Today’s post is organized into three parts: first, board games with standard themes (I got a bingo with the combo history-SF-zombies-fantasy), second, board games with unusual themes, and third, expansions.
Let’s start with Zheng He, a solitaire-only GMT P500 game by two experienced designers featuring the most famous admiral of Chinese history. You may say, hey, but that’s actually a pretty good, refreshing theme, and I wholeheartedly agree, but it’s also not the first game to pick the Zheng He voyages as a theme, and retrieving some random historical episode to build a GMT wargame around it isn't unheard of either. Besides, I’m French, I need to organize stuff into three parts, and they needed to be balanced.
Moving on with Meytamon, a blatant Pokemon rip-off soon on Kickstarter (and not to be confused with RoboMon, soon on Gamefound), which features a grand total of seven game modes, one of them happening to be solo. You can learn more on the dedicated website.
The next one is Zombomination, a small, pocket-fitting card game where you try to survive the zombie apocalypse with dice rolls and supplies. The game is already available from Etsy, along with many other games from that publisher (see the website if you are interested).
If you survive the undead horde, cosmic cephalopods await you in Cosmoctopus, a game soon to be kickstarted and designed by Henry Audubon (PARKS). The game description makes it difficult to infer anything about the mechanics, but you apparently navigate tiles in order to gather what is needed to build an engine.
I promised Fantasy, and I’ll begin with Fateforge: Chronicles of Kaan, aka Made-up word: Chronicles of made-up word as some would say, and which has already been discussed in the Lounge. The game focuses on fighting, each fight lasting approximately 30 minutes, and my understanding is that they all line up into a campaign of sorts. The designer, Gordon Calleja, has some big games under his belt already (Excavation Earth, Vengeance, Posthuman Saga), all published by Mighty Board Games which is also behind this new title. The prelaunch page is already up and the KS is scheduled for September.
And because I just love Fantasy, I’m giving you a second one, Encounters: Shattered Wastes, a solo/cooperative card-driven game of fighting against opponents where you must not only survive but also remain incorrupt. This game is also set for a Kickstarter campaign.
This brings us to part two and its gallery of new, fancy themes! Starting with Umbrella Sky, a game described as a “city beautifying” game where you bring colors to the dull urban life thanks to umbrellas everywhere. Gameplay-wise, it’s your usual point salad of pattern building and set collection in which you put colored tokens on a board.
The next one is not especially original, and leans towards the abstract, but, hey, three parts structure and all… So allow me to introduce Beacon Patrol, a tile-laying game of sea exploration in which you must ensure the safety of the Northern sea by checking all lighthouses and beacon buoys. The game for now exists mainly in a prototype form, but a digital version is available so you can play it online.
Then we have Junk Drawer, a spatial polyomino puzzle in which you need to organize your personal “junk drawer” (as you might have guessed already). This is the publisher’s second game and the first one had been funded through Kickstarter, so this is a possible route for this one as well. I must say it’s a pretty good theme and I definitely have a junk drawer at home (several actually), but never thought to make a board game theme out of it.
The fourth one is All Stars Playlist, where your goal is to make the most successful song list of all. This somehow reminds me of the film-making and video game-making board games we got in the previous years. The listing mechanics, including set collection and pattern building, tend to make me think it may be similar gameplay-wise as well, but they also include singing, which is definitely a novelty.
Since SF can apparently still provide interesting and a bit out-of-the-ordinary themes, I have the delight to mention Mission Control: Critical Orbit, a roll ‘n’ write game about a team of Flight Controllers that need to manage the atmosphere re-entry of a spaceship (plus some mumbo-jumbo about Mars, hyperspace, and uchronic takes on history). The goal is to build a path with polyominoes to the stranded shuttle while racing against a 20 minutes timer. Looking back at what I just wrote, it really seems like a strange mesh of words and ideas which barely makes sense to me, but I give them all the benefit of the doubt they can get!
Finally, we have a game about the Yellow Turban Rebellion in China (I confess I had never heard of it before that), Shu’s Tactics. It’s a solo roll ‘n’ write branching campaign game with tower defense elements and narrative choices to make. If that doesn’t sound intriguing, I don’t know what will!
And we arrive now at the third part: expansions. These are not very fun to write about, so allow me to be brief about each one. The Eagle’s Nest expansion for Sniper Elite introduces two new maps (including the Eagle’s Nest) and four new characters, which are “guest stars” from comics and other games. The Interbellum expansion for Furnace adds new cards and new modules (and something absolutely relevant for solo, a 5th player option). This is about the degree of detail that has been shared as of now.
We know a bit more about the New Horizon expansion for Newton, which adds a new board with special spaces that provide their own scoring opportunities. Because the two games just couldn’t go along more poorly, I will also mention a stand-alone expansion for Dodos Riding Dinos, Dodo Dash. In this sequel to the original racing and flicking game, you are given all-new tracks to race on, and can now use your Dodo rider as a projectile, if you don’t prefer to throw bananas or drop a meteorite.
On a more serious note, Great Western Trail: Argentina is a cattle-delivery economic game that re-implements Great Western Trail (so, yes, it doesn’t belong to this part, but you should have figured out by now that there is an intruder in each part). In solo, you’ll face Pedro, who certainly sounds like a real thug.
Finally, apart from a weird box art cover in which you feel like aliens are erecting the Acropolis out of a blue beam, the Ancient Wonders expansion for Origins introduces two new modules, the Ancient Wonders one, enabling you to build wonders, and Trials of the Builders, a set of objectives to be fulfilled in each round, which also replaces the end game conditions and gives the game a fixed number of rounds. I do wish it features aliens for real, but somehow, I am skeptical.