Kickstarter Update – 8/22/2016

Now that Gen Con is over, we will start to see the quality of Kickstarter projects increase. The crunch between now and Essen will be filled with new projects, so let’s take a look at a few:

First up we’ve got prolific designer Scott Almes’ latest collaboration with Eagle-Gryphon Games, Island Hopper:

[well]

ihopperMany said that you would never be able to deliver goods to all the islands in this remote archipelago, but you and your partners are dead-set to prove them wrong! Yes, you all had to pool your money into buying one plane; and, yes, the plane is held together by duct-tape and some hope. To make matters worse the navigational instruments are completely broken, so in essence, you are flying blind. But if you cross your eyes just enough it looks like this airplane is perfectly fine! I mean what could possibly go wrong?…

Island Hopper is a game where you and other players fulfill contracts for the various companies scattered throughout the archipelago, while bidding amongst yourselves for who is going to pilot the battered plane. Bribing the pilot is essential since everyone has different contracts for different islands, and not enough fuel to get to them all! With none of you being actual pilots, and the navigation system being shot, this forces the pilot to rely on the other players for directions to successfully deliver cargo. Since everyone wants to fulfill contracts on different islands, the question really is, who should you trust?

Scott Almes designed Island Hopper, along with other titles such as Loop, Inc. and the Tiny Epic Series of games. It supports 2 to 6 players, ages 10+, and takes only an hour to play.Island Hopper is a fantastic addition to the gaming hobby, and Scott’s contribution is a game that you will keep coming back to time and again.

[/well]

This one is aloft until September 6th, so don’t get stuck on the ground! [link]


Next up, Daily Magic Games adds to their stable of wonderful games with their latest offering, Merchants of Araby:

[well]

arabyBecome the wealthiest merchant prince or princess in all of Araby by establishing an entourage of merchants and allies, teaching virtues, summoning djinni, making shrewd caravan investments, and negotiating frequently.

During your turn, you’ll start a caravan and then perform as many actions as you like or can afford. You’ll add merchants and allies to your entourage, you’ll teach virtues to your opponents, and you’ll summon djinn for powerful effects.

You’ll also be doing a lot of negotiating. Simply stated, everything in Merchants of Araby is negotiable for everything. You can trade gold for camel placement, cards for products, actions for promised actions, camel placement for ally tasking, cards from entourage to entourage, cards from hand to hand, something for nothing. The list is nearly endless. If you can strike a deal, then feel free to do so.

Caravans are the primary source of income and the main reason for negotiations. Each space on the caravan will hold one camel carrying a particular product and each caravan represents a journey to a distant Araby city to sell those valuable products. Player participation, bandits, and market fluctuations will affect each caravan’s payout and you do not want to miss out on getting your share of the profits.

Add camels to caravans by tasking merchants, playing a djinn card, or negotiating with other players to generate the products you need or to add their camels to your caravan. An opponent may not add a camel to your caravan without negotiating for your permission, but unless you complete at least one full row or column on the caravan card, you’re not going to earn anything! When your turn ends, your caravan becomes locked to you and you may not add more of your camels to it unless the active player grants you permission to do so through some negotiation.

Your caravans depart at the start of your next turn, but be wary of bandits out to steal your goods as bandits tend to target the camels in the most lucrative caravan positions.

[/well]

This one will be around until September 13th, so check it out today! [link]


Finally, we have Good Games Publishing with their carnival themed Unfair:

[well]

unfairUnfair is a theme park tableau building game like nothing out there. Mix your favourite themes from Pirates, Robots, Jungle, Vampires and now Ninja. Build attractions and upgrade them to match blueprints, stack up towering rides, or simply make the most cash.

Watch out though – your competitors may pay off the safety inspectors to close your rides or hire hooligans to vandalise your park! How will you get revenge?

Play events, build cards to your theme park tableau from the market or your hand, and draw cards in quick single-action turns.

Every player has a rival, every strategy has a counter, and every action matters in this accessible yet deep and replayable game.

[/well]

The lines for this one will close on September 15th, so queue up today! [link]

Review: Tiny Epic Galaxies

A couple years ago, when I first heard of Tiny Epic Kingdoms, I was intrigued. The idea of a small box with big gameplay was one that I was willing to check out. And it came through for me and many others, as it’s a great game. Designer Scott Almes really has a knack for taking a game and distilling it down to make a small, yet potent package.

