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Monthly Archives: October 2017

Essen Spiel 17 Highlight Preview Part 3

Next on our list for Essen 17 releases, some new games that come from what you might already know it before, and some do not. Without further ado, here you go.

pic3464108_mdPALACE OF MAD KING LUDWIG
After moving on from The Castle of Mad King Ludwig, Ted Alspach (One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Werewords, Werebeasts, Colony, Suburbia and etc) redesigns it to a new game with the same theme but quite different game play. Now in this game, players do not have a personal castle to build but they share the same palace and in turn placing tiles from the display into it or placing tiles to their player board. Okay, the offering mechanic is no longer used, but instead players buy tiles from the display by paying money (or swan tokens) and then place it adjacent on one of the tiles already placed. When placing a tile players get a swan token if the color match and then if the room is complete (all the entrances are connected with another room) it is scored. Players build the palace together, so there will be some take that to block opponents scoring chances. It looks fiddly with all the player tokens, flipping them on the board. So if you guys are into it, make sure check it out.
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pic3339551CENTURY SPICE ROAD
If you like Splendor, you might want to check this out. Designed by Emerson Matsuuchi, Century Spice road is an Euro with strong abstract element, where players play cards to get spice cubes and use that cubes to get more cards and eventually scoring cards. It plays very quick and simple, definitely has rules has can be explained under 5-minutes. The game is supposed to be the first part of a three series under the Century line, which those parts can be used interchangeably. The next two parts are not yet announced though. Another thing is that the game comes with plastic bowl for spice cubes. Though they also has dedicated game mat but not include in the base game (which makes the game only consists of 4 plastic bowls, cards and cubes. If you like Splendor, this might be right down your alley, or it could be better than Splendor.
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pic3767148_md-2NORIA
This is the first game from designer Sophia Wagner, which she developed together with its illustrators Michael Menzel and Klemens Franz. It sets in a steampunk world where the city is floating on the sky. This one is surely one of the most interesting games from Essen 2017, mainly because it has a new unique component called the wheel, hence the game is using it as the main mechanic, the wheel building mechanic. In the game players will have in front of them, a player board with a wheel consists of 3 rings (small, medium and large) stacked together with several disc slots on them. This component is very essential element during the game. At the start of the game, players will have only a few of the slots on their wheel equipped with action discs. There are several (8) type of actions on the game and players will try to build their wheel with the combination of these actions. Activating these discs will allow players to get some resources, take actions on the board and improve their wheels altogether to create more efficient wheel engine that they would possibly want.  As the game progresses, players will take actions differently which lead their wheels and goals to be quite different (or not) which lead them to choose differently each time they take their turns.  The goal of the game is (of course) most points by the end of game (fixed rounds based on number of players) and  this is done by multiplier from the six paths available. You move up your ambassador and work to improve the track value in order to score big. To move up in the paths you need resources (its a resource conversion game). There are different resources in the game, from the basic to more complex types, which are used to get your ambassador move up in the tracks.
I found the game to be interesting, lots of new choices, it has strong programming element in the game with all the actions on the wheel. So if you are into programming, you might like this one. I just kinda slightly disappointed with Menzel’s involvement in developing the game (expecting that he’s not just doing the art) more than just creating a visual aspect of the game which is amazing. I feel the game is a bit dry to what you expect from that kind of amazing illustrations, there’s no thematic ties with the game.
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pic3584961_md10 MINUTE HEIST: THE WIZARD’S TOWER
Lets change the menu for a bit, this time it’s a 10-minutes game, called 10 Minute Heist: The Wizard’s Tower. Its a small game of set collection, card drafting and modular board with a fantasy theme (a hint) designed by Nick Sibbicky. Players are thieves trying to steal treasures from the wizard’s tower (Fools? Well maybe there are valuable treasures inside). Players will take turns to move from room to room starting from the top floor (yes, they enter the tower from the roof). From then they will choose which room to visit and take the treasure there. On players’ turn, they either choose to haul a treasure or exit the tower. If you choose to haul, you can take a card from the same level (row) or the card below your marker is. After taking the card, move your marker on the card’s space. If there’s a power in that card, resolve it immediately (you cannot take the card if you cannot complete the power. The card taken is placed in front of you and it will be scored at the end of the game. It’s a set collection game where you will collect different number of treasure types. At the end of the game, players reveal their face down cards and do the score tiles. The game also has different modes to play, if your group needs challenge, you can do drafting with the starting light card in players’ hands. This will create tension and small deduction element whether what card your opponents choose.
