W. Eric Martin
Time to dig into a few more SPIEL '19 releases that publishers have been unveiling 4.5 months ahead of that convention's opening date, starting with Trismegistus: The Ultimate Formula from designers Daniele Tascini and Federico Pierlorenzi, and publisher Board&Dice.
This 1-4 player game gives you another take on alchemy, a topic familiar to many gamers given that the concept of alchemy is effectively an engine-building game, with the alchemist transforming one resource into another to achieve victory points in the form of gold. As for this game, here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:
You are an adept of the mysterious art of alchemy, seeking a way to become the successor of the greatest alchemist ever living — Hermes Trismegistus. In order to do so you will be transmuting mere metals into pure gold, performing experiments, and inventing artifacts to finally achieve everlasting greatness.
Trismegistus: The Ultimate Formula is played over three rounds during which you will draft exactly three dice. By expertly utilizing the potency of your drafted die, you will be able to transmute precious materials, collect alchemical essences, purchase and activate artifacts, and perform experiments that will progress you along four mastery tracks. You will also build a secret hand of publication cards which — together with the value of your experiments, the completed formulas of your Philosopher's Stone, and your collected gold — will determine your final score in victory points and, perhaps, make you the greatest alchemist, someone able to rival Hermes Trismegistus himself!
The game features custom dice, the sides of which represent alchemical materials. At the beginning of each round, the dice are rolled and grouped by their respective types. On your turn, you must either draft a new die or utilize the untapped potency of a previously drafted die. Based on the material associated with your chosen die, you will be able to collect certain essences in addition to the material to which the die is keyed. Additionally, the color of the die will determine which types of transmutations you can perform, refining raw materials and increasing your mastery of the elements.
Acquire precious artifacts in order to maximize the effects of your transmutations. Conduct experiments. Increase your knowledge and expertise and discover the ultimate formula!
• In a Dec. 2018 BGG News post that focused on videos games making the leap to the tabletop, I included an overview of Cities: Skylines, a city-building game from Rustan Håkansson. No publisher of the game was known at that time, but now KOSMOS has revealed itself to be releasing the game both in German and English, with the German edition due out in October 2019.
As with the previous game, Cities: Skylines – The Board Game is for 1-4 players, but this design is co-operative, with players trying to reach different milestones to keep residents happy. An overview:
Cities: Skylines – The Board Game is a co-operative game based on the popular computer game of the same name by Paradox Interactive.
Gameplay starts with four land boards being visible, the exact number varying depending on the scenario. The goal is to finish a number of milestones and to make the inhabitants of your city happy. At the start of each milestone, one additional board is bought, flipped over from its nature side to its developed side. Players have personal cards that show what they can build, and ideally they discuss and plan with the other players how to best develop the city. The cards show what effects the building will have on the city, for example increasing the need for garbage collection, decreasing crime, or giving a bonus if placed next to a park.
Cardboard tiles represent residential, commercial, industrial, and other buildings, and they have varied base shapes that are placed on the developed boards on the grid.
When the players have developed the city to the next milestone, they choose which new board to buy to expand the city, score their current happiness, and start a new milestone. When the last milestone is finished, the game ends, then the total happiness score is summed. There is only one city treasury, and all players add to it when they make money for the city and take money from it for building a hospital or buying a new board. Making sure you have enough money is an important aspect of the game for if you run out of money, you go bankrupt and lose.
A series of scenarios teach the game in steps, with each new step introducing new parts of the game. Each step is easily varied, such as, for example, switching out which unique buildings are used during a playing session.