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New Game Round-up: Become an Online Detective, Blueprint a Palace, and Build a Roman City

W. Eric Martin
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• With the 2017 GAMA Trade Show kicking off this week, several publishers have announced new games in their line-ups, such as Portal Games' Detective: A Modern Crime Boardgame, coming in 2018 from designer Ignacy Trzewiczek and author Przemysław Rymer. Here's an overview of the setting and the basics of the gameplay:

Quote:
In Detective: A Modern Crime Boardgame, 1-4 players take on the role of investigators working for the government agency ANTERES. Investigators are given login credentials to the ANTERES online database that contains data about suspects, witnesses, and documentation from arrests and trials related to their case. Players are free to use the investigation manual, ANTERES database, and any other online resources they may find to help them solve the case.

Detective: A Modern Crime Boardgame brings classic puzzle-solving gameplay into the 21st century with the introduction of online elements. This story-driven, cooperative game includes five scenarios that can be played independently, or worked through as a complete campaign. The game blends printed elements, with a complimentary online component that allows players to investigate clues through their favorite internet-connected devices.

In a press release announcing this title Trzewiczek writes, "The Fourth Wall is a well-known concept in theatre. With Detective we are breaking this Fourth Wall. We offer an immersive experience like no other. Players are not playing a character who investigates crime, the players are actually investigating the crime. Players have all modern tools available. They are able to search Wikipedia to confirm some information, or check the history of World War II to verify a witness statement. At Portal, we design board games that tell stories and this time once again, we have extraordinary story to tell."

Ted Alspach at Bézier Games is revisiting a familiar location in Germany with The Palace of Mad King Ludwig, in which players collectively assemble a palace blueprint for King Ludwig II of Bavaria, a.k.a. the Swan King. This title will debut at SPIEL 2017, and here's a taste of the setting and gameplay:

Quote:
King Ludwig II of Bavaria has called all great architects to design his greatest achievement: a world-renowned palace. Only the best will do! Gorgeous appointments, white stone, surrounded by water, with swans everywhere. Oh, and the Ludwig touch? All the architects must design the palace together. The designer who shows the strongest influence will receive the order to build it.

In The Palace of Mad King Ludwig, each player builds rooms one at a time in a single gigantic palace. As rooms are completed, a moat slowly forms around the outside. Once the ends of the moat connect, the palace is finished, and the player who has contributed the most to the palace wins!

In more detail, this sequel to Castles of Mad King Ludwig shares a few similarities to its predecessor, such as tile-laying, room rewards, and the magic of watching a unique palace take shape through the course of the game, but the gameplay is entirely different, with no auction, a clever endgame timer that graphically builds pressure for players as the moat slowly closes in around the palace, and a twist on resource management with multi-colored swan tokens being used as currency, points, and the keys to new abilities.

Pandasaurus Games has picked up Hisashi Hayashi's Minerva, originally self-published by OKAZU Brand in 2015, for release in North America with a revised graphic design and new artwork by Franz Vohwinkel.

In Minerva, players manage their own cities in the Roman Empire, laying down tiles to build those cities and activating all tiles in the row or column of the tile being newly placed.

• Publishers Nevermore Games and Button Shy Games are partnering to create The Spiel Press, which it dubs "the premiere crafter of strategy roll & write game books", which is probably an easy position to hold given that it is currently the only crafter of strategy roll & write game books.

Why publish these games as books? Because The Spiel Press, according to the press release, wants to do more than simply print a block of identical game sheets. They want to have variation in their roll & write creations, with backstory and storyline events in between sessions of the game. What's more, "the book medium gives designers a lot of flexibility in design from legacy elements to creative use of the pages themselves".

The first two titles from The Spiel Press will be Bryan Fischer's Star Maps, in which a player discovers and charts a series of new solar systems, and Jason Tagmire's Blood Royals, in which the political climate of the land changes several times as you play through the game sheets, meaning that the map geography on the game sheets changes over time.

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