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Monthly Archives: October 2018

Essen 2018 Highlight Preview Part 4

I am back with the fourth part of the preview. There are some interesting titles here and some of them are going to be in my collection. Curious what games are those? Just read on!

pic4093955KERO
It’s a 2 player game of Mad Max. The game title is taken from the word of Kerosene, which is a scarce resource in the future. Each player will take the role of a rival clan, struggling to survive and explore new territories. The game lasts for 3 claim rounds, which is determined by the draw pile. Players take turns by fueling up with Kero, roll dice and collect resources to take cards, visit the native tribe or explore new territories. The unique element of the game is the Kero resource which represented by the hourglass timer with the shape of a truck. Each player keeps their trucks for themselves. When fueling up their truck with kero, opponent player will roll 8 dice in real time while the active player hold their truck in an upside down position (truck head downside). When the dice roll shows all fire symbols, the player must stop fuel the truck and place it flat on the table. The player then may spend Jerrycans to add additional dice from the shack to improve their dice results. Once ready, the player place their truck on the table on upright position so the Kero starts flowing and the player rolls their dice. The die is locked if showing a fire symbol. If the player ran out of Kero, they must immediately stop and gets nothing. When the claim card is revealed, the players claim new territories based on area majority. After the third claim card is revealed, players finish the round and check who has the most points. I think the game is quite unique with the hourglass timer and it’s implementation. Having your opponents rolls dice to determine the time for you to fuel your truck is very interesting. If only it is possible to play with more than 2-players.
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The RiverTHE RIVER
In this game, players will place terrain tiles on their river board to generate resources and storage spaces. They also have pioneers that they can assign in worker spaces to gain resources, build buildings, swap resources and gain tiles. It’s a very simple worker placement game, with limited resources in the game. What makes the game unique is the river board owned by each player. Briefly the tile placement is in a 3×4 grid (12 tiles) but the placement is following the river direction, which is from left to right down to left and then lastly, dow to right. This will affect players to gain score based on the terrain type scored per column. Matching terrain tiles from the tile of the top column in each column score points. Not sure the replay value will be good or not. I noticed that each player starting tile is drawn from the stack of tiles, randomized at the beginning. This give me the general overview about the tiles. The tiles are mostly balance, no sense of progression, so you just adding quantity to your board instead of quality. But maybe the game is intended for lighter getaway games.
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pic4308140CARPE DIEM
Another new title from Stefan Feld, which I think a lot more simpler than Forum Trajanum. Carpe Diem sets the game in a medieval Roman civilization, where players play as noble patricians set to build and improve their city districts. The game consists of four phases (7 rounds in each phases) just like in The Castles of Burgundy where they use the term ‘phase’ for ’round’ which sometimes could be misinterpreted by players because of the common use of the term ’rounds’ instead of ‘phases’. In this game, players will move around their marker on a circular (mancala-looking kind of board) spaces to take tiles based on the connected lines of those spaces. These acquired tiles are placed on the player’s board to complete a certain landscape, dwellings, market, bakery and fountain (which have different treatment). Once the mancala out of tiles, the phase is over and scoring begins based on the players’ progresses on Banderole track. Player who advance furthest score first, by placing one of his marker on an empty spot between two scoring cards and score points based on these cards (related with his board). So basically the game has tile placement (like Cottage Garden, Barenpark or the likes), very simple. The art is bad, period. Definitely an abstract, as opposite with the art cover. Not to mention the title is overwhelmingly generic, Carpe Diem, is latin for “Seize The Day” which I could say can be applied to anything, regardless the background setting fo the game.
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pic4220884SPELL SMASHERS
Here we go, a word game. You know that I love word games and I am really excited with this one. I guess there’s nothing new in this except that this is an improved version of Letter Tycoon (not having Letter Tycoon on my collection gives me a good reason to get this). Unlike Letter Tycoon, this game has theme, which players take the roles of heroes who fight monsters by crafting spells. The game has 7 rounds, which in each round there are 3 phases, prepare words, battle monsters and then visit the town. As you might already guessed, players craft letters to make a word (spell) to deal damages to monsters. Letter cards have damage value and type that will affecting the damage total based on the type of monsters. During prepare words phase, players are simultaneously craft a word with letter cards (also with the help of Armor and Weapon cards) and simultaneously reveal their words. Then they check their initiatives (most letters to fewest), longest one will go first and choose which monster they will be battling. After dealing damages, players gain rewards, suffer wound or complete quest based on the monster. Wound works quite unique, where players draw a wound card from the deck and add it to their hand. Wound card can be used to form a word, but generally they’re a combination of letters and harder to form and tricky to use in a word. There are ways to remove wound card, by playing it in a word or by using Shaman ability. During visit town phase, players draw 2 quests and keep one (max 2 quests at any time) and then they can visit 1 building such as Shaman, Tavern, Guild, Armory and Alchemist. It’s a unique take on a word game, the general concept that players can fight any available monster and accumulate damages (basically reducing points in the form of coins) on them is quite tactical. Having that said, this provide piggy-backing feature for players to see which monster is dying so that they can take out, though some might not like this concept. Overall, I definitely getting this game, great word game and illustration by the Mico, really peak my interest.
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pic4215812-2SYMPHONY NO. 9
I found this game by mere chance, and upon looking at the game description, I am interested. It’s a game about classic music composers (like Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and etc). In this game, players are taking the roles of music enthusiasts and will support composer to hold royal concerts. The game lasts for three rounds, where each rounds there will be three phases, Sponsor, Concert and Clean up. During Sponsor phase, players will taking donation cubes three times. These cubes represents reputation of each musician. Players will gain composition tiles from musicians based on the majority of these donation cubes. The movement of these cubes could be fiddly to analyze. After then players will finance the royal concert by spending money (wagering) simultaneously, the total money spent by all players will decide whether the concert is a bust (failure) or a success. The concert can fail because the money gathered is under the minimum value or to much above the maximum value. If it’s a success, there is still 3 levels of concert (low, medium or high). The level will determine which musicians will perform and players will get income based on their donation cubes of that musicians. In the Cleanup phase, musicians might be dead (if there is no longer donation cube in their career track) but their works can still be enjoyed by the public, as their works are immortalized through compositions. Players also have furniture tiles, which they can (at any time) sell to gain more money. But of course, keeping furnitures are essential in the household and give points at the end of the game. At the end of the game, players score points based on the scoring methods available on the game (there are different sets). I think the most interesting part of the game is the wagering part, which it can have different outcomes depends on the players as a group. The second one is the theme is kinda unique. Definitely on my top list.
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First ContactFIRST CONTACT
The first thing I have in mind when I read the rules is Codenames! This game reimplemented the core rules of Codenames into a more interesting game with suitable theme. I actually kinda fond of the theme of first encounter. This is a game of deciphering code of alien (foreign) language, translate them and fulfill the needs. Unlike Codenames, in this game players still divided into teams but, there will be only one winner from each team at the end of game. The background story is really interesting, one team will be earthlings while the other is aliens. Alien had come to ancient Egypt and they want to take things from Egypt civilization to be sold into intergalactic market (you can say it like that). But both Aliens and Egyptians do not understand each other languages and cannot communicate using words. So the earthlings need to find a way to translate the Aliens’s needs and offer it to them.
The general game play is still using codenames core deduction, but I think it has enough similarity as Word Porters as describing the nature of the goods. Basically earthling players need to figure out the symbol of certain characteristic from some goods available, the aliens will assign the symbol based on their interpretation, and what is good they want by drawing some symbols. Then after having enough information, earthling players will offer the goods by voting the requested one. If they are correct, each will get a benevolence token from the Alien player. This game is definitely in my must have list. I might prematurely said this, but this might be Codenames killer.

FuturopiaFUTUROPIA
A new game from Friedemann Friese (you can play solitaire in this one). As the title suggests, this game is about the utopian future, where people want to live leisurely the best they can. For this demand, they need the most sustainable system to accommodate their life and players need to build the fulfilling condo. In the game, players can expand the living quarters of their condo, which can sustain more people (for each people they need to provide their own bed). To sustain their life, people need to work (at first) but they need to improve, meaning let the robot do the work and they can relax and leisurely spend a great life. More needs means more resources, food and energy, to provide these they need generators. To keep the generators running they need to work, or install robots to work the generators, but that also means more energy needed for the robot to operates itself.
I think this is quite interesting, players will need to make a sustainable and profitable engine for their condo. I kinda like the idea and how the game plays. It uses action selection mechanic where each player has a set of 5 action tiles that they can choose for each turn. Chosen action tile is placed face down and cannot be chosen again before they use all the action tiles. So there is a small action programming / planning to take into account.
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pic4244955-2SOLENIA
Solenia is a game of hand and resource management. The premise is simple, each player has the same set of cards ((16) which all of them will be played throughout the game, 1 card per round. They place cards on the board, which consists of 5 pieces of double sided strip tiles (day and Night). There are certain rules about the cards placement, which affecting the position of the giant airship, card adjacency and using resource to lengthen the voyage. What tile the card is placed will determine what kind of effect the players get. If it’s a floating island, they get resources, if it’s a floating city, they must fulfill one of the available delivery tiles (day or night depends on the tile). Acquired delivery tile will be placed on player’s board slot, grating them immediate rewards. When a player plays a value-0 card, then the Giant Airship will move 1 space forward and the cards on the first strip will be resolved and the strip tile is flipped and moved to the back line.
The game is very simple, find ways to collect resources, then spend the resources to fulfill delivery tiles. The concept of day and night is also interesting, because after a cycle, the strip tile will change rom Night to Day or vice versa.
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Note: images are taken from http://www.boardgamegeek.com and full credit to their owner.

