Tag Archives: Merchant of Venus

It’s the (second) most wonderful time of the year…

Oh yes indeed – GenCon is nearly here! The USA’s best board games show is approaching once again, kicking off this Thursday for four days of gaming in Indianapolis, Indiana. Once again it’ll be stacked with the usual pile of new releases and exclusive previews as pretty much every major American publisher will be present along with plenty of the larger European names – but what are the big titles people are looking forward to?

Libertalia from Marabunta / Asmodee is one that I think will probably be under many people’s radars but I have a feeling it’s going to end up being one of the year’s best releases. A role selection game at heart with up to six players acting as pirate captains on their way to retirement and looking for a final hurrah, it’s a sneaky extravaganza of treasure hunting and back stabbing with a great level of player interaction. I’ve already managed to get my hands on a copy so expect a review in the very near future. Also, if you get a copy early enough, you’ll get metal doubloons! Who wouldn’t want it?!

Tzolkin: The Mayan Calendar by CGE was available to play in early prototype form at the UK Games Expo, but it looks like a near finished version should be at GenCon. It’s a worker placement extravaganza with a really interesting mechanism where cogs turn and interact with each other on the board. Stay on the board too long and your guys could well end up a wasted placing as they move past the resources that you’re aiming for. CGE’s games are always beautifully produced so you know this will be incredible to behold – there’s no other company out there who I’d trust to make such an involved and creative board concept.

Fantasy Flight will be there with wheelbarrows filled with stuff, of course, but the new versions of Merchant of Venus and Netrunner are both due for release at the show. Early reports say that these two remakes are amazing, managing to capture the brilliance of the original games while giving them a shiny makeover, though MoV will include the rules to play both the old and new versions. Netrunner’s asymmetric gameplay has long been a favourite of mine and I can’t wait to get my hands on this modernised version to see how it compares to Richard Garfield’s classic. Also, there’s the small matter of a little game called X-Wing finally seeing the light of day…

Village, the Kennerspiel des Jahres winner for 2012, has been picked up by Tasty Minstrel Games and looks like it’ll be this year’s go to game for those who want to scratch their Euro itch. Players need to find fame and fortune for their family members in order to keep their name immortalised in the village’s chronicles – make the right moves and your legacy will live on. Screw it up and your future generations will fade into obscurity. It’s a very clever worker placement game and probably the only one I know where death is used to limit a character’s time. This will only be available in very limited amounts – apparently there’ll only be fifty at the show – so if you want a copy, head to TMG’s booth early.

AEG’s Tempest line is also due for its first public viewing at the show with the initial three games in the series getting a release. Courtier, Dominare and Mercante all promise very different playing experiences but the interesting element will be seeing how the public react to the storybuilding aspects of the world. As characters change, further games in the series will reflect these developments – for example, should the story necessitate that a major role needs to be wiped out, later games will reference back to whatever happened. We’re not looking at a Risk Legacy effort here where every person’s game will be different as time goes on; AEG will run the story along the lines of their Legend of the Five Rings property, controlling it from their end with input from players and designers. This could prove a very interesting experiment…

AEG also have the light-as-a-feather but very entertaining Smash Up ready for release at GenCon. The world’s first shufflebuilding game sees players combine two twenty card decks (ninjas with robots, pirates with aliens, that kind of thing) and utilise their joint powers to take over bases in order to score points. It’s a very quick little game but has a surprising level of depth to it as you try and work out which sets work particularly well against your opponents’ selections. I think this one will do pretty well at the show, especially as it clocks in well under that magical 45 minute mark for playtime.

Of course, one of the best things about any gaming convention is the discovery of those releases from smaller companies. 5th Street Games will be showing off their rather splendid Farmageddon while Asmadi should have copies of their very limited Origins hit FlowerFall available too. The new Enhanced Edition of Sentinels of the Multiverse will be selling at the Greater Than Games booth, while Leviathans, the steampunky miniatures air-combat game that I’ve been waiting since the beginning of time for, is finally due – albeit in very limited numbers. Last of all, Morels from Two Lanterns Games will definitely be available and it looks utterly lovely.

Oh yeah. One final thing.

I’m very excited about is the fact that my new game, Pocket Universe, will be on show at the Game Salute booth. I’m finding it very nerve-wracking that it’s being shown at all but it’s even worse when you consider that I’m not actually going to be there. You may well have tried it out yourself by downloading the files from the site (there’s been a few, honest!) but that version is light years away from the one you’ll be able to check out at GenCon. While it’s still in prototype format, the gameplay is 99.99% finished – I’m considering tweaking maybe one or two very tiny elements – so why not have a look at it yourself? Just ask one of the GS team at the Sneak Peeks booth (#2035) and tell them I sent you.

