abstract game

Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) has announced the upcoming release of War Chest, a 2-4 player hex grid game with an easy ruleset but complex strategy. Players draw unit coins from their bag each turn, representing 3 actions they can perform. Cards define how the units move and attack, almost in the manner of abstract games such as Onitama. The game continues until one player has managed to place all of their control markers on the board. War Chest comes in a beautiful box decorated to look like an heirloom old style chest, and is pitched as “an ancient game, newly rediscovered and presented as it would have once been presented to the sons and daughters of kings…” Warchest will come with gameboard, 16 cards, 79 high quality poker chip units, 4 player bags and cardboard tokens. More details are available on AEG’s website here. Look for War Chest in stores in July 2018.

Grey Fox Games has announced SUPERHOT Card Game, based on the popular FPS video game SUPERHOT. SUPERHOT Card Game is a deck building game based on Agent Decker (2015), which can be played solo, cooperatively with 2, competitively 1 on 1, or 2 vs 1. As in the videogame, time moves forward when you take actions, meaning the more cards you play, the faster a line of obstacles moves towards you. Look for SUPERHOT Card Game in December 2017. You can read more about SUPERHOT Card Game on Grey Fox’s website here.

Grand Gamers Guild is bringing Pocket Ops, a 2 player competitive deduction/abstract game, to stores in December. Based on the Tic-Tac-Toe framework, players anticipate each others’ moves and stay one step ahead. Victory can be snatched or thwarted by clever use of elite agents – the sniper, assassin, pusher, grappler, or hacker. First to capture both parts of the doomsday device wins Pocket Ops. For more information and pictures of the excellent components, visit the Grand Gamers Guild website here.

Renegade Game Studios, in partnership with Lautapelit.fi, is bringing the excellent game Dokmus to North America in Q1 2018. Dokmus, by Mikko Punakallio, is a highly regarded abstract strategy game with a fantasy theme, taking place on the island of Dokmus. The island is made of 8 large square map tiles in a 3×3 array with a central hole, with each tile made of a 7×7 grid of small terrain squares. Each turn, 2-4 players draft guardian tiles, which provide the actions to move and rotate the map tiles. Additionally, each turn the players place 3 camp tokens on the board, next to their already placed camps. After 8 rounds, players score based on how many camps they placed next to special temple spaces, and how many camps they sacrificed to the volcanoes.

Renegade will also be releasing the expansion, Dokmus: Return of Erefel, which adds another guardian and new map tiles to the game. Read the details in the full press release on Renegade’s website here.

Zendo, the rule guessing abstract game is finally getting an update and reprint.  Zendo is an easy game to play, the active player will come up with a rule, like two pyramids must touch at the tip, and then the other players start building layouts tying to guess the rule.  As the go along the rule maker will answer questions and let you know if you built something that satisfies the rule.  Once someone figures out the rule they win.

When the Pyramid Arcade was announced and Kickstarted, everyone was clamoring for the game Zendo to be added to the list of games in the box.  However, Looney Labs kept saying no, and then we found out that this was because they would reprint the game separately.  And now we have a date to go with that, so look for the game to be back on store shelves in December of this year.

Wizkids has announced a new expansion to the Star Trek: Frontiers game, a re-theme and update to Mage Knight, called The Return of Khan.  This expansion adds a whole new scenario to the game where Khan has returned and is looking to rule the galaxy with power he can steal from the Borg.  It’s up to captains from across the Star Trek series, Picard, Kirk, Sisko, and more, to work together and stop him before he can complete his plans.  This expansion you will give you all the tokens, tiles, and cards needed for this new scenario, as well as rules and tokens to be able to add a 5th player to the game.  You can find this game on store shelves in November of this year, and you can head over to Wizkids’ website to read more about it.

Last from WizKids as well is the colorful euro style building game, Favelas.  In this game you are building your own Favelas, a multi-level house painted all sorts of colors in order to beautify and rejuvenate the town.  However there is a catch, the council over seeing this effort, and the one determining the point values, is notoriously fickle and will change their minds each year, changing the value of each color.  So over three years in the game you will build up your town with colors that get you the most points before the council’s mood changes.  The person with the most points at the end is the winner. Favelas looks like an interesting and colorful game, and it should arrive on store shelves in October of this year.  Until then you can read more on Wizkids’ website.

