Picture from popularmechanics.com
Popular Mechanics, a longtime publication about popular science and technology, has often covered features that would interest the intellectual and creative minds of its readers, so it should be no surprise that the magazine has published a list of 50 best new board games for the past three years. While their list is not as comprehensive as the Dice Tower’s Top 100 Games or the numerous lists of Top Ten Games, Popular Mechanics has been a champion of the boardgame hobby to the uninitiated. Popular Mechanics’ latest list comes just in time for the holidays and includes a wide variety of games to appeal to every type of gamer. While only a handful of popular games from 2018 make the list, such as Rising Sun , Everdell, and Root, the majority of the list is comprised of great games from the past several years. Gloomhaven, Pandemic Legacy: Season 1, Terraforming Mars, Star Wars: Rebellion, Scythe, Gaia Project, and Great Western Trail all make the list. Check out their list to see Popular Mechanics 50 Best New Board Games.
Sometimes games are released to very little fanfare, even if they deserve it, and it’s those times that we here at Dice Tower News are probably doing our best work at spreading the word. That’s the case right now with Onitama, which just recently launched on iOS and Android. This popular 2-player game from Arcane Wonders and Asmodee Digital can now be played on the go and against players from all over the world! This is great for fans of the game, as now there’s plenty of ways to challenge yourself against human and AI opponents and it’ll broaden the appeal for the design and the modern tabletop gaming world. If you’re ready to test your mettle on mobile, you can download the app right now on the iTunes and Google Play stores.
“Immerse yourself in an ancient Japanese setting and discover Onitama, an exciting, fast-paced strategy game! Onitama is somewhat reminiscent of chess and rather addictive with its dynamic game mechanic in which warriors face off so their master may win the game. Concentration and luck are the only weapons you’ll have at your disposal! You’ll need to fully master mind and body to defeat your opponents.”
Arboretum is a card game of skill and decision that has players creating the most beautiful path through an arboretum. Renegade Game Studios is proud to announce that their beloved game of strategy and gardens will be released as a Deluxe Edition. Enjoy the resplendence of this game with the most elegant engraved and heat-treated wooden box with a full color sleeve, premium rainbow foil cards, a scorepad, a rulebook and an embroidered fabric bag.
Arboretum:Deluxe Edition is a game for 2-4 players ages 8 and up and will play in about 30 minutes. It is slated to release in November 2018 and is available for pre-order now!
Play as a street gang building an empire in Neon Gods by Plaid Hat Games. Start your business, recruit your gang and hustle on the black market. Beware of cops who’ll do anything to shut you down and opponents who’ll do anything to invade your turf. Neon Gods is a colorful play on 70’s and 80’s style in an alternate reality of a future 2009. Control your territory and build your illegal empire so you can edge out your rivals. The game is for 2-4 players ages 14 and up and will play in about 60-120 minutes. You can pre-order now and the game will be available later this year. You can also check it out at the Plaid Hat Games booth at GenCon 2018.
Two new Phoenixborn are being added to the War of Ashes. King of Titans adds the warrior Xander Heartsblood with his army of Shamans, Archasaurs and Shining Hydras. Drawing on the natural magic of Vallen to unleash his fury on his enemies. The Ghost Guardian brings Rimea Careworn with her mystical knowledge of the spirit realm and her ability to summon an army of Ancestral Spirits. These two expansions offer the new capability of turning your allies into dominating mounted warriors. These two new expansions will be available in October and you can learn more about them here.
Mars is hot… literally. Most of the time, except for when it is really cold. But it is also hot as a theme in boardgaming right now, and Terraforming Mars is the leading the pack. Since its release in 2016, it launched straight to the top of the BoardGameGeek rankings and has stayed there, currently sitting in the #4 position amongst all other games. With that popularity comes expansions, and a move out and away from the surface of Mars. Terraforming Mars: The Colonies will be the fourth explansion for the game and will expand out into the rest of the solar system to put space stations in the void and on the moons of other planets. It follows the other Terraforming Mars games and will play with 1-5 players in 2 hours. It is currently scheduled to release 2018-10-15 with no word on if or when pre-orders will be available.
Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) has announced the upcoming release of War Chest, a 2-4 player hex grid game with an easy ruleset but complex strategy. Players draw unit coins from their bag each turn, representing 3 actions they can perform. Cards define how the units move and attack, almost in the manner of abstract games such as Onitama. The game continues until one player has managed to place all of their control markers on the board. War Chest comes in a beautiful box decorated to look like an heirloom old style chest, and is pitched as “an ancient game, newly rediscovered and presented as it would have once been presented to the sons and daughters of kings…” Warchest will come with gameboard, 16 cards, 79 high quality poker chip units, 4 player bags and cardboard tokens. More details are available on AEG’s website here. Look for War Chest in stores in July 2018.
