W. Eric Martin
Gen Con 2018 is still six weeks in the future at this point, but European publishers have been prepping ahead for SPIEL '18, so let's see what a few have in the works:
• For its large release in Essen, French publisher Ludonaute will have Eric Jumel's Sentinels — now renamed Last Heroes as of July 5, 2018 (explanation) — which provides another take on the "everyone needs to help defeat the bad guys to win, but only one of us can win" genre, namely by providing a different winning condition should those bad guys not be defeated. In more detail:
A dimensional gate has just opened, and monsters are surging over our world. You have been called to kill them and steal the gate keys from the monster bosses. During your turn in Sentinels, you choose one of the weapon cards from your hand and play it in either your supply area (with its ammunition then being available to opponents), or in your attack area (in the process using the ammunition available in supply areas, both yours or the other players').
Then you can attack one monster provided that you have the required weapons. When you kill a boss (in the third row), the player who has made a dent in the second row gets a key. If you directly kill a boss (without making a dent first), you need more weapons but you score the key for yourself. The game may end in two ways:
—The players get all the keys, in which case the player who killed the most valuable monsters wins, or
—After twelve turns, if a boss with a key is still in play, the player who has given the most ammunition to the others wins.
• Before Sentinels arrives, however, Ludonaute plans to introduce six mini-expansions to Christophe Raimbault's Colt Express in Q3 2018, with those expansions first being playable by the public at the "Paris est Ludique!" festival taking place June 23-24, 2018.
Each one of the six Colt Express: Bandits expansions allows the players to compete against the game itself, which is operating under the rules of that particular expansion. Each expansion creates a specific goal and new actions for the bandit played by the game. That bandit may win, and if that happens, all the players lose. Thus you need to work together against this "bot", while keeping in mind that in the end, there is only one winner. In the Cheyenne expansion, for example, she shoots poisoned arrows instead of bullets, and any bandit hit by an arrow who doesn't retrieve an antidote by the end of the game automatically loses. In the Ghost expansion, Ghost always takes actions to move toward and retrieve the suitcase, and if he has the suitcase at game's end, he automatically wins.
• For its part, Belgian publisher Sit Down! plans to debut Gravity Superstar from Julian Allain at SPIEL '18, with the 95%-complete front cover being shown at right. In the game, 2-6 players fall in all directions, as described here:
At the edge of known space, the most famous adventurers converge on a strange little planet that is uniquely capable of attracting precious stardust with its befuddling gravity. These adventurers are there to collect as much of this rare resource as they can, while their rivals constantly try to steal it. You are one of these superstars on a quest for wealth, and you must overcome the gravitational challenges set before you!
What is really original about Gravity Superstar is the manner in which the players' pawns move: Each turn, they move one or two spaces, then they are affected by gravity, which makes them fall until they are stopped by a platform. This effect is made possible by the fact that the pawns are used lying down on the board. Thus, they move up (above their head), down (below their feet), left, or right.
During its movement, a pawn can collect stars (to score points at the end of the game) or replay tokens (to take a second consecutive turn), and eject opponents' pawns from the board.
• Sit Down! also plans to release a 70x70 cm (approx. 27.5"x27.5") floor mat for Magic Maze Kids at SPIEL '18: