Preview: Elysium

Posted by James (admin) on October 16th, 2014

Elysium boxElysium is the next game from Space Cowboys – the relatively new publisher who released the excellent (and SdJ nominated) Splendor.  Whilst at Spiel, I was fortunate to be given a behind-closed-doors preview of the game.

Note: The photos below do not show the final version of the game but it is quite close.  Also, the rules I describe are from memory of what I was told so there may be some inaccuracies, and I am having them checked to make sure.  Finally, please excuse the poor lighting in the photos – this was not obvious until I reviewed them.

During Elysium players are all demi-gods, competing to be the best and earn their way into legend.  The game is played over 5 rounds and the player with the most victory points (VPs) is the winner.

On the table are several god cards (number of players x 3) as well as turn order markers for the next turn too (one per player).  Each round, players take turns taking one of the god cards or turn order markers until they have had 4 turns and all items have been taken.

Each of the god cards gives its owner a benefit or ability – some abilities can be used once during the whole game, some are permanent abilities, some get used once per round, etc.  When the cards are gained, they are placed above your player board and these can be used for their abilities, but do not count towards scoring.  (To count towards scoring at the end of the game, the cards need to be moved to below your player board and can no longer be used for their abilities – more on that later.)

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Further Games of Interest

Posted by James (admin) on October 15th, 2014

SpielIt’s now just one day to Spiel in Essen and time has run out to write more previews of the games that have caught my interest.  In addition to those I have previewed, I have over 50 other games on my list too and there are bound to be more to discover during Spiel.  It seems this year is very strong for Eurogames which suits me very well.  Below is a list of some of the other games I shall be checking out.

Mangrovia [Zoch]
Very clever sounding eurogame.  Each round, players place their markers on one of the 5 islands which are arranged in a line – each island has two jetties (one on either side) which give different actions.  Then, a boat travels around the islands and a player can carry out the actions at the jetties on their island when the boat passes them.  The actions allow players to gain various resources (amulets, valuables, landscape cards) which they can use to build huts on the island (which is a grid and each space shows what the building costs and rewards are).  Building huts can score VPs but there are bonus VPs for things like having the most huts in a column, having huts in a specific area of the island, etc.

War Stories: Red Storm [Conquistador]
Relatively simple war-game with a few twists on game mechanics.

Gothic Invasion [Storyception]
Asymmetric Romans versus Goths game of playing cards to manoeuver armies and wage war.  The health of each army is represented by how many thousand troops it contains, which is nicely thematic.

Progress [NSKN]
Card-based civilisation game which could be good. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: La Isla

Posted by James (admin) on October 15th, 2014

La Isla game close-upIn addition to Aquasphere, Stefan Feld is releasing La Isla which looks to be a light eurogame with an interesting card game mechanic.

Players get 3 cards each round, and they secretly allocate one card to each of the 1st, 2nd and 4th action phases before they start resolving them.  Each card shows 3 different elements which relate to each of the different phases during the round.

The card in the 1st phase is used for the special ability shown on it – these abilities can be used for the rest of the game, although there’s only room for 3 so these cards start to cover-up existing ones.  The card in the 2nd phase is used to gain the specific resource shown on the card.

The 3rd phase is where the players perform the main action of the round (which doesn’t use a card).  Players spend resources to place/move one of your explorer figures to a region in the jungle (and taking an animal tile and scoring victory points (VPs) if a region is completed surrounded by explorers. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Desperados of Dice Town

Posted by James (admin) on October 14th, 2014

Desperados of Dice Town coverThe original Dice Town is a great little dice-rolling game of second-guessing your opponents.  Desperados of Dice Town is set in the same setting but is a completely different game.  Players each have 5 desperados (each a different type) who begin locked up in jail.  During the game, players will free their desperados and start gaining money (and make other players lose money).

On their turn, a player rolls the 4 dice (with up to 2 re-rolls of any of the dice).  Each dice has an ‘Action’ icon on 1 side and a character icon for each of the 5 different desperado character types (bad, ugly, brains, lady and boss) on the other 5 sides.  Once they’ve finished rolling the dice, a player then chooses which action to take.

