area control

Terra Mystica is easily one of the biggest and highest rated Eurogames of all time, having inspired a space-themed spin-off in Gaia Project. Yet it has not stopped growing as this Fall we’ll be seeing another expansion for this 2-to-5 player territory terraformin’ game. Merchants of the Seas brings shipyards, Markets, and new maps to the multitude of factions vying for control – even the ones introduced in previous expansions! You’ll be able to send out ships to take special shipping actions, or perhaps play one of the few races that prefers to not get their feet wet and instead try to manipulate trade with other structures. All this can be played independently or combined with previous expansion content, meaning you’ll be able to make the as complex and intricate as your table can handle.

Merchants of the Seas expands on the hit terraforming gameplay of Terra Mystica. Develop your faction’s nautical strategy, stake a claim on distant lands, or focus on the benefits of trade. Plus, a double-sided board and over 30 tiles add countless new avenues to victory.”

There are two main goals with this expansion that should not be overlooked by the promise of added rules – strategic flexibility and balancing. Ships and trading allow for a wide variety of action potential that is, for the most part, independent on your current standing in a game – have water, will travel. Both ships and trading have ways to give you access to distant or action efficient terraforming and building options, making it harder to be built into a corner and opening new tactical decisions to boot. The new maps offer tons of replay potential and include new starting scores for each faction for all the maps that exist, balancing the game no matter how the landscape falls. If you’re interested in Terra Mystica or Merchants of the Seas, check out Z-Man’s website for more rules, images, and preorder information through them or your favorite local retailer.

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.

Red Raven Games announces Roam, a new game sharing the same world as Near and Far, Islebound, and Above and Below.  Roam is set in the land of Arzium and features characters seen in the other games in the shared world.  In Roam, players seek out lost adventurers scattered across the land, rescue them and add them to their party, increasing their ability to find more lost adventurers faster. The area being searched is made up of six land cards in the center of the table, and each character has a unique search pattern players can use to search the lands.  Each land card is divided into six squares to be searched, some of which have coins that players can use to purchase upgrades and tools to aid in their search.  When a land card has been completely searched, the player who did the most searching adds the adventurer to their party.  Each new adventurer also adds a new search pattern the player can use.  Both tools and found adventurers are worth points. When one player has ten adventurers in their party, the game ends, and the player with the most points wins.

Roam plays 2-4 players, ages 8+, in about 30 minutes. A release date has not been announced yet.  More details will be available when the Kickstart launches soon.

Floodgate Games, the makers of Sagrada, have announced Bosk – A game of majestic trees and falling leaves.

In Bosk, players control a species of tree and compete to control areas of the park by letting their trees’ leaves blow and land in different spaces. The game is played over four rounds – spring, summer, autumn and winter.

In spring, you plant your trees and in Summer, visitors travel the trails where you planted trees and reward players based on tree placement. However, keep in mind that where you plant your trees in the spring also affects your long-term plans. In autumn, the game picks up the pace. By manipulating the wind direction and deciding how many leaves fall from each tree, players try to maximize their control of the board. In winter, the leaves are used to score points based on the area controlled.

Each player also controls one cute-as-heck squirrel meeple. No one can mess with your squirrel!

Bosk is designed by Daryl Andrews & Erica Bouyouris. Illustrations are by Kwanchai Moriya. The game is for 2-4 players aged 13+ and plays in 30-45 minutes.

Pre-orders of Bosk commence April 22 and retail release is in July 2019.

IDW Games announces a new tile-laying game by HG Game Worx. In Amoeba, designed by Heidi and Greg Preslicka, players draw and place tiles in order to build the biggest amoebas then claim those amoebas by placing their nuclei markers on them.  But here is the twist, players can place tiles on top of completed amoebas to split them up and reduce their opponent’s score.  There are 12 unique tiles that will require pattern recognition and strategic thinking to grow the biggest amoeba. The game ends when all tiles are played, and the player with the biggest amoeba wins.

