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Fix Lativ’s Weather Machine, Manage Beta Bots, Control Ancient Relics, and Explore the Deep Sea

Candice Harris
United States
Los Angeles
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Board Game: Weather Machine
Lativ, the mad scientist, and his minions
• Lovers of heavy euros, brace yourselves for Weather Machine, Vital Lacerda's next big release from Eagle-Gryphon Games, which is coming to Kickstarter in Q4 2021.

In Weather Machine, 1-4 players take on the role of scientists teaming up with mad scientist Professor Lativ to manipulate the extreme weather caused by Lativ's flawed weather machine. Players must manage their own laboratories, research various types of weather, build bots, acquire chemicals, and increase the size of their workshops to store resources and build prototypes to make breakthroughs that will hopefully fix extreme weather forever.

I haven't played the game yet, but I'm already imagining my brain being burned in the best way possible, as I'm accustomed to when playing most Lacerda games. Here's the backstory for Weather Machine:
"Natural disasters will soon be a thing of the past!" proclaimed Professor Sêni Lativ, Project Chief of Meteorological Manipulation at Lightning Technologies. Tests of his new invention, the Weather Machine, showed positive results. Visions of quelling floods, subduing cyclones, and ending droughts made him smile.

In Weather Machine, you are scientists on Prof. Lativ's team, tampering with local weather by adjusting rainfall for farms, maintaining wind and clear skies for ecological energy sources, and tweaking the temperature for resorts and sporting events. The prototype is quite effective so far; however, a pattern has emerged, revealing a worrying side effect: Each use of the Weather Machine also alters the conditions elsewhere on the planet — a "butterfly effect".

Board Game: Weather Machine
Main game board detail

Prof. Lativ's dreams of eliminating climatic catastrophes quickly evolve into nightmares of ending humankind. Each test causes worse side effects. One day, the professor bursts into the lab with resolve in his eye, followed immediately by stone-faced stoics in suits.

Government officials have accepted the urgent nature of the situation, as well as the fact that only Prof. Lativ's team might fix the very problem he has stirred up. "We must build a new prototype", he announces as the agents shoot him sidelong glances, "but this time we're going to get it right." The agents silently give a single, crisp nod of confirmation. "The government is funding this, and we will succeed."

As Prof. Lativ explains the plan, the need to secure suppliers for sufficient bots and chemicals is clear. In addition to the materials, time is of the essence; you must be focused and efficient to have any hope of reining in this growing global terror in Earth's atmosphere before conditions are too harsh for Homo sapiens and countless other species of all biomes.

At this point, Professor Sêni Lativ will be remembered as a mad, but brilliant, scientist for as long as humanity survives, but you could go down in history as the savior of the world.

Story written by Nathan Morse
I'm really digging Weather Machine's unique theme, and I'm looking forward to checking out what Lacerda has cooked up for us here. Plus, I'm sure it will look great on the table considering it features Ian O'Toole's top notch art and graphic design.

Board Game: Stress Botics
Stress Botics is a new science fiction-themed, heavy Eurogame for 1-4 players from designer Fernando Barbanoj and Spain-based publishers 2Tomatoes Games and Token Synapse.

Stress Botics plays in 60-135 minutes and combines worker placement, action programming, and resource management mechanisms to create a unique sci-fi gaming experience as detailed below by the publisher:
Stress Botics is a sci-fi adventure in which four easily-stressable robots (known as Beta Bots) are sent to an exoplanet by their corporation Cubebotics CORP® in order to mine its resources. Once those resources are extracted, the Beta Bots' task is to deliver them to the corporation's ships.

It won't be a piece of cake. To start with, the exoplanet is unstable, so the Beta Bots will have to adapt to a constantly changing environment. On top of that, each corporation ship requires different resources, and each payload delivery requires perfect timing and alignment with the orbiting trajectory of the matching ship. And last, but not least, the rival corporation Cylindroids INC® has sent its own bots to snatch resources and interfere with your bots.

But do not fret! Beta Bots can count on Alpha Bot's help, a support robot with a (very) short-tempered AI. Alpha Bot will unlock new places to mine, give the Beta Bots more actions, and generally make their life easier...but keep an eye on those pesky Cylindroid bots since they won't pass up the opportunity to damage your guardian!

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Four-player game set-up

The game is organized in rounds. In each round, an event takes place (which might involve trouble for the Beta Bots!) and the players will program actions to interact with the planet's resource-laden chambers, with enemies, with Alpha Bot, or with each other. Actions are chosen in secret, and players commit to them before any are revealed. The stress level of each bot determines the turn order as well as its possible resource deliveries. Then players take turns to reveal their programmed actions and execute them.

Each player has their own robot's blueprint where they store resources using multiple containers of limited size. Those resources can be delivered to the passing ships, or they can be transformed or spent to enhance the robot's capabilities.

During the adventure, the autonomous Alpha Bot will advance through the planet's chambers until it reaches the surface. Players can interact with Alpha Bot to obtain advantages or to steer it out of harm's way since it is vulnerable to enemy attacks and the planet's adversities.

At the end of each round is a maintenance step that includes the activation of enemy robots (Cylindroids). They can move, attack, or occupy resource chambers. Additionally, players will receive benefits or penalties (stress) according to their distance to Alpha Bot.