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Posted by on October 11, 2018 in Board Games, Insight, Previews

 

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Essen 2018 Highlight Previews Part 3

Back to part three of my Essen 2018 Highlight Previews. There is a long list of new titles and we’ve just scratching the surface, so let’s get down to it and take them all up.

pic4328611SUNFLOWER VALLEY
I bet this genre is on a hype this year. Following the hit trend from Santa Maria La Granja Dice Game, The Castle of Burgundy dice game and many more, this year Essen will be filled with games that involving dice roll with pen and paper such as Railroad Ink Red and Blue, and the another one is Sunflower Valley. The game is targeted for children with bright colorful illustrations and simple game play.  The game play is almost similar like other games of the same type, roll dice, choose a die and draw it on a sheet. Very simple idea, but apparently it’s not wholly simple for children to build good-score network of sheeps, houses and sunflowers. It requires a good deal of logic to connect these hexes in order to score good points. The game provides a ruleset for playing with younger players, which count adjacency placement instead connecting with railroads. I found the game to be cute, but not really think it would overstay its welcome.
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pic4285717BETWEEN TWO CASTLES OF MAD KING LUDWIG
This is a mix between a Stonemaier Game (Between Two Cities) and a Bezier Game (The Castles of Mad King Ludwig). Somehow both publishers can manage to combine these two and Stonemaier games get all the glory to publish it. Personally I found Between Two Cities lacking the gaming element and regardless all the decisions, is decision-less) but I do like Castles of Mad King Ludwig if not because the ugly in-game component artworks. The major differences about this one is that it incorporates Between Two Cities game system but in a 2D side scrolling style where you look at the rooms in side-view instead of top-view as in those two games. The golden rule is that when you place a room, you need to place it from bottom up (each room need a foundation just like in Dream Home). The scoring system works similar like The Castles of Mad King Ludwig, interesting. And to be honest, I love the illustrations of the rooms in this game. The illustrators of Dream Home also contribute in this game visual appearances, so that explains partially.
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pic4297333DICIUM
Dicium is a very interesting dice rolling game combination. Why combination? Because the game offers 4 different games by using the same core mechanic of dice rolling and allocation.  Each game offers different game play such as racing, cooperative dungeon exploring, civilization conquest and confrontation skirmish game. All these games are using the same principle of 2-2-2, which are roll two times, take 2 actions and store up to 2 dice. The dice shows different colors and each color has corresponding value (from 1 to 5) and one side showing a spiral (wild number). These are related to what actions that player can take by grouping the dice based on sets (color or number). I think four games offer simple approach in the mechanic but the idea is neat, to offer 4 games in one game.
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pic4022414ATLANDICE
Atlandice is a dice rolling/ drafting game with it’s main board (dial) looks like the player’s lab in Aquasphere (the game plays differently). In this game, players will take a die from one of the location, get the corresponding resource and activate the effect. And then move the clock hand forward. The goal is resource collecting, where there are several resources available in the game, each is located in different district, though during the game, these resources may be moved around the board. When a district is out of resource, the scoring happened and player with most of the resource wins the district tile (and opens up new tile, if any). The tiles have different effect and they will affect resources on the board. I think it’s a very simple and straight forward game though the heart of the game lies on the effects of the tiles, which I am not sure how they work and affecting each other. The downside is the overly well done art cover, which is kinda misleading when you check the components.
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pic4224397ARCHITECTURA
It’s basically a card laying game. Each player has their own deck of cards which they shuffled and draw 3 cards from the top at the start of the game. On their turn they must play a card (place it on one of the eligible spaces on the city which is formed by blocks and rows (with 8 blocks and the number of players determine the number of streets). The placement rules are: The card must be placed on the first block of a street, or must be placed to the right of previously placed card. Player must not place a card which lead to a 3 in a row of a single color. Once placed, the played card is compared with the card on it’s immediate left. Which will affect the orientation of the previously placed card (the value of the card). In the end of the game, players count the value of their cards, player with the highest value wins the game. There is also an advance variant in the game, which using a different set of cards.
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pic4199323PLANET
In this game, each turn players will draft continent tiles and place it on empty side of their planet core. Then starting from the third turn onwards, players will contest who will get the animal cards that are contested on the given round. To do this they need to pass the habitat requirement for that animal. Basically you must provide the habitat by placing continent tiles in specific pattern which allow you to get them. It’s a very simple game of area majority, light strategy game that is casual gamer friendly. Though the general idea is interesting, in addition of the eye candy planet cores, I don’t think the game is gamey enough and warrant nice replay value, let along it’s kinda fiddly to check your continent looks like, rotate that core every now and then; not to mention you need to constantly ask other players about their planet cores, since the main mechanic is area majority or control.
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pic4122624BLUE LAGOON
Another new game from Reinier Knizia. The goal of the game is to expand your tribes throughout the islands. The game has two distinct phases / stages, exploration and settlement. At the end of each phase, there will be scoring. In the exploration phase, players place a token into the board to make a wide network of their tribes. There are restrictions of course, players place settlers in a sea space in the boat side (they can place it anywhere) and to place a village or settler, they need to place it on adjacent space of their previously placed settlers. In the second phase (settlement phase) the villages that on stone tiles, will be removed from the board along with all the settlers, and then new resources will be refilled on that stone tiles. And then after the second phase, the same scoring will take place.
It feels odd, I don’t know why but the scoring mechanics looks boring and tedious. The settlement phase lets players expand their tribes from the villages that they have placed from the exploration phase which could give different stand point from the first entry points in the first phase.
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pic4120596RUTHLESS
Ruthless is an interesting pirate themed card game that combines a deck building with a poker (suit). In this game players will recruit pirates (card from the display) to their ranks and try to make a raiding party by making a set as can be found in poker (such as pair, straight, three / four / five of a kind, flush and full ship). The interesting part is that there are Command actions that players can take from their starting set of cards, which are Trade, Brawl/Bury, Plunder and Board. To make it more interesting, there are also special abilities provided by Pirate cards which immediately take effect once the pirate is recruited. I usually not really into a poker style kind of game but this one looks pretty interesting, and if you are looking for a more compact deck building game, this one is a good one.
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Note: images are taken from http://www.boardgamegeek.com and full credit to their owner.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2018 in Board Games, Insight, Previews

