Archive for the 'Preview' Category

Spiel 2014 Preview: Neptun

Posted by James (admin) on 4th September 2014

Neptun boardDirk Henn was probably the first designer that I followed as Alhambra was one of the first euro board games I played and then I found I really liked his next games, such as Eketorp, Colonia, Shogun and Timbuktu.

Over recent years, I’ve been disappointed that his games have been re-themes or re-releases of his previous designs; however, this year sees the release of a completely new game called Neptun which looks like a simple eurogame but with interesting game mechanics and a Roman merchant theme.

The game lasts 3 game rounds and each game round consists of 5 rounds of acquiring contracts followed by 5 rounds of fulfilling contracts.

Acquire Contracts
Cards are laid out in a grid with one row for each type of card (city cards, goods cards and oar cards) and one more column than the number of players.  On their turn, a player takes 1 column of cards (one card of each type); however, there’s a neat game mechanic here to make things trickier.

A player can take any 1 of the face-up columns of cards (if there are any), or they can choose to reveal the next face-down column.  However, revealing a column means they can no longer take any previous column – so their choice is now to take the newly revealed column, or reveal the next and take that, and so on.  This adds an element of push-your-luck, plus the more columns you reveal the more information you give to other players. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Lords of Xidit

Posted by James (admin) on 1st September 2014

Lords of Xidit

Lords of Xidit is an interesting-looking, medium-weight eurogame.  Players move their character around the land from city to city, recruiting units and defeating threats.  At the start of each round, each player programs 6 actions that their character will perform in sequence.  There are 5 actions to choose from: move along either the red, white, or blue road from their current city, interact with the city, or wait.  Players will need to work out which actions they want to perform and where but, as with other action-programming games, they will need to work out what your opponents will be trying to do too.

If a player uses an action to interact at a city where a disc has been placed, the side of the disc showing determines what the player can do.  If the disc is on the recruitment side, the player takes the next available unit from the disc – some unit types (colours) are more rare than others.  If the disc  is on the threat side, the player can discard the required unit types to defeat the threat which allows them to pick one one of 3 rewards: gold, bard tokens, or tower sections.  Bard tokens are placed in the city’s neighbouring areas which adds an element of area control.  Tower sections get placed in a stack at the city but no other player can have a tower in a city if an opponent has one there already. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Colt Express

Posted by James (admin) on 29th August 2014

Colt Express boxColt Express is a visually impressive looking game but the gameplay also sounds like a lot of fun.  The players are all outlaws looting a train and the player with the most loot at the end of 5 rounds wins.

Players use cards in their hand to pre-program their outlaw’s actions.  Each round a tile is drawn which states how many actions players will program and which of these will be declared face-up (so opponents know what you have planned that action) and which face-down.  To make matters harder, players only have a sub-set of their cards to use each round, so they may not have access to every type of action, plus they have a limited number of each type of action too.  As a result, you will need to work out how to achieve what you want with the cards you have and to factor in what other players may do too.

An outlaw can be located in a carriage or on the roof.  Actions do things like: Move your outlaw (into a neighbouring carriage, or up to 3 along the roof), Move your outlaw from the carriage to the roof (or vice versa), Rob a passenger (take one of the loot tokens in your current carriage), Move the marshall figure (and Johnny Law shoots outlaws and makes them move to the roof), Punch and Shoot.  If you punch an opponent, they drop one of their loot tokens and are moved to a neighbouring carriage/roof.  If you shoot, you can only shoot into the next carriage if inside, or you can shoot to wherever the next outlaw is if you’re on the roof.

If you get shot, you add a bullet card to your deck from the player who shot you.  This card is useless so being wounded can reduce the number of useful cards you have to use for actions (if it’s one of the ones you draw).  Players have limited bullet cards and there’s a bonus for the player who shoots the most. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Aquasphere

Posted by James (admin) on 19th August 2014

Aquasphere game close-upThose of you that have read my blog for a while will know I’m always interested in Stefan Feld’s games as I like how he uses interesting game mechanics.  One of his releases this year is Aquasphere which is on the complex end of the scale.

If you see a picture of it, the game looks incredibly complicated but it’s actually relatively simple as far as the mechanics go – it will be working out how to make best use of your actions (as well as doing so whilst other players get in the way) that will be the trickiest part.

The game is set in an underwater base comprised of 6 sectors which each have 7 coloured sections (1 for each type of action).  Each player has an engineer who programs their bots, bots that carry out pre-programmed actions, a scientist who determines where the bots carry out their actions, and some submarines.  Each player has a player board where their bots and subs are placed, as well as a lab which is where their items are stored (with strict limits).  On your turn, you either program one of your bots, carry out an action with a programmed bot, or pass. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Hyperborea

Posted by James (admin) on 18th August 2014

Hyperborea game

Hyperborea sounds like it should be an excellent eurogame Civilisation game (and is co-designed by Andrea Chiarvesio who co-designed Kingsburg).  Players explore and control a landscape made of large hex tiles – that’s pretty normal.  The interesting part is the core game emchanic that gives players their actions.  Each player has a bag of cubes and each cube colour represents a different type of action.  On their turn, a player draws 3 cubes and  then allocates all of them to different areas on their player board to activate actions (technologies) or develop their civilisation.

Each of the 6 colours of cube represents an aspect of civilisation; for example red represents warfare, green represents exploration, blue represents science, etc.  Some actions (technologies) on the player boards require 2 or 3 cubes in different combinations of colours to activate them and these have a nice thematic reasoning behind them; for example, 1 red then 1 green cube completes a Warfare technology that lets a player to attack and move.  Players place the cubes onto the various spaces so can pre-fill some combinations ready to complete and use the technology in a future turn; however, players must activate an action that is completely filled (no holding it to use later).  Also, each technology on the player boards has two slightly different versions and you can’t use one if there are cubes on the other – so you can’t just pre-load every technology.  Once placed, cubes can not simply be moved to another technology, so you need to be careful not to commit to actions that may not be useful later or aren’t possible to complete.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Abyss

Posted by James (admin) on 13th August 2014

Abyss game set-upBruno Cathala has a been a busy guy this year as Abyss is yet another game co-designed by him – this time with Charles Chevallier.

