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Pop Bubbles, Make Soup, Toss Garlic, and Return to Isla Nublar

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Echt Spitze
I've already covered two new titles coming from German publisher Schmidt Spiele in the first half of 2022: Auch schon clever and Mit Quacks & Co. nach Quedlinburg, both from designer Wolfgang Warsch.

But Schmidt Spiele has more on its release calendar, including a new entry in its "Klein & Fein" line that feels like one of the most convoluted roll-and-write games on the market. Well, convoluted when learning from a rulebook or the description below; in person, with the game in front of you, I think it would be far easier to learn, but I don't have that option here, so let me now present an overview of Echt Spitze, a 1-4 player game from Ralph Querfurth and Klaus-Jürgen Wrede:
Quote:
In Echt Spitze, you want to fill the spaces on your player sheet — both sides of it! — to score more points than anyone else.

To play, each player takes a sheet from the score pad of the same level (1-3). The sheet has a 5x5 grid of squares on each side, with the rows and columns being numbered 1-5. Many of the spaces feature an icon (fruit, flower, gem, etc.) surrounded by a soap bubble.

The active player rolls 4-6 dice, two more than the player count, then all players in turn choose one of the dice and place it on the matching number in either the row or column of their sheet. (Dice show 1-5 and a ?, which is a joker.) The active player then either keeps the remaining two dice or re-rolls them. Each player can then use one of the two common dice to target a particular space on their score sheet, e.g., if you placed a 4 on the 4 column and the two dice show 1 and 3, you then mark off either the 1-4 space or the 3-4 space on your sheet.

If this space has a soap bubble, you mark off this space, poke a hole in it with your pencil, then flip the sheet over and mark off the newly poked space. Now you'll continue play on the back of your sheet, flipping it over again only when you "pop" another soap bubble.

When you mark off an icon, no matter which side of the paper, track this in your score column. The first player to mark off all icons of a type receives the large bonus, then everyone else can score only the small bonus for this icon.

Board Game: Echt Spitze
Pokey, pokey

One or both of your chosen dice might have an X on them. If this is the case and you don't pop a bubble this turn, you can mark off one or two extra spaces adjacent to the originally marked space for that turn. With two Xs, if you marked 1-4, for example, then you could mark 1-5 and 2-5. If you mark all squares in a row or column, circle the star next to that line.

When someone scores their third type of icon, the game ends. Players tally their icon bonuses, points for each star (which vary per level), and 1 point for each collected icon that didn't receive a bonus. Whoever has the highest score wins.

Level 2 sheets have beehives, and when you mark off a beehive, the bees attack everyone else and they can no longer mark off this space, which means they can't complete this row and column. Level 3 sheets challenge you to create polyominoes with marked-out spaces, in addition to collecting icons.
Querfurth and Wrede were responsible for 2021's Kannste Knicken, another roll-and-write from Schmidt Spiele, with players in that game folding over the corners of their sheet to draw on those now revealed areas. For this design, they've brought all of both sides of the sheet into play. For 2023, I expect we'll be drawing on cubes. We'll see!

Board Game: Die Zukunft von Camelot
• Other titles from Schmidt Spiele include the 2-5 player game Die Zukunft von Camelot ("The Future of Camelot") from Emanuele Briano, with each player controlling a knight and one of Merlin's apprentices to complete various challenges.

Board Game: Die Zukunft von Camelot

Rückkehr zur Isla Nublar ("Return to Isla Nublar") is seemingly yet another game based on the Jurassic Park franchise, but no images are available yet and the J.P. words aren't used in the original German description of this 2-4 player game from Marco Teubner:
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Isla Nublar, the setting for Jurassic Park films, was largely destroyed by a volcanic eruption. Many dinosaurs and some of the research results could not be recovered while people were escaping this disaster.

Now in Rückkehr zur Isla Nublar, a small brave group is trying to save what can be saved. To do this, the players set up new observation posts to secure existing knowledge. The dinosaurs, in turn, are trying to save their own lives and (understandably) they have little leniency for the players' efforts.
Board Game: Monstersuppe
Board Game: Alice's Garden
Monstersuppe is a 2-4 player game for players aged 5 and up from Asger Harding Granerud and Daniel Skjold Pedersen in which you attempt to make soup with all sorts of gross ingredients with the long-term goal of having the most slime in your bowl after four rounds.

Ikhwan Kwon's tile-placement game Alice's Garden, which first appeared from Russian publisher Lifestyle Boardgames in 2020, will be released by Schmidt Spiele as Wald der Wunder. In this game, 1-4 players place polyomino tiles on their individual game boards while attempting to satisfy as many of the Red Queen's requirements as possible: The trees must be as far apart, the rose bushes must be the most sumptuous in the whole Wonderland, and the chess pieces must have a neat path to walk on.

Here's an overview video of the game that BGG recorded at Spielwarenmesse 2020, back when attending conventions was still a thing:


Die Villa der Vampire from Guido Hoffmann and Jens-Peter Schliemann is the obligatory Drei Magier Spiele in this line-up, with vampires being a regular feature in this brand's games, alongside cockroaches. Here's what's happening with the neckbiters this time:
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The big vampire festival, which takes place every 99 years, is coming up in the abandoned villa. But what's this? The very old vampires are still "sleeping" calmly in their coffins and they might miss out. You can't have that!

Board Game: Die Villa der Vampire

In Die Villa der Vampire, you slip into the role of child vampires, and with the help of three vampire bats, try to maneuver garlic bulbs into suitable graves in the vampire villa to wake up the old vampires. But where exactly are the well-heeled vampires who will bring a lot of vampire points hiding? Who will use skill and luck to collect the most vampire points and win?
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