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.
Fans of Lorenzo Il
Magnifico will soon have a new way to play their favorite game: via
Steam. While it is becoming increasingly
common for popular boardgames to receive a digital treatment for play on computer
and mobile devises, it is no surprise that the Kickstarter campaign for the
digital edition of Lorenzo Il Magnifico
was funded in a mere 22 minutes! Lorenzo Il Magnifico received the Seal
of Excellence from The Dice Tower and it remains one of the top-rated games on
Board Game Geek.
Backers have already unlocked numerous exclusive cards for the digital edition, but more have yet to be unlocked. Backers will also receive access to the game two months prior to its official release. The Pazzi Conspiracy, a new expansion for the physical copies of Lorenzo Il Magnifico, can also be supported through this Kickstarter. One of the unique touched to the pledge levels is the opportunity to have a custom-painted avatar in the final digital edition of the game. Backers who select this pledge level will also receive a high-resolution wallpaper with their portrait as part of the package. Sample custom portrait artwork features Dice Tower’s Tom Vasel and Eric Summerer in Renaissance clothing.
The Kickstarter campaign runs through April 13 with an
expected delivery date of Jun 2019. Check out the Kickstarter
campaign to learn more.
I was lucky enough to be able to prowl around the GAMA trade show this past week, and have collected some early stories from some of the designers and publishers present. So without further delay, here are some of the stories I found interesting at GAMA.
Designer Keith Matejka talked about Fiends & Familiars, the next expansion for Thunderworks Games popular dice placement game Roll Player. Fiends are small cards attached to the initiative row, which give players a disadvantage when taking the more prized positions, but can be banished by using charisma tokens. Familiars give players 3 more spaces for dice placement, and unique player powers. Also in the expansion are two colored dice, very flexible in placement but only showing up to 4 pips. The Kickstarter for Fiends and Familiars is scheduled for Summer of 2019.
Breaking Games showed off Dwellings of Eldervale by designer Luke Laurie, a complex worker placement engine building game with unique player powers, miniatures, resource collection and card play. Special workers can be earned, and monsters on the board can be a source of both conflict and reward. Dwellings also includes a mechanism allowing players to have a worker “settle down”, and create a permanent dwelling on the board, represented by placing a great roof piece on the meeple. This worker is now lost to the player, but generates unique resources and abilities. Dwellings of Eldervale is expected to come to Kickstarter this summer.
I was able to look at a new, as yet unnamed, variation on an escape room game from the geniuses at Cranio Creations (Newton, Lorenzo Il Magnifico). The game is composed of a cardboard box frame, the size of a standard square board game box. Cards slot into the top of the box. The sides of the box have open windows to peer down, through which one can see the cards, revealing objects and clues. An app tells the player how these objects relate to the story, and how to react – is. Remove a certain card, peer down a certain hall. Look for this innovative puzzle from Cranio in the coming year.
Smirk and Dagger games founder Curt Covert discussed the Cutthroat Caverns Anniversary edition coming this August. The new edition will include the core set with new art and tighter rules, but will be fully compatible with the rest of this classic game. Concurrent with the new release will be the digital Cutthroat Caverns app, which includes several AI opponents, each with their own evil agenda.
Stayed tuned for the second half of breaking GAMA news coming soon.
Lorenzo il Magnificois a rich and strategic game about merchant families competing for prestige and power in Renaissance Italy. It is a tightly designed game blending worker placement, tableau building and resource management that provides multiple paths to victory.
The Houses of Renaissance expansion for Lorenzo il Magnifico add more paths to victory. Actually, it adds more than that, a lot more. Almost every aspect of the original game has some new options or changes. For those who were looking to add a fifth player, Houses of Renaissance provides everything needed to add a new player, from an additional player board and tokens to tiles to overlay on the main board to accommodate a fifth player in the game.
The family tiles, which grant players different special abilities, are the first way the expansion changes the game. Players bid on the family tiles at the beginning of the game, offering up some of their starting resources in exchange for the different special abilities the family name grants them. There are ten families to choose from, ensuring a different mix of families in each game.
Twenty new leader cards, some of which have new actions that players can use, providing new ways to use their families.
The expansion also makes several changes to the board either by placing various tiles over existing spaces on the board or alongside it. One such addition to the board is the new Special Tower which comes with its own deck offering a different variety actions to players each round.
Finally, players have a chance to earn new special tokens that provide resources and are kept in secret until they are ready to be spent.
Houses of Renaissance adds a lot to Lorenzo il Magnifico. Players will find new play styles, new strategies, and new opportunities. Visit CMON to learn more about Houses of Renaissance.
Tis the season for giving with Hanukkah upon us and Christmas close behind, but not everyone is in the know on what board games are good for different people so CMON is stepping in by offering a gift giving guide. While the list they offer is not exhaustive, it does touch on some key personality traits like people who are artsy, adventurous, a social butterfly, and even the know it all smarty pants.
