W. Eric MartinUnited States
Gen Con 2023 Preview is now live, listing dozens of new games that will be sold or demoed at that convention.
Publishers, you have until July 28, 2023 to submit info to this preview, and Stephen Cordell and I will keep updating it as time allows to account for last-minute surprises, which can be both good — an embargoed game is revealed! — and bad — our container got stopped at customs!
BGG will once again be running a Hot Games Room at the Hyatt in the Regency Ballroom during Gen Con 2023, with the HGR open from 10:00 a.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday and 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. All games will then be shipped to Dallas so that they can appear in the BGG Library for BGG.CON 2023 in November.
GeekUp bits and other items from the BGG Store will be sold by Meeple Source (booth #2909) at Gen Con 2023. I don't know which items will be available as Beth Heile will make that determination closer to the event.Some of the titles scheduled to be at Gen Con 2023
To submit news, a designer diary, outrageous rumors, or other material, contact us at email@example.com.
Archive for Convention Reports
Gen Con 2023 Preview Now Live
05 Jun 2023
Mon Jun 5, 2023 5:13 pm
- [+] Dice rolls
BGG.Spring Report II: Kards with Ken — Perfect Numbers, ReCURRRing, Robotrick, and Bag of Chips
05 Jun 2023
my first report from BGG.Spring 2023 with several games that I did enjoy, starting with Perfect Numbers, a card game from Lars Jansen and Jolly Dutch Productions that I've heard no one talk about since its release at SPIEL '22, where my friend Ken Shoda talked it up.
By chance, Ken was at BGG.Spring, and Perfect Numbers was one of four card games that he had brought with him from Japan, so apparently he thought highly of it! We played once with three players, then again with two, and I can understand why he likes it so much.
The deck consists of cards numbered 2-7 in five colors, along with one joker of each value and special action cards. Start a round by dealing a row of three cards, two rows of two cards, and a row of one card. The first player drafts a row, then everyone else does in turn, with players getting more than one row in a game with two or three players...something you don't necessarily want!
When you take cards, if you get cards of a color you already have, you must add them to your existing rows, starting with the low numbers first. If the number you add matches the number of cards in your personal row — the perfect number! — you may score that row, with each card being worth 1 point. If the number is larger than the number of cards, you just add; if it's smaller, you must discard cards from that row equal to the number, so placing a green 3 on my pile above would force me to discard everything but the green 2.
If you get a color you don't have, you can start a row with it, but you can have at most four rows. If all your rows are occupied, you can ditch a color to start a new row or give away that new color to another player who already has this color — and if you would place the perfect number on their row, you score those points instead of them! Similarly, if you place a low number, they have to discard cards, but you score them!
So Perfect Numbers is a "take that", set-collection card game in which you have to consider (almost) every choice you make to determine whether an opponent can hurt you later with the card you leave behind, especially in the two-player game when you each take two rows. We discarded way more cards in our 2p game!
I'm glossing over a few elements above, such as you scoring additional cards from the deck if your perfect number is 5-7, which gives you an incentive not to score a perfect number of 2-4. Ideally you can count cards to know what's not left in the deck, but I don't think that's essential.
ReCURRRing, a shedding card game from Saien that I covered in writing and in video in 2017. ReCURRRing is, to a degree, SCOUT three years prior to SCOUT, and it's a shame that ReCURRRing has never been licensed outside of Japan.
The game lasts three rounds, and your goal is to score the most points. The deck is modified based on player count (3-5), with the five-player game having one 1, two 2s, etc. up to nine 9s and either ten or fifteen Rs, with R being higher than a 9.
Deal the deck, then whoever has the 1 starts by leading any single card. The next player can pass and exit the round, or play a single better card — with lower values being better — or any pair; if they beat the initial play, they take that card into their hand...and that's where things get tricky.My starting hand
If the lead player plays a 6 and you're next, do you want that 6? If you play a 5 to beat the 6, but you have no 6s, then you've worsened your hand (exchanging a better card for a worse one), but you're still in the round. If you do have 6s, then you now have a larger group of 6s...which is not always a good thing because you can overplay someone by at most one card. If I need to beat a pair of 4s, I can play a pair of 2s or 3s or any three-of-a-kind, whether Rs or better, but I can't play four 6s. I would have to break up the 6s, stranding one of them.
And if you pass, then you're out of the round and can't change your hand, whereas other players might be overplaying and molding their hand into larger groups.
Cards exit the game only after all players but one have passed. The person who played those cards places them face up on the table before them, then leads any single card to start the new round. When someone empties their hand, they place the cards they beat face down in front of themselves, and if their cards hold, they place those cards in front of themselves; otherwise, the player who last plays scores their cards.
At round's end, every card in front of you is worth 1 point, except for Rs, which are worth 0 points — unless you were the first to empty your hand, in which case Rs are also worth 1 point each.A great third round, landing me in second place
Like SCOUT and to some degree Abluxxen, ReCURRRing is all about crafting your hand into something better than what you started, ideally earning points through smart plays. If possible, you want to track who is picking up which cards so that you know who can play over you and when to strike with a large set since you (sort of) worsen your hand with every play that doesn't hold. The Rs are numerous, but they're worthless unless you go out first, so their power is somewhat balanced, although a large R set can let you grab a slightly less large non-R set, which you can perhaps score later.
You can tell from the wear on the box how much Ken loves ReCURRRing. Perhaps some day it will be widely available outside of Japan for others to discover...
Robotrick, a three-player-only trick-taking game from designer Domi (ドミッチ) and publisher The Game Gallery Works.
Every trick-taking game needs a twist, and Robotrick's twist is two-fold: A robot is the fourth player in the game. It sits between two players, is dealt a face-up hand of twelve cards just like the people, and plays cards according to a randomly dealt directive, such as these:Four of the ten directives
The robot leads the first trick, so if it were controlled by the directive in the upper left, it would play its highest card, with ties being broken in favor of the short suit, with card color being the second tie-breaker: A > B > C > D. If on a later trick you lead blue, the robot will follow with its lowest blue; lacking blue, it will play its lowest card from its longest suit.
The second twist comes from the scoring. If the robot wins the trick, each player keeps their card face down as negative points, with cards being worth 1-15 points. (The deck is a standard four-color deck from 1-13. One card is revealed as trump, and three cards remain hidden out of play.) If you win a trick, you keep the robot's card as positive points — except that any card you win after the third is flipped face down as negative points.Starting hand, and the robot has five red, which is trump...oh, boy
So you want to win tricks, but not too much, and you don't want opponents to win tricks, but if they're not and you're not, then the robot is, which will hurt you.
I did horribly, playing the wrong card (which I found out only later), winning the wrong tricks, and messing up in thinking about what the robot will play next, although since the robot has to follow suit, sometimes you're thinking that the robot will lead X, but by the time it does lead, its rules now force it to play Y. After only one game's experience, I'm still clueless about how to play well, even when it comes to passing two cards before the round starts, as demonstrated in the image below:After the pass I have the four highest trump and six total; I'm going to eat so many cards!
