BoardGameGeek News

To submit news, a designer diary, outrageous rumors, or other material, contact us at news@boardgamegeek.com.

Archive for W. Eric Martin

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [314]

Recommend
82 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide

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

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
badge
Avatar
• While many of us were busy with Gen Con 2021, U.S. publisher Rio Grande Games announced Dominion: Allies, the 14th expansion in the Dominion game line from Donald X. Vaccarino.

Board Game: Dominion: Allies

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

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

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

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

Board Game: Agemonia

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

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Twitter Facebook
20 Comments
Tue Sep 21, 2021 1:00 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
53 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide

Game Preview: Doodle Dash, or Faster, Pussycat! Draw! Draw!

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
badge
Avatar
Board Game: Doodle Dash
Doodle Dash, one of the debut games from Norwegian publisher Chilifox Games, isn't a flashy design that delivers a BRAND NEW GAMING EXPERIENCE the way that most titles are marketed. Instead this game for 3-7 players from the design team Fridtjof Buvarp, Maija Buvarp, Pauline Buvarp, Åsmund Svensson, and Eilif Svensson delivers what it promises — a quick-playing, drawing-based party game — in a clean and efficient manner that doesn't overstay its welcome.

In the game, each player takes turns trying to guess what everyone else has drawn. You draw a card facing away from you with that card listing seven items, give a number from 1-7, then avert your eyes while everyone else races to draw whatever person, object, name, or title you chose. As soon as someone finishes their drawing, they grab the golden cylinder to indicate their firstness. The next player to finish grabs the die and keeps rolling it until either everyone else has finished their drawings or they roll the lone STOP sign on the die, which forces everyone else to stop drawing immediately.

The cylinder holder reveals their drawing first, and if the guesser identifies whatever the thing is, they each score 1 point. If not, the die-holder reveals their drawing, scoring 1 point along with the guesser if the latter can now identify the thing in question. If not, all other drawers reveal their images, with each of them scoring 1 point along with the guesser if the ID is finally made.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
What's this?

The challenge of the game is obvious: Drawing quickly makes it difficult to draw clearly, so how much do you want to lean one way or the other? What's the essence of the object from your point of view, and can you draw that in such a way that the guesser will identify it...and can you do it before someone else does?

Sometimes that essence is surprisingly common, and I imagine such drawing experiments already take place in sociology classes to record how people represent different objects.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Cats must have three whiskers!

The other challenge that comes with weighing speed over specificity in your drawing is that — depending on the object in question — the second revealer has an advantage over the first since the guesser now has two images to ponder and compare. What might have been unclear from the initial scribble now comes into focus, although sometimes you really need to see ALL the remaining drawings before you know what the object is.

And sometimes even those images don't help when certain drawers misread the card in question or depict something other than what was written. In the image below, for example, only the image in the lower left really matches what you're supposed to guess.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

I've played Doodle Dash three times on a review copy from Chilifox Games, once each with 3, 4, and 7 players, and the game does what it's trying to do. The experience was more enjoyable with the largest crowd, mostly because it was fun to see what people drew, whether you were guessing or not.

Sometimes the objects had a singular "correct" way of being drawn, akin to the drawings of "cat food" above, as when everyone depicted a telescope the exact same way. In those cases, the game was about pure speed rather than about trying to decipher what was important to depict, and I found those rounds less interesting since I wasn't interpreting what to draw, but simply trying to push an image out as quickly as possible. I like that type of challenge in Pictionary when two teams are going head-to-head, but I think that's because you're drawing in front of the guessers and responding to them in real time, modifying your image on the fly to lead them to the answer; in this game, you whip out the drawing and that's it.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
I learned that I cannot draw a horse

For more on the game and how it compares to three other quick-drawing party games, check out this video:

Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Mon Sep 20, 2021 1:00 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
85 
 Thumb up
2.00
 tip
 Hide

Gen Con 2021 Check-In

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
badge
Avatar
From gallery of W Eric Martin
My apologies for the lack of posts yesterday and today, but I'm at Gen Con 2021 with a few other members of the BGG team, and I'm trying to ensure that I get enough sleep each night so that my brain keeps working.

