt to banish a ghost, or use a psychic power. The mayor then resolves the action, tells the player the location of any barriers adjacent to the player, and whether or not the player senses any ghosts/pizzas/houses in any of the eight spaces surrounding the player. The players have only twenty turns to locate a pizza and deliver it to the matching house, and the first deliverer to do so wins.

にゃんこパイレーツ (Nyanko Pirates) is the second title from the father-and-daughter design team of らなとパパ (Lana&Papa), and the 2-5 pussycat pirates in this dice-based game journey along the shores of multiple islands where danger and treasures await. In the designer's words: "Will you dare fight for treasures by yourself, or will you take someone else with you? Two adventurers' worth of shields and swords might be of great help to succeed in beating the danger, but it also means sharing everything you find!" The game will have English rules on BGG at the time of its debut at TGM.

• To travel a bit in southeast Asia, I'll point out 花式自殺, a February 2019 release from Hong Kong publisher TIME2PLAY GAMES with a title that translates to something like "Fancy Suicide". The game bears the subtitle "十萬個激嬲女友的理由", which could be translated as "1001 Ways to Provoke Your Girlfriend", and someone pointed out to me that this subtitle belongs to a Facebook group "that posts dialogues of guys angering their SO with bad jokes or innocent things (to a guy)". The cover image makes so much more sense in light of this information.

As for what the game is about, well, I'll just say this is one way to provoke the BGG News audience...

• Let's close with the first title from INTELLIGENT MONKEY, a new publisher founded by someone from Taiwan Boardgame Design who would (as best as I can understand it) set up Japanese information on the TBD website ahead of that group's appearance at Game Markets in Japan. That individual has now founded a design circle with both Taiwanese and Japanese members, and its first release will be Zoomate, with the title currently undergoing funding on the Japanese crowdfunding site Campfire. Here's an overview of this game for 4-7 players:

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In Zoomate, the country of fire and the country of water — rivals who recently conducted a worldwide conflict — are in an uneasy peace thanks to a neutral third party that wants to wield power in order to maintain that peace.

Unfortunately, the central power plant has been hacked, and now all three parties are grabbing for whatever power they can in order to bring victory to their side or (in the case of the third party) lock in a permanent stalemate between fire and water. If fire or water gain control of three or more power switches by the end of the fifth turn, then they win; if neither does by game's end, then the neutral party has preserved peace and won.


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Tue Apr 23, 2019 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Fight in BattleLands Until Daylight

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• I'm not sure how many global disasters we'll encounter in the next few decades, but if they do occur, we'll have had plenty of practice surviving their effects thanks to all the co-operative post-apocalyptic games on the market.

Until Daylight is yet another title in that genre, with Canadian publisher Flyos Games having funded this Thomas Filippi and Gary Paitre design on Kickstarter in October 2018. Asmodee North America has now picked up this title for distribution, with an expected retail release date of July 2019. Here's an overview of this 2-6 player game:

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Until Daylight is a co-operative survival card game. During the game, you can find and exchange objects, weapons, and ammunition with other characters and build traps or barricades to protect yourself and ensure your survival as a group. Your reflexes, your sense of strategy, and your ability to survive will be tested. Players might disagree on which strategy to adopt, and in these circumstances, the group leader — that is, the player wit the most experience points — decides which action will be carried out for the party. Every character you may embody is unique and has its advantage and drawback that will enhance the game with strong and intense moments. "Search, fight, survive" will quickly become your motto.

Your first games should be difficult, and you will probably die. Don't worry — it's normal because surviving the apocalypse is anything but easy. Every attempt will teach you a little more about the game mechanisms and strategic priorities. Until Daylight is a game in which every action counts and where time will be very cruel. In some phases you will have only a few seconds to react before the horde falls on you. You win the game if the following three conditions are met:

—All characters survived the ten rounds of the game.
—All enemies revealed in the game were eliminated.
—The group saved at least one survivor.

• It's war amongst the animals once again in BattleLands from Andrea Mezzotero, Jerry Hawthorne, and Plaid Hat Games, with this post-apocalyptic game having no humans at all. Consider this July 2019 release preparation for situations in which our descendants are all mutated into four-legged critters:

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BattleLands is a fast and furious game of turf warfare for 3-5 players. Send your fighters to seize key locations, or recruit even fiercer warriors who can help you turn the tide! Use your faction's abilities to play dirty and keep your opponents guessing your next move!

