What if you could start all over again? This is the promise of Your Best Life, a WizKids published game described as a "flip-and-write life story game". Go on vacation, have children, start your own business... The game tries to offer a real wealth of possibilities you can choose from. In the end, you have only ten rounds to get your new life on track, so you better hurry or you may end back as a loser once again.
If getting successful in your life is too much pressure of a theme, you may prefer to relax with Japanese Gardens, a roll and write game. The game is played in a succession of phases during which you fill your garden with pretty stuff; at the end of the phase, you will create a pond in your garden (it's not a Japanese garden if there is no pond I guess!). I'll end with this bit from the game's description: "Strike a balance between the unpredictability of nature, the harmony in its asymmetry and the fragility of existence." Doesn't seem so easy.
Next in store is Terra Pyramides, a Kiesling & Kramer game about erecting pyramids in Ancient Egypt. Of course, it takes the sweat and blood of many slaves, hem, sorry, you will have to diligently bring benevolent workers onto the construction site, as well as enough resources. Pyramides bring you points and points bring you eternal glory. The fun thing is that, each turn, you draw a tile you are forced to play; but this activates all previously tiles set on an uninterrupted straight line or diagonal. I guess an interesting spatial puzzle may emerge from this mechanic. However, availability may be limited as this is produced from a Korean publisher (in an English/Korean bilingual version).
Staying with the theme, Pyramidice also offers a more fancy take on the subject, infusing it with a stronger mythological flavor. I didn't get much from the rather obscure game description which ends up in a frenzy stacking of cliché board game descriptions, nor from the generous list of mechanics, except that there will be dice rolling for sure, but I am sure you could get it quite by yourself.
The next one is a game published by the French Lumberjacks Studio, The A.R.T. Project, illustrated by Vincent Dutrait. The overall idea of the game is that you manage a squad of experts specialized in the recovery of stolen artwork. Although it is not listed in the eleven (!) game mechanics, the gameplay seems to revolve quite heavily around resource management as you need to use wisely your weapons, jerricans, allies, and clues to fulfill the missions that you randomly draw at the beginning of the game. I guess it will be a retail release.
Derailed! brings us into a Post-Apoalyptic world infused with the arcane magic of the Fae people. Although the Gamefound page is already live, there is still little info regarding the gameplay itself. It is described as "part wargame, part worker placement", and is based on the special twist that each player is represented by a train, whose engine, carriage wagons, and crew are apparently customizable.
If you long for the typical board gamey theme of random Nature spirits performing some far-fetched ritualistic stuff, you may rejoice about Rivality. In this one, you summon armies of giant golems to seize control over mana sources. As a territory control game, one may wonder about the solo mode, and the last soloable game from that designer, Aetherya, had a pretty weak one indeed. Note that this is the designer behind the old-school and long OOP title Symbioz, a fun game of territory control with Lotka-Volterra-like mechanics as you try to balance the populations of plants, preys, and predators. For this reason alone I will check that one. No info yet, but the previous Nostromo editions game, Sa-Rê, failed to get funded on Gamefound, and get produced anyway for a straight-to-retail release, so I am not sure which path Rivality will take for distribution.
To remain in the conventional Fantasy territory, what's best than a truly Tolkienian game? Ravensburger will soon be releasing The Lord of the Rings Adventure Book Game, the third in their series, after Wizard of Oz and Princess Bride. And although I said "Tolkienian", purists may point out that this is rather "Jacksonian", as this follows the movie's aesthetics. I am curious to see if the details of the story will rather follow the movie plot or the book one, but I am all for a special appearance of poor forgotten Fredegar Bolger.
Garphill Games has created their entry for the final installment in their third "Cardinal Points" trilogy, Inventors of the South Tigris. The game looks fairly complex, has apparently a deck-building component, and is all about inventing devices and getting points for it. I have long given up on getting any clear idea of what these numerous involved Euro games are about, but there are few enough games out there on the Baghdad Golden Age to warrant a mention. This is the place and time of activity of the famous scholar Al-Kindi, one of my "heroes" in the long story of elaboration of human knowledge. The KS campaign is slotted for Q2 of this year, and the game is scheduled for release in 2024.
Finally, Beyond the Sun, a successful Euro game from 2020 featuring plenty of shiny custom dice that you don't roll (they are called "resource cubes"), will get an expansion that introduces a solo mode, Leaders of the New Dawn. I have failed to find any better info about it, but since the game is all about competing factions, I would bet it's AI-based. Anyway, Rio Grande Games has a good history of expansion-introduced solo modes for their Sci-Fi games, so it may sound promising if you are interested in the gameplay and setting.
I'll also briefly mention that Sauria is getting an expansion, Claw of Sauria, featuring a big dinosaur on the cover that I failed to identify and is probably just a mutated aberration, because as far as I know, only tyrannosaurids have two-fingered forelimbs, and none has spikes on their backs (nor any theropod I have heard of for that matter). I hate when dinosaur-themed games (or movies) come up with made-up stuff (yes, Jurassic World has destroyed the entire franchise, I stand by that statement). I mean, what's the point? Why not feature genetically engineered dragons or kangaroo gargoyles with shark heads instead?