Anyway, I'm glad to have played, and Ken gave me the copy to take home, so I'll get to try again on two new unsuspecting players.
Bag of Chips, a game from Mathieu Aubert, Théo Rivière, and Mixlore, I knew it was an ideal choice: small, card-based, and not available in Japan. (Whoops, that last detail was incorrect. See image at right.)
Each round in Bag of Chips, you start with a hand of six cards, draw five colored chips from the bag, discard two cards, draw four more chips, discard another card, draw three chips, then allocate your cards, with two of them scoring you positive points if their condition is met and the third scoring you negative points. To end the round, draw a chip, then draw one last chip, then see what you score. The two highest scorers win tokens, and whoever first collects four tokens wins the game.
The game has a great press-your-luck element, with you weighing the odds of which cards might score based on the chips revealed — 14 total out of 25 in the bag — while knowing that one of those cards could count against you. Maybe you have the card that's worth 180 points if six onion chips are drawn. With early onions, you'll probably want to hold it — but you might also want to hold it if no onions come out since it wouldn't cost you any points as a negative card if the condition isn't met.
I covered Bag of Chips in detail in 2021, and the game remains a winner.BGG admin Stephen Cordell, who works on the library and convention previews, and Ken
Mon Jun 5, 2023 7:00 am
- [+] Dice rolls
BGG.Spring Report I: Visiting the Charity Sale, Playing Spiel des Jahres, and Being the Boss
02 Jun 2023
BGG.Spring took place on May 26-29, 2023, and with that show in the books, I thought I'd talk about games played and other happenings from the show.
To start, each year at BGG.Spring we have a charity sale with proceeds going to Café Momentum, an organization that has locations in Dallas, Nashville, and Pittsburgh. An overview:Quote:Café Momentum is a nationally-recognized non-profit restaurant and training program that provides a paid internship for justice-involved youth. The internship includes 12-months of curriculum programming.Horus Heresy from 2010? $10! Coimbra from 2018? $10!
The interns work their way through all areas of the restaurant, learning legal employment, social skills, and life skills. Case management works to round out the ecosystem of support including financial education, parenting classes, educational assistance, and career exploration.
Case managers help the interns work through issues such as anger management, trauma recovery, fatherlessness, and abandonment. After the 12 months of curriculum, successful interns are able to graduate from the program and are placed in a job with one of our community partners. These young people, who the juvenile justice system has referred to as "throw-aways" are now employed, tax-paying, wholly contributing members of society.
BGG owner Scott Alden also usually sells a few items from his personal collection, with these being priced individually. This year included Full Metal Planète for $100, Allerley Spielerey for $150 (bought by my friend and fellow Knizia addict Ken Shoda), and Catena for $40, bought by yours truly. In fact, you might recognize a theme among some of my acquisitions from BGG.Spring...
Anyway, the sale runs for two hours on Saturday, then two hours on Sunday, with prices dropping until everything goes. Here's the sale just before opening, then freshly underway:
The sale raised $7,801 for Café Momentum, and Tracey Hull, Director of Development, told us that will cover the cost of DART bus passes for all program participants in Dallas, which will make it easier for them to get to the program, but also anywhere else they want or need to go in Dallas. (Hull said that 90% of the jobs in Dallas are on the north side of the city, while 60% of the residents live on the south side — which means they need the ability to travel to find more and better job opportunities.)
three 2023 Spiel des Jahres candidates. I've already played and covered Kasper Lapp's Fun Facts from Repos Production in December 2022, but I gave it another go with folks who hadn't played...and the result was the same as before.
In each of the game's eight rounds, you're presented with a question that has a numerical answer (e.g., "From 0 to 100, how much do you like horror movies?"), then you're challenged to place those answers in order from low to high without seeing what people wrote.
In our game, a couple of questions gave you something interesting to answer that could become a topic of conversation; a larger number of questions were uninteresting; and one question ("How many intimate relationships have you had that lasted longer than a year?") drew an immediate "Nope!" from one of the players — and that reaction, even without an answer, made everyone uncomfortable, which is not what you want from a party game (unless that's the goal of the game, of course). From this question and others, I think the game is aimed at a European audience that would (in general) be more comfortable sharing such details of their life, but even so a lot of the questions fell flat, giving us no incentive to play again.
Next Station: London from Matthew Dunstan and Blue Orange Games is a flip-and-write game, part of the *-and-write genre that largely exploded into being following the success of 2018's Ganz schön clever.
In the game, each player has grid of stations on their board, as well as one of four different colored markers. Someone flips the top card of the deck, and you draw a straight line from the station that matches your marker to a station showing the symbol on the revealed card. Sometimes you can connect to any station you want, and occasionally you can branch the line. Once five pink cards have been revealed, you score that line — number of sectors entered multiplied by largest number of stations in a single sector, plus twice the number of times you've crossed the river — then shuffle the deck, get a marker you haven't yet used, and start a new round.
After four rounds, you score bonuses for stations that have been reached by two or more lines as well as the number of starred stations you've reached.
As with many *-and-write games, Next Station: London is effectively a solitaire game. Our only interaction as players in the same game is to see how one another is scoring after a round, then...what? Make riskier moves for a bigger payout? Not really. You're all getting the same cards in the same order. I imagine that you can plan better when deciding which station to add to a line, but in many cases I had only one option — although perhaps that was due to earlier poor planning.
I never felt like I was doing something clever — only incrementally gaining points bit by bit, then seeing who stacked them up better. The game had no arc, no rising tension, but felt flat from beginning to end. Keep in mind that I've played only once, but I'm indifferent as to whether I play again.
The game includes two expansions: one that provides scoring objectives that all players can achieve, and the other gives a special power to each marker, such as using a flipped card twice or branching an extra time. Those powers would give you a little more to do, being one element that's unique to you (at least for the current round).
Dorfromantik: The Board Game, a design by Michael Palm, Lukas Zach, and Pegasus Spiele that adopts the Dorfromantik video game for tabletop play.
The game consists of hexagonal task tiles and landscape tiles, along with task tokens valued 4, 5, and 6 and boxes of stuff that you will unlock over the course of many playings. To start, a player draws three task tiles one at a time, placing them into the tableau. Rivers and railroads must abut matching tiles, but a village or forest or wheat field can be cut off by something else — and often you want to do that because each time you reveal a task tile, you draw a task token of the matching type and place it on that tile.
