On the board game scene, there’s always a great deal of buzz. Indeed, the industry depends on buzz – be it the mindless drone-buzz of pre-release hype or the more alluring summer’s day busy-buzz of post-launch word-of-mouth. Buzz is what makes a game hot, while silence is what makes a game not. Today we take a look at a few upcoming games that are making people startle and dash away because they think there might be a wasp in the room.
Matagot have a game called Inis that is about becoming the king of an ancient territory back in the old ancient Celtic times of things long ancient. It’s a good old-fashioned area control game, which means that players are moving their units around a map, claiming domination of areas by majority control. In Inis, there are three different victory conditions, expanding beyond the standard domination path, and there are also ways to quicken the path towards the completion of objectives through card-play. There’s drafting of cards full of special powers, hand-management, a light smattering of deck-building. It seems like Inis is a real grab-bag of modern mechanics. But it’s the Celtic theme that really seems to set Inis apart, with gorgeous and unorthodox artwork that really catches the eye. It’s no wonder that there’s a lot of buzz around this one, with early word being that this is a very, very strong game.
There’s been a lot of buzz around Seafall for a very long time, and it’s no wonder. Seafall is a Legacy game, meaning that it is a game that develops over time into something different, as new mechanics are unlocked and folded into play. I’m someone who really loved Risk: Legacy back in the day, the first game to run with the whole Legacy concept, and I really enjoyed all the debate around how that game worked. In Risk: Legacy, as players made choices, cards were removed from the game completely (by being torn up) and the board itself was written on with ink pen and customised with stickers. Some players hated this notion – particularly board gamers who viewed their hobby from a collectors perspective. They simply hated destroying parts of their game. But the Legacy system was a success regardless, and Pandemic: Legacy won over even more people with its developing storyline built on a rock-solid game system that almost every player was familiar with.
Seafall is interesting, though. It’s a Legacy game built from scratch. It’s not a Risk or a Pandemic, so there’s no familiarity to lean on. Here, players have to learn a new game system, then watch as that changes into something new over time. And that’s what makes Seafall so buzzy right now. That pre-release buzz is changing into something with a very different tone as players start to discover exactly what is going on within this game. Some players are expressing early disappointment over how the game plays, but soldiering on to see if things are shaken up a bit a few hours down the line. Other players are expressing excitement that this is the first time that a heavier, more ambitious game has been given this Legacy treatment.
(I’ll hopefully be taking a look at this game soon, but Legacy games are tricky ones to review. They take a lot of time to play out to completion, and really need to be enjoyed over multiple sessions with the same group of people. But I’ll try my best to get some kind of first impressions over to you all, at least.)
VAST: THE CRYSTAL CAVERNS
Vast: The Crystal Caverns is a game that has created a lot of buzz throughout convention season, as people have had an opportunity to see how this game works. You see, there’s this cave, and in this cave there is a dragon. And into this cave comes a knight, to slay the dragon. And also in that cave is a gang of goblins, keen to kill any invading knights. And there’s this thief too, trying to steal enough treasure to break a sinister curse. Players can take control of the dragon, the knight, the goblins, the thief or the cave itself, in a game that is hugely asymmetric and ambitious.
Each role plays differently, and has completely different objectives. As the Knight, players explore the cave, trying to find the dragon and slay it before it can escape. As the dragon, players will try to wake the creature up and liberate it from the cave – but not before eating as many goblins as possible. The player in control of the goblins, meanwhile, is using the darkness of the cave to create ambushes for the knight, as their goblin tribes attempt to kill him. The thief player is trying to keep a low profile, while stealing treasures from cavern vaults and pickpocketing from other players. Then there is the player controlling the cave. The cave player is expanding the caverns, laying out treasures, and then collapsing the cavern in an attempt to completely destroy the caves before any other player’s objectives are complete.
The most impressive thing about this game is that it attempts to give each player not only a different victory condition, but also a different mechanical approach to playing the game. It’s very much the kind of game that will have to prove that it can deliver on its promise on the table, but that early buzz suggests that it does. I’m excited to get a hold of this one.
There’s a very nice review by Tom and Melody Vasel right here that you might want to look at. Go see 'em.
What upcoming games are you buzzing about? Or would you like to buzz about something you’re playing right now? I’m still buzzing about Mansions of Madness: Second Edition. It’s an absolute thrill. It makes me go BZZZZZZZT.