Hillside, NJ – March 19, 2019 – WizKids is pleased to announce the upcoming release of Palm Trees, its new dexterity game of lush leaves and fabulous fronds!
In this dexterity game of quite literal “hand management,” players compete to grow the most verdant trees on a tropical island. To start, players will place their elbows on the table, arms straight up, forming the trunk of their palm tree. Each player holds a number of cards, representing fronds and coconuts, in their hand. Each card indicates the way in which the player must add it to their hand. Frond cards are simpler, while coconut cards tend to have more difficult rules players must follow.
Each turn, a player will select one of three available cards on the table to have an opponent add to their tree. Each card has a rule on how it must be held: frond cards are simpler, while coconut cards have more difficult rules. Some cards require a player to hold them between two specific fingers, or potentially between their fingers and their palm. When a card is added to a player’s palm tree, they must continue to follow the rules indicated on all the other cards in their hand. Breaking any of these rules would be considered dropping a card, which ends the game.
If the game ends with a dropped card, the player who dropped the card will not score any points for that game. The game also ends when all cards have been placed in all trees. When the game ends, players add up the points on each of the cards in their respective hands, and the player with the most points wins!
The game can also be played teams of two, with one player acting as the tree while the other adds the fronds and coconuts. In this alternate way of playing, each team simultaneously builds their tree instead of taking turns. The game ends as normal. For extra fun, 6 tree trunk tattoo sleeves have been included with the game—these can be worn by players for extra immersion into the mind of an island tree. Palm Trees will release in June 2019, so be sure to preorder at your Friendly Local Game Store or online today!
2018 was the hardest year of my life. Work became more challenging, I lost my father early in the year and my mother had an increasingly difficult time with her cognitive abilities. There was more loss, including ongoing grief from losing an aunt and uncle with whom I was quite close the previous year. Add to that the fact that my sister, who is a source of a lot of support and joy in my life, was living in England for the year again and this was just a really tough year on top of all the usual stresses of having a wife and kids to support. My son left home for college, my daughter made another school adjustment for her final year in high school and both proved to be daunting for our family.
So my solace from reading was needed more than ever. Despite these issues keeping me so busy, it was clear that I sought peace in fiction and learning from the increased number of books I read throughout 2018. I enjoy summarizing my reading year because those intimate moments with the stories and just knowledge that I gain from my consumption of prose are deeply meaningful. Sure, a lot of the content is for work, or lighter fare to amuse me. Who cares? I don’t think what one chooses to read should be put under real scrutiny, but if I read something I can recommend and help someone else find a book that helps them or just delights them, more’s the better.
In 2016, I grouped the books as I saw fit, with no rhyme or reason. In 2017, I wrote about my books with some sense of chronology and that was too tedious – I don’t think I even finished. Now, I think I’ll summarize instead to group the books together.
Fantasy Makes a Comeback
During 2018, I was dragged back to role-playing games after nearly 30 years. In a separate post, I’ve written about this journey back to RPGs but suffice it to say that it led me back to reading more fantasy fiction in 2018 than I had in ages. The other key factor was the publication of a new book in the Black Company series after about two decades. While the story published (which I wrote a small bit about) took place between the first and second books, I opted to do the whole series to see if I liked the later books more now that I’m (much) older. That led to re-reading other books as well, and this will flow into 2019 because I’m still running that D&D game for my son, wife and oldest friends
The Black Company Series from Glen Cook
The Black Company Series – This series inspired me to run my own D&D campaigns back in the early 80’s. I had played but this is the series that made me want to chuck the modules out and create my own world. The Black Company is gritty, feels real and I know that George R.R. Martin says it was heavily influential on him when writing Game of Thrones. I can definitely see how he took a lot of elements of the book as inspiration: particularly, the focus on telling the stories of the bad guys.
