Paul: What’s that in the sky, soaring above us?! Is it a bird? A plane? Is it the GAMES NEWS, descending down upon us to… No, it is a bird. Oh no. It’s dead. Quinns, the bird is dead.
Quinns: That’s OK, I was just on my way to bury this copy of Risk. We’ll pop the bird in the box.
Paul: OK, but hurry back! There’s a news story in the Games News’ news about the Dune games that will soon be news?
It looks like a license that we thought was dead was merely sleeping all this time. One of the most beloved science fiction franchises (and a famously hard-to-get license) has returned and Gale Force Nine plan to gift the world both tabletop and miniatures games, tied in to the forthcoming Dune film.
Quinns: There’s going to be a new Dune film and new Dune tabletop games?! As somebody who absolutely adored the first half of the first Dune book, as well as this documentary on a Dune movie that was never made, I must profess to almost being excited.
Paul: Gale Force Nine are well-known for a whole host of tie-in titles, from “Star Trek” to the famous Star Trek spinoffs “Doctor Who,” “Firefly” and “Tanks: Panzer III Tank Expansion.” A classic, that last one.
Quinns: Don’t forget Spartacus! We did a video review of that one.
Paul: Honestly, I’ll be interested to see what they do with the Dune world, which is rich, unusual and remains starkly original to this day, as well as a big deal to a whole bunch of folks in the hobby. This is quite the score for them, as I’m sure Fantasy Flight Games would’ve liked to snatch it up. FFG’s excellent REX: Final Days of an Empire is well-known as a remake of the classic 70s Dune game, stripped of the license, which certainly more than stands on its own feet, but having a famous name attached to any game, particularly a very good one, is an enormous boon for any publisher.
Of course we’re always on the lookout for enormous boons and the next boon large enough to register on our boonometer appears to be the curious Discover: Lands Unknown. After revealing Keyforge at GenCon, a card game where every deck you buy is unique, Fantasy Flight are now showing off an entire board game where each copy is distinct.
Quinns: Yes! Players in Discover: Lands Unknown will (surprise!) discover some lands that are unknown, flipping over map tiles and trying to survive in a hex map that’s unique to you and your friends. Perhaps you’ll find a jungle, or a tundra, or a desert! It’s all very reminiscent of Kickstarter success story 7th Continent, except it’s ambitious in breadth rather than depth.
We couldn’t begin to guess at how fun this design will turn out (let alone your copy of this design), but one thing’s for sure: that art by Chan Chau is absolutely gorgeous. Also, kudos to Fantasy Flight for showing a woman wearing a headscarf in their playable characters, something that Pegasus Spiele has continually avoided in their Istanbul games.
(Which is obviously absurd. Pegasus Spiele’s situation a bit like when Nintendo refused to allow same-sex relationships in one of their games because they didn’t want the game to be “social commentary”, but this just caused the game to offer a different kind of social commentary. The truth of the matter is, in avoiding depicting headscarves in historic Istanbul Pegasus Spiele might have thought they were avoiding a political hot potato, but in truth were committing a politically-charged act.)
Paul: I love the concept of Discover but, of course, it’s all about the execution. Meanwhile, I’m also rather curious about Newton, CMON’s next announcement. In my head, I still can’t divorce CMON from a whole host of elaborate and embellished miniatures-based games, so Newton stands out like a sore head swollen from fallen fruit.
This card-based game of cleverness challenges players to travel around Europe and its universities, trying to become Very Clever, with the Most Clever winning. It sounds almost like my dream existence, except without the desire to intellectually diminish everyone else. If I wanted to do that, I’d actually make YouTube videos about how you’re actually wrong about everything, actually. In this world, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. For years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.
Days of Wonder release but one game a year, like a very stingy Santa. Quinns, what are they hurling down our chimneys this time? Is this a game about Bruce Springsteen’s expertly-crafted working class lament to lost hope and broken dreams?
Quinns: Oh gosh, I thought you were quoting Scroobius Pip up there. That doesn’t speak well to my knowledge of classic rock.
Anyway, the answer to your question is “Nope”! The River is a game of resource management and settlement-building, dusted with Days of Wonder’s typically-polished presentation. Look at those little boats! Those cute piles of wood! This is a publisher who are very particular about their releases and while we haven’t loved all of their output (with the relatively recent Quadropolis being excellent but last year’s Yamatai being a bit of a disappointment), we still dutifully playtest each new game of theirs. I suppose even today it’s hard to ignore their reputation as the original publisher of such classics as Ticket to Ride, Memoir ‘44 and Small World.
Veteran designer Friedemann Friese announced a few upcoming releases this week, all subscribing to his personal brand of having titles beginning with the letter F and using the colour green in the same way that a cockroach exterminator might use poison gas.
Paul: The most exciting of these games is certainly Futuropia, “a big utopian economic game for 1-4 optimizers.” Set in a future society where labour is starting to become automated, players will be tasked with modernising their housing developments so that they produce food and energy automatically, leaving your little miniature people time to paint, practice fencing, fly light aircraft, or perform other leisure activities that the writers of Star Trek: The Next Generation guessed would survive into the future.
Quinns: There are very few rules and details available for Futuropia at present, but I’m quietly optimistic. It’s no secret that SU&SD’s favourite Friedemann Friese game is Power Grid, and with this being another large, economic game, Mr. Friese surely stands the best possible chance of replicating his earlier success.
Paul: And fiiiiinally, Quinns, do you know anything about Power Rangers? Please tell me you do. I don’t. I don’t know anything about the Power Rangers. Help. All I know is that Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid is doing very well on Kickstarter and, coming from Bargain Quest and Imperial Assault designer Jonathan Ying, I’m immediately biased toward it.
Quinns: I felt enamoured of this Kickstarter the instant I saw the cheesy 1990s monsters they chose as sculpts. Pudgy Pig! Knasty Knight! A skeleton in a hat!
That said, even with Jonathon’s name attached, you’re probably best off waiting for the SU&SD review of this miniature-heavy game before you part with your cash. Not least because the “all-in” pledge is $240. Goodness me.