There’s more post-Essen and Kickstarter goodness in store for this week! Here’s what I’ll be covering:
My standout from this week’s batch of upcoming games was:
oddball Aeronauts 2: Double the Trouble
Get ready to take to the skies in the world’s cutest dirigible battles, again! oddball Aeronauts is back with a standalone expansion that introduces two new factions and all new antics. For those unfamiliar with the game you can check out my review or better yet I’ll give you a quick(ish) rundown (or if you’re wanting to hear what’s new in oddball 2 go right to the Read More section).
Take one hand and insert into it a deck of cards for your mighty airship of choice. Fan out the first several cards, those are your crew. Look at your opponent. Right in the eyes. How dare he fly in your skies? He’s going down. Look back down at your cards, your buddies. They’ve got your back. Consort with them and pick a maneuver to use. Then look back at your opponent and boldly proclaim how you’re going to defeat him, “Cannons!” He looks nervous. Time to strike! Take your other hand and shake it a couple times and then let fly a number of fingers between one and three. That’s how many cards from the front three in your deck that you’re bringing to the battle. Add the value from the top card together with supporting values from any additional ones that joined in. Maybe your top card has a special ability, you get to use that to! Both sides discard all used cards by flipping them around and moving them to the back of their deck. Then compare values with your opponent and resolve the maneuver of the winning side. As expected you won and your cannons land a devastating blow on your opponent’s puny ship. He discards an extra two cards! He’s visibly sweating now. Time to take him down. Pick another maneuver and continue this process until one of you runs out of cards.
The contents of oddball Aeronauts 2 is very similar to the base game but has a different feel and fantastic new artwork. There are two factions (Free Kingdoms and Mechinauts), several events, and four mercenaries (the Outlaws). The Free Kingdoms are strongest in Cannons, have lots of Officers (6), and like to manipulate the order of their cards. Mechinauts are strongest in Boarding, have additional Support (5), and powerful counters. One of the new ability types in this set are cards that have an effect which only triggers if properly supported. In order for these abilities to work you must use a second card that has a gear symbol on it (about a third of the cards have gears on them). This means that you’ll care more about the order of cards past your top three cards in order to utilizes these abilities. There aren’t a lot of new abilities but the deck distributions emphasizes different strategies so both of the new factions will definitely play out distinctly from the ones you are used to.
There are also two new game modes to support 3 or 4 players for when you have all your oddball buddies together. First up is the free-for-all mode which pits the player in the lead against the other three players (one at a time) but allows them to single out only one player that will actually fight back. Once any player runs out of cards then whoever has the most cards left wins. Next up is the more strategic team mode which lets you fight together with another player in a 2-on-2 mode. I haven’t gotten the chance to actually play either of these modes but they sound like a blast!
I don’t often pitch Kickstarters but the maverick:muse team does a wonderful job of interacting with their backers and having a great time during the campaign so I’d highly recommend checking out. If nothing else they’ve got one of the best intro videos that I’ve ever seen for a Kickstarter campaign, that alone is worth the trip. Also make sure to check out this detailed interview with Nigel done by The Inquisitive Meeple.
Hey look, more Kickstarters! Don’t worry, at least one of these games was at Essen and is using Kickstarter as a pre-order platform. Another isn’t on Kickstarter… yet. And the last one requires you and your buddies to have smartphones. Nevermind, those are some hot topics. Forget I mentioned Kickstarter at all and just check out the games!
Keyflower: The Merchants
Keyflower has become one of my all time favorite games. The base game has an incredible amount of variety and when the first expansion, The Farmers, was announced I didn’t feel the need to introduce more variety into a game that I was still exploring. The second expansion, The Merchants, has weakened my resolve to resist expanding Keyflower.
Both expansions add in new scoring opportunities that aren’t as dependent on the Fall and Winter seasons. But where The Farmers introduced new resources for the players to manage (animals and wheat), The Merchants provides some added flexibility.
First up are Cabins which arrive by boat and increase the number of upgrades that your home tile will provide. To capitalize on that Extensions let you upgrade a tile for a second time (double its points) but it locks in that tile to a specific color meaning that only that color of workers can be placed there. Last up are Contracts which can be acquired by boat and some new village tiles. Contracts indicate a set of resources that, if allocated at the end of the game, will score 7 points. They are somewhat similar to winter tiles but can only be scored once. However, Contracts can also be discarded during the game to acquire one of the indicated resources.
Keyflower: The Merchants was at Essen but for those of us not lucky enough to snag a copy Game Salute is running a Kickstarter. Yes, it’s an extremely transparent pre-order method with a $100 goal that was instantly met. No, I don’t really care and I backed it because I want the game and it’s all the same to me. We’re not here to talk about how Kickstarter should be used, we’re hear to talk about how great Keyflower is. It’s really great.
Tesla vs. Edison: War of Currents
Conquistador is responsible for one of my all time favorite scientific/historical games, The New Science. At first I thought their upcoming offering, Tesla vs. Edison, might simply be a meatier sequel since they’re both worker placement games about competing scientists. However, TvE focuses more on the economic side of things by having players manage a business in addition to doing science. That’s enough to have me extremely interested. Also, look at that cover! Between this and Steampunk Rally I’ve never been so excited about playing out great scientific rivalries. While details about Tesla vs. Edison are still pretty slim they mentioned having a demo copy at BGG Con so hopefully we’ll know more soon.
World of Yo-Ho
While I’m generally interested in or excited to play the games that I feature on Dragon’s Peak I am willing to make an exception for games that aren’t quite my cup of tea but look extremely innovative. Games that require (or prefer the use of) smartphones are slowly making their way into the market and they aren’t just a gimmick any more. Recent examples are the Gen-Con hit: XCOM: The Board Game and Essen hit: Alchemists. I won’t hide the fact that I don’t care much for this trend but that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to them entirely.
World of Yo-Ho integrates smartphones more directly than any other game so far by having the phones themselves represent a game component, your ship. You’ll move your phone around the board and interact with the game and other players through an interface on the app. I was pretty impressed by what they were showing off in their demonstration video on Kickstarter (though it doesn’t make me want to play the game).
Two more Essen releases get excellent unofficial English translations.
Jager und Spaher
The latest offering in the KOSMOS 2-player line is a card and worker management game of survival and victory points. You’ll start the game with a hand of character cards, some unbuilt tools, and two hungry tribe members. On your turn you can either play and resolve a character card (which will generally let you send your workers to various locations), return workers from those location in order to gather resources, or score (once you’ve used all of your cards). In a way it sounds a bit like a simpler card driven version of T’zolkin with its worker deployment and retrieval system.
The Staufer Dynasty
I’ve been waiting for Andreas Steding’s follow-up to the innovative Hansa Teutonica and The Staufer Dynasty looks like a worthy successor. One pass through the rules makes it pretty clear that there’s a lot going on but without playing it I doubt I’ll be able to adequately summarize the rules. One of the neat concepts here is a queue found in the center of the board which indicates the order the players will be taking their actions each turn. There are two actions that you have to choose from, each determining the order of the queue on the next turn. One action will move you to a first-in-first-out line that will make up the front of the queue. The other action forms a first-in-last-out line that makes up the end of the queue. If you like dynamic, euroy, area-control games this one sound to be well worth checking out.