W. Eric Martin
During SPIEL '17, Ravensburger hosted its first "Lunch & Play" event for the media, and during that presentation the German publisher revealed teasers for a few upcoming releases.
Designer Reiner Knizia was on hand to announce that a first expansion would appear for his Spiel des Jahres-nominated game The Quest for El Dorado in 2018. Beyond that, he is working on a companion game of sorts that would start with the players now in El Dorado and on the hunt for the treasure to be found there.
Reiner Knizia (middle) hints at what's coming
A new Stefan Feld game will be released in Ravensburger's alea line, with the title expected to debut in English at Gen Con 2018 in August, while appearing in German and French at about the same time. No details were released other than this game's pending existence.
Stefan Feld (second from left) teaches attendees how to play The Castles of Burgundy: The Dice Game
A second title coming from alea in 2018 is wildly unexpected compared to what's been released under the brand since, oh, 1999 when the line was launched with Ra. The game is The Rise of Queensdale, and it's a legacy game from Inka and Markus Brand that features dice management. The German version of this game will be released in March 2018, while the English version won't debut until August 2018 at Gen Con. As for the difference between the two release dates, Ravensburger's André Mack explained that the game is extremely text heavy — think Legends of Andor — so it will take far more time than it normally does to create a fully English version of an alea design.
Inka and Markus Brand at right; André Mack at left
Mack said that more details will be revealed for this title (and the two above) at the Spielwarenmesse fair in Nürnberg, Germany at the start of 2018, but he did state that a full playing of The Rise of Queensdale will take about 25 game sessions and he clarified that this game is competitive, not cooperative. While talking about the evolution of legacy games from the time of Risk Legacy, Mack said that they had learned a lot from the reception of SeaFall, noting that they had aimed to have each game session last about an hour.
A bigger challenge was balancing the need to reward the winner of a game in some manner, while preventing the runaway leader syndrome that would result from a winner being rewarded too much. Mack didn't go into details about how they addressed this problem, leaving it as one of many unresolved questions from this event.
Note that The Rise of Queensdale is in a new box size, and yes, the number on the side of the box is "1". This box size is equal in length and width to a standard Ravensburger long rectangular box — think Make 'n' Break — while being twice as thick.
Finally, Ravensburger stated that as of January 2018, the company would once again distribute alea titles in Germany rather than continuing to have them distributed by Heidelberger Spieleverlag. In a press release announcing the change, chairman of the management board Martin Stöwahse said, "We want to keep growing in the area of games and in all segments, from children's titles to demanding titles for strategy players. Therefore, it is only consistent to bring the sale of alea back into our own house." Stöwahse mentions that sales of alea through the U.S. branch of Ravensburger has been "a very positive development".
UnBranded game cover