W. Eric Martin
As is the pattern with many German publishers in the weeks prior to the Spielwarenmesse trade fair in Nürnberg, Germany, HUCH! has released information on the new games that it expects to highlight at the fair ahead of their release in (most likely) Q2 2018.
• Designers Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim have two titles coming from HUCH!, one being the trick-taking game Djinn that works as follows:
The treasures sparkle and glitter temptingly, so everyone wants to capture as much as possible from the treasure cave — but to do this the players must first find their way to the treasure! In the trick-taking card game Djinn, every captured trick shows the way to treasure, but the djinn can unexpectedly intervene in the action. Who can enter the famous treasure cave first?
In more detail, a game of Djinn lasts multiple rounds, with each round being eight tricks. Standard trick-taking rules are used, with players needing to follow suit of the card led, and throwing off whateever card they want if they can't follow suit. The deck contains four suits, with cards numbered 1-15 in each suit. Each player starts with a hand of eight cards and one djinn card that contains a special power a player can use on their turn. The top card of the deck is flipped to reveal the trump suit. Whenever a player wins a trick, they keep one card from this trick face up in front of them, discard the remaining cards, then lead to the next trick.
After the round ends, players see whether they can discard captured cards to advance into the treasure cave, which is made up of three lines of challenge cards, with each challenge requiring three, four, or five cards depending on the row where it's located. Sample challenges might be to discard three cards that sum to more than 30, three cards of the same color, or three cards in numerical order. If a player completes one of the three challenges requiring three cards, they discard these three cards, then place their player token on the "three challenge" row. At the end of the next round, they can ideally complete one of the three four-card challenges. Players who are in the back of the pack receive a bonus djinn card before the next round begins.
The first player to complete one of the five-card challenges wins! If multiple players reach this row at the same time, ties are broken by the number of captured cards those players still hold.
• The other Bamboozle Brothers title is the two-player Tic Tac Moo, which bears a childlike title, albeit with gameplay that seems like it could be thinky if you wanted it to be:
The young farmers in Tic Tac Moo have their hands full driving the farm animals onto the meadow. On top of that, the animals are very status-conscious as to who is allowed to enter the grassland next to them, and if too many animals of one kind stand together, it can easily happen that some will go astray. Under these circumstances, how are you supposed to gather enough of them?
In more detail, each player has a set of 24 animal tokens that are shuffled at the start of the game. The game board is an 8x8 grid with the corners cut off; the outer rows on all sides are neutral space, while the inner section has four 3x3 fields, two each in the color of one of the players. To start the game, players place two of their animal tokens face up on their farmhand spaces and a third animal token in their barn. They then take turns placing four starting animal tokens on the board, one in each of their colored fields.
On a turn, a player must place both tokens held by farmhands onto empty spaces in the grid — whether in their color, the opponent's color, or neutral territory — and they must place them adjacent to tokens showing the same animal as the one in their barn. If their barn has a pig token, for example, then they must place both tokens next to pig tokens already on the board, whether orthogonally or diagonally. If while doing so they create a line of three or more of the same animal tokens, they remove all of these animal tokens from the board and keep them except for the token that they just placed.
If a player manages to fill one of their colored 3x3 grids with two pairs of each of the four animals (and a third animal of some type), then they immediately win. Alternatively, a player can win immediately by capturing at least twelve animals.
• Fat Fish is a small card game from three designers — Wolfgang Kramer, Bernhard Lach, and Uwe Rapp — and the game seems like a twist on 6 nimmt!, albeit with players trying to lay down the fifth card in the right row at the right time in order to claim positive points while minimizing negative ones:
Fishermen fish for fresh, fat, and colorful fish — and if you feel like it, you can join in! In Fat Fish, each player is out to find fat fish of different colors. The fatter the fish, the bigger the haul, and the more colorful the catch is, the more successful the fisherman will be. The player who fishes fabulously and secures the most valuable haul prevails over the other players and wins the game.
In more detail, the game contains one hundred fish cards in five colors, with the cards numbered 1-6. To set up play, shuffle the deck and deal each player a face-down deck of twelve cards, with everyone drawing a hand of four cards from their own decks. Place three cards face up to form the start of lines, then place another 3-15 cards (depending on the number of players) face down to form a reserve. On a turn, a player chooses one line on which to play, then plays 1-4 cards on this line, playing all the cards in a row from left to right. The color of each card played must match the rightmost card in this line. Thus, if the three starting cards are red, yellow, and blue, you can't play both a red and a blue card since you can play in only one line; you can, however, play a blue card onto the line that ends with a blue card, then play a green card onto the blue since no line has a green card at the end of it. At the end of their turn, the player refills their hand to four cards.
