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W. Eric Martin
• At BGG.CON 2017 in November, I mostly goofed off and played a few games, but I did check out the games forthcoming from one publisher and one distributor on site, those being Matagot and Surfin' Meeple, both overseen by Arnaud Charpentier.
I wrote a bit about Micropolis, a Charles Chevallier and Bruno Cathala design due out in Q2 2018, in mid-November 2017, but Arnaud ran me through the game in more detail, and now it all makes sense. Each player starts with an ten-sided anthill tile bearing a few ants, and in each round of the ten round game you'll draft one tile and add it to your anthill. You draft from a face-up row of tiles, and Small World-style you can place an ant on a tile to skip it, with whoever takes the tile later collecting that ant.
Some tiles have fruit on them, and the wider variety of fruit you collect, the better your score for them. Other tiles have barracks that lock ants on them to score points, but ant generals on other tiles will let you move those ants out for another purpose. Queens, architects and nannies show up on other tiles, and you tally points for many things at the end of play, with each ant being worth 1 point and the largest army being worth 5.
• Matagot had donated an advance copy of Roberto Fraga's Princess Jing, due out in Q1 2018, to the BGG library, so some con attendees got to try out this two-player cat-and-mouse game ahead of its release. I recorded an overview of the game with Fraga at the FIJ fair in Cannes in February 2017, and the game will debut at FIJ 2018, along with Micropolis.
• Another title due out from Matagot in Q2 2018 is Bruno Faidutti's Dragons, a 3-6 player card game. Here's an overview of the gameplay:
In Dragons, you get to experience life as a dragon, swooping down from the sky and swooping up all types of things. You want treasure, of course, because what dragon doesn't like shiny bling? You need food as well, though, so pick up a few cattle or sheep along the way to keep your belly full. Grab some armor or shields as treasures from fallen soldiers who thought they could take you down, perhaps put your claws on one fancy ring, and beware cursed items that look nicee but bite your points in the end.
To play the game, you shuffle the deck of cards, then divide it into a few smaller decks. One player picks up the first deck, places the top card face up on the table, then passes the deck to the next player. Players keep laying out cards and passing the deck — with a number of face-up piles equal to the number of players — but players can also claim one of the piles by placing their dragon figure on it. Once all but one player have claimed a pile, the remaining player takes any cards remaining in the deck along with the final pile. You then grab the next deck and repeat this process until all the decks have been split among the player-dragons.
Players then compare their hauls, and whoever took the least food is eliminated from the game. (In a five- or six-player game, you separately determine who took the fewest sheep and who took the fewest cattle, with both of those players being eliminated.) The remaining dragons then tally the value of their loot to see who wins.
• Asger Johansen's Combo Fighter is a quick-playing 2-4 player card game that will debut at Gen Con 2018 in which you try to beat up your opponent before they can beat you. The main game features head-to-head brawling, but the rules also have a two-vs.-two team fight and a "Battle Royal" variant in which one player fights multiple opponents.
The game includes four character decks, with each character having their own style of attack. You start a turn with five cards in hand, with each player choosing and revealing a card simultaneously. Red beats yellow beats blue, and whoever wins has initiative and starts throwing hits — but the cards you can play are determined by the card you led. If I led with "Rush" in the hand below, I can follow that only with card bearing a blue square or circle, and I have none of those in hand, so my "Rush" would be wasted (unless I was sure that my opponent was playing red, and I just wanted them to waste that lead card).
The first card you play does damage to the opponent equal to the first number listed, while each subsequent card does damage equal to the second number. I might want to lead with that bottom card, but it does nothing if my opponent plays blue or a higher-valued red (since some colors have tie-breakers for initiative).
When a player takes damage, they discard cards from their hand or their deck equal to the damage dealt. Some played card combinations result in additional damage, as you can see on the player aid on the table. If you run out of cards in your deck, you lose the game.
• Other titles in the works from Matagot include Virtual Revolutions, Dungeon High School, Treasure Island, Giants of Easter Island (this being a new version of the 2008 release Giants), and an expansion for Inis that allows for play with up to five players thanks to additional action cards created solely for play with that number.
• As for Surfin' Meeple, that company will distribute the SPIEL '17 release Amun-Re: The Card Game from Super Meeple in North America in Q1 2018, with Bombyx's Catch the Moon sometime in the first half of 2018.