The sharp-eyed and -eared among you may have heard Tom Vasel, our illustrious leader, drop a bombshell on the latest episode of Boardgame Breakfast. The next game in the Dice Tower Essentials line of games, will be Smartphone, Inc. originally from Cosmodrome Games and designer Ivan Lashin. The Dice Tower Essentials are games that Tom himself has played, deemed extraordinary, and brought personally to publisher Arcane Wonders for retail publication. Smartphone was originally shown at Essen 2018, and despite having a very small print run, quickly became a darling of the show. Rumors of reprints abounded, but until now the game has been on the grail list of many collectors.
“Back when smartphones were only beginning to conquer the
world, it was your destiny to lead one of the most promising manufacturing
corporations in the world. Analyze and research customer demand around the
globe. Get out of your comfort zone and try to get more profit by setting up
new offices in nearby regions. Improve your production and research innovative
technologies. Try to get local markets under your control. Find your own way to
success—become the producer of an elite high-tech product or a manufacturer
focused on the mass market. And don’t forget to keep your plans secret if you
want to win this race. Other companies want the same thing you do: to become
the most successful (and richest) smartphone manufacturer of all time!”
Smartphone, Inc. is often described as Food Chain Magnate lite, being a strong but elegant economic game for 2-5 players about manufacturing and selling cell phones around the world. At the heart of the game, players manipulate two double sided cards, creating their “pad”. Each half of the pad contains 6 squares of icons, and by overlapping them in specific ways, players create their plan for the round: Visible symbols give actions for the round, while covered squares add additional product for sale, but inherently limit a player’s turn. Players can gain Improvement Tiles from the market each round, more cardboard tiles that can be added to their pad, adding new icons, or flipped to create more phones for sale.
Available actions include changing the sell price of a player’s phones up or down, researching new technologies, spreading and selling to other areas on the world map, gaining Improvements, and making more product. Newer technologies and world expansion give players more locations to sell their product, and each player can only sell in one “slot” per round, creating fierce competition for the markets. Players can focus on creating large amounts of cheaper phones, which allows them to act first, flooding sell spaces and outcompeting their opponents, or they can make higher priced phones to simply make more money. The richest player after 5 rounds emerges victorious.
The components for Smartphone are exceptional, with the entire board using dual layered cardboard, creating recessed slots for player pieces. The pieces themselves are brightly colored clear plastic cubes (phones/goods), office buildings (for territory control), and smartphone bars (representing progress). Individual player storage boxes keep the pieces organized: plastics, the player’s “pad”, and starting innovations. A clean, minimalistic graphic design places the round structure and all rules in easy to understand proximity. Also included in the game is a strong A.I. driven solo mode.
Splotter Spellen is a publishing house known for some of the most deep, strategic board games loved by the community, such as Roads and Boats, Food Chain Magnate and Indonesia. Unfortunately, the company is also known for small print runs, and several of their older games have become very difficult to obtain. Well one of those classics is coming back, as Capstone Games has just announced that they will be reprinting a 20th anniversary edition of Bus (1999) by Jeroen Doumen and Joris Wiersinga, one of Splotter‘s earliest games. In Bus, 3-5 players build routes with buses, trying to deliver as many people as possible to their destinations. Players can achieve this goal by expanding their routes, buying more buses, or even expanding the city to include more destinations. No official date was given, but keep an eye out for this classic.
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.
Each year the International Gamers Awards are given out to the multiplayer and 2 player games that are deemed the best for that year. Some notable previous winners are games like Twilight Struggle, Agricola, and Terra Mystica. All highly rated and well respected games, so the nominees for this year are the cream of the gaming crop. One note is that while this is the 2016 award, the games eligible are those that have been released between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. And the nominees are;
GENERAL STRATEGY GAMES – Multi Player category
Blood Rage – Eric M. Lang, Guillotine Games / Cool Mini or Not
Interesting fact, 9 out of the 15 titles being nominated are in the top 100 of games in the entire BGG database. To see the list as well as previous year’s winners you can head on over to the International Gamers Awards website.