I’ve enjoyed the entire Tiny Epic series so much that when I saw Tiny Epic Galaxies go up on Kickstarter it was a no-brainer. I was jumping all over this game. The premise sounded cool, the art looked great, and his other games have been quite entertaining. Finally the long wait was over and this one arrived at my door. Did it live up to my expectations? Well, read on…

Tiny Epic Galaxies is a space exploration game for 1-5 players which will take around 30-45 minutes to complete. Each player receives a galaxy mat, ships, and tokens in the color of their choosing and two secret mission cards. After looking at those cards, each player will choose one and place it under their galaxy mat, discarding the other. The deck of planet cards is now shuffled and two more planets than there are players are dealt out in the middle of the table. If you are playing with five players, only use six cards. The dice, control mat, and planet deck are also placed in the middle.

The galaxy mat is going to be the center of your universe (pun intended) for this game, so let’s focus on those for a minute. Curving along the left side of the mat is the resource track. You will place your energy and culture tokens along this track, moving them up and down as your resources increase and decrease throughout the game. The resource track curves around the center of your galaxy, and this is where your available ships will live when they aren’t out colonizing a planet.

On the right side of the mat you will a large track which has three smaller tracks inset to the left. The large track is your empire track, and you’ll place your empire token on here to track your progress. The three other tracks are reference tracks which will tell you how many ships you should have in play, how many dice you can roll, and how many base victory points your empire is worth.

IMG_3797Gameplay proceeds as follows: on your turn, look at your empire track and take the number of dice shown on your dice track. Roll the dice and take the actions depicted one at a time. If you would like to reroll any number of your unspent dice, you may do so once for free. Additional rerolls are allowed, but will you cost you one energy per reroll. Once you’ve either used all of your dice or decided to not use the rest, play continues to the next player.

Each die has six faces which allow you to take one of four basic actions:

  • Move a ship – Move one of your ships to a planet, or from a planet back to your galaxy mat. When you move to a planet you can choose to either land on the planet and take the action listed, or orbit the planet in an attempt to colonize and claim it for your own. You may have two ships on the same planet as long as one is in orbit and the other is on the surface. When moving a ship which is already on a planet, it must move to a new planet…it’s can’t move from the surface to orbit or vice-versa.
  • Acquire resources – Each planet is capable of producing a resource (either energy or culture) and you can move up the resource track for each ship that is on a planet of that type. So if you rolled an energy symbol, and you’ve got two ships on planets with the energy icon, you would gain two energy. It’s worth noting that your galaxy mat has the energy icon, so you can gain energy while your ships are there as well.
  • Advance colonization – Along with a resource symbol, each planet has a symbol at the end of the orbital track signifying what it will take for you to successfully colonize the planet. Each symbol (either diplomacy or economy) allows you to move your orbiting ship one space closer to the end of the track. Once you hit the end, all ships are removed and returned to their home galaxies and the card is placed underneath the colony symbol on your galaxy mat.
  • Utilize a colony – This action will allow you to perform the empire upgrade found on your galaxy mat or any of the actions which are found on the planets you’ve successfully colonized. If performing the upgrade found on the mat, you may pay in either energy or culture, but not a combination of the two.

As you are taking your turn and activating each die, your opponents will have the opportunity to spend one culture to “follow” your action. This will allow, for example, your opponents to move ships when it isn’t their turn. If there are ever timing questions, you should evaluate each follow clockwise from the active player.

IMG_3798Each planet will have a number of victory points at the bottom, and as planets are colonized players will announce their new score. The end of the game is triggered once a player has 21 or more points, and play continues until every player has had the same number of turns. At this point the secret missions are evaluated, points are totaled, and a winner is decided!

You’re going to pick up the flow of this game in a heartbeat. Nothing’s overly complicated, and the basic premise behind most of the actions are ones that we’ve all seen before. But the package itself is nicely presented and makes everything flow nicely. From the follow mechanic to the dice activation, it’s just a complete package.

It’s pretty interesting that a simple thing like the follow mechanic can make such a huge difference in a game. Without that, this would have been a neat game that I would play once and forget about. But being able to follow someone’s action does quite a few things to improve gameplay.

First of all, it reduces downtime. Sure, there will be moments where you’re just out of culture and can’t follow someone even if you wanted…but careful planning will keep those from becoming frequent. For the most part, when it isn’t your turn you are still keeping on eye on what other players are rolling. You never know when your opponents will roll something that’ll set you up on your next turn.

