Ah! It’s Spring and new games are blossoming with the same vitality and diversity as ever!
I’ll start with a few expansions for established nature themed games. PARKS has been quite successful, and will be receiving a second expansion (direct to retail) this Summer: Wildlife. It’s officially described as a “MORE” expansion, and it also features a roaming bison. Beware though, the new card backs don’t match the former ones.
Next, a new expansion for Endangered, actually a single scenario called Monarch Butterfly, is already available for pre-order on the Grand Gamers Guild website. They also have an Ukrainian Ambassador Card for sale, with the proceeds supporting Ukrainian refugees.
And the third and last of this series, Ecosystem: Coral Reef is a stand-alone sequel to Ecosystem, a drafting and card-laying game that had been granted an unofficial solo mode by Ricky Royal. Coral Reef has an official 1-6 players count, but the solo mode might be similar since it’s also designed by Ricky Royal. I have written about Ecosystem here, and this new title seems to go further unto the implementation of complex ecosystemic relationships (e.g. you must balance prey and predator species).
Let’s take a small break with Bolets, a colorful PnP game where you lay tiles in an overlapping fashion to create the path that will allow you to gather as many mushrooms as possible, while avoiding crows.
A bit of High Fantasy now with Lost Relics, a stand-alone dungeon crawler in the Warhammer Quest line which you’ll probably never be able to get due to the weird distribution policy of the Games Workshop. Still, it’s nice to fantasize a bit about it!
Next we have Edgeguard, with an interesting narrative premise: all the leaders of the Five Races (humans, goblins, orcs, elves, and dwarves) have been assassinated, and now oldl feuds resurface as all factions blame each other. So, a party of adventurers gather and go through a series of dungeons to fight, loot, level up, and eventually find the truth. Featuring minis, dice rolling, and modular dungeons.
We also have the newest game by Luís Brüeh, Howl. It seems to be a 7th Continent-like game, except you play as a pack of wolves. The game features exploration, and hints at possible alliances with other species to unlock greater parts of the map.
Dancing contests as a theme are not too widespread in board gaming – soloable abstract implementations of it, even less so. So, at least Raas, in which you partake in a Dandiya Raas dance competition, got me intrigued. Colored cubes represent dancers, and they switch partners as you spin the wheels. The goal is to make as many pairings as possible.
Since abstract games are all the rage these days, I also have Torus for you. It looks like a SF game, but then you only put colored discs on a blue grid – that you have to picture as rolling onto itself to form a three dimensional Torus. The game apparently reimplements CTOR (which I don’t know about), adding an enthousiastically advertised solo mode in the process.
Since our childhood infatuation with Santa Claus (for those concerned) is likely to exert a grip on our judgment biases, I’m sure an old, kind-looking, white-bearded guy on a box art will help sell the game, and I for one am instantly hooked by Socrates and the Just City from the art alone. It’s a dice allocation game, where the goal, for once, is not to earn as many victory points as possible, but to have the most culture by the end of the game. I don’t know if the solo mode is BYOS or features an Automa.
Next we have this much more sober cover for The Guild of Merchant Explorers, a forthcoming AEG release, probably straight to retail. The crux of the game is apparently to put red cubes on a hex map. You move forward your expedition (= place more adjacent little red cubes) by playing cards. To win the game in solo, you must fulfill three of the five randomly drawn goals, while beating a score threshold.
I’ll emphasize that this is basically a “flip and write” game, except you don’t have to write, you only put cubes on a personal board that get removed at the end. Maybe this will set a new trend of X and write games where you don’t throw away most of the game components after playing?
And since this game awoke my thirst for exploration, it seems a logical choice to elect Star Drifter as today’s PnP pick, heavily inspired from Barbarian Prince: you move along a hex-grid map, roll dice to know what happens, and try to survive all through the galaxy. A Fantasy version is also in the works. Note that the designer of this game is also behind The Drifter, a popular PnP game in the same vein.
#PARKS #Wildlife #Endangered #MonarchButterfly #Ecosystem #CoralReef #Bolets #WarhammerQuest #LostRelics #Edgeguard #Howl #Raas #Torus #SocratesAndTheJustCity #TheGuildOfMerchantExplorers #StarDrifter
All images taken from the respective game's pages on BGG.