Games News! 5 Star edition
This week, board games’ dignified finishing school of Fantasy Flight announced a new version of the European classic. For the uninitiated, Tigris & Euphrates sees 2-4 players each in control of a civilization in ancientest Mesopotamia, and accurately depicts how these factions would conquer one another by covering the desert in big square tiles and sometimes an intimidatingly chunky pyramid.
I’ve actually played Tigris & Euphrates. The short version of that story is that, like a lot of Reiner Knizia games, it made me wish I was outside climbing a tree. The even shorter version is that it is pretty good, if you like that kind of thing (read: tiles, Mesopotamians).
One bum note is that while Fantasy Flight is talking about how it will “maintain the game’s original mechanics while giving it an updated look based on the art of ancient Sumer and Babylon”, I take one look at their press shot (above) and all I can see is that they’ve elected for cardboard and plastic rather than the original game’s big wood:
Where’s the wood, Fantasy Flight?
WHERE’S THE WOOD.
I can’t really be angry. These weighty games that contain basically an entire log must be worse for the environment, right?
Fantasy Flight has also announced it will be publishing a brand-new version of Drakon, a Tom Jolly game from way back in the mists of 2001.
Like Jolly’s earlier Wiz-War, Drakon is a game of tiles, panic, luck and swearing. Each player is fleeing a terrible dragon through a magical labyrinth, and on your turn you can either move your hero into a new room or expand the labyrinth by placing a tile from your hand, perhaps letting your hero claim a new Gold Coin next turn or sealing an opponent into a dead end. First player to ten Gold Coins wins.
Problem is, these tiles might contain seductive siren songs. They might propel you further down the corridor. They might float around the dungeon or teleport you or see opponents filching tiles from your hand. Basically everything you don’t want to happen when there’s a giddy dragon waddling around somewhere behind you.
In the spirit of Shut Up & Sit Down’s Expansion January or “Janspansionuary”, we also have exciting news of a second expansion for Suburbia!
Suburbia 5★ will add components for a 5th player and a staggering 50 new tiles to Suburbia, which, let’s not forget, reached #13 in our Top 25 Games of All Time.
The central new mechanic is that each suburb will now have a “star” rating based on how tourist-friendly it is, with bonuses and penalties for the most fabulous and hideous suburb, respectively.
We’re actually playing Ted Alspach’s pseudo-sequel to Suburbia, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, just this afternoon. Exciting!
Polar Rush (or “ESKI-MEMO” if you live in mainland Europe) is an upcoming release that looks nice. Players are all Inuits racing to get home before a horrible blizzard. It’s also just arcane enough that I’m not sure I can simplify the publisher description.
On a turn, a player reveals a number of movement tiles one at a time based on the number rolled on the die. If he reveals a “seal” and a seal is adjacent to his current position, he must move his Inuit to the “seal” (even if it means he must move backwards); if a seal isn’t nearby, he doesn’t move.
The floes also feature special characters that can help (or hamper) a player’s movement, so with clever planning your movement can be quite successful. For example, if you move to a sled, your next move doesn’t need to be to an adjacent tile — but if you reveal a “crack” tile, you can separate the game board to create a water gap between the floes. The only way to cross this is to reveal a kayak tile.
Mostly I’m tickled by the idea of a race game where players break the board as they scramble home. The shrinking ice floes of Hey, That’s My Fish! feel nice, but also like they’re just scratching (breaking?) the surface of ice in games.
Tiny Epic Galaxies is this week’s favoured Kickstarter. A game with the excellent goal of packing INTERGALACTIC POWER STRUGGLES into your pocket / handbag / structurally-sound hairstyle.
It’s kind of like how Eclipse tried to collapse Twilight Imperium, except this time it’s with the force of a black hole. Anything that might be a board is now printed on a card. Careful tracking of your empire’s economy is replaced by manipulating dice. The little spaceships… well, they’re still little spaceships. Some things are holy, I guess.
Brendan and Paul were plenty impressed by Eight-Minute Empire, which had a similar ethos, and this new project is already starting to gather all kind of stretch goals. Why not take a look?
Finally, here’s a sliiiightly more serious link that caught my eye this week. The games kids played in ghettos during World War 2, and what that tells us about play as a larger concept.
Have a great week everyone! We’ve got an article, a video AND a podcast for you this week. Oooh, yes. Stay tuned!