GenCon 51 Preview: Lucidity



From the Publisher:

Lucidity: Six-sided Nightmares is a press-your-luck dice collection and manipulation game for 2–4 players. It takes less than a minute to learn and 20–30 minutes to play.

Whenever you close your eyes, you fall into the dream realm: a world of vivid hallucinations and dark monsters. You must use your wits to draw power from the dream realm and break its hold on you, before the monsters can track you down and consume you!

Each turn, you randomly draw a number of dice from a shared bag. This represents the dreams you will encounter this turn. Return two to the bag to represent your chosen path through the dream realm and roll the remainder. After you have suffered the effects of your roll, you must choose whether to rest (and clear your card of one or two dreams) or press on and try your luck on another turn – going deeper and rolling more dice every time you do so.

You win by collecting 15 power symbols on your rolled dice – freeing yourself from the dream world's grasp. But if you collect too many of the wrong symbols, you may find yourself twisted and turned by the monsters, until you too become a dreaded Nightmare. Or something's dinner.

Should you become a Nightmare, your game completely changes. You can still win, but only by consuming the dreams of the remaining Dreamers or sending minions after them to prevent them from becoming more powerful than you. If nobody has escaped by the end of the game, the most powerful Nightmare is the victor.

Without dreams, you cannot win. But without control, you risk becoming that which you fear most.

Or maybe that was your plan all along.

Why I’m Interested in It

This horror title has some nightmarish art, which is the point of the game. It’s meant to scare you, to keep you on your toes as you try to navigate your way out of the dream realm. And with solo play, your journey to escape the hungry monsters will be a lonely one. And that’s scarier than nearly anything, right?

The game is a press your luck style with collecting sets of dice to clear your dream cards. However, it’s possible that you could turn into a Nightmare, meaning you are the one meant to consume, the monster to take away everything from all the Dreamers looking to evade you.

I’ve talked less about technical aspects of the game, I know. It’s the theme that makes me love this game from the description and pictures and videos out there. I’m excited to see this title in person, but I won’t hide the fact that this is one of two games I’m definitely purchasing at GenCon. So, make sure you at least stop by the Renegade Game Studios booth to check it out.


Renegade Game Studios is at booth 2209 in the Exhibit Hall.



Gregory Gregory Author

GenCon 51 Preview: Pocket Mars



From the publisher:

For a long time now, Earth hasn't been a perfect place to live. You are one of the architects sent to Mars. Your objective is to set up an infrastructure for the first colonists who would arrive on the red planet and start a new chapter for mankind.

Pocket Mars is a fast paced and wildly dynamic card game but don't let the short playthrough time fool you. It's a heavy weight filler! A compressed and easy to understand set of rules, combined with cards that you can play in more than one way is what makes this game great! Fifteen minutes is all it takes for you and your friends to set out on an exciting adventure in space!

In the world of big games about Mars everybody should have one that fits in their pocket.

Your goal is to place as many colonists as you can in the buildings of your Mars settlement. To do so, you will need to choose carefully how and when to play your cards.

Why I’m Interested in It

I’m a huge fan of small games that pack an enormous punch. And after watching reviews and How To Plays on Pocket Mars, I have a good feeling that’s what this game is. With a science fiction theme (and a setting on Mars), it hits all the pluses on my radar.

I love Terraforming Mars, and while I know Pocket Mars isn’t going to have the scope of the bigger game, I believe it will have the scope to be more than the time listed that a game takes to play. It can play as a solo game (most likely how I’ll be playing it) with just as many options to create a civilization that survives. Multiple mechanic types almost guarantee multiple plays: Pocket Mars has area control and influence and hand management with space exploration.

Grey Fox Games will be selling Pocket Mars at the booth, and at $12.00 (listed in the GenCon preview GeekList), this game is a steal. Mars will be mine. (Unless the booth sells out by the time I get there Thursday afternoon!)


Grey Fox Games is at booth 2401 in the Exhibit Hall.



Gregory Gregory Author

GenCon Preview: Palm Island



From the publisher:

Palm Island is a portable game that you can take with you anywhere. Sitting, standing, waiting, riding, flying, relaxing, alone, or together you can play Palm Island no table required.

Using a deck transforming mechanic a player uses just 17 cards over 8 rounds to shape their island and overcome its unique challenges. Store resources to pay for upgrades and upgrade buildings to access new abilities. Each decision you make will alter your village from round to round. At the end of 8 rounds calculate your victory points.

