Update: The publisher for Nemesis has been updated to Rebel.pl
Original Article: Not too long ago we listed the first half of our 20 Awesome Looking Board Games Coming in 2017 and we are here today to continue that list. I don’t know what it is about the coming year, whether there really has been a massive growth in the board game market or if game publishers are becoming savvier and better at marketing their products but the list of potentially amazing games seems to be bigger than ever.
Here at Polyhedron Collider we try to cover all the bases and although we will be listing some already known about and hyped games, I hope that some of these are new to you. Of course these lists are personal and these are games that I am looking forward to, so if you think my taste doesn’t match yours or if you think I’ve forgotten a huge game, please let us know in the comments below.
Cooperative GamesWe finished the last article talking about semi cooperative board games and I want to tell you all about Nemesis from Polish publisher Rebel.pl. Players are woken from their hibernation on a deep space exploration vessel to find that aliens are on board, nothing's working, their prolonged deep sleep means you're lost on you own ship and someone forgot to put a bottle of milk back in the fridge (okay, maybe not that last one).
Evoking themes of Alien, System Shock and Pandorum (which is an under-appreciated film in my opinion), players move and take actions by careful hand management discarding cards to move but forgoing the cards bonus and beneficial effects.
What makes Nemesis even more interesting is that each player has a different and contradictory goal. Whereas players need to work together to get their ship up and running and clear out that nasty alien infestation, the ultimate goal of each player will be different and at odds with the other players.
Regular readers and listeners will no doubt be wondering "Where's Cthulhu?" And so it would be wrong of me, the great tentacled ones biggest fan, to not mention Mountains of Madness. In the classic tale At the Mountains of Madness by H P Lovecraft, a scientific expedition to Antarctica discovers more than it bargained for when it found an unexplored mountain range and a lost city full of ancient secrets and deadly inhabitants. Very little is known about the game except that it will be fully cooperative, be reliant upon communication between players and involves real-time elements.
Helming the design of Mountains of Madness is Rob Daviau, him of Legacy game fame. Mr Daviau’s work on the legacy genre has been ground-breaking and sublime; but this game will be the first in some time that Mr Daviau has worked on that doesn’t involve Legacy elements. Tekeli-li!
It’s not often I can describe a game as being a cross between Mass Effect and Q-Bert. HOPE is a cooperative board game where players must work together to defeat the encroaching darkness that is consuming the galaxy by a combination of set collection and area control. However, to do this they will need to navigate a mind bending map of space.
The galaxy is represented by an isometric pattern that looks like a stack of stepped blocks. If you've ever played the classic arcade game Q*Bert you'll not only recognise the layout, but be familiar with how to move around the board, stepping from block to block. The mind bending aspect is that the map changes depending upon the angle that you view the board and so getting to your desired location means manipulating the board in a way that doesn't hinder your opponents. It’s a really cool concept and Andy was rather smitten with HOPE at the UK Games Expo.
Legacy GamesWhile we’re talking about Mr Daviau and his legacy games it would be improper not to mention Pandemic Legacy Season 2. We all knew this was coming after the first game was quite clearly marked Season 1. Very little information is available regarding Season 2, except for an image of the new board which rather than a map of the entire world only shows the Atlantic Ocean and not a lot else.
Does this mean the viruses are limited to a singular location? Does this mean we will be adding island stickers? Can Matt Leacock and Rob Daviau make a game as good, as or even better than Season 1? And who has stolen my favourite Star Wars mug? All these questions will hopefully be answered when the game is released later in the year.
Sticking to our Legacy theme (get it? Legacy? stickers?) Kickstarter legend and the subject of Andy's man crush; Jamey Stegmaier will be releasing Charterstone, a worker placement Legacy-style game. Players will work together building a village, as the village grows more action spaces will be made available for future games.
