Essen 2015

orleans invasion

The Kennerspiele des Jahres nominee, Orleans, has its first big expansion coming to Essen 2015 titled Orleans: Invasion. In this expansion, a new cooperative variant, designed by Inka and Markus Brand, pits the players against a threatening invasion. The team must work together to fill the granary and to reinforce the city’s walls to keep the advancing enemies at bay. In addition, each player now has special abilities given to them on their unique character cards which also provide tasks of their own to complete. New events also stack the deck against the players what with arsonists trying to burn everything they can get their torches on and rats who not only bring plague but also really have a hankering for your cheese supply. Some events, however, also provide the team with support in surprising and unexpected ways.

The cooperative variant tells the story of the citizens of Orleans rising up against their invaders and adds a new depth of challenge. Orleans: Invasion also includes five additional variants for players to explore. The “Golden Age” is a classic extension that expands the original gameplay. The “Duel” is a new 2-player scenario in which both players must each complete four tasks and the player who completes these tasks first wins. The other three variants introduced are for solo play. Each solo variant has varying lengths and difficulty levels requiring different strategies to complete (of course, a little luck doesn’t hurt).

Orleans is a terrific game which was reported by many as being the hottest game of Essen 2014. This new release promises to expand that excitement by offering completely new ways to play the game. Fans are eagerly awaiting taking this game to the next level with Orleans: Invasion.

You can click here for more information.


On August 28th, Ares Games announced they will be publishing the english edition of the game Quickpick – Island of Monster Masks.  This is a family style game meant for ages 4 and up where you have arrived on an island inhabited by strange creatures, so in order to fit in you start to wear big masks.  But over time you have forgotten what everyone looks like and so you have to try and figure out what masks people are wearing.

Gameplay is simple where the current player, called the mime, draws a cards from the deck and then makes a face to match that card.  Then everyone else has to figure out which mask his face matches and grab it.  If they grab the correct mask then both that player and the mime get a mask and then the next player becomes the mime.

Expected release is in October 2015 with the plan of it being available at the Essen Spiel.  Below is the full press release from Ares Games.

Ares Games to publish the English edition of Quickpick – Island of Monster Masks

The new family game, the first one in partnership with Chinese publisher Planplay, will be launched at Essen Spiel 2015, in October

August 28, 2015 – The Italian games publisher Ares Games announces a license agreement with the Chinese company Planplay to publish the English language edition of Quickpick – Island of Monster Masks, a new game for three to eight players, age 4 and up. The English edition will be published simultaneously with the Chinese edition, and will be released at Essen Spiel 2015 (October, 511th).

QuickpickIsland of Monster Masks is the first game of a new line presenting innovative gameplay based on the ability of choosing and taking actions quickly, using different perception skills, such as recognition of expressions and sounds. In the Island of Monster Masks, players arrive at an island inhabited by strange creatures and began to fit in by wearing big masks themselves, but then they can no longer recognize one another among the island inhabitants.

The gameplay combines pattern recognition, dexterity, and simultaneous action mechanics. The mime draws a Mask card and imitates the face shown, while the other players try to guess which Monster he is acting out. If a player guessed correctly, he and the mime collect a Mask. The winner is the player who collects most masks during the game.

Quickpick is a great addition to our Family Game line, bringing an easy, funny, and original game, suited for players of all ages, including very young ones, and at an affordable cost,” said Roberto Di Meglio, Director of R&D of Ares Games.

“We started to work with Ares Games in 2011, distributing their games to China – not just because they do great games, but because they support and care about their partners. We are really honored to now add a new dimension to this partnership, starting withQuickpick – a game we have a lot of confidence in. We choose to publish Quickpick for kids and families, but it proved to be so funny during the playtests that we found out it was welcomed by “hardcore” gamers,’ too. The fun has no limits!” declared Daniele P. Correale, product manager of Planplay.

In the past, Planplay has published the Chinese editions of several Ares Games’ titles, including War of the Ring Second Edition andInkognito

Quickpick is designed by Martino Chiacchiera and Benedetto degli Innocenti, and is illustrated by Xin Mao. The game is expected to release in October 2015, launching at Spiel 2015, the huge game show at Essen, Germany.

