semi-cooperative

Catan GmbH is debuting a new CATAN release at Essen, which will not only add new game elements to Klaus Teuber’s award-winning fan favorite but will donate all proceeds from the scenario to the Global Crop Diversity Trust (Crop Trust). CATAN – Crop Trust is a collaboration between Crop Trust and Catan GmbH, introducing a new semi-cooperative way to play the classic game as well as teaching players about one of the greatest challenges facing the planet today.

Players’ must balance their individual need to harvest crops against their collective goal to store and preserve seeds in the Seed Vault. Players who harvest too much endanger the seed diversity, and in doing so, threaten the land with mass extinctions and a collapse of the food supply.

“As a part of our mission to support the conservation of natural resources, Catan GmbH will donate all proceeds from the scenario to the Crop Trust. Catan Studio, the publisher for the English-speaking market, will also donate a portion of their revenue per printed copy and will offer support to organizations who want to use the scenario for educational or charitable causes.”

CATAN – Crop Trust contains educational information in addition to the board game. A specially-produced almanac which explains the history of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Frequently Asked Questions, and examples of the importance of crop conservation are also included.

There are 100+ videos that pertain to CATAN on The Dice Tower so check some of them out.
CATAN – Crop Trust will debut at the Essen Game Fair and will be available in stores and online on November 8, 2018.

If the name in the headline seems slightly odd and lengthy, you’d be forgiven for thinking so, but such is the cost of combining two fairly different tile-laying games into one new and surprising title. Stonemaier Games announced on Wednesday that they’ve gotten permission from Bezier Games  to combine their Castles of Mad King Ludwig with Stonemaier’s Between Two Cities, creating a more unique version of the latter with advanced scoring and theme from the former. It’s a kind of board gaming mad science that, when coupled with several prominent reviewers having received early copies to critique, makes for one very powerful piece of news that subverts disbelief with lots of pretty new tiles and possibilities. Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig plays 2 to 7 players, features a 4-piece Game Trayz custom insert, and is set to hit retail on October 19th.

     “Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig is a competitive tile-drafting game in which each tile is a room in a castle. You work together with the player on your left to design one castle, and with the player on your right on another castle. […] At the end of the game, each castle is scored. Your personal final score is the lower of the scores of the two castles you helped design, and the player with the highest final score wins the game. To win, you have to share your attention and your devotion between two castles.”

As presented within the description above, it really is just Between Two Cities but with some better bits mixed in. You’re still doing the same wonderfully unique exercise of building two places between your neighboring opponents, but now there’s more involved with what kinds of rooms you add that affect scoring in new and interesting ways. It is doubtlessly a more attractive package than either of it’s parts, both on the table and in it’s design. Fans of either game have something a bit more of value in store in this union, which speaks to the thoughtfulness of Stonemaier Games’ presentation of this product.

Apart from the praise and criticisms this game will gather under it’s own merits, I can’t help but applaud the idea of smashing up two games into something a bit different. Will this become a new trend to takeoff into 2019? The year of board game mashups? It would be fascinating to see, and I encourage it! If you’re interested in learning more about Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig, check out Stonemaier Games website for more pictures, videos, a full rulebook, and updates.

Being all-at-once controversial and incredibly influential, The Binding of Isaac paved the way for an entire emergent genre of Video Games. It remains one of the greatest examples of a roguelike, harnessing the exploration and excitement of the Legend of Zelda-series with the palpable tension of permanent character death that would leave it’s footprint in many games to follow. The success and popularity of Isaac is particularly impressive given it’s downright bold use of religious symbolism, gross-out imagery, and body horror that are used to underscore a tragic story of abuse, neglect, and childhood trauma. This is why it’s especially interesting that the game’s designer, Edmund McMillen, has been working diligently to translate what some may call his best design into a card game.

The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls, is a take-that, semi-cooperative card game for 2-4 players and it has blown well past it’s funding goal on Kickstarter already. Players take control of a handful of familiar characters and collect loot, treasures, and fight monsters in an effort to be the first to gain four souls. Everyone will have to work together to survive and upgrade in the beginning, but as a player gets close to getting their fourth soul things inevitably get treacherous. All of the favorite, cute, weird, and/or funny items and powers are here, their mechanics a reverse-engineered reflection of their video game counterparts, as Edmund explains:

“It was really fun to take a well known item or monster from the game and think up ways to convey stuff like, How could I show that the carrion queen takes damage when you hit her butt? Or how could I represent the RNG aspects of cursed floors or troll bombs only using a deck of cards? Once we finished the first 4 player game session, I knew this was something super unique that really embodied everything people love about The Binding of Isaac.”

