Tag Archives: essen 2013

Undercover of the Night – One Night Ultimate Werewolf review

ONUW Cover

If there’s one person out there who knows about Werewolfaside from the originator, Dimma Davidoff – it’s Ted Alspach. He’s managed to build an empire on the game that has culminated in the recently released Ultimate Werewolf set that plays with up to sixty-eight people. Chuck in the expansions and you’ve got one of the deepest, most involved party games around. However, it’s also a game where no matter what version you may play, people will be determined to point out what they deem as problems. Arguments abound, of course, and players may feel like they’re being picked on or targeted. Larger game groups can take an absolute age, and then there’s the elephant in the room – player elimination. When people are either run out of town through group votes or eaten by the werewolves at night, they’re out of the game – any many hate that. However, the positives (in my view) outweigh the negatives; the accusations and finger-pointing are what make the game.

If only there were a way you could get rid of those perceived bad points. A version of the game where you get all of the discussion and pleasure of people bellowing “YOU’RE THE WEREWOLF YOU BLOODY LIAR” but none of the folks hanging around for an hour because they’ve been knocked out of the game. And, as of Essen this year, it just so happens that such a game now exists: One Night Ultimate Werewolf.

It’s not actually an Alspach design – the vast majority of the work was actually done by Japanese designer Akihisa Okui back in 2012 when the original One Night Werewolf was released. A limited English language run was produced by Japon Brand for this year’s Essen Spiel (which are now changing hands for ludicrous sums, though that’s not surprising as the 8-bit retro styled artwork is crazy pretty) but Ted, enterprising chap that he is, thought it would be a good idea to bring the game into the Ultimate Werewolf universe – and so One Night Ultimate Werewolf was born.

The premise is simple. Rather than days and nights running endlessly until one side wins, play takes place over one single night and day period. Players are randomly assigned roles that are recognisable to anyone who has tried out the game before, and a further three role cards are placed in the centre of the table. The moderator will then run through the different roles and ask them to perform their special abilities which could be anything from sneaking a look at another player’s card to switching roles around. While all this chicanery is going on, players who have their eyes closed will be listening out for the slightest noise or attempting to discern any movement – anything that could potentially give them a little extra ammunition once the discussion begins.

Certainly one of the prettier Werewolf versions out there.

ONUW is certainly one of the prettier Werewolf versions out there.

When everything is done, all players are asked to open their eyes and the clock begins. The accusations fly fast and furious, questions are answered with denials, lies and the occasional actual fact, but once the time runs out only one action remains. A countdown ends with every player pointing at someone they believe is a werewolf, and if one is correctly determined the villagers win the game. If the werewolves escape, they are declared victorious. It’s very simple, plays out in minutes, and is very much the perfect “let’s have another go” game. As the Moderator decides how long the discussion part lasts, games can take as long (or as little time) as you like, so you can also decide what kind of play style you want. Considered discussion and time to work out things? Give the players ten minutes or more. Haphazard roaring and baseless accusations? Give them two. It really is a brilliantly adaptable little game.

A final issue with standard Werewolf is also fixed thanks to ONUW – that of the Moderator themselves essentially being left out of the game. Now, while many don’t mind the responsibility of running a game, Bezier Games have fixed it so everyone can play thanks to an iOS / Android app that does everything for you. Easy as pie to sort out, you simply tap the various villagers that will be in your game, shuffle the cards (well, I say cards but actually mean lovely thick punchboard tiles that will stand up to the most hardcore of game groups), set the amount of discussion time you’d like, push start and away you go! Even better, the whole thing has been narrated by The Dice Tower’s own Eric Summerer who uses his finest spooky voice to add some gravitas to the game. Throw in a bit of background noise to cover up any shuffling about that may give you away and you’ll never want to have a Moderator again!

Now, there’s already been some criticism about the game, mainly along the lines of “I already own Werewolf – why do I need this is my collection?”. Well, when do you ever truly “need” a game? They are luxury items, after all, and are not exactly necessary to live… however, while this version of the game is entirely playable using any regular Werewolf set (with a couple of very minor alterations, of course), having a copy of ONUW to hand is a rather lovely thing. As mentioned, it’s well produced, using thick punchboard in place of cards, and the art is cute as anything. Think of the style as a more Disney-fied take on classic Werewolf roles – the Insomniac looks particularly heartbreaking, as if she hasn’t slept in weeks.

If you spot a copy of this for a decent price, grab it too!