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pic3485529RED SCARE
This one is a social deduction game like The Resistance with a unique twist, yeah the twist is that the game is using decoder glasses (you know, like the old style 3D movie glasses made from paper, blue and red plastic screens. You can play with 4-10 players with this game and as you can guess with that amount of players and the nature of the game, it plays quite fast (around 30 mins). So in the game, players will become the agent from Soviet or Patriot based on their alignment cards given at the start of the game. Half of the players also given decoder glasses. They also get 3 citizen cards from the draw pile. The goal of the game is to get as many as points by exonerate citizens of the same side or exonerate the opposition citizens. But the twist in the game lies on the citizen cards. The citizen cards have different settings. The cards have 2 parts, JUDGE and ID parts, and these parts also have symbol on which players can see these parts (players with decoder or without decoder). During a player’s turn that player may choose to do an action or pass. The available action is ID, TRADE or JUDGE. When taking an ID Action, that player may show their citizen cards to another player to ID. Basically they show these cards to the player that’s in opposite view ability than He is. If he’s using a decoder glass, he showed the cards to player without the glass and vice versa. This is done because there are cards with ID part having a glass or without glass icon, which means a player without a decoder glass cannot cards with ID part showing only an eye symbol. But that player can JUDGE these cards (always in the opposite situation). The player that was shown the cards to ID must identify the cards, but He may not telling the truth depends on his alignment. TRADE action can be taken by trade some of the cards in hand with someone else with the condition that the other player agree to take that trade and trade the same amount of cards. When taking a JUDGE action, players must be able to JUDGE all 3 cards on their hand, meaning if he wore a decoder glass, the 3 cards must have a JUDGE part showing a decoder icon on the. To JUGDE, that players decide whether to exonerate those 3 cards or deport. The game ends when the JUDGE markers are already used a number of times or when a player Accuse. All the judged citizen cards are scored based on their identities and the track is adjusted.  Accuse is an action taken from out of player’s turn. This may only be taken once the accuse countdown token is already revealed. The player who accuse must accuse 3 alignments, Soviet, Patriot and Unaligned (only used when there is an odd-numbered of players). If guessed correctly each alignment give 1 point to the accuser alignment, but -2 points if the guess is incorrect.The game also has a special mode that adding another element into the game, which is profession cards. These cards give players special abilities that they can use based on the requirement listed on the cards.  I am quite interested on this one and would love to try. The concept is good but not sure it really works. Since the players who wear decoder glass can peek outside the glass to know things that they shouldn’t make the game has high chance to miss. That’s why I need to try it first to make sure of this.
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pic3592167_mdCUSTOM HEROES
This game is designed by the guy who also designs Downfall (which is currently on Kickstarter right now), John D. Clair. As you can see that the title has a big Japanese characters on it instead of the English title, this is because the game is currently one of the games in AEG’s Big In Japan lineup. And I don’t really know why they place this game into this lineup since the designer himself is apparently not a Japanese, maybe the Anime thingy for the theme? Unlikely.  But anyway, let’s ignore that and go to the game. It has very interesting components (though not the first), which is plastic cards. Already used in Gloom, the card game that first using this kind of components where players stack cards on top of other cards to get different effects. The different is that players stack /overlay their cards and keep it in their hands. So the game comes with enough special sleeves that work as a carrier for stacked cards (easier to handle). In this game players will have to get rid of cards from their hand as fast as possible. While at first the game comes as trick taking game, it’s not. It’s a ladder climbing game such as Tichu or Maskmen. The starting player will start the round by playing a set of cards (can be 1 or 2 or 3 of one kind) and the next player must be able to play the same value of that set or higher. If he couldn’t, he must pass. The player wins for the turn will lead new turn. Once a player discards all cards from his hand, the round is over and deal scorings. What interesting about this game is that players can customize and modify their cards by stacking other cards into another card (inside the sleeve). This allows player to modify the value of that cards or maybe give special abilities. Quite interesting (just picture Gloom if you know that game) right? But that’s not all, since each round all cards are discarded, players will start the new round with all different cards in their hands, this might lead that your cards in previous round (the one that you modified) might be end up in other player’s hand in the next round or subsequent rounds. Player wins the game by collecting 10 points.
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Okay, enough for now. Again I need to research more.
So happy hunting for new games, until next time with more new exciting games.

Disclaimer: all of the images shown are taken from boardgamegeek.com and the credits go the owners, I do not have the rights for all the images.

