Game previews that have caught my interest: late 2017
Ben O'Steen
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Some or little information about the following exists but enough that I am interested and intrigued in them. Compiling a list to keep track of them and it will give me something to revisit later in the year.

The order is simply as I find the relevant record on boardgamegeek - it doesn't imply how excited I am about a game!

My Spiel preview is here which lists games I'm somewhat interested in, though I may mark them for all sorts of reasons, as the list below might show.
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1. Board Game: Indian Summer [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1685]
Ben O'Steen
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Patchwork, Cottage Garden, Bearpark...

And now, something in that mold with a fox on the tile? Instantly hooked. I am expecting it to be pretty light but fun.

"Indian Summer is the second part of Uwe Rosenberg's puzzle trilogy following 2016's Cottage Garden, and this game is firmly geared towards experienced players. At the heart of the game are puzzle tiles with holes that are placed on individual forest boards to cover up treasures. When players get their hands on these, they gain more options and an edge over their opponents. All that counts in the end is to be the first to cover your forest floor completely with leaves."
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2. Board Game: Agra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:1084]
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Quined Games. Interesting theme. Great designer (Michael Keller). Great artist (Mr Menzel). Yes please.



"Notables and emissaries from all over the country are on their way for Akbar's birthday celebration. As an ambitious landowner, you cannot let this pass; the festivities are a golden opportunity for you to rise in stature and wealth.

On your land in Agra, you cultivate and harvest cotton and turmeric. You possess a forest from which you produce wood, as well as a small, but very profitable sandstone quarry. By trading and processing your wares, you can obtain more luxurious goods, which you will then use to woo notables as they make their way into the capital. Of course, your rivals have the same plan; you must use your wits to outsmart them as Akbar's birthday draws near..."
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3. Board Game: For-Ex [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:6071]
Ben O'Steen
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This looks super dry but insane enough that it could be a fantastic crunchy precarious delicate swingy smart multiplayer game.



"FOR-EX is the game of currency trading. An opaque, nerdy, butterfly-effect game, players take on the roles of international financiers who trade and manipulate currency values. Each of the game's several currencies only has value relative to one another, and these fluctuate according to player investments and divestments."
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4. Board Game: Nusfjord [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:1069]
Ben O'Steen
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Uwe takes on fishing. Sign me up.

"Nusfjord is a tranquil fishing village in the Lofoten archipelago in northern Norway. Fifty years ago, business was blooming when the codfish would come for spawning. Today, Nusfjord is more of a museum than a village, with less than a hundred people living there. Imagine how beautiful this place must be given that you must pay a fee to even look at the houses. Cruise ships used to pass by this long and now mostly abandoned island world.

In the time period in which the game Nusfjord is set, things looked quite different. Sailing ships dominate the fjord. The rocks around Nusfjord are covered in trees. As the owner of a major fishing company in Nusfjord on the Lofoten archipelago, your goal is to develop the harbor and the surrounding landscape, and to succeed you must enlarge your fleet, clear the forest, erect new buildings, and satisfy the local elders. Others do this as well, of course, so the competition is steep."
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5. Board Game: Riverboat [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:1548]
Ben O'Steen
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The publisher and the designer combined make this one very interesting. Could be a good one. Medium long tight Euro maybe?



"Riverboat posits each player as the owner of a 19th century farm on the bank of the Mississippi River. You need to organize your workers to ensure that the fields are ordered according to their type and harvested when ready so that the goods can be shipped to New Orleans.

In more detail, the game lasts four rounds, and at the start of each round players draft phase cards until they're all distributed. The phases then take place in numerical order, with the player who chose a phase being the first one to act. In the first phase, players place their workers in the fields, with each player having the same distribution of colored field tiles, but a different random placement for each player. In phase two, players organize their crops, trying to group like types together, with some fields requiring two or three workers. In phase three, players harvest crops and load riverboats, with a dock needing to be filled with all the goods of a single type before it can be loaded. In phase four, the boats are launched and players can take special actions, with additional victory points possibly coming in phase five."
 
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6. Board Game: Ex Libris [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:800]
Ben O'Steen
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Putting aside the trope of librarians being hoarders, this set collection type game looks great and could be a lot of fun. Very interested, even though the box looks a bit too big for a straight card game.