Amoeba plays 2-4 players, ages 8+, in about 30 minutes.  Contents include 84 Amoeba Tiles, 40 Nuclei Markers, 1 Custom Die, and a multilingual rulesheet.  Amoeba is scheduled for release in June 2019.

Galactic Raptor Games has just launched their new game, Animal Kingdoms, on Kickstarter.  In Animal Kingdom, players are house leaders seeking to gain control of the five animal kingdoms by placing more animals under their control in a kingdom than any other player. Animals are represented by numbered cards in eight beautiful suits.  However, each kingdom has decrees that determine how players may place animals in the kingdom.  The game is played over the course of three ages, providing several opportunities to establish control over a kingdom.  Later victories are worth more, but earlier victories provide an advantage in controlling the kingdom if they claim the capitol city and thus a permanent seat on the council for the kingdom.  Points are earned for second and third place control in the kingdom, and points are also earned for being the first to withdraw from an age.  The player with the most influence points at the end of the third age is the winner.  The game includes several variable elements to ensure that it lays differently every time.  The kingdom decrees are randomly selected from a pool of 30 different decrees each game.  Additionally, the point values of a kingdom are also randomly selected for each age every game.

Animal Kingdom plays 1-5 players, ages 8+, in about 45 minutes.  Contents include 64 noble beast cards, 30 decree cards, 15 first place tokens, 4 first to withdraw tokens, 90 influence cubes, game board, scoreboard, 5 player scoring markers, and rulebook.  A deluxe option available on Kickstarter only upgrades the influence cubes to custom wooden animal meeples and includes 64 custom printed card sleeves. The Kickstarter campaign was funded on the first day and runs through 1 February with an expected delivery of November 2019.

Z-Man Games announces a fresh new take on the classic Carcassonne game: Carcassonne: Safari.    Instead of building the French countryside surrounding Carcassonne, players will build the wilderness of Africa with savannahs, bush, animal paths, baobab trees, and watering holes, all teaming with wildlife.  The wildlife is key to scoring in Carcassonne: Safari.  Unlike traditional Carcassonne, scored points are not based on size or length of a controlled area.  Instead, scored points are based on the number of different animals in the scoring area. A safari is certainly more interesting with a larger variety of animals.  Bonus points are scored for each bird in a scored area.  Boabab trees, like the cloisters in the original Carcassonne game, need to be surrounded before being completed. However, boabab trees do not score any points.  Instead, they provide the player controlling the baobab tree animal tokens when placed and additional animal tokens when completed.  Players can use the animal tokens to increase the scoring of bushes and paths by discarding a token to increase the number of animal types scored in the area by one.  Animal tokens can also be used to create watering holes.  Every player can contribute to any watering hole by adding their animal token to the watering hole as long as it contains a different animal than one already there. Scoring encourages the completion of watering hole because each new tile placed to expand the watering hole scores an increasing number of points. Lastly, this game features two ranger vehicles that reside just adjacent to the safari tiles.  Players may move the ranger vehicles as part of their move.  Placing a tile beneath a ranger vehicle scores additional bonus points.  Carcassonne: Safari is the fourth game in the Carcassonne Around the World series which already features Carcassonne: Amazonas, Carcassonne: Gold Rush, and Carcassonne: South Seas.  Carcassonne: Safari is available for pre-order now and will be released in late 2018.  Go to Z-Man Games to learn more about Carcassonne: Safari.

 

Belfort was originally published in 2011 and has been out of print for a long time. Tasty Minstrel Games (TMG) is bringing it back in a new updated format with brand new content and extra table appeal. In addition, Belfort: The Expansion Expansion, which is also out of print, is also being reprinted as part of the new Kickstarter campaign.

Belfort is a worker placement/area control game in which 2-5 players collect resources and use them to create buildings and maintain control over city districts. Elves, Dwarves and Gnomes must work together and in conjunction with the town guilds to build the small village of Belfort into a bustling city!

