Rio Grande Games

Rio Grande has a wealth of new releases this month, and strong variety at that. These releases cover the spectrum of new family-weight entries to classic heavy strategy titles. Personally I’m always fond of showers of releases like this because it’s fun to try to find a gem among them, and for this month I don’t think that’ll be difficult – not one bit. All of these titles are set to hit retail before the end of this October, just in time for Essen 2019.

To start us off is a new family game, Butterfly, designed by Stephen Glenn for 2-to-5 players ages 8 and up. Players each take turns moving Hudson the Hedgehog around the field collecting stuff: colorful butterflies, dragonflies, lightning bugs, crickets and flowers, but trying to avoid bees and wasps. The goal is to maneuver the plucky hedgehog to get you things you want while denying your opponents access to better stuff. The player with the best collection of things is the winner!

The next stop on this board game train sees us stopping in the Middle East and South Africa in the newest expansion to the Friedemann Friese’s Power Grid. This new pair of maps will give fans of the energy empire-building game new geographies and resource restrictions to deal with. The Middle East map, appropriately, is abundant in oil from the get-go, but this abundance will dry up and it’s imperative to build back-up energy plans to compensate by the time it leaves. The South Africa map is massive, and thus features 6 international power connections and a huge amount of coal-based power executed by a single trust. Players will need to adapt and capitalize quickly to succeed on either game board.

Following that is a new collaboration between one of my favorite designers, Bruno Cathalla, and Johannes Goupy known as Queenz. 2-to-4 players will be beekeepers trying to attract bees via orchids and collecting valuable honey. Each turn players will either collect flowers to fill their warehouse, or they’ll start up a new field filled with flowers from their collection and collect honey, getting points at the end of the game for having the most valuable hives on the board. It’s a very cool set collection / pattern building game with a grid element that rewards careful planning, but don’t take my word for it – feel free to watch Zee’s excellent review of the game to learn more.

Last, but definitely not least, is the English version of an area majority and set collection game designed by Frank Crittin, Grégoire Largey, and Sébastien Pauchon known as The Way of the Bear. Originally released in many other languages as Wangdo, this game sees 2-to-4 players control clans of bears trying to wrestle control of northeast Asia. To do this, players must place bear statues which allow them to collect tokens, but as the board fills up with these statues it becomes more difficult, and costly, to place them. The first player to collect their full set of tokens wins.

And with that, everyone, concludes this round-up – Have a great October everyone and Happy Gaming!

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.

A second expansion is finally coming for the fantastic 2014 dice management game, Roll for the Galaxy (BGG #65), and it is a massive one. Roll for the Galaxy: Rivalry from designers Wei-Hwa Huang and Thomas Lehmann contains 3 full expansions in one box, expanding and changing multiple aspects of this already great game. Firstly, Rivalry adds pieces, and lots of them – 60+ new dice, start factions, home worlds, a new die type, and many new game tiles. In fact, Rivalry contains twice the tiles included in the 2015 expansion Ambition.

Rivalry also adds a new “Deal Game” mode, where fundamental aspects of the game are up for trade. Seven deal dice are rolled each turn to see what aspects are negotiable. You can trade surplus tiles for more space on your money track, extra tile draws for losing citizenry dice, or convert citizenry dice into developers or settlers. The possibilities to manipulate almost all restraints on game play are enormous. But these large deals take time to mature, and as the deals change turn to turn, deals can turn sour, and other players may want to take advantage or destroy what you worked hard to start.

Finally the new “Orb Game” adds an Alien Orb die type with interchangeable faces, along the lines of Rattlebones or Dice Forge. Players can buy new faces by assigning “Researcher” dice, using a progressive tech tree to constantly improve their orbs. At the end of the game, the faces are worth points, depending how advanced they are along the tree. Die faces include discounts on development dice, settler dice, and several other options.

Rivals includes brand new player screens, printed with new rules and game modes for handy reference. For more information, you can read the announcement from Rio Grande Games here.

Coming Jan. 15 from Rio Grande Games and PD Games is an expansion to Concordia, Concordia Venus. By Mac Gerdts and dRioesigned to be integrated with the basic game and other expansions, this 2-5 player game uses the help of Venus, the goddess of love, as two partners work together while competing against one or two other teams. This expansion comes with new personality cards and two new maps. The game has a playing time of 45-90 minutes and is recommended for ages 13 and up.

