Monthly Archives: August 2016

Battle of the Bands isn’t a game that I should love but I really, really like the theme. Yes, Dan Smith’s game is oldschool, has some take-that stuff going on big time, and is random-a-go-go. Who cares when the humor, the art and the theme are so incredibly fun. For me, this is like Red Dragon Inn, a game that has such a fun theme that my eurosnoot sensibilities get checked at the door. The game itself has been out for about 15 years so it was time for an upgrade anyway.

The game is also from Dan Smith, a local game designer (and talented illustrator) from Southern California and longtime BGB listeners/readers know that I love to support my neighbors and friends. But it’s not just that – Battle of the Bands is really good fun and even if you’re just buying it for the Bowie card, get it now. The specials will only be part of the Kickstarter campaign and they’re truly special.

I would have been thrilled to interview Dan to promote the game but it somehow didn’t hit my radar. Here’s an interview with him, talking about the game. Check it out – it’s going to fun on Sept 1 so get on board now.

Did I mention the Bowie card?

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 11.22.47 PM

 

PRESS RELEASE: RAINN Studios announces Incantris

RAINN Studios is proud to announce Incantris, a game of magical combat, coming to Kickstarter on September 7th. Each player controls a team of three wizards, each with unique spells and abilities. It is a fast-paced and thought-
provoking game that pairs strategy with a beautiful gaming environment.

Incantris features 25 different spells and abilities and a modular game board that can shift during the game. Each team of wizards is optimized for a different style of play for an asymmetric experience. Cast spells with an intuitive and exciting system that rewards cunning tactics. Incantris also features stunning artwork by Artur Jag and sculptures from Dan Jack of Atlantis Miniatures.

A review video is already live on YouTube:

To learn more, visit: www.incantris.com.

Number of Players: 2-4

Time Required: 25-60 minutes

Facebook: www.facebook.com/rainnstudios

RAINN Studios Site: www.rainnstudios.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/RAINN_Studios

The release of Sola Fide: The Reformation timed for the 500th Anniversary of The Reformation

New Jersey, USA and Billerbeck, Germany – August 8, 2016 –  Stronghold Games and Spielworxx are proud to announce jointly the publication of Sola Fide: The Reformation, a game designed by the renowned game design team of Jason Matthews and Christian Leonhard.

In Sola Fide: The Reformation, one player takes on the role of the Protestant movement, while the other plays the Catholic establishment. Players attempt to install Reformation in the Holy Roman Empire or try to prevent it, battling the Holy Roman Empire’s Imperial Circles. The game does not have a game board per say, but rather has 10 board tiles, each representing one of the Imperial Circles. Via card play, the two players try to win these ten Imperial Circles, each of which are worth 5 or 7 points. The game is for 2-players, ages 12+, and plays in 45 minutes.

Sola FideSola Fide: The Reformation faithfully tracks the Reformation, which Martin Luther started in 1517 with his “Ninety-Five Theses”. Luther criticized the selling of indulgences and that the Catholic doctrine of the merits of the saints had no foundation in the gospel. The “Protestants” soon incorporated doctrinal changes such as Sola Scriptura (“by scripture alone”) and Sola Fide (“by faith alone”).

The changes were not only theological, but also other factors played a role in The Reformation: the rise of nationalism, the Western Schism that eroded people’s faith in the Papacy, the perceived corruption of the Roman Curia, the impact of humanism, and the new learning of the Renaissance that questioned much of traditional thought. The Roman Catholic Church responded with a Counter-Reformation initiated by the Council of Trent.

The release of Sola Fide: The Reformation is timed with the 500th Anniversary in 2017 of The Reformation. Stronghold Games and Spielworxx commissioned the great game design team of Jason Matthews and Christian Leonhard to work specifically on this project. Matthews and Leonhard are foremost game design experts on historical games, previously designing 1960: The Making of the President, Founding Fathers, and Campaign Manager 2008. Jason Matthews also co-designed the critically acclaimed 1989: Dawn of Freedom, as well as Twilight Struggle, which is the #2 ranked game on Board Game Geek.

The release of Sola Fide: The Reformation continues the strategic partnership between Stronghold Games and Spielworxx, which was announced in December 2014, whereby Stronghold Games and Spielworxx would partner on select game releases.

Sola Fide

Sola Fide: The Reformation is scheduled for release to the general public in late October/November 2016. The MSRP for this game has not been set at this time. The game will make its debut at the Essen Spiel in Germany in October 2016.

Stronghold Games will release Sola Fide: The Reformation as the sixth game in its “The Great Designers Series”, which highlights games from the best game designers in the world.

About Stronghold Games

Stronghold Games LLC is a publisher of high-quality board and card games in the hobby game industry. Since 2009, Stronghold Games has released many highly-regarded games, including the best-selling “Survive: Escape From Atlantis!”, the most innovative deck-building game, “Core Worlds”, the smash-hit game line of “Space Cadets”, and many others. Stronghold Games publishes game designs developed both in-house and in partnership with publishers around the world. Stronghold Games is a Limited Liability Company formed in the State of Delaware USA.

About Spielworxx

Spielworxx was founded in 2010 in Germany and publishes cutting-edge board and card games for the gaming gourmet.

