Stonemaier Expands Viticulture & Stronghold Heads to Mars

First up we’ve got a surprise announcement from Stonemaier Games about a small expansion from Viticulture – the Moor Visitors Expansion. In the most recent newsletter from Stonemaier Games, Jamey Stegmaier tells the story of what’s in the box and how these came to be:

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moorLast year I had the pleasure of collaborating with one of my design idols, Uwe Rosenberg (Agricola, Caverna, Patchwork, etc), on the Viticulture Essential Edition. On a whim, I asked him if he would be interested in designing a few visitor cards. I figured he might design 3 or 4 cards, and I’d turn them into a promo pack to sell on BGG.

Several days later, Uwe sent me 64 card designs.

I cut some cards that didn’t fit well into Viticulture and honed the rest for balance and wording. The remaining 40 visitor cards now comprise the Moor Visitors Expansion, the name of which is both a play on the word “more” and on Uwe’s “Farmers of the Moor” expansion to Agricola.

Every card is beautifully illustrated by Beth Sobel, and most of the cards feature Uwe’s friends and family. There’s also a special card based on this Viticulture-themed proposal story. In addition to the 40 visitor cards–which fit into any version of Viticulture (they’re marked with a tiny “MV” icon)–we’ve included reprinted versions of the Promoter and the Harvest Machine.

The Moor Visitors Expansion has already been printed, and it will arrive in St. Louis in a few days (along with more copies of Viticulture and Between Two Cities).

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Head over to the Stonemaier Games site to see where you can preorder this exciting expansion, which should be out in the next few weeks!


Stronghold Games has really pumped out the titles over the last year or two, and 2016 will be no exception. Their most recent announcement is a game by designer Jacob Fryxelius, Terraforming Mars:

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marsTerraforming Mars takes place in the 2400s when the conditions on Earth compel humanity to make Mars a habitable planet. Corporations are competing to transform Mars by spending vast resources and using innovative technology to raise the temperature, create a breathable atmosphere, and make oceans of water. As the transformation of the planet progresses, more and more people immigrate from Earth and opportunities for science and progress increase.

The players in Terraforming Mars each control a corporation with a specific profile and starting conditions. These corporations compete to contribute to the planet’s transformation, to advance human infrastructure throughout the solar systems, and to reach significant milestones and awards. The transformation takes time, however, and each round of the game represents a generation. The corporation that has accomplished the most when the planet becomes habitable wins the game.

While the board for Terraforming Mars is a compelling map of the planet, the most notable feature of the gameplay is the 200 unique project cards. The projects represent early terraforming achievements, such as introducing plant or animal life, to monumental ones, such as hurling asteroids at the surface, mining the moons of Jupiter, building cities, or establishing greenhouse gas industries to heat up the atmosphere. Balancing income, projects, resources, and timing is critical to your success.

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Look for this one sometime in Q3 of 2016!

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:

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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…

animals

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.

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(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.

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(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.”

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

Quadropolis, Burgundy, and Bears – Oh My!

After a brief break from releasing big box games, Days of Wonder is back on the scene with Quadropolis:

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quadEach player builds their own metropolis in Quadropolis, but they’re competing with one another for the shops, parks, public services and other structures to be placed in them.

The game lasts four rounds, and in each round players first lay out tiles for the appropriate round at random on a 5×5 grid. Each player has four architects numbered 1-4 and on a turn, a player places an architect next to a row or column in the grid, claims the tile that’s as far in as the number of the architect placed (e.g., the fourth tile in for architect #4), places that tile in the appropriately numbered row or column on the player’s 4×4 city board, then claims any resources associated with the tile (inhabitants or energy).

When a player takes a tile, a figure is placed in this now-empty space and the next player cannot place an architect in the same row or column where this tile was located. In addition, you can’t place one architect on top of another, so each placement cuts off play options for you and everyone else later in the round. After all players have placed all four architects, the round ends, all remaining tiles are removed, and the tiles for the next round laid out.

After four rounds, the game ends. Players can move the inhabitants and energy among their tiles at any point during the game to see how to maximize their score. At game end, they then score for each of the six types of buildings depending on how well they build their city — as long as they have activated the buildings with inhabitants or energy as required.

