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Portal Games Unveils a Massive Line-up for Its 20th Anniversary

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game: Prêt-à-Porter
On Saturday, January 26, 2019, Portal Games celebrated its twentieth anniversary, and while the Polish publisher had already announced some of its 2019 releases during SPIEL '18 — the second edition of Stronghold: Undead, which now can be played as a standalone game in addition to serving as an expansion for Stronghold; the L.A. Crimes expansion for Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, with the three cases included connecting to form one larger story; and expansions for Robinson Crusoe, 51st State, and Alien Artifacts — Portal's Ignacy Trzewiczek laid out much more during this event, with the buzziest title being the third edition of his own Prêt-à-Porter, first published in 2010.

In Prêt-à-Porter, players each run a clothing line, clashing with one another to ensure the success of their brand. During the game, players open new branches of their business and hire employees to expand their capabilities. Over time you gain managers, models, and designers — all in a quest to gain awards at fashion shows as those awards translate into cash. Trzewiczek had initially talked about setting the gameplay in a new industry, such as video game development, but this new edition retains the game's original setting, with new artwork by Kwanchai Moriya. This game will be Kickstarted in 2019, which I think is a first for Portal.

• At SPIEL '18, Trzewiczek had said that Portal wouldn't have a new big-box game in 2019, but would instead focus "on supporting and expanding their existing game lines", which is exactly what's happening with Imperial Settlers. To start, Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North includes three Northern factions — Scotsmen, Inuits, and Vikings — with two unique decks for each faction. I believe that in addition to being a standalone game for 2-4 players, this can also serve as an expansion for the original game, but I could be wrong on that. (Update, Jan. 30 from Jakub Łapot at Portal: "Empires of the North is a new, completely standalone game. There is no compatibility currently planned. It is the same Imperial Settlers setting. The game will have different mechanics than Imperial Settlers, but there of course will be a lot of similarities.")

Imperial Settlers: Roll & Write is a standalone game that puts a roll-and-write twist on the Imperial Settlers world. Here's an overview of what to expect in this 1-4 player game:

Imperial Settlers: Roll & Write is heavily focused on engine building! Constructing buildings grants you a special bonus, and with each passing turn the game offers you more choices as your empire gains momentum.

Imperial Settlers: Roll & Write has two game modes. The standard mode is a 2-4 player competitive challenge in which you try to gain more points than your opponents. The adventure mode for a single player offers 48 unique game sheets. Each sheet presents unique challenges and gameplay as players have different buildings at the start. Tweak your engine and get as many points as you can! Grab your pencil, roll your dice, and create the most prosperous empire!
• Aside from these two titles, Portal will release Imperial Settlers: Big Box in honor of the game's fifth anniversary, with this item containing a plastic insert to hold everything from the base game and all expansions; new one-piece faction boards for Amazons, Atlanteans, and Aztecs; and a set of new anniversary Common cards.

Board Game: Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North
Board Game: Imperial Settlers: Roll & Write
From gallery of W Eric Martin

• Other items coming from Portal include a Sand Runners army pack expansion for Neuroshima Hex! 3.0, with this faction having a double-sided HQ and a new type of battle tile called "Sand Storm" as well as the first army pack for Monolith Arena: Academics. An overview: "The Academics are a focused, well-trained army. They have a lot of runes and upgrades in their tile deck. They also excel in weakening the enemy – their banner slows down opponent tiles! Their units are few, but strong."

• Finally, Trzewiczek's Detective has two more items in the works. First, case 6 — which had previously been used as a tutorial at conventions and served as an introduction to the game without spoiling its contents — will be coming to Amazon's Alexa. Second, Detective will see a "Signature Series" of expansions from non-Portal designers, with the first two designers to be announced being Rob Daviau and Mike Selinker. In Portal's words: "The Signature Series is an opportunity for authors to put their own, unique spin on Detective. We offer them with a sandbox to play around, and we are very excited to see what stories and crimes they come up with!"

Board Game: Neuroshima Hex! 3.0: Sand Runners
From gallery of Photodump
Board Game: Stronghold: Undead (2nd edition)
Board Game: Detective:  L.A. Crimes
Board Game: Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island – Mystery Tales
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