GenCon 2019 was immense and amazing, but has now wrapped up, closed her doors and bid us “adieu”. I was inspired to chime in with a couple picks from the show that really stood out for me among the crowd.
One of the best euro games of 2016 was the exceptional Lorenzo il Magnifico from Cranio Creations and designers Flaminia Brasini, Virginio Gigli, and Simone Luciani. I was able to see a demo for the upcoming card game based on this gem, Masters of the Renaissance by Simone Luciani and Nestore Mangone. In Masters, players still collect resources to buy cards from different tower “levels”, like the original, but now all cards have production ability: in other words, when production is initiated, players collect resources from all of their cards. Additionally, a “market” comprised of a 3×4 grid of colored marbles gives another, easier, source of resources. Players choose any row or column of marbles, and every marble in that line generates its own resource based on its color. After players gain their loot, they push a new marble into the line, bumping al old one from the back. Two things make this market both clever and diabolical: First, clear marbles exist that give no resources at all, clogging up the rows. Second, the resources generated at the market go to a separate storage area, which is severely limited in capacity. This card game version of one of my favorite board games retained the look and feel of the original, added unique mechanisms, but still felt elegant and simplified. Masters of the Renaissance is due to be released at Essen Spiel 2019, this October.
I was particularly impressed by Time of Legends: Destinies by designers Michał Gołębiowski and Filip Miłuński, a joint effort between Lucky Duck Games (Chronicles of Crime) and Mythic Games (Joan of Arc). Destinies is an app-driven fantasy exploration game for 1-3 people which takes place in the same universe as Mythic’s magnum opus Time of Legends: Joan of Arc, and even uses many of the same small scale miniatures as its big sister. In Destinies, players take on the roles of villagers living around the epic stories and battles from Joan. Each player is trying to be the first to fulfill their character’s hidden destiny. The cards in the game, including the character cards, have QR codes in the corner (those black and white checkerboard scanner boxes we see all the time), and scanning a card into the game app leads to context sensitive progression in the game – scanning an item uses it, scanning a character interacts with it, and scanning a weapon fights with it. This system is what made Lucky Duck’s Chronicles of Crime such a fantastic and intuitive story telling game. The game app additionally controls the map, made up of a grid of square cards, in a way reminiscent of the recent blockbuster Journeys in Middle Earth. If that wasn’t enough to make this a magnificent game, Destinies uses an elegant dice system I haven’t seen before for challenges, wounds, and level progression. Three colored stat tracks are on the player board – Knowledge, Strength and Agility, and wooden disks are placed on values along these tracks. To run a test, fight a creature, or even interact with characters, players roll dice, and count how many of these disk values they pass with the roll – this is the number of successes the character achieves. Items can add disks to the tracks, wounds can move the disks to higher, more difficult positions, and experience allows player to buy more disks. Time of Legends: Destinies is scheduled to have a Kickstarter campaign in September 2019.
“The 18th Century is a time of unparalleled advancement in science and technology. The world is being settled. Great thinkers and philosophers are penning their seminal works. New inventions are being created daily. Many eager young students long to be the next Newton, or Copernicus, or Galilei. But who will add their name to the list of greats and be remembered throughout time?” [source]
Cards are played from hand over 6 rounds in order to perform actions where players attend Universities across Europe, visit cities, work to earn money, research using dusty tomes, and train their own students. Their goal is to become the greatest mind of that time by having the most Victory Points.
Council of Four was originally published in 2015 by Cranio Creations, and designed by Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini but in early 2018, CMON will be bringing it back to tables everywhere in an updated version with new art, a new box size, and their signature attention to detail. Oh, and of course, miniatures.
Council of Four has 2-4 players taking on the roles of rich merchants seeking to build lavish emporiums within cities in the Three Kingdoms. These Three Kingdoms are ruled by the Councils, each consisting of Four nobles. These Councils are, as might be suspected, easily corruptible and have a very fluid membership, thanks to wealthy merchants such as yourselves. You have to gain permits and build emporiums in the most lucrative locations to win, but don’t neglect the Emperor, as he allows you to build without permits.
With 4 different actions you can take on a given turn, 4 ways to score points, and 8 possible configurations of the modular board, the game offers differing strategies and a variable setup, two things that often lead to a great deal of replayability.
The game plays in 40-75 minutes, and is on the lighter end of the scale, is good for new players, and the new version looks great with pleasing art and well-sculpted minis.
Z-Man Games has announced an expansion to their 2015 award-winning dice placement game The Voyages of Marco Polo. Agents of Venice adds two different modules to the game, as well as the ability to insert a 5th player, more contracts, city cards, goals and 5 new characters.
The City of Venice Module adds a board representing Venice in the 13th century. Players can build trading houses in Venice, earning benefits similar to those in the rest of the world, but must work their way up, earning one palazzo at a time. The Companions Module adds friends you meet on the road. These companions give special abilities and benefits to the player, but companions have their own agendas, and their bonuses only last for a single turn. Players will need to pick and choose the friends which give them the best ability for use at that single moment in the game.
Fresh off the presses come three new releases from Cranio Creations, the Italian publisher responsible for Dungeon Fighter and Steam Park. Keeping their target audience in their crosshairs, Cranio’s 2015 trifecta are all light-to-medium games with striking artwork and manageable playtimes. Beyond that the games are quite different.
Unusual Suspect, designed by Paolo Mori (Augustus, Libertalia) is a light party-style game of deduction that explores perceptions and stereotypes. It plays in thirty minutes and features some cartoony artwork. You can find Tom’s review here.
The Tower of Monster is a quirky dexterity game with some eye-catching components, including some distinct player pawns and a four-story tower with windows to stick your fingers through. Designers Simone Luciani (Tzolk’in) and Antonio Tinto (Egizia) teamed up for this one, and it sports whimsical artwork by Valentina Moscon (Dungeon Bazar).
Finally, Council of Four is the weightiest game of the bunch: a family Euro about Renaissance-era merchants jockeying for position with city councils and attempting to situate their emporium in the most lucrative location. It was designed by Luciani e Tascini (The Voyages of Marco Polo) and the artwork is by the prolific Arnaud Demaegd (Caylus).
The 2015 International Gamers Award nominees for general strategy games released between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015 have been announced. The nominees are grouped in two categories—multiplayer and two-player games.
The multiplayer nominees are:
Tasty Minstrel Games/Quined Games
Matthew Dunstan and Brett Gilbert
Space Cowboys/Rebel pl./Asmodee
Days of Wonder
Andrea Chiarvesio and Pierluca Zizzi
ADC Blackfire Entertainment
Michael Keller and Andrea Odendahl
PD Verlag/999 Games/Stronghold Games
Dlp Games/Tasty Minstrel Games
Gil d’Orey, Nuno Bizarro Sentieiro and Paulo Soledade