Patrick Zoch

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A retired military veteran, father of five, and an avid wargamer, boardgamer, video gamer, and role play gamer. Now that his world traveling days are over, he spends his days working on training and education policy. In his free time (which is every other minute he is not working on the "Honey, Do" list), he draws his family, friends, and co-workers into the boardgame hobby. He can be readily found on BoardGameGeek.com as "pdzoch".

Soaring Rhino newest game, Mammoth, is now on Kickstarter. Mammoth takes a unique approach to biome development in a game and offers two different modes of play.  The gameplay in Mammoth draws from the scientific premise that the mammoth was instrumental in preventing the permafrost from melting and fostering massive grassland growth. 

In the competitive game, players are herds of mammoths moving about the barren tundra and trampling the brambles to make room for the flora and grassland. In this tile placing game, players place either square or octagon tiles to do one of two things: expand the flower patch they are creating with their trampling or extend the path of the herd.  Points are scored for extending and completing flower patches. The game ends when the last octagon tile is placed.  Players will score points for the number of tiles in the flower patch their mammoth occupied at the end of the game.  Points are also scored for each tile in the length of the herd’s path.  The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.  

In the co-operative game, goals and action cards are used.  Now the players are scientists working together to guide the mammoth herds through the landscape to accomplish two goals in shaping the biome: create a flower patch of a specific color large enough to accomplish the color goal, and create a herd path in the manner required to accomplish the path goal.  The group will also have to score enough points required by the two goals.  Player actions are limited by the available action cards, but if the team plans well enough, they can ensure each scientist has the action they need.  If the players accomplish all their scientific goals before the last octagon tile is placed, they win the game.

Mammoth plays 2-4 players, ages 8+, in 30-45 minutes. Components includes game board, 4 plastic mammoths, 4 baby mammoth tokens, 4 animal path tokens, 72 small 1-point biocycle tokens, 48 large 3-point biocycle tokens. 40 double-sided square tiles, 52 octagon flower tiles, 2 octagon lab tiles, 4 penalty tokens, 8 goals cards, 14 action cards, a go first marker, and rulebook. The Kickstarter campaign runs until June 23 with an expected delivery in February 2020. Check out the Kickstarter Campaign to learn more about the game and the science the game is based on.

AEG announces Ecos: First Continent, a world building game designed by John D. Clair (Mystic Vale) and art provided by Sabrina Miramon (Photosynthesis, Quadropolis) and Matt Paquette (Mystic Vale, Thunderstone Quest).  The world in Ecos is built by laying tiles that represent desert, water, and grassland. Each player will have a tableau of cards that will allow the placement of additional tiles, terrain features such as mountains and forests, or animals to populate the world. Activating the cards requires certain elements to be present in the world. Each round one player will reveal Element tokens from the Element Bag, giving all players the opportunity to complete a card from their tableau and shape the continent to their own purpose. Elements that cannot be used can be converted into Energy cubes or additional cards in hand or added to your tableau, to give you greater options as the game evolves. Game play in Ecos is simultaneous, and all players have access to the elements as they are drawn to activate their cards and build the world.  Every game card is different so the world will be built differently each play.  Many cards will score players victory points, sometimes based on the features in or adjacent to a habitat.  The first player to score 80 points wins the game. Learn more about the game here.

Ecos: First Continent plays 2 to 6 players, ages 14+, in 45-75 minutes.  Contents include 6 Dial tokens, 75 Map Tiles, 15 Mountain Tokens, 25 Forest Tokens, 66 Energy Cubes and storage container, 6 Scoring Cubes, 1 Scoreboard, 105 Game Cards, 102 Animal tokens and 2 storage containers, 40 Element stones, 1 Element bag, and Rulebook.  Look for Ecos: First Continent at your friendly local game store in October 2019.

