It’s that time of year again – the time for the Dice Tower and it’s contributors to vote for the games worthy of an award among a variety of categories, not the least of which is the best game of year. These are the best of the best according to the panel of judges on games released in English in 2018. You can see previous winners, along with this year’s nominees, on the Dice Tower Awards website, and look forward to the winners being announced at Dice Tower Con later this year.
Best Family Game of the year
Fireball Island Gizmos Reef Space Base My Little Scythe
Everdell Root Grimm Forest Cerebria Rising Sun
Chronicles of Crime Nyctophobia Detective: A Modern Crime Boardgame KeyForge The Mind
Fireball Island Brass Lancashire Endeavor: Age of Sail High Society The Estates
Stronghold Games has launched the biggest and most strategic expansion to Terraforming Mars on Kickstarter: Terraforming Mars: Turmoil. This expansion is not for the faint of heart. It is considered an Expert expansion delving introducing the struggle for political control of Martian society.
Players will have delegates they can assign to the various political parties. The party with the most delegates becomes the ruling party in the next generation, establishing its own policies for the generation and granting the first player in the party a Terraform Rating. Each party confers a ruling bonus to the party leader and the ruling policy effects everyone. Meanwhile, global events impact Mars, the terraforming corporations, and political parties. These global events can be forecasted, so players can plan ahead to influence the next rising political party to deal with the event. Politics can be brutal: despite the bonuses players may receive in the ruling party, everyone loses 1 Terraform Rating each generation.
Contents include 5 Corporation Cards, 16 Projects Cards, 31
Global Event Cards, 2 Reference Cards, a new Terraformer Milestone Tile, 6
Policies, a Global Events Boards, a Terraforming Committee Board, 35 Player Delegates
(7 in each color), 14 Neutral Delegates, 1 Dominance Marker, and rule book.
The Kickstarter comes with a number of Promo contents as funding
milestones are reached. The first promo
content, 5 Dual Layer Player Board, may be of special interest to those who
have not purchased upgrades to their game yet. Additional promo projects and corporation
card have already been announced.
The Kickstarter campaign for Terraforming Mars: Turmoil runs
through May 2 with a delivery in November 2019.
To learn more, check out the Kickstarter
Here is the second and final part of interviews and sneak peeks of what I was able to see at the GAMA Trade Show. Hopefully I’ve saved the best for last.
Frank West, designer of City of Kings, and one heck of a guy, discussed City of Games’ upcoming title Rising Blades, a competitive worker placement / tile placement game with RPG elements. In Rising Blades, players add tiles to a growing map each round, in which they can move, fight monsters and develop their unique asymmetric characters. Expect Rising Blades to hit Kickstarter at the end of the year.
Czech Games Edition (CGE) showed the unique cooperative deduction word game Letter Jam from designer Ondra Skoupý. In Letter Jam, players receive a set of facedown letters delivered from an app, and the goal is to deduce these letters. Each player places one of these cards facing the other players in a style akin to Hanabi, so that you can see everyone’s secret letter except your own. Players then make words with the letters, giving clues as to what other players’ hidden letters may be.
Forbidden Games confirmed an expansion for the popular auction stock market game Raccoon Tycoon by designer Glenn Drover is in the works. The expansion should include a 6th player, more buildings and a new railroad type.
Stephen Buonocore, the evil genius behind Stronghold Games was kind enough to reveal some further details about the 5th and final big expansion to their evergreen hit Terraforming Mars, Terraforming Mars; Turmoil. Turmoil, the only expansion to be released in 2019, will be labeled as an “expert” expansion, meant for more experienced players. In short, this expansion involves politics. Mars has established a Martian Senate, composed of several parties, each with its own agenda. The Red party is interested in keeping Mars pristine and untouched, the Green party wants full terraforming, the Kelvinists want more heat, etc. Players can place delegates, trying to gain control of parties, or even the entire senate. A face-up line of Event Cards show what influences each party will have over the next several turns. Expect Terraforming Mars:Turmoil to hit Kickstarter in April/May.
Stephen Buonocore of Stronghold Games was a recent guest on the Board Game Gumbo podcast when he was asked by a viewer if Terraforming Mars was going to receive the Legacy treatment. Stephen confirmed that Jacob and Issac Fryxelius are 100% working on the Legacy version of Terraforming Mars. Now, Stephen cautions that the project is still very early in the works and it might not be seen until 2020 or 2021. What a legacy game of Terraforming Mars looks like is anyone’s guess, but the generations will undoubtedly have a more personal feel. We will just have to wait and see.
Fool! is a card-shedding and trick-taking game where player attempt to get rid of their cards without playing the lowest card. The player who plays the lowest card has to sit out the next trick, losing the opportunity to get rid of a card. Players score negative points for cards left in their hand, and positive points if they got rid of all the cards in their hand, unless they play the lowest card in the last hand which earns them nothing. Fool! plays 4-8 players, ages 8+, in about 15 minutes.
