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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Eliminate the Competition in Queen by Midnight, and Glom on to Clever Sayings

by W. Eric Martin

Queen by Midnight from Kyle Shire and Darrington Press might have been the most attractive game on display at GAMA Expo 2023.

In terms of gameplay, Queen by Midnight is an asymmetric deck-building game for 3-6 players in which everyone represents a princess who is trying to be crowned the new Midnight Queen. You each have your deck, with cards from that deck being available in your market.

One of the princesses

The game lasts twelve rounds, and the rounds count down on a clock that also serves as a dice tower and a market for cards from a deck that’s common to all players, with the deck being stacked to introduce more powerful cards as the game progresses.

Your goal is to eliminate everyone else from the game by reducing their health to 0. If you’re the last one standing, you win! If the clock strikes twelve, however, and more than one princess is still in the game, then the player with the most clout wins.

After round six, you make a secret dedication to another princess, trying to help that person win so that you also win. (Think Dune or Cosmic Encounter in terms of how multiple people can win.)

Queen by Midnight retails for US$70 and will debut at Gen Con 2023, with a retail release in August 2023.

• Distributor, consolidator, and retail partner Flat River Group has acquired a number of companies over the past few years — Greater Than Games, Synapses Games, Luma Imports — but aside from that, it’s been making distribution deals with publishers large and small, both in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.

IELLO might be the largest non-U.S. publisher for which it distributes, but at GAMA Expo 2023 I got a sampling of other companies now being handled by FRG: Pencil First Games, Twogether Studios, Devious Weasel Games, APE Games, Everything Epic Games, Grey Fox Games, Modiphius Entertainment, Barrel Aged Games, Escape Tabletop Games, Sit Down!, the remains of Holy Grail Games, and probably more that I have overlooked.

• In 2023, Van Ryder Games will release Gourmet Popcorn Dice, a press-your-luck dice game from A. J. Porfirio that seems like a spin of Popcorn Dice with colored dice providing a new way to score.

Moments is a standalone game from Porfirio and photographer Byron Jorjorian that can also serve as an expansion for 2022’s Keepers from the same duo. In this game for 3-8 players, you’re trying to correctly and collectively identify the proper image from a group of random photos.

• The co-operative graphic novel game 2070 from Emmanuel Quaireau and Makaka Editions will be released in English by Van Ryder Games in the second half of 2023. An overview:

Victims of an attack, the plans of an unprecedented technology have been stolen from the powerful Solax laboratories.

In 2070, you play as a group of elite agents: an android, a martial arts expert, an alien, and a mercenary. Your mission is to intercept the spy droid in the streets of Rome. Nobody dares to imagine the consequences if you fail…

Investigation, traps, fights, survival and puzzles await you, but will you be able to work together to succeed in your common hunt without being distracted by your individual secret objectives?

• I feel like a walking encyclopedia sometimes as I spotted this box of Glom, didn’t recognize it, and shot a pic so that I could look it up later.

Turns out that Glom is a party game for up to six players from Ellen Burns-Johnson, Mark LaCroix, Dale Lynn LaCroix, and Stephen McGregor that Indie Boards & Cards will debut at the Origins Game Fair in June 2023. Each round, you’re given a phrase such as “Better late than never” or “Who ate the last cookie?” and are challenged to re-write it according to a randomly revealed rule, scoring points based on a randomly revealed goal.

• In Abducktion from Evan Katz, Josh Roberts, and Evan and Josh’s Very Special Games Company, you have ten ducks in a stream that you’ve abducted from Earth thanks to a UFO you share with others, and you want to use action cards to manipulate the ducks into particular arrangements to match goal cards.

I wasn’t familiar with MUD either, but it turns out that this design from Ben Bronstein, Jen Igartua, Jade Shames, Kat Thek, and Pillbox Games dates to 2020! From my perspective it’s one of those lost Covid designs that few people have seen, but maybe I’m the only one who has missed it. If not, an overview of this 2-6 player game:

You are a wealthy mogul trying to influence the next presidential election for your own gain. Win by being the first to secure a solid block of voters of either party. You decide how corrupt to be.

Every player is dealt seven cards and can place three voter cards face up in front of them (creating a voter map) each turn. Depending on the number of players, you need at least three voters in three regions, all of the same political affiliation, on your map to win (undecided voters are wild).

Image: Jen Igartua

Peppered in the deck are RAT cards, which give you strong advantages. However, every time you play a RAT card, you must also draw a Scandal card, which contains a punishment. This punishment is not enacted immediately — rather, it sits face down in front of you until someone plays a DIG card on you. The DIG card will force you to turn over a scandal and abide by the punishment. Do you risk a scandal, or do you play it safe? The choice is yours in this dirty game of American elections.

Cephalofair Games had an assortment of Gloomhaven miniatures on display in its booth.

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