Puzzle Game

Ubongo is a fast-paced, easy-to-learn, geometric puzzle game where players race to piece together interlocking tiles. The goal is for players to get them to fit perfectly on their own puzzle boards. Ubongo Extreme: Fun-Size Edition is a smaller, lower-priced, and more portable format of the larger game and adds a higher level of complexity by using polyhex tiles instead of the traditional tile shapes. Ubongo Extreme: Fun-Size Edition is designed by
Grzegorz Rejchtman for 1-4 players, aged 8+, and is expected to release on July 1st, 2019.

Inka Brand & Markus Brand continue releasing games in the popular EXIT series, with the latest iteration being EXIT: House of Riddles. The game is classified at a beginner difficulty level, caters for 1-4 players, and plays in roughly 1-2 hours. Players are detectives who are summoned to an abandoned house to investigate an unsolved mystery. Upon entry, the detectives hear screams and find the entrance shut behind them and need to crack the case to find their way out. Expect EXIT: House of Riddles to release on July 22nd, 2019.

Brainwaves is a series of games developed by neuroscientists and game designers where players challenge their episodic memory (memory of recent personal events). Thames & Kosmos are releasing 3 games in this series which are all for 1-4 players, aged 8+, and play in roughly 15 mins.

Brainwaves: The Astute Goose has players identifying a burglar hiding in a crowd and is designed by Reiner Knizia. Then, designed by Dirk Baumann, Brainwaves: The Brilliant Boar has players collect sets of various animal portraits on cards by utilizing their memory to match those in their hand (facing away from them) to those revealed on the table. In Brainwaves: The Wise Whale, players are collecting colorful sea creatures by matching either their colors or animal types, and is designed by Maureen Hiron. Expect all 3 games to release on July 8th, 2019.

If you like 3D puzzles, Mental Blocks by Pandasaurus Games is just for you. Designed by newcomer Micah Sawyer and Jonathan Gilmour (Dead of Winter, Dinosaur Island), Mental Blocks allows players to stack oversized foam blocks to complete a 3D puzzle. The challenge is that each player can only see one perspective of the design – and there’s a time limit.

Mental Blocks is fast, frantic fun, with 60 puzzles in the box. The challenges include 30 Family mode and 30 Challenge mode puzzles that all ramp in difficulty. During some games, players will also need to deal with extra challenging rules, like no talking or not touching certain color blocks. If you’re really into total chaos, you can even add a traitor to the mix!

You can try out Mental Blocks and Pandasaurus Games’ other upcoming titles at  GAMA, booth #235

Sit Down! has three new products in the pipeline this first month of the new year, all having been shown off at the previous Essen show. All three are slated for initial release in European Markets, with future distribution unannounced. Their newest title is Gravity Superstars, a competitive game for 2 to 6 adventurers that emulates platforming games of old as each player jumps and runs along platforms to capture stardust . It’s a very cool and innovative design where each player deals with a different puzzle because their piece sits facing them in one of the four cardinal orientations of the board, a different perspective giving a different set of challenges.

     “What is really original about Gravity Superstar is the manner in which the players’ pawns move: Each turn, they move one or two spaces, then they are affected by gravity, which makes them fall until they are stopped by a platform. This effect is made possible by the fact that the pawns are used lying down on the board. Thus, they move up (above their head), down (below their feet), left, or right. During its movement, a pawn can collect stars (to score points at the end of the game) or replay tokens (to take a second consecutive turn), and eject opponents’ pawns from the board.”

The next two products are for the Magic Maze line, starting with Magic Maze Kids XXL. It’s pretty much exactly what it reads on the tin, it’s a giant board (70 x 70 cm) compatible with Magic Maze Kids that also adds a few new rules, and that sounds like a lovely addition to an already excellent children’s game. Last is a much awaited expansion for the original Magic Maze hinted at during the Dice Tower Awards ceremony last July, Hidden RolesThis appropriately-named expansion (one that I have been very hyped for) can be added to any game of 3 or more players to allow for a potential traitor who doesn’t want the team to succeed, but if they’re called out they are removed from play and must give up their action to someone else. All of these sound amazingly fun in all their own ways, and if you are as excited as I am to see more from Sit Down!, be sure to check out their website for future announcements!

