Area Control / Area Influence
Greenbrier Games is releasing a new 4X-style game, Helios Expanse, that plays in under 60 minutes. The play experience was crafted to be as satisfying for the traditional 4X gamer as it is for the casual gamer. During gameplay, players program their card actions in advance then play them out each round. In addition, the game was created with the goal of being teachable in less than five minutes.
Helios Expanse puts players in control of an interstellar civilization where they must compete for galactic supremacy. Explore the board using movement, expand empires by colonizing planets, exploit advantages by moving up the technology track and exterminate competitors by moving up the military track. The first player to colonize the most planets is the supreme ruler of the universe!
• 60 min / 3-5 Players / 14+ years
• 4X gameplay experience in less than 60 minutes
• Easy to teach
• Action / Movement Programming
• Area Control / Area Influence
• Hand Management
• Variable Powers
• Scaleable Game Board
Earlier in 2018 Greenbrier Games ran a Kickstarter campaign for Helios Expanse so more information about the game is available there. The game is planned for retail release in March 2019.
Since Mayfair Games folded their hand earlier this year, we’ve been slowly learning the fate of the games in their catalog. Now, we have some clarity on Lords of Vegas. Z-Man Games will take over publishing for the Lords of Vegas line of games, which includes the base game and the UP! expansion. It appears that Z-Man will start by selling the existing Mayfair stock of games.
“James and I are thrilled to have Z-Man continue the legacy of Lords of Vegas,” says Mike Selinker, the president of Lone Shark Games and co-designer of Lords of Vegas. “When we were presented with the opportunity, many people from Asmodee and Z-Man told us how much they loved and played the game. So it was a no-brainer. We think our fans will like what Z-Man plans to do for Lords of Vegas in the coming years.”
Perhaps the biggest part of this news for existing fans of the game is that the designers and Z-Man will continue development of the ‘Underworld’ expansion, which had been in the works with Mayfair. Personally, Lords of Vegas is one of my favorite games, so I am glad that it gets to continue on with a publisher like Z-Man. Hopefully Z-Man will take the opportunity to improve the production quality for future editions of the game compared to the Mayfair version, and possibly revisit the 1950’s era aesthetic.
If you are not familiar with Lords of Vegas, it is an area influence game, with plenty of push-your-luck and the kind of high stakes you would expect from a Las Vegas casino-building themed game.
You can read the full Z-Man announcement on their website.
The most successful game based on Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Universe was Martin Wallace’s Discworld: Ankh-Morpork. Despite the popularity of the game, Discworld: Ankh-Morpork fell out of print and became hard to find. The game was an obvious favorite for many Discworld fans, but even gamers unfamiliar with Discworld admired the game’s masterful mechanics, simple game play, and high replayability in a strategic game. While fans of Discworld may be saddened that Discworld: Ankh-Morpork is not returning, fans of the game will be pleased that the game is returning under a new theme.
Martin Wallace has reimplemented Discworld: Ankh-Morpork in Nanty Narking. Nanty Narking is set in Victorian London and features characters from literary works of Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Player personalities include Monsieur De Sidonia, Fagin, Lord Bellinger, Lord Holdhurst, Lord Balmoral, Professor Moriarty, and Sherlock Holmes. Each has his own victory condition, and the game ends when either the player achieves the victory condition, or if the ‘Riot’ Random Event card is drawn and its conditions are met, or when the draw pile runs out. Placing followers and buildings on the map establishes control over certain areas of the city, not only advancing players closer to their victory condition but also providing them additional abilities afforded by the control of the city area.
Nanty Narking features many upgraded components: a beautifully illustrated gameboard map of Victorian London, all new card artwork matching the new theme and featuring other literary characters of Dickens and Doyle, highly detailed plastic miniatures, and metal coins (included for Kickstarters).
Nanty Narking plays 2-4 players, ages 14+, in about 60 minutes. Contents include game board, 91 plastic miniatures (4 gentlemen, 24 hotels, 4 horse guards, 12 trouble makers, and 3 new citizens), 132 cards (101 action cards, 12 event cards, 12 city area cards, and 7 personality cards), rulebook, 4 player aids, 1 d12 die, and 50 cardboard counters (metal coins for Kickstarter backers).
