I'm going to try to do a news-style update once a month, to try to keep you all up to date with what's coming down the line in the wide world of board gaming. It is endless. Games upon games and expansions upon expansions to those games upon games. It is eternal, and if we don't step out once every four weeks or so to take stock of what's happening, we'll get ourselves in an awful state. Read on.
AGE OF CONAN RETURNS
The most interesting news, for me, is that Age of Conan has leaped back into life. Age of Conan is a really interesting empire-building board game set in the Hyborian Age of the Conan stories. You don't get to be Conan, but you can try to influence him and set him against your rivals. It's a strange, big game, and Fantasy Flight's first edition is a beautiful thing. Well – Fantasy Flight have now kicked the game over to Ares Games, who will deal with shifting the remaining first edition copies (and re-printing more, I'd think) and the brand new expansion Adventures In Hyboria. They're using Kickstarter to get the expansion produced, and I expect they'll meet their target with no trouble at all. You can read a little bit more about this on the Ares site. The Kickstarter launches on the 9th of this month.
ELDRITCH HORROR: MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS
Eldritch Horror, as I told you back in the day, is a fine board game. I still have Arkham Horror in my collection, because I just love the way that big intimidating behemoth clunks along – like a big old clock counting down the seconds until your death. But Eldritch Horror is the one I would pull out with friends. It is reasonably light, fun and full of Lovecraft flavour. I already have one of the expansions (It's called Forbidden Lore and it's pretty much an essential purchase if you plan to play Eldritch Horror regularly – it introduces lots of variety into the game, ensuring you have less cards repeating in a play session) and a few seconds have passed since I picked that one up, so I suppose it's time for another.
Mountains of Madness gives you a new board depicting the icy, ancient mountains from the famous story. You know the one – with the mad fuckin' penguin things and the stark realisation that we are all nothing. It's a side-board, to be placed alongside the original Eldritch Horror board, and it allows players to go on that expedition into the wastes. Fantasy Flight have given us a little preview, and it looks really nice. Looks like Christmas present material to me, folks! (Hint hint!)
Kobayakawa is a tiny, beautiful Japanese bluffing and gambling game by Jun Sasaki. Every player starts with 4 coins, and there is a new coin to win every round (two coins in the final round). A deck of numbered cards is shuffled and one card is dealt to every player. Then, the rest of the deck is placed in the middle of the table, and a card revealed from it. All of these cards have numbers on them. In your turn, you decide whether to turn up a new card from the top of the deck, replacing the one in the middle, or take a card into your hand, discarding the one you don't want to keep. The object of the game is to have the highest numbered card at the end of the round.
So, the round ends, everyone having taken their turn. There is a card in the middle of the table with a number on it. Everyone has a card in hand. You now decide whether you want to attempt to win the round. You do this by betting one of your coins. Those who don't bid a coin need to leave the round. The ones still in reveal their cards. The person with the lowest card adds the number on the card in the middle of the table to their total. Highest total wins.
This game has been picked up by iello games for an English print run, and I'm pretty excited about picking it up in my own language (kinda, I'm Scottish). The key element of the game – will the low card, when added to the card on the table, beat all other higher cards in the round? - is a strong idea. And the game is light, fast, it looks beautiful, and you could play it with real money.
Y'know. If you wanted to.
I want to.
MERCHANTS & MARAUDERS GETS EXPANDED
The best board game about pirates is about to get even bester. Well, as long as the expansion is a good one. Sometime expansions make games worse – lookin' at you, Battlestar Galactica.
The reason why this game is called MERCHANTS and MARAUDERS is that you can choose to be one or t'other. You can choose to be a boring merchant, shipping goods from port to port like a real poindexter, if that's what floats your (ready?) boat. Or you can choose to be a vicious marauder, a vile pirate, blowing holes in the side of the HMS Poindexter. It's maybe harder to win as a pirate, but it's much more satisfying.
Anyway, anyway, an expansion is on its way at last. It's called Seas of Glory and it seems to be one of those modular expansions that lets you mix and match new elements of the game. You want to do some smuggling? You want to have to look after the satisfaction levels of your crew? More stuff is always good, and I particularly like more stuff when I can choose which parts of the stuff I want to use.
I'd expect this expansion in 2015. That gives you time to pick up the base game. It's a great, great thing.
I have something a little bit special coming for you at Halloween. I'm working on that just now. Next week we're back on the review train, with another fine game to hassle your wallet.