abstract games

Skellig Games has announced two new titles for release at Essen Spiel this October. Skellig is a small German board game and publishing house known for family weight games. Their first game, Concerto (2018) by designer Uwe Bursik is a well-received memory game with a musical theme.

Ambrosia, also by designer Uwe Bursik is a bee themed abstract game in which 2-4 players move bee “stones” across fields to collect nectar and score points. Different types of bees, such as guardians, berserkers or drones, give special abilities along the way. Stones can both block other players and set up points in this no-luck pure strategy game. The game comes with a double sided modular board and event cards to keep replayability high.

Mice to Meet You by designer Daniel Bernsen is a family friendly roll and write game for 1-5 players, which uses a unique “roll and discard” mechanism. The active player rolls dice to discard their mouse cards, while opponents get to take advantage of the unused dice. The game lasts a short 20 minutes, and the winner is the player with the fewest points in hand.

For more information on Skellig Games’ releases at Essen, check out their website here.

Calliope Games has announced a new Tsuro game, Tsuro: Phoenix Rising, coming in 2019. Tsuro (2004) by Tom McMurchie, and its followup Tsuro of the Seas (2012) by Tom McMurchie and Jordan Weisman are well regarded abstract family games, in which 2-8 players take turns placing tiles in a grid. Each tile continues several curving paths. Each player has a token on one specific path, and must move along the path as it grows. Therefore, new tiles have the possibility of moving a token off the board, and eliminating that player. Little is known about the details of Tsuro: Phoenix Rising, except that it will be featured soon during PAX Unplugged, November 30 through December 2.

Fireside Games (Castle Panic, Kaiju Crush) has announced Grackles, an upcoming abstract strategy game for 2-4 players, designed by John Shulters and Sarah Graybill. In Grackles, players take turns placing tiles with colored spots, or using their bird tokens to matching spots on telephone lines. The game continues until the board consists of 5 by 5 tiles, and the player with the most birds on telephone wires is the winner. The game will come with 25 tiles, 45 bird tokens in each of 4 player colors, rotate tokens, and player aids. You can read more about Grackles on Fireside Games’ website here. Expect Grackles at your FLGS in August 2018.

Z-Man Games is bringing out a new edition of yet another classic game.

Clans, the 2003 Spiel de Jahres nominated game, has been reimagined into a “mystical Celtic setting.” The new version will be called Fae.

Fae will keep the same simple mechanics from the original game but will have “art and production quality up to modern standards.”

In this 2-4 player game, players will be moving druids around the board, forming them into larger groups that will then move together themselves. If this results in an area with druids being surrounded by empty spaces, that space will score based on the type of area and the color of druids in the group.

The trick is that what color the players are is kept secret until the end of the game, adding a bit of bluffing to the area scoring aspect.

Keep an eye on the Z-Man Games web site for more information, and be on the lookout for Fae to be released later in 2018. It is available for pre-order.

Deepwater Games has officially opened its doors as a new board game development and distribution company, and is starting by bringing games from the excellent company EmperorS4 to North America. The Taiwanese company EmperorS4 hit the scene strongly in recent years with such excellent games as Hanamikoji and Burano, and Deepwater Games has secured the rights to bring their next four games to the U.S.

Herbalism is a logic and deduction card game for 3-4 players, in which players try to figure out the right combination of ingredients to cure an ongoing pandemic. Players share information, but only one player will be crowned the “God Farmer”, so hidden information remains essential.

Shadows in Kyoto is a 2 player abstract game set in the same world as Hanamikoji. Using elements of Stratego, players need to gather information about their opponents pieces. Players move wooden pieces with hidden characteristics on a grid board, and win by capturing certain pieces, or by reaching the opposite end of the board. Cards with gorgeous art control movement, and add special actions to the mix. Shadows in Kyoto is a quick simple game, but with deep elements and plenty of room to tweak the complexity.

Crows Overkill is a light “take that” card game for 2-4 players. Players are trying to remove crows from in front of themselves, so that they can sleep in a little longer. Card play dismisses crows or moves them to other players, giving this party game a heavy “hurt your neighbor” feel.

Hanzi is a 2-5 player memory matching game, using 3600 year old kanji characters. Players will create new written characters which form the basis of modern Chinese culture, making this fun and engaging game also a valuable learning experience. Double sided cards show an old Han era character on one side, and the new modern character on the other. Players try to match their given theme by revealing the correct characters.

