Portal Games recently hosted PortalCon 11 in Gliwice, Poland, where they celebrated 20 years of the Board Games that tell stories. At the celebration, owner and Portal head honcho Ignacy Trzewiczek announced several new games and expansions coming from this amazing company in 2019. There are a ton of new announcements, all of which can be read in the press release from Portal, or seen live in the Keynote Address given at PortalCon.
Several new games set in the Imperial Settlers (BGG #145) universe were announced. First on the list is Empires of the North, a standalone card game designed by Ignacy, featuring Scotsman, Inuit and Vikings. Each faction comes with 2 unique card decks allowing a variety of game play styles. 2-4 players can each try to lead their faction to victory by dominating the opposition, developing their economy or defending their land. Also from the big man is Imperial Settlers Roll and Write. Just as the name implies, this new roll and write game takes place in the empire building world of Imperial Settlers, and focuses heavily on engine building, with each big move giving bonuses towards the next. The game includes two modes, one a traditional 2-4 player competitive point scoring challenge, while the second is a new adventure mode. This single player game comes with a pad of 48 unique challenge sheets to complete, each with its own starting points and goals. And just to round out the Imperial Settlers fervor, Portal Games has announced the Imperial Settlers Big Box, a 5 year anniversary of this award winning game, complete with all of the factions and expansions. The Big Box will be exclusively available direct from Portal Games, and includes a plastic insert to hold everything, new commemorative anniversary cards, as well as oft requested single piece faction boards for the Amazons, Aztecs and Atlanteans.
Also coming from the President of Polish Play is a reprint of Prêt-à-Porter, the 2-4 player surprisingly brutal fashion industry board game. Players take turns hiring new employees, gaining managers, designers and models, all in an effort to destroy the competition. This third edition is coming to Kickstarter in 2019, and features new art from acclaimed illustrator Kwanchai Moriya (Dinosaur Island, Catacombs).
Portal also announced new armies for their arena combat board games Neuroshima Hex and Monolith Arena, both from designer Michał Oracz. The Sand Runners are the latest army to dominate the world of Neuroshima Hex, and are a “specialized army of veteran warriors who clashed with the Moloch in the early days of the war”. The Sand Runners feature a double sided HQ tile for versatility, and come with a new Sand Storm tile type. The new army for Monolith Arena are the Academics, focusing on runes, upgrades, and the ability to dramatically weaken their enemy – in fact, their banner directly slows enemy tiles. The Academics armies are few in number, but devastating in ability.
One of the biggest hits Portal and Ignacy had in the past year was the web-integrated Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, and the first campaign expansion, Detective: L.A. Crimes, is coming soon. Detective is one of the most engrossing, slowly enfolding, experiential crime story games made, and L.A. Crimes promises to bring more real life sleuthing, this time in the drug infused world of 1980’s Los Angeles. L.A. Crimes is due to be in stores March 2019, with the new mechanics of Stakeouts and Observation, 5 new characters, and 3 new cases. Also announced was Detective: Alexa Edition, wherein players can complete the 6th case in Detective, all narrated and run by the Amazon Alexa. Portal games has stated the Alexa edition is “part of an effort to bring board games to new players”, making the experience akin to an interactive radio drama. Finally, the world of Detective will be expanded even further by the Detective Signature Series. Portal Games has invited celebrated designers to use the framework of the Detective board game to create their own narratives. The first two master designers picked to frolic in the gritty world of suburban crime are Rob Daviau (Pandemic: Legacy, Betrayal at House on the Hill) and Mike Selinker (Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Lords of Vegas, Betrayal at House on the Hill), both masters of story telling in their own rights.
Coming from Wiz Kids in June is Europa Base Alpha, a 2-4 player game with a play time of 45 minutes that combines cards and dice game play.
Players compete to build a network of bases on Jupiter’s moon Europa, with Missile Silos, Communication Towers, Global Command Centers, Personnel Bunkers and Intergalactic Transports, using cards/dice to build their own bases and mess with other players. Whoever has the most points from their moon bases will win.
