Many many games use cubes to represent resources. They’re easy to store, easy to count. They don’t roll away and they are cheap to produce. They feel great in the hands of a player. Wombat Rescue uses cubes to represent poo.But wait! This is thematic. You see, what may come as a surprise (it certainly did to me), is that wombats actually produce cube shaped poo, in real life! No, don’t walk away. There’s more. The other interesting thing about wombat poo, and what gives this game its fascinating strategic edge, is why wombats make cube shaped poo. You see, the wombat has pretty terrible eyesight. Square poo won’t roll away however, and it is believed the wombat’s incredible sense of smell allows it to navigate its environment by following the smell of its poo! There, you’ve learnt something new.
This is incorporated brilliantly into the game. Players each control a mother wombat who, after the dingo’s scared away her babies, must leave home and collect them. But wombats can’t get too far away from their poo without feeling lost, so you need to build up a kind of poo network to expand the region you can happily explore. Figuring out how to do this the most efficiently is the key to the game. A really original and intriguing idea, and I love the folded paper artwork. Definitely go take a look at it!
The Wombats will Rescued by June 15th.
Band of Brothers Series
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers”
Such is the line that inspired the title for Spielberg’s Band of Brothers TV series, as well as Worthington’s board game series of the same name. In it (the board game, not the TV series) you lead elements of infantry, tank and artillery through major engagements on the western (in the Screaming Eagles set) and eastern (in the Ghost Panzer box) fronts of WWII. The first edition was published in 2011 and Worthington are on Kickstarter to launch new editions of both Screaming Eagles and Ghost Panzer, along with a new expansion to both games, Texas Arrows.
They are traditional hex and counter war games for two players, but abstract away many of the complex details that historically bog down war games. No combat charts here. A (relatively) short rulebook that brings the focus of the games on to actual tactics, allowing you to recreate realistic strategies on the battlefield with the minimum of fuss. Part of its success is down to its suppression mechanic, whereby squads will accumulate fire from multiple sources, but you won’t know if its out until it is asked to do something. Making every charge across open ground a tense and risky proposition.
Players new to war games would do well to sample the Band of Brothers series, and this Kickstarter might well be the way to go. When Ghost Panzer was released in 2013, its rule revisions left Screaming Eagles somewhat left behind. These second editions will bring everything up to a level playing field, and incorporate the feedback from the last two years of tabletop battles. Fans of the game should be all over the Texas Arrows expansion, containing new units and scenarios, and all the upgrade tokens needed for their old editions.
The Band of Brothers will be fighting on until June 21st.
The number of exoplanets, planets orbiting other stars to our own, discovered has now reached almost 2000. (2000!!) We can now be certain our solar system is far from unique in the universe. I’m willing to bet, however, that no other solar systems will look quite like the system you’ll be building in the game Exoplanets.
Just look at all those planets, neatly organised into lines. That would make space exploration easier! So what are you doing in this game? Players are all space architects, building planets by swapping a recently drawn Planet Tile with one of the blank Space Tiles on the table. The position of the planet generates resources according to its neighbours, and players can spend these resources (solar, water, gas) to create life on those planets. Like in Genesis, but all over the place. Players score points by creating life, with more difficult planets (like gas giants) being worth more points. However, the 4th player to create life on a single planet makes a dominant species and wipes out the other players on that planet.
But don’t worry, because you’ll get your investment back in resources, letting you do more elsewhere. Nature (or at least Exoplanets) wants life to spread! Interestingly, those Space Tiles I briefly mentioned earlier are more than just planetary placeholders. On the concealed side, they offer bonus (and secret) victory points for completing certain objectives. Alternatively they can be added to planets for a bonus effect, that can also effect neighbouring planets. A good way to get revenge on that player who kicked you off a world last turn!
Exoplanets looks like a really nice game. Each stage (building planets, spending resources to make life, playing or keeping space tiles) offers up multiple difficult decisions. There are lots of opportunities for clever moves, and you’ll be keeping an eye on everything your opponents do to see how they affect your options. I am slightly concerned about downtime and analysis paralysis, but that’s an issue in all games.
