Corey Thompson

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A retired veterinarian and ex-cell biologist, Corey spends his time with board games, computer history, banjo music and general useless frivolity. Corey can be found as doccabet on BGG.

Abyss was an instant board game hit on its release in 2014. Combining unbelievable art from Xavier Collette with the sublime gameplay from master designers Bruno Cathala and Charles Chevallier, Abyss managed to transport players into a fantastical and political underwater world. The gameplay in Abyss is a wonderful collection of push-your-luck card collection, resource management of stunning pearls, and card set creation, all simple in their own right but interwoven into a magnificent strategic board game still loved to this day (currently #338 on BGG). The first expansion to Abyss, Kraken, was released in 2015 to critical acclaim, adding the two edged sword of dark pearls. Now, Studio Bombyx has given Abyss fans two new toys to drool over – the second expansion Abyss:Leviathan, and the new card game Conspiracy: Abyss Universe, both coming to western shores this November.

Leviathan replaces the accumulating threat track from the original card game with a border board filled with tremendous monsters. While pulling cards during exploration, if a monster is drawn, the player now has an opportunity to fight a Leviathan on the board. Certain Lords and Allies can give benefit to killing these monsters, and the player with the most kills will earn an extra 5 points at the end of the game.

Conspiracy: Abyss Universe is a card game in the Abyss Universe, sharing similar gameplay and more of that delicious Xavier Collette art. 2-4 Players use Abyss-like cards to create a reverse pyramid, starting with a row of five cards and working down to one. Two matching keys or 3 total keys on cards allow the player to take Location Cards, which add abilities and points. Pearls have their role in this game as well, and the player with the majority of pearls on cards immediately takes the Pearl Majority Card. The game ends when a player has completed their pyramid; groups of connected cards of the same color score points equal to the highest scoring card in the group. The Pearl Majority Card adds 5 points, and the player with the largest colored group scores an additional 3. Highest score claims rightful rule of the depths. For more details, check out Bombyx’s webpage here.

“Bossin‘ Space is a cooperative game of spaceship command, unidentified terror and chaos in the comm room. 1-4 players will try to pilot ONE SHIP together. You will travel across the universe as explorers into the unknown and fight “unwelcoming” aliens along the way. How to survive in space and finish the objective becomes a challenging puzzle.”

Time Slug Studio out of the Czech Republic has a new Kickstarter project, Bossin’ Space by designers Jindřich Pavlásek and Petr Vojtěch (Whales Destroying the World). Bossin’ Space is a chaotic, cooperative card game in which 1-4 players try to jointly captain a space ship in the midst of a game of Space Invaders. Aliens continue to multiply and descent, filling the 4×4 grid board, and must all be defeated to gain access to the boss.

On a round, 4 alien cards are drawn out, and will execute in order from left to right, placing new aliens on the grid, moving aliens, and shooting the players. Each player has a special ability, a hand of 4 cards, and must play a single one face down without communicating to the other players. The current active player then looks at the 4 cards, and plays them in any order, under the 4 alien cards. The cards then execute left to right, player then alien then player, etc. Player cards move the ship, fire the lasers, launch missiles and generally reign down terror on the extraterrestrials. Be careful, more advanced weapons can build up heat, and too much heat can blow our valiant heroes away. As aliens are destroyed, the players gain experience to upgrade their ship capabilities. The goal of the game is to destroy the entire pile of alien cards, leading to a final boss battle.

The Kickstarter for Bossin’ Space continues through September 24, and the game is expected to deliver in April 2020. For more information, check out the webpage for Bossin’ Space here.

“You’ve come to make your fortune on Cooper Island, whose untouched peninsulas stretch out like long arms into the wild Atlantic. With two ships and a few workers, each of you has landed on a separate peninsula, which you hope to explore, cultivate, and settle. But who will do this best? And how? Will you expand your land quickly, or will you instead spend your efforts cultivating it, making it more and more valuable and productive?”

Frosted Games along with Capstone Games have announced Cooper Island, a new complex strategy game from the brilliant mind of Andreas “ode.” Odendahl (La Granja). In Cooper Island, 2-4 players compete as explorers to colonize their island off the Atlantic peninsula. Players have 2 ships and a worker, and place landscape tiles over their island, gaining resources. Resources can be used to build structures with special abilities. Certain areas on the island are inaccessible and need to be cleared to gain access. Supply ships can come in from the Old World, helping the colonization.

As you can see, Cooper Island is a complex set of mechanical interlocking gears, melding together into a satisfying heavy euro game. The point scoring and tracking is yet another unique element to this game; each player marks their points by moving a small ship around the perimeter of their island. However, this ship can discover new lands, granting benefits to the player. After 5 rounds, the player with the most victory points is declared… well, the victor.

