Tile Laying Games

Calliope Games has announced a new Tsuro game, Tsuro: Phoenix Rising, coming in 2019. Tsuro (2004) by Tom McMurchie, and its followup Tsuro of the Seas (2012) by Tom McMurchie and Jordan Weisman are well regarded abstract family games, in which 2-8 players take turns placing tiles in a grid. Each tile continues several curving paths. Each player has a token on one specific path, and must move along the path as it grows. Therefore, new tiles have the possibility of moving a token off the board, and eliminating that player. Little is known about the details of Tsuro: Phoenix Rising, except that it will be featured soon during PAX Unplugged, November 30 through December 2.

Z-Man Games announces a fresh new take on the classic Carcassonne game: Carcassonne: Safari.    Instead of building the French countryside surrounding Carcassonne, players will build the wilderness of Africa with savannahs, bush, animal paths, baobab trees, and watering holes, all teaming with wildlife.  The wildlife is key to scoring in Carcassonne: Safari.  Unlike traditional Carcassonne, scored points are not based on size or length of a controlled area.  Instead, scored points are based on the number of different animals in the scoring area. A safari is certainly more interesting with a larger variety of animals.  Bonus points are scored for each bird in a scored area.  Boabab trees, like the cloisters in the original Carcassonne game, need to be surrounded before being completed. However, boabab trees do not score any points.  Instead, they provide the player controlling the baobab tree animal tokens when placed and additional animal tokens when completed.  Players can use the animal tokens to increase the scoring of bushes and paths by discarding a token to increase the number of animal types scored in the area by one.  Animal tokens can also be used to create watering holes.  Every player can contribute to any watering hole by adding their animal token to the watering hole as long as it contains a different animal than one already there. Scoring encourages the completion of watering hole because each new tile placed to expand the watering hole scores an increasing number of points. Lastly, this game features two ranger vehicles that reside just adjacent to the safari tiles.  Players may move the ranger vehicles as part of their move.  Placing a tile beneath a ranger vehicle scores additional bonus points.  Carcassonne: Safari is the fourth game in the Carcassonne Around the World series which already features Carcassonne: Amazonas, Carcassonne: Gold Rush, and Carcassonne: South Seas.  Carcassonne: Safari is available for pre-order now and will be released in late 2018.  Go to Z-Man Games to learn more about Carcassonne: Safari.

 

Santa Maria by designers Eilif Svensson and Kristian Amundsen Østby is a well regarded dice drafting and tile laying game from 2017, and now the designers along with publisher Aporta Games have started a Kickstarter Campaign for the first expansion, American Kingdoms. Briefly, in Santa Maria, 1-4 players draft dice, and slide them down or across the associated row or column on their personal board, activating every building the die moves over. However, the last building activated in this manner holds the die, effectively shutting that building down for the round. Players can also buy new tiles for their board, adding buildings, and individual buildings can be activated using money instead of dice. The game emphasizes the timing of when to draft dice, what order to activate rows, and the puzzle solving nature of designing the perfect engine. Santa Maria combines resource collection, racing down tracks for points and bonuses, end game goals with scholars and bishops, and set collection via shipping tiles.

American Kingdoms adds a couple new features, and 4 new modules that modify play. Cacao is a new resource in the game, used for new expensive shipping tiles, but mostly for modifying the dice. New scholars and bishops provide abilities and end game scoring. New 3×1 building tiles can be purchased for player boards, but come with a prohibitive 4 coin cost.

The Governor Module adds a… governor to each player’s board. The governor starts in the upper left corner of the player board, and moves one space whenever a die is used. Governors activate buildings, gaining resources when they land on buildings, but can move back off later, opening the building up again. Players lose points at game end if the governor has not moved far enough, and gain points if he makes it to the lower right of the board.

The Specialists module adds specialist tiles, which are randomly associated with dice. When the dice are drafted, the player can buy the specialist, gaining resources or buildings, but at a cost. Upgraded buildings are expensive, but players get a discount if they replace another building.

The Ambassador Module changes the dice mechanic of the game slightly. Players start with less dice, but there are 2 ambassador dice available each round, one white and one blue. These special dice can be drafted, but all players will be able to use the number when one player drafts. The drafting player is the only one able to modify the die number.

The Mayan Module is by far the most involved. With this addition, the game can play up to 5 players, with one player taking on the role of the native Mayans. The Mayan City has curving roads for each drafted die, rather than the regimented grid of the standard player boards. Mayans have several changes to their game play, and their main goal is to use resources to build multi-level pyramids. The higher the pyramid (up to 3 levels) the more points they earn. Additionally, the Mayan player has a hand of cards for trading with players, changing resources, and generally getting their monuments built. The game even changes the conquistador track, adding a back and forth of Mayans gaining gold and conquistadors stealing the gold from the Mayan player.

Finally, the Kickstarter Campaign also contains a mini-expansion for the original game, the Exploration deck. This deck provides 5 nationalities with varied starting resources for each player, and 21 achievement cards with secret player goals.