A forest task gets a forest token, for example, and to complete that task, that forest needs to be as many tiles as the number on the token. If this happens, place the token aside for points, then draw a new task tile next turn. As long as you have three task tiles in play, you draw a landscape tile on your turn, and if you need to draw a landscape and can't, the game ends — which means your challenge is to complete as many tasks as possible so that (1) you score more points and (2) you keep bringing more tiles into play, which probably helps you complete even more tasks.BGG's Candice Harris
At game's end, you add up all the completed task tiles, score 1 point per tile for your longest river and longest railroad, and score 1 point per tile for closed areas that contain a flag. (Think cities in Carcassonne, which score as soon as they're surrounded by walls.)
I played with my BGG News compatriot Candice Harris and a couple of other people, and we all wondered why we would want to play again. Dorfromantik: The Board Game is co-operative, but you have no hidden information or personal goal or unique powers, so the design is really a solitaire game with the actions divvied up among however many people are at the table. You can advise one another on where best to play a tile, but unless I have the tile deck memorized — and three landscape tiles are removed at random each game — your choices are probably just as good as mine, so why am I at this table?
As with Next Station: London, Dorfromantik: The Board Game felt like it had no arc. I guess the idea is that the task tiles sort of have a lottery feel, and you ideally flip one over, place it where you can immediately score it, then flip another task tile, thereby racking up points quickly — but we didn't actually feel that during play.
At game's end, you sum the points, then mark a certain number of spaces to advance up a branching path, unlocking boxes of new content when reach certain locations or achieve specific point totals. As you add new tiles, your scores will (probably) go higher, allowing you to hit new targets.BGG's Lincoln Damerst and Scott Alden
BGG owner Scott Alden really likes Dorfromantik: The Board Game and invited me to play again, sure that we had done something wrong in my first game. We had not.
I've never been a video game player, and I think Dorfromantik: The Board Game has more appeal to someone with that background, such as Scott, who worked in video game development before starting BGG. In this game and in many other games that can be played solitaire, you're challenged to hit a certain score to level up, unlock new powers, then take on bigger challenges — and I have no interest in that. I almost never play solitaire games, and when I do, I rediscover why I almost never play solitaire games.
For a co-operative game, I want us all bringing something unique to the table, perhaps thanks to hidden info or player powers, so that together we can do something that wouldn't be possible on our own.
as was the case with Cascadia in 2022, I usually dig the other two, but not this year.
To end on a positive note, let's talk about a game I played that I love — and no, not Mind Up! because I've already covered that game. Let's instead talk about Big Boss, Wolfgang Kramer's 1994 take on Acquire that Funko Games is reprinting in a somewhat modified form in 2023.
Your goal in the game is to end up with more money than anyone else. Collectively you're establishing and growing businesses on a linear track numbered 1-72. Each time you start or add to a business, you earn money equal to the current share price, money that you often immediately plow into buying 1-2 shares of active companies on the board. If you have enough money, you can place a tower in the company HQ that counts as three shares of that company's stock.
When a block is placed that connects two companies, the larger one consumes the smaller one. Anyone owning shares in the smaller company is paid out, then the value of that company is added to the larger one.Only three companies survived at game's end
Thus, the two ways you earn money are (1) adding to a company and (2) having the value of your shares increase. Everyone starts with ten cards in hand from a deck that contains numbers 1-72, and you can buy more cards during play, whether face up from the market or face down from the deck.
As people play cards and buy shares, you get a sense of who expects which businesses to grow and where — although sometimes you can see this more explicitly thanks to the purchase of face-up cards. (This is a change from the original game in which all purchased cards came from the top of the deck, although you can play that way if you wish.) Sometimes you're dealt a card or two that lies between two businesses, giving you a lever in deciding which one will survive — or whether a merger will never take place should you own shares in the smaller company. Your own share purchases will hint at what you're hoping to do, so ideally you can time a tower purchase or merger at just the right time to profit best.
But even if you don't own shares in a giant business, you can make up to $50 million just by placing a block in it, and since the share price can never rise over $50 million, you can sometimes make out better than those who do own shares.
I played Big Boss twice at BGG.Spring 2023 and loved it both times. I've played the original game ten times, and this new version is much the same, while being a little more forgiving in various ways. I plan to post a more detailed overview later, but in short I love how the game requires you to read others, make plans, gamble on the future, and react to changing fortunes. Everyone matters in determining the flow of the game and your actions shape what happens to everyone else, a trait I value in games.
Fri Jun 2, 2023 1:00 pm
- [+] Dice rolls
Walk Dogs, Ride Waves, Catch Imps, and Role Play in an Adventure Party
21 May 2023
Can I blitz through even more new and upcoming games from GAMA Expo 2023 by using only an image and a couple of lines? Of course I can because I've selected which images will be included in this post! The secret of life is to set yourself up for success, not failure!
• In Adventure Party: The Role-Playing Party Game from David Smith, Travis Winstead, and Smirk & Dagger Games, each player takes the role of a fantasy character in one of three scenarios, and you roll dice to resolve various situations — but this is a co-operative party game, not a role-playing game, with success being determined by how well you can describe the effect of your die roll on the situation and whether someone else can guess what you rolled from that description.
• Weird Little Elf was a tiny release from Maggie and Jordan Clyne and Atlas Games in late 2022. In this party game for 4-15 players, players attempt to identify the imp among all the elves who are answering questions from Santa, with the imp required to follow this one weird rule
for weight lossfor interacting with others, with the game containing dozens of weird rules.
• Designer Sean Fletcher and publisher The Op continue to roll out expansions for the battle arena game Disney Sorcerer's Arena: Epic Alliances, with Leading the Charge hitting retail in Q1 2023 — and being the best-selling pack to date, which isn't a surprise given its Elsa, Buzz Lightyear, and Scar character combo — and with At the Ready coming later in 2023 with Robin Hood, Mulan, and Mrs. Potts. Yes, the teapot is ready to inflict scalding punishment on your enemies!
• Aside from its licensed catalog, The Op is releasing several games aimed at the hobby market in 2023. I've already mentioned The A.R.T. Project, which is being licensed from Lumberjacks Studio for release in Q3 2023.
The Perfect Wave is a drafting card game in which you construct a wave from number cards, with the wave never decreasing in height and with you scoring for runs and sets in the wave you ride, not to mention tricks performed thanks to "paddle out" cards.Mock-up at GAMA Expo 2023
• Express Route is a co-operative game in which 1-4 players operate shipping technology, co-ordinate actions, and use specialist abilities to expedite vehicles and satisfy consumer demand before it becomes too overwhelming.
• Mish Match is a real-time card game in which you need to spot and slap cards that match.
• Bark Avenue from Mackenzie and Jonathan Jungck and TerreDice Games is a game of competitive dog-walking. Think pick-up-and-deliver in New York City, with you trying to earn good reviews over seventeen rounds from all the dog-walking opportunities available to you. Australian publisher Good Games Publishing is handling distribution for this crowdfunded title, with availability at Gen Con 2023, followed by a release in October 2023.
