Archive for August, 2012

On the Radar: New Games at Essen 2012: Part 2

Posted by James (admin) on 31st August 2012

Here are some more games for Essen that have caught my attention:

Libertalia (Paolo Mori / Marabunta)
Vasco de Gama is an excellent game so I was intrigued to see what Libertalia was like as it’s by the same designer.  Players blind bid cards to win tokens which determine victory points.  Each player has the same deck of cards to bid with but a random set is drawn for each round by one player and the other players use the same mix of cards – so the players’ hands are the same each round.
Check out more info here:

Tokaido (Bazua / FunForge)
It looks clean and simple, and sounds like it will play the same too.  Players move along a straight road and can rush ahead to secure places before other do, but at the expense of missing out other locations where points could be earned.  Reminds me a bit of the worker placement in Egizia (which was really good).  Also, I’ve always been impressed with FunForge’s production quality.
Check out more info here:

Lyssan (Thornhenge)
This game got my attention when it was on Kickstarter last year.  Sadly, I never managed to get to play the print-and-play version, but the game sounds simple but with meat to it.  Players place knights, nobles, priests, etc. to try and achieve their objectives.
Check out more info here:

Milestones (Stefan Dorra / Eggertspiele)
Intriguing game mechanic of rondel-style play mixed with building and resources.  The rondels are the players’ boards and these change during the game as the player builds locations and others disappear as the player completes circuits.  So, a little element of the excellent Village in there too.
Check out more info here:

Expedition (White Goblin)
Intriguing mixture of game mechanics combining area control, bidding, and card combination as players travel from stop-to-stop along the Congo River in 1884.  Seems to be all about using the right character at the right location with the right additional support cards.
Check out more info here:

Maharani (Wolfgang Panning / Queen Games)
A game by the designer of Fresco which looks to combine area control, but with some other mechanisms too.  Looks clean and simple – hopefully has some good decisions although I’m not sure how deep it is yet.  Nice friendly theme of tiling the floor of the Taj Mahal.
Check out more info here:


More new releases for Essen to come.  I’ve combined all the games on my radar for Spiel on the Essen 2012 page.

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Posted in Board Games, Expedition, Lyssan, Maharani, Milestones, On the Radar, Tokaido | No Comments »

Review: Village

Posted by James (admin) on 30th August 2012

I read the rules for Village when I was at Essen last year and as soon as I saw the meeple laying in the history book or in the unmarked graves I knew I wanted to play it.  I pre-ordered it and I’m glad I did as I’ve really enjoyed every game I’ve played of it so far.  More recently it rightly won the complex Spiel des Jahres award too.  The reason it’s a great game is due to an interesting mix of some unusual game mechanics – none are complex but there’s lots of variety – so I shall attempt to summarise the main elements.


In Village, players use their villagers (meeple) to do various tasks and the goal is to earn the most respect (victory points – VPs).  There are two key mechanisms in the game – time and actions.

The first core mechanism is time – many actions use up time which each player tracks with a marker around the edge of their player board (their farm).  Quite often, the player has a choice to spend time or use resources to do things like making a plough, but many options require time like travelling, or training a craftsman.  When the time marker completes a circuit of a player’s board, one of the eldest villagers of that player passes away and is either placed into the history books or in an unmarked grave (more on that later). Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Board Game Review, Board Games, Essen Spiel 11, Village | No Comments »

On the Radar: New Games at Essen 2012: Part 1

Posted by James (admin) on 29th August 2012

It seems the Essen pre-hype began even earlier than usual this year with many, many new games being announced for release.  It’s interesting to see how many new publishers there are this year too.

I shall be posting about forthcoming games that have caught my attention.  As well as posting them, I have also added an Essen 2012 page where I will collate them as I go.  Hopefully, I will get a chance to play them at Essen and then review them too.

Here’re the first few:

Bora Bora (Stefan Feld / Alea)
Stefan Feld always seems to find some interesting game mechanic to place at the heart of his games (Trajan, Luna and many others).  In Bora Bora, players allocate dice to actions (the higher the number, the greater the effect of the action) and following players can use a previously used action but only with a lower value dice. So, a player could use an action with a low number and get little effect but would know following players would get even less out of that action.  Sounds neat (and humorously mean).

