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W. Eric Martin
• You can tell that Zev Shlasinger is indeed now Director of Board Games at U.S. publisher WizKids because the company feels like the Z-Man Games of old, releasing a ridiculous number of games in a short period of time with many more still to come before the year ends and with those titles ranging all over the map in terms of setting, style, and gameplay.
Who Should We Eat? by newcomers Mike Harrison-Wood and Chris MacLennan is a 4-10 player semi-cooperative game due out in 2017 in which you're all trying to survive on a desert island while also being fully aware that you might have to resort to cannibalism at some point in order to both survive and keep yourself off the table. From the game description: "You know that not all of you will make it off the island, which means that only the strong will survive, but deep down you also feel something supernatural about this place — that the veil between the spirit world and this mortal existence is paper thin. If you succumb to the hunger and are forced to eat another survivor, you will be driven deeper into madness and awake to find a new, vengeful, ghostly presence intent on ensuring that you never, ever leave the island."
• Another future WizKids release, this one for October 2017, is Time Barons, which designers Jon Perry and Derek Yu first self-published in 2014 via the Game Crafter under the brand Quibble Games. I played the game once or twice that year on a demo copy sent to me by the designers and loved it, meaning to play more so that I could do a proper overview video, then it was buried under a bunch of other games. Bad Eric. Here's a game summary:
You are one of the time barons, shadowy figures who have shaped mankind's destiny since the dawn of time. People are simply pawns in your quest to defeat the other barons and become the ruler of a unified human race. War, religion, technology - all will be used in this ultimate battle.
Time Barons is a fast-paced card game that pits two players in a struggle across the ages. "Freedom" is the operating word here! Each turn you can spend your actions however you see fit: to draw and play cards, gain followers, and advance your civilization through four distinct time periods: medieval, industrial, modern, and futuristic. Do you want to rush through the ages, hoping to obtain that technological edge, or punish such a folly with primitive weapons and fanatical attacks? Will you be relentless in your aggression or build an economic advantage? A variety of strategies are available to you at every turn.
The unique blend of actions, followers, and cards offers quick games where turns can be simple, like drawing three cards, or complex, involving every option available to you. And in the process, you'll find yourself doing things like putting a Plague on your opponent's Robotics Lab to slowly kill off the workers there, or attaching a Computer Network to a Church to automate the conversion of new followers. Or what about Martyring a follower you just sacrificed on your Temple so that you can draw a Doomsday Laser and fire it on the same turn? Whew!
• While passing along info about titles that WizKids would have at Gen Con 2017, Shlasinger included a brand new one, the 2-4 player game Dungeon Hustle from Tim and Ben Eisner. Here's an overview:
Players are archetypal fantasy characters running through a dungeon picking up swords, keys, shields, scrolls and potions. Each item comes in different colors, and to pick them up, you must hustle through a path of dungeon tiles of matching color; once you step on a new color (or a corner space), you pick up the tiles that you had stepped on. If, for example, you start on a red key and move on a path that consists of a red sword, another red key, a red shield, and finally a white sword, you stop on the white sword, then pick up all of the red items, including the one where you started movement. You use these items to fight monsters, fulfill quests, and purchase other items.
Dungeon Hustle includes a few semi-cooperative elements. A character can help give a power to another character, for example, and is then rewarded for doing so. More importantly, you must all work together to stop monsters from escaping the dungeon. After a certain number of monsters escapes, the game ends, and whoever has the most victory points at that time wins.
• Still another title forthcoming from WizKids, also debuting at Gen Con 2017, is WarTime: The Battle of Valyance Vale by Brad Lackey and Joshua Tempkin, a ten-minute, two-player game in which sand timers determine the limits of what you can do when. In more detail:
When a unit moves, attacks, cast spells, or uses a special ability in Wartime, a sand timer is flipped. The unit cannot be used again until the sand timer is drained, then that sand timer (or another one) can be used to activate the unit again. Manage your sand timers, as well as your unit actions, wisely. Sand timers come in different times: 30 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds. Scenarios use other timers in time-sensitive missions.
Wartime features scenario-based play, with branching missions depending on the outcome of the previous mission. Configure your own units to fight in player-designed missions or mix up the unit configurations when playing the game's missions.