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ABACUSSPIELE Invites Players to Deliver Chocolate, Haircuts and Robots

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game Designer
Board Game: Cacao: Chocolatl
• BGG's Nürnberg/New York 2016 Preview already has more than fifty titles on it since debuting at the start of 2016, and while I won't post about all of those titles in this space (or all of those I add in the weeks to come), I will highlight those that I anticipate as being more likely to be anticipated by you, faithful reader.

For example, Phil Walker-Harding's Cacao was a well-received family game in 2015, picking up a Spiel des Jahres recommendation along the way, and now German publisher ABACUSPIELE has announced a first expansion for the game — Cacao: Chocolatl. Here's an overview of what you'll find in the box:

Cacao: Chocolatl features four modules for the Cacao base game, and these modules can be used individually or in any combination with the other modules.

1. The chocolate module includes three chocolate maker tiles, three chocolate markets and twenty wooden chocolate markers. Chocolate is made out of cacao at the chocolate maker tiles and can be sold at a high price but only on special markets.

2. The huts module includes twelve double-sided huts you can acquire during the game. They give their owner special powers during the game or extra points when fulfilling specific conditions.

3. The irrigation module includes three special plantations where you can harvest a lot of cacao fruits but must pay with water.

4. The maps module includes a preview board for two more tiles that are visible near the draw pile. Each player receives two map tiles at the beginning of the game, and for each tile spent he can also choose from the preview board when filling up spaces on the board.
Board Game: Leo
• The first question that comes to mind when I see the cover of Leo is, "How many other designers have had a game named after them?" I don't recall playing Reiner, Kevin, or Seiji at any point in the past, but perhaps I've simply forgotten those designs. Leo, a coooperative design for kids from Leo Colovini, has players trying to get a lion to the barber shop on time. To feed on the barber? No, silly — to make him look his best!

Leo the lion's mane is far too long and he risks looking shaggy and losing the respect of his fellow animals — but those same animals keep stopping him to chit-chat while on the way to a haircut. Can you get this king of the jungle to the barber shop in time?

In Leo, players need to help Leo reach the barber shop before it closes for the day. To set up, place all of the animal tiles face down, shuffle them, then create a track that leads from Leo's bed to Bobo's Barber Shop. Set the clock to 8:00 a.m. Each player starts a number of cards in hand.

On a turn, a player plays one card to move Leo ahead 1-4 spaces on the track, then reveals the animal tile on which Leo landed. If the tile is the same color as the card just played, the clock remains at the same time as it was at the start of the turn; if the tile has a different color, however, the clock moves ahead 1-5 hours depending on the animal depicted. Poor Leo! If the clock reaches 8:00 p.m. before Leo arrives at the barber shop, the round ends and Leo must return home in order to try again the next day. Turn all face-up tiles face down again.

If the players manage to get Leo to the barber shop within five days to get him a trim, they win!
Board Game: Micro Robots
• "Inspired by Alex Randolph's classic Ricochet Robots" — I don't know whether that phrase does anything for you, but it perks up my ears as I'm a huge fan of the simultaneous puzzle-solving action in that game, "action" being a relative term, of course, since you're simply staring at the board thinking. Andreas Kuhnekath's Micro Robots features similar, but different game play on a smaller scale:

Micro Robots challenges players to quickly determine how a robot can move from one spot on the grid to another.

To set up, choose to use the black or copper side of the four game boards, then arrange them in a 2x2 square. Each game board shows nine dice, and once arranged the completed grid shows 36 dice, with the dice being numbered 1-6 and showing six colors, with each combination of number and color appearing exactly once. Roll the color die and number die to determine the starting location for the transparent robot, then mark this space with the transparent starting token.

In a round, roll the two dice to determine the target space; you can mark this space with a transparent victory token or simply have everyone remember which space they're trying to reach. Everyone simultaneously tries to figure out how to move the robot to the target space, and to move the robot, it must move orthogonally to a space that shares either the color or number of its current location. If the robot starts on "3-green", for example, it can move orthogonally to any space that shows either a 3 or is green; if you'd move it to "5-green", it can now once again move orthogonally to any space that shows either a 5 or is green; and so on.

As soon as a player has a solution, they yell out the number of moves, then take the robot and demonstrate the solution. If the solution takes exactly the number of moves claimed, the player earns a victory token; if not, the player gives one of their victory tokens (if they have any) to the player with the fewest tokens. In either case, the former target space becomes the new starting space for the next round.

If any player possesses five victory tokens, they win! If the 25 victory tokens are distributed before someone collects five, then whoever holds the most tokens wins, with ties being possible.

Expert Micro Robots players can increase the challenge of the game by placing the target victory token on the board, then rolling the two dice once again. The players must now determine a solution that first moves the robot to the space showing on the dice, then to the final destination.

The transparent robot in Micro Robots can also be used in Ricochet Robots. This robot moves like any other robot in that game except that for an additional move it can pass through a wall instead of stopping at it. It cannot move through the central barrier or the exterior walls, and the only target space on which it can land is the colored vortex.
• In addition to these titles, in 2016 ABACUSSPIELE will release Michael Schacht's Zooloretto Junior, which is a revamped version of Zooloretto Mini that features a few changes to lower the MSRP, and Game of Trains, a card game that Latvian-based Brain Games debuted at Spiel 2015. In that game, players try to reverse the order of the train car(d)s behind their engine, either replacing them directly through card draws or by using the special powers on the numbered cards.

Board Game: Zooloretto Junior
Board Game: Game of Trains
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