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Next up, Ravensburger has delighted Stefan Feld fans everywhere with word of Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game:

 

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cbcgThe Hundred Years’ War is over and the Renaissance is looming. Conditions are perfect for the princes of the Loire Valley to propel their estates to prosperity and prominence. Through strategic trading and building, clever planning, and careful thought, players add settlements and castles, practice trade along the river, exploit silver mines, farm livestock and more in this top-selling game by Stefan Feld.

 

 

 

 

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Finally, Stronghold Games keeps the momentum rolling from a huge 2015 with their latest offering, Bear Valley by Carl Chudyk:

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bvalleyIn Bear Valley, you must be the first to survive the treacherous wilderness and escape to the safety of the camp at the end of the valley. Players start as 2-6 campers along the Bear River and must navigate the wilderness, avoiding bears and trying to not get lost.

The map of trails and challenges is built by the players as they explore the wilderness. These wilderness cards feature beautifully illustrated realistic art and have between three and six exit points along with a variety of features, both made-made and natural in origin. No two games will ever play the same.

Gameplay is structured around a clever movement mechanism in which the first player moves one card, the second player moves up to two cards, the third player three, and so on. Each of the six player characters has both advantages and disadvantages that can be used across a variety of play options — short or long play, regular or advanced.

Dive into caves, row canoes, cross bridges, climb mountains, and cut through treacherous underbrush as you stop at nothing — except bears — to be the first to reach base camp. Can you survive and escape Bear Valley?

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Review: Survive: Space Attack!

In my gaming group, there are a few titles which have become perennial favorites. These games are the ones we’ve played so many times that there’s no need for the rules and we can just sit and enjoy spending time with each other while we play. Or, in the case of Survive: Escape from Atlantis!, enjoy spending time with each other while we attempt to feed one another to sharks. That game has hit the table more times than I can count, and my abysmal performance time and time again has led to most people referring to it as “Dan Doesn’t Survive”.

So when I saw the news earlier this year that Stronghold Games was putting out a new version of Survive, I was interested. And then I saw that the changes weren’t just thematic, and I was VERY interested. The original Survive was created by Julian Courtland-Smith, and this new version was reimagined by Brian, Sydney, and Geoff Engelstein. We’ve moved from the “friendly” confines of the ocean into the deep reaches of outer space…this is Survive: Space Attack!

Survive Space AttackThe basic premise behind either game is the same: you have a group of meeples with numbers ranging from 1 to 6 on the bottom. Using three movement points per turn you are attempting to move them to safety by reaching the outer corners of the board. Meanwhile both your opponents and the board elements are conspiring against you, trying to eat or strand your meeples. A turn follows the progression of play a tile, use your movement points, pull a tile, and roll the creature die.

The original game is a classic, coming out over 30 years ago and still enjoying a large audience. So what, you might ask, makes Space Attack different? Is it worth owning? Well, let’s dive in to what’s new and different…

  1. The space theme is thick here. Instead of fleeing the sinking island of Atlantis while dodging sea serpents, sharks, and whales, you’re on the crumbling Space Station Atlantis trying to escape an alien attack by queens, spawn, and warriors. The aliens act exactly like their waterborne counterparts, so it’s easy to transition from one to another. And the lifeboats? Well, those are now escape pods. Where the original game had you heading for the safety of small islands, you’ll now be floating towards stargates which will allow you to jump to safety. It’s quite immersive.
  2. Station tiles now come in four sizes, which makes the board look even cooler as the new tiles, reactor tiles, are quite chunky. Oh, and not to mention that those reactor tiles are also home to…
  3. Laser turrets. On your turn, if you have a crew member on a tile with a turret, you can use a movement point to fire a laser. If the laser encounters a hex with aliens in it, you capture all the aliens in that space. There are a couple restrictions with them – they will only shoot along a row of hexes straight out from the turret, and they cannot shoot through other station tiles. They have no effect on crew or ships that are in the way.
  4. Fighters. Along with the escape pods, your crew members can also hitch a ride in a fighter. A fighter will, for one movement point, move as far as the controlling player wants in a straight line. So you can zoom all the way across the board if you so desire. But you can only use one movement point per fighter. Not only are they agile, but an occupied fighter moving into a hex with aliens in it will capture the aliens.
  5. Each player has a new action which they will can take as their first one: play captured aliens back onto the board. So all of those aliens you’ve captured with your turrets and fighters? This is the time to place them back on the board right by your opponent’s full escape pod.
  6. Finally the tiles have a lot of new interactions on the back of them. There’s your standard “place a warrior/fighter/spawn” etc. tiles, but most of the other tiles offer new ways to interact with each other. There’s also a new type of tile which gets played after the creature die is rolled which can give that creature extra movement or evolve them into a different alien.

