Lockup: A Roll Player Tale by designer Stan Kordonskiy (Dice Hospital) is a worker placement game taking place within a fantasy prison, originally funded on Kickstarter in 2018. In Lockup, 2-5 players need to assign members of their gang to sections of the prison and collect resources, all without attracting the ire of the guards, who are not beyond searching their quarters and confiscating their goods. Each round, the most powerful characters in a section get the prime resources, and can build the best items. After 6 rounds, the most powerful gang emerges victorious.
Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale by designer Jordy Adan is a roll and write game, where players need to fill in their map sheet according to the Queen’s edicts. Exploration cards tell the players what polyomino shapes and terrain types to draw each round. Scoring cards communicate the Queen’s will, and tell what will score. Cartographers encapsulates the joy of drawing old RPG maps on graph paper, filling in forest, mountain, water, and even monsters, trying to earn the most points in 4 seasons.
Portal Games recently hosted PortalCon 11 in Gliwice, Poland, where they celebrated 20 years of the Board Games that tell stories. At the celebration, owner and Portal head honcho Ignacy Trzewiczek announced several new games and expansions coming from this amazing company in 2019. There are a ton of new announcements, all of which can be read in the press release from Portal, or seen live in the Keynote Address given at PortalCon.
Several new games set in the Imperial Settlers (BGG #145) universe were announced. First on the list is Empires of the North, a standalone card game designed by Ignacy, featuring Scotsman, Inuit and Vikings. Each faction comes with 2 unique card decks allowing a variety of game play styles. 2-4 players can each try to lead their faction to victory by dominating the opposition, developing their economy or defending their land. Also from the big man is Imperial Settlers Roll and Write. Just as the name implies, this new roll and write game takes place in the empire building world of Imperial Settlers, and focuses heavily on engine building, with each big move giving bonuses towards the next. The game includes two modes, one a traditional 2-4 player competitive point scoring challenge, while the second is a new adventure mode. This single player game comes with a pad of 48 unique challenge sheets to complete, each with its own starting points and goals. And just to round out the Imperial Settlers fervor, Portal Games has announced the Imperial Settlers Big Box, a 5 year anniversary of this award winning game, complete with all of the factions and expansions. The Big Box will be exclusively available direct from Portal Games, and includes a plastic insert to hold everything, new commemorative anniversary cards, as well as oft requested single piece faction boards for the Amazons, Aztecs and Atlanteans.
Also coming from the President of Polish Play is a reprint of Prêt-à-Porter, the 2-4 player surprisingly brutal fashion industry board game. Players take turns hiring new employees, gaining managers, designers and models, all in an effort to destroy the competition. This third edition is coming to Kickstarter in 2019, and features new art from acclaimed illustrator Kwanchai Moriya (Dinosaur Island, Catacombs).
Portal also announced new armies for their arena combat board games Neuroshima Hex and Monolith Arena, both from designer Michał Oracz. The Sand Runners are the latest army to dominate the world of Neuroshima Hex, and are a “specialized army of veteran warriors who clashed with the Moloch in the early days of the war”. The Sand Runners feature a double sided HQ tile for versatility, and come with a new Sand Storm tile type. The new army for Monolith Arena are the Academics, focusing on runes, upgrades, and the ability to dramatically weaken their enemy – in fact, their banner directly slows enemy tiles. The Academics armies are few in number, but devastating in ability.
CO2 (2012) is a well regarded (BGG #585) heavy worker placement game from designer Vital Lacerda (The Gallerist, Vinhos, Lisboa), and Stronghold is bringing the remastered CO2: Second Chance to stores this March. 1-4 players take on the role of corporations trying to make the planet a greener place, correcting the pollution made standard in the 1970s. The second edition includes a new rulebook and iconography, a more balanced gameplay, a new events deck, and upgraded wooden components. Stronghold has stated that this edition will be printed once, then not reprinted, so get it while it is available.
Astro Drive is a “fast paced card driven spaceship racing game” from designers Mikko Punakallio (Dokmus) and Max Wikström (Space Freaks). 2-4 Players secretly pick movement cards from their hands, then simultaneously reveal. The cards have an initiative number, determining who moves first, movement points, compelling their ship to move forward, and control points, allowing side to side wiggle. Players also have a limited number of energy cubes, which can be spent for either 2 extra movement or control points. Players race over map tiles, avoiding crashing into obstacles, until someone crosses the finish line. Expect Astro Drive in stores in April 2019.
The Violet Morass is a new expansion for the skirmish board game Space Freaks (2017). In Space Freaks, 2-4 players combine different body parts to create the perfect team of freaks, then lead them into the arena for battle. The Violet Morass adds 2 new arenas, the perilous waters of the planet Azorax 5, multiple new head and body parts, as well as some terrifying equipment. The Violet Morass is tentatively scheduled for an April release.
