Epic Gumdrop Ep 37: 2016 in Boardgames

This week Jeff and James look ahead at a few anticipated boardgame titles of 2016, as well as discuss some of the themes in the games and the industry. We also begin pre-pre-production on our imagined cinematic adaptation of Scythe.

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(Length: approx 55min)

2016 in Boardgames: A Look Forward

There are always a million boardgames to lust after. Today we’ll take a look at some that have caught our eye for 2016. We’ll focus on base games and leave the expansions alone. While independently assembling a list over the past while we ran into the BGG 20 most anticipated games of 2016 list. There is complete crossover, although we will only cover a fraction of the games on the overall voting pages. If you want to dive deeper into a specific category or see some of the other titles people are enthused about for this year, we’ll include a link in the show notes for this episode.

There are a number of heavy titles on this list, but let’s start with a few of the lighter ones:

Trove: The Crystal Caverns (2016)

Trove

Publisher: Leder Games

“Trove takes you and your friends into the torchlight of a classic cave-crawling adventure, built on the concept of total asymmetry. Gone are days of the merry band of travelers fighting off evil. In Trove, you will become part of a new legend… Any part you wish!

Play as the daring Knight, the chaotic Goblin horde, the greedy Dragon, or even the Cave itself — powerful, brooding, and intent on crushing the living things that dare to disturb its gloomy depths. Each role has its own powers, pieces, and paths to victory … and there can only be one winner.”

Here’s the game overview they give for how victory is achieved:

The Knight must kill the Dragon. The Knight gains power by completing Sidequests and recovering lost Treasures. She can reset her abilities each turn.

The Goblins must kill the Knight. The Goblins build 3 different Tribes by playing a push-your-luck style game. Then they move around the board trying to corner the Knight.

The Dragon must wake up and escape through the entrance. The Dragon starts out slow but wakes up as he steals treasure, devours Goblins, and explores the Cave. He does this by playing cards to fuel various powers.

The Cave must fully expand and then collapse. The Cave does this by gaining Omens, placing treasure to lure the other players into the its depths, and placing Tiles.

Go take a look at the game. It looks like it will be one of those gems that is fun for adults and kids in equal measure. One of their big selling points is that the game will never be the same twice, with players taking on different roles and the game consisting of tiles that change each time.

Tiny Epic Western (2016)

Tiny-Epic-Western

Their pitch on this one is that it is “Poker meets worker-placement.” Sounds interesting. I like the way a game like Doomtown: Reloaded melded Poker into its gameplay, so how would it look with worker placement? It seems like Doomtown it uses location control, however that seems to be where the comparison ends. There is a lot in this little box, like all of the titles in the Tiny Epic series they’ve created.

The BGG description reads as follows:

DESCRIPTION: The West is growing day by day, and you’re looking to stake your claim. To win, you have to gamble your relationships with the most powerful bosses in town to win influence. This influence comes in many forms: Law, Money and Force. If you’re clever enough, you’ll be able to take claim over the buildings in the evergrowing boomtowns and gain powerful abilities. At the end of the day, the boss who has the best combination of wit and bluff will become the most powerful tycoon in the Wild Wild West.

GAMEPLAY: The game is played in a series of rounds. Each round, poker cards are dealt between the locations, which are laid out in a circle. Players place posse members on these location cards, which will both give an action and count as a bid for the location’s valuable resources. Players also get a poker card of their own which uses the two adjacent cards from a location to form a three-card hand. This creates a clever mix of modern worker placement and poker that drives the game. In addition, players must manage their resources of Law, Money and Force to buy buildings and gunfight. If you have the highest stake in the most lucrative industry at the end, you will be rewarded bonus points. Add these points to the points you’ve collected from buying buildings and determine the winner!

Tiny Epic Western Kickstarter page

World’s Fair 1893 (2016)

EG-37-Worlds-Fair

From the publisher: “The World’s Fair of 1893 in Chicago was a spectacular international exhibition that showcased many great achievements in science, technology, culture, and entertainment. Acting as organizers of the fair, players use their influence and supporters to secure the grand exhibits that will be put on display.”

They describe World’s Fair 1893 as an area majority and set collection game for 2-4 players that plays in about 40 minutes. “On your turn, you send a supporter to one of the fives areas and collect all the cards next to it. Choose carefully to collect the cards you need and also beat out your opponents for control in the various areas.”

It looks light and fun. The art is evocative and perfect for the theme.

World’s Fair 1893 Kickstarter Page

The Networks (2016)

Networks

The players are TV execs trying to get the most viewers over five seasons. You start with some terrible cable access shows and try from there to get better programming and cancel the bad stuff.

The BGG overview video with designer Gil Hova is entertaining, and this seems like it will be another fun title. Whether the laughs will continue on repeat plays, who knows. That’s my only hesitation on games with humour built into them. Regardless, it’s a fun theme. And I get the feeling it is deceptively sophisticated which to me is a bonus in a game. Finally, who hasn’t wanted to be a TV exec? It supports 1-5 players (he says the solo game is really fun as well), and plays in around 60-90.