First in our lineup is the dungeon crawl game from Greenbrier Games called Folklore: The Affliction.  This is an RPG style board game where you are playing characters trying to investigate and drive back the evil that is gripping the land.  The game is themed around the horror genre so you will be fighting things like vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and more.  In an interesting twist for this game, if you are killed you will become a ghost yourself, being able to continue with the party and attack enemies from beyond the grave.  The scale of the game is on two levels, with movement between locations being done on a map board with one pawn denoting the whole group.  Then when you arrive at a location it will zoom in to all of your characters being on another board representing the location for you to explore and fight monsters on.  The game comes packaged with a campaign broken up into smaller chapters that can be played in one sitting, allowing you to tailor the game length to your desires.  Look for this horror dungeon crawl on store shelves next month.

Coming later this month is a new game from Breaking Games called Sparkle*Kitty, a quick card game that turns the helpless princess trope on it’s head.  In the game you each play a different princess trying to escape from the “Cursed “No Cursing” tower“.  Not much else has been released about the game other then it being released later this month, and that the art is fabulous.  So keep an eye out for the game and hopefully it’s good.

Keeping with the light-hearted theme we have the next release from North Star Games, Happy Salmon Blue Fish.  Those hoping for an expansion to this loud and crazy party game will be a bit disappointed, but if you wanted more players in a single game then look no further.  Happy Salmon Blue Fish contains all the same cards and components as the original, only this time the player colors are different than those contained in the original green fish edition of the game.  This makes it easy to ramp the player count all the way up to 12, making for a game that is even louder and crazier than before.  So if you want to have more players, or just prefer the blue color, look for this edition on store shelves in September.

Wizkids has announced their latest game, and it is the generically named Empires, a new trading and negotiation type game.  In Empires, 2 to 10 players will try to expand their kingdom across the land by acquiring support.  To get support “by supplying your people with goods; goods are produced when your people work in your territories.  Players can gain people, territories, goods, and supporters by winning wars. Wars will be won by the armies raised by paying gold. Gold can be earned by winning wars and by selling goods.”  So as you can see there is a lot of shuffling around of resources, but you won’t always have all the resources you need, that’s where the trading comes in.  You are allowed to trade anything and everything between players, goods, player powers, people, territories, whatever you have so that you can achieve your goal.  So if this kind of game intrigues you, look for it on store shelves in October of this year.

Next we have something that is exciting for Tom Vasel, and that is the impending release of the next game in the Dice Tower Essentials line, Critical Mass.  The game used to be known as Starborne, and is a two player card battle game with some deck building.  Each player will pick their mech, and each mech comes with it’s own unique starting deck of cards.  From there you will play cards against each other attacking, defending, and upgrading.  Attacking and defending as self explanatory, and the upgrading action is what allows you to get more cards into your deck.  However, as you play more cards you will start to run out, and you don’t get cards back until you do a reload action.  As you take hits you will lose armor, lose too much armor and your core becomes vulnerable, allowing your opponent to stun you for a turn.  The winner will be the one who destroys all the armor on their opponent’s mech first.  Look for this game on the shelves of your FLGS in November.

Finally we have two new games coming from Ankama games later this year in Dino Party and Stellium.  Dino Party is a party game at the end of the age of dinosaurs, where you and your friends are trying to grow your herd and get to the protected spaces.  But with disasters happening all around you, will you be able to make it?  This quick party game will be released next month.

Stellium is a new abstract game where you are creators of the universe in the midst of creating that universe.  On a turn you will draw a colorful marble from a bag and place it on the board, aiming to arrange the marbles in specific ways to satisfy contracts.  But since this is being done by everyone on the same board, you have to be careful not to setup your opponent to score instead of you.  An additional layer of strategy is added with variable player powers, allowing you to place a marble and then manipulate them in different ways.  Look for this game to be released in October of this year.

