“At the turn of the 16th Century, King Manuel I commissioned
Portugal’s greatest artisans to construct grandiose buildings. After completing
the Palaces of Evora and Sintra, the king sought to build a summer pavilion to
honor the most famous members of the royal family. This construction was
intended for the most talented artisans — whose skills meet the splendor that
the royal family deserves. Sadly, King Manuel I died before construction ever
Azul by Michael Kiesling, artist Chris Quilliams, and Next Move Games is one of those games that was recognized as an elegant classic the moment it was released in 2017. The game combined intimately attractive, bakelite style (ie. candy-like) tiles with intuitive, simple gameplay into a package that gamers and non-gamers alike were simply drawn towards. In Azul, players take turns collecting colored tiles from communal piles (factories), however one must pick up all of a single color tile, placing the remainder in a leftover central pile. All collected tiles must be placed on the player board, and extraneous, unused tiles count as negative points. The ever-growing central pile can likewise be mined for tiles in the same manner in future turns.
A sequel, Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, was released in 2018. Sintra took this basic framework and added variable player boards, a new mechanism for placing tiles on the boards, and in general more variability. In short, the new game was significantly different, but still felt like “Azul”, and gamers snatched it up in waves. The gorgeous clear square tiles (Jolly Ranchers, as opposed to Starburst) certainly did not hurt the appeal.
Now Next Move Games has announced a third game in the series, Azul: Summer Pavillion. In this edition, the tiles are elongated diamonds, and fit on the player board in 7 circular rosettes – Six in the six tile colors, and one composed of one of each color. Tile selection retains the old Azul feel, with players selecting all of one color from a pool of tiles on a single factory card. However, in each of the 10 rounds, one of the tile colors is considered wild. The wild color cannot be specifically picked, but if any are on the selected factory, these are also collected with the picked color. The tile placement in Summer Pavillion has taken an interesting new tact – players do not immediately place their collected tiles on their board, instead collecting them in a personal supply. Each turn players can place one of their tiles on their board by paying a certain number of same-colored tiles from this supply. The cost depends on which slot in the rosette is being filled, ranging from 1-6.
In 2017, when Plan B Games released Century: Spice Road, it was presented as the first game in a planned series. In 2018 the second game of the series, Century: Eastern Wonders, was released. Now, Plan B Games and designer Emerson Matsuuchi have announced the third and final game in the series, Century: A New World.
“Players serve as merchants seeking fortune in the bountiful American continent. Only the most shrewd merchants will strike out to explore the foreign land, trade with local inhabitants, journal their findings, and hunt and gather to survive.”
Each game in the series has been set in a different time period and region of the world, and has featured the core mechanic of resource management and trading. Spice Road was based around card selection and hand management. Eastern Wonders introduced a modular board and pick-up and deliver to the series. Now, A New World will use worker placement and is set in 16th century North America. A New World can be played by itself, or mixed and matched with the other two games in the series.
Century: A New World is designed for 2 to 4 players and is planned to debut at Origins Game Fair later this year.
Euro Game fans rejoice, for publisher Eggertspiele, artist Chris Quilliams, and designer extraordinaire Alexander Pfister (Great Western Trail, Mombasa, Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King) have announced their new game for Essen Spiel 2018, Blackout: Hong Kong. In Blackout, 1-4 players work to restore order from chaos in a future Hong Kong, where the electrical grid has been massively overstressed to the point of failure. Players start by rolling dice to randomly select which 3 of the 6 resources in the game will be available for the round. Next, players select 3 (or 4 with an upgrade) cards, which are placed facedown on their player board. These cards are revealed, and can place control cubes on the board, gain resources, spend resources, give abilities, or provide objectives. Objective cards are then scored, after which players can scout neighboring territories. Scouting is dangerous work, and gives an alternative way to collect needed resources, but players need to assemble cards from their hand to form a team with the required qualifications for the scouting token. Regardless of the outcome, one of the team will be injured, and will end up in the hospital, taking that card out of action. After scouting, players can use money to purchase new cards from face-up lines next to the board. Finally, in clean up, extra cards are discarded from the side of the board, and excess food and water are sold for money. Players score points for territories they control, and can refresh their hand of cards if they have 4 or less. When refreshing, players take back into hand whichever pile on their board is the largest. At the end of the game, money converts into points, and most total points takes the victory. Blackout can be played traditionally, solo, or as a 5 chapter campaign.
Pretzel Games, the wood block experts behind Flick Em Up and Junk Art, are at it again, having just announced Men at Work, a competitive stacking and balancing game designed by Rita Modi, with art by Chris Quilliams. In Men at Work, 2-4 players try to build the best construction from wooden supports, girders, and workers (with hard hats!), trying to impress Rita the Boss in order to earn Employee of the Month. The game includes 16 wooden workers, 28 girders, 8 supports, instruction cards, safety certificates, a rescue hook, 12 beams, 12 bricks, and 3 modules for increased replayability. Games typically last 30-45 minutes, and are suitable for ages 8 and up. Look for Men at Work at Essen Spiel 2018 this October, but for more details and pictures now, check out Pretzel Games’ press release and web site.
As one of Coimbra’s oldest houses, your role is to seek prestige with the monasteries, universities, and fund explorations. To do this, player’s will draft dice each round that can be used in multiple ways and taking dice can affect turn order, income, and the cost of bribery . Whoever can optimize the use of the dice and the constant change of synergy with the monasteries, universities, and expeditions will be the winner.
Coimbra is a designed for 2-4 players and takes approximately 60-90 minutes. Coimbra pre-orders will open April 16, 2018 and it will be released on August 2, 2018 at GenCon.