gear and piston

First up is Gear and Piston, a game about building automobiles in 1888.  From the announcement:

In the game, each player builds an automobile prototype by taking actions in different locations. You may patent brand-new parts in the Patent Office, look for rejected, volatile pieces of machinery in the chaos of the Junk Yard, try to gain an edge through the Back Alley, and finally build your prototype in the Workshop. All this just to please the two investors who are doing the rounds of the different engineering outfits, and who will be evaluating your rickety mess of an automobile. Good timing, keeping an eye on your competitors, and even a dash of luck are all you need to succeed in this business.


In Byzantio, players take on the role of a house vying for control of the throne.  They will use all manner of actions, from Diplomacy to Espionage, to take control of the necessary imperial cities to win the game and the throne.  From the announcement:

In the 11th century A.D. the empire is torn between four factions, two of them provincial, military aristocracies (the houses of Comnenid and Phocas) and two of them urban, secular aristocracies (the houses of the Dukes and Angels). It is 1025, and the emperor Basileios II has ascended into the heavens without providing for an heir. In Constantinople, representatives from the most important aristocratic families vie for their favored to inherit the Emperor’s ring and throne.


Progress: Evolution of Technology was Kickstarted earlier this year and is finally getting its much anticipated US release in January.  Progress is a card game of civilization building that focuses on the growth of technology from one age to the next.

Unlike other civilization games, Progress focuses on a single aspect of civilization building: researching technologies that help a society advance. The 210 technology cards in the game are divided into three ages (Ancient, Middle Ages, Industrial) and three types (Military, Science and Culture). With every advancement on a path, you gain easier access to its more advanced technologies and you’ll end up opening the door to the next age.


[redacted] was a very popular title at recent conventions and will be available again in January.  This game is all about intrigue, betrayal as players act as spies at a reception gathering intel during the Cold War.

While interacting with each other, the players seek to interrogate, steal or injure when they can. With a double-blind interaction mechanism that never really lets the tension ebb, a skilled agent will need to do a lot more than see through a bluff if they want to win.


In Versailles, players compete for the favor of King Louis the XIV to become his new chief architect.

On every turn, a player moves their workers through a network of locations. Each location provides valuable resources, or a way to spend those resources on tiles. These tiles represent parts of the palace, its surrounding gardens, and decorations and technologies to bolster gathering and building abilities. A unique movement and location activation system requires clever workforce management, which makes every move count and makes every game tense right to the end.


Up next are February releases.  First is Yunnan, a game about tea trading on the Tea-Horse Road in Tibet.

In Yunnan, players control the fate of their tea dynasties. Their main goal is to establish a broad and secure trading network to deliver the tea to the farthest provinces…and doing it better than their opponents. The main work behind the scenes is done in Pu’er, their home location: New traders need to be trained, better horses need to be acquired, and a good number of border passes need to be requested to be able to reach the farthest provinces.

However, mere trading is not enough to beat the competition. Great social influence and building a prestigious tea house may come in handy to sway the province inspector. Bridges provide shortcuts and trading posts in faraway places secure the own path along the Tea- Horse Road.

hans teutonica

Hansa Teutonica, a game of trading between Germanic cities in the 13th to 17th centuries, is getting another print run!

Players compete for wealth and prestige as merchants in the Hanseatic League. Players may set up a network of branch offices in as many cities as possible in an effort to expand their base of power, but they must also develop their talents and trading skills if they wish to be the best and take down the opposition.

el gaucho

In El Gaucho, players are cattle barons sending their gauchos into the Pampa in South America to collect the best looking cattle.

Gauchos exercise their abilities at the dice rodeo. The better they do during training, the easier they’ll catch cattle in the field. Players must be smart and get in their opponents’ way with mean tricks — snatching the most valuable cattle from under their noses, or swinging a lasso to abduct their animals.  Back at the ranch, players must sort their cattle and assemble them in herds in order to sell them for as many Pesos as possible!


nskn blog banner

On Thanksgiving Day, NSKN’s blog brought us some solid food for thought: how should game designers and publishers, not to mention gamers in general, consider the impact of thematic content in the games they design and play?  In this entry, NSKN presents the conflict that can sometimes arise due to various elements of theme in games.

It’s quite likely that every gamer has become involved in a game where some aspect of the theme struck a nerve with someone at the table.  A solid theme brings the mechanics of a game to life, allowing us as gamers to make connections that suck us in and immerse us in the experience of the game.  There are, however, elements of life, philosophy, morality, and the human experience, that we find unpleasant, disturbing, and sometimes quite revolting.  Whether the subject matter is as “in your face” as playing on a sheet of human skin in Chaos in the Old World, or something deeper and more subtle like the “colonists” in Puerto Rico, it’s difficult to be callous to others when a particular aspect of a game’s theme strikes that nerve.

A mature response in this area is to make one’s own decisions about a theme and to be careful to avoid pressuring others to play games with themes that are difficult for them.  However, even in this light, designers and publishers should carefully consider the impressions that will be left on others by the delivery of theme in their games, and be prepared for any negative reactions from thematic elements that come close to established social and moral boundaries.

The article makes observations about how a person can find one edgy theme acceptable yet be very bothered by another theme that could be considered controversial.  To read the article in full, visit the NSKN blog page.