New & Upcoming Games – December 2016
November saw the arrival of lots of cool games and expansions, including: Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails which expands the Ticket to Ride ‘verse to The World, adding sailing ships to the mix to get over the ocean and across The Great Lakes; Dragon Rapid Fire: The Fire Crystals – perfect for kids; an expansion for the two-player game 7 Wonders Duel – Pantheon; a small expansion – tiny even – for Five Tribes, The Thieves of Naqala; Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne – a reimplementation of Cosmic Encounter; the latest game from Love Letter’s designer, Seiji Kanai – Eight Epics; and speaking of Love Letter, the fancy schmancy Love Letter Premium with its Tarot-sized cards and sleeves, support for up to 8 players, special heart-shaped tokens, and a deluxe box. December promises to bring many other new shinies just in time for Christmas.
First up is a new expansion for one of my favorite games. Notice how I always list my favorites first? I hope my husband’s paying attention.
Istanbul: Letters & Seals
The Bazaar Is Abuzz! You, the merchants of Istanbul, have come up with a new and quite lucrative way of earning extra money: delivering messages to the shopkeepers of the bazaar!
While doing so, you can catch some useful information here and there that you can sell to the secret society for rubies. In order to keep your regular business running, you have hired a companion who is actively supporting you. True, he is a little slower than you would like but in return he does not require any assistants.
This was originally expected out in October. But luckily it’s here in time for Christmas.
Set in 1848, Pandemic: Iberia has you to take on the roles of nurse, railwayman, rural doctor, sailor, and more to find the cures to malaria, typhus, yellow fever, and cholera.
From Barcelona to Lisboa, you’ll travel by carriage, boat, and/or train to help the Iberian populace. Distributing purified water and developing railways will help you slow the spread of diseases in this new version of Pandemic.
I’m looking forward to opening one of these when they arrive. It looks really interesting.
The Oracle of Delphi
The latest offering from Stefan Feld, one my favorite game designers of all time, is a racing game of sorts. A race to be the first to complete 12 tasks for Zeus.
Here’s what the publisher has to say about it:
For once, Zeus, Greek god of thunder and sky, is in high spirits. Hence, he decides to offer a generous gift to a worthy mortal and invite him, or her, to his realm, to Olympus. To determine a sufficient candidate, Zeus hosts a competition for his entertainment. Twelve legendary tasks are imposed upon the fearless participants: to erect graceful statues, to raise awe-inspiring sanctuaries, to offer capacious offerings, and to slay the most fearsome monsters. The first participant to master all the posed assignments wins the favor of the father of the gods himself.
Indubitably, you will not pass up this golden opportunity, so you clear your ship and rally your crew to follow on the trails of legendary Odysseus through the dangerous waters of the Aegean. But how could you find the righteous path onward? There is but one who can help you. Visit the mysterious Oracle of Delphi and let her answers guide your ways.
In The Oracle of Delphi, the players’ ships travel across a large variable game board of hexagonal tiles showing islands and the surrounding waters. Each player tries to reach certain islands to perform twelve tasks for Zeus: collect offerings of different colors and to deliver them to corresponding temples, slay monsters of a specific type (and color), etc.
In order to execute these color-dependent actions, you’re given three colored dice each turn: Oracle Dice. Rolling the dice (at the start of the turn) is equivalent to consulting the Oracle of Delphi. The resulting roll represents her answers. The answers determine which actions you can take, but you always get three actions each turn. It is often possible, however, for you to make a slight divergence from your fate.
You can also request support from the gods to acquire favor tokens, companions, and other special abilities that will give you an edge in the race.
The differently equipped ships and variable setup of the game board provide new challenges and allow for interesting strategic and tactical decisions in every game of The Oracle of Delphi you play. Two to four players ages 12 and up can play The Oracle of Delphi in about 90 minutes.
I’ve been in a tither waiting for this one. I just hope it arrives as scheduled.
Red Dragon Inn: Battle for Greyport
Red Dragon Inn fans will want to take note: now you can play the battle before your celebratory liquid dinner at The Red Dragon Inn. Red Dragon Inn: Battle for Greyport is a cooperative light deckbuilding prequel to your favorite virtual drinking game.
The city of Greyport is nestled between an ocean to the east and imposing, nearly impassible cliffs to the west. You and your adventuring companions, just returning to the bustling city of Greyport after your latest adventure, are looking forward to relaxing and spending some of your hard-earned loot at The Red Dragon Inn. The party will have to wait, though, because the city is under attack by evil monsters!
Battle for Greyport is a cooperative deckbuilding game for 2 to 5 players, based on the characters and world of The Red Dragon Inn. You’ll travel to important locations around the city, fight epic battles, recruit heroes and acquire any items you can find along the way. Each encounter presents more opportunities to improve your deck, but also brings more dire foes for you to face.
There’s no rest for the weary adventurers after all – and the drinking games will have to wait – in Red Dragon Inn: Battle for Greyport.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
It isn’t often that a licensed game based on a young adult series gets good reviews. But Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is making the grade.