The Kickstarter Campaign for Santa Maria: American Kingdoms is set to continue through November 11, and the game should deliver in March 2019.

 

If you like take-that style games, tile laying, wild treasure hunting adventure, and/or mazes, Centershaft: Fallen Elements could be a game for you, and it’s seeking funding right now on Kickstarter. Designed by George and Hattie Anthony, with art by Tyler Johnson, this game pits 2 to 4 players against one another in a rat race to find four elemental gems and leave via the hub tile. Yet this maze is dangerous, as it’s filled with dangerous natives, guardians, and is constantly being twisted and trapped by everyone involved. Featuring excellent hand-crafted illustrations, premium components, and miniatures,

     “The four opportunists must venture, not fully aware of the dangers, into a subterranean labyrinth. Seeking what they believe are rare gems, they soon discover the stones contain elemental powers. Threatened, they find themselves maneuvering quickly through warp portals, battling natives, and avoiding traps in an ever-changing maze. […] Be mindful. Opponents enamored with obtaining the power of the gemstones will stop at nothing to take what you’ve got. Remember to journal each elemental landmark and track your steps wisely… the path back to the Centershaft may not be as easy to return!”

There’s a lot of familiar elements within this game that remind me of another fan-favorite, maze-crawling, take-that game – Fantasy Flight’s Wiz War. I have a lot of fond memories playing it many years ago, laying traps to stifle people, threatening the game state by picking up a treasure nobody expected, and rotating tiles to alter the maze in zany ways. Centershaft echos a lot of those things, but with a much more dynamic tile-driven grid filled with suspense and external threats that can shift and evolve in many more organic ways than Wiz War could have imagined. If you are interested in learning more about Centershaft, check out the Kickstarter campaign page for plenty of video previews, complete rules, FAQs, and updates!

Lookout Games have announced the publication of the second expansion to the 2016 Kennerspiel des Jahres Winner, Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King. Isle of Skye: Druids is designed by the game’s original designers, Andreas Pelikan, and Alexander Pfister, with art by Klemens Franz. In Isle of Skye, players are chieftains of famous clans who are trying to build the greatest kingdom, in the form of laying tiles, scoring as many points as possible.

“One cannot win the struggle for dominance over the island without powerful allies. As every wise king knows, power is not measured in strength and gold alone. Having the support of the spiritual leaders of the country can be the decisive factor. Win the druids over to your cause, and harness the power of their mystical sacred sites for your benefit!” [source]

Unlike Isle of Skye: Journeyman, Isle of Skye: Druids doesn’t add any new mechanisms but instead splits the buying phase into two buying sessions. In the first phase, players can buy tiles from other players (as per normal), but in the second phase they’ll be able to buy from the dolmen board. These are normal, landscape tiles but they may have a tablet or scroll on them. Tablets grant special effects until the end of the game while scrolls follow the usual rules of the game. New scoring tiles have also been added.

The expansion retains the same player count, 2-5, as the base game and plays in roughly 60-75 mins. According to the Lookout Games website, Isle of Skye: Druids is expected to release either August or September 2018.

If you love the smell of burning cottages in the morning, you’ve finally got the chance to burninate the universe with your favorite one-armed dragon in in Trogdor!! The Board Game. Fans of the web comic series Homestar Runner will get their fix of mayhem and destruction in a new game designed by James Earnest of Cheapass Games and the creators of Homestar Runner.

Starring Trogdor, the game is for 2 to 6 players who will cooperate to use the Wingaling dragon and cultist helpers to destroy the kingdom of Pleasantry by burning the cottages… and villagers. The playing field is a set of tiles laid out randomly each game. The players assume the role of the cultists who want to help Trogdor achieve this destruction.  Each of the cultist ‘creepos’ has a different player power, such as moving in a different directly or taking a unique action.

Does this sound too easy?  Well, there are also knights that are there to protect the villagers and make it much more difficult to torch things freely.  Burninating the universe  takes 30 to 45 minutes, making burninating much faster than most other methods of destruction.

The Kickstarter includes multiple backer levels that provide upgrades from wooden meeples to plastic minis and several options for deluxe (very deluxe!) storage boxes.

See the Kickstarter page and the BGG entry for more information.

Fasten your seatbelt and get ready to shift into high gear! Getaway Driver will put you in the hot seat of a high speed chase. In this two-player, asymmetrical game, take on the role of the getaway driver and pull out all the right moves to outrun the police. Or, save the day as you coordinate the police effort to stop that crazy driver in her tracks.

From the creative minds of Jeff Beck and Ryan Goldsberry, who brought you Word Domination and Hardback, this fast-paced game lets you build the city by placing tiles as you play. Prepare yourself for all new art work from Ryan Goldsberry from the Burgle Bros universe on each card and tile. Getaway Driver sets up in as little as 3 minutes, plays in 30-45 minutes, and is easy to take with you on the go! This game is looking for drivers aged 12 and up.

