Players will be building oil platforms in North Sea, but it won’t be easy as it requires the right technology and cooperation amongst the people you are competing against! The game revolves around 3 actions: buying technology, exporting oil for money, and opening a new oil field as players press their luck drilling for oil!
Rio Grande has a wealth of new releases this month, and strong variety at that. These releases cover the spectrum of new family-weight entries to classic heavy strategy titles. Personally I’m always fond of showers of releases like this because it’s fun to try to find a gem among them, and for this month I don’t think that’ll be difficult – not one bit. All of these titles are set to hit retail before the end of this October, just in time for Essen 2019.
To start us off is a new family game, Butterfly, designed by Stephen Glenn for 2-to-5 players ages 8 and up. Players each take turns moving Hudson the Hedgehog around the field collecting stuff: colorful butterflies, dragonflies, lightning bugs, crickets and flowers, but trying to avoid bees and wasps. The goal is to maneuver the plucky hedgehog to get you things you want while denying your opponents access to better stuff. The player with the best collection of things is the winner!
The next stop on this board game train sees us stopping in the Middle East and South Africa in the newest expansion to the Friedemann Friese’s Power Grid. This new pair of maps will give fans of the energy empire-building game new geographies and resource restrictions to deal with. The Middle East map, appropriately, is abundant in oil from the get-go, but this abundance will dry up and it’s imperative to build back-up energy plans to compensate by the time it leaves. The South Africa map is massive, and thus features 6 international power connections and a huge amount of coal-based power executed by a single trust. Players will need to adapt and capitalize quickly to succeed on either game board.
Following that is a new collaboration between one of my favorite designers, Bruno Cathalla, and Johannes Goupy known as Queenz. 2-to-4 players will be beekeepers trying to attract bees via orchids and collecting valuable honey. Each turn players will either collect flowers to fill their warehouse, or they’ll start up a new field filled with flowers from their collection and collect honey, getting points at the end of the game for having the most valuable hives on the board. It’s a very cool set collection / pattern building game with a grid element that rewards careful planning, but don’t take my word for it – feel free to watch Zee’s excellent review of the game to learn more.
Last, but definitely not least, is the English version of an area majority and set collection game designed by Frank Crittin, Grégoire Largey, and Sébastien Pauchon known as The Way of the Bear. Originally released in many other languages as Wangdo, this game sees 2-to-4 players control clans of bears trying to wrestle control of northeast Asia. To do this, players must place bear statues which allow them to collect tokens, but as the board fills up with these statues it becomes more difficult, and costly, to place them. The first player to collect their full set of tokens wins.
And with that, everyone, concludes this round-up – Have a great October everyone and Happy Gaming!
WizKids has a new family weight game now available at a store near you. In Bumúntú, 2-to-5 players act as African tribal leaders, seeking wisdom from the animals of the wilderness. Players will move carefully across a grid seeded with various animal tiles, each one with different movement abilities (a la Hive). Collecting these animal will gain their favor, a value determined on a leaderboard that all players affect. Strategy and planning are thus key in this game and what could be a gentle stroll through the wilds will end up being a tense skirmish for supremacy.
“A common theme in African folklore is that animals are wise creatures who teach humans to do good and moral things. In Bumúntú, based on the Bakongo culture of central Africa, you are a tribal leader seeking to befriend the animals. Trek through the jungle, follow the animals’ guidance, and earn their favor. Successfully earn the most favor and the animals will help bring your people to prosperity.”
The comparison to Hive is the most apt I can make, although this is much more a family weight game with set collection rather than a head-to-head competition to trap the opponent. Bumúntú has a wider variety of animals and variable scoring that can swing each round, making this a good game for teaching pattern recognition, long-term planning, and spatial movement to children and new gamers alike. If you are interested in learning more about Bumúntú, check out WizKids’ product page for more pictures, full rules, and a full list of local and online retailers.
Dice drafting is an excellent game mechanism that I feel is under-utilized and not fully explored. Last year’s hit Sagrada is a great representation of this point. I like to think that Creative Game Studios recognized this as well when they planned to bring The Towers of Arkhanos to Kickstarter on October 2nd. Their newest project goes beyond just drafting the dice, as it also uses the shape of the dice to it’s visual advantage – the dice are placed after drafting to act as pillars for the titular towers as they climb ever upward over the course of the game. This eye-catching blend of theme and function, along with an approachable set of rules, makes this a crowdfunding title worth the look.
“The towers of ARKHANOS is a fast paced competitive boardgame for 2 to 4 players who will control one of the magic schools from the realms of Drunagor and try and build the magic towers in order to gain more prestige points to be appointed the greatest wizard of the realm. Design by Daniel Alves and Eurico Cunha two of the creators from “MASMORRA: Dungeons of Arcadia”, the game features artwork by Marcelo Bastos and Rodrigo Ramos creating a unique and colorful world.”
A strong draft and table presence aren’t the only things Arkhanos has going for it. Like any good gateway game, it also teaches a few other strategic staples, notably risk assessment and timing. Unlike other dice drafting games, this one always gives you the option of taking actions without a die, but doing so means you will lose one of your meeples instead as it is grimly sacrificed to be a pillar of a tower in place of a die. Actions and area control are determined by these meeples, so losing them this way isn’t ideal but it often comes down to seizing opportunity and an advantageous bonus in a crucial move. You don’t have to take my word for how thoughtfully put together this game is, however, because if you are interested in learning more about The Towers of Arkhanos you can check out their Kickstarter campaign page for playthrough and preview videos, full rules, community feedback, and updates.