I’m not going to mince words here – these additions are amazing. The Englesteins were able to look at a game which has stood the test of time, make some changes, and make it a totally different experience. Sure. The gameplay is very similar. But the strategy is, pardon the pun, light years apart.

SSAIn the original Survive you had one goal with all your meeples: save them. Now? Well, let’s take our low scoring crew and try to maneuver them towards turrets and fighters. They are going to provide cover fire for the rest of the crew as they make their way off. As an added benefit, once you start knocking out those aliens you can use them to thwart your opponents.

The changes made to the tiles make this even more interactive than it was before. You can switch crew members between ships (any player’s crew), move back on to the station from space, steal aliens that have just been captured…it’s really even more about interaction than ever before.

And if all of that wasn’t enough, the board is now double sided. One side is your basic setup and the other has only two jump points from which to escape, which work with new scenarios included within the rules. To be perfectly honest, the side with two jump points scares the hell out of me…I can barely get my crew to safety with four!

So now you know that Survive: Space Attack is well worth the investment. But this still leaves us with a question: if I own Survive: Escape from Atlantis, do I need this one? Do I perhaps pick Space Attack up and ditch the original? Well……………..I don’t know. It’s all going to come down to personal preference. If you play in a group that loves a sci-fi theme, this one’s going to be a hit. Have a lot of new gamers in your midst? Well, the original has fewer rules.

Of course, having both will allow you to have a Survive themed game night. You can play Escape from Atlantis and then say that those survivors moved on to the Space Station Atlantis and play Space Attack!

No matter what you choose, do yourself a favor and check this one out. Brian, Sydney, and Geoff have taken a fantastic game and made it even better.

Plaid Hat & Stronghold Preorders

Yesterday Plaid Hat games opened up preorders for the newest game in the Mice & Mystics universe with Tail Feathers:

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tailfeathersPlaid Hat Games is proud to present Tail Feathers, the exciting new miniatures skirmish game by our very own Jerry Hawthorne set in the beloved world of Mice and Mystics. Soar across the table, send your troops on dangerous missions, lock beaks with opposing birds, and defend your nest!

Featuring the beautiful hand-sculpted miniatures by Chad Hoverter Mice and Mystics fans have come to love, Tail Feathers raises the stakes with 13 dutiful ground troops, 5 headstrong birds that tilt for launching and turning, plus 5 daring pilots. Players will recreate the famous battles for aerial supremacy that shaped the Mice and Mystics world.

Outwit and outfly your opponent in stand-alone scenarios, or play a full campaign and see your units gain skill from one battle to the next.

Tail Feathers is a stand-alone game, not a Mice and Mystics expansion, but you can use your Mice and Mystics: Sorrow and Remembrance miniatures in Tail Feathers right out of the box. And when you order Tail Feathers from PlaidHatGames.com, you’ll receive an exclusive Mice and Mystics Lost Chapter compatible with Downwood Tales utilizing Tail Feathers’ Oakguard Warriors!

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You can read more about Tail Feathers and preorder this one on the Plaid Hat website!

 


 

And, of course, it wouldn’t be 2015 without a little more news about Stronghold Games. In April Stronghold decreed that 2015 was going to be “The Year of Survive” and Saturday the preorders opened up for their newest iteration in the Survive family: Survive: Space Attack! I can’t say enough good things about Stronghold’s Preorder Program – you get the game before it hits retail, and you’re getting it at a healthy discount.

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Survive: Space Attack

Survive: Space Attack! is a reimagining of the best-selling game, Survive: Escape From Atlantis! The redesign of this classic game has been done by Brian, Sydney, and Geoff Engelstein, who have previously designed Space Cadets and Space Cadets: Dice Duel, plus expansions for each of these games, for Stronghold Games.

