There’s a little over two month left in 2014. Before you know it the holiday season will be upon us and we’ll be reading list after list of everyone’s favorite games from the year. For now we’ve got holiday releases and the Essen catalog slowly making it’s way over from Europe before we close the book on 2014. But that doesn’t mean we can’t start looking towards 2015 for upcoming releases too!
Here’s what I’ll be covering this week:
Collapse [/third][third]First Looks
Roll For The Galaxy [/third][third]Rulebook Corner
Bruges: The City of Zwin
My standout from this week’s batch of upcoming games was:
Every now and then a game captures my attention entirely based on a picture of the components. It’s that magical first impression when you get to imagine all the possibilities that the game could offer and how much fun it must be to play. Steampunk Rally might encapsulate this feeling moreso than any other game. Just look at that marvelous flying machine. It’s fantastic, creative, and whimsical. I want to take it for a steam-powered spin, have parts fall off, rebuild it, and try not crash the thing into a mountain. I barely even care what the game is about, I just want one of those please.
The funny thing is that my first exposure to this game was the name, the cover, and the fact that it was on Kickstarter. I have no problem with Steampunk but nothing about those three things peaked my interest in the slightest. That was enough reason for me to straight up ignore it (as harsh as that may sound). Then I saw that ship over there… oh, it’s that game that I couldn’t be bothered to check out. Well, now you have my attention.
Steampunk Rally is a frantatic racing game where players build their ship (and try to prevent it from falling apart) as they race. The ship is made up of cards that you’ll be drafting throughout the game and is powered by dice that represent different resources (heat, steam, and electricity). On top of that your ship is being captained by a steampunk version of historical science figures such as Tesla and Edison. Relive their feud and settle it once and for all!
Much like last week a lot of my recent game discoveries have come from Kickstarter. Even if you’re not interested in backing anything it’s a good way to see what’s (hopefully) planned for next year.
You know what I wouldn’t want to do? Make a deck-builder and then try to fund it on Kickstarter. Don’t get me wrong, I love deck-builders but I would have guessed that it would be a hard sell. Jordan Goddard proved me wrong. We’re talking over-500-percent-funded wrong. Even with a modest funding goal that’s impressive in my eyes.
Lately I’ve been wondering if people might have finally accepted that deck-building is a mechanic that still has plenty of room for innovation and exploration, much like any other mechanic (such as role selection or worker placement). Valley of the Kings proved that for me and Collapse continues the trend with a novel theme and twists on the tried and true formula. There’s word that doomsday is coming and you’ve got to stock your storage closet full of food and your bomb shelter full of guns and ammo. How long can you survive once disaster strikes at the game’s end?
There are two concepts in particular that make Collapse stand out to me. The first is that you get to choose a doomsday scenario (such as nuclear disaster) and add its event cards to the deck which introduce unique conditions that must be adapted to throughout the game. This ensures that each game will play differently based on the scenario that you’re using and the order that the events come out. The second concept is the ability to store cards for use in later turns. One of the most fulfilling things in deck building is pulling off a clever combo but random card draw can make this easier in concept then execution. Keeping a slim deck or drawing your whole deck is usually the best way to achieve consistency but Collapse offers its own way to help player’s achieve combos without requiring either of those methods.
I don’t normally mention Kickstarter project specifics here but this one is ending on Monday (Nov 3) so check it out right away if you’re interested.
A lot of folks are starting to share their thoughts on the games that they brought back from Essen. For those that aren’t exactly enthralled with the Euro-centric convention there are still some sneak peaks to be enjoyed.
Roll For The Galaxy
Roll For The Galaxy is a game that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. If memory serves me correctly I heard rumors of it way back when The Gathering Storm was released with a dice-based solitaire variant (that’s back in 2008). From the sounds of it, Wei-Hwa Huang has had a long road to finally being able to get his game into our impatient hands. To share his journey, Wei-Hwa posted a designer diary that looks at the development and pending release of Roll.
Unfortunately, not every game that showed up at Essen had a rulebook beforehand. For those looking to catch up on some Spiel reading here are a couple of recently released rulebooks. I’ll be adding in some of my thoughts this afternoon so make sure to check back!
Bruges: The City of Zwin
It’s not surprising to see an expansion coming out for one of Feld’s most tactical games that gets its variation through a wide variety of cards. Fortunately there’s more than just extra cards here with support for an additional player and even more options for how to use your cards.
At first glance Hellweg Westfalicus looks suspiciously similar to Hansa Teutonica. But don’t worry, these are two very different games indeed. Hellweg is based on the buying and selling of goods. We’re talking exciting goods like beer, salt, and ironware!
R&R Games had two offerings this year at Essen that boasted a satisfying and quick playing experience. There was a tactical card game (Spellcaster) and an economic pick-up-and-deliver game (Spike). I covered Spellcaster earlier but have really been looking forward to hearing more about Spike.