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New Game Round-up: Nürnberg 2014 — Basari and Qwixx Get Carded

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game: Basari: Das Kartenspiel
• German publisher Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag has two titles scheduled for release in early 2014, one being a new version of Reinhard Staupe's classically simple "simultaneous action" game Basari.

Asked about what differs in this version of the design — titled Basari: Das Kartenspiel — Staupe, who works as an editor at NSV, said, "I really like the original Basari version as well as Edel, Stein & Reich, but from the beginning I had the feeling that the Basari idea could work well in a small format and that it could be even a little easier — in other words, that the game still waited for its perfect design and shape." Here's a summary of the game system as well as details of the latest incarnation:

Basari: Das Kartenspiel keeps the fundamentals of Basari and sister game Edel, Stein & Reich, with players simultaneously choosing actions each round from a hand of action cards. If only one player chooses a specific action, she takes that action; if three or more players choose an action, then none of them take it; and if exactly two players choose an action, though, then those players make increasing bids to one another for permission to take that action.

So what are players trying to do with their actions? In each round, each player receives a card that shows gemstones, victory points (VPs) and 1-4 workers. Players simultaneously choose and reveal the gemstone, worker or VP card from their head, then see whether they get their desired action or need to negotiate for it. As soon as one or more players have collected at least fifteen workers, the round ends, with each of these players scores 12 points. Other players score points based on the gemstones they've collected.

After three rounds, the game ends and whoever has the most points wins!
Without the game board of the original title and the event cards of ES&R, Basari: Das Kartenspiel consists of only 60 cards and 88 gemstones, thus fitting into NSV's small card game line that carries an €8 MSRP. "It's a big game in a small box," says Staupe. "I hadn't played Basari or respectively ES&R for maybe two or three years, and when I made my first test play with the card version, I had the feeling: Wow, this is it. This is even better than the old two versions. It's finally right to the point."

Board Game: Qwixx Card Game
• The other title coming from NSV is Qwixx: Das Kartenspiel, making these items something of a matched pair. For this release Qwixx designer Steffen Benndorf is joined by Staupe in a game that keeps the heart of the original, Spiel des Jahres-nominated release — players trying to cross off numbers in four colored rows as best they can, with everyone participating on each turn — but with the dice replaced by cards in order to allow for more tactics and planning through card-drafting and hand management. In detail:

In Qwixx: Das Kartenspiel, each player has a scoresheet with the numbers 2-12 in rows of red and yellow and the numbers 12-2 in rows of green and blue. You want to mark off as many numbers as possible, but you can mark off a number only if it's to the right of all marked off numbers in the same row. The deck has 44 cards, eleven in each color numbered 2-12; the back of each card shows the number but without the color. Each player starts with a hand of four cards, and four other cards are laid out face-down — that is, with the color hidden — in a row beside the remaining deck of cards.

On a turn, a player fills her hand to five cards by drawing from the four cards on display, then refills the card display from the deck. Using the number now visible on the top card of the deck, each player can choose to cross off one instance of this number in one row on her scoresheet. The active player then plays 1-3 cards from her hand, all of which must be the same color. She can cross off the numbers on these cards — but only if at most one number is missing in the series of numbers to be crossed off. For example, if she discards 2, 3 and 5 in blue, she can cross off these three numbers (assuming that she hasn't crossed off any blue numbers previously); if she discards 2, 3, and 6 in blue, then she can cross off the 2, the 3, the 2 and 3, or the 6.

If a player has crossed off five numbers in a color, then she can cross off the rightmost number (2 or 12) should the opportunity arise; if she does, she also crosses off a lock token in this color. If the active player can't cross off a number during her turn, she must mark a penalty box.

When a player has "locked" two colors on her scoresheet or marked off four penalty boxes, the game ends. Each player tallies her score in each color — the more numbers crossed off, the more you score — then sums these totals and subtracts any penalty points. Whoever scores the most points wins!

For a variant, Qwixx: Das Kartenspiel includes eleven multicolored joker cards, also numbered 2-12, that are shuffled into the deck. A player determines the color of this card only when playing it on her turn.

In case it wasn't clear from the header, it's time to start looking ahead to see which games will be previewed at the Nürnberg and New York toy fairs in early 2014, games that will (in most cases) be released in the first half of the year. I've already previewed a number of these releases on BGG News including Pandemic: The Cure, Splendor, Greed, Escape From Zombie City, and Seasons: Path of Destiny. I plan to attend both the conventions in both Nürnberg and New York, and I'll preview whatever else I can as time and availability allows. If you're a designer or you represent a publisher that will be showing at either convention, feel free to contact me (wericmartin AT to arrange for a meeting time at those shows.

Looking forward to seeing what's coming in the new year!
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