• Good Games is also handling distribution for Mercurial from David Goh and Hyperlixir, with players rolling dice, manipulating these results, acquiring spells, then using them to do various fantasy things.
• Too Many Cooks is a 2022 release from Jarrah Bloomfield and Good Games Publishing in which, like the 2022 release Décorum, everyone has secret goals and you're manipulating a shared area so that all goals can be achieved at the same time. Unlike Décorum, ]Too Many Cooks is played in real-time rounds of five minutes.
• Trickdraw is another Good Games distribution project, with this game coming from designers Blake Propach and Morteza Rohaninejad and publisher House Fish Balloon.
In this card game for 2-5 players, you can play cards face down for gold, which is worth 1 point, or face up for the action listed — but played cards can be flipped via actions, allowing you to transform a used card into gold or flip gold to take the action on the other side. Whoever has 10 points in front of themselves first wins.
- Bark Avenue
- Disney Sorcerer's Arena: Epic Alliances Core Set
- Too Many Cooks
- Weird Little Elf
- Adventure Party: The Role-Playing Party Game
- Disney Sorcerer's Arena: Epic Alliances – Leading the Charge
- Disney Sorcerer's Arena: Epic Alliances – At the Ready
- The Perfect Wave
- Express Route
- Mish Match
- David Smith
- Sean Fletcher
- David Goh
- Maggie Clyne
- Jordan Clyne
- Blake Propach
- Jonathan Jungck
- Mackenzie Jungck
- Morteza Rohaninejad
- Jarrah Bloomfield
- Travis Winstead
- Atlas Games
- The Op
- Smirk & Dagger Games
- Good Games Publishing
- House Fish Balloon, LLC
- TerreDice Games
Sun May 21, 2023 7:00 am
- [+] Dice rolls
Cascadia: Landmarks, Holotype, Unmatched Adventures: Tales to Amaze, and More Pics from GAMA Expo 2023
20 May 2023
As is usually the case, at GAMA Expo 2023 I took way more photos than I can get through in a reasonable amount of time, so let me drop a bunch in this post that get by with little in the way of commentary:
• AEG was showing the wooden bits — that is, the landmarks — in Cascadia: Landmarks, which is due out in Q4 2023 in both English and German, along with a few other languages.
• If it's not your turn in Star Wars: Shatterpoint, you must place your right index finger on your upper lip. This is the way.
• Grandpa Beck's Games is releasing a reimplemented version of Brent and Jeffrey Beck's Cover Your Assets in association with specialty cookie retailer Crumbl under the name Cover Your Cookies with the game currently available only via the publisher and Crumbl.
• Holotype: Mesozoic North America is the debut title from Brett Harrison, Lex Terenchin, and Brexwerx Games, with players in this worker placement game attempting to gather fossils, do research, and complete objectives.
• I covered Marvel D.A.G.G.E.R. from Dane Beltrami and Fantasy Flight Games in March 2023, but here's a pic of the game board and components.
• Agree to Disagree is a party game from Ryan Mindell and Adam's Apple Games in which you score by finding someone who holds the opposite opinion. The devices shown below are 3D-printed mock-ups, but the idea is that after hearing a statement, players hold their device to expose their answer — although the device looks the same no matter which end is out — but when you nestle the end of your device with someone else's, you'll see whether you agree or disagree depending on how they fit together.
• I feel like this image of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – The Adventure Game emphasizes its scale without revealing much of anything. It's hard to take pics of games like this in passing as you really want to climb over the table and shoot down, but convention spaces seldom have ladders on hand.
• Fortify from Jason Mack, Caleb Zwar, and Barrel Aged Games challenges two players to engage in a real-time card-laying water balloon fight, with you trying to build a wall around your base so that you can add friends to your side, which lets you throw more balloons (i.e. dice) to eventually overwhelm the opposing base.
• I recall getting an early lesson in the hidden longevity of game sales courtesy of designer Fréderic Moyersoen, who would regularly blog about sales of Saboteur, which debuted in 2004 and which has risen in sales volume each year since at least through the end of the 2010s, when I last recall seeing info. Saboteur isn't a hot game in the sense of BGG's "The Hotness", but you can make the case that it's not NOT hot given its evergreen status for AMIGO.
• Here's the component spread of Unmatched Adventures: Tales to Amaze, coming from Restoration Games. I made an effort at this show to encourage presenters to step aside so that their crotch would not be featured in images, but I wasn't able to escape the floating hand in all my pics of this game. Be amazed...
Sat May 20, 2023 7:00 am
- [+] Dice rolls
Escape a Mirror Universe in Star Trek: Discovery – Black Alert, and Attend a Swedish Festival in Jokkmokk
18 May 2023
WizKids had a private room at GAMA Expo 2023 to show off upcoming board games, miniature games, miniatures, and other stuff that fits more with the NECA parent company. Think collectibles.
Star Trek: Discovery – Black Alert seemed to be the focal point of the board game area given the focal lights on the game board that made it tough to photograph. In this design from Lynnvander Studios, you play through an episode of the TV series. Here's the back-of-the-box description:Quote:The ultimate weapon of the U.S.S. Discovery isn't its phasers or torpedos, but rather its unique propulsion system: the spore drive. Now the Discovery has accidentally slipped into the mirror universe where the previous I.S.S. Discovery has been destroyed. Several members of the I.S.S. Charon would like to capture the Discovery to use it for their own aims.
In Star Trek: Discovery – Black Alert, players divide into teams, and each team represents key members of either the U.S.S. Discovery or I.S.S. Charon crew. Players take turns activating locations on their ship, navigating through the network, and attempting to accomplish missions. One crew is trying to return home, while the other wants to capture their ship. Which team will emerge victorious?
The Discovery crew slots are closest to camera, and they have actions facing both the Discovery team and the Charon team because the enemy can invade your ship (or somehow take command) to use your stuff against you.
The Discovery moves along the paths of space to reach destinations and do stuff, whereas the enemy moves only from one space to an adjacent one regardless of paths, attempting to box in the Discovery. You can manipulate space to change the paths, which is essential given that loops can isolate target locations.
• Due out in September 2023, Unboxed from Jordan Sorenson is a co-operative deduction game in which you are archaeology students who are presented with components and the vaguest of hints of what to do with them, then challenged to reconstruct ancient board games, after which you can play those games.
Ten scenarios are included in the box.
• Jokkmokk: The Winter Market is a 1-5 player game from Henrik Larsson that has introduced a previously unknown festival to me. An overview of the game:Quote:The tranquil city of Jokkmokk has hosted a world-famous market and folk festival every February for over four hunderd years. Visitors from across the glob don their warmest winter gear to experience the beautiful crafts, delicious treats, and breathtaking scenery Jokkmokk has to offer.• I wrote about Ian Cooper's Ascending Empires: Zenith Edition in July 2022, and while this September 2023 release was not featured on a table, I can show you the back of the box to highlight what's coming:
In Jokkmokk: The Winter Market, you gather your family members for a lovely trip around the merchant's stalls of the folk festival. Will you focus on gathering souvenirs and trinkets? Will you enjoy the sights and sounds of winter in northern Sweden?
