Chronicles of Crime

GenCon 2019 was immense and amazing, but has now wrapped up, closed her doors and bid us “adieu”. I was inspired to chime in with a couple picks from the show that really stood out for me among the crowd.

One of the best euro games of 2016 was the exceptional Lorenzo il Magnifico from Cranio Creations and designers Flaminia Brasini, Virginio Gigli, and Simone Luciani. I was able to see a demo for the upcoming card game based on this gem, Masters of the Renaissance by Simone Luciani and Nestore Mangone. In Masters, players still collect resources to buy cards from different tower “levels”, like the original, but now all cards have production ability: in other words, when production is initiated, players collect resources from all of their cards. Additionally, a “market” comprised of a 3×4 grid of colored marbles gives another, easier, source of resources. Players choose any row or column of marbles, and every marble in that line generates its own resource based on its color. After players gain their loot, they push a new marble into the line, bumping al old one from the back. Two things make this market both clever and diabolical: First, clear marbles exist that give no resources at all, clogging up the rows. Second, the resources generated at the market go to a separate storage area, which is severely limited in capacity. This card game version of one of my favorite board games retained the look and feel of the original, added unique mechanisms, but still felt elegant and simplified. Masters of the Renaissance is due to be released at Essen Spiel 2019, this October.

image from BGG

I was particularly impressed by Time of Legends: Destinies by designers Michał Gołębiowski and Filip Miłuński, a joint effort between Lucky Duck Games (Chronicles of Crime) and Mythic Games (Joan of Arc). Destinies is an app-driven fantasy exploration game for 1-3 people which takes place in the same universe as Mythic’s magnum opus Time of Legends: Joan of Arc, and even uses many of the same small scale miniatures as its big sister. In Destinies, players take on the roles of villagers living around the epic stories and battles from Joan. Each player is trying to be the first to fulfill their character’s hidden destiny. The cards in the game, including the character cards, have QR codes in the corner (those black and white checkerboard scanner boxes we see all the time), and scanning a card into the game app leads to context sensitive progression in the game – scanning an item uses it, scanning a character interacts with it, and scanning a weapon fights with it. This system is what made Lucky Duck’s Chronicles of Crime such a fantastic and intuitive story telling game. The game app additionally controls the map, made up of a grid of square cards, in a way reminiscent of the recent blockbuster Journeys in Middle Earth. If that wasn’t enough to make this a magnificent game, Destinies uses an elegant dice system I haven’t seen before for challenges, wounds, and level progression. Three colored stat tracks are on the player board – Knowledge, Strength and Agility, and wooden disks are placed on values along these tracks. To run a test, fight a creature, or even interact with characters, players roll dice, and count how many of these disk values they pass with the roll – this is the number of successes the character achieves. Items can add disks to the tracks, wounds can move the disks to higher, more difficult positions, and experience allows player to buy more disks. Time of Legends: Destinies is scheduled to have a Kickstarter campaign in September 2019.

One may not think that the New York Magazine would be the place to look for board game recommendations, but for the past couple of years the magazine has featured articles on board gaming as part of life and culture in New York City.  Its latest article, featured in its Strategist section which helps shoppers focus on getting the best value for their money, identified the best four-player board games according to experts. These experts included game store owners, board game reviewers, and even a board game illustrator, so it should be no surprise that the list included some heavy hitters in the board game hobby and include several Spiel des Jahres winners. Some of the games on the list do play more than four players, but the experts felt that these games played best with four players.  Pandemic was named Best overall four-player board game.  Other categories on the list include best four player strategic board game, best four-player board game for beginners, best four-player thematic board game, best family-friendly four-player game, best board game for advanced gamers, best cooperative four-player board game, best world-building board game, best four-player party games, best word-association four-player board game, best fast-paced four-player board game, best app-compatible four-player board game.  Sheriff of Nottingham, from the Dice Tower Essentials line, was named one of the best family-friendly four-player games.  Read the full article here to learn more about which games were consider the best four-player games.  In case you missed it, take a look at their list of best two-player games published earlier last month.

It’s that time of year again – the time for the Dice Tower and it’s contributors to vote for the games worthy of an award among a variety of categories, not the least of which is the best game of year. These are the best of the best according to the panel of judges on games released in English in 2018.  You can see previous winners, along with this year’s nominees, on the Dice Tower Awards website, and look forward to the winners being announced at Dice Tower Con later this year.