"In Ex Libris, you are a collector of rare and valuable books in a thriving gnomish village. Recently, the Mayor and Village Council have announced an opening for a Grand Librarian: a prestigious (and lucrative) position they intend to award to the most qualified villager! Unfortunately, several of your book collector colleagues (more like acquaintances, really) are also candidates.

To outshine your competition, you need to expand your personal library by sending your trusty assistants out into the village to find the most impressive tomes. Sources for the finest books are scarce, so you need to beat your opponents to them when they pop up.

You have only a week before the Mayor's Official Inspector comes to judge your library, so be sure your assistants have all your books shelved! The Inspector is a tough cookie and will use her Official Checklist to grade your library on several criteria including shelf stability, alphabetical order, and variety — and don't think she'll turn a blind eye to books the Council has banned! You need shrewd planning and cunning tactics (and perhaps a little magic) to surpass your opponents and become Grand Librarian!"
 
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7. Board Game: Calimala [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:1567]
Ben O'Steen
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Another game that ticks most of the boxes. Blackfire (publisher of the criminally underrated West of Africa), a designer I know: Fabio Lopiano and the games apparent weight and length suit me well as something I'll enjoy. Not a 2p game though, but we can't have it all!

"Players of Calimala are cloth merchants in medieval Florence, with a number of trusted employees that they assign to various streets within the city to carry out actions. (Each street connects two places where particular actions can be taken.) While taking these actions, players produce and deliver cloth and contribute to the construction and decoration of various buildings across the city. Employees stay on their assigned places for a while, carrying out their actions whenever the street is activated, and eventually are promoted into the city council, triggering a scoring phase.

Depending on the number of players, each player has a number of action discs. In turn order, they can put one on a space between two actions, performing both actions and activating all other discs on the same space. When the fourth disc is placed on an action space, the lowest one is promoted to the city council, which triggers a scoring. After the last action disc is placed or the last scoring phase in the council is triggered, the game ends. The positions of the action spaces and sequence of scoring phases vary from game to game, making each game very different. Secret scoring objectives and action cards add uncertainty."
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8. Board Game: Rajas of the Ganges [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:420]
Ben O'Steen
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Markus and Inka Brand? That's enough. Likely a lighter, more family game than my core interests but their games are always worth playing.



"India in the 16th century. The empire is ruled by the Great Mogul Akbar; the countless provinces, however, are under the control of the local Hindu princes, the rajas.

In Rajas of the Ganges, the rajas compete with each other for power and prestige. Hinduism and the caste system shape people's lives. Taking on the role of rajas, players control the destiny of their princedom and develop their province by using the caste system, trading with goods, and traveling along the Ganges — but the Gods also influence their fate. Good karma can lead to wealth and fame, but so can other paths..."
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9. Board Game: Arkham Noir: Case #1 – The Witch Cult Murders [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:3395] [Average Rating:7.18 Unranked]
Ben O'Steen
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I don't know much about this one, but love the idea and the style of it. 30 minute solo game? Sure, sounds cool. It's by Yves Tourigny, who did Expedition: Northwest Passage, a game I enjoy but is so different to this I'm not sure it helps!

"Walpurgis Night, May’s Eve, is always a nightmare in witch-haunted Arkham. There are bad doings, and a child or two frequently goes missing. This year, Miskatonic University students engaged in occult studies have been turning up dead. Arkham Police, in deference to your unusual expertise, have asked for your help to get to the root of the matter. Time is of the essence because after Walpurgis Night, the trail will grow cold and the culprits will retreat to the shadows until the next Witches' Sabbat, when the next cycle of deaths will begin.

As private investigator Howard Lovecraft, you will investigate events based on the stories "The Dreams in the Witch House" (1933), "The Thing on the Doorstep" (1933), and "The Unnamable" (1923).

Arkham Noir is a solitaire card game inspired by the interconnected stories of H. P. Lovecraft and other authors, re-imagined as noir detective stories. Each case stands alone.

Gameplay consists of adding cards to open cases, creating lines of investigation in an effort to solve them. The ultimate goal is to score five "puzzle" clue cards in order to piece together the big picture before running out of time or mental stability. Each newly shuffled deck is the start of a unique challenge, with adjustable difficulty levels to accommodate all level of players."
 