Big Potato has released their two latest games, OK Play and Chameleon, and both are exclusive to Target stores.  The first is Chameleon, a social deduction game in the same vein as Spyfall where you are trying to find the chameleon.  To start you shuffle up the code cards and the chameleon card and give one to each player, then you will flip over a topic card and roll two dice.  From those two dice and the code card it will indicate which topic, there are 16 on a card, the players will be talking about.  At that point you will take some time to think of a word associated with the topic, something specific but not too specific.  The chameleon’s job is to either blend in and not get outed, or if that fails, to figure out what the topic is.  Everyone else’s job is to make it hard for the chameleon to figure out the word, and try to sus out who the chameleon really is.  Tom Vasel give it a Seal of Excellence in his video review and so if you like games like Spyfall, give this one a look.

The other game is OK Play, a simple abstract game where you are trying to get 5 of your colored pieces in a row.  Gameplay is super easy in that all you do on your turn is place a piece, or move a piece if they are all out, and whoever gets 5 in a row first is the winner.  With quick and simple gameplay like that, Big Potato took the time to make sure the game is playable anywhere, and I think they accomplished that.  The pieces are nice plastic tiles and the carrier for them keeps them all contained in four nice stacks, allowing for easy travel with this game.  Tom give this game a Seal of Approval in his video review and so if you like simple abstract games like this, check it out.  For more info you can read the two press releases below.


The Chameleon – Big Potato Games

Big Potato are back with a brand new game called The Chameleon. The indie games company will be releasing its game as an exclusive at Target this summer and the game is out now across all stores and on-line.

It was recently crowned the ‘Best Party Game’ at the UK Games Expo which is the third largest games convention in the world, and was awarded The Dice Tower’s reputable ‘Seal of Excellence’.

The Chameleon is a family-friendly, social bluffing game, devised by legendary board game inventor Rikki Tahta, creator of Coup. If you are the hidden Chameleon, your mission is to stay undetected and work out the secret code word. If you aren’t the Chameleon then you must track down that elusive Chameleon without giving away the secret word. If the wrong person is accused, the real Chameleon escapes. If the Chameleon is caught, they have one last chance to escape by guessing the secret word.

Games are short and sweet, and full of flying accusations, quick-thinking and Sherlock-like deductions.

For more information, visit www.thechameleongame.com.

• Ages 14+

• 3 to 8 players

• 10 minutes to play


OK Play – Big Potato Games

This summer, indie board games company Big Potato is releasing its new family-friendly travel game called OK Play. Big Potato is the only board game brand that is exclusive to Target and the game is out now across all stores and online.

OK Play is super-simple to learn but tricky to win. It’s like an off-road Connect Four but for 2-4 players and to win you’ve got to sneak a straight or horizontal line of 5 tiles in a row. There’s no board to stop the game going off in random directions and if you run out of tiles, you get to re-position old ones.

With toughened plastic tiles and a handy carabiner, OK Play is made to travel. Don’t leave home without it.

For more information, visit www.okplaygame.com.

• Ages 8+

• 2 to 4 players

• 15 minutes to play

About Big Potato

After the success of their trivia card game Linkee, founders Ben, Dean and Tris decided to set up their own business. Big Potato was set up in 2012 as an independent board games company.  With all of the products created and designed in-house, Big Potato offers a variety of board games ranging from family games to adult party games. The Shoreditch-based company sell through UK retailers both large and small. Last year, they successfully entered the U.S. market through an exclusive deal with Target.