For more information, visit the Ares Games website.

About Ares Games

Ares Games is an Italian board game publisher established in 2011 to create quality hobby products for the international audience. Ares Games is the publisher of the award-winning “War of the Ring” board game, “Wings of Glory” range of airplane combat games and miniatures recreating aerial warfare in WW1 and WW2, and more recently, the tactical ship-to-ship miniature game “Sails of Glory,” and the cooperative tactical Sci-Fi miniatures game “Galaxy Defenders.” The Ares Games’ catalog also includes Family Games and Euro Games. For further information, visit the website and the Facebook page –

About Planplay

Jinan Planplay Co.,Ltd is a board game publisher and distributor mainly focused on the Chinese market, but with an office in Italy. Beginning in 2010, Planplay has been engaged in the distribution of Chinese language board games for the Chinese, Taiwanese, and Hong Kong markets, and in English versions to all emerging markets of Southeast Asia. To learn more, visit the website  


Portal Games continues to release quality games with its latest announcement: Five Families, an expansion for the award-winning Legacy: the Testament of Duke De Crecy‏, a game in which players are managing the affairs of their wealthy, aristocratic families in pre-revolutionary France.

Portal Games released the following today in a press release:

Portal Games announces Five Families – an expansion for the award winning Legacy: the Testament of Duke De Crecy

The first expansion for Legacy from designers Ignacy Trzewiczek and Michał Walczak.

Gliwice, Poland – August 31st, 2015. Today, Portal Games announced Five Families, the first expansion for the award winning Legacy: the Testament of Duke De Crecy. This expansion by designers Ignacy Trzewiczek and Michał Walczak adds a new dimension to Legacy through the introduction of unique Families.

Five Familes allows the players to trade new family members and traits to the other players in exchange for their Favor, a new resource. Favor tokens are used to purchase new, powerful actions. Each family is unique and the individual family members offer powerful abilities to the player willing to trade their Favor. Additionally, Five Families adds new Patrons with unique scoring options, Birth Events with more drama, and a Daisy Track for a new solitaire challenge.

“Legacy has always been a thematic game that provokes players into telling jokes, and trash talking each other – with marriages, and having kids with ugly or greedy husbands being a fuel for pure fun. With this expansion I wanted to add even more of this discussion – and that’s how I came up with the idea of players offering their family members to the other players during something like a matchmaking phase! It worked from the very first play test – laughs, funny comments and each player praising his family members as a best choice for a husband or wife. This is hilarious phase and adds so much interaction and table talk to the base game!” says designer Ignacy Trzewiczek.

Legacy the Testament of Duke De Crecy is for 1 to 4 players, ages 10 or older and takes approximately 60-90 minutes to play. Five Families is an expansion which requires the base game to play. The expansion includes 105 cards, an action board, 60 Favor tokens, and a rulebook. Five Families will debut in October at Essen Spiel and will be in Europe retail distribution in October. Distribution in USA will begin in December. MSRP will be $25. For more information you can visit the Five Families page on our website at

About Portal Games

Portal Games is a publisher of award-winning games such as Imperial Settlers, Stronghold, Pret-A-Porter, Legacy, and Neuroshima Hex. Founded in Poland in 1999, Portal Games has developed into one of the most renowned European game publishers and design teams. Their commitment is to produce only the highest quality Board Games That Tell Stories.


Flatlined Games has announced an experiment for this year’s Essen Fair in October 2015. This year, they will be selling limited print runs of two new titles through pre-order for pick up at Essen. Flatlined states “These games may see a larger, industrially produced print run in the future”, but this is not guaranteed. Depending on gamer interest, this could be the only opportunity to get these games.

The games are:

  • Steamrollers, a dice-drafting train game designed by Mark Gerrits for 2-5 players. Players draft dice from a common pool to build a rail network, upgrade equipment, acquire special powers and deliver goods to score VPs. Each player used pen or pencil to track their growing network on a personal map. The player with the most VPs wins. The game is designed to play in 30 minutes.

    otter nonsense

  • Otter Nonsense, a card game designed by Eric Hanuise for 2-6 players. Using cards with illustrations of otters drawn by Elisabeth Hanchir, player play cards to three pile in the turn, following the direction and characteristic of the previous card. Inability to play a card forces the player to give a point to the previous player who blocked them. Emptying your hand earns bonus points. The first player to seven points wins. The game plays in 15 minutes.