I've been posting pics and notes about new and upcoming game releases on BGG's Twitter account, and posts will resume shortly with compilations of what Candice and I saw, played, and juggled.
Twitter Facebook
6 Comments
Sun Sep 19, 2021 2:46 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
112 
 Thumb up
1.35
 tip
 Hide

Game Preview: Azul: Queen's Garden, or Planting Groups of Greens

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
badge
Avatar
Board Game: Azul: Queen's Garden
On the Tuesday prior to Gen Con 2021, publisher Next Move Games gave a tiny bit of info about a new entry in the Azul game line from designer Michael Kiesling, namely that a fourth title would be added to the series before the end of 2021 — Azul: Queen's Garden.

Turns out that Next Move would also have a single copy on hand at the con to show to the media, and Candice and I were able to play most of a game during our appointment time with Martin Bouchard.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Non-final components

As with all of the other Azul titles, the heart of Azul: Queen's Garden is making smart choices when drafting new elements to be added to your personal scoreboard.

The first difference that stands out in this game is how you draft those elements. In the other titles, you lay out five, seven, or nine factories that you then populate with four colored tiles from a bag; in Azul: Queen's Garden, you create four stacks of five, seven, or eight(!) landscape boards and place one stack in the center of the table at the start of each of the game's four rounds.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Non-final components

You then place four tiles on the top of this stack. Tiles come in six colors with six different symbols on them, with three copies of each color+symbol combination (think Qwirkle); each symbol represents a number from 1-6, with the tree being 1, the bird 2 for its wings, the butterflies 3, and the bell flowers 6.

The start player chooses only from these tiles, selecting either a color or a symbol, then taking all tiles of that color/symbol — except that you cannot take the same color/symbol combination more than once in a single turn. (If two yellow trees are present, for example, you take only one of them.)

If after a player has taken their turn, the topmost landscape board doesn't have four tiles on it, place it to the side, then draw four tiles from the bag and place them on the revealed landscape board. Thus, the first player doesn't have access to everything that will be revealed in a round, and all players face the dilemma that if they remove something from the topmost landscape board, they will give (probably) better choices to the next player. A bit further on in a round, you'll see something like this:

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Non-final components

Once all the tiles have been removed from a landscape board, it's flipped over to reveal a single colored symbol in one of its six spaces. This board can be drafted along with tiles when you draft a particular color or symbol so long as you don't take a duplicate.

All of the tiles and boards you draft must fit into your reserve area, which can hold at most twelve tiles and two boards. If you would overflow your reserve, then you can't draft whatever you had planned to draft.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Tile reserve — full!

Instead of drafting, you can choose to place a single landscape board or a single tile on your board; when you place a tile, it must go on a board, whether on your starting board or a landscape board that you've added.

To place a tile/board — henceforth called "elements" — you need to discard a number of elements equal to the value of the symbol being placed, similar to how in Azul: Summer Pavilion you must discard tiles equal to the numbered space that you want to cover, and those elements must all be the same color or the same symbol as what is being placed. The element that you're placing counts as one of the things being discarded, so a tree pays for its own placement cost since a tree has a value of 1.

As when you're drafting, when you discard elements to pay for a placement, you cannot duplicate a color or symbol. In the image below, for example, I'm planning to place the dark green 6/bell tile by discarding the six items at the bottom of my reserve: three tiles (including the tile I'll place), one board, and two jokers. I cannot use the landscape board with the dark green bell on it since I'm already "paying" with a dark green bell.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Non-final components

You start the game with three jokers, and a joker can be any color/symbol combination. As in Azul: Summer Pavilion, you can gain more jokers by surrounding certain features on your game board: one joker for surrounding the central starting fountain, two jokers for surrounding a bench or statue, and three jokers for surrounding the gazebo on a landscape board.

Instead of drafting or placing, you can pass, and the first player to pass takes the "1" marker, loses 1 point, and will be the starting player for the next round. When all players have passed, players score points for features on their board based on whatever is highlighted on the central scoring board. In the image below, for example, you see that dark green, blue, and tree elements on your board are each worth 1 point. (The central scoring board is double-sided, so you can use either side in a game.)

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Non-final components

At the end of four rounds, you score points for each group of 3+ elements on your board that share a color or symbol. The left-hand column on the score board above helps you track and score each element in turn, and your score for a group is the sum of the values for the elements in a group. For example, if you score a light blue group that has a tree, butterflies, and bell flowers, that group is worth 10 points since the tree is 1, butterflies are 3, and bell flowers are 6. You cannot repeat a color or symbol in a group, so the maximum number of tiles in a group is six, and you score 6 bonus points whenever you do have a group of six. "Qwirkle!"