For each action icon rolled, the player can have any character who’s icon was also rolled take an action.  For example, a player rolls 2 action icons, 1 bad character icon and 1 lady character icon – the player could either have the bad character act twice, the lady character act twice, or have both the bad and the lady characters act once each.  If a character is in jail, an action moves them one step closer to escaping.  If a character is free, an action makes all players lose money if their character of the same type are still in jail.  Alternatively, instead of actions, a player can use 3 or 4 matching icons to draw cards which have special powers.  Players also get a card if they roll rubbish too (4 different character icons and no action icon).

A player wins as soon as they have freed all of their desperados and has the most money. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Murano

Posted by James (admin) on October 14th, 2014

Murano gameMurano is a game by Markus and Inka Brand, designers of the excellent Village.  Players are competing to be the best businessman on the glass-blowing island and have the most victory points (VPs) when the game ends.

The core game mechanic is moving the various ships around the action spaces that are located around the edge of the board.  On their turn, a player can move any ship any distance so long as it doesn’t overtake (or even share a space with) any another ship.  A player can move one ship for free, and they can move more ships each one moved costs an increasing amount of cash.  When done moving ships, the player takes the action of the space where the last moved ship moved to.

There are lots of different actions such as buying or placing streets, shops, palaces and other buildings on the various islands; producing glass (which costs you VPs due to the pollution), placing their coloured gondolas next to islands, and hiring characters.  The special buildings give players on-going abilities for the game.   There are various ways to score points and the key method is from characters (cards) you have hired during the game.  Characters score VPs for lots of different factors such as the number of shops on an island, the number of customers on an island, if the numbers of different types of buildings match on an island, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Versailles

Posted by James (admin) on October 12th, 2014

Versailles gameVersailles is a game by designer Andrei Novac who I first remember when he designed the interesting territorial game of Warriors and Traders a few years ago.

Versailles is a eurogame of building the palace at Versailles.  The players will build it together but the winner is the player who gets the most recognition from the King in the form of victory points (VPs).  The board shows the palace building site in the centre and various construction locations around the outside such as the timber mill, gold mine, architects guild, workshop, etc.

Each player has several workers which start on some of the construction locations.  On your turn, you move 1 worker 1 location (following the arrows between the construction locations).  You can exhaust one of your two double movement tiles to move 2 workers together, or to move 1 worker two locations.  (Note that you can not move workers to the location you activated on your previous turn.)

After moving your worker(s), you activate the location where your workers moved to.  The more workers you have at a location when it is activated, the better the reward; for example, you get 1/2/3 wood when you have 1/2/3 workers at the timber mill, 0/1/2 gold when you have 1/2/3 workers at the gold mine.  Some locations require more than just workers too, i.e. you need resources as well as workers to be able to purchase some decoration tiles, and sometimes you need decoration tiles to be able to construct some palace tiles. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Throne of the World

Posted by James (admin) on October 11th, 2014

Throne of the World cardsThrone of the World is a simple card game by the designer of Attack on Monster.  Each turn you have a few options between h0w many cards you draw and how many you play; for example, you can draw 2 cards and play 3 cards, or just play 5 cards, etc.

Each card is either one of the 7 professions or an action card.  When you play profession cards, you place them in front of you and the more you have of a type, the more powerful they are when activated.

When you play action cards, you choose a profession to activate (although some action cards can not activate specific professions).  When activated, some professions earn cash, some attack other players (which remove cards/coins), and some steal cards from other players.  There are also some special skill cards which give powerful one-off effects.

After your turn, you must pay 1 coin for each profession card you have in front of you.  Also, each player has a specific race card which gives them a special ability too.

There are several victory conditions such as having 45 coins, having 15 coins and at least 1 card of each of the 7 professions.  However, you are automatically out of the game if you ever run out of coins. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Grog Island

Posted by James (admin) on October 10th, 2014

Grog Island cover Grog Island is a bidding game but with a healthy amount of different elements riding on the bids so it sounds interesting.  It is designed by Michael Reineck whose games include Cuba, Santiago de Cuba, and Palastgeflüster.

