Rio Grande has a wealth of new releases this month, and strong variety at that. These releases cover the spectrum of new family-weight entries to classic heavy strategy titles. Personally I’m always fond of showers of releases like this because it’s fun to try to find a gem among them, and for this month I don’t think that’ll be difficult – not one bit. All of these titles are set to hit retail before the end of this October, just in time for Essen 2019.

To start us off is a new family game, Butterfly, designed by Stephen Glenn for 2-to-5 players ages 8 and up. Players each take turns moving Hudson the Hedgehog around the field collecting stuff: colorful butterflies, dragonflies, lightning bugs, crickets and flowers, but trying to avoid bees and wasps. The goal is to maneuver the plucky hedgehog to get you things you want while denying your opponents access to better stuff. The player with the best collection of things is the winner!

The next stop on this board game train sees us stopping in the Middle East and South Africa in the newest expansion to the Friedemann Friese’s Power Grid. This new pair of maps will give fans of the energy empire-building game new geographies and resource restrictions to deal with. The Middle East map, appropriately, is abundant in oil from the get-go, but this abundance will dry up and it’s imperative to build back-up energy plans to compensate by the time it leaves. The South Africa map is massive, and thus features 6 international power connections and a huge amount of coal-based power executed by a single trust. Players will need to adapt and capitalize quickly to succeed on either game board.

Following that is a new collaboration between one of my favorite designers, Bruno Cathalla, and Johannes Goupy known as Queenz. 2-to-4 players will be beekeepers trying to attract bees via orchids and collecting valuable honey. Each turn players will either collect flowers to fill their warehouse, or they’ll start up a new field filled with flowers from their collection and collect honey, getting points at the end of the game for having the most valuable hives on the board. It’s a very cool set collection / pattern building game with a grid element that rewards careful planning, but don’t take my word for it – feel free to watch Zee’s excellent review of the game to learn more.

Last, but definitely not least, is the English version of an area majority and set collection game designed by Frank Crittin, Grégoire Largey, and Sébastien Pauchon known as The Way of the Bear. Originally released in many other languages as Wangdo, this game sees 2-to-4 players control clans of bears trying to wrestle control of northeast Asia. To do this, players must place bear statues which allow them to collect tokens, but as the board fills up with these statues it becomes more difficult, and costly, to place them. The first player to collect their full set of tokens wins.

And with that, everyone, concludes this round-up – Have a great October everyone and Happy Gaming!

Reiner Knizia returns to the land between the Tigris and Euphrates in Babylonia, published by Ludonova. In Babylonia, players seek to increase the prosperity of their clan by claiming placing nobles and farmers in strategic regions of the ancient Mesopotamian land to crop fields, influence cities, and gain benefits form Ziggurats.  

Gameplay is simple: play clan tokens from the player stand, score surrounded cities and Ziggurats, refill the player stand.  The more nobles near to a city, the more points that can be scored, but some cities only score certain types of nobles.  Points for cropping fields with farmers vary, sometimes depending on the number of cities near clan members. Surrounding a Ziggurat grants the player with the most tokens next to it a Ziggurat card, which grants a unique bonus in the game available only to the player who holds the card.

Play continues until a player runs out of clan tokens or only one city remains on the board. The player with the most points wins.

Babylonia plays 2-4 players, ages 14+ in 60 minutes. Contents include a gameboard, 32 location tiles, 9 Ziggurat cards, 120 clan tokens (30 in each color), 4 scoring markers, 4 stands, 5 Ziggurats, and rulebook. Look for the game now available at your friendly local game store.

In Cosmic Colonies, 2-5 players are each placing building tiles in polyomino shapes on their own asteroid board, trying to score the most points. The asteroid board is a grid of different terrain types. Players are trying to cover up certain terrain types during the game because they are awarded more points for having fewer squares of different terrain types showing at the end of the game. Mechanically, the game utilizes simultaneous selection of worker cards that can be used to collect resources or build building tiles. The worker cards orbit around the table, in that the two you use each round are passed to the player on your left at the end of the round.

There is a basic mode and an advanced mode. The game also makes scaling adjustments based on the number of players.

Cosmic Colonies is being published by Floodgate Games. It is designed by Scott Almes (Tiny Epic series of games), with art by Matt Bain, Matt Paquette, and Tristam Rossin.

The Kickstarter campaign for Cosmic Colonies runs through 10:00 pm EDT on October 24th. There is a single pledge level of $39 for the game. The game projects to deliver in May 2020.

Designer Tristan Hall follows up 1066, Tears To Many Mothers with 1565, St Elmo’s Pay on Kickstarter.  1465, St Elmo’s Pay is a strategic card game about the Siege of Malta in 1565.  The game comes with two asymmetric decks based on the historical figures at the battle: Lala Mustafa Pasha, the campaign commander for the Ottoman Empire, and Jean Parisot de Valette, the Grand Master of the Knights of St John.  Players play cards to build their armies with units, attachments, leaders, and special tactics, but they will also have to accomplish other historical objectives unique to each leader on their way to Malta, adding a narrative aspect to the wargame.

Like all of Hall Or Nothing productions, this two player game is also supports a solo mode, supported by an AI mode with variable difficulty.  Some of the cards have solo specific effects!