If you spot a copy of the original version for a decent price, grab it too!

In all honesty, ONUW and the standard Werewolf are very different experiences despite them sharing the same world. There’s room for both in your collection – the regular game is still great, sure, but if you’re looking for a quick fix that gives you the same kind of feel, I can’t recommend One Night enough. Throw in the Moderator app (which is free, by the way) and it swiftly becomes the ideal filler or game to round out your evening. No-one’s left out, everyone gets a chance to voice their opinions and they all go home happy. All you have to do now is wait for the game to actually come out…

One Night Ultimate Werewolf will be released through Bezier Games in January 2014. A co-design by Ted Alspach and Akihisa Okui, the art (which really does deserve a special mention) is by Gus Batts. Anywhere from three to ten people can play with games lasting… well, as long as you want them to go on for. Copies will be available through the usual retail outlets, but for the most up to date news on release, check out BezierGames.com – and thanks to Ted for the advance copy!

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Hunting High And Low – Amerigo guest review

The Judge returns from his training for his upcoming bout, takes to his gaming table and cracks open the latest Stefan Feld offering from Queen Games. Is it any good? Well, you’ll find out in a moment…

Amerigo COVER

Following Rialto, Bora Bora & Strassbourg, the most successful and prolific designer of his generation, Stefan Feld, is at it again. But first, a personal message…

Dear Mr. Feld,

How do I love thee’s games, let me count the ways! Oh look at your innovative mechanisms that allow me to score a veritable salad of points. Your love of quirky, randomisation devices is so cute! So, you may be unburdened by the concerns of theme? It matters not! None of that flouncy periphery! Just cold, hard, raw game! Yay!

Lots of love! Your favourite fanboy…

(Apology to the editor – I shall use less ‘!’ from now on. I promise!)

[I’m pretty sure you won’t but we’ll let it slide. Amerigo is worth it! – Michael] 

That said, Stephan Feld’s fourth and last game of 2013 (probably: who knows what magic may escape from his mysterious German laboratory before the year’s end?) is certainly more thematically slanted than much of his oeuvre. It is also perhaps both the heaviest and best entry of the 2013 ‘Feld Four’ (TM: The Judge). The game casts players as assistants to famous Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, discovering and colonising the islands of South America. Players compete by taking actions to move your ships around the large, modular map, placing settlements and expanding to take over the new world. Points are gained by planning and constructing Tetris-esque building tiles, scooping up natural resources to trade – such as coconuts, tobacco and cotton – all in the interest of scoring the most points.

The ‘hook’ that separates Amerigo from its fellow Feld Point Salads is apparent from anyone who opens the box – the presence of a large cube tower pinched from Queen Games’ successful euro-war games, Shogun and Wallenstein. In those games this tower was used to decide the outcome of battles by throwing in the troops represented by cubes and seeing who was victorious by what fell out the bottom and didn’t getting snagged up on the many shelves and compartments inside. In Amerigo, however, coloured cubes are poured inside each round, with the pool of cubes that escape revealing what actions are available for the players. Owing to the nature of the tower, cubes from the current round may be trapped away, and others from previous rounds are nudged free making offering unpredictable actions on each round.

Ludicrous dice tower is ludicrous. It's exactly the same inside as Shogun, by the way!

Ludicrous dice tower is ludicrous. It’s exactly the same inside as Shogun, by the way!

This random element can lead to amazing situations where you pour 3 white cubes in, only to have them disappear (presumably through some kinds of portal to Narnia) and a red, a green and two blues appear… Much like the dice rolling in Bora Bora or Castles of Burgundy, these results are random, though somewhat predictable. Geoff Englestein described this as ‘Pink Noise’ on a recent episode of his excellent Ludology podcast, but put simply the opportunities created will force players to adapt.

What do I really like about Amerigo? Well, the game has a certain narrative. Sailing and claiming ports around the various islands is really important at the start of the game – but less so as the areas are colonised. Building multiple settlements on an island is an obvious winning tactic – as it multiplies the available points for covering the whole settlement with buildings. The thing is, the larger islands can be really big and a heavy drain on time / resources to complete. This forces players to co-operate to complete the islands and share the points. Alternatively, you could always highjack a single port and block the filling of an island to cost a player a ton of points.

This says NOTHING about the game, but it's certainly nice to look at.

This says NOTHING about the game, but it’s certainly nice to look at.

