Asmodee, the “us” to whom all your board game base belong, has announced that they will be distributing games from the Swiss company Helvetiq in the United States. There are innumerable small game companies around the globe, and Asmodee has made a significant effort in bringing these lesser known gems to the western shores.
“We are always looking for strong local partners that bring
our brand to gamers and shops worldwide,” said Hadi Barkat, CEO & Founder
of Helvetiq. “With Asmodee USA, we now have a U.S. distribution partner who
shares our ambition and passion for the world of games. Their portfolio
includes amazing titles, and we are honored to join with a line up that
particularly suites casual gamers, families, and design aficionados. We are
excited that, together, we will make our games accessible to an even wider
Helvetiq is the publisher of over 60 games, with their top rated games being Martin Nedergaard Andersen’s Bandido (2016) and Colorfox (2016). Visitors to GenCon earlier this month got the opportunity to try out Helvetiq’s new games Misty and Kawaii, the latter of which caused quite a buzz with its undeniable cuteness.
has pre-order information
for one of their hottest games of GenCon 2019,
Only the most dedicated line-sitters were able to nab one of the few copies of
this spectacular game at the show, as it consistently sold out at the start of
the convention each day.
“Humanity, through its irresponsible behavior, has rendered
uninhabitable. The greatest nations are forced to share their knowledge
in order to create the largest spacecraft ever constructed: the Black
Angel. Its mission: Transport the genetic heritage of Humanity to a new
Angel is the loving brain child of Pearl
Games designers Sébastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges, and Alain Orban – the creators of the cult dice drafting favorite
Troyes (2010). In
Black Angel, 1-4 players take on the roles of competing A.I. brains, guiding
the eponymous unmanned starship on its thousand year mission to deliver mankind’s
DNA to a distant world. The game is a dice drafting game, wherein the players
have their own dice pool, used to drive action on and around the starship.
However, other players’ dice are free game, and can be bought with resources. Dice
come in 3 colors, defining the actions they can trigger, with the number of
pips on the die being the strength of the triggered action. Actions allow the
player to repair the ship, fight back the evil ravager attackers, gain new
technological programs, or execute missions in the planets surrounding the
traveling Black Angel. Exterior missions are accessed by beautiful robot
meeples, which fly around space in small round saucers. The player board holds a 3×3 grid of
technology tiles, which can be activated in unique ways throughout the game. The
Black Angel itself “flies” along a conveyer belt board of chevron shaped hex
tiles; Strips behind the ship are removed, flipped, and placed in front,
propelling Black Angel forward on its journey to a new home world. Mission
cards previously played in the disappearing wake of the ship are left behind in
space (discarded), giving benefits and scoring opportunities to their owners. All
Angel is a heavy, dice drafting, engine building euro game, sure to be a
hit seller once inventory can catch up with the overwhelming demand.
Black Angel comes with game board, 7 chevron space strips, 4 player boards, 64 robot figurines with 20 saucer ships, 18 custom dice, 60 technology tiles, 60 mission cards, 20 ravager cards, clear gem “resource” tokens, red “debris” tokens, scoring discs, and player aids. The game is enhanced by Ian O’Toole‘s fantastically colorful yet minimalistic sci-fi art. A solo mode is included, and the game should be available for purchase in 3rd quarter 2019. For more information, check out Pearl Games’ website on Black Angel here.
GenCon 2019 was immense and amazing, but has now wrapped up, closed her doors and bid us “adieu”. I was inspired to chime in with a couple picks from the show that really stood out for me among the crowd.
One of the best euro games of 2016 was the exceptional Lorenzo il Magnifico from Cranio Creations and designers Flaminia Brasini, Virginio Gigli, and Simone Luciani. I was able to see a demo for the upcoming card game based on this gem, Masters of the Renaissance by Simone Luciani and Nestore Mangone. In Masters, players still collect resources to buy cards from different tower “levels”, like the original, but now all cards have production ability: in other words, when production is initiated, players collect resources from all of their cards. Additionally, a “market” comprised of a 3×4 grid of colored marbles gives another, easier, source of resources. Players choose any row or column of marbles, and every marble in that line generates its own resource based on its color. After players gain their loot, they push a new marble into the line, bumping al old one from the back. Two things make this market both clever and diabolical: First, clear marbles exist that give no resources at all, clogging up the rows. Second, the resources generated at the market go to a separate storage area, which is severely limited in capacity. This card game version of one of my favorite board games retained the look and feel of the original, added unique mechanisms, but still felt elegant and simplified. Masters of the Renaissance is due to be released at Essen Spiel 2019, this October.
