Dice Drafting Games

Asmodee has pre-order information for one of their hottest games of GenCon 2019, Black Angel. Only the most dedicated line-sitters were able to nab one of the few copies of this spectacular game at the show, as it consistently sold out at the start of the convention each day.

“Humanity, through its irresponsible behavior, has rendered Earth uninhabitable. The greatest nations are forced to share their knowledge in order to create the largest spacecraft ever constructed: the Black Angel. Its mission: Transport the genetic heritage of Humanity to a new home planet.”

Black Angel is the loving brain child of Pearl Games designers Sébastien DujardinXavier Georges, and Alain Orban  – the creators of the cult dice drafting favorite Troyes (2010). In Black Angel, 1-4 players take on the roles of competing A.I. brains, guiding the eponymous unmanned starship on its thousand year mission to deliver mankind’s DNA to a distant world. The game is a dice drafting game, wherein the players have their own dice pool, used to drive action on and around the starship. However, other players’ dice are free game, and can be bought with resources. Dice come in 3 colors, defining the actions they can trigger, with the number of pips on the die being the strength of the triggered action. Actions allow the player to repair the ship, fight back the evil ravager attackers, gain new technological programs, or execute missions in the planets surrounding the traveling Black Angel. Exterior missions are accessed by beautiful robot meeples, which fly around space in small round saucers.  The player board holds a 3×3 grid of technology tiles, which can be activated in unique ways throughout the game. The Black Angel itself “flies” along a conveyer belt board of chevron shaped hex tiles; Strips behind the ship are removed, flipped, and placed in front, propelling Black Angel forward on its journey to a new home world. Mission cards previously played in the disappearing wake of the ship are left behind in space (discarded), giving benefits and scoring opportunities to their owners. All together, Black Angel is a heavy, dice drafting, engine building euro game, sure to be a hit seller once inventory can catch up with the overwhelming demand.

Black Angel comes with game board, 7 chevron space strips, 4 player boards, 64 robot figurines with 20 saucer ships, 18 custom dice, 60 technology tiles, 60 mission cards, 20 ravager cards, clear gem “resource” tokens, red “debris” tokens, scoring discs, and player aids. The game is enhanced by Ian O’Toole‘s fantastically colorful yet minimalistic sci-fi art. A solo mode is included, and the game should be available for purchase in 3rd quarter 2019. For more information, check out Pearl Games’ website on Black Angel here.

Board & Dice has announced Trismegistus: The Ultimate Formula, the newest heavy euro from designer Daniele Tascini (Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar, The Voyages of Marco Polo, Teotihuacan: City of Gods) & Federico Pierlorenzi, to be released in October 2019.

In this game, 1-4 players will try their hand at the mysterious art of alchemy and compete to prove their infinite wisdom and become the successor of the greatest alchemist ever: Hermes Trismegistus. Over three rounds, players will draft dice of three different colors from six different dice pools, and then use the potency of their drafted dice to transmute metals into gold, perform experiments, invent artifacts to move up on four mastery tracks.

According to Board & Dice, Trismegistus will be about as heavy as Teotihuacan, perhaps even with “a bit more crunch,” and will play in about 90-120 minutes.

To learn more about this upcoming release, visit Board & Dice’s page here.

Floodgate Games has announced the next 3 expansions to their hit dice drafting game by Adrian Adamescu and Daryl AndrewsSagrada (2017). Sagrada, which has 1-4 players draft colored dice to specific patterns on their stained glass board, had its first expansion this year. The 5-6 player expansion added more players, private objectives, and new window patterns. The next 3 expansions, deemed the Great Facade Expansions, will be called Passion, Life and Glory, after the three facades of the Sagrada Familia. A little is known about the Passion expansion, due out “next spring”. Passion will include inspiration cards, which allow once per round or once per game special abilities when drafting or placing dice. New glass dice are clear, wild colored dice, which come with special rule cards. Although the glass dice are extremely powerful, players can only have one on their board at a time. Public objectives specific to the rare glass dice will also be available. Finally, new symmetry public objectives require players to create symmetric patterns on their board. Keep an eye on Floodgate’s website for release dates and more information.

Santa Maria by designers Eilif Svensson and Kristian Amundsen Østby is a well regarded dice drafting and tile laying game from 2017, and now the designers along with publisher Aporta Games have started a Kickstarter Campaign for the first expansion, American Kingdoms. Briefly, in Santa Maria, 1-4 players draft dice, and slide them down or across the associated row or column on their personal board, activating every building the die moves over. However, the last building activated in this manner holds the die, effectively shutting that building down for the round. Players can also buy new tiles for their board, adding buildings, and individual buildings can be activated using money instead of dice. The game emphasizes the timing of when to draft dice, what order to activate rows, and the puzzle solving nature of designing the perfect engine. Santa Maria combines resource collection, racing down tracks for points and bonuses, end game goals with scholars and bishops, and set collection via shipping tiles.

American Kingdoms adds a couple new features, and 4 new modules that modify play. Cacao is a new resource in the game, used for new expensive shipping tiles, but mostly for modifying the dice. New scholars and bishops provide abilities and end game scoring. New 3×1 building tiles can be purchased for player boards, but come with a prohibitive 4 coin cost.

The Governor Module adds a… governor to each player’s board. The governor starts in the upper left corner of the player board, and moves one space whenever a die is used. Governors activate buildings, gaining resources when they land on buildings, but can move back off later, opening the building up again. Players lose points at game end if the governor has not moved far enough, and gain points if he makes it to the lower right of the board.

The Specialists module adds specialist tiles, which are randomly associated with dice. When the dice are drafted, the player can buy the specialist, gaining resources or buildings, but at a cost. Upgraded buildings are expensive, but players get a discount if they replace another building.

The Ambassador Module changes the dice mechanic of the game slightly. Players start with less dice, but there are 2 ambassador dice available each round, one white and one blue. These special dice can be drafted, but all players will be able to use the number when one player drafts. The drafting player is the only one able to modify the die number.

The Mayan Module is by far the most involved. With this addition, the game can play up to 5 players, with one player taking on the role of the native Mayans. The Mayan City has curving roads for each drafted die, rather than the regimented grid of the standard player boards. Mayans have several changes to their game play, and their main goal is to use resources to build multi-level pyramids. The higher the pyramid (up to 3 levels) the more points they earn. Additionally, the Mayan player has a hand of cards for trading with players, changing resources, and generally getting their monuments built. The game even changes the conquistador track, adding a back and forth of Mayans gaining gold and conquistadors stealing the gold from the Mayan player.

Finally, the Kickstarter Campaign also contains a mini-expansion for the original game, the Exploration deck. This deck provides 5 nationalities with varied starting resources for each player, and 21 achievement cards with secret player goals.

The Kickstarter Campaign for Santa Maria: American Kingdoms is set to continue through November 11, and the game should deliver in March 2019.