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Freshly Added to BGG - May 11, 2023

The lovely month of May continues to unfold, and board games keep popping up, exploring methodically all the seemingly infinite variations of the key themes: pets, nature, post-apocalyptic, Fantasy, sci-fi, history... Each one a drop, carving a fascinating landscape of the contemporary mind frame. Across repetition, we start to hear distinctively the rhymes and rhythms of our western, twenty-first century culture. So listen with me to the litany of themes titles, and you will discern the melody of our times.

Starting with cats - always a good start when you don't have dinosaurs in store. After Isle of Cats, we now get House of Cats, from publisher Aporta games (meaning retail), and designers William Attia (Caylus) and Kristian Amundsen Østby (Santa Maria, Revive, Trails of Tucana). Each round you roll the four dice and report them on your sheet. Your aim is to form rooms, which you achieve when you get a number of adjacent squares showing that same number (e.g. four squares of four). This activates abilities you can use. Mice and cats also fill your board, and score depending on the map you play (of which there are four). There doesn't seem to be any specific theme aside from "cats and mice in a house with rooms".

If you have read JW's latest grumpy post, you shouldn't be surprised to see that the escapist trend continues with more and more nostalgic games about a doomed and mostly gone natural world only surviving within the dystopic cocoon of a human-managed enclosure. In Kavango, you draft animal cards to build the most successful reserve (meaning more beautiful and tourist-attractive than the reserve of your peers), managing money wisely and manipulating score-trackers meeples playfully. It is set for a Kickstarter campaign in the near future.

In the same vein, Two Degrees got a splendid idea: what about making climate change fun? You will erect wind turbines, plant forests, manage fires, promote science, transport people, and overcome the plagues of our times with a whimsical laying of your tiles as you fight off the rise of the temperature. I like how cities are oddly represented as isolated walls amidst a mostly wasteland: this feels deliciously futuristic. Back to to the city-state system of Antiquity! Two Degrees is already available as a print-on-demand game on the Game Crafter, with a crowd sale ongoing for three more days.

Well, apparently you had too much fun and not enough success, because let's face it: you failed preventing the impeding disaster. Only a handful of Survivors now remain in this Dystopia Rising Game. And if things weren't bad enough, there are zombies around now (I guess these poor lads have been awakened from their dead slumber because of the constant whining of the wind turbines). Even nature has become deadly, and infectious spores are sickening your ravaged lungs. Despite all this, you are set with the task of founding a new settlement for humanity to wane in peace: gather resources, face encounters, roll dice, and hopefully, you'll have a tiny lovely camp by the end of the game. This should get to Kickstarter eventually.

Post-apocalyptic also blossoms in Fantasy worlds, so we are not alone in our sorrow. Storm Raiders tells the story of a city confined within the eye of thousand-years-long gigantic storm, and as the eye slowly widens, the city people start discovering their surroundings and the ruins of their past world. This opens new opportunities to raid these remains of a once-powerful empire... Race to the newly found sites, upgrade your vehicles, hire a crew, and fight mercilessly against any competition in this game by Shem Phillips (but not published by Garphill Games!) that should appear on Kickstarter soon.

Ah! The fools! Fighting over scraps, like ravenous dogs over the pitiful remnants of flesh on a dusty bone. If only we could make them hear to reason, and have them cease their pointless feuds! This is a noble goal, and the one you shall pursue in Peacemakers: Horrors of War, the latest Sami Laakso game, actually a re-implementation of Dawn of the Peacemakers. It befalls you to prevent two warring factions from spiraling even more deeply toward their mutual destruction. The game has been streamlined, there are no more secret envelopes, it plays as a set of scenarios instead of a campaign, and the graphic design has been fully overhauled. The Gamefound page is already up, with a launch date set in the late summer.

Isn't it startling how Fantasy is now increasingly focusing on peaceful, ideal societies, as our own world more and more goes astray? Stonespine Architects offers another example of this vein, featuring wise minotaur architects constructing labyrinthine structures filled with monsters and secret passageways. The more deadly your dungeon, the more successful an architect you become. I guess it's not so peaceful and idealistic after all, but it still may be a lot of fun. The game is set in the dull world of Ulos, also known as the Role Player universe, and should launch on Kickstarter in the next few weeks.

But you know what? I tell you of nature, of grim and dark renditions of the future, of our wonderful imagination that depicts lovely Fantasy death maze architects, but in the end, we'll get all wiped out in the most sudden and unexpected possible way, as they are coming to seal our fate once and for all: yes, I'm speaking of the Freaky Frogs from Outaspace, right out of the deranged mind of Friedmann Frise! Well, no need to worry, it's not a real extraterrestrial attack, it's only a pinball game. A pinball game where you can score lots and lots of points, or lose almost from the start and get frustrated (yes, the game advertises this explicitly). To provide the thrills of silvery bouncing ball, the game relies on deck-building mechanics. Soon to be available in retail!

You know the drill: I end my post with one expansion, one PnP. The expansion is Turukhan for Stroganov, adding four new modules to this Euro game of Siberian hunting and fur trade, including a chipmunk - so preciously soft...- and a diplomacy track.

This gave ideas to penguins who decided to launch their own fur trade, hunting down seals and walruses on the ice fields in Swords and Penguins. Don't worry about getting your hands bloody, this will only grant you the love of your fellow penguins of Friendsville. If you are interested, you need to ask for the files for free on this website (I have tried it for you, it doesn't seem to be a malware and I received my files instantly). Now I have to go for lunch - skewers of sea gulls on a pointy stick on the menu today. Yummy.

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