Reiner Knizia

Grail Games and acclaimed designer Reiner Knizia have teamed up once again for another game in the Medici line.  After a successful reprint of the auction game Medici, followed by Medici: The Card Game, Grail Games has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for Medici: The Dice Game.

Medici: The Dice Game utilizes five custom dice with faces representing goods of different values.  Each player’s sheet represents the cargo hold of a ship.   The person who rolls the dice will get to select up to three of them for their ship, while the other players will select one of the remaining dice.  Players will score their ships based on the value of goods and majority of commodities, similar to the original game.  The game is for two to four players and features illustrations from Vincent Dutrait, who also provided the art for the previous games.

The Kickstarter campaign includes pledge levels for just the new dice game, as well as, a bundle of all three Medici games.  You can learn more about the game and see the campaign by clicking here.

Medici (1995) is a classic designed by one of the most influential people in board games, DOCTOR Reiner Knizia, and is the distilled pure essence of an auction game. Players bid their points on collections of goods, some they want, some they don’t, earning more points by set collection of those goods. Period. End of story.  Medici inspired an excellent card game version in 2016, and now Grail Games has announced the third in the family,  Medici: The Dice Game.

Also designed by the good doctor, Medici: The Dice Game is a dice drafting, roll and write game, which retains the simple elegance of the original. 2-4 players will spend their turns over 3 rounds filling the hold of their ship, trying to collect the most valuable goods, as well as majorities in each good type. Once again using the stunning artistic talents of Vincent Dutrait, Medici: The Dice Game is scheduled to hit Kickstarter in November 2019. For more information, check out Grail Games website here.

Reiner Knizia returns to the land between the Tigris and Euphrates in Babylonia, published by Ludonova. In Babylonia, players seek to increase the prosperity of their clan by claiming placing nobles and farmers in strategic regions of the ancient Mesopotamian land to crop fields, influence cities, and gain benefits form Ziggurats.  

Gameplay is simple: play clan tokens from the player stand, score surrounded cities and Ziggurats, refill the player stand.  The more nobles near to a city, the more points that can be scored, but some cities only score certain types of nobles.  Points for cropping fields with farmers vary, sometimes depending on the number of cities near clan members. Surrounding a Ziggurat grants the player with the most tokens next to it a Ziggurat card, which grants a unique bonus in the game available only to the player who holds the card.

Play continues until a player runs out of clan tokens or only one city remains on the board. The player with the most points wins.

Babylonia plays 2-4 players, ages 14+ in 60 minutes. Contents include a gameboard, 32 location tiles, 9 Ziggurat cards, 120 clan tokens (30 in each color), 4 scoring markers, 4 stands, 5 Ziggurats, and rulebook. Look for the game now available at your friendly local game store.

Update: Originally this article reported that this International Edition would be an improved version of the original available everywhere. This is not the case, as told by Ravensburger the International Edition will be it’s own product under the new name El Dorado distributed only in regions outside of Ravensburger’s current reach. This has been corrected below.

Prolific and renowned designer Dr. Reiner Knizia announced via twitter that his hit deck-building design, The Quest for El Dorado, will be getting an International Edition. It will be distributed under the new name El Dorado later this year in regions Ravensburger does not currently serve and will have all new art by Vincent Dutrait featured on large format cards. Understandably there were many concerns about whether this would cause compatibility issues with future expansions and those concerns were quickly addressed. The new International Edition will stand apart from the English version of the game and will not interfere with expansion content that is still planned for release from Ravensburger. As tweeted by Ravensburger:

“This international edition of the base game will not be published by Ravensburger, but by other publishers selling into areas we do not cover. Future Ravensburger expansions will be compatible with the Ravensburger base game.”

The Quest for El Dorado is a deck-building racing game where 2-to-4 adventurers cut through thick, unexplored jungle to reach the legendary city. Each turn players will buy more cards that will help their deck run more efficiently, make travel across specific terrain types easier, or help with buying even better cards. The game made such a splash when it released in 2017 that it already has one expansion, adding heroes and hexes, and there’s a standalone expansion is on the way. It’s easy to see, from the pedigree and it’s following, why El Dorado deserves wider distribution and it will be awesome to see this on shelves in many more countries by the end of the year.

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.

Board game enthusiasts rejoice, for we will likely have a main stream television show all to our own. Producer/Director/Actor Travis Oates has been sneaking around behind the scenes for the past 9 months creating a television series called Above Board, targeted to hit one of the popular streaming services we all love so well. According to Travis (who, by the way, is one of the most fascinating people I have ever met), the show has elements of the popular car show Top Gear, combining real love of board games with comedic parody, and Daily Show type tongue-in-cheek interviews. Already included in the show are board game designers Jamey Stegmaier, Stefan Feld, and Dr. Reiner Knizia, companies like Broken Token, publishers Michael Coe of Gamelyn Games and Paul Saxberg from Roxely Game Laboratories. But wait, there’s more – celebrity guests, and a regular segment by our own Tom Vasel. Six episodes are under construction now, hopefully with many more planned. I was lucky enough to screen some clips, and found the humor witty and sarcastic without dumbing down the content. Keep an eye out for this exciting initial foray of our hobby into mainstream media.

