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In 2020, Studio H Invites You to Trick Samurai, Capture Fish, and Protect a Fallen Land

W. Eric Martin
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French publisher Studio H launched its debut titles at SPIEL '19 with (a small number of) Tony Boydell's strategy game Alubari and the card game Oriflamme from Adrien Hesling and Axel Hesling. (I've placed the review copies that I received of these titles in the BGG Library so that we'll have at least one copy of each available for attendees. Please treat them well!)

During the fair, I met with Studio H's Thibault Lion for a preview of what's coming from this new Hachette-funded studio in the first half of 2020, and I can briefly describe these three titles as follows:

Hagakure, due out in February 2020, is a trick-taking for 3-5 players from Frank Crittin and Grégoire Largey.

The deck has cards numbered 1-27, along with three "old fools", with some of the higher cards being red samurai and the lower cards all villagers. If someone plays a samurai, everyone else must do so as well, but otherwise the game has no playing restrictions. An "old fool" played on its own is worthless, but if a second or third "old fool" is played into a trick, then the player of the last such card wins the trick.

Players score 1 point per trick captured with the 16 also being worth a point; players lose 2 points if they capture no tricks. Each player starts with five "Nobori" tokens, and a player can choose to play exactly one of these tokens for its power — e.g., look at another player's hand, swap your hand with the set-aside hand, double your points — after looking at their cards.

Mock-up copy given to members of the press at SPIEL '19

Fish & Chips, coming in April 2020, is a dexterity game for two or more players, with the players being divided onto Team Pelican or Team Seagull. Your goal is to (1) grab available fish and (2) control the three areas of the shore by having the most power in them. To do both of these things, you'll take turns throwing chips for your team onto the playing area, a mock-up of which is shown below:

Mock-up version at SPIEL '19

• While the first two titles are smaller, Oltréé is a big box game from Antoine Bauza and John Grümph for 2-4 players, ages 8+, that plays in 60 minutes and that's based on Grümph's Oltréé! role-playing game, which RPG Geek summarizes as follows: "Oltréé! is a French medieval fantasy RPG designed to be a sandbox game in which the PCs (player characters) patrol the land. With a rule system meant to give an old-school feel, Oltréé! provides modern tools for narrative storytelling in which the players take part in the world-building experience."

In Oltréé, which is due out in May 2020, players represent knights in a fallen kingdom who are still doing what they can to protect the people and land they had sworn to which they had sworn allegiance. The game will include a number of scenarios linked by theme, but they're playable independently and don't form an overarching campaign.
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