• Trials of Tempus is the next Dungeons & Dragons board game coming from WizKids, with both a standard and premium edition due out in July 2023. Here's an overview:Quote:Dungeons & Dragons: Trials of Tempus is a co-operative, team-based game for 2-8 players in which rival parties of heroic adventurers battle to prove their worth and mettle in the ever-changing Battlerealms of Tempus, God of War!• King's Coalition from Derek Croxton seems along the lines of Fantasy Realms, with players attempting to draft a valuable hand of cards. Here's an overview of this 2-5 player game from the designer:
Choose your hero wisely for the skills and allies you need to conquer each trial are never the same, and the guardian that awaits you all at the end will surely test the limits of your bravery...or is it your cunning? The trial will tell.
To win, you and your party must work together to earn more points than your rivals by completing quests and gathering loot! Finally, you must defeat the trial guardian. Whichever party has the most points when the trial guardian falls wins the trial!Quote:Help the king of Athabasia assemble a coalition in Parliament to vote him the taxes he needs. You are trying to score the most points from your cards' face value and from bonuses; some bonuses are always available (such as a straight of at least six), while others vary and are only revealed as the game progresses.
Each turn, you draft a new coalition member into your hand from the deck or from face up cards. Usually you also discard, but peasant cards can be "enrolled" face up in your hand and don't require a discard. Total your points after six turns; after four games, high score wins.
Thu May 18, 2023 7:00 am
- [+] Dice rolls
Earth, Kiri-ai: The Duel, Tokaido Duo, Scram!, Rauha, and In the Footsteps of Darwin: Games Played at GAMA
17 May 2023
already covered Disney Lorcana, and here's a round-up of everything else:
• Maxime Tardif's Earth from Inside Up Games seems to follow in the footsteps of Terraforming Mars, Wingspan, and Ark Nova in giving players a metric ton of icon-laden cards and saying, "Have at it!"
To begin, everyone selects a couple of starting cards that affect hand size, etc., then you start taking turns. When you're the active player, you take one of four possible actions, and everyone else takes a lesser version of that action, then everyone activates all of the cards in their world that match the color of that action.
As in all such games, you want to maximize what you're doing while not giving others a chance to build, but in at least the first few games, you're probably barely looking at what others are doing because you are overwhelmed with puzzle parts that require your attention.After the first few turns
You need money to put out cards, and you want growth to place mulch and plants on those cards, and those elements all spiral into one another as cards let you transform plants into money, mulch into cards, etc.
The game has random shared goals akin to Trailblazers, which I covered here, and you can play on friendly mode in which everyone scores the same for reaching a goal or antagonistic mode in which points drop for each subsequent player who completes a goal.
Note that I'm probably not using the right terms for anything in all of these descriptions, but the gist of what I'm saying is what matters.My final board
When someone fills their 4x4 card layout, you complete the round, then score points for a bunch of things: played cards, plants on cards, compost, personal goal cards in your layout, completed goals, etc. Earth seems tailor-made for those who like optimizing a hundred opportunities for scoring as every turn gives you options for what to keep, what to play, where to play, what to spend, and so on.
Kiri-ai: The Duel is the debut title from U.S. publisher Mugen Gaming, with this two-player game apparently being a reimplementation of Kamibayashi's 曇天／斬合 Legend from 2019.
In the game, you and the other samurai start at opposite ends of the dueling area, each with a hand of identical cards. Each round, you program two cards from your hand by placing them face down on the table, then you each reveal and resolve the first card, then reveal and resolve the second card.
With the cards, players advance or retreat in relation to the opponent or strike high or low, attempting to cause damage. You need to be a certain distance from the opponent to use each strike, and the movement cards are double-ended, giving you options for how to use them. The first card you play each round is set aside for the next round, so you each now have information about what the other player cannot do. Strike your opponent twice in order to win.Image: Mugen Gaming
I played Kiri-ai: The Duel twice with CEO Ai Namima-Davison, with one game ending after only a few turns and the other having us parry and move almost in synch for at least a dozen turns. I took fencing in college, and this game has that feel of measuring the opponent, anticipating, and pre-countering.
Kiri-ai: The Duel includes a set of unique action cards, and for more variety you can deal some of these to each player, leaving others out of play, thereby giving you imperfect information about what the opponent holds. These cards can be used only once and do not circulate back to your hand, unlike the regular action cards, so use them with care!
Tokaido Duo is a two-player-only version of Tokaido from Antoine Bauza and Funforge that I first covered one year ago to the day! Tokaido Duo will debut in the U.S. at Gen Con 2023 in August, with North American retail availability coming later in August.
As in the original game, in Tokaido Duo you score points in multiple ways, and you want to have more points than your opponent. What differs is that instead of moving only a single figure on a linear path and jumping ahead as far as you wish to grab something, the distance you travel is now specified by a die roll, but you have three figures available for movement. Games are often about managing restrictions, so here Bauza has effectively reversed the restrictions from Tokaido.
As the active player in a round, you roll three dice — one for each type of figure: artist, merchant, and pilgrim — then choose one die and use its value with your matching figure. The opponent chooses one of the remaining two dice, then you use the third die.
The merchant walks on a linked network, picking up goods at central locations, then selling them by visiting coastal locations that specify how much they'll pay for which item. Every ten coins transforms into a gold brick that fills one of the scoring slots on the merchant card. Max out the merchant, and that triggers the end of the game.
The artist moves through fields around this network, revealing tiles (i.e., creating works) based on the number of figures in surrounding spaces, then giving away the art one by one by visiting a field that matches the lowest tile. The more you give away, the more you score. Max out the artist, and that triggers the end of the game.
The pilgrim circles the fields, ideally seeing torii gates and greenery because it scores the sum of these items (gates multiplied by greenery). When you max out one of these two categories, that triggers the end of the game. (The pilgrim can also pick up bonus tiles that modify actions and do some other stuff.)
In my first game of Tokaido Duo, my opponent seemed like he wasn't paying attention and let me draft the merchant die over and over again, hitting 45 points in no time. (You score for all three of your figures.) I wanted to play again immediately for more of a "real game", and my second opponent was a little more confrontational, but I once again maxxed my merchant and won. Hmm. Ideally I can get this game to the table again before too long. I like the system, but I need to play someone who's also looking at what I'm doing...
Scram! is a card game for three, four, or six players from Ted Alspach and Bézier Games that will debut at Gen Con 2023 in August.
Scram! falls into a similar bucket as Cabo and Silver, two earlier Bézier releases, in that it's a golf-style card game in which you want the fewest points possible. Where it differs from those games is that with four or six players, you compete in teams, and your team needs to have the lowest score to win the round.