The 2017 Spiel des Jahres nominee, The Quest for El Dorado, is getting it’s first expansion – Heroes & Hexes! Reiner Knizia’s deck-building racing game through South America can be expanded to add heroes and demons to the course, injecting riskier decisions and daring rewards. Demon spaces are cheap, costing nothing to enter, and can even offer shortcuts, but all of it is for a price. Demon spaces bring curses, burdening the player with unsavory effects they’ll have to deal with for the rest of the game. It’s not all bad though, as everyone starts with familiars in their deck offering one-off powers and tavern spaces on the board provide heroes that can really give you an edge on your way to the City of Gold.

 “To play with this expansion, you must use the “Caves” variant of The Quest for El Dorado base game in which mountains are loaded with cave tokens. This expansion includes new cave tokens to be mixed with those of the base game, as well as four new types of expedition cards (with three copies of each) that can be pulled into the market once a stall opens. […] The expansion includes six suggested map set-ups — all at medium or hard levels, and all with three new terrain tiles — as well as guidelines for how to create maps yourself.”

Knizia’s games are often mechanically strong, elegant, and lacking frills, so to see an expansion to one of his designs which adds risk/reward systems is exciting. Do you take the path that’s really less traveled, or take the longer route to come out of this race with a clean soul and sounder mind? To me this feels like a must-have expansion for anyone who loves The Quest for El Dorado, as the familiars, cards, and map variability alone breathe more zest into an already rock solid game, all the other bits are an even more pleasing bonus. The expansion is slated to make it to retail soon, or at least before the end of the year as far as I can find, but If you’d like to find out more be sure to check out their website for rulebooks and further announcements.

Blue Orange Games has two new games that will be released at this year’s Gen Con.

First is Blue Lagoon designed by award winning game designer Reiner KniziaBlue Lagoon is a set collection games with an area control mechanic.  Players manage settlers to explore the islands, collect resources, and build villages.  Points are awarded collecting resources and colonizing the islands.

Blue Lagoon plays 2-4 players, ages 8+, in 30-45 minutes.  Contents include game board, 24 wooden resources, 8 wooden statuettes, 20 wooden villages, 120 settler tokens, 1 linen bag, score pad, and rulebook.

Next, Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc have teamed up again to design Scarabya.  Scarabya is an area enclosure game with a tile placement mechanic.  Players are competing archeologist on their own dig site (player board) attempting to place tiles around the golden scarabs on their player board. Each gold scarab enclosed is worth the size of its enclosure, up to four points.  The challenge is that the tiles to create an enclosure come in different shapes, is drawn at random, and is played in order.  All the players draw and place their tiles concurrently and the game continues until the last tile is drawn and played or discarded. The player with the most points in golden scarabs at the end of the game is the winner.

Scarabya plays 1-4 players, ages 8+, in 15-20 minutes.  Contents include 4 sets of 12 tiles, 4 sets of 4 boards, 4 sets of 8 rocks, 4 frames, 72 scarab tokens, 12 mission cards, and rulebook.

Lean more about both these games at Blue Orange Games.

Lost Cities: Rivals turns the two player experience of Lost Cities into a four player experience. While there has already been an attempt at a four player version of the Lost Cities game in the form of Lost Cities: Board Game, many felt that the original experience was lost. Lost Cities: Rivals, designed by the renowned Dr. Reiner Knizia, looks to retain the original experience and build upon it for more players. It supports 2-4 players, aged 12+, and plays in roughly 40 minutes.

“Use your cards to venture down expedition routes that take you to far-flung and mysterious corners of the Earth: to an abandoned mountain temple, a decaying circle of stone, a city sunken under the sea, an ancient Stone-Age settlement, and a town inside of a mountain. Your goal is to plan the routes in such a way that they bring you the greatest possible fame. If you are especially daring, you will also be able to wager on the success of your own expeditions. But watch out: You are not the only one traveling! Which routes will you pursue and how much gold is it worth to you? Plan well and use your resources wisely. Only the player who has collected the most fame at the end of the game will be the winner.” [source]

The goal of the game is to plan the routes in such a way that they bring you the most fame. You’ll also be able to wager on the success of your own expeditions. Expedition paths are created by playing a series of cards in a matching suit of colors in sequence. The publisher, KOSMOS Games, has made the manual available on their website if you’d like more details on the game play.

Lost Cities: Rivals is expected to release August, 2018.

High Society is a classic auction game from Reiner Knizia designed for 3-5 players, aged 10+.

“It’s the turn of the century, and it’s time to live large. As the quintessential bon vivant you must spare no expense following the latest trend and surrounding yourself with the fineries of life that you justly deserve. Assert your status, impress your peers, and avoid at every turn.” [source]

Players must bid against each other for life’s luxuries while avoiding bankruptcy and other pitfalls in the process. This new edition will be published by Osprey Games and features artwork by Medusa Dollmaker and features 16 Art Nouveau-inspired illustrations. Expect High Society’s release at the end of May 2018.