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State of the Union 2011: Part Three – The Future

And so, here we are – the first day of 2012. What better thing to do than to look forwards at some of the cool stuff that we’ll be getting to our tables this year? There’s already a frankly ridiculous amount of stuff that I’m hyped to get my hands on, from demonic deckbuilders to stunning steampunk affairs. Here’s five that I’ve got my eye on.

I am gutted – GUTTED – that I missed out on the Kickstarter for Miskatonic School for Girls. A deck building game with a twist, players create not only their own decks but also contribute to their opponents’ stacks. You collect genteel young students while dropping as many faculty members on the opposition – but why would that be a bad thing? Well, the staff are all barely disguised Lovecraftian beasties intent on driving the girls to insanity – literally. With each player running one of the school’s houses, it’s a case of the last man standing – whoever stays sane the longest is the victor. It also helps that it’s an absolutely gorgeous looking game – the artwork is beautiful. So, it looks great, it’s got Cthulhu and his mates all over it and I love the spin on the format – when can I get a copy?

Not exactly a full release, but how could I ignore an expansion to one of my favourite games, Alien Frontiers? The first add-on, Factions, is due for release around March and having been lucky enough to try out the prototype version last year I’m very excited to see the finished product. Each player now has an additional mini-board representing one of eight in-game factions, each one offering two new opportunities for dice placement – one specifically for you, the other for anyone else who’s willing to pay you for it. There are also secret objectives to try and complete – if you’ve played the original you’ll know that scoring is open, but this new addition will keep people guessing who’s won until the end. It adds a fifth (purple) player into the mix as well and – thanks to the huge amount of cash that Clever Mojo raised during the campaign – the wooden M&Ms used as tokens will also be replaced with really lovely little biodome sculpts. An already wonderful game will be made even better. Oh yes.

After speaking to Stephen Buonocare from Stronghold Games about their remake of Crude (also known as McMulti), how could I not want a copy of this one? Now officially called Crude: The Oil Game, this one brings together tile placement and a heavy economic element as players become CEOs of petroleum companies. By investing, selling and distributing at all stages of the process, it’s all about making as much money as possible while dealing with a rising and falling markets at home and abroad. Of course, the usual Stronghold level of quality of to be expected – if you’ve seen and played anything they’ve released before, you know that this one is going to look amazing. The game has a legendary pedigree and the story behind it is a tale to behold – the moment this one is released, I’ll be picking it up. It deserves its time in the spotlight, albeit thirty-five years after it was first released.

Pick up and deliver? Got a few of those. Route planning? Check, plenty of them too. Not many that combine them, though, and none that are based in a Steampunk setting – but now Tasty Minstrel are releasing Kings of Air and Steam. Players pilot airships to grab goods from factories then distribute them through rail networks. While it may seem a little dry to some, I like that they’re taking a punt on it with an interesting theme and want to add something to my collection along the lines of Brass or Age of Industry. That’s the vibe I’m getting from this one and, assuming that it ticks all the boxes, I’d really like to try it out. I sadly didn’t put in for the Kickstarter campaign as shipping was more than the actual game and money was tight – a minimum of $95 was just a little too much to pledge – but when retail copies arrive, I want one.

I first posted an interview with Bryan Fischer from Nevermore Games pretty much an entire year ago about Chicken Caesar – a game that both myself and Chris from Dice Hate Me were looking forward to playing in 2011! It’s still not out but the release is getting closer; pictures of the board are now available and more information is leaking out about how the game will play. Political intrigue in a chicken coop is a somewhat unique premise, with players needing to combine lowly ranking officers (responsible for money and force) with higher  powered fowl that gain fame and notoriety. Throw in some bribery, corruption and plain bloody murder and it could well end up as this year’s Pret-a-Porter – a stunning game with a truly odd theme. Kickstarter for this one begins this February and I’ll be backing it for sure.

There’s so many more games to look out for as well; there’s bugger all information about AtomPunk but I’m still keeping an eye on it (that Steampunk thing again), while 1989: Dawn of Freedom (the spiritual successor to Twilight Struggle) is also due. The whole Merchant of Venus situation should be sorted out sometime soon, though who knows where the dice will fall? Whoever finally gets the rights, either Stronghold or Fantasy Flight will hopefully do a good job with it – there’s a lot of people out there waiting impatiently for it! Fancy a truly intriguing theory though? How about the rumours that a new version of Blood Bowl is going to hit our stores? With it being 25 years since the original release and Games Workshop / FFG having previous form with the luxury 20th Anniversary reissue of Space Hulk, we can only hope our wishes come true…

Whatever happens, 2012 has got a lot to live up to if it’s going to make as much of an impact as last year did in the world of gaming. It’ll be a hard one to follow but you can’t help but feel that the many production companies out there are going to do their best to put out some great games – and we barely know anything that they’re planning. It’s going to be brilliant.

Happy New Year – and happy gaming!

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