W. Eric Martin
Sometimes it's complicated to write about Asmodee releasing this game or that on the market because in most cases Asmodee is distributing the game, not publishing it. Why this matters is because you'll probably want to know about the publisher overseeing the game's development and production to know whether or not to look it over in more detail. The seven games listed below, for example, are all being distributed by Asmodee in North America, Europe and elsewhere, but they originate from four publishers with wide-ranging differences in style and graphic design. With that out of the way, let's get to some details.
• Elysium from Matthew Dunstan, Brett J. Gilbert and Space Cowboys was released in France in late February 2015 to coincide with the game festival in Cannes, and the North American release date has now been set at May 28, 2015. I recorded an overview of the game at Spielwarenmesse 2015 and wrote a long preview after playing the prototype at BGG.CON 2014. I'm looking forward to digging into this one again.
• As noted in this BGG News post, Space Cowboys has two other titles due out in 2015 — Route 666 and Time Stories, with both scheduled to debut at Spiel 2015 in October — but I'm not sure when those will reach retailers.
• Rustan Håkansson's Nations: The Dice Game from Lautapelit.fi debuted in October 2014, with approximately five hundred copies of the game rushing into the hands of early purchasers at Spiel 2014, but delays with dice production have kept the game from wider distribution up to this point. That hurdle has now been cleared, and Asmodee expects to have this game available through retailers in Q2 2015.
• Aside from the occasional monster game like Abyss (an expansion for which is coming in 2015), French publisher Bombyx tends to release card games in small tins, as with Frédéric Henry's Cardline: Dinosaurs, which debuted in France in August 2014 and is due out in English in Q3 2015. This title uses gameplay familiar from Henry's Timeline series or other Cardline titles, with players trying to rid themselves of cards in hand by deducing or guessing where to play dinosaur cards in their hand in relation to other cards already in play.
• Minuscule from Lee Ju-Hwa takes his betting game Dark Horse, released by Korean publisher Magpie in 2014, and converts it into a betting game about bugs, specifically the insects featured in the Minuscule video series, one episode of which I've included below. In the game, players start with two betting cards, line up the insects, then take turns playing action cards to move them into the order they want — but naturally not everyone wants the same order. Minuscule is due out Q2 2015.
• We'll close with three titles from Matagot, which tends to create immersive and graphically elaborate games. Guillaume Blossier's Ultimate Warriorz debuted from French publisher Pulsar Games in 2011, then disappeared from the market; Matagot has picked up the license and revamped the graphics and rules for this simultaneous-play, dice-driven character battle game. I recorded an overview video of Ultimate Warriorz at Spielwarenmesse 2015, and the final production is due out in June 2015.
• While at Spielwarenmesse 2015, I tweeted the cover image of Marc André's Barony, which is due out in June 2015, but the game itself wasn't on display. Barony deviates somewhat from the Matagot formula by having streamlined rules that distill the gameplay to small actions, but that seems appropriate given that André is the designer of Splendor. As for the gameplay, here's an overview of what you're doing:
In Barony, players are ambitious barons trying to extend their dominion over the land! Who will succeed and become the new king?
At the beginning of the game, players create the board at random with nine tiles per player; each tile is comprised of three hexagons, with each hexagon being one of five landscape types: forest, plains, field, mountain, lake. Players then each place three cities on the game board, with a knight in each city. They then take turns in clockwise order, with each player taking exactly one action from the six possible actions:
• Recruitment: Add two knights to a city, or three knights if the city is adjacent to a lake.
• Movement: Move one or two of your knights one space each. A knight can't enter a lake (blub), a mountain with an opposing pawn, or any space with an opponent's city or stronghold or two knights of the same opposing color. If you move a second knight into a space with an opposing pawn or village, remove those tokens and take one resource from the village owner.
• Construction: Remove one or more of your knights from the game board and replace each with a village or stronghold, gaining one resource token matching the landscape under the structure.
• New City: Replace one of your villages with a city and earn 10 victory points (VPs).
• Expedition: Remove two knights from your reserve, placing one back in the box out of play and the other on any empty space on the edge of the game board.
• Noble Title: Discard at least 15 resource points, then upgrade your title: baron to viscount, then count, marquis and finally duke.
Once any player has gained the title of duke, finish the round, then tally the VPs, with players scoring for resources still in their possession, their rank in the game, and the number of cities they built. Whoever has the most VPs wins.
• Metal Adventures from Lionel Borg, due out in June 2015, feels like a more traditional Matagot title, and while I recorded an overview video at Spielwarenmesse 2014(!), the game has apparently changed a bit since that time, so this description might serve you better:
Space pirates are battling for honor, glory and wealth! Join them in their exploration of the universe and their quest for victory. Players will explore, challenge each others, and engage in short-term or long-term alliances, but there will be battles and mighty spaceships involved. In Metal Adventures, you'll use cards to explore, enhance your ship and your crew, and live up to bold challenges. There will be negotiations, battle tactics, and the uncertainty and risk that really make a pirate's life.
During the game, each player uses a fancy four-wheeled astrolabe to track their power (which can be improved via equipment), damage (which reduces power), glory (which is how players win), and the "judgement of pirates" (which affects glory).
On a turn, a player either rests (gaining money and repairing their ship) or else travels (paying to do so), battles (either starships, planets or opponents), and optionally takes the "tour of pirates", visiting one of the ten planets in the game and taken the action available there. Each player holds two trophy cards, and when they meet the conditions on one of them, they can reveal it to earn credits, glory or both. They can gain support (single-use cards) and equipment (providing power adjustments and possibly other special abilities), keeping at most four of these improvement cards at a time.
Players can negotiate alliances and trade anything but glory, and while they must keep their word for immediate exchanges and actions, they can break promises or alliances in later turns, although doing so requires them to suffer the "judgement of pirates", thereby affecting their glory count. Collect four such points, and they can no longer ally with other players or give or receive assistance.
When a player has nine or more glory points or the space deck contains two or fewer cards, the game ends and whoever has the most glory wins.