• Fireside Games is best known for the cooperative game Castle Panic and its multiple spin-offs (Dead Panic, Munchkin Panic, Star Trek Panic). Now it has another co-op ready for airdropping on May 31, 2017, the 1-4 player game Hotshots from Fireside's own Justin De Witt. Here's an overview:
In the cooperative, press-your-luck game Hotshots, crews of 1 to 4 players take on the roles of wildfire fighters — crew boss, spotter, swamper, and sawyer — with special abilities, then roll dice on burning terrain tiles to match the combinations shown on those tiles. The more faces they roll, the better they fight the fire. Players can choose to cut firebreaks, which protect tiles from embers blown by wind gusts, or push their luck to reduce flames and possibly even generate reward tokens. If players bust and fail to match at least three of the six symbols on the tile, the fire grows. Another option is to maneuver vehicles — air tanker, helicopter, and brush rig — to save the forest.
Flame tokens are added at the end of each player's turn by the draw of a fire card, which can bring about light or strong wind gusts, increase the strength of the flames on certain tiles, and start fires. Too many flame tokens will cause a tile to scorch and be lost. Losing a terrain tile could also affect the game play. Some tiles are tied to crewmembers' special abilities, while others help the firefighters, and still others cause the fire to spread in unique ways. If eight tiles scorch or the fire camp scorches, the game is over and the forest is lost — but if the intrepid crew can extinguish the fire, the team wins together.
The press-your-luck mechanism with ratcheting rewards creates tension, and the variety of ways to fight the fire makes for interesting choices. The modular tile layout and fire cards bring high replayability to the game, and the acrylic flame tokens provide an enticing table presence.
• In March 2017, Paul Dennen, Renegade Game Studios, and Dire Wolf Digital will help you discover Clank! Sunken Treasures, an expansion for the 2016 deck-building game Clank! that brings two partially flooded maps to the game along with new dungeon deck cards, a new persistent monster to defeat, and new environmental challenges.
• Scott DeMers and Mr. B Games have a giant design coming in 2017 titled Hellenica: Story of Greece, with this 1-7 player game taking 150-210 minutes to relive life in ancient Greece:
An explosion of creativity and violence erupted in the Aegean Basin in 800 B.C. that defined ancient Greece. This combination of science, mythology, development, and war was led by powerful city-states like Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Troy, Byzantium, Corcyra, and Thebes. These states vied for control over their rivals and dominated the lesser states around them. In time, some of them became so well known that they are remembered even today.
Hellenica: Story of Greece is a 3.5X civilization game in which you harness the powers of one of seven beginning city-states to dominate the world around you. Your goal is to become the preeminent symbol of Greece for all posterity by completing a combination of secret and public goals. Will you be remembered as a warmonger or a peaceful philosopher? Great priest or apostate? Will you develop a devotion to the gods or focus on the advancement of your people?
Can you guide your civilization during these turbulent times? Will your vision of Hellenic civilization be remembered for all time, or will you merely be a stepping stone for another…?
• Level 99 Games steps outside its usual "fight game" approach to present two titles of a very different nature. Anansi and the Box of Stories is a special-power trick-taking game from Ken Maher due out February 2017. In more detail:
A story, a story; let it come, let it go. Once, all the stories belonged to someone else, but now they belong to Anansi, the Trickster — which is a story unto itself! Everyone knows that the best stories happen when you play someone else for the fool. But sometimes, even the best of tricks can backfire, and who plays the fool then?
In Anansi and the Box of Stories, the players take on the roles of archetypal animals in a trick-taking game in which you can use your animal cunning and abilities to turn the tricks in your favor. Each round, every player plays the card they think will win the trick. But beware, as others will turn your tricks back on you and make you a fool, taking away your points! Only a player who can skillfully win tricks without being made a fool will prove their wisdom.
• Asher Stuhlman's Tomb Trader, due March 2017, is channeling the spirit of Dragon's Gold from Bruno Faidutti, with players needing to divvy up goods quickly or risk going empty-handed:
In Tomb Trader, you and your friends have joined an archaeological excavation — not for the sake of antiquity or history, but simply in the hopes of lining your pockets with the best treasures and smuggling them back to civilization. Each day, sneak back into the tomb to loot high-value items, but watch out because your ne'er-do-well friends all have the same idea! You have to be a swift and skilled negotiator in order to divvy up the loot before being caught, while making sure you get the best cuts for yourself!
The game consists of 6 or 7 rounds in which players select a section of the tomb to explore and have one minute to divide the treasure between everyone else in the same section. Not coming to an agreement means nobody gets anything!