Secondly, it makes activating your dice a little more challenging. Sure, I’d love to advance diplomacy because I’ve got a planet I’m working towards colonizing…but BOTH of my opponents do as well and they will get their colonies before I do at this rate. So is there another way to approach this turn?

IMG_3796Finally, it makes you choose to land on planets you normally wouldn’t. Because after that first time that you run out of culture and you really want to follow someone? Well, you won’t make that mistake twice. I’ve hopped onto planets I have no desire to get near just to have a chance at grabbing some culture.

There’s a lot to like here. You get some player interaction, lots of replayability, a compact footprint, and meaningful decisions. Basically everything that the Tiny Epic games are known for. And the components and art are top notch, which is fast becoming the hallmark of anything put out by Gamelyn Games. This is well deserving of a spot on any gamer’s shelf.

 

Kickstarter Update – 10/14/2015

Well, after a brief hiatus to tie the knot, we’re back! Let’s hit the ground running by covering some Kickstarter projects of note!

First up, the crowdfunding veterans at Stonemaier Games hit Kickstarter yesterday with Scythe:

[well]

scytheIt is a time of unrest in 1920s Europa. The ashes from the first great war still darken the snow. The capitalistic city-state known simply as “The Factory,” which fueled the war with heavily armored mechs, has closed its doors, drawing the attention of several nearby countries.

Scythe (2-5 players, 115 minutes) is a board game set in an alternate-history 1920s period. It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation and valor.

In Scythe, each player represents a fallen leader attempting to restore their honor and lead their faction to power in Eastern Europa. Players conquer territory, enlist new recruits, reap resources, gain villagers, build structures, and activate monstrous mechs.

[/well]

Scythe has gotten a ton of acclaim, and will be on Kickstarter until November 5th. [link]


Next up, Ape Games teams up with Board Everyday favorite Scott Almes with his latest offering, The Great Dinosaur Rush:

[well]

tgdrThose were cutthroat times and these otherwise reasonable scientists did whatever it took to stand out from their peers. Sabotage and other notorious acts were not uncommon.

In The Great Dinosaur Rush game, some actions will gain players notoriety – secret tokens ranging in value from 1-3. Notoriety is revealed and added to players’ scores at the end of the game. But the player with the most notoriety is called out and their notoriety is subtracted from their score!

The game board consists of the dig site hexes where bones are placed at the start of each round.The green and orange hex rows on the top and bottom are for 4- and 5-player games respectively. During the Field Phase, players move their paleontologists around the board collecting bones from the various sites (hexes).

Players build their dinosaur masterpieces behind their screens – safe from the prying eyes of their paleontologist opponents.

The inside of the screen gives tips on the different bone types/colors and which bones are used for the various museum categories.

[/well]

This one will be around for a little longer, but don’t dally! The Great Dinosaur Rush will run until November 23rd. [link]


Last, but certainly not least, Asmadi Games brings us a deluxe version of Carl Chudyk’s Innovation:

[well]

innodeluxeInnovation is a civilization-building card game that focuses on the ideas and inventions across the ages. There are no maps or battles to fight, and your success is determined by clever use of the special powers granted by the innovations you choose to play. Each of the 105 cards has a unique effect, which can vary from drawing new cards from higher ages, to scoring points, to even demanding other civilizations surrender their innovations to you!

Innovation: Deluxe is a complete set of Innovation and its four expansions, all in the new upgraded art style. The box will contain an insert designed to hold each of the five sets, either sleeved or unsleeved. Two of the expansions, Cities of Destiny and Artifacts of History, are brand new!

Cities of Destiny (known as ‘No Place Like Home’ in beta testing) features City cards with five icons instead of three. They also let you strengthen your dogma effects through the Sponsor ability.

Artifacts of History features unique artifacts from the ages, such as the Declaration of Independence. These cards feature very powerful dogma effects, but are difficult to wield.

[/well]

There’s only a few days left, so back this one before the October 20th deadline! [link]

 

 

Kickstarter Update – 9/3/15

This week we’re taking a look at a few Kickstarter projects that might tickle your fancy. So, without futher ado…

First up we have prolific designer Scott Almes and Tasty Minstrel Games bringing us an expansion for Kings of Air and Steam – World’s Fair:

[well]

koaas_wfThe World’s Fair gathers the greatest minds around the globe and gives them an opportunity to show business moguls and upstarts alike their genius. In Kings of Air and Steam: World’s Fair you are one of those business tycoons that wants to get the latest gizmo that will boost your productivity…but at what opportunity costs?

