Well, games fans, 2013 was a good year for us. Why, without 2013, this very site wouldn’t even exist! But the holiday season has come to an end – the new year is well and truly upon us, large parts of our country have been roasted to a crisp by dear Mr. Sun, and the time has come to cast our eyes past this scorching summer to see what treats 2014 has to offer (besides reasonable weather conditions). So join us, Eleanor and Pat, as we take a look at 16 of this year’s most intriguing upcoming games!
1. Two Rooms and a Boom
Pat: If you’re a fan of games like The Resistance or Werewolf then you should definitely check this out. Successfully kickstarted last November, Two Rooms and a Boom is a hidden roles party game for anywhere between 6 and 30 players. Players start out divided between the two rooms and can elect a leader for their room, who delegates hostages to be sent into the other room at the end of each of the game’s 3-5 timed rounds. If you’re on the blue team your job is to protect the President and make sure they don’t end the game in the same room as the Bomber, otherwise the President gets boom’d and the red team wins. The catch is that initially nobody knows who the President or the Bomber are or what team anybody else is on. Even better, there are advanced rules which add a frankly ridiculous number of special roles to the game. There’s a Print-n-Play version out right now for free with a very nice looking retail version on the way.
2. 404: Law Not Found
Eleanor: Players take the role of robots serving humanity aboard the spaceship Clarion. Waking up after an upgrade they find their only three laws scrambled, replaced with nonsense like ‘organise breathing’ or ‘hide science’. The game is a race for each player to achieve all three of their directives first, with points awarded based on the difficulty of the objective (stuffing a living soldier into a torpedo tube, for instance, then firing them at an enemy ship in an attempt to ‘improvise war’ might be just a little harder than hiding all the science kits). Surprisingly strategic according to other reviews, this game sounds like it will be a hilarious fast-paced mix of Robo Rally and Space Alert – definitely worth looking into.
3. My Little Pony CCG
Eleanor: Yes, you read right. My Little Pony will soon be appearing on shelves as a collectible card game in the style of Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon. Surprisingly though, it’s not a kid’s game. The mechanics are complex and interesting, targeted towards teenagers and adults, and it playtested very well at GenCon in the States (with all of the My Little Pony branding blanked out, like with those Pepsi/Coke taste tests they did in the 70’s). So even if you wouldn’t describe yourself as a Brony, Pegasis, or variation thereof, there might just be a solid enough game here to justify dipping your toes into it anyway.
4. Clacks: A Discworld Game
Pat: Having grown up with the Discworld books, I’m always intrigued by any adaptations of the series. This game focuses on the “clacks” – towers with an array of lamps that could be switched on or off to transmit messages to neighbouring towers, Discworld’s analogue to the real-world telegraph. Not much is known about Clacks at the moment, save what can be gleaned from the scant photos of it in demonstrations; in this one there’s a grid of lamps at the centre, and this person’s got a word in front of them: BRICK! Perhaps they have to spell out that word on the grid? Or maybe the game is just making passive-aggressive remarks about the player’s intelligence? It’s looking a bit like cryptographical Scrabble honestly, though all we have is speculation until publisher Backspindle Games gives us some solid information. It’s definitely caught my attention though.
5. Shadowrun: Hostile Takeover
Pat: This was actually announced by Catalyst Game Labs late in 2012, and since then details about it have been shrouded in more secrecy than a Sixth World megacorp’s R&D sector. All we know is that it will be set in the Shadowrun universe, with players competing as megacorps to assert dominance over the city of Seattle. Described as a Euro-style board game of scheming, politics, and making and breaking of alliances, hopefully we’ll be seeing more information on it this year.
6. Ancient Terrible Things
Eleanor: Described as ‘pulp horror’ and reminiscent of Call of Cthulhu, players play intrepid jungle explorers travelling to Fateful Locations, having Ominous Encounters to attempt to unlock the Ancient Secrets contained within. If they fail they unleash Terrible Things which wreak havoc and begin players on a slippery slope to madness. The player to discover the most Ancient Secrets at the end of the game is the winner. This game is so self-aware it is fantastic – by accumulating treasure tokens players can even purchase ‘swag’ cards which give them permanent game effects.
Pat: Now here is a game that is ticking all my boxes: a fantasy-themed hero questing game with an overarching, branching storyline, where your every action is determined by the cards you play. My first thought on reading about this was of Descent, but where Descent had one player controlling the Overlord, fighting against the heroes and usually leaving at least one person coming away from every game disappointed, Myth is going to be fully co-operative, with rules in place for simulating an intelligence behind the monsters you’ll be fighting. The way it’s being described, every game involves its own self-contained story which can be succeeded or failed, but beyond that every story is part of a chapter, and every chapter part of an act, each of which will have their own side-goals for the players to accomplish. I’m really excited for this one.
8. Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends
Pat: Technically this is available overseas already, but since it’s still not out here in Australia I’m including it on this list anyway. Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends is a game of master summoners dueling each other for the entertainment of a bloodthirsty crowd. At first I nearly skipped right by it, until I saw it was being designed by Vlaada Chvatil, maker of such classics as Space Alert and Galaxy Trucker. So while the theme hasn’t grabbed me, the mechanics look tantalising: each player has a deck of cards representing what creatures they can summon forth. Summoning a creature requires you to deploy your minions in a particular configuration on the board, a process that is slow at first as you turn-by-turn order them about, but once a creature is out it produces some effect like freely moving your other minions around, allowing you to chain straight into another summon, or disrupting your opponent’s minions. I’ll definitely be looking into this one once it hits our shores.
