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Travel Fjords, Botanic Gardens, Silicon Valley & More with Grail Games

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game: Yellow & Yangtze
During 2020, David Harding from Australian publisher Grail Games announced several new titles in its 2021 and 2022 line-up on top of Reiner Knizia's Whale Riders (which I covered in detail here), Knizia's Whale Riders: The Card Game (which is a new version of the great card game Trendy), and Marco Teubner's Hibachi (a new version of Safranito previously covered here), which will have a previously unmentioned Hot & Spicy expansion.

Aside from those titles, Grail Games will have an expansion for Knizia's Yellow & Yangtze, which debuted in 2018. Yellow & Yangtze: The Royal Palace consists of three modules that can be added to the base game separately or together:

• A new game board with 18 starting capitals on it.
• Rogue bandits, which add non-player-controlled fighters to the board that must be overcome.
• The royal palace, a larger building that must be built upon four tiles of the same color and that gives its controlling player a special benefit.

Board Game: Great Wall of China
Board Game: Medici
• Separately, Grail will release Yellow & Yangtze: The Card Game, which will be a new version of Knizia's 2006 Great Wall of China that may or may not have new content depending upon how development proceeds.

• Grail and Knizia will be joined by artist Vincent Dutrait for Medici: Reformation, which will be a sister game to Medici, which Grail had re-released in 2016. Medici: Reformation will feature auctions, set collection, and a fight for majorities similar to the original game while adding a spatial element to how you load goods on the different decks of your boat, with your score being affected by how goods are arranged in rows and columns. This game will also include a couple of mini-expansions.

Board Game: Fjords
• Aside from Great Wall of China, Grail Games will revamp and bring to market a new version of Franz-Benno Delonge's Fjords, which debuted in 2005. Harding mentioned in a game announcement video for that he's been trying to bring Fjords to market for a long time, but Delonge passed away in 2007, which led to complications in landing a contract.

For those not familiar with this classic little game, here's an overview: In the game's first phase, players take turns revealing a hexagonal tile from the deck, then placing it adjacent to one or more tiles already in play as long as the landscapes line up. Tiles depict some combination of grass, water, and mountain, although not all three landscapes will be on a tile. Additionally, after placing a tile, a player can place one of their four farms on that tile. Once all the tiles have been placed, players take turns placing one of their field tokens in the grass of a vacant tile next to their farm or another field. Whoever places more of their fields wins.

This new version of Fjords will contain more tiles to allow for play with 2-4 players, whereas the original game was strictly for two players. Additionally, the 2021 version of Fjords will contain five mini-expansions by Phil Walker-Harding that add new items and variety, whether used individually or in combination.

Board Game: Fjords
Non-final cover art by Beth Sobel

• Harding describes Scott Almes' Silicon Valley as probably the heaviest design yet from Grail Games. In this game for 1-4 players that plays in 60-90 minutes, players hire staff for their start-up company to put out new products, with the nature of the products being determined by patterns that you build with polyominoes. By putting these products on the market, you'll gain income, but other players might copy your product and take some of that money for themselves — refining your ideas to steal market share, as it were. Along the way you need to acquire funding and try not to go bankrupt while working you way toward being the first company to be valued at $1 billion, which nets you the win.

Board Game Publisher: Grail Games
Botanic Gardens is the working title for a Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert design based on The Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney, Australia in which players draft cards and add them to their tableau to build gardens. Each turn, one visitor walks through your garden, scoring for what they see. The tableau you build will have three rows — waterside, grass, and cityside — and you add one card a turn until the area is filled.

Harding describes the base game as family weight, with the box including landmark tiles and other material to provide many different ways to play and score, similar in his words as something like Sushi Go Party!

Board Game: Elevenses
Elevenses: The Guilty Party is a new game from Harding himself that adopts the cutthroat spirit of his Elevenes from 2013. In this new game, you're a guest at a tea party, but the host is murdered while you're there. One person in the game is the guilty party, and you must try to figure out who that is and lay blame on that person because the police constable is going to enter the room at elevenses and arrest the most guilty party at the table. Should that be the murderer, then everyone else wins; otherwise the murderer wins.

• The final title Harding mentioned was ChuHan, a two-player design from Tom Lehmann that I first wrote about in September 2019. Harding says that Lehmann is still finessing every detail of the design, so he has no announcement date to give, but it's on the general schedule. Here's a short description of the game:
ChuHan is a game of dynastic intrigue in which two players — one representing the state of Chu, and the other, Han — face-off to gain control of ancient China's eastern lands.

Using troops on the front line and historical figures behind the scenes, players must outthink their opponent and predict their reactions if they are to find glory in this two-thousand-year-old battle.

ChuHan is a two-player-only climbing card game of tactical moves and thoughtful planning in which experience and tenacity will guide the way through a successful campaign.
Board Game: ChuHan
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