 In Survive: Space Attack!, players are escaping from a space station as it comes under attack by aliens. While Survive: Space Attack! utilizes similar base mechanics to the original Survive! game designed by Julian Courtland-Smith, additional features of the new game include:

 

  • Double-sided Game Board: enables a variety of starting setups each with its own challenges.
  • New Fighter Ships: gives players the ability to capture and redeploy alien creatures.
  • Laser Turrets: a new weapon system to defend the space station against the aliens.
  • New Tile Abilities: new powers that are combinable, plus four different tile thicknesses for a 3-D look.
  • New Alien Creature Powers: alien creatures may evolve to become even more powerful.

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Along with the base game, you can also preorder the 5-6 player expansion and the mini-expansion The Crew Strikes Back. They are limiting this to 500 copies, so head over there today!

 

 

Game News – More Among the Stars, Scoville Labs, and FFG’s Mafia

What’s that you say? There was another announcement from Stronghold Games? That can’t be!! It’s been like almost a month!

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and I’m pretty sure it’s Stephen Buonocore from Stronghold Games. On Monday they announced two new entries into the Among the Stars catalog:

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ats02Among the Stars: Revival is a new expansion for Among the Stars, which can also be played as a standalone game for two players!

Among the Stars: Revival introduces brand new strategic two-player rules and exciting new mechanisms that add more interaction in the game and more things to consider when drafting a card. And best of all: These new mechanisms, rules, and components can be integrated into the base game of Among The Stars too!

Among the Stars: Revival includes exciting new features such as:

  • 30 Brand new Locations – 15 Basic and 15 Special (90 Location cards in total).
  • New 2-player rules – more strategic and skill-testing especially for 2 players! These rules can also be used for Among the Stars base game.
  • Spaceships – a new highly-interactive mechanic used by many of the new cards. It allows the players to put Spaceship tokens on the Stations, preventing anyone from building on those spaces.
  • Advisors – a new module that can be optionally added in a base game of Among the Stars. It increases competition among the players in order to control Advisor cards that grant them special abilities as well as additional victory points.

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And, if you’re into pimping out your games a little bit:

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ats01Among The Stars: Miniatures Pack is playable currently with Among the Stars: Revival and the upcoming New Dawn. It will also be playable with future games in theAmong The Stars universe.

Among The Stars: Miniatures Pack contains 8 plastic Miniatures, each 2 inches tall. The miniatures are bust sculptures of each of the 8 primary Races in the Among The Stars universe:

  • Debos
  • Minireen
  • Humareen
  • Qualeen
  • Nyxtos
  • Garn’Athak’Nok
  • Hythian
  • Feronsy

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Both of these titles are available for preorder now through the Stronghold Game Preorder Program.


Last year Tasty Minstrel Games cranked up the heat with Scoville. The game was well received with the small exception of pepper shortages in some games. Well, fear not! More peppers are on their way, and a small expansion as well!

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scovilleLabs is a wonderful expansion to Scoville which has very few components and will come stuffed into one of our standard small boxes (like Harbour, Belfort: Expansion Expansion, Flip City, and so forth). It will be $20, and adds significant depth to the game.

Every player gets a 3×3 lab on which they can additionally “plant” peppers. You collect cross-bred peppers based on what is next to a new pepper when you place it into your lab. Nobody else can play on your personal lab board, and there is no walking through it to produce peppers either. Since there is more planting to do, every player will start with a second plant an extra pepper token.

The game will additionally come with additional wooden peppers, new recipes cards, and pepper multiplier tokens. The Kickstarter should be from August 11th through August 20th. Scoville: Labs will cost $20 USD which will probably include shipping to your country (some will have small shipping surcharges).

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Finally we’ve got Fantasy Flight Games bringing their version of Mafia/Werewolf to life:

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mafiaEveryone is suspect in Mafia: Vendetta, a party game of bluffing and suspicion. Designed for seven to seventeen players, in Mafia: Vendetta some players take on the roles of Mafia members, others become the civilians of a crime-filled community. Every night the Mafia kills another person, every day the civilians have a chance to discuss the murder, choose suspects, and condemn one of them to death. Since every role is secret, you never know who is an innocent bystander, and who is part of the Mafia. If the Mafia kill off enough civilians, the community becomes a permanent haven for crime, but if the civilians rid their community of the Mafia, they win.