 

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Essen 2018 Highlight Previews Part 2

Back again with me and this time I will be giving you guys the next part of my Essen 2018 Highlight previews (another 8 new board games that currently on my list). Let’s start with the big guns!

pic4196818-2FORUM TRAJANUM
Forum Trajanum is the latest design from Stefan Feld and it might be the most complicated (not hardest) one yet. After reading the rules it gives me certain approach that the game uses a well-blend of mechanics from his previous games. I can see some mechanics from Trajan, Amerigo and also Notre Dame. The core concept of the game is tile placement, which centers in two main part of the game, the Colonia (player board) and Forum Square on the main board (the same thing you find in Trajan, the construction area). Players will take turns to draft tiles that they take from their Colonia (based on the street cards on a given round). They choose one to keep and pass it on to the next player (like Notre Dame cards). Then they will choose which one to use / activate (take the bonus) . If the tile is a Citizen tile, you place it on the Citizen row. Other tiles are placed based on the owner of the tiles, if it’s a player owned tile, it’s placed on the Ship space, if it’s other player’s owned tile, it’s place face up right next the colonia. Then players can build one building per turn by spending the required worker / builders / assistants on the vacated space on their Colonia. There are different kind of Buildings and like Amerigo, there are colored and neutral Buildings (which give different effects during scoring). Placing neutral buildings allow players to advance their marker on the respective benefit track or gain points from Triumphal column building. Colored buildings allow players to send envoys to the Forum square. These envoys will be placed in different squares in the forum based on the color. Completed colored group will be score and provide benefits for each player that has envoys there. At the end of each phase, players need to pay their citizens, if they don’t want or cannot pay, the unpaid citizen became inactive. And then there are construction crane scoring for buildings of the same color as their available face up crane. Colonia Scoring for neutral building based on the citizen row and Forum scoring based on players envoys on the forum square. In overall there are so many little things to remember, it’s not a heavy game but too many things to keep in mind.
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pic4059088NYCTOPHOBIA
I was sold by the game main concept. Originally the designer wanted to make a game that she could play with her blind uncle, so she made this game.
In this game, 1 player will play as the hunter while other players as the hunted. The hunted players will play with blind glasses in which they cannot see a thing. They take their action by using perception and touch of game components. The goal is to survive from a hunter that hunts you down. You run in the dark, try to get away from the hunter and find your car, but you don’t know and cannot see it. So using you hand (naturally) you reach out in the dark and find out your surrounding. How cool is that? I would say, it’s very cool. Okay there are questions of course, the first thing came to mind is the hunter, how the hunter player moves? Since he’s the one with a clear vision with everything on the board, logically the hunter could move freely. But not exactly, while he can see everything, the hunter has a set of cards that determine their actions, and there are also some restrictions in their moves. For instance, hunted players can throw a rock somewhere on the board, this will cause noise that the hunter must move towards. How cool is that? Very cool, I know.
The game use mainly dominant black and white color and offers not a very beautiful illustrations (minimal at the least), but the game pieces might be a good one with plastic player pieces, terrains and a plastic board. Now in the base game, there are 2 hunters that players can play, an ax-murderer and an evil mage. Both have different sets of cards, which the game play would slightly be different one from another. And if you are curious there is also another version that is Target exclusive which has a different hunter than the base, a Vampire. But this means you need to get another game for this.
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pic4295187THE FORGOTTEN CITY
It’s nice looking game, with colorful components and the helper meeples are super unique and cute. In general, the core mechanic is pool building with area control. Players will spread around their assistants based on their helper leader position on the board. Which has hexagonal spaces with different terrain types. On players turns, they choose a monument tile based on turn order, and then place a helper and take an action. The actions are BUILD, EXCAVATE, REST and READ.
Build allows players to place a monument tile in a given space (following the requirement on the monument tile). Monument tiles give players points based on the Monument track of each player. Excavate allows players to gain a resource from a space where they place a helper. Rest allows players to take 2 coins by placing one helper on their personal supply on it’s side. Read a Monument. (this is like activating one of the monuments available on the board). Pay the cost shown and gain its effects (if it’s another player’s monument, the owner gains 1 pt). After all players have taken their turn, they recollect the income based on the tracks of their player board. Update Inspiration and Defensive tracks and gain coins. They can also spend inspirations to gain Miracle tokens. Miracle tokens give players immediate points, and end game or on going benefits. Last, there is Nightmare phase which players will face monster based on the position of their helpers on the board by using their defensive traits. I think the game is pretty simple, I just don’t really see the point in facing the monsters. For thematic reason, it’s kinda loose or doesn’t have strong relation to the game. And the game is a bit straightforward, not sure there’s enough game within.
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pic4169718-2GIZMOS
Gizmos from Phil Walker Harding is a new game that re-introduce marbles again after the presence of Potion Explosion. The idea is still the same, you pick one marble and boom everything explodes. The main difference is the explosion. In Potion Explosion, matching marbles will explode and you can get more marbles from just one that you picked. Of course you can also use potions to help you out. But in Gizmos, it’s not marbles that exploded, it’s the cards. Yes, the game is about card combos, it’s more like a programming or tableau building. During players turns, they choose one out of 4 actions available and the cards within that action will be triggered, thus you can place cards into your tableau and get more chains throughout the game. At first, I think it offers something different, you can control or there’s a freedom to build the engine that you really want. But, I think Potion Explosion is more simple in term of game play, while Gizmos requires more thinking in the engine building aspect, and in addition with more cards to handle in your tableau, you need more time to think and it could be very long if there’s a lot of cards under your action tabs.
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pic4118864pic4097632RAILROAD INK (BLAZING RED + DEEP BLUE)
Railroad Ink, as the title suggest is using a marker on a piece of sheet to draw railroads. Its the kind of pen / marker and paper game that was brought to famous from Doodle City (Doodle China and Doodle Island) by Eilif Svensson and Kristian Amundsen Ostby, who also designed Santa Maria which takes another level of the same mechanic. In this game, players basically must draw the dice roll results onto their sheet of paper which shows 7×7 square spaces. There are different type of routes, highway and railway with special connection like overpass and station that will be combines in placement to draw a connection from one exit to another. Players also have 6 special routes on their sheet that they can use to help them connect the routes, though each special route can only be used once per game. The game has 2 different version, Railroad Ink Blazing Red and Railroad Ink Deep Blue, each version provides 2 different variations that slightly changed the game.
Railroad Ink Deep Blue adds Lake and River into the game. Players will have to choose one variation to the game and cannot both. Lake variation adds 2 lake dice that is rolled with the other regular route dice. Players may draw the lake into their sheet but not mandatory. In the end game, Lake areas will be scored in how big the area is and open side will not be counted as errors. While the river variation adds 2 river dice that can be used as another route and score based on the longest river route, but open river connections are considered as errors.
Railroad Ink Blazing Red introduces 2 different variations, Meteor and Lava. Lava variation adds lava dice that works similar as lake die, but open side of lava space is considered an error in the scoring. The Meteor variation adds a unique and different game play, with Meteor dice, one showing distance of the meteor and another showing the direction the meteor will hit. When rolled, the meteor will hit a space on player’s sheet and and continuing from the first space it hits based on the distance and direction in the future rolls. A space with drawing that hits by meteor, must be erased and be drawn a crater instead. In the scoring, each route will score points based on how many open end connected to a crater.
I found the game to be refreshing, unique and very simple yet difficult in the same time. Though luck plays a great role, I found it exhilarating to draw the routes and see if it connects. Sadly, my experience with Doodle City wasn’t really a colorful mark. My group wasn’t amused and they thought it’s as a weird game. So this is also a interesting one but need a caution.