Best Family Game of the year

Fireball Island
Gizmos
Reef
Space Base
My Little Scythe

Best Artwork

Everdell
Root
Grimm Forest
Cerebria
Rising Sun

Most Innovative

Chronicles of Crime
Nyctophobia
Detective: A Modern Crime Boardgame
KeyForge
The Mind

Best Reprint

Fireball Island
Brass Lancashire
Endeavor: Age of Sail
High Society
The Estates

Best Strategy

Root
Teotihuacan
Brass Birmingham
Coimbra
Underwater Cities

Best Production

Rising Sun
Fireball Island
Everdell
Brass Birmingham
Grimm Forest

Best Expansion

Scythe: Rise of Fenris
Terraforming Mars: Prelude
Roll Player: Monsters and Minions
Great Western Trail: Rails to the North
Root: The Riverfolk

Best Game from a Small Publisher

Root – Leder Games
Chronicle of Crime – Lucky Duck Games
Underwater Cities – Delicious Games
Vindication – Orange Nebula LLC
Obsession – Kayenta Game

Best Cooperative Game of the year

Chronicles of Crime
Just One
The Mind
Detective: A Modern Crime Boardgame
Stuffed Fables

Best Two-Player

KeyForge
War Chest
Duelosaur Island
Haven
Mythic Battles: Pantheon

Best New Designer

Wolfgang Warsch (Quacks of Quedlinberg, The Mind, & Ganz Schon Clever)
David Cicurel (Chronicles of Crime)
Catherine Stippell (Nyctophobia)
Ivan Lashin (Smartphone Inc.)
Tim Eisner (Grimm Forest)

Best Party Game

Just One
Decrypto
The Mind
Drop it
Trapwords

Best Theming

Western Legends
Root
Detective: A Modern Crime Boardgame
Stuffed Fables
Chronicles of Crime

Game of the Year

Root
Teotihuacan
Chronicles of Crime
Underwater Cities
Brass Birmingham
Western Legends
Rising Sun
Architects of the West Kingdoms
Everdell
The Mind

In Chronicles of Crime, from Lucky Duck Games, players are investigators who work together to solve a crime. The game mixes an app, a board game, and some Virtual Reality. In the Chronicles of Crime: Welcome to Redview expansion, 1-4 players investigate strange occurrences in the small town of Redview. It all begins when many animals start disappearing over the course of a few weeks, including Wookie, Richy’s dog. Richy’s 6 friends get together to find him. The Chronicles of Crime: Welcome to Redview expansion is designed by David Cicurel, and Ghislain Masson, with art by Matijos GebreselassieMateusz Komada, and Katarzyna Kosobucka.

Unlike the core Chronicles of Crime game, this expansion is family friendly as there are no murders to investigate. There are only strange things happening in a small town in Maine, USA, in the 80’s. The players take on the role of the 6 kids who rely on strength, guile, agility, and wit, to meet their objectives.

The expansion includes 4 new scenarios, 10 location cards, 15 special item cards, 25 character cards, 6 player boards, a die, and a rule book. It also requires the base game of Chronicles of Crime, and a device to run the app on Android 4.4 or newer, or iOS 8.0 or newer. Once downloaded, the app no longer requires an internet connection. Purchase of the VR glasses is optional and separate.

Expect the expansion to release in March or April of 2019.

Mixing board games with required apps is a very hot topic in board gaming right now, some say it’s great, some march to the chorus of get your digital out of my analog.  Either way you look at it, games are still going to come along that try to use app integration to make it better, and Chronicles of Crime aims to do that is a very unique way.  In this game you are detectives trying to solve a case, but you aren’t some famous or classic detective, you are modern day detectives utilizing modern day methods and resources.  Once you have selected a case you will start going from location to location, questioning suspects and looking for clues.  You will also have the chance to talk to your experts to get their analysis of evidence, all while discussing the case and clues with your fellow players to determine the culprit.

Now if you are wondering where the app comes in, well it is used in every aspect that I just described above.  You will select your case in the app so it knows what clues to give you, when you go to a location you will scan the code on the board in order to go there.  Once there you will clip on a pair of VR glasses to your phone and then start looking around the crime scene, describing it to the other players and looking for key clues in the 3D rendered environment.  Don’t have have the glasses or don’t want to use the VR function?  That’s fine, the app supports also just displaying the environment on your phone and you can just tap and swipe to explore the area.  So grab your friends, put on your thinking caps and get out there and catch that criminal!

If this game has piqued your interest like it has mine, check out the Kickstarter page for more information and to pledge for a copy.  A base pledge with just the game and companion app runs $39 plus shipping, and the VR glasses add-on is additional $10, which also comes with an additional case.  Or you can go full deluxe for $89 which include the base game, VR glasses, and two additional expansions putting you in a film noir type setting as well as a kid detective type setting.  And one final thing, since the cases are app driven, you can play the same scenario over and over since the app randomizes the result for each game, making sure each case is unique.