Design by Sébastien Dujardin
Published by Pearl Games
2 – 4 Players, 1 ½ hours
Review by Greg J. Schloesser
Read this description from the box of Deus:
“As the leader of an ancient civilization, explore unknown lands in order to develop your empire. Found new cities, and construct buildings in order to exploit natural resources and establish trade routes.”
Does this sound like the description for just about every civilization building game you have ever played? Admitted, yes it does. However, please do not let this deter you from giving Deus a go, as it has some very unique mechanisms, including card play that is quite clever and fun.
Deus by designer Sébastien Dujardin and published by Pearl Games (Troyes, Tournay, La Granja) is a civilization building game that combines intriguing card play and a modular board. As described above, the familiar trappings of civilization building games are present. Fortunately, however, the game sheds the usual 4+ hours required play time of many other games in the genre, playing to completion in about 90 minutes or so.
The central board is formed by placing a number of hexagon-type tiles in a roughly circular pattern. The number of tiles used is dependent upon the number of players. Each tile is divided into seven different territories, each of which depicts a terrain type (mountains, fields, forests, swamps or water), as well as one barbarian village per tile. Each terrain type (except water and the barbarian villages) produces a specific type of resource, which will be collected when the appropriate cards are played.
Designer: Evegny Nikitin
Publisher: Hobby World
Time: 45 minutes (though I’d say it’s about 15 minutes per player)
Times Played: 4 (with review copy of provided by Hobby World)
In my review of Rogue Agent last fall, I began by noting the dystopian tidal wave in pop culture:
Dystopian visions of the future are all the rage in film (The Hunger Games, Divergent, Children of Men), in literature (The Giver, The Passage), in video games (Half-Life/Portal, EVE Online) and in board games (Arctic Scavengers, Bioshock: Siege of Columbia). At some level, the whole zombie mania (please, no more games about zombies – I beg you!) has elements of dystopia – and, in many cases, a severe lack of imagination.
The previous paragraph needs footnotes:
- Yes, I’m aware that The Passage is a zombie book of sorts… I loved the first couple hundred pages & then completely bogged down when time shifted.
- Yes, I’m also aware that there’s a lot of crossover between various media formats in my examples above.
- No, I’m not likely to get over my dislike of zombies any time soon.
So it’s not really a surprise that even our friends in Russia have their own dystopian hit book… and video game… and now card game. (There’s also a board game set in the Metro 2033 universe, but I haven’t seen it – let alone played it – so I’m just going to link to it and otherwise ignore that it exists.) The novel which launched all of this was written in 2005 by Dmitry Glukhovsky – in which he imagines a post-apocalyptic world where people have retreated to live in the Metro stations of Moscow deep below the blighted surface. In addition to the usual problems of supplies and squalid conditions, there are the Dark Ones, mutated beings who attack the Metro dwellers.
In Metro 2033: Breakthrough, players take control of and attempt to grow one of the factions who lives in the subway system. By hoarding resources, occupying stations and successfully defending against attacks from the Dark Ones, the factions grow from mere survival to dominance… and the win!
- Designer: Michael Schacht
- Publisher: ABACUSSPIELE, Rio Grande, Z-Man Games, Others
- Players: 2 – 5
- Ages: 8 and Up
- Time: 45 Minutes
- Times Played: > 5
Zooloretto: A board game based on a card game…
Michael Schacht started experimenting with game design in the late 1980s, and his first board or card game published (“Taxi”) was as a punch-out sheet in the magazine Spielerei in 1992. He began designing games with more frequency in the late 1990s, and by the start of the new millennium, he was one of the more well-known designers on the German game scene. He received SdJ recommendations in 1999 (Kontor), 2000 (Web of Power), and 2002 (Dschunke). He received three more recommendations in 2003, for Paris Paris, Richelieu, and, most importantly, a card game called Coloretto.
Schacht had begun experimenting with the mechanics behind Coloretto years before the game’s publication. His goal was to create a game where each card played could completely change the game state, and he wanted the primary decision to be between staying in a round and quitting. Some of what would become Coloretto was in his game “Mogul,” but after additional development, he came up with Coloretto, which was released by Abacusspiele in 2003. Continue reading
Dungeon of Fortune
- Designers: Ken Gruhl and Quentin Weir
- Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games
- Players: 2-6
- Ages: 8+
- Time: 30 minutes
- Times Played: 5, with review copy provided by Tasty Minstrel Games
Dungeon of Fortune is the new push-your-luck game that is set in the same universe as Dungeon Roll, an earlier game also published by TMG. In this small box game, players fight with each other to retrieve the most valuable loot from the dungeon.
Designer: Julian Courtland-Smith… reimagined & redesigned by Geoff, Bryan & Sydney Englestein
Publisher: Stronghold Games
Times Played: 7 (with review copy of provided by Stronghold Games)
A long time ago in a collecting frenzy far, far away, I plunked down a large sum of cash to get a copy of Waddington’s Escape From Atlantis from merry olde England- a plastic-heavy reboot of the Parker Brothers game Survive! It’s a beautiful game when it’s set up with nifty molded pieces in day-glo colors. (And the gentleman who sold the game to me was kind enough to include both the dice AND the swirly spinner from the two different versions of the Waddington’s game.)
It’s stayed in my collection for a long time – the whole “watch your friends/opponents be eaten by sea monsters” vibe makes it a great closer game at the end of the evening. And while I have played the newest version of the game (Survive: Escape From Atlantis), it wasn’t different enough for me to justify buying the new edition and ditching my colorful box full of plastic.
