“At the turn of the 16th Century, King Manuel I commissioned
Portugal’s greatest artisans to construct grandiose buildings. After completing
the Palaces of Evora and Sintra, the king sought to build a summer pavilion to
honor the most famous members of the royal family. This construction was
intended for the most talented artisans — whose skills meet the splendor that
the royal family deserves. Sadly, King Manuel I died before construction ever
Azul by Michael Kiesling, artist Chris Quilliams, and Next Move Games is one of those games that was recognized as an elegant classic the moment it was released in 2017. The game combined intimately attractive, bakelite style (ie. candy-like) tiles with intuitive, simple gameplay into a package that gamers and non-gamers alike were simply drawn towards. In Azul, players take turns collecting colored tiles from communal piles (factories), however one must pick up all of a single color tile, placing the remainder in a leftover central pile. All collected tiles must be placed on the player board, and extraneous, unused tiles count as negative points. The ever-growing central pile can likewise be mined for tiles in the same manner in future turns.
A sequel, Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, was released in 2018. Sintra took this basic framework and added variable player boards, a new mechanism for placing tiles on the boards, and in general more variability. In short, the new game was significantly different, but still felt like “Azul”, and gamers snatched it up in waves. The gorgeous clear square tiles (Jolly Ranchers, as opposed to Starburst) certainly did not hurt the appeal.
Now Next Move Games has announced a third game in the series, Azul: Summer Pavillion. In this edition, the tiles are elongated diamonds, and fit on the player board in 7 circular rosettes – Six in the six tile colors, and one composed of one of each color. Tile selection retains the old Azul feel, with players selecting all of one color from a pool of tiles on a single factory card. However, in each of the 10 rounds, one of the tile colors is considered wild. The wild color cannot be specifically picked, but if any are on the selected factory, these are also collected with the picked color. The tile placement in Summer Pavillion has taken an interesting new tact – players do not immediately place their collected tiles on their board, instead collecting them in a personal supply. Each turn players can place one of their tiles on their board by paying a certain number of same-colored tiles from this supply. The cost depends on which slot in the rosette is being filled, ranging from 1-6.
Plan B Games is bringing a new expansion to Century: Golem Edition! Eastern Mountains, designed my Emerson Matsuuchi, works much like Eastern Wonders for those familiar with Century: Spice Road where players will explore the Carvania Mountain ranges and establish a trade network. Of course, this expansion will resemble the Golem Edition artwork, illustrated by Chris Quilliams and Atha Kanaani, utlizing manga inspired art. This expansion is now available for pre-order along with its playmat.
For more information, visit Plan B Games’ website here.
In 2017, when Plan B Games released Century: Spice Road, it was presented as the first game in a planned series. In 2018 the second game of the series, Century: Eastern Wonders, was released. Now, Plan B Games and designer Emerson Matsuuchi have announced the third and final game in the series, Century: A New World.
“Players serve as merchants seeking fortune in the bountiful American continent. Only the most shrewd merchants will strike out to explore the foreign land, trade with local inhabitants, journal their findings, and hunt and gather to survive.”
Each game in the series has been set in a different time period and region of the world, and has featured the core mechanic of resource management and trading. Spice Road was based around card selection and hand management. Eastern Wonders introduced a modular board and pick-up and deliver to the series. Now, A New World will use worker placement and is set in 16th century North America. A New World can be played by itself, or mixed and matched with the other two games in the series.
Century: A New World is designed for 2 to 4 players and is planned to debut at Origins Game Fair later this year.
In 2018, Plan B Games created the Next Move Games brand for the purpose of designing and publishing lighter abstract strategy games. Next Move Games already has the immensely popular Azul, as well as, Reef. Now they have announced their next game, Tuki.
In Tuki, players will attempt to create inukshuk (stone landmarks created by the Inuit people) using 3D blocks. Cards depict different abstract inukshuk structures and each card has a symbol with a corresponding die face. Players will use the limited block pieces available to them to construct the inukshuk based on the die roll.
“The challenging part is the limited pieces players have to construct the inukshuk with. Players must be creative and use the three-dimensional pieces in multiple ways, such as to counterbalance other pieces or, even build on top of existing pieces. There should be no limit to your creativity and imagination, but there will always be a solution!”