The goal of the game is to be crowned King of Abyss by having the most Influence Points (IPs) at the end of the game.  Abyss is a stunning-looking, fantasy world set deep beneath the sea.  During their turn, a player can do one of 3 actions: Explore, Request Support from the Council, or Recruit a Lord.

If the current player chooses the Explore action, they draw a card (could be an ally or a monster) and place it on the exploration track.  If it’s an ally, each player in turn has a chance to buy the ally with pearls (giving them to the current player).  Each player can only buy one ally during the current player’s turn, and each ally purchased increases the price of the next one.  If no other player buys the ally, the current player can choose to take it for free.  If the card is a monster, the current player can either immediately defeat it (earning various items based on how high the threat level is), or leave it on the exploration track which raises the threat level (which increases the gains from defeating a future monster).  If the current player did not take the ally, or defeat the monster, they draw another card and repeat the process.  When a player does take the ally or defeat the monster (and they must do that if the exploration track is full), their Exploration action ends and all the cards on the exploration track are placed in face-down stacks according to their type (in the Council area of the board). Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Madame Ching

Posted by James (admin) on 12th August 2014

Madame Ching game set-upMadame Ching looks like a really interesting eurogame.  Players send their boats on expeditions across the sea by playing cards (each showing a number, a colour and a symbol) – so far that sounds very normal, but the central game mechanic is unusual.

At the start of each round, players simultaneously reveal one card from their hand of cards.  In order, based on their card number (highest to lowest), players each take a turn playing the card they revealed.

If a player’s card has a higher value than their previous card, the player’s ship advances across the sea grid of numbered spaces moving it one space to the right.  If the card has added a new colour to their expedition’s cards, the ship also moves down one space too.

Whilst not essential to understanding the game, there’s one bit I want to highlight because I think it’s rather clever (especially as I admire the maths of it).  Each space on the grid shows a number.  If a player wants to check if their ship is on the correct space, they look at the cards in their expedition and multiply the number of cards by the number of different coloured cards.  The total number matches the space’s number.  Clever. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Black Fleet

Posted by James (admin) on 11th August 2014

Black Fleet gameFresh from their SdJ nomination with Splendor, Space Cowboys are releasing the very fun-looking, pirate game of Black Fleet.

The board shows a sea full of Caribbean islands and ports.  Players each have a pirate ship and a merchant ship, plus there are 2 navy ships on the board too.  On their turn, players play a movement card from their hand (usually only 2 cards).  This states how many spaces their merchant ship, their pirate ship, and one specific navy ship can move.  The ships can be moved in any order and each can perform one action during its move too.

Pirate ships not already carrying treasure can attack an opponent’s merchant ship if in a neighbouring space earning 2 dubloons and taking 1 of its cargo (plus sinking the merchant ship if it has no cargo remaining).  Pirate ships carrying treasure (stolen cargo) can bury it on specific islands to earn extra dubloons.  Merchant ships can deliver goods at ports that will accept for them (ports pay different amounts for different colours of goods, but don’t accept all colours).  Selling goods means the merchant ship then gains a full load of goods of the colour that matches the port too.  The navy ships can be moved next to opponent’s pirate ships to sink them (earning 2 dubloons too).  Sunk ships may be inconvenient but they are back in play at the start of your next turn so you’re never without all your movement options. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Samurai Spirit

Posted by James (admin) on 10th August 2014

Samurai Spirit gameI’m always interested in the games that Funforge create as their production quality is superb and I’ve liked a lot of what they’ve published, such as QuantumPony Express and Tokaido.  This year it’s a co-operative game called Samurai Spirits.

Up to 7 players each play a Samurai hero defending a village from some raiders.  The board shows a village with some barricades, farmsteads and families. On their turn, a player can choose to fight a raider, support another player, or pass.  When a player chooses to fight, they draw a raider card and either confront it (placing it on the right of their player board), or defend against it (placing it on the left of their board).  The total attack strength of all raiders on the right of a player’s board is marked on their ‘battle track’ and, if it equals the highest value, the player performs their character’s kiai ability.  The Kiai ability not only has a special effect but it also removes their earliest fought raider which usually results in the total attack strength going down.  If the total attack strength exceeds a player’s battle track, they have no choice other than to pass on their turn. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Takamatsu

Posted by James (admin) on 9th August 2014

Takamatsu game set-up

Takamatsu is a new game by Martin Schlegel – the designer of Aqua Romana (an SdJ nominee released by Queen in 2005 – the first Spiel I attended).  I really like Aqua Romana (even though I think one of the game mechanics could be improved) so I’m very interested in this new game.

In Takamatsu, players move their samurai meeple around the rooms in a building trying to gain cards and prevent others from doing so.  Most cards give players victory points (some are secret until revealed) and the first player to 20 victory points wins.

On your turn, you can move samurai from any room where at least one of your samurai is located; however, there are some restrictions.  You must move at least one of your own samurai, plus at least one opponent’s samurai (if there are any opponents in the room).  Also, if there are more than 2 samurai in a room, you must leave at least 1 behind.  The samurai get moved clockwise around the building’s rooms and they are moved forwards a number of rooms equal to the number of samurai moved.  Whilst the rooms are arranged in a loop, it’s not completely linear as there are some branches. Read the rest of this entry »

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