Allow me to chase a rabbit for a moment: the Stronghold Games edition of Survive: Escape From Atlantis is the best version of the game in terms of rules & playability. The Waddington’s version has two different rule sets that contradict each other – and they both lose the variable points element from PB Survive!. Stephen Buoncore managed to combine the various versions into a cohesive and very playable whole.
Yet with all that love, I’m afraid my plastic figures are about to gather dust – because Survive: Space Attack takes everything I enjoy about the game system… and makes it better. In the words of Nigel Tufnel, “It goes to 11.”
- Designer: Andreas Seyfarth, Karen Seyfarth
- Publisher: Hans im Glück, Rio Grande, Others
- Players: 2 – 4
- Ages: 10 and Up
- Time: 60 Minutes
- Times Played: > 45
Thurn und Taxis: Andreas and Karen Seyfarth’s tribute to the German postal system…
Andreas Seyfarth seemingly disappeared from the game scene after designing Manhattan and winning the 1994 Spiel des Jahres. Then, in 2002, he released what is arguably his most influential game: Puerto Rico. It was nominated for the Spiel des Jahres, but ultimately lost to Villa Paletti. But in 2006, he teamed up with his wife — Karen Seyfarth — to design Thurn and Taxis, which took the red pöppel that year. Continue reading
Designer: Mike Elliott & Eric. M. Lang
Players: 2 (with more players possible with more starter sets)
Ages: 14+ (on the box – but my 10 year old does just fine with it)
Times Played: Amazing Spider-Man – 3 (with review copy provided by WizKidz Games);
Uncanny X-Men – 16; (with our own copy purchased by me); the two sets combined – 2
I have religiously avoided buying into the whole collectible card games addiction/credit card/crushing loads of debt death spiral. Well, if I’m completely honest, I did manage to buy a whole lot of Illuminati: New World Order (once it was OOP and on clearance)… and there was that brief flirtation with the Pez Card Game. (I take the Fifth on the buying of expansions, particularly games with plastic figures. Hasbro & Days of Wonder essentially have me in indentured servitude, thanks to Heroscape and Memoir ‘44.)
But Marvel Dice Masters made it past my CCG radar – and not just because it was dice instead of cards. (Again, in the interest of complete honesty, it’s actually dice AND cards, but we won’t focus on that right now.) It was a Quarriors with Marvel super-heroes, which to my Avengers-obsessed sons was kind of like telling them that they could have pizza AND ice cream for dinner.
Design by Brett J. Gilbert & Matthew Dunstan
Published by Space Cowboys
2 – 4 Players, 1 hour
Review by Greg J. Schloesser
I always applaud originality in game design. Sure, there is wisdom in the old adage / question “Why reinvent the wheel?”, but in games, the same mechanism being used over and over again grows tedious and smacks of lack of inspiration or creativity. So when a game is published that uses a brand new mechanism or idea, it certainly receives well deserved accolades. Those accolades are even greater if the game built around that mechanism is a good one.
Elysium by designers Brett J. Gilbert and Matthew Dunstan triumphs on both accounts. Elysium is set in the ancient Greek mythological world wherein players act as demigods forging their own stories and legends. As the box states, players will “recruit heroes, acquire artifacts, undertake quests and earn the favor of the gods.” Essentially this is a card game, with each of the 150+ cards having special powers and incredible artwork. Don’t let the abundance of special powers deter you, however, as this isn’t something akin to Magic: the Gathering or other games of that ilk. Rather, the powers are easy-to-understand and do not create weird, unforeseen circumstances that are not covered by the rules.
The main component of the game is the 168 cards, divided into eight different families, each representing one of the classic Greek gods and goddesses and related items. Present are Athena, Hades, Poseidon, Zeus, Ares and others. Each game, five sets are chosen and mixed together, so the mixture is different for each game, presenting a different challenge and forcing players to adapt their strategies accordingly. There is a recommended starting set to ease players into the game.
- Designer: Thomas Liesching
- Publisher: Zoch Verlag, Rio Grande, Others
- Players: 3 – 5
- Ages: 8 and Up
- Time: 30 – 45 Minutes
- Times Played: > 5 (And even more on Board Game Arena…)
Niagara: Another newcomer wins the SdJ…
Thomas Liesching started experimenting with game design in the 1990s, going as far as joining the German game designers guild (SAZ). He had been tinkering with ideas for a treasure hunting game for a while, but after watching the film Niagara — a 1953 production starring Marilyn Monroe — he suddenly had the idea of collecting gems while on a rushing river.
Liesching experimented with different versions of the game over the course of years. When he started showing it to publishers, they were intrigued by the idea, but none of them were interested due to the high costs in producing such a game. Liesching’s big break came in 2000, when he showed it to Klaus Zoch at a trade show in Stuttgart. Zoch recognized that the game had potential, and Niagara spent the next several years in development. Continue reading
Designer: Simone Romano & Nunzio Surace
Publisher: Ares Games
Players: 1 – 5
Ages: 12 and Up
Time: 60 – 90 Minutes
Times Played: a demo game in Essen
Evil is on the move again. After centuries of bloodshed and war, the last heroes fell to the growing tide of monstrosities, their memory fading away like sand in a gale. The land of Talon Coast is helpless, as the armies of darkness surge forward, threatening to extinguish the very light of the sun. But there is one last bastion of hope, one final attempt at abating the flood of corruption: Claudius, High Priest of the Temple of Heavenshine, sacrifices the holiest relic of the land to summon the fallen heroes back to life! Weakened by their own resurrection, yet determined to return hope and justice to the land of Talon, the reborn heroes will wage war against this scheming evil in its many hideous forms.
Few days left for the Kickstarter Campaing that has already collected more than 350.000$ with more than 3.000 pledger.