Trick Taking Games

Tasty Minstrel Games has announced an absolute metric tonne of games slated for release in the following months: some new, some reprints, and some just plain interesting. So without further ado, here is the list…

“Planet Earth is overpopulated, but recent technological developments open new possibilities – whole cities hovering high in the skies.”

Dilluvia Project, a game declared “awesome” by our own Jason Levine, is a heavy euro game from designer Alexandre Garcia, originally published by Spielworxx in 2015. Dilluvia is a glorious amalgamation of mechanisms, all coming together into a resource collection, cube management, area control festival where 2-4 players try to best manage a utopian flying city. Players jockey for position around a 4×4 grid of tiles, trying to secure the best resources by pointing to rows and columns. Cube collection leads to control of prime real estate in the city, in which buildings can be placed for points. Even the score mechanisms are unique, with “prestige points” giving the player more opportunity to earn true victory points in this deliciously crunchy mechanism salad. Look for Dilluvia Project to be reprinted this August.

“The journey out west was daunting and fraught with peril, but you made it!”

Old West Empresario from designer Stan Kordonskiy (Dice Hospital) is a tile drafting and placement game for 2-4 players. Tiles can give the player actions each turn, or can score points at the end of the game. Like other tile placement games, everyone is trying to create a prosperous town, where neighboring buildings feed off of each other, generating more points. Look for Old West Empresario to hit stores at the end of August.

Homesteaders is a fast auction game from designer Alex Rockwell, which has garnered understandable love since its release in 2009. TMG has announced a new 10th anniversary edition of this classic, including a new expansion, New Beginnings. In Homesteaders, 2-4 players auction for buildings to place in their burgeoning western frontier town, managing precious resources (9 different types!). Buildings give the player new abilities, income, and point generation, however some buildings require workers to fully function. After 10 rounds, the player with the most points is declared victor, and gets to name their city. The new Homesteaders comes with metal coins and victory point tokens, 53 building tiles, 30 auction tiles, 25 worker meeples, 74 wooden resources, and even a metal start player token.

The new expansion adds a 5th player, more buildings, auctions and components. Look for Homesteaders 10th Anniversary and the New Beginnings expansion in late September.

“Cats all over the world look forward to the Festival!”

Festival of a Thousand Cats from designer Fukutarou is a trick taking card game originally from Japan, which is sought after but difficult to obtain in the west. Tasty Minstrel has gotten the rights to reprint this quirky game, and it should hit western shores in late September. Cards have ranging number values, come in 4 different suits/seasons, and can score positive or negative points. 2 cards to be fought over are placed in the center of the play area, and these cards may have crows (negative points), fish, or milké (an intoxicating mixture of catnip and milk). Be careful – winning too much milké makes the cats sick and both fish and milké points are lost. Players each play one card from their hand, but cannot play the same suits as the scoring cards, unless there is no other option. After all players put in a card, the highest card played wins the higher of the 2 scoring cards, and the lowest wins the lower of the scoring cards. Add to this formula a varying distribution of numbers in each suit, and you end up with a very quirky, interesting take on trick taking.

“Stake your claim, build a mining empire, and keep one step ahead of the competition!”

Rolled West from designer Daniel Newman is the new inevitable roll-and-write version of TMG’s popular Gold West (2015) from J. Alex Kevern. In Rolled West, 2-4 players roll dice to collect resources, in order to make settlements and score majorities for the various terrain types. Players can bank resources on opponent’s turns, fulfill contracts, make sales, or invest in futures. The game comes with 4 custom dice, 4 dry erase player boards, a dry erase score board, and markers.

“Deep beneath the surface of the earth lie gems, artifacts, and other valuable things.”

Big Dig by Shaun Graham and Scott Huntington is a similar 2-4 player flip-and-write, dry erase game, where players flip over cards that dictate what shape of grid squares to cross off (dig) on their board. Digging out areas must proceed from the top or from already cleared areas, and certain areas cannot be excavated, except maybe by blowing them up! Players try to achieve the 3 random goals set on cards, and the first to do so wins. Lots of goals and double sided player boards lend variety to this new roll and write. Look for both Rolled West and Big Dig to come to stores in October 2019.

