Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Arrivals This Week 8/27/13 to 9/2/13

by Becky "Merciless Volcano Deity" Topol
There's so much cool new stuff this week! Lots of the games that were super hot at this year's GenCon are finally hitting the shelves. So far, I've gotten to play The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet, which is a tile-laying and drafting game for the young and young at heart. Based on the beloved novella The Little Prince, this game challenges players to build planets that will become homes for the animals of the book - the fox, sheep, elephant, and snake. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the level of strategic nuance and complexity that arose. Each player can collect up to four characters who determine what elements of the planet will be worth points, and this combined with the drafting mechanic allows players to make specific choices to mess with their neighbors. A degree of negotiation also developed since each player gets to decide who chooses the next tile after them each round. This meant that wheedling and debate became central to convincing your predecessor to let you get the best pick, not to mention throwing your opponents under the bus. The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet  is simple enough for kids, but experienced gamers will find layers of strategic options under the sweet, classic art. I think this will be a new family favorite!

Rise of Augustus, also known simply as Augustus, is a high-speed, family-friendly Spiel des Jahres nominee. We've opened a demo for the store, so you are welcome to come and try it if you'd like (maybe at tonight's board game night?). It combines elements of worker placement, time management, push-your-luck, Yes, someone took the basic mechanic of bingo and made it into a real, interesting, strategic game. Players choose three cards to start with, each containing a layout of several symbols such as shields, swords, and daggers, all of varying rarity. Symbol tokens are drawn randomly from a bag, and players must decide which card with a matching symbol they want to place a centurion on. When a card is completed it is scored, and may also trigger special powers like gaining or placing extra centurions, or even destroying another player’s scored card. With cards that vary in difficulty and time needed to complete them, and interlocking effects that can stack and trigger each other, Rise of Augustus is an addictive and easy-to-teach addition to your game night.

Pandemic: In the Lab actually arrived late last week and is the second expansion for Pandemic. A new board allows you to move pawns inside a bio-hazard laboratory, racing to sequence the genetic code of diseases, take samples, and test out the cures that you hope will save humanity. The game includes four new roles, new Virulent Strain events and a Worldwide Panic Mutation scenarios, all of which can provide new challenges when combined with the base game or with the On the Brink expansion. Players also have the opportunity to compete individually or in rival teams, allowing for yet another style of play and a whole new set of strategies. Have you got what it takes to stop the pandemic?

Yedo, which will finally be on sale this Friday (tomorrow) after a long wait, has been described as "a souped up version of Lords of Waterdeep." The strategic and highly interactive game places you at the head of a powerful Japanese clan during the golden age of the Tokugawa Shogunate. When a new Shogun takes the throne, it’s an opportunity for all the great clans to stab each other in the back to gain prestige and the favor of the Shogun. Of course, there’s more than one way to collect valuable assets and catch the Shogun’s eye; outright service on important missions is a good way to raise your status, but so is clever manipulation in private meetings, and buying luxury goods from the European merchants will let you outshine your opponents. All the while, spying, kidnapping, and assassinations will help keep the other clans at bay, so tread carefully and choose wisely.

The newest game by Stefan Feld has arrived and is of a somewhat lighter variety than some of his other designs. It is a time of wealth and culture in the great city of Bruges, and there are many opportunities to grab wealth, status, and power. Playing as merchants, you must choose which card to play on each turn, and which of its abilities to use. Do you need to hire workers or collect money? Maybe building a canal or house would suit your needs best. Be careful though, your wealth is threatened not just by your opponents - events that arise from the game itself will undermine your prosperity at any given moment. Know the right people, make good choices, and fend off impending disaster in order to become the most prestigious merchant in this Kennerspiel des Jahres nominee.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords Base Set, the game that we probably heard the most about from GenCon, is the newest transformation of the popular traditional tabletop RPG (role-playing game). One to four players take on the roles of warriors defending against an ancient evil that is resurfacing after a long slumber. Choose your class, and build a powerful deck of allies, equipment, and magic to face down the dangers of the award-winning Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path. After each game, your characters grow stronger, adding new and more amazing powers and magic to their decks, which they will need in order survive the more deadly adventures they will soon face. The Character Add-On Deck, is also available, with more classes, monsters, weapons, and everything you need to add a fifth and sixth player to your adventuring party. Now go forth and save the land of Varisia!

Finally we have the second edition of The Downfall of Pompeii by Klaus-JΓΌrgen Wrede, the designer of Carcassonne. This game will speak to history buffs as well as people who enjoy busting out a good maniacal laugh. It takes place during the time immediately before and after the famed eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and you must try to save as many of your own people as possible. In the first phase of the game, all players draw cards to try to populate the city with their meeples. Once the volcano erupts, lava begins flowing through the city, and you must try to maneuver your meeples out of the city gates to safety. You can also trap other players' meeples with the lava flow and throw them into the volcano. Yes, you can literally chuck people into an awesome plastic volcano in this game. I can't wait! Mua ha ha ha.....

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