Uniqueness and Fun in One Little Package

Getaway Driver can be played anywhere and takes your natural location into account as you build the city. Your coffee mug becomes a lake. Don’t get too close to the edge of the table or you’ll fall off a cliff. As the driver, you fly around the city trying to collect stash scattered around. But watch out, the police could be tailing you, and they’ll move as you move and set up barriers to stop you from escaping the city. Use stunt cards to jump a ramp and land just out of the police’s reach or lead them straight into a hazard!

Getaway Driver is a tense and strategic game. Each turn, the Police secretly build out the city and move their vehicles, working to corner the Driver and steer them towards the areas of the city that expand the police force…  If the last city tile is placed, the Driver escapes out of town. However, if the police increase the pursuit meter to its final space, the Driver is caught.”

So what are you waiting for? Hit the gas and head over to this Kickstarter now!

 

Renegade Game Studios will be releasing a new dexterity game in September that is all about cats and explosives… but has nothing to do with that other game about explosive felines.  A new addition to the collection of pet-themed games by artist and designer Aza ChenFireworks! pits one cute little Anime-style cat against another in an effort to create the best pyrotechnic display. To create the display, you ‘launch’ a die into the game box full of tiles using a cute decorative dice cup.  The die (hopefully) flips over several tiles and the pips on the die tell you how many of the revealed tiles you can take to place on your player mat. End game points are awarded based upon the number and completeness of the bursts that you have placed.

Fireworks! plays 2-4 players in about 20 minutes and is recommended for ages six and up. Fireworks! will retail for around $25 U.S and will be available starting in September, but the studio is taking pre-orders now for pickup at Essen.

For more information, visit the Renegade Game Studios product page.

Nintendo Switch is not currently a haven for playing modern board games, with available options topping out with titles like Othello and Monopoly. Yet, the hybridization of being able to play both at home and on the go with a Nintendo Switch could be a game changer with the right titles…

Enter Carcassonne – Asmodee Digital announced that it will be bring the fan-favorite Klaus-Jürgen Wrede game Carcassonne to the Switch platform during the winter quarter of this year, and while Carcassonne is already available digitally, the Switch platform has advantages that many gamers will find appealing over a phone app or Steam-based computer game. For one thing, the Switch screen is much bigger than an average cell phone, and physical Switch physical games are easy to trade or share. Also, players on the whole are more likely to play local couch co-op on a TV screen via a console, rather than on PC.

For those unfamiliar with the game from 2000 that started all of this excitement, check out its BGG page, but here is the quickest summation: Carcassonne is an easy to play, hard to master tile-laying game for 2-5  players in which over the course of 30 minutes or so you will be making decisions on to best control and influence the outcomes of different areas of tiles. Placing on the road as a robber, or cloistered away as a monk are two of the roles players can assign their people (called meeples) to in order to score the most points across the southern France landscape and claim victory!

But the Nintendo Switch and designer board game pairing likely does not start and end with Carcassonne…

quoting Pierre Ortolan, CEO of Asmodee Digital,

“Carcassonne is the first Asmodee Digital title of many to follow on Nintendo’s platforms.” 

Thus leading one to believe that Asmodee Digital would likely bring over the other titles that have already been crafted digitally on other platforms, such as: fellow gateway game Ticket to Ride, award-winning Terraforming Mars, and recent mega-hit Scythe. With these titles stemming from a single developer, it would already be a solid foothold for modern board games on a current generation video game console, and it would be easy to envision makers of other digital board game implementations also porting over their creations, such as: Alhambra, Kingdom Builder, Splendor, or Small World.

As a fan of digital board gaming, watching the video on Paste Magazine’s article got my meeple heart beating hard to lay down some farmers for the win.

 

Warsaw: City of Ruins, or Capital if you are buying the Granna edition of the game, is a game all about building and rebuilding the war ravaged city of Warsaw.  If you go to modern day Warsaw you will see that the city is an amalgamation of older buildings, modern buildings, socialist blocks, and more all jammed together in one area.  This makes things look like a mess but also speaks to the people’s resilience as parts of the city got destroyed in each world war.  In the game  Warsaw: City of Ruins you will be playing a tile laying game to build up, and then rebuild your city over the span of six rounds called epochs.  In each round everyone will get a hand of tiles that they will draft from, and once they pick a tile they can either pay it’s cost and build it, or turn it in for some money to be able to build tiles later.  At the end of the round each player’s city will activate and give out points and money based on which buildings you built.  At the end of third and fourth rounds though is when war comes and ravages parts of your city, so make sure to prepare for it.  At the end of the game it will be the person with the most points that will be the winner.

The art of the game is pretty minimal with the city blocks having  having clear colors and icons, and the monument tiles are photos of the actual monuments.  Also if the gameplay sounds family, that is because it plays similar to other drafting, city building games like Fields of Green or Among the Stars, but some new mechanics added in make this game stand out as a unique entry.  If you are going to Origins you will be able to check this game out there, if not then you will just have to wait for it to hit store shelves in August.  Either way you can check out North Star Games’ facebook page for more information.