For those of you who already own everything Belfort there is to own, a NEW Expansion! – Belfort: The New Expansion – with never before seen content is in development. This new expansion will be completely compatible with any edition of Belfort that was previously published.

Jay Cormier and Sen-Foo Lim, the designing duo known as the Bamboozle Brothers, are back again to create this new expansion content. In addition, the original artist, Josh Cappel, is working on the art for the expansion as well as revisiting the original Belfort art.

“We are working hard to make sure this edition will be truly something special and will be a welcome addition to the collections of those who have played the game before and those who are brand new to the experience.”

The new expansion needs a name

TMG has not put an official name on the new expansion yet and they are looking for help from backers. On the Kickstarter campaign page, you can take a look at the rules and offer up what you think would be the perfect name for the Belfort expansion. Once the campaign ends, TMG will make a final decision on the name.

The Belfort 10th Anniversary Edition campaign doesn’t have any Stretch Goals. TMG has chosen to pre-load it with component upgrades including metal coins and painted wood.

The Kickstarter campaign is fully funded and runs until October 20th. Several pledge levels are available for those new to the Belfort world who want to go all in as well as those who only want to upgrade their components or get the expansion.

Watch some Dice Tower Coverage of Belfort as well as Belfort: The Expansion Expansion.

River Horse has launched its latest Kickstarter for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – The Board Game. In this strategic game, two to four players vie for control of the 14 districts in Panem.  Each district has a special ability, depending on who controls the district.  The rebellion only has six turns to bring eight of the districts into uprising and win the game.  The Capital begins with the upper hand, controlling all the districts at the beginning of the game.  They can quell uprising with their Peacekeeper forces, but there are not enough Peacekeepers to quells uprisings everywhere.  Players can play mission cards to change how the district can be won.  Players can commit leader characters with special abilities to further tilt the odds for control over a district.

The game comes with a collection of miniatures to represent the resistance fighters and peacekeepers as well as hovercrafts.  The leader characters are larger 28mm miniatures representing Katniss Everdeen and President Snow, but the Kickstarter stretch goals include leader characters for other personalities from the Hunger Games novels: Gale Hawthorne, Peeta Mellark, and Haymitch Abernathy.  The Kickstarter campaign runs through 21 October with an expected delivery of November 2019.  See the Kickstarter campaign for more details.

 

There’s still a large market for civilization-building games, as there’s a large breadth of separation between the 8+ hour civ games people commonly remember and the more “reserved” tabletop equivalents. In my experience, some of the more pleasant versions have been lighter, dice-driven affairs such as Roll Through the Ages or Nations: the Dice Game, but I understand those are an extreme compromise from the combative, strategic, map-oriented games that many prefer. Those that do, but still want something quicker, may be interested in Infinities: Defiance of Fate, already funded on Kickstarter as of writing this. It is described as a “4x-lite” game, which has strong tableau and area control mechanics mixed with dice-directed action allocation that plays at a decent clip and can be played in story and skirmish modes. As described on the campaign page:

     “The multiverse is an impossibly vast existence, accounting for every possible outcome of every possible point of divergence. In Infinities: Defiance of Fate you are the leader of a sci-fi or fantasy faction seeking to assemble an army, shape the very worlds you walk on, and fulfill or redefine your destiny. Experience a combination of accessible, tactical gameplay and rich, flexible storytelling as you forge your own timelines.”

The allusions to time and fate are not just buzzwords for this game, they’re mechanically literal. Timing is everything in this game, with every player choosing actions one at a time and cards to carry over from round-to-round to strategically place themselves in spots that may benefit them in the long-run. Fate, of course, manifests itself in the dice as per usual, but there’s a fair amount of manipulation and you don’t have to remain seated with what the dice decide for you. With easy to learn yet hard to master rules and simple combat, it all comes together as a pretty sharp, brisk package for those looking for lighter 4x fare. If you’re interested in learning more about Infinities: Defiance of Fate, be sure to check out their Kickstarter page for a full rules breakdown, updates, and community feedback.