I re-read the 10 original books in the series in 2018, from the first trilogy, which dazzled me as a young person and still held up pretty well now, through to the Books of the South, which got worse as they went, and the four-book cycle of Glittering Stone, which I found less and less appealing until the final book. The last portion, as Cook switched up narrators, felt like he was losing his way. Long sequences of boring going’s-on, and super-lazy cliched language that takes you WAY out of the narrative with its anachronistic feel (an occasional problem in earlier books) just took hold. The new one brings back his principal narrator, Croaker, also the best character in the series. While I gave it some praise in an earlier post, it was still not among his best. I’d recommend the first three to anyone, but you may lose interest after the fifth or sixth books.
Robert Silverberg is an author that I discovered because of Harlan Ellison writing about him. They were friends and, if you believe the Ellison anecdotes, they were pretty rough with one another – in a cool way. Silverberg’s fiction is absolutely glorious, but I’d stuck with the science fiction up to this point. Tower of Glass, Thorns, and The World Inside were among some of my favorite sci-fi books that I read in college/high school. This year, I thought I’d check out his Majipoor series, including Lord Valentine’s Castle – a book I had acquired years ago, but never gotten around to reading. What a mistake! Like Silverberg’s other works, the Majipoor series are both modern in feel and classic in nature. Silverberg isn’t a ‘hard sci-fi’ writer at all. He was a talented composer of prose who knew how to pack an emotional punch in his work. I loved the first and third books in the trilogy, while the second, an episodic side-story, was good but just not as compelling. Majipoor is a rich world with interesting politics and creatures, but it’s not like your normal fantasy world with elves and the like. Silverberg crafts something uniquely his own. I highly recommend Silverberg, an author whose entire collected works are either on my read or to-read list.
Some years ago, I bought the Dark Elf trilogy for my niece, who was fascinated with them at the time. While most of the time, branded content can be pretty bad, the reviews on this series from R.A. Salvatore were solid. My wife had taken to playing a Drow Elf character (although she knew nothing more about them than what she learned viewing the enjoyable (if depressing) documentary The Dungeon Masters. So, I thought I’d read this series and get some background I could share with her.
Like so many other readers, I really enjoyed the main character, Drizzt, a noble person in a world that wanted him to be evil. Maybe it’s because in our modern day, we seem to over-love the antihero, the rogue, the broken character that I kind of found this throwback good guy (who was raised to be a bad guy) so appealing. I followed him through the first three books, enjoying his story and the exploration of the Drow elf culture. Salvatore is an author to whom I am returning in 2019, particularly to see where else Drizzt goes.
Most of my consumption of fantasy novels happened in middle and high school. There were times when I tried series that just didn’t work out for me and so I thought I’d give some of those another go. The ones that didn’t work out:
Swords and Deviltry – Fritz Leiber was a huge influence on D&D, but I found this book of Fahfrd and the Gray Mouser to be unappealing and dated.
Dragonflight– Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novel didn’t really excite me as a teenager and it’s still not working now. The writing is pretty old-school hard-sf, and it hasn’t aged well.
The Swordbearer – Glen Cook’s one-shot book of this name was a bit of a slog, like his Dread Empire series that I also never got into.
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms – This collection of George R.R. Martin stories were fine, but I mostly just wanted another of the main books. I didn’t find the stories of Dunk and Egg terribly compelling in the same way that the Harry Potter side-project books are also sub-Silmarillion.
On the other hand, revisiting some other older works were a joy:
The Princess Bride– William Goldman’s book was one I thought I might read one day, since I loved the film. I did so and it was fun, but I’ll still take the film over this perfectly enjoyable novel any day.
The Dresden Files – Late in 2017, I read the first book in the Dresden Files, which had been recommended to me a lot. I also watched two episodes of the television show and found out there was a board game based on the series. That was enough for me to give it a try. In 2018, I plowed through the next four books, with the 4th in the series being a definite highlight. Harry Dresden is a throwback, too, with a goofy chivalry that sometimes gets to be a little much, but I still find Jim Butcher’s novel to be like a can of soda – probably too sugary, but fun every once in a while.
