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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Fill a Wine Cellar, Flip Cards, Number Boxes, and Play Games Seaside

by W. Eric Martin

• I’m grateful when I get to play games in advance of their release — and sometimes even in advance of their announcement! — yet that advance notice can be a drawback if I don’t take notes immediately afterward to cement the experience in print.

For example, I enjoyed a demo game of Seaside, a design from Brian Burgoyne and Randolph, at Gen Con 2023, but now I can’t recall the details of gameplay, and the description offered by the publisher is vague:

One token at a time, create a dynamic seaside full of birds, shells, crabs, sand, and waves.

Each turn in Seaside, you draw a token from the bag, choose which side you want to keep, then apply its effect and collect as many tokens as you can.

You might need to take some risks because whoever has the highest stack at the end wins!

If you’ve played a variety of games, then you can imagine some of the effects and scoring conditions in this game, but that’s all I can offer right now — aside from an appreciation of a seaside-themed game being packaged in a drawstring bag perfect for a trip to the seaside. Aside from the rules, the components are all wooden tokens, so they should hold up to play on the beach.

Why approve a game listing this vague? Because I know the game will exist, with Seaside being available for demo games at FIJ 2024 in Cannes, France ahead of a Q2 2024 release.

• German publisher KENDi debuted in 2023 with a handful of new small games from Steffen Benndorf and Reinhard Staupe, and in February 2024 it will have two new titles, both co-designed by Staupe and Jannik Walter.

Here’s an overview of Quando, a card game for 2-6 players that features Golf-style gameplay in which you want to score as few points as possible. How does this design differ from others in this vein?

The card deck consists of 55 double-sided cards. The digits 0-10 appear in every combination on these cards, with the digits always differing. Players start with 7-8 cards in hand depending on the player count. On a turn, you do one of two things, looking only at the side of the cards facing you:

— Discard a straight of exactly three cards with consecutive numbers, or

— Discard one or more cards of the same value.

End your turn by drawing one card from the deck and adding it to your hand. If you have played exactly three cards with the same number, each other player must flip a zero in their hand to the other side or draw a card from the deck.

Each time you draw a card, you can place it in your hand with the already revealed side facing you or flip it to the other side, after which you can’t flip it back.

If a player has only zeroes in their hand at the end of their turn, they reveal them to end the round immediately. Otherwise, a player can choose to knock to end the round, after which each other player can take one final turn. No matter how the round ends, players then sum the value of cards in their hand. The player with the lowest sum scores 0 points, while everyone else scores their sum; if a player knocked, then didn’t have the lowest sum, they score a 5-point penalty in addition to their sum.

Play multiple rounds until a player has 50+ points, at which time the player with the lowest score wins.

• The other Staupe/Walter design is Tüfteln, a dice game for 1-15 players, although you’re all playing independently, so in theory you could play with all of Earth’s 8.1 billion people at the same time…barring those lazy infants who can’t wield a pencil properly.

Here’s what you need to convey to the world so that everyone knows how to play:

Tüfteln is German for “tinkering”, and that’s what you must do in this dice game to land a top score.

The game includes a pad of double-sided player sheets, and each player has their own sheet, all showing either side A or B. The player sheet has a 3×3 grid of 2×2 squares with the numbers 1-6 being placed in six of the 36 spaces; the A side has a number of blue “bridges” that link two blue spaces in adjacent squares, while all of the other spaces are white, whereas the B side has six spaces in each of five colors, apart from the starting 1-6 digits.

On a turn, any player rolls the two six-sided dice. On the A side, you place the die results in any two empty white spaces or in the blue spaces that make up a bridge. On the B side, you place the die results in two empty spaces of the same color.

After fifteen turns, all of the spaces are filled, and you total your score, earning:

— 1 point for a square with four different digits

— 2 points for an adjacent pair of numbers

— 3 points for two adjacent pairs of numbers

— 4 points for two pairs of numbers placed diagonally in a square

— 5 points for four identical numbers

— 6 points for a straight of numbers in clockwise order

If you score all six types of formations, you receive a bonus of 7 points. Whoever has the highest score wins.

Wine Cellar is the first design from Andrew Stiles, and publisher 25th Century Games plans to release this 1-8 player auction game in 2025, possibly because it already has seventeen games announced on its 2024 release schedule. Here’s what to look forward to:

Let’s auction off some wine! You and your rival sommeliers have decided to face off to determine who is the best.

Non-final front cover

Over the course of eight rounds in Wine Cellar, players will collect wine bottles to create a cellar for their client. Bottles will be arranged to create a timeline for the order in which the wine will be consumed. Each bottle is worth different amounts based upon where it is in the timeline. Players will also receive points based on their client’s preferences for wine type and country of origin.

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