The game comes with 36 dice and 92 cards, tokens and 4 player boards.
It is meant for ages 14 and up. It is from Garrett Herdter.
Coming this August from Wiz Kids is Sovereign’s Chain, a strategic cutthroat card game, that uses strategy, skill and luck.
For 2-4 players ages 14 and up with an average play time of 30 minutes, class cards are played in front of players, creating a chain. Players can play cards on their own chain or an opponents, some being played faceup and using abilities, and some facedown to be used later. Cards come in two suits of stars and planets, and in order to win, once someone’s chain reaches seven cards, a player must have the highest difference in points between the two suits.
There is also a small deck of event cards that will affect the game play.
The game comes with 70 class cards, 15 event cards, and several types of tokens.
Coming in June from WizKids is Andrew J. Smith’s Palm Trees.
For 2-6 players ages 10 and up, this card game has 78 cards made up of fronds and coconuts, all of which have a specific way you must hold them; for example, by the thumb and pinky only. Players will pick cards for their opponents in the hopes that they will drop the cards. The best tree will win. In the teams of two version, one player will grow the palm trees in their hands, and their partner will try to place the cards into the “trees.” The first team to place 6 cards in each tree will win. The game also includes trunk tattoo sleeves for players to wear on their tree-arm.
The game has a playing time of 20 minutes and looks to be a family game.
Plaid Hat Games has just announced their new game, Super Punch Fighter, a card driven arena battle game with a video game theme from designer Robert Klotz. In Super Punch Fighter, 1-6 players try to knock their opponents off of the stage a la Smash Brothers, and complete achievements, earning stars towards victory. Players each control a fighter with its own deck of cards representing button mashes. Place thumb tokens on the cards to increase movement, allow more draws, initiate extra attacks, or even block. Don’t mash buttons too haphazardly, because you can only remove tokens from 4 cards. Any cards which still have a token at the end of a turn are discarded. Unique fighter cards can be played if you have enough buttons available, and if you start a new fighter card with the last button from a previous card, you can combo the attack. Super Punch Fighter also comes with a 1-2 player cooperative “minion rush” stage. Look for Super Punch Fighter coming Q1 2019, and for more information and pictures, check out Plaid Hat Games’ official announcement here.
Queen Games has announced Copenhagen, a new tile-laying polyomino game by designers Asger Harding Granerud (Flamme Rouge) and Daniel Skjold Pedersen (Gold Fever). In Copenhagen, 2-4 players are competing to collect cards which grant them polyomino window facades to place on their board. Overbuilding certain floors and areas can grant abilities for the rest of the game. The most beautiful facade, fitting seamlessly into the harbor setting, especially those with full windows, score points to win the game. Copenhagen features beautiful art from Markus Erdt (Pioneers, Treasure Hunter), and plays in 20-40 minutes. Not much information is available at this point, but all of it is on Queen Games’ website here.
Looney Labs, the studio behind all things Fluxx, has just announced their new card game Time Breaker, by designer Andrew Looney and artist Derek Ring. In Time Breaker, players are security for the Time Repair Agency (TRA), hunting down the mysterious Time Breaker in a chase through time. The board is composed of 25 cards in a 5×5 grid, representing specific points in the past and the future, with the TRA taking the middle space. Each turn, players can move to the next point in time, placing their piece on the card from that specific date, regardless of where it is in the grid. Additionally, action cards can move the Time Breaker, move a players’ piece physically one space vertically or horizontally on the map, or generally cause chaos. The goal is to get to the Time Breaker and bring him back to TRA headquarters. Time Breaker plays 2-5 players in 10-40 minutes, and is due to hit stores on February 28. For more information, check out the Looney Labs webpage here.
For those of you anxiously awaiting the second printing of Jonathan Ying’s Bargain Quest, you can now also look forward to a brand new expansion, too! This fun little game of adventure and capitalism will offer even more must have items for heroes to choose from.
In Bargain Quest, players take on the role of shopkeeper trying to attract adventuring heroes to their shop over their opponents. Each player will secretly draft from a deck of items to place in their shop windows and then help equip their heroes for an upcoming ad kkiventure. Players earn money to upgrade their shop and hire employees based on how their hero fares in battle.