Each card has four states or positions. The face-up, top section is the active area on each card and represents the card's current state. Through upgrading your cards with rotate and flip allowing you to access the other sections of each card and improve your village by increasing resource production and gaining more victory points.

While playing solo, players can achieve feats by meeting specific criteria during their games. Once they have earned a feat, it's card can be used in all future games. Collect more feats for more abilities and score even more points.

Why I’m Interested in It

For one, I backed this game on Kickstarter. I’d love to see it in person even before I receive it. (I may even purchase a copy at GenCon!) But regardless if I backed it or not, the game is an extremely portable card game - hence the name - that plays solo (there is a 2-player option.) The art looks well done, and with solo players achieving feats, this might be a game that goes with me everywhere to pass any free time I have.

The mechanics of Palm Island are simple, but each card has multiple states of play on each side of the card: the active area, then ways to upgrade your cards to make your village better. There are resources and victory points. It’s like a big resource management and city building game right in the…wait for it…PALM of your hands.

Portal Dragon will be at location 3062 in Entrepreneur’s Avenue.



Gregory Gregory Author

GenCon 51 Preview: Detective from Portal Games



From the publisher:

In Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game you are going to solve FIVE different cases and find out what connects them, you are going to BREAK THE 4th WALL by using every resource you can, you are going to browse the game's DEDICATED DATABASE simulating agency's resources, you will enter a city maze of old mysteries and fresh CRIME, and you will be able to COOPERATE with other agents or solve the mystery on your own.

Take the job of a real detective in a modern setting! In Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, 1-5 players take on the role of investigators, solving mysterious crimes while working as an Antares National Investigation Agency team member. This board game tells rich stories - stories you will participate in. Let's hope that you will be able to deduce the end, before there is another crime... The game will challenge you with five different cases, that has to be played in order. Seemingly unconnected at first, they will unveil an immersive meta-plot based on facts and fiction alike.

Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game brings classic, card-based, puzzle-solving gameplay into the 21st century with the introduction of online elements. You will gain access to the online Antares database that contains data about suspects, witnesses, and documentation from arrests and trials related to your case. Use every tool at your disposal to solve these crimes - consult the Internet, check the facts and constantly discover new clues. You are not playing a detective; you ARE a detective!

Why I Am Interested in It

The combination of using a traditional way to play (a physical board game) and the online aspect intrigues me on how it enhances the enjoyment of the game. There's a proprietary database through the developer you use. However, in an interview with Board Game Geek at the GAMA show this year, Luke Otfinowski from Portal games also mentioned going to Wikipedia and sites like that. I don't mind issuing apps away from the board as long at it makes sense and improves gameplay. Ultimately, it sounds like you'll be utilizing similar tools that real detectives use to solve cases. All that's missing is a fingerprint kit.

And the theme is right up my alley. Most likely I'll be doing Detective solo, so if the length of one scenario is around 3 hours, then getting 15-20 hours out of a $50 (price from the GenCon preview listing) game is well worth it. Some of us pay more for a video game that late the same amount of time or less! Plus, all the single missions combine into one full campaign. That adds more to the endgame content.

Can’t wait to see this game in person. Portal Games will have Detective for sale at their booth located at 1850.




Gregory Gregory Author

Review: Euphoria



Creator(s): Jamey Stegmaier, Alan Stone
Publisher: Stonemaier Games
Year: 2013
Players: 2-6
Game Type: Worker placement with dice rolling and hand management.

OVERVIEW

I love dystopian things. Movies and books. Maybe I’m just a depressing guy that loves watching or reading about a society that never got out of the rut of some major event that turned people against each other in some class, intellectual, or technological way. The board game Euphoria has entered the dystopian-themed universe with a bleak view of the future after the world as we know it ended.

A new world order is created so another apocalypse is avoided. So, the Euphorian elite build high walls around their precious city. Intellect is the most important factor in maintaining this society. To make it to the future, everything is taken away from the citizens. Even knowledge of the past.

But there are three other societies who want to make sure the Euphorians don’t keep rule over the world. There are other ways to the future, and they don’t involve oppression. The Wastelanders are farmers and historians to remember the past. Subterrans, an underground collection of miners and revolutionaries, maintain the tunnels and pipes that lead to each of the societies. The Icarites live in the clouds (literally and figuratively.) They move about in Zeppelins, trying to bring people to them with the promises of everlasting bliss.



GAMEPLAY

Let’s get this out there right now: there are a lot of options for victory in Euphoria. The board is overwhelming at first, as you figure out how you want to proceed. And a strategy for one game may not work with another game. That’s one of the reasons this game is worth owning.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the nitty gritty. Your goal is to place all 10 of your authority tokens. This is done by paying resources for the markets or advancing the allegiance track or resolving your ethical dilemma (if you chose the one that allows you an authority token.) The first person to get rid of your authority tokens wins. So how do you do that?

