BrettSpiel is a blog about board game design, written by game designer Brett J. Gilbert.

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On My Gaming Radar

Although my reporting has been a little lacking recently, there’s been plenty of new games popping their heads over the gaming parapet. The Nuremberg toy fair had many publishers announcing forthcoming attractions. Here are a few games that caught my eye.

Alea Iacta Est

Alea Iacta Est is another game from relative newcomer Jeff Allers (who has enjoyed recent publishing success in Germany with …aber bitte mit Sahne and Eine Frage der Ähre), here in cohorts with his gaming buddy Bernd Eisenstein. This publication is definitely a feather in their caps, coming as it does from Ravensburger’s classy Alea label.

Alea’s reputation for quality components means that the game will doubtless feel as good as it looks, and it looks very good indeed. Jeff has written up a fascinating backstory of the game’s development on his blog, which is great inspiration for all budding designers.

The game fits into the relatively new category of ‘dice euro’, examples of which range from more strategic dice-fests such as Yspahan and Kingsburg to lighter fillers such as Knizia’s excellent Risk Express.

Maori

Maori from Hans im Glück looks like a new take on the tile game, and my penchant for tile games means it immediately caught my attention. Although the German rules are available on the publisher’s website, at the moment there isn’t an English translation available to allow me to understand the gameplay. However, it appears that players choose from a common pool of tiles and play them to their own boards, attempting to create point-scoring arrangements.

At first glance the game appears to be rather interaction-lite, with the only interaction coming from the order in which you tiles are taken from the pool and therefore your abilty to pre-empt your opponents’ choices. The whole enterprise might not sound ground-breakingly original, and I’m certainly no fan of the multiplayer solitaire phenomenon (one is reminded perhaps of Alhambra, or even Take It Easy! which is the very definition of tile-based multiplayer solitaire), but I’m a total sucker for Hans im Glück’s build quality which will no doubt create a compelling game experience.

Valdora

Valdora by Michael Schacht is something else entirely, a ‘pick up and deliver’ game where the players’ pawns are actually moved along tracks on a central board — what novelty! — albeit without a dice in sight. English rules are thankfully already available on the Abacusspiele website, so we can have a better idea of gameplay.

Certainly the game looks fantastic, especially if you are seduced by exactly the brand of richly coloured fantasy landscapes that Valdora exemplifies (courtesy of popular boardgame illustrator Franz Vohwinkel). The players must collect differently coloured gems scattered at various points around the board and take them to various other points on the board, where they will be rewarded with points and additional victory point tokens. The interaction primarily comes from beating your opponents to the punch, and collecting those victory points first.

The game uses a wonderfully novel ‘book’ metaphor for handling the decks of cards that determine a player’s equipment and objectives: the cards are stacked in lectern-like wooden platforms, and the players ‘turn the pages’ to flip through the deck.

Valdora looks precisely like the sort of well-produced, fast-playing, light-strategy family game that deserves to (and doubtless will) do well, at least within its admittedly broad target market. It’s no ‘gamer’s game’ but then… I am not really a ‘gamer’s gamer’!

Carson City

Finally there’s Carson City, which appears to be a worker-placement tile game, with a common board and tile layout, and a more hard-nosed approach to direct player interaction: gun fights!

There is very little information available about this game, designed by new designer Xaviers George, past winner of the Boulogne-Billancourt design competition with a game later published as Royal Palace.

However, the artwork published on BoardGameGeek looks fantastic and the mix of tile-based city-building and some heavier strategy with a little more bite (read: ‘bullets’) than your average euro sounds good to me.

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