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Mid-year radar

It is the middle of 2021 already, which means, time to pause, look back on the games acquired so far, but mainly look forward at what is to come. Since January, I have backed exactly one game on Kickstarter (Pingyao: First Chinese Banks), and bought Hallertau and two Terraforming Mars expansions from retail. I'm relatively pleased with my self-restraint although it is mostly the result of being picky rather than disciplined.

Looking at what is expected to be released in the rest of the year, I have singled out 7 games that piqued my interest. Let me know which ones you are looking forward to, and if we have any overlap.

Image source: Gamefound draft page

Portal Games' imminent Gamefound release caught my eye, not because I have played Football Manager on the pc, but because I've seen my ex partner playing it. I remember his enthusiasm about taking a small English team and helping it grow, and also watching the tiny players giving matches on the screen. Obviously the board game cannot replicate the video game experience, but it seems to be a good economic euro with a non-boring theme. The solo mode will be scenario-based with specific goals to meet, which sounds good enough to me.

Image source: BGG

I found out about this little game from Zerbique. I've always wanted an insect-themed game, and March of the Ants isn't what I'm looking for. This one probably isn't either. It's a trick-taking game, and judging by the description, it doesn't seem to be ideal for solo. I do like the premise, though: "Different factions of bugs- ants, flies, bees, mosquitos and cockroaches- find themselves in an ever-shifting balance of power and only those who ally themselves with the most powerful will seize the day". I'll take a look at the campaign when it goes live.

Battle of the scenic adventure games. Both are open-world, RPG-style campaigns; even their box covers look similar. Mythwind has more euro-y mechanisms -worker placement, polyominoes - with each character playing completely differently. Your goal is to build a village. Arydia, on the other hand, is more of an overland crawler, with exploration, combat, and "green legacy" elements (meaning it's replayable). Without knowing enough about either, and even though Mythwind sounds more innovative, Arydia seems more appealing to me. I sure am curious to check the various playstyles of the Mythwind heroes, but I smell potential balance issues. I am generally wary of "mixed grill" gameplay, but let's see it first.

Image source: BGG

I don't know if I'm going to back City of Chaos, but I really want to see it revamped. Judging by the grotesque characters and the weirdness of the original, the new edition will be worth checking out. "Anarchy rules, all is in flux, strange beasts and spirits have descended onto the streets, all normality has disappeared. You must train to develop exotic powers, talk, trade and fight your way through the bizarre encounters to free the City". Gameplay would need to be vastly improved and modernized, however. Randomness will have to be mitigated, and scenarios should be added to make it more replayable. It's too soon to tell yet, we'll probably know in September.

Image source: BGG

As I mentioned above, I backed Pingyao at the start of the year, and Dunhuang is the second game to come from Chinese publisher Jing Studio. The artwork is what draws me to these games, I am a sucker for delicate lines, details and non-Western cultures. In this one, I like the board design but not the sensual cartoony ladies. It's a worker placement game in which you are "landlords in Dunhuang region of Northwest China, experiencing the creation of splendid art pieces in the form of frescoes and sculptures of Mogao Grottoes, as well as the prosperity of the Silk Road". A slightly yawn-inducing theme, I must say. But we can't expect every game to be Football Manager.

Image source: BGG

This is the Archon Studio version, since I won't be able to get hold of the CMON one. I'm a bit jealous that our American friends may receive nicer minis. Hopefully Archon has better game designers to make up for the potentially lesser plastics. My dad used to take me to our local video club when I was a child, to rent episodes of He-Man, but I don't necessarily want to play the board game if it's pure nonsense. Apparently Netflix is bringing the cartoon back this summer, which paves the way for the success of the board game. By the power of Grayskull!

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