Where this game will differ from classic Legacy games, is that there will be no destruction of the components. Instead of destruction, Charterstone is all about building and promises an engaging storyline, future ramification for all your decisions and “one component that has never been in a board game”. Stonemaier Games have started to release some of the artwork and so far it's all looking very pretty and for the first time Stonemaier Games will not be releasing a game via Kickstarter.
Last of the Legacy style games I want to mention on this year’s list (it's not the very last one as we are still waiting to hear more news about Chronicle that was on last year's list) is Gloomhaven. Thematically Gloomhaven is your classic fantasy romp, gather a party of adventurers and head into a deep dark dungeon with the promise of monster to splat and gold to loot. But Gloomhaven has a couple of aspects that take it beyond your typical dungeon crawler.
For starters, there's the mechanics were players conduct their actions by selecting two cards, and then choosing the top action of one card and the bottom action of another. Those that have received early copies of the game have described this as a blend of Eurogame mechanics and Ameritrash thematics. Then there is the campaign aspect. Rumours are that there are hundreds of hours of playtime in Gloomhaven, with characters advancing, dying and story elements that thread the entire adventure together like a giant necklace made of fantasy miniatures.
War GamesWe have concentrated a lot in this article on cooperative and miniature focused games, I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's my article and that's what excites me. But I wanted to take a moment to talk about Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage.
A true grognards dream, Hannibal is a classic two player asymmetric wargame that is being modernised by publisher Phalanx Games. The original game is almost as old as me, and just like me it's looking tired and a bit flabby so Phalanx Games have stepped in and put Hannibal through an extensive nip and tuck procedure and a healthy diet. Andy got to play a prototype of the new version at UK Game Expo last year, and although Andy is no grognard he absolutely loved the combination of political manoeuvring and strategic warfare. Lookout for Hannibal on Kickstarter.
App Driven GamesApparently Escape Rooms are a thing. I say apparently as I live in the middle of the English countryside and so live miles away from a city. The only escape room I'm aware of is trying to get out of a creepy farmer’s basement. There have been quite a few Escape room board games, table top experiences that mimics the investigation and puzzles of the Escape room experience but the one that has me the most excited it Unlock!
Published by Space Cowboys, Unlock! Is a card driven puzzle game that also uses a smartphone or tablet app to control the game, creating time pressures and providing players with clues. Each escape room will be published separately and rumours are we will be seeing regular releases of new puzzles. What makes Unlock! stand out for me is that this will be from the same publisher as T.I.M.E Stories and so I am expecting the same level of great artwork and fiendish puzzles.
Mars is apparently the place to be at the moment and you can pretend to be Matt Damon and set foot on the glorious red planet in First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet. Based on Portal Games’ Robinson Crusoe, the First Martians will have you exploring the planet and gathering resources and scientific samples ready for research, building structures and struggling for survival.
Not only will the app control the challenge and events of the game, it also allows for several different game types, difficulty levels and even a campaign mode where you can string several games together. Robinson Crusoe is considered to be one of the best, and toughest, cooperative and solo games around so it going to be interesting to see what the new technology and theme can add to the game. Thankfully there’s no sign that you have to grow potatoes in your own poo.
Deck BuildersI must admit to being a bit of a fan of Thunderstone, it's not the heaviest of games but has a nice balance of play length, complexity and thankfully fun. Thuderstone is returning this year in the form of Thunderstone Quest. The original game was a fantasy deck builder where your hand represents your party, its equipment and spells. Based on the draw of your hand you could elect to tool up, rest or head into the dungeon and attack one of the dungeon's residents. Light was an important factor and so the deeper you delved the more light you had to bring with you.
Thunderstone Quest appears to be based on the same basic mechanics of previous versions but is adding a campaign were players have to conquer a series of premade dungeons and are able to carry over their party from dungeon to dungeon. But that’s not all. There has been a significant artwork change along with some alterations to the graphic design and also tweaks to the gameplay to reduce the amount of time spent in the village and the addition of guilds and side quests. It sounds like just what Thunderstone needs to bring it back with a bang.