Lucky Duck Games has launched a real-time, competitive puzzle game called Jetpack Joyride. Adapted from the mobile game,  players join a disgruntled gramophone salesman as he steals jetpack technology from the scientists who would use them for evil.

Players need to escape from the lab using a route that gives them the most points by accomplishing goals and building paths over coins. Players simultaneously grab path tiles and build their flight path through 4 lab tiles. The first person to fly from their lab first ends the round, but finishing first doesn’t mean winning. You have to add your points from your escape path and activate your gadgets to get the real score.

Jetpack Joyride is for 1-4 players ages 8 and up and will play quickly in about 20 minutes played over 3 rounds. Great for a fast paced party game as well as a fun time family game.  Jetpack Joyride’s Kickstarter campaign runs until July 31st.

PAX Unplugged is in the rear view mirror now and that pretty much marks the end of the major convention season, so lets see what we can get this week on Kickstarter to boost our spirits.  First up is the next game from Piecekeeper Games and that is Gearworks, a card based puzzle game for up to four players.  In the game you will be laying out cards onto a grid in order to gain parts and build contraptions which are worth points at the end of the game.  The grid you are placing cards in have some rules though, you can only have one color per column, and the numbers have to be in ascending order going down the row.  There are also some rules on gaining sparks based on the card you place, and these sparks give you special abilities like placing over cards or playing a second card.  After you play you will rotate gears to indicate where you placed cards, and then acquire parts based on gear orientation across the board.  And it’s these parts that build the contraptions, which at the end of the game are worth points and will win you the game.  While this sounds complicated, if you have played Sudoku before you will find the rules similar and easy to pick up.  So if you are looking for a puzzly card game requiring a bit of mental umph, check out the Kickstarter page.

Next is the latest in the long line of storage solutions for board games, and that is the Boxthrone.  What sets this system apart from others it two fold, first is it’s all metal construction, making it tough and durable.  The second is that the system is meant to house a single game on each shelf by making shelf height highly adjustable so you can fit one game in each slot, helping reduce box damage from too many other games being stacked on top.  It also includes a fair bit of customization in that you can mix and match how you set up the shelves to be able to fit however many, and however oddly shaped, games you want.  They even have the option of adding clear acrylic shelves if you want to display miniatures or other items along with your game.  Thus if you are looking for something more than just another Kallax, check out this Kickstarter today.

From the makers who brought you Dragoon we have another game from the folks at Lay Waste Games, a social deduction game based on time travel called Human Era.  In the game humans have finally discovered time travel, and like usual someone uses time travel to screw everything up, now it’s up to you and your friends to fix it.  There are three teams you might play as, the humans who are trying to fix history, the robots who want the chaos so they come to power, or the cyborgs who play for both teams essentially.  After everyone is dealt their identity cards the captain will then roll the die to see what era you will be traveling to.  Once there they will pick a team of players for everyone to vote on as the ones who try to repair time.  If the vote succeeds then the players will pass cards to the captain, if the vote fails then a random card is placed.  Based on what cards are showing on the board at the end of the round will determine the score.  You will do this rolling, voting, card placing process for ten rounds, and at the end of the 10th round the final score determines who wins.  For the humans to win the score has to be 4-6, for the cyborgs to win the score has to be 3-5 (which means they can win WITH the humans), and for the robots to win the score has to be 2 or lower.  There are other rules that go along with the game, but suffice to say, if you are intrigued by social deduction games, check out this Kickstarter project.

And finally we have a new engine building card game similar to Chain Reaction called Space Race – Interkosmos.  This game is all about the space race, and so each player is playing a different country trying to make their way into the cosmos and explore it.  How you will do this is through blind bidding and engine building with your cards, and cards you acquire from the main row.  In each round there will be a display of cards up for auction, you will bid on these cards using control cards, each with a type and value associated with them.  Win or lose that is the only time you get to use the cards to choose wisely.  Once winner are determined then the cards are added to their tableau in front of them, and this is where the engine building happens.  On each cards are four different lines, that as you put cards next to each other will form a string of actions that happen whenever you activate that line.  This is the second part of the control cards you use because after bidding, you then use the card to activate a line on your cards to take those actions and hopefully explore space and get more cards.  In the end, whoever has the best space agency and has explored the most impressive stellar objects will be the winner.  There is much more to the game including a campaign mode, so if the games sounds interesting, be sure to check out the Kickstarter page.