The Kickstarter campaign runs through 20 September with an expected delivery in October 2019. Go to Kickstarter campaign learn more about Nanty Narking.
Queen Games has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for all their Essen releases. The Kickstarter campaign supports Bastille, Skylands, and Franchise. Like all their Kickstarter campaigns, “Queenies”, or expansion modules, are included with each game, and the pledge levels include the option to support one, all, or any combination of the games.
Skylands is a tile laying game where the players build the Skylands kingdom, a kingdom composed of mystical floating islands. On each turn, a player will select one of four actions: Explore, Harvest, Build, or Collect Energy. Reminiscent of Puerto Rico, all the players get to take the action, but the player who selected the action gets an advantage. Players build the kingdom on their tableau, placing forests, mountains, crystals, and cities. Harvesting resources allow for the creation of more islands, power cities, and build special buildings. The game continues until a player has completely field his or her tableau or until all the tiles have been placed. The player with the most victory points at the end of the game wins.
Skylands plays 2-4 players, ages 8+ in about 30 minutes. Contents include 4 action boards, 4 double-sided player boards, 1 supply board, 4 starting islands, 4 wooden player tokens, 4 player markers, 88 island tokens, 32 special island tiles, 60 wooden inhabitants, 1 scoring pad, and 24 victory point markers. The Kickstarter campaign supporters will also receive 5 Queenie expansions for the game.
In Franchise, players are business owners in the 1960’s expanding their business by establishing franchises across America. While each new franchise adds wealth to the business, it costs money to establish a new franchise, and not all franchise locations are equal. The cost to add a franchise varies from location to location and the revenue earned, likewise, varies from location to location. Meanwhile, competitors cut into the revenue available from a location when they move into the same city. Designed by Christwart Conrad, Franchise is a revised edition of his earlier game Medieval Merchant, with updated artwork by Ian O’Toole, whose artwork has been featured in The Gallerist, Lisboa, and Vinhos Deluxe Edition.
Franchise plays 2-5 players, ages 14+, in about 90 minutes. Contents include one gameboard, 5 player boards, 10 income charts, 25 city tiles, 10 region tiles, 20 bonus tiles, 55 dollar cards, 200 wooden franchises, 6 expansion markers, and 5 influence markers. The Kickstarter campaign supporters will also receive 3 Queenie expansions for the game.
Bastille is a bidding game where players are leaders of revolutionary factions in France seeking to strengthen their faction before the revolution begins. Each player has three influence tokens which they can place in one of seven buildings around Paris. Each building provides a different benefit ranging from money, recruits, allies, missions, or other means to advance closer to the revolution and increase influence. The player with the most influence in a location receives the benefit of that location. Victory points are earned each round based on the random mission requirements for the revolution. After eight rounds, the revolution begins and the player with the most victory points is the winner and leader of the Revolution!
Bastille plays 3-4 plays, ages 12+, in about an hour. Content breakout has not been provided yet, but stay tuned to the Kickstarter campaign for updates. The Kickstarter campaign supporters will also receive 3 Queenie expansions for the game.
The Kickstarter campaign for all three games runs through September 14 with an expected delivery in November 2018. Check out the Kickstarter campaign to learn more.
If you love the smell of burning cottages in the morning, you’ve finally got the chance to burninate the universe with your favorite one-armed dragon in in Trogdor!! The Board Game. Fans of the web comic series Homestar Runner will get their fix of mayhem and destruction in a new game designed by James Earnest of Cheapass Games and the creators of Homestar Runner.
Starring Trogdor, the game is for 2 to 6 players who will cooperate to use the Wingaling dragon and cultist helpers to destroy the kingdom of Pleasantry by burning the cottages… and villagers. The playing field is a set of tiles laid out randomly each game. The players assume the role of the cultists who want to help Trogdor achieve this destruction. Each of the cultist ‘creepos’ has a different player power, such as moving in a different directly or taking a unique action.
Does this sound too easy? Well, there are also knights that are there to protect the villagers and make it much more difficult to torch things freely. Burninating the universe takes 30 to 45 minutes, making burninating much faster than most other methods of destruction.