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Posted by on October 30, 2017 in Article, Board Games, Insight, Previews

 

Essen 2017 Highlights Preview – Part 2

Following the previous one, here is part two of Essen 2017 Highlights Preview. Last time I showed you some good games that you would probably like, and now I hope you would like my next picks. Without further ado, let’s start with,

pic3489147FLIPSHIPS
It’s designed by Kane Klenko (Covert, FUSE, Flatline and etc) and illustrated by Kwanchai Moriya. The game is practically Space Invaders: The Board Game. Yup, you and you partners will team up (okay it also has competitive mode) and defend the city against hordes of alien ships invasion just like the video game. What makes this game unique is that you need to flip your ships out to the outer space in order to shoot (more like a kamikaze move there) the enemies. Yes, you can flip the ship token (it’s made of cardboard in case you are wondering) from the edge of the table or they provide you with a wooden base to put your ship as a launch pad of some sort. The enemies are cards, form in rows and columns, they have different abilities. But the real deal is the mothership. The mothership is the boss, if you and your friends cannot defeat it before the deck runs out, you’re practically dead (it gives you 20 damage points). Worry not, you have plenty things to use in your disposal such as different level ships with different abilities and the game difficulties can be adjusted to players liking. In order to unlock the different levels, players need to trigger the condition, which usually from the City defense track. I think the game is very interesting, action dexterity game with nostalgic feeling where you flick ships to defeat enemy. I know like other dexterity games, it has 50/50 chance that it could be a hit or miss game. But even players with lousy flicking skill could improve with experiences and strong will. Hope you do not give up with one try if you perform badly flicking you ships. All in all, the game is super fun for friends, family and children alike.
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pic3611025_lgSANTA MARIA
The duo Eilif Svensson and Kristian Amundsen Østby are back with their latest game called Santa Maria. This game is still using the core concept from their previous games, Doodle City and Avenue. Imagine a city building game with placing tiles in grid spaces and dice placement to activate buildings in a column or row. The game plays over 3 rounds and in each turn, players will take one of the 3 available actions, expand, activate a building, activate a row/column or retire / withdraw from the round. Expand action gives you more space to work on your colony than you can use to activate. They usually produce resources or other things when activated. Players also has the choice to use an available die to activate a column or use their own blue die to activate one row. The twist is that after activating the row or column, the die used is placed on the last vacant building in that row / column. This building, cannot be activated again in subsequent turn. So players need to be careful and consider this factor in their actions. It has good variations in the game which is a plus. Plays very relatively quickly and falls into light-medium Euro category. There are a bit of set collection, resource management, tile laying, and dice placement in the game. The artworks are good and very friendly, it’s definitely worth checking out.
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pic3671706_mdALIEN ARTIFACTS
Is a new release game from Portal games. Designed by relatively new designers, Marcin Ropka and Viola Kijowska (Taste of Poland). The game take the theme of a space 4X card game. Players will have a character which gives them variable player powers and starting tableau. It is a tableau building game, with the similar feel of Imperial Settlers. Each player has a player board in the table, which separates 2 sides of their table, left and right. The left side is used to place cards that is not yet come into play (under construction or some sort) and the right side is for cards that are already built. The cards have three different types, Ships, Technology and Planets. And the unique about this game is that these cards can be used in two ways, Logistic and Operational. Logistic has an orientation of giving benefits during the game, where Operational mostly gives more ways to score points. From the logistic side, Ships increase the assembly limit, Technologies give you cool abilities while Planets gives you more extra resources. On the Operational side, ships allow players to attack Alien ships, Technologies give players more ways to score points and Planets produce resource cards. I find these flexibilities unique and can provide different strategy and ways to play. The game looks great, it has resource engine, tableau building, variable player powers and that 4X feels in it. I think they kinda look unattractive with the art direction, white dominant background with minimum icons and colors. The objects are not really standout as oppose with the white and clear background, it’s less evoking. But hey, they actually have really cool illustrations if you look closer.