Contacts:

Stephen M. Buonocore, President

Stephen@StrongholdGames.com

Stronghold Games LLC

17 Sunflower Road

Somerset, NJ 08873 USA

Website: http://www.StrongholdGames.com

Phone: +1-908-304-5711

 

Uli Blennemann, President

uli@spielworxx.de

Spielworxx

Nielande 12

48727 Billerbeck

Germany

Website: http://www.spielworxx.de

Phone: +49-2543-9309107

Imhotep is a welcome addition to our gateway games collection, but I almost missed out on it. My first play was fine, but I was underwhelmed. This SDJ nominee was my final game of the day at an event last month. I had wanted to try out this title that was going to challenge Codenames for the Spiel Des Jahres and only spotted it late in the day. I had faith in the possibility that it could take on Vlaada Chvatil’s effortlessly wonderful party game because I’m a fan of Phil Walker-Harding‘s other games like Sushi Go!, Archaeology, Pack of Heroes, and Cacao. The game was loaned to me from another party who waited until I played before mentioning that he felt similarly (good, not great), suggesting that maybe the nomination was an Academy Award-style ‘make up for a previous snub’ to console the open wound of the excellent Cacao missing the cut. I nodded in agreement before taking off that night.

I was wrong. Imhotep deserved the nomination and the adoration of the SDJ jury. This is a very good game that I’ve now played nine times. Despite my first impression, I bought the game to play during our summertime game-cation (where we always sample the SDJ and KDJ nominees ahead of the announcements). I was impressed with the delight the newcomers experienced playing it and I how much enjoyed exploring the nuances of the game.

Imhotep Basics

Gameplay is straightforward and seems familiar, as with many great games. Players are trying to score points and win by placing stones on boats and delivering them to ports that let them score in various ways. This is done six times, with some scoring happening immediately, some happening at the end of the round, and the bulk of points coming at the end. The game has an old-school euro feel and I sense the strong influence of Michael Schacht, the master of minimalist designs that have incredible depth.

To play, you give your two to four players a pile of colored blocks and a sled tile that holds up to five stones at a time, select round cards based on the number of players you have, and then set up the modular port boards you opt to use. The port boards have two sides, with side A featuring ‘beginner’ options with simpler rules. There are also boats with one to four slots, four of which (in some combination of slots) you’ll bring up based on the round card. Each turn, players decide between three options: add up to three blocks from the player’s general supply to their sled, add a block to a boat from the sled, or sail a boat with enough blocks to a port for activation.

Imhotep

Four boats are available each round and they only can be sailed when one fewer than the number they will handle have been placed on them (pointless clarification: yes, the one-block boat needs a block). At that point, any player (whether or not they have a block on the boat) can sail it into a port. This is important because players can send a boat into a port that doesn’t help the players with blocks on it very much. Managing this narrow range of choices still makes for interesting decisions, even if it doesn’t sound that intriguing just reading the gameplay mechanisms.

There are five ports and only four boats, so one is skipped each round of play. Furthermore, fewer blocks can reach those ports if players send them early so there’s definitely some dynamics around whether players opt to play offensively or defensively. The ports resolve as the boats were loaded, with blocks at the front resolving first. In some cases, this gives that player first choice; on other ports, it just means their block goes into place first – sometimes to their frustration.

The ports are the way players score, but they work differently.

  • The Market lets players choose from a set of mostly face-up cards (the B side has facedown cards), which gives them various immediate or future chances to act or score. The blue cards are an effective way to do double actions, the red ones let you place a block into one of the other ports immediately, the purple are award set collecting points, and the green ones are end of game bonuses for the performance of other ports.
  • The Temple scores at the end of each round, with spaces for five blocks. The interesting bit here is that this option delivers points for the blocks viewable from above. Thus, blocks placed early can score over and over – and new blocks ruin this plan.
  • The Pyramid scores points immediately, but the loading order is a factor because different spaces provide different point rewards.
  • The Burial Chamber and the Obelisk ports both score competitively at the end. The former is pattern-based and loading order is a big deal, while the latter is a raw comparison on side A and a timing/commitment game on side B.

While the side A cards are ‘for beginners’, there is no reason for gamers to not begin with the side B variants. They are a trifle more complicated, but they also make the game better. Players sail the four boats six times before a winner is declared. With experienced players, it’s a satisfying thirty minutes.

Imhotep’s Modular Rules

Much has been made of Friedemann Friese’s 504, a game that takes rules variations to the extreme. Imhotep has some possibilities here but it’s done in a simpler way. Dominion popularized the inspiration from older games like Cosmic Encounter for modern euro games. Indeed, you can see a Dominion inspiration in the way Imhotep’s designer expanded his hit game Sushi Go! for Sushi Go Party (see my adoring review of that game here).

Imhotep

With Imhotep, the game’s central mechanism allows for new ports to be plugged in that score block placement in different ways. The flipside variants on the backside reminded me of Antoine Bauza, who famously mentioned on my podcast that one of his publishers, Repos Productions, encourages this strongly – suggesting it’s otherwise a waste of the back of cardboard. I happen to agree; this feature allows for varied play via selection or random options. I can only assume Walker-Harding is cooking up additional ports for expected expansions of the game. Heck, we designed a couple on the spot last time we played.

The Final Word on Imhotep

Imhotep is a well-designed, interesting game that I’m glad is on our shelves. I do think gamers will enjoy it more if they play the B variants or some combination of A and B. Some longtime players may feel like they have enough gateway games but, like Hanging Gardens, Carcassonne, Kingdom Builder and even Schacht’s own Zooloretto, it fills a useful spot in a collection. Imhotep is also good enough to delight experienced gamers who enjoy a super-filler with a 90’s euro feel.

Boardgame Babylon Rating for Imhotep

BIN (Buy It Now) PIN (P)lay It Now TIF (Try It First) NMT (Not My Thing)