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News from Italy: A Sheepland Preview, Clips of Winter Tales & PLAY in 2013

Andrea Ligabue
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Hi, gamers! I've received a preview copy of Sheepland, so let's start with a quick preview of that July 2012 release; my full review will appear later on Opinionated Gamers.

Cranio Creations: Sheepland

With Sheepland, Italian designers Daniele Tascini and Simone Luciani and Cranio Creations have gone for a "classical" Euro game, with art as usual from Giulia Ghigini. While inexplicably working in the same field, two to four shepherds try to move sheep into the right areas to score points. During a turn, you must take three actions, chosen from these possibilities:

-----• Move your shepherd
-----• Move one sheep
-----• Buy one terrain tile

You must move your shepherd at least once during your turn, and you can't take the same action twice in a row without moving the shepherd between.

Six different terrain types are available, with five tiles of each type and increasing costs (from 0 to 4 dinars) on those tiles. When you buy a tile, you're not claiming land on the game board, but rather investing in that type of landscape as that's where you expect the sheep to end up grazing. At the end of the game, you score 1 point per tile of a terrain type for each sheep in a region of this type; you also score for coins still in hand.

The map on the game board shows regions separated by roads: three regions of each terrain type for a total of 18 regions. Numbered "rest stops" lie along the roads, with each rest stop between exactly two regions. Shepherds move from one rest stop to another, with the first movement being free and all others on the same turn costing 1 coin. When you buy a terrain, you can purchase the top tile of either of the two terrain types next to your shepherd. When you move a sheep, you move one sheep from a region adjacent to your shepherd to the other region adjacent to that piece, i.e., you lead the sheep across the road to a greener pastures – well, greener for you, if all goes well.

The great idea of this game is that each time you move the shepherd, you place a fence in the rest stop from which started moving, making it inaccessible for the rest of the game. During the game some regions become inaccessible, and if they are full of sheep, naturally there's a rush for the tiles.

The lone black sheep in the game, which is worth two points, serves as a semi-random element, possibly moving to an adjacent region each turn while still being movable by shepherds as long as it's not fenced in.

After twenty fences have been placed, you end the round so that all players have the same number of turns, then you count up the points. Based on my two preview sessions – one with two players and another with three – the game looks really nice.

Albe Pavo: Winter Tales

Some more pictures and updates for Winter Tales, which will be released by Albe Pavoat Spiel 2012, but no international publishing partners have been revealed to date. The main change to the rules since my last update in April 2012 involves the modularity of the game. Beyond the base rules are modules that introduce characters skills, secret objectives, and special powers.

ILSA Magazine

Issue #16 of ILSA magazine, Italy's greatest free magazine about board games, is online now. The issue focuses on prehistory and includes an interview with Phil Eklund. The issue is available in several formats, including a Kindle version through Amazon.

PLAY: The Games Festival

Work has started on the 2013 version of PLAY: The Games Festival with the nomination of staff. Once again I'll be in charge of art direction for the event, which will take place April 6-7, 2013 in Modena. For information about the event, email
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