Deepwater Games is bringing these four games to America in 2018, and will be bringing certain American titles to Asia in a reciprocal deal. They have also stated that they will have 2 more titles coming from EmperorS4 in late 2018, as well as their own in-house developments. You can read the full press release from Deepwater Games on their website here.

 

UltraPro Entertainment has three new games due for release this January.

Fightin’ Words from designer Mike Elliot (Dice Masters, Thunderstone) is a variant of Texas Hold ‘Em Poker, in which 2-6 players bet on who can make the largest word. Five face up cards are common to all players, with a secret two card hand held in reserve. Cards also have western themed “suits” which can be collected for tokens and bonus points. The first player with seven or more of one token type triggers the end of the game, and the most coins wins the game. Humorous “Wanted Posters” dictate special scoring for each round.

Shadow Blocks has players putting together three dimensional tetris like pieces, trying to create an object which matches the printed shadows as seen from two angles. Challenge cards with shadows come in three different difficulties, and the game contains enough blocks for 4 players.  Shadow Blocks comes with 20 blocks, 72 challenge cards and 4 player boards.

Zircles is an abstract game in which players put magnetic triangular pieces onto a board, trying to complete circles of their color. Complete you own circles or sabotage an opponent; the most points from completing circles wins the game. Zircles comes with both solo and two player rules.

Check out more details about these games on the UltraPro Website here.

Outer Limit Games has started a Kickstarter Campaign for the abstract strategy game Trench. Trench, developed in 2013 by Rui Alípio Monteiro, has been taught in universities, recognized by NATO for its interpretation of trench warfare, and used in the Mind Sports Olympiad. In trench, 2 players compete on a diamond shaped 8×8 board, trying to capture all the opponent’s pieces. The pieces are striking 2-tone black and white tiered tiles, which come in 5 power levels. Each piece type can move farther and has increasing options for which directions it can travel. The center line of the board is the trench, which adds extra abilities and hindrances, allowing players to capture multiple pieces, but only on the opponents half of the board.

Trench will be sure to be compared to classics such as Chess and Checkers. The Kickstarter campaign will continue through October 19, and is expected to deliver in April 2018.

Blue Orange Games has two great new games coming in August 2017.

Following in the spirit of their Spiel winning Kingdomino, Fantastic Park by designer Brett J. Gilbert (Elysium) has 2-5 players using domino style tiles with one animal on each side to build a park. Whatever animals are left on your last remaining tile in hand are the animal types that score. Animals score according to the largest connected group of that type. If a player has a domino with matching ends in hand at game end, that animal type scores twice.

Photosynthesis has been getting a lot of buzz lately, and rightly so. Almost an abstract game, Photosynthesis has 2-4 players growing trees on a large hex grid board. Each turn, the sun moves around the periphery of the board, and trees will gather sun energy from that direction. Remember that larger trees will shade smaller trees, preventing the collection of energy. After collecting energy, players spend the sun to grow trees, plant new seeds, or complete the life cycle by removing large trees for points. The game lasts for 3 or 4 full revolutions of the sun around the board. Photosynthesis is a strategic balance of resource collection and spending, with gorgeous components and art by Sabrina Miramon (Quadropolis).

Through the Desert is a classic Reiner Knizia abstract game that has gotten some great reviews and sits at #15 for abstract games.  The game is exceedingly simple to play, on your turn you place two camels of any color you like.  When you place camels you have to match their color to ones already on the board, placing them adjacent to each other.  One restriction is that you can’t place ANY camels adjacent to your opponent’s camels, meaning you can cut off sections of the board with clever placement.

What you are trying to do with these camels is either connect or encircle the watering holes or oasis on the board.  Watering holes are worth 1 to 3 points and oasis are worth 5 points.  You also get bonus points for if you fully enclose an area by how big that area is.  Most points at the end is the winner.

Since this is a reprint of an older game, and part of Z-Man’s Euro Classics line, the art and components have been updated to match modern published games.  They did the usual revising of the rules to eliminate ambiguities, and even created a second side to the board for an additional way to play by adding in the Niger river.  Needless to say, if you like the original or like abstract games, give this one a look when it hits store shelves later this year.  For more info you can head on over to Z-Man’s website.

New games coming out in the hobby gaming world are something we come to expect as many are released, but one thing we always take special note of is when a hobby game breaks into the mainstream stores like Target.  The Game of 49 has achieved that feat, and so through an agreement between Breaking Games and Target, you will now be able to pick up The Game of 49 at Target stores nationwide.  You can read about the announcement on the Morningstar website, and then pop into your local Target to grab a copy of the game.