Area Control Game

It’s that time again, time to spotlight some fun Kickstarters that have been going on.

First up is something that fits more as a display piece than as a functional board game accessory, even though it CAN be used, called The Tablebreaker.  The Tablebreaker is a 4.5″ diameter d20 die made out of solid aluminum and weighing about 5 lbs.  They call this The Tablebreaker because a normal die will be about 1/100 of a pound, and bigger metal dice can run into the 1 lb range.  I own one of those bigger dice, and having something that weighs five times as much makes me fear for my table if I roll it.  I don’t think my table would break, but it would certainly be permanently marked from the Tablebreaker.  So if you are looking for a giant metal die to either use or display, or just want to see videos of tables being destroyed by a die, check out the Kickstarter today.

Next up is a worker placement style game with some bag building mixed in called Groves.  In Groves you are trying to restore the now formless and forgotten kingdom of Idyllon.  To do that you will be building out your grove with all sorts of different trees and using the different spirits to activate those trees or the Tree of Idyll.  What workers you get is based on what is in your bag, and each turn you will draw three of those workers to use for the worker placement.  Any spirits used on your grove, be they from you or someone else, will go back in your bag.  But, any spirits used on the Tree of Idyll are discarded, serving as a way to get unwanted spirits out of your bag.  From there it’s just a matter of building your bag right and getting your engine revved up to score dominion points, which are the points you need to win.  So if you are interested in this tree themed fantasy game from Letiman Games, check out their Kickstarter page.

After that is a game from Breaking Games with some beautiful art and interesting mechanics, and that is Rise of Tribes.  The art for the game is very well done, and the leaders they depict on the player boards look simply amazing and evoke the tribal feel of the game.  The game itself is a dice based area control and civilization game where symbol combinations don’t determine your available actions, but they do have the chance to enhance them.  How this works is that on your turn you roll two dice, and then put each die on an action space were other dice are already there.  The oldest die comes off that space and you perform the action, but if the symbols on the dice there match the action, then you get to do bonus actions as well.  This would allow you to do more than just the basic two actions on your turn if you use your dice smartly.  You then use these actions to explore new areas, put pieces on the board, and grow your civilization to be the best there is.  So if this sounds interesting then check out the Kickstarter page.

Finally we have another entry into the tricking taking plus something else category with Radiant by Tin Shoe Games.  Trick taking games plus something else category right now is being occupied by games like Honshu and Trick of the Rails, and this game takes that hybrid idea and runs with it.  In Radiant you will draft your hand of cards from a public display, meaning you will know what your opponents are taking and vice versa.  From there you will have the opportunity to score sets that you have created in your hand, but be careful, you have to reveal those sets to everyone to score it.  From there you starting battling across the board, and battles are decided by a trick taking round with the area you are fighting in determining the trump suit.  In the end you get points for areas controlled and the sets you reveal in each round, most points is the winner.  So if you are interested in this kind of hybrid area control/tricking taking game, check out their Kickstarter campaign.

EPOCH: The Awakening is the first game from new company Orange Nebula, LLC and designer Marc Neidlinger raising funds on Kickstarter now.  As described by the designer:

The game begins: thrown overboard after a life of wretchedness, you wash ashore a hostile island ruins — completely alone with nothing except the breath in your lungs and an undaunted spirit. Through your advanced resource management, area control tactics, and freeform action selection, you’ll add companions to your party, acquire bizarre relics, attain potent character traits, and defeat a host of unusual monsters in the ultimate goal of mastering heroic attributes — and regaining honor.
 
In EPOCH, players enter a fantasy world filled with companions who can be recruited to join the quest, relics to be gathered on the journey, and areas to control with influence.  Players managing their influence obtain attributes that may be combined into more advanced character traits.
You may perform 3 actions on each turn in the order you feel is most advantageous: activate a companion, travel to a new location, and interact with a map tile. Many actions require the the use of your influence to gain attributes in a one-of-a-kind heroic attribute alchemy system, which is leveraged to gain the game’s most powerful rewards. For example, you can meditate at a spire to gain inspiration. You can train at a fort to gain strength. But then you can combine your inspiration and strength to gain the courage (inspired strength) which allows you to perform a bounty hunt. There are over 72 unique card abilities that can be merged in unusual ways for potent combinations, and fresh tile placement each game for high replayability.
EPOCH is for 2-5 players and advertises to take 15-30 minutes per player.  Delivery is currently set for March 2018.  For more information, check out the Kickstarter page here.

While the Green Horde continues to roam the countryside, gobbling up everything in it’s wake, lets see some other games on Kickstarter worthy of a second look.

