“The world is your game board. Get ready for CATAN – World
Explorers, an upcoming massively multiplayer augmented reality game that
transforms the entire Earth into one giant game of CATAN.”
Catan (1995) by Klaus Teuber
is one of the classic European board games that shepherded in the modern age of
board games. Winner of Spiel des
Jahres in 1995, and still beloved today, Catan introduced the world to
resource collection, trading, and city building.
The world of Catan had already expanded onto digital devices, but now will take over the entire world. Catan World Explorers, announced at Essen Spiel 2019, is a new digital game in which players explore the real world, a la Pokemon Go, searching for classic Catan resources. Players collect wheat, sheep, wood, etc. on their device, trying to then construct roads and cities. However it won’t be all that easy… your neighborhood may have an abundance of one type of resource, but you will likely have to trade for something else. Team up with friends for victory points, and compete locally or globally to become seasonal champions.
A really short and sweet announcement today – Horrible Games, the publishers of fun family games such as Potion Explosion, Dragon Castle, Railroad Ink, and Steam Park, are changing their name to Horrible Guild. The new name and logo will debut at this year’s Spiel in Essen, Germany, at their booth 4-A 108 in Hall 4. Their press release best summarizes the reason for the change:
“Regarding the new name, we think that the word “guild” better describes us as we are now, a bigger group of people sharing the same goal: designing, developing and producing cool and innovative games capable of bringing fun to everyone. The additional benefit of the change is that, finally, you won’t have to tell your friends that we don’t actually make “horrible games” when you introduce one of our games to them: we are simply a bunch of silly people with a horrible name doing great games!”
To accompany the change, they will also be launching their rebuilt website at www.horribleguild.com, and updating their social media presence accordingly. While certainly their old name was not an accurate assessment of their games, I am happy they are keeping enough elements of their old identity to remain recognizable while making a move that feels more appropriate to them. To learn more about Horrible Guild, their products old and new, be sure to check out their new website and social medias!
“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.
“You’ve come to make your fortune on Cooper Island, whose
untouched peninsulas stretch out like long arms into the wild Atlantic. With
two ships and a few workers, each of you has landed on a separate peninsula,
which you hope to explore, cultivate, and settle. But who will do this best?
And how? Will you expand your land quickly, or will you instead spend your
efforts cultivating it, making it more and more valuable and productive?”
Frosted Games along with Capstone Games have announced Cooper Island, a new complex strategy game from the brilliant mind of Andreas “ode.” Odendahl (La Granja). In Cooper Island, 2-4 players compete as explorers to colonize their island off the Atlantic peninsula. Players have 2 ships and a worker, and place landscape tiles over their island, gaining resources. Resources can be used to build structures with special abilities. Certain areas on the island are inaccessible and need to be cleared to gain access. Supply ships can come in from the Old World, helping the colonization.
As you can see, Cooper Island is a complex set of mechanical interlocking gears, melding together into a satisfying heavy euro game. The point scoring and tracking is yet another unique element to this game; each player marks their points by moving a small ship around the perimeter of their island. However, this ship can discover new lands, granting benefits to the player. After 5 rounds, the player with the most victory points is declared… well, the victor.
“An unthinkable catastrophe has ravaged Europe. The main
infrastructure of Paris has been destroyed. In a few weeks, the city is covered
in strange, lush vegetation. The survivors of the apocalypse must reunite, and
roll up their sleeves to rebuild civilization in this new Eden.”
Matagot Games has announced Paris: New Eden by designers Florian Grenier and Ludovic Maublanc (Cyclades, Dice Town). Paris is a lighter dice drafting, post-apocalyptic board game in which 2-4 players collect survivors, aquire buildings, resolve events and in general try to score the most victory points within 4 seasons. Players start by drafting custom dice 6 showing survivor types – tinkerers, brawlers, healers, sages, farmers, and wilds. These dice come from action spaces, and after taking a die, players execute the action from that location. Players next fight for buildings associated with each die type, spending the dice to purchase the cards. These cards are collected in order of strength – the player with the most tinkerers gets first pick of the tinkerer buildings, and so on. Players can then overcome events for victory points, using survivors and supplies from their location cards. Finally, all of those survivors need to be fed with collected farmers and cans of food, earning more points. After 4 seasons, players can collect on secret mission cards, and the player with the most victory points is declared the winner.