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pic3443532_mdPRINCESS JING
Is a 2-players game from Roberto Fraga (Captain Sonar, DR. Eureka, Doctor Panic, Spinderella and etc). Its a nice looking deduction game / hide and seek game where one players will be the Princess Jing and other player as guards. In the story (I hope I am correct) that Princess Jing needs to escape from the palace and in order to do that, she needs to evade all the guards chasing her with the help of the pillars and her assistants. The game uses interesting mirror reflection (yes, there will be a working mirror component in the game that is used to search the princess). Players will sit in two opposite sides, and Princess Jing can hide herself behind the pillars as she moves which cannot be seen from her opponent’s side. The guards need to make a smart deduction, cover some areas to corner the princess while also placing the mirror to locate the princess. While the princess is not by herself, she has help from her assistant that will act as a decoy for the guards. The game is very unique take on deduction element while incorporating interesting component into the game which formed a nice simple hide and seek game. It plays relatively quick and simple. Sadly, the publisher (Matagot) claimed that it’s not yet ready for Essen 2017 and they only have demoes for it. So while you still have to wait to get it, maybe putting it on your wishlist would be enough to make you wagging your tail, or not.
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pic3534426_mdMINI PARK
This one comes from Taiwan BG Design (which represents SoSo games). They have nice looking titles for Essen 2017 releases and this one looks cute and attractive in such a very simple way. It’s colorful (greens and other colors). The game objective is about building park and score points from it. The game is simple, on their turn players choose whether to place a tile or a character. To place a tile, they take from the available two tiles in the display or take the top most face down tile from the draw pile. Place it adjacent with the existing tiles on the table. The roads on the tile must be connected and cannot be blocked. That player will get 1 points for each tile connected to the newly placed tile. Or they can place an available character from the display into one of the tile already in played. This is for scoring more points based on the park condition. The game comes in 2 different modes, basic and advance. As in advance mode, more complex elements are introduced into the game such as the placing character action will gives an end game scoring opportunity. And players are able to take this action a few times based on number of players while in the basic mode, only once. So the nature of the game is about building park together with other players while watching carefully when to take the action to score with a character. The characters scored differently based on different elements available on the park, while these will determine what players are after to score during the game. In short it is a racing game to score first while trying to score big. If you score too early in defense getting it before someone else, you might score small, while if you trying to hold back and score late in the game, other players might probably take that chance away. It’s an interesting game for sure, simple but creates a growing tension between players, which also gives precedence that this game has a strong take that feel since once your scoring chance is taken, your plan is blown and have to take the plan B instead. The game has a small box and everything is small, but it has some nice looking shaped wooden characters in it.
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Well enough for now, hope these nutritions fit you well to get through today. I personally waiting for Princess Jing, want to try Alien Artifacts with that cool looking card uses. Mini Park is a nice addition for what it is, and definitely getting Flipships, while still on the fence for Santa Maria concerning how the game really fit into the theme and replay value. Until next time with more new releases games straight from Essen 2017.

