This week I genuinely couldn’t decide one a top 3, so you get 4 instead you lucky things!
You are walking down the city street, tailing your mark: a walrus, back from the docks on shore leave. Suddenly a shot rings out from an adjacent street. It sounds like the other hit men are in your area and making progress. You increase your pace, slipping a knife from its sheaf and picking a nice soft spot in your targets back in which to leave it. But then, around the corner steps the rotund shape of a police officer. Is he on his way to the shooting? Or have you been made? Either way, you can’t risk it, unless… along the street a guitar-carrying poodle approaches. Time it right, and no one will know which of you did it. That might give you enough time to slip away! You rapidly close the distance, steel striking forwards into the unsuspecting target.
16 suspects start the game. Far fewer will end it! Each player secretly controls one suspect, their hit man, who must be manoeuvred into a position from which they can kill their 3 random targets. But on a players turn they can move any of the 16 characters on the board, or one of the policemen that are trying to catch the killers. Everyone knows when you kill someone, but no one knows how they were killed, or by which suspect. Yet as the game goes on and the pool of possible hit men dwindles, the race is on to survive without being caught, or taken out by your opponents.
This high stakes game of bluff and deception lasts just 10 minutes. But when there’s only a few suspects left on the map and the police are closing in, that might seem like an eternity! Even if you do get caught, you are not out of the game as victory is determined by your “prestige”, from killing your targets but also from correctly identifying your opponents with the police. 10 Minutes to Kill sounds absolutely fantastic, and is an absolute bargain at €19. Go check it out!
10 Minutes to Kill will be dodging the police until June 22nd.
The great Zambezi River runs from Angola in West Africa, sweeping majestically along the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, over the Victoria Falls and eventually into the Indian Ocean. In Zambezi: The Expedition Game, you will get to explore this chaotically zig-zagging river between the falls and Lake Kariba, just watch out for the crocodiles!
The game is one big balancing act. Players will score points for being the first boat to reach Lake Kariba, but also for any left over fuel they have. Fuel gets burnt to escape whenever a boat ends its movement on a crocodile space, so players need to carefully plan their movement. How, you ask? You will receive hands of beautifully illustrated animal cards that have a numerical value. Discard a card to move that far. However. You also score points by collecting sets of these cards to produce a documentary on that species. The player with the longest documentary for a particular species when you all reach the end gets the victory points.
But you can also score by collecting precious stones from the various jetties along the way! And do take care of your crew: they tend to fall overboard when you hit rocks or other boats. The whole game sounds like walking a tightrope while juggling and eating a banana, except you’re trying to juggle more balls and get to the end of the rope faster than anyone else. And that sounds like great fun!
Rush to the end of the Zambezi by June 23rd.
Ah life on the ocean waves, living at the whim of the cruellest mistress of all: mother nature. Or your opponents. And the goddamn terrifying pirate ship! Build up a navy and explore, colonise far-flung lands and gather resources. Then spend them all desperately bribing the pirate to attack someone, anyone, other than you!
Learn to navigate the ocean, handling your ship of the line between ports and hoping the wind stays blowing in your favour. The game will progress from these early steps, to the launching of ever larger ships, expanding your navy into a force to be reckoned with before you descend into brutal, all out war. There can only be one Empire at Sea!
The game has a to scale map, historical events, changing weather and beautiful artwork. Although if no-one buys the top pledge level the creator has promised to put his mothers face on the box. I’ve never met his mother but, you know, it might be something to consider! Regardless, Empires at Sea looks to be a really interesting, strongly themed game and if all the elements work together into a strong coherent whole, then this will be a great pick up!
Empires at Sea will be plying the ocean until June 23rd.
In another miniatures based dungeon crawl game (we have been getting a lot of those recently haven’t we?) overly sexy characters will be fighting through dungeons filled with beautiful plastic sculpts to complete objectives and generally save the day. So what makes Middara worth your money?
Well first up is story. The game contains a full 20 hour narrative campaign, plus a selection of stand alone missions and random set up rules for when you’re not following the campaign. They promise more than just smashing the bad guys too, with moral dilemmas, personal goals and numerous political and strategic decisions. I certainly like the sound of that and I hope its not just kickstarter bluster.
Second is variety. Most of these games feature shed loads of miniatures, and Middara is no different there, but typically map tiles are a bit limited. Middara comes with 35 game board tiles out of the box. That’s a huge variety of locations to fight over! Between that and the story you won’t run out of different games to play, and that’s before you’ve started experiencing the different characters and unlockable equipment and abilities.
Finally, and most importantly, the mechanics. Middara is co-operative, which immediately begs the question of how to control monsters. This is answered by using a series of if/then questions for each monster. While this might have risked taking too long to resolve in a large game, it means the monsters have more depth than simpler systems. A random initiative order avoids the down time of a “monsters phase”, and keeps players tense, not knowing when they will next get chance to act.
Overall Middara looks like a solid dungeon crawl game. The rules are fairly neat and simple, and I’m very interested in playing a story driven campaign. The random initiative order keeps things tense and is a very nice idea. The components are good quality and you do get quite a haul with your pledge. Worth checking out if you like dungeon crawls.
Middara will be fighting the darkness until June 24th.
Worth a Look
Japanese: The Game – Learn Japanese as well as some Japanese folklore with this expansion and stand alone card game. Players must form sentences by combining word cards in certain allowed (by the force of grammar) colour combinations. Not the first language learning card game, but if you are interested in picking up some Japanese this (or one of the other games in the series) might well be a nice starting point. Ends June 26th.
Iconoclasm – An abstract tile laying game where the aim is to eliminate your opponents tiles whilst leaving your own. Blocks of tiles form units whose control is determined by strongest colour in the unit. These units then clash when joined together by other tiles. Looks like a challenging puzzle, if not the easiest to explain! Ends June 26th.
World of Mythology – A trick taking game with Gods of the ancient world featuring lovely vector art. Each God/Goddess has its own ability leading to some pretty long player aids but lots of intriguing combinations. Your Greek and Norse Gods are obviously there, but intriguingly so are the Slavic and Celt Gods, areas of mythology that are not commonly explored. Ends June 26th.
Deal: American Dream – Take the fight to the streets in Deal, a game of battling for control of drug trafficking in North and South America. Expect plenty of blood, but the options are there for peaceful negotiations with dope-based bribery. Add in secret objectives and a card based combat system in the vein of Game of Thrones and you have all the elements for a tense game. Ends June 28th.
Push It! – The name really says it all in this game! Push wooden discs from the edge of the table, aiming to be the closest to a central target piece. Much like a game of tabletop bowls that can be played on any flat surface. Perhaps not terribly exciting to hardened gamers, but nice and accessible for non-gamers. Ends June 28th.
So Gamboni has relaunched after the creator cancelled its previous funding attempt a whole week before. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that will have left enough time to make any substantial improvements to the game. I previously thought it was worth a look, and I still stand by that. However, the game is once again struggling, having flat lined at around 6000 of its 24,000 target. This is the same plateau the game reached in its previous campaign, nicely illustrating the importance of taking some time to improve your marketing strategy and prototype. The fact is, Kickstarters a ruled by the rule of “ooo pretty!”, and I can’t describe Gamboni as pretty. It has potential as a game, but failing a campaign needs to be taken as the sign you need to do a shed load more preparation! Or you’ll just be wasting everyone’s time.
Pictures from Board Game Geek users Laboitedejeu, W Eric Martin, Peter Burley, mysteriouspirate, Crimson_Phoenix, Bojnik, nhjelmberg, Insighter, cartelconnex, Push_It_Game and EKRameijer.