“Marco Polo set out from Venice in 1271 and spent the next twenty-four years traveling and proving his skill as a merchant. Seventeen of those years he spent in China as an ambassador of Kublai Khan, embarking on missions throughout the Mongol Empire and seeing parts of the world most Europeans could scarcely imagine at the time. Will you continue the legacy of one of history’s greatest travelers?”
Attention all Marco Polo fans, Z-Man Games has just announced a sequel to this classic, Marco Polo II: In the Service of the Khan, featuring the same design team of Luciani and Tascini. Marco Polo II has the same basic structure as it’s predecessor, with players using their dice as workers to activate action spaces, collecting resources, finishing contracts, and traveling across China. Players can once again use previously occupied spaces by placing their die on top of the growing stack, paying hard cash for the privilege. Additionally, jade now enters the game as a new resource, allowing manipulation of the markets. Players can join various guilds to open new travel routes along the map, opening shortcuts.
“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.
Splotter Games, the undisputed masters of all things economic, heavy and euro, have just announced an expansion to their hit game Food Chain Magnate (BGG #29), called The Ketchup Mechanism. In Food Chain Magnate, by designers Jeroen Doumen and Joris Wiersinga, 2-5 players collect employees for their growing fast food company, then use each employee to cook food, set up advertising, hire and promote employees, build restaurants, etc. Automated customers then see advertising, get hungry, and drive to the closest/cheapest location where they can buy what they want. The first players to achieve certain milestones in the game gain permanent bonuses, but money determines the winner of this heavy, no luck involved, economic wonder. The Ketchup Mechanism is a modular expansion, adding a number of small changes to the game. The company states that the expansion is still developing, but we can expect a sixth player, new milestones, coffee shops and baristas which customers visit on the way to a restaurant, new buildings, new food types, new employees, and… ketchup. I have to comment on the brilliance and humor behind the expansion name – when people critique Food Chain, or Splotter Games in general, their first comment is about runaway leaders and the lack of … Ketchup. Splotter Games is taking pre-orders for The Ketchup Mechanism, and are aiming for a late 2019 release. For more details, check out the Splotter web page here.
Donning the Purple, published by Tompet Games, is a new euro-style asymmetric game based on the Roman Empire in the year 193 AD, and it is now on Kickstarter.
The previous emperor has been killed by his Praetorian guard, and powerful families are vying for control of the Empire, trying to install their own family member as Emperor. If you succeed, everybody else will be trying to bring you down, so your reign may be short-lived.
“Donning the Purple is an asymmetrical king of the hill game with a bit of worker placement. Each player leads a powerful family in ancient Rome, trying to get the most victory points during 4 rounds. If your family member becomes the emperor and manages to hold the position he can earn lots of points. However he will also become the target of the other players, as they will try to dethrone him and become the new emperor themselves.”
Designed by Petter Schanke Olsen with artwork by Daniel Hasenbos and Joeri Lefevre, Donning the Purple is played over a series of four rounds. Each round symbolizes one year, and players will face off not only against each other, but also enemies from outside the Empire who are invading and trying to take it down. If all of the enemy tiles are out or if enemies control all the regional capitals at the end of a round, then nobody wins the game.
Otherwise, players are trying to earn victory points through their various actions. The player who is Emperor has a few unique actions, and also gets one extra action each turn. Event cards are drawn and can be played to either keep yourself in power as Emperor or to help bring the Emperor down if you’re on the outside.
The map is divided into four regions of six provinces each, and it’s lavishly illustrated by Daniel Hasenbos.
Donning the Purple is a three-player game with both a two-player and single-player variant as well.
The game will fund on March 22, 2018 and it is already close to its funding goal.
Gentres is a civilization game for 2-4 players and will last around 90 minutes. In this game, players take the role of an ancient people who are attempting to develop their society by building monuments and colonizing or founding new cities in the Mediterranean sea.
The game lasts 6 rounds with each round consisting of two phases. During the Heyday phase, players will carry out their actions using two precious commodities (coins and time). The more you spread out the time tokens, the fewer actions you can perform. However if you combine time tokens, you can carry out more actions this round but fewer next round. Once all players pass, the Decline phase begins which is where clean-up and setup for the next round takes place.
Tasty Minstrel Games has listed the following upgrades to Gentes for the Deluxified™ treatment over the retail edition: A Foil-Stamped box, Box Sleeve, 6 Oversized Silkscreened Meeples, 24 Normal-sized Silkscreened Meeples, 89 Metal Coins, 28 Stickered Wood Action Tokens, 20 Silk Silkscreened Lock Tokens, 60 Silkscreened Wood Hourglass Tokens, 4 Dual-layered Player Boards, and 4 Custom-shaped Score Tokens.
The Gentes campaign is running until February 17, 2018 and has already met the minimum level for funding. A pledge of $45 will get you the Standard edition while a pledge of $59 will get you the Deluxified™ English Edition. A pledge of $60 will get you the Deluxified™ Edition in either Dutch, French, German, Italian, or Polish. Please check out the campaign page for more details on shipping costs.
Asmodee Editions based out of France will become the US distributor for german publisher Queen Games. Asmodee has been a major distributor of US companies games in Europe and is currently the distributor for Queen Games Germany. It should not be too much of a surprise that they are taking on the mantel of US distributor for Queen.
Queen has been in the US market since 2010 and had an exclusive distribution agreement with ACD distributors which will end on April 1st of this year. At that time all distribution will be going through Asmodee. Queen seems to have to have trouble settling on a distributor that they are pleased with. After distributing the game themselves via multiple US distribution channels they went exclusive with ACD about the time that many larger companies started inking exclusives with the likes of ACD and Diamond/Alliance.
Hopefully this will be a positive change for Queen Games. While it might not be an acquisition of the publisher by Asmodee this will have the two companies working together more closely and one could look into this as them testing the waters for how well they can work together. Asmodee acquired one of their exclusive distribution parters Days of Wonder last year and it is not unreasonable to suggest that may happen again at some point in the not too distant future.
From the standpoint of the end consumer it is unlikely that you will see much of a change as a result of this deal. This should however hopefully free up some resources on the part of queen to focus on wht they do best which is making award winning games. If this story changes we will be sure to let you know.
The Wall Street Journal posted an interesting essay on friday that discusses the development of strategy among those that play eurogames. The essayist contends that these games which tend to have many more choices and decisions to be made than chess does will have complex strategies developed for them akin to what you see within the chess community. This kind of essay adds to the legitimacy our hobby has started to take within the non-gaming community.
It is interesting though that the essayist looks for the printed book to offer up the strategy that they are looking for. When in reality a site like boardgamegeek.com is more likely to provide that kind of complex strategy. Strategy in the form of a 300 page tome seems to be fading out. This seems to be especially true when it comes to board gaming because of the ever iterating nature of the industry. Chess which is a complex game that has relatively easily explained rules was the big game in town for such a long time to allow for these ultra complex strategies to develop.
Within the essay it is contended that the development of this strategy has not occurred simply because of the newness of many of these games but if you were to turn the clock forward 100 years that there would be many competing strategies for becoming a “Catan” or “Ticket to Ride” Grand Master.
Part of the appeal of chess lies in the notion that one can spend a lifetime mastering its complexities. Eurogames can sustain the same sort of attention. With millions of players online and the potential for computer simulation, the theory of these games could develop at a rapid pace.
For the full essay head over to the WSJ site here (paywall possible)