The all powerful hive mind that is American Mensa has once again assembled in their hollowed halls to rate the games of 2019. Every year, more than 300 members of Mensa spend a mad weekend of games and judgement to bestow upon a deserving few the title of Mensa Select Winner. So without further ado, the Mensa Select Winners for 2019 are:
Gizmos by designer Phil Walker-Harding and CMoN Games is an elegant engine building game expanding on the Splendor model, centering on a delightful marble dispenser. Players take turns collecting colored marbles, all the while purchasing cards to improve their collection ability, marble color conversions, storage abilities and card building power.
Gunkimono by designer Jeffrey D. Allers and Renegade Game Studios is a re-imagining of Heartland (2009), transforming the original farming motif to one of war-torn feudal Japan. In this quasi-abstract tile laying game, players choose between expansion for points, and building up for future strongholds.
Planet by designer Urtis Šulinskas and Blue Orange Games is a tile laying, city building game on a grand scale. In a move that would have Euclid roll in his grave, players place magnetic terrain tiles on a 3 dimensional “planet”, creating vast areas of desert, ocean, forest, etc. in order to meet specific goals.
Victorian Masterminds by master designers Antoine Bauza and Eric M. Lang with CMoN Games is a breathtakingly beautiful steampunk worker placement masterpiece. Players each take on the role of super villains in the recent wake of Sherlock Holmes’ disappearance, trying to take over the world with their unique doomsday plots.
Last year Shem Phillips and co-designer Sam Macdonald released Architects of the West Kingdom, the first game in a new series. Now the designers are back with the second installment in the series, Paladins of the West Kingdom. Architects had players building a town and its cathedral, while Paladins has players spreading the faith and defending the town from outsiders.
In Paladins of the West Kingdom, each player has a set of 12 paladin cards which provide workers, temporary attribute bonuses and a special ability for the round. The players draw three paladin cards at the start of each round, select one to use, return one to the top of the deck and the other to the bottom. Each player also has a personal board which is used to gather resources, increase attributes and score points. Players take turns using their workers to perform a variety of actions, like recruit townsfolk, fortify the town, commission new monks, and attack or convert outsiders. Some features from Architects (e.g. debt cards) return in Paladins; however, several new features are introduced, like suspicion cards which could lead to penalties from the Inquisition.
Like Architects and Raiders of the North Sea, Paladins features artwork from The Mico. Paladins is for 1 to 4 players. There are a couple of different pledge levels, as well as, some additional promo cards included for both Paladins and Architects. You can find out more about the game on its Kickstarter page.
A digital version of Raiders of the North Sea, the popular worker placement game, is coming soon to iOS and Android phones.
Renegade Game Studios, Dire Wolf Digital and Garphill Games have all teamed up for the release, which is expected in the first quarter of 2019.
The game is set in the Viking Age, with players acting as Viking warriors trying to raid unsuspecting settlements. The players will assemble a crew, collect provisions and plunder to collect the most victory points. The game ends when 1 fortress remains, all Valkyrie are removed or all Offerings are made.
The digital game is for 1-4 players with solo play, pass-and-play and online multiplayer options.
Renegade and Dire Wolfe have also recently released Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure and the digital versions of Lanterns: The Harvest Festival and Lotus as well as the Renegade Games Companion.
Architects of the West Kingdom is set at the end of the Carolingian Empire, circa 850 AD. Players are royal architects creating important landmarks, competing to impress their King and maintain their noble status. Players will collect and manage resources, hire apprentices, and manage their workforce, and keep an eye on their rivals who may attempt to slow your progress. Victory points are gained by building various buildings and advancing work on the Archbishop’s Cathedral. This worker-placement strategy game requires more than resource management. Some underhanded deals may need to be made to remain competitive. The player with the most victory points at the end of the game is the winner.
A Kickstarter campaign for Architects of the West Kingdom begins on 13 March, and the game is projected to be released in October 2018.
Architects of the West Kingdom plays 1-5 players, ages 12 and up, in about 60-80 minutes.