Each round 5 coloured dice are rolled and players take turns using these dice to make increasing bids.  A player can select any combination of the rolled dice and their total bid is equal to the total of the values of the dice they have used.  If a player doesn’t want to increase the bid they can pass, and they get a reward for passing too.

The board shows 5 coloured peninsulas with buildings on them (which players will claim during the game) and there is a ship is next to each peninsula (although the ships move around during the game).

The last player remaining in a round wins the bid, pays the value in coins, and receives a benefit for each dice used in the bid (which must be placed in descending value order).  The player can claim a building on the peninsula that matches the colour of the first dice and the second dice in the bid.  They gain a pirate point for the 3rd and 5th dice (regardless of colour), and locks off a building on the peninsula matching the 4th dice.  Players only get rewards for dice used in the winning bid so won’t get all the rewards if all the dice weren’t used.

A player who passes gets 1 goods tile for each dice used in the current bid (as each colour dice matches a colour of good).  Also, the player gets to trade with 1 of the ships on the board (allowing them to discard goods tiles that match the colour of the peninsula where the ship is located for the reward shown on the ship).  Also, a player can claim a building on the peninsula next to the ship by spending enough tiles of the matching colour. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: ZhanGuo

Posted by James (admin) on October 5th, 2014

Zhanguo game

Notice the cards tucked under each player’s boards and each shows a potential bonus ability

ZhanGuo is a game published by What’s Your Game who have released some great games in the past including Oddville, Vasco de Gama, and Madeira.  ZhanGuo looks to be a medium to heavy eurogame with plenty of simple elements but a lot of moving parts that need to be balanced.

The game is set around 230 BC and players attempt to contribute the most towards the unification of China.  The game lasts 5 rounds and the player with the most Victory Points (VPs) at the end is the winner.  The central game mechanic is that each player draws 6 cards at the start of each round and plays one each turn.  The cards are split into 3 colours (writing, currency and laws) and, in addition to other info, each card has a unique number (writing 1-40, currency 41-80, laws 81-120).  Each round, players take turns to either: (a) add a card to their player’s board, or (b) play a card to take any one of the 6 court actions.

Adding a Card to a Player Board
Each player’s board shows 5 areas each matching one of the main board’s 5 regions.  If a player adds a card to their player board, they tuck it underneath the relevant region (leaving the info at the top showing) and then take a number of unification discs – 1 for the 1st card in that region, 2 for the 2nd, and 3 for the 3rd – and the colour of discs taken is determined by the colour of the card.  Unification discs are important for earning bonuses at the end of each round.  However, adding cards to a region increases unrest, and players will need to manage this because too much unrest means they may not be able to play further cards into that region, and/or can limit their court actions too. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Admiral’s Order – All Hands

Posted by James (admin) on October 1st, 2014

Admirals Order All HandsThey’re at it again.  Yes, the brilliantly (mentally) enourmous scope of Admiral’s Order is back again but this year it has a slightly smaller version of the game.

Last year, I posted about Admiral’s Order as it looked superb but was (sadly) on a scale way larger than I could play.  A game of ship-to-ship warfare with dozens of hand-made wooden ships all with their names burned onto their sides and enough ships to re-create some of the largest naval battles you can think of.  When I saw it in person at Spiel last year, it really did look great.

This year’s game is “Admiral’s Order: All Hands!” which uses the same rules as the previous game but All Hands comes with ‘only’ 36 ships and 5 different scenarios.  It can be played as a stand-alone game so is kind of an ‘entry-level’ version of the larger game (although I use the term ‘entry level’ very much in the context of Admiral’s Order, so that’s still pretty complex/detailed compared to other games).

Like the original game and expansion, All Hands is hand-made with wooden ships, wooden box, and wooden tokens, so the same production values have been applied.

I believe rules for solo play are being (or have already been) released too. Read the rest of this entry »

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