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10. Board Game: Deadline [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:3267]
Ben O'Steen
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Yet another detect-em-up on my list, this time a coop one. I don't know what it is about the concept and theming but it's really appealing to me. Previous games by the designers were fun and light and I'm interested to see what they come up with here.

"New York, the city that never sleeps. According to the high and mighty, things were supposed to be different in the Big Apple in 1938. No more poverty. Medicine that works. Shining skyscrapers and subway cars, the new age upon us. Sure. So why am I in the same dingy office, with a cheap desk and a cheaper secretary, paid to find a missing husband somewhere out in the mean streets? Simple job, except my wealthy socialite employer was hiding something. She was a good looker but a bad liar. I grabbed my hat and gun. I slipped a flask into the pocket of my overcoat. I was ready to wade into the cesspool.

Deadline is a film noir co-operative card game for 2-4 players from the team behind Galactic Emperor, Ninjato and Wizards of the Wild in which players as detectives use special abilities and hand management to follow clever clues to solve an original mystery."
 
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11. Board Game: The Ruhr: A Story of Coal Trade [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:3271]
Ben O'Steen
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I know, this is a reimplementation of "RUHRSCHIFFFAHRT 1769-1890" and so, not really a new game. I am interested by what changes and tweaks Capstone have done here though and seeing as I could never get a copy of the original, this sort of counts as a new release?

"In The Ruhr: A Story of Coal Trade, the second game of Thomas Spitzer's historic coal trilogy, you are transported to the Ruhr region in the 18th century, at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Coal, after being discovered in Haspelknecht, is in high demand as cities and factories throughout the region are in need of this coveted resource. The Ruhr river presented a convenient route of transportation from the coal mines. However, the Ruhr was filled with obstacles and large dams, making it incredibly difficult to navigate. Trade coal for valuable upgrades and plan your route to victory along the Ruhr!"
 
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12. Board Game: Katarenga [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:7815]
Ben O'Steen
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HUCH! have had some great taste in abstracts recently, with the reprints of the Gipf series (although they have very questionable taste in box size to contents ratios. SO MUCH AIR.)

I'm interested by what this could bring and I am always open to playing new abstracts.

 
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13. Board Game: Perfect Hotel [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:9521]
Ben O'Steen
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Random wildcard. I am really taken by the simple styling and clean artwork. Not much idea about the game, but I am intrigued. Likely a simple set collection + push your luck sort of game from the description. I'll likely never see the game in person, so no need to read the rules - if someone finds this game I'll be interested to know how it actually plays!

"As a hotel owner, your mission is to create the perfect hotel. Look into aspects such as location and customer needs to create a distinguished hotel that will attract people. You have a fixed date to open the hotel, so plan properly and be careful not to over-research or misjudge the timing of hotel construction.

Perfect Hotel (パーフェクト ホテル) is a card game in which bonuses exist for such things as the tallest high-riser, the most luxurious top-floor, and so on.

Be the owner who creates the perfect hotel!"
 
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14. Board Game: Santa Maria [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:746]
Ben O'Steen
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Aporto games (win), tetris pieces (win), build-em-up (win) and colonial theme (bah). Still, the good parts will surely win out. Capital Lux and Avenue are great small games, so really interested to see what these guys can do with a larger box



"Santa Maria is a streamlined, medium complexity Eurogame in which each player establishes and develops a colony. The game features elements of dice drafting and strategic engine building. The game is low on luck and has no direct destructive player conflict; all components are language independent.

In the game, you expand your colony by placing Tetris-like pieces with buildings on your colony board. Dice (representing migrant workers) are used to activate buildings; each die activates a complete row or column of buildings in your colony. The buildings are activated in order (left to right / top to bottom), then the die is placed on the last activated building to block this space. It is therefore crucial where you put new buildings in your colony, and in which order you use the dice.

As the game progresses, you produce resources, form shipping routes, send out conquistadors, and improve your religious power to recruit monks. Each recruited monk may be either trained as a scholar (for special abilities), trained as a missionary (for immediate rewards), or appointed as a bishop (for possible end-game points). The player who has accumulated the most happiness after three rounds wins. The available specialists, bishops and buildings vary from game to game, which makes for near endless replayability."
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15. Board Game: The Sands of Time [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Ben O'Steen
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Spielworxx so of course I have to list it. I trust Uli that whatever he's pushing will be worth looking at (or even buying sight unseen).