2017 has been a fantastic year for Renegade Games who have published many exciting new titles this year, such as Ex Libris, Flip Ships, and Sentient. On top of that, though, they have also published the excellent worker placement game, Raiders of the North Sea, bringing it to larger distribution from independent publisher and developer Garphill Games. Bringing one of the more unique and high-quality Kickstarter successes to their repertoire is certainly a boon for new players and fans, but Renegade Games is not done surprising us yet. They have just announced that the two expansions for Raiders, Hall of Heroes and Fields of Fame, will be released later this year as well. As described in their press release:
“Renegade Game Studios is pleased to announce two expansions for the acclaimed Raiders of the North Sea from Garphill Games. These two expansions add new options and challenges for players as they test their raiding skills in the Kennerspiel des Jahres nominated Raiders of the Noth Sea. Both expansions require Raiders of the North Sea to play and are expected to release Q4 2017.”
While both expansions will be following on the heels of their Kickstarter counterparts, the fact that they will be just as available as the base game is welcome news for such an excellent worker-placement experience. Hall of Heroes adds more ways to get resources as well as quests which can be completed to facilitate other point-scoring goals. Fields of Fame adds a fame track to the game which rewards players for particularly strong crews as well as enemy Jarls mixed in to the foreign settlements which when raided forces players to choose to defeat them for points or flee in shame. If you’re interested in these expansions, please check out the following links including the Garphill Games site, the Kickstarter pages, and the Renegade Games website for more information.
Raiders of the North Sea is a unique worker placement game, in which players gain an action for placing their meeple, but also gain a second action by picking up a new meeple. The meeples on the board come in three colors, and the spaces on the board are color limited. Add a great viking theme of building armies, collecting crew and pillaging outposts, and you have an excellent game, worth of the Spiel nomination.
Shipwrights of the North Sea is a card game where 2-5 players collect artisans and resources, racing to be the first to construct their viking long ships. Various nefarious characters can be recruited to help the player succeed or hinder their competition.
Explorers of the North Sea is a tile laying, pick up and deliver game for 1-4. Players sail their vikings in plastic boats from island to island, picking up livestock, raiding villages and constructing outposts. Points are awarded for sets of collected items, and for completing islands by playing tiles.
The North Sea Rune Saga is an expansion which ties all three games into one large campaign for those brave enough to live the full viking life.
All of the North Sea Games are designed by Shem Phillips, and include gorgeous artwork by Mihajlo Dimitrievski. Look for the trilogy of games from Renegade in Q4 2017. You can read the full press release on Renegade Games’ website here.
Another week, and another round of Kickstarters to deliver a pounding to your wallet.
First up is an expansion to an award winning game, and that is Beasts of Balance Battles. Beasts of Balance is a hybrid game where you stack geometrically shaped animals on a platform, and those animals then appear in an app you run to play the game. Throughout the game you will moving, combining, and stacking animals in an effort to have the highest score in the app by the end of the game. This is because while you may just stack animals in real life, in the app each action has differing effects, making this dexterity game much more interesting. What Battles adds to the game is cards that have effects that attack and remove your opponents animals. There are also a volcano to contend with now and divine guardians that give you special abilities during the game. So if you want to expand your Beast of Balance game, or jump into the game now, check out the Kickstarter.
Next up is a new tile placement and area control type game called Overworld. This game aims to capitalize on the nostalgia of Super Nintendo era RPG games, evident in their choice of box design and the similarity of game pieces to quintessential RPG characters. In this game you are slowing building out the map, and whenever you completely surround an empty square, that becomes a dungeon. Who controls the dungeon is determined by who holds a majority in all orthogonal directions. At the end of the game you will trace a route through all your dungeons and however many spaces it takes will be your final score, and most points is the winner. One other things to mention about this project is the puzzle lock system they came up with for the tiles, essentially making it so that if the pieces fit together, it’s a legal placement of the tile, a nice innovation to help simplify the game. So if you are interested, head on over to the Kickstarter page to check out this 16-bit themed game.
After that we have a family weight game called Pepper and Carrot, the Potion Contest. Pepper and Carrot is a tile manipulation game in that each turn you will be using action cards on the table or in your hand to manipulate tiles on your board. What you are trying to do with those tiles is get the right ingredients connected together to form one of the three recipes on the main board. Be the first to complete all three recipes and you are the winner. There are also additional game modes including solo mode and Chaosah mode, where one player plays as an old witch needing only to complete one recipe, but they are at a disadvantage to the other players. Art is excellent and very light, making this a great looking game. Check out the Kickstarter today.
Next we have the latest game from Victory Point Games, a deck builder with a board type game called Renegade. This is a cooperative game where you are playing hackers, fighting against the tyranny of the SMCs (super massive computers) that have brought the world to the brink. You will use cards to generate resources on the board, and with those resources you can perform various actions to combat the SMCs. As you generate resources, if you have three of the same kind in a spot you can convert it into an installation, allowing you access to more and stronger abilities. As with other deck builders there will be a hackers deck that allows you to buy upgraded cards with better resources and abilities. Can you stop the machines? Check out the Kickstarter page for more information and to pledge.
