was an instant board game hit on its release in 2014. Combining unbelievable art
from Xavier Collette with the sublime gameplay from
master designers Bruno Cathala and Charles Chevallier, Abyss managed to transport
players into a fantastical and political underwater world. The gameplay in
Abyss is a wonderful collection of push-your-luck card collection, resource
management of stunning pearls, and card set creation, all simple in their own
right but interwoven into a magnificent strategic board game still loved to
this day (currently #338
on BGG). The first expansion to Abyss, Kraken, was
released in 2015 to critical acclaim, adding the two edged sword of dark pearls.
Now, Studio Bombyx has given Abyss
fans two new toys to drool over – the second expansion Abyss:Leviathan,
and the new card game Conspiracy:
Abyss Universe, both coming to western shores this November.
replaces the accumulating threat track from the original card game with a
border board filled with tremendous monsters. While pulling cards during
exploration, if a monster is drawn, the player now has an opportunity to fight
a Leviathan on the board. Certain Lords and Allies can give benefit to killing
these monsters, and the player with the most kills will earn an extra 5 points
at the end of the game.
Abyss Universe is a card game in the Abyss Universe, sharing similar gameplay
and more of that delicious Xavier Collette art. 2-4 Players use Abyss-like cards
to create a reverse pyramid, starting with a row of five cards and working down
to one. Two matching keys or 3 total keys on cards allow the player to take Location
Cards, which add abilities and points. Pearls have their role in this game as
well, and the player with the majority of pearls on cards immediately takes the
Pearl Majority Card. The game ends when a player has completed their pyramid; groups
of connected cards of the same color score points equal to the highest scoring
card in the group. The Pearl Majority Card adds 5 points, and the player with
the largest colored group scores an additional 3. Highest score claims rightful
rule of the depths. For more details, check out Bombyx’s webpage here.
So day 3 brought bigger crowds for sure! Indystar.com reported over 70,000 attendees and the crowds in the corridors certainly seemed to validate that! So my first visit was to the Plaid Hat Games’ booth (823). Many that know me may know that Mice and Mystics is my family’s all-time favorite game and PHG certainly doesn’t continue to disappoint.
Aftermath, from designer Jerry Hawthorne, was available to playtest. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which players control various critters in a story-book cooperative game similar to that of Mice & Mystics.
” In the game, you play as a misfit band of critters known by their colony as “providers”. There’s the guinea pig with anger issues, a hamster that talks fast and drives faster, a small mouse with keen eyes and a lot to prove, and a mysterious vole who’s borderline feral. These characters each have their own personalities, play-styles, and personal goals. “
Also available to demo and purchase is a new release, Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein, designed by Dan Blanchett. The game pits you, competitively, against other players as you test your monster-building skills.
“Through worker placement and careful management of decomposing resources, you’ll gather materials from the cemeteries and morgues around the city, conduct valuable research at the Academy of Science, hire less-than-reputable associates, and toil away in your lab — all in an effort to assemble a new form of life and infuse it with a “spark of being”.
The artwork was phenomenal and it really combined a great set of mechanics – blending worker placement with set collection and a touch of variable player powers! Stop by the booth to give it a test!
It was next off to the iELLO booth to take a look at one of their newest releases – Ishtar: Gardens of Babylon, designed by Bruno Cathala. Ishtar was a beautiful tile-laying game that just rang of high quality! The circular tile pieces were of the thick card stock that we’re used to from iELLO and Cathala didn’t disappoint with game mechanics. Players are responsible for turning an arid desert into a flourishing garden by placing trees and flowers.
“Get them before your opponents, recruit apprentices, send them to earn points in the copses of flowers you have created, block others and think carefully of the upgrades to purchase if you want to become the best gardener at the end of the game!”
As you’re undoubtedly aware, there is much more to Gen Con than JUST board games….there’s board game upgrades! And one of the leaders in the upgrade business is Top Shelf Gamer (2051). The folks over at TSG offer a variety of upgrades from token and resource bundles to coins and gaming overlays and for tons of current and popular games!
My last stop of the day was near and dear to my heart. I’m a HUGE fan of the old Diablo game. Sanctum, from CGE Games (room 237) scratches a very large itch for me. I was able to see a demo of this game (due to release at Essen 2019). It’s a competitive game that fans of the hack n slash genre should feel very comfortable with. Supporting up to 4-players, Sanctum will have players hacking and slashing while obtaining lots of weapon and skill upgrades. With an inventive skill leveling system, Santcum will have players traversing the map and leveling up their character while eventually heading to a boss fight at the climax of the game.