The armies in both 1565, St Elmo’s Pay and its predecessor 1066, Tears To Many Mothers are interchangeable, allowing players to pit the Ottoman Turks against the Duke William’s Normans or the Knight of St John against Harold Godwinson’s Saxons. Future plans for the company include additional games in the series featuring all new theaters of conflict that will not only provide players a new stand-alone game, but also two new armies to challenge the other armies in the series in a duel for the best army in history.

The Kickstarter campaign runs through November 1 with expected delivery in September 2020.  Backers can support 1565, St Elmo’s Pay, and pick up 1066, Tears To Many Mothers as well.  Each game also has beautiful neoprene playmats depicting the battle that can also be added to a pledge.

1565, St Elmo’s Pay plays 1-2 players, ages 10+, in 30-40 minutes.  The game includes 154 cards, 80 wooden health tokens, 20 boost tokens, a first player token, and two rulebooks (one for solo play).

Congratulations to Justin b, this week’s winner of a $10.00 gift certificate to Cool Stuff Inc. Just prior to posting this announcement, instructions were emailed on how to claim his certificate.

Thank you to everyone that’s subscribed to our news (each week we’ll award a $10 CSI gift certificate to a random subscriber)! We hope that you’re enjoying the content provided and that it’s been informative.

We’d also like to express our gratitude towards Cool Stuff Inc for providing the gift certificates! We’ve given away hundreds of dollars so far! You can visit Cool Stuff’s web site here.

Codenames, the wildly successful party card game designed by Vlaada Chvatil, is getting yet another theme applied to it, following in the footsteps of Codenames: Disney and Codenames: Harry Potter, to name a couple. The new edition of the game is Codenames: The Simpsons.

Codenames: The Simpsons uses both words and pictures as up to 8 players (split up into teams) work together cooperatively to locate secret agents hiding among many of their favorite Simpsons characters including the entire Simpson family, Mr Burns, Krusty the Clown, and a host of others. The game will be available during the 2019 holiday season.

If you are interested in the latest Codenames incarnation, check out the information on OP’s website here.

Not THAT game for a throne!

Renegade Games has announced a new expansion for its Eternal: Chronicles of the Throne deckbuilding game. Eternal: Chronicles of the Throne Gold and Steel Expansion requires the base game to play and adds gold, weapons, markets and double-influence abilities as new mechanics. The expansion comes with 88 cards, 4 market trays, 1 sentinel token and, of course, a rulebook.

The expansion is expected to be available in 2020. More information about this upcoming expansion release can be found here.

Wolfgang Warsch has undeniably been on a tear in the game design world, inventing new and intriguing design-after-design, with several new games still in the pipeline. One that came as a surprise, but also no exception, was in collaboration with the publishers of Exploding Kittens, because it’s available right now as an Amazon exclusive. On a Scale of One to T-Rex is a party game for 2-to-8 players where all players act out cards simultaneously to find matching pairs among them. Billed as a game for “people who are bad at charades”, this isn’t misleading as the real ticket to the game isn’t in the quality of your performance, but the strength of it. Have a look at the game’s description to see why:

“Players must perform ridiculous actions like “Be a T-Rex,” “Scratch an Itch You Can’t Reach,” or “Be a Hula Dancer” on a scale of 1 to 10. The twist is that the quality of your action doesn’t matter – you earn points by guessing and matching the intensity each player is performing their action. There are no turns in this fast-paced game, so in the midst of all the roaring, dancing, meowing, and yodeling, you must find someone on the same intensity level as you to earn points. The player with the most points wins!”

It’s a very novel, simple idea – what if we had charades, but everyone acted at the same time in different degrees? Nobody will be able to focus on how skilled you are in acting, no no no, they’ll be too busy laughing and trying to find someone doing whatever they’re doing as loud or as fast. It’s not only a fresh concept that will undoubtedly pull your friends and family in as soon as you tell them what the game is called – it’s also a brilliantly funny experience that is definitely worth the look. If you’re interested in learning more about On a Scale of One to T-Rex, please check out their website for videos, rules, and more.

For those familiar with Minecraft the video game, you will know it is a sandbox-style game. Ravensburger has collaborated with Mojang to create Minecraft: Builders and Biomes as a board game! Designed by Ulrich Blum, this game is for 2-4 players that can be played within 30-60 minutes.

Players will compete to gain the most points by the end of the game by mining rare cubes, fighting dangerous mobs, and building structures as they explore the Overworld. Collecting weapons and using resources mined from a block of 64 cubes will aid players in ensuring a victory!

Pre-orders for this game is available now. For more information, click here.

AEG is going to make Tiny Towns a bit larger with the Fortune expansion coming out next year. The material addition provided by the expansion is introducing money into the game. The expansion also adds variability to the base game with new building cards and monument cards.

The Fortune expansion keeps the player count at the same 1-6 players as the base game. Tiny Towns designer Peter McPherson is joined by Josh Wood (designer of Cat Lady) on the design for the expansion. The expansion has a new artist in Stephanie Gustafsson, who also did art for Aeon’s End: War Eternal and Coup.

Preliminary estimates are that the expansion will hit shelves in February 2020. Did you know the contextual theme for Tiny Towns is that you are the mayor of a burgeoning city of woodland creatures creating a sanctuary free from predators? Neat.