network building

Terra Mystica is easily one of the biggest and highest rated Eurogames of all time, having inspired a space-themed spin-off in Gaia Project. Yet it has not stopped growing as this Fall we’ll be seeing another expansion for this 2-to-5 player territory terraformin’ game. Merchants of the Seas brings shipyards, Markets, and new maps to the multitude of factions vying for control – even the ones introduced in previous expansions! You’ll be able to send out ships to take special shipping actions, or perhaps play one of the few races that prefers to not get their feet wet and instead try to manipulate trade with other structures. All this can be played independently or combined with previous expansion content, meaning you’ll be able to make the as complex and intricate as your table can handle.

Merchants of the Seas expands on the hit terraforming gameplay of Terra Mystica. Develop your faction’s nautical strategy, stake a claim on distant lands, or focus on the benefits of trade. Plus, a double-sided board and over 30 tiles add countless new avenues to victory.”

There are two main goals with this expansion that should not be overlooked by the promise of added rules – strategic flexibility and balancing. Ships and trading allow for a wide variety of action potential that is, for the most part, independent on your current standing in a game – have water, will travel. Both ships and trading have ways to give you access to distant or action efficient terraforming and building options, making it harder to be built into a corner and opening new tactical decisions to boot. The new maps offer tons of replay potential and include new starting scores for each faction for all the maps that exist, balancing the game no matter how the landscape falls. If you’re interested in Terra Mystica or Merchants of the Seas, check out Z-Man’s website for more rules, images, and preorder information through them or your favorite local retailer.

Some readers may know of Kingdom of Solomon, a worker placement game designed by Philip duBarry and published by Minion Games back in 2012. It’s a well-regarded and unique game that just didn’t have enough going for it at the time. With a distinctive theme of building-up ancient Israel, Kingdom allowed players to not only diversify their resources and how they got them, but also had a “cash in your chips” mechanic where you could give up all of your workers for a massive bonus if you felt it was worth the risk. I’m glad to write today that this cool design will not fade into obscurity as it’s new and improved spiritual successor, Wisdom of Solomon, is now on Kickstarter.

“Wisdom of Solomon is a worker placement game with a splash of network building. A typical game takes about 15 minutes per player, with games being a little bit longer the first time playing.  Wisdom of Solomon is a light to medium weight game, meaning that there is plenty of strategy for experienced gamers to enjoy but the game is intuitive and simple enough for new gamers to be able to jump right in.”

Now the game is back, with updated gameplay, art, and components, and ready to show everything that made Kingdom of Solomon so special all over again with it’s best foot forward. I particularly enjoy seeing a thoughtfully designed game like this being brought back in earnest, as it showcases a period of history that is worth learning about. The new publisher, Funhill Games, is also using some of the funds from this campaign to reprint Kings of Israel, a cooperative game as equally well-regarded and welcome again. If you are interested in learning more about Wisdom of Solomon, or Kings of Israel, check out the Kickstarter campaign page for the rules, gameplay videos, reviews, community feedback, and updates.

Asmodee, which has the largest catalog of games under it’s wide umbrella thanks to it’s partnerships with Days of Wonder, ZMAN Games, Fantasy Flight, Catan Games and more, has announced it’s Modern Classics line. This new category is for games that are easy to get into yet offer tremendous depth and make for excellent staples in any new or existing collection. The titles in this series together cover a wide range of mechanisms and modes-of-play and each one is considered a gateway of it’s respective genre. As stated by Asmodee in their announcement:

“Modern Classics refers to a small group of pioneering titles that have left a lasting legacy on the board-games market and have stood the test of time to remain preferred gateway purchases in a constantly changing landscape of products. […] Each of the highlighted titles is easy to learn but hard to master, making them well suited for any gaming situation that you might encounter. The Modern Classics range consists of the following games: Ticket to Ride Europe, Catan, Carcassonne, Dixit, Pandemic, and Splendor.

While this really is just a matter of showcasing for new customers, the games chosen here are, I feel, irrefutably ‘Modern Classics’ and deserve to be called as such. These quintessential games also cover a lot of ground as well, certain to prepare even the newest of gamers for the great many strategy games that lie beyond. Just with these six games there’s card drafting, network building, tile laying, set collection, storytelling, cooperation, trading, and resource management game mechanisms. Hoo! The question I have now is, will there be any more games added to this list in the future? Only time will tell.