Except for Icarus, each of the factions have markets you can “open.” You’ll need to produce resources to obtain the materials to get those markets activated. Food, Energy, Water, and Bliss are the resources you can get, and Clay, Stone, and Gold are the materials you use to build the markets. And to collect all that stuff you have workers to use in the form of your dice. You start with two, but you have the opportunity to activate more workers (up to two more) if you wish.

When it’s your turn, you have one of three actions you can make. You can place a worker, retrieve your worker(s), or resolve your ethical dilemma. One of the clever mechanics involving the workers is the Knowledge Check. In this dystopia, you don’t want your workers becoming so intelligent they realize there’s more to their bleak surroundings. Basically, you want to keep them dumb. Anytime you activate a new worker or retrieve your workers or have a worker get bumped from the board, you roll them. Add them up and combine that with where you’re at on the Intelligence Track, and if the total is 16 or over, you lose a worker. That means you can do less on your next turn. That worker’s intelligence is sort of punishing you, isn’t it?

Recruits

Recruit cards. I’m torn on the impact these cards have on the game. These cards have special powers on them to use throughout the game. You start with one face-up (active) and one face-down (to be activated later). Chances to flip the inactive one come through tunneling or raising the allegiance track of the faction your recruit is allied with. Some powers on the cards are useful, but I found most went ignored or didn’t pertain to many of the actions during a game session. Through multiple gameplays, I rarely used a recruit’s power let alone both. And some of the recruits had powers that were so precise, I don’t know if the conditions to meet the powers would ever occur.

The Ethical Dilemma cards add a dimension to the game but aren’t so advantageous in my opinion they’ll drastically change the game. Each card – used once per game – allows you to choose between two dystopian-like choices that shows you are for or against the dystopia. For example, one card lets you choose between “Publish an Expose” or “Publish Propaganda.” The results for or against are the same on all the cards. You’ll either get to Draw 2 recruits to keep one or you will get to place an authority token on the card.

Mutual benefits are a key component in trying to retrieve resources and build markets. There’s a good way to do it and a sneaky way. Each area has a commodity box to obtain resources. They are cumulative, based on your worker’s knowledge score. More than one dice can go in the commodity box (even yours), but the person placing the die gets to resolve the conditions. So, you either want to keep the score low so the next person doesn’t get the best rewards, or you want to add to it so you get the best rewards on a subsequent turn. For the markets, you can build them yourself or more then one player can help build them. When the market is activated, each person who assisted in its construction gets to place an authority token on it. But here’s the kicker: for each person who didn’t help is affected by the penalty listed in the game from then on. However, those who incur the penalty can spend resources later to add their authority token and negate that effect.

Markets

SOLO PLAY/DIFFICULTY

As of right now, there is no official solo version of Euphoria. Although in March of this year, a form thread on BoardGameGeek had a response that an Automata was being developed (along with an expansion.) You can download a PDF document of a fan-made solitaire variant at the link at the end of this review.

When you’re first learning the game, it can be staggering when you look at the board and pore over the rules. But after a few play-throughs, you’ll realize that, while a lot of information is thrown at you visually, Euphoria is whittled down to a few basic actions that potentially garners you several strategies per game. I highly recommend viewing the Watch it Played instruction video (link below); it’s only 25 minutes, and Euphoria is explained superbly.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Euphoria is an expansive game that’s enjoyable to play. Because it makes sense. As I played, I realized – once I had gotten the rules down somewhat – that each action or worker placement or resource gathering or material collecting made sense with one another. You’re in a dystopia and using workers and materials and resources should be limited in what you can do with them. For example, water is a resource vial for the Subterrans. Why? Because they are underground and where do you find water? Underground. You don’t use with other factions. And to build the markets in Subterra you use lots of stone. See what I mean? Creating a better dystopia in Euphoria makes total sense in how you do it.

Really, the only negative I have for Euphoria is the Recruit Cards. Often, I found them useless, just sitting in front of me waiting for me to use them. Opportunities to take advantage of the powers on them didn’t come up very often.


Artifact cards

Using Knowledge Checks with your workers and advancing the allegiance tracks adds a great depth in maintaining your dystopia. Plus, your ability to cooperate or uncooperate with your opponents keeps you on your toes. In some cases, you want to work with others, but then again, you may not want to so their options are limited.

