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Enclose the River Wild, Build an Ancient Realm, and Reach Cloud Nine

by W. Eric Martin

Crowdfunding announcements tend to be dominated by giant releases with tons of bits, so for this post I’m heading in the other direction, highlighting designers and publishers looking for support for small projects.

• Designer/publisher Ami Baio of Pink Tiger Games focuses on creating games that connect people, and her newest title — Cloud Nine: A Game of Wonderful Things — embodies that same spirit. (KS link)

The game contains more than three hundred cloud cards that feature items or activities. On a turn, from the nine cards on display, draft one featuring something that you love. If you don’t see anything, discard a row, replace those cards, then draft something — unless you hate all of those cards, too. If you draw an action card while refilling the grid, carry it out. Whoever first collects nine cards wins — and now you all know a bit more about each other.

Says Baio:

One thing I’ve learned is that you never know where inspiration will come from! For Cloud Nine, I was inspired by a Facebook post I saw last summer, when fellow game designer Eric Lang wrote about the things that made him “unreasonably excited”: new socks, new soy sauces, and new YouTube reaction videos for his favorite bands.

I could relate! I love new socks too, and in that moment, it struck me that we all have these things that make us light up, things that make us feel happy. Many of those things are all around us, but they’re different for everyone and easy to forget about.

So I set out to create a card game that brings attention to all those wonderful things, and encourages people to share what they love with each other.

• U.S. publisher Button Shy is adding two solitaire card games from designer Steven Aramini to its “wallet games” line-up (KS link), with Ancient Realm being a civilization-building-themed puzzle game:

Each turn, you have four available cards to place. Some of them will be districts, the basic building blocks of civilization, while others will be wonders, powerful but costly constructions. Wonder cards feature one block and a wonder; wonders are worth a large number of points and offer potent effects, but require significant resources to construct and cannot be covered by further cards.

On a turn, you pick one of these cards and place it in your realm. Cards can be placed next to, overlapping, or entirely covering one or more cards in your realm. When a block (or multiple blocks) is covered by a new card, those blocks can be activated to gain their effect. Mines fill your coffers with valuable gold; with gold, you can activate production sites and citizens. Citizens come in two types and might affect other cards, such as the value of certain wonders.

An example of how cards overlap

On the back of each district card is an event that impacts the growth of your civilization, and the event on the top of the district deck is active for the round.

At the end of the game, score your wonders and mines as well as any remaining gold and resources to determine how your civilization stacks up.

In River Wild, you build something vastly different than a civilization:

In River Wild, you must carve out the most harmonious land possible, plotting the river’s course to create protected valleys for local wildlife to thrive. A protected valley is defined as a valley completely surrounded by river or mountains with no card gaps.

Each turn, select one of the three river cards on display and add it to your land to extend your river. All cards must be played below the source card so that your river extends “downstream” (toward you). When choosing a card, you may look at and play either side of a card. Refill the display, then choose again, continuing play until all cards have been added to your land or until you are unable to play any more cards.

Unprotected valleys don’t score, and protected valleys score based on the wildlife (dragons, jackalopes, toads, and unicorns) and scoring goals contained within it. Make matches to score as many points as possible.

• In August 2021, I wrote about Alpujarras and Fisheries of Gloucester, two designs from Steve Finn of Dr. Finn’s Games that he was crowdfunding for release in 2022. That project didn’t fund, possibly because Finn was trying to fund eight games at one time, but he’s back on Kickstarter to have a second go for these two games…and for Alpujarras Express and Fisheries of Gloucester Express, which are small adaptations of the original games. (KS link)

• In late 2023, South African publisher Pleasant Company Games plans to release Ancient Terrible Things: Reawakened, a new version of Simon McGregor’s Ancient Terrible Things from 2014. (KS link)

Château from Martin van Rossum of Rolling Rhino Games looks like a parody of early Eurogames thanks to the dude holding a scroll on the cover, but the gameplay seems solidly 2023, with this being a print-and-play, roll-and-write game for simultaneous play among any number of people in which you’re racing to be the first to mark off all the spaces in your château. (KS link)


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