Spiel 2014 Preview: Versailles

Posted by James (admin) on 12th October 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 11th October 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 10th October 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 5th October 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 1st October 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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Spiel 2014 Preview: Imperial Settlers

Posted by James (admin) on 1st October 2014

Imperial Settlers game setupImperial Settlers is a new game from Portal Publishing by Ignacy Trzewiczek.  Apparently it re-implements State 51; however, I read the rules to Imperial Settlers and have played State 51 once some time ago, and Imperial Settlers appeals to me a lot more.  (Imperial Settlers was released at GenCon earlier this year, but is a Spiel release too.)

Each player is trying to make the most successful civilisation by using cards to increase their abilities and generate resources.  After 5 rounds, the player with the most Victory Points (VPs) wins – VPs can be earned during the game, as well as for locations they have at the end of the game.

Each player’s faction is slightly different and has its own set of cards, but all players can also use cards from a common deck too.  Each player gets a faction board which helps align their cards into rows of the 3 types of cards (Production, Feature, Action) – player’s own faction cards are placed to the left of their board and common cards to the right.  Each card has a colour in its lower-right to show what type of card it is too.

Each player has several cards in their hand and can pay the cost to build/place these cards so they can use their effects during their turns.  Instead of being used as a location, faction cards can become ‘deals’ which means they get tucked under the very top of the player’s faction board with just their edge protruding to show what resources these cards generate each round.

At the start of each round, players draw 1 of their faction cards and then gain 2 common cards by selecting them from a limited amount (s0 there will be some element of balancing taking items useful to you over taking ones that your opponents want.)  Then, players gain the resources/tokens/workers/cards/VPs that their locations, deals and abilities generate. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Night of the Grand Octopus

Posted by James (admin) on 1st October 2014

Night of the Grand Octopus gameNight of the Grand Octopus is a game of second-guessing and double-think your opponents, with Cthulhoid overtones, as you try to be the cult that summons the great tentacled one.  The first player to gather all of the required items to perform the summoning rite wins.

Each player has two tokens – one represents your cultists and the other represents your monster.  Each turn, players set, and then simultaneously reveal, the locations where each of their tokens is going to move to.   Monsters can move anywhere, but cultists can only move to one location one space from their current location.

Each locations starts with items that the players are trying to collect.  If one cultist token is on a location with no monsters, they can take one of the items.  However, if there are cultists and monsters on a location, the cultists gain nothing and a fight breaks out with all players involved losing 1 cult power.  If there are multiple cultists but no monsters, the player must agree to all take nothing, or agree which single player will take an item; if they can’t agree, a fight breaks out and all players lose 1 cult power.

As well as the main locations, the game is played with 1 of the 4 external locations which players can move to instead fora special effect.  I like that the rules explain what effect on the game each of these external locations will have, i.e. longer, more tactical, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Office 21

Posted by James (admin) on 30th September 2014

Office 21 cardsOffice 21 is a quick, card game where players are trying to have their ‘office’ of workers generate exactly $21 million profit, i.e. their values add up to 21.   Players take turns adding one worker (card) from their hand of three into their set of cards on the table (office).  As well as having different values, each card has a special effect too, such as removing a card from your own office, turning an opponent’s card face-down, looking at the next card on the draw pile and choosing to take it or put it back, and so on.

So, cards you play can be used to alter other player’s offices as well as your own office, which means there will be plenty of spoiling other players’ attempts, and subsequent petty revenge (which will be entertaining).  A few cards interact with each other automatically; for example, The Boss and Secretary get on very well indeed.  If a Boss card is showing and a Secretary card is played by someone then both cards are turned face down whilst they are, erm, occupied.  Face-down cards do not count towards your total (but will if they get turned back up again).

There are several ways in which a game can end, and the way it ends determines how the winner is judged.  A player wins if their office has a total of exactly 21 and still has 21 when it is their next turn – so other players get one chance to mess with their office and/or win a better way.  However, if a player plays a Tax Man card, play continues until that Tax Man is reached again (he could get removed) then it’s the player with the lowest total who wins.  Any player who exceeds a total of 21 is automatically out, so a player can win if they’re the last man standing.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Attack on Monster

Posted by James (admin) on 29th September 2014

Attack on Monster game

Attack on Monster is a game of of knowing when to fight, knowing when to run, and knowing when to tell your friends you’ll stay with them to the bitter end and then immediately deserting them so they get killed and you don’t.

The game board consists of a changing row of location cards.  The players start on a location and there is a large monster bearing down on them.  Players simultaneously show if they are going to run (away from the monster to the next location), or stay where they are.  After players move or stay, the monster moves up to 2 locations and fights the first group of players it meets.  If the number of players (plus any bonuses/penalties for equipment and the location’s effects) is greater than the monster’s strength, the monster is killed which earns those players an equipment card and some Victory Points (VPs); otherwise, all players are killed by the monster.  The good news is each player has 3 figures (meeple) so when one gets eaten, the next enters play. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel 2014 Preview: Theseus: Bots

Posted by James (admin) on 28th September 2014

Theseus Bots boxTheseus is a really interesting, tactical game – you can read my review here.  Bots is an expansion that adds a new faction to pick from.  Apart from that, I haven’t seen any other details about it at the moment.  However, I like the main game Theseus so I’m interested in an expansion for it.

Portal Games have a pre-order page for Spiel on their site which can be reached using this shortlink: bga.me/portal14

For more Spiel 2014 previews, check out my Spiel 2014 Previews page which lists the games on my radar with links to their previews too.


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