Games News! 03/02/14

hugeness, hot tubs, Ching Shih, number salad, druid parties
Quinns: Ooh, it’s nice to have dramatic news to lead off with. Fantasy Flight has done a grand reveal of the first “Huge Ship Expansion” for their excellent X-Wing Miniatures Game, the GR-75 Rebel transport. Just look at it! Imagine how many new players it’s going to bring to the game when they double-take at it in their local game shop.

We all knew that these huge ship packs would be an investment (the Rebel transport will cost $60), so it’s nice to see that they’ll be a mini-expansion in and of themselves, with new rules for damage, movement and energy, an x-tra X-wing, and a deluge of tokens and cards. And this is just the first of the two huge ships revealed at Gen Con last year, with the other being approx. 20% huger (and $90).

But wait, because I’ve got some expansion news that’s even more exciting!

TRAINS

That’s right, mother*****rs! We’re getting MO’ TRAINS up in here! Alderac’s announced that the first expansion for Trains will land in September, and will include two new 2 player boards. I couldn’t be more pumped.

For anyone who missed our gushing Trains review, no, I’m not being sarcastic. Trains is the reason Paul and I don’t play Dominion anymore. It’s also the reason we now get made fun of by local schoolkids, and that’s fine. It’s really OK. Because trains.

I can’t get over the above teaser image, though. It’s clearly from a new “Delays” or “Service Cancellation” card, but the fact that they chose this picture of people sitting around looking bored to announce their new expansion means they’re either excellently self-aware of how horrible their game sounds, or they’re blissfully oblivious. Either’s fine with me.

7 Wonders: Babel

In other expansion news, 7 Wonders designer Antoine Bauza has posted a picture of forthcoming expansion 7 Wonders: Babel, which will see players building a 3-dimensional wonder in the middle of the table.

Unlike previous expansions 7 Wonders: Cities and 7 Wonders: Leaders, though, Babel doesn’t sound a bit underwhelming. As players build upwards, the quadrants of the tower they build will display a “law” that everyone must obey, and as you build, you naturally have the option to cover up other players’ quadrants.

But wait! Because it’s the other half of the Babel expansion that I’m really excited about. In this variant, a random agreement card is revealed in each of the game’s three ages, giving a certain kind of card (military, research, etc.) an additional cost to be played.

Now this is super awesome, because it’s meant to bring an element of negotiation to 7 Wonders. Placed on this card are a number of markers, equal to one less than the number of players. Every time someone voluntarily pays the additional cost when building that kind of development, they take one marker off the card. If, at the end of the age, all the markers are gone, they’re all worth Victory Points. If they’re not all gone, they’re worthless, as the table’s civilisations collectively make a mockery of the rule.

I’ll level with you. I bought 7 Wonders: Cities, hoping it’d encourage me to crack open the 7 Wonders box again. It hasn’t happened. But 7 Wonders, Babel & beers? Yeah, I’d organise that game night.

Germany's 2014 Spielwarenmesse 2014 toy and game festival

Ah, my Games News cup runneth over! This weekend was Nürnberg, Germany’s 2014 Spielwarenmesse 2014 toy and game festival! That might sound boring, but the indestructible BoardGameGeek news blog is doing its level best to prove otherwise, bringing us all kinds of hot gossip.

Just to start with, a new Carcassonne expansion, Carcassonne: Sheep and Hills has been announced. As you might have guessed, this will add time travel and hot tubs to the seven million selling tile-laying game, which could be just what’s required to spice the game up!

La Isla

There’s also been a sighting of a new Stefan Feld game, La Isla, which– whoops, sorry everyone. I’m being told now that Carcassonne: Sheep and Hills will, in fact, add sheep and hills to Carcassonne. I was getting it confused with John Cusack’s 2010 movie “Hot Tub Time Machine”. I can only apologise for the mistake.

Anyway La Isla is the new Stefan Feld game and if it looked like any more of a traditional Feldian number salad it would come with a pack of Strategic Salad Cream. If even LOOKS like a salad from above.

I don’t know why I’ve got it out for Feld, simply because he puts out so many games each year. I like a good Feld game! I really do. I think it’s just because moreso than any designer, publisher or reader, the guy makes my job hard. If you’re reading this, Stefan, I’m sorry. But couldn’t you just put out one amazing game each year, rather than five good ones? I get that you’re appealing to the Germans who have whole rooms devoted to you in their house, but… oh, never mind.

Ching Shih

The Spielwarenmesse that got me the most excited, though, was the above board game based on Ching Shih. Ching’s a real-life Chinese pirate and is without question one of the greatest badasses to ever live. Estimates put Ching’s fleet between 20,000 to 80,000 pirates, and not only was she undefeated throughout her career, she retired peacefully.

And then there were Ching’s attitudes towards female captives.

Ching Shih’s code had special rules for female captives. Standard practice was to release women, but J.L. Turner witnessed differently. Usually the pirates made their most beautiful captives their concubines or wives. If a pirate took a wife he had to be faithful to her. The ugliest were released and any remaining were ransomed. Pirates that raped female captives were put to death, but if it was consensual sex, the pirate was decapitated and the woman he was with had cannonballs attached to her legs and was chucked off the side of the boat.

Crazy. Anyway, let’s see what the board game offers!

Each player starts the game with four cards in hand, each card having a number from 1 to 50-something; the cards have a colored bar across the top, often with a symbol in them. In the first round, each player lays down a card, drafts one of the available cards, then moves one of her ships to the right on the ocean. Players then repeat this pr–

Oh you know what never mind.

AND FINALLY!

Lagoon: Land of Druids

Here’s a Kickstarter I’ll put more faith in than most. The Board With Life crew had a really good time playing a prototype of Lagoon: Land of Druids when I was at BGG Con last year, and the finished game looks great. Best of all, though? There’s a print’n’play link right there on the Kickstarter, allowing you guys to try before they buy.

The game itself is pretty fascinating. The land is made up of yellow, red and blue tiles, and the land is in flux as it works towards its destiny. You’re be travelling your druids around the board, placing and “unravelling” (removing) tiles. At the end of the game, you check for the dominant colour on the board. If you supported the development of that colour better than anyone else, you win! Throw in a load of clever stuff about combos and tile placement, and you have my attention. This is players playing off one another in a very intimate way, and I love it.

AND DOUBLE-FINALLY!

Quantum and Guts of Glory

If you live in New York city, it’d be criminal if you missed the launch party for both Quantum and Guts of Glory, featuring demos of the games, copies for sale, and a panel on board game design. These are some very smart people, and both designers come at board games from a background in video game design. Go! Fly, my pretties.