Each player starts with three face-down cards and two face-up cards. On a turn, you can swap the top discarded card for a card in your tableau or draw the top card of the deck; you can then swap this card for a card in your tableau or discard the drawn card to use its power. Card powers let you look at cards, swap cards, share info, etc.
Alternatively, when you keep a card, you can discard all cards (minimum two) of the same number from the tableaus of you and your partner(s), but if you're discarding face-down cards, you have to correctly identify those cards or be penalized.
If you think your team has the lowest total, you can call for the end of the round, but each other player takes a turn before you compare totals.Me vs. two Bézier reps
In the three-player game, one player starts with a larger hand size and they take every other turn in the game, with the players on the opposing team alternating turns. I played Scram! once with four, then again with three, which had a very different feel given the flow of the game.
In the Footsteps of Darwin by Grégory Grard, Matthieu Verdier, and Sorry We Are French is "smooth".
Here's the central game board: On a turn, you draft a tile from the column or row where the ship is located, then you move the ship clockwise 1-3 spaces depending on the location of the tile you picked. Fill the empty space with a new tile from the deck. Do this twelve times, then count your points.
Each player starts with one guide — the tokens in the upper left — and you can spend a guide to either move the ship one space in either direction prior to drafting or flush the current line of tiles in front of the ship and draw new ones.
When you take a tile, it goes into a specified location on your personal board. People go in the left column, while animals go into a 4x4 array with the columns representing the continent and the rows the animal type. If you fill all four spaces in a row or column, you score 5 points. If you place a tile on top of another tile, you draft an endgame scoring tile. If you draft a tile with a guide or compass, you take those tokens from the central board.
At game's end, you tally stuff: visible points on tiles, 5-point bonuses, endgame tiles, and the sum of compasses multiplied by visible scrolls (12 points in the image below). Stacking stuff can cost you points or scrolls, but ideally you're making up for the loss with better endgame scoring.Yay, newts and North America! Boo, where'd Australia go?
I played In the Footsteps of Darwin twice with four people, and the design is like the Platonic ideal of a Eurogame. Each turn you have three choices, albeit with a guide giving you a few more, and you make the best you can of what's available. You're mostly focused on your own growth, but sometimes you do consider where you're placing the boat for the next player and how it might benefit them.
The two-player game would make each choice matter more for both of you since your choice would then determine where the opponent might leave the boat for you.
Rauha (pronounced "ROW-uh") from Johannes Goupy, Théo Rivière, and GRRRE Games is a card-drafting game for 2-5 players, and I got (sort of) half of the game played before we had to pack it in for the evening.
The game lasts four rounds, with each round lasting three turns. Each turn, you pick up the cards from your left or right as indicated on your player board, choose one, place that card in any space on your board or in the central discard area, then return the remaining cards.
After this, you resolve the column or row indicated by the avatar token surrounding your game board. (In the image below, I've already placed my first card, and the leftmost column will be resolved.) Some spaces on the board give you money or points, others let you convert something for something. You can gain spore tokens that activate spaces extra times. If you create a line of three colored symbols or weather icons, then you receive the matching deity tile, which gives you an immediate bonus.
We messed up the timing of how cards are resolved, so we didn't play correctly. Multiple players can form a line of the same color on a turn, and the deity passes from one player to another, with all of them getting the bonus, but only one of them ending up with the tile.
This matters because after three turns you have an intermediary round with deities providing bonuses once again and spore tokens triggering bonus tile actions. Players also compare their water holdings, scoring points based on their relative strength.
You need to maintain a flow of money so that you can pay for cards, although some are free.My board at the halfway point
It's interesting to see game elements or details repeated across even this small range of games, with Rauha and In the Footsteps of Darwin both lasting twelve turns and allowing you to stack items on your board, with Earth having a different type of stacking. Darwin and Earth have you build in a 4x4 grid. Kiri-ai: The Duel and Rauha have you choose and resolve cards simultaneously.
Vegetable Stock from Zong-Hua Yang and Taiwanese publisher Good Game Studio. Dan King had a copy and insisted I should play, so we met and ran through four three-player games in roughly a half hour.
The game is incredibly simple. Set up the initial value of vegetables, with something at 0, something else at 1, etc. In each round, deal out one more card than the number of players. Each player drafts a card, then the remaining card bumps up the value of the depicted veggies by 1 for each occurence on the card. If a veggie is maxed out at 5 and would go up, it crashes to 0. After six rounds, everyone scores points based on the value of what they've collected. High score wins.
The design doesn't give you a huge amount to think about or plan for, but it's a quick dose of fun when you can squash a veggie's value and tank an opponent, and you get a lottery-style buzz in the later rounds as you hope for certain cards to appear. C'mon, broccoli!
- CABO (Second Edition)
- 曇天／斬合 Legend (Donten no Kiriai Legend)
- Vegetable Stock
- Tokaido Duo
- In the Footsteps of Darwin
- Kiri-ai: The Duel
- Ted Alspach
- Antoine Bauza
- Théo Rivière
- Zong-Hua Yang (Bob)
- Maxime Tardif
- Johannes Goupy
- Grégory Grard
- Matthieu Verdier
- Kamibayashi (カミバヤシ)
- Bézier Games
- Good Game Studio
- Inside Up Games
- Sorry We Are French
- GRRRE Games
- Mugen Gaming
Wed May 17, 2023 7:00 am
- [+] Dice rolls
Eliminate the Competition in Queen by Midnight, and Glom on to Clever Sayings
15 May 2023
• Queen by Midnight from Kyle Shire and Darrington Press might have been the most attractive game on display at GAMA Expo 2023.
In terms of gameplay, Queen by Midnight is an asymmetric deck-building game for 3-6 players in which everyone represents a princess who is trying to be crowned the new Midnight Queen. You each have your deck, with cards from that deck being available in your market.One of the princesses
The game lasts twelve rounds, and the rounds count down on a clock that also serves as a dice tower and a market for cards from a deck that's common to all players, with the deck being stacked to introduce more powerful cards as the game progresses.
Your goal is to eliminate everyone else from the game by reducing their health to 0. If you're the last one standing, you win! If the clock strikes twelve, however, and more than one princess is still in the game, then the player with the most clout wins.
After round six, you make a secret dedication to another princess, trying to help that person win so that you also win. (Think Dune or Cosmic Encounter in terms of how multiple people can win.)
Queen by Midnight retails for US$70 and will debut at Gen Con 2023, with a retail release in August 2023.
• Distributor, consolidator, and retail partner Flat River Group has acquired a number of companies over the past few years — Greater Than Games, Synapses Games, Luma Imports — but aside from that, it's been making distribution deals with publishers large and small, both in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.