Simply colonising the islands with buildings is fun too, offering a spatial, tetris-like puzzle where the challenge comes from making best use of your available building tiles whilst scooping up the natural resources scattered around. More so than Bora Bora and Burgundy for that matter, Amerigo is remarkably simple to learn. The mechanisms get out of the way and the actions you can select are fairly straight forward. This is not a difficult game to teach and players are able to make short, medium and long term strategies right from the start. So yes, this is more of the same point grabbing from Feld, but with a distinctly different flavour. The clever, innovative inclusion of the cube tower is an interesting and fun way of adding some light randomisation into the game’s design. The spatial elements offered by the map offers fresh challenges, and even the end-game scoring is relatively painless and obvious.

The very lovely designer has done it again. Yes, it’s not a cheap game, but it comes in a giant box that is filled with game that will last you for months – or at least until another masterwork escapes from Castle Feld.

Amerigo, designed by Stefan Feld, was released by Queen Games at Essen 2013. Between two and four people can play with games taking around an hour and a half. Expansions are also available that add even more into the game experience through the Queenies range. Should you want to grab a copy – and why wouldn’t you? You have taste! – you’ll be looking at around £50 for a copy once they become available through retail next week. Thanks as always to Stuart for his review – follow him on Twitter via @Judge1979

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Rare Breed – Machi Koro review

maticoro_box_omote

As the dust settles on another Essen and the packages that people had to send out by mail because they’d be boned on Excess Baggage fees finally start arriving, we’re now in that beautiful post-event comedown. Sure, we have rough voices and con-crud, but we also have the joy of unboxing and punching out stacks of new things to play with. Of course, the best thing – admit it! – is getting to show off the fact that you managed to get your hands on one of those hard to get titles that other people are now desperate to get their hands on. Games like Patchistory from Deinko that sold out within fifteen minutes of the show’s first day or pretty much anything from the teeny Japon Brand booth. Something like… oh, I dunno… Machi Koro?

Designed by Masao Suganuma and published through Grounding in Japan, a handful of English language copies made their way across the ocean to Germany. Now, I admit that there is a little showing off in this write up – I was surprised that I managed to get my hands on a copy – but I really wanted to put forward how bloody good the game actually is. Players are creating little cities represented by cards, of which there are fifteen different stacks that can be bought and added to your area. Beginning with a couple of buildings and a small amount of cash, each turn sees the active player rolling dice and hopefully gaining income from what has been built. Get more money and larger, more valuable buildings can be bought, hopefully continuing the cycle. A player wins once they manage to flip the last of four cards that represent construction sites in their city – each player has the same four – but these can be done in any order and will each grant you a permanent ability once they are paid for. The Station, for example, lets you roll two dice if you choose to, hopefully triggering some of those much more valuable abilities that exist on the higher numbered cards.

Players will initially only roll a single dice though with the result determining where the money goes each time. The cards are split into different colours, with green ones bringing in the cash just for you, but blue cards generating income no matter who was responsible for rolling. Most cruel are the red cards, often forcing huge payouts and depleting your hard earned cash in a stroke. The final colour cards, purple, are a little different though; where you can have multiple copies of all other building types, you may only have one each of these special, more powerful constructions. Once the effects of the roll have been dealt with (and it can trigger a few different buildings), the active player gets the chance to buy one of the cards that are available or flip one of the previously mentioned construction sites. Play then moves on to the next person.

Early on in the game, the Station is built and you've now got the option to roll two dice for big buildings!

Early on in the game, the Station is built and you’ve now got the option to roll two dice for big buildings! Of course, that means your smaller buildings may not trigger at all.

Machi Koro is simplicity itself – initially at least. It’s only once you have a couple of games under your belt that you realise there’s a bit more to consider when playing. Each of the building types is given a symbol that effects or reacts to others that you have laid out before you. Coming up with combinations is key to maintaining a healthy income, but it’s not entirely reliant on just what you happen to have in front of you. Those cards that pay out on other peoples’ rolls are incredibly useful, so even when it’s not your turn you’re always looking out for what your opponents are doing. Thanks to this sweet little mechanism, Machi Koro has pretty much no downtime. Add in the fact that it plays in around thirty minutes, even with a maximum of four players, and you’re just adding more and more to the positives column.

