As hinted at in our Solitaire Times, they are a-changing post, our crowdfunding previews will from now on include weekly overviews and, possibly but not necessarily, individual game highlights. Two games are scheduled to launch this coming week: Harakiri: Blades of Honor, and Spring and Autumn: Story of China. I'm going to take a look at each, and briefly discuss their aesthetic and gameplay qualities.
Okay, let's start with Harakiri: Blades of Honor, a 1-4 player cooperative adventure game set in a fantasy feudal Japan. The Empire has fallen into the evil hands of the Dark Shogun, and it's up to your team of heroes to eh... restore the Empire to its former glory? The game description doesn't state a clear goal, but it doesn't matter. You'll be traveling to cursed villages and fighting Japanese monsters, that should be enough to entice you if you're a fan of the setting.
This is a campaign game with multiple scenarios through which the heroes will progress via adventure and exploration phases. Snippets of story will be fed through travel and exploration events, and the decisions you make may have consequences later on in the game. Most of the gameplay is dice-driven. Heroes have skills powered by dice rolls, while enemies have a regular and an aggressive behaviour chart: you will be rolling a behaviour die at the start of the fight and determine how the monster will act that turn.
As for eye candy, there's plenty of it here, chiefly for minis fans. Map tiles show different landscapes, both daytime and nighttime, and monsters include some popular folklore spirits like the kappa and the onryo. If I understand correctly from the trailer, solo with just one character will be offered as an expansion. I assume you can play multi-handed solo with just the core box, though. The Kickstarter will launch on November 30.
Personal opinion: I'm a sucker for this theme and the fancy minis, and may consider pledging. It gives me Shadows of Brimstone: Forbidden Fortress vibes which is both good and bad. Good because I may have a good time playing it, and bad because I may merely have a good time playing it. Which means that gameplay may be a bit too shallow and random for me. There's a limit to the beer and pretzels I enjoy consuming. But let's wait for some playthrough videos to trickle in.
Moving on to neighbouring China, with Spring and Autumn: Story of China by Scott de Mers. This is a new iteration of the system Scott used in his previous design, Hellenica: Story of Greece. It is a 4X civ-building game for 1-5 players in which rival states vie for power and expansion of their borders. You will be building academies and shrines, augmenting your military force, invading lands or sign treaties, and also facing barbarian hordes and even dragons.
Winning is achieved by completing objectives which will gradually be revealed over the course of the game. If, however, a player has gained too many Dishonor tokens, they are eliminated before they can claim victory. The pre-launch page on Gamefound advertizes the solo system which is AI-based and similar to the one used in Hellenica. If you can afford them, there are miniature buildings on offer that will enhance the game's visual and tactile experience. It will launch on December 1.
Personal opinion: I have so far refrained from 4X games because they seem to me better-suited to multiplayer, not solo gaming. I'm not too keen on following charts for the AI, so I'm clearly not the target audience here. Nevermind, there are enough Asian-inspired games for all of us.