There is an endless war between the celestials of Heaven and Hell, and the only way to stop it is to unite the forces of the dead in the Underworld to defeat the celestials restore balance in the universe and accomplish your own ulterior motives in the process.  In Court of the Dead: Mourners Call, players are Mourners, an allegiant of Death, seeking to gain influence among the three factions – Bone, Flesh, and Spirit – and gain control of the strongholds and guilds in the Underworld.  Players will need to spend Elthera, a power within mortal souls, to build their influence among the factions, but Elthera is also needed to pay tribute to the celestials. Mismanaging the Elthera risks arousing the suspicions of celestials and invoking the Dreadsgrip, a destructive force that may weaken a Mourner’s influence in the Underworld.  Meanwhile, Death has a few tasks he needs his Mourners to accomplish. The game is a balance of cooperation and hidden objectives, area control and condition management.  The player who contributes the most to the goals of the Underworld wins and serve as Death’s right hand in the conflict with the celestials.

Court of the Dead is a new rich and immersive setting developed by Project Raygun, a designer collectibles division under USAopoly. The world in the Court of the Dead has undergone development over the past couple of years.  As Project Raygun developed the world, they created history, storylines, central figures in the world.  Large vinyl statues were built to bring the central characters to life.  Numerous comics and graphic novels told stories about the world.  More about this world of the Court of the Dead can be found here.

Court of the Dead: Mourners Call plays 2-5 players, ages 14+ in about 90 minutes. Contents include Game Board, 48 Guild Figures, 1 Death Figure, 1 Malavestros Figure, 40 Guild Mover Bases, 14 Court Cards, 27 Mourner Cards, 36 Wallows Cards, 12 Objective Cards, 4 Reference Cards, 4 Player Boards,    50 Etherea Pieces, 45 Unity Tokens, 12 Faction Tokens, 1 Dreadsbane Token, 24 Wooden Trackers, 14 Tracker Pieces, 4 Dice, and Rules.  The game is available for preorder now or look for the game in your friendly local game store in August 2019.

Now on Kickstarter is Bites, a reimagining of Big Points with Ants on a Picnic theme and variable gameplay.  Bites is a highly interactive set collection game with commodity speculation that plays in 20 minutes. In Bites, players move ants along a trail of food picking up food as they travel towards the ant hill. Players can move ANY ant, but they can only move an ant to the next matching color food. Players can then collect either food item in front or behind the ant they moved. Players take turns moving ants and collecting food until all the ants have reached the ant hill.  The order of arrival to the ant hill will determine the value of each food item. The first ant to arrive will score players the most points for food in the same color as the ant, while the last ant to arrive will score the players nothing for food of the ant’s color. Scoring for chocolate and wine change every game based on the starting rules card selected for them.  Two other cards, a special rules card and the ant hill card, selected at the beginning of the game also changes how the game is played.

Bites plays 2-5 players, ages 12+, in about 20 minutes.  Contents include a 5-level ant hill, 5 wooden ants, 50 regular food tokens, 10 special food tokens, 19 cards, 11 special tokens, and rulebook.  Backers may add-on additional food tokens for a longer game. The Kickstarter Campaign runs through June 6 with an expected delivery in January 2020. Check out the Kickstarter Campaign to learn more.

Hockey fans rejoice!  Trick Shot offers a fast-paced board game of Ice Hockey with streamlined rules, a balance of luck and strategy, and free form movement over the ice with cool plastic miniatures.  Each team is comprised of a goalie, a center, two wingmen and two defensemen, each position having different size and speed characteristics.  Each team also has four strategy cards for their line that changes the rules for the line.  Players maneuver their team across a huge gridded gameboard rink, rolling dice to pass, shoot, score, steal, and check.  As long as player actions are successful, additional actions can be taken.  A player may spend a stamina token to reroll the dice if an action is unsuccessful.  Once all the stamina tokens are spent, however, the player will need to spend a turn to refresh the line to regain stamina, giving the opposing team an opportunity to take advantage of the transitioning team or to refresh their own line.

This game will not be available in retail stores.  After the Kickstarter campaign ends, it will only be available from the manufacturer and only the core box.  The Kickstarter campaign, like many Kickstarter campaigns, offers many stretch goals, options, and add-ons that will not be available later.  The miniatures come unpainted, but backers may pledge for the pre-painted miniatures available only during the campaign. Backers may also add an extra set of unpainted miniature to paint themselves in their favorite team colors.