Flatlined also has two other events scheduled for Essen:

  • Kwanchai Moriya will be signing games containing his artwork, particularly Rumble and Twin Tin Bots
  • Flatlined’s latest Kickstarter game Argo will be available for demos at Essen

Finally, Flatlined will have a few copies Dragon Rage, Rumble and Robin available at Essen. Details from Flatlined can be found here.

spiel preview

Essen Spiel, the board game event of the year, is getting close and so announcements of which games will be there is going to reach a fevered pitch.  So, in preparation, BoardGameGeek has set up it’s Spiel Preview 2015 to offer people a list of all the games, grouped by publisher, that will be at the fair this year.  So far the list is up to an amazing 414 games (Origins topped out at 590) with the possibility that it will reach 700 games.  Head over to the blog post on BGG check it out.

portal of morth

Tower defense games are a fun way to spend some time online as they revolve around using towers to stem the tide of enemies as they try to assault your castle, steal your gems, or just try to cross the road.  As of late there have been a couple attempts to replicate this in board game form with games like The King’s Armory, Orcs Must Die, and Sherwood’s Legacy.  Now ABBA Games is trying their hand at it with their upcoming release, Portal of Morth, set for release in October 2015 and will be showcased at Essen 2015.  From the pictures uploaded to BoardgameGeek it looks very similar to what you would find in a typical tower defense video game and hopefully plays just as well.  It will play 1-4 players with an average time of 40 minutes per player and will play out over 5 waves with each wave having 4 phases.

Image from BGG

Image from BGG

-First is Lord Morth’s phase where the starting player will roll dice to determine what creatures appear and where
-Second is the Portal phase where players can modify the results of the initial roll with money they have on hand
-Third is the Hero’s phase where the players get to make their moves and attacks to eliminate as many monsters as they can
-Fourth is the assault phase where the monsters advance using a d3 and their own movement modifiers

If the monsters manage to cross your entire board and move off you will take damage and the player with the least amount of damage at the end wins.  You can find out more at their entry on BoardgameGeek and either play it at Essen or buy it at your local FLGS in October.

mistfall 2

NSKN Games has announced the releases of two titles.  Exodus: Edge of Extinction is the sequel to Exodus: Proxima Centari.  You can see our story covering the games initial announcement here.  This will released at Gen Con 2015 for the north american market, Essen 2015 for the european market, and made available through the hobby game store market in November 2015.

Exodus: Edge of Extinction expands each faction in Exodus: Proxima Centauri, bringing asymmetric powers, a new array of unique technologies and new game play options, making an epic empire building game even more immersive.

mistfall locations

They have also announced the release of Mistfall which we covered here.  This will be released at Essen 2015 and likely released through the game store market shortly after.

Mistfall is a fully cooperative adventure game set in a fantasy world of mystery, eldritch powers and high adventure. With decks of equipment and power cards, players embark on a dangerous journey through a set of monster-ridden locations. Each hero comes with a pool of advanced abilities that can be added to their basic deck during the game to customize and expand their powers. A variable board setup, randomized encounters and enemies and a simple but robust monster AI make Mistfall a varied and challenging experience.

For more information you can head over to NSKN’s website here.

Stronghold Games has announced the first title of its new game line, the “Great Designer Series”. This is a series of new games that are intended to showcase games designed by some of the best board game designers in the business, so it’s only appropriate that Porta Nigra is being brought to you by the world famous design team of Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling.

Porta Nigra is a game of Roman Architecture in which 2-4 players control their own master builder, using cards from their own personal draw deck to move around a circular track and build 3D buildings around the board, taking care to plan their movements carefully and efficiently.

The game is tentatively expected to debut at the Essen Spiel game convention in Essen, Germany and be available in stores starting in November, 2015.

For more information, you can read the full press release below.