IELLO might be the largest non-U.S. publisher for which it distributes, but at GAMA Expo 2023 I got a sampling of other companies now being handled by FRG: Pencil First Games, Twogether Studios, Devious Weasel Games, APE Games, Everything Epic Games, Grey Fox Games, Modiphius Entertainment, Barrel Aged Games, Escape Tabletop Games, Sit Down!, the remains of Holy Grail Games, and probably more that I have overlooked.
• In 2023, Van Ryder Games will release Gourmet Popcorn Dice, a press-your-luck dice game from A. J. Porfirio that seems like a spin of Popcorn Dice with colored dice providing a new way to score.
• Moments is a standalone game from Porfirio and photographer Byron Jorjorian that can also serve as an expansion for 2022's Keepers from the same duo. In this game for 3-8 players, you're trying to correctly and collectively identify the proper image from a group of random photos.
2070 from Emmanuel Quaireau and Makaka Editions will be released in English by Van Ryder Games in the second half of 2023. An overview:Quote:Victims of an attack, the plans of an unprecedented technology have been stolen from the powerful Solax laboratories.• I feel like a walking encyclopedia sometimes as I spotted this box of Glom, didn't recognize it, and shot a pic so that I could look it up later.
In 2070, you play as a group of elite agents: an android, a martial arts expert, an alien, and a mercenary. Your mission is to intercept the spy droid in the streets of Rome. Nobody dares to imagine the consequences if you fail...
Investigation, traps, fights, survival and puzzles await you, but will you be able to work together to succeed in your common hunt without being distracted by your individual secret objectives?
Turns out that Glom is a party game for up to six players from Ellen Burns-Johnson, Mark LaCroix, Dale Lynn LaCroix, and Stephen McGregor that Indie Boards & Cards will debut at the Origins Game Fair in June 2023. Each round, you're given a phrase such as "Better late than never" or "Who ate the last cookie?" and are challenged to re-write it according to a randomly revealed rule, scoring points based on a randomly revealed goal.
• In Abducktion from Evan Katz, Josh Roberts, and Evan and Josh's Very Special Games Company, you have ten ducks in a stream that you've abducted from Earth thanks to a UFO you share with others, and you want to use action cards to manipulate the ducks into particular arrangements to match goal cards.
I wasn't familiar with MUD either, but it turns out that this design from Ben Bronstein, Jen Igartua, Jade Shames, Kat Thek, and Pillbox Games dates to 2020! From my perspective it's one of those lost Covid designs that few people have seen, but maybe I'm the only one who has missed it. If not, an overview of this 2-6 player game:Quote:You are a wealthy mogul trying to influence the next presidential election for your own gain. Win by being the first to secure a solid block of voters of either party. You decide how corrupt to be.• Cephalofair Games had an assortment of Gloomhaven miniatures on display in its booth.
Every player is dealt seven cards and can place three voter cards face up in front of them (creating a voter map) each turn. Depending on the number of players, you need at least three voters in three regions, all of the same political affiliation, on your map to win (undecided voters are wild).Image: Jen Igartua
Peppered in the deck are RAT cards, which give you strong advantages. However, every time you play a RAT card, you must also draw a Scandal card, which contains a punishment. This punishment is not enacted immediately — rather, it sits face down in front of you until someone plays a DIG card on you. The DIG card will force you to turn over a scandal and abide by the punishment. Do you risk a scandal, or do you play it safe? The choice is yours in this dirty game of American elections.
- Popcorn Dice
- Gourmet Popcorn Dice
- Queen by Midnight
- A. J. Porfirio
- Ben Bronstein
- Jade Shames
- Kat Thek
- Emmanuel Quaireau
- Evan Katz
- Josh Roberts
- Jen Igartua
- Byron Jorjorian
- Kyle Shire
- Van Ryder Games
- Pillbox Games
- Makaka Editions
- Darrington Press
- Evan and Josh's Very Special Games Company
Mon May 15, 2023 4:00 pm
- [+] Dice rolls
Wild Tiled West, Trailblazers, Masters of the Universe, and More at GAMA Expo
13 May 2023
• Publisher Dire Wolf had a teaser announcement of Paul Dennen's Wild Tiled West in July 2021, but now it's moving toward release of this 1-5 player tile-laying game in 2023. The game description is minimal, but gives you some sense of what's going on:Quote:It's a wild frontier out there in Wild Tiled West, and only the canniest critters will have what it takes to claim it!Maybe this image from GAMA Expo 2023 gives you some more info:
Draft tiles to build new towns across the prairie and help your settlement grow. Defend your citizens from no-good-rotten outlaws. Strike it rich in the mines, or risk it all at the card table!
And here's a close-up of the central tile markets, which use d8 and d20 dice:
I wrote down a short gameplay overview when I saw the game on media night, then lost my notebook, so...yeah.
• A couple of retailers were putting Thunder Road: Vendetta from Dave Chalker, Brett Myers, and Restoration Games through its paces, with Kickstarter fulfillment being underway.
• The Op has picked up The A.R.T. Project, a co-operative game from Florian Sirieix, Benoit Turpin, and originating publisher Lumberjacks Studio for release in the U.S.So many drinks!
• During media night, CMON was demoing Masters of the Universe: The Board Game – Clash for Eternia from Leo Almeida and Michael Shinall.
At a retailer presentation a couple of days later, CMON noted that all of the Masters of the Universe items the base game and five expansions — were part of a single production run and would not be reprinted. I presume that limitation is due to the licensing agreement, but whatever the reason, CMON was telling retailers that if you want to carry the line, order it now because once it's gone, it's gone.
• At the close of the Monday game night, Nick Murray at Bitewing Games set me up for a basic solo game of Trailblazers by Ryan Courtney. In each of four rounds, you place six domino-style cards — draw eight cards, place two, discard, draw six new cards, place two, discard, draw four, place two — and at the start of each of the first three rounds, you place one of the campgrounds in play.
Your goal is to create long paths of single colors that begin and end at the matching colored camp. You can overlay tiles as you wish to make connections, but that eliminates old paths, so you want to spread out as much as possible.
You can play with goals that players race to complete, and animals can be added to give you another element to maximize. (You can see animal icons on some of the tiles in play above.) The game also includes a solo campaign that keeps adding new challenges as you meet point thresholds.Four of the many goals
I had walked up to the table just as a four-player game with goals and animals was ending:
• Adam Rehberg from Adam's Apple Games had a mock-up box for Supermoon, the upcoming expansion for Planet Unknown, which had had co-designed with Ryan Lambert. Wish I could say more about what this will contain, but that was once again in the lost notebook.
• Here are one-and-two-thirds game boards in the new Renegade Games Studio edition of Richard Garfield's Robo Rally:
• Hachette Boardgames had a giant-sized version of Qawale from Romain Froger, Didier Lenain-Bragard, and Gigamic in order to catch passersby, but this item is also available for purchase by retailers who want to use it in their store attract passersby of their own. When I worked in a game store in the early 1990s, I loved having giant-sized games on display since it was also easy for other people to watch the demo and mentally play along.