If you like dystopian universes or science fictions games, I recommend this game. It combines several board game mechanisms to journey to victory that rely more on strategy than luck. While there is some dice rolling, it’s minimal. And if the dice roll hurts you on one turn, you can always change that result (i.e. getting your workers back) later. Plus, if you’ve ever wanted to rule a dystopian society and keep the citizens dumb, Euphoria is perfect.

WE ROLL SOLO SCORE

4 out of 5 Solos

PROS
  • Deep, immersive gameplay
  • Multiple strategies to win
  • Great dystopian atmosphere
  • Great with 3-5 players
  • Worker bumping a solid mechanic


CONS
  • Board is somewhat busy in sections
  • Automata is forthcoming (as of March 2018)
  • Recruits’ powers can feel useless

Euphoria Official Site
Euphoria on BoardGameGeek

Watch it Played for Euphoria
Solitaire Variant (fan-made)
Play the digital version at Boardspace.net

Gregory Gregory Author

GenCon 51 Preview: Dual Powers: Revolution 1917



From the publisher: In March of 1917, Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate the throne of Russia. In his place, a conservative Provisional Government formed, representing the official authority of the state. Opposed to the newly formed government stood the Petrograd Soviet, an elected council of workers organized by socialist activists.

Over the following months, an internal struggle for power and influence would dominate the country and spark a social revolution. In this state of dual power, or dvoevlastie, charismatic and powerful leaders would rise with the tide of public dissatisfaction and change the course of Russian politics forever.

Dual Powers had a successful Kickstarter campaign a few months ago, unlocking all the Stretch Goals listed. This area control, politically-themed game uses tokens and cards to influence support for and against a Civil War. Some leaders want it, and some don’t. The game is for 1-2 players.



Why I’m Interested in It

The game focuses on an important time in Russia’s history, and it uses the life and events of real people in Russia’s past to drive the gameplay. The art style fits the theme of the game, with it’s revolutionary-like (maybe even slightly dystopian) colors and sharp lines.

From reading through the Alpha rulebook listed on BoardGameGeek, Dual Powers appears to have an interesting calendar mechanic that is important to obtaining victory points. Plus, there are secret objectives? What game with secret objectives isn’t fun? However, even though the rulebook comes in at only 12 pages, there does look like there’s quite a bit going on for each round. But like most games that appear that way, they aren’t once you get into actual play time.

Most interesting is the Solitaire Variant. Instead of playing an actual opponent, you go against an automated opponent named “The Opposition.” This version will use special Opposing Unit and Difficulty Tracking Tokens that were created for this solo variant. That bodes well for the complexity and replayability of Dual Powers since the creators probably took great care in developing the solo version.



Thunderworks is demoing the game at GenCon. Their location is at 1158.



Gregory Gregory Author

GenCon 51 Preview: Space Park


From the publisher:

Ride a rocket to extraordinary destinations across our galaxy. During your travels you will gather exotic crystals that further our understanding of what's out there. Use these crystals to complete exploration badges and turn them in at the mysterious Outpost 13 to prove yourself as the galaxy's next great space explorer!

Space Park features a modular board where seven destinations are randomly arranged to form a circle between players. During a player's turn, rockets will be on three of the board's seven destinations. These rockets symbolize what destinations are available for a player to travel to. Once a player travels to a destination by performing its action, that rocket moves to the next open destination clockwise.

Destinations feature actions such as gaining a certain type of crystal, acquiring a new badge to work towards, turning in your crystals for Explorer Points, or using your trusty explorer-bot Scout to help out. The player with the most Explorer Points at the end of the game wins.

Why I'm Interested in It

Keymaster Games (Control, Campy Creatures, Claims of Gold) looks like they have a fun and light worker placement game in the style of the pulp science fiction stories of the 40s and 50s. I love the box art, which is reminiscent of those sci-fi novels of that era. Even the artwork of the cards and design of the pieces are gorgeous. And it's basically space exploration? That seals my excitement seal right there.

Solo play involves obtaining Explorer Points against the bot, Scout. Scout runs through the Badge deck to move the rockets and himself. With solo play out of the box, and three rocketship miniatures, Space Park appears as if this game is a great travel game.

I can't wait to get a hands-on demonstration, if the company is providing those, to see the art in person and maybe take it for a solo test drive.

Space Park was funded through Kickstarter, and will be at the Keymaster booth at location 2445. If you can't make it to GenCon, you can pre-order a copy. According to BGG, they will have copies for sale.

Pre-order Space Park

Keymaster Official Website

Space Park at Board Game Geek
Gregory Gregory Author