Ninjas have taken over the ancestral lands belonging to the Pandas so its up to the four Panda Clans to reclaim what is theirs. They send out their mightiest heroes to remove the ninja and rebuild their once-magnificent cities. However, only one Clan will be awarded a place at the Emperor’s right hand for their mighty deeds.
In Way of the Panda, players take on the role of the leader of one of the four Panda Clans. Each clan has a Monk, Warrior, and Governor, who will move around the map board defeating ninjas. Once bandits have been removed from the roadways around a city, players start to construct buildings to rebuild the cities. To gain prestige, players have to defeat ninjas and erect buildings. The player with the most prestige is the winner.
Players plan their strategy on the Action Board using a worker-placement mechanism where each new move they make must be more powerful than the last. They spend action points to choose their action to move around the board, build buildings, and train their characters to gain wisdom. If they choose stronger actions they cost more, and they cannot go back on the Action Board.
CMON have outdone themselves once again with 52 fantastic miniatures (3 Champions and 10 Guards for each of the four clans) and 30 building miniatures. Way of the Panda is designed by Andrea Mainini (Sails of Glory), Walter Obert, and Alberto Vendramini with art by Davide Corsi (Kingsburg 2nd Edition). The game supports 2-4 players, aged 14+, and plays in 60-90 mins. The game is expected to release late May, 2018.
Grail Games have announced a few games they’ll be publishing by prolific designer, Dr. Reiner Knizia.
Yellow & Yangtze
Yellow & Yangtze, the sister game to Tigris & Euphrates, will be released in 2018. The game is set in the Qin Dynasty (part of modern day China) along the Yellow and Yangtze rivers. It sees the rival states of Qin, Chu, Qi, Yan Han, Whei, and Zhao battling for supremacy in 221 BC and is beautifully illustrated by Vincent Dutrait. Yellow & Yangtze supports 2-4 players, aged 14+, and plays in roughly 90 mins. The designer has improved and tweaked the game play of Tigris & Euphrates so that while Yellow & Yangtze will have a similar feel it will be its own “beast”.
Game play details according to the publisher:
In Yellow & Yangtze, players build civilizations through tile placement. Players are given five different leaders: a Governor, Soldier, Farmer, Trader, and Artisan. The leaders are used to collect victory points in these same categories. However, your score at the end of the game is the number of points in your weakest category. Conflicts arise when civilizations connect on the board. To succeed, players’ civilizations must survive these conflicts, calm peasant revolts, and grow secure enough to build prestigious pagodas. [source]
Coming in Q1 of 2018 is Criss Cross, a roll-and-write game illustrated by Heiko Günther. This is a custom dice game played over 12 rounds where 2 dice are rolled, and players write the symbols in adjacent squares on their scoring sheet. Groups of symbols in columns and rows score points. While all players share the dice symbols the placement of these will vary across players. Criss Cross supports 1-6 players, aged 8+, and plays in roughly 10 mins.
In Stephenson’s Rocket, players take on the role of rail barons in 1830s England. They can invest in railway lines, transport passengers, build up local industries, and compete for the honor of becoming the most prestigious rail baron. Illustrations are by Ian O’Toole.
On September 15, 1830, the age of the railroad began with the opening of the first line between Liverpool and Manchester. The locomotive that ruled those rails was George Stephenson’s Rocket. With a top speed of 45km/h (28mph) Rocket, was the most advanced engine of the day, and its arrival marked the beginning of the modern railway. [source]
Stephenson’s Rocket supports 2-4 players, aged 12+, and plays between 60 and 90 mins.
In King’s Road, players are nobles attempting to gain power and influence in the king’s provinces. As the king travels along the road in his provinces, he will allow the most influential noble in each region to govern in his stead. Over time the most favored noble will win the game.
King’s Road is an area-majority game. Each player has identical decks of eleven cards. On a turn, players simultaneously select the three cards they will play, and in what order. To win, players not only have to influence the king as he traverses the land, but attempt to read the minds of their opponents.
King’s Road re-implements the game Imperium, previously only available within game compendiums. [source]
This game is also illustrated by the great, Vincent Dutrait and supports 2-5 players, aged 10+. Game play length is around 30 mins. King’s Road is currently available at retailers.
Kashgar: Merchants of the Spice Road
Unlike the prior games in this list, this one is not designed by Dr. Knizia but by Gerhard Hecht with art by Franz Vohwinkel. The core mechanism will be “open deck-building” with players trading spices along the Silk Road from Asia to Europe. The game supports 2-4 players, aged 12+, and plays in roughly 45 mins.
According to the publisher, the game plays as follows:
In the beginning, each caravan consists of three cards that are spread out vertically so that the top part of each card is visible; each card stands for a caravan member with different abilities.
On his turn, a player performs only one action, choosing one of the cards on top of the three caravans and executing one action shown on that card. Then the card is put at the back of its caravan. To use the same caravan member again, a player must first use all the other cards on top of that caravan row. [source]
Kashgar: Merchants of the Spice Road will release in Q2 of 2018.
