Game News: Master of Orion, Terra Mystica Digital

It’s no secret that the board game world has been blowing up over the last few years, and as a result we’re seeing a ton of crossover IP games. From games derived from 80’s pop culture to those set in worlds made popular by video games, we’ve seen visible signs that there is money to be made on nostalgia.

Today’s game is no different. Hobby World games has announced one of their offerings for 2017, and it is Master of Orion: The Board Game:


moorionBased on the classic strategy video game, the competitive tableau-building game requires 2-4 players to choose from several races (Humans and various alien races), build systems using their cards, and manage their resources in order to win. Designed by Ekaterina Gorn and Igor Sklyuev and adapting the art style from the 2016 reimagining of the video game, Master of Orion: The Board Game has been one of the moss buzzed about games prior to and during this year’s Essen Spiel board game trade fair.

In Master of Orion: The Board Game, each player begins with a board that has four tracks: Food, Fleet, Production, and Loyalty. The starting numbers on these tracks depend on the race a player chooses, with choices including fan favorites the Darloks, Psilons, and Humans. Each round, players gain resources and a number of actions, as determined by their board. Players spend their action cubes on each turn to manage their resources (Food, Fleet, Productions) and build systems. Since this is a tableau-building game, players use the cards in the deck to build up to four systems, each comprised of a maximum of five cards that represent various Structures, Ships, and Planets. Victory Points are gained by playing cards, creating matched sets, attacking opponents, and having certain resources and cards at the end of the game.

The game’s end is triggered in one of three ways: when a player has 0 Loyalty, a player has five cards in each of their four systems, or eight rounds of play have been completed. There are different paths to victory as players can focus on military means—training spies and attacking alien planets—or the path of creation—controlling the weather and constructing space fleets. The winner is the player with the most Victory Points, who is deemed the leader of the most developed civilization and therefore appointed as the Emperor at the Galactic Council.


Expect Masters of Orion to hit shelves sometime in early 2017.

While I hesitate to even mention this given the almost complete lack of information available, this tweet made me VERY excited:


Terra Mystica on digital platforms? Take. My. Money.

Game News: Imperial Struggle

Twilight Struggle, designed by Ananda Gupta and Jason Matthews, has long been held as a the pinnacle of two player strategy games. Taking players through the Cold War as either the United States or the Soviet Union, Twilight Struggle employs a card-driven system where each card can be used for command points to expand your reach or to trigger events, sometimes benefiting your opponent as much as they do your side. Perhaps the greatest strength of this game is the detail put into the event cards – all of the events are pulled straight from the headlines of the Cold War, and the ramifications each has on the game will often mirror actual events. Only the meteoric rise of Pandemic: Legacy was able to dethrone Twilight Struggle as the top rated board game on BGG.

Eleven years later Gupta and Matthews are back at it again, this time with Imperial Struggle: The Second Hundred Years’ War, 1697-1789. Representing the battle for supremacy between Britain and France, Imperial Struggle is easier to play than its predecessor, yet still maintains the thematic immersion which made Twilight Struggle such a huge success:



In 1697 the Sun King, Louis XIV, emerged from a decade of war with his Continental ambitions still unsatisfied. Meanwhile, King William III of England sat easier on his new throne than he ever had before. With the Spanish succession crisis unresolved and looming, there were no illusions that the new century would be a quiet one. But neither France nor England could have anticipated the tumult of the years to come: a Second Hundred Years’ War, during which these two tenacious adversaries would compete fiercely and proudly along every axis of human achievement. On battlefields from India to Canada to the Caribbean Sea their armies and fleets would clash; in the salons of Paris and the coffee-houses of London the modern world’s politics and economics would be born; and finally a revolution would rock the foundations of society – a revolution that could have ended not in blood and terror but in a triumph of democracy and liberty that might have transformed the world beyond imagining.

Imperial Struggle is a two-player game depicting the 18th-century rivalry between France and Britain. It begins in 1697, as the two realms wait warily for the King of Spain to name an heir, and ends in 1789, when a new order brought down the Bastille. The game is not merely about war: both France and Britain must build the foundations of colonial wealth, deal with the other nations of Europe, and compete for glory across the span of human endeavor.