San Diego, CA (March 13th, 2019) —In partnership with German publisher, Funtails, Renegade Game Studios is excited to announce that the upcoming Glen More II: Chronicles, will be available in English worldwide. Renegade Game Studios, a premier board game publisher, works closely with an extensive network of distributors and retailers that can help Glen More II: Chronicles reach fans across the globe. It is expected to go to print later this year.
In Glen More II: Chronicles, each player represents the leader of a Scottish clan from the early medieval ages until the 19th century, a leader looking to expand their territory and wealth. The success of your clan depends on your ability to make the right decision at the right time, be it by creating a new pasture for your livestock, growing barley for whisky production, selling your goods on the various markets, or gaining control of special landmarks such as lochs and castles.
Glen More II: Chronicles is a sequel to Glen More, expanding the gameplay substantially compared to the original game.
Lead your clan while expanding your territory and increasing your wealth in the Scottish Highlands
Create pasture for your livestock, grow barley, sell goods, and gain control of landmarks!
Includes eight expansions that are freely combined to add new gameplay to the base game.
Carefully crafted for 2-4 leaders ages 12+ to conquer in 90-120 min.
From the Media: “Glen More II: Chronicles delivers a great new twist on the classic game. There are some really smart tweaks to the gameplay as well as plenty of new additions to make this one a must own game for both new gamers and fans of the original.” Jeremy D Salinas, Man Vs Meeple
“The original Glen More out of the gate already has tooooons of replayability even if you see the same tiles every time just based on the order they came out in but that combined with these Chronicles just puts it through the roof! It’s absolutely amazing.” Richard Ham, Rahdo Runs Through
Glen More II: Chronicles will hit shelves late 2019. Make sure to join the Renegade Society and be the first to find out more about Glen More II: Chronicles later this year!
Editor’s Note: As an avowed content geek, I try new formats. People seem to love our interviewette for tabletop designers that is a quick read. We promise no TL;DR. Let’s see how Gil Hova, clever designer of games like The Networks, Wordsy, and Bad Medicine, plus the Kickstarted and shiny new High Rise, does, shall we?
BGB: Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for High Rise?
Gil Hova: I have two. The first is that High Rise is a strategy game of construction and corruption for 1-4 players, where you build tall skyscrapers around a one-way time track trying to supercharge your actions on a board that will change for each game.
The second is that it has elevators.
BGB: Making games is hard work, so you best have a great reason for making this thing. What inspired this game?
Gil Hova: I built the game around an auction mechanism that I’ve never been able to work into a game. Spoiler: this is not an auction game, as I wasn’t able to work it into this one either!
Once I removed the auction mechanism, the game sung. I think it’s the best game I’ve made so far.
(ed.note: Faulkner said “Kill your darlings!” as advice for fiction writers. Also good for game designers.)
BGB: There are too many games out there. What hole in my game collection does this fill?
Gil Hova: This is a one-way time track game that gives strong incentives to make big jumps. Lots of similar games incentivize small jumps, which makes them a bit easier to play, for better or worse. Like, I’m a big fan of Tokaido(ed. note: same here), and I think part of its appeal is that its decisions aren’t terribly difficult; most of the time, you want to make the small jump. But in this game, the big jump is very tempting, and the game is full of really hard and meaningful decisions.
BGB: This is Boardgame Babylon, so out with your dirty secrets. What DON’T you want to tell me about this game?
Gil Hova: There’s a difference between time tracks, one-way tracks, and rondels. A time track game has the action happen off the time track. You’ll choose some action, it’ll tell you how much time it costs, and you’ll mark it on the time track. The defining feature of the time track is that player order is determined by the player furthest behind on the track. Thebes, Patchwork, and Tinners’ Trail are games with time tracks, with Thebes and Neuland being the first time track games (that I can tell).
A one-way track puts the actions on the track. So you’ll move your pawn directly to the space on the track that shows the action. You can’t go backwards, or to an occupied space. Like a time track, the player furthest behind will go next. Glen More, Tokaido, and yes, High Rise are all one-way track games. I believe Knizia’s Tutankhamen was the first one-way track game.