Set in the world of the upcoming Adventure Book game ''Aftermath'', in ''BattleLands: Aftermath Edition'' the animals of the world try to survive by competing for territory, food, and precious technology.

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Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:22 pm
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New Game Round-up: Watch Your Back in Hyde Society While Golfing on Revised Buses

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Time to round up more game announcements and pseudo-announcements from the past few months that have slipped by me while I was focused on conventions:

• Designer Mike Selinker announced in late March 2019 that for the past two years his company Lone Shark Games has been working with Justin Gary of Stone Blade Entertainment "on my first game with a traitor mechanic since Betrayal at House on the Hill". This game, tentatively called Hyde Society, is a fantasy game set during the Victorian era. Beyond that brief description, nothing else has been announced so far.

• U.S. publisher Capstone Games is partnering with Dutch publisher Splotter Spellen to release a twentieth anniversary edition of Bus from designers Jeroen Doumen and Joris Wiersinga

• In June 2019, Z-Man Games will release a new edition of Seiji Kanai's Love Letter that contains five cards more than the original Love Letter — which might not sound like much, but since the original game has only sixteen cards, it will now be 31% larger! This 2019 edition of the game has all new art and two new characters: the Chancellor (value 6) allows you to draw two new cards, add those to your hand, then place two cards of your choice on the bottom of the deck, while the Spy (value 0) wins you a favor token if you were the only player to play or discard a spy during the round.

CABO is a variant of the public domain card game Golf that designers Mandy Henning and Melissa Limes published through Eventide Games in 2010. Now Bézier Games has released a second edition of CABO that keep the fundamentals of the game while changing some details of the gameplay and scoring.

The gist of the game remains the same: Start with four face-down cards from a deck numbered 0-13, looking at two of those cards. On a turn, you can draw from the deck or discard pile, look at the card drawn (if from the deck), then decide whether to swap it for one of the cards in your display or use it for its special power (assuming that it has one). If you have matching cards in your display, you can remove them both and replace them with a single card, ideally lowering the total of the cards you hold. If you think you have the lowest total, you can call for the round to end at the start of your next turn, with you scoring no points if you're correct and scoring the sum of your cards and a penalty if you're wrong. Everyone else scores for their cards' value, and you play multiple rounds, trying to have the lowest score.

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Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:00 pm
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God of War: The Card Game, Bloodborne: The Board Game Coming from CMON

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CMON Limited has announced a new video-game-to-tabletop-game in its line-up — God of War: The Card Game, a 1-4 player game from Fel Barros and Alexandru Olteanu that's due out Q3 2019. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:

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Ragnarök is coming. The fate of all existence is at stake. Is destruction inevitable, or are there ways to avoid ultimate cataclysm? The Norns, mystical beings of great power, have decided they will not go quietly into oblivion and have turned their attention to the well of Fate, Urðr, in order to find any possible way to stop Ragnarök. Looking deep into the swirling waters, they can foresee which potential combination of heroes, villains, battles, victories, and defeats might stop the end of all that is known — but will they find the right combination in time? Is there any true path to salvation at all? They must hurry and seek the true way through, before all is lost.

In God of War: The Card Game, players take on the role of the Norns as they try different combinations of heroes and events in order to stop Ragnarök. Each game is a new attempt to find the right key to saving Midgard from destruction. Players must work together, embodying mighty heroes such as Kratos, Mimir, Atreus, Brok and Sindri, and Freya. They will fight enemies and bosses from the popular God of War video game, but combined and remixed in exciting new ways, creating unique "What if...?" scenarios each time they play. If they succeed, the way forward has been secured and Ragnarök can be halted. Failure means the Norns will have to try again as only death and destruction lay along that particular path.

Each quest in God of War: The Card Game is made up of a mosaic of cards that recreate monsters and locations from the video game. Each quest's mosaic is different, and each card is double-sided, depending on whether a section has been destroyed or not, and each has special rules that go into effect when it is face up on the tabletop. Learning how each quest is won, as well as what strategy to employ, is key to victory.