“Your prehistoric clan needs a little guidance. Hunt, gather, figure out new techniques for doing things and make a little art along the way!”

Dawn of Mankind is coming from designer Marco Pranzo (Historia) and acclaimed artist Kwanchai Moriya. Not a lot of details are known about this title, except that players create the journey of their tribe, involving generations of families. Other players may inadvertently help you along if they proceed along the same story path. At the end of the game, the “story” left by your family translates into points. Dawn of Mankind is due to hit stores in Q4 2019.

Curtiss Patrick and Danger Games have started a Kickstarter Campaign for Rainbow: The Trick Taking Poker Game. In Rainbow, 2-5 players use an 80 card deck consisting of values from 10 to Ace, in 5 colors, plus wild cards. Players each receive a hand of 15 cards, which they need to organize into poker hand “tricks” of 2, 3, 4, and 5 cards, culminating in a final single card play. Tricks can be the classic flush, straight, full house, three- and four-of-a-kind, etc., but most must consist of a single color, with color acting as a final trump in ties. Players bid on how many tricks they feel they will win, then play out their hand, with the first player to 11 points winning to game.

“It’s a great game for poker players to learn trick-taking, a wonderful design for trick-taking fans to get an introduction to poker, fantastic for fans of both poker and trick-taking games, and an easy-to-start game for players who have never played poker or trick-taking games”

Rainbow is a fast, easy to learn family trick taking game, and the Kickstarter is set to continue through August 16, 2019. The final game is expected to deliver in January 2020.

Oink Games from Japan is known for small card games which pack a big punch. Past hits from Oink have been the excellent games A Fake Artist Goes to New York, Insider and Deep Sea Adventure. Oink has just announced their next 2 games coming to western shores – Mr. Face by Jun Sasaki and Tricks and the Phantom by Takashi Saito.

Mr. Face is a social guessing game, where players play cards with leading phrases, such as “The clouds look so nice”, or “What is that smell?” One player attempts to build a facial expression on the board with supplied components, representing their phrase card. Afterwards, all players place phrases into the middle. Players then try to guess which odd phrase was the one which inspired the face. Mr. Face can also be played by taking selfies for the facial expressions.

Tricks and the Phantom is a deduction trick-taking game with a tiny deck of only 10 cards. The values and colors of the cards in the deck are known to all, reminiscent of Seiji Kanai‘s megahit microgame Love Letter. Each player plays one of their two cards face down to the middle, but denotes the color of the card by placing a token on the back. Players then try to guess which card is the “culprit” – the highest card. Cards are revealed, and successful guesses earn points, but be careful, several of the cards have special abilities, and the Phantom, the lowest card, can not only pretend to be any color, but also earns points for each other player tricked into incorrectly picking it.

Mr. Face and Tricks and the Phantom should be available in stores in the beginning of August. For more information, check out the Oink Games website here.

Deep Water Games has announced they are bringing the excellent card game Claim (2017) to North America in 2019. Claim, by designer Scott Almes of no tiny fame and artist among artists Mihajlo Dimitrievski, is a 2 player trick taking game played in 2 distinct phases. Players first recruit followers using their hand of cards, which they then play against each other to win favor from the factions of the realm. At the end of the game, whoever has the majority in 3 of the 5 factions wins the game. For more information, check out Deep Water Games’ website here, and look for the game in March 2019.

WizKids has just announced Thrown by designer Adam Porter (Pikoko), a new spin on trick taking games, substituting dice rolling for traditional card play. In Thrown, the lead player rolls 1-3 dice in one of 4 colors. The color of the dice represents the suit played, and players follow the same rules as traditional trick taking games – you must follow suit, the highest of the lead suit wins, and off-suit dice do not count. Players can try for trump if they do not have the proper color, which means rolling a 6 of any color. Thrown also includes cards for player powers, allowing re-rolls, dice flipping, automatically winning with certain rolls, etc. Thrown comes with 40 dice, gold tokens, 26 cards, 4 cubes, and rules, and is scheduled for release in February 2019. For more information, pictures, and rules, check out Wizkid’s webpage here.