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New Game Round-up: Mechs in Europe, Cities in Neighboring Hands & Tons of Titles in IELLO's Catalog

W. Eric Martin
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• I'll confess to being behind the times on this announcement, but perhaps this will still be new to you: In late 2014, Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games started talking about three future releases from the company, with one of those releases being a second Treasure Chest of realistic-looking game components. (The first Treasure Chest featured ye olde wood, stone, brick, gems, ore, and gold and can be seen on the Stonemaier Games website; I'm not sure what other assortment of components would match the wide-ranging nature of that batch.)

One of the new games coming from Stonemaier is Between Two Cities from Matthew O'Malley and Ben Rosset, which accommodates 3-7 players yet has only a twenty-minute playing time. Here's an overview of the game:

It is the early 1800s, a time of immense construction and urbanization. You are a world-renowned master city planner who has been asked to redesign two different cities. Projects of such significance require the expertise of more than one person, so for each assignment you are paired with a partner with whom to discuss and execute your grandiose plans. Will your planning and collaborative skills be enough to design the most impressive city in world?

Between Two Cities is a partnership-driven tile-drafting game in which each tile represents part of a city (factory, shop, park, landmarks, etc). You work with the player on your left to design the heart of one city, and with the player on your right to design the heart of another city. On each turn you select two tiles from hand, reveal them, then work with your partners separately to place one of those tiles into each of your two cities before passing the remaining hand of tiles around the table.

At the end of the game, each city is scored for its livability. Your final score is the lower of the livability scores of the two cities you helped design. To win, you have to share your attention and your devotion between two cities. The player with the highest final score wins the game.
Love the concept, mostly because it reminds me of Handy in how you're partnered with each of your neighbors and what works for one partnership might be detrimental to the other.

You have perhaps already seen the cover artwork for the other game coming from Stonemaier:

Scythe is set in an alternate-history version of the 1920s, with this world having been created by Polish artist Jakub Rozalski. Stonemaier's Jamey Stegmaier ran across the work of Rozalski and apparently the top of his head blew off, after which he signed a deal with Rozalski to create a board game in that world, with Stegmaier's partner Alan Stone also participating in design and development of Scythe.

Stegmaier describes the game as a combination of Agricola and Kemet with asymmetric factions, which sets off all sorts of dreamy ideas in gamers' heads — so much so that Stegmaier even wrote about the overwhelming response generated by the game's announcement. As for the game itself, here's an overview:

In Scythe, players work as individuals (or pairs using a new communication mechanism that expands the game up to ten players) to lead their country to victory by conquering territory, recruiting new villagers and troops (each with a unique name, story, and skill set — these aren't faceless, generic soldiers), reaping resources (which stay on the map, thus drawing opponents's attention to certain areas if players stockpile resources), and building monstrous mechs. Scythe uses a card-driven simultaneous action selection mechanism to keep the game moving at a brisk pace, with players then taking individual turns to carry out those actions on the map.

Scythe has no player elimination, and it might have a few miniatures, but most characters will be represented on the map via cardboard standees. Each country is completely asymmetric.
• On its Facebook page, IELLO posted the image below on January 1, 2015, noting that in addition to featuring recent releases — including King of New York and French versions of Sail to India and Seventh Hero (with fun and inviting art) — the image hid teasers for upcoming releases in 2015.

I've talked about two of those titles in recent BGGN posts — Roberto Fraga's Pingo Pingo and Yoann Levet's The Grasshopper & The Ant, but what else can we spot in that image? To start, IELLO plans to release French versions of Mike Elliott's Agent Hunter (with revamped artwork), Steven Aramini's Yardmaster (possibly with a different title and with new art from Mathieu Leyssenne that features circus animals instead of boring raw materials), and Masato Uesugi's Dungeon of Mandom (with the less catchy/wonky title Welcome to the Dungeon and new art by Paul Mafayon).

IELLO also plans to release a new version of Stefan Dorra's Njet!, but it's not clear at the moment whether that will be French only or in multiple languages. Hmm, a "For Sale" sign is in the window and a peek at the BGG page for Dorra's For Sale shows no French editions at all, so perhaps that's coming as well. After all, if you're going to make a deal for one game, you might get another at the same time. highlights a number of titles in IELLO's Mini Games line — only two of which are available to date — and future titles in that line include some of the ones mentioned above as well as Masao Suganuma's Candy Chaser (released in Japan in 2013 by Grounding, original publisher of Machi Koro), Hope S. Hwang's Illusion (a 2011 release from Deinko with new art by Naïade), and Seiji Kanai's Cheaty Mages

"The Wormworld Saga" is a digital graphic novel by Daniel Lieske that's available online in multiple languages, with six chapters of the story having been published to date. Apparently IELLO is publishing a game based on this story.

Finally, at least in terms of titles I can identify, is The Big Book of Madness, a co-operative deck-building game due out in early 2015 in which the players are magic students; I tweeted a promotional image of this game during Spiel 2014 (as shown below), but as of this moment I know no more than that. Soon enough, though, I'll be headed to Spielwarenmesse in Nürnberg where I expect to learn about these titles and much more. Can you believe that there's much more? You should because you know that there will be.

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