As players progress, earlier quests have an effect on what comes after them. At certain points along their path, players must choose which quest they will complete. Completing one might grant a bonus, but quests left untouched result in dire permanent consequences as the players move forward.

Heroes in the game have several elements that make them unique. Each comes with their own dashboard that explains their special abilities and health totals, in addition to tracking the number of cards a player can keep in their hand from round to round. Tokens are used to keep everything clear as heroes gain and lose health and build up their power so they can unleash a mighty special attack. Heroes begin the game with a unique starting deck of cards that will be augmented from additional decks as the game progresses. Players can construct their deck to focus on their strengths or look for ways to generalize their approach, preparing for future quests that lie ahead. Each hero also has a unique standee that indicates which portion of the mosaic they are facing. With multiple heroes from which to choose, numerous ways to build their deck, and various different quests to attempt, each game of God of War: The Card Game will be a new experience that will echo throughout eternity.

Echo throughout eternity? That sounds like a tall promise.

This announcement comes one week ahead of the April 23, 2019 launching of a Kickstarter project for Bloodborne: The Board Game, a 1-4 player game from Eric M. Lang and Michael Shinall that I missed earlier while I was in the midst of February convention madness. Shinall has been posting a diary about this design on the CMON website — here's part one of five to date — but here's a game summary to get you started:

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Revered for its healing techniques, the town of Yharnam is rapidly degrading as a plague that turns people into beasts spreads uncontrollably. As a Hunter, it falls to you to quell this growing threat. You will have to fight through beasts, monsters, and townsfolk alike to survive the night and discover the source of this madness.

In the campaign-based action-adventure Bloodborne: The Board Game, players take on the role of Hunters, working together against the game to uncover the mysteries hidden within the city of Yharnam and beyond. Featuring unique Trick Weapons, each with various forms and powers, Hunters have to think quickly and adapt their tactics to overcome the multitude of foes that stand in their way. Learn their behavior, exploit their weaknesses, and strike them down! Featuring unique card-driven combat, luck has little place here — success or failure depends on your choices and how you approach each engagement!

Of course, against such horrific foes, death is a common occurrence, but worry not as death is no end for a Hunter. Those who fall in combat awaken in the Hunter's Dream, ready to return fresh to the fight. Be warned, however, that upon awakening you might find previous foes and obstacles returned, Worse, time is not on your side as the Blood Moon rises ever higher into the sky, spreading its madness across Yharnam. You must press ever forward if you and your comrades hope to complete the Hunt before the city meets an unfortunate end.
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Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:26 pm
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New Game Round-up: Adjusting for Noisy Success, and Moving Toward War in Our Place in the Sun

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Five-player game of Our Place in the Sun on a prototype from 2017
• Polish publisher PHALANX has a number of titles on its 2019 release docket — Europe Divided, Nanty Narking, Freedom!, 1941: Race to Moscow — and now it's added one for release in 2020: Our Place in the Sun, a vast design for 2-5 players from first-time designer Andrew MacLeod:

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In 1871, the Treaty of Versailles was signed between France and the newly established German Empire, badly shaking the balance of power that had kept Europe relatively stable since Napoleon's defeat in 1815. France longed for revenge against Germany, as did Austria-Hungary, yet the weakening Ottoman Empire seemed a much easier target for recovering the honor she had so recently lost to the ascendant Germans.

Meanwhile, Russia longed to see the subject peoples of the Balkans take refuge under her wings, and every attempt by a European power to spread her influence into the Sick Man of Europe was watched with grave concern by all. Russia, with its huge army, was also being closely monitored by Britain in central Asia, where the latter wondered what schemes this eastern giant might have planned. Did Russia have intentions towards Britain's treasure of India? And was this new German Empire friend or foe? Would she attempt the herculean task of building a large navy to rival Britain's? As her chancellor, Bernhard von Bülow, said a quarter century later, "We wish to throw no one into the shade, but we demand our own place in the sun." This struggle for a place in the sun would ultimately lead to the catastrophe of World War One, drawing all five powers into its maelstrom and destroying three of them in the process.