Another anticipated expansion is the Meteo Expansion for the card driven bicycle racing game Flamme Rouge. Flamme Rouge has 2-4 players controlling the speed of their 2 person team up and down hills and around bends, trying to manage cards and jockey for position most efficiently. Meteo adds weather and wind management into the mix, adding more options into this strategic racing game. The Meteo Expansion for Flamme Rouge is expected in stores February 2019.
Walls of York by Cranio Creations and designer Emiliano “Wentu” Venturini was one of the more favored games of Essen Spiel 2018, and publisher Cool Mini or Not has just announced that they will be bringing the title to North America. Walls of York is a 2-4 player game, which combines the feel of a roll and write game with the tactile joy of building blocks. Each game, players create their own landscape from 4 board tiles, after which dice are loaded into a “King’s Tower”, generating the three goals for the game. The start player rolls the Building Die, which dictates a shape of plastic walls all players then simultaneously place around their emerging city. The die will generally dictate 2 or 3 walls, which could be in a straight line, an ‘L’ shape, or a zig-zag. Players use these templates to gradually surround their city, hopefully enclosing the correct number of structures originally dictated by the King’s Tower during setup, then pass the die to the next player and continue. After players completely enclose their city, the Building Dice earn extra coins each roll. Once all players have all finished their city walls, the invasion occurs, and the player with the most Vikings within their walls is invaded, and receives a Viking Invasion token. After two rounds, players earn victory points from coins collected, and lose points for Viking Invasion tokens. Look for Walls of York in stores from CMoN in the first Quarter of 2019.
Well regarded Roll and Write game Sunflower Valley (2017) by designer Wouter van Strien and originally from Hobby World, has overcome initial North American publishing delays and is releasing any day from Playroom Entertainment. In Sunflower Valley, 2-5 players take turn drawing with dry erase markers to create their own mountain valley from a shared pool of dice. Players draw houses, sheep, sunflowers, or railroads by claiming the appropriate custom die, and placing it on the correct colored spot on the playing board, using up both the die and the colored location. Once all of the color locations are claimed, the round ends and the 6 dice are passed to the next starting player. When all spaces on each players’ board are filled, the game ends, and players score for each house-sheep pair, either adjacent or connected by a rail, groups of sheep (flocks), groups of houses (settlements), and mountains surrounded by sunflowers. Houses without sheep loose points, and bonuses go to players with the most sunflowers, the most villagers (earned from houses and sunflowers), and long rail lines. Sunflower Valley comes with a game board, 6 custom dice, 5 dry erase markers, 20 double sided player sheets, a first player token and rulebook.
Thundergryph Games and designer Jordy Adan have announced Rolling Ranch, a new Roll and Write game, coming out at Essen Spiel 2018. In Rolling Ranch, a hurricane has hit your ranch, knocking down the fences and releasing all the animals – it is your job to gather up the livestock, put them in pens and rebuild your ranch. The players roll 2 custom dice, each with a variety of symbols on each face, and all players (2-20 of them) use the same pair each turn. Players can couple an animal (pig, cow or chicken) on one die with a pen number on the other to place that animal type in that pen on their score sheet. Alternatively, players can take the summed resources (wood and nails) on both dice, and work towards building structures on their farm, giving extra abilities. Finally, if two hearts show up on the dice, any pairs of animals in a pen breed, adding one more to the pen. At the end of the game, players score points for animals in pens, scoring more if the pen contains only one animal type. Achievement cards distributed at the start of the game add secret goals for each player. For more details, including the full instructions, check out Thundergryph’s excellent webpage on Rolling Ranch here. Rolling Ranch is due for release at Essen, October 25-28.
Pandasaurus Games announced the release of Illusion, by award winning game designer Wolfgang Warsch. Following up his success of The Mind, Wolfgang challenges players in Illusion to correct assess color proportions across a selection of card depicting colorful abstract art. Each round begins with starting color card and an arrow card depicting the change of color proportion each subsequent card must display. Players draw new color cards and insert them in the order directed by the arrow card. The player who detects the error in sequence properly earns the arrow card; if an error is declared incorrectly, the player who placed the last color card gets the arrow card. The precise portion of each color is labeled on the back of each card. The player with the most arrow cards are the end of the game is the winner.
Illusion plays 2-5 players, ages 8 and up in about 15 minutes. Contents includes 12 arrows card (three each in yellow, red, green and blue) and 98 color cards.
