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Dance the Lindy Hop, Navigate a Winter Court, and Fight for Kraters in Omen

by W. Eric Martin

• New publisher Flat Cap Games debuts in December 2023 with a two-player design from Mark Kaneko and James Smeal called Lindyhop, a two-player co-operative trick-taking game:

Players start by dealing out the music cards to create the song to which they will dance. Players then play tricks as dance moves to progress through the song, picking up points as they go. Some of the cards have powers, but these powers activate only on specific parts of the music — and you can’t discuss what each player has in their hand.

Try to beat your score each dance, but if you run out of dance cards before the music finishes, you score nothing!

The Lindy Hop, a precursor to swing dancing, originated in Harlem, New York and its creation is credited to George “Shorty” Snowden and Mattie Purnell in 1928. By chance, I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X earlier this year, and Malcolm X (with Alex Haley) wrote a lot about dancing — and other activities — in Harlem clubs in the 1940s, with a couple of “lindy hop” references popping up along the way.

Should you care to check out an early example of lindy hopping, “Shorty” Snowden is the third dancer in this clip from the 1929 short film “After Seben”, with his partner Mattie Purnell being announced as “Liza Underdunk”:

Youtube Video

Emcee James Barton does some fancy dancing after the third couple, with a move that you might recognize from Psy’s “Gangnam Style” video. Well, I recognized it anyway. Barton does another move that I’ve never seen elsewhere, but I’m not sure the term “dance move” describes it appropriately.

• Another two-player card game hitting the market comes from Tom Lehmann, with publisher Rio Grande Games expecting it to be available in Q4 2023/Q1 2024. Here’s an overview of Winter Court:

In this game, two rival diplomats plot how to advance their agendas during winter when a medieval court is confined by bad weather to a single castle. Should you approach the royals directly, or should you curry favor with other court members first? Their powers could be useful in influencing the royals to your cause.

Hmm…the steward’s purse could gain you extra influence, while the lover could sway that love-sick, sighing Prince to your side. The knight could be a valuable ally to gain either the ruler’s favor or the interest of that military-minded Princess. Even the scheming charlatan or the fool’s sarcastic tongue could be valuable assets.

Where to begin? Who to approach first?

• I often talk enthusiastically about Tokyo Game Market being a place of experimentation, with creators making small runs of some game they want to bring into the world — a game that might subsequently disappear into collections shortly afterward.

This practice takes place elsewhere, of course, as with the two-player card game Entrenched, which is credited to Daedalus Creations:

Entrenched is a deck-builder with a standard deck of 54 cards — but with abilities and stats on the cards — in which the objective is to either eliminate your opponent or score 9 points. The game is played on a board with six rows, representing trenches in World War 1, split between two sides: red and black. Players use the abilities of their cards and points to buy new cards, with each card having a value to buy other cards. The first three cards are free, while the other cards must be bought with the value of the cards in the player’s hand.

Entering the opponent’s territory earns the player points, with the closest rows to the opponent’s base earning more points. The turn sequence is to play card actions, merge or unmerge units, buy units with points, and draw up to a maximum hand size of three. Cards can be used to attack, to go into a defensive position, or to move a card up or down one row.

Entrenched was Kickstarted in mid-2023 and delivered to backers in September 2023. Will anyone outside of those 111 backers ever have a copy? Time will tell…

• And to cover a Kickstarter project yet to come, John Clowdus of Small Box Games has a new trilogy of Omen games coming, with Songs of Far Shores, Banks of the Styx, and Whispers of the Muse each being a standalone game that is compatible with the other two, but not with titles from the Omen: A Reign of War game line.

Here’s the setting, with a touch of gameplay:

You may be the greatest hero the isles have ever seen: your cunning unmatched; your ingenuity unfailing; your leadership unquestioned. You have no equal…aside from your sibling.

And to the half-god children of the Olympians, the deathless have posed a contest to determine the greatest of their mortal offspring: sack three cities where the gods have hidden powerful Kraters, each infused with their own divine power. From soldiers and beasts to seers and muses, mustering forces to sack these cities is only a few coins away. While recovering the Kraters lies at the heart of the Gods’ contest, they may also be impressed by the triumphs you accomplish at the city steps, and the company you keep might help to sway their choice of a victor.

The Immortals stand at the precipice of Olympus, breath held, attention turned to the mortal realm. Only one of you will join the Olympians, while the other will fade into antiquity as another forgotten spawn of the gods.

Each Omen game consists of 22 unique unit cards and 6 unique Krater cards, is played over a series of player turns, and ends when all three cities have been destroyed or when a player has collected enough rewards. Each city is comprised of two Krater cards. Players spend coins to play units to these cities, and once a city becomes sacked, the city is resolved and the player with the most strength at that city gains one of its Krater cards. Each card is worth 2 points at game’s end — or 1 point if you use its ability.


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