pic4055102CEYLON
Ceylon reminds me of Gold West, though it’s strikingly different. As in oppose of Gold West where players take resources from the board, in Ceylon, players are filling the board (planting tea fields). It has very simple actions, on players turn, the active player will play an action card, he decide the orientation of the card in the discard pile because each card consists of 2 actions (top and bottom). The upright action is the main action that will be taken by the active player, while the downright action can be taken by other players. Or else, the can take the alternative actions available in each card. The goal is to fulfill contracts of tea which is divided into 3 types / colors. Black cubes as tea leaves harvested in low height plantation, Green cubes as tea leaves harvested in medium height and White cubes as tea leaves harvested in high altitude. The fields on the game board is divided into 4 districts and during setup, players will randomize the different height plantation field by using modular board. What interesting in this game aside from the card action is that in order to take more contract cards, players need to plant teas. This is shown by the leaf markers as restriction to place contract cards of different companies. If players want to have access to more companies, they have to plant more to unlock these leaf markers from their board. Another thing is the different level of fields to differentiate what kind of tea is being planted. I like the theme, it’s quite unique and the illustrations are nice.
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pic4184072FIREWORKS
Fireworks was actually released back in 2017 but they somehow will be present in 2018 Essen Spiel. It’s a dexterity game from Li-He Studio, designed by Aza Chen, who is quite famous with his Cat-themed games such as Cat Box, Cat Tower, Kitty Paw and other dog-themed games with cute cartoony characters. In Fireworks, players will be one of the 7 characters of cats that must perform their skill in shooting fireworks into the night sky. The game involves player to drop a die into a box full of face down firework tiles. If after the drop, the dice flip a tile or more, they take it based on the result of the die. There are also action cards that dictate on how they drop the die (the dexterity element of the game). If they cannot make a tile flipped face up, they have failed and end their turn. When they acquired a tile or more, they place it on their board, to form a big image of fireworks in their sky which will be scored based on the patterns and set collection at the end of the game. The game seemed fun and simple enough to be played and I was intrigued with the game for quite a while now, mainly the way that the cards dictate how players should roll the die.
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pic3918905EVERDELL
One word, beautiful. Everdell is a beautiful game about forest realm and the animals on it. Players take the roles of critters and will build cities on Everdell. The goal, build the greatest city in Everdell. The game has a really standout components, the big tree made from card boards placed on top of a big round board. Honestly, the tree is not really an essential component and can easily be replaced with just a 2 dimensional flat game board. But, for this game, it really looks beautiful and amazing. The game was actually on Kickstarter and was a hit. There are so many great, beautiful and nice looking components and illustrations. The critter characters are so cute looking. The game is break down in seasons, from Spring, Summer and Autumn. In players’ turn, they choose either play a card, place a worker or prepare for season. At first each player will start with 2 workers and several cards in hand, they can assign their workers in different part of the board (or cards) to gain the benefit of that action space or play a card from their hand to their city (which will be made naturally in 3×5 grid of cards).
The core mechanic on this game is a tableau building with worker placement. Players naturally place workers on the main board, but they can also place them on the worker slots on their city cards, in addition it is possible that they can place their workers in some of other player’s city cards. The greatest feat of this game is the superfluous components. It has really great looking components. The resource tokens are not something that you found in other games (such as pebbles, resins, berries and twigs), the card illustrations are so beautiful and the worker meeple is a unique wooden critter-shaped meeple for each player.  The game is quite simple, you place workers to gain resources, pay resources to play cards and use that cards effect to help you do something else. Some cards also using the same chain connection as found in 7 Wonders. As you can play a critter card for free if you already have the prerequisite construction card. Players will get to place workers in some event tiles when they already complete the building requirement and so on. Despite this being on KS or maybe already available on GenCon, I think it’s suited to have this here since the publisher also opens a booth in Essen.
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Note: images are taken from http://www.boardgamegeek.com and full credit to their owner.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Essen 2018 Highlight Preview Part 1

Okay, Essen 2018 is right upon us and how excited is that? Now there are lots of games coming your way, and you need to trim down that list with some new games that worthy of your collection. But you don’t know what games fit the bill just because there are too many and you don’t do any research? Well worry not, I did some research and might as well share them to you guys. Hopefully these preview lists are useful for your Essen 2018 purchase. And as usual, I will break down the list in several posts to keep them easy to read. Happy reading!