Our Place in the Sun portrays the rising tensions and dwindling war fuse that burned among the European powers from 1871 until the time of the First World War — yet a world war is not necessarily your objective. Your goal is simple: Outrank your rivals in national honor with or without the Great War breaking out. To do so, you must spread your influence into the four areas over which the European powers were quarreling during this time: the declining Ottoman Empire, central Asia, the Far East, and Africa. You must also build sizable armies and navies in the event that war does break out. If you are leading in national honor, then this might be the right opportunity for you to initiate the catastrophic conflagration. But if your ambitious schemes isolate you diplomatically, you just might find yourself friendless when war begins and witness the collapse of your empire. Perhaps you should play the honest broker and try to prevent the Great War. Have you the wisdom of a Bismarck, or the incompetence of a Kaiser Wilhelm II?

Our Place in the Sun is a card-driven game inspired by the award-winning two-player game Twilight Struggle, but playable with up to five players. Given the radically different settings of the two games, you will find familiar mechanisms considerably transformed, along with completely new ones, too. Naturally, the events portrayed on the cards are different: the German Fleet Acts, the Boer War, the Boxer Rebellion, the founding of the Indian National Congress, and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand are all here, as well as many, many more. Players can even form alliances and host European Congresses to both lessen tensions and deal with matters they'd very much like to avoid.

Our Place in the Sun can be played in a variety of ways. Given that new players will have no familiarity with the cards, each turn can be played as a one turn mini-game simply to familiarize themselves with the cards available for that turn. (For novices, such a game might take a little more than an hour.) Once players are comfortable with the cards for the first two turns, they may want to try a two-turn game consisting of turns one and two; and when turn three is mastered, a three-turn game, and so on. With experienced players of Our Place in the Sun, a full five-turn campaign game can be anticipated to last from three to three-and-a-half hours. The five-turn game will last much longer for players who don't know the cards! Alternatively, players may play a multi-turn game beginning on a turn other than turn one; two shorter one-region scenarios are available as well.

• Here's an odd "Inside Baseball" item for you: German publisher AMIGO has changed the name of Haim Shafir's Klack!, which debuted in 2012, to Clack! In a press release announcing the change, AMIGO notes that the English-language version of the game — which uses the "Clack!" title — has been the best selling title in the line-up of the U.S.-based Amigo Games Inc. Says spokesperson Andrea Milke in my translation, "This led us to secure the worldwide rights to a single title so that 'Clack!' could be established as an international brand."

Catan has already gone this route, of course, and now this real-time game of magnetic disc-grabbing — previously available under the names "Clac Clac", "Crazy Clack!", "Cvak!", "Halli Klack!", and "Klik! — is following suit.

• Asmodee France, which distributes titles for Libellud, tweeted in April 2019 that Seasons: Enchanted Kingdom and Seasons: Path of Destiny will return to print in mid-2019.

• French publisher Igiari released a new edition of Stefan Dorra's Intrigue in 2016 — preview video from Spielwarenmesse 2016 here! — and the company now reports that it's been picked up by Asmodee North America for release in English, by Mandoo Games for a Korean edition, and Swan Panasia for a Chinese edition.

Milito from Martin Wallace and PSC Games is a revamped version of Field of Glory: The Card Game, which Wallace has self-published in 2013. While that earlier two-player game pitted a generic red army against a generic blue army, Milito features six historically based armies: Imperial Roman, Ancient British, Carthaginian, Republican Roman, Alexandrian Macedonian, and Achaemenid Persian.

A Kickstarter campaign to fund the game, um, ended the day before this post went live (KS link), but the game is due to backers in June 2019, so it will be available soon enough in any case. (And should you, by chance, be in the market for an Italian edition of Milito, Giochistarter doesn't start funding its campaign (link) until May 17, 2019. Sei fortunato!
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Sat Apr 13, 2019 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Blood Feuds in Vampire: The Masquerade, and a Battle for Survival in Final Girl

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• U.S. publisher Everything Epic Games has announced the October 2019 release of what it dubs the first "Mega Board Game". The game in question is Vampire: The Masquerade – Blood Feud — yes, yet another game based on V:TM! — and this Benjamin Kanelos design is for 4-32 players with a playing time of 2-3 hours, with both of those quantities sounding fairly "mega" on their own before you even find out what's going on in the game:

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Vampire: The Masquerade – Blood Feud is a highly thematic, team-based, strategic game that plays 4-32 players and is run by 1-2 storytellers who also interact and play. You may play as one of the warring vampire clans such as Ventrue, Tremere, Gangrel, or Toreador, or perhaps you'll chaoose to become one of the human factions fighting for their own desires, such as City Hall, the Mafia, or the Arcanum, with many more from which to choose.