Designer Scott Almes revisits his first big box game Kings of Air and Steam, adding even more steam punk flavor to take to the rails and skies in the race to become the next King, or Queen, of Air and Steam.

Kings of Air and Steam’s first expansion World’s Fair,will contain the following:

  • 28 technology cards
  • 2 double sided player boards (2 new teams!)
  • 2 double sided character tiles (4 new characters!)
  • 2 13-card movement decks
  • 10 Contract Cards
  • 35 Contract Markers
  • 1 rulebook

All beautifully Illustrated by Josh Cappel.

[/well]

You also have the option to pledge for the base game as well, so if you missed it the first time around this is a great opportunity. Head on over and back this one today as it’s only around until midnight on September 19th. [link]


If there’s one thing I love in a game it’s asymmetric powers. Needless to say, Trove, from Leder Games caught my eye with a nice twist on this:

[well]

troveTrove takes you and your friends into the torchlight of a classic cave-crawling adventure, built on the concept of total asymmetry. Gone are days of the merry band of travelers fighting off evil. In Trove, you will become part of a new legend… Any part you wish!

Play as the daring Knight, the chaotic Goblin horde, the greedy Dragon, or even the Cave itself — powerful, brooding, and intent on crushing the living things that dare to disturb its gloomy depths. Each role has its own powers, pieces, and paths to victory … and there can only be one winner.

To Win:

The Knight must kill the Dragon. The Knight gains power by completing Sidequests and recovering lost Treasures. She can reset her abilities each turn.

The Goblins must kill the Knight. The Goblins build 3 different Tribes by playing a push-your-luck style game. Then they move around the board trying to corner the Knight.

The Dragon must wake up and escape through the entrance. The Dragon starts out slow but wakes up as he steals treasure, devours Goblins, and explores the Cave. He does this by playing cards to fuel various powers.

The Cave must fully expand and then collapse. The Cave does this by gaining Omens, placing treasure to lure the other players into the its depths, and placing Tiles.

[/well]

Trove will run until the 20th of September, so check it out today. [link]


Finally we’ve got another expansion, with Robert Burke’s Draco Magi Expansion:

[well]

dracomagiDraco Magi is a dueling card game designed by Robert Burke and Richard Launius. Nominated for the 2014 Best 2-Player Board Game Golden Geek Award, this expansion takes the game to the next level. The Draco Magi expansion includes 24 new dragon cards, 8 new battlefield cards, and new deck construction and drafting rules. With this expansion players will need to craft a deck from the plethora of dragons available before they face their opponents!

There are no promo cards, no booster packs, no hunting for the card you want, pledge here and get them all! These are not prototype, print on demand cards. This is a final product that will be manufactured to match the base game as closely as possible.

You only need one expansion for both players as it includes all the new cards for both the gold and the green factions.

This expansion includes all the dragons we have created that do not come in the base game:

1. The Celestial Dragon
2. The Sun Dragon
3. The Moon Dragon
4. The Star Dragon
5. The Ice Dragon
6. The Forest Dragon
7. The Blood Dragon
8. The Earth Dragon
9. The Shadow Dragon
10. The Deep Sea Dragon
11. The Hydra
12. The Platinum Dragon

Plus 4 new Battlefields!

1. The Salt Flats
2. The Jungle
3. The Ruins
4. The Canyon

[/well]

This campaign also offers you the ability yo pick up the base game if you missed out the first time. Up until the 17th of September, check it out now! [link]

 

 

Kickstarter Update – 7/3/2015

As we move into the holiday weekend it’s time to take a look at some Kickstarter projects that you might be interested in backing!

First up we have a game by the prolific designer Scott Almes: Loop, Inc. This is being put out by Eagle-Gryphon Games and is all about time travel. And if you hop in a time machine and come back to 2015 you’ll find that Almes has had more games popping up than anyone this year.

[well]

Loop, IncYou and the other players work at Loop, Incorporated, the most prestigious time travel agency in the world…………………………..

Well, uh, that’s not entirely true. Truth be told, it’s a mismanaged, third-tier agency owned by the slick Mr. Loop (you met him in the video above) who cares more about making a buck than making sure the delicate weave of the time-space continuum stays tight and safe.