Pandasaurus Games is also bringing Qwinto to the American market. This popular roll and write game by Bernhard Lach and Uwe Rapp has been a hit in the European market since 2015. In Qwinto, one player rolls one or more of the dice (colored purple, yellow, and orange) and announces the sum. All players enter that number on their scoring pad in one of the colored rows matching the colors of the dice rolled. Two rules must be followed when placing a sum in a row: all numbers in a row must increase from left to right; and no number can be repeated in a vertical column. Points are scored based on how many fields are completed in each row and which numbers are in scoring positions. The player with the most points wins.
Qwinto plays 2-6 players, ages 8 and up in about 15 minutes. Contents includes three dice (orange, yellow and purple), scorepads, and pencils.
Look for Illusion and Qwinto at GenCon and in stores this August.
Castles of Burgundy is a classic euro game that sits in the BoardGameGeek top ten, and with a card game version already created, why not create a dice version? Coming later this month you will finally be able to play Castles of Burgundy the Dice Game, a roll and write style game. The core of the game is still there with the familiar hex board, the ability to buy and sell goods, different actions you can take on tiles, and bonuses you get for completing areas of the board. But now instead of rolling dice and assigning workers to slowly do these actions, now the roll of the dice will immediately let you get silverlings, mark off spots on the board, get goods, and other things. This means you will be able to play a game very quickly, and still get a bit of the experience you have from the big game. Look for this game to hit store shelves by the end of the year.
Next we have a new game coming from Cryptozoic based on the highly popular Rick and Morty cartoon called Rick and Morty: The Ricks Must Be Crazy Multiverse Game. This game is a unique engine building game in that you will be using energy from the different levels of the multiverse in order to build and operate you inventions, but there is more to it than that. If you go into the lower multiverses you will get first dibs on energy to be able to power/build things, but because that universe is more primitive, the things you can build are more limited and more unreliable. Stay in the higher ones and you will be farther down the list when comes time to give out energy, but you will be able to build the best stuff, so plan wisely. Whoever can “collect” the most tech by the end of the game will be the winner. Look for this game to be released in April of next year.
The last physical game we will be talking about is the unique game called Wallet, which uses a literal wallet as the main component. The story is that you are surrounded by the cops, and to escape you need an ID and some cash form the boss, but he just took off in a helicopter. Lucky for you, he dropped his wallet with all of the IDs and cash left inside. So on your turn you will be searching the wallet trying to find a plausible ID and some cash to either get out of town, or bribe the cops to look the other way. But be careful, there could be an undercover cop in your midst if they find their badge in the wallet. Rounds are quick at only 10 minutes and the whole game is over in 30 minutes, with the person who scored the most points being the winner. So if you want to get your hands on this game with a very thematic and unique component, you will have to wait until June of next year.
And finally, we have the two App releases for the day, the first being an update to the Carcassonne app and the release of the updated Abalone app. Carcassonne is the perennial favorite tile laying game that most games and even non-gamers know about, and it has done very well as an app in the past. But this new release of the game makes it look stunning by introducing fully 3D tiles to the game. This will give the classic game a lot of pop and make it look really impressive. Check out the new version here and then download it from Google play (sorry iPhones) or steam today.
The second app that has been release is Abalone, a classic abstract strategy game of pushing marbles to corner and remove your opponent’s pieces. The game looks great and bringing it to the app space means you will be able to practice and work on your strategies against an AI before challenging other players. Plus the ability to vary aspects of the game like how many marbles you need to remove to win, or setting a time limit, allows you to add more challenge to the game if you are a seasoned player. So if you are interested you can find out more about the game here, and then download it from your particular app store or steam today.
First on the list of upcoming games is the latest is the ever growing genre of Roll and Write games, and that is Harvest Dice from Grey Fox Games. Play is simple for this one, roll all of the veggie dice and pick which vegetables you want in your garden or fed to your pet pig. At the end you will score veggies based on what the market wants as well as points for a well fed pig, most points is the winner. These quick and easy games thrive on fast play times and easy replayability, and you should be able to find this one on store shelves in November of this year.
Second is a new one from Stronghold games called Noria, a first design from Sophia Wagner, winner of the Spiel des Jahres fellowship in 2015. We don’t know much about the game yet except for that it looks to be a euro-style game with an innovative “wheel building” mechanic. Similar to how the rondel is built and changed in Crusaders, this multi-layered wheel will have different actions and abilities in three rings so that you actions can be highly customized to your strategy. You will be using these actions to discover islands, build out your empire, and bribe politicians with hidden knowledge you find. Another aspect worth mentioning is the excellent art by Michael Menzel and Klemens Franz, elevating the possibility that this game could be something special. Look for it to hit stores in January of next year to find out.