For the artsy person in your life, CMON suggests either Reiner Knizia’s classic Modern Art, or their newly released game called Dream On. Modern Art is an auction style game where each player will be putting a piece of art up for auction, hoping that other players will buy it from him. If they buy it then he gets their money, but if no one buys it he can buy it from himself, but then he has to pay his money to the bank. This continues until all paintings are sold, and in the end each painting is valued by how many of it sold and the richest player is the winner. So while the game is a solid auction style game, the art of the cards is beautiful and feature a lot of classic and modern works, plus there is an included guide book in the instructions that talk about all the different works of art in the game. Then there is the fact that since this is an art game, you can find different versions of the game form all over the world, featuring art from that region, making it something truly unique for a world art lover. Dream On is a very different game but still taps into that creative side by being a group memory game with story telling and excellent art. In the game you will play down a card, each of which have beautiful abstract art, while telling a story about it, then the next person will do the same, continuing until everyone has played down their cards. Then it’s time to try and remember the dream by going around the table and saying what the next card that had been played is, so the more memorable a story you tell, the easier the memory part will be. Based on how far you get will determine your score, so the game definitely caters to those more creative people.
For the adventuring type, CMON recommends two of their newer dungeon crawl style games with Massive Darkness and Gateway: Uprising. Both games feature characters that you will be able to play through a campaign with, leveling up and gaining new abilities and gear as you go along. You will be fighting all sorts of evil and monsters as you journey through the game to it’s conclusion. The question is, what kind of adventure do you want to go on? If you want to be lightbringers fighting against the oncoming darkness, pushing back against the great evil trying to overthrow the world, then pick up a copy of Massive Darkness. Does fighting against an oppressive rule in your city that has outlawed magic in a bid to concentrate power into their own evil hands sound more like you? Then Gateway: Uprising is the game you are looking for.
For the social butterfly we have some brand new party games you can get int he form of Sherlook and Raise Your Goblets. Sherlook is an interesting party game in that you are famous detectives trying to solve a case, but while you were away from the crime scene a rookie cop messed it all up. Now it’s up to you and your fellow detectives to put things back where they were. In the game there will be two pictures, the original and what the room looks like now, and it’s a race to pick out all the differences between the two before everyone else. Raise your Goblets is more of a social deduction, party game that resembles a popular scene from the movie Princess Bride. In the game everyone is vying to become the next ruler, and is willing to eliminate all the competition to achieve their goal. Each round someone will secretly give out drinks with some being poisoned, and others being just wine, and on your turn you either drink what is in front of you, or swap it with someone else. Once everyone has either drunk or swapped, everyone drinks what is front of them and those who were poisoned are out. Last one standing is the winner.
And finally, we come to the recommendations for the intellectual of your group, with a heavier game like Lorenzo Il Magnifico, or a tough cooperative game like The Grizzled. Lorenzo Il Magnifico is what come call a crunchy game, something will lots of choices but not enough actions to be able to do everything you want. Plus there is a lot of things to juggle as you “gather resources, construct buildings, conquer territories, make powerful allies, and pay homage to the church” in a bid to become the most prestigious family. The game is undoubtedly fun, but it’s going to give you a mental workout as you play this game. The other game, The Grizzled, is difficult in a different way as playing the game is very simple, either play a card or withdraw from the round. The thinking part of it comes with how far can you push your luck? Who do I need to support to eliminate a troublesome negative effect? How many cards do we need to play in order to reduce the deck while not failing the mission? It’s all these questions and working with your friends to beat this game that makes it both tough and satisfying as you work towards victory.
You can read more about all of these games in CMON’s game guide article, and pick up any you might need at your friendly local game store.
The International Gamers Awards have been going on since the year 2000, celebrating and recognizing gaming a truly global scale by having a committee of judges from all around the world. Each year they vote for the best game within the General Strategy category, which is split into two sub-categories: Multiplayer and 2-Player. 2017’s finalists have been announced and it’s immediately noticeable that this year’s competition is fierce. So without further ado, the nominees are:
CMON and Cranio Creations’ first collaboration, Unusual Suspects, has hits stores and already they are liking the buzz they are getting, so they want to continue the relationship with two more games. The first game is a Lorenzo il Magnifico, in it “players control prominent families during the Italian renaissance, aiming to become the most influential among the other players. To do so, they must earn victory points by sending the members of their families out to gather resources, gain development cards (representing a multitude of different things, such as new territory, influential people and more), and put those development cards to use. Of course, the families must also pay their respect to the Church or face hard penalties when the time comes.” The game was showcased at Essen 2016 and was well received and so they will publish it in English with the same art and mechanics.
The second game is an updated and revamped version of the game Council of Four, one that Tom Vasel of the Dice Tower tried to get for the Dice Tower Essentials line of games.
In the Council of 4, players take on the rolls of rich merchants in a prosperous Empire that’s divided into three Kingdoms. The Kingdoms are each ruled by a council of four nobles. Players will do whatever it takes to obtain building permits for their Emporiums within the Kingdoms’ cities. Bribery and political power struggles abound; even the Queen is not above being swayed, overlooking the need for permits from time to time. The player that gains the most points through connecting Emporiums, having the most in a Kingdom’s cities, obtaining permits, or increasing their rank on the nobility track will win the game.
The game also contains a modular board and different options for gameplay are chosen at the beginning, making this a highly varied and replayable game. While the mechanics of the game remain largely untouched, they have updated the art of the game and included miniatures, because what is a CMON game without minis? Look for both of these games on store shelves in the second quarter of 2017.