For you and your coworkers, it’s as good a job as any.  However,  if you time things just right you may get a nice bonus at the end of the day, unknown to Mr. Loop, of course.  And since you have a time machine at your disposal, you can take multiple shots at that bonus…assuming things don’t get too chaotic with your past selves running around.

The game is played over the course of three days, with each day actually being the same day, but a different time through it. During the first day, players will get to perform three actions and send out their one time machine. Actions include gathering components, setting up advertising, and more. Then, at the end of the day, players jump into their time machines and return to the beginning to start the day over again.

The catch is, when players go back in time to try the day again, their past selves are still running around. This means they’ll have to perform all the actions from the previous version of the day, as well as three new ones. They’ll also have an additional ship to launch. On the third try, things compound even further… making timing key. At the end of the third day, the player who completed the most profitable trips wins, provided they didn’t cause too many tears in the space time continuum.

[/well]

Loop, Inc. will only be on Kickstarter until July 9th, so make sure to back it today! (link)


Next up we have first time designer Sami Laasko – he shows that he can both design a game and make it look great with Dale of Merchants.

[well]

Dale-of-MerchantsDale of Merchants is a highly adaptive deck building game with animal-shaped traders competing to enter the prestigious Guild of Extraordinary Traders. The game supports 2–4 players and playing time is around 20 to 30 minutes.

Do you give up a chance to use a splendid action in favor of getting even more astounding cards? Since every card can be used in multiple ways, Dale of Merchants requires some tough choices. You can’t win the game without letting go of your cards.

There’s an extraordinary guild in the Dale founded by the greatest merchants. The tricky part is getting the membership as only the winner of an annual trading competition would be invited to the guild.

Notable animal merchants from all over the world have gathered in the town to take part in said event. Everyone has only one goal in mind – be celebrated as the winner of the competition and gain membership in the honourable guild.

Players take the roles of those participating merchants learning new techniques, trading goods and managing their stock. The player who first manages to complete their astounding merchant stall, is the winner of the game and gets access to the guild!

[/well]

Dale of Merchants is on Kickstarter until July 31st! (link)


Finally we have a game straight from Hong Kong by designer Tobey Ho – Deception: Murder in Hong Kong. Originally released as CS-Files, this one has been picked up by Grey Fox Games for wider distribution.

[well]

DeceptionDeception: Murder in Hong Kong is a game of deduction and deception for 4-12 player which plays in about 20 minutes.

In the game, players take on the roles of investigators attempting to solve a murder case – but there’s a twist. The killer is one of the investigators!

Each player’s role and team are randomly assigned at the start of play and include the unique roles of Forensic Scientist, Witness, Investigator, Murderer, or Accomplice. While the Investigators attempt to deduce the truth, the murderer’s team must deceive and mislead. This is a battle of wits!

In Deception, the Forensic Scientist has the solution but can only express the clues using special scene tiles while the investigators (and the murderer) attempt to interpret the evidence. In order to succeed, the investigators must not only deduce the truth from the clues of the Forensic Scientist, they must also see through the misdirection being injected into the equation by the Murderer and Accomplice!

Find out who among you can cut through deception to find the truth and who is capable of getting away with murder!

[/well]

Sounds like this one will be a hit, especially with the popularity of titles like Mysterium. Deception: Murder in Hong Kong will be on Kickstarter until July 20th. (link)

 

 

Review: Tiny Epic Kingdoms Heroes’ Call

If you look at almost any board game, you will see that releasing an expansion can be a tricky business. With any expansion, you walk a fine line between enhancing the base game and flat out changing it to the point where it feels completely different from the original. And if you’ve got a game that was pretty damn good to begin with? Well, the task of expanding can be even more daunting.

When I heard that Gamelyn Games was releasing an expansion for Tiny Epic Kingdoms, I was cautiously optimistic. If you’ve read my review of the base game, you know that I really enjoyed how this little package delivered that “big game” feeling. And if you haven’t read it…well, it’s right over here. Go ahead. We’ll wait.

Okay…so where were we? Oh, right. Tiny Epic Kingdom Heroes’ Call. When this title was announced, I thought we would see more of the same from the TEK universe – some new factions, new territory cards, and maybe a small tweak here and there. I would have been happy with that, but there’s a lot more inside this box.