I was particularly impressed by Time of Legends: Destinies by designers Michał Gołębiowski and Filip Miłuński, a joint effort between Lucky Duck Games (Chronicles of Crime) and Mythic Games (Joan of Arc). Destinies is an app-driven fantasy exploration game for 1-3 people which takes place in the same universe as Mythic’s magnum opus Time of Legends: Joan of Arc, and even uses many of the same small scale miniatures as its big sister. In Destinies, players take on the roles of villagers living around the epic stories and battles from Joan. Each player is trying to be the first to fulfill their character’s hidden destiny. The cards in the game, including the character cards, have QR codes in the corner (those black and white checkerboard scanner boxes we see all the time), and scanning a card into the game app leads to context sensitive progression in the game – scanning an item uses it, scanning a character interacts with it, and scanning a weapon fights with it. This system is what made Lucky Duck’s Chronicles of Crime such a fantastic and intuitive story telling game. The game app additionally controls the map, made up of a grid of square cards, in a way reminiscent of the recent blockbuster Journeys in Middle Earth. If that wasn’t enough to make this a magnificent game, Destinies uses an elegant dice system I haven’t seen before for challenges, wounds, and level progression. Three colored stat tracks are on the player board – Knowledge, Strength and Agility, and wooden disks are placed on values along these tracks. To run a test, fight a creature, or even interact with characters, players roll dice, and count how many of these disk values they pass with the roll – this is the number of successes the character achieves. Items can add disks to the tracks, wounds can move the disks to higher, more difficult positions, and experience allows player to buy more disks. Time of Legends: Destinies is scheduled to have a Kickstarter campaign in September 2019.
“Play as a God of ancient Egypt, competing to survive as society begins to forget the old ways, so that only you and your followers remain. Ankh, the symbol of life itself, that even the Gods must fight for.”
Blood Rage was without a doubt the biggest game of 2015, having just delivered after a million dollar, high profile kickstarter campaign. The game was almost universally loved, bringing full Viking rage and glory to board games. The miniatures by artists Mike McVey and Adrian Smith are beyond imagining, and still remain among the best fantasy sculpts our hobby has seen.
Blood Rage was followed up by Rising Sun in 2017, resulting from a record breaking 4.2 million dollar kickstarter campaign. Whereas Blood Rage demonstrated an all out berserker battle royale, Rising Sun had a calculated well-negotiated war. Once again, the art made everyone swoon, and the unique gameplay made this a modern classic game.
Now, the same team at CMoN, designer Eric M. Lang, miniatures supervisor Mike McVey, and artist Adrian Smith, have announced the third in the strategic trilogy, Ankh: Gods of Egypt. Although details are sparse, just the genealogy behind this release will ensure an incredibly high production, exceptionally well crafted board game to remember for years. Players take on the role of ancient Egyptian gods, summoning monsters, converting followers, and trying to become the sole god over Egypt. A Kickstarter campaign for Ankh will appear towards the end of 2019, and the game is expected to accommodate 2-5 players. For more details, check out the press release from CMoN here.
Keyforge is a game that everyone took notice of since its announcement one year ago at GenCon 2018. This collectible card game from esteemed designer Richard Garfield (Bunny Kingdom, King of Tokyo, and some other famous card games) shook the world when it was announced that each and every deck would be completely unique, with its own logo, its own name, and its own set of cards. But Keyforge delivered, and delivered well, giving the gamers a captivating, unique take on the collectible card game.
The biggest change to Worlds Collide is the introduction of two new houses to the decks. Mars and Sanctum have been rotated out, and have made room for the Saurian Republic and the Grand Star Alliance. Don’t worry though – Mars and Sanctum should make a return appearance in future sets. The Saurians, having existed for 65 million years, are among the oldest races in the Crucible, and pride themselves on philosophy, in spite of their overwhelming prowess. In stark contrast, the Grand Star Alliance are very recent additions, coming from a group of explorers that crash landed in the Crucible. This melting pot, polyglot and multi-race collective has managed to bring dozens of systems into peaceful democratic alliances, amassing quite the technological ability in the process.
Worlds Collide also brings some new mechanisms into the game, such as Warding and Enraging. Wards can now be placed on cards in play, each ward protecting them from a single attack. In contrast, enraging a creature forces it to attack if at all possible. Players can also Exalt creatures, placing a precious Æmber on the card, making the creature more powerful. However, like captured Æmber, when this creature is defeated the Æmber goes to the opponent.