“As one of the heroes, you embark upon a quest to rid the land of a demonic invasion, fighting your way through countless enemies and gearing up to face the Lord of Demons himself. In the process of venturing deeper into the land, ever so much closer to the Demon Lord, the heroes have to improve their equipment and adapt their combat tactics to face the increasing difficulty of combat.”
Also available to purchase in the CGE room was a fun-little word cooperative game, Letter Jam! I got to play this and, although the rules took a bit to pick up, once you had a solid understanding of the game it made for a fun word game that had players puzzling out different words to culminate in a final word scramble that led to a big payoff – or a realization at just what that word was you were trying to guess several turns ago!
First is Blue Lagoon designed by award winning game designer Reiner Knizia. Blue Lagoon is a set collection games with an area control mechanic. Players manage settlers to explore the islands, collect resources, and build villages. Points are awarded collecting resources and colonizing the islands.
Blue Lagoon plays 2-4 players, ages 8+, in 30-45 minutes. Contents include game board, 24 wooden resources, 8 wooden statuettes, 20 wooden villages, 120 settler tokens, 1 linen bag, score pad, and rulebook.
Next, Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc have teamed up again to design Scarabya.Scarabya is an area enclosure game with a tile placement mechanic. Players are competing archeologist on their own dig site (player board) attempting to place tiles around the golden scarabs on their player board. Each gold scarab enclosed is worth the size of its enclosure, up to four points. The challenge is that the tiles to create an enclosure come in different shapes, is drawn at random, and is played in order. All the players draw and place their tiles concurrently and the game continues until the last tile is drawn and played or discarded. The player with the most points in golden scarabs at the end of the game is the winner.
Scarabya plays 1-4 players, ages 8+, in 15-20 minutes. Contents include 4 sets of 12 tiles, 4 sets of 4 boards, 4 sets of 8 rocks, 4 frames, 72 scarab tokens, 12 mission cards, and rulebook.
First, there are the Giants! Certain dominoes cause a giant to appear on your kingdom. Those giants stand on crowns in your kingdom and prevent you from scoring them at the end of the game. Other dominoes allow you to get rid of the giant in your kingdom and send it over to an opponent’s kingdom.
Second, there are Quest that can be played with The Middle Kingdom rule. Quests allow your middle kingdom to score additional points if the surrounding squares or the four corners of your middle kingdom fulfills the quest conditions. This expansion is played separate from the Giants.
Lastly, Kingdomino: Age of Giants! adds a fifth player.
A nice addition with the expansion is the distribution tower to hold all the dominoes.
Contents of the expansion include 3D castle, 1 distribution tower, 2 brown wooden kings, 1 starting tile, 29 dominoes (12 Giant dominoes, 17 Quest tiles), 6 “Giant” meeples, and a score pad.
Learn more about Kingdomino: Age of Giants! from Blue Orange Games. Kingdomino: Age of Giants! is available for pre-orders now and will be in stores in August 2018.
QST Tabetop Subscription Box is a really interesting new project just launched on Kickstarter. QST aims to deliver a brand new board game each month, created as a collaboration between a famous concept creator, board game designer, and artist. What makes this project special is the amazing caliber of the personalities already lined up. Get ready for a long impressive list.
The first game from QST will be Foreclosure: Dungeon Masters Tavern, by Cory Jones (Co-Founder of Cryptozooic), Matt Hyra (Adventure Time Card Wars) and Robb Mommaerts (Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis). In Foreclosure, the boss monsters have sought legal counsel and sued the dungeon masters over loss of treasure. Having won, they are now collecting on the loot from the Dungeon Masters Tavern, driven into foreclosure. 2-4 players take on the roles of varied monsters in a blind bidding game in an attempt to gather the most loot.
The Kickstarter Campaign will run through September 29, and is expected to start shipping in March 2018. Check out the complete list of people involved here.
Days of Wonder has just announced the Whims of the Sultan Expansion for Five Tribes, finally allowing for a fifth player to join in manipulating the tribes in Bruno Cathala’s popular euro-style game.
Days of Wonder’s Five Tribes game feature players manipulating Assassins, Elders, Builders, Merchants, and Vizier tribe members around the villages, markets, oases, and sacred places that make up Naqala. Despite the fact that players are manipulating tribes, not actually representing one of the five tribes, gamers have long mocked the game for maxing out at four players. The new expansions remedies this and allows a fifth player in on the fun. Whims of the Sultan will include all the necessary components to play five-player games.