There is also a good interview about the game and the design process with Gil over at The Inquisitive Meeple that you should read:

The Networks Kickstarter page

Gloomhaven (2016)

Gloomhaven

Once you go and watch Rahdo’s run through of Gloomhaven it’s pretty hard not to be convinced this is going to be tremendous game. At first glance I thought “oh, another adventure fantasy game” but it’s much more than that.

First, it’s cooperative and supports 1-4 players. It plays in 60-120 minutes. And it seems to be based on the growing trend of games that borrow from the Legacy system – the game changes as you play it, with locations opening or closing depending on decisions. It’s difficult to summarize the game succinctly as there is a lot going on with it, but once you watch the overviews you can’t help but be impressed that they made something so potentially complex look relatively straight-forward to play. I think even I could learn the rules to this game pretty quick, which is something high on my list of what makes a game good.

Gloomhaven Kickstarter page

Chronicles: Origins (2016)

Chronicles

Let’s start with the BGG description:

Players build a new version of the world in the Chronicles Series, starting with the first game: Chronicles: Origins. First, players take the role of leaders of a small and emerging tribe in the early Stone Age, collaborating to avoid threats, exploit opportunities, and build the tribe to a position of growth and stability. Then, once a variety of tribes have been created, players take leadership of a city-state that evolved from an original tribe and contest the region with their opponents who are the leaders of city-states of their own. Using Legacy mechanisms, the world evolves as the city-states use exploration, conquest, culture, and religion to out-compete their opponents and try to establish the most enduring enterprise. Not every tribe created in this game will survive to the next…

Each game in the Chronicles Series uses Rob Daviau’s Legacy System within the game itself, but will use the new Echo System to allow the world you create in Chronicles: Origins to be continued in the second game of the Chronicles Series due out in 2017.

I like everything about that. If that description doesn’t sell you, watch an interview with designers Rob Daviau and Dirk Knemeyer:

From what Rob Daviau says it will be around 10 games each of Stone Age and Bronze Age. The Stone Age games will be around an hour, while the Bronze Age games will be under 2 hours. With no idea of the art (except for a few prototype photos on BGG), and only a brief overview of game mechanics, I am still sold. I’ve been wanting to play a civ game that took the Stone Age and really built on it instead of just using it as a convenient thematic backdrop. Plus Legacy System. The only downside is that this is a 3-6 player game. Great in that it accommodates 6, but sad that it doesn’t do 2 player. Kickstarter will be opening up this month and it will be released at GenCon.

The 7th Continent (2016)

The-7th-Continent

Another interesting take on the storytelling structure of a game is with The 7th Continent. Here’s the description from BGG:

It’s the early 20th century. You have decided to sail back to the newly discovered seventh continent to attempt to lift the terrible curse that has struck you since your return from the previous expedition.

In The 7th Continent, a solo or cooperative “choose-your-own-adventure” exploration board game, you choose a character and begin your adventure on your own or with a team of other explorers. Inspired by the Fighting Fantasy book series, you will discover the extent of this wild new land through a variety of terrain and event cards. In a land fraught with danger and wonders, you have to use every ounce of wit and cunning to survive, crafting tools, weapons and shelter to ensure your survival.

Unlike most board games, it will take you many, MANY hours of exploring and searching the seventh continent until you eventually discover how to remove the curse(s)…or die trying.

The 7th Continent features an easy saving system so that you can stop playing at any time and resume your adventure later on, just like in a video game!

Upon first reading this I was skeptical. We like storytelling, but the idea of choose-your-own-adventure seemed like it could be too limiting. But it’s not. Plus there’s no dice. My understanding is that there is about 20-30 hours of gameplay in the base game. Which is where the ability to save your game state and play later comes in. They claim a 30 second set up, and equally fast take down. This is a game that is going to be a rich experience, and from what I can tell will be a fun one to play with kids. That was my first thought: the kids will like this. And if they don’t it also plays solo. 1-4 adventurers can enjoy it. Check out their kickstarter page for more info and to check out the art:

The 7th Continent Kickstarter

Scythe (2016)

Scythe

When my 8 year old saw the box art he went “whoaaa.” A nice pastoral painting with giant mechs in the background! I know, we shouldn’t judge this by its cover art alone, but how evocative is that?

Let’s take a look at the game description:

It is a time of unrest in 1920s Europa. The ashes from the first great war still darken the snow. The capitalistic city-state known simply as “The Factory,” which fueled the war with heavily armored mechs, has closed its doors, drawing the attention of several nearby countries.

Scythe is a 4X board game [explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate] set in an alternate-history 1920s period. It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation and valor. In Scythe, each player represents a character from one of five factions of Eastern Europa who are attempting to earn their fortune and claim their faction’s stake in the land around the mysterious Factory. Players conquer territory, enlist new recruits, reap resources, gain villagers, build structures, and activate monstrous mechs.

