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News from BGG.CON 2011: Innovation Brings in Historical Figures, Builders Come to Empires & Eric Plays a Game

W. Eric Martin
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• Chris Cieslik at Asmadi Games gave me the run-down on Innovation: Figures in the Sand, the second expansion for Carl Chudyk's Innovation which he hopes to have ready for Gen Con 2012.

Innovation: Figures in the Sand, which is possibly not the final title, introduces a number of historical figures from the ten ages in the game – Huang Di, Aristotle, Chuck Norris, etc. – but unlike in Innovation: Echoes of the Past, the cards in Figures in the Sand are not added to the age decks but are instead shuffled and stacked in order (age 1 on top, 10 on the bottom). When a player acquires figure cards, he draws two and keeps one; as achievements are scored, figures from early ages are removed from the game, exposing those of later years.

Each figure grants a player a continuous ability, and in the spirit of Innovation, those abilities become outrageously broken and disgusting and wrong in the highest ages. Each player can have only one figure in play at a time; if you meld a second figure, then you score the first one, thereby removing it from play. In addition to having the expected icons, some figure cards have echoes and others have continuous "keystone" abilities in the icon locations, which allows a player to activate them through good splaying.

One other addition to the game are "moods", with one mood for each of the five colors. A mood is brought into play only when someone plays a figure that specifies something like, "When [this figure] comes into play, change the Mood to War." Currently the War mood allows a player to discard a card when activating a dogma to "practice" it, which prevents other players from sharing that dogma if they normally would, but Cieslik stressed that the game is in playtesting/development mode and nearly everything could be changed prior to the game going to print.

• Mark Kaufmann at Days of Wonder says that Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 2 - India & Switzerland is now due out in January 2012 in the U.S., while still expected to be available in Europe in December 2011, the original worldwide release date noted in this BGG News item.

• Sean Brown from FRED Distribution/Gryphon Games/Eagle Games had a finished copy of Glenn Drover's Empires: The Age of Discovery Builder Expansion – Is that really the title? That long thing? Really?! – on hand at BGG.CON and he said that the game is in transit and scheduled for release in December 2011.

As noted previously (and as noted in the title of the item), the Builder Expansion includes ten builder figures in each of the five colors of Empires: The Age of Discovery (originally sold as Age of Empires III). It also contains a full set of purple figures, along with ten purple builders, to allow for up to six players in the game.

What's more, each color is now associated with a particular country, and each country has two "national advantage" tiles in the expansion. At the start of the game, the player representing a country chooses one of those national tiles, then all of these tiles are revealed simultaneously, with the tile providing a bonus for that player (akin to a building) throughout the game. One of the Holland tiles, for example, provides its owner with one free Captain each turn.

In addition to including twenty new capital buildings, the expansion includes copies of all 34 buildings in the base game. Brown said this was done for two reasons, with the primary one being that players now won't have to worry about the buildings in the expansion not matching those in the base game due to wear or the finish on the tiles or someone having spilled beer on the buildings in the base game. The second reason, which Brown favors personally, is that players can package the buildings from the base game separately and have them available instantly instead of needing to sort them from the new ones.

• More tomorrow on a few other games, including Eagle Games' Dragon Rampage and a Defenders of the Realm card game, both from designer Richard Launius, but sleep calls for now.

Oh, and I did play one game tonight, a new one, in fact, that I played three times in a row – Donald X. Vaccarino's Nefarious from Ascora Games. The game plays quickly – along the line of Vaccarino's Dominion when played by folks like me – and has that same potato-chippy "one more time" quality with the Twists changing the rules for the game and forcing you to rethink how to make the best use of your minions and blueprints for crazy inventions to conquer the world and show those fools who should really be in charge. Fools!

As for when Nefarious should be available outside its debut at Spiel 2011, Ascora's Scott Tepper could say only that the game is in production and he'll pass along a hard date once he knows himself. If only someone crazy and reckless could invent a time machine to bring that date closer...
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