Paris: New Eden is scheduled to have a limited release in Essen this October, with retail to follow soon thereafter.
“Yes, that’s it! Said the Hatter with a sigh, it’s always
DrawLab Entertainment has announced Alice in Wordland, a new party game from designers Chris Darsaklis (When I Dream) and Spyros Koronis. Alice is a family oriented party game, wherein 3-8 players take turns naming items related to a revealed category on a discussion card, e.g. “Items on a sandwich”. However, the evil queen of hearts has decreed that certain letters are banned, so each named item cannot include three forbidden letters on revealed cards. A clever electronic teapot timer gives each player 10-15 seconds to interject their word then hit the button, or else the music stops, that player picks a score card, and is eliminated. Players each take on the role of a famous Alice in Wonderland character, along with a special ability, and these roles are rotated after every round. Once all the players have used each of the characters, the player with the most points is declared the most glib and loquacious polyglot in the kingdom!
Skellig Games has announced two new titles for release at Essen Spiel this October. Skellig is a small German board game and publishing house known for family weight games. Their first game, Concerto (2018) by designer Uwe Bursik is a well-received memory game with a musical theme.
also by designer Uwe
Bursik is a bee themed abstract game in which 2-4 players move bee “stones”
across fields to collect nectar and score points. Different types of bees, such
as guardians, berserkers or drones, give special abilities along the way. Stones
can both block other players and set up points in this no-luck pure strategy
game. The game comes with a double sided modular board and event cards to keep
Mice to Meet You by designer Daniel Bernsen is a family friendly roll and write game for 1-5 players, which uses a unique “roll and discard” mechanism. The active player rolls dice to discard their mouse cards, while opponents get to take advantage of the unused dice. The game lasts a short 20 minutes, and the winner is the player with the fewest points in hand.
The next big thing designed by Jamey Stegmaier is Tapestry, a 1-5 player civilization game that plays in 90-120 minutes. The game was revealed on Stonemaier Games’ weekly livecast video on Facebook.
In Tapestry, you start from nothing and advance on any of the 4 advancement tracks (science, technology, exploration, and military) to earn progressively better benefits. You can focus on a specific track or take a more balanced approach. You will also improve your income, build your capital city, leverage your asymmetric abilities, earn victory points, and gain tapestry cards that will tell the story of your civilization.
The game features art by Andrew Bosley, of Everdell fame, and sculpts by Rom Brown. The first English print run of 25,000 is complete and the game is sailing from production to fulfillment centers now, with each box individually numbered. Tapestry will be available for preorder through Stonemaier’s website in early September, and will be for sale at Essen Spiel.
Some tidbits from the video: Tapestry is not tied to real world history. The rulebook is only four pages long. The factions have asymmetrical starting points. The solo mode is by Automa Factory. The game includes a spatial placement element somewhat similar to A Feast for Odin.
HABA announces three
new games to be released at Essen SPIEL 2019 with the intention of a simultaneous
release in the US.
Dragon’s Breath: The Hatching, designed by Lena Burkhardt
Breath) and Günter
Seeland) is a
stand-alone game in the Dragon’s Breath universe, featuring Dragon Mom and a
new egg about to hatch! Dragon Mom melts the ice column, releasing more
sparkling gemstones that players collect to complete amulet cards, all while
trying not to let the egg fall. Elements from this game can be combined with
the original Dragon’s Breath to increase the player count to 5.
Dragon’s Breath: The Hatching plays 2-4 players, ages
6+, in about 20 minutes.
Cloaked Cats, designed by Connor
Dungeon) is a deduction game where players are cats at a Masked Ball.
Players try to figure out whom is whom, while keeping their own true identity
secret. Players try to unmask the other players among all the velvet-pawed
guests before they are unmasked.
Cloaked Cats plays 2-4 players, ages 7+, in about 20
designed by Michael
Tikal, Heaven & Ale),is a tile laying game to design a Japanese garden. Players skillfully placing stones, bushes,
trees, ponds and pagodas on multiple levels in their gardens to score points
become the best garden designer of the season. Miyabi comes with five
expansions included in the game.
Miyabi plays 2-4 players, ages 8+, in about 45