Additionally, the game integrates the story world of Vampire: The Masquerade by adding storyteller scenarios that add an optional narrative approach to the game. Players also gain disciplines, which give them powerful supernatural abilities unique to their character. Lastly, teams will choose their ambitions, which allow for multiple paths to victory, such as being bloodthirsty, manipulative, greedy, or somewhere in between.

Blood Feud is dubbed a "Mega Board Game" because unlike a traditional board game, it isn't played at a single table. Blood Feud requires a large room or two separate rooms with 2-4 tables. One game table features the Cityscape and Orders, the map where players move their forces around the city and order them to fight and take control of important territories. The other game table features the Council and Market, where players use their best diplomatic and resource management skills to make sly trades, buy upgrades and player level-ups, and make large political decisions that will shape the destinies of teams to determine whether they win or lose! In order to win the game, teams earn victory points through the completion of legacies, which are secret objectives that can consist of all sorts of tasks and achievements earned through gameplay.

Van Ryder Games has had a lot of success with the one-player game Hostage Negotiator since its debut in 2015, and now designer A. J. Porfirio is upping the challenge further with Hostage Negotiator: Career, a campaign setting that requires the base game, the Crime Wave standalone expansion, and multiple Abductor Packs. Here's what you can expect:

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In this culmination of the Hostage Negotiator series, you will play ten years in the life of a negotiator — that is, if you don't retire in shame sooner. In each "year" or campaign round of the game, you will resolve a career card that presents you with some narrative event that relates to or could impact your career based on the choice you make. Then, in most but not all years, you will be called to the scene of the latest hostage situation. Now, the result of each negotiation will impact the overall campaign and you'll be tracking your career stress, your personal stress, your merit level (for promotions), and your rank, among other things.

After the negotiation, you resolve a personal card and are once again faced with a narrative event to resolve and, based on the result of your negotiation in that "year", will be rewarded (or reprimanded) accordingly.

Hostage Negotiator: Career will hit Kickstarter on April 30, 2019 along with — how convenient is this? — two new Abductor Packs to bring the total number of such packs available to ten, one for each year of your career.

• What's more, Porfirio is partnering with Evan Derrick — designer of the forthcoming Detective: City of Angels, which is due out mid-2019 from Van Ryder — for a new solitaire game. Here's a first look at Final Girl, which will make its way onto Kickstarter in Q3 2019:

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Playing on a famous horror movie trope, Final Girl is a solitaire-only game that puts the player in the shoes of a female protagonist who must kill the slasher if she wants to survive.

In game terms, Final Girl shares similarities with Hostage Negotiator, but with some key differences that change it up, including a game board to track locations and character movement. You can choose from multiple characters when picking someone to play and multiple killers when picking someone to play against. Killers and locations each have their own specific terror cards that will be shuffled together to create a unique experience with various combinations of scenarios for you to play!

• Finally, starting in mid-2019, Van Ryder Games will have copies of the semi-co-operative game Skull Tales: Full Sail! from designer David Illescas and publisher Eclipse Editorial, as well as the game's expansion, for sale at conventions. Interesting to see limited distribution deals like these come about, and limited distribution is almost always better than no distribution at all!
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Fri Apr 12, 2019 1:00 pm
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New Game Round-up: Prosper in Babylon, Prevent Plague in Europe, and Run Around in Korea

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• April is the second-slowest month for game announcements — December being the slowest — so I find myself with time to catch up on some of the notes that I've sent myself since the beginning of the year, time to clear out a few dozen tabs that have been lingering on my browser, awaiting a return trip by my eyeballs.

Reiner Knizia's Babylonia from Spanish publisher Ludonova, which is due out in Q3 2019, has been in the BGG database since Dec. 2018, but I've only just run across it:

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The Neo-Babylonian empire, especially under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 B.C.), was a period of rebirth for southern Mesopotamia. Irrigation systems improved and expanded, increasing agricultural production. Urban life flourished with the creation of new cities, monuments and temples, and the consequent increase in trade.