Class Is In Session! The forces of evil are threatening to overrun Hogwarts castle in this new, cooperative, deck-building game! It`s up to two to four students – that’s you – to ensure the safety of the school by defeating villains and consolidating their defenses.
Take on the role of a Hogwarts student (Harry, Ron, Hermione, or Neville) with your very own personal deck of cards. To secure the castle from the forces of evil you and your fellow students must work together to build more powerful decks using iconic Wizarding World characters, spells, and items. Defeat all the villains, including He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, to win the game!
By Aza Chin, the same game designer that brought you the popular Kitty Paw, in the cute little box with no description of the game whatsover, comes Doggy Go!, also in a cute little box with no description of the game whatsoever. Together they’re a matched set!
In Doggy Go!, Doggy Acrobats are coming to town! The pooches were practicing so hard before the show, but unfortunately, their trainer fell ill! What should they do without their trusted teacher? How can they keep the practice going? Oh! Maybe you can be the new trainer and help them out! Come on! The Doggy Show must go on!
Doggy Go! is a family-friendly, dexterity puzzle game featuring seven different adorable dog breeds including: Shiba Inus, Welsh Corgis, Poodles, Dachshunds, Taiwan Native Does, Schnauzers, and French Bulldogs. One to four players, ages 6 and up, can play it in about 15 minutes.
Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island
Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island is getting a reprint. Fans of the original cooperative adventure and survival game with worker placement are probably wondering what’s different about the new release. While the info graphic (right) shows it all, here are the details in words:
- Square game box instead of original’s coffin box
- Fancier 1st Player Token
- Additional 7th Scenario
- Character Sheets on thick cardboard, rather than the thin sheets in the original
- Shaped wooden resource components, instead of the simple cubes in the original
- Redesigned Discovery Tokens with thematic names on them
- Character stickers for the wooden player pawns
- Freshly-reworked rulebook – The most important change by far!!!!
I did a thorough review of the original on The Glass Meeple, but here’s a quick overview from the publisher:
Get Stranded! In Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island, players take on the role of one of four characters from the stranded ship crew (cook, carpenter, explorer, and soldier) as they face the perils and adventure of a dangerous island. Build shelters and create weapons, tools, and equipment like axes, knives, and sacks while searching for food, fending off wild beasts, and protecting yourselves from the ever-changing natural elements – do everything you can to survive!
This is an excellent, excellent game. So glad it’s getting a reprint! I can’t wait to see the new rulebook.
Grand Austria Hotel
While not exactly new, Grand Austria Hotel did just come back in stock. Of the new games we played at Atlanta Game Fest in October, this was my favorite. So, I was sad to discover when we got back that it was out of stock at the manufacturer. Luckily, it’s back now. We of course picked up a copy for our Game Library, too!
The publisher’s description conveys the theme and goal, but says little of the mechanics:
At the beginning of the 20th Century, Vienna was one of the major centers of Europe. Artists, politicians, nobles, citizens, and tourists populated the streets of the city – and the emperor ruled them all! You are in the thick of the Viennese Modern Age, trying your luck as a hotelier. Face the challenge and turn your little hostel into the Grand Austria Hotel!
Grand Austria Hotel is a strategic Euro game with an interesting shared-dice-pool mechanic. You’re trying to entice diners to stay the night at your hotel. Of course, first you’ll have to prepare rooms for them.
The start player rolls the dice, sorting them by the rolled number and placing them on the corresponding action spaces. On your turn, you’ll choose one of the six actions available and carry it out. The number of dice in the corresponding action space determines how much you get from the action. To take the action, remove one of the dice from that action space and perform the action. Before choosing an action, you can seat an available guest. There are a few free actions you can do as well on your turn. Using the various actions available, players can get the necessary drinks and dishes for their guests, prepare rooms, or hire staff.
No hotel can grow without guests. Choosing wisely which guests to attract and fulfilling their orders can provide important bonus actions. Staff cards offer nice advantages, too. However, time waits on no one and the game ends after only seven rounds. No player can do everything they want. So it;s a tight competition ’til the end.
With 116 different cards and a new setup in each game, Grand Austria Hotel provides lots of replayability. Each game stands on its own and demands new tactics and strategies.
I’m excited about this new Essen release. Kanagawa is a light strategy set collection game with some push-your-luck aspects that supports 2 to 4 players ages 10 and up. The art school (central playing board) is actually a bamboo mat that rolls up. The artwork looks gorgeous. Here’s what the publisher has to say:
1840: In Kanagawa, the great bay of Tokyo, the Master Hokusai decided to open a painting school to share his art with his disciples. You are one of these disciples, and more than anything, you want to prove yourself worthy of the crazy, old artist. Follow his teachings to expand your studio and paint your preferred subjects (Trees, Animals, Characters, and Buildings), all while paying attention to the changing of the seasons in order to make the most harmonious print – the one that will become the work of your lifetime!
The tile acquisition mechanic looks interesting: you can add the tiles you acquire from the art school to your painting or flip them to become tools in your studio to help with future actions.
There are still lots of great things coming before the end of 2016. These are just a few.