Imperial Struggle covers almost 100 years of history and four major wars. Yet it remains a quick-playing, low-complexity game. It aims to honor its spiritual ancestor, Twilight Struggle, by pushing further in the direction of simple rules and playable systems, while maintaining global scope and historical sweep in the scope of a single evening. In peace turns, players build their economic interests and alliances, and take advantage of historical events represented by Event cards. They must choose their investments wisely, but also with an eye to denying these opportunities to their opponent. In war turns, each theater can bring great rewards of conquest and prestige… but territorial gains can disappear at the treaty table. At the end of the century, will the British rule an empire on which the sun never sets? Or will France light the way for the world, as the superpower of the Sun King’s dreams or the republic of Lafayette’s?


You can read more about Imperial Struggle over at the GMT Games site – and pre-order it using their P500 program. Who knows? Maybe this one will wind up as the new number one!

Game News: Expanding 7 Wonders Duel and Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition

Let’s get some game news rolling to head us off into the weekend, shall we?

Last year Asmodee and Repos Productions released 7 Wonders Duel, an amazing two player game set in the world of 7 Wonders. The game has been a hit, and this week news broke that there will be an expansion forthcoming: 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon.


7wdpIn the award-winning card game 7 Wonders Duel, you compete against another player to build the greatest city of the ancient Mediterranean world by constructing a variety of temples, taverns, workshops, schools, and stables. These great citites are also are home to incredible Wonders: the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Colossus at Rhodes, and more. Any city you build combines the best of Greece, Egypt, Phoenicia, Rome, and Persia, all built out of stone, wood, glass, and papyrus. People pack your city’s streets, houses, and theatres, but the divine element that was so pervasive in those civilizations has been missing from the game. Until now.

7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon brings the gods of the ancient world into 7 Wonders Duel. You can now seek the favor of deities from five different ancient cultures and bring them together to watch over your city. You might even build your patron gods and goddesses lavish temples to dwell in, or dedicate to them one of the expansion’s two new Wonders.


Look for 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon to hit stores sometime in the 4th quarter of 2016.

Next up Fantasy Flight Games brings a revamping of one of their Arkham-themed games with the second edition of Mansions of Madness. This isn’t just a reprint with some small updates – this is a whole new experience. The new Mansions of Madness requires the use of an app as the Keeper, instead of a player, making this fully cooperative…or even solo!


m0m2eFantasy Flight Games is proud to invite you to return to the insanity in Mansions of Madness Second Edition, the app-driven horror board game inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

This fully cooperative adventure will take you and up to four fellow investigators through the dark and desolate halls and alleyways of Arkham. Much like the original Mansions of Madness, the second edition sends you through a series of thrilling and confounding scenarios in which you must explore unpredictable maps haunted by bloodthirsty monsters, in order to solve intricate puzzles and uncover ominous secrets. Focus your mind and grab a weapon…fast! The game will be available everywhere next Thursday, August 4.

While the haunting spirit of the classic favorite remains the same, Mansions of Madness Second Edition’s innovative app takes a new and unique approach the sinister Arkham universe. In removing the need for a Keeper player, the app enables you to play a fully cooperative game, and shrouds each scenario’s randomized secrets in complete and utter darkness. Throughout every game, the app generates an entirely unique map, full of differing items to utilize, monsters to confront, and events to endure. Instead of the map being fully visible from the start of the game, however, the app obscures the majority of the board in shadows until you endeavor to explore further. 


This one looks to be one of Fantasy Flight’s big Gen Con releases, so expect this to hit stores next week!

Cool Mini or Not Brings The Godfather & Massive Darkness

Cool Mini or Not has had a couple of big announcements lately, one which will be a direct release and the other heading to Kickstarter. Starting off we’ll look at the new game from designer Eric Lang – which takes place in The Godfather universe. Lang says that The Godfather is “worker placement with murder and intrigue”. Sounds good to me! The BGG listing has a little more detail of this game which is still under development:


godfatherIn short, the game is a streamlined, confrontational worker placement game filled with murder and intrigue. In long, you play as competing mafia families who are vying for economic control of the organized crime networks of New York City, deploying your thugs, your don, your wife, and your heir on the board to shake down businesses and engage in area-control turf wars.

