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Earn Fame & Fortune, Explore Islands, & Build More Pyramids with Dice Workers

Candice Harris
United States
Los Angeles
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Board Game: The Voyages of Marco Polo
Board Game: Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles – Episodes 1 & 2
Board Game: Marco Polo II: In the Service of the Khan
The Voyages of Marco Polo was the first dice worker placement game I played, about three months down my "new gamer" rabbit hole. While it's definitely not the first of its kind, it was new to me and I left the table loving it. Since then, I always keep an eye out for dice-worker placement games as I'm very impressed with the variety of themes and mechanisms interwoven with the core concept of using dice as workers.

I've already mentioned the epic, dinosaur-filled, narrative-driven, survivor-themed Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles from Mindclash Games coming in 2021, and the 2020 U.S. release of Marco Polo II: In the Service of the Khan, the standalone follow-up to The Voyages of Marco Polo, so here are some additional upcoming dice-worker placement releases that seem worth checking out.

Board Game Publisher: Alley Cat Games
• In addition to the new Deluxe Edition of Rococo which Eric shared in December 2019, designers Louis and Stefan Malz have a new nautical, dice worker placement release, Tungaru, targeted for Q4 2020 from Alley Cat Games.

In Tungaru, 2-5 players explore the islands, grow their tribes and spread their culture as described by the publisher below:
In a time when early sea-faring Polynesians roamed the Pacific they came across the archipelago of Tungaru, today also known as Gilbert Islands. With the locales being rich in nutrients and resources, they set about colonizing these lands and spreading their culture.

Board Game: Tungaru

Tungaru sets players as early Polynesians in this dice placement and resource conversion, medium-weight Eurogame. Players jump from island to island in an effort to recruit nomads as new tribe members, colonize land, spread their culture, and exchange goods. Players use dice as workers, Leader cards that are blind revealed which are then given to your neighbor, and custom-shaped meeples specific to their tribe in an effort to be the most successful tribe!
Board Game Publisher: Elf Creek Games
Elf Creek Games launched a Kickstarter campaign in June 2020 for Brian Suhre's Merchants of the Dark Road, a unique and puzzly game set in a fantasy world centered around a rondel action system in which 1-4 players take on the roles of merchants traveling sketchy paths to earn of fame and fortune.

Here's a more detailed overview from the publisher:
After half a year of daylight, we must now prepare for the dark season. The roads will be treacherous but they will still need to be braved by a select few in order to keep our cities thriving. In Merchants of the Dark Road, you are one of these brave few merchants that travel the dangerous paths between cities. While the job is perilous, fame and fortune await.

Board Game: Merchants of the Dark Road
Near final cover

Discover the capital city where most of your actions will take place using a rondel action system. Collect and produce items to add to your caravan, or sell these items to local heroes and hire them to travel with you. Manipulate the market price of items, visit the back alley sellers, or delve a nearby dungeon for magical items to gain the potential for even more coin and notoriety.

Gather lanterns to ease your passage along the dark roads as you guide your caravan to distant villages. Deliver goods and heroes to the best destinations and gain fame for your bravery! Balance the money you earn with the height of your fame because your final score after a number of game rounds will reflect the lowest of these two values.

Board Game: Merchants of the Dark Road
Sample four-player game set-up

After all, what good is a purse full of the coin if the people don't sing songs about you, and what good is a song with an empty mug of ale?
Board Game Publisher: Board&Dice
Board&Dice has been on a roll with adding more and more content to expand and spice up everyone's Teotihuacan: City of Gods gaming experiences, most recently with 2020's Shadow of Xitle expansion that allows experienced Teotihuacan players to experiment with new setups and technologies.

Looks like in 2021 we'll see Teotihuacan: Expansion Period, a new modular expansion from designers Daniele Tascini and Dávid Turczi — the dynamic design duo behind 2020's Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun. With all the interesting mechanisms they cooked up in Tekhenu, I'm really looking forward to trying this new expansion for Teotihuacan.

Here's a quick peek at what you can expect from Teotihuacan: Expansion Period:
Teotihuacan is expanding into an empire! The city is growing beyond its old borders, military expeditions project its influence all the way to the Yucatan Peninsula. Fighting men become settlers, new resources are discovered, and the wealth brought by obsidian draws in new discoveries.

Teotihuacan: Expansion Period is a modular expansion that introduces several new options to enrich and expand the game experience.

Board Game: Teotihuacan: Expansion Period

Obsidian — a new, "wild" resource in the game, more powerful than others, used for special actions in other modules, as well as for faster gameplay, added onto the new resource collection action boards.

Mansion — a new action board is added to the game to replace the Palace board, providing new options to climb temples and power up your workers.

Altars and Shamans — this module adds a whole new dimension to the game. Previously empty spaces between action boards are now dedicated to Altars, home to Shamans — new game pieces which move counter-clockwise and perform their own set of powerful actions.

Expanding the Empire — the new Empire board comes with a wealth of opportunities, while integrating perfectly with the base game. The new Conquest board, compatible with previous expansions, allows players to use warriors to reach new lands and then turn them into settlers to advance on the Avenue of the Dead.

Advanced Teotibot — new functionalities for Teotibot, your solo opponent, make it compatible with all new content.

... and more! Major discoveries are added to the game, more powerful than regular discovery tiles, but more difficult to come by. Special mask tiles which enable collecting sets consisting of up to eleven masks! More priests and priestesses, a new season tile, new technology tiles, starting tiles, and royal tiles.
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