Tuki appears to maintain the Next Move Games brand promise of quality tactile components. Tuki is designed for two to four players, ages 8 and up, and is expected to be released at Origins Game Fair later this year.
Euro Game fans rejoice, for publisher Eggertspiele, artist Chris Quilliams, and designer extraordinaire Alexander Pfister (Great Western Trail, Mombasa, Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King) have announced their new game for Essen Spiel 2018, Blackout: Hong Kong. In Blackout, 1-4 players work to restore order from chaos in a future Hong Kong, where the electrical grid has been massively overstressed to the point of failure. Players start by rolling dice to randomly select which 3 of the 6 resources in the game will be available for the round. Next, players select 3 (or 4 with an upgrade) cards, which are placed facedown on their player board. These cards are revealed, and can place control cubes on the board, gain resources, spend resources, give abilities, or provide objectives. Objective cards are then scored, after which players can scout neighboring territories. Scouting is dangerous work, and gives an alternative way to collect needed resources, but players need to assemble cards from their hand to form a team with the required qualifications for the scouting token. Regardless of the outcome, one of the team will be injured, and will end up in the hospital, taking that card out of action. After scouting, players can use money to purchase new cards from face-up lines next to the board. Finally, in clean up, extra cards are discarded from the side of the board, and excess food and water are sold for money. Players score points for territories they control, and can refresh their hand of cards if they have 4 or less. When refreshing, players take back into hand whichever pile on their board is the largest. At the end of the game, money converts into points, and most total points takes the victory. Blackout can be played traditionally, solo, or as a 5 chapter campaign.
The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design (AAGAD) award the Origins Awards at the Origins Game Fair each June. Nominees are picked in March and the academy votes on the games in the different categories based on excellence in game design. Well, the winners for the 2018 Origins Awards have been announced! Let’s see who they are!
Each year the Mensa foundation, a group which fosters intelligence for the benefit of humanity, selects a handful of tabletop games that prove to be unique, challenging, and well-designed. This decision is made after the Mind Games event, a grueling 40-plus-hour board gaming marathon with more than 300 participants. The winners receive the Mensa Select award and are prominently featured on their website as games which promote the growth of critical thinking and are of particularly high quality. This year’s winners have been announced:
Congratulations to all the winners! I can attest that these games are deserving of the award, having played all of them. Renegade Games continues to demonstrate that they are a prominent publisher with an excellent catalog under their belt, Azul commands respect as a rock-solid masterpiece, Photosynthesis shows that it is as beautiful to look at as it is designed, and Constellations teaches us that a game can be as thoughtful about education as it is about being fun. If you’re interested in continued reading about the decision-making process or American Mensa themselves, or to check out past winners, check outtheir website for more information.
Eggertspiele has released a press release unveiling its new logo in the wake of being acquired by Plan B Games. Now inside Plan B Games Europe, Eggertspiele will be branding themselves as a publisher of “medium to heavy complexity European strategy games”. As part of their rebranding, Eggertspiele have updated their fox mascot Jeffrey into a more contemporary, cleaner design. Eggertspiele is the German publishing house behind such modern classics as Mombasa, Camel Up, Village and Great Western Trail.
When Plan B Games announced Century Golem Edition (Century Spice Road updated with Golem artwork and crystal traders rather than spice traders) was only going to be available directly through its web site, the outcry among the boardgames community was quite deafening.
It was so deafening that now Plan B has announced that Century Golem Edition will be available from retailers later this year.
“Although theGolem Edition was originally sold exclusively on the Plan B webstore, it’s popularity was undeniable. Plan B Games has paired with international partners to bring Century Golem Edition to retailersin North America, the UK, France, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, and Japan beginning aroundQ2 2018! “
Fan outcry and the popularity of the game have once again prompted Plan B to change its mind in regards to the Golem Edition. Does that mean that it may change its mind on the compatibility of the Golem Edition with the announced expansions?
Certainly no word on that. Only time will tell. In the meantime, the upcoming availability of the Golem Edition will be music to many a gamer’s ears.