Fantasy Flight Games are releasing the final Force Pack in the Alliances cycle for Star Wars: The Card Game, a game designed by Eric M. Lang. In Star Wars: The Card Game you command legendary characters such as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Boba Fett, and Darth Vader and launch strategic assaults against your opponent’s objectives. In this two player game, you tempt fate with Edge battles and either ally with the Force or master it’s power for the Dark Side.
The Promise of Power Force Pack includes ten new objective sets and rewards players for melding affiliations together in a single deck. It also includes plenty of characters from Star Wars Rebels, the animated TV show, with a new version of Ezra Bridger, Cikatro Vizago, and more Inquisitors being added to the game.
While this is the final Force Pack for this cycle it is also the final release for Star Wars: The Card Game. Over the past five years the game has seen five deluxe expansions and six cycles of Force Packs. With the game now complete, the Star Wars World Championships in May will be the final Organized Play World Championship for the game.
Long before Dice Masters was a twinkle in WizKids eye, Quarriors!, designed by Mike Elliot and Eric M. Lang, was the granddaddy of Dice Building games. It followed traditional releases in the form of big boxes for each expansion.
Dice Masters followed later but with a different release system in that you bought starter boxes and booster packs to expand your collection. They started dabbling in mini-releases such as Team Packs (like Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage and Dr Strange) and even released two big box standalone expansions for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Given the demand for the standalone expansions, Wizkids will be releasing the Avengers Infinity and Warhammer 40,000 Campaign Boxes.
According to Wizkids:
By shifting the focus of how players buy Dice Masters to non-blind product, we’re trying to lower the barrier to entry for fans who are interested in trying the game fresh or maybe exploring one of the IPs in the game they haven’t tried yet. [source]
The campaign boxes offer a lot of value. Each one has 48 different character cards which could be used to build hundreds of different thematic teams. There are also 10 Basic Action Cards to add variety. Adding in Team Packs will allow players to customize their teams even further. Campaign Boxes are able to store over 300 dice and their matching cards which means it can accommodate the basic set along with 10 added Team Packs.
Cards in the Campaign Boxes are also going to have their Max dice based on the game play but tournament play will be kept in mind when these are released instead of the stifling maximum previously designed into previous non-blind releases.
For more details on the upcoming Campaign Boxes check out the Wizkids Dice Masters page for details.
Phil Eklund‘s original version of Neanderthal was released in 2015 while Greenland was released in 2014 and both sold out within a few months at the time. They’ve both since been difficult to obtain so these new editions are being released by Sierra Madre Games on Kickstarter so that more people can experience them.
Greenland and Neanderthal are part of Phil Eklund’s “Dominata” series in which important periods in the evolution of humanity are explored through the game.
In Neanderthal, 1-3 players are one of the human species existing after millions of years of evolution. They’re developing complex language, forming tribes and building villages. The game system enables players to follow their tribe’s evolution as well as the environment in which they live.
Greenland is linked to Neanderthal in that the tribes who migrated West populated Europe while those who migrated East populated Asia, and ultimately, the Americas. The first time these waves of migration crossed paths was on the inhospitable island of Greenland about 1,000 years ago, when the Vikings met the Tunit people. In Greenland you play as one of the peoples who attempt to colonize Greenland during the Middle Ages. The little-known Sea Sami expansion pack is included in this edition of the game and features the Sea Sami as a playable tribe and allows for up to 4 players instead of the original 1-3 player count.
You can get Neanderthal or Greenland for a pledge of $29 (excluding shipping) or both games for $49. The campaign will end on Friday, February 9th 2018, and is currently 724% funded. You can check the Kickstarter project page for more information.
This year Games Workshop’s Talisman Adventure Board Game will celebrate its 35th anniversary. Pegasus Spiele, under a worldwide rights agreement with Games Workshop, will develop four new games set in the world of Talisman. The first of these games will be released in 2018.
The first edition of Talisman Adventure Board Game was published in 1983 which had players travelling a magical world to find ancient relics sand battle fantastic creatures (and each other). and perform epic quests. Once players completed enough quests they entered the inner world to face tougher challenges until they finally reached the Portal of Power to claim the Ultimate Crown.
The first game to expand the Talisman universe will be a children’s game developed by Lukas Zach and Michael Palm and is expected to release in the second half of 2018. Next in the pipeline will be an expandable card game, a role-playing game, and a dice game, though release dates for these will be announced at a later time.
“The Talisman board game has been enjoyed for decades by fans all around the world and is a truly seminal classic,” said Jon Gillard, Head of Licensing at Games Workshop. “We’re excited to be exploring the world of Talisman through these fantastic new games with our partners at Pegasus Spiele. Gamers of all ages have a lot to look forward to.” [source]
Pegasus Spiele are no strangers to the world of Talisman as they (along with Heidelberger Spieleverlag) published the German 4th Edition in 2008. Pegasus Spiele is also the exclusive distributor of the Talisman 4th Edition board game in Europe.