The game ends when Alpha Bot reaches the last chamber. The players tally the victory points, which can be earned in different ways: Through successful resource deliveries, by upgrades on their robot, by fulfilling other objectives, etc. Then, each player's points total is reduced by the amount of stress they incurred during gameplay, and the player with most remaining points wins.
If your robot isn't stressed enough from the base game alone, be sure to check out the Stress Botics: Odyssey expansion, which introduces new modules, including a solo mode, as described below by the publisher:
Stress Botics Odyssey expands the heavy Eurogame experience in five axes, while maintaining the basic rules and rhythm of the base game.

The first enhanced axis is the main room (the room where Alpha Bot currently is). Odyssey's alternate board contains a zoom of the main room, and thus players will have to take into account their positioning in order to fight against the cylindroids and defend Alpha Bot from them. If Alpha Bot does not reach the surface, deliveries to ships will be much more complex to execute!

The second enhanced axis are the Cylindroids. When the players eliminate an entire wave of enemies, a Cylindroid Elite will appear. This powerful enemy is Alpha Bot's nemesis and boasts its own AI and complex behavior.

The third enhanced axis is Alpha Bot. Beta Bots will be able to access the interior of Alpha Bot through a new type of action. Once inside they will be able to control Alpha Bot's AI in order to speed up its behavior, change its direction to crush enemies or avoid obstacles, repair shields, collect resources, or equip objects, among many other things. However, players have to be cautious when interacting with AlphaBot. If it receives damage while being controlled, it will activate its other temperamental AI, revealing one of its multiple aggressive behaviors, such as going back to an already explored main room or indiscriminately attacking any robot next to it!

Board Game: Stress Botics: Odyssey

The fourth enhanced axis is the Solo Mode. By adding Delta Bot, a small robot that will accompany a player to fulfill their objectives, adventurous players can play the game on their own. Odyssey includes an additional board to be affixed to the player's blueprint in order to expand management during the maintenance phases, as well taking care of Delta Bot. If the little companion accumulates too much stress, it explodes, making the game much harder for the solo player.

The fifth enhanced axis is additional content. Odyssey adds more items to the current sets, including a new type of item: the boxed items. Those can be dynamically equipped from the main room to be used more immediately, adding a touch of improvisation both to combat and to the strategies that structure the game. In addition, Odyssey includes modular boards that expand the detail of several mechanisms and include unique characteristics in each player count.
Board Game Publisher: Garphill Games
Circadians: Chaos Order is an upcoming release from Shem Phillips' publishing company, Garphill Games, and designers S J Macdonald (designer of The West Kingdom Trilogy games) and Zach Smith. Chaos Order plays in 120-240 minutes and is the second game in Macdonald and Garphill Games' Circadians series, following 2019's Circadians: First Light and featuring similar awesome artwork from Sam Phillips.

In Circadians: Chaos Order 2-5 players battle, as asymmetric factions, for control of ancient relics on the planet of Ryh. Here's the backstory as described by the publisher:
The initial quakes were only minor tremors, but as the land began to unravel, so did our sense of security. We watched the cliffs of Hytazch fall into the sea. Mighty trees of old, swallowed up by the caverns below. As the waters rose, a great roar was heard across the plains. This was no cry of disbelief or heartache, but of jubilance. Songs began to fill the air as our once peaceful hosts now readied themselves for war.

Suddenly on the horizon, what appeared to be huge bolts of energy shoot out into the depths of space before disappearing again. Despite the inevitable shock wave heading our way, the clans continued to cheer as they made haste towards the origin of the blaze. What could cause such elation? Why abandon caution in favor of chaos? Had we missed something, some crucial misunderstanding of this planet and its inhabitants?

Board Game: Circadians: Chaos Order

Upon reaching the site, we were immediately plunged into combat. Across the landscape lay six massive structures, towering over the forces fighting below. They seemed to pulse and flicker with a golden haze. Could these be the ancient relics the Oxataya spoke of? There is so much we still do not understand, but we cannot concede to indecision. Will we stay and fight, or retreat back to Moontide?

In Circadians: Chaos Order, players take on the role of 1 of 6 asymmetric factions. Each faction has its own means of winning the game, unique leaders, attribute cards, and other abilities.
Deep Shelf is an upcoming release from designer Richard Keene and his publishing company, Ninth Haven Games, which in 2019 challenged us to build and manage our own dinosaur island resorts in DinoGenics.

In Deep Shelf, which plays in 90–120 minutes, 1–4 players compete as corporations exploring the deep sea and developing technology to extract rare metals, research and discover anomalies, and build structures to control and develop their own area of the ocean. In slightly more detail from the publisher:
Breakthroughs in deep sea mining technology have ushered in a modern gold rush as corporations’ position themselves to extract the oceans riches of rare earth metals.

As corporations seek to exploit the wealth of the ocean, ecologists and research groups see the expeditions as an opportunity to study and catalogue rare lifeforms never before encountered. An uneasy collaboration has formed as scientists make use of the vast wealth of industry and the industrialists depend on the breakthroughs provided by studying the vast and hostile deep-sea ecosystem.

Board Game: Deep Shelf
Box cover concept

Deep Shelf is a game of deep-sea exploration, exploitation, development, and research. Players take on the role of competing corporations seeking to find and develop resource nodes, extract rare earth metals, transport them to the surface, and research the unexplored deepest reaches of the ocean.

As the leader of your corporation, you will decide whether to expand quickly and strip mine the ocean of its wealth, or take a more eco-friendly approach and learn as much as possible about the wonders of the deep. Players must be cautious of mining too greedily or delving too deep as such actions will damage the natural ecosystems of the ocean, hastening the end of the game — and not everything in the deep is friendly.
For a deeper dive into Deep Shelf, be sure to check out Keene's first-look overview post.
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