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New Game Round-up: Martin Wallace Visits Via Nebula, Libellud Reveals Hidden Signs for Mysterium & Witches Fly Again in Broom Service: The Card Game

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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• What's this? A fantasy-based Martin Wallace design from Space Cowboys? Yes, at first glance Via Nebula — a 2-4 player design due in Q2 2016 — isn't something I would have expected from Wallace, but once you get into the meat of the gameplay below, it's easier to imagine:

Crafters, builders and carriers — your help is needed to dispel the mists of Nebula! The people of the valley will reward you handsomely if you harvest and exploit our many resources, open paths through the mists, and help our settlers build new structures. Cooperate temporarily with other builders in order to create paths and share goods, but do not forget your own objectives. Will you have a statue erected in your honor on the Nebula City plaza?

A game of Via Nebula starts with a board showing a hexagonal grid, some production sites with a few available resources on them (wood, stone, wheat, and pigs), building sites in various areas scattered over the whole board, and a lot of mist.

Turn after turn, players have two actions at their disposal from these options: They may clear the mist of a hex to create new paths of transportation, open new production sites, open a building site in a city, carry resources from any production site to their own building sites, and, of course, achieve a construction. Resources and paths through the mist may be used by all the players. This initially induces a kind of cooperation, but eventually other players will take advantage of your actions!

To achieve a construction, you fulfill a contract on one of your cards. You start the game with two contracts, and four more contracts are available for all players to see and use on a first come, first served basis — and that's where the cooperation abruptly stops. Additionally, most contracts have special powers that are triggered on completion.

The game ends when a player finishes a fifth building. Opponents each take two final actions, then players score based on the number of cleared hexes and opened production sites and the point value of their contracts, with a bonus for the player who ended the game.
What about Route 666, another Wallace/Space Cowboys design that was originally announced as a 2015 release? I'll see whether I can get an update on this while attending the Spielwarenmesse fair in Nürnberg, Germany this week.

• Hey, speaking of Spielwarenmesse, here's a short summary of Broom Service: The Card Game, coming from designers Andreas Pelikan and Alexander Pfister and publisher alea, with this title due out in April 2016 in Europe and in June in the U.S. This design is not Witch's Brew, the precursor to the Broom Service board game, but something else entirely:

Broom Service: The Card Game focuses on the brave/cowardly mechanism used in the Broom Service board game.
Okay, not much to go on there. The game consists of 160 cards (witches, goals, victory point tables) and takes five minutes per player. What's more, alea developer Stefan Brück notes that Broom Service: The Card Game includes "some separate expansion cards for the board game". Exactly what those cards are and how this game works is something I hope to find out in the next week!

• Another Spielwarenmesse preview item will be Mysterium: Hidden Signs, from Oleksandr Nevskiy, Oleg Sidorenko, and Libellud. Here's all the info I have for now:

They thought the secret of Warwick mansion had been solved and the spirit had found peace, but now new signs have emerged that were previously hidden. New suspects, places, and objects that do not fit into the picture — and the presence of the ghost is strong once again.

In Mysterium: Hidden Signs, the spiritualists must return to the old mansion and investigate these disturbing visions. Will they understand all the instructions this time and give the ghost its final rest?
• In non-Toy Fair news, in 2016 Stronghold Games will release an English-language version of City of Spies: Estoril 1942 from designers Gil d'Orey and Antonio Sousa Lara. To learn how to play this hidden placement game, check out this overview video that I recorded with d'Orey at Spiel 2015:

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