Rising Sun has already shipped out to backers and is closing in on it’s retail release. The game has done very well among it’s backers and play-testers, currently sitting at #83 on BoardGameGeek’s top 100 – within a stretch of it’s older brother Blood Rage. Not unlike said sibling and other high-quality, high-strategy miniatures based games, CMON has expansions in mind and one is already slotted for retail release on March 30th. Dynasty Invasion adds several more options to Rising Sun and new way to shake up the strategy after it’s initial clans and monsters have made their mark. As described by CMON’s press release:
“The Rising Sun: Dynasty Invasion expansion includes two new complete Clans to join in the war for the fate of Japan, seven Lucky Gods, and 15 Season cards. […] With new Clans, new Gods, and new Season cards, the Dynasty Invasion expansion offers a completely different challenge for Rising Sun. Players will have to adjust their strategies and learn the ways of these invaders if they hope to win the favor of the Kami and choose the future of Japan.”
The new clans add more variety and replayability to the game, featuring the inscrutable Moon clan who starts with low honor and twice the force, or their opposite – the noble Sun clan – who have high honor and use it as a weapon to take coins and victory points. Interestingly, neither clan can use the monsters available to the other factions in the base box and instead can only take on the new Lucky Gods which strategically contrast to the existing denizens of ancient Japan. With new seasons cards to bring about these new gods and new strategies, along with many new and excellent figures from CMON as we’ve come to expect, this is an excellent expansion for those with the retail release of the base game or for backers who may have passed on it during the funding campaign. If you are interested in learning more about Rising Sun, it’s expansion, or any future content from CMON, but sure to check out their website for current and future announcements.
54 AD – Rome stands at the height of its power with majestic buildings, robust infrastructure, and the world’s mightiest army. Rome’s Legions have vanquished her foes, and the Empire stands secure…or does it? Agrippina the Younger’s deadly intrigues ensured Nero’s rise to power, but can Nero hold the Empire together? Oppressed people all over the Empire yearn for their freedom. In particular, the Jews hunger for their independence and the chance to cleanse their homeland. Outside the Empire, a Coalition of Germanic Tribes, Goths, and Parthians will suffer no more Roman expansion. Sensing an opportunity, they begin to push back against Rome. Meanwhile, small groups of Christians are challenging all kinds of religious and cultural norms.
This is the setting of the latest game being published by Chara Games, Soul of the Empire, and is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. This game is going to be the heaviest game in their library and promises a deep strategic experience as you take on the role of one of four factions during the pinnacle of the Roman empire. Each faction is different from the other, with different player powers, different strengths and weaknesses, and each with their own special way to win the game beyond the standard. The standard way to win the game is to claim seven objectives, and even these objectives are different depending on which faction you are playing, and are usually pushing you towards your own special victory condition.
Play itself is interesting in that you will roll dice Yahtzee style and from those dice form sets or runs in order to activate your abilities. This abilities include spawning units, moving units, purchasing power cards, claiming objectives, and fighting other players on the board. Fighting in this game is deterministic with the number of units on the battlefield being your strength, augmented by cards you can play from your hand. Using this system means that you don’ know 100% what you will be facing, but also allows players who are looking at a certain defeat to get some benefit out of the battle through card play. The final piece that sets all the factions apart are their unique power cards, these are cards that they can purchase each round and give you distinct advantages to completing your objectives. So plan well, pick your battles wisely, and accomplish your goal to claim the soul of the empire.
If you are a fan of Chara Games or these types of strategy games, check out the Kickstarter for more information. A base pledge of $50 plus shipping will get you the game, and additional levels allow you to get full size art prints of the factions, or get multiple copies of the game at a discount.
Catan fans can rejoice as there’s a lot of fun announcements for the most deservedly-lauded board games of our era. All of this news comes courtesy of the Catan Newsletter which was chock-full of everything Catan-related that one could possibly imagine. So without further ado, let’s talk about the exciting stuff!
As far as news goes for the Catan line of standalone games – Game of Thrones Catan had quickly sold out and is being reprinted with an estimated street date of November 2018. There is also a new game in the Catan Histories line, Rise of the Inkas, which is slated to arrive this summer and so far it sounds really cool. In addition to the standard rules of play, each player will have to decline their settlements twice over the course of the game, with the first player to rebuild their third era civilization being the winner. Old, retired settlements will do nothing more than provide resources for you, but they can also be built over by opponents only, so long-term planning is a must! As described via the press release:
“The strategic choices you face in Catan are even more nuanced in Rise of the Inkas. As you approach the pinnacle of a tribe’s development, your opponents look for ways to take advantage of your settlements in decline and try to take the best locations for their own! Deciding when to advance your tribe is something that you must carefully consider, for simply rushing to advance can put you in a compromised position as the resources you relied on can be claimed by your opponents.”
On the digital front, there’s Catan Universe – an online ecosystem for the base game and it’s first two expansions that can be played between all supported devices (Android, iOS, Steam, and any web browser). Now it’s easier than ever to trade and steal sheep with whoever you want, wherever you want! There’s also Catan Stories: Legend of the Sea Robbers. Players control a raven who accompanies three heroes in a choose-your-own-adventure style experience as they face conflicts that shape the future of the island.
Last, but certainly not least, there’s more Catan-themed merchandise in the shop, including Chocolate Catan and socks! There’s a lot of fun things to find in there, especially gift ideas for a board-gamer in your life. So if ever there was a time when more hexagonal-based strategy goodness was needed in your life, there’s a lot to indulge in now. If you’re interested in more Catan-related products and news, be sure to check out their website for more information and announcements!