In Babylonia, you try to make your clan prosper under the peace and imperial power of that era. You have to place your nobles, priests, and craftsmen tokens on the map to make your relations with the cities as profitable as possible. Properly placing these counters next to the court also allows you to gain the special power of some rulers. Finally, the good use of your peasants in the fertile areas gives more value to your crops. The player who gets the most points through all these actions wins.

If you're like me, you might be left saying, "That's cool and well, but what's the game like?" Thankfully Spanish gamer Javi Santos offered this briefing in the game's forum: "It is a tile lying game which may remind us about Samurai, but it is quite different. In this game it is very important to make chains with your tiles, and scoring is continuous, instead of scoring just at the end. Very tense, with this great feeling of always having too many things to do, which of course you cannot do all."

Trivia note: "[T]his great feeling of always having too many things to do, which of course you cannot do" is printed on Knizia's business card. Kind of a life philosophy, doncha know...

• While looking into the new edition of 10 Days in the USA, as covered in this March 2019 post, I ran across Korean publisher Popcorn Games, which was previously unknown to me. Turns out that the company was originally an online retailer called "Popcornedu" that moved into publishing in 2017 in order to sell its own games in addition to the games of others.

Popcorn Games has licensed most of NSV's line from the past few years (The Mind, Qwixx, etc.), but it's releasing other titles as well, such as a new version of Juhwa Lee's betting game Dark Horse, which debuted in 2014 from Korean publisher Magpie Games, then was licensed by Bombyx and Moonster Games for release as Minuscule.

• Another title with a new edition from Popcorn Games is Yeon-Min Jung's 돌진소녀, which translates as "Rush Girl" or "Dash Girl". (The game first appeared in an envelope edition from 1979games.)

Each player has a hand of seven cards, with each card showing a situation on the bottom — cat attack, ice cream sale, etc. — and the resolution of a different situation on the top. You flip over one card in the center of play, then everyone races to resolve that problem by playing the correct card, which then presents a different situation that needs resolving. Zoom bang boom, empty your hand first to win.

• While this item is only a prototype, it caught my eye, so I thought I'd include it anyway. Pest is a design from Kai Starck and Thomas Nielsen in which players are princes during the Middle Ages who oversee the discovery of new landscapes and the construction of buildings despite the constant threat of plague, which complicates their ability to procure resources for various projects, in addition to, you know, killing off their residents. As such, controlling the plague is another part of their responsibility during gameplay.


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Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:10 pm
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Enter Sanctum to Confront the Lord of Demons, Courtesy of Czech Games Edition

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Publisher Czech Games Edition likes to stick with publishing the same designers, and for its Q4 2019 title Sanctum it's partnering once again with Filip Neduk, designer of Adrenaline and Goblins, Inc.). Here's an overview of this 2-4 player game:

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Sanctum, once a great city, is now the last beacon of light in a world shrouded in darkness. The lands surrounding the city are home to the demon horde lead by the Lord of Demons. It's up to a handful of heroes to rise up, battle through the horde, banish the evil that plagues the world, and restore the realm to its former glory.

Sanctum is an epic adventure game for 2-4 players that's inspired by the hack & slash genre and converted into a modern board game. As one of the heroes, you embark upon a quest to rid the land of a demonic invasion, fighting your way through countless enemies and gearing up to face the Lord of Demons himself. In the process of venturing deeper into the land, ever so much closer to the Demon Lord, the heroes have to improve their equipment and adapt their combat tactics to face the increasing difficulty of combat.

The seemingly simple dice-throwing mechanism turns out to be a tactical delicacy once you realize that equipping the correct gear is a crucial part of surviving in these hostile lands...



Each monster card has an item on the reverse side; defeat it to claim it!
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Tue Apr 9, 2019 5:14 pm
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New Game Round-up: Ride Gondolas, Design Games, Collect Eggs, and Break Oaths

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Incubation is the first title from designer Carl Brière, founder of publisher Synapses Games, and this 2-5 player game will be released in North America via distribution from Luma Games. Here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:

Quote:
An incredible discovery has been made that will change the world forever. High in the snow-capped mountains, explorers have come across a number of large, colorful dragon eggs! Now the whole world is clamoring to get their hands on what's inside. It's a good time to get into the egg-hatching business!