Mafia: Vendetta offers eleven different civilian roles and five different Mafia roles. It also features two different alternative modes, the Loner mode and Yakuza mode, that each introduce a third faction to the game. You might play a Mafia Thug, a protective Nurse, an innocent Bystander, or a cunning Imposter. No matter what your role, play it convincingly, make your choices carefully, and trust no one.

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I’m quite curious to see how Fantasy Flight will incorporate the metric ton of plastic that they usually use into this one!

 

 

Game News – Stronghold Yet Again, The Game, and Some Gorram Firefly

I’m toying with the idea of renaming the “News” section of this site to “Stronghold’s Release Calendar”. They are really pumping out the new releases this year and yesterday’s announcement tosses another great designer in the mix. Friedemann Friese will have his entry in The Great Designer Series with his latest title, 504:

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504504 is a revolutionary concept in game design.  504 offers the game enthusiast 504 different games in a single box, achieving this via the use of nine game modules, which can be merged together to form 504 unique play experiences. The nine modules are Pick-up & Deliver, Race, Privileges, Military, Exploring, Roads, Majorities, Production, and Shares.

In 504, players use the spiral bound “Book of 504 Worlds“, selecting three different modules in any order from the nine available, and thereby creating a unique “World”. For example, the selection of three modules for a World may create a game that is:

 

  • A racing game that expands through exploration with technology improving the racing or exploration (World “253”).
  • An 18XX-style stock game with network building for income and production sites to provide workers for the road building (World “968”).
  • A wargame with a pick-up and deliver economy and bonus scoring from majorities (“World 417”).

Thematically in 504, scientists in the future are able to build small alternate Earths. Exactly 504 such Earths have thus far been built. The scientists have programmed each of these Worlds with an individual set of laws and rules, which the inhabitants strictly follow and consider most important for their lives. These may be exploration, consumption, economics, military, etc., and each is unique. You can visit all of these 504 alternate Earths to experience how the people are living, and decide which of these worlds harbours the best civilization. On which World do you want to live?  Explore them all and decide!

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This sounds like an amazing idea to me, although some are viewing this as a poke at the euro designs and their interchangeable mechanisms. Whatever the motivation, 504 is tentatively slated for a November release.


Gale Force Nine has announced that they are making the ‘verse a little bigger with three new Firefly expansions. Two of them, Esmerelda and Jetwash, are small boosters each with a new ship. The big one is called Kalidasa:

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KalidasaKalidasa adds a massive star system to the ‘Verse with loads of new opportunities for adventure and profit. No sector of space is safe as the long arm of the Alliance reaches out beyond the central planets with the addition of the Operative’s Corvette. Every region of the ‘Verse becomes more dangerous with the addition of new Nav Cards for Alliance Space, Border Space and Rim Space. Two new Contacts, including the twin brothers Fanty & Mingo, provide new work opportunities for ambitious crews, especially those willing to get their hands dirty. The bustling port of Beaumonde offers exciting new gear and supplies for captains of all sorts. The bounty of the Rim also flows back to other Supply Planets with new crew, gear and ship upgrades appearing on other worlds. Finally, new Set Up cards, new Story Cards, and a host of surprises await the bold.

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You’ll be able to preview these at GenCon and they are scheduled for a September release.


Finally Pandasaurus Games and IDW announced that they will be releasing the English language version of The Game. This little game garnered a Spiele de Jahres nomination, and is next to impossible to search for given the generic nature of its name.

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The GameTHE GAME is no toy. You and your friends will have to work together if you are going to survive. How well can you coordinate your movements? Without talking? Can you trust your friends to make the right move? Quick thinking and spitfire cooperation will make or break you.

Are you ready to play The Game? Or will the game play you?

The Game is for one to five players (yep, great single-player too!), and is playable in roughly 20 minutes. The goal is to play as long as you can, by continually playing cards to one of four different piles, cards must be discarded according to various rules that can be manipulated by clever play. Table talk is allowed, but players are never allowed to exactly reveal what they have in their hand, so there’s a constant tension, as with each turn you hope your play fits in with the strategy of your teammates. Quick thinking and spitfire cooperation will make or break turns as grimaces and cheers abound, making for a perfect nail-biting good time for all.

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This one is scheduled for release in late fall, so keep your eyes peeled!