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New Game Round-up: Old Ones in AuZtralia, Explorers in the North Sea, and Sarahs in the Timeline

W. Eric Martin
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• I'm a sucker for time travel, so when I see a game (or a book or a movie or an opera) on the topic, I pay attention to it. The latest design spotted in this category is Sarah's Singularity, a Thomas Gutschmidt design that Daily Magic Games will Kickstart in October 2017 for a planned Q4 2018 release. Whether I'll ever play the game is an open question, but know about the game's existence is the first step — unless events change retroactively and this section of my post turns into an introduction to Sarah's Singed Reality, a cooperative game about a woman's attempts to survive an apartment fire:

Quote:
Future Sarah has fractured the timelines and it's up to you, an earlier-version Sarah, to solve missions and set things right. Bring dinosaurs to Ancient Egypt and ComiCon panelists to Feudal Japan while trying to rescue lost companions scattered in time. Put companions to work in their own times to complete missions. You've got seven time jumps to complete as many missions as possible, but watch out for paradoxes; if two or more Sarahs meet in the same time zone, everything about them will change in an instant and all your plans could go up in smoke.

In Sarah's Singularity, players select an assortment of time periods from prehistoric Pangea to ComicCon 2012 and establish a set of missions for each period. Stranded companions from far-ranging times are scattered among the chosen periods and each player gets a "Sarah Card" with special powers. Finally, players choose two secret objective cards for hidden endgame scoring and a Chronologist is selected from the gathered players.

Each round, Future Sarah visits a time period to strand another companion and the players simultaneously and secretly select a time period to jump to where they hope to solve a mission by matching icons on the mission card with icons on the stranded companion cards and the icons on their own hand of helpful companions. Typically, when the selected periods are revealed, they're resolved in chronological order. However, if two or more Sarahs (including the Future Sarah) land in the same time period, they paradox! Those player immediately turn in their Sarah Cards and get a new one at random, losing the special powers they may have planned to use to help solve the mission. The Chronologist then decides the order in which the paradoxing players gets to take their turns. The paradoxing player who goes last gets to be the new Chronologist.

Players claim solved missions as victory points. They also gain bonus points and a wild icon token for rescuing a stranded companion and hidden endgame points through their secret objective cards. After seven rounds, the points are tallied and a winner is announced.
 
• In June 2017, Renegade Game Studios announced that it would bring Shem Phillips' Raiders of the North Sea to North America, and now it has placed a Q4 2017 release date for the two other standalone titles in the series — Shipwrights of the North Sea and Explorers of the North Sea — as well as The North Sea Runesaga, an expansion that can be used with any or all of these games.

• Renegade also plans to release a new edition of Wei-Min Ling's Planet Defenders, which debuted from Taiwanese publisher EmperorS4 at SPIEL '16. In the game, players take turns moving characters (guided by restrictions on the board that constantly change) to collect energy and move among the planets to repel invade robots. Renegade's version of the game replaces the cardboard standees with 3D miniatures.

• I thought that I had posted about this title, but no, that was only in my mind. In mid-2017, New Zealand-based publisher SchilMil Games announced a two-year deal with designer Martin Wallace that will include a game set in Middle-earth, a co-designed game about which no details were given, and the 2018 release of AuZtralia:

Quote:
Ever since 1180, for seven long centuries, the Old Ones held full sway over the riches of the Earth and the affairs of humankind. All that changed in 1888. For in that momentous year, Sherlock Holmes and a clandestine fraternity of intrepid Victorian heroes succeeded in vanquishing these monstrous tyrants and driving them from their lands. Humanity had triumphed, but the countries of Europe and America were in a terrible state. The land was poisoned and food shortages were a constant scourge.

Other parts of the planet had not yet been explored as the Old Ones had enforced a draconic ban on exploration. Humanity, enjoying its new-found freedom, sent ships out to explore the world. A vast new continent was discovered on the far side of the world. At first called Terra Australis, it quickly became known as Australia. Brave prospectors and surveyors came to explore the new continent. They were followed by pioneers and settlers who constructed ports and built railways into the vast interior, developing farms and shipping the produce back to the hungry masses they had left behind. Untold riches in coal, iron and gold were discovered in the hinterland — but that was not all that awaited the pioneers...

There was a reason why a ban existed on exploring this part of the world. Unbeknownst to all, hidden in the outback of the land, the Old Ones had created a secret base. Following their defeat the surviving Old Ones and some of their loyal human allies made their way to their holdfasts in the arid plains beyond the Great Dividing Range. As the colonists spread, so the Old Ones began to stir, hell-bent on driving these irksome intruders back into the sea. Terrible creatures bred by the Old Ones started to move across the land, destroying everyone they encountered, blighting everything in their path.

Faced with this horror, the pioneers pinned their hopes on the one advantage they had: the power of modern military technology, which was now so much more advanced than in 1888 when mankind was last called upon to face against the Old Ones.

Inspired by Martin Wallace's A Study in Emerald, AuZtralia is an economic/adventure game set in an alternate reality 1930s in which Australia is waiting to be explored. As well as riches from the land, darkness and insanity lies in the outback. The game meshes themes of exploration, adventure, and economy (farming and mining), with battles against fantastical Old One creatures who act as an in-game player. It also boasts a randomized board set-up, an innovative combat mechanism, and a surprisingly tense solo play mode.


RWBY: Combat Ready is a board game based on the RWBY animated series created by Monty Oum and produced by Rooster Teeth. U.S. publisher Arcane Wonders is handling development of the game, about which no details have been announced (as far as I can tell).

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