In Incubation, 2-5 players take on the role of entrepreneurial dragon breeders looking to make a fortune by collecting the required resources and feeding them into their special dragon egg incubators to hatch them. There are four different types of dragons, as well as hybrid and mystery eggs. As the dragons begin to emerge from their eggs, players can use them to fulfill objective cards, which earns them coins. The breeder who has earned the most coins through hatched dragon eggs, completed objectives, and collected tokens wins!

We had recorded an overview of the game at GAMA Trade Show 2019, but it had been tagged differently from all the other videos, so I've published it only just now:



• I wrote about the 2019 release Ragusa from UK publisher Braincrack Games in October 2018, and now the company has announced the similar looking Venice from Andrei Novac and Dávid Turczi, the latter of whom notes that Venice is a thematic sequel, while being a completely different game. An overview:

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Set in the titular city in the 16th century, Venice lets players take the role of wealthy, influential merchants as they ride their gondolas up and down the city's canals, train their assistants, complete contracts, and leverage their influence to gain political power. But business is anything but usual. As they broker contracts and flirt with crime, merchants must avoid arousing the suspicion of the Venetian Inquisition, lest they find themselves arrested and their businesses shut down.

In the game, players move their two gondolas around the board. When they move a gondola, they may activate the assistants they have placed previously on any building they pass, but they may train (and improve the capabilities of) only the one on which they end their movement. Assistants allow you to gain resources, trade, make money, and take an array of other actions depending on the buildings to which they are assigned. When resources are made, they are placed in the gondola, and these will be used to fulfill lucrative contracts.

Space is limited on the city's canals, however, and each time you pass another merchant's boat, gossip will spread, raising your suspicion level with the Inquisition. Lower your suspicion with visits and donations to the church, or academic institutions — or throw caution to the wind and engage in unsavory activities for money or information. During the game, being such a well-known merchant can be a boon to your political career, but at game end, the most suspicious player will be made an example of by the Inquisition — blocking your victory even if you have the most points.

Twilight Creations is taking an unusual approach with Zombies!!! Sin City, the next title in its long-lived — some might say undying — Zombies!!! game line. The game is being funded on Kickstarter and has already reached its $10K goal (KS link), and the publisher includes a list of components that will be in the box, but what you'll do with those components is not yet known. From the KS description: "This next installment of Zombies!!! is a bit different than anything we've done before. The game requires players to complete mini games in order to be able to leave Vegas and win the game. The mini games will be created by YOU!" Yes, you can pledge for a tier that lets you design a game tile, name a casino, or submit a mini-game to be included in the box.

Game of Thrones: Oathbreaker from Kevin Spak and Dire Wolf Digital is a social deduction game for 5-8 players due out in late May 2019, which means it can't ride all the initial hype before the launching of the final season of that television series on April 14, 2019, but perhaps after the final episode airs on May 19, fans of the series will be looking for something more along the same lines and find this waiting for them:

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Who do you trust? If you sit on the Iron Throne, the wisest answer is "no one".

In the game, one player assumes the role of King (or Queen), while the others represent the great Lords and Ladies of the Houses of Westeros. Some are loyalists who want order in the realm, others are conspirators who seek to undermine the throne, and all of them have a secret agenda of their own. Who is truly loyal, and who is simply hungry for power, honor, and coin? It's up to the King to figure it out before it's too late.

In more detail, the game lasts seven rounds. In each round, players reveal a number of mission cards, each on which has an associated influence type: crowns, ravens, or swords. Each noble plays influence cards face down to one or more missions and places their House Sigil at the mission where they played the most cards. Then each mission is resolved by shuffling the influence cards there and tallying up successes and failures. If a mission succeeds, Order is generated; otherwise Chaos is generated. Nobles earn rewards (coin, honor, power) based on whether the mission with their House Sigil succeeded or failed.

The King can play decree cards during the game to grant favor to nobles who seem loyal, or cast suspicion on suspected conspirators. Decree cards award Order if the King was correct and Chaos if the King was wrong.

At the end of the game, if Order exceeds Chaos, the King wins and any loyalists who achieved their personal ambitions win. If Chaos has the edge, then any conspirators who achieved their personal ambitions win.