Prototype:


"The Sands of Time is a civilization-building game set loosely in classical antiquity, on a board inspired by a Roman-era map. Each player rules over a civilization in the ancient world, attempting exploits that will be remembered long after the civilization has withered. Each turn, players will select two action cards, which represent edicts delivered by the player to his populace, announcing what aspects of the empire he/she wishes to address: building structures, implementing advances, migrating population, initiating combat, annexing new territories, instituting reforms to manage the empire’s unrest, building trade routes, demanding tribute, and -- crucially –- recording Chronicles about his/her reign.

The central element of the game's scoring system, Chronicle cards represent claims of great accomplishments. To score a chronicle, the player must have a "heritage" level commensurate with the claim he/she is making: claims of great works will only be believed and perpetuated if the player's civilization has established a reputation in the relevant civilization category (cultural, civil, or political).

Actions generally require the payment of resources (crops or gold), and action costs correlate either to the player's empire size or the player's Unrest level. Unrest increases when a player's territories become too crowded, or when a player re-uses an action card, or when a player voluntarily presses on his populace to squeeze additional productivity out of them. Managing Unrest is a central concern for the player throughout the game.

Players must strike the right balance between competition and peaceful interaction with their neighbors, to propel their civilizations from insignificant, forgettable kingdoms into empires worthy of the attention of historians!"
 
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16. Board Game: Fields of Arle: Tea & Trade [Average Rating:8.57 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.57 Unranked]
Ben O'Steen
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Expansion to Fields of Arle? Sure, sign me up.

"Tea & Trade, the first expansion of Fields of Arle, introduces a new "Tea" resource, ships and trading destinations for that resource, an additional "Ditcher" craft action, and several new buildings. A three-player mode is also included in this expansion."
 
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17. Board Game: 18CZ [Average Rating:8.10 Overall Rank:2930]
Ben O'Steen
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Foolishly, I didn't back this one as I have had zero luck getting 18XX titles to the table with my local game group. I should've just backed this one anyway, right? Silly me.

"18CZ is unique as it uses three different corporation sizes, five small companies with 50%-25%-25% shares, five medium companies with 40%-20%-20%-20% shares, and five big companies with the usual 20%-10%-10%-10%-10%-10%-10%-10%-10% share distribution. Each company size has a different set of trains, and the key focus in this game is that bigger companies can absorb smaller companies."
 
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18. Board Game: Mini Rails [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1845]
Ben O'Steen
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I've enjoyed Mark's mini Age of Steam sort of Roll and Write game Steamrollers, and from what I've heard about this already, it's a worthy game to look into. It's likely to be cutthroat and tight given how the designer likes his games!

"Mini Rails distills the essence of the stock-buying and track-laying game genre into a tight experience that can be finished under an hour.

The game includes only two types of actions — "Buy Shares" and "Build Tracks" — and you must carefully decide how to best use them. You must do each action exactly once per round, and which company you choose affects the turn order on the next round."
 
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19. Board Game: Altiplano [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:671]
Ben O'Steen
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I often like the sort of games dlp publish and even if I don't like them, they are certainly worth checking out. This looks like a good one to try and hopefully, it will be a solid medium bag-building euro to play.

"Altiplano, a bag-building game along the lines of Orléans set in the South American highlands of the Andes — the Altiplano — is not a simple game, presenting players with new challenges time and again. There are various ways to reach the goal, so the game remains appealing to try out new options and strategies, but success or failure also depends on whether your opponents let you do as you like or thwart the strategy you are pursuing. The competition for the individual types of goods is considerable — as is the fun in snatching a coveted extension card from under another player's nose!"
 
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20. Board Game: Bali [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:4100]
Ben O'Steen
United Kingdom
Bishops Stortford
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A slightly lazy retheming of the game Rapa Nui but still mostly the same game underneath. Quite hard to find, so glad there will be fresh availability for this title.



"The inhabitants of Bali regard their island as a world of gods and demons. The people sacrifice much of the harvest to appease these gods and the spirits of their ancestors. Farmers collect goods on the fields. When a shrine is built, these goods can be sacrificed. Priests help with these sacrifices and also chase away any demons.

The Bali game system is refined and novel: Take one card from the general display and reveal the card lying underneath — which could be disastrous for all! Only those who make the right decisions will please the gods best and score the most points.