Keep in mind that this was a print-and-play version of the expansion, but let’s take a look at what it comes with and the changes we’ll see:

  • Five new factions
  • Five new territories
  • Fifteen hero cards
  • Five hero meeples
  • Five hero tokens
  • Thirty war towers
  • Five silver cubes

New factions are a must in a game with variable player powers. With the expansion factions and the ones from the base game, there’s literally tens of thousands of combinations of factions that can occur for a five player game. Replayability anyone? The fantasy theme is great here with Pigfolk, Birdfolk, Draconian, Polarkin, and Lionfolk all joining the fray.

TEK Heroes' Call

The new territories are the “Frozen Territories” and feature two new region types: Peaks and Tundra. The Tundra is similar to the Ruins from the base game – you get to choose a resource of your choice when collecting resources – however, if a Patrol or Quest action is available you MUST move out of the Tundra, even if it causes war. One caveat on the Tundra is that only one meeple can be present there at a time…so alliances and wars cannot occur in the Tundra.

Peaks will provide you with a new resource type: Silver. Silver is essentially a wildcard resource, which may be used in place of any other resource when building, expanding, or researching. It has no value in war, and you cannot Trade for it, but it can be gained from the Tundra or Ruins.

War Towers come in each player color and are used when a player takes the Build action. Along with moving their token up on the Tower board, the player will now take a War Tower and place it in a territory they occupy. This becomes a physical manifestation of their progress on the Tower track, and will provide that player with a bonus during war. Of course, as they are actually on the territory cards now, they may also be destroyed, which will send the player back down the tower track.

And as the expansion is titled Heroes’ Call, there better be some heroes. Each player is dealt two hero cards at the start of the game and chooses one to start with. This becomes their initial hero and their large hero meeple is placed in their starting territory.

TEK Heroes' CallEach hero card will have two special abilities on it, and the hero markers will keep track of the level each hero has achieved, up to retirement. Heroes can be leveled up in one of four ways, and once they are retired you switch their large meeple out with a normal one and place the corresponding hero card off to the side. New heroes can be recruited when you take the Expand action after having retired (or having lost in battle) your previous hero.

Along with the physical changes, we have a couple of new rules as well. First, the game’s end can be triggered when a player retires their third hero. Second? Retreating. If you’ve lost a war you choose to pay food equal to the number of meeples you have in play to bug out into an adjacent region, as long as that wouldn’t trigger another war.

So now that you know what’s in the box, let’s talk about what this expansion means for the base game.

The heroes are a massive addition to the game, and I think they’ve been integrated masterfully. From the onset, each hero is going to add another layer to the game based on the powers that they possess. It’s all well and good to want to move in on an opponent, but if their hero is packing a war bonus you’ll think twice about attacking them. Perhaps a hero is netting your opponent resources when the action card is cleared…so you scrap your original plans and move to dispatch them.

Along with that, the heroes also change your decision tree when it comes to taking actions. Remember how I said that you can level up your hero? Well, there are four ways of doing so, and three of them are taken in place of the Expand, Research, and Build actions. This throws a third option into what was a binary decision. It’s another player’s turn, and you know you can’t Build, but do you take resources or advance your hero? Or maybe you CAN Build…which makes the choice even harder. Do you want to try to retire your hero to get a new one, or is the current one too valuable to retire? Are you willing to let go of the 3 victory points you’ll get for retiring them?

TEK Heroes' CallSpeaking of the Build action, the War Towers are a great addition. Since the towers give you a benefit when defending it makes locking down a specific region a little easier…so go ahead and pop a tower down to defend your hold on the Capital. Of course, it cuts both ways – if you’re light on resources and someone decides to attack you that tower might fall, which knocks you back down the tower track. At game end you’re going to get some bonus points if you outnumber other towers on territory cards (other than your own) so there’s a lot to fight for here.

Of course, the new region types are sure to mix things up as well. I was never eager to go into the Ruins when playing TEK, as spending two actions just to move one meeple out was a lot to sacrifice. I think the Tundra region is a way to provide the same benefit with a less harsh penalty – you’re choosing a resource, but you’ve got to leave when you are able. And those Peaks? Well, if you want to see a hotly contested area take a look at the Peaks…Silver is way too valuable to let someone hog it all.