Calliope Games announced the release of The Mansky Caper on Kickstarter. It’s a prohibition-era, heist game for 2-6 players, designed by Ken Franklin. The game plays in 40-60 minutes and supports players aged 8+.
In this explosive press-your-luck game, you’ll be robbing rooms and dodging booby traps that go boom! Al Mansky, the most ruthless and illustrious Mob Boss ever, has never shown our Family the respect it deserves! Well… Big Al is away on vacation and it’s time to even the score! We are breaking into his mansion and absconding with all his loot! [source]
During The Mansky Caper players take turns navigating through rooms in Big Al’s mansion. Each turn a player opens a safe in the room and either draws shiny gems and coins, keys to unlock remaining rooms, plot twists, or explosive booby traps which can destroy the loot, or even the whole room. In order to protect your loot you’ll need to take a turn to stash it in the getaway car but during this turn your “associates” won’t be sharing any loot they find.
Each character has a unique skill and you can call in a favor to make another player help you. You can only call in favors after offering to help your associates which earns you a favor. At the end of the caper, when all of the safes are empty, and the mansion is falling apart, the player with the most loot is the winner and the new head of The Family.
The game features great looking components, including 3D safes, and requires a minimum pledge of $32 for the base game with free shipping within the United States. The campaign started today and runs up until Saturday, February 10th 2018, with them achieving 11% of their target on their first day. See the Kickstarter page for more details.
A tomb in Slovakia dating back 375 years was accidentally discovered while doing some construction work. Significant discoveries included a bed made from yew wood decorated with silver sheets, a desk, and a unique game which is over 1,600 years old. The game consists of chess-like squares with green and white playing pieces of different sizes.
Archaeologists believe the owner of the tomb, a German prince, was about 30 years old and stayed in the Mediterranean as a Roman soldier for some time.
The deputy director of the Archaeological Institute in Nitra, Karol Pieta, who lead the research on the tomb in Poprad was stumped:
“There were plenty of board games in ancient times with many variants, but reconstructing the playing technique is a very complicated process that only top experts can solve.”
They called in an expert from Switzerland, Ulrich Schädler, director of the Museum of Games, who travelled to Slovakia. Schädler believed a playing board of a similar type had not been found in Europe yet and was tasked with trying to solve the system of the ancient game. He hopes to complete this task by the end of 2018.
Schädler had this to say:
“The board game from the tomb of the German prince in Poprad is a great discovery and contribution to the history of games in Europe. It’s the best preserved ancient wooden board game that has been found to the north of the Mediterranean Sea. Together with Roman glass playing pieces it was apparently a prestigious object that documented contacts of the dead with the Roman world.”
After analysis they found that the ancient glass was from the east Mediterranean, probably Syria. The prince was strongly influenced by the developed ancient culture which was demonstrated by his favorite game being placed in his tomb.
Van Ryder Games have announced a new Graphic Novel Adventures brand label under which their graphic novel game books will be distributed. Makaka Editions in France have produced these books in the French language. Van Ryder Games have been granted the English distribution rights and will be translating, producing, and distributing the English versions in the USA and Canada. In these books the player is the hero where each book has a different theme and different game play. The production of the Van Ryder Games editions of these books will be funded via Kickstarter in March 2018.
The Big Score is a new board game Van Ryder Games will be releasing in 2018. It’s a competitive game for 1-6 players where each player is a crime boss in a fictional city. The game plays in 30-60 minutes depending on player count. Players get a crew together to pull off small heists around the city before going for a big heist at the Centennial City bank in a push-your-luck style of play where you could end up very rich or behind bars. The game also features a challenging solo-play mode designed by A.J. Porfirio (of Hostage Negotiator fame). They expect to fund the game via Kickstarter with a project launch date of February 20th, 2018.
On January 17th, Renegade Games will release Hall of Heroes and Fields of Fame as expansions for Raiders of the North Sea. Raiders of the North Sea is set in the central years of the Viking Age where players seek to to impress the Chieftain by raiding unsuspecting settlements.
In the Hall of Heroes expansion, a mead hall has been constructed to attract new adventurers and new raid quests have been added. There are also new ways of gaining resources, acquiring crew, and scoring Victory Points. Mead can also be collected which can then be spent during a raid to fuel their crew and gain more strength during battle.
In Fields of Fame, enemy Jarls have joined forces to defend settlements from raids so players will need to kill or subdue them. Killing Jarls results in Victory Points while subduing them allows you to recruit them. If you’re not able to achieve either result you could also flee but then you will lose Fame or Victory Points for your weakness and cowardice. Using Overpowered crews also results in Fame and scoring additional Victory Points at the end of the game.
The base Raiders of the North Sea game is required in order to play either expansion. Both Fields of Fame and Hall of Heroes supports 2-5 players and takes about 60-90 mins to play. You can check the Renegade Games website for more details.
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