Fortune is the forth game in the Fast Forward Series and uses the Fable Game system. These games do not require an understanding of the rules beforehand. Instead, the cards are pre-sorted and the rules of the game are explained on the cards as they are played. In Fortune, the player with the highest score wins the game, but gaining the highest numbers may not be enough. The trick is to get the right bonuses for the big payoff. Fortune plays 3-5 players, ages 10+, in about 15 minutes.
Calimala was originally published last year Blackfire Entertainment in both German and English editions, but it may have been difficult to find here in North America. Stronghold is republishing the English only edition this year. In Calimala, players are members of the guild of cloth finishers and merchants in Republic of Florence during the Late Middle Ages. Players assign their employees to produce and trade cloth and gain prestige by delivering their good, contributing to the construction of buildings, and sponsoring artwork. The player with the most prestige at the end of the game wins. Calimala plays 3-5 players in 45-75 minutes.
Lastly, Stronghold Games is republished Kanban: Automotive Revolution as a Limited EditionKanban: Driver’s Edition. Stronghold has also included Kanban, designed by renowned designer Vital Lacerda of Vinhos, The Gallerist, and Lisboa fame, in their Great Designer Series. In Kanban, players are managers in an automotive factory seeking to impress the factory manager by establishing the most efficient assembly line. With each promotions come more capabilities to be more efficient. The players with the higher productivity points, demonstrating the most effective use of workhours, at the end of the game is the winner. Kanban plays 2-4 players, ages 12+, in 90-120 minutes. Stronghold does not plan to reprint this game again in the future!
Several years ago, Martin Wallace brought us A Study in Emerald, a game based on the story by Neil Gaiman about the secret war by the Restorationists to free mankind from forces of the Olds Ones. It was a game that blended the worlds of Sherlock Holmes and H.P. Lovecraft set in 1882 Europe. Now that the Old One have been banished from the northern hemisphere, where did they go?
Fifty years later, the Old Ones are awakening in the Outback of Australia! In AuZtralia, players are adventurers and explorers uncovering the riches and resources and colonizing in an 1930’s alternate reality Australian Outback. Players build ports, construct railways, mine and farm for food. Every action costs time, and at some point in time during the game, the Old Ones are awaken and become a player in the game attacking the players’ settlements. Players will need to recruit military forces to protect the settlements, and they might need to work together to defeat the most dangerous Old Ones. Players earn victory points from their farms, defeating Old Ones, and from their personalities. Old Ones also score victory points by blighting farms and how many are left at the end of the game. When all the time points are spent (or a player port is destroyed), the game ends and the player (or Old One) with the most victory points at the end of the game wins.
AuZtralia is a military/economic/adventure game for 1-4 players, ages 13+, and take about 30 minutes per person to play.
Also coming in October is the latest expansion to Terraforming Mars. Terraforming Mars: Colonies expands the game playing world by adding new places to build colonies. While those places may not be suitable for terraforming, they can produce much needed resources and income. Build colonies on distant moons (even in the clouds of Jupiter) and send your trade fleets to them to build your resources to support your terraforming operations on Mars.
Terraforming Mars: Colonies requires the base game to be played but can be played with any of the expansions. Contents include 49 project cards, 5 corporation cards, 11 colony tiles, a reference tiles, trade fleets tiles, 8 markers, and 8 trade fleets.
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.
The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design (AAGAD) award the Origins Awards at the Origins Game Fair each June. Nominees are picked in March and the academy votes on the games in the different categories based on excellence in game design. Well, the winners for the 2018 Origins Awards have been announced! Let’s see who they are!
It’s April and that means taxes are due, baseball is starting, and more importantly The Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast has launched its annual Kickstarter campaign. If you are not already familiar with the fine folks at The Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast, they are a member of the Dice Tower network and produce 5 full length podcasts per month covering board games, role playing games and miniatures gaming, as well as producing audio dramas, video blog, live streams and more throughout the year. This year, The Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast would like to add periodic programming specials to its lineup, providing its audience a massive amount of content each year.
The campaign runs until May 4th so head over to the Kickstarter page and check out all the content the campaign will support and learn more promos and goodies backers can pick up for supporting the podcast.
The multiple-award winning game by FryxGames, Terraforming Mars, will soon make its digital debut on Steam, Android, and iOS platforms according to Asmodee Digital. The story takes place in the 2400s where humans are beginning to die out because earth is overpopulated, and natural resources are running out. Humans have no other choice but to colonize planet Mars to ensure their survival.
“Play as a corporation sponsored by the World Government with the mission of terraformingMars. Increasing the temperature and oxygen levels, creating oceans and forests and building infrastructure will all play a part in your mission. Compete with rival corporations to contribute the most towards making Mars habitable and triumph. Because, while the Red Planet may be the ideal candidate, it doesn’t have everything that is needed to support life. The terraforming race has begun!”
Early Access for Terraforming Mars, digital edition, will soon be available on Steam for the PC and will run on Windows 7, 8, and 10. No mention of Mac support on the Steam website yet. To join the early access, make sure to add the game to your wishlist.
The game will support several modes including:
Full single-player like the original game
Single-player against the AI
Pass-and-play local multiplayer
More content is expected to be released after launch. The digital version is developed by LuckyHammers and published by Asmodee Digital. Expect the game to be release in Q2 of 2018.