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2F-Spiele Fires on SPIEL '19, Supplying Power to the Middle East & New Landscapes for Fast Sloths

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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With the SPIEL '19 Preview now live on BGG, it's time to dig into more titles debuting at that show in Essen, Germany in late October, focusing this time on games from designer Friedemann Friese and his 2F-Spiele publishing house.

In April 2019, I had previewed Fast Sloths, a pick-up-and-deliver game for 2-5 players in which you are a sloth that must be picked up and moved around by other animals. On a turn, you draft animal cards, then play from one to all of the cards of a single animal to move your sloth around the board and pick up leaves to eat. Each animal provides a different type of movement or interaction with you, with ants carrying you along in a chain and the elephant throwing you with its trunk. The first player to eat leaves from eight of the nine trees wins. (For more details, head to my written preview.)

Fast Sloths features a modular game board, and in each game you use only six of the twelve animals included in the box. In my write-up, I had noted that "2F-Spiele says that it's already working on new game board configurations and additional animals", and 2F-Spiele will have two such items available at SPIEL '19. Fast Sloths: Expansion 1 – The Next Holiday! is a new game board that can be combined with the one in the base game to create sixteen different maps, while Fast Sloths: Promo Set – Chameleon, a pack of promo cards, features a slow-moving animal that can serve as a joker for any animal type.

Fire! uses Friese's "Fable Game" system in which the cards in the game come stacked in a particular order, and you introduce new cards to the game based on certain conditions, with these new cards providing twists on the gameplay that you already know.

Fire! is for 1-2 players, with you defending the Earth against space invaders. In the initial level of the nine included in the game, you face four aliens, with each alien having a strength value on the four sides of its card. You start with a shuffled deck of lasers, and on a turn, you reveal a card, then add it to one of your three laser cannons. When the sum of the lasers is high enough, it fires, with the strength being equal to (if I recall correctly) the sum of the lasers multiplied by the number of cards at that laser cannon minus a preset value. If you do enough damage, you reduce the alien to a lower strength value, and if you hit it enough times, it's removed from play.

The challenge in the game comes from your limited resources. Each time you fire a laser cannon, you must remove one of the cards used by that cannon from your deck — which means you have a limited number of shots available. The laser deck isn't huge, so you can generally track what's still in it as you shuffle discards and play out the cards over and over again. If you defeat all of the aliens, you win the level, then go on to the next level, adding more cards to your deck and more aliens to the attackers.

I've played Fire! several times on a demo copy, and I think I made it to level 2 once. As with Friese's solo game Finished!, you need a good memory of what's in your deck so that you make the right plays in the right places, but you're also playing the odds since you'll get whichever card is at the top of the deck, which is not necessarily the card you want.

• The final new item coming from 2F-Spiele is Power Grid: Middle East/South Africa, a new pair of maps for the Recharged version of Power Grid that was released in Q1 2019. Here's a description of what those items add to the game:

• For decades, there has been an abundance of oil in the Middle East. However, in the near future the so-called "peak oil" threatens this area: This is the point in time when the output of the oil wells begins to decrease. Already, a few countries of this region have nuclear power plants, and that number will increase in the future as the amount of oil from the wells diminishes. Most likely, other energy sources will play a part, too, such as the recycling of plastic waste.

The players start the game with an excessive supply of oil. Additionally, the players have access to plenty of natural gas (using the coal tokens of the base game) and a few solar plants (the green power plants). However, at the start of the game the players cannot buy nuclear or garbage power plants.

During Step 2, the abundance of oil and natural gas will run dry. Both nuclear and garbage power plants will then be available as alternatives. Thus, in the middle of the game the players are forced to adjust their power plant mix.

• The energy supply in South Africa is executed almost exclusively by a single trust, which is the seventh biggest energy supplier in the world measured against the production of energy. Roughly 90% of the energy is produced in coal power plants. Additionally, South Africa uses a few nuclear power plants and both water and wind ecological power plants.

Because of its size, the trust also supplies half of the rest of Africa with energy. Thus, the game board contains six international power connections and a lot of available coal.

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