Trick Shot plays 2-4 players, ages 12+, in 30-90 minutes.  Contents include huge gameboard, 12 miniatures, 6 double-sided stamina tokens, 8 quick reference cards, 20 line cards, 6 custom dice, 12 colored bases, 2 pucks, 1 turn marker, 7 goal counters, 1 double-sided 6th players token, and rulebook.  The Kickstarter Campaign runs through 30 May with an expected delivery in March 2020. Check out the Kickstarter Campaign to try out the game on Tabletopia, print and play your own copy, and learn more about the game.

Silver is the first in a series of card games by Ted Alspach (Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Suburbia, and One Night Ultimate Werewolf) that can be played as a stand along game or combined with other games in the Silver series.  Silver will debut at 2019 Gen Con and hit stores in September.  Silver Bullet will follow in time for Essen Spiel.

Silver is a werewolf themed card game where each player manages a village made up of five villagers beset by werewolves.  Each card shows a resident, their unique ability, and a number – which is how many werewolves that resident attracts.  However, villager cards are dealt to each player face down and the players do not know how bad the werewolf threat is to their village.   The game begins with everyone peeking at two of their five cards. On each turn a player chooses a villager to replace or activates a villager’s ability. There are fourteen special abilities which allow players to view more face down cards, trade with neighboring villages, protect cards, and more.  Once a player is convinced his or her village is the safest from werewolves (has the lowest sum of villager cards), that player can call for a vote. If correct, the winning player scores zero for the round.  If not, the player receives points equal to the sum of the villager cards plus ten!  All other players will receive the sum of their village points, and the player with the lowest score earns a silver medallion which grants the village some protection in the next round. After four rounds, the player with the lowest score wins.

Silver Bullet is similar to Silver and features fourteen brand new residents and special abilities. It can be played as a stand-alone game, or it can be combined with Silver by swapping villagers with the same card value from one deck to another, creating a whole new experience with the game.  Silver Bullet also comes with a silver bullet which allows a player to take aim at any villager after nightfall.

Future games in the Silver series will offer more residents, more special abilities, additional silver tokens to grant the winner a unique power during a round, and endless combinations for the series.

One might not be able to tell from the consistent popularity of Scythe that it was ever in need of anything new, but Stonemaier Games has made it a habit of offering new gameplay experiences to Scythe fans. First it was Invaders from Afar, which gave fans two new factions. Then it was The Wind Gambit, which gave fans Airships and the Resolution module. The Rise of Fenris brought fans an 8-game replayable campaign and 11 interchangeable modules.  The latest addition to the popular game is a Modular Board.  This is not the first time Stonemaier has offered a different gameboard experience.  The original gameboard is two sided, one side with the full game board map and the other side consisting of a portion of an enlarged gameboard that could be completed with a gameboard extension for a 70% larger gameboard. The enlarged gameboard did not change gameplay though.  The new modular board for Scythe, on the other hand, does.  The Scythe modular board adds a new level of variability to Scythe.  The map is different on both sides and has spaces for 4 big double-sided tiles that change the landscape each game.  Even the faction home base locations can change each game. No longer must the Nordic faction start in the north, or the Saxony faction start in the corner without easy access to the wheat fields that both neighboring factions have. Faction location and landscape can vary every game. No longer can faction strategy count on the consistent landscape around their home base.  Additionally, the modular board adds a drafting element to setup, along with a variant for a tighter map at low player counts.

The Scythe Modular Board comes with 1 double-sided board (624x818mm, same size as the standard Scythe board), 4 double-sided tiles (7 hexes per tile), 8 home base tiles, 8 structure bonus tiles, 1 rulebook (11 languages), and Automa rules for solo play.  Pre-orders from Stonemaier open on May 29, or look for the Scythe Modular Board at your friendly local game store late this summer.

Ulisses Spiele is running a successful Kickstarter campaign for the second edition and new expansions for the Aventuria: Adventure Card Game based on the fantastic setting of The Dark EyeThe Dark Eye, also known as Das Schwarze Auge, has been a successful role-playing game in Germany for over 30 years.  Aventuria: Adventure Card Game is a fast-paced card game where each player takes the role of a hero from Adventuria.  There are two modes of play: Duel Mode, where heroes fight against each other, and Adventure Mode, where heroes join together to adventure and defeat terrifying foes. The game can also be played in solo mode.