pic4037705CRYPTIDS
Have you heard of the thing that lurks in the night? Nobody ever witness the thing face to face and the rumors just spread wide and wide. You are a cryptologist and this time you are looking for the truth behind the urban legend creatures and where it is nesting. Whether it’s a yeti, chupacabra or something else, you must find it first before someone else. That’s how it is! In this game, each player will have a certain piece or information (different for each player) that holds the location of that creature you all are looking for. Players will take turns to gain information by either question someone else or search. This two actions will revolve around your deduction in order to find the correct location of the creature. The game has modular maps, which determined the map in each game. Players then, work their ways to gain information based on their piece of information. On their turn, players can choose to questioning other player, to do this, they have to put a pawn on a map space and choose any other player “Could the creatures be here?” The questioned player must answer with an honest answer based on the information they have by placing a cube or a disc. A cube if the answer is a NO or a disc if it’s a YES. If it’s a cube the player who asked also need to place their cube in a space that is not the habitat according to their clue. Another action is to search, this is done by placing a pawn on a map space that could be the habitat of the creature based on the information the player has and place their disc there, following clockwise, players must also place whether a disc or a cube. If all players placed their discs, that searching player found the location of the creature and wins the game. If at least one player place a cube, the search fails. The game surely has interesting deduction element, very simple but lots of memory and deduction takes place. There are maps and things on the board, so players can keep track what players did. Some said this is similar with Tobago, I have not try Tobago yet, so wouldn’t know how it is. It’s kind of an abstract game with maps, cubes and discs but an interesting one at that. If you like a deduction game, this might be a game for you.
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pic4089634ARRAIAL
It’s basically Tetris: The Board Game. The premise is about Portugal tradition of outdoor festivals. People will flock the streets because the festivals they often have. In this game players will organize their own festivals and try to attract the most visitors. The game is played over 3 rounds. In each round they will take turns to take action(s). Each turn they have 3 action points which they can spend in 2 ways. 1 pt to rotate the octagon 90 degrees or 1 pt to place a color piece on your street (this is a mandatory action that you have to take on your turn). Rotating the Octagon lets you get the piece you need in a specific orientation. Placing pieces on your street will be like Tetris. You will take the corresponding piece from the supply and put it into the bottom part of your board (you cannot reorient it no longer). If the placement of the piece cross the level bar, return it and any visitor on it to the box, those will not be scored in the final score.
Visitors are gained by placing specific color pieces on the board. If you place a piece which creates a zone (adjacent) of at least 2 tiles of the same color, place the matching visitor on that zone. If you add another tile to that zone, you don’t get additional visitor. If you are the first player to make a zone of certain color, you will get the couple visitor in addition to the single one. But this couple visitor can be claimed by other players who make the larger zone of that color. When you completely fill a line on your board with pieces, same as tetris (but slightly different) you raise one line of your level bar and place an individual visitor (white) on it. At the end of phase 1 and 2, each player will drop their level bar by 2 lines. If the bar doesn’t overlap any piece, move the white visitor to any piece on your board. If it does, remove the level bar as usual. At the end of phase 3, the level bar doesn’t move downward. Players get 1 point from each individual visitor and 2 pts from couple visitor.
I thinks the game is really interesting, very simple, just like tetris, which is kinda nostalgic in some ways. I kinda guess that this game will be a relaxing game, like Cottage Garden or Tokaido and a perfect companion in a very casual night. In addition that the game is designed by one of my favorite game duos, this is a good one to have. One side note, the pieces are not double sided, cause they are not intended to be. The back side has white color which I think kinda drab and lame, should be with the same color on the front (without illustration) to make them easy to recognize even if it’s on the reverse side.
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pic3956079-2COIMBRA
The game uses dice placement and drafting mechanics. In each round players will draft a die and place it into one of the four locations. The placement follows a different rule in each location. The placement in the castle follows an ascending order of dice, while other locations are using descending order. After all players have place their dice, then each player will retrieve their dice from the locations and take the corresponding actions. This is done following the location order from top to bottom. At locations beside the Castle, players will acquire character cards. Taking cards require cost which define by the type of resource it has and the amount of that resource needed based on the value of the dice. This means taking cards first cost you more than taking it last. Cards can be used for several things in the game. After that the game continues to Influence Income, where players advance their influences based on what colors of dice they have and gain the income depicted. Then players can invest in a voyage which will give points at the end of game depends on how you perform.
The game is quite simple, the illustration or presentation of the game looks amazing and colorful. I can see a small hint of Bora Bora in the dice placement mechanic (though I think it’s less elegant). The Pilgrimage aspect of the game feels really like Voyages of Marco Polo, where players move around and place their markers on locations to get the bonuses.
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pic4023265CARSON CITY – THE CARD GAME
Following the same concept of city building in the board game, Carson City Card Game uses a  square terrain cards (with each card represents 2×2 parcels of land) which players will place in front of them to build a city. In order to get these cards they need to participate in a blind auction, strictly confined within a set of cards with value 1-9 (it is possible to increase the ante with cards value of 10-11). During the auction phase there will be some terrain cards and a character cards available to be auctioned and once players already decided what cards they want to use, they reveal the cards and check who has the highest value card, that player will choose first and followed by others in descending order. Then they place their newly acquired terrain card within the range of 8×8 parcels of land with some restrictions for placement. The game lasts for 2 eras, which after the first era, their used auction cards will be returned to their hand and be used again in the next era.
The scoring is done based on the placement of buildings on players land and also some characters that provide points. The game can be played from 2 to 6 players, though playing with less than 4 players requires the use of virtual players that will balance the auction mechanic.
