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New (Old) Game Round-up: Jump into the Pool, Bid for Buildings, and Welcome Zombies to World War II

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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• Among the hundreds of new games that have been announced since the start of 2018 are several games that aren't new at all. No, these games are reprints or revamped editions of older games that are (a) highly desired by a small number of gamers or (b) completely unknown by most of today's game-players.

A great example of such a game is Klaus Zoch's Neue Heimat, which he self-published through Chili Spiele in 2007. You might recognize Klaus Zoch's name from the German publisher Zoch Verlag, which he co-founded in 1987. Zoch Verlag focuses on family-friendly games, but sometimes Zoch designs games that shun families and make them feel unwelcome. Chili Spiele was founded in 2007 to publish such designs, along with games that could not be produced on a large scale profitably, and Neue Heimat was one of two titles in that launch. Chili Spiele closed shop in 2015, having released six titles in its lifespan, the most recent being Masterplan in 2011.

Capstone Games republished once such Chili Spiele release in 2017, bringing back the 2008 release Die Aufsteiger as The Climbers through its Simply Complex brand. Now Simply Complex has announced that it will republish Neue Heimat as The Estates, with this new edition debuting at SPIEL '18 in October. It's not clear from the description of The Estates how much it differs from the original design, and I find the BGG description unclear, so let me take a whack at it myself:

In The Estates, 2-5 players will construct up to three rows of buildings in empty plots. Colored cubes are laid out at random in three rows at the start of the game, and these cubes come in six colors and have a digit between 1 and 6 on them. On a turn, the active player can choose to put up for auction one of the cubes on the end of a row; they can alternatively auction other things, but let's stick with cubes for now. Each non-active player in clockwise order can make a single bid for this cube, with the active player then either accepting the highest bid or paying the bidder the amount bid in order to take ownership of the cube. The winner places this cube in the first empty plot in a row of their choice or on top of another cube that bears a higher number.

The first time a color is auctioned off, the winner of that auction becomes owner of that color. Instead of auctioning a cube, a player can auction a roof, which is used to cap a building, no matter what number is on the highest cube; most roofs have numbers on them as well. The game continues until two rows of empty plots have four completed buildings in them. When this happens, the game ends, and players tally their points, with the top colored cube on a building determining who scores points for all the cubes in the building as well as points from the roof. The incomplete row is worth negative points to whoever owns buildings in it.

You can also auction blocks that require a row to have more or fewer buildings in it to be complete as well as the mayor, which doubles the value of each building in the row where it's placed, whether positive or negative.

• Another oldie returning to market is Heinz Meister's Ab in den Pool!, which first appeared from Ravensburger in 1999 and which Cocktail Games will re-release in June 2018 as Plouf Party.

Plouf Party is for 2-6 players, but no matter how many people are in the game, you place all eighteen figures — three each in six colors, with the numbers 1-3 on the bottom of them — around the perimeter of the pool. Each player receives a face-down token at random to let them know what color they are. On a turn, the active player picks up any figure, reveals the number on it, then moves it clockwise that many spaces; if it would land on a figure, it first pushes that figure into the pool to make room for it to stand. If all of your figures get pushed into the pool, you reveal your color and are out of the game.

When you move a figure onto or past the diving board, you can choose to guess another player's color. If you're correct, you push all their remaining pieces into the pool and they're out of the game; if you're wrong, then you're booted out instead! If only one active player is still in the game, then they win. If two active players are in the game when only two colors remain on the perimeter of the pool, then whoever is closest to the diving board wins.

We saw this new edition of the game while at the Spielwarenmesse trade fair in February 2018 while shooting game overview videos, and Lincoln went gaga. He says the game is incredibly fun, but no one knows about it because it's so old that you find copies only in the used vendor stalls at SPIEL (where Lincoln scoops them all up before anyone else so that he can give them to others). Now more people will have a chance to push their friends into the pool...

• German publisher Spielworxx is working on a second edition of David Short's Ground Floor, which was first released by Tasty Minstrel Games in 2012, so it doesn't qualify as an old game by these standards, but Spielworxx has also signed a deal with designer Karl-Heinz Schmiel to release updated versions of two old games.

In 2019, Spielworxx will release a new edition of Die Macher with "quite a bit of changes", according to editor Uli Blennemann. This will be followed in 2020 by a "heavily revamped" version of Lieber bairisch sterben ("Better to Die Bavarian"), first released from Schmiel's own Moskito Spiele in 1988.

• Another title at the decade mark getting a new edition is Railways of the World, with Eagle-Gryphon Games having released the 10th Anniversary Edition earlier in 2018, albeit with some production issues that might detract from the appeal of new components, updated cards, and a revised rulebook that accounts for all expansions.

• Another loose fit for the revamp thread in this post is Axis & Allies and Zombies. Wizards of the Coast hasn't released much information about this design beyond it being pretty much what you'd expect: Take "the beloved World War II strategy classic Axis & Allies", then add a fun alternate history twist with streamlined game play, curveballs like chainsaw tanks and zombie mind control rays, and a zany storyline".

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