Puerto Rico

Pandasaurus Games has a new project on Kickstarter, Dead Man’s Cabal, by designer Daniel Newman. In Dead Man’s Cabal, 2-4 players take on the role of lonely necromancers who want to throw a gala bash, but have no friends willing to come. So when life gives you lemons, make your own friends for your party. Players use a “variable phase” mechanism reminiscent of Puerto Rico to pick actions. Players start a turn by collecting colored skulls from the Ossuary, with each color representing an action space on the board. Players can spend a skull to do 1 private action, then the skulls left on the Ossuary determine a public action which all players can perform. Gold skulls allow players to collect new ritual cards from the Athenaeum. Red skulls allow access to the Sepulchre to collect more skulls. White skulls earn players rune tokens from the Scriptorum, amplifying points on rituals. The final location, the Sanctum, has a complex set of spaces connected by paths, and players can place skulls on the spaces trying to create an uninterrupted line of specific colors dictated by the ritual cards they are trying to complete. Bone “currency” assists actions all along the way, with mechanisms in place to gain more with weaker actions, or spend more for more and stronger actions. The Kickstarter Campaign for Dead Man’s Cabal continues through February 15, and the game is expected to deliver in June of 2019.

Rio Grande Games recently announced an expected two expansion for Puerto Rico coming in April.

The first expansion will add 12 new buildings (two of each kind) that gives more options. This expansion will also add two new large builds that creates more end-game scoring options.

The second expansion will add seven small buildings and one large building. These will include a new production building and will create more end-game scoring options.

Puerto Rice is for 2-5 players ages 13 and up. You can find out more at Rio Grande Games’ website here.

Villages of Valeria is a fast,  fun action-selection tableau building game which released last year to praise for it’s solid mechanics and family-friendly depth. Nobody would fault you for confusing this game with Valeria: Card Kingdoms, given they inhabit the same fantasy universe, but they are totally different, easy-to-learn and solid titles in their own rights. Villages of Valeria uses the leader/follower action mechanism made popular by games such as Puerto Rico, San Juan, and Race for the Galaxy, yet it did a good job of filling a niche as a gateway game to those giants. Now it’s first expansion, Landmarks, is up for funding on Kickstarter and it seeks to twist that mechanism enough to make the game stand-out from the crowd. As described on the campaign page:

“With Landmarks, if you cannot or choose not to follow the lead action, you can build a landmark as your follow action. Landmark tokens do not count as Buildings, but at the end of the game, the player with the most of each type of Landmark will earn victory points! Increase your Landmark holdings, leverage the new Buildings, attract the new Adventurers, and show your rivals what a proper village looks like!”

Now instead of being seated with the decision of taking a worse action by following another player’s lead or doing nothing, you can discard cards for points! Huzzah! The landmarks, along with the new buildings and adventurers which interact with them, will broaden strategies and make choices crunchier, much to players delight. In addition to the expansion, the Kickstarter also allows for newcomers to buy the base game and a nice new box to put everything in. If you’re interested in learning more about Villages of Valeria and it’s  first expansion, check out their Kickstarter page for in-depth descriptions, video reviews, and updates.

Courtesy BGG user Kataclysm


Keith Burgun has published an article on his personal blog, keithburgun.net: Thoughts on Game Design, in which he presents his perspective on Eurogames–namely, why he believes that many Eurogames are simply better suited as solitaire game experiences.

Burgun begins by defining Eurogame as “a term that loosely refers to a system-oriented, often highly deterministic boardgame, usually coming out of Europe.”  He then describes this type of game as one that, contrasting with the popular term Amerit(h)rash, does not concern itself with a strong theme or storyline.  Instead, it focuses on helping players develop a “machine”, or game engine, that drives the game and presents players with interesting decisions to make.

One reason Burgun believes Eurogames to be a strong solo-player experience is due to a common lack of true player interaction; in short, many Eurogames are often dubbed “multi-player solitaire.”  He goes on to explain that even though it is possible to thwart the progress or limit the decisions of other players in a Eurogame, much of the focus is on one’s own progress, engine-development, and point accumulation.

Burgun points out that one reason for a smaller number of solitaire games on the board game market could be that setting up a board game to play by oneself can seem strange to most people.  He also draws some connections and comparisons to digital versions of board games and how they are used for solo-player gaming experiences.  Burgun finishes his article by encouraging board game designers to focus more on solitaire experiences in their game designs.

To read the article in full, read it here on Keith Burgun’s blog.


Rio Grande is expecting to release Temporum, Roll for the Galaxy and Rattlebones this month. At the same time they announced that some games are temporarily out of stock: Tzolk’in, Puerto Rico, Dominion: Big Box, Dominion: Intrigue, Caylus, Chicken Cha Cha Cha, and Power Grid. However, do not worry as they are working on reprinting them and they will be back in stock by the end of the year.

Another game they are working on reprinting is Elfenland, which will include the Elfengold expansion and a new map with transportation options. Elfenland is expected to be released in the spring of 2015. They also plan two expansions for Bohnanza to be released in December or January. But what may be the biggest announcement from Rio Grande is that they are planning some additions/expansions for Dominion and Race for the Galaxy in 2015. What could be in these ‘additions’ to Dominion and Race for the Galaxy? Only time will tell as they plan to release more information in 2015.