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Can You Get Enough Azul Things, Villainous Stings, Mad Kings, and Lord of the Rings?

by W. Eric Martin

The more game announcements I’ve seen from publishers this year — and we’re not even through January yet! — the more the approach seems to be give people more of what they already like.

Next Move Games, for example, has announced the late Q2 2023 release of Azul Mini, a scaled-down version of Michael Kiesling‘s fantastic strategy game Azul.

If you like Azul but find it too bulky for your travel bag, perhaps this version will be for you as the tiles are smaller, the player boards have plastic trays on them to keep tiles in place, and the game includes a travel bag that can apparently carry the entire game, in addition to doubling as a draw bag for the tiles.

Ravensburger has announced the next “expandalone” title in its Marvel Villianous line, with Twisted Ambition featuring Doctor Octopus, Titania, and Kang the Conqueror.

In Marvel Villainous, each player has somewhat the same actions available to them — move to different locations within their domain, carry out the actions there, and deal twists of fate to their opponents from a shared fate deck — while trying to work toward your specific victory condition. To win as Doctor Octopus, players must complete five schemes, such as defeating Spider-Man or amassing and paying power. As Titania, you need to gain strength to become empowered and defeat She-Hulk. Finally, Kang the Conqueror requires its player to unleash variants of Kang into other villains’ decks and conquer four locations in other villain domains with robot duplicates.

Each of the characters in Marvel Villainous: Twisted Ambitions can be played on their own in a two- or three-player game or be mixed and matched with villains from previous Marvel Villainous releases.

This set will be available for pre-order starting in early February 2023, with Target offering a special edition that features a cardboard sleeve and a chrome character mover for Dr. Octopus instead of the gray one.

• Speaking of Target, that retail chain will (initially?) be the exclusive source of The Lord of the Rings Adventure Book Game from Marcus Ross, Jay Little, and Ravensburger, with this game debuting in February 2023.

Like the earlier releases The Princess Bride Adventure Book Game and The Wizard of Oz Adventure Book Game, this is a co-operative game told in chapters, with each chapter taking place on the pages of a game board book. The Lord of the Rings Adventure Book Game consists of eight chapters, with each chapter providing puzzles and challenges that players need to overcome to advance from The Shire to the fires of Mordor, all while avoiding the Eye of Sauron.

Bézier Games has announced a February 7, 2023 Kickstarter launch date for Blueprints of Mad King Ludwig, a spinoff of Ted Alspach‘s Castles of Mad King Ludwig that will be released in 2024. Here’s the pitch for this design:

Test your architectural skills in Blueprints of Mad King Ludwig, a flip-and-sketch strategy game to draw the most extravagant blueprints for King Ludwig’s next castle!

Select rooms to add to your castle’s floor plan. As you complete rooms’ entrances by connecting them to other rooms, earn new abilities such as adding or removing entrances, earning new bonus cards, and taking extra turns. Keep your eye on the King’s favors to beat out your opponents for public goals, as well as create courtyards and moats around your castle for some massive points to get ahead! The player who sketches the castle most suited to the whims of King Ludwig takes the royal victory!

You can slide the room cards under vellum paper to determine how a room might fit — or not — in your developing castle. I took a few architecture classes in high school, and this detail is a nice touch!

Trivia note: BGG has five titles in its database that contain the word “blueprints”, and Ted Alspach has designed three of them, the other two being Age of Steam Expansion: Secret Blueprints of Steam Plans 1 & 2 and Age of Steam Expansion: Special 2008 Spiel Limited Edition – Essen Spiel & Secret Blueprints of Steam Plan #3.

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