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pic4010727-2JUNK ORBIT
At first, this game really feels like a children or not serious game with simple and take that and randomness and luck elements on it. But the truth is, it is. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be fun. I hold myself to read the rules and turned out to my satisfaction, the game is really interesting. Though there’s a crunching numbers and AP potential on it, it surely interesting to see managing chaos get a hold of you. In Junk Orbit, 2-5 players will be junk pilots that will make deliveries of junk cargos across the Earth, Moon, Mars and as well as Phobos and Deimos. Each planet have different locations / cities surrounding it (thus the title orbit) and players will travel these locations in a very interesting manner. In players turn, in order to move, they have to launch a junk from their ship. They decide the direction on the launch and it will travel a number of spaces based on the value listed on that junk tile. When a junk ends it movement, it will stop on the city, it can rest there (nothing happened) or can be delivered remotely (congratulation to you) or it can hit another player’s ships (yes if there’s more than one ship, all of them get hit). When a ship hit, that ship must discard a junk tile from their cargo or delivery area into the city they’re in.
The funny and interesting part is, after you launch a junk, your ship will move in the opposite direction of the launched junk tile in the same exact spaces shown in the junk value. If when your ship ends its movement to a city that exactly match with one of your cargo, you just made a direct delivery (hats off to you). You place that junk tile face down on your delivery area. And then you pick up junk tiles in that city.  Ships can move between planets from specific cities which act as transfer points between 2 planets. I found the game to be very interesting, there are interesting decisions inside and totally a number crunching game. I just hope that it’s not diminishing the fun part from the game.
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pic3443532-2PRINCESS JING
It’s an asymmetric two player game with one player will be the princess and another player as the guard. The princess of course want to get away from the guards while the guards want to capture her. It’s a hide and seek, cat and mouse game with a twist. Players will try to pin down by using mirrors and the position of their player pawns.  The thing that doubts me the most would be how good the mirror even works. I bet in this hidden movement game, your discreet is really an essential thing, getting to look at the mirror would make your opponent kinda actually know where is the location, not exactly but maybe they can narrow it down. And given the mirror is not an actual glass mirror, you will be faced with blurry reflection, which I think could be on purpose, you never know. I just hoped this game has good replay value, it’s a 2-player hide and seek game, so replay value is important. They do includes the advance variant with more components and variable to add more replay value to the game though.
Apparently the designer himself commented on this post about my mistake in translating the game as an asymmetrical game. The truth is that the game is actually a symmetrical game, where both players have their own princess trying to escape from opponent’s guards. This change several things to consider, the competition is balance, players will try to be the first to deliver their princesses to their Captains. Pointing out the location of an opponent princess may give the player, time to complete their own goal because if they correctly point the whereabout of the opponent’s princess, they have to return back to the starting line. It’s an interesting one though thematically I would say it’s less fit with the game play. First of all, the game title is Princess Jing, but actually there are two princesses and the other one is Jing’s sister named Fang (should it be Jing & Fang?). And secondly, the game pits the two characters in opposite sides, though based on the story given they’re not fighting or even competing, but getting to reach each captain (but it’s not in whatsoever affecting the game play). So The concept is interesting, unique and definitely has great presentation, which will draw public attention to the table.
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pic4259360-2UNDERWATER CITIES
In this game, players will build underwater cities. Th game is played over 3 eras. Which in each era, players will play 3 cards or more. The game uses hand management and action selection. In their turns players play a card onto one of the available action slots on the board. If the card and slot have matching color, the card effect is resolved, if not only the slot effect is resolved. This is the core mechanic of the game, which players will manage their hands with cards which determine two things, the actions on the card and the actions on the action spaces that matching the color of the cards. It still feels like a worker placement game, but it uses card instead of a worker meeple. The main objective is to get the most points by building cities with buildings attached to it and the networks. Networks are important, because you need to connect the cities or metropolis in order for them to score / produce.
This is Vladimir Suchy’s new game and it uses different game mechanic from his previous games (Last Will, Pulsar 2849 and Shipyard and many more). I think he always use different mechanics in his games.
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pic4143114GUGONG
Gugong is a game with China as the background during the Ming Dynasty. Where players will take the roles of leader of powerful Chinese families, try to gain influence and power by exchanging gifts (bribes) with Emperor’s officials. The game uses an interesting card play mechanic where they place cards to get cards for future rounds. The twist is that player must place cards of higher value than the one they take. The game is played over 4 rounds and each round consists of 3 phases (Morning, Day and Night phase). During the Day phase, players will perform various actions by exchanging gift cards from their hands with the ones in the game board. As already mentioned that player can get a card from the board by placing a higher value card from their hand, this not always the case, and players can do something to get the card even if it’s higher or equal with the card from their hand (remove servants or discard another card or exchange without performing the action). The actions that player can take from exchanging cards are varies, from traveling to cities (to get travel tokens, which could be useful for several things during the game). Participate in the renovation of great wall, which would lead to a great wall scoring if a segment is completed. Getting a jade token from Jade Official houses, which worth as points at the end of the game. You can also climb up the intrigue track. You can also advance your envoys in the palace track to gain points. Obtain a decree which gives various benefits. You can also send your servant on a journey on the grand canal, to trade with outside people. In the Night phase, players can score points with their gift cards if one or more cards are matching the destiny dice. And then all ships moved. I think the game is very simple, basically the core concept is exchanging cards and taking the actions which mostly cost servants to take.
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Note: images are taken from http://www.boardgamegeek.com and full credit to their owner.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2018 in Board Games, Previews

 

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