A very interesting element of this Kickstarter is nestled around the middle of the page: they will be donating $1 from each game funded to help progress the search for real exoplanets! So not only will you be funding an interesting game, you’ll be helping progress human understanding of the universe. That’s not something you see in every board game Kickstarter!
The search for Exoplanets will continue until June 20th.
Worth a Look
Cabals – Part collectible card game, part board game, Cabals invites players to take control of a pulp 1930s cult full of mystical artefacts, spells and intrigue. The starter set has starter decks for each of the games 4 factions, a game board offering multiple configurations, and all the tokens you’ll need. The intention is to create a living game, with expansion boxes (rather than endless booster packs of other living card games). The intersection of deck building with the strategy of a board game is definitely interesting, but my God is the board dull! What happened?? All that lovely card art just petered out! Ends June 15th.
Assault on Doomrock: Doompocalypse – An expansion to Assault on Doomrock, which sees players cooperatively adventuring in a slightly ridiculous fantasy setting. If the name doesn’t give you a clue, then the presence of a Sharknado monster card should give a good sense of what they are going for! Interestingly, players perform actions in whatever order they like, giving the team ample opportunities for stringing together some really insane actions, and meaning no one has to put up with downtime if they don’t want to! Ends June 15th.
Defenders of the Realm: Dragon Expansion 2nd Edition – A re-release of 2010’s Dragon Expansion to Defenders of the Realm, a game of defending the peaceful lands from invasion from numerous nasty races and featuring lovely 80s fantasy artwork. The game includes lots of cards and 3 boss dragon miniatures. If you’re new to the game, now maybe the time to check it out. If you already have the original Dragon Expansion, the new cards may appeal for the reduced pledge level, but give it some thought! Ends June 16th.
4 the Birds – A family friendly (and very pretty: just look at those birds!) game in which players are aiming to build a flock of birds in a tree. Birds are placed randomly on the grid, but can be moved about by action cards, or can be disrupted by the hawk and crow birds that can be used according to the dice roll (kind of like the robber in Settlers of Catan). The aim is to get 4 birds in a row or square on the grid, but with a lot more strategy. Very cool! Ends June 18th.
Melee – The designers of Coup are back with an intense fantasy war game with an intriguing bluffing twist. When attacking an enemy, players bid an amount of money to motivate your units to fight (already kind of hilarious). The defender then gets a chance to guess what amount you’ve bid. If they get it right the attack fails! I did a double take when I read that, which definitely makes it worth checking out! Ends June 18th.
Waterloo: Quelle Affair! – A hex based war game from Alessio Calvatore (him of Warhammer and Bolt Action fame) recreating (or not; Vive L’Empereur!) the Battle of Waterloo. The aim is to destroy half the enemies army, giving the French a major advantage in the early game, but the balance swings when the Prussians arrive. However, neither side knows exactly when that will be… I’ve never played a traditional hex based war game so I’m not the best judge, but it sounds interesting and I respect the designer so give it a look! Ends June 18th.
Black Out: Journeys into Darkness – A post apocalyptic dungeon crawl game with, of course, miniatures. The game can be played co-op, with a games master, or solo, and features 8 story missions. Players level up between missions, offering a greater range of abilities to chose from at the start of each. It seems like a nice strongly themed game with some nice background, but it does feel a little bit limited, especially for the price. It would really benefit from a few more scenarios, a few more tile options, and a few more monster types. Ends June 20th.
Top That Toast is a party “game” of performing toasts. The first player selects a Tone, that the toast must be given in, and the players all chose Topics from their hand as suggestions for the toast. The first player then selects which topic wins, and that player must give the toast, and scores a point. On the one hand, it’s about matching incongruous topics to tones and watching your friends/family perform. On the other hand I would have loved to see a system whereby players could compete. After hearing a toast, they have the option of saying “I can top that toast!” and try and perform a better one. Immediately, that adds a whole lot more player interaction with everyone trying to outdo one another. I just assumed this would be involved given the name of the game, and was rather disappointed when it wasn’t!
Image credit goes to Board Game Geek users: mattwolfe, theericbooth, Filipozo, Iras, djord2, W Eric Martin, Gryphon Eagle, Sewoldt, Cavatore, choochieiscrazy1 and ToastGamesJoe.