Money, rackets, contracts, and special advantages (such as the union boss) are represented by cards in your hand, and your hand size is limited, with you choosing which extra cards to pay tribute to the don at the end of each of the five rounds. At the end of the game, though, cash is all that matters, and whoever has the most money wins.

The game also features drive-by shootings in which enemy tokens are removed from the board and placed face-down in the river. The don of that family member must play cards to fish their guys out of the river and return them to duty on the New York battlefield.


Next up is a 2016 release that will take the more normal CMoN avenue of release, with Massive Darkness coming to Kickstarter later this year:


massdarkUsing the popular Zombicide system as a starting point, Massive Darkness adds all the richness of a dungeon crawl RPG. Pick your hero, choose a class, decide on which skills to spend your XP, and get loot by searching the dungeon or killing special enemies that can use the equipment against you! Face a multitude of different enemy types, coming in all shapes and sizes, whose behavior is resolved automatically…or you can try to sneak around enemies by taking advantage of dark areas of the map.

Players begin their adventure in Massive Darkness by picking a Hero – each with two special starting skills – and pair them with a Class of their choosing. Depending on the combination, another skill can be unlocked, giving players a wide range of choices and play styles. In Massive Darkness, the created Heroes go on Quests, killing monsters, collecting loot, and gaining XP. Players spend their XP to unlock new Skills, growing more powerful as the Quest progresses.

Throughout the game, players encounter different monsters, including Minions, Agents, Roaming Monsters, and Bosses. An unique mechanism of the game is the Guardian. Any of the monster types have a chance of spawning as a Guardian, meaning it will use a random piece of equipment in the fight against Heroes. However, if players are able to overcome this difficult encounter, they will acquire that piece of loot!



Game News: Frostbite, The Last Garden, & Agememnon

It’s always good to see new publishers hitting the scene, and Neanderthal Games is prepping their first release, Frostbite:


frostbiteIn Frostbite, players collect resources and assemble huts, but must be wary of the bitter cold while doing so. The weather changes constantly and the temperature keeps falling. Players must endure until the final shelters are created!

Each player has five action points per round to use for migrating, scouting, hunting, gathering wood, crafting shelter, and raiding other clans. Players migrate by moving their clan member tokens. They may gather wood only in forest regions and may hunt only in regions with wildlife. Hunting success is determined by die roll. When failing to kill wildlife, a card is drawn to determine the direction it runs away, possibly into another clan’s territory. Once players have enough resources, they may build or upgrade shelters.

After each round, cards are drawn to decrease the temperature in different areas. Clan members die if they occupy a region that is too cold, but this may be mitigated by fur coats and shelters.

Only the clans that complete their villages will survive and claim victory.



If you’ve spent any amount of time on Twitter perusing those interested in board games, chances are good that you’ve stumbled across Chris Rowlands (@npcchris). His new company, One Thousand XP, is going to be launching a Kickstarter this summer for The Last Garden, co-designed by Matt Christianson. Beth Sobel is handling the art for this one, so you know it’s going to be gorgeous:


lastgardenThe world as we know it has ended. One woman is all that remains of the human race, and she is known only by her title: The Queen. As her final decree, The Queen aims to recreate the beautiful and lush gardens of her youth. However, there is very little moisture left, so The Queen will implement a new plan.

In her travels, The Queen has accumulated a collection of out-of-commission mining robots. She has reprogrammed them all into Robotanists and will use them to turn metal and rare gems into an elaborate garden. The Robotanist AI isn’t the best, but they’ll try as hard as they can to please their Queen. She doesn’t quite remember exactly what the gardens look like, but she’ll know it when she sees it. Until then, the Robotanists will work the mines, build the garden, and place gems as the all vie to be the Queen’s favorite.

The Last Garden is a worker placement and betting game for 2-4 players. Each player controls a number of Robotanists as they seek to create a beautiful garden out of scraps and gems. On every turn, a player places a Robotanist onto the board and plays a card that shifts the structures in the garden or manipulates gems. At the end of a set number of days, the player who has gained the most favor wins.