As noted by many within the community, the design feels very close to Munchkin, but admittedly a little less chaotic. While this is a take-that card game, the amount of cards and abilities able to be played at a given time have strict limits; careful timing is key. No matter how the thing plays, though, this is as sincere of a translation of this Indie darling that can exist, spearheaded by it’s creator himself, with a lot of fun swag to go along with it for fans. If you’re interested in learning more about The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls, check out the Kickstarter page for the full rules, FAQs, stretch goals, community feedback, and updates.

fates fortune

Everything Epic Games is returning to Kickstarter to bring you the 2nd printing of their recently released thematic cooperative game Secrets of the Lost Tomb, as well as Fate’s Fortune, the newest expansion for the game.

Secrets of the Lost Tomb is a Cooperative, story-driven tile placement game, that plays in about 60 minutes, for 1-6 adventurers who have embarked upon a perilous expedition to uncover the ancient secrets of the Tomb. Each game is built around a different scenario with its own unique boss monster, such as the Pharaoh with the Blue Eyes, the Immortal Rhaz Azul or the Elder Forces of Hera’Thulhu. Over the course of the game, you and your fellow expedition members will explore ancient sites around the world, from the crypts of the Mayans to the ruins of Greece and the beautiful temples of the Orient; fight monstrous beasts; gather powerful relics and above all prepare yourselves to ward off the inevitable awakening of the Primordial Evil.

fate cards

The Fate’s Fortune expansion introduces the eponymous Fate cards which will send each character on their own secret quest that will allow them to level up during the game (and will also unleash new furies from within the tomb). Using these secret Fate cards, players can also now choose to include the possibility of a Traitor in the game, rather than playing purely cooperatively. The expansion will also add new characters, new scenarios and new monsters to this already jam-packed game.

So dust off your fedora and discover the full campaign here!

league of gamemakers banner

Cooperative games are games where everyone is working together to achieve a certain goal, and everyone wins or loses together. Competitive games are the opposite, where players are working by themselves to win. Semi-cooperative games lie somewhere in between – it’s possible for all players to lose, but when the players win the game, one player wins more than the others. One problem with semi-cooperative games is that when someone knows they are going to lose, they can drag everyone else down so no one wins!

Tom Jolly, designer of Wiz-War, blogs about his thoughts on making semi-cooperative games work (with a liberal definition of semi-cooperative). His ideas include:

  • Making players unable to die, so they cannot purposely make everyone else lose
  • Use a normal game with some short of sharing mechanic built in
  • A player can leave the board mid-game and save his resources/score

In his blog, Tom Jolly discusses different game designs he’s tried out for semi-cooperative games. In most of the tries, it seems like player greed won out, and “we can win” devolved into “I can win”. In conclusion, he decides that semi-cooperative games can work, but only in certain cases.

To learn more about Tom Jolly’s semi-cooperative game exploration, read his full blog here.

hope

In the dawn of the year 5341, technological prowess, political stability, and collective intelligence allow some 193 billion people to live in peace… Until the unthinkable happens: The universe begins to rapidly implode, threatening the fabric of space, time, and life.

As an elite member of the Human Organization to Preserve Existence (H.O.P.E), you are tasked with saving the universe by jumping to the far reaches of space, terraforming hostile planets into habitable worlds, and seeding new civilizations with life.

In HOPE: The Board Game, players are trying to colonize galaxies across the board, which is composed of 36 hexagonal tiles that appear multi-dimensional through an optical illusion (each tile is made up of 3 colors). Players travel throughout galaxies on a single color using movement tiles, and their frame of reference shifts periodically, causing them to move on a different color. To score points, players need to colonize all three colors of the tile with pioneers. In order to win the game, a player needs to have the highest number of pioneers  scored, and the players collectively need to save the universe – if the Regression progresses too quickly, then everyone loses!

hope bits

There are multiple modes of play, including a traitor mode where the traitor wants to prevent the other players from saving the universe. Furthermore, there are variable player powers – each hero has a specific set of skills that can be used for the mission.

In 2013, HOPE won the International Competition for board game designers organized by the National French Game Center (article in French). It was also mentioned as one of the 6 New Games to Look Out For by the Swiss Gus & Co blog, so it’s definitely a game to check out.

To learn more, see the game’s Kickstarter page here – they include full rules as well as a print and play version of the game!