As soon as a line has five cards in it, the player who laid down the fifth card must take this line and end their turn. They choose one card of each color in the line and place them face up in their positive points pile, then place all remaining cards face down in their negative points pile. (If the line has five cards of one color, the player places two cards in their positive pile instead of only one.) The player then draws a card from the reserve pile to start a new line.
Once players have played all twelve cards from their personal decks, the game ends and players sum their positive and negative points to see who has the highest score.
As a variant, Fat Fish includes nine fishing license cards that give players bonus points, sometimes for being the first player to meet a certain condition, such as claiming a line that contains cards of only 1, 2, and 3, and sometimes for meeting a condition at the end of the game, such as having collected the most 1 cards in their positive pile.
• Graeme Jahns' Dam It! is a set-collecting card game in which you try to build the most wood-diverse dams that you can while keeping garbage away from them since no one wants to stare at a garbage-strewn dam. In detail:
Before play begins, lay out the fifteen dam cards in five piles based on the "dam sum" total at that top of the cards; for cards with the same number, stack the cards worth more points on top of those worth fewer. Shuffle the deck of wood, garbage, and garbage removal cards and lay four out in a face-up row; give each player four wood cubes. On a turn, a player either builds a dam or takes a card. The player can take the leftmost card for free; if they want a different card, they must place a wood cube on each card they skip. (If you take a card with cubes on it, add them to your supply for possible use later.)
—If you pick up a wood card, add it to your hand.
—If you pick up a garbage card, immediately discard a garbage removal card or else place the garbage in your scored dam pile.
—If you pick up garbage removal, add it to your hand; you can use it to remove garbage drawn later, or you can use it in a dam.
When you build a dam, you lay down wood cards of all different types, with each wood card having a value of 1-3. Based on the sum of the dam, take the topmost dam card that best matches the value of the dam. If you play a garbage removal card in a dam, count it as a joker wood of value 2.
When the deck runs out or all the dam cards have been claimed, the game ends. Sum the points on all dam cards collected, add 1 point for each two wood cubes you have, then subtract the square of the numbere of garbage cards you've collected, up to a maximum of -25 points. Whoever has the most points wins!
Interesting to see the Vinci/Small World style of acquiring something show up in late 2017's Majesty, the early 2018 release Micropolis, and now this game.
• Gangster City is a deduction game for 1-6 players from Henrik Larsson and Kristian Amundsen Østby that features some incredibly non-gangster-looking individuals on the cover, but perhaps that's just my stereotype of gangsters talking. Here's a rundown of the gameplay:
Can you solve the cases presented to you in Gangster City, preferably before the other detectives do so and show you up? The game includes a deck of 54 case cards, and each case card identifies elements about the case that you must discover; specifically, each case card indicates the suspect's profession (entertainer, scientist, thug), choice of weapon (revolver, knife, syringe), scene of the crime (theater, street, hotel room), and motive (money, love).
At the start of the game, each player takes a card at random and faces it away from themselves in a plastic stand. Three cards are revealed face up. On a turn, you can either take a face-up card or the top card from the deck, or you can attempt to guess your suspect's characteristics. When you take a card, you hold it up next to your case card, then the other players tell you how many characteristics they have in common. You then place this card in front of you, rotating it so that the number on the outer edge of the card shows how many characteristics they share (0-3).
When you guess, if you're correct, you discard the case card and place a new one in the stand; if you're wrong, you continue the game as normal next turn. The first player to correctly solve two cases wins!
• In the category of "longest time between publishing credits", we have Dragorun from Sven Kübler, whose most recent credit on BGG is 1995's New York, which was co-designed with Sid Sackson. In the game, you want to back the dragon that wins the race, but you can switch dragons during the game. On a turn, you roll thee movement and color die to determine which dragon moves where or switch the dragon you're backing for another, with others being unable to swap with you until your next turn.
• Other titles coming from HUCH! in the first half of 2018 are a German edition of Marie and Wilfried Fort's Wallet under the name Greif Zu!, a new German edition of Francesco Giovo and Marco Valtriani's Voodoo, a new German edition of the Kiesling and Kramer party game Haste Worte?, and a Dutch, French, and German version of Matt Loomis and Isaac Shalev's Seikatsu.