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Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron, and Cities: Skylines Come to the Tabletop

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• Let's continue with coverage of games announced in 2018 that have heretofore been uncovered in this space, kicking off with Crusader Kings from designers Tomas Härenstam, Nils Karlén, and Jon Manker and Swedish publisher Free League Publishing. This game buoyed more than a half-million U.S. dollars in support on Kickstarter in mid-2018, and the finished game is now forecast for release in Q1 2019 (after missing its KS-promised release date of Nov. 2018).

Why so much support for this publisher's first board game project? Well, if you are not me, you might have already been aware that Crusader Kings is a well-known PC game from the mid-2000s, with a sequel to this title (Crusader Kings II) having been released in 2012. In May 2018, CK owner Paradox Interactive announced that it was overseeing the release of four board games based on its digital works, with Crusader Kings being the first such title to market. Here's an overview of this 1-5 player game that bears a 2-3 hour playing time:

Quote:
You are a crusader King, striving for wealth, political power, religious influence, and military might across the continent and across generations. Reshape the history of medieval Europe in your own image — if only that dimwitted son of yours set to inherit the throne doesn't spoil your grand plans...

The board game Crusader Kings captures the essence of the Crusader Kings video game experience in a physical tabletop format. This is a strategy game at heart, but with a special focus on characters, intrigue, and drama. It's a big, beautiful game centered on a map of medieval Europe, using cards for actions, characters, and events and well-crafted plastic miniatures to represent knights, armies, castles, and more.

In this game, your goal is to spread your influence over medieval Europe and lead your dynasty to triumph over its rivals. To do that, you need to groom your family over the generations, build and develop your dominion, be shrewd in the realm of diplomacy and intrigue, and use your vassals wisely to grow your wealth and military power, while at the same time fulfilling your duty to partake in the crusades to the Holy Land.

To win, you need to survive invasions, plots, crusades, and even marriage! Or at least have children or siblings standing by to take over the throne if your regent dies. Failure to raise a suitable heir can mean the end of your dynasty.

• The other three Paradox Interactive titles coming to the tabletop are Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron, and Cities: Skylines.

Europa Universalis: The Board Game is due out in 2019 from Eivind Vetlesen, co-designer of the well-regarded 2012 war game Kampen om Norge, and Norwegian publisher Aegir Games. (The vast 1993 board game Europa Universalis from Philippe Thibaut and Azure Wish Enterprise apparently inspired Paradox's EU video game series.) Here's an overview of the new game, which includes multiple scenarios and a 90-300 minute playing time:

Quote:
Govern one of Europe's great nations through the Ages of Discovery, Reformation, Absolutism and Revolutions — spanning more than three hundred years of history. Lift your nation out of the slumber of the Dark Ages and create a glorious empire, through clever diplomacy, brave exploration and ruthless conquest. Each of the playable nations have their own very unique opportunities and challenges.

Europa Universalis is a strategy board game that gives players a full 4X game experience in a historical setting. Through strategic use of cards and careful management of resources you can expand your realm on the map board, while at the same time developing the internal machinery of the state on your player board. You must build diplomatic relations that support your ambition and you can explore far-away parts of the world. By recruiting skilled advisors and carefully investing monarch power in great ideas, province development, and long term strategies, you may well be able to outshine your historical counterparts.

This is a game for 2–6 players (depending on the various scenarios included). The goal of the game is to build the most successful empire, and points are scored for (amongst other things) owned provinces, explored territories, diplomatic relations, victories in wars, and secret objectives that have been accomplished.


Rendered prototype


Cities: Skylines is another take on the city-building genre from Rustan Håkansson, with no publisher or release date as far as I know. Here's a quick overview of the game, based on a detailed preview by Jon Bolding in PC Gamer:

Quote:
Each round in Cities: Skylines, players place buildings in the city to satisfy the demands of constituents and lobbyists, which are represented by cards in hand that show a specific set of buildings built in a specific area. After rolling two dice, players choose buildings from a group based on the rolled numbers, always choosing from the smallest buildings in that group. Buildings are zoned as commercial, residential, industrial, public safety, healthcare, etc.

Each player can score based on the buildings placed each turn, so you want to satisfy your demands while trying to suss out what opponents want and avoid handing points to them — unless you can find objectives that match what you think they're doing in which case you might help each other to points. You can also place special buildings that provide unique abilities to players, such as a recycling center that lets you adjust your hand or a tax office that redistributes wealth to whoever has the least money.

• Finally, we come to Hearts of Iron: The Board Game, which publisher Eagle-Gryphon Games plans to Kickstart in February 2019 for a release at Gen Con 2019 — assuming that the design is ready to go at that time. This game is a co-design by Glenn Drover and Xander Ex (this being the pseudonym of EGG's Alex Soued), with Ian O'Toole overseeing the graphic design. Here's a quick take on what's coming:

Quote:
Hearts of Iron: The Board Game is a game of grand strategy warfare, tactical battles, and shrewd diplomatic choices based on the popular "Hearts of Iron" video game franchise released on PC by Paradox Interactive. The board game takes place during the WWII era, and with the expansions, allows for players to battle for territories across the world. Get ready to change the course of history and forge your nation's path to victory and glory!

This is the core base game and features the Eastern European war theater.

Soued had visited the BGG booth during the 2018 Origins Game Fair to talk about the game, his experience with the video game series, and the intended development schedule — no details on gameplay, but an overview of what's coming:

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