Ideally you place elements so that you can score them for the color, then score them again for the symbol. You can see an example of this two images up as I have a group of bell flowers and a group of light green tiles, which means the light green bell flower tile will score twice for me — 12 points total — at game end, in addition to scoring 3 points for me at the end of round four when that symbol scores. Similarly, the light green bird will score twice for the light green group and the bird group...but a bird is only 2 points, so that's not quite as much of a buzz.

This write-up doesn't cover every detail of gameplay, such as you being able to pay 6 points to grab a blank landscape tile and add it to your personal board, but now I've mentioned that as well, so hmm. In any case, ideally this write-up gives you a feel of what to expect when Azul: Queen's Garden debuts at SPIEL '21 in October 2021 and when it debuts in retail outlets prior to the end of 2021. Note that the components shown here are not final as Next Move Games in tweaking colors and other details prior to going to production.
Twitter Facebook
22 Comments
Fri Sep 17, 2021 8:01 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
89 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide

Game Preview: 7 Wonders: Architects, or Building Wonders Anew

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
badge
Avatar
Board Game: 7 Wonders: Architects
As large and active as BoardGameGeek is, I think many people forget that the universe of game players dwarfs the BGG userbase, and in general that larger universe has a more casual relationship with games than BGG users. They don't want to spend a lot of time learning how to play a new game, and they don't want to feel stupid when they play something for the first time, and they are fine with a higher degree of luck in the games that they play.

7 Wonders: Architects was designed with this audience in mind, as noted by designer Antoine Bauza when the game was announced: "As I get older, I play more games with my family than a gaming group. This got me thinking about games that are welcoming to newcomers and can be enjoyed by friends and families."

To show you what Bauza has in mind, here's an example of the game in play:

From gallery of W Eric Martin

You are me, the player in the lower right, and on your turn you can choose the top card of three decks: the deck to your left (which is associated with your wonder), the deck on your right (which is associated with my right-hand opponent's wonder), or the deck in the center of the table (which is associated with no one). So your choices are:

• Take the mystery card in the center.
• Take the blue card worth 3 points, after which your turn ends.
• Take the yellow card with a coin that counts as a wild resource, which means it matches your scroll, thereby giving you two scrolls, which means you must complete the next level of your wonder, which is worth 3 points and gives you the bonus ability of taking the top card from any deck at the table — which means you can still grab a blue card worth 3 points, netting you 6 points total for the turn. That seems like the choice to make!

With this short description, you already know what a turn is like — choose one of three cards — and what two colors of cards do. What other card types are in the game?

From gallery of W Eric Martin

• Dun cards are resource cards, which come in five types. As soon as you're able to complete a level of your wonder — and the cost to do so varies from 2-4 resources, either matching or different as depicted on each level — you must spend the resources to do so. You must build from the ground up because you have not mastered the art of levitation.

• Green cards are science cards, and each card bears one of three icons. As soon as you collect two matching icons or all three icons, you must discard those cards and take a progress token from the center of the table, whether a face-up one or a mystery one. Some tokens are worth points, some give you bonus card draws each time you meet the right condition, and some give you a unique power.

• Red cards are military cards. Some show only a shield, and some show a shield with one or two horns (as with the one depicted above); if you take one of these latter cards, then you flip one or two of the octagonal conflict tokens to the red attack side. When all of these tokens are red, you compare your military strength (i.e., the number of shields you have) against each of your neighbors. For each neighbor you are stronger than, you score 3 points. (In a two-player game, such as the one above, you score 3 points for outranking the other player and 6 points if your military strength is double theirs.)

When someone has completed the fifth level of their wonder, the game ends at the end of their turn, then everyone tallies their points to see who wins.

You now know 93% of the rules to 7 Wonders: Architects, and if we had been sitting at the table together, we would already be through the first few rounds of the game. This is part of what Bauza means by "games that are welcoming to newcomers" — a game that you can learn as you go without having to download all of the information ahead of time, which is what is required to play 7 Wonders. (I know some people claim that 7 Wonders is a breeze to teach, but I think they're underestimating how much a new player needs to absorb so that they don't pick up their hand of cards and freeze.)

From gallery of W Eric Martin

What else do you need to know?