Now we get to the smallest of the Kickstarter offerings I will be talking about, and that is Twin Stars by Button Shy Games, part of their Wallet Series of game. These are a pack of solo game scenarios featuring the same game system, which utilizes four dice, some tokens, and three cards. The path to victory in each game is very different, but the core of the game is dice rolling to get combinations of symbols to activate abilities. The choices in the game come from deciding which dice to re-roll, can you accept a bad symbol combination resulting in a penalty, and how will you assign the dice to get the best effect possible. Some of the scenarios have been released in other Kickstarters like the Rule the World and Escape the Brig, but here you will be able to get everything in one spot, including some unreleased scenarios. Add in potential stretch goals and you could have lots of solo gaming for not much money. Check out the Kickstarter page, and you can pledge for just the cards, supplying your own tokens and dice, or go deluxe and get everything you need to play in one package.
Finally we come to the last project I will mention, and that is an expansion to Explorers of the North Sea called Rocks of Ruin. Explorers of the North Sea is a viking exploration game where you are sailing around in your longships, raiding towns, picking up livestock, deliver the livestock, and building outposts. There are lots of ways to score points in the game and it came with 48 tiles giving it a play time of about an hour. Rocks of Ruin adds new things to the game in the form of a 5th player, 24 more tiles that increase the map size by 50%, more buildings, fortresses, and shipwrecks that you can salvage. So if you like Explorers of the North Sea, this expansion will just give you more of what you love, with the option of adding another friend to the game. Also being included in this Kickstarter is a mini expansion for Runesaga, adding a fifth player to that along with three runestones and three inscription tiles. So if you are interested in these expansions, head on over to he Kickstarter page.
Raiders of the North Sea is set in the central years of the Viking Age. As Viking warriors, players seek to impress the Chieftain by raiding unsuspecting settlements. Players will need to assemble a crew, collect provisions and journey north to plunder gold, iron, and livestock. There is glory to be found in battle, even at the hands of the Valkyrie. So gather your warriors, it’s raiding season!
“Raiders of the North Sea is a very well thought out game. The unique scoring, beautiful art, and dynamic game play really draws players in,” says Renegade President Scott Gaeta. “We are excited to be the exclusive English partner and bring this Viking adventure to fans thanks to Shem Phillips at Garphill Games.”
“I am really excited to be partnering with Renegade Game Studios to see these games reach a much wider audience,” states Shem Phillips, designer of the Raiders of the North Sea series and owner of Garphill Games.
Look out for the Raiders of the North Sea this summer. In the meantime, check out Renegade’s website for more of their games.
Fields of Fame adds a 5th player to the game as well as a township board with 3 new raid locations. New Jarl tokens are added to the plunder at raid locations, and players can either kill the Jarls or subdue them, possible taking wounds to their crew members. Players also now gain fame on the fame track for overpowering a raid, scoring additional victory points at game’s end.
Hall of Heroes also adds components for another player, and adds a quest mechanic to the game. New quests are added to the new Mead Hall board after each successful raid, and players will need to discard warriors from their hand to complete the quests. A new resource, mead, is also added to the game, which can help fuel and strengthen warriors on raids.
The Kickstarter Campaign also features a new limited edition collectors box which can contain the base game and both expansions. Pledge options also include purchase of the original base game, and the other games in the North Sea Trilogy. The Kickstarter Campaign continues until March 22, and is expected to deliver in November 2017.
Raiders of the North Sea is a new worker placement style game for 2-4 players from the New Zealand game producer Garphill Games. The second in a planned trilogy of Viking games (following last year’s succesful Kickstarter, Shipwrights of the North Sea), it is designed by Shem Phillips and illustrated by Mihajlo Dimitrievski.
Raiders takes place at the height of the Viking Age, with players trying to impress their Chieftain by succesfully raiding settlements. In this unique worker placement system, players share control of the worker pool (with different color workers being required to activate different spaces) and each player will start and end their turn with exactly 1 worker in their hand. On their turn, players will have to place their 1 worker to take an action (such as hiring crew, collecting provisions or raiding), then take 1 other worker off the board and resolve the action of the space that worker occupied. The campaign includes worldwide shipping and a lot of great stretch goals.