Reiner Knizia

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“This international edition of the base game will not be published by Ravensburger, but by other publishers selling into areas we do not cover.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

Chaosium, the long time forerunner of the Cthulhu RPG world, has announced a new Kickstarter project, the card game Miskatonic University: The Restricted Collection. Chaosium, famous for the Call of Cthulhu RPG, had been out of the board and card game world for quite a while until last year’s release of Reiner Knizia‘s Khan of Khans. Now the studio has returned to the Lovecraftian world with the push-your-luck card game Miskatonic University, also designed by the master, Dr. Reiner Knizia, with Graphic design by Ian O’Toole and art by Victor Leza and Goomi. In Miskatonic University, 2-5 players take turns drawing cards from the library, trying to collect sets of 3 differing Sigil and Grimoire cards. However, if the player draws a duplicate card, they and their students will be expelled from the library, losing their progress that round. Players can use one of their 7 defense cards to mitigate expulsion in different ways, and graduate students can be collected to recharge used defense cards. If players opt to leave the library voluntarily, they earn points for collected sets. The game lasts five terrifying rounds, and the most points from collected lore and saved sanity wins.

The Kickstarter Campaign for Miskatonic University: The Restricted Collection will continue through May 8, and the game is expected to deliver in November 2018.

Z-Man Games has announced plans to reprint Taj Mahal by Dr. Reiner Knizia. Originally released by Rio Grande in 2000 as #3 in the Alea box box series, the game had a 2006 reprint but has been out of print now for over a decade.

India has progressed and prospered, but that wealth could collapse at any moment. Instability and unrest plague the courts with petty concerns tearing the people apart. The Grand Mogul desperately seeks new leaders to carry India into a new age. Play your cards right and seize the opportunity to win the Grand Mogul’s favor as he tours across the beautiful provinces of India.
The game places player in Northwest India at the beginning of the 18th century as the rule of the Grand Moguls is fading. Maharishis and princes will take this opportunity to attempt to seize control of the region. Cunning potential rulers will influence forces, build palaces and create a supply of commodities until one one has enough power to win the game.

The goal of the game is simply to gain the most influence points. Influence points can be gained by either building palaces or by acquiring commodities. To build a palace a player first must gain the support of the Vizier, the General, the Monk, the Princess, or the Grand Mogul. The different commodities are gained in the game by taking control of a region or by taking them off of a space where a palace has been built.

The game plays out over twelve rounds, each starting with an auction for region control and for the support of the Vizier, General, Monk, Princess, and Grand Mogul. Using cards in four colors, each player will choose a color to play on each turn and use cards of that color to bid for the most useful auction items. For each member of the court a player has managed to influence more than  their opponents, they will claim the corresponding tokens. By carefully spending their cards players will control more of the board, gain more commodities, build incredible palaces, and gain enough influence to win the game.

Awards
When released in 2000 the game was a critical success, earning a spot on the 2000 Spiel des Jahres Recommended list. Awards and honors included:

Dr. Reiner Knizia

Dr. Reiner Knizia is one of the most award winning board game designers in history. Dr. Knizia has won the coveted Spiel des Jahres multiple times, and is a full time game designer in England. With a PhD in mathematics fueling his game design, he has over 500 games and books published both with self-designed themes and with global licenses including Lord of the Rings, LEGO, Mensa, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Monopoly, Playmobil, Simpsons and Star Wars.

Osprey Games is publishing Reiner Knizia’s latest game, Sakura.  In Sakura, players are artists who are following close behind the Emperor as he wonders through his garden.  The goal is to be closest to the Emperor when he stops to regard the blossoms of the sakura tree so that you may improve your painting and gain prestige.  But as the artists jostle for position behind the Emperor, they must be carful not to disgrace themselves by accidentally bumping into the Emperor, causing them to lose prestige and fall back.

In Sakura, players simultaneously select their actions by playing cards that move their character, one of their opponent’s character, and the Emperor.  Each card has a turn order that determines the order which the moves are resolved, changing the positions of the characters before the next card is resolved. Sakura is a light tactical game of pushing your luck to gain the most prestige.

The game supports 2-6 players, ages 10 and up, and plays in 20-40 minutes. Contents include playing board, 60 cards, 52 prestige tokens, 6 player figures, and an Emperor figure.

The game will be available on 22 February