Blue cards come in two types: 3 points and 2 points+a cat symbol, and when you take one of these later cards, you grab the cat totem from whoever has it. When you have this totem at the start of your turn, you can peek at the card on top of the central deck before drawing your card for that turn. In a two-player game, control of the totem is vital because it gives you an edge on the other player since both of you are drawing from the same three decks. With more players, the cat totem moves more frequently and someone might snatch the cat away before your turn even comes around again.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

The value of many cards is situational, depending on the number of players in the game, which wonder you're building, and how far you are along in the game. In the image above, I'm the player closest to the camera, and I can choose mystery, 2 points+cat, or a shield — and while normally I might not care about a shield, four of the five conflict tokens are red, which means we'll like have a scoring soon, and if I don't take the shield, then the player after me might take it (since we share that deck), which means they would score 3 points off me instead of me scoring 3 points off them.

One additional consideration in this case is that military cards with horns are discarded following a scoring, while those without horns stay with players until the end of the game. In this case, I wouldn't be triggering the scoring myself, and I'd be halfway to matching the strength of the player to my right to keep them from scoring off me in the future.

That said, I have two progress tokens: one gives me a bonus draw from one of the three decks if I take a scroll or glass resource, and the other gives me a bonus draw if I take a wood or brick resource. (Apologies for the glare!) If I draw from the middle and get one of those resources, I'll then have a bonus draw, which means I could still grab the military card. Should we take a chance on getting two cards this turn, or go for the sure thing rather than potentially having the military used against us?

From gallery of W Eric Martin

I've played 7 Wonders: Architects six times on a review copy from publisher Repos Production, twice each with two, four, and five players, and the winning scores have varied widely, as has the components making up the winning player's score.

In the case above, the player went all-in on Rhodes, used two science cards to grab the perfect progress token, then hit military regularly to score a bunch of points, while also constructing multiple levels of the wonder to end up with 52 points. In other games, a player has had 15 points in blue cards along with wonder points or multiple progress tokens that either provided points or drew extra cards, which sped building and ended the game before others really got going.

For more on the game, you can check out the videos below to see all the bits in the box — which includes my conjecture as to why this is a $50 game in the first place — and discover more examples of gameplay, while experiencing the "learn while playing" method described above and learning the powers of various wonders.



Twitter Facebook
9 Comments
Thu Sep 16, 2021 7:00 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
84 
 Thumb up
0.10
 tip
 Hide

Fantasy Flight Announces Expansions for Star Wars: Outer Rim and Descent: Legends of the Dark

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

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

Board Game: Star Wars: Outer Rim – Unfinished Business

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

Board Game: Descent: Legends of the Dark – Ghosts of Greyhaven
Prototype miniature from Ghosts of Greyhaven
Twitter Facebook
21 Comments
Thu Sep 16, 2021 1:00 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
153 
 Thumb up
7.05
 tip
 Hide

Pandasaurus Games Suffers Break-In

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
badge
Avatar
Board Game Publisher: Pandasaurus Games
In the category of "Things you don't want to have happen to you in the best of times, but especially not when preparing for a convention", I present this Kickstarter update from Pandasaurus Games:
Quote:
Earlier today, Pandasaurus co-owners Molly and Nathan got a call from our warehouse while Brian and Danni were on the road to Indy. Apparently there was a break-in overnight and professional thieves got access to the warehouse facilities. They stole product and loaded it onto a truck.

We were not hit as bad as we could have been, but the thieves did end up snatching 200 copies of The LOOP and 100 copies of Dinosaur World (KS version). The stolen product was immediately offloaded to an online seller, who has already listed it on sites such as Ebay.

The police are involved and have apparently already identified the thieves.

We wanted to loop you in on this situation for two reasons:

1.) If you come across listings for The LOOP and/or Dinosaur World (KS edition) — neither of which have released at retail yet and have yet to deliver to any of y'all — please know this is stolen product.

2.) We have enough extra copies of the game that it shouldn't affect our ability to deliver pledges.

Board Game: Dinosaur World
Board Game: The LOOP

The good news is, some people are starting to get their games (Rawr n Write only pledges are shipping first since the packout is the easiest) in California so shipping has started and will continue while we are at GenCon.

I know this situation is unbelievable. We are reeling, ourselves. This shouldn't affect anyone's pledges; we still have enough product to fulfill all orders. Thanks for your patience and understanding as we get through the investigation.