A rondel is a circular structure on a game board that your pawn will traverse. Each space will trigger a different action, like a one-way track. But your movement on the track is restricted; you’ll often have to pay resources to go further than 3 spaces or so. Player order is not determined by position, so it plays totally different than a one-way or time track. Imperial and Navegador are both rondel games. I’m not sure what the first rondel game was. It might be Antike, but only if you don’t consider roll-and-move games to be rondels!
I don’t want to tell you about this stuff because I find it gets pedantic and boring after a while! (ed. note:Gil is a great guy, but here, he’s just wrong…) Lines that define games are most useful when using them to figure out how to cross them and blend genres. Like, you could argue that Mancala is a rondel game, but I have no idea what that would accomplish.
BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about High Rise. Let’s wrap up with the key specifics (play time, number of players, and the link to the game) and also, since I think you can tell a lot about a person by understanding their sense of humor, what’s a good joke to close this interviewette?
JOKE COMMENCES A grandmother takes her baby grandson to the beach. She’s lounging on a towel with her kid cooing and gurgling next to her. Suddenly, a huge wave appears and drenches the beach. When the grandmother regains her wits, she realizes she’s okay, but her grandson is gone.
She looks up, shakes her fist at the sky, and shouts: “You call yourself a merciful God? This child had his whole life ahead of him, and you take him away from us? How could you be so cruel? How could you be so vicious?”
Another wave suddenly appears and drenches the beach. When the grandmother opens her eyes, her grandson is right back on the towel, grinning and giggling.
She looks up, shakes her fist at the sky, and shouts: “He had a hat!”
San Diego, CA (March 11th, 2019) —Renegade Game Studios and Oni Press are proud to announce The Aquicorn Cove Board Game designed by Steve Ellis, Tyler Tinsley, Ben Eisner, and Tim Eisner. Adapted from the Oni Press original graphic novel by Katie O’Neill, The Aquicorn Cove Board Game will encourage players to dive into an underwater conservation adventure. This delightful board game is expected to release in late 2019.
From the Eisner Award-winning author of The Tea Dragon Society and Princess Princess Ever After comes Aquicorn Cove, a heartfelt story about learning to be a guardian to yourself and those you love.
When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a big storm, Lana remembers how much she’s missed the ocean—and the strong, reassuring presence of her aunt. As Lana explores the familiar beach, she discovers something incredible: a colony of Aquicorns, small magical seahorse-like creatures that live in the coral reef. Lana rescues an injured Aquicorn and cares for it with the help of her aunt, who may know more about these strange creatures than she’s willing to admit. But when a second storm threatens to reach the town, choices made many years ago about how to coexist with the sea start to rise to the surface. Lana realizes she will need to find the strength to stand on her own, even when it means standing up to the people who she has always relied on to protect her.
Aquicorn Cove is a cooperative game for 2-4 players. In the game, players take on the roles of members of a small fishing village struggling to survive while maintaining a balance with the natural world. To win, the villagers must feed and grow their village, and help restore the health of the reef and aquatic ecosystem. The villagers are fortunate, though, and the waters of their cove are home to the beautiful and benevolent Aquicorns, as well as the wondrous reef guardian Aure, who can help them both to understand the impact humans are having on the environment, and to save the village. “As a graphic novel, I wanted Aquicorn Cove to encourage kids to engage with concepts of marine conservation, and make grown-up choices to protect the environment they’re going to inherit,” said Katie O’Neill, author of the Oni Press graphic novel. “I’m thrilled that the game will provide another dimension to this, and bring to life how wonderful and important our oceans and reefs are.”