9. Escape from Zombie City
Pat: This one comes from the same designer of the excellent Escape: The Curse of the Temple, a game in which you and your team-mates frantically roll dice and shout at each other while a timer ticks down to your impending doom. The basic premise of Zombie City is the same: everyone acts simultaneously, rolling dice to move and perform actions, though there are some key differences between this and Curse of the Temple. Every time you explore a new city block you’ll risk finding more zombies which will shamble towards your home base – if enough them reach it you all lose. Secondly, instead of finding gems you’re looking for a certain set of supplies you need before you can leave – finding a second crowbar might not be a necessity, but the extra could be discarded for some one-time benefit. And the game’s a bit longer too, with a 15-minute soundtrack included in the game. Zombie City was demonstrated at BoardGameGeek.CON last year and looks to offer all the chaotic fun of Curse of the Temple as it enters its final stages of development. Look for it on Kickstarter very soon.
10. Marrying Mr Darcy
Pat: Marrying Mr Darcy is a game where everyone will play one of the female characters from Pride and Prejudice, with the goal of marrying the finest suitor. To attract the greatest husband the ladies will have to improve their character, which, just like in real life, is done by playing cards. But while having good character will bring all the boys to your proverbial yard, you’ll also be able to improve your cunning, which will allow you to snag potential mates away from competitors as well as giving you first dibs when the Courtship stage ends and the Proposal stage begins. Really I think this is a very nice idea for a game and I’m looking forward to its official release.
Eleanor: Kyoto is a strategy card game where players compete as energy companies trying to fulfill their production quotas and satisfy their contract, while avoiding pollution fines. Gameplay is very simple with a deck made up solely of resource cards (coal, oil, natural gas, wood & uranium). During their turn players draw from the deck and place sets of one resource down on the table as production. However, players can be fined if they do not meet their contract (production fine), or if they produce the most of one resource (pollution fine). Players can also choose to turn their resources face down to avoid pollution fines but this takes valuable turns, and with only 3 rounds in the whole game the designers have cleverly turned time into a resource as well.
Eleanor: Some of you out there may be familiar with the game Risk: Legacy – the game that took Risk and made it actually worthwhile. Anyway, its designer Rob Daviau, who also produced Betrayal at House on the Hill, recently left Hasbro to form his own game company (IronWall Games) to bring out his next Legacy style game: Seafall. All we know at the moment is that it is set in an ‘age of sail’ type world where players each take on the role of a mainland empire exploring unknown oceans. Like Risk: Legacy, it will evolve as it is played, meaning that between games changes to the environment from player choices will remain, with new narratives opening as exploration increases. The best thing is that it does all of this without being tied to the ‘Risk’ licence and gameplay engine, which means no more crappy dice rolling 100% determining your fate.
Eleanor: Originally printed in the 1980s and out of print for well over a decade, Kremlin is making a massive come back in 2014. Jolly Roger Games is leading the charge with some $53,000 off Kickstarter being pumped into it for 2 extra versions of Kremlin in the one box, some brilliant new artwork and extremely high quality cards and pieces. For those unfamiliar with the game it is set in the politburo of the U.S.S.R with players as politicians attempting to stay alive and exert influence over the government. The game ends when the Party Chief successfully waves 3 times at the May Day parade (or when so many politicians are dead or exiled that the PC can just dissolve the politburo and take power for themselves). Until then, however, everything is up in the air! No one knows how much influence people have over them, no one knows who controls the government departments and no one even knows how long they will stay alive. Just remember: In Soviet Russia, government elects YOU!
14. Brew Crafters
Eleanor: Recently 293% funded over its Kickstarter goal and quite highly acclaimed, Brew Crafters has been compared to Agricola as the new best worker placement game, which is honestly a lot less boring than it sounds! Just listen up: in Brew Crafters players compete as local breweries to produce the best craft beer over a three year period while working to manage their businesses and keep it running on time. Though that might sound a bit dry at first, if the comparison to Agricola is apt then this seemingly simple premise will result in a late-game filled with painstaking and deeply strategic decision-making. It looks like it will be quite a high-intensity and complex game for anyone who enjoys a cerebral challenge.
15. Belgium 1831
Pat: Despite originally being forecast to be on shelves by 2012, the release date of Belgium 1831 has now been pushed back to this October, for Essen 2014. However, this has only increased anticipation for the game of industry, politics, and power set in the aftermath of the Belgian Revolution. From what we’ve seen, this will involve building a lot of factories. And… buying factory bits, I guess? For building the factories with? And voting in the National Congress. From the descriptions given it seems there’ll be a lot of moving parts to this game, and there isn’t enough information out there yet to see how they all fit together, but the game has gotten a lot of people very excited and the art is pretty, so if Euro-style economic games are your thing, or you’re just really into Industrial Era history, you should keep your eye on this one.
16. The Witcher: Adventure Game
Eleanor: From the creator of Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on Cursed Island comes a competitive quest and exploration game where players take on a characters from the world of Witcher. With 4 characters and many more strategies available to play, the game is bound to be different every time as players compete to take on quests and achieve new goals. The game also includes a detailed board with many locations to explore during a session. However, despite comprehensive descriptions of each character and guarantees about the game’s replayability and clarity of explanation, we still do not know the game objective or end conditions. I for one would be very interested to see a more detailed description of the rules set, as the characters and setting look promising.
So there you have it: 16 new releases to watch out for this year! Got any of your own picks you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!