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Fight for The Last Kingdom, Become One of 3 Sanchos, and Act as Quartermaster General on the East Front

by W. Eric Martin

U.S. publisher Gamelyn Games has announced what I believe will be its first licensed game, with The Last Kingdom Board Game being a design for 2-5 player from John D. Clair that’s based on the Netflix series The Last Kingdom…which is itself based on Bernard Cornwell’s series of novels dubbed “The Saxon Stories”.

Here’s an overview of the setting and gameplay:

The kingdoms of Britain are at war. Many have already fallen to the invading Danes, leaving the great kingdom of Wessex standing alone and defiant under the command of King Alfred. You are one of the great commanders and politicians in this war-torn land known today as England. Both Saxon and Dane armies openly battle for dominance, and it is up to you to title the scales of power. To claim these lands, you will need to tread a dangerous path between both sides of the conflict. Will you betray your allies for power? What part will you play in the birth of a new nation, and will you ultimately rule it all?

The Last Kingdom Board Game plays over the course of two rounds during which players will perform actions to command armies to shape the course of the war. Your allegiance to the Saxons or the Danes can be firm or fickle, and your score will reflect not just your prowess in battle, but your political skill in maneuvering the competing forces of Britain.

Each of the ten leaders offers unique benefits to your strategy and provides special cards to start your hand. At the start of each round, players complete their hand by drafting cards from a deck specific to that round, then the war begins in one of the five regions. Players take turns playing cards to command Saxon or Dane armies, gaining affinity with the different factions, or positioning their heroes and leaders to shift the tides of war. Players also have access to a rotating market of actions that are available to everyone.

Alternatively, players may choose to not act on their turn and instead pass to see what moves their opponents make.

Once all players have passed consecutively, the war in the current region will be decided by the strengths of the Saxon and Dane armies battling there. Players gain victory points if they are aligned with the winning faction and based on their level of affinity. The focus of the war then moves to the next region, and the battle continues.

After the fate of each of the five regions has been decided, the round ends. After two rounds of play, the player who has accrued the most points wins.

Gamelyn Games plans to conduct a Kickstarter campaign for The Last Kingdom Board Game in 2023.

• If we skip ahead a couple of hundred years, we come to the time of El Cid and a new game from David J. Mortimer and Surprised Stare Games: 3 Sanchos, with this being the fourth title in SSG’s “Pocket Campaigns” series following The Cousins’ War, The March of Progress, and The Ming Voyages.

Here’s an overview of this 1-3 player game that will be crowdfunded in 2023:

In 3 Sanchos, you are one of three King Sanchos, fighting for control of castles and towers across Castilla, Navarra, and Aragón.

All three of the King Sanchos, including any non-player Sanchos, are competing to win by fortifying the castles and towers illustrated on the board (one in each region). Players gain victory points for each castle or tower fortified with their pieces: 3 points for a home castle (2 points in the solo game), 2 points for a neutral castle, and 1 point for a tower. If at any time during the game a Sancho has 10 or more victory points, they win a major victory. If no player achieves this during the game, the Sancho with the most victory points after the last card is played wins a minor victory.

The game is played in rounds. Each player has a turn during each round. At the start of the round, the commander for the round plays a card from their hand. This card indicates the number of command points (CPs) from 1 to 3 that the commander uses during the round, and it also describes the actions that each other player must take on their turn, if possible. The game ends either at any point when a Sancho has 10 or more victory points, or after the final card from all players’ hands has been resolved.

• Not content to release new editions of four titles in the Axis & Allies game series, Renegade Game Studios has now named a fifth such title hitting retail shelves: Axis & Allies: WWI 1914, with this design for 2-8 players from Larry Harris, Jr. being due out in August 2023.

The publisher notes that compared to the original release, this edition of Axis & Allies: WWI 1914 will include four more German infantry units, two more British Empire infantry units, thirty more chips, and a rulebook updated to include official errata.

• And to complete our journey forward in time, we come to Quartermaster General: East Front, in which Ian Brody‘s Quartermaster General design is now applied on an operational level in a two-player game:

In June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union, along with Finland, Romania, and other nations. Germany was seeking another lightning victory, like those attained in Poland, France, and elsewhere; four years and millions of lives later, Soviet troops captured Berlin and forced the German surrender.

Quartermaster General: East Front provides an in-depth look at one of the major operational theaters of the World War in less than two hours. The game is played over 16 game rounds, each representing three months, starting in Summer 1941 and ending in Spring 1945.

This game will be published by Griggling Games and Ares Games, and it will be followed by similar games that depict the conflict on the Mediterranean and the Western fronts during World War II.

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