Finally there’s an established publisher with a new two-player release. It’s Osprey Games with Agamemnon:


agamemnonNone can defy the will of the gods but the gods themselves. Driven by the bloodlust of their king, the Greeks have arrived at the shores of Troy. Some seek power, some seek revenge, while still others seek the great moment in battle that will define their place in history.

Agamemnon is a fast-paced strategy board game in which two players take on the roles of ancient Greek gods during the Trojan War. By tactically deploying warriors to where they’re needed across the board, each player may influence the final outcome of the battles famously detailed in Homer’s ”Iliad”. Some areas will be decided by the strength of the warriors, others by sheer weight of numbers, and some by the inspiration your heroes provide.



The Goonies, Mystic Vale, and Vanuatu Returns

Well, the week is almost over, so let’s tackle Thursday with some game news! First up we have the dynamic duo of Ben Pinchback and Matt Riddle with The Goonies: Adventure Card Game:


gooniesIn The Goonies: Adventure Card Game, you play as a ragtag group of kids from the Goon Docks neighborhood of Astoria, Oregon. You must join together on a quest to find the treasure of legendary pirate One-Eyed Willy so that you can save your homes from demolition! You will need to keep your wits about you and use your unique skills to avoid One-Eyed Willy’s booby traps and also stay one step ahead of the Fratellis, a family of criminals intent on claiming the treasure for themselves.

In this cooperative game, you’ll work with your fellow Goonies, taking actions to clear obstacles, defeat the Fratellis, and discover secret paths to long-lost treasure.

You all win the game if you discover the hidden paths to One-Eyed Willy’s ship and manage to secure his booty. But if too many obstacles mount up, you run out of event cards, or too many Fratellis hit the board, it’s all over…


Next, we’ve got a game that I actually witnessed getting pitched at BGG.CON 2014. I distinctly remember seeing this game because of the unique cards…and I guess AEG liked it because Mystic Vale will soon be released:


mysticvaleA curse has been placed on the Valley of Life. Hearing the spirits of nature cry out for aid, clans of druids have arrived, determined to use their blessings to heal the land and rescue the spirits. It will require courage and also caution, as the curse can overwhelm the careless who wield too much power.

In Mystic Vale, 2 to 4 players take on the role of druidic clans trying to cleanse the curse upon the land. Each turn, you play cards into your field to gain powerful advancements and useful vale cards. Use your power wisely, or decay will end your turn prematurely. Score the most victory points to win the game!

Mystic Vale uses the innovative “Card Crafting System”, which lets you not only build your deck, but build the individual cards in your deck, customizing each card’s abilities to exactly the strategy you want to follow.


Finally, Quined Games has announced that a second edition of the ill-fated Vanuatu will be seen in 2016:


vanuatuIn Vanuatu, you are a Vanuatuan who wants to prosper during the eight turns of the game. In order to prosper, you have to manage with natural resources, rare items, vatus (local currency) and tourists. To earn money or prosperity points, you may also draw on the sand, carry tourists all over Vanuatu islands, or trade cargo with foreign countries.

On each turn, the archipelago expands and you have to program your actions with five tokens. You put one or more of them on the chosen action spaces, and on your turn, you will only be able to play an action if you have the majority on its space. Thus, sometimes have to wait for other players to remove their tokens by playing their actions. If you are not in majority anywhere, you have to remove all of your tokens from an action and give up hope of playing this action. A good strategy lets you block other players; for example, they won’t be able to sell fishes if they haven’t caught them first – order matters! Islands and sea resources are rare, so be quick and take them first!

There is no such thing as a rich Vanuatuan. When you reach ten vatus, they automatically transform into 5 prosperity points and again, you are poor. Life is hard, but you may encounter ten men to help you; on each turn you choose one of them to increase your benefits from an action. As always, being the first player lets you choose before the others.