• To follow up my overview of Disney Lorcana, here's a shot of the crowd around the demo table at GAMA Expo 2023, with co-designer Ryan Miller in green on the right and co-designer Steve Warner in Ravensburger blue, also on the right.
- Planet Unknown
- Masters of the Universe: The Board Game – Clash for Eternia
- Wild Tiled West
- Thunder Road: Vendetta
- The A.R.T. Project
- Robo Rally
- Richard Garfield
- Dave Chalker
- Brett Myers
- Michael Shinall
- Adam Rehberg
- Florian Sirieix
- Paul Dennen
- Benoit Turpin
- Ryan Lambert
- Ryan Courtney
- Leo Almeida
- The Op
- CMON Global Limited
- Renegade Game Studios
- Adam's Apple Games, LLC
- Dire Wolf
- Restoration Games
- Lumberjacks Studio
- Bitewing Games
Sat May 13, 2023 7:00 am
- [+] Dice rolls
More Details on Disney Lorcana from GAMA Expo; Plus, I Played It!
10 May 2023
The title that drew the biggest crowd — and that was available only on one night — was Disney Lorcana, the trading card game from designers Ryan Miller and Steve Warner and publisher Ravensburger that will descend upon the United States and select other countries like a money vacuum starting in August 2023 with its debut at Gen Con.
Twice during the trade fair, Miller gave a 45-minute presentation on Disney Lorcana to game store retailers for an overview of the game line, how it plays, and what Ravensburger is doing to support retailers' efforts to sell the game, such as giving them a two-week exclusive sales window for the first six sets of Disney Lorcana that will be released through the end of 2024. (With the first set, local game stores will be able to sell it starting August 18, 2023, while mass market stores must wait until September 1.)Ryan Miller at GAMA Expo 2023
Yes, Ravensburger has a LOT of Lorcana lined up, although probably not enough given the frothing interest in this game. Miller acknowledged that even though they knew there was an audience for the game, the excitement over card reveals at D23 in September 2022, not to mention every other reveal or announcement, led them to increase production — although perhaps still not high enough.
Half the questions from retailers were about the potential of orders being allocated or whether Ravensburger still expected to run short of product...which is like asking whether your U.S. supermarket will run short of hot dog buns on the fourth of July. You won't know until the day arrives! I'm sure that Ravensburger has a "Magic Mirror" card somewhere in Lorcana, but that is a fictional device intended only to grade one's fairness.
Miller declined to answer many questions because they all dealt with future releases (e.g., how many cards will be in each set) or announcements that are clearly still to come ahead of the August debut (e.g., what formats will exist for organized play (OP) programs). He did mention that retailers who host OP programs will receive promo cards to be distributed to players as desired. He stressed that ideally OP will be the least cutthroat possible given Ravensburger's aim to pitch this game to a wide audience. Make it a welcoming experience! Give players a reason to come back! (Miller mentioned early in the talk that he began his career in organized play and retail for the Wizards of the Coast stores in the 1990s.)
Miller noted that the booster packs will contain two rares, thereby giving players more value — then followed that up by mentioning that the game has five rarities: common, uncommon, rare, super rare, and legendary. The two rare cards come from the latter three categories, and each booster pack also contains a foil card, which may or may not be rare. So much to chase!
Despite my assumption that Disney Lorcana would be a two-player game, Miller and Warner clarified that the boxes likely won't have a player count as a game can theoretically support any number of players, although Warner cautioned that he wouldn't go above six.
Why does the game work with varying player counts? Because your goal in the game is to be the first to collect 20 lore, and lore doesn't come from a limited pool, but is available to all who quest for it. Let me give an overview of how to play:
Disney Lorcana contains six types of "ink" — think color in Magic: The Gathering — and each player creates a deck of at least sixty cards of only one or two inks. At GAMA Expo 2023, Ravensburger had preset decks, and I ended up playing someone with the same sapphire/steel deck, so I didn't see as many cards as I would have liked to. Each player starts with seven cards in hand and can discard and refill their hand once.
At the start of your turn, you "ready" "exerted" cards, i.e., turn horizontal cards upright, then draw a card, then play. You can play one "inkwell" card face down to be used as ink. Characters (such as "Beast" and "Maleficent") and items are all inkwell cards, as denoted by the thick gold circle in the upper-left corner. Actions (such as "One Jump Ahead") and songs are not. This card is now out of play the entire game, but you can use the ink from the card to put items, characters, actions, and songs into play. Exert that card, and you get 1 ink. The ink cost to play a card is in the upper-left corner.
When you play an action or a song, carry out the effect, then discard the card. (A song is an action that can be played by paying ink or by exerting a character that costs at least the listed amount of ink.)
When you play a character or item, put it into play, then ignore it until your next turn. Items typically have ongoing effects; characters might have an "enters play" effect, a "questing" effect, or some other power.
When you start a turn with characters, you can choose to send them on quests. Exert them, and you receive the amount of lore listed on them from the bank. Alternatively, you can exert a character to challenge another player's exerted character. In this case, each character does damage equal to their strength to the other character's willpower. When damage on a character equals its willpower, discard that character.
If you run out of cards and need to draw, you're out of the game.
To keep things moving at GAMA Expo, Ravensburger asked players to end a game when someone collected 10 lore, so my demo game was not "a real game". Of course, I was also playing with cards I had never seen before with rules that were only half explained in an incredibly noisy environment after not sleeping for 24 hours, so yeah, the situation was not ideal. Designer Jason Matthews stealthily captured my bafflement in this shot:That's no moon...
After a few turns, I realized that I had goofed in not playing a "ramping" action early, that is, an action that would have let me play a second ink on the same turn. (I didn't initially understand how the card worked, and I had a second one in hand that was equally non-useful.) My opponent and I did lots of tit-for-tat actions, challenging characters that had gained lore in order to eject them from play, and my opponent never had any items, so the Beast special ability was meaningless — but the same was true for her with her Beast since we had the same deck.
In any case, I can see what the designers are aiming for. You can focus on growth and questing to try gain lore faster and outrace others, and they can try to beat you at that game or be an attack deck that punishes you for every quest. Sure, you got lore once, but now I'm pounding that character and they're out. I'm sure a wider variety of approaches exist, but I didn't get to see much of the other cards on display.
I have no clue how well Disney Lorcana will be at drawing new players to CCGs. Game play is relatively straightforward, but that statement is coming from someone who learned Magic in 1993 while working in a game store. Learning how to play the game from scratch is another matter, and the presence of organized play programs in stores throughout the U.S. and Europe will likely make a big difference in how many on-ramps exist. We'll see!
Wed May 10, 2023 7:00 am
- [+] Dice rolls