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Tue Apr 9, 2019 3:05 pm
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Japanese Game Round-up: Two from OKAZU, A Menu from a Board Game Café, and Animalistic Trick-Taking for Two

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• I'm missing out on Tokyo Game Market in May 2019 as it takes place the same weekend as BGG.Spring, but I'm still following announcements from JP designers and publishers to see what they plan to introduce at the show.

Hisashi Hayashi of OKAZU Brand, for example, plans to have two new titles at TGM, in addition to the MetroX: Sendai & Hakata & Nagoya expansion that debuted at the Osaka Game Market in March. Not much has been said publicly about these titles as best as I can tell, but the games in question are:

"Shobai" All Right (商売往来), a card and resource management game set in a fictitious commercial city.
Across the United States (アクロス・ザ・ユナイテッドステイツ), a railway and network building game set in the 19th century.

Both titles appear to be larger games given their price tags (¥3,000 and ¥4,500 respectively). Ideally OKAZU will drop rules in the future, and we'll get a better idea of what's involved with these designs.

• Another new title coming at TGM in May 2019 is みんなのお茶請け, which translates as something like "Everyone's Served" or "Tea Ceremony for All". I know nothing about this design from Hammer that will be released from Hammer Works beyond what I've just said. Sometimes you just have to look at a box and use your feelings for lemurs as a guide. Shun or subscribe?

三ツ星ショコラティエ (Three-Star Chocolatier) was actually released at the Game Market in late 2018, but I hadn't heard of it previously and I'm guessing the same is true for you. In this game from designer/publisher ななつむ (nanatsumu), players roll dice to produce chocolate according to the pips, possibly using topping cards to create chocolate flavored like strawberry, banana, and other flavors. Your goal is to sell chocolates to customers, who want particular arrangements and flavors of treats. Skill cards can help you gain additional abilities during the game. As you satisfy the demands from customers, you receive stars, and the first player to collect three large stars wins.

• Yet another late 2018 release that will again be available at TGM is Kanban Menu from Shogo Kuroda and ドイツゲーム喫茶B-CAFE, which is a "German-style board game coffee house" according to its logo, in addition to now being a game publisher. Sometimes when I look at a JP and (1) the publisher isn't already in the BGG database and (2) I can write at least a sentence or two about the game, I create database listings for everything just to put a stake in the ground and give everyone something to build on in the future. That's my hope anyway. As for the game:

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In Kanban Menu, each player, as owner of a small café, tries to develop their specialty to establish the best café in town. Use material cards to make your specialties and gain good reputations (in the form of victory points, a.k.a. VPs). The player with the most VP at the end of the game wins.




• Many JP designs feel born out of experimentation, a desire to see whether something not previously in existence can work. Peter's Two Sheep Dogs from designer Shibu, which Suki Games released in late 2018, is one such example of this with the game being a two-player trick-taking game with a mancala mechanism, something that should not seem possible, yet here it is:

Quote:
In the short summer of the Southern Alps, animals live in a corral. In Peter's Two Sheep Dogs, players act as two sheep dogs, calling the animals with a loud voice and chasing off the wolf. Compete to be Peter's best sheep dog by herding the animals from the grassland, into the fence, and finally to the hut.

The player aims to become a sheep dog and collect many animals into their navery. Three livestock animals — sheep, pig, cow — score points, while the wolf eats the livestock and eliminates points. As a result, players balance moving the wolves to threaten the opponent while also gathering livestock for themselves.

However, because both trick-taking and mancala rules are mixed together, it will not be easy. Basically winning a trick allows players to collect animals in their grasslands. The player who loses the trick picks one of their grasslands and performs the movement action. If you can chase animals perfectly toward your or your opponent's goal fence, you can gain additional action opportunities and an even better score.

During the game you have opportunities for scorings in spring and summer, and if the score obtained in summer is lower than the score obtained in spring, the summer score becomes 0 points. However, if the score obtained in summer is more than twice the score of spring, your spring score is doubled.

If you want more details on how Peter's Two Sheep Dogs plays, James Nathan posted a detailed overview of the game on Opinionated Gamers, and Lorna posted a shorter overview here on BGG.

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Mon Apr 8, 2019 9:07 pm
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