Cooper Island will debut at Essen Spiel 2019 late this October. For more information, check out Capstone Games‘ and Frosted Games’ official websites.

“A regal asymmetric party game for 3-6 players with bluffs and betrayals… Reigns: The Council is […] about a monarch seeking harmony in their realm, and their advisors vying to influence them for their own goals.”

Master board game designers Bruno Faidutti (Citadels) and Hervé Marly (Skull) have a new Kickstarter project, the most regal social party game, Reigns: the Council. Reigns is based on the popular same-named app from Studio Nerial. In Reigns, one player takes on the role of the monarch, humbly trying to balance the kingdom on 4 pillars: Church, People, Army and Wealth, all quantitated on the game board from 1-4. The remaining players are the (mistakenly) trusted advisors, but each one has a secret agenda with regards to these 4 pillars. Advisors each take a hand of proposal cards, ideas which will change the pillars depending if the proposal is accepted or rejected by the monarch. Players use the thematic icons on the proposal to tell stories and pitch ideas. The back of the proposal card tells the monarch which pillars will be affected by the proposal, and maybe if the effect is great, but not really if the effect is good or bad. It is up to the advisor to spin a yarn (ie. lie) so well that the King/Queen cannot help but accept.

After the 4 proposals are described, the monarch will pick one and the 4 pillars are shifted up and down according to both the rejected cards and the accepted proposal. If a pillar bumps off of the end of a track, the ruler is killed and a new monarch is established, with new advisors and new secret goals. Monarchs gain points for number of accepted proposals, while advisors gain points for having their story accepted and for meeting their secret goals.

Reigns: the Council is a fun, story-telling social party game for 3-6 players. The Kickstarter project continues through October 1, and the game is scheduled to release in May 2020. For more information, check out Nerial’s webpage here.

“Welcome to Merchants Cove—where you’re not the hero or the villain—you’re just a simple merchant!”

Final Frontier Games and designer Carl Van Ostrand have a Kickstarter project ongoing for the new asymmetric board game Merchants Cove, lovingly illustrated by master artist Mihajlo Dimitrievski. In Merchant’s Cove, 1-4 players manipulate boats of incoming customers, guiding the right type of customer to the island to hopefully purchase their goods for gold. After 3 days/rounds of play, the player with the most gold claims victory. Merchants has two extraordinary mechanisms making it stand out – First, player turns and actions are defined by a time-tracker rondel, with the player in last always taking the next turn. Second, the way each player creates new goods is completely unique.

The main flow of Merchant’s Cove is driven by a central rondel, the time tracker. Players have tokens on the rondel, marking hours in the day. Whichever player is currently in last on the rondel will take the next turn, selecting a location in town to take actions. Actions include collecting townsfolk and rogue cards, and building new items for sale. Each location not only grants actions, but also will advance the player a certain number of hours on the rondel. If the tracker passes certain customer points, that player gets to add a customer from the bag to a boat in the harbor. Customer meeples come in 5 colors representing 5 fantasy tropes – warriors, nobles, wizards, bards, and rogues. When a boat is full, the active player can dock that boat at an available pier, and when all the piers are taken, players sell their constructed goods to the docked customers.

Each of the 4 player characters uses a totally different mechanism to create their goods. The Alchemist uses a marble driven, Potion Explosion reminiscent decanter to fulfill formulae to make items. The Blacksmith uses dice manipulation to represent smelting and management of the heat of the forge. The Sea Captain uses a spinner to sail his fleet around the bay collecting fish close to shore, and searching for treasure far from the beach. Finally the Chronomancer and his assistant manipulate the very time itself, placing fragments to create portals.

Each day, the newly arrived customers determine the price of selling goods. As certain customer types accumulate, the corresponding color good is more valuable to sell (supply and demand, baby). The pier at which the customers land determines what can be sold – Large goods are sold at the bazaar pier, small goods at the grand bazaar, then any leftover goods can be sold at the black market, for a cost in corruption. After 3 days of attracting customers then selling to them, players earn bonus points from layabout customers at the various faction halls around the island… All but those pesky rogues, who take advantage of players’ accumulated corruption to steal gold. The most gold then takes the day!

The Kickstarter Campaign for Merchant’s Cove continues until September 11, and the final game is expected to deliver in June 2020. The game not only includes gorgeous components, but also has options to buy the two mini expansions, the Innkeeper and the Oracle.

“Mutants is an innovative deck-builder where players lead a team of genetically modified gladiators. Starting with a fully symmetric hand of cards, players have 5 rounds to breed the best possible gladiators from their assymetric, uniquely crafted, gene pool and impose their strategy on the arena!”

