Freshly Added to BGG - Fantasy Special - April 28, 2023
Here we are for a new Fantasy Special edition (I never particularly plan to do them, it's just that Fantasy is, by far, the #1 theme in board gaming, so I regularly end up with more than enough matching titles to feed you with). For the Sci-Fi fans, I have added a little compensation at the end, so you may not feel entirely lost and forgotten this week.
I shall begin with Portals, not only since I chose it for the cover image of this post, but for the meta-thematic allegory of its premise: you are a traveler between worlds, jumping from portal to portal to discover an infinite array of universes. This is certainly what the board games of this list invite you to do. The goal of this particular game, though, is to find the lost Dominick Dey, a powerful wizard who paved the way to traveling across worlds, only to disappear at some point. Did he find the perfect place to live? Did he end up in a universe where he couldn't breathe and died stupidly? Did he unravel some sinister secret and got detained for it? It's up to you to find out, drafting these pretty, colorful stones to fulfill cards and get going. The game is mostly a race to find back the lost wizard, hence multiplayer-oriented, but the solo game, according to the game description, offers a "great and crunchy puzzle to solve".
Let's jump through our first portal then, right Into the Godsgrave, a new co-op game published by Lucky Duck Games. You play as a party of heroes on a quest to save the world or whatever. Each hero is characterized by its own custom deck of cards, and on each round, you need to pick a party stance called a "Plan Card" that will slightly alter the rules for your whole party, therefore allowing you to devise a proper group strategy to deal with the threat you are facing. Oh, and, by the way, it's a hybrid game, and cannot be played without the app.
After Tiwanaku and Turing Machine, here comes another deduction game, ArcheOlogic, by the same designer of Turing Machine. The goal is to restore the City Plan by correctly laying out six buildings on a 5x5 grid, asking question to the Archeoscope such as "how many empty cells are there on axis 3" or "which traps can be found in column 3?". If you wonder why exactly this game has ended up in the Fantasy category, that is because the setting is loosely unspecific, with some vague "City of the Ancients" that sounded more Fantasy than historical.
So, to not disappoint, I will turn back to something which is more properly and explicitly Fantasy: Dwarves: The Fall of Karnarak, with the semi-colon-adorned title and the bogus place/person name that has become a true hallmark of the genre. This is a tower-defense-style card game where you try to hold a citadel under siege. You will need to upgrade your fortress, to hire specialists, and to fight dearly against hordes of enemies, siege engines, and finally the dreaded Warlords, whose defeat is the sole path to survival. The game is fully co-operative, and soloable of course.
Change of mood: after the dark and bloodied walls of a cold stone dwarven Citadel, we welcome you to the colorful Bosley-illustrated world of Potions of Azerland, where centaurs, elves, gnomes and humans successfully coexist in a peaceful and thriving society mostly concerned with trade and economic exchange - a perfect Adam Smith little utopia. You will therefore collect goods to craft potions in order to fulfill your customers' orders, possibly drinking a few of them in the process to boost your own abilities. Whoever is the most prestigious potion seller by the end of the day will be crowned, well, the most prestigious potion seller of cozy pretty Azerland.
And now we swing again to Low: A Fantasy Adventure Board Game. For those who are unfamiliar with Fantasy, one dimension that distinguishes works within the genre is the High/Low one: High Fantasy is a Tolkienian-like adventure, with heroes saving the world from the forces of darkness, and Low Fantasy is your traditional D&D-like Saturday morning adventure where you go crawling in the dungeon nearby to gain XP, gold, and perhaps a few magical items along the way, knowing that if you fail, it won't affect the fate of the universe. So, basically, it's a Conan of Cimmeria novel (hence Tolkien and Howard seen as the two "founding fathers" of modern Fantasy). Therefore, the title of this new dungeon crawling card game tells you everything you need to know about the theme and what to expect. I know little about the mechanics themselves, except that you can go in true solo or control a whole party of heroes. Availability-wise, this is a Game Crafter release, but a PnP will also be made available. It will be introduced on the former through a crowdsale.
The next one is a little, light card game described as a D&D-vibe variant of Go Fish. Except if you combine cards from all four decks (the four suits? not clear), you will be able to play a "deckbuilding with an engine mechanic" game of dungeon crawling. The rules as detailed in the game description reminds me strongly of something like Steve Jackson Games' Hack & Slash, so don't expect anything too substantial. It should show up Kickstarter eventually.
I'll end today's loot review with Dragons Down, a Magic Realm-inspired by Scott DeMers, that you may know from Hellenica or Spring and Autumn. This game has been on BGG for a while but I missed its addition in the database. Anyway, it should launch this year on Kickstarter. You will explore locations, fight monsters, meet NPCs, equip weapons, etc. There is a bunch of designer diaries released on BGG if you want to know more. As in Gloom of Kilforth, you will be able to customize your character by picking the race/class combination that suits your tastes best.
So, before we close, I have one news in the "expansion" section which happens to fit the theme... We've got a new Monster Hunter World campaign coming in, Monster Hunter World Iceborne, so that if you have already exhausted the thousand of cards, hundreds of gameplay content, and full barrels of minis of your All-In from the previous campaign that you may have received a month ago, here is the time to get some more!
Oh, and what about my promise? Here is SWARM, a PnP featuring hexcrawl exploration and dungeon delve that you randomly generate using a d6 and a table. The premise of the game is that the SWARM, a parasitic entity, is devouring the planet Ramses, and you, a poor colonist, needs to do your best to escape. There is no level up, only better gear. It's pretty much a solo RPG, but you do not have to improvise nor make up any content. If you are interested, you can get it free (or for a fee) on twitch.io.