“The Tea Dragon Society Card Game was a huge success and we can’t wait to share this game adaptation of Katie O’Neill’s most recent book with our fans,” said Scott Gaeta, president of Renegade Game Studios. “All of her books have such strong positive messages presented in a fun and magical way. We love what she’s done with these graphic novels and are excited to work with Oni Press to bring them to the board game community. ”
“Working with our design team within this wonderful world created by Katie O’Neill has been a pleasure,” said Steve Ellis, head of Oni Games. “Creating a family-friendly cooperative game with a strong environmental message resonated with both the story and the team at Oni. We hope that the game sparks both conversation and joy.”
The Aquicorn Cove Board Game is slated for release late 2019. The Aquicorn Cove graphic novel is currently available at all major booksellers.
Experience Daring Adventures with Captain Nemo and the Crew of the Nautilus in Nemo Rising—Coming Son!
Hillside, NJ – March 4, 2019 – WizKids is excited to announce the upcoming release of Nemo Rising, a cooperative adventure game based on C. Courtney Joyner’s thrilling sequel to Jules Verne’s classic novel!
In this exciting 1-4 player adventure game, players become members of a reimagined version of the Nautilus’ heroic crew, and must carry out missions in order to successfully complete the requirements of one of two scenarios— The Undersea Grotto or the City in the Sky. Each scenario represents a unique location with its own geography, environment, and adventures.
Players work together to accomplish the Mission Goals outlined on the game’s Mission Cards. Each round consists of two phases, the Action Row Phase and the Player Phase. During the Action Row Phase, a number of Threat Cards will be placed face down in the Action Row, and then the same number of Action Cards will be placed face up on top of them. The Player Phase then begins. During the player phase, each player can move around the board, scout Adventure Tiles, attempt Tasks, and confront Enemy Tokens. Player turns can be taken in any order, and the order can change each round. The game may be played solo, with one player controlling a single Hero. In this case, there are always two stacks of cards in the Action Row during the Action Row Phase.
The game ends and the Heroes win if they complete all of the Mission Goals on the game’s two Mission Cards, secure at least 4 Adventure Tiles, and then return to the Start space. All Heroes must be on the Start space at the same time in order for them to win. The Heroes lose, however, if they run out of Mission Points on the Mission Track.
With its exciting and unpredictable adventures, Nemo Rising is the perfect way to experience the escapades of Captain Nemo and his crew directly from the captain’s seat. Board the Nautilus and pre-order Nemo Rising, releasing this fall, from your Friendly Local Game Store today! Are you up for the adventure?
Editor’s Note: As an avowed content geek, I try new formats. People seem to love our interviewette for tabletop designers that is a quick read. We promise no TL;DR. Let’s see how Chris Handy, inventive designer of many games like Cinque Terre, Longshot and the gum-pack sized Pack O Games series, plus the Kickstarted and perhaps slightly meta game Roland Wright, does, shall we?
BGB: Attention is money, my friend. What is the elevator pitch for Roland Wright: The Dice Game?
Chris Handy: You play as an obsessed game designer named “Roland Wright” in a 20-30 minute, simultaneous-play “Roll & Write & Erase” game about designing an award-winning “Roll & Write” game.
BGB: Making games is hard work, so you best have a great reason for making this thing. What inspired this game?
Chris Handy: Color for one thing. I really enjoy working with lots of colors in a game (Cinque Terre, Long Shot, HUE, RUM. BOX…) But also, I wanted to create a line of games within a theme of an “old time” game designer, while really pushing the boundaries for what’s possible in a Roll & Write format game.
BGB: There are too many games out there. What hole in my game collection does this fill?
Chris Handy: We’re offering a creative gaming experience within 20 minutes in the R&W format. We’ve worked to make it a very tight competitive experience, while keeping it at a shorter length. Roland Wright is a game about game design integration, making mistakes, editing… and cramming as much into the box, while knowing what to exclude. This is the core aspect of the game.
BGB: This is Boardgame Babylon, so out with your dirty secrets. What DON’T you want to tell me about this game?