Also out in January from Rio Grande is Gambit Royale, originally published under the name Ruse & Bruise. This family game now has five new cards than the previous version. In Gambit Royale, the players use royal households to manipulate the court and score the most victory points using influence cards and characters. Players use their influence to try to claim a goal card of between 1-5 victory points. Whichever player has the most influence obtains the goal, and after six rounds, the winner is determined. It has a game time of 30 minutes for 2-6 players, ages 13 and up.

Power Grid (2004) by Friedemann Friese is one of the more critically loved games of recent years (BGG ranking #34), with a deep economic system, player auctions, and a crunchy route building mechanism. Rio Grande Games has just announced a new “Recharged” edition of the classic, the English 5th edition, and although details are scarce, the publisher promises “all the strategy and fun of the classic first edition, but adds some updates that improve the (already great) game play.” Power Grid has 2-6 players bidding for coal, oil or nuclear generators, in order to produce and distribute power. Resources are bought from a dynamic market which responds to supply and demand, and players need to expand their power grid to spread electricity across cities. Considered a must-play by many in the board game world, Power Grid Recharged Edition is expected in March 2019. For some more details, watch the Rio Grande Website on Power Grid, which sums up the game very modestly – “this game is perfect”.

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.

Rio Grande Games announced two new games to be released in April 2018 and a reprint to be released in May 2019.

First up is Epoch: Early Inventors, designed by Martyn F.    Epoch: Early Inventors takes players back to the dawn of civilization where they take on the role of clan leaders and explore the landscape, discover new tools and make offerings to holy places. Exploring land gains status and makes more resources available, but energy to explore land requires food.  Gathering, hunting and fishing provides food as well as raw materials.  Developing tools enables players to be more effective with future actions. And making offerings at holy places gains more status.  The game plays over 14-20 rounds, advancing from the Mesolithicum era to the Bronze Age.  The player with the most status at the end of the game wins.

Contents include 4 Carrier boards, 44 Player huts, 4 Clan leaders, 16 Offer tokens, Start player token, 64 Food cubes, 58 Status counters, 44 Landscape tiles, 16 Ceremonial tiles, 2 Player overviews, 3 Last round markers, and Resource counters

This strategy game supports 1-4 players, ages 14 and up, and takes anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes to play. Look for this game in stores this April.

Next up is Beta Colony by designers Ben Pinchback and Matt Riddle.  In Beta Colony, players are one of five directors trying to create prosperous colonies and be elected as the first leader of Victus.  The players with the most Confidence Points at the end of the games is elected the first leader of Victus and wins the game.  Players earn Confidence Points by building colony pods, having a majority in a colony and from a variety of other achievements from improving the colony.

Beta Colony features a unique dice based “rolldell” system where all players will use a duplicate dice roll to take two actions each round, with each action using two dice. Players will use one die to move and one die to activate the location to which they moved. Die color and value affect how each of the seven unique locations are used.

Contents include Game board, Round marker, 5 Player markers, 16 Player markers, 16 Artifact markers, 16 Dice, 9 Cycle tiles, 30 Fuel markers, 60 Crew markers, 16 Artifact markers, 4 Player spaceships, Start player marker, 8 Cultural achievements, 8 Cultural achievement tiles, and 40 Colonization pod tiles.

This mid-weight strategy game supports 2-4 players, ages 14 and up, and takes 30 to 60 minutes to play. Look for this game in stores this April.

Finally, Rio Grande Games is reprinting Northern Pacific, a fast playing strategy game designed by Tom RussellNorthern Pacific is set in 1870 as the Northern Pacific rail lines expands from Minneapolis to the Pacific Ocean. Players are investors who can either extend the rail line or invest in a city the rail line has not yet connected. The game is played over three rounds and the player whose investments have paid off the best wins the game.

Contents include the game board, 16 locomotives, 108 small investment cubes and 12 large investment cubes.

This strategy game supports 2-6 players, ages 14 and up, and takes 30 to 45 minutes to play. Look for this game in stores in May.

Rio Grande Games has announced 3 new games coming to game stores in Q1 2018.