Perhaps my favorite thing about the new territory cards is that mixing them in with the original set has the potential for some sweet setups. Imagine how a game would play out if there were only two Peaks regions in a five player game? Every player is going to be trying to hold onto one of them and it’s bound to turn into a blood bath. The changing dynamic of each game is something I’m really looking forward to with Heroes’ Call.

So have you figured out the biggest change yet? Have you read between the lines? No? Well, I’ll tell you what it is. In Tiny Epic Kingdoms Heroes’ Call…

War matters.

Look, I’m not saying war was totally glossed over in the base game, because it most certainly was not. If someone was tossing too many resources towards Research, it was time to take them down a meeple or two as a response. If someone was holding a Capital? At least one person was bound to take a shot at it eventually.

But I also saw the games where people avoided war altogether. The resource cost was perceived to be too great and the reward was often not worth the risk. Even the factions with war bonuses would be hesitant to get in the trenches and slug it out with the others.

Now? Well now you’re going to need to get in there and get your hands dirty. I’ve talked about three of the four ways that you can level up a hero – and the fourth is by winning a war. If you’ve got a hero that needs to win a battle to level up, you better get in there and hit someone so you can retire that hero. Those points are hard to pass up at the end of the game.

The heroes are going to push you towards war. The regions will push you towards war. The factions will push you towards war.

No wonder they’ve added rules for retreating.

And all of these new decisions you’ve got? The increased conflict? The region setup? It all makes the resources a hell of a lot tighter. So you better diversify…there’s almost no path to victory that will let you neglect one of the many ways to score points.

For all that it adds to the game, Heroes’ Call still maintains the feel of the original. It’s a fine balancing act to change things up and add things while still holding true to the base game, but this one is a smashing success. But remember: there will be war. Oh yes. There will be war. You have been warned.

In the pantheon of board games, there are certain expansions which have elevated themselves past the point where they are simply a nice addition to the base game. These few expansions are looked at as being so well done that people don’t want to play without them.

Tiny Epic Kingdoms Heroes’ Call will be joining that list.

[well]Tiny Epic Kingdoms Heroes’ Call is now on Kickstarter! Head on over there and get yourself in line for a copy today…or at least before July 14th! (link)[/well]

Reprints Abound in 2015

Much to the chagrin of resellers everywhere, a couple of much sought after games are getting reprints later this year.

Ora & LaboraFirst up we have a reprint of Ora & Labora, by Uwe Rosenberg. This one has been out of print for a few years now, which is surprising given how well it was received. Printing will handled by Lookout Games, with Z-Man Games taking care of the English version. This news came straight from Uwe Rosenberg himself, and it looks like the flimsy think cardstock boards will be getting upgrades in this new version. Look for this one sometime in the third quarter of this year.

Another heavyweight title seeing the light of day once more is Luna by Stefan Feld. Since the explosion of Castles of Burgundy, Feld’s older catalog has been in high demand with several of his games falling out of print. Rumors have been swirling about Tasty Minstrel Games picking this one up, and finally this tweet confirmed it all:

Looks like a third quarter release for this one as well, with a confirmed MSRP of $60.

 

Mission: Red PlanetFantasy Flight Games, who could probably just churn out LCG content and ignore the cardboard, also gets in on the reprint game in 2015. They recently released a reprint of Tigris & Euphrates and will also bring forth a reprint of Mission: Red Planet by Bruno Cathala and Bruno Faidutti. Apart from the usual Fantasy Flight treatment where the components get a massive upgrade, it looks like the gameplay is getting tweaked as well:

[well]In Mission: Red Planet, two to six players compete to control as much of Mars and its priceless natural resources as they possibly can. This edition maintains the core mechanics of this fast-paced game while incorporating updates by the original designers. Astronauts can land in a new zone, the moon Phobos, and the Soldier can convey astronauts from Phobos to anywhere on Mars. Missions and Discoveries have been fine-tuned, and new Action Cards join the Event deck. The game can now handle six players, with rules for a two-player variant also included. What’s more, the Victorian steampunk aesthetic has been refreshed with all-new graphic design for a more contemporary look.[/well]

Tiny Epic KingdomsFinally we’ve got a comparatively new game getting a reprint and a new version in Tiny Epic Kingdoms. Gamelyn Games announced that the Scott Almes title will see a reprint with a few minor tweaks to the ruleset and some component changes as well. Nothing but good news for a great game! No firm date on this one yet, but with a Kickstarter for the expansion launching in June I would guess no sooner than the end of this year.