The Kickstarter includes multiple backer levels that provide upgrades from wooden meeples to plastic minis and several options for deluxe (very deluxe!) storage boxes.
See the Kickstarter page and the BGG entry for more information.
Nintendo Switch is not currently a haven for playing modern board games, with available options topping out with titles like Othello and Monopoly. Yet, the hybridization of being able to play both at home and on the go with a Nintendo Switch could be a game changer with the right titles…
Enter Carcassonne – Asmodee Digital announced that it will be bring the fan-favorite Klaus-Jürgen Wrede game Carcassonne to the Switch platform during the winter quarter of this year, and while Carcassonne is already available digitally, the Switch platform has advantages that many gamers will find appealing over a phone app or Steam-based computer game. For one thing, the Switch screen is much bigger than an average cell phone, and physical Switch physical games are easy to trade or share. Also, players on the whole are more likely to play local couch co-op on a TV screen via a console, rather than on PC.
For those unfamiliar with the game from 2000 that started all of this excitement, check out its BGG page, but here is the quickest summation: Carcassonne is an easy to play, hard to master tile-laying game for 2-5 players in which over the course of 30 minutes or so you will be making decisions on to best control and influence the outcomes of different areas of tiles. Placing on the road as a robber, or cloistered away as a monk are two of the roles players can assign their people (called meeples) to in order to score the most points across the southern France landscape and claim victory!
But the Nintendo Switch and designer board game pairing likely does not start and end with Carcassonne…
quoting Pierre Ortolan, CEO of Asmodee Digital,
“Carcassonne is the first Asmodee Digital title of many to follow on Nintendo’s platforms.”
Thus leading one to believe that Asmodee Digital would likely bring over the other titles that have already been crafted digitally on other platforms, such as: fellow gateway game Ticket to Ride, award-winning Terraforming Mars, and recent mega-hit Scythe. With these titles stemming from a single developer, it would already be a solid foothold for modern board games on a current generation video game console, and it would be easy to envision makers of other digital board game implementations also porting over their creations, such as: Alhambra, Kingdom Builder, Splendor, or Small World.
As a fan of digital board gaming, watching the video on Paste Magazine’s article got my meeple heart beating hard to lay down some farmers for the win.
Continuing with the trend of more and more board games becoming digitized, the latest offering to be released on Steam is AEG‘s Smash Up designed by Paul Peterson.
Smash Up is a card game that takes a deck of 20 cards of a faction, and combines them with another deck of 20 cards of another faction. Each faction has a special ability associated with it, so the combinations when mixing various factions is almost endless. These cards are shuffled to make your deck, and you use that deck to attempt to Smash a base. Points are awarded for the first, second, and third most power on that base.
Smash Up on Steam is currently in what Steam calls an ‘Early Access Game’. This grants you early access to the full game in its current state allowing you to play as is, with more content added as the developer completes it. If you buy into the game during Early Access, you’ll receive a discount as well as access to additional content as it’s completed.
A link to what the developers of the game have to say can be found here.
More info on Smash Up the board game can be found here and here.
Just as Essen was getting underway, Portal games gets the convention started by announcing four new games that will be made available in 2017. Three of these are expansions to existing games and the fourth is a new card game.
The First up is the expansion to the 51st State: Master set entitled 51st State: Scavengers from Ignacy Trzewiczek. 51st State: Scavengers is based on a previous 51st State expansion called Ruins. This re-do brings back favorite cards from Ruins in addition to introducing new locations and a brand new mechanism to the game. With Scavengers, you’ll have the ability to search the discards and retrieve those valuable cards for use within your State.
Are you willing to scavenge to have the best state?
The second up is an expansion to one of the hottest games of 2016…Cry Havoc entitled Cry Havoc: Aftermath. Cry Havoc: Aftermath expands upon the base game, adding 5 new skills and 3 new structures to each faction. In addition to the skills and structures, there is a new game mode that allows for a full 5 round game. This game mode introduces new scoring abilities when an event token is passed instead of its removal, further increasing your options for scoring victory points.
