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W. Eric Martin
• The most eye-catching cover at Spielwarenmesse 2017 might also have been the most serene, that being Blue Orange's Photosynthesis from Hjalmar Hach. This title isn't due out until SPIEL 2017, but Hach was on hand in Nürnberg and willing to present the game, so I wasn't about to turn him down. In case you're not familiar with photosynthesis, you can now learn in the most abstract manner possible how the sun helps plants grow and how those plants then cut off access to the sun to shorter, less fortunate plants.
• Reiner Knizia's El Dorado from Ravensburger has inspired lots of "Could it be? Is this possible?" talk along the lines of Knizia returning to his more complex games of old. I wouldn't go that far, but in this design Knizia has put his own spin on deck-building, with the game including exploration and racing elements as you quest to discover El Dorado.
• Klaus Teuber's Catan celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2015, and now two years later German publisher KOSMOS is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Seafarers expansion with a special 20 Jahre Jubiläums-Edition that includes four new scenarios that link together to tell "the legend of the sea robber".
KOSMOS will release this item both as a complete expansion (Seafarers, plus new "Sea Robber" scenarios) as well as an expansion for an expansion with only the new stuff. Morgan Dontanville at Catan Studio told me during the 2017 NY Toy Fair that the U.S. will likely see only the expansion-for-an-expansion release.
• Swiss publisher Hurrican has changed the focus of its output somewhat, with owner Yves Menu telling me in Nürnberg that he's releasing only two-player games from now on. This isn't a huge change for Hurrican given that it's best known for the two-player game Mr. Jack and its many spin-offs and expansions, but don't expect to see another Augustus anytime soon.
As part of this reorientation, Hurrican will rerelease the Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc title Madame Ching as a two-player-only design with almost no changes to the rules. Menu thinks the game is best with that player count and feels it's been overlooked because people mostly play with three or four players, so he wants to give it another push in a new format.
Hurrican also has the two-player post-apocalyptic game Kero coming from Forrest-Pruzan Creative. I had no idea what to expect when I showed up to film this overview, and now you get to discover the game just as I did.
• Feed others or feed on others? That's the dilemma that awaits in Donner Dinner Party, a hidden role game coming in August 2017 from Forrest-Pruzan Creative and Chronicle Books in which you either try to knock off the pioneers one dish at a time or else survive seven weeks in the wilds until help arrives.