Quinns: Board games go in and out of print all the time. It’s like a party where sexy new friends arrive in a steady stream, only for each one to fall through a network of trapdoors.
But to quote patron saint of board game reviewers Tom Vasel, if a game is really good, it’ll always get another print run. The theme of this week’s games news is, apparently, an awful lot of sexy people arriving back at the party, dusting themselves off and grabbing another fistful of canapes.
Let’s start with the forthcoming 20th anniversary edition of El Grande! Or as we call it in my house, 50 Shades of Beige.
Remember our cheeky late nite El Grande review? This is one of the grand old girls of board gaming. Very simply, players want to have more of their colour of knights in each region than any other player, except your ability to place knights or otherwise shunt them around / mix them up / eject them from the premises is dictated by the card you select from a shared market. There’s also a penis-shaped king involved, but trust me, it’s all great.
Taking a peek at the above component shot, the 20th anniversary edition or “Big Box” coming this year will contain meeples instead of cubes, a new texture of tower, marginally less beige colouring and every single El Grande expansion. That means Grand Inquisitor & Colonies, Grandissimo, King & Intrigant, King & Intrigant: Players’ Edition, King & Intrigant: Special Cards and King & Intrigant 2: Electric Boogaloo.
One of those might be a lie.
In any case, that’s more Grande than you could shake a stick at. But why would you want to shake a stick? Be nice.
A 2nd edition of Stronghold has been announced, too! Any of you remember our Stronghold review from the Two Player Special? That one’s a deep cut. If you haven’t seen it then it might be worth you following that link, partly because this game’s so interesting and partly for the bit where I dance with a cube.
Stronghold is a heinously multi-faceted game where one player controls the orcs sieging a castle and spends the game mustering armies, building siege engines and casting evil magicks, while another player manages their beleaguered forces inside. By far the oddest mechanic is “time”. The player sieging the castle can essentially take as many turns as they like preparing for an assault, but every unit of time you spend gives the defender time that they can spend preparing for you.
Our review concluded that it was interesting but awkward. This year’s coming 2nd Edition, however, will include improved components, streamlined rules and a faster game. No word yet on whether we’ll also see a reprint of the expansion that sees the attacker raising an undead horde and the defender managing fear levels, but I hope so.
I’ve saved the best for last. Settlers of Catan, that poster child of board games, is getting all-new box art this year!
You can see the old box above. Are you ready for the new one? Here we go!
Click for bigger!
I kinda like it. In removing rocks, sheep, dirt, inclines, weapons and the elderly, they definitely make Catan look a lot less fustian. Now we just get a strapping young man and a smart-looking lady, wandering into an even brighter nuclear sunset.
What happened to those old people, eh? I will tell you this. You don’t get wheat like that without a lot of fertiliser.
Don’t go to Catan, friends. It’s not safe.
EDIT: Turns out I got this wrong. Above are the old and the slightly newer covers. The new, forthcoming cover is this:
You’ll note that there are EVEN LESS people and the wheat looks EVEN TALLER.
Fertiliser, friends. That’s all I’m saying.
Star Wars: Armada will be arriving this year to the sound of ten thousand gamers excitedly whispering “pew pew!” But what if the base game’s three capital ships aren’t enough? WHAT THEN? Do you throw the game in the bin?! No, no. You just buy some expansions. Here, take that game out of the bin. Brush the beans from its face. Shh. Shh. It’ll be ok, little box.
As with the X-Wing miniatures game Fantasy Flight will be bringing these expansions out in “waves”, and they’ve just posted a preview of the 1st wave rebel expansions. Two of these double up on the ship miniatures included in the base game but add more cards to equip them with, and then there’s the enormous Assault Frigate Mark II that can go toe-to-toe with a Star Destroyer.
What I’ve heard about Armada is that it’s a much longer, more thoughtful game than X-Wing, which is making me think this game could play the same role as Mage Wars. A game you collect not because you’re feverishly re-writing your competitive army lists and playing it all the time, but simply to luxuriate in all your different toys like you’re sinking into a warm bath.
And finally, we finish with a very interesting game indeed. The Mountain was the winner of the Malta Global Game Jam last month.
If you’re not sure what a game jam is, these are gatherings that originated in video games where developers meet up and design and finish games in just a few days. What’s fantastic is that more and more, board and card games are being accepted as entrants and end up competing with video games, as was the case here. Which is obviously great! It means more young people and experienced designers playing and making board games.
But Mountain’s cool in and of itself. This is a solo board game you can print and play right from that link. And we’ve had games about climbing a mountain before. We loved K2 and we’ve heard great things about the sequel, Mount Everest. This, however, is a game about coming back down a mountain, “exploring a pensive man’s thoughts as he contemplates about the unknown abyss that lies exactly after the biggest accomplishment of his life.”
As you pick your way down its slopes you’ll be drawing cards from different decks, each of which has a snippet of prose about your past, the climb, your spirit or your future, ultimately telling a story about your climber.
I sympathise, of course. It’s been very hard to run this site ever since we filmed me vomiting in a paddling pool, but you manage. You take one day at a time, and you manage.