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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Eat Apples, Make Connnections, Assemble Automatons, and Return to Austria for High Season in a Grand Hotel

by W. Eric Martin

• I’ve already covered a few games that Lookout Spiele will feature at SPIEL ’23 in October — Forest Shuffle (preview), Nusfjord: Big Box, Patterns, and more — and now the publisher has added something else to the list.

High Season: Grand Hotel Roll & Write is a 2-4 player game from Virginio Gigli, Ryan Hendrickson, and Simone Luciani that is intended to convey the feeling of Grand Austria Hotel, while being its own thing:

Welcome to the best hotel in Vienna! In High Season: Grand Hotel Roll & Write, you prepare rooms, accommodate guests, make personnel decisions, and court the favor of the emperor, all while managing your money and trying to avoid loans.

The game lasts seven rounds, and each player has a hotel board and staff board, with eight of each being available. At the start of a round, roll dice based on the number of players, then place them on the six spaces (numbered 1-6) on the action board. On a turn, draft one of the dice, then use the associated according to its strength, which is based on the number of dice on that space when you remove it. The actions allow you to:

— Prepare as many rooms for guests as the strength of the action, paying the cost for each.

— Occupy a prepared room by paying the cost minus the action’s strength; gain the depicted one-time bonus when doing so.

— Advance on the emperor track equal to the action’s strength; gain the listed bonuses as you reach them, with a point bonus for reaching the end of the track first.

— Earn krone, the game’s currency, equal to the action’s strength.

— Hire a staff member on your board, paying their cost minus the action’s strength. Two staff members give you a permanent bonus, two grant a one-time effect, and two provide bonus points during scoring.

If you are the first player to occupy one of the eight rows or seven columns, you earn bonus points that are unavailable to anyone else who occupies this row or column later. When you occupy all the rooms in a contiguous color group on your board, you gain an immediate bonus of points (for a blue group), krone (red), or steps on the emperor’s track (yellow).

The bonuses and effects of the staff differ on each board, so you need to figure out how to take advantage of the opportunities available through them in combination with your particular arrangement of hotel rooms and the dice available each round.

After seven rounds, players tally their points, possibly losing some in the process for ignoring the emperor, but ideally overcoming that loss thanks to occupied rooms, assorted bonuses, and staff-generated endgame points.

Four Comma Game is a new game publisher from Thailand that will demo two titles at SPIEL ’23 ahead of their retail release in Q2 2024.

Connnect is a roll-and-write game from Sarawut Jirawaree that lasts twelve rounds. Each round, the active player rolls three dice, then chooses one result as the zone die while the other two dice are number dice. All players must write these two numbers in empty spaces in the appropriate zone, trying to create connections of numbers in the same value or ascending value that match the target shapes.

• The other Four Comma Game being demoed is Vatcharis Thanomsub‘s Age of Automaton, a 2-4 player game that plays in 60-120 minutes. An overview:

You are a robotics lab owner who is trying to earn as many lab points as you can by building, developing, testing, and selling automatons; buying new equipment for your lab; and making relationship with mega-corps.

The game is played in five rounds, and each round consists of six phases: Data Sharing, Actions, CSR, Audit, Clean Up, and Adjust Turn Order. The most focused phase is the Actions phase, during which all players alternately play one action at a time in turn order. Players have three actions in the first three rounds, then four actions for the final two rounds.

The main actions which you can choose are Test-Runs, Equipment, R&D, Sale, Fund Raising, Building Automatons, Gathering Data, and Sponsorship. Other than these main actions, you can use specialist abilities and lab equipment, as well as play as many special actions as you can.

At the end of the fifth round, the player with the highest lab score wins.

• Should you care to check out another random-and-write design at SPIEL ’23, you can head to the SunCoreGames booth to try Sssnake: Flip&Write, a 2-6 player game from Bujar Haskaj:

Hungry? In this game, you want to snake your way through different locations, use acquired skills, eat lots of fresh apples, and grow to be the longest snake — but be careful not to bite yourself and get eliminated!

At the start of each round, an apple card is revealed to determine where the apples will fall from the tree. The one who eats many apples grows faster and gains new abilities to help give them even better access to delicious apples. The game ends when the second-to-last snake is eliminated.


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