Of course, there are criticisms, but they are very minor – with only fifteen building types available, you could grow weary of the combinations that can be built. Some people have even claimed that the game is ‘solvable’, but frankly I reckon you’d have to play Machi Koro into the ground to get to that level. Grounding Inc have actually produced an expansion deck for the game that was available as Essen in even more limited numbers, but was Japanese language only – however, the existence of such a deck of cards shows that adding more to the experience is a simple(ish) matter. I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t pick it up…

Japon Brand's Tak posted up this image of all the Machi Koro cards. And they are all lovely.

Japon Brand’s Tak posted up this image of all the Machi Koro cards. And they are all lovely.

No matter. The base set will give me plenty of pleasure – it’s been played a fair few times over the last couple of weeks and every time has been a joy. Yes, there’s a bit of luck involved thanks to the rolling of the dice but when you’re also able to pull in cash on other peoples’ turns that’s not too much of an issue. Also, the game doesn’t sell itself as this hardcore simulation – it’s light, fun and cute as all get out. This beautiful blue box shines out like a beacon on your table, drawing people in to get involved in a game. With explanations taking mere minutes, you can throw yourself into playing in no time at all. Yes, it’s going to be a nightmare to actually find a copy at this moment in time that you can play, but rest assured, there are plenty of companies who expressed interest in publishing the game in a larger print run. Have patience. It will come. And when it does, you will want to add a copy to your collection.

Machi Koro is published by Grounding Inc / Japon Brand, and was released (in its English language edition anyway) at Essen 2013. Designed by Masao Suganuma and with art from Noburu Hotta, copies are currently changing hands for a lot more than the 28 Euro it sold for at the show…

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Wicked Little Town – Rampage review

Rampage COVER

During my childhood – as has often been mentioned here on the site and the show – I played a lot of video games. Still do, in fact, during those down times when there isn’t a pile of cardboard sat on the table. It’s interesting when these worlds collide, as generally it can lead to some pretty decent results – see the range released by MB in the eighties based on classics like Pac-Man, Zaxxon and the criminally underrated Turbo, for example. Now, many years on, we have a new addition to the stable as Repos Production presents Rampage. While not officially based on the Bally Midway arcade original of the same name, the premise is certainly very similar – giant monsters are destroying the city! The twist though? You’re the one doing the smashing and crashing.

Yup, in Rampage you get to stamp, crush and generally wreak havoc on Meeple City, dashing all the buildings within to the ground and eating the tasty inhabitants within. There are also vehicles to hurl, powers to trigger and a surprising amount of decision making to get involved in. Designed by Antoine Bauza and Ludovic Maublanc, this is a very different creation to games that they’ve previously been responsible for but what is life without mixing things up a little? Why shouldn’t the guys who created titles like 7 Wonders and Cyclades go off the deep end and create a dexterity game with massive kaiju? Thankfully the world allows for such madness, because Rampage is a bloody hilarious experience that also happens to be a great game too.

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Behold beautiful Meeple City! Stunning beaches! Breathtaking vistas! Giant flesh-eating monsters at every turn!

 

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that setting up the game takes a little time. You’re creating buildings that are dotted about the board by stacking meeples upon thick card ‘floors’, repeating until each one has three floors aside from the massive central stadium that is only one storey high. Everywhere you see a little meeple icon, randomly place one on that spot to ensure that the buildings are stable – for now, at least – then choose your monster’s starting corner. Players are then given three cards, one each from three different stacks that give you a characteristic and power (which everyone can see) as well as a secret super power. This is a one off boost that, once revealed, must be discarded. Once those are sorted out, it’s time to commence destruction.

Each player has their own monster lizard – no giant gorilla or werewolf in this game, sadly – that comprise of two wooden bits, the Paws and the Body. You get the chance to perform two actions per turn from a range of four, of which moving is the most basic – just put your body to the side and flick the disc that represents your paws to where you want it to go. I’d suggest a few practice flicks before beginning the game properly so you get your eye in as that disc is pretty solid, but with practice you’ll be hurtling about Meeple City in no time. If you’re in the same colour coded neighbourhood as one of the game’s four wooden vehicles, you can pick it up and throw it at a building (which is done by balancing the wooden piece on your monster’s body and flicking it) – this, with some decent aim, can be a very destructive action, so is a pretty strong choice. For even more ruination, you can pick up your body and drop it on a building as long as your paws are touching the sidewalk that surrounds it.

Finally – and most stupidly – you can unleash your monstrous breath. Literally. This is the most mental part of the game, where you must place your chin on your monster’s head, breath in and bloooooooow. Of course, being hunched over means that you can’t get a lot of air in your lungs, but it’s hilarious when you set yourself up to unleash hell on the city and end up with a pathetic gentle breeze that barely moves a meeple. Not that that’s happened to me at all. Oh no. Or my mate Ben.

