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New Games from GAMA 2019: Build with Mental Blocks and Lanterns Dice in Aquicorn Cove

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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• U.S. publisher Pandasaurus Games has already announced the 2019 North American release of puzzley games passtally and Arraial — first published by analog lunchbox and MEBO Games respectively in 2018 — but at GAMA Trade Show 2019 it's adding another such title to its catalog: Mental Blocks from newcomer Micah Sawyer.

In this co-operative game, players attempt to complete a puzzle using oversized foam blocks, despite seeing only one perspective of the design. You have to co-operate to complete the puzzle as a team, but you have a time limit, so don't just sit around staring at the pieces. In addition to the time pressure, players have other challenges, such as not being able to talk or to touch certain color blocks.

Mental Blocks features sixty puzzles: thirty "family mode" puzzles and thirty "challenge mode" puzzles that ramp in difficulty. For an even wilder game, you can add a traitor to the table to block your block-building... Yes, developer Jonathan Gilmour apparently must have a traitor in everything he touches.

I'm looking forward to this one as I love spatial puzzles in general, and these types of puzzles have a special appeal, perhaps dating back to high school architecture classes in which you were presented with a 3D image, then challenged to represent it properly from the front, side, and top in individual images. Learning how to see things from multiple perspectives is a valuable skill, whether you're talking about objects or more complicated aspects of the world...

Renegade Game Studios has announced two new titles in the run-up to GTS 2019, one of those being the Chris Bryan roll-and-write game Lanterns Dice: Lights in the Sky, which is due out in June 2019 and which continues the story of Renegade's 2015 Lanterns: The Harvest Festival:

The harvest is in, and now it's time to celebrate! The emperor has declared that this shall be the best harvest festival yet.

In Lanterns Dice: Lights in the Sky, players act as artisans, decorating the palace lake with floating lanterns and launching fireworks to light up the sky. The player who earns the most honor has made the best impression on the emperor and wins.

In more detail, roll dice and choose which colored lanterns players can fill on their scoresheets. Earn gifts to perform special actions, fill in additional colored lanterns, and create powerful combinations. Cover completed shapes with fireworks tiles to score points and put on a spectacular show!
• The other title coming from Renegade is The Aquicorn Cove Board Game, a tabletop adaptation of Katie O'Neill's graphic novel Aquicorn Cove. Renegade, along with designers Steve Ellis and Tyler Tinsley, already adapted O'Neill's The Tea Dragon Society in 2018, and now those two designers have been joined by Ben and Tim Eisner for this 2-4 player co-operative board game due out in late 2019:

When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a big storm, Lana remembers how much she's missed the ocean — and the strong, reassuring presence of her aunt. As Lana explores the familiar beach, she discovers something incredible: a colony of aquicorns, small magical seahorse-like creatures that live in the coral reef. Lana rescues an injured aquicorn and cares for it with the help of her aunt, who may know more about these strange creatures than she's willing to admit. But when a second storm threatens to reach the town, choices made many years ago about how to co-exist with the sea start to rise to the surface. Lana realizes she will need to find the strength to stand on her own, even when it means standing up to the people who she has always relied on to protect her.

In the co-operative game The Aquicorn Cove Board Game, 2-4 players take on the roles of members of a small fishing village struggling to survive while maintaining a balance with the natural world. To win, the villagers must feed and grow their village, while helping to restore the health of the reef and aquatic ecosystem. The villagers are fortunate, though, and the waters of their cove are home to the beautiful and benevolent aquicorns, as well as the wondrous reef guardian Aure, who can help them both to understand the impact humans are having on the environment and to save the village.

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