In addition to the components for five players the game also introduces Fabulous Cities tiles. Visiting fabulous cities gives players opportunities to win additional glory points as they fill the requests from the Sultan by completing Whim of the Sultan cards.
Either expansion module can be played alone with the base game or along with the already released Artisans of Naqala expansion.
15 wooden tribe meeples
1 tent and 1 player’s turn marker
22 Whim of the Sultan cards
2 Djinn cards
1 bid order track and 1 turn order track for 5 player games
1 pad of scoring sheets
1 summary sheet
The game is scheduled for a June release in Europe and and August Gen Con release in North America.
Days of Wonder would like to announce Yamataï, a new board game themed in a legendary far-eastern kingdom that is governed by the majestic Queen Himiko. This new board game is designed by Bruno Cathala and Marc Paquien.What follows is a quote from the official press release from Days of Wonder:
In Yamataï, players have to complete a delicate mission: build the most prestigious city of the kingdom! To accomplish this ambitious task, players transport various resources through the islands of the archipelago and collect Culture Tokens or raise buildings and monuments. Recruiting specialists and using their powers will constitute a decisive strategy for each builder to ultimately obtain Queen Himiko’s favors.
The game rules are simple and easy to learn and players will be making choices that include:
choosing the right Fleet Tile in due time to obtain resources and useful powers
carefully observing other players’ actions
following numerous paths to victory to become the master builder
Fans of the area control game Cyclades can start their trip planning now as the new small-box expansion, Cyclades: Monuments is being released this holiday season.
Designed by the prolific Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc, the award-winning Cyclades had players racing to build two cities in the Cyclades group of islands whilst vying for the favour of the gods. This new expansion throws in ten monument miniatures and their associated monument cards. Constructing these monuments will grant the player an advantage that can give them the edge over their opponents!
The Cyclades: Monuments expansion is compatible with all previously released expansions for Cyclades. For additional information, visit Asmodee’s website.
If you’re a fan of dice and dice games, WizKids has got your back this fall!
First up is Blank White Dice. Designed by Jonathan Leistiko, Blank White Dice has players simply rolling their dice and activating the abilities shown on the faces. What makes this game unique is that when a blank face is rolled, players can draw their own icons on to the dice, which will provide your dice with new abilities. I suppose you could call it a face-building game as you roll your way to victory.
The game comes with “wet-erase” markers that are not as easy to rub off as dry-erase markers. The dice are of a very high quality, nice and weighty, bulky – and the die faces are recessed so that the markings don’t easy rub off upon rolling. I will say that you’ll need a wet cloth around to remove markings as the felt tops of the markers are not enough to remove what is marked upon the die. The game comes with many different cards featuring abilities that may be played upon the die (upon placing their icons on them–see below).
Secondly we’ve got Burke’s Gambit. Designed by Robert Yates, Burke’s Gambit is sci-fi themed game of hidden roles and sabotage. One of your crew has been contaminated by a parasitic organism, and to make things worse another member of your crew has sabotaged to ship on a crash course to Earth! Players will take the roles of different members of the ship, roll dice to determine their actions (e.g. attacking other players, healing themselves, scanning for the parasite, etc.), and ultimately vote to eject someone out of the airlock!
Lastly, we have Dice Stars. Designed by Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc, players are collecting sets of dice that represent multi-coloured shooting stars. On their turns, players can add dice to the pool before rolling them, taking either all the dice of one colour or the dice of one value. Dice taken will help you score in different ways, and the highest score wins!
Look forward to this slate of dice games in October (Blank White Dice), November (Dice Stars), and December (Burke’s Gambit). Additional information can be found on WizKid’s website.
Fantasy Flight has added another title to their ever growing list of fourth quarter releases. A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King, by Bruno Cathala, lets players be cutthroat and ruthless to gain the most influence by the end of the game. That player is then named Hand of the King, second most powerful person in Westeros.
A Tournament and Feast is being held in Kings Landing and, if you believe the rumors, a new Hand of the King will be announced at the conclusion of the event. Ambitious men have acted upon less rewarding rumors, and this one has brought all the major houses. Stark, Greyjoy, Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon, Tyrell, and Tully have all turned up and are weaving a web of intrigue with their eye on the most coveted title. As with any web, you know that the Spider must be close, and this is no different. The path to victory is to know how to make allies, and when to betray them.
Players use Varys, the Master of Whispers, convince or coerce members of a house to join your plot to be the next Hand. Each turn Varys is moved in the six by six grid of cards to gain one or more members of a house. Get enough members of a house to win the support of their banner, and when the last card of a House is claimed, you may choose a companion’s ability to trigger.