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New Game Round-up: Collecting Turtles, Stacking Cheese, Arranging Cups and Sorting Cards – AMIGO Spiel Puts You to Work in Late 2013

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Galapagos
• German publisher AMIGO Spiel has unveiled its game release line-up for the second half of 2013 – with all the games listed below due out in September 2013 – and I've starting adding these titles to the BGG database and updating the Spiel 2013 Preview for those planning to attend that game convention in Essen, Germany.

In addition to publisher German-language editions of Jack Degnan's Word on the Street and Jung-Hun Lim's Pharao Code, AMIGO has a number of new releases, starting with Björn Heismann's Galapagos – another take on the most famous turtle-bearing chain os islands on Earth, albeit with only one island in this game:

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In Galapagos, players move around the island searching for new species of turtles and trying to stay one step ahead of everyone else. With good planning and some luck on the dice, you'll collect more turtles than anyone else and triumph on this whirlwind island tour.

During set-up, players arrange the island tiles, then place five or six turtles on various tiles, depending on the number of players. Each player places his character token on the island and takes five color dice.

In each round, all players simultaneously roll their dice, then arrange them in the order they want to use them. Whoever first completes his planning grabs the sand timer in the center of the board, starting the timer for everyone else to finish their plans. Once time runs out, this player moves his character on the island, moving it to an adjacent space matching the color of the first die in his plan, then moving it again, and so on – ideally picking up lots of turtles along the way. The other players take turns in clockwise order. A player who lands his character on a corner space can move to either adjacent corner space (as long as he's placed the correct color in his movement chart).

Players add turtles to the board to bring the total available to five or six, then start a new round. Once all the turtles have been collected, the game ends and the player score for the turtles they've collected: 8 points for a set of six differently-colored turtles, and 1 point for each other turtle. Whoever has the highest score wins!
Board Game: Galapagos

Board Game: Käse Würfeln
• Michael Feldkötter's Käse Würfeln is the next title in AMIGO's line of dice games, which are all packaged in cubic boxes. Here's what is going on with the dice this time:

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The player mice in Käse Würfeln want to stack cheese as high as they can. Why? Why don't they just eat the cheese? That's not the issue here – let the mice do what they want!

On a turn, a player rolls eight six-sided dice up to four times, keeping dice between rolls if desired. After finishing, she claims a number card if she's rolled that number on that many dice; e.g., if she's rolled a 4 on four dice, she claims the 4 card. After claiming a card, she either starts a new stack with that card as its base or places that card on top of another card she already has – but only if that card is lower than the top card of the stack.

If a player takes a 1 card, she can place it either glass case side up on top of a stack – closing that stack (since nothing can be placed on a 1) and protecting it from being stolen – or mouse side up; a mouse side-up 1 can later be placed on a stack, and a player can have only two of these cards. When a player closes a stack with four, five or six cards, she takes a bonus card from the table, with earlier claimed bonus cards being worth more points.

If a player can't take any cards, she takes a gift card, which she can spend on a later turn to rotate a die to show a particular face. A player can hold only one gift card.

When three of the number stacks are empty, the game ends immediately. The player with the most stacks claims a 12-point bonus card, then players tally their points. Each closed stack is worth the product of the largest number in the stack and the number of cards in the stack; each open stack is worth the sum of the cards in the stack. The player with the most points wins!
Board Game: Käse Würfeln

Board Game: Speed Cups
• If you think of designer Haim Shafir (and you know who he is), you'll undoubtedly think ding-ding-ding-ding-ding! Yes, you'll hear that bell for Shafir's Halli Galli (and if you're a dog, you might start salivating, too). Shafir has a new dingy design titled Speed Cups, which combines speed stacking and pattern recognition:

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In Speed Cups, each player receives a set of five plastic cups, each a different color; a deck of 24 cards is shuffled and placed face down in the center of the table next to the bell. One player flips over the top card, which depicts colored objects – trains, birds, cups, etc. – stacked vertically or horizontally, then everyone tries to recreate this colored sequence with her own set of cups. The first player to do slams the bell, revels in the soul-brightening "ding", then (if correct), claims the card. Someone then reveals the next card, and the players start shuffling cups once again.

Once all the cards have been claimed, whoever holds the most cards wins!
Board Game: Flash 10
• Rounding out this quartet of new releases is Wolfgang Kramer's Flash 10, in AMIGO's "brightly colored, quick-playing game" series. (Perhaps this series has an actual name, but I'm not aware of it.) In any case, here's an overview of Flash 10, which seems like Kramer's take on the Rack-O game system:

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The card deck includes 120 cards, twenty showing a thunderstorm and the other hundred numbered 0-99, with each card ending in 0 or 5 showing a lightning bolt. Someone shuffles the deck, then each player receives ten cards face down, which they place in a row in front of them. Playing simultaneously and as quickly as possible, players reveal these cards (without rearranging them), then start taking cards one at a time from those scattered in the center of the table and placing them on one of the ten cards in front of them, thereby creating stacks of cards as the game progresses. If a player draws a thunderstorm card, she can place it on any stack.

As soon as a player has ten number cards in ascending order from left to right, she yells "Stop!" and ends the round. If she's correct, she scores 10 points, plus 2 points for ending the round. Each other player scores points for the number of cards in order starting from their left stack. In addition, each card with a lightning bolt (whether in order or not) is worth 1 point, while each thunderstorm card is worth -1 point. Players then shuffle the cards and start another round. Whoever reaches 50 or more points first wins!

Flash 10 includes two variants. In one, players can end the round even if they have one or more thunderstorm cards in their row. In the second, players use nine cards instead of ten, and they must arrange their cards in ascending, then descending order with the fifth card in the row serving as the turning point.
Board Game: Flash 10
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