• Al Rashid is a new game from a new publisher (Yemaia) and not-so-new designers Giorgio De Michele and Pierluca Zizzi. Here's long description of the game, which will debut at Spiel 2012 in October:
Harun al-Rashid was the fifth Great Caliph of the Abbasid Dinasty, and he ruled over the Middle East between the years 786 and 809. His reign was full of prosperity in all areas, like culture, science and politics. His life and his famous court are said to be the ispiration for the "One Thousand and One Nights" collection of folk stories.
In Al Rashid, players will take the role of the heads of powerful families, and will use the members of their families for trading, travelling, and ultimately trying to exercise influence over the court of the powerful ruler.
Al Rashid is a mostly deterministic strategy game – with a slight hint of randomness – based on worker placement, influence, resource management, and the efficient scoring of prestige points (PPs). As heads of families, players will have three different worker types at their disposal: the Sage, the Merchant and the Pasha. The three different types of workers, each with a different influence value, can be placed on the map of ancient Middle East to gain resources, or can be placed on the corporations to get more workers, or on government and imperial offices. The corporations represent several powers at the court of the Caliph: Intrigue, War, Science, Commerce, and Politics.
The game takes place over five turns, with turns split into two main phases: the placement phase and the resolution phase. Each phase is split in several rounds. During the placement phase players take turns placing their workers on the board. During the resolution phase they take turns deciding which action will be resolved. Each action, either a zone on the map or a corporation, can hold workers from all of the five players, but only the top three players, identified by influence and placement order will get to resolve the move. During placement workers can be added to the same areas to improve a players's influence. Players with higher influence will get a bigger and better effect out of the action they are resolving.
Resolving geographical areas will give a player resources. The resources come in five flavors: Wood, Pottery, Metal, Spice and Silk, and they can be used in trades. The dominating player – that is, the one with more influence, or in case of a tie, the one who placed first – will get three different resources, or all of the resources of one type (resources are distributed unevenly on the map), the second player will get two different resources and the third player just one.
The resources gained by resolving geographical areas can be used in the corporations to buy more workers or get government offices. Government offices work more or less like buildings in other placement games. Some give permanent advantages, some have a one-shot effect, and some can be used every turn. As for the geographical areas, having more influence will be advantageous, and dominating players will get cheaper workers or better effects out of the corporations.
The game contains no currency, so players will need to be careful when they combine resources to get money because if they pay more than they should, no change will be returned.
Every turn raiders will spontaneously appear on random locations on the map, so players will need to use some of their actions to hire mercenaries that can be used to combat the raiders and give them access to resources. Players accumulate PPs when they buy offices and workers, and at the end of the fifth turn the player with more PPs is declared the winner.
• Eagle Games has an Age of Steam expansion on its release calendar for August 2012, a take-separate-halves-of-two-cookies combination titled Age of Steam: South America / South Africa that pairs halves of two Steam Brothers' AoS expansions from 2005. Here's the economical description of this $25 item:
In this mounted, double-sided expansion, South Africa features a new Urbanization action which allows a discount on track price, while Angola and Rhodesia are hexes that only produce goods. South America features El Presidente and a change in the Turn Order Pass action.
• In addition to the August 2012 release of DC Comics Deck-Building Game, U.S. publisher Cryptozoic Entertainment has announced a non-deck-building, Batman-specific two-player game due out in September 2012 titled Batman: Arkham City Escape. A short recap of the action:
Batman: Arkham City Escape is a two-player game that pits Batman against all of his greatest foes as they try to escape Arkham!
In this game, one player represents Batman, and the other player represents one of forty villains from the rogues gallery that Batman has fought in the past, with each villain having abilities exclusive to that character. The player controlling the Arkham inmates earns victory points by helping the villains escape Arkham, while the Batman player gains points by apprehending his rivals before they make it out of the city, and by saving iconic allies by utilizing special gadgets from his utility belt. The first player to earn ten victory points wins!
• And speaking of DC Comics Deck-Building Game, Cryptozoic has released some details of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Deck-Building Game, previously announced in this April 2012 BGGN post as the more generic Lord of the Rings Deck-building Game. And speaking of generic, see whether this description rings a bell. (Rings a ring?)
In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Deck-Building Game, you take on the role of Frodo, Gandalf, Aragon or one of their brave and heroic allies in the struggle against the forces of the Dark Lord Sauron! While you begin armed only with basic combat maneuvers, you will add new, more powerful cards to your deck as you go, with the goal of defeating the deadly forces that serve Sauron as you make your way towards Mount Doom. In the end, the player who has accumulated the most victory points (VPs) from the cards in his deck wins.
Each player takes the role of one of seven iconic heroes from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Aragorn, Frodo, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli, Samwise, and Boromir. Each hero comes with a special power unique to that character and usable only by that player.
Each player starts with his own basic ten-card deck and draws a hand of five cards each turn. Power is the currency you will use to buy new, stronger cards to add to your deck. The goal of a deck-building game is to craft your personal deck into a well-oiled machine. There are five different types of cards that can be acquired: Enemies, Allies, Artifacts, Manuevers, and Locations.
To bolster their existing deck of cards, players use Power to acquire cards from "The Path", a large, central stack of cards that supplies a five-card line-up from which players make their purchases. Each player will always have five face-up cards from which to choose each turn, so every turn there are new options and surprises.
When a player has amassed enough Power, he or she may defeat more powerful enemies from the "Archenemy" deck. "Archenemy" cards are represented by the notable enemies from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, including Saruman, and the Balrog, among others. When an "Archenemy" is defeated, a new one appears and makes an Attack against each player in the game! Players can defend themselves with Defense cards like Boromir's Shield, Mithril Armor, "You Shall Not Pass!" and several others.
The objective for each player is to acquire the most VPs by the end of the game. Nearly every card acquired during the game has a VP value, with the "Archenemy" cards providing the most VPs. In the end, the player who has accumulated the most VPs from the cards in his deck wins.
Don't know? Turn to the heroes for an answer...