The UK Games Expo (UKGE) released it’s attendance numbers for this year, and with a total of 16,383 attendees, they have increased their attendance from last year by around 30%.  This pushes the UKGE up on the list of gaming conventions to be the 3rd largest gaming convention in the world.  Another interesting number is that they showcased 320 different exhibitors, and the attendees attended an average of 2 days with entry numbers over the whole convention being 30,743.  Also announced were the winners of the UKGE Awards for 2017, and they are:

Best Family Game – Sushi Go Party
Best Children’s Game – Baobab
Best Euro Game – SubTerra
Best American Style Game – Dark Souls
Best Strategic Game – The Colonists
Best Card Game – Statecraft
Best Abstract Game – Ominoes
Best Miniatures – Dropfleet Commander
Best Role-Playing Game – Adventures In Middle-Earth Player Guide
Best Role-Playing – Syrinscape
Best Party Game – Chameleon
Best Expansion – Dropfleet Commander: Reconquest Phase Two
Best Accessory – Dropfleet Commander Modular Spacestation Pack
Best Miniatures Rules – Dropfleet Commander

They have also stated that next year the UK Games Expo will be held on June 1st through the 3rd, you can read the full post for more information and to sign up for updates.

Breaking Games has a pair of games coming out next month with one being a Kickstarter game and the other being an abstract strategy game.  Lets looks first at the abstract game called Aura.  The game plays up to four people and revolves around playing down cards to eliminate cards from your opponent’s deck.  The cards themselves have both a color, and a value or special ability.  Play is simple with a play/draw type turn structure and you are aiming to protect yourself and attack your opponent.  The colors have a rock/paper/scissor type strength and weakness chart so value is not the only determiner when things get revealed.  Be the last one with cards left in the game to be crowned the winner.

Next is a Kickstarter game that is being brought to retail, and that is The King’s Abbey.  The King’s Abbey is a dice worker placement game where you are trying to build the best abbey to help bring your kingdom out of the dark ages.  Each round has you rolling dice and using those dice to acquire resources similar to how you get resources in Stone Age, and then you use those resources to perform actions and build your abbey.  You will also be going on crisades and defending your abbey from attacks to keep it from being torn down.  Completed crusades and buildings will earn you points, and the most point at the end is the winner.  Look for this game and Aura to be on store shelves in June.

Last is the announcement of the latest expansion to the Ascension deck building game, and that is Ascension: Alliances.  This is an expansion only set and mainly changes the way that you can play four player games.  With this set you can convert any Ascension set into a team versus team game with two players on each side.  The new rules change how the unite keyword works, and includes a bunch of cards that play into the new team game play mode.  Plus as kind of a bonus, this new set comes in an Ascension themed deck box that can hold 100+ cards and has a divider.  Needless to say if you are a fan of the game and are looking for a new way to play with four, look for this set on store shelves in July.

Euler’s Game has announced pre-orders for their new 2p abstract game, Hypergrid, in the EU and surrounding countries. In Hypergrid, players take turns placing pairs of colored discs on a 3×3 grid, combining their effects,  trying to create more lines than their opponent. If a player stacks chips 3 or more high, they can use its elemental effect. When a player can no longer place chips, the game ends, and the most points wins. Using concepts from topological geometry and vector operators, Hypergrid is an abstract game with a simple ruleset but infinite options. Hypergrid comes with a neoprene game mat, 65 colored tokens, 9 colored markers and 2 d6 markers. Pre-orders can be taken through Blackfire Entertainment and are expected to continue through June.

Playford Games have their latest board game up on Kickstarter now, an abstract game called Capere.  This game is billed as an abstract strategy game with card based movement and simple scoring rules, but as usual, simple doesn’t mean easy.  The game can be played with two or four players and in both cases you will have a line of blocks representing your soldiers.  On your turn you draw a card and it will either be a movement card or a god card.  Movement cards give you a value of one to four, indicating how many move action you can take, and a god card will just show the god’s symbol.  God cards are mostly good allowing you to skip turns, with the bad one skipping your turn, allow you to resurrect pieces, remove pieces, or even jump over other pieces in your way.  You earn points by with fully surrounding an opponent or by making it to their starting line on the board.  First person to 6 points is the winner, or if you somehow get trapped and can’t make a legal move, then your opponent wins.

Marble playing pieces

The game is simple and yet has good strategy decisions, and the graphic design is clean and elegant, exactly what you would want from an abstract game.  The pieces are interesting as it says they are made from cut marble, and there is a deluxe option available where you get resin busts of roman soldiers for playing pieces.  So if you are a fan of abstract strategy games, give this one a look on it’s campaign page.