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Balance Your Military and Economics, Vie for Control of Sicily or Ancient Greece, and Lead Your Civilization in the Middle East

by Candice Harris

• On my last day at SPIEL ’22, I spotted a unique-looking game titled Scharz, that I had to stop and ask about. Scharz is a hybrid area control game for 2-4 players from designer Jakub Kunčík, which blends the economics found in eurogames with the conflict and historical settings found in wargames. As Kunčík described it to me at SPIEL while I gazed at the map and slew of unique components, I was intrigued and I couldn’t help but get Feudum vibes. At the same time, it also seemed like it was inspired by mix of Agricola, civilization-building games, and wargames, which sounded really cool.

Scharz is a three-part series of games, and when combined you can play an epic game with up to 12 players. Kunčík is crowdfunding Scharz: Part I on Kickstarter (KS link) through March 30, 2023. Scharz: Part I comes with 2 maps and features a mix of combat with logistics, with sandbox-style gameplay inspired by history. You’ll construct buildings, manage your agriculture, and fight in battles, all with the goal of establishing yourself as a nation with either military or economic force since there are multiple victory conditions.

Here’s a high-level description of Scharz from the designer, but you can also learn more on its Kickstarter page:

Symmetrical War-Euro, a game about balance and efficiency. Playable in any number of players without waiting (simultaneous play). No cards. Sober planning and maneuvering. Controllable element of luck. Multiple ways to win. A feel-good classic computer RTS on the cycle of the seasons as the board game (gain the upper hand within five years in the area of power fragmentation). Complex, but not complicated.

In this area control game, the player must master the management of their own empire, its development and conflict with other players. Time in each year, resources and human capacity are limited. Expanding the economic base, building more footholds, improving them, buying better livestock and soldiers, developing trade and fleets – all this is possible and beneficial, but it also requires expensive military protection. Because even those who feed their large army on the snowball principle from the resources of others can win.

Game time 15 – 40 minutes per player, recommended for ages 10 and up.

• If you’re looking to battle in Sicily, La Famiglia: The Great Mafia War from Maximilian Maria Thiel, Feuerland Spiele, and Capstone Games is available at retailers. Eric originally mentioned La Famiglia in a SPIEL ’22 preview post. La Famiglia plays in 2-3 hours with exactly 4 players in 2 teams of 2 players each. Each player represents a head of a mafia family vying for control over Sicily.

Here’s a little more about how it works from the publisher:

In the 1980s, a merciless battle raged in Sicily that would later go down in history as “The Great Mafia War”. Different mob families fought with and against each other for supremacy in southern Italy.

In La Famiglia: The Great Mafia War, you play against each other in teams (2 vs. 2) to take control of Sicily. Six different mafia families, each with special abilities, are at your disposal. The game rounds are divided into two phases: In the planning phase, you develop your abilities and bring fighters as well as secret orders to the board. In the combat phase, these orders are revealed and executed. Here, you use your fighters and bombs to dominate as many regions as possible. The combat system is both simple and innovative, making every fight an exciting psychological duel. The team that best combines and coordinates its abilities will finally dominate Sicily.

La Famiglia is an extraordinary team game that provides lasting excitement through asymmetric abilities and a variable game set-up.

Ancient Civilizations of the Middle East is a new standalone civilization game for 1-6 players from GMT Games, designed by Mark McLaughlin (The Napoleonic Wars, War and Peace) and Chris Vorder Bruegge, the designer-duo behind the 2019 release Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea.

Here’s the lowdown from the publisher on what you’ll experience in this, big, yet accessible civilization game:

Ancient Civilizations of the Middle East (ACME) is brought to you by the same team that created Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea — designers Christopher Vorder Bruegge and Mark McLaughlin with developer Fred Schachter. ACME is not a sequel nor an expansion but a standalone game using the same multiplayer and solitaire systems as its predecessor with many new and exciting features to intrigue its players.

ACME is a game of the chaos-inducing wrath of gods & men—a chaos each player does their utmost to manage, survive, and guide their civilization through to triumphant victory. Spanning the ancient world from the Hellespont to the Indus, from the Caspian to the Red Sea, and from the early Bronze Age to the Hellenic Age, Ancient Civilizations of the Middle East allows you to command not just 10 but 17, SEVENTEEN CIVILIZATIONS!

A War Game Only If And When You Want It To Be

If you want a War Game, you got it. If you want a friendly game, this is it too! As in Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea, Ancient Civilizations of the Middle East can be all about war, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be a friendly game of exploration, city building, trade, and faith. Players (solitaire, a group of up to six, or even a mix of live players with a system-driven civilization of two or more) can make of ACME what they wish or imagine. Competition can be martial or cultural, warlike or friendly, or a combination of both—how the game unfolds depends entirely on how the players want it to play. The duration of the game is also up to the players: from a multi-hour odyssey of all four Epochs to a pre-arranged shorter contest of an hour or two or to an agreed Sudden Death Victory Point threshold.

For Those Who Want A War Game, There Is Plenty Of War To Be Gamed

Historical War Game Scenarios are just that—fun and entertaining scenarios that recreate wars from the dawn of civilization to the conquests of Alexander the Great (and more!). Take on the role of Agamemnon as he sacks Troy, Solomon as he builds the Temple, or Ramses as he leads his chariots on the plains of Kadesh. Become the great law-giver, Hammurabi, the inspiring Persian empire-builder, Cyrus, or the legendary hero, Rostam (and more!). There are even double-sized (twice the usual number of disks) civilization options for those who want to conquer the world of Ancient Civilizations of the Middle East and become—as Assyrian kings Akkad and Sumer claimed—the king of the four corners of the world.

Ancient Civilizations of the Middle East is suitable for players of all ages, offers great family fun, and is easily and quickly teachable. It can serve as a kind of gateway to the more complex games our wonderful hobby has to offer.

SPARTA!: Struggle for Greece is an upcoming asymmetric historical area control game on the Greek Wars for 1-2 players from Kris Van Beurden (Europe in Turmoil, Barbarians at the Gates), and publishers Plague Island Games (English edition) and Draco Ideas (Spanish edition). SPARTA! plays in 2-3 hours, was successfully funded on Kickstarter (KS link) in October 2022, and is open for late pledges.

Here’s the publisher’s description of what you can expect as you battle in Ancient Greece:

In SPARTA! command Athenians or Spartans in a battle to rule the Greek world. Achieve dominance and control valuable regions that grant unique benefits – be it the wealth of Sicily, the fleets of Corinth, or alliances with larger cities like Thebes or Syracuse to provide fresh recruits for battle. You might even rally the Persians and Macedonians to your side.

Command The Conflict!

March armies and sortie fleets to raid enemy territories. Siege valuable cities, and engage your foes in fierce battles. Steel your nerves when you enter the fray of battle, as it is bloody and swiftly resolved using an elegant card-based system.

Who Will Head Your Efforts?

Lead your forces with legendary characters such as Pericles and Cleon. Each leader has a unique ability, be it combat prowess or cunning diplomacy.

Characters may become experienced— flipping the leader to their upgraded form with a more powerful ability.

Meet your foes on the bloody battlefield

Balance diplomacy, economy, and military might in this card-driven game of historic conflict!

The Splendour Of Greece Is Yours For The Taking!

SPARTA! is for 1-2 players (SOLO bot is included) & plays in 2-3 hours.

Includes all of these historical scenarios:

– First Peloponnesian War

– Second Peloponnesian War

– Theban/Spartan War

– Cleomenian War

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