First up is a game from Pandasaurus Games and Hisashi Hiyashi, designer of Yokohama and Trains, called Minerva.  Minerva is being called a brain burning tile laying game where the location of the tiles being placed has as much importance as the tiles themselves.  The reason for this is that each tile has an ability, but the abilities on the tiles aren’t triggered when they are placed in your tableau.  It isn’t until you put down a residence tile that they are triggered, and then it’s only the tiles in that row.  This is how you will gain resources, buy buildings, and eventually be able to purchase the temples to score big VP bonuses at the end.  Needless to say this game has a lot of tough decisions going as you determine how to build your tiled engine so that you can reap the most victory points.  Check out the Kickstarter today if this sounds like something you want to try.

Not enough Cthulhu in your life?  Do you think Carcassonne is too boring just building out a normal city?  Well Carcosa is here to answer the call and give you your cthulhu based Carcassonne game.  And as you can probably guess, this game plays much like the quintessential classic where you are drawing tiles and placing tiles, and then placing your cultists to claim majorities on different features.  Some differences come in the form of hidden information and the effects tiles can have when fully revealed.  On your turn you will place a tile you drew and looked at, but that tile will be face down, which for most tiles doesn’t change anything.  But, there are some tiles with a yellow mark on them, and these are the tiles which will have special effects when they are revealed, causing events like devouring several cultists on the board.  Plus with your cultists going mad and needing to recover whenever they score, you have a very different feeling game to normal Carcassonne.  Check out the Kickstarter today, and try to keep your sanity.

Next is a game which takes the Greek gods of old and gives them a high tech make-over for an interesting new take on territory control, called Lords of Hellas. Lords of Hellas’ look is very eye catching, taking mythological characters like Hercules, Helena, and the Minotaur and giving them a technology upgrade.  This also carries over into the huge monuments in the game of various Greek gods like Zeus, Hermes, and Athena, each standing nearly 5″ tall when fully built.  Gameplay for the game is territory control, but that alone would be boring, so changes and tweaks have been made to keep things fresh and new.  Multi-use cards give you tough choices in a game with few resources, do you play them to help in battle or for their resources?  Multiple end game conditions make it so that if you are losing on one front, you might still be able to win on another.  The heroes of each army also bring asymmetry to the game with different abilities and start conditions, plus you can upgrade your hero throughout the game making them even better.  Overall there are lots of things to like about this game, so check out their Kickstarter page to see everything it has to offer.

Finally we have something that is half game, half teaching tool called Turing Tumble, a name that plays on the famous Turing Test which tests for artificial intelligence.  The board is vertical with lots of pegs on it for the placement of different gears, flippers, switches, as well as launchers and catchers for two sets of colored marbles.  As you place the pieces on the board, you can get the board to sort or combine the colored marbles in predictable ways or do other functions.  It can even be taken as far as creating a calculator for doing math, making this board a mechanical computer that kids will have fun playing with.  The game aspect of the Turing Tumble comes from the included comic book which has you following the adventures Alia, a space engineer, as she tries to escape from a deserted planet.  The puzzles in the game start out easy and get harder as they go along, teaching your kinds the basics of computers and helping them build more complex sequences.  If this sounds as interesting to you as it does to me, head on over to their Kickstarter page.

While a certain project just launched by CMON will be getting most of the attention, we still want to highlight some other good ones that might be worth backing.

First up is the reprint and re-theming by Indie Boards & Cards of the popular flip and write game, Avenue, now called Kokoro: Avenue of the Kodama.  How to play the game remains largely unchanged, where you flip a card to see what kind of road you can draw, and then drawings it on your personal map.  Some of the changes being made to the game are the inclusion of double sided dry erase boards, meaning you no longer have to worry about running out of maps.  Also being included are components for a 7th player of the game and decree cards which offer more variability when you play the game.  Overall if you like this kind of game, or just missed out on Avenue the first time around, check out this Kickstarter today.

Next we have an expansion for the cowboy saloon building game called Saloon Tycoon: The Ranch Expansion from Van Ryder Games.  Saloon Tycoon is all about building up your own saloon to be the best in the west, but others want to achieve that goal as well.  You will take turns adding to your saloon, trying to satisfy you secret goals as well as public ones.  Attracting citizens will help you out, but be careful of the outlaws, they just want to make trouble.  The Ranch Expansion adds more tiles for you to build, cows and horses to wrangle, more characters, and four different mini expansion that are Kickstarter exclusive.  You will also be able to add on the base game and the Boomtown expansion to expand your game even further.  So if this sounds interesting to you, check out the Kickstarter.

