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Spielwarenmesse 2018 Round-up IV: Queensdale and Menara Get Ready to Rise, While Ravensburger and Queen Revamp Old Games

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: The Rise of Queensdale
• At the 2018 Spielwarenmesse trade fair, Ravensburger showed off a lot of titles that it hadn't mentioned or listed on its website. Surprise! Look at all these games!

The most anticipated of the lot has to be The Rise of Queensdale, a competitive legacy game from Inka and Markus Brand in Ravensburger's alea line. This title will be released in Germany in March 2018, and it will debut in English at Gen Con 2018 in August; the game has a ton of text on various cards, so if you speak English, you will likely want to wait for that one, although I can spoil a few things for you now, such as this:



Yes, really, The Rise of Queensdale has a plunger in the box. The game board has two layers to it, and as you do things in the game, you might need to remove a hex tile on the top layer; since it's tough to remove those tiles with your fingernail, Ravensburger has included a plunger so that you can more easily remove the tile without damaging anything else.

Each player represents a family, and as the story goes, the queen is dying and we want to show tribute to her by building a new tower in her honor. Lots of folks want to do this, though, so you're competing against them to show that you honor her more and faster than everyone else.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


As you score points, you move ahead on the scoring track, and whoever reaches 10 points first wins. The winner receives some bonuses, and everyone else receives things as well. (The game includes wooden dice with stickers, for example, and the box includes more stickers, so hmm...) For the second game, whoever won the first game now needs to reach 16 points to win, while everyone else still needs only 10 points. Thus, the winner has often built a stronger foundation on which to do other things, but they also have to climb higher, which allows others to compete as well. As the campaign progresses, players might all have different goals for any particular game, while they're all still looking at the same goal in the long run.


From gallery of W Eric Martin
Set up and ready for the first game


Board Game: Strike
From gallery of Photodump
Non-final cover
Dieter Nüßle's Strike is returning to market as Impact: Battle of Elements, which is the same game but different. The arena is smaller as Ravensburger no longer has the box size of the original Strike in its product line, and consequently each player starts the game with only five dice.

The numbers on the dice have been replaced with symbols, and while the gameplay remains the same in the basic game, Impact includes a variant in which the symbols each have a different special power that you can apply when capturing dice from the box.



Board Game: TransAmerica
Franz-Benno Delonge's TransAmerica is being packaged with his TransEuropa in a single box for a new edition from Ravensburger that includes fancy plastic pieces for the tracks and other bits.

Side note: This tweet had the most Japanese retweeting and commenting action of anything that I posted from Spielwarenmesse. Either this game hasn't been available in that market anytime recently, or else the number of TransAmerica fans in Japan dwarfs those in other countries.



Board Game: San Juan (Second Edition)
Andreas Seyfarth's San Juan is being rebranded as Puerto Rico: Das Kartenspiel in 2018. This game is the lone survivor of alea's middle-sized box line, and it's now being placed in a smaller box as #5 of the line that includes all of the "X: The Card Game" or "X: The Dice Game" spinoffs.

This edition contains exactly the same contents as the second edition of San Juan, which included building cards from alea's Treasure Chest as well as one additional new card.



Board Game Publisher: Zoch Verlag
• What do you do when you create a game that looks similar to something else, but doesn't play the same? Apparently you sit on it for a decade until the time seems right for your creation to come to light.

Superficially, Oliver Richtberg's Menara from Zoch Verlag resembles the older Zoch title Villa Paletti, but this design is cooperative, with players trying to build a structure that's as high as it needs to be — although that height can change as the game progresses.

We recorded an overview video that's now with Lincoln and will be posted as soon as possible, but here's what I recall: Each player starts with five random cylinders. On a turn, you pick one of the three levels of challenges, then reveal that card, seeing that you might have to place a certain number of cylinders or move cylinders in some manner. The game includes a market that allows you to swap cylinders as you need to place the right colored cylinders on the indicated spaces on the board. Any time you fail a challenge, you must place the challenge card on the side, with this card now serving as an indicator of how high you need to build. Fail more, and you need to build higher.

Ideally that gets across the gist of the game and will suit everyone until the preview video or real-life experience takes over.



RPG Publisher: Queen Games
Christwart Conrad's Franchise, which is scheduled to debut at Gen Con 2018 from Queen Games and seen below with unfinished graphics, can be taken as Medieval Merchant 2.0, a new version of that twenty-year-old design with new graphics, a new storyline, and updates to the gameplay.

You start the game owning a single business in one location in the U.S., and you want to expand across the country. To do so, however, you need money. You earn money at the start of each turn, with the amount of money being related to the number of businesses in the town where you're located; the more businesses there are, the less you earn since those customers like to spread their money around. Towns come in different sizes, and if you fill all available spaces in a town with your own businesses, you'll earn less money (since effectively your expenses have risen while the money spent by customers remains the same), but you'll win points from the town for having more businesses than anyone else.

To expand to other towns, you must pay the cost of the road on which you would travel, with major thoroughfares costing the most, but covering a lot of ground quickly. The United States is divided into ten regions, and whenever all spaces in a region are filled, the players score points based on their presence there. Once seven regions close, the game ends.



I've seen comments about the Franchise game board being busy — and it is! — but by comparison with the original Medieval Merchant game board seen below, the new one does a far better job of allowing you to quickly distinguish which roads connect to which locations.


Board Game: Medieval Merchant


• Let's close with this bit of silliness, which was probably made to inspire outrage among housewives around the world. Mission accomplished!

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