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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Build an Evergreen Canopy, Biohack New Creatures, and Feel Refreshed by A Gentle Rain

by W. Eric Martin

• In 2024, Tim Eisner of Weird City Games will release Canopy: Evergreen, a standalone game that features gameplay elements similar to his 2021 title Canopy. Here’s an overview of this 1-4 player game:

Underneath the dense canopy of the Pacific Northwest rainforests, a thriving ecosystem exists. Schools of salmon swim upstream, wildflowers and lush ferns dot the mossy floor, and a gray wolf looks for its next meal. In Canopy: Evergreen, players compete to grow the tallest trees, collect sets of wild plants, and create bountiful habitats to help native animals thrive.

In the game, players take turns selecting new cards for their forest from three growth piles. Each time you look at a pile, you may select it and add those cards to your rainforest tableau, or return the pile face down, adding one additional card to it. As the piles grow, you must search for the plants and animals that will benefit your forest the most — but choose carefully as mingled in with the flora and fauna are dangers in the form of fire, disease, and drought. After three seasons, the player who has grown the most bountiful rainforest wins!

Canopy: Evergreen has new rules for collecting food, growing trees on your forest board to gain permanent bonuses, and nourishing interactive wildlife. Get lost in the evergreen forest with new plants, animals, and environmentally-friendly 3D tree tokens that grow while you play the game!

• Another 2021 nature-themed game that’s getting a fresh look is A Gentle Rain, with Incredible Dream Studios releasing a second edition of this Kevin Wilson tile-laying game in January 2024.

Each turn in this game for one or more players, you draw a tile and add it to your pond, matching flowers as you do so. If you create a square, that is, a 2×2 field of tiles, then you get to fill that square’s center with a wooden flower token that matches one of the flowers surrounding it. Place all eight flower tokens before the tiles run out, and you win. (You can watch a game being played in my overview video.)

Pandasaurus Games has picked up Romain Caterdjian‘s Look at the Stars for released in North America in January 2024. I previewed this Bombyx release in August 2022; the short take is that each player creates their own constellations in the night sky, trying to create specific patterns and various sizes.

• Japanese publisher uchibacoya has already seen one of its titles licensed and released on other markets, with Sylex releasing Amalfi: Renaissance in Europe and R&R Games releasing it in the U.S.

Now U.S. publisher Crafty Games has announced that it will release two other uchibacoya titles in North America: Ostia from designer Totsuca Chuo, and Biohack from Yofiandhy D Indrayana.

In the 1-4 player game Ostia, which debuted in 2022, players use a fleet of ships to explore, trade, and develop a port. On a turn, they choose one of the six spaces on their board, gain resources from that space based on the number of ships present, distribute the ships clockwise one space at a time, then take the action corresponding to where the final ship was placed. By doing this, you can strengthen existing ships, build new ships, and add buildings to the harbor.

Biohack was crowdfunded in Q2 2023 and is scheduled for release in Q1 2024. An overview:

Biohack is a medium-complexity game for 1-4 players who use workers called “Noman” to procure funds and DNA, then create new creatures. The scientists, who are the players’ avatars, have various abilities.

In addition, the creatures created by the experiments bring various beneficial effects. The game ends after the designated number of rounds or after a player creates seven creatures. The players then tally their evaluation points to see who wins.

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