Chris Handy: I’m not sure there’s anything that I don’t want to tell you, but there’s an interesting fact about the early stages of this brand. I had a few games developed for a line of Roll & Writes, and I happen to see a tweet from Daniel Solis (Graphic designer and game designer). He posted a picture of a box top of a Roll & Write game, with a faux brand called “Roland Wright”. I approached him about buying the brand concept, and within a few weeks, we made a deal. This really helped shape this game, and the games that will come next in the line…and I’m thankful for Daniel’s brilliant idea.
BGB: Thanks for telling us a bit about Roland Wright: The Dice Game. Let’s wrap up with the key specifics (play time, number of players, and the link to the game) and also, since I think you can tell a lot about a person by understanding their sense of humor, what’s a good joke to close this interviewette?
Chris Handy: Roland Wright is for 2-5 players, ages 13 and up. The game plays in 20-30 minutes. Go to www.RolandWright.com for more details.
A rope walks into a bar… the bartender says, “Hey, we don’t serve rope ‘round here…” The rope leaves and goes around the corner. He ties a loop near his head and whips out his hair on the tip. He walks back in and sits at the bar. The bartender says, “Hey, aren’t you that rope that came in here before?” The rope says, “No! I’m afraid not.”
Ed. Note: The editor has played an early-release copy of Roland Wright and enjoyed it a lot. Expect a preview review next week or so.
Hillside, NJ – February 27, 2019 – WizKids is excited to announce that Chiyo’s Secret, its new game of deduction and subterfuge in feudal Japan, is now available in North American Game Stores!
In Chiyo’s Secret, the game is centered around Chiyo and Fusanobu, a pair of lovers seeking to escape the wrath of the spurned daimyo. Players seek to achieve a variety of hidden goals, such as overthrowing the daimyo, capturing the lovers, or protecting them until the emperor arrives to grant them the freedom they seek
With over 140 components, Chiyo’s Secret will have players deciding the fate of these star-crossed lovers, the daimyo that pursues them, and, ultimately, the entire kingdom. Chiyo’s Secret is available at your Friendly Local Game Store or online today!
Within the Kickstarter campaign of Dodoresque: Jungle Fever in June 2018, the question came up if there was a way to play the game with more than just 4 players. The way to go was to simply combine two copies of the game.
Having mixed feelings about this, the designers/publishers came up with a second version of the game, playing pretty much exactly like the first version, but including all new artworks, characters, landscapes and new special actions – and to allow for up to 8 players on the table, when both versions of the game are combined.
Dodoresque is a funny, easy to learn and quick to play card game for 2-4 players. Each player takes the role of a Dodo, who tries to build the prettiest nest of all in order to find a mate.
To get the material cards for that nest, the Dodos have to go on adventures in card decks of 3 different difficulties. In order to get the materials, and not get eaten up by the dangers in the jungle, the Dodo players need the right action cards on their hands to counter certain effects. The game consists of 3 different actions: Adventure, Exchange and Building. On each turn only two of those actions can be played (also never the same action twice). With that the game is a constant circle of trying to get the right action cards in order to go on adventures to get better materials.
The game ends when one of the card decks is used up or one of the Dodo players has lost too many hit points to continue building a nest. To score points each material card has an individual value, it is also necessary to collect 3 different types of material and if possible, even of the same theme to score extra points.
Dodoresque: Cherry Blossom is now live on Kickstarter for just 7 days. Price starts at €15 for the game in the Early Bird Edition within the first 48 hours of the campaign.