Have you ever wanted to go on a real adventure? To see new places, solve riddles, uncover mysteries, and discover something new about the world (and yourself) along the way? That’s what The Enigma Box is all about. At first glance The Enigma Box looks like a bigger version of the escape room games which have become popular recently, except filled with strange tools, hidden documents, and advanced technology, all to help with an even bigger goal – for you and your companions to find the location of the “Arcanum Arcanorum”, the Secret of Secrets, a discovery which will change our understanding of the world and the destiny of humankind.

Sounds a bit much, right? Too good to be true? But…what if it’s not? That’s the hook, and what a well-crafted hook it is. We see A LOT of Kickstarter campaigns here on Dice Tower News, but I personally have never seen one so intriguing and tempting as this one. The charm of it is in your face from the first description and even the name – “The Enigma Box” – sounds like something cinematic in origin, doesn’t it? Like a plot device or a cool prop from a popular film, except it’s not a prop – it’s a real proposition. See how it’s described on it’s campaign page:

“With all the research, enigmas, and new revelations, the team from “The Rhomb” have designed an international challenge and a new form of entertainment which will change the way games are made, revolutionizing and creating a definitive experience never seen before and giving you a chance to discover the “Arcanum Arcanorum”, the Secret of Secrets” 

While before I had said that it looks like an escape room box, that’s not entirely inaccurate although it does fail to describe the scope of the product regardless of it’s loftiness. The Enigma Box not only features 6000 minutes of gameplay but also has “legs” in the form of continued content after it reaches it’s initial conclusion . Furthermore, this additional content will still use many of the tools originally available in the box, so the experience isn’t as consumable and disposable and it’s certainly not as short lived. However, the value of this is far more complicated than I can analyze or describe here, so if you’re interested in The Enigma Box, please check out their Kickstarter campaign page to learn more.

Continuing Uwe Rosenberg‘s exploration of polyominoes, Indian Summer is coming soon from Stronghold Games.  Stronghold Games released Rosenberg’s previous puzzle game in 2016, Cottage Garden, too.  This one features the same beautiful artwork of Andrea Boekhoff, but is touted as being geared toward more experienced gamers:

At the heart of the game are puzzle tiles with holes that are placed on individual forest boards to cover up treasures. When players get their hands on these, they gain more options and an edge over their opponents. All that counts in the end is to be the first to cover your forest floor completely with leaves.

From the publisher’s thematic description:

Before winter makes its appearance, a particularly warm fall bathes the forest in a golden shimmer. During the Indian Summer, New England blossoms one last time. Treetops are ablaze with countless colors — a living rainbow, from green to orange to red. Slowly the first leaves are starting to fall. Meanwhile, our steps and the diligent squirrels rustle the colorful foliage.

On our walks through the woods, we discover all kinds of little treasures; we collect berries, nuts, mushrooms and feathers. We pause for a moment to watch the shy inhabitants of the forest before we set off towards home once again. There, a good book and a hot tea are already awaiting.

Indian Summer is set to arrive in January 2018.

Z-Man Games has announced a new puzzle game for 1-4 players, NMBR 9. In NMBR 9, a card is drawn dictating which number shaped tile, labeled 1 through 9, must be placed onto a growing structure.

Tiles can be placed on the same level as existing tiles, in which case they must share an edge, or the tiles can be placed on top of existing tiles, and must overlap at least 2 other tiles. Points are scored for the value of the tile and how high the tile is on the structure. Counting the base level as level 0, a tile’s score is the height of the piece multiplied by the tile number, so an eight placed on level 2 (3 tiles high) would score 16 points. You can read more about NMBR 9 on Z-Man’s announcement here.