W. Eric Martin
• Canadian publisher Next Move Games has previously challenged you to arrange ceramic tiles, coral reef, and stained glass, and now it asks: How do you feel about rocks?
Next Move's next release will be Tuki by designer Grzegorz Rejchtman, best known for the Ubongo game series. Here's an overview of this 2-4 player game that will debut at the 2019 Origins Game Fair in June:
In the Inuit language, "tukilik" is used to define an object that carries a message, and the northern landscapes are densely populated with such objects. The most well known of these are the inukshuk, that is, structures of rough stones traditionally used by Inuit people as a landmark or commemorative sign, with the stones often being stacked in the form of a human figure.
During each turn in Tuki, you attempt to construct an inukshuk based on the die face rolled using your stones and blocks of snow. Players have only a limited number of pieces with which to construct the inukshuk, so you'll need to be creative and use the three-dimensional pieces in multiple ways, such as to counterbalance other pieces or even build on top of existing pieces. A solution always exists — you just need to discover it!
You can choose from two levels of difficulty when playing Tuki to level the playing ground between newcomers and experts. Be swift, yet precise, and transform your stones into messengers of the north...
• Red Peak is a Carlo A. Rossi design due out from Ravensburger in the first half of 2019, and while I have only a brief overview of the game for now, it's enough to get you grounded on this 2-6 player that features a Vincent Dutrait cover of all things. Strange seeing his work on a non-French, non-Korean box! Here's that summary:
In Red Peak, the players are daring adventurers who have discovered a new volcanic island — but then "Red Peak" on the north of the island decides to live up to its name and starts rumbling. An eruption seems imminent! Salvation is possibly only by returning to the beach as quickly as possible where — fingers crossed — a boat awaits the group. Players will be fighting using every means possible to make their way through the jungle, with the lava ready to spill onto their necks at any moment. Who will reach the boat in time before lava engulfs their camp on the beach?
• Another early 2019 release from Ravensburger is the Leo Colovini card game Heul doch! Mau Mau, with the title meaning something like "Go Cry! Mau Mau", with Mau Mau being the German equivalent of Crazy Eights. The rules are available for this 3-6 player game, and I'm a sucker for both Colovini and card games, so here it is in detail:
Game play in Heul doch! Mau Mau is simple, but it may bring you to tears all the same when you give points away to other players.
The game consists of 98 cards, with 1-7 each appearing twice in seven colors. Each player starts with a random card face up in front of them as a personal discard pile as well as a hand of four cards. On a turn, you must play one card from your hand following the familiar game play rules of matching the color or number. Ideally you want to play on your own pile, but if the card you would play matches the top card of your left- or right-hand neighbor's discard pile, then you must play it there instead!
Maybe you can choose a card in hand that matches only your top card? If you have no valid play or don't want to give points away to someone else, you can play the card face down on your stack, showing the weepy onion on the card back. On your next turn, you can play any card you like on your pile — except if it matches a neighbor's top card, of course, in which case you must give it away. (You can't play on a neighbor's onion card.)
Once all the cards have been played, everyone scores for the cards in their pile — but first they must count the number of onion cards in their pile. However many onions they have, they must remove all matching number cards prior to scoring. If you have four onions, for example, you must discard all 4s — and this is bad since all cards score points equal to their value. If you have ten onions, then you first discard all 7s, then all 3s. Whoever has the most points wins!
The game includes four types of special action cards you can shuffle into the deck to make gameplay more dynamic.
• ThunderGryph Games puts a lush look on most of its game releases, and the just-announced Iwari from Michael Schacht continues this pattern.
Iwari is a revised version of Schacht's classic game Web of Power, which was previously remade as China, then briefly appeared as Han. All the games feature the same basic gameplay: A landscape is divided into regions; these regions have lines throughout them with various building points, as well as more than a dozen connection points between regions. On a turn, you can play cards to place up to two pieces in one region. The color of the cards must match the region in which you're playing, although you can use a pair of cards as a joker.
You're trying to achieve majorities in a region and in the connection points, but the trick is that you want to expend as few of your own resources to win as possible. (I imagine this is also true of Iwari, but I haven't seen the rules of that game yet.) When you have majority in a region, then you score based on the number of units that all players have in that region; when you place second in a region, then you score based on the number of units that the winner has in that region.
Thus, if a region has five spaces and you control four of them, then you score 5 points and the second-place person scores 4. Hmm, you did more work and used more resources, but you barely scored more than they did! Better to win that region with only three pieces while still scoring 5 points, yet if you wait too long to dominate a region someone else might carry it instead. Scoring for the connection points between regions works similarly.
For Iwari, Schacht and ThunderGryph have moved to a new setting and added twists to the gameplay:
Evermore have they walked the world of Iwari. Evermore have they embodied its spirit and shaped its lands. They are stewards of the earth. Five Titans that make the cosmos breath. On Iwari, there are no teeming masses, no continent-wide civilizations. Humanity is in its infancy, living in scattered tribes in forest, tundra, and desert. Now we have left our ancestral homelands to explore the vast uncharted regions, encountering other fellow tribes and exchanging knowledge, culture and wisdom. In our journey, we all live in harmony with the Titans, and though distant to us, they decide our fate. And yet only we don't know if they created us, or we created them.
Iwari is an abstract-like Eurogame in which players represent different tribes looking for their identity by traveling around far lands and expanding their settlements into five different regions on the board.
During the game, players can complete missions that grant small perks and score points by having the majority of tents in each territory after the end of the first card cycle. At game end, the majority of tents will be scored again, along with the majorities of nature totems in two adjacent regions and settlements that players have created (i.e., four or more tents in an uninterrupted sequence along one of the roads on the board).
Iwari reimagines the earlier games in this series by adding new layers of strategy, tribe player boards, different maps with their own set of rules, modules that can be added to the game, and unique co-operative and solo modes.
Schacht and ThunderGryph previously collaborated on a Kickstarter project for Spirits of the Forest, a remaking of his earlier game Richelieu, and during that crowdfunding project many extras were added to the game. I imagine the bling will be flying as well for Iwari as well once that project hits KS...
Schacht designs, old (above) and new (below)