Mutants – the Card Game is a successful November 2018 Kickstarter Project from producer Lucky Duck Games and designers Sen-Foong Lim (Belfort) and Jessey Wright (Kingdom Rush: Rift in Time). In this 2-4 player deck builder, players mix and match genetics starting with the same cards, but shopping within an asymmetric “gene pool” market. Each player’s gene pool can be pre-constructed or drafted, and the 4 included pre-constructed sets allow easy start to play. Players each get a hand of 6 cards, and the round ends when players run out of cards. Cards can have deploy effects which activate when the card is played, and leave effects for when a card is pushed out of the player board. On a turn players get one of 3 actions: Breed allows players to gain a new card for battle this round. Incubate saves a card for battle next round. Deploy plays a card from a player’s hand to their active mutant slot. Games last 5 rounds, after which players score points for mutants “frozen” into their archives.

For more details about Mutants, check out the completed Kickstarter page here. Mutants is scheduled to hit retail stores this October.

Wavelength is a previously reported successful Kickstarter project from producer Palm Court and master designers Alex Hague (Monikers), Justin Vickers (Monikers) and Wolfgang Warsch (The Quacks of Quedlinburg, The Mind). In this party game, a “psychic” clue giver is trying to guide the group to select a bullseye along a color spectrum. To do this, they pick a card with a pair of binaries, such as “hot – cold” or “rough – smooth”, then give a clue which would sit exactly where the bullseye sits on the spectrum. The Kickstarter for Wavelength was a great success, with 8,600+ patrons bringing in over $300,000, and the game is expected to deliver in October.

Asmodee has announced that they will be distributing this new party guessing game in the United States. Look for Wavelength to come to the west in Q4 2019. For more information, check out Asmodee’s press release here.

Hitherto Coffee and Gaming Parlor is a new hybrid café and friendly local game store opening soon in Greenfield, IN through Kickstarter. Hitherto will be primarily a specialty coffee and tea shop, but will also offer specialty sourced and prepared food and drink, as well as a wide selection of retail board games. The café is being heralded by chef Kevin Kerkhof, a Purdue graduate in Hospitality and Tourism Management, and founder of Quiver Gaming Gear. Kevin is a natural for starting a gaming café, having apprenticed in several high profile restaurants, as well as worked extensively in the board game world. Kevin’s company Quiver Gaming Gear has successfully brought in over $300,000 in Kickstarter projects, and is the maker of the official Gloomhaven gaming mat.

The Kickstarter Project for Hitherto Coffee and Gaming Parlor is scheduled to continue through September 17, 2019. For more information, check out the Kickstarter page, which includes some glorious swag, as well as options for VIP packages.

“An unthinkable catastrophe has ravaged Europe. The main infrastructure of Paris has been destroyed. In a few weeks, the city is covered in strange, lush vegetation. The survivors of the apocalypse must reunite, and roll up their sleeves to rebuild civilization in this new Eden.”

Matagot Games has announced Paris: New Eden by designers Florian Grenier and Ludovic Maublanc (Cyclades, Dice Town). Paris is a lighter dice drafting, post-apocalyptic board game in which 2-4 players collect survivors, aquire buildings, resolve events and in general try to score the most victory points within 4 seasons. Players start by drafting custom dice 6 showing survivor types – tinkerers, brawlers, healers, sages, farmers, and wilds. These dice come from action spaces, and after taking a die, players execute the action from that location. Players next fight for buildings associated with each die type, spending the dice to purchase the cards. These cards are collected in order of strength – the player with the most tinkerers gets first pick of the tinkerer buildings, and so on. Players can then overcome events for victory points, using survivors and supplies from their location cards. Finally, all of those survivors need to be fed with collected farmers and cans of food, earning more points. After 4 seasons, players can collect on secret mission cards, and the player with the most victory points is declared the winner.

Paris: New Eden is scheduled to have a limited release in Essen this October, with retail to follow soon thereafter.  

“Yes, that’s it! Said the Hatter with a sigh, it’s always tea time.”

DrawLab Entertainment has announced Alice in Wordland, a new party game from designers Chris Darsaklis (When I Dream) and Spyros Koronis. Alice is a family oriented party game, wherein 3-8 players take turns naming items related to a revealed category on a discussion card, e.g. “Items on a sandwich”. However, the evil queen of hearts has decreed that certain letters are banned, so each named item cannot include three forbidden letters on revealed cards. A clever electronic teapot timer gives each player 10-15 seconds to interject their word then hit the button, or else the music stops, that player picks a score card, and is eliminated. Players each take on the role of a famous Alice in Wonderland character, along with a special ability, and these roles are rotated after every round. Once all the players have used each of the characters, the player with the most points is declared the most glib and loquacious polyglot in the kingdom!

Alice in Wordland will have a limited release at Essen Spiel late this October, and retail release to follow. For more information, check out DrawLab’s webpage on Alice here.