The all powerful hive mind that is American Mensa has once again assembled in their hollowed halls to rate the games of 2019. Every year, more than 300 members of Mensa spend a mad weekend of games and judgement to bestow upon a deserving few the title of Mensa Select Winner. So without further ado, the Mensa Select Winners for 2019 are:
Gizmos by designer Phil Walker-Harding and CMoN Games is an elegant engine building game expanding on the Splendor model, centering on a delightful marble dispenser. Players take turns collecting colored marbles, all the while purchasing cards to improve their collection ability, marble color conversions, storage abilities and card building power.
Gunkimono by designer Jeffrey D. Allers and Renegade Game Studios is a re-imagining of Heartland (2009), transforming the original farming motif to one of war-torn feudal Japan. In this quasi-abstract tile laying game, players choose between expansion for points, and building up for future strongholds.
Planet by designer Urtis Šulinskas and Blue Orange Games is a tile laying, city building game on a grand scale. In a move that would have Euclid roll in his grave, players place magnetic terrain tiles on a 3 dimensional “planet”, creating vast areas of desert, ocean, forest, etc. in order to meet specific goals.
Victorian Masterminds by master designers Antoine Bauza and Eric M. Lang with CMoN Games is a breathtakingly beautiful steampunk worker placement masterpiece. Players each take on the role of super villains in the recent wake of Sherlock Holmes’ disappearance, trying to take over the world with their unique doomsday plots.
Last year Shem Phillips and co-designer Sam Macdonald released Architects of the West Kingdom, the first game in a new series. Now the designers are back with the second installment in the series, Paladins of the West Kingdom. Architects had players building a town and its cathedral, while Paladins has players spreading the faith and defending the town from outsiders.
In Paladins of the West Kingdom, each player has a set of 12 paladin cards which provide workers, temporary attribute bonuses and a special ability for the round. The players draw three paladin cards at the start of each round, select one to use, return one to the top of the deck and the other to the bottom. Each player also has a personal board which is used to gather resources, increase attributes and score points. Players take turns using their workers to perform a variety of actions, like recruit townsfolk, fortify the town, commission new monks, and attack or convert outsiders. Some features from Architects (e.g. debt cards) return in Paladins; however, several new features are introduced, like suspicion cards which could lead to penalties from the Inquisition.
Like Architects and Raiders of the North Sea, Paladins features artwork from The Mico. Paladins is for 1 to 4 players. There are a couple of different pledge levels, as well as, some additional promo cards included for both Paladins and Architects. You can find out more about the game on its Kickstarter page.
Z-Man Games has announced a new game called Noctiluca. Perhaps the first thing that catches your attention about Noctiluca is that it is designed by Shem Phillips, best known for games like Raiders of the North Sea and Architects of the West Kingdom. However, Noctiluca is a departure from the worker placement of those games.
Noctiluca appears to be a dice-based set collection game. In Noctiluca, players are divers making their way through the water attempting to collect creatures called noctiluca, which are known for their curative properties. Points are scored by filling jar cards with different combinations of the creatures. Four colors of dice represent the varieties of noctiluca.
“When the noctiluca surface, the pool is filled with a rainbow glow. The colorful noctiluca can cure numerous ailments with merely their glowing presence. Healers from around the world will reward the skilled divers who can catch these rare creatures.”
The game is for 1 – 4 players, with an estimated play time of 30 minutes. There is a double-sided board and over 100 dice in the box. Z-Man did not provide a specific release date for the game, but more information can be found on the game’s product page and official announcement.
Architects of the West Kingdom is set at the end of the Carolingian Empire, circa 850 AD. Players are royal architects creating important landmarks, competing to impress their King and maintain their noble status. Players will collect and manage resources, hire apprentices, and manage their workforce, and keep an eye on their rivals who may attempt to slow your progress. Victory points are gained by building various buildings and advancing work on the Archbishop’s Cathedral. This worker-placement strategy game requires more than resource management. Some underhanded deals may need to be made to remain competitive. The player with the most victory points at the end of the game is the winner.
A Kickstarter campaign for Architects of the West Kingdom begins on 13 March, and the game is projected to be released in October 2018.
Architects of the West Kingdom plays 1-5 players, ages 12 and up, in about 60-80 minutes.
Raiding. Pillaging. Longboats. Axes. Beards. Braids. What is it about Norse men and women that keeps us so enthralled with this theme? One can’t deny that Viking society has a rich history and culture which game designers can draw upon for games as simple as providing a feast for a god, or building longboats or even mythical, and fantastical combat as the world ends.
In June, 2018, IELLO are releasing Raids. This viking themed game seems more combat oriented as players compete against each other as they try to retrieve treasure and earn glory. Players have ships which they sail from island to island to collect Vikings, Viking related paraphernalia, and fight monsters for points. Vikings can even board each other’s ships to attack one another. The game is designed by Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert (who both designed Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time) with art by Biboun. Raids will support 2-4 players, aged 10+, and will play in roughly 40 mins.
Raiders of the North Sea is a unique worker placement game, in which players gain an action for placing their meeple, but also gain a second action by picking up a new meeple. The meeples on the board come in three colors, and the spaces on the board are color limited. Add a great viking theme of building armies, collecting crew and pillaging outposts, and you have an excellent game, worth of the Spiel nomination.
Shipwrights of the North Sea is a card game where 2-5 players collect artisans and resources, racing to be the first to construct their viking long ships. Various nefarious characters can be recruited to help the player succeed or hinder their competition.
Explorers of the North Sea is a tile laying, pick up and deliver game for 1-4. Players sail their vikings in plastic boats from island to island, picking up livestock, raiding villages and constructing outposts. Points are awarded for sets of collected items, and for completing islands by playing tiles.
The North Sea Rune Saga is an expansion which ties all three games into one large campaign for those brave enough to live the full viking life.
All of the North Sea Games are designed by Shem Phillips, and include gorgeous artwork by Mihajlo Dimitrievski. Look for the trilogy of games from Renegade in Q4 2017. You can read the full press release on Renegade Games’ website here.
Fields of Fame adds a 5th player to the game as well as a township board with 3 new raid locations. New Jarl tokens are added to the plunder at raid locations, and players can either kill the Jarls or subdue them, possible taking wounds to their crew members. Players also now gain fame on the fame track for overpowering a raid, scoring additional victory points at game’s end.
Hall of Heroes also adds components for another player, and adds a quest mechanic to the game. New quests are added to the new Mead Hall board after each successful raid, and players will need to discard warriors from their hand to complete the quests. A new resource, mead, is also added to the game, which can help fuel and strengthen warriors on raids.
The Kickstarter Campaign also features a new limited edition collectors box which can contain the base game and both expansions. Pledge options also include purchase of the original base game, and the other games in the North Sea Trilogy. The Kickstarter Campaign continues until March 22, and is expected to deliver in November 2017.
Raiders of the North Sea is a new worker placement style game for 2-4 players from the New Zealand game producer Garphill Games. The second in a planned trilogy of Viking games (following last year’s succesful Kickstarter, Shipwrights of the North Sea), it is designed by Shem Phillips and illustrated by Mihajlo Dimitrievski.
Raiders takes place at the height of the Viking Age, with players trying to impress their Chieftain by succesfully raiding settlements. In this unique worker placement system, players share control of the worker pool (with different color workers being required to activate different spaces) and each player will start and end their turn with exactly 1 worker in their hand. On their turn, players will have to place their 1 worker to take an action (such as hiring crew, collecting provisions or raiding), then take 1 other worker off the board and resolve the action of the space that worker occupied. The campaign includes worldwide shipping and a lot of great stretch goals.