Bali, a new edition of Rapa Nui, contains two new variants: "The Demon" and "The Oracle"."
 
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21. Board Game: Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea [Average Rating:8.42 Unranked]
Ben O'Steen
United Kingdom
Bishops Stortford
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Played an early version of this last year and was completely boxed out of the good actions due of course to the failings of the prototype and me being the 5th player and certainly not due to my awful play against savant players like Matt Dunstan. Yes, the game's fault, not my pitiful and idiotic play.

Needless to say, this one should be good! It added some really interesting twists on the bones of the Snowdonia skeleton, with plantations and boosted actions. I've very interested to see what it looks like now!

"Darjeeling is a town and a municipality in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is located in the Lesser Himalayas and is noted for its tea industry, the spectacular views of Kangchenjunga, the world's third-highest mountain, and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Tea planting in Darjeeling began in 1841 using seeds of the Chinese tea plant (Camellia sinensis); the British government also established tea nurseries, during the period, and the Alubari tea garden was opened by the Kurseong and Darjeeling Tea company in 1856 to be quickly followed by more than 80 Tea Estates.

In A Nice Cup of Tea, players compete to cultivate and harvest their own Tea Estates and assist in the building of the Darjeeling and Himalayan Railway, from Siliguri Town to ‘the summit’ at Ghum. Guided by the placement actions of their laborers, players can also use their harvested tea leaves to make Chai for their thirsty workforce to boost their actions even more! When the railway is completed, the player who has contributed the most to the railway, the building of the towns along the way and the most auspicious Tea gardens will be declared the winner.

A Nice Cup of Tea is a new game in the Snowdonia family."
 
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22. Board Game Publisher: EmperorS4
Ben O'Steen
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This company seems to put out great small card games that are often fairly original (Hanamikoji for example). They have a list of new titles this year:

Shadows in Kyoto - a stratego type affair, set in the Hanamikoji world.



Herbalism - a light but pretty card game. Could be a nice short game.
Mystery of the Temples - intriguing, and one I'd like to track down.

They are also responsible for Round House and are releasing an expansion this year for it.
 
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23. Board Game: Harvest Dice [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:2923]
Ben O'Steen
United Kingdom
Bishops Stortford
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A quick and simple roll and write with what could be fun gameplay. Yep, I can easily get something like this played a few times.

"Harvest Dice is a fast, fun dice game of dice drafting and veggie doodling.

Each round, players take turns rolling and selecting dice in order to plant veggies in their gardens or feed them to their pig. Keep an eye on the ever-changing market though. You want to make sure you have plenty of desirable vegetables come harvest time!"
 
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24. Board Game: The Festivals [Average Rating:7.12 Unranked]
Ben O'Steen
United Kingdom
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The theme of this one is what made me add this to the list. No idea about gameplay, but its unusual enough to be worth a look. It has that simultaneous selection thing like Visby and Libertalia, so could be fun short game.



"The Festivals is a board game of travel and tourism about festival diversity in Indonesia. You can enjoy the true nature of Indonesia by presenting yourself in the annual festival held in Indonesia.

Each turn, the players secretly choose from their tickets where to travel on six beautiful major islands in Indonesia: Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan/Borneo, Bali, Maluku, Nusa Tenggara, Sulawesi and Papua. The first one who arrives on the destined festival gets the experience (VP). The game ends when at least one player collects a certain number of experience points, then whoever has had more experiences wins."
 
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25. Board Game: Dance of the Fireflies [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:10134]
Ben O'Steen
United Kingdom
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Yes, this one caught my attention 100% due to the faux art nouveau feel. So sue me.



"Dance of the Fireflies' is a 2-6 player card game in which players striving to be the next royal gardener bid on flowers around a sundial in an attempt to create the most beautiful gardens and win the coveted title.

In the game, each player is allocated a set of seven fireflies, one of them being a royal firefly, more powerful than the regular fireflies. Each round, the players bid on flowers in the flower clock using their fireflies. They can also plant a flower from their hand into one of their gardens, secretly bid a royal firefly, and also discard one of the cards in their had to the compost heap so they can bid a second firefly on the flower clock. Each of the six types of beautifully colored flowers has a special ability which players can utilize to form combos and add benefits to their play. Additionally, orchid/weed cards can be bid on, and these allow players to add bonuses to their gardens or attack an opponent's garden."
 
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