Once your actions are done, any meeples that are in your neighbourhood are eaten, up to a maximum of the amount of teeth you currently have. Yes, teeth are important, and the amount you have are shown on your player board. You’ll always have a minimum of two, but your starting six can be lost by getting into fights with the other monsters or being responsible for meeples escaping. If any of them tumble out of their buildings and off the board, they’re deemed runaways and placed on a special side board. At certain times – every three or four, generally – something bad will happen to the monster who let the final meeple escape and complete a set. It’s not exactly a fair way of dealing with fleeing meeples as one player could get hit with every single punishment, but it’s certainly funny when that happens…

There are actually six different meeple colours in Rampage, and points are only given at the end of the game for each set of six that you manage to collect, thus emphasising the importance of a balanced diet. Each rainbow set brings in ten points, while any that are left over are worthless. Floors that are collected through the game give you a point each, regardless of size, and are grabbed any time you’re responsible for clearing one off. Bonus points may also be gained from your cards and – surprise! – whoever has the most at the end of the game is the bestest monster. The game ends when either the last floor has been eaten or the runaways board is filled, but either way you’re looking at a playtime of between thirty minutes to an hour.

Things are... well, not going to great in Meeple City.

Things are… well, not going to great in Meeple City.

Rampage is raucous, silly, wonderful fun. Sure, the decision making is limited, but there’s enough in there to silence the critics who have decried it as dumb. Do you attempt to slam into an opponent and hopefully limit their meeple munching abilities later in the game or try and sidle up to a nearby building and prepare to drop onto it from a great height? Planning for that balanced diet can be a tricky too, so moving around the board as you seek precisely what you require is a challenge in itself. Of course, the main issue is that of your dexterity – if you’re unable to flick that Paws disc of yours efficiently, you’re pretty much going to be screwed when it comes to Rampage, but I’d urge you to practice. Dismissing this as a stupid party game because you’ve not got the skills or patience to get good at it is a ridiculous notion – devote a bit of time to it and you’ll see that this is a (not so) little gem.

On that subject, there’s been plenty of comment on BGG about the price being too high for what can be boiled down to a simple game. However, you look in the box and tell me that you can’t see where all the money goes. More wood than you can shake a stick at. Gloriously thick tiles that are designed to take plenty of damage. Individual art for each card. As always, Repos have excelled in their production quality and it’s fantastic to see the company taking a chance on something that’s very different to their normal releases. Yes, it’s far from the most serious and deep game in the world, but it’s such bloody fun! And after everything is done, isn’t that why we play games? For the fun and enjoyment? Put aside any qualms you may have and give Rampage a go – the kid inside you will be delighted.

Rampage was released through Repos Production and was designed by Ludovic Maublanc and Antoine Bauza. Released at Essen 2013, between two and four players can get in on the destruction of Meeple City (though I reckon that more is better – plenty of opportunity for smashing other monsters up). Copies are a bit hard to find at the minute, but expect to pay around £40 when it’s easier to get. Let the destruction begin!

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Serpentine Fire – Ortus review

Ortus Cover

With Essen mere days away, you can expect an onslaught of reviews and write-ups about the new games that are due to be released at what is the biggest games show of the year, not least from me here on The Little Metal Dog Show. Mercifully some publishers see fit to supply games in advance which benefits us both – I get to talk about a game in advance, freeing up a spot in the mayhem after Spiel is done, and they (hopefully) get a bit of extra noise made about their upcoming release. One of those forward thinking chaps is Joost Das, head of Fablesmith and creator of Ortus.

Though it’s billed as a two-player arena battle game, I’ve got a very heavy abstract strategy vibe from Ortus. Sure, there’s this entire backstory about controlling the elements and sending agents that represent Earth, Wind, Water and Fire to fight each other in a battle on a mystic plane, but if you boil it down to the essential elements you’ll soon discover that Ortus is a devilish, clever game where you’ll mix area control with a splash of direct combat.

Just be ready to have your brain fried; as with most games that fit into this category, actually playing Ortus can get pretty tough. Sure, the rules are limited but the options open to you allow for incredibly open play as the call is on you to go aggressive or turtle up and protect yourself…

Back to the story, briefly. As mentioned before, the two players act as Lords looking to control a set of sacred energy wells that are dotted about the arena (which is made up of hexagonal spaces). Both begin with eight warriors at their command, four sets of two each representing the elements, who will attempt to seize control of these wells. Doing so will not only boost your abilities, but managing to hold on to five at the start of your turn also means victory.

