Today's post is all about seriousness. Economic development, history, nature: we are getting away from the cowardice of Fantasy, from the pessimistic brooding of post-apocalyptic settings, from the partly respectable but too easily fancified Sci-Fi. Today we deal with what elevates us as humans: the path to civilization, the mastery over the world, the triumph of our business ventures. A beaver's dam may scramble at the first gust of wind, our works stand firm, catching success as in a carefully woven spider's web. So, let's feel bright and clever as we restore the narrative of humankind destiny, through the beating of ourselves in the endless escalation towards higher scoring tiers and the patient overcoming of ever more mischievous bots and cardboard intelligence. Welcome to the real world.
Starting with beavers. A realistic take on a small beaver society - Beaver Creek. And as any utopic society (see: the Smurfs), they revel in the collective bonding which can only be provided by a shared hard work, like, building a dam. Why? No reason needed: it's basically team-building at the scale of their community. This is how you learn to care for each other. Now, in this game, you need to help them by rolling dice which state additional requirements to fulfill (what to add to the dam, and how). And for some weird reason, someone has decided that all dexterity games were inherently solo, because card castles have been a thing for centuries, so here it ends up on this list.
I know far too little about the next title, but given that Trails of Tucana has been one of my best gaming discoveries last year, I am sure inclined to give a look at its sequel, Tucana Builders. No flip and write this time, but tile-laying, to connect huts to animals (hey, why not). As in Trails of Tucana, you have a two-part scoring structure, so you can either focus on what will get you points in the first scoring, or forego this to favor a big pay-off in the second scoring. Of course, to achieve the best scoring tiers, you will likely need to manage both at once.
From the same two designers comes Footprints, a game that is spicy enough, but not so much that it will turn your tongue to an ash pile. It relies on a set of mechanics that is listed a few centimeters above, so I won't bother repeating them. The game puts you at the head of a burgeoning clan and sends you out to perform all the Prehistoric fun: hunting, gathering, doodling on cavern walls, while racing to the horizon to catch up with the sun. There really isn't much I can tell besides what is written on the box back, since the BGG description is but a copy-paste of it.
What can you do when you grow tired of running after woolly mammoths and chasing the setting sun? Settling somewhere of course! Riverwood Town therefore takes us to the next step in our journey across ages: building cities. Claiming inspiration from Carcassonne and Dorfromantik, the game features tile-laying in order to complete a series of missions before time runs out. Still racing against something, humankind? One day you should sit down and think about what you are really running forward to - unless you are running from something, yet too afraid to admit it. The game self-claims to be the "perfect game for desktop gaming", whatever that means, so I guess the footprint isn't too large, putting them in direct competition with Hextremadura.
The problem with cities is that, when you put a lot of people together in a crowded space for an extended period of time, things start to get awry. So, to keep them in line, what's best that an institutionalized moral code based on spiritual aspirations? And to ensure this, you need a temple, a manifest symbol of this moral authority, of this ethical compass weighting upon your soul. Ezra and Nehemiah, by Garphill Games and part of the Ancient Series (following Hadrian's Wall and Legacy of Yu), reminds us of this necessity by following the two eponymous books of the Bible, which records the reconstruction of the Temple as the Israelite people came back from their Babylonian exile. This is a heavy Euro race-to-VP type of game in the line of the other Garphill games, and you'll get three weeks to get that temple standing up, so you'd better optimize these workers or you won't be crowned the best sacred building site manager in town!
And where has this path to civilization, guided by our sight set on the heavens afar, led us in the end? To the sky of course. To a well-managed, financially profitable sky, crossed with the silvery silhouette of airplanes drawing their cloudy course across the striking blue as a trail of hope for all of humankind below to follow. In Airport Service, you will be as the officiant beside the altar, ensuring that all this newly found modern wonder works as needed: you'll manage parking lots, the loading of luggage into the hold, the catering companies so that people don't starve up there, you get it: all the invisible yet much-required logistic infrastructure without which there would be less beauty in this mundane world.
And now is the time for the terrible truth. We pride ourselves so much. We believe to be the pinnacle of evolution, the epitome of nature. But we have deadly serious competitors - fearsome, ruthless, cunning ones. Spiders. And Arachno Evo is here to make us face this terrifying reality. Chose your favored species and become the top of the crop in this brutally competitive engine building game, where nothing is below you to achieve supremacy over your fellow eight-limb species. The game has no clear publishing plan so far, but you can already enjoy it on Tabletopia. And, yes, competition for survival does mean playing against an Automa. Obviously.
What about a piece of quiet as we move to this post's conclusion? Walking in Burano, the game about leisurely lingering as a ravished tourist across the Venitian island of Burano, is getting a roll and write adaptation, adequately named Walking in Burano: Roll & Write. You draft dice of six different colors to adorn the matching houses on your board with Instagram-friendly decorations, so you get as high a rating as possible from tourists, inhabitants, and Santa Claus.
In the expansion department, we have New Prospects, an expansion for Coloma, the game about town building and gold digging in nineteenth-century California. You will be given more sites to prospect and more buildings to erect, pretty much as you would expect. The Gamefound campaign will also offer a reprint of the original.
I'll end with a last note of reflection: what would we be without emulation to reveal the true extent of our skills? How far could we go without competition to foster our strength and wits? It is therefore no coincidence if the threats and turmoils of the Cold War gave rise to the four best decades of all the history of humankind, namely 1950-1990. After 1991 it's all but a downfall. So, let us celebrate this Golden Age for a while with Tiny Cold War, our free PnP pick of the day (website)! The game lasts 18 rounds, going through 18 key events of the Cold War, including the launch of Sputnik and the Cuban missile crisis. Compete over influence in three domains (space race, warfare, and diplomacy), and if you achieve majority over two by the end of the game's course, you'll get to set the New World Order!