Disclaimer: all of the images shown are taken from boardgamegeek.com and the credits go the owners, I do not have the rights for all the images.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2017 in Article, Events, Insight, Previews

 

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Essen 2017 Highlights Preview – Part 1

I’m trying my best to cover as many games I can in the wake of Essen Spiel 2017 so you can get better preview on what games interest you more and what you should be getting.
I’m starting with part one, which covers some of the games. Be sure to check out more parts along the way after this one.

ClaimCLAIM
Okay this one is a small game, it’s a 2-players game to be exact. Claim is designed by Scott Almes (Best Treehouse Ever, Coaster Park, The Great Dinosaur Rush, etc) and consists of two different halves like For Sale or Biblios. It’s a trick taking game where players decide to play a card to win another card in display. Players with the highest suit win the round and each suit has slight abilities that matters on timing. Like any other trick taking game, the other player must follow suit if they have or use a specific card that can break the suit. After collecting the cards, they will use those cards to gain favor of the suits / factions. In the end the scoring uses majority in each faction. It plays quick and simple, and the artworks are also look very good, done by The Mico (Raiders of the North Sea, GOT Hand of The King, etc).

pic3584297_mdMICHAEL STROGOFF
I am really excited about this one. It is based on novel adaptation from Jules Verne with the same title. In the game, players have to deliver the message of an imminent Tartar invasion over Moscow. It’s simply a racing game, player who managed to get into the destination and defeat the traitor Ivan Ogareff before He successfully invades Russia with Tartar’s army, wins the game. The game plays in rounds where each round players will take turns to do one of the possible action (advance, rest and resolve dangers) followed by the movement of the traitor. Players need to advance in order to get into the destination, but advance will force them to encounter many events in the route which usually have bad things on them. The route cards work in similar with trial cards in The Grizzled where the same danger icons cannot be present. If there are more than one icon present during this time, they have to bear the penalties where all route cards player has in their display, forcing the players to discard action cards or lose energies and flip route cards face down. Here comes the rest action where players can draw cards, recover energy or flip a face down card. The other action is resolve dangers where players need to deal with the dangers on their route cards shown in their tableau.
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MontanaMONTANA
The game is about building settlements in Montana (obvious to the max) from Rudiger Dorn (Istanbul, Karuba, Jambo, etc). So as expected it’s a Euro game, medium weight to be precise. This is another racing game, where player who manage to build all of their settlements, wins the game. In this game, players will take turns to get workers, assign those workers to get resources. Where these resources will be used to build settlement. It has modular board setup with networking in the tile laying mechanic, resource management and worker placement and a small bit of auction in the worker placement segment. What unique about this game is that there are multiple types of workers and they do different things, and the main way players to get workers is through the spinner. Yes it’s like a luck-based rondel system where players spin the arrows in the wheel and see what workers they got. The component quality is good, each player gets their own player board to manage their workers and resources (not necessary but a plus) and the visual presentation is off the chart, it is beautiful and rich of colors. It plays relatively quick and the rules are clear and simple. But the main concern is that I think it has low replay value, where players are obviously do the same thing over and over again without any significant difference in each game. The modular board during setup doesn’t help cause it just gives variation but doesn’t change the game play even a bit.
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ora01_box_leftLEGACY OF DRAGONHOLT
FFG latest game, they claimed it RPG without the need of a game master. Their new Oracle system provides the game that works without a game master, with its intuitive game play capturing immersive storytelling of a role playing game while adding the legacy mechanic inside the game. In short, they want to look cool with this new called system as it is practically a legacy game. It has character creations in it, some scenarios and mostly books full of paragraphs.
Corey Konieczka is the man behind the game, who also designed some notable games from FFG (Rune Age, Battlestar Galactica, Runewars, etc). I must say that I am interested on this one, surprisingly it still doesn’t have a listing on BGG. FFG announced it will be available in late 2017. I am not sure this will be on Essen 2017, but it’s new and was on Gen Con, so I just thought that this would be interesting to wait and look for.
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Ex LibrisEX LIBRIS
Adam P. McIver (Coin Age, Kingdom Land) new game, called Ex Libris. In this game players will become book collectors and in the event of Grand Librarian held by the city, you must show that you are the greatest one in the city. So in this game players will manage their book shelves with a series of books and score points from them. The game has worker placement mechanic where players sent the workers into places in the city in order get books that you want. In the end players will score based on the alphabetic order of their book shelves, variety and banned books.
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The game surely gets more interesting with variable player power instead of the basic mode. What more unique is that these variable player powers grant players with specific shaped worker meeples. By golly they have a gelatinous cube as a meeple (yes, it’s true). The gelatinous cube assistant meeple is in fact literally a gelatinous cube. It also has a snowman, but who can top a gelatinous cube meeple? I find the game to be quite interesting, finding and sorting stuff. But there are some detriments in the game, like aside the game has a very good range distribution of books category, nice clear category icons, beautiful artworks and flavors in it, sadly it has a bad in-game texts that hard to read. A classic mistake to place a white small texts in front of a colorful illustrations. Players will constantly check these texts to know what exactly the actions and how it works since the game play requires the routine rotation of the action tiles. And about the variable player powers, they seemed not balanced and also there are quite a bit of luck on the draw of the cards.
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pic3712277_mdCOASTER PARK
Another game from Scott Almes (Best Treehouse Ever, Claim, The Great Dinosaur Rush, etc). In this game, players build roller coaster park, the best on wins the game. The main attraction of this game is the 3D card board pieces of roller coaster. Yes, you actually build roller coaster rides from tiles. It uses the similar mechanic in The Castles of Mad King Ludwig, where the active player choose a tile and offer the tiles to other players with certain amount of value. If there’s a player interested on that tile, they pay that amount of money to the active player. If no one interested, the active player get the tile. Some tiles have different effect in scoring and at the end of the game, before scoring, players will get maximum three attempts to see if their ride is totally works or not. Yes, you will check if your coaster works or not by testing it. Each player has a marble which used as a roller coaster cart and they will let the marble slide from the top. This is a very unique take from the game, and while there’s a loop part of the coaster, it can really work to make the marble circle 360 degrees. Very interesting game indeed and of course the presentation off the chart. No one will not see this on the table.
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Disclaimer: all of the images shown are taken from boardgamegeek.com and the credits go the owners, I do not have the rights for all the images.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2017 in Events, Insight, Previews

 

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