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Matagot Prepares Monuments, Meeples, Cattle, Escape Rooms, Panicky Submarine Operators and More

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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French publisher Matagot has been in business for more than a decade, and in addition to releasing a tall stack of new games for 2016, the company is also reorganizing its catalog to present its games with a clearer identity: Titles for hardcore gamers will go in the XL format used for Kemet or the large square format used for Barony and will be targeted at players aged 14 and up; gateway games for ages 10+ and family games for 8+ will fit in certain sized boxes with a color identifier and with each box size having a specific price range; and a kids' line that is currently available only in France will expand in 2017 and be available on the larger market.

• All of those details are more relevant for its distributors and retailers, though, so let's start seeing what info is available about Matagot's upcoming games, leading off with Cyclades: Monuments, a small expansion for Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc's Cyclades that consists of ten monument miniatures and ten associated monument cards, with each of these new buildings giving you a unique power.

Christian Martinez's Inis has been under development for five years, according to Matagot, and the game will finally debut in 2016. I recorded a video overview of the game at Spielwarenmesse 2014 on the most hideous table ever used by man when the game was being called "Brenn". While the specifics of the game have likely changed since then, the goal remains the same: Fulfill one of the three victory conditions (leadership, land, religion) before anyone else.

• The Cathala/Maublanc design team is also responsible for Dice Stars, a pocket-sized release for 1-4 players in which they add a certain number of dice to a dice pool, then take either all dice of the same color or all dice of the same value in order to score in various ways.

Millions of Dollars from relative newcomer Jeremie Kletzkine is a hidden role game with no elimination and non-random distribution of roles in which you try to negotiate with (and trick) others into giving you the biggest share of the available loot.

Dice Town, another Cathala/Maublanc design, receives an expansion of its own with Dice Town Cowboy, which adds three new cards to the base game along with a game board and fifteen cows. Now players can use Aces that they roll to retrieve cattle from the great outdoors, but if you don't protect them, opponents can steal them away from you.

Room 25: Escape Room from designers Guilaine Didier, Gabriel Durnerin, and François Rouzé adds new room tiles and a VIP character who needs escorting to the Room 25 base game, but in addition it features a new "Escape room" mode that functions as escape rooms do in the real world as players must solve riddles in order to find the exit within a limited time.

Cédric Millet's Meeple Circus takes an act common to gamers the world over — piling up your meeples and making them perform unusual acts while everyone else is setting up the game — and turns it into a game of its own.

• Finally, we come to the wackiest title of the bunch, and wouldn't you know it, Roberto Fraga is co-designer. What a surprise! The game is Captain S.O.N.A.R, and together with Yohan Lemonnier, Fraga has created an engaging team experience. Here's an overview:

At the bottom of the ocean, no one will hear you scream!

Get on board a state-of-the-art submarine and team-up against another underwater team. Every role is important, and the confrontation is merciless. Be organized and communicate because a captain is nothing without his crew: the Chief Mate, the Radio Operator, and the Engineer.

Captain S.O.N.A.R is a cooperative game in which two teams fight each other and try to destroy the opposing submarine. The game can be played in two modes: turn-by-turn or simultaneous. Each captain sets the course of their submarine, while the other crew members ready the weapons, make sure the engines are up and running, and spy on the opposing team. By launching a torpedo in the right spot or making a mine blow at the right time, you can deal damages to the opposing ship. Multiple maps are included with varying levels of difficulty.

I've played the prototype twice when it was titled "Polaris", both times as captain when we had three players on each team, and had great fun. Like Fraga's Doctor Panic — which is now due out February 2016 in Europe and similarly soon in the U.S. — Captain S.O.N.A.R feels like an event game, something that you want to break out at a convention.

The video below of the prototype being shown at a French convention gives you some idea of what's going on in the game, with the captain calling out directions as their submarine moves through the water; the radio operator paying attention to the opposing captain to try to track down where that sub might be; the first mate powering up your radar, torpedoes, and other equipment; and the engineer doing something I can't fathom since I played with only three on a team!

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