Stronghold Games Partners with eggertspiele

Have you ever browsed around BoardGameGeek, seen a game that you’re really interested in, and then found out that it’s not available in your country? Yeah, me too…and it sucks. Granted, I live in the US, so it doesn’t happen all that frequently…but it still happens. Because of this, many gamers will take great interest in publishing and distribution partnerships as they will often lead to greater exposure for a good number of games.

This weekend a new partnership was announced that made many people very happy – Stronghold Games will be partnering with German publisher eggertspiele to co-publish releases for the North American market. From the press release:

Stronghold Games and eggertspiele are proud to announce jointly a Strategic Partnership whereby Stronghold Games will co-publish all future eggertspiele tiles in English for the North American market effective immediately.

Stronghold Games and eggertspiele have worked together previously on several projects, including the just-released Porta Nigra, as well as Time ‘N’ Space (2013), and Milestones (2012). This Strategic Partnership solidifies the relationship and the commitment of the two companies to work together exclusively in the North American market in English for all future eggertspiele titles.

Before the creation of this Strategic Partnership, Stronghold Games had previously announced the co- publication in 2016 of the award-winning Village line of games under license from eggertspiele. The Village line of games will be released by Stronghold Games in 2016 on this approximate schedule:

  • Village (April 2016)
  • Village Inn (April 2016)
  • Village Port (June 2016)
  • My Village (June 2016)

With this new Strategic Partnership, these announced eggertspiele titles also will be co-published by Stronghold Games in 2016:

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Animals On Board

You have an ark and want to take as many animals on board as you can. Unfortunately, a guy named Noah claims all animal pairs for himself. However, you can gather a herd of three, four or five animals of a species, which is even more valuable! But forming a herd usually requires you to get a pair first…


When the arks depart, will you have the most valuable… Animals On Board?

Animals On Board is an easy to learn, fast game with lots of tricky decisions.

The last time this design team of Ralf zur Linde and Wolfgang Sentker worked together they produced a Spiel des Jahres nominee (Finca, 2009). Ralf zur Linde had another Spiel des Jahres nominee in 2012 with Eselsbrücke.

Street date: April 2016

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JÓRVÍK – designed by Stefan Feld

You are a Viking Jarl gaining prestige by trading goods, holding big feasts, funding pillages, commissioning craftsmen, and hiring soldiers to defend the city against recurring invasions. JÓRVÍK is a reimagining of Die Speicherstadt (2010), where players utilize a simple yet brilliant worker-placement and bidding mechanism to build up their trading empires.


(Note: not final box cover)

JÓRVÍK will include two versions: A streamlined base game and an advanced game, which adds into the game the rare expansion formerly called Kaispeicher.

Street date: Q4′ 2016

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Great Western Trail

You are rival cattlemen in 19th century America, herding cattle in a circular trail from the south of Texas to Houston, where your cattle are then shipped by train earning you money and victory points. Hire capable staff, such as cowboys to improve your herd, craftsmen to build your cattle posts, or engineers for the railroad line. Upon each arrival in Houston, have your most valuable cattle in tow.


(Note: not final box cover – will be colorized)

The winner of Great Western Trail will be the player who manages his herd best, and exhibits good timing in mastering the opportunities and pitfalls of the circular trail.

Recent designs by Alexander Pfister include Port Royal, Broom Service (last year’s Kennerspiel des Jahres winner), Isle of Skye, and Mombasa.

Street date: Q4′ 2016

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Additional titles will be announced at a future date.

Stronghold Games and eggertspiele will print these games together at Ludofact Germany, the leading printer of hobby games in the world. Not only will the games from both companies be of the same great German quality, but this will also enable a virtually simultaneous worldwide release of the titles.

“We are very excited by this Strategic Partnership with the world-renowned company, eggertspiele,” said Stephen Buonocore, President of Stronghold Games. “This strengthens our commitment to bringing great games from Europe to North America and the rest of the world.”

“Joining with Stronghold Games as our exclusive North American partner for English was an obvious extension of the existing relationship between the companies,” said Peter Eggert, President of eggertspiele. “Stronghold Games has been a great partner in the past, and their growth over the past several years will strengthen both brands around the world.”


Needless to say, this partnership is going to mean great things for North American gamers!