Will your faction be the one left standing in the wake of the aftermath?
The third expansion is for the all new Stronghold Second Edition entitled Stronghold: Undead by Ignacy Trzewiczek. Stronghold: Undead is a re-balancing release of the original Undead expansion to be compatible with Stronghold Second Edition. This expansion introduces new rules for terror, casting spells, and gathering mana. New buildings and abilities for the Defender to help ward off the Attacker on a new map with new routes.
Can you hold back the undead, or will your Stronghold fall?
Last but not least is a new game from Marcin Ropka and Viola Kijowska entitled Alien Artifacts. Alien Artifacts is a 4x style of card game, where you take on the role of an interplanetary corporation exploring uncharted space in hopes to gain knowledge and power. Alien Artifacts boasts a true 4x experience in under 1 hour!
Does your corporation have what it takes to explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate the other corporations?
Portal Games has stated that these new titles will follow Portal’s first release of 2017 entitled First Martians. Alien Artifacts will be released at Gen Con 2017. Price and contents will be announced at a later date as well as the details for all other titles.
For more information, you can visit Portal’s website here.
There have been a couple new releases from Rio Grande Games lately with one in stores already, and two more almost there. The first game that is in stores is Tiffin, an area-control, hand management game where you play as delivery runners in Mumbai. The process to deliver lunch, called tiffins, to workers gets a little complicated, and amazingly with over 250,000 deliveries each day, hardly any mistakes are made. In Tiffin you are a group of those delivery runners and you are trying to maximize profits through choosing the best route, finding shortcuts, and overcoming obstacles other players throw at you. While sometimes you have to work together, in the end it’s whoever has made the most money who is the winner.
Next is an expansion to a very popular game called Concordia Salsa. This expansion adds more to the game in the form of Byzantium and Hispania maps, wooden pieces for salt as a commodity, city tokens for additional salt cities, and 27 new forum cards. While an English/German version of this expansion has already been released, this will be a full English edition released by Rio Grande Games. Look for this to hit stores soon.
Lastly Rio Grande Games is reprinting the third edition of Imperial, an area control/area influence type game. This game has been around for a decade, but with the most recent printing having been long sold out, this reprint is overdo. In Imperial it is “Europe in the age of imperialism. International investors try to achieve the greatest influence in Europe. With their bonds, they control the politics of the six imperial nations: Austria-Hungary, Italy, France, Great Britain, the German Empire, and Russia. The nations erect factories, build fleets, and deploy armies. The investors watch as their nations expand, wage wars, levy taxes, and collect the proceeds. Since the European nations are under the shifting influence of different investors, new strategic alliances and conflicts arise between them again and again!” Also look for this to hit stores in the near future.
You can see all these and more on the Rio Grand Games website.
Followers of Dice Tower News will no doubt remember back in June of 2015, Queen Games had put up a Kickstarter for Kingdom Builder: Marshlands which was then abruptly canceled due to contractual issues with Donald X. Vaccarino, the designer. There had been some issues with a missed publishing deadline and owed back pay between Queen Games and Donald. It seems, however, that things have been worked out. According to this post on the BoardGameGeek site, Donald has signed a new contract with Queen Games which addresses some of these issues as well as secures the publishing of the 4th expansion of Kingdom builder as well. Here’s hoping the new contract works out well for Donald and Queen Games.
Kingdom Builder: Marshlands, like the other expansions, will tout new abilities to obtain, new boards to use, as well as some new ways to score. Kingdom Builder is a gateway type game where every turn you are placing down settlements in locations indicated by a card you draw. You are arranging these settlements in such a way that the three randomly chosen scoring cards will net you the most points. The first two expansions added more boards and more abilities along with additional types of settlements you could put down adding more variety to the game. This expansion is not much different in that it gives you more boards to use and abilities to choose from, however, there is one big change this new expansion brings. In the past you could only ever get one of an ability tile in the game, with this expansion you can get the same ability tile twice, and when you get the second tile you get a bonus use of that ability for a total of three uses. This will bring some freshness into the game and make it feel new again. You can head on over to the campaign page to pledge for the expansion and many variations of the base game and other expansions.
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