Aztlan (Leo Colovini / Ares)
It’s funny how it can take some time to notice you like a specific game designer’s games.  This game is designed by Leo Colovini so I checked what else he had done only to discover I have a lot of games by him and I like them too (Atlantis, Masons, Clans, Carolus Magnus).  Aztlan sounds interesting too.  From what I can tell, players secretly select a terrain type card (which determines where they get advantages) and then start placing meeple into regions for dominance (although can co-exist as well as fight) – players try to get control of areas whilst trying to figure out what terrain cards their opponents’ played so they know where they should pick their battles.
Check out more info on Ares’ site here:

Rattus Cartus (Berg brothers / White Goblin)
I like the Berg brother’s games (Rattus and especially Oregon which is one of my favourite games) and the Rattus card game rules sound like it should be fun with some interesting mechanics that keep the theme and feel of Rattus but without directly duplicating it.
Check out more info on White Goblin site here:

Balance of Power (Catalyst Game Labs)
Risk/Diplomacy looking game but using 3 types of unit that work in a rock/paper/scissors style.  On a turn a player gets one action with each type of unit and actions are to move, attack or duplicate themself.  Points are earned for controlling areas, capitals and your own country.  Sounds simple yet tactical and without any luck.  (This one just got released in the UK.)
Check out more info on the Catalyst site here:

City of Horror (Asmodee)
I really liked Mall of Horror but it was broken as the person who controls the Security Room could hold it and win the game.  However, City of Horror is a mjaor re-working of the original game and looks like it will be the game the original one should have been with lots of new game mechanics.  Really looking forwards to this one.
Check out more info on the Asmodee site here:

Call to Glory (Schacht / White Goblin)
Nice, simple card game.  Some push-your-luck element as you lay down sets of matching cards to get points but can’t add to them once they’re down and an opponent can take those points if they can lay down more cards of that type.  Players draw from the two draw decks or the two discard decks.
Check out more info on the White Goblin site here:


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Posted in Atlantis, Aztlan, Balance of Power, Board Games, Bora Bora, Call to Glory, City of Horror, Essen Spiel 12, Luna, On the Radar, Rattus, Rattus Cartus, Trajan | No Comments »

Review: 1655 – Habemus Papum

Posted by James (admin) on 28th August 2012

The theme of selecting a new pope may not be as broadly inspiring as that of pirates or city building, but don’t let this put you off as 1655 Habemus Papum is a surprisingly great game.

Essentially, it’s a bidding game as players blind (simultaneous) bid gems to determine in what order the players will take one of the 4 cards on offer each round.  The goal is to be voted pope at the end of the game which you do by collecting votes.  You start with a few gems which have a strict hierarchy: diamonds, rubies, sapphires and amber in descending order.

Each round 4 cards are on offer – one from each of the 3 decks plus the start player card.  Players secretly put 0-3 gems in their hand and simultaneously reveal.  The player with the most gems (any colours) picks a card first, then the player with the next highest total of gems, etc.  If players are tied on quantity of gems then the quality of the gems is compared – players compare their most valuable gem, then the next and so on.  If players have bid identical gems then the person closest to the start player going clockwise wins the tie.

The cards are cardinals (which give votes and sometimes cash), actions (which let you do things like steal cardinals, or your best gem counts twice for one bid), and political cards (which let you get votes from the King depending upon how many King cards you have, or allow you to buy votes more cheaply at the end of the game depending upon how many of those cards you ave, etc.)  The start card is very important too as not only does it mean you win ties but, even more importantly, you get 1 red, 1 blue and 1 yellow gem plus 1 cash – this is the ONLY way you can get more gems during the game.  Note you can never get more diamonds. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in 1655 Habemus Papum, Board Game Review, Board Games | No Comments »

New Metagames Reviews

Posted by James (admin) on 28th August 2012

After an extended break, I’m pleased to say that new reviews will start being added to the Metagames blog – starting today with an excellent bidding game.

Why the break?  Unfortunately, I had to turn my attention to personal and business matters over the last months which just didn’t allow me the spare time to write new reviews.  I was always disappointed not to be able to post new reviews, but I knew I would return to reviewing games at some point as soon as I was able.

So, thanks to everyone who has kept checking the site, following on Twitter and subscribed to the RSS feed.  I won’t be adding a new review every day as I did for long periods before, but they will be fairly regular.  Please check twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed so you’ll know when new reviews are posted.

Posted in Board Games | 1 Comment »