Games News! 03/07/18

chronocurious kleptomaniac, a drafty week, like a mother hen
Paul: Another week begins, another Monday Tuesday dawns and another cockerel’s call echoes out across the Shut Up & Sit Down farm. The first task of this week, and of every week, is to milk the News Cows, and so we lead the braying brown beasts over to the sheds. That sound you hear is the noise of FRESH AND WHOLESOME STORIES filling the pail.

And what could be more wholesome than Mesozooic, by far the cutest game of the week?

Mesozooic is Z-Man’s take on the growing “run a zoo but with dinosaurs” theme and it looks absolutely charming, sidestepping the traditional danger that guests will be eaten by exhibits and instead challenging administrators to create the most efficient park layouts possible. Monorails and maintenance teams are as important as T-Rex enclosures, as players draft cards to make maps that they then rearrange, card by card, to create the best arrangement they can.

Mesozooic is due out later this year and up for pre-order right now. Both Matt and Quinns got a brief bite of this during the Gathering of Friends, but we really like to gulp down our games before we know for certain how we feel. I know it’s one I want a taste of, for sure.

Thief’s Fortune is also based around card drafting, with each player given the curious task of putting together a potential narrative that just might describe an expert thief’s escape from the dangerous royal palace. With cards that represent possible elements of the past, present or future, they compete by trying to play locations, characters and events that create the optimal outcome for the chronocurious kleptomaniac.

While providing a light-fingered felon such expert metaphysical consultation doesn’t sound like something we’d be doing in Leibniz’s best of all possible worlds, if you ever wanted to help someone live their best life, this is exactly that and, I suppose, the next best thing. Something something Tina Turner.

Speaking of worlds, I was lucky enough to be able to invite Race for the Galaxy designer Tom Lehmann to a panel discussion I hosted at the Games Developers Conference this spring and during the con he started dropping hints about the next game in the series. I’ve sat on this secret like a mother hen until all the facts could hatch and now, to the sound of a cracking shell, New Frontiers is poking its way out.

New Frontiers features the same action selection, empire-building and windfall world concepts as its big brother, but is centered around a tableau randomly-selected developments that direct the course of each game. Between reaching into a bag of new worlds, players will be expanding their empires based around whatever developments are present this time around. It should make for some more directed growth and, perhaps, some fiercer and tighter races (for that galaxy). New Frontiers may be out as early as autumn.

Meanwhile, if you’re a fan of the charming-and-yet-so-challenging Keyflower series, you will likely be keen to hear about Key Flow, a new card game sailing its way toward an Essen October release. A faster twist on Keyflower, Key Flow mixes card drafting (it’s a drafty week, it seems) and city building, but again uses that familiar mechanic whereby players can burst into someone else’s buildings and businesses if they happen to be more useful than their own. There’s nothing more good-natured than a healthy bit of sharing, right? GET OFF MY FORGE.

Also filed under “more of” this week, we have Concordia Venus, the next expansion for one of Shut Up & Sit Down’s most favourite games of Mediterranean economics. Things get ever so bridge-like here, with four or six players splitting into teams of two that sit opposite each other and co-operate. When one teammate plays a card, both players perform that action. A new a god scores areas that teammates share, though they still maintain separate warehouses.

Good heavens, it’s been an interesting week for news and I feel we’ve skimmed off the cream here, with so much more we could have pasteurised, but before the sun sets on another busy day, let’s make sure you’re pointed toward Atlas Obscura’s interesting feature on the Viking game of hnefatafl. Often found at burial sites (indicating it was an important cultural artefact), it now turns out that all sorts of medieval texts that we might have previously assumed were referencing chess might have instead been nodding toward this widely-played asymmetric game of chase and capture. It’s an important reminder that history is always being re-evaluated and we find new information about old things all the time.