Who has time for full-blown reviews anymore? If you want them, you can find them – a sea of them. But if you want something quick, here you go – quick takes on recent games I’ve played. Nah, I didn’t play them seven times, I won’t explain the rules in excruciating detail, won’t give you the path to victory based on countless plays. I’ll give you the gist, something I find interesting, and what I think. So – here we go:
Architects of the West Kingdom
The Gist: The fine Raiders of the North Sea from Renegade Games (in the US) introduced us to the connected game systems of designer Shem Phillips, who has constructed a lot of different middle-weight games using his mix of worker placement, card deck variation, and tight resource management. While the others in his first trilogy may not be the strong winners that Raiders of the North Sea has proved to be, they have their charms and made me excited for Architect of the West Kingdom, the lead title in a new series. Architects hearkens back to Raiders in a pleasant way, in both its commitment to an interesting implementation of worker placement and snappy playtime that makes you feel like you had a pleasantly middle-weight experience even with relatively light play. What’s Interesting: There’s much to like in Architects, but the compelling piece for me was the management of a large number of workers, some of whom are permanently removed from the game when you do build actions, and some of which you can claim back, both through ‘capturing’ them yourself, or when other people do it to break up your group on a space. Before I played, a friend of mine said, “Oh, you won’t like the ‘take-that’ element of the game.” Should couldn’t have been more wrong; this is an intriguing way to let a player stop a dominant component, but it probably isn’t worth it to just ‘mess with people’ (which is NOT fun, in my view). Architects is a really good design. My Take:Architects of the West Kingdom is good enough that I’m in the market to trade for it, but not go splurge on it new. I think it’s a very good game and I’m keen to play it more, but it doesn’t add something so new and vital to my game collection that I need it RIGHT NOW. I think it’s good to modulate those urges.
Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra
The Gist: The original Azul from Next move and Plan B Games, is one of my favorite light games of the last decade. This gem from Michael Kiesling deserved took home the SDJ honors and I’ve gotten a lot of play out of this simple-to-explain and challenging-to-master title. While I expected an Azul Dice Game (surely coming), a card game, and more, Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra showed up first instead (well, if you don’t count those Jokers and alternate tiles – yes, I have them all). ASGS gives you new scoring methods, with the distribution that is the centerpiece of Azul staying the same. What’s Interesting: ASGS gives you a lot more choices in how you allocate the tiles you collect. With options to move your glazier around and put smaller and larger sets of tiles into your glass windows, ASGS feels like a more gamer-friendly version of the original. There’s certainly more to consider than the original game and it feels like a pleasant variant for people who love Azul but have overplayed the original game. My Take: I quite like ASGS but I’m not sure it is a truly necessary purchase for the average individual who likes Azul and gets what they want out of that game. As a completist and lover of variants of games I adore, ASGS will stay in my collection. But for minimalists or Marie Kondo fans questioning the amount of joy brought to them by each game taking up precious shelf and life space, sticking with the original, more attractive Azul will work (the ‘glass’ tiles are less appealing, in my view). The game also doesn’t have anything to do with Sagrada, the nice stained-glass window game that is a trifle more gamer-y than Azul, nor will it replace that game.
New Frontiers: The Race for the Galaxy Board Game
The Gist: The wonderful Tom Lehmann finally brings the Race for the Galaxy story full circle in New Frontiers, new from the revitalized Rio Grande Games. If you know the history of RFTG and Puerto Rico, you’ll know that RFTG began life as the Puerto Rico Card Game. But then the designer of Puerto Rico did his own (San Juan) and we got RFTG. Now, New Frontiers brings its more compelling theme (IMNSHO) to the board game world. Yes, the similarities are there, but Tom has found touches to bring to the experience in both the logistics of tracking your progress and a new sense of freedom to the RFTG mechanisms. It’s like he Caverna’d his game. What’s Interesting: Really, just enjoying the implementation one of the great game systems in modern board games. Tom is a precision designer of the highest order and it’s easy to see how he tuned this wonder to work so well, providing a different experience from RFTG, but one that also doesn’t just stand-in as sci-fi Puerto Rico. I find New Frontiers looser, which means it won’t get ‘solved’ in the way Puerto Rico was. Also – have you SEEN the components? (Keanu Voice): Whoa.
My Take: You can always tell I love and was ready to buy the game after one play. That said, if you don’t love Race for the Galaxy, then what is wrong with you? I mean, sorry, if you don’t like RFTG, then New Frontiers may not be your glass of blue milk. Yet, if RFTG frustrated you because of the luck of the draw or the tempo, New Frontiers may be more palatable for you so give it a try.