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Freshly Added to BGG - February 24, 2023

What a weird feeling to write a clumsy post about shiny board games the day of a war anniversary. Anyway. If powerful people were wasting their time on silly things like me instead of having people killed, we would be happier as a whole. 'Let's delay the invasion for a while, I have an exciting KS coming in, I don't want my hands full of reports and orders to give and whatever while I unpunch all this cardboard goodness and dive into the rulebook...'

The first game I want to feature, Ultimate Voyage: When China Ruled the Seas, seems to confirm the rising popularity of Admiral Zheng He in the board gaming world - the central figure of four games before this one, three of them being soloable. The goal of the game is to take up the mantle after Zheng He's voyages: the imperial bureaucracy is no longer willing to support any expedition, and it is up to you to show that there is still value to be found in seafaring abroad. The game lasts between 7 and 10 rounds; each round, you roll three dice, that will affect your capability to undergo actions, ranging from trade to exploration, from building military structures to engage into diplomacy efforts. I have no idea regarding the game's distribution though.

Still in the 'history' theme, we have 3 Sanchos, a pocket board game by David Mortimer, designer of... The Ming Voyages, what a coincidence. It takes place during the Eleventh Century and pictures the War of the Three Sanchos, opposing Sancho Ramirez of Aragon, Sancho II of Castille, and Sancho IV of Navarre, three kingdoms from the North of Present-Day Spain. Apparently we are not entirely sure who won what, so historians had decided to rely on a game designer to make a good simulation and see what would emerge of it. In each round, you play a card, granting you a number of command points to spend in whatever action you fancy; it also states which actions the other two Kings must undertake. Whenever you fortify a castle, you gain points; gain 10 points and you achieve a major victory. Otherwise, after 12 rounds, the King with the most points can pretend having won, but things will end up about as muddy as they really were by the end of the war. Additional info awaits you on the Gamefound prelaunch page.

Dismayed by this senseless violence, you decide to retire among your sheep in a land far away: New Zealand. This is the basic promise of the new Great Western Trail game. Diversify your breeds of shape, increase the value of your wool, and you may achieve prosperity for your family and your business. So, if you prefer sheep to cattle, you know what to get.

Next, I have Clin9ic, the game whose name no one can actually pronounce. This is another game in the "nano"games series, relying on 9 cards, 9 dice, 9 cubes, to deliver a fully complex design. Surprisingly, these boxes had turned out to cost 18€ during the last KS, but hey, when you squeeze so much of design goodness into so few game bits, it can't but juice over on the price, I guess. Anyway, this is set for a KS release as well, so if you are a fan of Alban Viard, rejoice!

Speaking about business, here is a game I think I have featured in the past, but couldn't find any trace of: Star Tycoon, a game about flourishing an interstellar business company. You will claim planets to ensure that resources flow, and buy and sell goods according to prices set by a fluctuating market. Always in motion, the profit is. The game should launch on Kickstarter.

Alas, not everything you can find in outer space is there for you to fill your pockets. There are also genuinely hungry aliens who think you could be a suitable resource for their ever-demanding stomach. In Forbidden Jungle, the newest entry in Matt Leacock "Forbidden Games" series, it is up to your skills and co-operative planning to escape a planet filled with such dangerous, ravenous, and venomous creatures. No one knows for sure if the game will be soloable two-handed or not, but the previous three were.

Instead of being hunted by such foes, what about engineering them? Biohack offers you to do just that, setting you in the role of a mad scientist trying to give life to mythical creatures with a guaranteed potential of mass destruction. To do so, you will send out an army of androids, the Normans, to collect DNA bits in order to fulfill the creatures' genetic blueprints. The goal is to design as much creatures as you can. To be Kickstarted eventually.

If you want to celebrate the beauty and capabilities of life in a different way than tinkering with the genetic code to offspring mythical monsters, you may make a detour to the Pantanal region, a great plains regularly overflooded by the rains, and which host one of the most astonishing species diversity on the planet. In the tile placement game of the same name, you will build landscapes of lakes and rivers to achieve points, in order to fulfill the agenda of your hidden role (obviously I don't know how this translates for solo play). There is a chance that the game, published by a Brazilian company, will only be in Portuguese.

Another game about nature published in a non-English language, the French-designed Biotopes is a bag-building driven game about ecosystem optimization. Each round, you attempt to spread over the landscape featured by the central board, while balancing the populations at the micro level in your own micro-system. The BGG description is fairly complicated, but if you are interested in ecosystemic organization, it also sounds very neat, featuring all at once adaptation, reproduction, evolution, expansion, migration, and competition between species. All the effects on the cards appear both as text and as a set of icons, so if you are good with iconography, you should be able to enjoy the game just fine with no knowledge of the French language. Apprently it went through a failed crowdfunding campaign on the Game On Tabletop website (never heard about it before), but now it is set for a retail release in July.

I'll end with the perfect fit to end a post that started with war... In After Us, humankind has been wiped off the surface of the Earth and nature is claiming back its lands. You will lead one of the ape and monkey tribes to dominance through the awakening of your collective intelligence, thanks to a combination of deck-building and resource management. Ironically enough, I could not find the rules... but that of the solo mode (here on Blackrock Games website). It pits you against the King of Apes, a powerful gorilla that draws strength from all primates in his following. The game, designed by Florent Sireix and illustrated by Vincent Dutrait, is already available for pre-order.

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