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New Game Round-up: Race Anew Thanks to a Xeno Invasion & Technology's in the Bag in Hyperborea

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game: Race for the Galaxy
Race for the Galaxy fans had a long wait between expansions, with The Brink of War appearing in 2010 and Alien Artifacts — which falls into a storyline separate from that of TBoW — being released at the tail-end of 2013. Believe it or not, a third RftG story arc is in the works, with designer Tom Lehmann stating that the design of Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion is finished, but he and publisher Rio Grande Games are waiting for artwork, card layout, translation, and the actual production of the game. Here's a short description of the new set:

Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion, an expansion for the RftG base game that comprises the third story arc in the game series, depicts the galaxy as being under attack by waves of violently xenophobic aliens, dubbed the Xenos. XI adds Xeno military worlds (worlds conquered and occupied by them), specific military vs. Xenos, and a new keyword: ANTI-XENO. To provide a good proportion of new Xeno worlds, keyword, and powers, XI is not compatible with the other expansion story arcs.

Xeno Invasion, which is aimed at intermediate players, includes 51 game cards to be added to the base set, and this expansion includes an optional Invasion Game, with Produce: Repair and invasion cards, a repulse track, bunkers, and various counters. The Invasion game adds two new ways the game can end: by either repulsing or falling to the Xenos. In Produce, players can repair damaged worlds and donate goods to the war effort (earning VPs). This makes Produce far more interesting. Players can also earn VP awards by defeating their share of the Xeno attackers and having the highest military vs Xenos, while they lose the use of damaged worlds that they fail to defend (until they are repaired).

The Xeno attacks take place at the end of each round, starting with round 3, and typically take less than 30 seconds to resolve so that players can immediately return to selecting their actions for the next round.
More details on this expansion from Lehmann:

RFTG:XI went into final testing late last fall [2013]. We adjusted one mechanic that testers found awkward, tweaked a couple of cards, and turned in it a few months later. We then spent over a month working out what the Xenos would actually look like with the art team — there are so many war-like aliens in movies, books, and computer games that it is hard to come up with a good visual concept that works and is sufficiently different!

I've okayed sketches for roughly half the cards so far. The illustrators are hard at work turning those sketches into finished artwork and preparing new sketches.

After that, we have layout and proofing, then it goes to our foreign partners for translation, and then printing/production/shipping. Each of those steps takes 1-2 months, depending on the artists' other projects, speed of translations, printer schedules, and Europe's long vacations. So, we're looking at probably 6-8 months before it comes out. Ideally, we'll make Xmas 2014 in the US, but we'll see. As [Rio Grande's] Jay [Tummelson] says, it will be ready when it's ready...
Board Game: Hyperborea
• I first featured Andrea Chiarvesio and Pierluca Zizzi's Hyperborea in a February 2013 BGGN post that highlighted games shown at Spielwarenmesse 2013, the trade show in Nürnberg, Germany. Luca Cattini from Italian publisher Asterion Press explained the basics of the game on a prototype copy, and while the finished artwork looks a wee bit better than the prototype, I'll include it again below for those who prefer video to text. For everyone else, here's an overview of the game, which will debut at Gen Con 2014 in August ahead of a general release in September:

Set in a mythical land of the same name, Hyperborea is a light civilization game for 2 to 6 players that takes 20-25 minutes per player. The game begins at the time when the magic barrier protecting access to the mythical continent of Hyperborea suddenly falls.

Each player takes the role of the leader of a small kingdom situated just outside the now open to be conquered and explored land. Her kingdom has limited knowledge of housing, trade, movement, warfare, research, and growth, but new and exciting powers are hidden in Hyperborea. During the game, this kingdom will grow in numbers and raise armies, extend its territory, explore and conquer, learn new technologies, etc...

The game's main mechanism, which can be described as "bag-building", involves you building a pool of "civilicubes". Each cube represents specializations for your kingdom: war, trade, movement, building, knowledge, growth. Grey cubes represent corruption and waste, and players will acquire them by developing new technologies. (Power corrupts by its own definition, and the more complex a society becomes, the more waste it generates.) Each turn, players draw three random cubes from their bags, then use them to activate knowledge (technologies) they own.
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