-- Pandasaurus team
Twitter Facebook
38 Comments
Tue Sep 14, 2021 1:01 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
109 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide

Business Interrupted: KeyForge Breaks, and Ravensburger Stops Taking Orders in the U.S.

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
badge
Avatar
From gallery of W Eric Martin
• On September 10, 2021, U.S. publisher Fantasy Flight Games announced that "due to both the pandemic and another unforeseen complication (which we will go into in a moment), we have been unable to provide KeyForge with the amount of content it deserves, and we will not be able to do so for some time yet".

For those not familiar with KeyForge, the short take is that each player in this two-player game has their own deck of cards, with this deck containing cards from three factions within the larger game world, and this particular combination of cards does not exist anywhere else in the world, with a unique, computer-generated name and image on the back of each card. (You can find my introductory post about the game from 2018 here.)

So what's gone wrong? Here's an excerpt from that announcement:
Quote:
KeyForge is a game that is dear to all our hearts, so in order to give it a proper chance to shine again, we have decided to put the game on hiatus for the time being, with plans to relaunch the game with new life at a later date. Some of you may wonder why we cannot simply relaunch the game now, and the answer is that we simply do not currently have the ability to make new decks.

The "unforeseen complication" that we mentioned above is the fact that the deckbuilding algorithm for KeyForge is broken and needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. This is neither an easy process nor a fast one, which is why the game will be going on hiatus for a while. We wish we had better news in this regard, but the fact is that, even if the pandemic was not a factor, we cannot currently generate any new decks. We ask for your continued patience as we work to rebuild the unique deck engine in preparation for the game's relaunch. And don't worry, all existing decks will still be valid and playable when the game relaunches.
FFG notes that the game's sixth set — KeyForge: Winds of Exchange — is already developed and ready for production...whenever production can resume. In addition, video game developer Stainless Games is working on a digital version of KeyForge.

Board Game Publisher: Ravensburger
• The Covid-19 pandemic and the snarls it has created in supply chains around the world is at the heart of another development in the game industry.

As reported in The Toybook on September 10, 2021, Ravensburger North America has stated that as of September 17, 2021, it will stop accepting orders from retailers and distributors since as CEO Filip Franke explains in the letter below, "we don't want to risk accepting any further commitments which have a chance of [us] not being able to deliver".

Here is the complete letter from Franke:

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Ravensburger will have a booth at Gen Con 2021, which runs from Sept. 16-19, but it will have no games for sale at the show. Instead sales are available only in advance for pick up during Gen Con on either Thursday or Saturday.

As for future releases, Franke notes in the letter that "Our 2022 planning is not impacted by this decision and all new item launches, and preparations are underway as planned and scheduled" — which seems...unlikely given that you would be foolish to proceed with plans for 2022 as if everything will be back to normal by that time, whatever "normal" means any longer.

I'm not Ravensburger's bookkeeper, of course, so maybe I'm off target here. Perhaps the idea is to hit pause for three months, let product arrive in warehouses, fulfill all existing orders, then resume the order-taking process, but with your eye now shifted on the production timeline so that you're taking orders only on what is already in house instead of looking at what's scheduled to be produced and taking orders for that. I'd ask for more details about this plan at Gen Con 2021, but Ravensburger reps won't be on hand other than for the fulfillment of pre-orders, so I'll see whether I can get updates another way...
Twitter Facebook
47 Comments
Mon Sep 13, 2021 5:00 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
80 
 Thumb up
1.05
 tip
 Hide

Game Overview: The Crew: Mission Deep Sea, or Life's Full of Tough Choices, Isn't It?

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
admin
designer
badge
Avatar
Board Game: The Crew: Mission Deep Sea
Board Game: The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine
I have written a lot about The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine, starting in November 2019 and continuing in December 2019, and the only reason that co-operative trick-taking game from designer Thomas Sing and publisher KOSMOS stopped hitting the table was thanks to a disease that kept crews from gathering in real life to play. (We have since resumed playing the game on Board Game Arena, while chatting on a group phone call.)

When The Crew: Mission Deep Sea was announced in November 2020, I assumed the game would be more of the same, yet with a twist...but how would Sing twist such a simple format to create something new? Now that I've played 18 times on a review copy from KOSMOS with three and four players, I'm happy to share the magic of that twist.

