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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Build Factions in Dawn of Ulos, Crate Engines in Imperials Miners, and Welcome an Age of Innovations

by W. Eric Martin

• Do you like Terra Mystica? Do you want a more challenging and varied version of that design?

In August 2023, Feuerland Spiele and Capstone Games will release Age of Innovation, a Helge Ostertag design that is described as “a standalone game set in the world of Terra Mystica”.

Here’s an overview of this 1-5 player game:

Twelve factions, each with unique characteristics, populate this world of varying terrains. Here you will compete to erect buildings and merge them into cities. Each game allows you to create new combinations of factions, homelands, and abilities so that each game isn’t the same as another.

You control one of these factions and will terraform the game map’s terrain into your homelands where you can erect your buildings. Proximity to other factions may limit your expansion, but it also gains you significant advantages in the game. This tension adds to the appeal of the Terra Mystica series.

Upgrade your buildings to gain valuable resources such as tools, scholars, money, and power. Build schools to advance in different sciences and collect books, which you can use to make innovations. Build your palace to gain a powerful new ability or build workshops, guilds, and universities to complete your culture.

Playtester candoo, who has logged more than sixty plays on the BGG game page, describes the game this way:

AOI is TM on steroids. There are 12 “book abilities” that are decoupled from 16 “stronghold” abilities that are decoupled from 7 asymmetric colour boards. These can combine to create 12x16x7=1344 different factions. These can further be combined with 18 different “innovations”.

This game is not for the uninitiated. Target audience is for diehard TM fans.

I don’t know whether that’s a warning or a challenge…

• Along similar lines, Dawn of Ulos is a 1-5 player design from Jason Lentz and Thunderworks Games due out in August 2023 set in the world of Roll Player and Cartographers.

The design seems like a fantasy-based take on Sid Sackson‘s Acquire, with players placing a domino landscape tile on the board each turn on matching landscape to build camps on which you will place plastic faction markers in particular shapes. When you can fit a faction’s plastic marker in a camp, that faction is established there and you get a matching faction card, which gives you a special ability, with the strength of that ability being based on the faction’s strength level. At game’s end, you win favor (i.e., points) equal to a faction’s strength for each card of its type you hold.

• And here’s another one: Imperial Miners is a game for 1-5 players from Tim Armstrong set in the Imperial Settlers universe that Portal Games will release in Q3 2023. Here’s an overview of the gameplay:

In Imperial Miners, players create their own mines by playing cards into their personal tableau, with players taking turns simultaneously. They start from the surface and develop downward. Each time a card is added to their mine, it activates itself and all the cards above it, rewarding a player with satisfying chain reactions and combos. The cards belong to six different factions and offer various strategies. Players mix different factions in their mines to achieve the best results.

While developing their mines, players also advance on progress boards. During set-up, three out of the six available progress boards are randomly chosen for the game. These boards each offer a different strategic focus. Throughout the game, players advance to gain additional bonuses that help them develop their tableaus, activate the synergies between cards, gain victory points, and achieve even more satisfying combos. The combination of progress boards influences strategies and makes the game different each time you play.

• Two other (sort of) spinoff titles hitting the market in the second half of 2023 are Unmatched: Brains and Brawn and Unmatched: Sun’s Origin, both from Restoration Games.

The former title, due out in Q3 2023, is the final Marvel set in the Unmatched universe, with this 2-3 player game featuring She-Hulk, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange. As for what these heroes do on the battleground: “Spidey swings around the battlefield, using his spider-sense to keep him safe. Dr. Strange has, well, the best card names in the game: Behold the Seven Suns of Cinnibus! And She-Hulk won’t think twice about throwing the book — or whatever heavy happens to be nearby — at you.”

Design on Unmatched: Sun’s Origin spotlights two Japanese heroes and is credited to Zack Mader and Jason Viddal, and their designs come from a contest organized by Restoration Games. An overview:

Oda Nobunaga was the daimyo of the Oda clan, renowned for unifying feudal Japan. He is a master tactician, making his honor guard even more dangerous (and just so happens to be a powerhouse in Tales To Amaze).

Tomoe Gozen was a legendary onna-musha of the Minamoto clan. She strikes hard and fast, relentlessly pursuing her enemy across the battlefield.

The heroes in any Unmatched game can face off against any other, so She-Hulk can take on Oda Nobunaga or you can dip into the many other titles in the Unmatched game line.


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