Freshly Added to BGG - March 10, 2023
Everything should start with dinosaurs - this is a terrific hook. Such a devious tactic has been used by Worthington Publishing to get me interested in their latest wargame: Lands of the Mesozoic. This is a first design from Ander Guinea, described as "a lecturer in Geology", so I have hopes that this will be well-documented. The goal is to build a sustainable ecosystem, starting with habitats where Herbivors may find food and generate "resources" for predators to feed upon. To let your species thrive, you must find the balance between the three, while enduring natural cataclysms and dealing with inter-species competition. I do not know whether the solo mode involves an AI. The game will come in a TTR-sized box and is to be Kickstarted later this year.
Staying true to the prehistoric theme, Doggerland brings us to a patch of land that bridged Europe to Great Britain, around 15,000 BCE. You lead a clan struggling for resources and survival while also expressing their own cultural identity through megaliths, crafting, and parietal painting. A unique leader and shaman provide variability across clans. Based on the board's picture, the game looks like a pretty heavy Euro. So far only the French version has been announced, but since the game is published by Super Meeple, I have little doubt that there will be a wider release sooner than later.
After the past, the future: Scarce brings us to a post-apocalyptic Earth devastated by climate change (again? didn't these humans learn anything from all the past board games on that exact theme?), where resources have become, well, scarce. Humanity is confined within floating cities and has united its forces to build a nuclear power plant to ensure a lasting source of energy. Players are sent aboard frail dragonfly ships capable of diving into the ocean depths to recover the needed materials. For once the game is fully cooperative from the get-go: I think humankind has learned at least one lesson in this game!
I guess the importance of learning lessons only highlights how crucial are the tales we tell ourselves, as a species and as a society. So it's only fitting to keep on with Lore, a game dealing with folktales archetypes. You have twelve rounds to build a character's story through the quests they engage in and the hardships they face. The game is sprinkled with a few dice rolls, because fate is ever unpredictable.
Drifting further away into Fantasy, we come to ANTARA, a dice-based Tower Defense game where you must protect a city from the armies of the Darklord, first by destroying three relics to take down the said baddie's invulnerability, and then by slaying him properly. Each turn, you roll your action dice, mitigate them a bit and use them to achieve stuff, then activate the enemies and see how you fare. The game should get to Kickstarter eventually.
I'll end my little Fantasy trilogy (always three, there are) with Oath to Embers, a game that has sat on my wishlist for longer than I'd liked, due to an overall lack of info. Pictures have started to show up for a month or two, and I hope you do like the artwork, because if you go to the website, this is all there is to it: pictures, a making of video about the paintings, and the possibility to buy a cover print. As for any game mechanics description, you get nothing beyond a vague "1-4 Player Co/Op Dark Fantasy Dungeon Crawler Board Games; Choose Your Own Adventure Style Story with Multiple Endings; Deck Building Combat Tactics". That's a lot of caps for very little actual info.
Time to get serious. If you wonder where the world is going... Maybe try to simulate it with a wargame. This is exactly what Order & Opportunity offers you to experience, thanks to a card-driven system and a dedicated solitaire variant. If you look for escapism, this is NOT the way to go. The game is available in the P500 pre-order system of GMT games, so it may not be published before we get to know the actual winner of the worldwide competition.
Still very much serious, but possibly lighter, Ion Games' Kartini: From Darkness to Light, which takes place in Indonesia in the late 1800 to the early 1900, where independence from the Dutch domination becomes a rising yearning. As the realization that women's education empowers the people creeps in, building schools and starting education programs turns into a tool for a whole culture's emancipation. The game should not be too complex mechanics-wise, as the designer diaries on BGG have made particularly clear. As for the title, it is derived from a collection of letters from Javanese Raven Adjeng Kartini, who wrote to her Dutch pen pals about her ideas of feminism - the book was called Out of Darkness Comes Light. I do not know what is the publishing plan.
We should have expected that the board game adaptation of a never-ending video game license should eventually get expansions, right? Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood of Venice - Apocalypse has just come to confirm that. I know very little about the original and care even less, but it was pretty well-received among its targeted audience, so if by any chance this audience overlaps with that of Solitaire Times, I guess some might rejoice with the news!
In the meanwhile, or if you can't afford a big game box full of plastic minis, (or if you just fancy micro-games playable in your hand), BGG user CyBadger is offering its own take on the topic (obviously unlicensed) with Blade: Sisterhood. This focuses on one of the highlights of the video game: running across streets, roofs, and tiny gutters to escape a band of guards intent on putting you down. If you are curious about how parkour can be translated into an 18-card game, the WIP thread with all the files can be found here on BGG. Also available on the Game Crafter.