The Black Market expansion will offer players more heroes, employees, and play modes. A new shipment of items will also be available to entice heroes to battle the new monsters.
Gather up to eight of your friends to see who can run the most successful shop with the most gold and prestige. Renegade Games will be releasing the Black Market expansion in May 2019. Don’t worry if you missed out on the Kickstarter for the base game. It will be available through Renegade Games once the Kickstarter fulfillment is completed.
Stronghold Games is starting 2019 off with a bang, and has announced 5 new games coming soon in the new year.
Ganz Schon Clever is a fantastic (BGG #295) roll and write game from wunderkind designer Wolfgang Warsch, which took the gaming world by storm last year. In Clever, 1-4 players roll dice in order to fill in spaces from 5 different tracks. Each track has checkpoints which allow bonus fills on neighboring tracks, allowing for some amazing combination moves. Ganz Schon Clever was nominated for the 2018 Kennerspiel des Jahres award, but unfortunately for Mr. Warsch, of the 3 (!) nominated games he designed, the only win that year was Quacks of Quedlinburg. The new english version coming from Stronghold Games will be called That’s Pretty Clever, and is expected to release in April 2019.
CO2 (2012) is a well regarded (BGG #585) heavy worker placement game from designer Vital Lacerda (The Gallerist, Vinhos, Lisboa), and Stronghold is bringing the remastered CO2: Second Chance to stores this March. 1-4 players take on the role of corporations trying to make the planet a greener place, correcting the pollution made standard in the 1970s. The second edition includes a new rulebook and iconography, a more balanced gameplay, a new events deck, and upgraded wooden components. Stronghold has stated that this edition will be printed once, then not reprinted, so get it while it is available.
Astro Drive is a “fast paced card driven spaceship racing game” from designers Mikko Punakallio (Dokmus) and Max Wikström (Space Freaks). 2-4 Players secretly pick movement cards from their hands, then simultaneously reveal. The cards have an initiative number, determining who moves first, movement points, compelling their ship to move forward, and control points, allowing side to side wiggle. Players also have a limited number of energy cubes, which can be spent for either 2 extra movement or control points. Players race over map tiles, avoiding crashing into obstacles, until someone crosses the finish line. Expect Astro Drive in stores in April 2019.
The Violet Morass is a new expansion for the skirmish board game Space Freaks (2017). In Space Freaks, 2-4 players combine different body parts to create the perfect team of freaks, then lead them into the arena for battle. The Violet Morass adds 2 new arenas, the perilous waters of the planet Azorax 5, multiple new head and body parts, as well as some terrifying equipment. The Violet Morass is tentatively scheduled for an April release.
Another anticipated expansion is the Meteo Expansion for the card driven bicycle racing game Flamme Rouge. Flamme Rouge has 2-4 players controlling the speed of their 2 person team up and down hills and around bends, trying to manage cards and jockey for position most efficiently. Meteo adds weather and wind management into the mix, adding more options into this strategic racing game. The Meteo Expansion for Flamme Rouge is expected in stores February 2019.
Coming Jan. 15 from Rio Grande Games and PD Games is an expansion to Concordia, Concordia Venus. By Mac Gerdts and dRioesigned to be integrated with the basic game and other expansions, this 2-5 player game uses the help of Venus, the goddess of love, as two partners work together while competing against one or two other teams. This expansion comes with new personality cards and two new maps. The game has a playing time of 45-90 minutes and is recommended for ages 13 and up.
Also out in January from Rio Grande is Gambit Royale, originally published under the name Ruse & Bruise. This family game now has five new cards than the previous version. In Gambit Royale, the players use royal households to manipulate the court and score the most victory points using influence cards and characters. Players use their influence to try to claim a goal card of between 1-5 victory points. Whichever player has the most influence obtains the goal, and after six rounds, the winner is determined. It has a game time of 30 minutes for 2-6 players, ages 13 and up.
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