Following that we have a new party game being done by Grail games called Hang 12.  Hang 12 is a personal trivia type game where the active player will pick a beach to surf, and that beach determine what kind of trivia question they have to answer.  Some of the question are “I have seen all the Star Wars movies”, or “I have eaten caviar before” and so on.  The active player secretly answers either true or false and then everyone else guesses to see what the right answer was.  If you are right you get to take the next level of point card, if you are wrong then you lose your current point card and start over.  What makes the scoring interesting is that it’s a bit of push your luck because as you get more answers right in a row, you point card increases faster and faster, but get a question wrong and you lose it.  Alternatively, if you don’t want to risk the points you play the surf card to ride the wave in and bank the points, moving closer to the 24 point victory.  If this surf themed party game sound like something you want to try, check out the Kickstarter now.

After that we have a new cooperative game being designed by Chris Batarlis and Steve Avery called Metal Dawn.  The game essentially has you playing out the Terminator movie before the robots have fully taken over, where you play agents fighting back against the machines.  The game plays out like an area control game where you have to deploy your characters to different zones in Washington DC before they get overrun.  You will have to find gear and gain intel to use against the constant onslaught of robots in order to turn the tide and secure the zones.  Then you will have to use some of that intel on DOMINUS, the satellite that took over all the robotic enemies and started the rebellion.  Once you bring him down to Earth he turns into a massive robot menace that once you defeat that, will finally end the robot uprising.   Hopefully your skills are up to par and you have good teamwork, because DOMINUS will not go easy on you.  Check out the Kickstarter today, and if you upgrade to the deluxe edition you also get rules to play the game competitively as well.

Last, and by certainly no means least, we have the expansion to the popular character creation game, Roll Player: Monsters and Minions by Thunderworks Games.  Roll Player has you rolling dice to give your character stats, learn skills, gain traits, and equip them with the best armor and weapons you can manage. Roll Player: Monsters and Minions expands on that by adding more of what you want, more classes, more races, and more market items, including a brand new item type, scrolls.  But what makes this expansion great is that now you take this character you crafted, and put them up against monsters like bugbears, goblins, vampires, and dragons.  Hopefully the character you created is up the snuff or he may be taken out.  You can check out the Kickstarter here, which is well past funded and blown through many stretch goals.

Academy Games, known for their excellent and historically accurate games, is Kickstarting their latest offering, 878 Vikings – Invasions of England.  This is an area control game similar to their other war games where the invading armies of the Vikings are striking at the heart of England.  The game plays 2 to 4 players with one side being the English nobles defending their country, and the other side playing the Vikings trying to pillage the countryside.  You will play cards to move your troops, invade different areas or the board, build forts, or place out more troops.  After a while players will have the option to call for the Treaty of Wedmore, which will end the game, and whoever controls more land at that point will be the winner.

The Kickstarter has flown through the stretch goals unlocking more cards, miniatures for the armies instead of cubes, wooden card holders and more.  They are also offering multiple add-ons you can pledge for in the form of their other games, expansions for 878 Vikings, and limited edition figures.  Needless to say if you are interested in historical games, or games featuring vikings, check out their Kickstarter page today.

Grail Games has started a Kickstarter campaign for King’s Road, a re-implementation of the difficult to find game Imperium, a light area control card driven game from designer Reiner Knizia with art from Vincent Dutrait.

In King’s Road, 2-5 players each have an identical hand of 11 cards. Players each play three cards face down dictating their next 3 moves in order. If the cards show a region, the players place one control marker of their color in the denoted area. Special cards include the Knight, which allows players to place an additional control marker, the Dragon, which increases the number of areas which score, and the Wizard, which allows the player to pick up and re-select some of their cards. After card play, the area where the King pawn resides is scored, and the King then moves to the next area numerically. Areas score according to their banner, with the highest points going to the player with the most control markers. The Kickstarter campaign for King’s Road will continue through March 23, and is expected to deliver in August of 2017.

The wave of reprints continues with the announcement that Asmodee will be reprinting the game Troyes and Ladies of Troyes. Troyes is a euro game on the heavier side and features an interesting mixing of worker placement and dice rolling to activate different actions.  At the start of a round you will take turns placing out workers onto the three main buildings of the game.  From where you place your people will determine what colored dice you will roll, and then from those dice results you will activate different actions in the city.  You will be doing different things like building the cathedral, combating events that come up, or activating various character cards on the board.  All of this is to grow the influence of your family because at the end of the game, the family with the most influence is the winner.

