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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Chase Bugs in a Circle, Scoop Stars on an Island, and Keep Astronauts Tethered Together

by W. Eric Martin

Rocket Ranchers: Herding Cats in Space! is the first title from designer David Bock and publisher Binxadinx Games, and the subtitle suggests (at least to me) that rocket ranchers might be doing all sorts of different things in the future.

Here’s an overview of this 2-6 player game:

Rocket Ranchers is a set-collection game about gathering animals for your ranch using your dogship cards to “beam up” animals from various biomes across the planet. The collected animals will be placed in available pens on your ranch. Each pen can hold only one type of animal. The more of a single species you collect, the more profitable your ranch will be. Collect only a few of a species, and you might lose money.

While collecting animals, you’ll also encounter space cats, which will cling to some of the animals you collect. Collect one or a bunch to earn points. Collect a few or none, and you lose points.

At the end of the game, the player with the most points wins!

• In December 2022, designer Bez Shahriari tweeted the following:

In 2014, I designed a game called “Yo dawg, I heard you like moving gnomes. So move a gnome to move a gnome to move a gnome to maybe remove a tile.”

now it’s finally scheduled to come out – Spiel 2023.

The two-player game, now titled Last Bug Standing in the Circle of Doom!, will be released by UK publisher Surprised Stare Games and works as follows:

In this game that takes place on a futuristic arena on a planet far, far away, the navigator directs the driver of the crew’s vehicle through an alien landscape, while the gunner shoots at Bug-Eyed Monsters (BEMs).

If you plot the right course, make the right moves, and pick the right shots, you will have the last bug standing!

Draft rules are available on the Surprised Stare Games website.

Tether is the debut title from new publisher How To Steam Broccoli, which is a delightful name to ponder — and my answer of how to do what it asks is with an Instant Pot, which steams broccoli to perfection in the final minutes of assembling a meal.

As for the game, Tether is a 2-4 player design from Mark McGee that is being funded on Kickstarter and plays as follows:

Astronauts love floating in space, but not all by themselves. Tether them together so they don’t drift through the galaxy alone.

Each card in Tether has a two-digit number in the top corner, and when you rotate the card 180 degrees, the number in the opposite corner has the same two digits, but the positions are swapped. For instance the card with a 68 in one corner has 86 in the opposite corner. Opponents sit across the table from each other, which means that when you play a card each player sees a different number.

You can connect astronauts together if they have consecutive numbers. One player (or team) connects astronauts together horizontally on the table and the other connects them vertically. Since each side sees a different number and connects in a different direction, but is playing with the same astronauts, you have an asymmetric puzzle with a lot of interaction between players.

• What can you find in space aside from ranchers, cats, bugs, and astronauts? Space itself in the form of falling stars. That’s the premise behind Fractured Sky, a design from Max Anderson, Zac Dixon, Austin Harrison, and IV Games that will be Kickstarted in April 2023.

Here’s an overview of this 1-4 player game:

Fractured Sky is a game of deduction, sneaky strategy, and resource management set on a fantastical island. Players lead their kingdom in the hunt for shards of fractured falling stars, which are rumored to grant wishes to those that can amass enough of them.

Using airships, players send their armies to regions with the star shards, but finding those is not always easy and hiring seers to predict their falls can be worth the investment. Over time, players will increase their presence on the island, placing permanent buildings to give them advantages like extra resources or increasing the size of their troop numbers.

Only one wish will be granted, so who will amass the most shards before the final star falls?

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