The Kickstarter Campaign offers a second edition of the Aventuria card game as well as two new expansions: Inn of the Black Boar and Return to the Inn of the Black Boar.  Second Edition incorporates all rules clarifications and errata from both English and German editions of the First Edition. It also includes the new Life Point Cards and the adventure “The Non-Gambling Kind,” previously available only as a promo, and numerous other new cards and features. The Inn of the Black Boar includes four new heroes and a new exploratory dungeon crawl that uses random Dungeon Cards and 20 different random combat encounters for maximum replayability. The Return to the Inn of the Black Boar mini-expansion adds enough specialty cards to allow up to 6 players.  It also includes cards and combat scenarios for two new factions (the Black Mages and the Undead Circus) you can encounter in the dungeon under the Black Boar, making the mini-expansion useful even for smaller groups and solo play.

The Kickstarter Campaign has several pledges to accommodate backers with varying experience with Aventuria. Backers can pledge for the second edition alone or with the two expansions.  Current owners of Aventuria can pledge for an upgrade package to convert their copy to second edition with the two expansions.

There are a number of add-on and upgraded components available through the Kickstarter also. All five previous expansions can be purchased as add-ons. Wooden boxes with four different decorated in Aventurian themes are available as a unique storage solution for all your cards and components, such as the full color acrylic tokens available as an add-on. Finally, all seven heroes have a special play mat and five exclusive cards that can be purchased as an add-on. There is even a special play mat for the adventure mode available.

The Kickstarter campaign for Aventuria, 2nd Edition, and the Inn of the Black Boar expansions end May 14.  Check out the Kickstarter campaign to learn more.

Seasons of Inis, the soon to be released expansion by Matagot, has a lot to offer to fans of Inis.  Seasons of Inis is an expansion comprised of five very different modules that fans can add to Inis, customizing the game as they see fit. The first module is the addition of an extra player, including action cards and complementary pieces. With a fifth player, competition for leadership will be intent and the battles will be epic. The second module, called We Want a King, shortens the game by avoiding multiple ties for victory if the Brenn is not involved.  This module is ideal for 5-player games but it may also be used in 3- or 4-player games. The third module, The Seasons of Inis, introduces seasonal festivals and climate conditions.  As the seasons change, different climatic conditions affect player actions. Everything tends to slow down in winter while spring issues a renewal phase. Players will need to adapt their strategies to the cycle of the seasons. The fourth module, Sea Travel, introduces a new type of territory: the island.  Players can build harbors on a territory, enabling them to travel on the sea to any other territory with a harbor, including other harbors on the main land. Lastly, the fifth module includes 15 new Epic Tale cards to add to the Epic Tale deck.  

Seasons of Inis is available for pre-order now and is expected to be released soon.  Contents include Season board, Season marker, 5 Season reference cards, 2 updated Action cards (replacing those from the base game), 4 new Action cards (5th player), 1 Pretender token (5th player), 12 clan figures (5th player), 15 new Epic Tale cards, 6 new territories & 1 updated territory tile, 6 new corresponding Advantage cards, 9 Harbor tiles, 1 Deed tokens, 1 Macha’s Curse token, 1 Fili token, 5 Banshee tokens, and 1 King tile.

Plaid Hat Games has announced Battlelands, a fast and furious card game for 3-5 players designed by Jerry Hawthorne (Mice & Mystics) and Andrea Mezzotero (Crystal Clans).  In Battlelands, players send fighters to seize key locations, collect resources, or recruit more fighters.  There are five factions to play – Junkers, Scaled Ones, Bighted, Hoodies, and the Nocturne – each with their own special abilities.  The player who secures enough resources is the winner.  Like Mice and Mystics, Battlelands features factions made up of mice, rats, lizards and moles, but the game is set in a modern world in which the human beings have vanished. This will be the same world used in another game by Jerry Hawthorn coming out later this year, Aftermath.   Little is known about Aftermath at this time other than it will be an Adventure Book game like Mice and Mystics but set in a modern post-human world.

Look for Battlelands at your friendly local game store in July, 2019.