With just over a week to go before the opening of SPIEL ’23, I’m still receiving game announcements from publishers and adding titles to BGG’s SPIEL ’23 Preview. Here’s a few of the smaller titles that we’ve added recently.
• German publisher KENDi launched in April 2023 with three games from designers Steffen Benndorf and Reinhard Staupe, and in October 2023 it will release one title from each of them, although Sixto is actually a co-design by Benndorf and his son Florian.
Gameplay in this 1-6 player roll-and-wrote design feels reminiscent of Benndorf’s Qwixx, but even more free-flowing in how you can play:
Each player gets their own player sheet, which features six rows of numbers, each in a different color. The row contains the digits 1-6 in a random order, and each player should have a different sheet from among the twelve designs in the box.
On a turn, the active player rolls the six colored dice, one for each of the colored rows. If they don’t like the results, they can re-roll all six dice once. After the final die roll, for each die, each player can choose to mark off the leftmost available number matching the die result, skipping over any intervening numbers. Skipped numbers cannot be marked in the future. Thus, on each turn, each player makes 0-6 marks on their player sheet. The active player then passes the dice left.
Sample player sheet from the rules
The final three columns on a player sheet are designated the “target area”. If any player marks two spaces in a single row in the target area, that die is removed from the game at the end of that turn. When the third die is removed from play, the game ends.
Each player then scores each row and each column on their player sheet, losing 5 points if only one mark is present, scoring 0 points for zero or two marks, and score 5+ points for 3+ marks. The player with the highest score wins.
• The other KENDi release is Staupe’s 2-4 player card game Ku-Ka-König, which he described to me as follows: “What if you always get what you want? What if everything that you own at the end of the game is exactly what you have chosen, to 100%? This means that there will be no more excuses! If you win or lose, it’s completely up to you!”
Narrator: It is, in fact, not completely up to you. Here’s why:
To play, shuffle the 112 cards, then lay out three cards in 6-8 numbered columns depending on whether you’re playing with two, three, or four people. At the same time, everyone declares which column of cards they want to take. If no one else has claimed that column, take the cards and add them to your collection; if two or more player choose the same column, discard the final card of that column, then all tied players simultaneously declare a column number once again. Keep going until all players have taken cards from a column.
Refill the columns to three cards each, then play another round. When a player has collected at least 13 cards at the end of a round, score everyone’s collection, with ties being friendly:
—Kings score based on how many you have: (n-1)² points.
—Knights are 1 point each, unless you have the most in which case they’re 2 points each.
—Churches give 10 points to whoever has collected the most.
And so on. Some cards bear an X, and these cards are discarded after the first scoring. Players then continue playing rounds until the deck runs out, then players score for their collection once again. Whoever has the highest combined score wins.
• Before KENDi debuted, Staupe was a developer at German publisher NSV, and his last project for the company is debuting at SPIEL ’23: Phil Walker-Harding‘s Silver & Gold Pyramids, the gameplay of which is an evolution from 2019’s Silver & Gold:
To start play, each player takes four pyramid cards, then keeps two of them face up in front of themselves. Shuffle the eight exploration cards, each of which shows a different polyomino.
On a turn, reveal the topmost exploration card. Each player then marks off spaces in the shape of this polyomino on one of their pyramid cards. The first space covered on a card must be the entrance square. If you cover gems, torches, or skulls, mark off these spaces on your personal player board; if you cover a potion, erase two covered skulls. If you cover a red X, mark one additional space, either on this pyramid board or your other one; all marked spaces must connect orthogonally.
If you cover the tomb on a pyramid board, set that board aside and take a new board from the four on display or from the deck. When you’ve completed your second, fourth, or sixth pyramid of the same color — and the deck includes three colors — score the highest color bonus available.
After seven exploration cards have been revealed, the round is over. Shuffle all eight cards, then start a new round. After four rounds, players count their scores, earning 10 points per tomb reached, 5 points per pair of colored gems found, 5 points for each round in which they covered at least one torch, and their color bonuses, after which they lose points based on the number of skulls covered. Whoever has the highest score wins.
There are seven different cards in different quantities. At the beginning of the game, each card is given an ability that is used when the card is played or that will change the card’s value. The game includes 24 different abilities, which makes the game unique every time you play it.
On a player’s turn, they play a card from their hand, increasing its value, carry out the ability of the card, then buy new cards from the market that are collectively valued the same or lower than the new value of the played card.
This overview sounds promising, and I’m curious to discover more about this design at SPIEL ’23. Ideally I’ll bring several small treasures like this home where I can don medical gloves and examine them closely under a strong light…