Energy – and the spending of it – is the key to Ortus. Both players have a track on the right hand side of the board that shows how much they have at their disposal for the current turn. You will always have a minimum of fourteen clicks, but having one of your warriors on top of a well at the beginning of a turn will see this amount increase. This creates something of a snowball effect as the more energy you have, the more actions you can perform during your turn.

An evenly balanced battle can easily be lost with one simple mistake. Generally by me.

An evenly balanced battle can easily be lost with one simple error. Generally by me.

These actions, as hinted at earlier, are actually pretty limited. Moving from one hex to an adjacent one costs a click. In the basic game rules, the cost of attacks are worked by checking the amount of hexes between you and your target, spending that amount of energy, then triggering the attack. Ranged, performed by the yellow Wind and red Fire warriors, will see your guys remain in their spot but knock your opponent’s energy down by four spots. On the other hand, blue Water and green Earth fighters can Charge, rushing to a space next to an enemy and hitting them for five. A third attack type, Strike, can only be done if you start your turn beside a opposing piece – it’ll do three damage and it’s a freebie, but in actual play such a move occurs rarely.

Should you manage to get your opponent’s energy down to zero, attacking them will see some of their pieces removed from the board – these are referred to as the Fallen, but fear not! These warriors do return, but not until the end of their next turn, limiting their action as they come back to the edge of the board. Wiping out enemy combatants also means you score Honour, and each time will see you move a disc in your colour called the Guide a little closer to the Core at the centre of the board. Successfully get it to the middle and you win the game immediately.

That’s the game, really. Early turns are filled with trepidation as the two players attempt to feel each other out, slowly moving a couple of spaces here and there as they try and grab an energy well or two in a bid to boost their power for subsequent turns. In the games I’ve played I’ve noticed that there always seems to be a tipping point where one of the players just decides to go for it, making a break for glory – and it’s here where everything turns to glorious chaos. Whether it’s a point where someone pushes themselves just a little bit too far and uses up an extra click of energy, or they forget to cover one of the wells with enough people… Ortus is a very much a game of reading your opponent as well as watching what’s going on with the board.

And yet, when I first cracked the box open and played it, I really didn’t enjoy this one. I lost my first couple of games quite spectacularly and decried it as not for me, but there was something in there that brought me back. I see where I went wrong in those initial plays – you can’t win in Ortus by trying to storm the board and rush in. Victory requires a careful balance of positive movement forwards to take the wells over while covering your backside with enough energy to defend yourself during the opponent’s turn. Frugality is important – spend your energy, yes, but don’t waste it.

That point is even more true when you introduce the Master Game rules that bestow thematic attacks and abilities upon the four elemental types. Wind warriors’ movements see them zip across the board while the Earth fighters receive a boost in their attack – though it comes at a heavy energy cost. The Water attacks are particularly useful, smashing into groups and wiping out lines of enemies, though the most impressive to pull off are the Fire powers, especially their Dragon attack. Lining up your warriors in sync with each other, targeting a single player and destroying them for free is really very satisfying…

The game is well produced, just as you’d expect from the team at Ludofact over in Germany. The warrior meeples – warples? – are sturdy, though you’ll need a little wood glue to keep their heads on the bodies. Art throughout is grand and the rulebook is straightforward and well written, especially the summary on the back page which is pretty much all you’ll need after a game or two. My only negative is that it can be a little confusing keeping track of the warriors you’ve used during your turn, though I’ve found that can be dealt with by turning your pieces around once they’re actions have been done. As each one has a small marker on their fronts to denote their side, it’s a simple way to know who is still left at your disposal.

I can, hand on heart, recommend Ortus to anyone seeking a thoughtful, strategic game for their collection. I remain a poor player but find that when I lose I can see where I went wrong – winning is all down to seizing that moment and capitalising, so if you see me and fancy a game and watch out for those mistakes!

Ortus will be officially released at Essen next week. Designed by Joost Das and published through Fablesmith, it’s strictly a two player game. Games take around half an hour, and there’s also a digital version on the way! Swing by the Fablesmith booth in Hall 1 – you can find them at F-103. And thanks to Joost for the privilege of checking out the game in advance. 

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