Ladies of Troyes expands the game to include women of the period and give you more options for actions you can do.  In total you will have 16 more actions that you can take that are outside the city, but access to those actions is only granted through your guards.  The expansion also adds in extra dice in the form of the head of your family, giving you an extra die to use that can’t be used by anyone else.  Look for Troyes and this expansion on store shelves in the coming weeks.

Wizkids is upping their board game catalog with a new release each month starting in the month of February.  In February they will be releasing their big name title, Dungeons & Dragons: Assault of the Giants, in both a standard unpainted version and premium painted version.  In this game you will take control of a giant and attempt to seize control of all giantkind by attacking settlements to score points and secure important resources, like food, treasure, ore, and runes.  The game will also have some giant sized minis to go with it, with the tallest one’s standing 5″ tall, so expect this game to have some serious table presence.  Look for this game on store shelves in February.

Next up is a small, cooperative card game called The Banishing, where you are a group of wizards trying to seal away the undead horde before it’s too late.  On your turn you will be taking cards into you hand in an effort to complete different melds to cast, putting you a step closer to finishing the ritual of banishment.  If you can seal them away before they manage to take you out, you win, so watch each other’s backs and press forward to victory.  Look for this on store shelves in March.

After that is an area control game called Tower of London, where you are using your beefeaters (guards) to get majorities in different areas of the tower to score points and collect ravens.  Play is simple with you only playing two cards on your turn, first to determine what location you are sending your guard to, and the second to trigger an ability based on his perspective.  At the end of each round you will score different areas of the tower, and if you have the most points at the end of three rounds you will be the winner.  That is, unless someone collects seven ravens, in that case the game would end immediately and they would win.  Look for this game to be released in April.

Last is a new trick taking card game called Tournament at Camelot, where you are knights competing in a tournament to be the best.  Each round you will play a trick and at the damage will be doled out based on the cards that were played, and if someone is eliminated then the game ends.  But don’t despair if you are in last, there are godsend cards and companion cards that can help you turn things around.  Whoever has the most health when someone is finally eliminated is the winner.  This will be on store shelves in May.

Ethnos is the latest game from designer Paolo Mori, the same man who designed Unusual Suspects and the Pocket Battles series.  In Ethnos you are trying to take control of the land not through battling and direct war, but through influencing different tribes and peoples in the world to your side.  There are twelve different fantasy tribes in the game, like halflings, giants, and merfolk, and each one has different powers when you activate them.  In any one game you will only use six of those tribes, and you will shuffle all the cards of the chosen tribes together to make the draw deck for that game, giving a variable setup to each game.  On a turn you will either take a card from the deck or row of face up cards and add it to your hand, or you will play down cards with either the same tribe or color on them.  If you chose to play cards you will discard any you don’t play, preventing people from hoarding cards, and the top card that you play will indicate where you place influence tokens on the board, and what special ability you activate.  At the end of the age you will score the areas that you control and take the lowest valued chip, also doing this for the second and third ages but taking higher and higher point chips.  At the end of the third age, whoever has the most points is the winner.

Look for the interesting area control game to hit store shelves in April of 2017.

Ninja Division, in an effort broaden their catalog so that they can appeal to the widest cross section of gamers possible, has recently acquired the rights to Cthulhu: A Deck Build Game and Onami from Wyvern Games.  The first game, Cthulhu: A Deck Building Game, is a cooperative deck building game where the players are going up against one to three elder gods in the hopes of saving humanity.  As with other games with this theme you will have to not only watch your health, but also your sanity in order to survive to the end.  Play is very free form in that each round the players as a team will have to deal with whatever catastrophe has happened without any formal turn order.  Also, since this is a deck building game, you will have the opportunity to increase your power and get better cards, but at the cost of diverting resources from fighting to researching.  Balance your resource needs and banish the elder god before you all die, and you win!

The second game is a simple to play, area control game called Onami, where you are trying to control the most cards by the end of the game.  Gameplay is simple in that you will have a hand of 5 cards, and from those cards you choose one to play onto the 5×5 grid of a board.  On each card are numbers on the four edges that indicate it’s strength in that direction, place a card next to a number with a higher value then the other and you capture control of that card.  What makes it interesting is that you can chain this effect, so if the freshly captured card has values on it’s edges higher than the adjacent cards, you can capture those cards as well.  This means you can be losing horribly and still bounce back through a chain of captures.  At the end when the grid is full, whoever controls the most cards is the winner.

Both of these games are Kickstarter games so they will first go to backers, but after that you will see Cthulhu: A Deck Building Game on store shelves in Q1 of 2017.  Onami will be a little different in that you will see copies for sale on Ninja Divisions site this month, but it won’t enter wide distribution until it’s reprint in Q2 of 2017.