The base gameplay of The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine and The Crew: Mission Deep Sea is the same: You have a deck of 40 cards, with four colored suits of cards being numbered 1-9 and one white trump suit being numbered 1-4. At the start of a mission, you deal those cards evenly to all players. Whoever receives the 4-trump is commander, and they lead the first trick. Players must follow suit, if possible, and whoever plays the highest card in the led suit wins the trick, unless someone plays a trump, in which the highest trump wins the suit.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
The original

Your challenge each game is to complete tasks, and in The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine those tasks are mostly represented by a smaller deck of 36 cards that consists of four colored suits of cards numbered 1-9. These tasks are drafted by players, and in the case above my challenge is to win the pink 3 in a trick, which should be straightforward given my hand. The fifty missions in The Crew present lots of wrinkles in this formula — collect these cards in this order, collect this card last — but many of the missions have a similar feel to them since the tasks focus on individual cards.

For The Crew: Mission Deep Sea, the task deck is now much larger — 96 cards — and each card has a difficulty level on the back based on whether you're playing with three, four, or five players. A mission will have a difficulty level (along with other possible wrinkles), and you draw and reveal task cards until their sum equals that difficulty level, with you skipping any cards that would make the level too high. As an example, here are the two cards we had in a four-player game for mission #7, which has a difficulty level of 6:

From gallery of W Eric Martin

These two tasks differ a lot from those in The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine, and they are representative of many of the tasks in The Crew: Mission Deep Sea in that they present the table with a holistic challenge that plays out over the entire hand instead of being something that is mostly the concern of a single person. I was commander for this game, and my hand had only three cards that weren't yellow or green, so I took the "win a trick with all cards <7" task as I thought I'd be able to contribute better to the completion of the other task by voiding the non-green, non-yellow cards from my hand, then throwing in yellow or green as needed.

The challenge of that "green=yellow" task, of course, comes from multiple players needing to void themselves in various suits — which will differ for each player — so that we can end up with 2 green/2 yellow OR 1 green/1 yellow/2 other stuff in a single trick that is won by the player holding the task. That's a lot of hoops! And along the way we need to ensure that I can win a trick that completes my task, so we need to play out high cards and submarines at the same time that we're trying to get the colors in the right arrangement.

Instead of giving players single-target tasks, The Crew: Mission Deep Sea presents the team with larger challenges that create a unique Venn diagram for each game based on whichever tasks come out. The task deck still contains a few low-challenge tasks such as "I will win the green 6", but it also has "I will win exactly three 6s", which involves everyone far more than the single-card task — and should both of those tasks be in play, but in the hands of different players, well, that would add an additional twist for players to overcome.

Other task cards that provide more holistic, game-long challenges are:

• I will win exactly one pink card and one green card.
• I will win all four 3s.
• I will win no yellow or green.
• I will win a trick that contains only odd-numbered cards.
• I will win as many tricks as the commander.
• I will win more yellow cards than blue cards.

We started a four-player game at mission #1 with that final card, and while it's a simple challenge, you need to play through the entire hand to ensure that you make it. The commander might win one trick or several tricks, which means you have more openness in how to play out the hands as long as you keep the goal in mind. (And should that task have come out at the same time as others, the simpleness of that challenge would intersect in different ways with each other task.)

Here was another pair of task cards that came out:

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Okay, so winning as many pink as blue is the same task as the one above, but now another player must win an 8 with a 4...which also means you need to engage in off-suit shenanigans, but in a different way than before.

Needless to say, I'm a fan of this new release as it requires the same spirit of working together with others, but overcoming these challenges seems to require you to connect on a broader scale rather than just not getting in one another's way. You can communicate in the same way as in the first The Crew, with you revealing a non-trump card and indicating whether it's the highest, lowest, or only card of that color in your hand, but what you need to communicate isn't as straightforward as in the earlier game. Often you're not even sure what to communicate until several turns have passed and you see — based on the cards that have been played — a possible avenue for you to contribute to one task or another.

I talk much more about the game and reveal many more tasks in this overview video:

Twitter Facebook
18 Comments
Mon Sep 13, 2021 1:00 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
95 
 Thumb up
1.05
 tip
 Hide

Take Part of History in Antoine Bauza's 7 Wonders: Architects

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

Board Game: 7 Wonders: Architects

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

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

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

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

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Taking a turn

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

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Grabbing the cat

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Game bits
Twitter Facebook
30 Comments
Fri Sep 10, 2021 4:40 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [314]