Broadhorns has 2-4 players take on the role of St Louis merchants, moving cargo down the Mississippi River in the early 1800s. Players need to buy their boat (the titular “Broadhorn”) and cargo, and will get a greater return on their investment the further down the river they travel. Cargo can be sold anywhere along the way, and new cargo and passengers can be picked up. Cargo can be perishable, and players may want a smaller, faster boat to bring delicate apples, pork or flour further on the river for more profit. The game lasts for a number of trips over the course of a year, with changing seasons playing havoc with travel.

Rob N Run is a cooperative game for 2-5 players. Each round, one player acts as the “boss”, giving his accomplices hints and the necessary tools to best crack safes, rob the gold, get away to the airport and claim the prize. Players need to hurry, but be careful not to be caught by the police on their grand heist.

Transatlantic is a new board game from eminent designer Mac Gerdts, whose credits include Concordia, Antike, Imperial, and many others. Transatlantic takes place in the shipping boom of the late 1800s and early 1900s, and has 2-5 players running their own shipping lines, moving mail, passengers and freight. Actions are card driven, and players can accumulate new action cards as the game progresses. Transatlantic promises to be a high strategy economic game with low luck and tough decisions.

Friedemann Friese is taking the new Fabled games model into the Power Grid universe with a new expansion Power Grid: Fabled Expansion. The expansion will be released by 2F-Spiele, 999 Games, Giochi Uniti, and Rio Grande Games.

This latest expansion works for both Power Grid and Power Grid Deluxe base games. The expansion includes two presorted Fable Decks which will introduce new mechanisms to the games as players work through campaigns using the maps of USA, Germany, Europe, or North America.

Each fabled campaign will have players playing three consecutive games on the same map. When playing with two players, players will use the “Against the Trust” rules. In each game players will reveal cards in order as the conditions for those cards are met, which those cards adding twists to the game.

Examples of actions that trigger the reveal of new rules include:
  • Reveal in Phase 3: Buying Resources… When a player buys coal for 7 Elektro or More
  • Reveal at the end of a game… when the players have already revealed card 6
  • Reveal in Step 1 or Step 2… when the players have already revealed card 4, and there is a difference of 10 or more between the numbers of 2 adjacent power plants in the current market.

Power Grid: Fabled Expansion includes 30 Fabled cards and 6 rules cards. The expansion does not change player count or length of game, with the game still playing over 120 minutes with 2-6 players aged 13 and up. The game requires a copy of Power Grid or Power Grid Deluxe to play and is scheduled to release in November 2017.

A Fabled History

The first game in the Fabled line, Fabled Fruit, introduced the fable deck of cards which introduce new and developing gameplayover time. The game starts in a simple state, but as you play through the game new rules emerge and deeper mechanisms develop. The Fabled game system is fully resettable, unlike most legacy games. Fabled Fruit ended up making the 2017 Spiel des Jahres Recommended list.

This year Friese is also releasing other titles based on the Fabled system including Flee, Fear, Fortress as well as The Lime Expansion to the original Fabled Fruit title.

Power Grid has it’s own storied history. Power Grid was the updated release of the Friedemann Friese crayon game Funkenschlag. The objective of Power Grid is to supply the most cities with power when someone’s network gains a particular size. Players mark claim the rights to to power a city and then develop pre-existing routes between cities for additional connection, bid against each to purchase the power plants through an always changing power plant market that they use to power the cities in their network, and finally buy resources to power those plants.

When released in 2004, Power Grid began a multi-year award winning streak. Awards won include:

Vlaada Chvátil’s fantastic civilization building game Through The Ages now has a digital version available. Through the Ages is easily considered one of the best board games of recent history, having its newest edition ranked at #2 on BGG. Czech Games Edition has made the mobile app available for both iOS and Android. You can read the full press release from CGE here.

Along the same vein, Temple Gates Games and Rio Grande Games have announced a digital version of Roll For The Galaxy. The popular dice game version of Race For The Galaxy hit the board game world by storm in 2015, and has consistently been at the top of the charts. The digital version will be made available for iOS, Android and Steam, and is being designed by Keldon Jones, who was responsible for the AI on the Race for the Galaxy app. You can read the full press release here.

Z-Man Games has announced the new 2018 Season of Pandemic Survival. Pandemic Survival is the competitive team version of the award winning cooperative classic, pitting teams of 2 against the same scenario: same roles, same cards, same infected cities, same situation.  Tournaments are held across the glode, leading up to the World Championships, with the grand prize being a trip to any city on the Pandemic map. For more information on the 2018 Survival Series, read the full press release here.