Much like the original games, Keyforge: Worlds Collide will come in individual Archon Decks, as well as a two player starter set with all the necessary tokens and trackers. Additionally the Deluxe Archon Deck will come with a single deck and all the tokens. Finally, the Premium Box will come with two unique decks, 5 tuck boxes to hold sleeved cards, a token box, a chain dial, tokens and stickers. Look for all of the sets of Keyforge: Worlds Collide in stores in the 4th Quarter of 2019. For more information, check out the Fantasy Flight press release here.
of the North not only made resources store between rounds, but added some
very clever worker placement and action selection mechanisms to the glorious
foundation built by Imperial Settlers. The game comes with 6 very different
factions/tribes which all play in clever ways. Some tribes are best at sailing
the seas, pillaging and conquering the islands. Some are best as homebodies,
collecting resources and living off of the interest. Others just beg to work
with the other players, living off of trade.
No sooner had this gem of a game been released, than Portal announced the first expansion,
Japanese Islands, of which Ignacy himself claims “The Japanese faction connects
the world of Empires of the North and the base Imperial Settlers.” Portal
promises two new tribes for the base game, along with new islands to explore. Imperial
Settlers: Empires of the North is in limited pre-release now, with copies on
sale at GenCon, and full release is dated
for August 22. The new Japanese Islands expansion is due to be revealed at Essen Spiel 2019 this October.
Stronghold Games is bringing out a new edition of Diamonds, the popular trick-taking game for 2-6 players designed by Mike Fitzgerald. The second edition includes redesigned player cards, redesigned player aids, as well as the Thief mini-expansion. The new player cards have eschewed the black border look in favor of a more traditional, easier to read visual design, while maintaining the splash of color in the middle of the card.
Gameplay remains the same. Each suit (hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades) has a corresponding suit action that triggers when a trick is won, when a player does not follow the suit that was led, and at the end of a round of ten tricks for the player with the most cards of each suit. Players collect diamonds (acrylic crystals, not the suit), first into their showroom and then moving them into their vault. Diamonds can be stolen from a player’s showroom, but not from their vault. At the end of the game, diamonds in showrooms are worth one point and diamonds in vaults are worth two points. The Thief mini-expansion adds a rotating thief token and changes the suit action for clubs. The new suit action allows the player triggering the action to take a diamond from the showroom of the player with the thief token in front of them.
Diamonds second edition is scheduled for a September release, however Gen Con attendees will get an early opportunity to acquire the new edition of Zee Garcia’s #1 card game (as of this Top Ten from 2016).
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.
Keyforge, by designer and gaming demi-god Richard Garfield, hit
the scene by storm in 2018, delivering on its unbelievable promise of a game
based on completely unique card decks. Each and every pack of Keyforge has a
one of a kind name, logo, and set of cards. The game itself is the next
evolution of the one-on-one CCG card battle, with players summoning creatures,
collecting Æmber, and creating the eponymous keys to win the game. The hook is
that cards are based in one of 4 houses, and players can play as many cards as
they like, as long as they all belong to the same house.
Gamegenic has announced they will be bringing official deck
boxes, sleeves, and other accessories for Keyforge. CEO Adrian Alonso stated,
“KeyForge has not only a unique game concept but also special requirements in
terms of accessories, which we have incorporated into our product design. As we
are all enthusiastic KeyForge players ourselves, we can promise that there will
be some truly special products.” The new Keyforge products will be revealed at
the traditional Fantasy
Flight Inflight Report before Gencon 2019,
and the official launch date is August 1. For more information, check out the press
release from Asmodee here.
Fantasy Flight Announces Event for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
Fantasy Flight Games will be letting players take their fellowship deep into the depths of the ancient halls of the Dwarves in ‘The Mines of Moria,’ a recently announced event at GenCon for its living card game The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game.
In The Mines of Moria, players will be able to play with a new expansion pack of 78 cards that features new quests and encounters, as well as twists on familiar cards with new and unexpected abilities. Using the 7 new quest cards and 14 new encounter decks (consisting of 5 cards each), players will be able to design their own custom adventure for their exploration of Moria. Players have increased flexibility with how they design their scenario, with the quick-build option having players simply select 5 encounter decks or the advanced-build which allows players to select 35 individual encounter cards from the various encounter decks, giving even more options for customization.
Creatures that the players will face include spiders, cave trolls, goblins, The Watcher of the West Gate and others familiar from the novels, as well as new creatures such as savage werewolves.
In addition to the standard cooperative mode, players can also now choose to play competitively, with two or four players competing individually or in teams of two to be the first to overcome their opponent’s designed scenario.
Registration for this GenCon event is live now, with tickets priced at $30 per seat. More information about this event can be found here.