Each player begins the game with different resources (power, coins, combat acumen, and popularity), a different starting location, and a hidden goal. Starting positions are specially calibrated to contribute to each faction’s uniqueness and the asymmetrical nature of the game (each faction always starts in the same place).

Scythe gives players almost complete control over their fate. Other than each player’s individual hidden objective card, the only elements of luck or variability are “encounter” cards that players will draw as they interact with the citizens of newly explored lands. Each encounter card provides the player with several options, allowing them to mitigate the luck of the draw through their selection. Combat is also driven by choices, not luck or randomness.

Scythe uses a streamlined action-selection mechanism (no rounds or phases) to keep gameplay moving at a brisk pace and reduce downtime between turns. While there is plenty of direct conflict for players who seek it, there is no player elimination.

Every part of Scythe has an aspect of engine-building to it. Players can upgrade actions to become more efficient, build structures that improve their position on the map, enlist new recruits to enhance character abilities, activate mechs to deter opponents from invading, and expand their borders to reap greater types and quantities of resources. These engine-building aspects create a sense of momentum and progress throughout the game. The order in which players improve their engine adds to the unique feel of each game, even when playing one faction multiple times.

I’m not sure what else needs to be said. I like that in BGG it is listed under the categories Economic, Farming, Territory Building and Wargame. It plays with 2-5 players at around 115 minutes (the designer gives this oddly specific average based on over game test 700 sessions). My big hope is that this is a satisfying 4x boardgame as we are 4x videogame fans over here.

We’ll add a link to a turn by turn overview with designer Jamey Stegmaier. This gives you a great sense about the design and gameplay.

SeaFall (2016)

Seafall

Another Rob Daviau title! Another 4x! Some of your brains are probably switching off right now from the overwhelming awesomeness of those two ideas. And hopefully not from the idea of yet another 4x game on the table. Here’s the briefer description of this one:

SeaFall is a 4X game set in an “age of sail” world reminiscent of our world.

In SeaFall, the world is starting to claw its way out of a dark age and has begun to rediscover seafaring technology. Players take on the role of a mainland empire that consults with a consortium of advisors to discover new islands, explore those islands, develop trade, send out raiding parties, take part in ship-to-ship combat, and more. As in Risk Legacy and Pandemic Legacy, co-designed by Rob Daviau, SeaFall evolves as the game is played, setting their grudges into the history of the game and building a different narrative at every table as players open up the world.

Once again, though, 3-5 players! To be fair, a 4x is going to play better with the more players there are. That’s just the nature of the game, and I need to accept that. Exciting part is that as of January 20th Daviau had delivered this long awaited title to the publisher. No idea when it will be available, but it’s done!

The final game we’re going to look at today is from the designer and company now known for top notch miniatures games:

The Others: 7 Sins (2016)

The-Others

This game had an amazingly slick Kickstarter. I was immediately drawn in when I watched the video. It looks great except I don’t think it looks appropriate for my 8 year old gaming partner. Not sure I care about the theme at all, but, still, it looks so good.

The description:

The Others: 7 Sins is a horror board game for 2 to 5 players. One player controls one of the 7 Deadly Sins, employing monstrous incarnations of these corruptive forces in an attempt to consume the world and bring about the apocalypse. The rest of the players cooperate as heroes of the F.A.I.T.H. organization who will attempt to fight back the invasion!

But it looks soooo good!

Maybe even more exciting but still Eric Lang related is that he has also announced a co-design between him and Antoine Bauza called Victorian Masterminds, which is a post-Sherlock Holmes game where you play an evil mastermind. He was showing off a prototype recently, but who knows if this will make it for 2016.

The Others: 7 Sins Kickstarter

2016 Themes

How many of these are Kickstarters?

  • All of them, except Seafall.

One of the beautiful parts about these Kickstarter games is that they provide a lot of marketing material that really helps you understand what the game is about. Sometimes it’s hard to fully appreciate what you’re getting into without relying entirely on reviews. Also, a lot of these games provide a Print n Play version early on so you can actually give it a spin and see if it’s for you. Gloomhaven went a step further and made the introductory scenario available for Tabletop Zen and Tabletop Simulator.

How many of the big 2016 titles are all about story?

  • Better question: how many games this year AREN’T about story? Or how many are going to try and seem like they’re all about story?
  • Rob Daviau’s story and Legacy influence is all over 2016.

Finally, a few older games to be excited about this year

  • Stronghold 2nd Edition
  • Martin Wallace’s Brass will have a new publisher
  • Mare Nostrum: Empires (a re-invention of Mare Nostrum by Academy Games)

People in the boardgame industry keep talking about what an amazing year 2016 is going to be, and with the kinds of titles coming out it is impossible to disagree.

If you have any thoughts about the games we talked about, or want to mention any we should all be watching this year please let us know in the comments below!

 

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