Stronghold Games Announces Porta Nigra designed by Wolfgang Kramer & Michael Kiesling
Porta Nigra designated by Stronghold Games as Game #1 in its “Great Designer Series”

New Jersey, USA – June 3, 2015

Stronghold Games is proud to announce the publication of Porta Nigra, a game designed by the renowned
game design team of Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling, and co-published with Eggert-spiele.
Porta Nigra (or black gate) is a large Roman city gate, located in Trier, Germany, and dating back to the 2nd century. The game is set in that place and time with the players taking on the roles of Roman architects working on the city gate of Porta Nigra.

In Porta Nigra, 2 to 4 players each command a master builder, who moves around a circular track on the
game board, enabling players to buy or build only where this master builder is located. Moving the master builder to farther locations along the track is expensive, so players must plan their movements and builds carefully. The number and type of actions that players may perform on their turn is determined from cards that each player has in their personal draw deck.

The buildings in Porta Nigra are erected physically on the game board at the various locations in the city. This is accomplished with 3-D plastic building pieces, which gives Porta Nigra a beautiful and compelling look on the table.

Stronghold Games will release Porta Nigra as the first game in its new “Great Designer Series”, which will highlight games from the best game designers in the world. Porta Nigra is designed by the renowned game design team of Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling. Kramer and Kiesling have previously teamed to
design the highly rated games Tikal, Torres, Maharaja, Coal Baron, Palaces of Cararra, and many others.
Porta Nigra features the gorgeous artwork of the great artist Michael Menzel, whose work has been
featured in many games such as Stone Age, Shogun, Bruges, Rococo, Legends of Andor, and many others.

The release of Porta Nigra strengthens the commitment of Stronghold Games to partner with publishers
globally, bringing their great games to North America and the rest of the world, as well as to continue to publish great euro-game designs. Porta Nigra follows the success of two smash-hit 2014 euro-games from Stronghold Games, Panamax and Kanban: Automotive Revolution. Stronghold Games recently announced
The Golden Ages, a euro-style civilization building game, to be released later this year.

Stronghold Games will print Porta Nigra at Ludofact Germany, the leading printer of hobby games in the
world. Porta Nigra has a tentative release date of November 2015. Stronghold Games will debut this game at the Essen Spiel in Germany in October 2015.

“We continue to find great from Europe and elsewhere, and to publish them for gamers around the world”,
said Stephen Buonocore, President of Stronghold Games. “We are very excited to be working on this project with the great company, Eggert-spiele, with whom we have worked so well in the past.”


Bezier Games has announced their latest title “Favor of the Pharaoh.  This reimagining of the game “To Court the King” by designer Tom Lehmann expands upon the original game play making for a more varied game.  Centered around moving up the social ladder in ancient Egypt this game is all about strategically working your prowess to outwit your oponents.

Designed for 2-4 players and taking about 45 minutes this should be a nice medium length game.  In addition it is heavily dice dependent which may influence how much you enjoy this game.  This game also appears to be on e that will have the great standup dice roll moments on a semi-regular basis which is not necessarily something you see in this length of a game.

Publishers description below

In “Favor of the Pharaoh” (2-4 players, 45 minutes) from Bezier Games, Inc., players roll dice to advance in Egyptian society, each turn gaining a new contact and more influence. These contacts give players more dice to roll or special powers to adjust those dice. The game culminates in a tense final roll-off as players vie for the Pharaoh’s favor.

This re-imagining of Tom Lehmann’s earlier game “To Court the King” boasts over 50 different characters, each of whom has a unique ability. In each game, only 21 of those characters are used, increasing variety and replay value. Also new are 6 different custom dice with special abilities, special Immediate dice, and bonus tokens that are used to tweak players’ rolls.


More than 100 sturdy tiles depict the characters with easy-to-read imagery. Double-sided level bars organize them and vary their claiming requirements from game to game, while pyramid-shaped dice frames hold players’ locked dice. For the final roll-off, notched slots mark the high roll, while the current leader holds the wooden Pharaoh token.

To store everything, the game comes in a big box (Ticket to Ride size) with an insert. Re-developed and expanded by Ted Alspach and Tom Lehmann, Bezier Games, Inc. will be publishing “Favor of the Pharaoh” at Essen 2015.