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New Game Round-up: Sail to New Islands in Concordia, Then Attempt to Return Tiles in No Return

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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• I'm sure that you've been eager to hear more about what I'm looking forward to at SPIEL '19, and if that is indeed the case, here's an overview of the second title on my "must have" list: Marco Teubner's No Return: Es gibt kein Zurück! from German publisher moses. Verlag

No Return: Es gibt kein Zurück! ("There's No Turning Back!") is played in two phases, with players collecting tiles in phase one, then scoring their tiles in phase two. People move into phase two at their own pace, and once you go in, you're there for the rest of the game — which might not be long!

The game includes 132 tiles, specifically two sets of tiles in six colors, with the tiles being numbered 1-11 in each color. Each player starts with eight tiles in hand, and you can discard and redraw once before the game begins. On a turn, you either (1) discard up to four tiles in your hand from the game, then draw that many tiles from the bag or (2) play one or more tiles from your hand to a color on your board, then draw that many tiles. You can play tiles of only one color, and all the tiles played must be equal to or less than any tiles of that color you already have in play. You place these tiles in descending order, and you can build at most six rows during the game, one of each color.

Whenever you want, you can switch to phase two. Once you do this, on a turn you either (1) discard up to four tiles in your hand from the game, then draw that many tiles from the bag or (2) clear tiles from your play area to score them. To do this, choose one or more tiles in your play area of only a single color, starting with the lowest valued tile (or tiles), then sum the tiles you want to score. You must then "pay" to score these tiles by discarding tiles of one color from your hand that sum to this same amount or higher. The tiles you discard from your hand don't have to be the same color as the color of the tiles you're scoring. Remove the tiles you paid from the game, and place the tiles you've cleared face down in a score pile. Refill your hand to eight tiles at the end of your turn.

As soon as someone draws the final tile from the bag, you complete the round so that everyone has had the same number of turns, then the game ends. A player's score equals the sum of the tiles that they've cleared minus the sum of the tiles they still have in play. (Tiles in a player's hand are discarded.) Whoever has the highest score wins!
Chunky tiles + simple rules + somewhat controllable randomness + press-your-luck elements + a shared pool of resources that will likely lead to drastically different styles of play with different player counts = a "must have" title for me. We'll see whether my expectations hold up once it's actually on the table!

• In 2018, German publisher PD-Verlag released Concordia: Venus as both a standalone game and an expansion, with one of the maps differing depending on what you purchased. PD-Verlag had promised that in 2019 buyers would be able to acquire the map they didn't get, and now it's making good on that promise with the release of Concordia: Balearica / Cyprus (for those who purchased the Venus expansion) and Concordia: Balearica / Italia (for those who purchased the Venus base game).

This expansion features the Balearic Islands off the coast of eastern Spain, with players starting the game with no capital city and two ships at sea. It also includes a fish market that can be used as a variant with any other Concordia map. An explanation:

As a new commodity, fish replaces the ordinary bonus units you usually collect when playing your Prefect. The bonus is doubled up to two fish in provinces that have failed to produce in the last round. Sell your fish on a separate fish market where you can get either goods, cash, or special actions in return. The fish market offers an extra layer of planning ahead, and new challenges for the experienced Concordia player.

Designer Mac Gerdts shows off Balearica at the Modena game fair

• French publisher Matagot has informed me that it will have the French (and English) versions of Stonemaier Games' Tapestry for sale at SPIEL '19, whereas German publisher Feuerland Spiele — which has been Stonemaier's partner on German versions of Wingspan, Scythe, and other titles — won't have the German edition of Tapestry available until July 2020.

Why the difference? Blame Wingspan, which won Kennerspiel des Jahres in July 2019. In a Sept. 12, 2019 Facebook post, Feuerland notes that (in my translation) "Due to the success of Wingspan, we currently have high investments in production, which will be paid off only in the Christmas season." As a result, Feuerland Spiele has launched a preorder campaign for Tapestry since production for that game needs to take place prior to Christmas. Those who preorder will receive a discount on the price and are promised the game six weeks ahead of its arrival at retail.

In other Feuerland Spiele news, Frank Heeren was interviewed by Wü in September 2019, and he revealed that Feuerland will release a German version of Barrage in 2020. Heeren also mentions that details on what's in the Wingspan expansion will be revealed on October 2, 2019, and if production and shipping goes as planned, he hopes to have a small Wingspan promo item at SPIEL '19. Oh, and another mini-expansion for A Feast for Odin featuring a new island. Details on the SPIEL '19 news starts about 21:00 minutes into the video. (H/T: Christoph Post of Brettspielbox)
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